Zero Hour → Airplane!

Check out how closely Airplane! echoes the movie Zero Hour:

While on the subject, let's not forget the wonder that is Johnny in Airplane!

(via PO on BSR)


Hot Soup w/ Doogie

Lineup for Friday (1/28) night:
Doogie Horner
Dan St. Germain
David Angelo
Brendan McLaughlin
Scott Moran
Mark Normand

I'm hosting.

Hot Soup!
Every Friday at 8pm
O'Hanlon's (back room)
349 E 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave. (map)
Produced by Matt Ruby, Mark Normand, Andy Haynes, and David Cope


The internal monologue of a participant in one of Domino's Pizza focus groups

Sure Domino's, I'd love to be in your focus group. What's that? This focus group takes place in the middle of 12 acres of tomatoes? Well, that makes sense. Nothing suspicious there. After all, doing focus groups in a city is the kind of thing the OLD Dominos would do. So sure, let's drive three hours away to this shack on a tomato farm which is a very typical place for a focus group to take place.

Ooh, that's an interesting question. Do I think I have a right to know where Domino's ingredients come from? I do think that! I was just telling my friend the other day...AAAAAAAH! IT'S SOME KIND OF EARTHQUAKE! THE WALLS ARE CRUMBLING!!! WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. HUG ME...Wait a minute. What? Seriously? You mean, oh my goodness...we're NOT going to die? We're just going to stroll through a field of tomatoes that are used to make your tomato sauce that is in no way actually manufactured by scientists in a laboratory in New Jersey? Oh, Domino's. You are so mischievous! Lucky for you, I am playful too.

So what are you going to with all this footage? An ad campaign? Exciting! Do you have a clever tagline yet? Lay it on me. "Domino's Pizza - Oh Yes We Did." Wow, that feels fresh. I'll play along: "Oh no you di'int!" But you did! This is fun. I feel just like a sassy black lady from 1997.

You should definitely keep going down this path of clever wordplay that uses urban catchphrases from the last century. After all, nothing makes white people more comfortable than saying things that black people stopped saying a decade ago. You could do "Domino's Pizza - Talk To The Hand." Y'know, 'cuz the pepperoni ain't listenin'. Ha! Or offer a new sausage pizza and say, "Domino's Pizza - Gettin' Piggy With It." That Will Smith is a hoot, isn't he? Or wait, I think I've got it: "Domino's Pizza - Don't Go There."


Leno crowd jeers at Bill Maher

Just got around to watching this. Ballsy stuff. Never seen a late night crowd actually turn on a guest and shout "no" at him. But Maher sticks to his, um, guns and backs up his argument.


Should you confront a joke thief?

Max Reisman wrote to me:

I was at an open mic on Tuesday in Park Slope. Toward the end a woman performed. She was okay. The audience was really feeling her. I was liking the material until she started a new joke that I realized I'd heard before... on the Daily Show a couple months back (as someone slightly obsessed with the show). It wasn't even the same premise. It was word for word, the same joke, followed by the same punchlines. And she delivered it with a passion, that I can't fathom. She owned it. I was sitting in the front row, and just sat silent, hoping the rest of the crowd also picked up on it.

Whether or not the rest of her set was original, her stealing Jon Stewart's monologue definitely throws it up in the air. My question: What's appropriate? Do I call her out on it in private, someone I've never met? Luckily, I'd already performed or else I don't think I would have been able to hold back my feelings. If I was the host, I think I definitely would have brought it up. I hate this woman.

I think there's two different cases. One is where someone tells a joke that's similar to something you've heard before. This happens to everyone at some point. When it's me doing the similar joke, I'm grateful when someone tells me they've heard something like it before. It saves me hours of honing and trying a joke that I'd just have to throw out later anyway.

Well, I like it when someone knows exactly who did the similar joke and when they did it. If someone's like, "I think I've heard that before but I can't remember where." Well, then I might ask around (find those guys who have encyclopedic knowledge of comedy albums). If no one else confirms hearing it before, I might just keep doing the bit.

