The first two episodes are after the jump...
Many of you have never heard of Sal Lupo. A few of you may have seen Lupo try his hand at stand-up comedy in New York City at the Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy show and in Boston touring with Eugene Mirman, but it turns out this taxicab driver from Canarsie has a much deeper backstory that involves the CIA, and he's putting it all on film in The Untitled Sal Lupo Project. This trailer is rated NSFW for profanity, mild violence and nudity. (Via Purns)
Eugene Mirman has announced the planned lineups for his crazy-yet-true-because-it-is-Eugene-after-all comedy festival named for him, taking place Sept. 25-28 in Brooklyn. Mirman pretty much has it covered -- most of his usual and unusual suspects will appear over those four days and nights at two venues, Union Hall (where Mirman already hosts the popular Tearing the Veil of Maya showcase on Sundays with Michael Showalter in Park Slope) and The Bell House (a new joint the Union Hall folks are opening nearby).
Time Out NY playfully hinted at what a Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival might look like, with hints from Mirman himself.
Want to see who's scheduled to perform?
Why would anyone mourn a venue that's essentially a dive bar with inconsistent air conditioning, horribly horrible bathrooms, a movie screen that had a massive tear in it (until, ha-ha, this past week!) for a place that still had a sign outside boasting it was Cinema Classics, and really, all of the fun that the East Village had to offer? Then again, the independently-produced comedy community of New York City has been through this before, whether it was last year at Mo Pitkins or years ago with Luna Lounge. So there we were, after an abrupt email sent out in the wee hours yesterday morning, trying to figure out if it really would be the final hours for comedy at Rififi. Spoiler alert: It was.
While rumors flew about what made July 30 the last night for Rififi (a month-to-month lease that finally found someone willing to pay the increasingly high East Village rents seemed to be the leading speculation), the indie comedy scene hastily recast the weekly Gelmania show originally scheduled for this Wednesday night. The hosts from Thursday's Totally J/K (Joe and Noah) and Friday's Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy Show certainly would be there. So, too, would many others come to pay final respects. The Whitest Kids U Know, Andy Blitz and Todd Barry showed up as spectators. The final bill would see Joe Mande and Noah Garfinkel take over first-half hosting duties, with one final "List of Nothing" and a joke Mande had uttered earlier in the day via Facebook, that the current Rififi owner would be fleeing on Thursday and taking all of the Glade air-fresheners with him to "Molester Town." Gabe and Jenny (Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate) returned to host the second half. The final schedule will show that Adam Newman, Pete Holmes, "John McCain," Baron Vaughn, John Gemberling, Slightly Known People, Hannibal Buress, Tom McCaffrey, Chelsea Peretti, Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy, Jon Glaser, John Mulaney, Leo Allen and Eugene Mirman took part in this last Rififi effort. There was a one-woman lip-synch effort to Les Miz with Pez, or is that called Pez Miz? Mirman shouted out requests to Glaser to "do some oldies!" Mulaney even used the opportunity to try new jokes! The show began auspiciously late (?) at 9:11 p.m. and lasted past midnight, with Mirman taking the stage at 12:01 a.m., getting all rock 'n' roll by play-real trashing the stage, and Leo Allen rejoining him onstage for some last-minute banter that was odd and appropriately poignant for the occasion.
Among the quips I quoted...
"Rough week, first Bennigan's, now Rififi!" -- Pete Holmes
"I like how the owner never learned our names," Jenny Slate said. "And we had a show here for two years," Gabe Liedman replied. "Well," Slate said, "He only knew me by who I was sleeping with."
"So, Rififi's closing...ninth time's the charm, right?" -- Tom McCaffrey
"I only saw the last episode of Seinfeld, if that makes you feel any better." -- Chelsea Peretti
"I could stand up here and tell jokes that I've told 5,000 times on this stage, and I think I might." -- Greg Johnson
"Greg Johnson and I tried to save Rififi once." -- John Mulaney, adding that they discovered at a city meeting that, at that time, Rififi didn't even have a license to host live events such as comedy. Rut-ro!
