The worst Chuck Norris fact ever

I was watching TV and Chuck Norris came on the screen. Friend of mine goes “Did you know he’s a born again Christian?” THIS is your interesting Chuck Norris fact? That he's a born again Christian? I don't think you understand. Chuck Norris' testicles are fists! Do you realize that? He has fisticles!!! Who cares about his religion? He sleeps on a bed made of human skulls! Get your priorities straight. You need to learn which information to share. "This guy is the square root of destruction...and he's a Sagittarius." ONE of those things is interesting.

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Live concerts shot in a minimalist way: CK, Cosby, Pryor, and Springsteen

When asked about the minimalist style of "Chewed Up" (in the commentary track I talked about earlier), Louis CK mentions his favorite two examples of comedians caught on film: Bill Cosby "Himself" and Richard Pryor "Live in Concert" (different than Pryor's "Live on the Sunset Strip").

He points out that in both, they keep it bare bones. They never show the audience and there's a simple set. That's why he decided to go in the same direction. The idea: Glitz doesn't make people funnier. It just makes the whole thing seem like more of a production.

Cosby in "Himself":



Pryor in "Live in Concert":



CK in "Chewed Up":



CK also mentions this Bruce Springsteen video of "The River" as "one of his favorite things to watch" because it feels like "a live event captured," not an overproduced, glammed up thing.


Compare that with the cheesefest that is Bruce's "Dancing in the Dark" video and you get a pretty good idea what CK is talking about.

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Wandering with a wireless mic

I did a couple of shows that had wireless mics recently. And I decided to wander through the crowd. Fun way to open up the room.

Audio below is from the Treehouse mic where people can hang in a separate room in the back. There were more people back there than in the front so I decided to grab the wireless mic and take it to the streets. Like the Doobie Brothers. Actually, I felt more like Neil Diamond — and said so. Plus, I spotted another comic's "Aquaman vs. the Joker" comic book and decided to go off on that too.

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I'll be performing at SXSW

I've been invited to perform at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX next month. I'll be doing spots on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 (time TBD) at The Velveeta Room. Should be great crowds and fun shows (also performing: John Mulaney, Todd Barry, Nick Kroll, Eugene Mirman, Hannibal Burress, Marc Maron, etc.). Looking forward to it.

Re: sxsw_genre_comedy.png

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Highlights from the great commentary on Louis CK's "Chewed Up" DVD

The self-interview piece that's a special feature on Louis CK's "Chewed Up" DVD is totally fascinating. 36 minutes of really interesting insight into standup and his approach. Some highlights:

Building a bit like a Samurai sword
He says that lately he's been adding on to jokes more instead of just keeping them static.

Now I tend to just keep glomming onto something and adding more and more layers and pieces and then taking away stuff that was weak...It's like the way they make Samurai swords. They fold a piece of steel and bang it until it's thin. And then they fold it again and bang it again until it's thin until it's just compact and all the air and impurities are just leaving and it's just this pure, dense steel. So that's what I try to do.


Neat Samurai sword analogy. This idea of extending bits is something that's been on my mind a lot lately too. How to build on existing jokes as opposed to coming up with new ones — and trying to fold older jokes and new ones together to make more of an actual block of material. Something that's really got some meat to it as opposed to just a 30 second in-and-out thing.

Being authentic
Why he chooses to be authentic: It's more fun.

I like to do standup that's very honest. I don't think it's the only way to be a comedian. Some people the whole point of their act is that they're lying or being fantastic or really silly or absurd. I think Steven Wright is a great comedian. Nobody says, "God he's so honest." He's not one of those guys. He just has a whole different thing that makes him funny and makes him great.

For me, what guides what I decide to say or do onstage or not is, "Is this shit really true? Is this really shit you're thinking?" If it's not, you're gonna feel phony and stupid. I don't like phony. I don't like it for me.

There's times I've been getting huge laughs with a bit and then I look at it and I go, "But it ain't real." I don't really mean it. I just knew where to go to find laughs. So sometimes I throw that kind of material away after I kill with it a few times.

To me, it's not important on an integrity level. It's just that it's so much more fun to say shit that's really inside you, that really gnaws at your brain, and to share those thoughts with other people. And especially if they're thoughts that people aren't used to sharing in a humorous way, things that people aren't even used to saying out loud.

