Nobody wants to see more of Donald Trump on television, and yet, there he is, the Golden Combover himself, day after day, shouting about something or other but mostly about himself. So it was with great reluctance last weekend that I found myself watching the first hour of The Celebrity Apprentice, because I heard they were putting the has-been and wannabe famous again famous people through their paces for a stand-up comedy show at Gotham Comedy Club right here in New York City.
You didn't get to see too much of the actual comedy on NBC last Sunday. But the network was gracious enough to supply the full footage online, so all of the comedians can get their proper time to shine.
Plus, you'll get to see who really made Billie Jean King, Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline laugh. Unless you have a true conspiracy theory about editing.
Let's roll the clips! The big one you did see was NBC's own Jimmy Fallon writing and singing a special song for the occasion with his country voice, called "You're Fired."
Now for all of the rest...
I will miss you…
I will miss walking in and thinking I was at the wrong place only to realize moments later that it was just that the lounge was remodeled again.
I will miss playing a game when my favorite staff members weren’t there: Day off or laid off?
You provided job security akin to a season of The Apprentice.
Your booker changed more times than the menu.
By the way, best comped salmon in town. Just kidding, best salmon!
Because of you, I had sex with 2 different ladies, opened for one of my comedy idols, Larry Miller, and went with Kambri to pick up Aries Spiers from jail the night he tit slapped a woman in the front row of his show.
You opened the door to new comics, old comics, new ideas for shows, and long sets for New York comics, and our podcast, In the Tank. Plus, I’m pretty sure Sean L. McCarthy sleeps in the Green Room.
You treated comics with respect, which is more often than not overlooked in this business. So thank you, thank you, to all of you that kept things going at Comix.
Extra special thank you for having a private green room bathroom for the comics.
And, if there were too many ladies in the green room, you had the handicapped bathroom.
I will miss pooping inside you Comix.
You were great to us. Good night, Comix.
-- Jon Fisch
The tributes continue to roll out for the late Greg Giraldo.
Thanks to Matt Ruby for pointing me to comedian Jon Fisch's podcast, In the Tank, which recently sat down a number of comedians, associates and fans of Giraldo to talk about him.
Those offering words and praise to Fisch about Giraldo as both a stand-up comedian and as a human being included: Ryan Hamilton, Nick Swardson, William Stephenson, Dave Smith, Big Jay Oakerson, Modi, Dante, Costaki Economopoulos, Lee Camp, Kurt Metzger, Allan Havey, Anthony Jeselnik, Julian McCullough, Wil Sylvince, Steve Fabricant, Alex Edelman, James Smith, Dave Attell, Veronica Mosey, Rick Crom, Jodi Wasserman, Ophira Eisenberg, Joe DeRosa, Tom Shillue, Sherrod Small, Jeffrey Gurian, Jesse Joyce and Ted Alexandro. You can listen to the whole episode of In the Tank devoted to Greg Giraldo.
Speaking of Jesse Joyce, he was the unseen and unheard brains behind many of Giraldo's popular Roast jokes as Giraldo's writing partner for the past few years. Giraldo was supposed to be the Roastmaster last week at Cringe Humor's Roast of Jim Florentine. Instead, the roast raised money for Giraldo's children, played a tribute video of Giraldo in concert, and then asked Jesse Joyce to take the podium. As you may have guessed already (if you're a good guesser), Joyce crushed with a withering set of quips, insults and well-written barbs that you could imagine coming out of Giraldo's mouth. Here is an audio recording of that set. Note: the recording garbles a bit during the middle from audience chatter. Roll it!
And last but not least, Columbia University students are planning an inaugural Greg Giraldo Comedy Fest in March 2011. This message came through this week from Jessica Lovelace-Chandler:
Attn NYC comics/comedy groups: I'm officially taking submissions for Columbia's 1st Annual Greg Giraldo Comedy Fest that I'm producing. I'm particularly seeking current Columbia students or alumni (If anyone in your group is an alum, that counts!) The dates are tentatively Mar 25-26, but may be moved slightly earlier or later. If interested, please e-mail her at email@example.com
Perhaps you happened upon the Gotham Comedy Club site or walked past the club itself and saw that the sign on Wednesday night advertised a Seinfeld Workshop. What does that mean, exactly? Online, the supposed "Jerry Seinfeld Comedy Workshop" featured comedian Jon Fisch, which might have prompted the question, is Fisch going to tell you how to tell jokes like Seinfeld? No. Twas nothing of the sort last night.