"I like Rififi because you could do things that you thought were funny, but most audiences would disagree vehemently with you." -- Leo Allen
"When you leave, take a door with you!" Eugene Mirman said, then made some banging noises on the ceiling. "Oh, wait. The neighbors will complain...to the next landlord."
I have video of the final 13 minutes of the show, after the jump. You may think it a bit anti-climactic, but remember, comedians and fans didn't really have much of a chance to plan this out, even though we all knew this night would be coming sooner or later. Perhaps all of those false closing rumors of Rififi made some believe the dive would never change hands. This night proved us wrong. So now where does this scene hang out and perform now? Suggestions and thoughts encouraged in the comments. Don't be shy.
Tom McCaffrey will record his first comedy CD at 8 p.m. tonight at Pianos in NYC, something made more newsworthy by the fact that McCaffrey is doing so for a brand-new record label, It Takes A Lot To Laugh Records (which takes a lot of space on the side of a CD).
The label comes from Scott Rogowsky and Travis Sluss. Sluss, the president/founder of Crazy Hair Productions and CHP Management, previously has worked the music side of the business with Regina Spektor, Paolo Nutini and The Spin Doctors, among others. Rogowsky is helping Sluss extend his brand management into comedy. "We hope this works," Rogowsky told me over the weekend. "It's an experiment for all of us."
McCaffrey, a native New Yorker, spent a brief time early in his comedy career in Los Angeles before returning home in September 2001. He was a finalist in the 2003 Comedy Central Laugh Riots contest, and featured on the Invite Them Up CD compilation. Here is a brief interview, recorded under the shadow of darkness outside Rififi in the East Village on Friday night, to talk a little bit about his CD recording.
Good friend Greg Johnson will host the show tonight at Pianos. After the jump, listen to Johnson's own interviews with McCaffrey.
Before we move on to other issues in comedy, let's reflect one more time on Monday night's ECNY Awards celebrating the New York comedy scene.
If you think the cinematography in Cloverfield was shaky, check out this short video I shot moments before the ceremony began at a front-row table with Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy, who host the Friday night all-star comedy showcase at Rififi (at least through February). Note to self: Why do I sound out of breath? Am I that out of shape?
Here is a much more professional video that kicked off the ceremony, shot and edited by Drink at Work's Carol Hartsell.
And here is one of many lovely photos taken at the event by actor/comedian/photographer Tracey B. Wilson:
I Eat Pandas' Glennis McMurray seems more than pleased to answer the red carpet questioning from Brooke Van Poppelen and Danny Leary. Her beau, presenter Matt McCarthy, has an expression that says, you better watch out what you ask my lady friend, lady friend. More photos after the jump, including one of Nate from The Apiary, whom more than a few comedians were surprised to see actually existed (at least that's what they said when he won his ECNY) Yes, bloggers are real people. Sometimes. More photos, after the jump!
Over the years, I've witnessed some of the uglier facets of comedy contests as both a participant and as a judge. Last night, however, I saw the sunnier side at the ECNY Awards (please don't call them the Emerging Comics of New York anymore) ceremony at Comix in New York City. Even before the showcase started, you could see something special happening. Comedians got dressed up. There was a red carpet. Small, to be sure, but still there and still red with correspondents talking to a camera in footage that presumably will wind up on the Internet. A very festive air. And so nice to see a scene -- or at least a distinctly unique scene -- come together in celebration of the art of comedy. Host Jon Friedman said they changed the name of the awards KFC-like to just ECNY to show they were rewarding all sorts of comedy, not just the emerging kind. At the same time, though, it would've been nice to really see all of New York comedy represented in the room. When the ceremony ended, several comedians had to turn around and go back to their table because they didn't have their proper receipts on hand for the door guys. We spent the night in a traditional comedy club with traditional item minimums and rules, and yet we could've used a few more traditional club comedians. Maybe next year?
Anyhow. I was saying how nice the night was, right?
