In case you missed it, season six of TLC's American Chopper found Mikey Teutel pursuing one of his non-biker dreams of being a stand-up comedian. If at first you don't succeed, try asking some actual comics for help and advice.
Which Mikey did, and as you can see in these clips, he visited the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre twice to meet up with Brooke Van Poppelen. BVP (See our Meet Me In New York for more Qs and As with BVP) also had Roger Hailes and Andrea Wallace play an improv game with Mikey and offer him moral support. Then, it was time for Mikey to perform at a live show at Comix (looked like one of their bringer shows? objection! sustained due to lack of relevance). Roll it!
What do they say about New York City: There are eight million stories, and sometimes it seems as though eight million of the people telling them think they're comedians? No, that's not it. It is a fact, though, that America's biggest city is also its biggest comedy mecca. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or arrive to thrust their funny upon us. I think we should meet some of these people. This is a new recurring feature, a mini-profile of newcomers, up-and-comers and overcomers of New York's vibrant comedy scene. It's called Meet Me In New York.
Today it's time to look at one of the many comedians who have moved here from Chicago in the past few years. She's in the middle of her debut run of her first one-woman show, and she just happened to have a birthday yesterday. No more hints: It's BVP, aka Brooke Van Poppelen!
Name: Brooke Van Poppelen
Arrival Date: March 16, 2006
Arrived From: Chicago
When and where did you start performing comedy: April 2003, Chicago
What was your best credit before moving here: Opening for Michael Winslow. That’s right, Sgt. Larvelle Jones from Police Academy.
Why did you pick NYC over LA or anywhere else? NYC picked me. I had been visiting regularly from Chicago for about six months doing indie shows, bringer shows -- whatever I could do to make a great tape to submit for festivals. I started to enjoy the people, the city, and the scene itself so much that when I got called out for a Montreal audition I just cancelled my flight home. Very responsible, I know, but it’s all worked out almost four years later. Living in Los Angeles never crossed my mind.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in NYC after moving here? Wow. Spot pay doesn’t register with me and when I do receive it, it immediately gets spent on booze or falafel. I will however say that I was performing on a special St. Patty’s Day show at Stand-Up NY for like little to no money. I had to go up before Dave Attell which made me nervous because I adore him. I had one of the better sets of my career at that point. After Dave got offstage, he found me, told me I was great, and gave me half of his spot pay. That’s pretty cool.
Big weekends don't begin on Fridays, but rather on Thursdays, so that's how I found myself on a bus to Washington, District of Columbia, last week to arrive just in time for the kickoff of last weekend's DC Comedyfest.
Someone joked that night that D.C. really was hosting the Chicago and New York fest, due to all of the comedic talent arriving from those two cities, but I know I wasn't the only person excited to see the all-local District of Comedy showcase, as a few other industry types joined me in the DC Improv's lounge on Thursday night to check out some comedians we hadn't seen before. How would we know at the time -- how could we know? -- that this show would prove more worthwhile than the official industry showcase that followed on the Improv's mainstage later that night? But we'll get to that soon enough.
Jason Weems, from Baltimore, appeared on both the D.C. and industry showcases that night, performing essentially the same set twice, although he had the misfortune early in having to compete with a noisy waiter and an awkward atmosphere later. And, um, "scrotum meat?" OK. That's a phrase that certainly sticks with you...hope you didn't order the nachos. Also noticed his vocal delivery seemed to be influenced by Chappelle. Not that that's a bad thing. He's also all over that McCain joke about how his being a POW doesn't make him good at winning wars.
Aparna Nancherla claims she is an introvert, which is an odd-but-true trait for a stand-up comedian, but is quick to point out, "I watch, TV, too!" so you can relate to her. She has a good, strong stage presence. If only she hadn't gotten the silent treatment from Last Comic Standing this year, perhaps she would have been the first female winner?
