The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, now in its fourth year, is unlike any other comedy festival. Intended to be a joke on the notion of comedy fests, it has nevertheless become a Brooklyn institution now, and as Mirman and his co-conspirators Julie Smith and Caroline Creaghead note, it has managed to become both "sincere-and-ironic."
Keeping with that theme, they have taken to Kickstarter in hopes of raising money to pay for this year's event in September. I've spoken to Mirman, and this list of ridiculousness is, in fact, quite real. They do plan a full Day of Science this year. In past years, they've offered pig roasts and fake VIP laminates, and they've sold rocks emblazoned with names of comedy industry insiders.
Among the things they'd like to do this September: Pay the people who work for the festival; build an ice cream limo or buy an ice cream truck (the former sounds wonderful, the latter sounds feasible); fly in some performers and put them up in hotels to expand the event; set up a petting zoo; host an "Awkward Party Bus"; stage a VIP section inside the Bell House. Roll the video clip to hear it straight from Mirman:
With 30 days left in their fund-raising period, they've already received $3,842 from 45 backers. The most popular donation level of $20 so far has 12 donors getting their names printed in the festival guide as racists. That's much more popular, ironically, than giving $5 more to be printed in the festival guide as "Acquaintance of Eugene." Hmmm.
They've also received initial backing at the $500 level for guests on the aforementioned Awkward Party Bus (which includes access to one show, an autographed headshot and a signed poster), as well as the $1,000 level to put their names on animals in the petting zoo (this level includes "Double VIP" access to two shows, a pre-show "meet and hug" with Mirman and access to the party bus).
I love the $8,000 donation level, which earns you $5,000 in $1 bills.
And who will chip in $10,000 or more? If you do, you'll get paid accommodations "in a nice hotel" for four nights, "a weirdly decorated, very heavy chain that gives you and a friend access to all the festival shows," and your very own handler -- "this person will probably be around 22-years-old and only sort of helpful."
Eugene Mirman has a history of troubles with Time Warner Cable, mostly dealing with moving and having it installed at the proper date and time. You know how that goes. I'd certainly have something to say, but I haven't had any issues with TWC and I'm moving this weekend, so why start now? Right? Right.
But Mirman decided the only way to get Time Warner Cable to hear his complaints about their service would be to take out full-page ads in the local papers. Not the Times, nor the Post, nor the Daily News. But it's in this week's editions of the New York Press and Greenpoint Gazette if you want to pick up your collectible copy of this open letter in print.
You also can see and hear Mirman talk about the letter in this clip from earlier this week, when Mirman performed live for listeners of Studio 360.
The cast of FOX's new animated series, Bob's Burgers, took over guest blogging duties for Videogum on Friday. Even though Eugene Mirman was in Austin, Texas, for SXSW -- far away from his fellow cast members -- he still found a fun and unique-for-now way of contributing to the cause, thanks to his purchase of Apple's new iPad 2.
See, the iPad 2 allows you to shoot video. I saw that during SXSW as a guy held up his iPad 2 during my entire panel to record it for posterity (will he share it with me/us, though? the suspense...). But if you see what Eugene does here. Well. Just see!
FOX has announced it will roll out an extended sneak preview of its upcoming animated series, Bob's Burgers, on Thanksgiving night during its two-hour broadcast of The Simpsons Movie.
It's another early sign of support for Bob's Burgers, which is good news for comedy fans, since the series is voiced by comedians: Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman and Dan Mintz. The series officially debuts in January 2011. Last month, the network ordered six additional scripts for the series.
Here's a clip of the cast and creators discussing the show during Comic-Con in San Diego. Roll it!
Do you really need a tornado to be transported to another world? Maybe. It certainly helped add to the theme last night when thunderstorms brought funnel clouds through Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, uprooting trees just a block or two away from the start of the third annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, which just so happened to be kicking off at The Bell House with a show themed "An Evening of Comedy From 1986."
Mirman says the festival is a joke, but one in which he and his organizers have committed to fully. Each year they provide fun things for audiences to enjoy, both free and available for purchase. A merch table last night offered traditional items such as posters and free guides, but also "Industry Rocks" (rocks engraved with names of real-life comedy industry people, for $15), velvet Eugene paintings ($25) and more. Inside the venue, audience members could feast on free roasted duck, set up on a table beneath a banner that read "Eugene's Pee Your Pants Comedy Villa." At the door, each audience member received 3-D glasses to watch Mirman's 3-D "welcome video."
