They're not exactly the Three Musketeers of comedy, but Bill Burr, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa did figure out the value of teamwork. By joining forces, they sat down, wrote, produced and directed a short film all on their own, and Cheat will debut this weekend at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. There are five screenings, starting April 23 and continuing through May 1.
The film has opened up other opportunities for the trio.
Let's take a look at the trailer, and then talk to the fellas about it. Roll the clip.
So whose idea was it? Who had to convince the other two to get on board with making a short film?
BURR: "I think Bobby was the guy who said this was a movie."
KELLY: "I was the most desperate to do something. Bill has a very successful career and doesn't need us guys."
BURR: "No...Stop. He was the star of Tourgasm. I was on I Love the 80s Strikes Back. There's no strife between us. This was the three of us clinging to a raft and surviving together."
DEROSA: "Yeah, it was Bobby. The three of us had talked about it. Why are we waiting for something to happen. Why are we waiting for the next audition? Why don't we make it happen? That was the planted seed. And we called Bill and Bill liked it."
So what's the cheat in the movie?
DEROSA: "The logline is three friends to pull off the perfect crime. It looks like it might be a comedic heist, but then there's the big reveal!
BURR: "I always just bring up the movie Speed, Part 2, where they just showed the first two-and-a-half acts. They showed everything but Sandra Bullock walking on the beach. They burned 90 minutes of the movie and we knew the boat didn't blow up. We're kind of doing the opposite. We're in between Speed 2 and The Crying Game."
Were film festivals the initial goal for this?
I hear about a lot of new comedy shows, and I'm sure you do, too, and sometimes you think, what's so different about that new show, or why did they go with that cute and clever name, and what does it have to do with anything? Perhaps comedians need to take the initiative and let you know exactly what you're in for, and why you should spend the time and money to see them. Advertise. Here's Joe DeRosa, who is starting up a new monthly show at Comix in New York City called IndigNATION. DeRosa lets you know what to expect with this ad produced by Comix's video whiz Carol Hartsell (featuring cameos from Bill Burr, Dan Curry, JoAnn Grigioni and RG Daniels):
You pick the pop-culture topic, then DeRosa and his guests unleash their ferocious wit upon it. His guests on July 14 include Dave Attell, Rachel Feinstein, Rich Vos and Bonnie McFarlane.
The first time I ever saw Joe DeRosa, he was opening for Dave Chappelle in an arena packed with 8,000 fans who had no idea who DeRosa was. He came out strong and agressively won them over. But this Philadelphia-area native didn't have to worry so much when taping his first Comedy Central Presents, because the crowd already was on his side. So he could rest easy, take his time, and tell us what's really on his mind, from acknowledging he hates pretty much everyone, is as horrible at sports video games as he is at sports, he has come to terms with being adopted, thinks moms should not try to be sexy, and will gladly tell you about the worst paying gig he ever accepted. I don't think it's a spoiler alert to tell you that the Insane Clown Posse is involved. Roll the clips!
Bill Burr got introduced to the stage last night at Carolines as "one of the top five comics working today," and even though Burr bristled at that notion, he did nothing to dispel it over the course of the next hour. Thirteen months ago, Burr taped his DVD (and Comedy Central special) here in New York City, and since its release earlier this year, he seems to have been rewarded for his efforts with fans willing to welcome him with a standing ovation -- and last night's late show included fans who came from as far as Montana and Miami just to see him live.
He told me after the show that while he'd love to follow the late George Carlin's plan of putting a new hour on tape every year or two, he'd rather wait until his current set is ready for recording. If there's a theme to what he's saying these days, it's all about trying to suppress his anger issues and become more sensitive to others feelings. Although plenty still upsets him, including the fact that humans seem to be the only species who help and the weakest, and rewarding people such as The Biggest Loser and drug addicts. Burr also loves a good conspiracy theory, and it fuels his political leanings. He bemoans the lack of customer service in contemporary society. And he has an idea for why old men have a look of horror on their faces.
