Congrats to stand-up comedian Godfrey, who not only is shooting his first one-hour stand-up special for Comedy Central in January, but also signed a deal with FOX to develop a half-hour animated series based on his routine and life.
Deadline reports that Bernie Cahill, Jordan Tilzer and Kenya Barris will executive produce the project, with Barris also writing with Godfrey, who would provide many of the voices. For anyone who has seen Godfrey perform live, picturing him voicing an animated series is not a stretch! Godfrey grew up in Chicago, the son of Nigerian immigrants.
In its 28th year, the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal has featured just about every big name in comedy. But Steve Martin, having "quit" stand-up comedy before JFL's debut, was not among them until last night, when he made his debut hosting two Gala-type showcases at the fest. (Photo by Montreal Gazette)
Word on the street has put forward the idea that Martin, now 64, may in fact be making a return to comedy. Though I couldn't talk to him personally to confirm or deny that word, I do know that on his current banjo and bluegrass tour with The Steep Canyon Rangers (who also accompanied him in Montreal), Martin has been making audiences laugh with his banter between songs. And Martin has plenty of experience as a host, doing so three times at the Academy Awards. He pulled it off quite nicely last night, as well. He told the audience that hosting brought forth a lot of responsibility to be funny. "But then I remembered that my friends John Cleese and Marty Short hosted last year, and I thought, well, I'm funnier than those idiots," he joked. Martin then acknowledged that he had finally come to Just For Laughs, which he called "comedy mecca. And we all know how funny Mecca is."
They played a highlight reel of Martin's greatest JFL moments, which, of course, amounted to footage from the first few minutes of the show, paused to allow latecomers to find their seats -- at which point Martin cracked, "You would think in a place discovered by Cartier, they'd know how to get to places on time" -- and Martin performed a custom tune with the band singing along called "Atheists Don't Have No Songs." Most Galas have goofy sketches for the host to perform, but Martin was not required to be wild or crazy on this evening. He did, however, play an audio recording of one of his phone calls to his wife, so as to make sure he wouldn't get the Mel Gibson treatment. And he closed out the night with a performance of "King Tut" (sans Egyptian outfit).
Oh, and there were plenty of stand-ups, too. The bookings were all over the map, and most certainly not hand-picked by Martin, with one notable exception. At the 10 p.m. show, Martin introduced Dane Cook as a "surprise guest." Cook told me he flew in just for this opportunity to perform for his comedy idol, arriving just in time for the late show, and departing this afternoon. At the showcase, Cook told the audience: "People say to me, Dane, why don't you come up and do the festival more often? Because the sets are fucking ugly!" (Photo by Tim Snow)
When I saw my friend Mandy Stadtmiller Tweet that she was having fun at the Comedy Cellar on Thursday night, I thought to myself, hey, I'm heading that way. Except I ended up staying in instead. Bad move on my part. Because I missed seeing this strange-but-true incident late in the evening, in which Godfrey called up actor Gerard Butler to help quiet a pesky heckler. What? Yes. That happened.
Stadtmiller caught part of it on tape (normally, I'd be conflicted about this, because we're not big fans of audience members whipping out their cell phones and cameras in comedy clubs -- but Stadtmiller told me she had the club's OK, and so long as you have permission from the club and/or comedian, go for it). She also got Butler and Godfrey to talk about being buddies outside afterward. It all appeared today on Page Six of the New York Post, where Stadtmiller works. Kudos on the scoop! Now roll the clips.
When "King of Pop" Michael Jackson died, some people wondered if, when and how comedians would react to the news. After all, plenty of stand-up comics had been telling jokes about the musician and his eclectic and allegedly not-so smooth criminal behavior for long enough that Michael Jackson jokes became a hack category long before he died two weeks ago at the young age of 50. Living in NYC, I was able to visit comedy clubs within hours of Jackson's sudden death and see firsthand how comedians and audiences handled the breaking news. Too soon? Perhaps for some, but most comics I witnessed knew enough then and now to address the veritable chimpanzee in the room without going on a tasteless offensive. And then there was Godfrey. Godfrey, a regular at the Comedy Cellar when he's in NYC, hasn't been able to stop talking about his love for Michael Jackson, whether he has been onstage, upstairs in the Olive Tree Cafe or outside on the sidewalk, showing off his dance moves. Last weekend, he devoted much of his set to MJ. Overnight, he got around to editing and posting some of it online (note: contains NSFW language):
"I'm so mad he's dead," Godfrey told me the other night on the sidewalk outside of the Cellar. "He shaped me as a human being. It was like having breakfast with Mike." He recalled collecting lots of Michael Jackson gear when he was a kid growing up in Chicago, including both red and black jackets, posters and more. His mom even got him tickets to see the Jacksons on their Victory Tour stop at Comiskey Park. Clutching a new collectible magazine devoted to Jackson's life, Godfrey told me how Michael Jackson also shaped many black comedians, from giving Eddie Murphy a classic bit, to providing inspirations that helped both Chris Tucker and Eddie Griffin achieve their own stardom.
Screenvision has produced a series of seven live stand-up comedy films from Broadway Comedy Club in NYC that will appear on movie screens nationwide beginning May 4. Here's the trailer:
OK. So host Caroline Rhea tells you to enjoy stand-up comedy "without the two-drink minimum" by watching stand-ups filmed in a club with a drink minimum. Paradox. But whatevs. We also see in this trailer that the first film installment features Erik Rivera, Wali Collins, Vanessa Hollingshead, Mike Vecchione, Modi, Roz G., Steve Rossi and Joe Larson, plus we saw glimpses of Ross Bennett, Esther Ku, Costaki Economopoulos, Godfrey and more. You can check out info on the Stand-Up 360 site. They have deals to screen in cinemas in 39 states.
The full lineup and dates, after the jump!
I congratulated Godfrey last night on his appearance on NBC's 30 Rock with a zinger. He said a lot of his friends and family members had been texting him about it (NBC played up his guest-starring role in ads this past week), but that he didn't like watching himself onscreen. Zing or no zing, it's good to see Godfrey on the TV. When he performs in NYC or L.A., clubs such as the Comedy Cellar almost always have him close the show, because he destroys. Here he is on 30 Rock playing a guy from accounting trying to convince Tracy to come back, using his Bill Cosby impersonation. This clip is available on Hulu for a limited time: