After a special sneak screening of the first two episodes of The Green Room with Paul Provenza, which returns to Showtime for its second season on July 14, 2011, Provenza convened a special live panel last night for The Creative Coalition with comedians Billy Connolly, Lisa Lampanelli, Rain Pryor and Jamie Kilstein inside The Core Club in Midtown Manhattan.
One of the first topics thrown at the panel was dealing with hecklers, and Lampanelli told the story of how one of her very first shows as an MC included a heckler who prompted her to change her entire act and become the insult comedian that made her a star and the self-described "Queen of Mean."
Lampanelli told the audience she was working a gig with her first husband:
"So I went up and I was emceeing, and everybody knows that the MC goes up and does five minutes, and then they bring up the next act. So I do my five minutes, and I did OK for like my fifth time onstage, and my poor husband, with his retarded jokes and horrible one-liners -- we were divorced, by the way, before he died, so it's OK, I felt really bad when he died, I'll mourn later. As I'm watching poor Jim struggle, I hear somebody yell, 'Bring back the fat chick!' So it's kind of a compliment! But it's like, oh my God, I'm fucking fat! They noticed I was fat. I thought I was hiding it, under layers. So I go, well, I took it so to heart, I was so upset, that the next day, I wrote all insults. I said, 'I was going to get those cocksuckers before they get me,' and I'm an insult comic now. So thank you guy who said, 'Bring back the fat chick.'"
Provenza: "Is that the truth?"
Lampanelli: "That's the absolute truth. Yeah, I was like, I am not letting them get a word in."
In a five-minute rant, political comedian Jamie Kilstein challenged people who like President Barack Obama just because he's not as horrible as Bush was, challenged Obama to joust with Osama Bin Laden, took on McDonald's, the notion of slutty girls causing 9/11, and pointed out the nonsense of killing people using robots with guns. If you think that's a long sentence without a break in it, just listen to Kilstein in his TV debut last night on Conan!
Background reading: The Comic's Comic interview with Jamie Kilstein about his podcast, Citizen Radio, and political comedy.
Is this staged? Is this all a dream? Does it matter when you're hearing the ultimate truth about comedy, life and Hollywood from Eddie Pepitone? This is what happened when he sat down with Jamie Kilstein to offer some advice and guidance. Or was it the other way around?
Despite our belief that the Internet demands immediate attention and responses, sometimes things take time. Patience, my little crickets. So maybe it took a year and a half after the 92YTribeca's spoof of the New York Times "Weekender" ads for someone to produce what the New York Post's ad might look like. And that someone was comedian Jordan Carlos. Funny friends here include Dan St. Germain, Chris Grace, Jamie Kilstein and Liz Miele. "It costs less than Skittles!" That maybe one of the new quotes I can use that's not NSFW.
Which means, enjoy!
The full cast: Jordan Carlos, Jesse Ruuttila, Katharine Heller, Lynne Rosenberg, Mary Catherine Green, Matthew Maragno, Chris Grace, Jamie Kilstein, Liz Miele, Wil Petre, Molly Knefel, John Knefel, Dan St. Germain, Sean O'Connor, Charlie Kasov, Jay Nog
For the second year, Just For Laughs Montreal is putting several of its shows into an offshoot called Zoofest, and this time, they're opening acknowledging it as the "off the wall parallel" to JFL. In other words, for all of the unique, interesting and possibly amazing one-person shows by performers who aren't headlining Galas or otherwise big-ticket names to Canadians, why don't you try Zoofest? "1 show for $15, 2 shows for $20" Or get a Zoopass for $29.99 (do I need to tell you these are in Canadian dollars) It's all about marketing, really.
What comedy fans want to know is who's going to be there this July? Why don't I tell you!
Bill Burr, "You People Are All The Same," July 12-16 at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Bo Burnham, "Words Words Words," July 12-15, 17 at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Donald Glover, "Gross!", July 12-17 at Katacombes
Jamie Kilstein, "No God, No War, No Nickelback," July 14-15, 17, at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Jim Jefferies, "Alcoholocaust," July 12-17 at Katacombes
"Kim Noble Will Die," July 12-7, 20-24 at Theatre La Chappelle
Noel Fielding Live, July 12-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Patrice Oneal, "Mr. P," July 13-17 at Katacombes
Phil Nichol, "A Deadpan Poet Sings Quiet Songs Quietly," July 12-17 at Katacombes
Tim Key, "The Slutcracker," July 14-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Tom Wrigglesworth, "An Open Letter to Richard Branson," July 12-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Related: Zoofest ticket info.