Burr's radio partner on XM's Uninformed, Joe DeRosa, took the feature spot last night and delivered a new 25 minutes that you wouldn't think would cheer anyone up -- Joe talks about how he's drinking more than he ever has, cannot get sex on the road or here in NYC, suffers from depression, is angry about a multitude of things, and wants to tell you about the worst gig he ever took just because he needs the money. Of course, it's all pretty darned funny.
If you're in NYC this weekend, try to catch Burr at Carolines. Otherwise, you may have to wait until 2009.
Free tickets are available to this year's Comedy Central Presents tapings in New York City, taping shows in pairs from Aug. 24-29, 2008 at the Hudson Theater. I believe Bo Burnham is setting a land-speed record by getting a half-hour TV special before he enrolls in college at NYU and just days after turning 18! Here are your pairings, with links for tickets to each:
6 p.m. Aug. 24: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry
8 p.m. Aug. 24: Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro
6 p.m. Aug. 25: Dan Levy, Bo Burnham
8 p.m. Aug. 25: Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft
6 p.m. Aug. 26: Greg Warren, Josh Blue
8 p.m. Aug. 26: Erin Foley, Chris Porter
6 p.m. Aug. 27: Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson
8 p.m. Aug. 27: Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes
6 p.m. Aug. 28: Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes
8 p.m. Aug. 28: Tommy Johnigan, Jimmy Carr
6 p.m. Aug. 29: John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal
8 p.m. Aug. 29: Red Grant, Rob Stapleton
Even though they're taping from Aug. 25-29, the next round of Comedy Central Presents half-hour stand-up specials likely won't air until 2009, if past precedents hold. That said, you can sign up now for info on free tickets to the tapings at the Hudson Theater just off Times Square in NYC.
Getting their own half-hours this year: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry, Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro, Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson, Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes, Dan Levy, Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft, Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes, Tommy Johnagin, Jimmy Carr, Greg Warren, Josh Blue, Erin Foley, Chris Porter, John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal, Rob Stapleton, and Red Grant.
Congrats to all. Much, much more to come next month!
After running around the city on Wednesday night, I decided to make my Thursday much easier to digest by camping out at Theatre Ste-Catherine for three of the Flying Solo one-man shows, which just so happened to feature revered comedians Mike Birbiglia, Brendon Burns and Patrice Oneal.
It's a narrow, intimate black box of a room with a small balcony, which makes it kind of a perfect space for Mike Birbiglia to test his upcoming Off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk with Me. Having seen Birbiglia dozens of times already this year in New York City, and heard pretty much all of these stories before, it makes it more difficult to process what he's done here -- although I can tell you the structure he settled upon for Montreal is a different non-linear approach from anything I'd seen before from him. Certainly, the sleepwalking stories resonate with me (I have sleptwalked my way out of my apartment twice and locked myself out, but had a more dangerous incident as a child falling down the stairs in my sleep) and Birbiglia manages to hit just the right dramatic and poignant notes. He goes off on tangents earlier in the hour-plus to include jokes about his ADD and his first time performing (seen previously on Comedy Central's My First Time), wondering about bears, and a couple of times, he says "What I Should Have Said" which reminds you of his DVD. Anyhow. Two other comedians with me, who haven't seen Birbiglia as often as I have, thought it was one of the best shows they'd seen. His final Montreal shows are on Saturday.
Brendon Burns is a guy who isn't afraid to get in your faces, and literally will do so several times during his show, So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now. Burns, who won the top prize last year in Edinburgh, also will tell you at the Hyatt Regency that his is the best show at this fest, too. So, is it? Hard to quantify that just yet. He's certainly one of the louder performers, every so often letting out a gutteral rebel yell that reminds one of Sam Kinison. And the format of his show, which includes a mindf$%k of an ending and a plea to audience members to return with their friends, would suggest that over the course of a monthlong run such as Edinburgh, would only gain momentum over time. Burns said he had to modify his show quite a bit for Montreal, although he still talks at length about U.K. attitudes toward terror and the Glasgow baggage handler who head-butted a terrorist at the airport. He also takes on race and sex. If you go to this show knowing the title of it and seeing his poster, please don't end up being offended. As he said at one point last night, "I'm normally so much more endearing than this." Burns has shows at 9 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
One guy who certainly is more endearing in this intimate theater setting is Patrice Oneal, who in his show, Positivity, is positively brilliant. After a 10-minute opening set from Joe DeRosa (who ripped into fast food), Oneal takes his seat on a stool and tells it like it is, covering views on the comedy industry, Obama and McCain, how he likes dogs more than people, on being a black spokesman on cable TV, diabetes, attitudes toward the Asians in his daily life, and finally how men and women get along (or don't). He notes upfront that he doesn't think he can get any smarter now that he's 38. He also acknowleged: "I believe what I say. That's my niche. It doesn't make me that much money." But it should win him many more fans. You can see Oneal working the road in comedy clubs, and every so often as a special guest in theater and TV shows. But this smaller theater really works to Oneal's advantage, letting him ease back and work at his own pace, without having to deal with either the mechanics of a club show or the size of a large audience. Oneal performs again at 11 p.m. tonight and Saturday. I hope and trust someone works out a plan for Oneal to work venues like this more often.
"Why, they're not going to use the audio from this?" DeRosa says.
"Why not?" the cameraman replies.
The audience of about 35 erupts into applause. DeRosa says he'll offer to tell any joke the cameraman wants so he can capture some live footage. "How about McGreevey?" the FOX 5 guy asks. DeRosa tells a joke about how his grandfather had colorful ways of describing that the former New Jersey governor had come out of the closet without using the word "gay." He also follows up with a joke he's told often about being adopted and not looking for his biological parents. Tune in tonight to see what makes it on the newscast.
This is an early review! HBO just taped four episodes of a new stand-up showcase, Down and Dirty with Jim Norton. It'll air this fall (update! debut is midnight Oct. 4, with other episodes premiering Oct. 11, 18, and 25) They taped two episodes last night and two tonight at the BergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey. At last night's tapings, things got, well, down and dirty.
Al Jackson, who I'm watching on Last Comic Standing as I type this, deserves special honors for his work warming up these rowdy crowds. He got some serious laughs and comedy points during the intermission between shows (an intermission that didn't allow the crowd to move) with material about being a teacher and a story involving his first trip to Starbucks.
Fans literally lined up around the block in this suburban Jersey town for the shows, which Norton promoted on his MySpace and via the Opie & Anthony show. Did I mention the crowds were rowdy? Alrighty then. I still haven't gotten full confirmation from HBO on this, but the first night's shows sure seemed like a suburban, white, rock version of Def Comedy Jam. Norton hosts all four shows and does about five to six minutes upfront, and there's a special podium set up for Lemmy from the band Motorhead, who introduces Norton and contributed the theme song. The fans clearly were on board with Norton from the get-go, welcoming him with a standing ovation.
In the first show, Norton opened with a funny bit about our past and present New York governors and their sexual tendencies. Russ Meneve came out first, and when some guy in the audience shouted out during Meneve's first bit, I got more than a bit worried that this crowd wouldn't know how to behave at a TV taping. They settled down, though. And they laughed and laughed. They gave Meneve an applause break when he joked that his last four girlfriends had died in sailing accidents. They continued laughing throughout the night. Joe DeRosa, whom I first encountered opening for a rowdy audience waiting for Dave Chappelle, certainly held his own with an opening bit about what life really is like for comedians on the road. Ari Shaffir went next, though, and attempted to steal the show when he ended his set with a joke about being ready for a blowjob anytime, demonstrating such by dropping his pants and his underpants for a full frontal moment. A moment that continued when he stood like that, then walked away with his pants still down. Hours later, Shaffir told me he didn't warn the HBO folks about his Full Monty moment, because he figured a warning might only result in HBO telling him not to do it. Then again, it is HBO. Moreover, he didn't really give them any chance to edit around his penis. So to speak. Let's see Carlos Mencia try to steal that bit. Norton's retort? "He looks like me, if I was taller and had a clit." Jim Jeffries got introduced as a special guest and had a funny opener about getting a ride home from an audition, followed by his story about coming down with a case of penis cancer. Audience naturally loved him. But they gave a standing ovation welcome to the first show's headliner, Andrew Dice Clay. Yep. He had his leather jacket, giant belt buckle, sunglasses and cigarette. No nursery rhymes. Instead, some different ancient premises that boiled down to dick jokes, black dick jokes (Siegfried and LeRoy???) that resulted in his philosophical outlook on how black men are ruining us. Or something like that.
The second show last night couldn't help but seem tamer. Norton opened that show with a few quick jokes about breaking up with his girlfriend (somehow Facebook alerted this to me first?!) before launching into his extensive breakdown of a video that I have seen (thank you, Joe Rogan?) of a man dying in Washington state a few years ago after allowing a horse to have sex with him. Indeed. I did say this show seemed tamer, though, and that was because the first few acts weren't quite as aggressive, even if they were still raunchy. Louis Katz introduced his own sex move, the Vengeful Louis, and closed with reasons why premature ejaculation is not necessarily a bad thing. Kevin Shea, introduced as Korean-born, also informed the crowd that he was college roommates with one of the YouTube founders-turned-billionaires. Jason Rouse, Canadian, living in England, started with a topic DeRosa had covered earlier but took it in a different direction. Rouse's jokes weren't just filthy but also somewhat misguided. After one joke, Rouse even said, "I know I'm going to Hell for that joke. But f#@k it, it's warm, and I'll know people there." Patrice Oneal closed out the second show with 15 minutes about how he's gotten creepy as he's gotten older. It's funny because it's true. But also because he's really not that creepy.
They filmed two more episodes tonight, with headliners Bill Burr and Artie Lange, and a lineup that looks more subversive (wish I'd seen that!) and includes Anthony Jeselnik, Whitney Cummings, Andy Andrist, Sean Rouse, Geoff Keith, Jacob Sirof and Jim Florentine.
Thankfully, a friend of the site here at The Comic's Comic hollered my way today and didn't let me forget that this week, New York City has been playing host to the fifth annual Arab-American Comedy Festival.
Insert anti-terror joke here.
Fifty-four comedians of varying heritages have taken the stages since Friday to show that Arab-Americans have a sense of humor, too. It has been an ongoing mission, especially since 9/11/2001, to re-educate audiences about stereotypes against Arabs, and also to laugh about them. The festival closes tonight with a "Best of the Fest" showcase, co-hosted by Dean Obeidallah and Maysoon Zayid (pictured, Maria Shehata and Zayid) and featuring stand-up from Joe DeRosa and Ronnie Khalil, comedians from the "New Faces" show, sketches and films. Includes free admission to the closing-night party at the Zipper Factory. Tickets available here.
Pre-show ticket warnings be darned. Chappelle’s show in Boston would not be foiled! It did take an extra-long time to get into Agganis Arena, though, with two long lines that snaked from either side of the only two ways into the building, forced through a security gauntlet. Fans could keep their phones, just not use them (I did see security approach one young man during the show for apparently taking a cameraphone pic, leading him away for a few minutes, but the fan returned to his seat later). The stage itself, pretty ordinary, a stool with bottled water. A DJ did have a stand near the back of the stage, playing a mix of club dance tracks while fans continued to file in slowly but surely, until the show finally began at 8:07 p.m. (showtime advertised at 7:30 p.m).
Opener Joe DeRosa bit the bullet, coming out swinging. DeRosa talked about man drinks vs. girly drinks, birthday presents (funny premise: “How come they always tell you what they almost got you?”), on being adopted, and later finding out at age 12 that he’s half-Egyptian. Lots of frank sexual talk and profanities. DeRosa kept falling back on sex, with his theories on why gay men have it easier than straight men, and why older women are where it’s at. For a guy the crowd didn’t really want to see, he got a great response with much applause at the end of his 27-minute set.
Everyone, of course, wanted to see Chappelle. Chappelle showed he had done a little homework on Boston and recalled his previous trips here, talking about the city’s history and recounting a time he and his friends got into a fight (well, sort of) with a crystal meth addict.
Quotes and more after the jump.