Some highlights: The show opened with a six-minute video montage of the nominees speaking directly to the camera. Well-edited. And made funnier after Joe Mande said it'd be creepy if this montage turned out to be their memorial video. Friedman, not only hosting the show but also an organizer and a nominee for best host, acknowledged the conflict, quipping: "This for me is a lose-lose." Later, when he lost, he immediately asked the other "losers" in his category to play his Rejection Show. Another big laugh line from Friedman: "I was told to be very Seacresty." Scott Bateman provided professional animated videos to list all of the nominees. And most of the award presenters brought it, too. Matt McCarthy, presenting best director, opened the proceedings with a wicked Stanley Kubrick from the set of The Shining. Andres Du Bouchet delivered the opening and closing lines from Act 1 of his upcoming fictional one-man-show (100 and Me Percent?) that went over so well, he almost wasn't joking when he said, "I can tell it's going to be a big hit." The Whitest Kids U'Know went to see a psychic yesterday for help determining the best sketch group winners. Carolyn Castiglia joked: "It's great to see so many comedians get dressed up to get drunk and cry. Usually I do it naked and covered in pizza!"
What else? All of the musical comedy nominees performed during the show. Only Reggie Watts got a standing ovation. And didn't win. Eddie Brill received the first "lifetime achievement award" and really took it to heart, confessing in his speech, "I've never been more nervous." They also debuted a new soap opera parody from A.D. Miles called "Horrible People" that'll begin airing soon online on My Damn Channel. I sat next to Jordan Carlos and Andrew WK. Carlos was nice. WK was nice, but awfully quiet aside from his brief stint as a presenter. The show limited acceptance speeches to 30 seconds, but the show still lasted close to two-and-a-half hours. The afterparty at Comix lasted just as long. At said afterparty, Nate Sloan from The Apiary wanted Todd Jackson from Dead-Frog and I to dish our "hot tips." I'm no Gossip Girl. XOXO.
The winners! Congrats to all, for whatever an ECNY Award is worth, you got one! Hooray!
Best Director: Kurt Braunohler
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Nick Kroll (Fabrice Fabrice)
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Harvard Sailing Team
Outstanding Achievement in Flyer or Postcard Design: The Apple Sisters (Matthew C. Johnson, Keith Huang)
Best Technician: Pat Baer
Best Short Comedic Film: Minesweeper: The Movie (Elephant Larry)
Best Website, Original Content: The Onion News Network
Best Website, News and Commentary: The Apiary
Best Host: Eugene Mirman and Michael Showalter, Tearing the Veil of Maya
Emerging Comic Award: Joe Mande
Best Musical Comedy Act: The Apple Sisters
Best Female Stand-up: Kristen Schaal
Best Male Stand-up: John Mulaney
And for those of you playing the Full Disclosure Home Game, four of the five producers of the ECNY Awards also were up for awards (the exception: Alex Goldberg). Friedman (host) and Carol Hartsell (tech) didn't win. Alex Zalben (sketch) and Nate/The Apiary (website/news) won. I was not nominated. Snub? Jackson joked to me that I was too new to New York City to get a nod and would have to wait my turn, like Barack Obama. I'll take an Obama comparison, so thanks, Todd!
UPDATED/CORRECTED! I cleaned up a couple of things in this post that weren't entirely clear when I first wrote them (thank you, commenters!). Also, if you want to see what I look like, as well as Dead-Frog's Todd Jackson, there is a lovely picture of us taken last night by Rachel Kramer Bussel!
Today is the final day for open voting for the ECNY Awards, which used to stand for Emerging Comics of New York, but now just is ECNY to honor other kinds of comedians, sort of how KFC decided it was much more than merely Kentucky Fried. The awards ceremony is Jan. 28 at Comix. And the show promises to be a hoot. Jon Friedman hosts. Look for live performances and pre-taped magic, and for a sneak peek, I caught up with ECNY's producers as they got some of the nominees on camera. So I got them getting them on camera. Here's a fun snippet with The Apple Sisters...
Who will be getting your votes? Perhaps more importantly, who'll get my votes? I'm on the "Industry Committee," which means not only do I get until Jan. 20 to place my votes, but also that the Industry Committee's votes count for half of the total -- perhaps they got that concept from Dancing With The Stars, in which the judges get 50% of the say, the audience the other 50% through call-in votes. Since I still have some time before I fill out my ballot, perhaps you can help make the case for your favorites or get me to take a second look at someone I may have overlooked.
As it stands, my thoughts are...