Recent Posts in comedy
November 24, 2015
Sarah Silverman was to have played the NY Comedy Festival earlier this month with a show at BAM but got sick and had to postpone. She's just announced the makeup date: January 22 at BAM's Peter Jay Sharp Building. The show is titled "Sarah Silverman and Friends" and they haven't announced who those friends will be but tickets are on sale.
Mike and the cast of 'Don't Think Twice'
Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in 2012's acclaimed Sleepwalk with Me. He's got a new movie in the works, titled Don't Think Twice about an improv troupe that includes Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Kate Micucci (Garfunkel and Oates), Tami Sagher (Inside Amy Schumer) and Chris Gethard. The official synopsis:
The comedy is about an improv group that loses the lease on its home theater at the same time that one of its cast members gets chosen for the biggest sketch-comedy show on TV. It's about the bitterness and backstabbing that occurs among friends when they realize that maybe not everyone's gonna make it after all.Filming in NYC is currently underway, so stay tuned.
In other news, Mike is part of charity event "The 2nd Annual Talent Show" which happens at NYC's New World Stages / Stage 3 on December 1. Also part of this are Bleachers, Sara Bareilles, Fred Armisen, Lena Dunham, Elle King, Andrew Dost, John Early, Roy Wood Jr, Jacqueline Novak, with host Rachel Antonoff and JD Samson as your DJ for the evening. Tickets are on sale and all proceeds go support New Alternatives' work with LGBTQ Youth. Poster for the show is below.
As mentioned, Julie Klausner will be celebrating the holidays with her "Depressing Christmas Party" at NYC piano bar Sid Gold's Request Room on December 19. That show has sold out but she's added second show, happening December 21 at The Bell House with the same guests: Ted Leo, John Early, Cole Escola, and Anthony Atamanuik. Tickets for the Bell House are on sale now.
November 23, 2015
Comedian H. Jon Benjamin is releasing his first musical project, a jazz album called Well I Should Have...* (*Learned How to Play Piano), which comes out Friday (11/27) and is available right now digitally via Sub Pop. The LP has six songs, four of which are called "I Can't Play Piano." In a promotional video about the making of the album, Jon makes it clear that he really can't play piano, and saying "in hindsight, I don't think it was the best idea in the world." The video features actual jazz musician Odean Pope and you can watch it below.
The album, meanwhile, was mixed by Loren Bouchard (Bob's Burgers, Home Movies) and Jon is accompanied by Scott Kreitzer (saxophone), David Finck (bass), and Jonathan Peretz (drums). The album's opening skit, Deal with the Devil," features Aziz Ansari (Jon had a part in Master of None) and Bob's Burgers co-star Kristen Schaal. You can listen to that, and two of the "I Can't Play Piano" tracks, below.
John Waters may not have made a film since 2004's A Dirty Shame but he has not retired. He's got two books in the works: a collection of essays, titled Mr. Know it All, which includes "Why do gay people have to be nice now? Is it ever appropriate to take LSD when you are 70 years old? How does it feel to claw your way to the top of Hollywood and then slide right back down again?"; and his first novel, which is titled LIARMOUTH. While release dates on those are still TBA, you can check out his book Carsick which details his hitchhiking sojourn across America, and is fresh out on paperback.
Waters also has his annual "A John Waters Christmas" tour, this year dubbed "Holier & Dirtier," featuring his love of Christmas kitsch (and disdain for other parts of the holiday). That tour kicks off this weekend in San Francisco and has two shows in the NYC area: City Winery on December 6 (tickets) and Asbury Park's brand new House of Independents on December 7 (tickets). All tour dates are listed below.
November 18, 2015
photo: Julie Klausner @ Bell House, 2012 (more by Erik Erikson)
Local comedian, podcaster, Difficult Person, and generally entertaining individual Julie Klausner is putting on a Christmas show on December 19 at Sid Gold's Request Room. "Julie Klausner's Depressing Christmas Party" will feature frequent collaborator Ted Leo, John Early (who was on Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp this summer), Cole Escola (Difficult People), Anthony Atamanuik and more TBA. Expect laughs, songs, and tongue-in-cheek yuletide revelry. Tickets are on sale now.
