Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Night: Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black at The TLA

Friday night Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black will be performing at the The Filmore TLA (yep, I knew it as The TLA before they changed the name. I used to go to shows there all the time. TLA stands for the "Theatre of Living Arts" for all of you young kids coming up nowadays. Oh, this new generation!) and I was going to write a long post about their new albums but it was boring. So I'll just say this instead.

On Showalter's Sandwiches and Cats, a woman sits in the front of one of his sets with a cat that meows throughout the show. Well, my cats Rocky (front of picture) and Sonny will be at the show Friday night and they're even worse. Double worse, in fact.

And they don't yell "Freebird!" or "You suck!", they are intelligent hecklers. So watch out. Now if only I can get Sonny to stop scratching door frames.

P.S. I think you are very funny.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Week in Jimmy Pardo: Jimmycast!

Now that Jimmy Pardo has taken over the audio podcast world, he's on to the next battle: video. As alluded to in a recent episode of Never Not Funny with "friend of the show" Pat Francis, Jimmy was filmed as they did the audio podcast.

There's something about watching someone talk on the radio that I love. You are the audience and they are talkin to you, but they aren't acknowledging that you exist. Radio on TV is great for the most part; I love Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio and even local public station WHYY has Radio Times with Mary Moss-Coane on TV.

Hopefully there will more of this in the future for the Pardcast. During the Chris Hardwick episode a few weeks ago, the guys talked about how there were three cameras in the studio filming.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This Week: The best week of the entire week

This week is a stone-cold stunner for comedy in Philadelphia. Don't believe me?

Monday: Ok, not a good start. Nothing funny about Mondays. But I do recommend you see my friends' band Shout Magic at the Tritone around 10PM. I can't guarantee that they will be funny, but perhaps their between-songs banter will generate comedic results.

On Tuesday Helium's holding an audition for the Comedy Central show "Live At Gotham". It's free, but they won't listen to just anyone's eight minutes. You won't be able to get on stage unless you are:

Pat Barker
Joe Bublewicz
Chip Chantry
Chris Coccia
Steve Gerben
David James
Laurence Mullaney
Andy Nolan
Anton Shuford
Roger Weaver
and host, Pat House

Although there's no cost, reservations are required and the club says that it is selling out fast.

Wednesday brings another installment of Bedtime Stories at the Shubin Theatre (4th & Bainbridge). Hosted by Gregg Gethard, this month's theme is "Let My Love Open The Door" with sketches, monologues and whatever else on dating, relationships, heartbreak, etc. from:

Secret Pants
Meg & Rob
Greg Maughan
Members of The Sixth Borough
plus other guests

On Thursday, Meg & Rob of Meg & Rob will be performing their live sketch show from this past summer's Fringe Fest "Reviving the Lecture Circuit" at the Shubin Theatre. The duo knocked it out of the park with two new sketches at Die, Actor, Die! last week. By "it" I mean, a home run, and "home run" is a metaphor for doing a very good job. The show will be made up of lecture-style monologues from fake celebrities in the "spirit of the mid-1800's humorists who developed personas in order to satirize serious lecturers".

Thursday also brings the return of Sour Grapes, this time at Mooney's Pub at 4th & Ritner in South Philly at 8PM. It's an open mic night for anyone "willing to air their grievances, dislikes, gripes, diatribes, frustrations, issues, calamities, slanderous and libelious spewings and overall disenchantment with this ridiculous, overwhelming and pointless thing called life."

Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter of The State & Stella return to The Filmore TLA on Friday. They both have a new album out- I Am A Wonderful Man and Sandwiches and Cats, respectively- that are worth checking out. And from the looks of this interview it should be a fun show.

And just a few blocks away at the Shubin through Sunday, Philly longform improv heroes Rare Bird Show with Chicago's Bassprov

You've got a lot of options for Saturday. ComedySportz Philly will be at the Playground at the Adrienne (2030 Sansom St.) at 7:30 and 10, Industrial improv at the Shubin at 8 and then Rare Bird Show and Bassprov again at 10, as well as standup comic Clinton Jackson at Helium.

