Chris Rock on his road to Madison Square Garden

Earlier in the year, Chris Rock showed up to try out material at two different shows I was on at Stand Up NY. Seeing him work on brand new ideas in a small room like that was really incredible. (I wrote about the first one back in March and the second one in April.)

On Monday night, he performs at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 people (and then goes on a six month tour). In Hard at Work on New Year’s Eve (NY Times), he talks about the months he's spent crafting his newest material.

But for Mr. Rock, as it is for those other guys, being gifted is really just about doing the things that make it look easy.

The least surprised person when that first laugh starts and then moves in a wave all the way up to the cheap seats will be Mr. Rock. For many months he has been piecing together his act in clubs in New Jersey, New York, Florida and Las Vegas. Comedy bit by comedy bit, he has built two hours of material one minute at a time, culling the belly laughs from the bombs.

And he knows it will work. Other people would admit to a deep breath or a big gulp before taking on the toughest crowd in the biggest room in their hometown — he grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant — but Mr. Rock does not roll like that.

“You got to realize, I’ve been working on my act probably since around April, March,” he said, sitting in an office he keeps on the Upper West Side. “I am ready.”

The Stress Factory is near his home so he's done a bunch of shows there. The owner talks about how his act has progressed.

“He knows that they are going to give him that first laugh because of who he is,” said Vinnie Brand, the owner of the Stress Factory. “But he came out here and worked his material, over and over, cutting and trimming, until by the last show you could not believe what he had put together. He still has that hunger to be a great stand-up comedian, no matter what his name is.”

Or as Mr. Rock put it: “Maybe for about three minutes after I walk onstage, they’re into my résumé. But after that it’s like, ‘What’s he got?,’ especially in a town like this where you see famous people walking down the street.”

Two good bits from the interview: Rock says a good comic never blames the audience and that getting people to be quiet is "true ownership of the room."

He complains about nothing and is nobody’s victim. The responsibility, as he sees it, is all his, here and on the stage. The audience is there for the winning, but it takes work.

“When you get up there that first time and you don’t do well, you’re basically hearing ‘No’,” he said, looking out the window of an office from which you can see all the way to Harlem. “How are you going to approach this ‘no’? Are you going to respect it and put the blame on yourself and improve who you are, or are you going to blame the audience like an idiot?”

“It’s never their fault,” he said. “No matter how late it is, no matter how much they did or didn’t drink, no matter what the sound system is like, no matter how hot the building is or how cold the building is, it ain’t the crowd’s fault. You want to get up there, you want to be a good boy, you want to headline, that’s what you have to go in there with.”

Mr. Rock watched Eddie Murphy take over the Garden many years ago, and he has not forgotten.

“There were moments you could hear a pin drop, and that’s really what it’s all about,” he said. “Anybody can just say stuff and get people to scream. If you’re really good, you can get them to be quiet. Quiet is true ownership of the room.”

If you're curious to learn more about his workout shows, check out the writeups I mentioned: March show and April show.


Hair loss solutions, combovers, and facial hair

So my bald spot's growing. People say, "You should just shave it all off...Embrace it!" But that seems like a weird way to solve a problem: Just make it a lot worse. No one ever says, "You're starting to smell a little funky...you should cover yourself in skunk juice. Embrace your stink!"

goateeAnd ya don't want to be one of these bald guys who grows a goatee, as if hair on another body part will give people some sort of mind freeze that makes them not notice your baldness. Did anyone ever say, "Was he bald? I couldn't tell because all I saw was that lucsious goatee!" If hair on other parts of the body is such a good distraction, then bald guys should start wearing tank tops and showing off their back hair. "Sure, I'm bald...but check out this handlebar moustache between my shoulder blades!"

kangolThen there's these other bald guys who wear hats all the time. The worst are the ones who wear those Kangol caps backwards. Sure, 'cuz you're a big Samuel L. Jackson fan. Motherfucker! Sorry, you can't be more bald than a white guy in his 30's who's wearing a Kangol cap backwards. That's when you should have a combover. Take those four hairs and wrap them around your Kangol cap. Please.

comboverI like the combover guys though because they're trying to sell the theory that it's quality, not quantity, that matters. "Sure, I've only got eight hairs left. But look at how long and flexible they are!" The combover is a great solution if you live in a world where wind doesn't exist.

Other guys turn to Propecia or Rogaine...but I don't really trust the pharmaceutical companies. These guys don't see to care about side effects though, as long as they have some hair. "That's right, I'm rocking the full head of hair again. Of course, I now have cervical cancer...but it's worth it. Chicks dig it, so who cares if I'm growing a uterus?"

I think I'll just grow a ponytail. 'Cuz the balding ponytail is one look that never goes out of style.

Or maybe I'll innovate with a a fresh, new look...no one's gonna care if I'm bald when I'm rocking the chef's hat:





I'm jealous of women because they get to protect themselves against things they fear. For example, they can carry around a rape whistle. But I can't protect myself against what I fear. I can't carry around an intimacy whistle.

Her: I just want to lie here and cuddle with you all night long.
Me: [Whistle!] No means no! And if you mention "Bed, Bath, and Beyond," I'm breaking out the commitment spray.

Can't happen.


Steve Martin's advice for making it as a comic: "Be undeniably good"

Steve Martin was on Charlie Rose last week. Great interview. At the very end, he gave his advice to someone who's trying to make it in show business: "Be undeniably good."

When people ask me how do you make it in show business or whatever, what I always tell them — And nobody ever takes note of it 'cuz it's not the answer they wanted to hear. What they want to hear is here's how you get an agent, here's how you write a script, here's how you do this — But I always say, "Be so good they can't ignore you." If somebody's thinking, "How can I be really good?", people are going to come to you. It's much easier doing it that way than going to cocktail parties.

Good reminder that shortcuts are rarely the answer. Those workshops on how to make it in the comedy business or how to get representation come to mind. But the real answer is to just be great. If you're fucking great, people will notice.

Example that comes to mind: Reggie Watts. Every time he performs, people are blown away. They don't just enjoy it, they are amazed. I gotta think that when you consistently amaze people, blowing up is inevitable.


How to write an advance letter to performers

I did a show at The Lincoln Lodge in Chicago last week. Great room/setup/crowd...really enjoyed it. They do a pro job running the room too. Check out this impressively detailed email sent out to performers the week of the show:

Well its the week of the big show! Looking forward to seeing you this Thursday/Friday and just in case this is your first show or you're a Lodge veteran in need of a refresher.......
Lincoln Lodge Performer FAQ:
Q: Where is The Lincoln Lodge?
A: The Lincoln Lodge is Located at the Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln on the corner of Lincoln, Damen, and Irving Park.
Q: What time is the Show, and what time should I be there?
A: The Show starts at 9:00 pm, and performers should be there no later than 8:45 pm. If you have special technical needs (music, video etc.) you should inform the Lincoln Lodge of these needs at least a week prior to the night of your performance(s), as well as arrive no later than 8:15 pm so that all technical requirements and sound checks can be addressed.
Q: Am I getting paid?
A: Yes. You are paid a flat rate of $10.00 a show and a $4.00 commission per full paying audience member there to see you. The door staff keeps a running tally.
Your compensation will be distributed on the final night of your booking, following the end of the show (Special arrangements can be made for unusual circumstances).
Q: What is expected of me?
A: To arrive ready to perform at your best and to help publicize the show in any way you can.
Q: What Should I expect of The Lincoln Lodge?
A: You should expect that The Lincoln Lodge will do everything humanly possible to ensure that you excel in you performance. This includes providing every resource we have if needed, but please remember we are also comics and volunteers, and not technical geniuses. You can also expect to be treated with professional courtesy by staff, and cast of the Lincoln Lodge, and the Lincoln Restaurant.
Q: I get free drinks and food, right?
A: Sorry no. The Lincoln Lodge Budget does not provide enough funds to provide free drinks and food. Please remember that all food and drink funds go to the Lincoln Restaurant, not the Lincoln Lodge.
Q: Do I get any complimentary Tickets to the show?
A: Yes! You are allotted 1 free admission per performance. Please notify the Lincoln Lodge door staff on whom you are providing your complementary ticket to.
Q: In what order do I appear in the show, and how much time should I prepare?
A: Set lengths and position will be available at the show from the producer upon your arrival, and posted in several areas in the performance space.
1 If you are a featured comic you should prepare 10-12 minutes for each night.
2. If you are a guest comic you should prepare 8 minutes.
Please be aware that set times vary by night due to show constrictions.
3. If you are a variety act you should prepare 15 minutes.