From the other side, I have gone up to comics and told them, "Hey, [famous comic] does a joke just like that." Or sometimes I'll just mention, "The premise is similar to another premise by [famous comic] but I think you're ok." I've found that, almost universally, good comics appreciate knowing that someone else has touched on something similar. You'd rather know than not know.

Now, back to your case. This woman is a thief. She knows she's stealing. You could confront her but you won't be delivering any news to her. If she was a real comic, she'd deserve the full Patton Oswalt shaming, scarlet letter thing. But as a (newbie?) open mic'er, there's a chance she doesn't know how wrong this is. Instead of attacking her, I might just tell her that you know the bit is stolen and that if she keeps doing it (or other stolen bits), every other comic will talk shit about her and she'll ruin her reputation.

Or just ignore her and let the chips fall where they may. This whole policing other people's material thing can get outta hand and take your eye off the ball (i.e. being funny yourself).
I sent the above to Max and he responded:

I felt pretty much the same way you responded. I've had a comic come up to me after doing a joke for the first time that I thought of on the way to the comedy club. I saw a guy walking while smoking a cigar in the east village, 4 pm... and ranted about how much of an asshole this made him.

The other comic, who I'm friendly (FB friends) with, told me it was Carlin's. I thanked him for the exact reasons you stated and was happy to never do it again. It's like having your fly unzipped. A true friend notifies you, instead of allowing you make a fool of yourself in front of everyone. Unless of course, to continue the comparison, you're aware of the unzipped fly, and this is a prop joke, and you're horrible. And I think W.C. Fields did that gag first a while back.


Hot Soup w/ Wang and other upcoming shows

Lineup for Friday (1/21) night:
Sheng Wang
Brooke Van Poppelen
Zach Sims
Nate Fernald

Cope's hosting and I'm doing a set.

Hot Soup!
Every Friday at 8pm
O'Hanlon's (back room)
349 E 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave. (map)
Produced by Matt Ruby, Mark Normand, Andy Haynes, and David Cope

Other places I will be telling jokes soon:
1/19 - 8:30pm - Connotation @ Luca Lounge
1/26 - 8:00pm - Buskers Bar and Grill (Hoboken)
1/28 - 8:00pm - Hot Soup @ O'Hanlon's
1/29 - 8:00pm - Auld Anxiety @ The Creek
1/30 - 7:30pm - Comedy Covo @ Covo
1/30 - 9:30pm - Ditch Comedy Show @ Bar Four
2/01 - 10:30pm - Makeout Party @ Beauty Bar Brooklyn
2/02 - 8:00pm - Ha-Ha @ Ri Ra (Arlington, VA)
2/03 - 8:00pm - Comedy Night @ Topaz (DC)
2/05 - 8:00pm - Laugh Riot at The Hyatt @ Bethesda Hyatt (MD)
2/07 - 9:00pm - Ed Sullivan on Acid @ Freddy's
2/11 - 8:00pm - Hot Soup @ O'Hanlon's
2/12 - 8:00pm - We're All Friends Here @ The Creek

(SF & Chicago dates coming soon too. Stay tuned.)


Gorilla tries online dating

What happens when a gorilla sets up a profile on the dating site OK Cupid (with the username "iamagorilla") and then starts messaging girls? See below.

The profile:

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

Some of the messages sent by iamagorilla to various girls in NYC area:

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

okcupid gorilla

No one wrote back. And then OK Cupid removed iamagorilla from the site.


Should you sound like you're telling jokes?

A self-described "open mic'er" writes:

I'm getting to a point where I can learn from listening to my sets. I am hearing that if I tighten up my delivery, I'd get that much more laughs. So I was wondering what your thoughts on delivery were. What I am learning from what I'm hearing is that I'd get a better response if it didn't sound so clearly like I was telling a joke. But I digress, I was wondering what your insights were on the topic of delivery.

