The 10th annual Boston Comedy Festival "officially" begins tonight with "Jim McCue's Festival Pre-Show" at Nick's Comedy Stop. McCue co-founded the fest with Boston City Councilman John Tobin, who recently opened Tommy's Comedy Lounge in the original home of the Connection. McCue's sister, Helen, is the fest's vice president, while his sister-in-law Midge helps as a major organizer. And Lewis Black, a longtime friend of McCue's, once again has timed his Boston appearance to coincide with the fest. He'll be at the Wang (or is it Citi Center?) on Saturday.
There are a variety of shows around Boston from tonight through next Saturday, Sept. 5, but the meat of the Boston fest continues to be its annual weeklong stand-up comedy contest. As it did last year, most of the comedy contest rounds will be held at the Hard Rock Cafe, starting on Sunday with the first of eight preliminary rounds. Ninety-six comics from around the country are participating and competing for $10,000 in prize money, although there's a heavy dose of locals and stand-ups who have recently left Boston for New York City or elsewhere.
I cannot say that I'll be roped into judging much of the contest this year (you may sigh or applaud, according to whether you were hoping I would/wouldn't be a factor). But I will be doing everything I can to try to make it up north in time for the Boston Comedy Festival Roast of Tony V. I'll have much more to say about this once I'm back in Boston, but there should be lots of great stories from some big-names and multiple generations of comedians about Tony V, and I'll be glad to share mine here then, too. Among the people on the dais: Tony's longtime friend Bobcat Goldthwait, who directed Tony in his new movie, World's Greatest Dad; Lenny Clarke, Kenny Rogerson, and more.
Jimmy Kimmel had both Robin Williams and Bobcat Goldthwait as guests on his TV show late Wednesday night, which made sense since they're both promoting the same project, World's Greatest Dad, in which Goldthwait directed Williams. But Goldthwait also directed the first years of Kimmel's show, which added a little something something to the chat dynamic. Kimmel's show has embraced YouTube, so you can see four segments from the episode. Williams came out first and discussed his open heart surgery. Then he talked about his surgery's impact on his current stand-up tour, which resumes in September, and how long he has been friends with Goldthwait.
Then Goldthwait came out, and talked about his relationship with Kimmel, as well as his friendship with Williams, going back to their first meeting in a Boston comedy club, and their Chinese tattoos.
And here's them talking about the movie a bit, and while Williams is quick to remind everyone that Goldthwait had made "the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown movies" in Shakes the Clown, Goldthwait returns the favor by complimenting Williams on the length of his full frontal nudity. Also, Goldthwait said he is not on Facebook or Twitter, so if you're following or friends with him, that's a fake Bobcat.
The Sundance Film Festival has announced its slate of films for the 2009 celebration of cinema in Park City, Utah, and more than a few feature and/or star stand-up comedians during the Jan. 15-25 run in the ski hills.
There's one bonafide film about comedy screening next month: Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy / USA (Director: Robert Townsend)—Using rare archival clips along with provocative interviews with many of today's leading comedians and social critics, Why We Laugh celebrates the incredible cultural influence and social impact black comedy has wielded over the past 400 years. Cast: Chris Rock, Bill Cosby, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Steve Harvey, Dick Gregory. World Premiere
And I'm pleased as punch to pass along the news that NYC comedy troupe Derrick got their film into the festival: Mystery Team / USA (Director: Dan Eckman; Screenwriters: Dominic Dierkes, Donald Glover, and DC Pierson)—A group of kid detectives called The Mystery Team struggle to solve a double murder to prove they can be real detectives before they graduate from high school. Cast: Dominic Dierkes, D.C. Pierson, Donald Glover, Aubrey Plaza, Glenn Kalison. World Premiere
Among the 16 films selected for the Documentary Competition:
Good Hair (Director: Jeff Stilson) - Comedian Jeff Stilson directs Chris Rock while he sets out to examine the culture of African-American hair and hairstyles. World Premiere
Among the 16 films selected for the Drama Competition:
Big Fan (Director and Screenwriter: Robert Siegel) - The world of a parking garage attendant who happens to be the New York Giants' biggest fan is turned upside down after an altercation with his favorite player. Cast: Patton Oswalt, Michael Rapaport, Kevin Corrigan, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Matt Servitto. World Premiere
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (Director and Screenwriter: John Krasinski) - This effort from The Office star is described thusly: When her boyfriend leaves with little explanation, a doctoral candidate in anthropology tries to remedy her heartache by interviewing men about their behavior. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, John Krasinski, Timothy Hutton, Dominic Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Bobby Cannavale. World Premiere
Paper Heart (Director: Nicholas Jasenovec; Screenwriters: Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi) - This is the is it a documentary, is it fiction movie you've heard buzz about in the past week: Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn't believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature - a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera. Cast: Charlyne Yi, Michael Cera, Jake Johnson. World Premiere
Push (Director and Screenwriter: Lee Daniels) - Based on the acclaimed, best-selling novel by Sapphire, Push is the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a young girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice. Cast: Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo’Nique Imes, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey. World Premiere
And in films debuting at Sundance 2009 outside of competition...