Q: Can I cuss?
A: the Lincoln Lodge does not enforce a policy of censorship. We would hope that part of your professionalism would include not overtly offending our paying audience.
Q: Does the Lincoln Lodge provide a recording of my set?
A: Sorry, no. The Lincoln Lodge does try to record all of its shows but a quality recording may not always be available so you should make your own arrangements to guarantee a recording. If you wish to tape your set, you must provide your own equipment to do so. Also, please bear in mind that we do not provide a specific space to set up recording devices. You may set up equipment where space is available, as long as it does not encroach on, or obscure the view of, the Lincoln Lodge paying audience.
Q: Is the Lincoln Lodge a "bringer" room?
A: No. Please be aware that although there is no requirement to bring a certain number of audience members to perform at the Lincoln Lodge , we strongly encourage you to highly promote your appearance to take advantage of being seen in a showcase environment, increase your fan base, and maximize your financial compensation.
Q: What can I tell guests I have invited about the show?
A: Please inform any attending guests that dining is available from a full menu in the restaurant from 8:00 PM onwards and the pre-show dining is accompanied by music and a slide show. Full show information including on-line ticketing is available at www.thelincolnlodge.com if you wish to inform your guests via the wonderful world web or they can call The Lincoln Lodge info line at 773 251 1539 for details. Free parking is available in the restaurant parking lot located on the Northwest corner of Lincoln, Damen, and Irving Park.
Q: How can I help?
A: Contact The Lincoln Lodge for Promotional Materials for distribution, and find out about opportunities for flyering campaigns.
The Lincoln Lodge


"According to Jim" has writers?

The show must go on, 'According to Jim' (Entertainment Weekly):

While sitcoms continue to go dark because of the ongoing writers' strike, at least one comedy is trying to keep the lights on. A show source confirms that ABC's According to Jim, which may return as early as this winter for a seventh season, resumed production this week in L.A. even though its writers are picketing. Jim Belushi, who also serves as an executive producer and director, will help run the show, though it's unclear whether he'll write, too.

Thank goodness they have that comedic genius Jim Belushi to bail them out! That guy is a hoot.

My favorite is when he does that Blues Brothers bit with Dan Akroyd. Nothing says class quite like stealing your dead brother's act and taking it on tour! Gallagher Too would be proud. Maybe Jim can write an episode where he plays a samurai swordsman at a deli...You know, as an "homage" to John.

My advice to the writers of According to Jim: Don't strike too long. You should feel pretty lucky that you collect a paycheck at all, no?


Everyone in NYC is an “artist”

okeefeIt’s weird how everyone in NYC is an “artist” of some sort. For example, a girl I know went to see her gynecologist the other day. (Nothing serious, just a tuneup...check the tires, change the oil, etc.) And her gyno starts telling her how she’s also an artist. (I mean the gynecologist is an artist…She didn't look at this girl's pussy and go “Wow! This is a work of art.”)

Anyway, I'm not sure I'd like a gynecologist who's also an artist. Who wants an abstract vaginal examination? “You know, your vagina really evokes Georgia O’Keefe's blue period." Or even worse, she might talk like an art show press release: "I can tell your pussy lips address issues of neo-conceptual formalism and conceptually reposition and re-contextualize formal histories of gender roles in our society." That seems pretty unlikely though...especially since gynecologists probably don't call them "pussy lips."


The Pocket (interesting comedy links from around the web)

Update 08/15/11: The Pocket has been discontinued since these kinds of links are now included in the regular flow of Sandpaper Suit.

Older links from "The Pocket" at delicious.com/sandpapersuit.


Heart of Darkness show on Saturday at Julep


This is always a fun show. And that holiday party you were invited to will probably suck anyway.


How I dealt with a heckling clarinet player

Lately, I've been having fun dealing with people who behave badly at my shows. Not really hecklers, more like loud talkers or sloppy exiters. But the other week, I had a new situation. The backstory: I did a set at a variety show. Before me there was a band. After the band got off, they hung out in the back of the room by the bar. While I performed my set, one of 'em kept noodling away on his saxophone. I yelled at him to stop playing saxophone. He got indignant about the fact that it was a clarinet, not a saxophone. I thought he was a cockmouth. So I told him so. Here's a link to the audio.


Who's the bigger Hitler?

There was an interesting discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner I went to last year. The scene: Two women debate who's the bigger Hitler when it comes to preparing Thanksgiving dinner. "My kids say I'm such a Hitler because I have to have the turkey in the oven by 10am."

Really? See, I'm Jewish. In my house, no one ever compared themselves to Hitler. Especially not about how good they are at stuffing something into an oven. "Boy, the way you roast that carcass, you sure are like that evil dictator who murdered millions of people by roasting them in ovens. And then when you leave the gas on by accident, man, it's just like Auschwitz in here! And when you bury the bones in the backyard, try to fight a war on two fronts, and commit suicide in your underground bunker next to your girlfriend...that's all MUCHO Hitlery."

We don't reference other mass murderers this way. "Boy, your fridge is really stuffed...you are a regular Jeffrey Dahmer with the packed fridge!" Or "You always get to the airport so early...boy, you are such a Mohammed Atta that way. You are just a Bin Laden for advance planning."


"Rocket Man": William Shatner vs. Stewie Griffin

William Shatner performs Elton John's "Rocketman" at 1978 Sci-Fi Awards show:

So ridiculous that it would seem to be beyond parody. Yet here's Stewie Griffin's Shatner-esque version of the same song from "Family Guy":


Babies are a lot like little pet gorillas

My 9 month old nephew is like a crawling tornado. Kid walks into a room and instantly does everything he's not supposed to do. Rips the cable out of the TV, tears up papers, throws books around the room. And everyone thinks it's so cute. This doesn't work for adults. You can't walk into a room, throw garbage around the place, spit your drink in someone's face, slap a girl on the ass, and then puke in the corner and have everyone say, "Oh, he's so cute."

He also crawls everywhere and gets all filthy. I have a solution: They should make pajamas for toddlers made out of Swiffer pads. Then the kid can just crawl around to every corner and get some cleaning done. Would kick the ass of that Roomba thing.


Upcoming shows in NYC and Chicago

My upcoming shows:
Dec 6: 9:00PM The Clubhouse @ Telephone Bar
Dec 11: 9:30PM Chicago Underground Comedy @ Beat Kitchen - Chicago IL
Dec 14: 9:00PM Lincoln Lodge Comedy Show - Chicago
Dec 15: 9:00PM Heart of Darkness @ Julep
Jan 4: 7:00PM Family Hour @ Comix (Ochi’s Lounge downstairs)
Jan 5: 8:00PM 50 1st Jokes @ The Creek and The Cave

Future dates are always listed at my MySpace page. Details on tonight's show at The Clubhouse...

Okay Clubhouseketeers! This week is sure to please with some super funny peeps. Come join Peter, Cass and Jay a better show than STOMP! for free!

-Matt Ruby
-Brooke Van Poppelen
-Logan Jacobson
-Kyria Abrahams

The Clubhouse @ Telephone Bar
149 2nd ave. btwn 9th & 10th st
Free - 9ish - be there


Mansinthe is mantastic

A Liquor of Legend Makes a Comeback:

One absinthe that will try to brave the regulators next year is a spirit distilled by Markus Lion in Germany for the performer Marilyn Manson. Called Mansinthe, it is “designed to please newbies as well as long-term absinthe lovers,” Mr. Lion said in an e-mail message.

#1: Hey, what are you drinking?
#2: Dude, it's Mansinthe.
#1: Mansinthe? That sounds kinda gay.
#2: No way, it's named after Marilyn Manson!
#1: Shit, why didn't you say so in the first place!? I only buy products endorsed by goth rockers! Gillette Sensor Reznors, BauWowhaus Dog Food, Sisters of Mercy Shoe Polish, etc.


Ribbons and bracelets

These days everyone's got a stupid bracelet or ribbon that shows they support some good cause. (Previously: Ribbons that signify we need to save the whales who have breast cancer and work in sweatshops in Darfur.) Whatever...easy to wear accessories don't mean anything. If you really want to show you believe in a cause, wear something hard: "I'm wearing this KKK hood in the middle of Bed Stuy to show my support for those with breast cancer." "To show my support of PETA, I'm going to swim in this shark tank while wearing a necklace made from raw steaks!" Prove you’re willing to sacrifice something and then I’ll believe you actually give a shit.


Set at Bowery Poetry Club

My set at Brainy Axe a few weeks ago. Topics include: Jerry Orbach, Snickers, grammar nazis, the religious right, the East Village, and video games.


Sean Taylor's nickname: "Tha Hitman"

"Sean Taylor, Redskins star, dies after shooting" mentions Taylor's now unfortunate nickname: "His fierce style of play earned him the nickname Tha Hitman." Oof.

Here he is laying out the punter during the Pro Bowl.

Gotta give it up for a guy who's willing to drill the wimpiest guy on the roster during the one game where no one EVER hits hard. R.I.P. Hitman.


Alfred Hitchcock and the overlap between scary and funny

Horror films and comedy both rely on surprise twists. So maybe there are comedy lessons to learn from the master of the twist: Alfred Hitchcock. This article outlines some of Hitchcock's techniques. Some scary/funny overlap bits excerpted below...

People need to trust you. They need to feel safe and give themselves permission to go with you "on a ride." (That's why it's so key to build confidence at the start of a set.)

1: It's the Mind of the Audience

In the same way people go to a roller coaster to get thrown around at high speeds, theater audiences know they are safe.  As a film director you can throw things at them, hurl them off a cliff, or pull them into a dangerous love story, and they know that nothing will happen to them.  They're confident that they'll be able to walk out the exit when its done and resume their normal lives.  And, the more fun they have, the quicker they will come back begging for more.

