Just a quick programming note and reminder. In about an hour, or 2 p.m. Wednesday EDT, I'll be joined by Michael Ian Black, Judah Friedlander, Sara Benincasa and The Comedy Store's Alf LaMont for a free-wheeling discussion about comedy and the Internet for Internet Week NY.
The panel is called "Everyone's a Comedian," and you should be able to follow along via UStream at the #iwny live-streaming site.
We talked about how the Internet has opened up the world of comedy to everybody and anybody, and how that is both a very good thing, and sometimes a problematic thing. And also other things. Twitter! Tumblr! YouTube! Witstream! Facebook! The Bronx Zoo Cobra! An obligatory Weiner reference up front, despite it being too easy! Just sit back and listen. Maybe you'll learn something. Hopefully you'll laugh. And there will be at least one moment while Judah talks that leaves us all slightly stunned.
UPDATED with VIDEO! In case you missed it, or just want to relive it all over again...
Judah Friedlander is more than just the World Champion and a writer as seen on NBC's 30 Rock. He's also an accomplished author.
Friedlander was at New York Comic-Con last weekend to promote his new book, "How to Beat Up Anybody." Here's what he had to tell me from the floor of Comic-Con, in between signing autographs and posing for photos.
You can look at an excerpt of his book on Maxim, as Judah tells you how to beat up Bigfoot.
Buy the book:
The Winter Olympics open tonight in Vancouver, British Columbia, but "World Champion" Judah Friedlander won't be there. He's in New York City this weekend headlining at Comix comedy club. The reason, Friedlander tells me, is obvious.
"I'm banned from the Olympics, and Olympics in Canada don't really count. Or in any other country. Olympics only count when they're in America," he said. "Plus they're for amateur athletes. Yeah. There are many reasons I'm banned. I've already hooked up with all of the of-age female Olympians. It's part of their initiation." Sounds romantic. "There's a lot of woman out there to please," he said.
Do you feel like you'll be performing for a lot of first-date couples this weekend because of Valentine's Day? "I don't want people to think it's a Valentine's Day themed show. It's for everybody. I'm not catering my show to couples only or things like that. You don't need to have a date. Plus, all the ladies are geting free backstage passes. All the guys are, too, so they can take notes. I'm going to score and guys are going to learn."
Does the "World Champion" feel intimidated on Valentine's Day by competition from "The Lovemaster," aka stand-up Craig Shoemaker? "No. No offense to Craig, but there's no comparison there. No comparison at all. I don't have to change my voice to get chicks. I just stay at whatever octave level I so choose." The line goes silent. "Sorry for the pauses, dude. I'm with four chicks right now. I like to hook up with four chicks before going to bed."
Speaking of which, didn't I see you playing ping-pong with supermodels as part of a benefit for Haiti, of all things? "I actually do, for real, play competitive ping-pong. I got to know those guys just from playing ping-pong, and they were doing a benefit for Haiti." As for Veronica Webb? "Yeah, I hit balls with her. That night I actually played with Miss USA and Miss Universe." How have I not seen nor heard about that yet? "Yeah, to me it's another couple of chicks. A couple of chicks with crowns on their heads."
Here are a couple of other real things happening in Friedlander's world, outside of his recurring TV role on NBC's 30 Rock as Frank (for which he also contributes a weekly blog post).
"I'm working on a book. That's my new project, coming out later this year. Basically me, the World Champion, my instructional karate book. It's coming out later this year -- 5,000 people have died during the making of the book. It's very violent. It's also very sexy. It'll be on the IT books imprint, part of Harper Collins. That's definitely coming out later yhis year, so I've been crazy working on that, plus 30 Rock. Busy year. And when I finish the book I promise to get my CD out. If anyone's waiting for it, it's a long-awaited CD."
And I'm guessing we'll see plenty of photos in your karate book? "I have a camera from the future that's taken really cool photos. I'm normally too fast for the camera, which is why I'm not in any action movies. So for the first time, I'm captured doing karate. There will be a lot of sexy and violent photos of me in the book. The book will definitely help keep America safe, and help everyone be safe on the streets."
Do you want to know your future? It's not a trick question, but it does have tricky answers. Which is why I asked a handful of comedians for their best guesses at what will happen in the very near future, otherwise known as 2010. I've published some of their predictions for the year to come over on Comedy.com -- read 20 Predictions from 10 Comedians for 2010 -- and tell them I sent you!
As part of this in-depth investigation into the future, I turned to my funny friend Judah Friedlander, who plays Frank on the Emmy-winning NBC sitcom 30 Rock, for a peek into his own plans for 2010. You can see by the picture here that Friedlander has big plans for the year ahead. Who else but the "World Champion" would run topless through Times Square in a blizzard?
Judah took a few minutes to chat with me electronically about his plans for 2010. Enjoy!
i predict that, to make up for the fact that i have not released a cd, i will release my first stand-up cd. it will be a box set of 5 cds & will include a bonus "greatest hits" cd.
i'll just release the box set all at once.
will you be in the Winter Olympics? it's being covered by NBC, after all
the world champion is still banned by the olympics.
I'll have to have a talk with Vancouver for you
canada is still afraid of me
what did you do to them, pray tell?
they just know how dangerous i can be. and they're weak. i have no grudge against them. but you can understand their fear. when someone so dangerous lives so close to them.
I get that. Thanks for being our World Champion, then!
the world champion is american. feel proud to be an american.
This is pretty much for my American readers (and those of you outside the States who have figured out how to watch clips on Hulu.com). My Hulu visits tend to be more targeted -- I know what's on there and what I want to catch up on -- rather than exploratory missions of curious wonder. That said, one of my friends tipped me off to this new addition to Hulu's online archives: Full seasons of Comedy Central's Premium Blend. Premium Blend was the bigger, louder, hyperactive precursor to Live At Gotham. Look at how the audience and claps as if they're in a Benny Hill sketch. So far, just seasons five, seven and nine are up, for 36 episodes spotlighting 144 up-and-coming stand-up comedians, some of whom have since made leaps and strides, while others have yet to become household names. It's fun to see some of the pairings here, find glimpses of people I know now but didn't back then, as well as comics I was friends with years ago.
Season 5 also is intriguing because it filmed pre-Sept. 11 but began airing Oct. 5, 2001. Remember that weird time for comedy, when society and the mainstream media asked if it was OK to be ironic and sarcastic? It's also a time that gave us early looks at Judah Friedlander, Laurie Kilmartin, Eugene Mirman and Patrice Oneal, all in one half-hour!
From Season 9, here is another lineup that's notable for putting Aziz Ansari (NBC's new Parks and Recreation) together with Boston stand-up vet Frank Santorelli, Austin's Brendon Walsh (who now sports wilder hair and stand-up), and Jo Koy. This aired in February 2006.
Want to attend Judah Friedlander's "Bad Art Auction" for New York Cares, catch a concert with Xiu Xiu and enjoy some free/cheap drinks next week? You can do all of this, thanks to New York magazine and The Comic's Comic. I've got two pairs of tickets to the Nov. 19 party at Le Poisson Rouge to give away. Ages 21 and older, send me an email, put "Bad Art Auction tix" in the subject line and tell me the worst piece of art you've ever owned. Tiebreaker bonus if you have a photo of yourself with said "art" piece. If you want to buy tickets, you can do that, too, via https://nymag.com/nyxny, and win yourself an hour of free vodka, and a raffle for a new Gibson guitar and Saucony sneaks. I was going to shoot a promotional tease with Judah for the event, but the party people beat me to it! Note: Contains NSFW language, possibly NSFAnywhere art.
I try not to get caught up in summer movie hype, because most everyone else does, but here are a couple of online video interviews that start out talking about movies, but also manage to inform us a little bit about comedy. First up, Maxim.com talks to director Adam McKay about that "Funny or Die" movie, Step Brothers, starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. What? It's not a Funny or Die movie? Sure seems like one. And McKay talks openly about how the entire premise and much of the movie just came from them goofing around and improvising.
Next, here is a TV Guide.com (or is it tvguide.com?) interview with Judah Friedlander that starts out as a typical junket talk about Meet Dave, in which Friedlander co-stars with Eddie Murphy, but then ends with some talk about Friedlander's stand-up act and New York comedy clubs.
A packed crowd at Carolines at 7 p.m. on a Monday, in the summer. Something must be amiss. Then again, the club, mere blocks from Times Square, did put a poster of Ann Curry up by the front door (and also in the green room, hello!). Yes, that Ann Curry, who greets the nation with news, interviews and asides every weekday morning on NBC's Today show.
Curry was attempting stand-up as part of a Today show segment in which anchors face their fears -- and what would any of us fear more than Curry performing comedy? Am I right? Am I right? OK. That was just too easy for me to type, and not really the point of this exercise. We just want to see how she'd face this challenge. Which meant that that poster surprised me first, because I figured Curry and her NBC crew would want to keep things low-profile, just in case. Why advertise it? Nonetheless, many in the room were there to see Curry. But first, this was the "New Talent" night, and we saw some new talent, alrighty. We also saw Carolines put up some "ringers," and by ringers, I mean people they'd like to get in front of the cameras. So that was a nice, wholly believable touch on the part of the club. A couple of true rookies followed and brought the room to a real, restless lull, helped by the fact that someone (NBC?) asked that the house lights be turned up so they could get audience reaction shots. Curry took the stage at 7:43 p.m. to healthy applause, wearing a white sweater over an orange dress, with matching white heels. No, she did not look like a Creamsicle. She looked nice. And her seven-minute set was more than adequate. She opened with a good self-deprecating bit about how some people ask for her autograph, only for her to overhear them say afterward, "Oh my God, we just met Connie Chung!" She nicely followed up by questioning why she would even be on a comedy club stage, and attributed that to her funny father. The remainder of her set focused on her mixed-race heritage, and even more so on her Asian mother, with several opportunities for Curry to mimic her mom's accent. It's a relatively safe and easy choice for comedy, because it tends to work (see: Cho, Margaret; Phan, Dat). In fact, Curry got an applause break during her set. She also shared her mother's advice to her about being on camera, including a hairstyling diagram, as well as her mom's worries that she wasn't married yet at 30. "Ann-a! I forgot to tell you...men...need...sex!" Offstage, Curry was nice and overly generous with the other newbies on the bill, so much so that I could see her playing the Paula Abdul judging role on any comedy contest. Talking to her, though, I noticed that Curry not only asked for advice from several comedians (including Judah Friedlander, who performed last night also and taped a bit with Today producers about Curry's stand-up challenge), but also seemed to have listened and learned from them. Her public-speaking abilities help, naturally. So does her natural charm. I'm not surprised that she has gotten Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to grant her exclusive interviews. Friedlander and I suggested to Curry that, for a true stand-up experience, she should really try to go onstage again, without a supportive crowd. The first time can seem magical, alright. Capturing that magic again and again, in front of complete and completely judgmental strangers? That's when you know if you're a comedian.
Of course, you'll all be able to see this for yourself soon enough, as multiple NBC cameras caught the action. The Today show producer, however, did not have an airdate at the ready. So, stay tuned.
UPDATE: The footage aired Oct. 8, 2008. Click here.
You didn't think I sat through more than 50 hours of stand-up comedy last week and forgot to get some video of it, did you? So here's a scattered selection of footage from the world record comedy show last week at Comic Strip Live. But first, let's reflect on what happened, and consult an expert on world records and champions who also happened to close the show, 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander!
After the jump, four other videos showing what a comedy club looks like on the inside at 7:30 a.m., the silliness of comedians Rory Albanese and Mike Birbiglia as they attempt to redo a funny riff, my own self-analysis after 27 hours of comedy (and 38 hours awake!), and the official recognition from the Guinness World Records people on Thursday night...
What more appropriate way to start celebrating a world record than with a closing set from the World Champion himself, Judah Friedlander. Much much more to come!
Almost there...almost there...stay on target...stay on target. We have put 49 hours of continuous stand-up comedy in the books here at Comic Strip Live, leaving one final hour to reach the finish and a potential Guinness World Record. Christian Finnegan has already performed, and the rest of this finale bill features Lisa Landry, Ted Alexandro, Rich Vos and Judah Friedlander. The house is packed and laughing heartily. Everyone is in high spirits, including many of the club staffers who have worked with little sleep, the host William Stephenson who's had barely a couple of naps, and, of course, myself. We shall not be denied this prize on this night.
Jeffrey Ross explained a porn joke to one of the young Aussie lasses in the front row and made her snort Long Island Ice Tea out of her nose. Fist bump! "If I do it a second time, do I get my own record?" Ross asked. We'll have to look that up.
Judah Friedlander, hilarious for 24 straight minutes, and right out of the gate, told us: "I just saw the worst movie ever. 'The Charlie Sheen Story,' starring Emilio Estevez."
The end of another season of NBC's 30 Rock brought out more than a few new interviews with comedian Judah Friedlander, who not only plays a writer on the show but also writes an official NBC blog in character and contributes his own customized hats for each episode. Here's a chitty chat with a Philadelphia site, with the New York Observer, with Comedy Central Insider, and with the Neighborbee Blog. All very nice and positive pieces, to be sure. But the Comedy Central interview, in particular, dips its toes into tricky waters -- albeit unknowingly, it seems -- by referencing a recent 30 Rock plotline about professional jealousy and asking Friedlander about joke stealing. And here is how Friedlander replied: That has happened before, but I never stole anyone's bit. I've had some people come up to me and say, "That's so and so's," but I would always talk to that so and so in question, and they'd say, "No, that isn't mine at all."
The follow-up question could have, would have, should have been, oh, Judah, are you referring to how Saturday Night Live's Penelope character (played by Kristen Wiig) essentially does the same one-upsmanship conversation trickery that's a major part of your crowd work and "world champion of the world" routine? When I saw the first Penelope sketch, I thought that Friedlander had something to do with it. He didn't. You can watch and judge for yourselves.