Well, kinda obvious but I'll say it anyway: If you hear a certain type of delivery gets better results, do that more. And tightening up is always a good thing. I think too-many-words-syndrome is the most common mistake I hear newbies making. Get in, get to the funny part, and get out.

Should you sound like you're telling jokes is an interesting question. As with most stuff in comedy (and life), I don't think there's one right answer. If you write jokey jokes, I think selling them as jokes is fine. If you're talking about really personal stuff, then sounding more conversational is probably appropriate.

Some people really sell a performance (for example, PFT in the snakes in can bit) while others work hard at trying to look like they're not selling a schtick (Birbigs and Bill Burr are two that come to mind). Different styles, all work great. But these guys who look like they're just being conversational are still selling a performance, it's just in a different way. It takes a lot of hard work to pull off looking like you're not trying hard...if that makes any sense.

I will say this though: When you're starting out, I think it's good to take chances and try stuff to see if it's a good fit. So maybe try going over the top on some stuff and see how it goes. Do a character. Or turn up the performy knob in another way. Mess around and see what feels right/works for you. Later on, things usually start to cement and it gets harder to take those chances.


Hot Soup on Friday with Dixon and Scovel

Boy, it's gonna be a lot tougher to get the blood of a Christian child for my matzah recipe this Passover. Maybe I'll use cocktail sauce instead. Anyway...

FRI (1/14): HOT SOUP
8pm - Free
O'Hanlon's Bar - 349 E 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave.

Pat Dixon
Rory Scovel
Claudia Cogan
Nick Maritato
Jeff Maurer

I won't be there because I'll be at Spit Take Friday in Brooklyn. I'll be back next week. Now you know.


“Like a planet pulled into orbit by a star”

This look at Jay Z explains how he fell in love with hip hop and began carrying a notebook with him everywhere. Sounds similar to the way many fall into standup too.

In the summer of 1978, when he was 9 years old and growing up in the Marcy housing projects in Brooklyn, Shawn Carter — a k a Jay-Z — saw a circle of people gathered around a kid named Slate, who was “rhyming, throwing out couplet after couplet like he was in a trance, for a crazy long time — 30 minutes straight off the top of his head, never losing the beat, riding the handclaps” of the folks around him, transformed “like the church ladies touched by the spirit.” Young Shawn felt gravity working on him, “like a planet pulled into orbit by a star”: he went home that night and started writing his own rhymes in a notebook and studying the dictionary.

“Everywhere I went I’d write,” Jay-Z recalls in his compelling new book, “Decoded.” “If I was crossing a street with my friends and a rhyme came to me, I’d break out my binder, spread it on a mailbox or lamppost and write the rhyme before I crossed the street.” If he didn’t have his notebook with him, he’d run to “the corner store, buy something, then find a pen to write it on the back of the brown paper bag.” That became impractical when he was a teenager, working streets up and down the eastern corridor, selling crack, and he says he began to work on memorizing, creating “little corners in my head where I stored rhymes.”



Somalis, Wicked, schizophrenia, pinata, etc.

Some of the things I've posted recently at twitter.com/mattruby:

Warning: That musical Wicked is NOT about the way people speak in Boston.

Can't remember. Am I a fan of Iron & Wine...or Iron Maiden & Ecstasy?

It's pretty impressive that, after all they've been through, Somalis are still the best wine experts in the world.

I think this often: "I'm mad at myself for finding you interesting."

Starting a new magazine about our culture's celeb obsession. Calling it "Us, Weakly."

My family has a history of schizophrenia. No, it doesn't.

Started taking shroids! Steroids laced with shrooms. I can now bench press the interconnectedness of the universe.

I rather enjoy urinals that are filled with ice cubes. Makes me feel like I am opening up a hole in the ozone layer.

Nostalgia is just fear in disguise.

Starting a family is a good move if you want to deal exclusively with people who are obligated to be around you.

