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
How was your Fourth of July weekend? Did you enjoy it? Did you have an outdoor BBQ? Of course you did. Probably. Regardless, the CollegeHumor players (is that the name of their comedy troupe?) have constructed a heaping plate of allegory, or is it metaphors, showing how everything at President Barack Obama's make-believe BBQ has another political meaning. Starring comedian Jordan Carlos (last seen, albeit briefly, on Last Comic Standing) as Obama. Roll it.
In real life, maybe you audition a few months ago for a comedy competition that's going to be televised everywhere in America and beyond. Maybe your audition goes well. Maybe it goes well enough that you get asked to perform again at a live audience showcase, and then that goes well enough that you receive a red-ticket envelope to perform again in Hollywood. So maybe, just maybe, you're excited to see yourself on television and so are your friends, family and loved ones. So what happens when you and they turn on the TV and, an hour later, are wondering, did we and they blink and miss you? Hold that thought.
Because we're living by TV producers' rules. And in Last Comic Standing's seventh season, even when they say it's not business as usual, it's still show business. Last week, they edited the New York City auditions together to allow some comedians to get better treatment than they should have, while putting others in the background to tease you. What's doing for round two in NYC?
Well, first, host Craig Robinson tells us what happened previously on LCS, which was that nine comedians received tickets to the semifinals. Wait a minute! Nine??? That cannot be right, no matter how you edit it, because they let 12 people through on the night I watched live and in person, and apparently another 12 in the other showcase, so already, you and I know that there are going to be some comedians who were happy a few months ago, but who are going to be much less happy tonight.
Cue the actual and the artificial tension!
Brian McKim -- for people born before the Y2K bug wiped out the first version of the Internet, you may know him as "The Male Half" of Shecky Magazine -- gets the first uncredited one-liner of the evening, followed by a montage of comedians we should expect to be seeing later in the hour. By the way, if anyone has been watching all of the pre-season promos, Robinson is sneaking in his proposed catchphrase mantra for the season: "Be about it!"
We officially start the night off with Jerry Rocha, from Dallas, who says he has been a professional stand-up for eight years, and vows to hug anyone and everyone if he doesn't advance. He jokes with the judges about his racist uncle who doesn't quite get racial jokes. Our judges are given the superimposed title of "Comedy Jurist" this evening, which sounds much more foreboding than before, when they were judges. Now they're judges and jury? Me no get it. But me still likey Andy Kindler, Natasha Leggero and Greg Giraldo, so me no stop recapping. Calise Hawkins apparently is from Illinois (I know her as a Jersey girl, where she lives now, while you simply know her as a single mother with a big Afro!), and she takes us into her home with her daughter, and how adorable are they? Kindler isn't a big fan of her material about a homeless guy on the subway, but he and Giraldo both think she's a good performer, and Leggero enjoyed it, so Hawkins gets another chance to perform. Mike Vecchione jokes about his New York City cop look, and I know and you know and we know that he is funny, and even Leggero, who happened to see Vecchione the other night at the Comedy Cellar agrees. Who wants a pretzel?
Zed is the future of stand-up comedy? Somebody better tell Ron Lynch about this competing comedy robot. "Is this a character you're doing?" Giraldo asks. A woman has a whip on the sidewalk. For some reason. Kindler talks about clowns and jugglers, and jokes about all comedians starting out as novelty acts. You remember Lenny Bruce the sword swallower, right? Kindler prefers seeing a comedian sweat. Take that, deodorant ad!
Kyle Grooms doesn't have to worry about that. He did an Obama impersonation in the early TV ads for this season, and he does it for the judges, too. Giraldo says he is not a fan of impersonations but knows that that's not a big part of Grooms' act, so no worries. He's through.
If you live near New York City, or even in New England, you see the TV ad for the New York Times Weekender subscription a lot. A lot, a lot. Perhaps this ad even runs nationally? Regardless, the new 92YTribeca facility, which has been booking lots of great comedy shows (thank you, Bart Coleman), just released this new advertisement written and directed by Michael Showalter and featuring Paul Rudd and many funny stand-up comedians. How many do you recognize? If you need a hint, just look at my category tags below. Related: The 92YTribeca's comedy schedule. Enjoy!
To Do Thursday: See Wayne Federman host Todd Barry, Dave Hill, Jessi Klein and others in 92YTribeca's weekly Comedy Below Canal series (tickets and info).
On the same day that many mainstream media outlets, and even the new media mainstreamers, were asking if The Daily Show and comedy could survive an Obama administration, they also reported on what kind of puppy the Obamas would bring with them to the White House. Irony is alive and well, people! The old adage says there is no such thing as a stupid question, but this week proves once again that the media is quite apt at asking the lazy and idiotic questions.