I mean beyond saying "fuck" and talking about sex. The really embarrassing unsaid truths. Those are really fun to tell an audience and have them laugh. It's something that I really enjoy. That's why I'm doing standup this way. It's because I like it.


Almost a year ago I asked, "Does great comedy have to come from a personal place?" Since then, I actually have gotten more personal with my material. I'm not 100% there but definitely doing more. And I agree that it's more fun.

One thing that's nice about the "say shit that's really inside you" approach: It really helps a lot when you're in a dead room or things aren't going smoothly. When that happens, it just feels so much better to be talking about something you actually care about instead of ranting about some silly observational thing that no one really gives a shit about. If you're gonna sink, it might as well be on a boat you believe in.

There are no bad gigs
CK also thinks comics should look to take on bad gigs.

It doesn't matter where or who the audiences are. When I meet young comedians who say, "I don't want to work the road." Or "I don't want to work that club because the audiences are stupid." You're fucking stupid. Just get onstage. Go onstage in adverse conditions, that's how you get good.

Do you really think that becoming a great comedian means finding audiences that are already ready to laugh at what you have to say? That are really nice polite audiences? Do you really think that Carlin and Pryor and Bill Cosby started out in clubs full of cool people that were ready to laugh? No. So you gotta come up through a hard road. And that's fun, if you approach it right.


So many alt comics bitch about clubs and vice versa. But there's definitely something to be said for being versatile enough to kill at both. Or anywhere else for that matter. Like Mike Lawrence told me last night, when you've got a joke that kills in a black club in Harlem, at a midtown theater show, and at an art-star mic in the East Village, that's when you know you've got something.

Start from scratch
CK's advice for aspiring standups: Throw out all your jokes.

If you're a comedian and you're killing and you think you can keep doing the same jokes for years and years — Unless you're the best comedian that ever lived, you should be throwing out all your jokes because they stink and writing new ones. 'Cuz it's not like you get worse, you only get better.


Something Mark and I talked about the other night: How it'd be neat to just throw out all our material and start from scratch. The problem: Your A-set is a lifeline you don't want to give up. Sure, you may work in a new bit here and there. But dumping it all? That's a hard pill to swallow. You're gonna go through rough spots instead of killing as much as you know you could. But I also think if you did it, you could muscle up some of your B-material and turn it into A.

And the rest...
Couple more quick CK things: He mentions that Muhammad Ali is his life hero "in every way." And he says he curses because when he doesn't, he feels like he's being dishonest.

Actually, one thing I took away from the whole interview: It feels like he's kinda addicted to telling the truth. He has to explain why an answer is cut by saying the batteries on his camera ran out. And then he explains that the light is different because he went and ate a sandwich. And when he's talking about boxing, he stops himself and says, "This is all way too serious and self-indulgent." It's like his filter is broken or something. If it's on his mind, it comes out.

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Enough with this "greatest generation" talk

Heard a couple of old timers refer to themselves as "the greatest generation" the other day. (Not exactly the humblest generation, are they?)

I'm pretty sure the greatest generation is ALWAYS the one that's just about to die. No one's gonna stick up for generations from centuries ago. You won't hear, "Those guys in the 1820's really kicked the shit out of smallpox."

It's always the same argument too: "We lived through the great depression and WWII." Yeah, I can't imagine what it would be like to live through a total collapse of the economic system and a war that never seems to end. Maybe one day our generation will have SOME idea what that's like.

Notice how you never hear about the things they were awful on. Putting the Japanese in internment camps. Blacklisting communists. Turning firehoses on black people because they wanted to VOTE. Yup, you sure did knock it out the park on all those things, greatest generation.

It all just seems like a big middle finger to the generation after them. Which is strange because that's THEIR kids. Everytime they call themselves "the greatest generation" alive, they're kinda saying, "Wow, we sure were awful parents!"

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Now on iTunes: My appearance on The David Angelo Radio Show

In case you missed the live broadcast, my appearance on The David Angelo Radio Show is now available in iTunes. It's the 2/12/09 episode.

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When should you quit?

So it takes years to get great at standup. But what if you just suck and never get good? How do you know when to hang it up? Do you really want to be the guy who gets up onstage and the younger guys start whispering to each other, "Did you know he's been doing it for 12 years!? And he's doing this same shit show as us."