Ted and Julie also wrote a holiday song together called "Bitter on Christmas" for Julie and Billy Eichner's Hulu series Difficult People. You can listen to it via Apple Music.
Meanwhile, Ted Leo is also playing some Christmas shows of his own with Aimee Mann (they did this last year as well) on December 10 at Town Hall and December 12 at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Tickets are still available.
And in somewhat related news, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists drummer Chris Wilson's band HOUND has a new record coming out. SRA Records will release Out of Space on November 27, the same day they play a release show with The Kominas and Dangerbird at Everybody Hits Philadelphia. They released a new song today called "Over the Edge," which follows the previously-released "Emotional Collapse," both of which are fun, fuzzed-out '70s hard-rock rippers. You can stream them below.
November 17, 2015
This past weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live featured host Elizabeth Banks with musical guest Disclosure and special guests Lorde and Sam Smith:
Matthew McConaughey and Adele are on this coming Saturday (11/21).
Amy Poehler is also starring in a Netflix holiday special with Bill Murray.
November 12, 2015
If you watched this week's episode of Comedy Central's Drunk History, there was a segment on Thomas Edison (played by Chris Parnell) that also featured Spinal Tap's Michael McKean and, in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo, AC Newman of New Pornographers. Carl plays a projectionist and he shared a little bit about the experience via Twitter:
Finally summoned the guts to watch my brief #DrunkHistory appearance... Good Lord, I'm a genius!— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) November 12, 2015
I've been waiting years to use the phrase "Good Lord, I'm a genius!" It's from an issue of Dan Clowes' 'Eightball'. I forgot the context.— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) November 12, 2015
You can watch Carl's Drunk History performance below.
In other news, AC Newman will participate in a live taping of podcast "Song Exploder" where "musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made." That happens at The Greene Space on Saturday (11/14) and is unfortunately sold out, but you'll be able to listen to the podcast soon.
November 11, 2015
When tasked to define the central characteristic of alternative comedy at the moment, the obvious answer seems to be its playfulness. Whereas the genre's earlier incarnations saw a decidedly dark streak of humor (The Maria Bamford Show jumps to mind), these new comedians take far more pleasure in exploring the lines between character and comedian, performer and audience, and most of all, "high brow" and "low brow." Take, for example, Joe Rumrill and Tynan Delong's "official improv troupe of MTV Spring Break" - although they're ironically commenting on bro culture, it somehow seems just as much a reflection on the comedians themselves.
But then again, it's nearly impossible to define the current alternative stand up community in one word. Joe Pera's characters teeter on the brink of quiet insanity, while Mara Wilson's one-woman-show "What Are You Afraid Of?" is almost therapeutic in its frankness about anxiety, irrational fears, and laughing at ourselves. Mary Houlihan, the venerable renaissance woman of Brooklyn, employs her visual arts background in her comedy, hosting her puppet, animation, and human being variety show Cartoon Monsoon at Brooklyn's newest alternative venue, The Annoyance Theatre (be sure to catch the last show November 21).
If you're looking for a crash course in New York's booming alternative comedy underground, though, there may be no better place to start than Jo Firestone's titular alternative comedy experience, the Firestone Festival, that combines these forces into one mega-alternative-comedy-festival happening Saturday, November 14 at Hand & Detail in Williamsburg (which was home to that Car Wash show during CMJ). No relation to the other comedy fest happening at the same time in NYC (of which she is also a part), the Firestone Festival goes from noon - 10 PM. More details below and tickets for Firestone Festival are on sale now.