And finally on Sunday Helium's got a special event called "Crazy, Sexy Comedy" featuring Sharrod Small, Dean Edwards and hosted by South Philly native Keith Robinson.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Philadelphia Comedy: the recent past and near future

Here's a quick round-up of what has been going on lately in Philadelphia comedy. It'll be quick because it's Sunday and I have ten hours of football to watch. Yes, watching guys run with a ball and hit each other is very important to me.

- On Tuesday Mike Birbiglia performed at Helium as a warm up to his taping of new Comedy Central hour the next day in New York City. Being that Helium isn't quite a 850-seat theatre, his set was a lot more subdued than he'd have to be the next day. I'd never seen him live in such an intimate setting before, so it was interesting to see him pace the stage and work the audience. It was all low-key for the most part as he told the stories from his latest album My Secret Public Journal Live (although he had a few new bits as well). While a lot of comedy comes from anger and pain, Birbigs is usually the butt of his jokes ("I was always the kid that things happened to"). Sure, there is some pain there- like a bad jump into a pond in which his friends' laughter was so loud that he could hear it even underwater and how this made him contemplate if they were really his friends- but it's never too depressing and heavy. And because of these self-depreciating stories he can connect with the audience to the point where his "before I tell you this part of the story, to remind you, that you're on my side" line is kind of redundant.

- Last Sunday was the first installment of a new local comedy show, Unwashed Comics at the Walking Fish Theatre in Fishtown. Ten standup comics went up on stage to do about ten minutes of material. It made for a long show (the need for intermission was the first cue), but was overall a success. Every comic had something different to bring so it never got boring and the crowd was ready to laugh. The next one is set for Sunday December 9th and promises to include more than just straight stand-up (maybe some sketch?).

- And tomorrow, Monday, its time again for Die, Actor, Die!. Hosted by Don Montrey, it'll go down at The Khyber in Olde City and will contain a night of stand-up, sketch and magic hilarity featuring:

Pat Barker
Fred Siegel
Kate Bambi
Doogie Horner
Meg and Rob

Later in the week Todd Glass comes back home, but unfortunately I'll missing that because of some family thing. Bah!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Michael Showalter's Album is Out Today

Michael Showalter's album, Sandwiches & Cats is out today! Do you know what I love about iTunes? It saves me the trip to my local record store to find out that they don't have the CD that I want.

And now I can listen to it on my walk to work! Oh, work. You just aren't funny enough.

Patton Oswalt vs. Philly Boy Roy

Via Die, Actor, Die!, via Jesse Thorn of The Sound of Young America, via Henry of Chunklet Magazine (!):

Here's visual evidence of Patton Oswalt and Philly Boy Roy together on stage at the recent Comedians of Comedy show at the TLA. The squirrel joke is great, but some of the crowd turns on him with the Allen Iverson joke. How dare he make fun of a guy that used to play basketball for our basketball team!

Also from the Chunklet blog: an archive of Mitch Hedberg sets from 2001-2004! This is like a football nut having access to coaches' footage of all of the games. I haven't listened to these yet, but it will be interesting to go through them to see how his one-liners evolve. Analysis forthcoming...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Unwashed Comics This Sunday Night

This Sunday, a new comedy night in Philadelphia premieres at the Walking Fish Theatre (2509 Frankford Ave.), nestled in the heart of Fishtown. Unwashed Comics is hosted by former New Yorker Jose Vega and features local comics:

Doogie Horner
Joe Dougherty
Aaron Hertzog
Bob McCormick
Kent Haines
Chip Chantry
and more

More on this next week as this "reporter" will be there.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Few Moments with Eddie Cantor, circa 1923

I can't get it to embed, but here's an early sound film with comedian Eddie Cantor. It isn't recorded in front of an audience, but Eddie seems to think he's bombing yet soldiers on.

And fellas, we all know about the homeliest girls, right? Know what I'm sayin'?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

When you're on the street, depending on the street....

After the always-hilarious Flight of the Conchords finished up their first season on HBO, they put out an EP of six songs on Sub Pop Records. The CD includes three studio recordings that were used for the show and three live tracks. It's an interesting look at Jemaine & Bret's original act as the "4th most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo" from New Zealand when they only had their acoustic guitars and an occasional falsetto voice to get laughs.