This KISS bit reminds me of quote I dig about editing jokes as far as you can: "If it's not part of the joke, then it's part of the problem."

7: Keep the Story Simple!

If your story is confusing or requires a lot of memorization, you're never going to get suspense out of it.  The key to creating that raw Hitchcock energy is by using simplistic, linear stories that the audience can easily follow.  Everything in your screenplay must be streamlined to offer maximum dramatic impact.  Remove all extraneous material and keep it crisp.  Each scene should include only those essential ingredients that make things gripping for the audience. As Hitchcock says, “what is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out…” (Truffaut) 

You've got to stay ahead of the audience. If they know where you're going, they won't be surprised and they won't get that aha moment that creates laughter.

12: Surprise and Twist

Pull the audience in one direction and then another, trick them, and keep them from knowing what's really going to happen.  You must make the audience think they know whats coming next, and then you pull the rug out from under them.  It must never turn out the way they expected.


Dad wants to know...

One sentence email from my dad: "Who is Hannah Montana?" I told him and asked why he wanted to know. His response: "She was mentioned a few times on various TV channels, but they didn't say who or what she is. Apparently she is now on the way to becoming a national icon or whatever. I feel totally out of it not knowing such vital information."

Moby's #1 fan is out to get me

First, I made a video joking about different ways to assassinate Moby.

Moby then linked up the video at his blog because he thought it was funny: "i especially like the image of me being eaten by a tyrannosauraus rex. and if you're going to die, it might as well be at the hands of a very young hall -n- oates."

Responses poured in from his fans. Some thought it was funny, others thought it was in poor taste. But one diehard fan, Patrice (his MySpace profile image to the left), really took it personally...

10/16, 2:23 am - Moby posts video.

Patrice's responses:


10/16, 2:34 am - As long as I live no body will kill you [Moby] without being killed by my own hands
No matter how long it would take me and find the bastards
 That's a vow

10/16, 2:41 am - What a crap song !!!
I try to imagine the guy getting his rocks on recording that shit track !!!
While in 100 y's time pupils will study your music @ school like classics, nobody will ever remember this man ... just like eninem of my arse by the way!


10/17, 7:47 am - [Posts these photos]

10/17, 8:26 am - [Sends me MySpace message with a note and alternate lyrics]

Kill Ruby
Kill Ruby
Kill Ruby until he's dead

He eats shit and he's a real fucker
He eats shit and he's a real fucker

Would you like some proper food ?
No I can't coz I'm Matt Ruby
I only eat shit

Son of a whore !

KILL RUBY until he's dead

Kill him with a mower
Kill him with a mower

If I were his father
If I were his father
I would cut his balls off and give them to feed our pig ...
Yes let Matt Ruby's balls make our pig stronger ....


10/18, 9:30 am - I started a doll voodoo and needles on Matt Ruby with some italian witch ...
His balls will dry down to the size of raisins
His tongue will swell at night unexpectedly from 1 am to 2 am causing hyper ventilation and suffocation !
His nails will turn purple, blacken and fall then will regenerate instantly after 1 hour, repeatedly with unbearable suffering only at daytime, driving him to distraction ...
He'll wake up if he can sleep with the devil's feet every fridays for the whole week-end
and finally will have hallucinating visions of his mother moaning and getting pound-shagged by a monkey in front of him every time he utters the word Moby
 Until he apologizes for being untalented and retires nooooooowwwwwww

[Note: If my balls dry down to the size of raisins, what will my father use to make his pig stronger?!]


About Patrice
So just who is my nemesis? He's got an interesting bio at his MySpace page. He starts off by talking about how he's written 130 "down or up-tempoed tunes" (diverse!) and sings "22 tracks per night as an average" (stamina!). Then it gets really good...

I was 25 when I decided to go and live in LONDON England. I studied there and partook in several auditions for musicals like Les Misérables and Pocahontas with good scores, for cruise liners. Back vocals on Rachid's demo, solo artist who happened to be one of Earth, Wind and Fire members' son. Worked as an extra on Portray of a Lady, 5th element, James Bond 18 and James Bond 19 where I met Talk Talk's first percussionist with whom I made comic shows and gigs in UK.

Alright, I guess when you make a song/video about wanting to kill someone, it's only fair to get some grief back in return. But I never expected to get death threats from someone who brags about 1) being an extra in a movie where he met Talk Talk's first percussionist, 2) auditioning for cruise ship musicals, and 3) singing backing vocals on the demo of a guy who is the son of a member of Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Inspired by Patrice, I'm thinking about adding this my bio: "I played the triangle during the American Idol audition of Sal Benedetto, nephew of Vincent Benedetto, bass player on two of the tracks on 'Sports' by Huey Lewis and the News."

Anyway, if I turn up murdered, send that image of goth Harry Potter Patrice to the cops, would ya?

Flying Carpet packs out Rififi!

Flying Carpet last night rocked! Thanks to everyone who came out (Rififi was packed) and to all the comics for bringing it (last minute guest David McSavage put in a great set too). After the show, one person told me it was the funniest show they'd ever seen and another comic said the show had "three of the best comics alive on the bill." Nice. Next one will probably be in January...stay tuned.


You will have the the time of your life

Tonight (11/27), you will have the the time of your life. You've never felt like this before. Yes, I swear it's the truth. And you owe it all to Flying Carpet.

I'm talking about the stacked lineup at TONIGHT'S FREE FLYING CARPET SHOW AT RIFIFI AT 9:45PM (map). On the bill: From San Francisco, Mr. Will Franken. I'd describe his act but you just gotta see it. SF Weekly called him the best comedian in San Francisco and the SF Bay Guardian called him “the best alternative to psychedelic drugs.” So if you're trying to quit LSD, this is the perfect show for you. Also bringing the trippiness: Mr. Reggie Watts. Beatboxing soul confusionist extraordinaire. He will also blow your mind. And there's sketch group Jerk Practice. Saw these guys kill it at a Halloween show and I said come bring some of that to Flying Carpet and they said, "Right on!"

And that's not all...We also have Ms. Julie Klausner, star of Obsessed with Julie and Jackie, a righteous show at UCB (they make great videos too). She's also a writer for "The Big Gay Sketch Show" so if you're gay it will be right up your alley. And if you're not gay, she's a chick...so no worries. Also: Mr. Vince Averill, a super standup who's performed around the country and stars in his own weekly comedy show on Sundays at Beauty Bar. He will be kickin' it in a very Byron Allen-esque way.

And it will all be hosted by yours truly, the King of Siam, Mr. Matt Ruby. I will tell you all about Moby's #1 fan who has been threatening to kill me!

And you get all that for free. Damn. See you there at 9:45 pm. Cuz' you're the one thing I can't get enough of.


Lineup for next week's Flying Carpet show at Rififi


Before you get your turkey on, here's an early warning for next week's Flying Carpet show at Rififi...It's a stellar lineup with standup, sketch, video, & music:

FREE comedy extravaganza
Tuesday, Nov 27 (9:45pm)
RIFIFI at 332 E. 11th St. btwn 1st and 2nd Ave.

Will Franken (http://www.willfranken.com/)
Named “best alternative to psychedelic drugs” by the SF Bay Guardian!

Reggie Watts (http://www.reggiewatts.com/)
"Amazing and unlike anything you have ever seen. Unless you have seen a comedic stream of conscious operatic beat-boxing marvel. Then it's like that."—Eugene Mirman

Jerk Practice (http://www.jerkpractice.com/)
Sketch goup that hosts "A Show of Hands" at The Creek and the Cave

Julie Klausner (http://julieklausner.com/)
Host of OBSESSED with Julie and Jackie at UCB

Vince Averill (http://www.vinceaverill.com/)
Host of Sunday nights at Beauty Bar

...and hosted by Matt Ruby. Gobble!

Fat guys and really thin beards

I like it when super fat guys grow those super thin beards. You know, the kind that show you where their jawline would be if their face and neck didn't congeal into one big blob.

The only way you should have one of those thin beards is if you are 1) over 300 pounds, 2) Puerto Rican, or 3) in a boy band. Or all three. And if it's all three, why isn't there a reality show about you on MTV? "Menudo Fatcamp" = ratings gold!

You know, that's wrong. We shouldn't make fun of fat people. They're naturally hilarious. We should just watch them and let the laughter flow on it's own.


Your new favorite wide receiver

Best NFL name: Colts WR Craphonso Thorpe. Who will win out when he's covered by Steelers DB Shitstainzo Holmes!?


I've got genius ears

I'm an audiophile. That means I'm like a pedophile...but for sound instead of little boys. I have genius ears. For example, read this sentence out loud. (I'll wait.) Sounds like crap. You should turn down the 5k a few db's, raise the top shelf, and dial in the reverb at 300 milliseconds. Trust me.

I DJ a lot. I spin Macedonian Brass Bhangra fusion. I only spin tracks that are 2,620 beats per minute. That's the number of beats a hummingbird's heart beats per minutes. See, I marry the digital w the organic. You probably haven't heard me spin because I only do sets at underground bank vaults in Berlin. People have to dig their own tunnels to get there. That's underground. Once in a while, I also spin at an abandoned mine shaft in Reykjavik.