Firestone is arguably the greatest success story to come out of this burgeoning alternative scene. She has her own radio show on WFMU, hosts multiple highly popular variety shows, and has opened for Arcade Fire's Will Butler (and will again). Just as The State expanded the realm of what comedy could be in the 1990s, Jo Firestone has consistently pushed the boundaries, with unequivocal success, of what it means to be a "comedian." She has somehow managed to turn "game show" into a sketch comedy format - anyone can participate, anyone can be the star of the show. Her efforts have not only lead to personal successes, but in their wake have left the New York comedy scene more diverse, more inclusive, and more optimistic than ever before. So it's no surprise she is the master of ceremonies for her titular alternative comedy festival, which includes stand up, live sketch, and storytelling, along with art displays and exactly one comedic dance troupe.
I spoke with Jo via email about the Firestone Festival and what to expect...
BV: How did you come up with the idea for the festival?
Jo Firestone: I've put on a lot of shows around New York for the past five years or so, and I've always wanted to do a day-long program. This festival is a combination of comedy shows I really like and performers I really like and seeing what can happen when they're all put together in one day!
by Bill Pearis
Jonah Ray expressing his MST3K nerddom
Beloved cult series Mystery Science Theater 3000, about a guy who's forced to watch bad movies and then riffs on them with his robot pals, looks to be coming back. Creator Joel Hodgson launched a "Bring Back MST3K" kickstarter campaign on Tuesday (11/10) with a goal of $2 million to complete three episodes of the show to shop around to networks. One day into the campaign and Hodgson is over halfway towards his goal. The ultimate goal is to raise $5.5 million for an entire 12-episode season.
Hodgson talked with Entertainment Weekly about the reboot and one bit of surprising info is that he wants to cast new actors as host, mad scientists and voices of Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo:
Basically, I'm trying to blend the old with the new," says Hodgson. "Mystery Science Theater has already refreshed itself once with a completely new cast, so I think it deserves to do that again. The original cast is going to be invited back to write, produce, and do cameos as their mad science characters, and then there's a new cast with new talent.UPDATE: Hodgson revealed that comedian Jonah Ray, of Comedy Central's The Meltdown With Jonah And Kumail and the Nerdist podcast, will be the new host. Says Hodgson:
I guess I also just felt like [Ray's] heart was in the right place, and I could see how much he loved and understood MST3K. I think that's when I started thinking about inviting him to be the next host on MST3K, if we ever got to come back. About a year after that, I asked him what he thought about it. He said "yes" right away, without a second of hesitancy, and we've been talking about it ever since ...Jonah Ray, meanwhile, says, "I want everybody to know that this show means the world to me and I will do my best for MSTies, because I am one. " He's serious, as you can see from the pic above where Ray is dressed as Manos: The Hands of Fate.
I can't really tell you what kind of host Jonah is going to be, but I hope you'll give him a chance to show you. And even if you're familiar with Jonah's career, remember: that doesn't mean he'll bring the same exact approach to MST3K. I think a lot of you may be surprised. Plus, like the previous members of our cast, I think Jonah has great instincts and a lot of range. He's funny, he's wicked smart, and like I said, his heart's in the right place. He loves MST3K, he seems to understand what makes it so special, and most important, I know he takes the role seriously.
MST3K got it's start in 1988 on Minneapolis station KTMA, then went national via the Comedy Channel (which became Comedy Central). Hodgson left in 1993 and head writer Mike Nelson took over as host. The show moved to Sci Fi Channel in 1997 with more cast changes (most notably the loss of Trace Beaulieu, who played both Dr. Clayton Forrester and the voice of Crow) where it ran till 1999. Mike Nelson and some of the other MST3K writers/performers formed Rifftrax, a downloadable movie companion that riffs on current blockbusters; while Hodgson, Beaulieu and others started the similarly riffy Cinematic Titanic. The original MST3K cast recently got back together as part of Tenacious D's 2015 edition of Festival Supreme.
While we wait to see what comes of this, watch classic MST3K short "Mr. B Natural" below...