As for the show itself, Mirman introduced Tony V with the credits he would have had in 1986, and Tony joked about his small role in the 1986 movie, One Crazy Summer. The "best impressionist" Sandy Gorman followed, played by Larry Murphy in a white wig, holding a giant phone and wearing a suit jacket with the sleeves rolled up. Among his impressions: Jack Nicholson, Ronald Reagan, Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro on a party line. Mirman next brought out Teddy Ruxpin. Yes. The stuffed teddy bear that can talk. Mirman sat the Teddy Ruxpin on a stool in front of the mic and walked off, letting Ruxpin spew forth a filthy NSFW stand-up routine. Ron Lynch opened his set by reading off notes of how a stand-up should act, then noted that the rolled-up sleeves really was a trend in stand-up back in the 1980s.
"How did that happen? Who was the first? How many of you have no idea what I'm talking about?"
In a special treat, Lynch played the cassette tape that Louis CK sent him back around 1986 as an audition to get booked in a club Lynch ran in the Boston area. Afterward Lynch mocked him, which prompted Louis CK himself to appear in a cameo that delighted the crowd. Lynch closed with his classic bit from the future in which a Disney-engineered robot explains what stand-up comedy was all about.
In its third consecutive year, it's beginning to be difficult to call the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival the anti-festival. Actually, it's been difficult all three years. Despite the fact that some of Mirman's festival features are clearly fake and satirical, there's an even truer fact -- it's even more factual, that is, to say, that the sheer depth of talent in the shows curated by Mirman and his colleagues rivals most of the comedy festivals that other cities and organizations throw each year. It's also loads of fun!
As Mirman told me today about this year's schedule, and how it compares to the first two years: "It's a little festival-y, in that there's more shows that I really like, and not shows that are totally ironic. But either way, it's all silly good times."
What other comedy festival do you know, for example, that kicks off with "An Evening of Comedy From 1986," headlined by Mirman's comedy hero, Emo Philips, and also has hairdressers offering to style your do as if it were 1986. And if you're like me and have less hair now than you did in the 1980s, not to worry. "They will have a pile of hair," Mirman said.
There are more details to come that aren't listed online just yet.
Mirman revealed a few of them to me today. Yes, there will be fake passes and credentials again to be had.
"The VIP Platinum package is $5,000. It comes with maybe two nights of hotels, admission to all shows except for Toddless Tinkle, a dismissive glance from Jon Benjamin, and a 12-minute conversation with me discussing the different types of agents."
Wait. Did you say Asians or agents? "Agents. Ha, yes, there are Koreans, and there are also other kinds. No, agents. There are commercial agents, and other kinds. I'll be going over all of them with you."
"And then the VIP Adamantium package is $10,000, with maybe four nights of lodging, admission to ONLY Toddless Tinkle, five minutes of unchaperoned access backstage, and permission to ask Kristen Schaal why there isn't a third season of Flight of the Conchords."
Sounds great, right! "So far, in the past years, we have sold zero, just to give you an idea of how well that's going."
Now that it's become an annual tradition, Mirman said it hasn't yet become a burden, mostly because it's a lot of fun, but also because "it's just me, Julie Smith and Caroline Craighead putting together shows of people we enjoy and who are available." He said comedians have asked about submitting footage to him, as if it were an actual festival, but he shudders at the idea. His advice to these would-be participants in future years? "The short answer is: Move to New York City and become a star."
As much as some would like to call Mirman "the Godfather" of the Brooklyn comedy scene (and this photo may help feed into that!), he tells me he's just happy to do shows in his neighborhood and have his friends move nearby and do the same. "I think it's great. I love that Kurt (Braunohler) and Kristen (Schaal) started a show down the street. The more shows I can do within walking distance of my home is better for me," he said. "For me, I also like doing something in my neighborhood. It's nice for me."
He does realize that there are several comedians he enjoys who he couldn't find room for this year, either due to space or thematic constraints. Not that he hasn't thought about it.
"We've often considered doing a show called 'Everyone,'" he said. "We've also thought of doing 'Nice Guy, Terrible Comic.' It's a fantasy show. But as you imagine, we cannot approach anyone with that idea."
The official site for the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival remains a blank slate of a "coming soon" canvas, but Mirman himself has unveiled the schedule for his third annual celebration of comedy he and his fans enjoy, taking place in three venues in Park Slope, Brooklyn, from Sept. 16-19, 2010.