Here is a roundup of some reports from Thursday, in which New York magazine and Politico both asked if The Daily Show could continue bringing the funny now that Barack Obama is replacing George W. Bush. The Hollywood Reporter also brings a similar report from the Wednesday night political humor panel at the New York Comedy Festival. The questions are moot. Anyone who watches The Daily Show and The Colbert Report know that their main focus is, and always has been, on mocking the media. Colbert's alter-ego exists as long as Bill O'Reilly and self-centered broadcasters like him continue to exist. And Jon Stewart's show and correspondents only ceded some ground to Bush/Cheney in recent years because their propaganda machine had become a must-mock. So. Why does the media overlook this, even when they reported on the Obama puppy question as if it was an issue of equal importance to, oh, say, our rising unemployment crisis and the recession and our ongoing wars? Because it's easy. Because it's lazy. Because an editor's knees jerk in reaction to eight years of nonsense and wonders what do we do now that we have elected a leader who actually inspires confidence?
Similarly, a Boston Globe story last month tried to posit that comedy as a whole is liberal, going to college professors for proof of such. Right. As if it's an academic question. The fact that right-wing attempts at comedy (see: FOX News 1/2 Hour News Hour or the recent box-office flop, An American Carol) fail is not because they are conservatives, but because they fail at one of the basic tenants of humor -- making sure the audience likes you and is on your side, which is tougher to do when you are the haves making fun of the have-nots. It's something Chris Rock talks about onstage this past year, and in his HBO special, Kill the Messenger. Fat people can joke about skinny bitches, the poor can take down the rich, but if it's the other way around, that's just what a bully does. Are bullies funny? Would you like to see the King and Queen put on a show about how silly the oppressed villagers are? That's not how it was in the olden times. Rather, the Jester made fun of the privileged as well as the masses (particularly if they were from another kingdom), in front of the royal court.
Related: Gawker turns to comedian Jordan Carlos for tips on making fun of Obama.
After the jump, a couple of post-election clips from Comedy Central...
One of my newspaper alma maters, the New York Daily News, devoted much of its Sunday features section to comedy, thanks in part to this week's New York Comedy Festival, but also to how much comedy has impacted politics this campaign season. There's a story from Caroline Waxler about how comedians might react to an Obama presidency, brief interviews with fest headliners Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan and Carlos Mencia, a profile roundup of the 11 finalists in the New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest, and a look-back at some quotes from Bernie Mac, who appears posthumously in the new movies Madagascar 2 and Soul Men.
There was a tie! We don't know what that means, other than the fact that six more stand-up comedians made it into the finals of the 2008 New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest, instead of five, and they are:
D.C. Benny, Geno Bisconte, Hailey Boyle, Jordan Carlos, Myq Kaplan and Mike Vecchione
They join the other semi's "winners," Nate Bargatze, Esther Ku, Julian McCullough, Reese Waters, and Stone & Stone in the finals, to be contested Nov. 5 at Carolines as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
Word has it that BET is working on a documentary special for this summer on black comedy. A crew interviewed the members of the Brooklyn Comedy Company (Baron Vaughn, Elon James White, Jordan Carlos and Michelle Buteau) last month and will be recording footage Saturday night at a special edition of their "Shades of Black" show, which also features a set from Chicago's Hannibal Buress (not pictured!). Tickets are free. But space at The Tank theater in Tribeca is not exactly large. Further info in my upcoming NYC shows calendar. White said he and his comedian cohorts talked about the concept of "black alt" comedy. BET reportedly interviewed Bill Cosby earlier, as well as Cedric the Entertainer and Dick Gregory. "I'm happy they approached us about it," White told me. Go to the taping Saturday night and learn more!
The 2008 presidential campaign already will go down in comedy history as a landmark election for parodies and spoofs, thanks to online videos, and we're not even to the conventions yet. Here is a new effort from the Chupacabra group, in which Justin Timberlake's Sexy Back gets remixed with new lyrics and a political spin, courtesy of Jordan Carlos (as Barack Obama) and Mike Dobbins (as John McCain, though sounding like Ronald Reagan and a Richard Nixon mannerism) with a cameo from Brooke Van Poppelen (as Hillary Clinton). Funny stuff. Enjoy!
Imagine, if you will, a sex blogger, also a comedian, who becomes a political reporter for MTV, reporting on the fall of a governor, due to a sex scandal, and getting comedians to offer perspective on the rise of New York's first African-American governor. I believe everything has come full oval.
Sara Benincasa reports for MTV:
If there's such a thing as alt-comedy, then can there also be such a thing as alt-black comedy? Elon James White thinks so. White and fellow New York comedian Baron Vaughn have been trying to educate audiences on the notion that there are many different types of black stand-up comedy, through their Shades of Black shows, their online site, The Black Comedy Project, and this weekend, their first full-on comedy fest, The Black Comedy Experiment. The "Experiment" debuts tonight and runs through Saturday night, with all shows at the two venues in The Tank.