You may not have heard of Jamie Kilstein, but if you're politically active and like to laugh, perhaps you have heard Kilstein. The stand-up comedian co-hosts the online radio podcast Citizen Radio with Allison Kilkenny -- they're presenting a live sold-out Citizen Radio broadcast tonight at the UCB Theatre in New York City with guests Janeane Garofalo, Matt Taibbi, Jeremy Scahill, and Jack Dishel. Here's a recent clip of Jamie Kilstein's stand-up, which garnered Retweets from Tim Minchin and Joe Rogan, about gay rights:
But the first thing I wanted to know about Kilstein when we talked on Sunday was the source of his 609 area code. "I grew up in central Jersey," Kilstein said. "Right in between Princeton and Trenton."
I know you're vegan, but do you still know and honor the Hoagie Haven? "When I was growing up, I was a stoner, and I was the opposite of a vegan. And the only thing I ate was the bacon cheesesteak. (Editor's Note: My personal favorite) A lot of times, people think people who are vegans are self-righteous and proselytizing. Yeah, I went all the way with the bacon. If you went down a little farther on Route 1 toward Rutgers, I started out at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick. (laughs) They had something called the grease trucks. I don't think Princeton would ever have something called the grease trucks but New Brunswick embraces the fucking grease trucks....we would eat those awful sandwiches."
Wait. Hold up. I'm trying to imagine you starting out at the Stress Factory?! "I was terrible. I think when I was starting out, I think my grade, I think the grade before me, a lot of people were writing like Dave Attell. My grade was when Opie and Anthony were blowing up so a lot of people were like Jim Norton. But what makes Jim Norton special...was that he was brutally honest. I think when comedians are starting out they extract the simplest part of a comedian's formula and extrapolate that to think that's what going to blow them up, too. All they saw was "n" jokes with rape or AIDS. And you'd have edgy jokes with no substance or punchlines. If you scream at the audience you could go, 'That was for you, Sam Kinison!' But they would yell at the audience."
Kilstein said he had to realize that when a comedian like Bill Hicks was yelling at the audience, it wasn't about the volume, but about getting his point of view across. "When I started out in comedy and asked every comedian for advice, they always said you have to find your voice. I think a more detailed way to say that is it take you eight to 10 years to just be yourself on stage. It's not just being who you are...and then they get onstage and you just say what the fuck are you doing? The reason is that when you start comedy, you dont try to be yourself, because you're young, who are the fuck are you. I cared about political issues but I didn't talk about that onstage, so my first couple of jokes were blah blah blah, my father touched me! or Sun Chips! It was just as Jersey gross as you would imagine. But then you realize the goal is to be the same person offstage as you are onstage."
The folks at Montreal's Just For Laughs uploaded videos last week from its 2008 collection of comedians participating in the New Faces and Masters showcases, so you can finally see what I saw this summer. Rather than bombard you with two dozen embedded video clips, I'm going to embed one or two of my faves, then link to the rest.
From the 2008 Masters, here is Todd Glass, and you'll immediately wonder, what's the rest of Larry Miller's funny story introducing him, and who is Glass calling back in his jokes. Jokes, people! Jokes! Todd Glass is a comic's comic, so always welcomed here (language NSFW):
And from the 2008 New Faces, here is Sean Patton's set that got industry people talking (language NSFW):
Everyone else after the jump.
Is it possible for the host of New Faces to bomb? If your name is Dana Gould and the show in question happened Saturday night, then yes, very much so. Word on the street had it that both groups of New Faces felt more at ease in their second go-arounds at Montreal, not only because fewer industry types would be lurking around, but also because the performers would have shaken off rust, nerves and any material that might not translate to a very mainstream Canadian comedy club audience. None of that explains what happened to Gould, however, who didn't connect with the audience in the first minute, and about 10 minutes later, really didn't have them on his side. Even Gould knew it. "Wow! I have to get out of this hole now," he said aloud.
This certainly helped Mo Mandel, who went up first and killed, particularly with an applause line following his bit on people who do yoga and other healthy things, wondering, "If you're unhappy, why are you trying to live longer?!" His Jew jokes also got big laughs. When I saw Mandel on my small computer screen earlier this year and last, I thought, eh. But live, I could see how he had won last year's Comedy Central Open Mic Fights.