I spin really hard stuff. You've heard of Jungle? Well, I spin Rainforest. It's called Rainforest because that's how thick my beats are. My beats are thick! And you know when the weather's really shitty and they call it a "Wintry Mix." That's my mix. I remixed winter. That's how good I am. I put sleet before snow and the dancefloor went crazy.

I also host a podcast. (For non-technical people, that's a radio show for people with no friends.) It's a podcast of mashups. If you don't know, mashups are when you take two songs that completely suck and you combine them into one song that's incredible. It's art, man. Last mashup I made: Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" mashed up with Cisqo's "The Thong Song." It's called "Genie in a Thong." It's genius, like Rachmaninoff. That's a classical composer. I've never heard him but I read about him once. That's how good my ears are...I just read about shit and I know what it sounds like.

I just finished another mashup. It's Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone" mashed up with the moans of a dying pelican. It's a political message: "Since you been gone...[mwaaaaaahnnnnnooooogggggggh]." That's "Blowing in the Wind 2008" right there, a call for political change. Everytime I play it, there's a coup somewhere in Latin America. Nicaragua or something.

You should check out my stereo setup. You probably have an iPod. Well, I've got an iPod...it's called a record player. Vinyl. I need all those frequencies because I hear it all. Maybe you can get by with MP3's. Then again, maybe you were in a car accident when you were a kid and it damaged your hearing and you still wet your bed and cry out for you Mom every night. Sorry, not my problem.

I've got killer speakers. My tweeters are tight. And man, you should hear my woofers. My woofers are huge. I can't turn up the low end all the way because I got a cease and desist order from the Indonesian government. See, I was pumping my favorite Norwegian death metal band: ¨. The name's actually an umlaut with another umlaut on top of it. Double umlaut power. I'd tell you to Google them but your keyboard probably doesn't have an umlaut key. I love death metal so much that I got a special keyboard that's made up entirely of umlauts. That's a true hardcore fan, man.

Anyway, ¨ is hardcore, dude. The band has seven bass players, three lead singers (who all sing into megaphones), a guy who plays the siren, and a DJ who scratches in the background. Nice. Last album, they brought a dozen homeless guys into the studio and stabbed them to death and recorded it.

Anyway, I'm blasting ¨ LOUD and I turned up the bass and then I get a call from Indonesia. Turns out my woofers started a crazy tsunami or something. Whatever, Indonesia. Get some soundproofing or something. I'm telling you, you've got to check out my woofers.

My tweeters are top shelf too. I turn up my high end and rottweilers everywhere start boning.

You probably listen to shitty music. Maybe you like emo. I like to listen to emo...when my pussy's bleeding.

That's on my light flow days. On my heavy flow days, I listen to Coldplay. That way I know I can endure any level of pain.

Listening to Coldplay is like being raped in the ears with knitting needles. It's like being raped in the ears by Chris Martin and then he ejaculates all over your brain. And you know what Chris Martin ejaculates? Sensitivity and anti-sweatshop pamphlets. He coats your brain with a viscous moral certitude.

I bet you like the Dave Matthews Band. Every Dave Matthews album should come with a sweatband. That way, after you're done listening, you can wipe the suck off your face.

Maybe you like the White Stripes. They used to be cool, before they sold out. I was into them in the early days, before they even put out a record. Before they even played instruments. I was into them when they were embryos. I got a bootleg of Jack White's ultrasound on a white label 7-inch. I said, "This kid's got something." And then he was born and I said, "Sell out." Being born is a totally mainstream move. Stay true to the womb next time, Jack.

Now I've got my eyes on a new prodigy, a four year old kid who lives in New Mexico. He plays a mean "Chopsticks" on the pan flute. Pan flute is totally hot right now. Lots of gypsy influence to his playing. And Romanian gypsy, not that Hungarian gypsy crap.

Alright, I'm gonna go listen to my new favorite band. They're called Wolfowitz. They're from the South Pole. The lead singer is an Eskimo who sings sea chants. Then there's one guy who plays sitar, one guy on lute, a choir of Gregorian monks, a theremin player, three guys who play the laptop, two guys who play moog, a brass section, and a DJ who scratches. They only record inside caves. Their new album sucks, but they've got a couple of B-sides that are cool.


Forgiving France

Congress Warms to France’s New President:

The United States Congress welcomed Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, with loud cheers and standing ovations, a sign that France had been forgiven for opposing the American-led war in Iraq.

How can you forgive someone for opposing something disastrous? "Yeah, remember that thing we were totally wrong about...we forgive you for being so right. When you said don't go to war with Iraq, we forgive you for that. When you said there were no WMD, we forgive you for that. When you said it'd be a big mess, we forgive you for that." How big of us. Maybe we should also "forgive" them for having good food too.

Chinese fire drill

Ya know who’s funny? Foreigners. They’re all like “Oooga booga…I don’t speak your language.” Hilarious!

I like how whenever something is bizarre, we call it “Chinese.” Chinese fire drill, Chinese checkers, Chinese water torture, Chinese handcuffs…Yet none of those are actually Chinese. We just use “Chinese” whenever we need to describe something that’s strange.

We should do this with other stuff too. Call a toupée a "Chinese mohawk." Tell a girl who’s PMSing: “Are you having your Chinese days?” Call a handjob a "Chinese handshake." You get the idea.


Bowery Poetry Club and Kabin tonight

I'm appearing at 2 shows tonight in the East Village. Work it...

Brainyaxe Mind Comedy
Thursday Nov 15th @ 8 p.m.
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery (btwn Houston & Bleecker)

...and after that I'll be here:

Thursday Nov 15th @ 9:30 p.m.
In the back room


Advance warning for next Flying Carpet at Rififi

FREE comedy extravaganza
Tuesday, Nov. 27 (9:45pm)
RIFIFI at 332 E. 11th St. btwn 1st and 2nd Ave.
Featuring Will Franken, Reggie Watts, Julie Klausner, and Jerk Practice.

Gonna be a good one!


Video: Simon Beauregard's Guide to America

Simon Beauregard, France's #1 insult comic, talks about America's food, fashion, politics, and more.

New Vimeo channel for Sandpaper Suit

I've created a Vimeo channel for my video clips. Check it out. If you haven't been to Vimeo before, it's got lots of cool homemade clips (example) and less douchebaggy comments than YouTube.


Big Buck Hunter Pro

Kinda weird that the #1 video game here in NYC at every bar that's packed with liberals is "Big Buck Hunter Pro." They're all PETA-loving vegan liberals that hate rednecks, yet they LOVE to shoot Bambis with a big plastic rifle.

People make fun of rednecks who live in the south but at least they really HATE what they hate. There's no bar in rural Mississippi with a video game called Gay Pride Parade Pro. No one's playing "Operation: The Abortion Doctor Edition." "Pull out the fetus without scraping the sides! Bonus points for a third trimester kill!! Bzzzzzz. Awww, your clinic just got bombed."

No, they really hate us. Except for bagels. Everyone loves bagels. But I think you can love bagels yet still hate the Jews. That's allowed.


Have a Tyra Halloween!

Happy Halloween! My free costume suggestion: Go as Tyra-nnosaurus Rex...1/2 Tyra Banks, 1/2 dinosaur.

Tyra-nnasaurus Rex 1

Tyra-nnasaurus Rex 2



Comedy is binary

In Up the Mountain Slowly, Very Slowly, a mountain climber, who also has a dayjob as an accountant, says, “At work, the results of the decisions I make are always hard to gauge. This situation is clear — either you make it or you don’t.”

It reminds me of one of my fave parts of doing standup: There's no mystery about it. When you're in front a crowd, you know exactly how you're doing. People either laugh or they don't. In so many other art forms, it's subjective. With comedy, it's binary. The switch is on or off.

It's all part of the rawness. It's just you and your words. No instruments, no canvas, no middleman. Just put up or shut up. Love that.


Unbelievable video

aquanetWatch this video of a blind boy who has mastered echolocation. It is totally unbelievable. Not the echolocation thing...that the kid's mom's name is actually Aquanetta. Incredible!


"I'm a woman trapped inside a man's body"

It's weird when drag queens say, "I'm a woman trapped inside a man's body." How come that woman is always one who wears slutty clothes, 6-inch heels, and way too much makeup? Shouldn't it sometimes be a shy librarian type of girl that's trapped inside of them? You never hear anyone saying, "I'm a lesbian trapped inside a man's body...So I just look like a normal guy."

Update: Saw John Mulaney the other night and he did a totally similar joke. Maybe I heard him do it another time? I can't even remember but I'll err on the side of caution and drop this idea.


Thoughts from Seinfeld, Stewart, Conway, and Oswalt

Things that stood out from a couple of interviews with pro comics I recently watched/heard. I'll paraphrase...

Jerry Seinfeld: "The best part of being a comedian is getting to hang out with other comedians."

Jon Stewart: "You need to develop an internal barometer about what you think is good or bad. Don't fall in love with the audience."

Tim Conway: "Say it once, it's funny. Say it three times, it's less funny. Say it 19 times, it's hilarious."

Patton Oswalt: "Always go too far. Going too far turns ordinary into an event."