Tonight's mainstage shows are Souled Out (featuring Walli Collins, Rick Younger, Leighann Lord, Dean Edwards, Mike Yard and Marc Theobold) and Desiree Burch's 52-Man Pickup. Other one-person shows include "The Oreo Kid" by Jordan Carlos (who auditioned last week for Saturday Night Live as a potential Barack Obama), "30 Years in Africa" by Michelle Buteau, Robin Cloud's "Bag O' Bitches," "Mystery Up at Negro Creek," by Baron Vaughn, and "2-Faced" by Erica Watson. There'll be special editions of Chicks and Giggles, Laughing Liberally and Shades of Black. And that's not all.
That SNL just got a lot of buzz over their search for a cast member to play Barack Obama only brought more attention to the plight of black comedians in getting the industry to notice them. "We couldn't ask for better timing, literally," White told me last night. That SNL didn't cast a black comedian for Obama didn't surprise White. That Jordan Carlos and Donald Glover got face time with Lorne Michaels pleased him, though. "I was happy that two of the three Obamas were on our festival. There's our buzz!"
In White's view, the fact remains that most audiences and Hollywood industry types think of only one type of comedian when they think of booking a black stand-up. They think of Def Jam, he said. "Everybody feels I'm harping on it," he said. It's not that Def Jam is evil or bad, he said, but rather that the great success of Def Jam created a model that everyone else has tried to duplicate without thinking or considering other forms or styles of comedy. That's been the pattern, White says, going back to Bill Cosby. When Richard Pryor emerged, "he kicked the door down," but then other comics tried to be Pryor, then tried to be Eddie Murphy, then tried to be the Wayans Brothers, and more recently, Def Jam. "It was just bravado. In your face," White said. "But it pigeonholed us for years." The opportunities simply aren't there, from SNL to HBO. "Dwayne Perkins might get to do Conan. But where's his HBO special?" White's online essay in October, "Did Def Jam Ruin Black Comedy?" sparked a furious back-and-forth debate with comedian Todd Lynn. "Todd Lynn says there ain't no thing as an 'Intelligent N----r' show. The fact is, though, he thinks there's one way of doing it, but in my opinion, there are many ways of climbing the ladder," White said.
He acknowledges that "the chitlin' circuit is strong in Harlem and the Bronx," and that New York City has lots of black comedians and black rooms, but wonders where the mainstream breakthroughs are for them. And White also knows that even though he's a Bed-Stuy Brooklyn native, he sounds like he's British and doesn't always fit in either an urban Def Jam scene or a white scene. "There are jokes I have that I can't tell in front of a white audience. It's because they just don't get it, nine times out of 10. They don't have the same life experience I have." So there has to be another way. "It was the same when the alt-comedy scene started. That's why I believe in alt-black," he said. "Some people argue I'm just putting another label on them and I understand that."
Like the comedians who formed an alternative to the club scene so they could work and build their own fan bases, White hopes to do the same for the many "shades of black" comedy. He's not against "urban or Def Jam" comedians who are good, saying Patrice Oneal is great and killed on that show. He's against black comedians who are hack about their blackness, such as the woman who threw her weave into the audience to get a standing ovation.
White still doesn't know if he and Vaughn and the experiment will succeed. "If we make enough ruckus, at least we'll be a footnote," White said.
File this under what could've been and under NSFW. It's Jordan Carlos as Barack Obama. If he got the gig, the fro would have to go.
Soon enough we'll have our answer to the SNL Obama question, as the cast and audience get ready for the Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal.
The Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar reported that Lorne Michaels formally auditioned three outside candidates: MAD-TV's Jordan Peele, 30 Rock writer and Derrick sketch/improv trouper Donald Glover, and stand-up (and Stephen Colbert's "black friend") Jordan Carlos.
There's also a potential insider surprise in Fred Armisen. His roster of impersonations already includes Prince. If it's Armisen, be sure to 1) hear a lot of debates and arguments about it, and 2) read what Armisen has to say about it on his SNL blog.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Lots of rumor spreading about SNL cast additions this week. Let's break down one such addition with fun facts. Yay. Fun facts.
On the record, Lorne Michaels said he'd make a decision late Thursday. That's...today.
Donald Glover performed his Barack Obama impersonation Tuesday night at Seth Herzog's Sweet show. Herzog said it was "the best Obama" he'd seen. Of course, how many Obamas have we seen, anyhow? Which is why Lorne Michaels didn't already have an Obama impersonator before today. Glover writes for 30 Rock, which connects him to Tina Fey, which connects him to...Baltimore? Glover's comedy troupe, Derrick, will be performing live this Saturday night at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
Wyatt Cenac may have recently joined Funny or Die, but his Obama "campaign posters" video originally found its way onto YouTube on Jan. 29, 2007.
Here's another fact. Just because a comedy blog or message board says "they've heard" something to be true, doesn't necessarily make it true. I've heard that some people want Jordan Carlos to get the SNL Obama gig. See what I just did there? Fun facts!
UPDATED (1:41 p.m.): Someone at Gawker is Facebook friends with Donald Glover, which reveals that fun facts are even funner when they're factual! Rumors are tumors, people. Stay tuned for the funniest fact to be revealed soon enough.