Because you never know when you're going to get a 92-degree day in New York City in the first week of April (spoiler alert: it's happening right now), why not celebrate with something a little different. Like a freestyle beatbox, piano and ukulele hip-hop rendition of Empire State of Mind. Move over Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. After a few minutes of solo beatbox work, Shockwave (aka Chris Sullivan) is joined by one of his Freestyle Love Supreme mates Arthur Lewis on the keys, while Jon Braman provides the uke and the personal verses.
Roll that clip!
Sierra Mist has made a name for itself as a comedy supporter for the past few years, both in casting stand-up and sketch talents in its TV commercials, and also sponsoring comedy festivals and contests around the nation. Now they've backed a few comedic talents for a series of videos called "Funny Breaks" on the YouTube. Here's MC Mr. Napkins, aka Zach Sherwin, who showcases his way with words in this video for "Spelling Bee."
Chris "Shockwave" Sullivan offered "Free Beats" to people in NYC's Union Square Park. You may recognize some of his Freestyle Love Supreme cohorts, Reggie Watts, Soce and others.
More? Yes, more! After the jump...
The late George Carlin won a posthumous Grammy Award tonight for Best Comedy Album his final recorded performance, "It's Bad For Ya." His daughter, Kelly, accepted the award on his behalf during today's pre-telecast portion of the 51st annual Grammy Awards. Reuters reported that she recalled that "in a chemically induced, altered state," he had dismantled an earlier Grammy (tonight marked his fifth win).
From the AFP, Kelly Carlin explained backstage: "This was back in 1972 when a lot of chemicals were being used by human beings," she said. "He took it apart. And someone from the academy found out so they sent him a new one." She called the Grammy "the cherry on the top of a great big beautiful cake...He's not here and I'd rather have him. But I'm just so happy people are honoring my dad." Carlin's performance was recorded in March 2008 for HBO. It's a fine tribute if you ask me, and I'm sure the other nominees in his category (Lewis Black, Flight of the Conchords, Kathy Griffin and Harry Shearer) would not complain too much at all about it.
In other comedy-related Grammy news...(I'm on Twitter during the telecast: Follow @thecomicscomic)
The guys from Freestyle Love Supreme can add a Grammy to their Tonys for Best Musical Show Album for "In The Heights."
The trio of celebs reading Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" beat out both Steve Martin and Stephen Colbert for Best Spoken Word Album. That feels like a snub of Martin, to me, because he wrote such a great, insightful memoir.
Also: They Might Be Giants have always used humor in their lyrics, and they won for Best Musical Album For Children for "Here Come the 123s." Weezer and the YouTube stars of 2008 earned a Grammy for the "Pork & Beans" music video. And part-time stand-up comedian, full-time Grammy winner John Mayer already has at least one win tonight before the broadcast portion begins at 8 p.m. Eastern (he had five nominations total). Congrats all around!
Viewers of the Tony Awards this summer probably wondered why Lin-Manuel Miranda decided to ad-lib his acceptance speeches for "In the Heights."
But that's where Lin-Man feels at home. Freestyling his lyrical rhymes.
And he gets to go home again with his friends and colleagues in Freestyle Love Supreme, who host a sold-out celebration of hip-hop harmonies and humor every month at Comix - this coming Monday's shows (7 and 9:30 p.m., Dec. 8) will raise funds for the New Orleans VideoVoices Project, inspiring otherwise marginalized communities by gathering and celebrating their collective voices (tickets $50-60, but deep discounts for students).
The cast of characters includes Lin-Man and fellow MC's Chris "C-Jack" Jackson, "UTK" Utkarsh Ambudkar, Bill "King Sherman" providing keyboard accompaniment, Chris "Shockwave" Sullivan throwing down the beats and sound effects, direction by "TK" Thomas Kail, and leading the proceedings, Anthony "Two Touch" Veneziale.