Tougher to figure out Chuck Watkins. What is that accent? What's with all of the tai-chi stage movements? He employed a second microphone to play multiple instruments, and it was more cute than anything, although I got distracted the moment I heard him deliver this joke: "My teacher asked me for a declarative command. I said, 'Go f#$& yourself.'" I liked the joke a lot better two years ago when Dan Boulger said it and used a rhetorical question as the set-up.
Malik S. from Miami appeared to graduate from the D.L. Hughley school of smooth-talking comedy in a vest and tie, and like me, he could not be a thug because he's ticklish. Good point. He also proved that it's always possible to find work, no matter who you are, and closed the way you'd end your day at work.
Last Comic Standing finalist Jeff Dye opened with the work-out routine that got him into the TV house from Las Vegas, then closed with a bit about how the board game Guess Who teaches kids racism.
Vanessa Fraction got all worked up describing the time her son lathered up in her KY jelly, and now she's just looking for a guy with "at least." I know that much, at least.
Nate Bargatze used his Nashville twang to good effect, asking the crowd, "Do y'all have evolution here in Canada?" He talked about how if humans and monkeys are 98 percent alike, that makes his favorite 2 percent "the non-monkey parts," and wondered about the effectiveness of cancer-sniffing dogs.
Jamie Kilstein's joke about John McCain's war experience makes so much sense I cannot believe the Democrats haven't been using it every day.
If you're looking to cast a gay man from Winnipeg, then Trevor Boris is your guy.
Kenny Johnson's routine included several characters, suggesting he was letting the industry know that he is available for your sketch or sitcom needs.
It's the second week of the 2008 Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, which means we finally learn the identities of this year's crop of New Faces and Masters to perform later this week. Much more to come, as I'll be reporting from Montreal starting on Wednesday. For now, though, let's deliver some names and congrats to all! Links available via the JFL MySpace blog post.
New Faces Montreal, 2008: Brendon Walsh, Tu Rae, Ira Proctor, Seaton Smith, Chuck Watkins, Sean Patton, Vanessa Fraction, Erik Griffin, Mo Mandel, Harris Wittels, Mike Palascak, Iliza Shlesinger, Jeff Dye, Kenny Johnson, Chelsea Peretti, Anjelah Johnson, Trevor Boris, Jamie Kilstein, Nate Bargatze, Malik Sanon.
Masters Montreal, 2008: Billy Gardell, Todd Glass, Thea Vidale, Henry Phillips, Hal Sparks, Kevin Brennan, Henry Cho.
If you haven't seen Lizz Winstead's latest creation, then you're missing out. Winstead, who co-created The Daily Show and later went on to Air America Radio, now has her sights set on skewering morning TV. Her Monday night show, Shoot the Messenger, recently moved into larger digs at The Green Room at 45 Bleecker. In the new venue, the set design and everything else feels much more like an actual morning TV program (even if it's not actually six hours, as advertised in the tagline for "Wake Up World with Hope and Davis," TV's only six-hour morning 'infonewsment' show). There are the requisite sofa, chair and coffee table. A separate news desk.
Benari Poulten plays the frat-tastic energetic audience warm-up guy. Baron Vaughn as Davis Miles plays affable co-host to Winstead's ridiculous Hope Jean Paul. Each week typically features a taped interview segment with self-help author, "Life Expert" Dana Levan (Carol Hartsell). A big screen behind the stage plays these pre-taped bits, new toons, and last week offered a well-executed debate between other 24/7 network anchors (played by Lucas Held and Sean Crespo) with Vaughn moderating it live.
Here is a segment from last Monday:
And here is a toon they produced about the Democratic horse race:
It's unlike The Daily Show, which makes direct jokes about actual news and newsgatherers, nor is it like The Onion News Network, which is all about fake news. No. Shoot The Messenger aims somewhere in between, poking fun at the actual ridiculousness of morning TV news. After each week's 45-minute production, there's an intermission, after which Winstead returns to the stage as herself to talk about what they're up to, then interviews a special guest. Last week, she talked with Andy Borowitz about the 2008 campaign. Borowitz complimented Winstead on creating "a fully realized character" as well as the technology behind the production.
Tonight's Shoot The Messenger won't be the usual production, however. Instead, Vaughn and Darbi Worley will host a show centered on the several comedians who contribute to the program, with video highlights of their contributions followed by their stand-up. On the bill: Jeff Kreisler, Sean Crespo, Lucas Held, Baron Vaughn, Carol Hartsell and Jamie Kilstein.