You know how we were all led into new rumors about who's the target of Carly Simon's old song, "You're So Vain." Well, that reminds me of today, when Lindsay Lohan's attorney announced she was filing a lawsuit against E*Trade, thinking that one of their new TV commercials is about her. Oh, Lindsay. She thinks she's a a one-name superstar. Which might be closer if she just went by Lohan. Or even LiLo. Here's the New York Post story that broke that news.
Glennis McMurray, who provided the voiceover (and is part of the ECNY-winning improv musical group I Eat Pandas!), had this to say on Twitter today in rebuttal: "For the record I named the E*Trade baby's mistress "Lindsay" because it was a fun name to say. Nothing to do with LiLo. We all coo?"
Here's the commercial in question, which has gotten considerably more attention today, with McMurray as the girlfriend and comedian Pete Holmes as the E*Trade baby. Roll the clip!
Earlier: Holmes talked to me at length about getting the E*Trade baby campaign and improvising his lines with McMurray, saying, in part: "I'd like to point out that Glennis (McMurray) came up with the punchline to the wolf-howl spot. That's all her." The defense rests.
I was more than tempted to write something whiny and petulant about the ECNY Awards, but then I saw Marc Maron in a Twitter "fight" today with one of his followers about the principle of paying for art (you should definitely pay for art, whether it's a podcast, a creative performance, or this very Website), and then I saw that Funny or Die had filmed a public service video with Heidi Montag (so they obviously are hard up for cash, because why, why, why), and then I saw even more people were following and media outlets were interviewing a 19-year-old that Conan O'Brien followed for no particular reason whatsoever on Twitter, so really, maybe this is just a lost cause. Anyhow. When I saw Gabe Delahaye a couple of weeks ago, I told him that his Videogum and its mighty minions would beat me handily for "Best Website," so I called it. Still. No matter how silly you think any awards are, when they announce them live and decide to nominate you, there's a moment right before the announcement when you get nervous, and moments afterward where they've announced someone else's name when you have to remind yourself that it's just a silly award. I'd much rather have a job that pays my rent and offers me health insurance, vacation and sick days. So if you have one of those, please consider hiring me? Thanks!
In the meantime, here are your 6th annual ECNY Awards winners...
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Supernormal – Tom Shillue
Best Website: Videogum.com
Best Host: Gabe Liedman, Jenny Slate and Max Silvestri
Best Book: Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled – Jon Friedman
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Murderfist
Best Technician: Carol Hartsell
Best Variety Show: Risk! True Tales Boldly Told
Outstanding Achievement in Postcard or Flyer Design: Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps – Mindy Tucker
Best Short Comedic Film: Everyone Poops Trailer – Landline TV
Emerging Comic Award: Myq Kaplan
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Tweeting: @Lizzwinstead
Best Musical Comedy Act (Group or Solo): Snakes
Best Female Standup Comedian: Morgan Murphy
Best Male Standup Comedian: Hannibal Buress
I have plenty of other thoughts about the ECNY Awards, and comedy awards in general, but I'll save those for another time and place.
If March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, then when do I Eat Pandas? Cute. And demonic. Them's their words to explain themselves, in this newly online documentary about my favorite musical comedy improvisers, Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner, and their group, I Eat Pandas. Link, but no embed? McMurray and Skinner also have been enlisted by Showtime to blog about The Tudors -- the third season of the historical drama begins April 5, and I Eat Pandas gets you caught up on season two if you missed it. Of course you did. You weren't alive hundreds of years ago? Or were you? Enjoy:
It's no secret that anytime Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner get together onstage and ask for an audience suggestion, they give birth to wonderfully improvised I Eat Pandas musicals, usually with the accompaniment of pianist Frank Spitznagel. You can see this for yourself fairly regularly in New York City (next up: Jan. 7 and Jan. 21 at the UCB). Well, today, I Eat Pandas announced they're going to go and actually write their own musical. It's true. I think. Anyhow. Here is the first pitch from McMurray...it's a pooptacular pooptacular! So, slightly NSFW, then. Enjoy!
Featuring cameos by Matt McCarthy and Becky Yamamoto.
UPDATED: Eliza responds with a pitch of her own. My goodness, is it OK for me to tell the world how sexy it is when women can sing? Oh. I just did.
Speaking of fringe festivals, these also are the final few days for the FringeNYC, which is more theatrical in nature than about the stand-up comedy. But that's not stopping some comedians I know from taking part. Jena Friedman just moved to New York City from Chicago and brought the musical parody she wrote with her, along with a cast of Second City alums. It's called The Refugee Girls Revue, and here, we see said girls flyering for their show outside the object of their satire, the American Girls store. Dave Hill plays the token male in this musical. Shows on Friday and Saturday.
Also, if you love I Eat Pandas, then you'll be thrilled to learn that Glennis McMurray and Eliza Skinner are starring in a scripted musical this week. It's Gem! A Truly Outrageous Parody! And you can still experience it live tonight and Saturday at The Barrow Street Theatre.
Other comedy efforts at the FringeNYC of which I have been made aware include Desiree Burch's 52-Man Pickup, Chicago sketch group PennyBear, Fancy Guts & Ghosts -- a two-woman production out of Seattle, Houston's Choose Your Own Play with 80 different endings, and countless shows that have not been brought to my attention. If you have time, check one out! Especially one of the first two I mentioned.
Only now unwinding from my second tour through the Upright Citizen Brigade's Del Close Marathon, which ended Sunday night (though starting the tour after an all-nighter to Washington, D.C., and back probably contributed to the fatigue on my end), and wished, as I did last summer, that I had gotten to see more of the 150+ improv and variety shows that happened during DCM10. At least two video cameras captured some of the highlights, which I expect to see online one of these days at UCBComedy.
The Marathon is crazy for improvisers and comedy fans alike, with shows running almost continuously (save for a couple of breaks to clean the theaters) at the UCB home in Chelsea and three nearby theaters from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. Comedians come from all over the country to participate, and even then, to fill all of those hours, the Marathon's programmers schedule some completely off-the-wall shows. I cannot speak for the daytime shows from last weekend, but during the primetime and late-night hours, the atmosphere -- hot, sweaty and reeking of alcoholic sweat -- really favors the louder, crazier uptempo shows over the improv groups that actually try best to honor Del Close and his Harold long-form. It's not a fault of the performers. But after you've seen "Gary Busey" prove he's the smartest expert in the universe, it's hard to pay close attention to all that's going on in the Scramble. And the Marathon peaks at 2:30 a.m. Sunday during the half-hour lunacy that is Match Game 76, and when Horatio Sanz as Heath Ledger's Joker launches a smoke bomb, well, even a troupe hoping to parody Close has no chance. I spent my entire DCM10 at the UCB (sorry, big-time shows at the FIT, but maybe we'll meet again in 2009), and the best shows I saw over the weekend were strong in concept, structure and execution.
James Adomian as "Gary Busey" during The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever.
Photo by Keith Huang
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...