I've heard comics mention "tests" they need to meet. One is seven years. By seven years in, you need to have either a real TV credit (like a "Live at Gotham") or a big festival spot (e.g. Just For Laughs) or something that shows you're on the crab. (Yeah, it's a Deadliest Catch reference. Sue me.) Another test: If you've been doing it for a while and you haven't killed in the past year, you should quit.

Of course, it all depends what you want to get out of it. As long as you keep getting better and are enjoying it, you might as well keep doing it. If it's just a hobby, go as long as you want.

But there can be a problem if you're one of these tone deaf people who just doesn't get it. You know, the guy who still wants to "make it" but everyone else knows it just ain't gonna happen. Imagine a 300 lb. 50-year old who's convinced he can make the NBA. There's a fine line between "having a dream" and being batfuck delusional.

Reminds me of something I've heard Birbigs talk about before: You have to lie to yourself and be delusional to make it as a standup because you're just not good at first. The problem is a strong sense of self-delusion can make people think they're getting somewhere when they're not.

A related thing I don't get is people who have done standup for a while and aren't getting booked on a lot of real shows but think they're above open mics. If you're so funny, how come you're not getting booked more? And if you're not as funny as you want to be, then why aren't you going to mics more? Bugs me when people think they're "owed" something by how many years they've been doing comedy. Everyone's gotta scratch and claw for it. Maybe you've spent all those years doing it wrong, ya know?

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Video: "The Lake is Closed"

Talking about shrooms...



FYI, the video portion of this clip was shot the day this happened.

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Comedy Feng Shui: 10 things that ruin comedy shows

Comedy is a fragile thing. One little distraction can throw an entire room off.

So let's say you're thinking about starting a comedy room. Obviously, ya want funny comics and a decent audience. But there's more to it than just that.

Here's a list of 10 common problems that bring down comedy shows. Keep in mind if you're producing a show.

1) Distractions in the room
#1 culprit: The bar's in the same room as the show. People ordering drinks can be loud and distract from the stage. A venue where the bar is in a separate room is ideal. Also, any other distractions or things moving in the room can take a toll. If you have waitstaff, make sure they take orders quickly and quietly. Unplug any video games that flash or make sounds. Same goes for disco balls or flashing lights. If there are loud audience members, go over and politely ask 'em to keep it down. Etc.

2) The PA sucks
Get a decent sound system. Karaoke machines or boomboxes or tiny guitar amps rarely amplify a comic's voice enough. Comics need to be louder than the crowd. Otherwise, it can turn into a free for all. Volume is one of the powerful advantages a comic has over a heckler (or other crowd disturbance).

3) Shitty host
Nothing's worse than a mediocre MC who keeps coming back onstage and killing the momentum by doing too much time between acts. Good hosts aren't selfish. The make everyone feel comfortable, warm up the room, keep the energy positive, bring the crowd back if someone bombs, prevent distractions, etc. Save the indulgent sets for when you're just doing a regular spot. When you're hosting, your job is to make the other comics look good.

4) Crowd is too far apart
You want the room to feel as intimate as possible. (The goal is to get the whole crowd to feel like a cohesive unit.) So put your seats close together. And do what ya can to avoid a split room, where people are, say, on the left and right sides but the middle is empty. If you're not seating people, have the host encourage 'em to move up (or left/right) so the room feels balanced. It's an annoying thing to have to do, but it can make or break the show. And take away the back row(s) of seats if you expect a less than full house.

5) Too much light
The more light there is, the more people feel self-conscious and think others are looking at them. And when they feel that way, they don't laugh.

6) Noise spilling in
If there's a DJ spinning in the back room and it bleeds in, everyone's gonna be distracted from the stage. Same with a loud AC unit or other noisey stuff. The closer you get the room to feeling like a theatre (i.e. quiet and dark), the more people will get into the show.

7) Bad room layout
A wide but shallow room is better than a long and deep one. (If people are too far away from the stage, they don't feel involved and it's easier to tune out.) Also, make sure there's actually a raised stage. If comics are on the floor, they lose the power ya get from being elevated on stage.

8) Mixed media
Doing a variety show that has music, sketch, improv, and/or standup combined seems like a fun idea. But it can really wreck the flow of a show. Handle with care if you take this approach.