Instead, Fisch provided opening act and warm-up duties for the crowd, as Seinfeld himself appeared for two shows in a nice grey suit with a film crew in tow. Hmmm. Is this a sequel to Comedian? Again, no. Seinfeld's 74-minute act last night didn't start from scratch, as he hit the high notes of the act he has toured with over the past year or two. Defining the line between great and suck. TV news. Weather and time. Marriage. Weddings. The slow parade to garbage. Conversational tones. Prescription medications. Cialis. OnStar. He wasn't workshopping at all, but showcasing his greatest bits of observational humor from the past few years, and making sure to get it all captured on film. I wasn't the only one taking notes. His manager, George Shapiro, also sat in the back of the crowd and paid close attention. Gotham's regular backdrop got covered with a red curtain. The sold-out audiences ate it up with multiple applause breaks and a standing ovation. This appeared to be something different altogether. Perhaps, then, this is the start of a sequel to I'm Telling You For The Last Time. Which means we have all new material to look forward to from Seinfeld in 2009? Or at least another DVD.
Here's a funny line any comedian could appreciate, from Seinfeld's bit about having to endure birthday parties with his three kids. "The birthday clown always asks me for advice on his comedy career," Seinfeld said. How do you get on TV? "I don't know!" he replies, since he's only recently transitioned from TV sitcom to kids birthday parties himself!
For the record on this record-setting comedy attempt, Jon Fisch became the first comedian to take the stage for a second time. He'd been on from 2:42 a.m. to 3:04 a.m., breathing life into the crowd. When he returns at 8:56 a.m., several of the audience members remember him, even though he exclaims: "Same dude, new hoodie!" Some ask him how many Red Bulls he's had for all of this energy. "I don't know," Fisch says. "That's another record I'm working on...sugar free!" Upon further reflection, he says he's had four Red Bulls and a cup of coffee. So far.
Earlier today, my friends at Comedy Central Insider alleged that Damon Lindelof, head writer, co-creator and executive producer on Lost (new epsiodes return April 24!), looked like a cross between David Cross and Jim Norton.
Let me add to this equation, to show that he looks almost exactly like comedian Jon Fisch. QED. You're welcome?
Wednesday in Aspen: The 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival
Twenty-four hours after I boarded a Silver Line bus in Boston for the airport, I’m sitting in a condo on the side of the mountain in Aspen, coasting on my fourth wind into what already is shaping up to be one of the craziest weekends of my life.
Notwithstanding marriage and prison.
And those are two entirely different stories, mind you.
Focus, readers. Focus.
But first, an examination of how we (meaning I) got here.
Listed departure time for my United Airlines flight from Boston’s Logan airport: 7:49 a.m Eastern
Actual departure time: 9 a.m.
Why? After getting out onto the runway, the pilot announced we might have a delay in Denver, so we need to fuel up. Don’t we have enough fuel? Regardless. Or perhaps not without some regard, we taxi back to the gate, put some more petrol into the plane, and finally take off.
Listed arrival time in Denver: 10:30 a.m. Mountain
Actual arrival time: 11:30 a.m. Mountain
Why? See above.
Still plenty of time to catch the 12:43 p.m. flight to Aspen, only the flights are canceled. They’ve all been canceled. Wednesday and Tuesday. What to do, what to do. United Airlines books us on buses, which board and leave Denver from the airport tarmac. Yes, really. Our bus pulled away from gate B73 at 3:15 p.m., arriving at the Aspen airport five hours later, just in time to see the lights of an actual airplane landing there. What? Not that it could’ve helped us. That flight had arrived from Chicago. Apparently, not all planes are created equal, and the new planes from Denver somehow lack the wherewithal to land in Aspen unless the weather conditions are idyllic. Not that this should surprise anyone who has flown into Aspen before. The airport isn’t merely tucked or nestled among the mountains. From the air, you don’t even know Aspen or its airport runway exists until you’re on top of it.
Anyhow, my roommate for the week, comedian Shane Mauss, endured an even more arduous journey on Tuesday. He and other performers, including fellow Bostonian Dan Boulger, had attempted the flight from Denver, only to turn around just before landing in Aspen -- they then had to wait hours for a bus, which took six hours to reach Aspen since the mountain passes, were, um, not quite passable. They missed their official unofficial “warm-up” industry showcase. And they didn’t get their luggage until Wednesday afternoon. So who was I to complain? Exactly.
Anyhow. The luggage arrived with me, and we both made it to base camp, aka the festival and the condo, by 9 p.m., or a half-hour before George Carlin’s scheduled performance.
A brief high-altitude sprint and a well-placed phone call led me to the Wheeler Opera House with minutes to spare. The p.a. announcer noted that Carlin is celebrating 50 years in comedy (as is Don Rickles, subject of a special ceremony and panel later in the week), and film clips displayed Carlin’s transformation from goofball to social critic to what he is now, ultimately a little of both. A critical goofball.
He came right out and announced he planned to deliver 77 minutes of all new material. If the audience didn’t like it, well, please consult any of the seven dirty words.
“The audience doesn’t really figure into my plans,” Carlin declared. “The way I see it, you’re here for me. I’m here for me. And no one is here for you.”
So what about him?
Well, Carlin delivered closer to 80 minutes. He did acknowledge that the altitude might make the gaps seem longer as he caught his breath, and he noted more than once that he would rely on his notes and that this was a workshop. Not a show. But almost a show.