Patton mentioned Louis CK's "Why?" bit as a great example of digging deep on a single premise. It starts at around 7:00 in during the clip below:


People we hate, they're just like us!

"Celebrities, they're just like us!" No, they're not. You know who's just like us? People we hate. The guy who works in the cubicle next to ours, he's just like us. People who write blogs that no one reads, they're just like us. Matthew McCaunaghey = nothing like us. We don't play bongos naked, no one takes pictures of our abs while we jog on the beach, and we don't get to use Penelope Cruz as a beard to cover up our gayness.


Comedy and the art of timing

Fellow standup NB used to write for a big sketch show. Now he's back to doing standup. I thought it was revealing when he once responded to a heckler by pointing out the frequency with which he was getting laughs. "I'm getting laughs every 11 seconds here and you're heckling me!?" It seemed like he had an actual formula in mind: X laughs per minute = success. Maybe writing for TV instills that thought process.

Or maybe it's just a rhythm thing. Once you get people into the rhythm of your jokes, they find the beat. And that can be as important for laughing as it is for dancing.

Rhythm is key in other artforms too. Here's an article that talks about how crucial timing is in movie shots:

In verse studies, scholars count syllables, feet and stresses; in film studies, we time shots. "If I use one word, I would have to say timing," Chuck Norris said in a recent interview to ABC’s Nightline answering what attribute won him six karate world titles. "Timing I think was my key thing. I was able to figure out the timing to close the gap between my opponent and myself and move back, and that was I think the key." Much like martial arts, or like poetry and music, cinema is the art of timing. This explains why, early on, filmmakers as Abel Gance or Dziga Vertov in the 1920s, or as Peter Kubelka or Kurt Kren in the 1960s not only counted frames when editing, but also drew elaborate diagrams and color charts in order to visualize the rhythm of their future film. This also explains why a number of scholars interested in the history of film style (as Barry Salt in England, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson in the US or Charles O’Brien in Canada) count shots and time film lengths to calculate the average shot lengths of the films and/or use these data in their study.

Back to NB, we also discussed laugh tracks on tv. I feel like laugh tracks suck and mentioned how shows like The (British) Office or Curb didn't need them. NB said something like, "Sure, they're funny. But ratings-wise, they don't compare to shows with laugh tracks. There's never been a non-laugh track comedy in the Top 10." Hmm, maybe people really do need that sort of audio cue to wake up their brain to punchlines.


The real Moby links up the "Kill Moby" video I made

Moby posted the "Kill Moby" video I created at his MySpace blog!

ok, i’m not necessarily in favor of people trying to kill me...

but i did think that this video was funny.

i especially like the image of me being eaten by a tyrannosauraus rex. and if you're going to die, it might as well be at the hands of a very young hall -n- oates. poor oates, he didn't even get to pull the trigger... -moby

p.s-with things like this i can never tell if the person making it genuinely hates me or is just trying to be funny. or maybe a combo of the two?

Check out the original 27 Ways to Kill Moby post here.

Podcasts and mashups

I want to start a podcast made up exclusively of mashups.

Now, for those of you who don't know, a podcast is like a radio show...but for people who don't have any friends. And a mashup is when you take two songs that completely suck and then combine them into one song that's brilliant.

I've been working hard on creating my own mashups lately. My latest is a combination of Christina (or, as I like to call her, Xtina) Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" with Cisqo's "The Thong Song." I call it "Genie in a Thong" and it is outrageously genius. It sounds like Rachmaninoff. That's a classical composer. I've never heard him before I read about him. That's how good my ears are, I can just read about someone and know what they sound like.

I've also worked up a mashup that combines Kelly Clarkson's "Since You Been Gone" with the moans of a dying pelican. It's a political statement. Blowing in the Wind 2007, if you will. This song moves people. Last time I played it, at least two South American governments were overthrown.


Lessons from Improv 101 at UCB

Ari Voukydis was my teacher for Improv 101 at UCB. I learned a lot from him about not only improv, but big picture lessons about comedy. I took a bunch of notes during the class but never got around to typing them up...until now. Here's a sampling:

More of your scenes should be bad than good. If you're not failing, you're sticking to your comfort zone.

Laughter and surprise go together: Laughter is there to tell the tribe that a surprise is safe.

The hard part of improv: Being willing to be a jackass.

You have to agree with your scene partner: "Yes, and..." That forces people to say things that add info. Don't ask questions unless they add information.

Within 3 lines, you should establish who, what, where.

Don't try to be funny. You want a real emotional reaction, you're not crafting jokes. Let the scene be funny, don't make it funny. It's like getting laid...You'll accomplish your goal a lot more if you don't try so hard.

Characters need to care about something.

Don't go negative. It's easy to disagree but it leads to a bad place. Antagonism is not funny.

Needy is not funny. Trying to be funny makes you look like you're trying not to be unfunny. It's like falling in love, you can't look for it...It just happens.

Give up on the part of the brain that goes to fear, safety, advance planning, etc. Be afraid. Lose the left brain analytical guy. That part of the brain kills improv.

How do you get good? Time and failure. You just have to get your shitty scenes out of the way.

Comedy relies on truth and specificity.

"Do I believe you?" is key to scenes. And so are details. They fill in the blank canvas. Someone who drinks Maker's Mark on the rocks is totally different than someone who drinks Kamikaze shots. Attention to detail is your best friend.

Pretend to use stuff ("object work"). 75% of great info in a scene comes from object work.

Everything you do on stage is true. Don't point a gun with a finger or use fingers as a phone. Pretend to hold a phone the real way.

Aristotle: "Character is revealed by conduct." How you do what you do is who you are.

Two questions in object work...1) Q: How do I do this. A: Just fucking do it. 2) Q: Am I doing this right? A: Yes. There's no "I don't know how to do this."

Three parts to a scene: action, emotion, and dialogue. If the audience thinks you're afraid, they won't laugh.

Be aware of your sight lines, face the fourth wall.

Narrow the gulf between the way humans behave and the way improvisers behave.

Emotions are the most important part of the scene.

Show, don't tell. The less you cockblock the scene, the better. Just let it happen.

Don't talk about what you're doing, talk bout something mundane that reveals your character (like Tarantino's hit men discussing Big Macs).

Improvisers always like longer scenes. Audiences always like shorter ones. Three line scenes can be surprisingly good. People like performing long, but audiences like watching quick.

Character work: Everything you need is in the first three seconds of a scene.

Try leading with a body part. Lead with your chin or your shoulders or your elbows and the character will follow.

Pick someone you know and play a cartoon version of them.

Don't worry about being funny. Be real.

Sing or don't sing, but don't debate whether to do it.

Everything that happens is real.

Comedy is tension broken.

It's ok if a scene isn't funny. Be ballsy and it will work. People onstage are the worst at judging whether or not something's funny.

Follow the path of least resistance.

Making sense doesn't matter.

Listening is manifesting a will to change.

Status is a manifestation of where a person sees themself in the world. There's a difference between status and rank. High status + low rank = a retarded snob. High/low status dichotomies are the bases of lots of sitcoms: "Who's the boss?," "Mr. Belvedere," Etc.

We tend to compress when we repeat things.

The game of the scene = what the scene's really all about. It has nothing to do with the plot of the scene. It's the pattern that repeats itself (like the theme in a Seinfeld or Curb episode).

Finding the game: Find the first unusual thing that happens in the scene, and repeat it or expand on it. Why is it unusual? How can you use that? If this, then what else?

Want more? At the end of the class, Ari handed us some this collection of Improv Scene Work Notes by Ian Roberts. There's lots of good stuff there too.


Flying Carpet this Thursday night at Rififi at 8pm

FREE comedy extravaganza
Thu, Oct 11 (8-9:30pm)
332 E. 11th St. btwn 1st and 2nd Ave.

Hosted by Matt Ruby (http://www.sandpapersuit.com) and Mike Burns (http://www.myspace.com/mikeburnsmikeburns).


John F. O'Donnell (http://www.myspace.com/johnfodonnell)
Comedy Central, MTV

Matt Goldich (http://www.mattgoldich.com/)
Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend”

Sean Patton (http://www.myspace.com/seanpatton)
Hosts shows at Kabin and The Creek and the Cave

...and more


Brooklyn car service

The cab situation in Brooklyn is weird because everyone uses these random car services instead of normal cabs. "Oh yeah, just get in one of the random black Lincoln Towncars with tinted windows that drive by and honk at you. That's just the way cabs work here." This goes against everything you've ever learned about whom to take rides from. I wonder if there's a place where the cab situations is even more bizarre. "Yeah, just get in one of those beat up old vans with the creepy drooling guy driving it. He'll pull over and offer you some candy. Oh, and the van will have a sign on the back that says 'You will be raped inside this van.' That's just the way cabs work here."


Look like you know what you're doing

Saw the improv group Mother at UCB recently. They were all strong but one guy, Jason Mantzoukas, really killed it. This interview with him has some good bits about improv and comedy in general.

On owning the stage...

That’s what makes improv fail onstage -- when people can’t be confident on stage or feel comfortable on stage. Improv is the only world in which there’s a contract between the audience and the group that we all know you’re making this up so we’ll be forgiving to a degree, but if you show any weakness, if you’re at all nervous or hesitant, the audience shuts you off completely. ‘I don’t feel comfortable because I know the person’s failing.’ And they clam up.