9) Free booze or tickets
Giving away free booze and tickets (aka "papering the room") gets people in the seats, but there's a price to pay: They're a lot more likely to be mooks that talk or don't pay attention. And if ya give out free booze before or during a show, things can get a bit rough 'n tumble.

10) Producer doesn't care
If the person putting the show together doesn't care, it shows. The best rooms are run by people who care about both the performers and the audience. That's why The Comedy Cellar or The Comedy Studio (in Boston) are such great rooms...the ownership gives a shit and it shows.

For example, check out The Cellar's reservation page:

Our space is limited, intimate and cozy. We find that parties larger than 8 are usually noisy (even without meaning to be) and this disrupts the show. Multiple reservations resulting in groups larger than 8 will also not be honored. Over the years, we have found this to be an essential rule to follow. Sorry for any inconvenience.


Most venues would kill to have a large group. But that can kill the show for everyone else. Admirable restraint on The Cellar's part I think. And the reservation confirmation e-mail also includes this note:

We ask that you please keep conversation to a minimum during the show. It's a small room, and even whispering can be heard by the performers and people around you. If this seems like a no brainer, it's because you are sober. After a drink or two, it sometimes seems less obvious!


Gentle but firm. A good tone to keep in mind when dealing with audience members.

Now, avoiding all these things won't guarantee a good show. But it will definitely increase the odds. And at least you won't have a bunch of bitchy comics in the back of the room making excuses for why they didn't have good sets.

Actually, you'll always have that. But at least it'll be a bit less justified.

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We're All Friends Here: Latest podcast is live and next show's on Friday at 9pm

The podcast from the last show is now live: listen here. Next one's on Friday at 9pm and will feature Julian McCullough, Jamie Lee, David Angelo, and Gilad Foss!

WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE
The comedy chat show with boundary issues!

Hosted by Matt Ruby and Mark Normand
Friday, February 20
9:00pm @ The Creek
10-93 Jackson Ave at 49th Ave
Long Island City, NY
Map (it's just one subway stop from Brooklyn and Manhattan)

And check out our new logo (thanks to Megan Pendergrass):

We're All Friends Here logo

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Audio: The fuzz and me at the beach

I was accused of being a pedophile on the day of my mom's funeral. Here's how that went down:


(There's a longer version of this story on the latest We're All Friends Here podcast but this version's tighter.)

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The most underrated comedian in NYC is Jesse Popp

Tompkins. Mulaney. Popp. Tonight at UCB for free. Huzzah.

Good to see Jesse Popp up there with those names too. He's the most underrated comic in the city. He's constantly churning out new material and it's always hilarious. Masterful writer, great Norm-esque sarcastic delivery, and a swell guy to boot.



He's the guy who every comic I know is like, "Damn, he's so good. Why isn't he getting more stuff?" Sometime you'll hear people playing a guessing game about him: "How much awesome material does Popp have in the bank? 2 hours? 3? More?" I actually smiled when I saw he was added to tonight's lineup 'cuz he really deserves to be on the best shows with other great comics.

Check out the clips at his MySpace page. Also, you can see him every Sunday at Beauty Bar at 9pm at the show he cohosts with the also very funny Vince Averill. Popp also had a fun We're All Friends Here interview which you can listen to here.

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Put on your own show

Most of the shows I do spots on are produced by other comics. They work to bring out a crowd, set it up with the venue, etc. I do the same so I know it's a pain. A fun pain, but still.

So, if you're an up and coming comic, is it your duty to produce a show? Is it fine for a standup to just perform for audiences other comics work to bring out but to never bring anyone out themselves?

I don't if it's a duty, but I definitely think it's a good idea. First of all, it seems kind of leechy to be someone who benefits from the efforts of your peers without giving back in any way. You're like a dude who likes getting head but refuses to eat pussy. Second, it's a great way to get on the map. People notice when you put on a show, especially if it's a good one.

I can imagine the counterargument: "But I don't think I can bring out a crowd." Then host a mic or something. Or team up with a few other comics to put on a group show so there's less pressure on each individual to draw. "But I'm a bad host." Then get someone else to host for you and just do a normal set during the show.