Here's the schedule:
An Evening of Comedy From 1986 (THURSDAY 9/16, Bell House, 8PM, $10) w/ Emo Philips, Tony V., Larry Murphy, Ron Lynch and Jon Glaser, Eugene Mirman.
Montreal Callbacks (FRIDAY 9/17, Union Hall, 7:30PM, $10) w/ Mike Lawrence, Dan St. Germain, Ken Reid, Hannibal Buress, Greg Johnson, Max Silvestri, Kurt Braunohler.
Invite Them Up (FRIDAY 9/17, Bell House, 9PM, $15) w/ Bobby Tisdale, A.D. Miles, Eugene Mirman, Maeve Higgins, Reggie Watts, Daniel Kitson.
Mike Birbiglia Interviews a Bunch of Sort of Authors and Sarah Vowell (SATURDAY 9/18, Bell House, 5:30 doors, 6PM show, $15) w/ Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Vowell, Michael Showalter, Eugene Mirman, Patrick Borelli.
A Night of Gay or Foreign Comedy (SATURDAY, Rock Shop, 7:30, $10) Hosted by Gabe Liedman w/ Maeve Higgins, Glenn Wool, Brent Sullivan, Kumail Nanjiani. (Tickets not on sale yet on website).
Eugene’s World Class Masters Of Comedy (SATURDAY 9/18, Union Hall, 7:30PM, $10) w/ Daniel Kitson, Ron Lynch, Marc Maron and more!
Why Do I Know Everything About Everyone At This French Diner?: An Evening of Espionage Themed Comedy Celebrating Our Love of the Bourne Trilogy and All Things Spy (SATURDAY 9/18, Bell House, 8:30 doors, 9PM show, $15) w/ Slovin and Allen, William Graham, Kumail Nanjiani, Sarah Vowell, Eugene Mirman, Marc Maron, John Wesley Harding.
Wes and Eugene’s Cabinet Of Wonders (SUNDAY 9/19, Bell House, 6PM, $15) Hosted by John Wesley Harding w/ Yo La Tengo, John Oliver, Colson Whitehead, Darin Strauss, Eugene Mirman.
Toddless Tinkle (SUNDAY 9/19, Bell House, 9PM, $15) w/ David Cross, Jon Benjamin, John Mulaney, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal and more!
The second season of Jon Glaser's Delocated will return to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Aug. 22 as a half-hour, twice as long as before, and sources have told me that Adult Swim liked the early episodes so much they already have extended the second season. You can see some behind-the-scenes shots and comments from Glaser about Season 2 and Season 2.5 on the Delocated Tumblr.
Here's what else I can tell you based on the first two half-hour episodes, which I have seen. It almost immediately switches from a silly comedy to a "silly drama" as the TV network seeks out Sergei Mirminsky (Steve Cirbus) to do the job that his brother, Yvgeny (Eugene Mirman), could not: Kill "Jon." Episode #201, "Decoys," ups the ante as Sergei goes on a killing spree, while "Jon" goes on defense by hiring a slew of decoys. We also see the introduction of Jerry Minor as "Mighty Joe Jon, the black blonde," and Todd Barry playing himself, as a comedian friend of Yvgeny's. If you remember from season one, Yvgeny, in addition to being a Russian hit man, also began to pursue a career in stand-up.
Episode #202, "Conversions," finds things spiraling further out of control. Mather Zickel shows up as federal agent Rob, who also happens to be the new boyfriend of Jon's wife, Susan.
Larry Murphy returns as the doorman, Jay, while Kevin Dorff plays Jon's personal agent, Mike.
There's violence, there's nudity, there's multiple personality disorder. Something for everyone, really, wouldn't you agree? "Jon" made this clip to welcome us all back to his meta world of being the first reality TV star who's also in the witness protection program. Roll it.
This message showed up in my inbox today, and considering Eugene Mirman's "Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival" manages to rival many of the other comedy festivals out there, it's worth noting and marking said calendars. Sept. 16-19, 2010. Brooklyn, New York. I'm there. Wait. I'm here already. I'm here. Let's do this.
There are lots of panels going on in San Diego this weekend as part of Comic-Con International 2010. Here is a group photo taken from one such panel, for FOX's upcoming midseason animated series, Bob's Burgers. I feature it here because all of the main characters are voiced by actual comedians. Happy happy joy joy. The show debuts in January 2011.