The strongest sections appeared to include a 15-minute riff on the b.s. we accept without questioning it, followed by a 10-minute discussion on people who won’t shut up, and ways to perhaps induce them into silence.
Among the less-successful, completely throwaway lines were a few disgusting street jokes and a joke that literally and figuratively felt ripped from a scene in There’s Something About Mary, as well as an oft-told bit about how all athletes shouldn’t be praising God for their success.
Carlin did share some insight by recasting the nuclear proliferation into religion and class issues, and ended with a different take on human rights.
The workshop should prove useful as Carlin develops his new act.
After a brief break, Carlin re-emerged for a few photographs and a few questions for the press -- the only other media reps there were a woman from the AP and a guy representing Sirius radio. Holding down the anchor slot, Carlin immediately noted my Irish name and Boston reference, asking me what county my family hails from. Carlin also comes from Irish stock. At any rate. Got in a couple of good questions and received some solid answers which will resurface soon enough.
But onto the next show.
Arrived at the night’s last stand-up showcase too late to see Mauss, but saw TJ Miller and Erik Charles Nielsen. Former local Jon Fisch hosted this group. I’d seen Miller and Nielsen before, but only on tape. I want to hold off on saying more until I see that group as a whole in one show.
Boulger spotted me when the lights came up, and we were off to the VH1 party at Bar Aspen. Plenty of comics and industry types milling about, taking advantage of the limited (two-hour) open bar. So Boulger and I didn’t stay long, instead heading back to the St. Regis, where I spotted two civilians talking to Steven Wright in the lobby. Without too much coaxing, I got Boulger to join me in engaging Wright in about a half-hour of comedy talk in the lobby. I won’t tell you exactly what Boulger offered Wright, 1) because I don’t want to spoil the surprise if he accepts, and 2) because I could barely contain myself from laughing at Boulger’s offer.
Everything went quite swimmingly. So much so, in fact, that I implored Wright not to say too much until I could break out the official recorder and notepad for a later date. Even at 1:30 a.m., you have to know when business and pleasure are getting awfully close to one another. Especially in a place like this comedy festival, where everyone feels so comfortable so quickly.
Another area of the St. Regis main floor has become the Sierra Mist Lounge. Ah, the commercialization of comedy. Searching for the appropriate cliché here: Perhaps, the more things change…
The lounge had specialty drinks, foosball and ping pong. Mauss and I teamed up for a friendly pong exhibition against Hari Kondabolu and Chris Fleming. We won. Not that you can win an exhibition. But we won.
Kondabolu also happens to be staying in our condo (or, should I say, I’m staying in his), and he quickly earned good vibes from me when Google notified me that he has New England connections -- having studied at Bowdoin and performed before at the Comedy Studio -- and that he moved from New York to Seattle last year (which, for anyone who knows anything about my own personal comedy history, translates into major bonus points). He and I already have played the name game quite well. More to come on that front, as he gets his first showcase on Thursday.
But the Sierra Mist lounge -- pretzels, mini corndogs and all -- closed all too soon, though, and after more than a bit of banter, we arrived at the UCB house after-party. More comedians, more amusing incidents. Met Seth Morris, artistic director for the UCB’s Los Angeles branch, who informed me that they’re going to launch some sort of “Wicked Pissah Funny” series this spring highlighting all of the Boston comics who’ve migrated to the Left Coast’s La La Land.
But that’s for another day and another post.
It’s now time for the first installment in the Shane Spotlight, in which I ask stand-up Shane Mauss about his day in Aspen -- at the very end of the day. Tonight’s installment occurred at, oh, somewhere past 4 a.m.
First, a news bulletin.
Mauss went up first tonight in his showcase -- biting the bullet, as they say -- only he chewed up the bullet and spit it out, letting everyone know that he would be bringing the funny this week.
So, Shane, how was your Wednesday?
“I woke up in dirty clothes with fuzzy teeth. My teeth were fuzzy,” he said. “I refused to buy a new toothbrush for three dollars because they said my bags were going to be here any minute now. Next thing I know, it’s been two days and I haven’t brushed my teeth or changed my clothes. And then I got all my stuff.”
How about your first show?
“I was the first comedian up after the host, Jon Fisch,” he said.
Had you met him before?
“I’d worked with him in New York a little bit.”
Did that make you more comfortable about starting the show?
“Going up first, I knew that might not mean the right number of people in the audience. I was more worried about people not showing up until after my set. But I almost preferred going up first tonight. I had a good time.”
Did it feel different at this festival compared to other gigs?
“I don’t know if I was nervous or my throat was really dry from the altitude. But I felt different. I felt nerves from time to time. Not that often.”
Whom did you meet today?
Mauss consults the program guide. “I went to Stand-Up A, I liked the bottom three the most,” he said. “But my group won.”