If you don't put on a show or contribute to the scene in some other way, then you better be so hilarious that booking you is an irresistible option. (Once you kill consistently, then it doesn't really matter if you're producing shows. You bring something to the table that ain't easy to find: consistent funny.) But if you're not bringing that and you're not putting on a show, why do you think others will reach out to you?

I guess it's a slippery slope though since this tit for tat mentality can lead to the whole "I booked you on a show so you should book me" thing. That makes me uncomfortable because, well, I want to do spots on other people's shows but not feel like I'm then obligated to book them on mine. So maybe I'm a hypocrite?

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Sea of glasses at Eugene Mirman show

Photo taken at Eugene Mirman's book release party the other night:

glasses

Only one conclusion can be drawn: Eugene Mirman's comedy will destroy your eyes! Either that or he's got some new bit that's in 3D. He's always innovating that guy.

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"The bathroom attendant just strongarmed me into giving him a dollar."

A guy I know came out of the bathroom at a comedy club and said, "The bathroom attendant just strongarmed me into giving him a dollar." I said, "Really? Did you wash your hands?" His reply: "Yeah. And then I took a piece of gum, a lollipop, and some cologne."

So it wasn't so much that the attendant strongarmed him as it was that he didn't want to LOSE money being a bathroom attendant. It's not like he's got a sponsorship deal. The guys at Dentyne aren't going, "How can we reach that exclusive urinal demographic?"

And I love the idea of a bathroom attendant "strongarming" someone. Strongarming is for communist dictators. That's like saying, "That shoeshine boy rules his stand with an iron fist! Surrender or your shoes go to Siberia!" Stalin and Castro strongarm. When you're the bathroom attendant at Comix named King, you ask.

Yeah, his name is actually King. Which I find fairly amusing since he's a bathroom attendant. I give his parents points for positive thinking. But I might have to deduct a few for accuracy. "What's the name of the new janitor?" "Princess."

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Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

Red Velvet Whoopie PIe

Can't decide whether this thing looks more like a clam from another planet or a pocket pussy...from another planet. I also love that it's called a gob. What better way to say Happy Valentine's Day than to give your lover a vagina gob!

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Letterman: "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

Joaquin Phoenix melts down on Letterman [via RVV]:



Man, fascinating to watch. Phoenix seems like he's doing a bit, like Charles Grodin used to do on Carson and Letterman when he'd act all fake pissed off. And he gets laughs too. It's a train wreck but the crowd is riveted. I'm kinda tired of the whole "The Office" formula (i.e. uncomfortable moments = comedy), but here's a real life example of why it works so well. Cringe-worthy moments and laughter are closely linked.

Letterman is such a pro too. Keeps an even keel and pokes fun while keeping the whole thing afloat. (Doing We're All Friends Here has given me a new respect for the challenges that interviewers face.) "What can you tell us about your days with The Unabomber?" "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight." And I love when he asks, "Can you set up the clip for us Joaquin?" and Paul just starts laughing!

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Tonight (Thu) I'll be on the radio on The David Angelo Show

Tonight (Thu) at 8-9pm I'll be appearing live on The David Angelo Show. Angelo's a super funny comic and his radio show is rated #9 somewhere. I'm not sure where but I bet it's somewhere good. Go here to listen: www.davidangeloradio.com. Or it will be archived later if you're that sort.

Here's Angelo on the show:

So the show is really picking up some charge. The first episode had over 500 downloads through itunes and switchpod - which is probably the best debut in non-celebrity podcasting history. I am also pretty sure we are destroying the Quincy Jones podcast in the numbers game.


Also, Angelo likes puns a lot so I've been getting ready...

1) I went to a party at Jimmy Dean's place the other night. It was a total sausagefest.
2) Did you hear about the new Beverly Hills Cop exfoliating sponge? It's called The Axl-F-oliator.

Oh man, get ready. (251)-300-JOKE is the call-in line for the show if you want to ask us questions about illegal immigration (I'm pro!) or the Jets quarterback situation (I'm con!). I don't believe you're allowed to call in about anything else on talk radio though.

And talk about synergy...Angelo is on the next We're All Friends Here show on Feb 20 (Fri) at The Creek at 9pm. Hee ya. Details...

WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE:
The comedy chat show with boundary issues!
Hosted by Matt Ruby and Mark Normand
Friday, February 20
9:00pm @ The Creek
10-93 Jackson Ave at 49th Ave
Long Island City, NY
Map: http://tinyurl.com/3l4wot
Just one subway stop from Brooklyn and Manhattan

This show will feature Julian McCullough, Jamie Lee, David Angelo, and Gilad Foss!

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Valentine's liquor store

The liquor store near my home:

Liquor store valentines

Just what I need: A liquor store that comes right out and tells me, "You're mine." C'mon booze, you don't have to rub it in.

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Louis CK at Comix = most impressive standup show I've ever seen

We watched Louis CK do a 1 hour and 22 minute set last night at Comix. And our table of four comics all agreed: He's the best out there right now. It's not even close. He just filmed a special a year ago and he's got that much new material. And it's not just ok material. It's all fucking great. Every single bit of it.

Was like watching a master class. It's all so effortless, feels like he's just talking. But there's a punchline every 10 seconds. And then he'll keep getting wilder with it until he ends on some crazy line and cracks, "I just said that because I knew it would piss you off." And then he smirks.

More physical act-outs than I've ever seen him do before. And first time I've ever heard him address his new single life. More bits on his kids. And some really great stuff about what's wrong with our culture today. I think his bit on people who complain about their cellphones is destined to be a classic. And he even does 10 minutes on airplanes and airports and makes 'em seem like fresh topics.

At one point, he lost his place (maybe intentionally?) and went in reverse describing the last 6 topics he'd discussed in order to remember his point. The crowd burst out in applause. His response: "People will clap at any list." And then that smirk again. Great. And his intro bit was fun too. All about "I don't know what to say to you people. I don't actually have a reason to be talking to you." Man, it was just all so good.

I feel like he's got some sort of secret formula. Maybe it's the 20+ years of doing it. But I feel like coming up with a great bit is like climbing a mountain for us guys. And for him it's like going out for a jog.

Also, there's so much passion in his delivery. He just really cares (or seems too) about everything he's talking about. All the people he discusses really piss him off and he can't wait to explain why. That energy pushes it all over the top. It's that anger and passion that let him take topics that would be meh if others did them and makes them fly.

Fwiw, supposedly Chris Rock and Darren Aranofsky (director of The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream) were hanging out with him backstage after the show.

Afterwards, we went to UCB and saw Mirman, Schaal, Galifianakis, etc. Was fun. But couldn't hold a candle to what we had seen at Comix. CK is the bar.

And btw, Paul F. Tompkins and John Mulaney are scheduled to do Whiplash next week at UCB. And there's another Benson Interruption there on Feb. 18. Reserve it up. All these kickass shows make ya feel kinda lucky to be in NYC.

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Trying to write extended bits instead of quickies

Lately, I've been trying to write extended bits that are a few minutes long as opposed to just a funny joke and on to the next topic. Part of that is stretching existing bits and another part is trying to fold other jokes (old and new) into the new stuff. Mark and I were discussing it:

Me:

actually, the way birbigs works is helpful on that too. he's reusing jokes from his first two albums in his new show. but it's all there to support the story and his attitude. "a rapist wouldn't have a bed like that"...I think he's used that joke on two CC Presents and his new show too. but it's because it's the PERFECT joke for setting up who he is and where he's taking the audience.


Mark:

Aww man, tying jokes in to other jokes is the best. not only does it help you remember it but it sounds so much better. that's how audiences tell an amateur from a pro. It looks more like a convo. seamless. When I do that longer spot next week, I'm going to try to weave a lot of shit together.

Did you read somewhere to do that or did it just come as a natural progression?


Me:

Natural progression I guess. I just feel like there's a flow when shit is tied together. It feels like there's a bigger point rather than just trying to get laughs. And the comedians I dig most...CK, Birbigs, Tompkins, Mulaney...all their bits are longer. It's not in-and-out jokes. They're on a topic for minutes at a time. They go somewhere with it. I figure if that's what I like most, then that's what I should be trying to do.



It used to be I'd have an aha moment for a new joke idea. Now it's sometimes an aha moment where I figure out that some old joke I threw away can be tied in with something new I'm working on.

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CK and Galifianakis tonight (Monday)

Oh what a night. Late December 1963. Or early February 2009, if you like comedy.

