Another ace interview from Jesse Thorn at The Sound of Young America recently- this one with comedians and identical twins The Sklar Brothers. Twin comedians that perform together sounds cheesy, but it actually works. Their timing, probably perfected through decades of being around each other a lot, is really tight. This makes it easy to go from one idea to next and gives them the freedom, "to illustrate the point we are trying to make...we'll break into a sketch".
They start out with how they first got into comedy and their story seems to be a typical one for successful comedians: from a young age they always loved seeing comedy on TV and they knew that was what they wanted to do. They mention Rodney Dangerfield's Young Comedian Special, which got me thinking...
When my dad bought a DVD/VHS recorder a few years ago, I pillaged his closet of VHS tapes and discovered that he was a big fan of standup. I never knew this, and watching the tapes was a revelation. A lot of it was HBO specials and the tapes would include incredibly awesome 80s graphics promos for boxing and the like. He had Richard Pryor's "Live on Sunset Strip" and at the time I couldn't find this anywhere else.
Another of the tapes had "Rodney Dangerfield's Ninth Annual Young Comedians Special" and I converted this one to DVD as well. I was going to put some clips of the show up on Youtube, but it turns out someone beat me to it.
Here's the opening in which each comedian introduces themselves as they walk through the front door, delivering as bland a one-liner as the next. This segues perfectly into a creepy "sketch" by Dangerfield and the show begins.
It's worth mentioning that this was the 80s and it seems that ANYTHING was getting a laugh then. Most of those opening lines are incredibly generic, but they all get laughs. Sam Kinison (yes, a great comic) probably didn't need to speak any English, just yell. True, it's TV and the audience was probably told to laugh, or maybe they didn't even laugh and the track was just added in later...ok, so it's possible that the audience didn't even see these clips and it was totally fabricated, which is even worse because that means the producers thought that this would work.
And then this guy goes up:
Bob Nelson. By the way, this clip was posted on Youtube a second time under the title "Funniest standup act EVER!" and it's been viewed over 78,000 times.
Most of the night is a snore, but it's fun to watch Rodney's introductions bomb. I'm not sure if the comedians themselves wrote the introductions as Bill Hicks had to when he was a part of the special, as recounted in his biography American Scream:
The line he and Farneti had settled on was, "I'd like to say this next guy is ahead of his time, but his parents haven't met yet." Not John's favorite, but Bill liked it. The first night of taping, he tried it out on Dangerfield.
"Not funny enough," Dangerfield said.
"No, that's funny," Bill replied. "Try it."
If Rodney was startled by at a no-name twenty-six-year-old challenging him, he went ahead and tried Bill's line on the first audience. Surprisingly, it got a good laugh. The next day, before the second taping, Bill walked by Rodney's dressing room. "Hey Bill," Dangerfield called. "That line, it's really funny. What the fuck do I know?"
Overall it's fun time and very cool of Rodney to help out the young folks. You don't see it often anymore, which makes the Comedians of Comedy tour great because now they're bringing up lesser-known acts that they like. Maybe more on that