Don't know how I missed this the other night, but Dana Gould was on Conan last week, and amid the relationship humor of being married, and adopting kids from China -- "in China, every town is Chinatown" -- I enjoyed his choice take on "reality" television.
Roll the clip.
Some of you comedy nerds already knew about this, because comedy nerds are more likely to spend time debating who's funnier or sending fan mail to a comedian via message boards such as A Special Thing (who am I kidding here? obviously this is going to sound loony the minute I decide to launch my own message board and pander/beg for you all to contribute to it). Did you make it this far? Great. Here's the news: A Special Thing's home page is now a comedy blog. At least I don't have to update my blogroll for that. (But if I am missing your page on my blogroll, please let me know!)
One of the first things AST did on the blog was shoot its own YouTube video, this one promoting Dana Gould's latest stand-up DVD via a backstage conversation with director Bob Odenkirk.
For those of you who think my home page has too many embedded videos, I've placed it after the jump!
Dana Gould, Let Me Put My Thoughts In You, debuted on Showtime on March 14, 2009 and is available on DVD on Tuesday, March 17.
In case comedy nerds didn't get the message, Bob Odenkirk directed Dana Gould's new stand-up comedy special and filmed it as a throwback to the documentary style comedians often employed a generation ago. It opens and closes backstage in the dressing room of Chicago's Second City Theater. Gould fights with himself over the order of his set list (if only he could have consulted Comedy By The Numbers!) until the emcee (voiced by Odenkirk) introduces our headliner to the stage.
Onstage sporting a nice brown suit with tie and slightly mussed-up hair, Gould goes for a bit of a heck-with-it attitude. He tells the audience that after years working in TV as a writer/producer (most notably, of course, with The Simpsons), he's back working the comedy club circuit, he has noticed that he has no game with the ladies. He quickly notes that that's not an issue for him -- in fact, he's married to a woman who just so happens to have become a top-ranking executive for HBO, which actually may help explain why he's debuting his new special on Showtime. Better to prove himself on another premium cable outlet than on the one his wife helps run, to avoid any seeming improprieties. Anyhow. Back to the bit. Gould also mentions early that he and his wife are raising two young daughters. Having just gotten home on Saturday from watching Louis CK live, I couldn't help but begin making instant comparisons (Boston-area heritage? check! In their 40s? check! No game with the ladies? check! Problems interacting with two young daughters? check!). So I turned off my TV and waited a bit to give Gould a fairer shake. After all, the two men may have more than a few things in common, but they approach their lives and their comedy differently. Gould, in his businessman's attire, looks like that guy from the office who always seemed to polite and calm and just went about his affairs, but somehow at the office party got involved in a bonding exercise and decided to let all of his coworkers in on all of the thoughts that have been stewing inside his head, but never uttered, until now.
The people at Just For Laughs in Montreal decided to recap some of their shows in video highlights, which means you can get a feel for what you saw, or what you missed. Although they don't give all of the New Faces face time (hmmm), but the Just For Laughs video portal (yes, they have their own video portal for you to upload your own funny fun-time videos) includes a highlight reel set to music and with more Galas and French Canadians than any other JFL video. So let's start with that one, with the New Faces, Amp'd and Masters after the jump!
Is it possible for the host of New Faces to bomb? If your name is Dana Gould and the show in question happened Saturday night, then yes, very much so. Word on the street had it that both groups of New Faces felt more at ease in their second go-arounds at Montreal, not only because fewer industry types would be lurking around, but also because the performers would have shaken off rust, nerves and any material that might not translate to a very mainstream Canadian comedy club audience. None of that explains what happened to Gould, however, who didn't connect with the audience in the first minute, and about 10 minutes later, really didn't have them on his side. Even Gould knew it. "Wow! I have to get out of this hole now," he said aloud.
This certainly helped Mo Mandel, who went up first and killed, particularly with an applause line following his bit on people who do yoga and other healthy things, wondering, "If you're unhappy, why are you trying to live longer?!" His Jew jokes also got big laughs. When I saw Mandel on my small computer screen earlier this year and last, I thought, eh. But live, I could see how he had won last year's Comedy Central Open Mic Fights.