CK is doing a set at Comix tonight for $15. Tickets. Last minute thing. CK explains:

Hello folks. I am all of a sudden doing a full hour plus long set tonight at COMIX on 14th street in new york city. I am running the set for a director who might shoot my next special with me in March. So if you want to see me do my full concert set in a half full club in New York city for a relatively cheap price, come to COMIX tonight, Monday, February 9th at 8PM.


Also tonight:

Whiplash @ UCB
11:00 pm — FREE
Monday February 9, 2009
w/Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman.
Reservations.

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Video: Boot Camp Yoga

Saw this sign for a Boot Camp Yoga type class near where I live:

Boot Camp Yoga

I made a movie showing what I imagine that being like:



(Made this using xtranormal — you type something, it turns it into a movie.)

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Nominees for ECNY Awards announced

Hey there, my "We're All Friends Here" cohost Mark Normand was nominated as Best Emerging Comic at the ECNY Awards! Congrats Mark, well deserved. And I mean that. Not only is he really hilarious — he's still one of my faves to watch even though I see him constantly — but he hustles as hard as anyone in the game.

I asked Mark if he had any comment to share with y'all. His response:

Oh boy... uh, I really appreciate it. I want to thank all the really shitty shows in new york for making comedy incredibly hard. Also, Vote Patton!


Heh. He means Sean Patton, who's also nominated (and hilarious). What a diplomat.

How were nominees determined? According to the site, internet voters could nominate people and then the finalists were determined by the ECNY Industry Committee.

We take that list to our hand-picked Industry Committee which consists of a broad spectrum of comedy professionals based in New York. These people live and breathe comedy: they manage theaters, they produce shows, they work in television, they run internet sites, they blog about us and review shows. The Industry Committee vote and the top vote getters became nominees.


Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on March 9 at Comix.

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What it feels like to kill

What's it feel like when you're really killing? I was watching "The Hustler" the other day and I thought this speech that Fast Eddie (Paul Newman) gives comes close to describing something that probably can't really be described. He's talking about playing pool but you get the drift...

When I'm goin', I mean, when I'm REALLY goin' I feel like a... like a jockey must feel. He's sittin' on his horse, he's got all that speed and that power underneath him... he's comin' into the stretch, the pressure's on 'im, and he KNOWS... just feels... when to let it go and how much. Cause he's got everything workin' for 'im: timing, touch. It's a great feeling, boy, it's a real great feeling when you're right and you KNOW you're right.

It's like all of a sudden I got oil in my arm. The pool cue's part of me. You know, it's a - pool cue, it's got nerves in it. It's a piece of wood, it's got nerves in it. Feel the roll of those balls, you don't have to look, you just KNOW. You make shots that nobody's ever made before. I can play that game the way... NOBODY'S ever played it before.


Ok, maybe it's a stretch. But I dug it.

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Don't be [redacted]

Mark and I discussing the sameyness of comics we see at mics/shows in NYC...

Me:

i think comics we know don't think about this enough: what will i be remembered as after the show? the audience will know me as "the guy who talks about _____." what's the blank? birbigs whole act: i say stupid things i shouldn't. CK: i'm miserable and i hate my kids.

at the shows we go to, it's just so many white dudes telling similar jokes. why are you different? why will the crowd remember you? why would i know [redacted #1] from [redacted #2] from some other white dude who looks just like 'em? gotta have some sorta hook.


Mark:

Of course you have to stand out. I honestly don't know the difference between [redacted #3] and [redacted #4]. To me they are the same fucking guy! That terrifies me. I never want to be that. On stage or in life. Be you, stand out, don't conform.


Confusable comics get redacted in people's brains.

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Daily Show guest too fat to walk to set?

Daily Show guests always walk on to the set from the wings after being introduced by Jon Stewart. But not former National Economic Council Director Lawrence Lindsey, who stopped by the show on Monday. Instead, he's just there. Sitting. Waiting.



Unprecedented! Now I'm just dying to see this guy walk somewhere. Anywhere. Maybe he just gets hauled around from place to place using a system of pulleys — or anti-gravity suspensors like Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in Dune.

(That's right, I went old school Sci-Fi reference on your ass. Sue me! Hmm, that might be my new tagline..."Sue me!" Got a nice ring to it.)