Kojo Mante sees why it'd be foolish to endorse a national gas holiday, but has more to say about the foolishness of building a statue of a homeless guy, which apparently they've done there. Hampton Yount is one shiny, happy, white boy, and the audience loved his boyish boyishness (that's a not-so-hifalutin way of describing his energy), all the way through his closing bit about the energy you need to sustain to write an angry letter. Jay Hastings went to the trouble of wearing the same outfit he had on in the Post's Express spread on him, but apparently, people don't even read free newspapers in D.C. any longer. "You think when you make the Express you'd be on the showcase," Hastings ranted. Although his bit on fingering probably would not have worked there...trust me on this one. Jon Mumma closed the local parade by imagining "swirlio" guys at the gym doing calf raises, poking fun at a Brad Paisley lyric, and noticing the things kids can get away with that adults simply cannot. He sounded like a guy you hear on the radio.
So, yeah. About that "Fresh Voices Industry Stand-Up Audition Show." It'd be for the best if I left all of the names out to protect the innocent, but really, some things need to be said about this show, which went awry from the get-go and only barely got back on track for a moment or two. Comics were buzzing before the showcase about the fact that TJ Miller couldn't make it to D.C. to host because he was in New York City auditioning for Saturday Night Live (catching up with Miller later over the weekend, he said, well, perhaps I shouldn't say what he said because SNL is making final decisions this week on him and a few others as possible cast additions). But without Miller, the festival looked to Dave Hill to substitute as host. As much as I love Hill and his quirky sensibility, he's really more of an anti-host. It's more than fine when it's his own show, but he doesn't bring the kind of energy to the room that young comics looking for TV exposure are going to want or need. So that started the show on an odd foot. But Jared Logan, first up, made things terribly awkward by starting his showcase for the industry by verbally attacking Hill -- "Is that the host we're going with tonight?" -- and creating a mood where the audience was expecting a night of fights rather than laughs. Which leads me to another point of order. If you are performing for a panel of TV scouts (which this was, with people representing Letterman, Comedy Central, VH1 and E!'s Chelsea Lately), wouldn't you want to do material that you could imagine them delivering on the TV? As I texted someone later during the show: "Some odd choices to showcase yourselves to TV scouts. Crowd not great, but not their fault." Many in the lineup simply didn't bring the right stuff on this night. Kumail Nanjiani, or am I supposed to be calling him Ali now, went long but managed to engage the crowd and get everybody involved with the show again, leaving some scraps for the final two performers of the evening, Sean Patton and Brooke Van Poppelen. Patton got applause for his bit about calling in sick, and Poppelen found more than a few fans with her thoughts about brunch. You know what? It is for the best to leave out the other names from this showcase, because they'll have better opportunities to shine in the future.
On a brighter note, I managed to get some sleep on the Greyhound bus back to New York City on Friday morning without losing my head. So hooray for that.
The 2008 presidential campaign already will go down in comedy history as a landmark election for parodies and spoofs, thanks to online videos, and we're not even to the conventions yet. Here is a new effort from the Chupacabra group, in which Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back gets remixed with new lyrics and a political spin, courtesy of Jordan Carlos (as Barack Obama) and Mike Dobbins (as John McCain, though sounding like Ronald Reagan and a Richard Nixon mannerism) with a cameo from Brooke Van Poppelen (as Hillary Clinton). Funny stuff. Enjoy!
Something I couldn't help but notice Wednesday night at Rififi...aside from the huge crowds seeming to want to bask in this comedy's scenes last gasps of glory...were all of the new short hairdos! Aziz Ansari. Kumail Nanjiani. Joselyn Hughes. Brooke Van Poppelen. All newly shorn and clean-cut. That Hughes and Van Poppelen sported nearly identical bobs made for an even more amusing sight earlier Wednesday when they co-hosted Slumber Party at Ochi's Lounge in Comix.
Here is Joselyn Hughes, pre-cut, in the new Dunkin Donuts commercial for Milky Way hot chocolate: