Sunday, May 1, 2011

Self-Promotion is the Mother of Blog Updating

Hey friends! Remember how I have this blog? Probably not. But recently a few people have encouraged me to get back to blogging (best friends and little cousins COUNT, you guys!), and, more importantly, I want to pimp an interview I did with one of my favourite comedians, Doug Benson. I was super excited about this.

I'm sure you immediately clicked the link and read the interview, and then tweeted the link and posted about it on facebook and emailed the link to your friends and wrote your parents a letter and sent a telegram overseas, and thanks for that, but WAIT! While you're over there at MONDO Magazine, I've got a few other articles you may or may not be interested in! No? Okay.

Less selfish updates to come. Thanks to Doug Benson for typing to me. Love that guy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, December 7, 2009

Live Comedy Year-in-Review

Oh my, I haven't written in so long. My internship ends this week, and next term will involve much, much more sitting in front of the computer procrastinating (death, please, death), which will mean more blogging. Does anyone read this, anyway? I have no idea. It doesn't really matter, anyway.

I started this post because I was bursting with creative energy after coming up with some ridiculous and hilarious (to us) stuff with my BFF while listening to Scharpling and Wurster put us to shame, and now I realize I don't have much to talk about. Let's talk about live comedy in 2009 (and by that I mean gloat), in case I don't post again before the end of the year (but I will, I swear). 2009 was a truly spectacular year for me in terms of live comedy. After an amazing trip to see Stella in NYC at the end of 2008, I lost all inhibition and went wherever I wanted to see whomever I wanted during 2009. Or so it seemed at the time. Let's look at some highlights:

1. San Francisco SketchFest (San Francisco, January 15-31, various venues)

2. Just For Laughs Chicago (June 17-21, Chicago, various venues)

3. Just For Laughs Toronto Gala Show (Toronto, July 17th, Massey Hall)

4. Del Close Marathon 11 (NYC, August 14-16, UCB Theatre/various)

5. David Cross (Toronto, October 2nd, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, no pictures, review here)

6. Paul F. Tompkins (Toronto, October 25th, Rivoli, review here)

7. Todd Barry (Toronto, November 21st, Comedy Bar)

AND I'm going to NYC on December 18th for a few days. My trip will definitely involve a lot of UCBT, my favourite place in the world. Pretty great year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The AV Club's Best Comedy Albums of the Decade

Pretty good list, right? Happy to see Invite Them Up, PFT, Hamburger, and Sharpling and Wurster, surprised to see Posehn, Williams, FotC, and Koechner/Allen, would make different Patton, Bamford and Cross choices, would have liked to see the CDR compilation, Andy Daly's Nine Sweaters, Jen Kirkman's Self-Help, Showalter's Sandwiches and Cats, John Mulaney's The Top Part, Silverman's Jesus is Magic (given the inclusion of Galifianakis' DVD).

I'll probably write more about this later, right now I'm off to hang out with a teeny baby.

Oh, but first: new Between Two Ferns! With Conan! Check it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Big Pimpin

Paul F. Tompkins was outstanding in Toronto last Sunday. I wrote a review for MONDO Magazine, and that review is here. Thanks for reading if you get a chance!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good Luck, Tig Notaro!

I hate that I'm not here right now. Half the people I love in the world are there.

I love (see how I did that?) that Paul Rust is doing this. Such a funny guy. In the above picture he is performing at the 11th annual Del Close Marathon with Neil Campbell as the Stovetop Boys, two tiny improvisors forced to perform on top of a hot stove. They did not stop hopping while performing hilarious improv for fifteen minutes. Brilliant, no?

Monday, October 12, 2009

comics with kids, podcasts!

When people who have made filthy comedic choices have children, I often wonder how much they dread some of their material rearing its ugly head as their children get older (probably because my own sense of humor is way too questionable for me to be around children--whoops). This quote from a Kansas University interview with Michael Ian Black made me smile:

"JP: What will your kids think?

MIB: I'm sure my kids will be deeply mortified by me when they get old enough to see my work. We made a Stella video where we took turns sucking Ms. Claus' dick. I'm sure that won't go over well with my children but what are you going to do? This is who I am."

I can only hope and dream that the father of my future children will have some seasonal dick-sucking videos in his past! Damn. Some of my many, many readers may have read Black's children's book Chicken Cheeks. I bought it last year and loved it, then brought it into my JK class, and they couldn't get enough of it. I read it over and over. It is a very fun way to encourage kids to have fun with language, and, not to take things too far here, but is even a great way to approach diversity in a Kindergarten classroom. Plus you get to try not to think about all MIB's filthy material as you read it to the innocent, beautiful children in front of you.

Speaking of MIB, I had to miss the Detroit show due to a very special Thanksgiving migraine+cold combination. I felt thankful that winter is coming, which means that I'll have fewer migraines. Then I remembered that winter means I stop enjoying life because it's too cold, so I guess my life is lose-lose! Just kidding, it's definitely win-win, or at least win-lose. Anyway, in an attempt to self-soothe (though it oddly didn't help my headache), I caught up with a few of my favourite podcasts. I'm not sure I've mentioned on here how much I love and adore podcasts. I subscribe to about 30 of them, mostly comedy-related (but some have to do with my many other interests, I swear), and have time to listen to apx. 3 a week, so my listened:unlistened ratio is not great, but I enjoy every minute of them. Free jokes! My favourite thing. Let's talk about a few of my favourites, shall we? I have a bunch - let's do some today, some another time.

1. Comedy Death-Ray Radio

Comedy Death-Ray (no radio) is an extremely popular weekly show at UCBLA featuring numerous excellent guest stand-ups every week, curated by very funny comedy partners (and Mr. Show alums) Scott Aukerman and B.J. Porter. A few months ago Aukerman started CDR Radio on LA's Indie 103.1, available through the old-fashioned airwaves, streaming online, and through itunes. He's a good host with a knack for knowing when to step back and let comics do their thing and when to step in and amp up/control the funny, and the guests (who have included Rob Huebel, Aziz Ansari, Andy Samberg, Zach Galifianakis, Thomas Lennon, Bob Odenkirk, Charlyne Yi, Chris Hardwick, Chelsea Peretti, Natasha Leggero, and more!) are always fantastic. This show makes me laugh every week. Must bring special attention to Matt Besser's Bjork impression from episode 15, which made me laugh like a F-ING MANIAC.

2. Never Not Funny

Very funny veteran LA comic Jimmy Pardo hosts NNF with producer Matt Belknap, also known as the creator and over-seer of A Special Thing, a very sacred place for nerds like moi. This is the only podcast I listen to that has a subscription fee, but the $20 a season is fully worth it. The show would be good with only Pardo and Belknap's banter, but the always-outstanding guests such as Maria Bamford [note - every podcast on this list could do with more ladies, but that's another topic for another time], Paul F. Tompkins, Rob Corddry, Andy Richter, Jen Kirkman, Matt Walsh and others help the show live up to its name.

3. Comedy and Everything Else

Despite the vagueness of the title, it is incredibly apt. This podcast, hosted by veteran stand-ups Jimmy Dore and Todd Glass as well as Stefané Zamorano, always provides some good laughs, but I value it so much because it usually makes me think as much as it makes me chortle. With or without their very funny guests (such as Paul F. Thompkins, Janeane Garofalo, Jen Kirkman, Brian Regan, Patton Oswalt, Norm McDonald, Steve Agee), the three hosts do an excellent job of getting to the nitty gritty parts of life that often don't feel funny at all - politics, family, death, religion, cruelty, children - and yes, they bring some funny to them because they are funny people with great repartee, but they also embrace the seriousness and discuss issues at great length with no self-imposed pressure to lighten things up. It's a very compelling, thought-provoking podcast, and I'm constantly blown away by how articulate and intelligent its hosts and guests are - I can safely say that after listening to the two-part episode with Janeane Garofalo, I was just a little different inside!

4. Doug Benson's I Love Movies

Despite a certain affection for pot humour/ists who celebrate being high while performing/creating/living, I'm not really a huge fan of Doug Benson's stand-up. However, I do think he's a very funny guy in other contexts, and I tend to really like anything he does where he interacts with other people - I enjoyed Super High Me, I love his live show The Benson Interruption, and I love Doug Loves Movies. (And I truly didn't mean to steal the name of this blog from him.) I like his hosting style because he is not only funny, but he's very relaxed and sets up a very relaxed atmosphere for his guests on the stage of UCBTLA, making for a show that embraces guests' tangents, rants, and riffs, bringing their own movie knowledge to the table. That being said, Benson is very good at keeping the focus on movies, and let's not forget that he knows his shit. He may be high, he may be relaxed, he may be giggly, but he knows movies. Also worth checking out for the amazing, beloved theme song by Hard N' Phirm. Guests have included David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Hardwick, Olivia Munn, Rob Huebel, Paul Scheer, Dana Gould, and Leonard Maltin Game Champion Patton Oswalt.

5. The Best Show on WFMU

Tom Scharpling hosts this weekly three-hour (they fly by, I swear) program that can be heard on New Jersey's WFMU, through online streaming, or via podcast. The show offers a bit of everything including music (the songs are removed for the podcast, unfortunately, but Scharpling knows pretty much everything there is to know about music, so it's still very satisfying for music-lovers), interviews (Ted Leo, Paul F. Tompkins and Aimee Mann are frequent guests), and comedy - planned and unplanned. The unplanned comedy emerges from Scharpling's conversations with listeners who call in to answer questions of the week or tell stories they deem interesting enough for radio. Tom Scharpling is a very respected man in the world of comedy despite not actually being a comedian - he writes for Monk, and has written for Tom Goes to the Mayor (a particular favourite of yours truly) as well as The Onion and Harp Magazine. His quick wit and gruff way (also: sexy, sexy voice) would make the show well worth listening to without any added bonuses. But - enter Jon Wurster with bonuses galore. Wurster is another hilarious non-comedian; although he has written for TGTTM and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, his day job is drumming for Superchunk and The Mountain Goats. Fans like me, however, love him most for his (almost) weekly call into The Best Show as either a returning character or a new addition to Scharpling and Wurster's fictional world of Newbridge, New Jersey. Since the conception of The Best Show, the duo has added to the vast Newbridge landscape (literally and figuratively) through truly genius conversations/arguments between Scharpling and the eccentric characters they've created, played by Wurster, all with extensive histories and linked mythologies. It's hard to describe. In Scharpling's own words (presumably), from his tumblr site:

"Jon Wurster, the drummer of bands including Superchunk, the Mountain Goats, and Robert Pollard’s most recent touring band, will call in as a character with a seemingly innocent request, or under the guise of an interview. The duo then performs a sort of slow-burn comedy in which Wurster begins letting out little bits of information to the host, usually horrible, until Wurster’s character drives Scharpling to the limit, and occasionally threatens his life.

One example is “The Gorch” (aka Ronald Gorchnick) who called in claiming to be the real-life inspiration of The Fonz, and expressed his love of chain-fighting, and began a several year trip to beat Tom up, resulting in The Gorch passing out in the WFMU studios. Another character is Philly Boy Roy, a Philadelphian with a strange voice an an unabashed hatred for Tom, as well as the state of New Jersey. Instead he loves everything Philly: hoagies, Tastycakes, and The Hooters."

Also from the tumblr site, here's a video made out of Philly Boy Roy's dream movie, ad-libbed on air with Patton Oswalt:

Nothing does Scharpling and Wurster's chemistry and originality justice besides the bits themselves, the funniest of which have been compiled into five albums, which I strongly urge you to check out. Also, there is a newer, bi-weekly podcast called Best Show Gems, featuring only highlight moments from podcasts gone by, usually under 30 minutes. Also, did you see the picture? They are adorable. Male comedy partners, why must you turn me on so? I love your bromance almost as much as I hate the word 'bromance'.

Okay, I would love to talk about some other podcasts, particularly those put together by Jesse Thorn, but Aziz Ansari is on David Letterman so I'm outtie 5000.Oh, before I go, can I just say how happy I am for Tom Lennon and Ben Garant"? Couldn't happen to funnier, nicer (based on the one time I met them and what I glean from commentary tracks) guys.