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The Pocket is down

FYI, The Pocket (sidebar area where I share links) is down for the time being due to a meltdown at bookmark sharing website Ma.gnolia. "The failure appears to be catastrophic." Sounds bad, but apparently they're working on it. If they can't fix, I'll look into using something else.

Update: Switched from Ma.gnolia to Delicious for The Pocket's links. Let's see how it goes.

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Harvard Business School, Sandpaper Suit, and Chris Rock's small experiments

Whoa, Sandpaper Suit got a shoutout at the Harvard Business School blog. Here: "Innovate Like Chris Rock." In it, Peter Sims, author of a book on leadership, refers to my post about watching Rock work out new material. Here's what Sims wrote:

We can all innovate like Chris Rock. Consider his process and methods.

First, he picks small venues where he can do rapid, low-risk experiments with new material. In gearing up for his latest global tour, he made between 40 and 50 appearances at a small venue called the Stress Factory in New Brunswick, New Jersey, not far from where he lives. Rock told the Orange Country Register, "It's like boxing training camp. I always pick a comedy club to work out in."

In front of audiences of say 30 to 40 people, Rock will bring a yellow legal note pad with lots of joke ideas scribbled on it, according to fellow comedian Matt Ruby. In sets that run say 45 minutes, many of the jokes will fall flat, but according to Ruby, "There were 5-10 lines during the night that were just ridiculously good. Like lightning bolts. My sense is that he starts with these bolts and then writes around them."

It's all part of a process. When the material falls flat, Rock will even pause to say things like, "This needs to be fleshed out more if it's gonna make it."

In an eerie way, Chris Rock innovates like Amazon does. Amazon led by founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has continuously used experiments to identify unique growth opportunities beyond the company's core book business - such as the Kindle, Amazon stores, and elastic cloud computing.


Ah, ol' Mortimer the Steel Baron would be so proud — though he's more of a Wharton man really.

FYI, several of the bits Rock was working on at the time wound up in his "Kill The Messenger" special. Overall, I thought KTM was funny but not as great as his first couple of HBO specials. And the rapid-fire cuts between the different shows really sucked. Didn't it occur to anyone at HBO that kind of chop suey editing might fuck with the timing?

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February NYC shows at beer gardens, wine bars, candy stores, etc.

I'll be doing spots at these upcoming shows:

02/03 09:00 PM - Comedyland @ Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden
02/08 08:00 PM - Denial Sunday @ Rouge Wine Bar
02/10 07:00 PM - Comedy Showdown @ Ochi’s Lounge (Comix)
02/12 08:00 PM - Live on DavidAngeloRadio.com
02/13 10:00 PM - The Ultimate Experts @ The Producer’s Club
02/20 09:00 PM - WE’RE ALL FRIENDS HERE @ THE CREEK
02/21 08:00 PM - If You Build It @ Karma
02/22 08:00 PM - Sunday Night Standup @ Three of Cups Lounge
02/23 07:30 PM - Monday Evening Stand-Up @ Pete’s Candy Store

Ya can always find upcoming gigs listed at my MySpace page.

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(Updated) Brian Regan wrings the towel dry

(Updated this post with a version of the clip that works.)

According to Patton Oswalt: "Brian Regan's THE BEST stand-up working today." I don't know if I'd go that far, but I def enjoy watching Regan perform (and I give guys like him, Birbigs, Gaffigan, and Paul F. extra points for being clean yet still funny).



One thing I noticed while watching this "Me Monsters" clip: He really knows how to wring the towel dry. By that, I mean he really gets every last drop out of an act out. A couple of examples...

Example 1: At 1:40 in, he makes fun of people who have to outdo ya with their medical tales. A lot of comics would end after one or two examples (say where he gets a laugh on "I've had nine wisdom teeth pulled.") But Regan milks it for a good 20 seconds more. Turns a premise that most comics would get only a chuckle out of into a full bit that hits hard. (Applause break but who knows if that was sweetened afterwards.)

Example 2: At 3:14 in, he makes fun of "Me Monsters" who talk about themselves too much. Again, he turns what would be a one-line punch by another comic into a full 20 second act out. (Maybe 20 seconds is some kind of magical amount of time for act outs?) It's not just stretching for the sake of stretching either. He goes somewhere by ending with the chest thumping and the whole extended thing offers the perfect contrast for the short moon line that follows.

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