About halfway through Brian Scolaro's Comedy Central Presents, the comedian announces he'll now tell some random jokes. That's not the only thing random about his half-hour special. For his backdrop, Scolaro went with a funeral motif, complete with coffin. Odd. Doesn't really even mention it at all, though he does have a couple of minutes about religion and a joke about whether there is food in heaven. He also decides to have a drink on the stool on stage. Not water, but an actual adult beverage. You may have seen Scolaro previously on the short-lived FOX sitcom, Stacked, which also starred Pamela Anderson and Elon Gold. I wish Comedy Central included the clip from Scolaro's routine about cavemen discovering firsts, because I think it's a more interesting bit than the opening number here about his weight and how stoners act differently than drunks, but you'll have to talk to them about that:
Free tickets are available to this year's Comedy Central Presents tapings in New York City, taping shows in pairs from Aug. 24-29, 2008 at the Hudson Theater. I believe Bo Burnham is setting a land-speed record by getting a half-hour TV special before he enrolls in college at NYU and just days after turning 18! Here are your pairings, with links for tickets to each:
6 p.m. Aug. 24: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry
8 p.m. Aug. 24: Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro
6 p.m. Aug. 25: Dan Levy, Bo Burnham
8 p.m. Aug. 25: Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft
6 p.m. Aug. 26: Greg Warren, Josh Blue
8 p.m. Aug. 26: Erin Foley, Chris Porter
6 p.m. Aug. 27: Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson
8 p.m. Aug. 27: Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes
6 p.m. Aug. 28: Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes
8 p.m. Aug. 28: Tommy Johnigan, Jimmy Carr
6 p.m. Aug. 29: John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal
8 p.m. Aug. 29: Red Grant, Rob Stapleton
Even though they're taping from Aug. 25-29, the next round of Comedy Central Presents half-hour stand-up specials likely won't air until 2009, if past precedents hold. That said, you can sign up now for info on free tickets to the tapings at the Hudson Theater just off Times Square in NYC.
Getting their own half-hours this year: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry, Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro, Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson, Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes, Dan Levy, Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft, Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes, Tommy Johnagin, Jimmy Carr, Greg Warren, Josh Blue, Erin Foley, Chris Porter, John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal, Rob Stapleton, and Red Grant.
Congrats to all. Much, much more to come next month!
If you happen to visit New York City anytime soon, let me put in a word for a stop at the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea. Or is it the Meatpacking District? The site says it's in Chelsea, two blocks north of the Meatpacking District. Anyhow. I've already gotten away from the point. Point is, if you have several hundred dollars per day to blow on lodging here, you're likely to have casual encounters with celebrities. And not just all of the stand-up comedians who stayed at the Maritime last week. In a period of less than 24 hours, I exchanged words with Michael Stipe (whom I now realize was hanging around for Monday's induction of R.E.M. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!) and saw Tate Donovan hanging around in the lobby. I believe my exchange with Stipe went something like this:
5:50 p.m. Saturday, comedian Dan Boulger and I head down the steps and out of the Maritime. Just then, Stipe is heading inside. We almost collide. "Oh...hi!" I say. "Hello," he replies. Boulger stares oddly. And that was that. Stipe wore some sort of beret and was sporting a grayish brown beard.
And now for the rest of the weekend story.
Boulger invited me to hang out for Saturday night's tapings of Live at Gotham. During the day, all of the stand-up comics get to run-through rehearsal. They'll put anything on the teleprompter, even a word-for-word transcript of a comedian's routine. Odd to think you could get on TV and simply read your stand-up routine. Who does that? It's odd just to see a comic read off their notes during a major set. But I suppose Comedy Central might also offer this service just in case a comic gets a case of the TVs and freezes up. Plus, it turns out the teleprompter also can be used as an alternative to the light, sending messages such as "one minute left!" As for audience members, they're told no food, no bathroom breaks, the better to keep disruptions to a minimum. And the production hired a special audience coordinator to hand out specific seat assignments. Apparently, seating a comedy show can be looked at as a science. Put the best-looking best laughers front and center. Put industry people in the back corner. Audience members also got instructions on what not to wear (no logos, no whites). And then, as talent manager Max Burgos pointed out before the first taping began: "The smoke machine really does it, man." Suppose it adds an old-school comedy club feel, although it'd really be old-school if they let you smoke. The tapings also have an official warm-up comedian. Dan Ahdoot more than honorably worked this non-televised job, working the crowd (and adding another several minutes of material when the second show incurred technical difficulties) and helping establish pre-show shots of crowd applause and laughter.
Each comic got to work out about 10 minutes of material, knowing that Comedy Central might edit out a couple of minutes for the Web and other material for ad time. I'd think they might cut Callen's bit about wanting to change his own name to something along the lines of Meeeeowww Cah! (Um, didn't he see the whole online debate about Louis CK and Dane Cook?) Guess not. Also, Breuer had to come back onstage at the end of the first show for several attempts at pronounciating the Colbert Report. The second show had much more energy. Perhaps that had to do with the lineup. Goldman had so much more going on than when I'd seen her last year at a Laughing Liberally show at Jimmy Tingle's. Boulger, going up after her, looked nervous for the first time that I'd ever seen. Then came Andre, who blew the roof off the joint, took extra time out of his act to encourage the audience to make fart noises, just to see if Comedy Central would use it! Hoogasian, up next, tried to sound like Emo Philips but mostly sounded weird. And it seemed odd at the end when Scolaro went with a bit about cavemen having to determine what was edible (since in the previous show, Ramsey had a similar bit about the first guy to bite into a pineapple!). No matter. At least not for me to worry about. That's why they're on separate shows, right? Right. Anyhow, onto the after parties, first downstairs, and then out onto nearby streets and a place called Dusk which was small but had a good vibe, especially when a bunch of comedians and like-minded people took over the bar. Good times.