Related: Bob's Burgers on Facebook.
Here in the States, we have Comedy Central. In Britain, they have Dave. See how we're the same and yet so different? Actually, they have a U.K. version of Comedy Central, too. So why don't we have our own Dave? Or do we, and he is in hiding. So many questions.
If you'd like answers, here is one: On March 19, you can turn on Dave and watch a stand-up comedy special called Comedy Exchange, in which Eugene Mirman left Brooklyn for Britain, while Phill Jupitus traded places with him and came here. How did their acts translate to the other's audiences? As Mirman explained today on his site: "He performs in weird little places in Brooklyn, while I perform in London and Edinburgh. I talk about pedophiles on the radio and he mentions Cape Cod. That sort of thing."
Here's a trailer:
The only thing people love making more than year-end list are decade-end lists, and some of them seem as much about generating page-views as they are about subjectively ranking things that should not be ranked. That's rank! So where are my lists? I've got something else up my sleeves for this December, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you the iTunes list of their choices of the 20 best comedy discs from 2009, along with my thoughts on said list.
For one thing, it's really across the board. Any list that puts Brent Weinbach side-by-side with Katt Williams is looking to appeal to all sorts. I'm not exactly sure I agree with everything on here, but then again, I haven't quite listened to all of them just yet -- there are stacks of CDs and DVDs in my apartment, and I hope to get through them all by year's end and share my own thoughts on them with you. I have listened to and reviewed eight of the iTunes 20; most of the rest are waiting in my queue, and a few I don't even have my hands on just yet? My loss or yours? Also, iTunes missed some great ones from the past year. No John Mulaney? I haven't heard Paul F. Tompkins new disc yet, but would presume it's worthy. And no ladies on the list? Not even Maria Bamford? Harumph. Here, then, are the iTunes choices from the year in comedy -- I'm not sure if they have a ranking order from iTunes, so I'll list them alphabetically:
When Comedy Central announced its special "Hot List" showcase of new talented comedians, I could not say the list surprised me. Many of these people got multiple mentions here at The Comic's Comic in the past year, and when I thought about Kumail Nanjiani's achievements in the past year, even I was duly impressed with what he's been able to accomplish since moving to New York City from Chicago. So I talked to him briefly outside of Comix during the club's holiday party this week (holiday parties already!) and asked him to put it into some perspective -- Letterman, Kimmel, Live at Gotham, Michael and Michael Have Issues, The Colbert Report, and a development deal with NBC. Where does he go from here? Roll the clip! (Warning: Includes improvised absurdity from Eugene Mirman, who actually fits into Kumail's NYC story, as well as a joke at John Mayer's expense, and a cameo by Nanjiani's newlywed wife, Emily) Roll it!
Of course, Nanjiani isn't the only one on Comedy Central's Hot List special, which airs on Sunday, Dec. 6. Here's a clip featuring all nine -- Anthony Jeselnik, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, Matt Braunger, Jon Lajoie, Whitney Cummings, TJ Miller, Donald Glover and Nanjiani -- describing why they made the cut. Roll it!
FOX has ordered 13 episodes of the animated half-hour sitcom, Bob's Burgers, but with a long lead-time in production meaning the series may not air until early 2011, according to Variety and other trades. But what about that cast??? The show, which centers around a family-run burger joint and is co-created and executive-produced by Loren Bouchard (Dr. Katz) and Jim Dauterive (King of the Hill), featured a voice cast in the pilot presentation of H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman and Dan Mintz. The trades, however, said that 20th Century Fox was still working out contract details with the cast -- Bouchard told The Hollywood Reporter he hoped to have them all on board. Wish them all luck and congrats!
We're about to see a bunch of new live stand-up comedy on our basic cable TV sets thanks to Comedy Central. The fourth season of Live at Gotham debuts this weekend, and in the first week of November, 24 stand-ups get to tape their very own half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials to air in early 2010. In between those two things, the network has given the go-ahead to John Oliver to present his very own stand-up showcase. If John Oliver & Friends sounds like something as fun and magical as the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, well, then you can pretty well guess the lineup. It's going to be good.
There will be three tapings (Oct. 23-25) at NYU's Skirball Center, which will produce six half-hours of stand-up comedy, featuring Oliver and his friends. A few names appear multiple times, which is curious and suggests the format could spin a bit. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we!