That’s why people who just own the stage will get laughs at something that’s not even that funny. The audience is reacting with relief that it’s going well. ‘Thank god this person knows what they’re doing. This is great.’ That’s something you learn by standing in front of an audience and doing it.

On comedy career paths...

That’s one of the super-frustrating things about a career in this industry -- there is no path, there is no way to do it. Everyone starts out at the beginning of the forest, is given a machete and told the end is somewhere out there, figure it out. You have to chop your way through the whole things.

On using patterns onstage...

The thing is, all games are is patterns -- patterns of behavior. Patterns should be a tool you use all the time. It’s a grounding device that allows you, your partner and the audience to understand that you’re still playing within the constructs that you’ve established for them to understand forward movement...Otherwise improv could be so diffuse that you could very easily lose people because it doesn’t make sense, so a pattern always helps you.

It’s like chord changes in a jazz solo. You understand what’s underneath it and you get it. It’s different now but it’s still John Coltrane playing “My Favorite Things.” You recognize “My Favorite Things” even though it sounds nothing like it right now. I grew up playing drums and playing jazz, so that’s how I think of it a lot. The pattern exists, and then I’m just playing on top of it.


Flying Carpet on Thursday with Dave Hill, Baron Vaughn, and more

Flying Carpet on Oct. 4, 2007

FREE Standup Comedy Extravaganza
Mo Pitkin's (Downstairs)
Thursday, Oct 4 @ 9pm

Hosted by Matt Ruby and featuring:

Dave Hill (http://www.davehillonline.com/)
One of Variety Magazine's "10 Comics to Watch" in 2007

Baron Vaughn (http://www.baronvaughn.com/)
From the new MTV show "Gamekillers"

Mike Burns (http://www.myspace.com/mikeburnsmikeburns)

Adam Lowitt (http://www.myspace.com/adamlowitt)
The Daily Show

Joe List (http://www.myspace.com/joelist)
Finalist in Ziddio's Lucky 21 "Comedy Festival" contest

Jena Friedman (http://www.myspace.com/jenawilli)
Creator of "The Refugee Girls"

This will be the last Flying Carpet at Mo's (it's closing at the end of the month) so come on out!

Iron Chef secret ingredients are getting lame

TV producers are getting lazy. Case in point: Iron Chef. You know what they recently had as a secret ingredient? Breakfast. Um, breakfast is a *meal*. A meal is different than an ingredient. There's no recipe that calls for "2 tbsp of flour, 3 eggs, and 4 cups of dinner."

Then, two weeks later, they revealed the worst secret ingredient ever: Farmer's market. Farmer's market!? What kind of challenge is it to have the secret ingredient be EVERY ingredient that's available at a market. An unlimited selection of fresh, organic ingredients delivered directly from a farm...I'm sure the chefs were mystified..."How am I supposed to make anything with this? I'm paralyzed by choice." It's an existential challenge.

Really, how hungover were the execs when they approved this one? "Ah, fuck it. Just let 'em cook whatever they want. Make the ingredient a supermarket, what the hell do I care?"

Maybe they'll start doing unchallenging challenges on other shows too: "Tonight on Survivor, the tribes will have to create fire using nothing but these gasoline-filled blowtorches we've provided!"


Don't get the pony

I love Steven Wright. But his new album, "I Still Have a Pony," is, um, not so good. And by "not so good" I mean bad. 15-odd years between albums = maybe there's a reason for that. Best bet for Wright fans: Watch Zach Galifianakis' Live at the Purple Onion instead.


The Beckhams

David and Victoria Beckham named their child Brooklyn because that is where they sold their souls to the devil.


Too soon?

I get a kick out of comics who tell a joke on a touchy subject and then ask, "Too soon?" when people don't laugh. Because invariably the problem is not "too soon"...it's "too not funny."

Sorry, chronology is not the problem. People don't think, "I liked the joke, but it was just too timely."

Saying "too soon" after a crappy joke is like setting up a chick on a date with a homeless guy and then, when she complains, saying, "Too tall? It's because he's too tall, right?" A: "No, it's because he's too not having a home."


Dissecting "Legs" by ZZ Top

I am obsessed with the song "Legs" by ZZ Top.

The lyric goes, "She's got legs and she knows how to use them." Apparently ZZ Top is easy to impress. You merely have to 1) not be an amputee and 2) know how to walk.

I think that's definitely a better lyric than "She's got legs and she's a parapalegic." Because what do you rhyme with that...strategic?...collegiate? No way.

The lyrics get even better in the second verse: "She's got hair down to her fanny. She's kinda jet set, try undo her panties." Chew on that, Bob Dylan!

You should also watch the video for the song:

As you can see, it is very subtle. I think it was influenced a lot by Francois Truffaut's "The 400 Blows." Keep an eye out for the shoe salesman who is also the generic evil guy in every 80s video. His acting is sublime.

The plot really twists too: There's this girl. And at first, she's kinda homely. If she was a duck, she'd be an unattractive one. But by the end, she's transformed into a total fox! Bet you didn't see that coming. I think that would be a good plot to use in a play or a movie or something.


The outrage over Michael Vick

I just can't believe what Michael Vick did to those dogs.

How on earth could an athlete who's been trained from a young age to compete in a vicious, brutal sport...that causes terrible injuries...merely for the entertainment value of others who like to place bets on it...think it could be alright to train animals from a young age to compete in a vicious, brutal sport...that causes terrible injuries...merely for the entertainment value of others who like to place bets on it.

I'm outraged.

In other news, I'm taking the Bears (-3) over the Lions this week. If Rex Grossman turns the ball over again, I'll kill him!


The Audiophile

New character I'm working on: The Audiophile. This clip from Rev Jen Anti-Slam at Mo Pitkin's.


NYC venue watch

Went to Kingdom of Heaven at The Creek and the Cave in LIC last night. Maybe the best open mic crowd I've ever seen. Really into it. And Baron Vaughn killed it at the end as the "Comedian of Merit" (all the other comics were meritless?). Looking forward to having Baron at the next Flying Carpet.

Re: Lower East Side. After performing in front of a lame crowd at Piano's the other week, a comic told me he's never had a good show in that neighborhood (LES). I thought that seemed a little ridiculous. But then I thought about it. And I've never seen a killer comedy show at a venue south of Houston. Hmm. Is there something about the 'hood that prevents people from laughing? Maybe everyone's too cool for school there?


27 Ways to Kill Moby

There are voices in my head and they keep telling me one thing: "Kill Moby." Featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Indians, Beyoncé, a monster truck, Justin Timberlake, chainsaws, and more.

I spent last weekend creating the music and images in the video. Why? Check out these 100% real Moby-related headlines at Yahoo:

Moby Says Iraqi Problem Too Complicated To Have An Opinion

Moby Discusses NASA Shuttle Tragedy

Moby Has Near Brush With Eminem

Moby Thanks Fans For Support After Beatdown

Moby Depressed About American Foreign Policy

Moby Takes On Butterball Turkeys For PETA

Moby Chimes In On Potential Iraq Attack

Moby Has Idea For September 11 Commemoration

Moby Upset By Terror Attacks On Israel

Moby Fuming Over Toxic Fumes From Twin Towers

Moby On Afghanistan Attack

Moby On Inducting Steely Dan Into Rock Hall

Moby Wants To Be Fifth Member Of U2

...and my personal favorite: Moby Attacked By Cat.

Moby was whisked to a New York City hospital on Tuesday (January 2) for treatment for a cat bite sustained on New Year's Day. Moby was walking around Chinatown when a nice gesture on the techno rocker's part went awry.

"I was walking around Chinatown (as I'm wont to do...is it 'want' or 'wont'? My Chaucerian English is pretty crappy) and I stopped to pet a street cat (as I'm wont to do) and the street cat attacked me (as they're wont to do) and it bit my hand very deeply (as they're wont to do. Ok, I'll stop now)," wrote Moby on his website.

He added, "Throughout the day my hand got more and more infected and swollen and sore. But I, being relatively stoic, just went about my business, assuming that my relative youth and relative health would prevent me from getting rabies or whatever diseases were floating around in this cat's mouth. But no. I went to sleep with a sore hand, only to be awoken at some ungodly hour (9 a.m.) with tons of pain and the inability to move my fingers."

"So, being of sound mind and body, I went to my local emergency room where I was rushed into the 'urgent care' ward and given a tetanus shot and some mega-dose of antibiotics. The doctors told me that cat bites are extremely serious (especially when delivered by the foul-mouthed denizens of dumpsters in Chinatown) and they reprimanded me for not coming in right after it happened."

Fuck. I totally thought petting cats in Chinatown was a good idea. There go my weekend plans.


Pillow Talk With Anthony Moscowitz

I'll be performing at this show tomorrow at Rififi...


Pillow Talk With Anthony Moscowitz
Anthony Moscowitz(created by Livia Scott) is a writer living in New York City. Join him and a special line up of comedy all-stars as he explores the world of seduction and tries to learn how to become a PUA. (that's "Pick Up Artist" for those "in the know")

TUESDAY, SEPT. 18th @ 10PM
332 East 11th St.