Video of Judah Friedlander at the Comic Strip Live in NYC a couple of years ago:
Video of SNL's Penelope in her most recent appearance in March 2008:
Dave Attell's new live-action animation short, Dave's Place, debuts today on Funny or Die. Here's what Attell told me last night about it...
"I want to do a drunken Pee Wee's Playhouse where comics can come in and we have adventures and stuff. I don't know if I've got it right just yet. But it's very cool. The people I work with are really cool," Attell told me. "I got it down to a delicious 3-1/2 minutes -- not the more delicious director's cut that you saw."
Judah Friedlander co-stars as Amazor. Look for a quick glance of Wil Sylvince as the DJ. It's directed by David Rasura, edited by Jeremy Baumann, with music by Bob Golden.
Look for the rest of my interview with Attell later today.
Judah Friedlander is absurd. Judah Friedlander also thrives on crowd work. Combine the two and you get a stand-up comedy show that goes beyond any other show. Just ask Judah. He'll tell you. That's why he wears the World Champion yellow T-shirt with ballcap printed in Spanish, "just in case English isn't your first language." Watch a clip, and we'll get going with the interview after that.
Friedlander plays a writer on NBC's sitcom, 30 Rock. We talked on Wednesday night at the Comedy Cellar in NYC, just before his show made the switch to Thursday nights, up against CSI and Grey's Anatomy. Friedlander said he remains hopeful for the show's long-term success. "At least we're on an all-comedy night. Yeah, I hope people watch. Everyone who watches it seems to like it, so I hope people watch."
Was hearing about the NBC "promotion" anything like finding out you got a movie role, and then finding out it's for a Project Greenlight movie: Feast? Friedlander said no. "That got released almost two years after we started making it, which sucks. But that happens with a lot of movies…Have you seen it? It's f—ing good. Everybody says it's easily the best Project Greenlight movie. I thought it was f—ing great. I f—ing loved it. Yeah, the show twisted some s— around, but for the most part they got the vibe right…I loved doing the movie. I love horror movies. I had so much f—ing fun doing it. And I think it's good. I think it's really funny."
Has 30 Rock changed the way crowds react to you yet? "I get recognized form a lot of different things, but yeah, that's happening more and more." Does it make it easier onstage? "My stand-up is the same. It doesn't change. Yeah….stand-up is great….more people may want to book me, more people may want to see me, but I don't know. I still probably get recognized the most from Meet the Parents and from the Dave Matthews Band video I did, walking around hugging everybody."
But that doesn't really showcase your comedy, does it?
"Meet the Parents does a little, I guess. But none of these TV shows, I think, or movies, show nearly what I can do on stand-up. The stand-up I do I think is much funnier, is much more me, much more twisted or hardcore or out there than what's on the shows and movies. In the movies and stuff, TV shows, even if I'm looking like me, I'm really held back a lot, because network there's so many, not only words you can't say but subject matters you can't talk about and s–t like that….A lot of my act is riffing the crowd and making stuff up on the spot, and they don't let you do that on TV, or movies."
Maybe you should get hooked up with those Christopher Guest movies. "I did a Curb Your Enthusiasm…that was fun. But even that I'm playing a different character. I'm not myself on that."
He said VH1 also calls upon him to do things that aren't really him. "I do that show once in a while, Best Week Ever, but I don't do any pop culture stuff. I might have one pop culture joke in a 45-minute set."
So do you agree with Mitch Hedberg's bit about comics in Hollywood always getting asked to do anything but stand-up? "Yeah. I got into stand-up to do stand-up. Doing 30 Rock has been good, get your name and face out there more, get some exposure. And I like the people I work with. Getting to work with Tina Fey is really cool, and (Alec) Baldwin. Tracy (Morgan) I've known for years so working with him is great, but I've known him for like 12 years. One thing that's cool about this show is I'm getting exposed to the whole sketch comedy world, improv/sketch comedy world, because that's where Tina and a lot of the writers and other cast members come from on that show. So that's cool."
Is that something you want to explore more?
"No. I mean, I do improv a lot in movies and acting, and I like doing that. But I'm not going to form a f—ing sketch group or anything. (laughs) Stand-up is my favorite thing to do. I've been doing it for 17 years and, some people think I did TV and movies first and now I'm just doing stand-up to make some money or something. Stand-up has always been my main thing, but I've hardly gotten any exposure from it."
So what do you hope to do with your exposure?
"Well, just keep doing stand-up. Keep getting better…CDs. I want to do a stand-up concert tour. Just keep doing it. Keep moving forward. It's the most fun for me. Most creative outlet for me. You don't have to wake up at 5 a.m. to do it."