My favorite song of theirs isn't the popular "Robots", but "The Most Beautiful Girl In The Room":

Something about the line "When you're on the street, depending on the street" gets me every time. The pacing is just right and the jokes build up through the choruses. Some folks compare them to Tenacious D, but they don't have much in similarity beyond the guitars. The D's in-your-grille humor often reeks of trying way too hard, while Flight of the Conchords are more patient and subtle. They hit the punchlines and pause like a standup comic would; it would be interesting to see how they tested this song out live before getting it just right.

For the show, they had to adapt the songs visually to fit the storyline. Here's the same song in their weird NYC universe:

When first introduced to the show, you may think that the music video breaks would get annoying eventually, but somehow they managed to knock it out of the park every time. They vary the styles of their songs enough though that it's never the same thing twice. The second season can't come soon enough for me.

BONUS: Zach Galifianakis has a few new films in the works. IMDB's plot outline for G-Force: "A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world." It's directed by Hoyt Yeatman and written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Upcoming Movies

Hot off the wire there's some exciting movie news that may convince you to stay with us on this planet just yet!

Elizabeth Banks will join Paul Rudd on untitled David Wain-helmed film - It was written by Wain, Rudd and fellow Stater Ken Marino, so by all accounts this should be awesome. If it's half as good as The Ten it will be hilarious. And hey, if it's about brotherly love, film it in Philly! The Ten is my favorite movie of 2007, by the way.

Broken Lizard Set For 'Slammin' Salmon' - Ok, so Supertroopers is a classic, Club Dread not so much and I couldn't even finish Beerfest. I'm rooting for Broken Lizard once again on this one though. Interestingly enough, Kevin Heffernan is directing this time, usually Jay Chandrasekhar takes on the duties for the group, I mean troupe. They've got a lot more in the works, including Supertroopers 2 by 2010!

McKay Is Lost and Ferrell is Found, on the Land of the Lost Set That Is! - This looks like another Ferrell movie to keep him occupied before his next goofy one with his pal Adam McKay, who "had to choose between Land of the Lost or Step Brothers, a comedy which reunites 'Talladega' stars Ferrell and John C. Reilly." He picked "Step Brothers". Good call!

This Week in Jimmy Pardo: John Heffron and Last Comic Standing

This week's guest on Never Not Funny was the comedian John Heffron, winner of "Last Comic Standing 2". While we don't watch the show- there's just so much time in the day we can devote to all of this - we acknowledge that there are some real comedians on there. And we can't knock anyone for trying it, exposure is exposure (and look at me, I'm just a blogger). But from what John says, it seems pretty brutal:

John Heffron: We had to perform every show that somebody got kicked off of so you'd have to perform twice. You'd perform once to see if people voted for you and then you'd perform another time that didn't count for anything. So by the end of the show, I'd performed fifteen times. I did 15 television sets, all around four to five minutes.

Pat Francis: So let's do the math here. Five times fifteen: 75 minutes.

JH: I got hosed because they started Season 3 two weeks after Season 2 was over, so I did a total of 22 sets and never repeated a joke.

Jimmy Pardo: Ok, again we'll give you a patch...

JH: The bad thing about it was so now the show kind of got you that everyone kind of knew who you were and the second you went to tour you were screwed because they didn't want to see anything you did prior to the show so when you did it you'd hear people go "he did the same material that he did..." So people think as comics you do a joke once and it goes off into the air and then aliens hear it.

JP: I'm doing a Clarence Thomas piece that proves that's not the case. Although he's back in the news, he's back in the fucking news, Clarence Thomas! I'm bringing my piece back.

Matt Belknap: You want to dust it off right now?

JP: I might start wearing a piece.

It all seems futile sometimes, doesn't it? Finally, FINALLY, you think you've made it and people are coming to your shows. The money is good and all of the shit gigs and long car rides seem to be paying off. And still it just doesn't get easier like it would for a band that can ride their singles for years and years, then break up and come back 20 years later and make even more money.

After this, they talk about where they all met years ago on a traveling college comedy tour called Crack Me Up. It was similar to the TV show Make Me Laugh in format as the comedians would bring members of the audience on stage and try to make them laugh. But, since most of the shows were during the day when students were studying, they didn't always go quite that well. It's an interesting story about young comedians cutting their teeth on the road.