Tougher to figure out Chuck Watkins. What is that accent? What's with all of the tai-chi stage movements? He employed a second microphone to play multiple instruments, and it was more cute than anything, although I got distracted the moment I heard him deliver this joke: "My teacher asked me for a declarative command. I said, 'Go f#$& yourself.'" I liked the joke a lot better two years ago when Dan Boulger said it and used a rhetorical question as the set-up.
Malik S. from Miami appeared to graduate from the D.L. Hughley school of smooth-talking comedy in a vest and tie, and like me, he could not be a thug because he's ticklish. Good point. He also proved that it's always possible to find work, no matter who you are, and closed the way you'd end your day at work.
Last Comic Standing finalist Jeff Dye opened with the work-out routine that got him into the TV house from Las Vegas, then closed with a bit about how the board game Guess Who teaches kids racism.
Vanessa Fraction got all worked up describing the time her son lathered up in her KY jelly, and now she's just looking for a guy with "at least." I know that much, at least.
Nate Bargatze used his Nashville twang to good effect, asking the crowd, "Do y'all have evolution here in Canada?" He talked about how if humans and monkeys are 98 percent alike, that makes his favorite 2 percent "the non-monkey parts," and wondered about the effectiveness of cancer-sniffing dogs.
Jamie Kilstein's joke about John McCain's war experience makes so much sense I cannot believe the Democrats haven't been using it every day.
If you're looking to cast a gay man from Winnipeg, then Trevor Boris is your guy.
Kenny Johnson's routine included several characters, suggesting he was letting the industry know that he is available for your sketch or sitcom needs.
The folks at Just For Laughs announced part of its 2008 slate for Montreal yesterday (proving once again, that a blogger cannot take a day off!)...
This year, Montreal introduces its first "industry conference" -- Just Comedy -- with Ivan and Jason Reitman talking father-son comedy shop on July 17, and Judd Apatow getting honored as "comedy person of the year" (year unspecified) on July 18.
The Galas (the biggest shows in size and scope) include hosts Craig Ferguson (July 18), Jimmy Fallon (July 19) and an "all-star" gala with Ron White, Paula Poundstone and Larry Miller (July 20).
Special events listed include: Stiles & Proops: Unplanned (July 15) featuring, well, whatever Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops feel like doing that night; South Park Live (July 16) with Matt Stone and Trey Parker; Omid Djalili (July 17); and Apatow For Destruction (July 18) featuring the aforementioned Apatow with cohorts Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Russell Brand and others.
Club shows, which often get grouped into themes, include The Nasty Show with hosts Nick DiPaolo and Patrice Oneal; The Ethnic Heroes of Comedy hosted by Frank Spadone with Steve Byrne, Gabriel Iglesias, Maz Jobrani and others; AMP'd, the Music Comedy Show with host Craig Robinson; Laugh-rodisiacs, the Relationship Show hosted by Greg Behrendt; the midnight Alternative Comedy Show hosted once again by Andy Kindler; the Best of the Uptown Comics which in Canadian means "urban" which means "black," hosted by Bruce Bruce with JB Smoove, Craig Robinson and others.
Tom Papa gets promoted from New Faces host in 2007 to the "Richard Jeni One-Person Show Series" with his show, "Only Human" (July 14-20).
Of course, the real treats for fans and the industry come in the New Faces showcases (to be hosted by Greg Giraldo and Dana Gould), and we won't know who makes it to Montreal until this weekend's final New York City auditions: May 1 at Comic Strip Live, May 2 at Stand-Up NY and May 3 at Broadway Comedy Club.
Anyone who worried about the future of comedy on HBO after the departure of Chris Albrecht and the end of the Aspen festival can maybe take a quick sigh of relief. Sue Naegle, named HBO's new president of HBO Entertainment yesterday and put in charge of all series programming and specials, is not only the former head of the TV department at UTA (where she helped bring Six Feet Under to HBO), but also the present and future wife of writer/comedian Dana Gould. So that's good. Right? Right. Of course, it is. Phew. I feel better now. How about you?