Brandy & Sara (The Kissing Booth)
Sven Wechlser (Brainayxe)
and Matt Ruby (Flying Carpet at Mo'Pitkins)


The brotherhood of magic and comedy

Magic goes for ooh's and aahs, comedy goes for laughter. But they both come from the same place: surprise. Get people to expect one thing and then elicit a reaction with an unexpected twist.

Sleights of Mind is a look at the mental stuff that makes magic work. It discusses about how magic takes advantage of the tendency of people to see patterns and make assumptions.

The cognitive illusions that masquerade as magic: disguising one action as another, implying data that isn’t there, taking advantage of how the brain fills in gaps — making assumptions, as The Amazing Randi put it, and mistaking them for facts.

Sounding more like a professor than a comedian and magician, Teller described how a good conjuror exploits the human compulsion to find patterns, and to impose them when they aren’t really there.

“In real life if you see something done again and again, you study it and you gradually pick up a pattern,” he said as he walked onstage holding a brass bucket in his left hand. “If you do that with a magician, it’s sometimes a big mistake.”

Take this Steven Wright joke: "The Stones, I love the Stones. I watch them whenever I can. Fred, Barney..." It's pretty much a magic trick, just with words. You set 'em up in one direction (Mick & Keith) and then tweak 'em with the twist (Fred & Barney).

The Rule of Threes works this way too. Set up a pattern on the first two items and then break out of it in a ridiculous way on the third. (Lots of lame hack jokes work this way. For example: "I only know three French words: Bonjour, merci, and surrender.") This look at the Rule of Three gives priest, nun, rabbi jokes as an example:

The subconscious, the minute it sees the rabbi walk up to the bar, has already filled in the blank. It knows what’s coming next because it figured out the pattern and is feeling pretty smug about it. That’s when the rabbi delivers the twist. It’s the surprise, the jerk away from the expected path that brings the laugh.

Speaking of magic, one of the people I most enjoy seeing perform is a Chicago magician named Bibik. He works parties and events doing up close magic tricks and riffing along the way. He's slightly off but in a great way: he insults the crowd, performs the same trick several times, works in some props, etc.

The funniest thing I ever saw him do: Wave over a Mexican guy selling tamales in a bar, pull out a wallet, and reach for a $20 bill that then exploded in flames. The tamale guy, who had no idea Bibik was a magician, looked as if he'd just seen a ghost. Bibik offered him the charred $20 but he ran off. Good times.

One last tangent: In Steve Martin's new book, he talks about how he began performing as a magician and the impact it had on his career. Here's him doing "The Great Flydini" on the Tonight Show.


Playing a character

It's liberating to perform as a character. As Mike Burns told me, "When you're in character, you can get away with anything."

Had this IM chat the other day on the same topic:

JF: just saw the france thing. why going in that direction?
MR: when you're in character, you can get away with a lot more. sorta andy kaufman/sasha baron cohen mentality.
JF: Just a experiment?
MR: i've been taking improv classes and that pushed me a bit to try out more character stuff.
JF: gotchya
MR: started as experiment but it's gone so well i'm working on more.
JF: easier to get laughs with an accent?
MR: foreigners are funny. anything strange/surprising is easier to be funny with.
JF: definitely. once you push people off balance it's probably easier to get a reaction out of them.
MR: yeah, when people are laughing before u even tell a joke. that's when you've got em. and i see so much standup that i get bored w/ the same ol same ol. fun to do something different. and when u think about it, a lot of great comedy comes from people playing characters...even if it's not obviously that. larry david, mitch hedberg, groucho marx, steven wright, etc. all caricatures.
JF: I can dig that.


Big Gulp full of breast milk

A recent set as Simon Beauregard, France's #1 standup comic, at Comedy Village.


See me at FREE IT IS IT comedy tonight at Piano's

Come out for IT IS IT Tonight Sept. 10th.

Rob Cantrell, The Late Late Show
Larry Murphy, Adult Swim
Max Silvestri, VH1
Shonali Bhowmik, Tigers and Monkeys
Matt Ruby, Sandpaper Suit
Joe Pickett & Nick Prueher, Found Footage Festival

Hosted by Adam Lowitt

8pm at Pianos 158 Ludlow at Stanton FREE


Demetri Martin added to Thursday's Flying Carpet

Just added to Thursday's Flying Carpet show at Mo Pitkin's: Demetri Martin.

Did Jamie Foxx rip off Richard Pryor's bit about Africa?

Check out the similarity between these Foxx and Pryor bits on the way people smell in Africa:

Not the most original idea here so I can def see how Foxx would come up with it on his own. But then again, could Foxx really not know the Pryor bit at all? It's from "Live at the Sunset Strip," one of Pryor's biggest concert movies.


Stingrays, jj's, and Flying Carpet on Thursday

Howdy you. Flying Carpet's back in action this Thursday. It'll be UPSTAIRS at Mo Pitkin's and free. Starts at 7pm *sharp* so don't lollygag.

FREE Standup Comedy Extravaganza
Thu, Aug 30 at 7pm
Mo Pitkin's (Upstairs)
Ave A btwn 2nd and 3rd Streets

Demetri Martin (http://www.demetrimartin.com/)
Joe Alexander (http://www.myspace.com/kingjaffi)
Matt Ruby (http://www.sandpapersuit.com)
Raquel D'Apice (http://www.myspace.com/theuglyvolvo)
Matt Maragno (http://www.myspace.com/mattmaragno)
Sean O'Connor (http://www.myspace.com/thecomedyofseanoconnor)
Brooke Van Poppelen (http://www.myspace.com/brookevpcomedy)
...and special guest!?

Flying Carpet on Aug 30

* The picture on the flyer is of a stingray. I took it at the Baltimore Aquarium. But quite a few people who have seen this flyer see something different when they look at it. They see female naughty parts. You know what I call these people? Perverts.

** That said, it would be pretty awesome if a girl referred to her jj as a "stingray." Ladies, work on it.


Upcoming shows: Flying Carpet and Transmissions

Thursday night is the next edition of Flying Carpet. We're in the upstairs room at 7pm. More details coming soon.

And you can also catch me at Michael Mattera's Transmissions show on Monday night. Details below...


Transmissions - Monday August 27th @ 9pm

Here's the Lineup:

Colin Kane: The Village Lantern, Caroline's Comedy Club
Mindy Raf: Mo' Pitkins, Vh1, College Humor.com, The Post Show
Jamie Lee: Archers of Ha, The Village Ma
Carolyn Castiglia: Vh1, MTV, ....and pretty much every alt. room
Matt Ruby: The Comedy Village, Mo' Pitkins
Dan Soder: K-Rock radio, The Comedy Village, Stand-Up NY
Amanda Beales: The Boston Com. Fest., The Laugh Lounge, Comix

Monday August 27th, 2007 - 9:00P
"Transmissions" @ The Slipper Room
167 Orchard Street (corner of Stanton)
Manhattan , NY
Cost: $5 Cover....NO DRINK MINIMUM!


The importance of connection

Paraphrase: "It's not about the lines, it's about the connection. Connection is more important than being witty or clever or the lines you've written."

That's David Steinberg's p.o.v. on why he and Johnny Carson worked so well together. With Steinberg, Carson could abandon his notes and just go with the flow. The audience sensed that and was turned on by it.

It's true for the standup/audience relationship too. If they feel a connection with you, you're way closer to laughs. It's a good reason to be ok with abandoning written material in order to just talk to the room.


Living strong

Thank you people who buy those Live Strong bracelets. You've really made a difference. You spent a whole $1 to fight cancer. Most people think a dime or .50 is enough. Not you. You've gone all in to combat this killer. You are clearly living strong. I tip my hat to you. And I'm inspired. I'm off to fight global warming by throwing a couple of ice cubes in the ocean.

And also thank you to the people who wear those ribbons for a charity. You know, the ones that symbolize that we need to save the whales who have breast cancer and work in sweatshops in Darfur. Nothing says "we're taking a REAL stand" more than synchronized accessorizing.


Last Comic Standing is a waste of time

Enough with comics bitching about Last Comic Standing "destroying the credibility of the art of standup" or being "sick" and "unseemly" for forcing contestants to heckle each other.

First off, what credibility?

Second off, who cares? It's obvious how lame the show is: The tryout process is rigged (all contestants already determined beforehand). The judges, ex-contestants, are comics who are less funny than a lot of the auditioners. Shows are edited terribly (the routines are chopped up so bad you don't even know what's happening). The laugh tracks are way overdone and the cut-to-audience-member-laughing-hysterically takes are way fake. And some guy in a gorilla mask keeps showing up. Cuz gorilla masks are so funny!

Not even worth the attention. Moving on...


Mr. Met at Pinty and Pooja's wedding

Tim: Mr Met at Pinty and Pooja's wedding
Me: nice, like an ESPN commercial
Tim: go mets!
Me: [disappointed] i was hoping he was gonna barf or start feeling up chicks


"There are some women who..."

Mike Destefano to gal heckler who jokingly threatened to beat him up: "There are some women who are hot enough they can get away with acting like cunts. You're not one of those women."