Here is a promo video showing a taste of what you'll hear in an FLS show:
For the 51st annual Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy went with a live, primetime announcement/mini-concert. But you want to know who got nominated, don't you? While putting American Idol's star judge Simon Cowell up for Record of the Year (he produced "Bleeding Love" for Leona Lewis along with Clive Davis and Ryan "Alias" Tedder) certainly contains some comedic value because you wonder if he'll show up in a tight black V-neck or a tight black tuxedo, we do have some other actual comedy honors to share with you as well. Although there are some truly outrageous and ridiculous nominations among the dozens of categories, too (but that's for me to analyze in another forum).
Best Comedy Album nominees from 2007-2008
Lewis Black, "Anticipation"
Flight of the Conchords, "Flight of the Conchords"
Kathy Griffin, "For Your Consideration"
George Carlin, "It's Bad For Ya"
Harry Shearer, "Songs of the Bushmen"
Didn't Flight of the Conchords win last year for their EP, which is just a shorter version of this album? If you want to get all technical about it, then, yes. So cross them off the list. And do not be surprised for a posthumous honor to go to Carlin.
In Best Spoken Word Album, Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up" goes up against Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Are You)" and David Sedaris ("When You Are Engulfed in Flames")! Also in this category: Sidney Poitier ("Life Beyond Measure") and the trio of Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon and Blair Underwood (reading Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"). As much as Colbert has been the man of the moment for the past two years, Martin really should get this, wouldn't you agree?
Freestyle Love Supreme can celebrate some more, as Lin-Man and King Sherman's "In The Heights" soundtrack is up for Best Muscial Show Album (against Gypsy, The Little Mermaid, South Pacific and Young Frankenstein).
John C. Reilly singing "Walk Hard" got nominated for Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (also earning Judd Apatow a nomination as co-writer). They're up against John Mayer, Peter Gabriel, Carrie Underwood, and Amy Adams.
What a weekend for Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Bailey!
Last year, Miranda's hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme was preparing for Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival while he wondered how to translate a musical he first wrote as a college sophomore into a full-scale Broadway production. Well, Miranda's creation, In the Heights, took home four Tony Awards last night, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. His mates raised him on their shoulders to close out the awards telecast, and he deserved it, along with kudos for his freestyling acceptance speech earlier in the evening. Congrats, Lin-Man!
Also over the weekend, comedian Ben Bailey learned his Discovery Channel show, Cash Cab, had won Best Game Show at the Daytime Emmys, beating Jeopardy and The Price is Right. The Creative Winners were announced Friday night at Lincoln Center, and afterward, Bailey swung by the Comedy Cellar to share his celebratory glow with the Cellar's staff and fellow comedians, and show off his new trophy! Congrats, Ben! Also, I spotted comedian Matt Goldich's name among the writing staff taking home that Emmy for Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show, so congrats to him, too! The rest of the Daytime Emmys will be broadcast this coming Friday, June 20, from Hollywood on ABC. Does this mean Bailey and the crew get to attend? Either way, Bailey best be prepared for even more people to be recognizing him on the streets now.
Normally, the concept of rapping comedians turns my hack sensors on stun with an urge to bolt. So when a friend asked me to join her for a show with Freestyle Love Supreme, I accepted her offer with caution. I mean, they're from Wesleyan -- Gawker's choice for most annoying liberal arts school. But this isn't a post about annoying young white stand-up comedians pretending they're funny because they rap.
This is about Freestyle Love Supreme, musically gifted people who put on an improvised hip-hop celebration. Shockwave (aka Chris Sullivan) makes you laugh at Blake Lewis, while Lin-Man (Lin-Manuel Miranda) has a way with freestyle that's just jaw-droppingly smooth and awesome (as in, full of awe, not as in, 1980s slang). The show I saw last week at Ars Nova was a rarity, as co-creator Thomas Kail explained afterward that this was the first time all of the old and new cast members were onstage together. Lin-Man and some of the FLS crew had just wrapped their off-Broadway musical, In the Heights. So I saw even more MCs than the usual show. But their high-energy performance, albeit rawer than Kail would've preferred, managed to quickly riff off audience suggestions and make deliciously funny work of the day in the life of an audience member. And the audience loved it. FLS has some loyal fans -- Marina, the gal I sat next to and offered to be my girlfriend for the hour, sang along to their theme song. You don't need to sit next to Marina to enjoy the show. But it certainly doesn't hurt.