SHOW 1 ~ Friday - Oct. 23 - 6:45 p.m., with Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Wyatt Cenac and Pete Holmes
SHOW 2 ~ Saturday - Oct. 24 - 7:45 p.m., with Paul F. Tompkins, Maria Bamford, Greg Fitzsimmons, Nick Kroll and Eugene Mirman
SHOW 3 ~ Sunday - Oct. 25 - 5:45 p.m., with Brian Posehn, Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Greg Fitzsimmons, Eugene Mirman, Pete Holmes and Mary Lynn Rajskub
If you're going to be in NYC and are at least 18 years old, go to The Black List's John Oliver page and follow the instructions to request tickets.
What kind of comedy festival offers free butterscotch pudding to its audience members? And if you're lucky enough to have a wristband like this, you also got to munch on turkey, potato salad and other savories. "VIPs" also could dine on caviar inside a cardboard room?! Then again, if you're wearing a wristband like this, then you must be at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival!
The opening-night gala on Thursday, hosted by Mirman, opened with Pete Holmes, featured videos from Leo Allen, Max Silvestri, Seth Herzog, and Tim & Eric, live music from Jon Auer of the Posies (performing a solo version of Big Star's "Thirteen"), and if that wasn't enough, how about a half-hour or so of absurdity with Kristen Schaal followed by an hour of Daniel Kitson? Yes, you say. Splendid!
Schaal opened with a mime routine. "That was me seducing and then assassinating Adolf Hitler. It's a new dance move. I hope it catches on!" She also showed off the trailer for her pilot project, The Midwife, which is quite dramatic once you remove the boiling water; played a live game of MASH (in her Colorado rules, it's MASHO, where the O stands for Outhouse); and got possessed by the ghost of a sexist stand-up from the early 1980s.
I'd heard many good things about Daniel Kitson. Turns out these people saying good things about Kitson know of whence and what they speak. I'll have more to say about him after I see him perform his own show later this weekend. But I should probably tell you now that among last night's highlights were watching Kitson fall offstage and into the front row whilst making a point; comparing the people taking photos of him onstage to pedophiles; noticing that a woman trying to sneak a text message from inside her purse set her aglow as if she were conducting magic tricks; and making a necessary diversion to explain his Scrabble strategies.
Here is an older video of Kitson performing in Melbourne back in 2003. Since you probably don't have tickets to his sold-out shows this weekend, this may be the best you can get for now:
Related? Nerve.com asked Mirman for sex advice.
The only comedy festival that's aware enough of itself to pretend to be fake, and yet still assemble a funny cast of comedians for multiple nights of themed shows, returns for a second year. Yes, I'm talking about the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, happening Thursday through Sunday (Sept. 17-20) at the Bell House and Union Hall in lovely Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York City. Last year, Mirman offered canvas bags and fake laminates for "industry douchebags." This year features, among other funny people and things, a cardboard VIP room. This bouncer, though, is very real. Roll the clip!
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I told you that Eugene Mirman was putting together his second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival? Well, if you would like to know more about who will be performing and when, as well as how to get yourself some tickets, then you are in luck as long as you keep reading this post. Just as in 2008, the 2009 edition will find Eugene Mirman hosting shows from in the Park Slope and Gowanus sections of Brooklyn at The Bell House and Union Hall. Tickets for all shows will go on sale Aug. 16 via Ticketweb.
There may be late additions, subtractions and multiplications as it gets closer to the festival dates of Sept. 17-20, 2009. It's a lot of Mirman's friends in comedy -- and he has good friends in comedy -- plus a great get in multiple dates from Daniel Kitson and an "Invite Them Up" reunion. Here's how the schedule is shaping up so far...(all descriptions provided by the festival)...
Eugene Mirman is ready to host his second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival this coming Sept. 17-20, 2009, in Brooklyn. As you can see, he's already got some great talent lined up to perform, and if its anything like last year -- which included canvas bags and laminates to make you feel like it was a real comedy fest, which it was -- then you should mark your calendars, and then when your calendar hits these days, then you should go to the festival.
Among some of the themed shows on the program, Mirman has announced: "Why Talented People Create Such Terrible Shows,” “I’ll Be Famous In Five Years (or a Copy Writer),” “The Comedians of Law & Order,” a reunion of the former East Village comedy staple “Invite Them Up,” and many more, including an opening night super-gala featuring the world’s first cardboard VIP room." If you'd like to help out, and by help, contribute money, food and other fun things, then Mirman wants to hear from you. Just follow the instructions in the ad pictured here.