Pinata teaches kids the important lesson that if you savagely beat an animal for long enough, delicious candy falls from the sky.

Kid Rock's "Born Free" is a great song if you want to be patriotic but think John Mellencamp is a little too edgy.

Sucks to be an exterminator going through heroin withdrawal. Feels like spiders crawling on your skin AND like you have to go to work.


The blind baseball writer's version of what happened with Birbigs

Baseball writer Hal McCoy is the blind sportswriter Birbigs talks about here:

McCoy says years later Birbigs invited him to a show and gave him front row seats. His version of events:

I was there to accept the Milt Richman ‘Ya Gotta Have Heart’ award because I continued to work after I was declared legally blind.

For some reason, as entertainment for the evening, the New York writers hired comedian Mike Birbiglia. During his monologue, he said something about some baseball writers who can’t write.

When it was my turn to speak, Birbiglia had gone to the bathroom - a good move because who wants to hear a baseball writer speak?

After his bathroom visit, he stood off-stage as I spoke and I said, “Maybe some baseball writers can’t write, but it’s obvious after hearing Birbiglia that some comedians can’t tell jokes.”

As I left the microphone to return to my seat at the dais, Birbiglia was returning to his seat and we passed. He stuck out his hand to shake hands and I ignored his hand. I didn’t see it. He didn’t hear my speech so he didn’t know I am legally blind.

So when he sat down next to pitching legend Dennis Eckersley, he said, “Did you see that guy ignore my handshake?”

Said Eckersley, “- - - - him.”

Only later did Birbiglia learn of my vision problems, so he now includes that story in his act when he comes to one of his schticks, “What I should have said was nothing.” He includes it on his DVDs, too, and when he came to Dayton a few years ago he invited me to the show and gave me front row seats. He told the Dayton audience the story.

One of his schticks! Heh. What I'd really like to hear is Eckersley's version of what happened.


Dealing with an "I need to go first/last/etc." comic

A fellow comic/producer asked me:

you run a couple of shows, let me ask you this, does this ever bother you, when people text you and tell you when they need to go up?

I understand if I have a big name or someone that has a paid spot somewhere else...but I have been telling every one that does my show, it starts between 8:30 and 8:45 and then I still get "dude I have to go at this time" or "I have to go first." What if they are not the stongest comic? Do you jeopardize the show and put them first? I always do my best to get them on in a good time, but it does not always happen and then they get bent out of shape.

My answer to him: If someone has another spot somewhere else, we'll try to accommodate them. Maybe not an exact time but try to get 'em up in first half or second half of show depending. Esp if they text/let us know somehow beforehand.

If they just don't wanna go first, that's another thing. No one likes going first but someone's gotta do it. I try to frame it so people see it as a compliment ("I like to have someone strong go first so i'm gonna have you open it."). I don't like putting someone weak as the first comic. Sets a bad tone for the room. I'd rather sandwich 'em in the middle somewhere.

But bottom line IMO is that no one has a right to complain about where they go in lineup. If you run a strong show, they should be happy you're giving 'em a spot wherever.


This weekend: Hot Soup and We're All Friends Here

8pm - Free
349 E 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave.

Julian McCullough
Mike Lawrence
Will Hines
Joe Pera

I'm hosting and Andy is doing a spot. (Hot Soup is a weekly show produced by David Cope, Andy Haynes, Mark Normand, and Matt Ruby.)

8pm - Free
The Creek and the Cave
10-93 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City

Chris Laker
Damien Lemon
Selena Coppock


New episode of We're All Friends Here is up

There's a new episode of our We're All Friends Here show on Breakthru Radio available (it's listed as the 12/21/10 episode there). It features James Adomian, Nate Bargatze, and Dan Carroll and we taped it on Thanksgiving night. Two of them were on mushrooms and one of them was wearing a hat. Note: The intro is kinda windy but it evens out after that.

The next We're All Friends Here live show is at The Creek this Saturday night. Stay tuned for details.

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