Write more

Was chatting with a pro comic the other night and I asked him what he knows now that he wishes he knew when he was starting out. His answer: Write more. "There's nothing I'm writing now that I didn't have the insight and knowledge to write ten years ago. I just didn't work hard enough at it then." What about having to deal with a day job? "There's always time." Does that feeling go away? "I always feel I should have another hour of material more than I do."


Catch me tonight at Totally J/K at Rififi

10 things: Crocodile tears, fireflies, ZZ Top, etc.

You know who's funny? Foreigners.

Guys who wear a lot of keys on their belts are telling the world, "I'm really good at opening doors and really bad at opening bras."

I'm determined to win the oscar for Best Actor. I'm waiting for the perfect role though: A blind, gay, retarded cripple who has AIDS. During the holocaust. Can you say shoe-in?

Fake crying is called crocodile tears. This must make things tough for emotional crocodiles. "Don't even act like you're really sad that gazelle got away, Carl." How can you even tell if a crocodile is crying anyway? They live in water.

I like to write jokes that are offensive on multiple levels. Example: Why do Jewish women have such big tits? Because that's where they store all their complaints. Check and mate.

Little known fact: Everytime a firefly lights up, he's receiving a text message. Sample: "Chilling by flowers. Where r u?"

You can sum up all of American politics this way: Democrats want their mommy. And Republicans want their daddy. And right now, it's like Mommy's been on vacation and Daddy's been in charge of the house and while it was fun for a while the laundry is piling up, we're all sick of eating fast food every night, and there's a really incompetent Attorney General staying with us.

I like this argument against gays: "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Oh, I didn't know you were bringing hard science into this! This argument is pretty much the same as saying, "Being gay is unnatural because the unicorns and the dragons told me that's true! And the abominable snowman said to be pro-life, so I'm pro-life. And the Loch Ness Monster told me we shouldn't appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court either."

The best line from ZZ Top's "Legs": "She's got legs...and she knows how to use them." As opposed to "She's got legs, but she's a parapalegic"!? Is knowing how to use your legs that impressive? Pretty low standards guys. Line they almost went with: "She's got a pulse and her blood is still pumping."

I know why you're not laughing at any of these. It's because you hate freedom.


Two Simon Beauregard sets

Simon Beauregard, France's #1 comic, performs at The Shark Show at Mo Pitkin's on July 21:

Simon Beauregard at Comedy Village on July 23:



Discussing all the crap that Hollywood puts out...

NB: People blame the industry but I get sent all the projects they're looking at. Everything out there is crap. It's hard to write good stuff.
Me: What about Curb or the British Office?
NB: Their ratings suck compared to the top 20 shows. No show without a laugh track will ever be in the top 5.

Also from NB: "Standup is the hardest thing to do. If you can do standup, you can do anything." "Whoever writes the most will be the funniest."

I talked with GG about the limitations of performing as a character. His response: "If you can come up with one funny character, you can come up with more."


Sex swings: A.D. Miles vs. The Onion

A.D. Miles does a funny bit about his divorce and an unused sex swing full of dirty laundry. In the most recent Onion, there's an article titled Butterfly Fuck-Swing Filled With Junk Mail. Hmm.


Excerpts from "Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life" by Steve Martin

martinGot my mitts on an advance copy (available in November) of "Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life" by Steve Martin. It's all about his years doing standup and how he got started. It's a quick read and really interesting if you're a fan. Some highlights below.

His most persistent memory of stand-up:

I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the boy delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rare — enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford.

The best opening lines he ever heard:

The best opening line I ever heard was from Sam Kinison...He said, "You're going to see a lot of comedians tonight; some will be good, some will be okay. But there's a difference between me and them. Them, you might want to see again sometime." But wait — maybe the best opening line I heard was Richard Pryor's, after he started two hours late in front of a potentially miffed crowd at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. He said simply, "Hope I'm funny."

He developed material by translating what made him laugh in life:

I came up with several schemes for developing material. "I laugh in life," I thought, "so why not observe what it is that makes me laugh?" And if I did spot something that was funny, I decided not to just describe it as happening to someone else, but to translate it into the first person, so it was happening to me. A guy didn't walk into a bar, I did. I didn't wat it to appear that others were nuts; I wanted it to appear that I was nuts.

He believed in contradiction:

Lewis Carroll's clever fancies from the 19th century expanded my definition of what comedy could be. I began closing my show by announcing, "I'm not going home tonight; I'm going to Bananaland, a place where only two things are true, only two things: One, all chairs are green; and two, no chairs are green." Not at Lewis Carroll's level, but the line worked for my contemporaries, and I loved implying that the one thing I believed in was a contradiction.

Defense against loudmouths:

I developed a few defensive lines to use against the unruly: "Oh, I remember when I had my first beer," and if that didn't cool them off, I would use a psychological trick. I would lower my voice and continue with my act, talking almost inaudibly. The audience couldn't hear the show, and they would shut the heckler up on their own.

Try to make the waitresses laugh:

There was a sign of encouragment from these early jobs, and years later I heard it phrased perfectly by Bill Cosby. He said that early in his career when the audience wasn't laughing, he could hear the waitresses laughing, and they saw the show night after night. I noticed that the waitresses were laughing.

Making an audience remember him:

At the end of my closing-night show at the Troubadour, I stood onstage and took out five bananas. I peeled them, put one on my head, one in each pocket, and squeezed one in each hand. Then I read the last line of my latest bad review: "Sharing the bill with Poco this week is comedian Steve Martin...his 25 minute routine failed to establish any comic identity that would make the audience remember him or the material." Then I walked off the stage.

What's hard is being consistent:

It was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking...What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances.

How he worked in new material:

When I had new material to try, I would break it down into its smallest elements, literally a gesture or a few words, then sneak it into the act in its shortest form, being careful not to dsirupt the flow of the show. If it worked, the next night I would add the next discreet packed until the bit either filled out or died. I can remember bailing out of a bit because I didn't want to be trapped in it for the next five minutes. The easiest way was to pretend I'd gotten distracted by something and then completely change track.

Other quick thoughts:

Comedy's enemy is distraction.

[On Laurel and Hardy] This is where I got the idea that jokes are funniest when played upon oneself.

Through the years, I have learned there is no harm in charging oneself up with delusions between moments of valid inspiration.

"Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life" at Amazon.


Flying Carpet takes off on Saturday

FREE Standup Comedy Extravaganza
Sat, July 28 at 7pm
Mo Pitkin's (Downstairs)
Ave A btwn 2nd and 3rd Streets

Check out this lineup!
Neal Brennan (co-creator/writer of Chappelle Show)
Larry Murphy (http://www.myspace.com/lsmurphy)
Matt McCarthy (http://www.myspace.com/howcanthisnamebetaken)
Jesse Popp (http://www.myspace.com/jwpopp)
Noah Garfinkel (http://www.myspace.com/noahgarf)
Dan Soder (http://www.myspace.com/scareddan)
Matt Ruby (http://www.sandpapersuit.com)
& more!?

...Hosted by Simon Beauregard (France's #1 standup comic!)

Flying Carpet on July 28


World champion Judah Friedlander

Seen Judah Friedlander (30 Rock) perform a bunch of times in the past couple of months and I really dig his act. It's all one joke: He's a fat slob who claims to be world champion...of everything.

This one joke is stretched as far as it can go. Sex, sports, whatever, he's the best. He's ready for anywhere the crowd takes it. You play softball? He plays hardball. And yesterday he bunted a home run. And before that he pitched a perfect game, from left field. Etc. It's all got an old-school, Rickles-ish schtick feel to it.

He sells it by not selling it. He delivers it in a "I couldn't care less about all this" tone. He's turned not giving a shit into his whole act. (Nice performance work if you can get it.) Still, he's super quick with crowdwork and totally on point with his timing and delivery.

Pros to doing something like this: tight focus, easy hook for people to remember you, anyone can get it, etc. Cons: I wonder if it feels limiting to have your entire act be about one topic?


George Bush and The Shaggy Doctrine

George Bush's foreign policy approach: The Shaggy Doctrine (i.e. the solution to being caught red-handed in a bad situation is to deny, deny, deny).

To be a true player you have to know how to play
If she say a night, convince her say a day
Never admit to a word when she say makes a claim
And you tell her baby no way

They found no weapons of mass destruction? It wasn't me. We started an Iragi civil war? It wasn't me. Butt naked, banging on the bathroom floor? It wasn't me.

George, how could you forget that you had given us an extra key?


The way a comic sounds

I realized the other night I listen to comics the way I listen to songs. I'm hearing the rhythm and melody first. If that doesn't hook me, I probably won't even pay attention to the lyrics.

The comic equivalent: I don't pay attention to the words if the delivery is weak (no confidence, no timing, no selling the jokes, etc.) Especially if it's one of those shows where there's a bunch of meh comics. If you don't sound like you're worth paying attention to, I'm tuning you out. It's self-defense, really.

A good comic sounds like a good comic. Listen to Chappelle or Galifianakis and they just sound funny. Take out the words and you still know where the jokes fall. Here's a clip of French comedian Raymond Devos:

I have pretty much no idea what he's talking about. But he still seems way funnier than most of the tepid comics at NYC open mics.

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