You may be used to seeing Kurt Braunohler onstage or on TV with his comedy partner, Kristen Schaal. You may have even seen Braunohler onstage solo doing stand-up, or with improv groups at The PIT in NYC. Get ready to see him in a brand-new, old-school comedy role: Late-night talk-show host.
Tonight at The PIT, Braunohler launches his new monthly project: Night of the Living. His first guests will be Eugene Mirman and Jon Glaser, with Adira Amram and the Experience serving as his first house band, and a secret musical guest performance.
What gives, Kurt? "I just really wanted to be onstage more. I wanted to find a show where I could be on the stage the entire time, and found a talk show would be the best way," he told me.
Seriously, though, Braunohler says Night of the Living is about wanting to be more relatable and connect with audiences, and also conduct interviews, "and a talk show is the perfect venue for so many weird things to happen, but in a format that's very recognizable."
That's all well and good, but aren't there already plenty of talk shows, whether on TV or on stages around the city and other cities? "What's going to set it apart from other shows is its sensibility. It's a talk show for us. It's a talk show that we are going to like. The kids. The cool kids. The people who come see Hot Tub (his weekly Monday-night show in Brooklyn) every week. The people who are going out to the backs of bars to see shows. It's not a new brand of comedy. Everything's been done before. It's just got a lot more deer. More animals. Yeah."
Oh, also keep an eye out for his desk. "We have a talking telephone. I have a puppeteer who works for Jim Henson, who put together a telephone that's going to sit on my desk and be my sidekick," he said. It'll also, and I'm not sure on the science behind this, electrocute him whenever it rings. He has no human sidekick yet, but he may in the future.
Hey kids. Would you like to see the pilot for Penelope Princess of Pets, the comedy in which Kristen Schaal talks to pets (voiced by Daniel Kitson, among others!) and with the help of sidekick Kurt Braunohler, saves the world and takes down the evil MP Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh, all with a theme song by Reggie Watts (who's on tour with Conan O'Brien all spring)?
If you live in the U.K., then you can watch the pilot at 11 p.m. on 21 April on Channel 4. If you live in New York City, then you can attend a viewing party at 8 p.m. April 26 at Union Pool in Brooklyn. If you live anywhere that has access to YouTube, then you can watch the trailer right now. And if you like what you see, then ask for more. Go!
Everyone who plays curling in the Olympics has heard your stupid curling jokes before, and they heard them all four years ago, too. Here's something neither they nor you have seen, though. It's a mixed-doubles curling squad (played by Kurt Braunohler and Kate McKinnon -- Kate's one of the ECNY's Emerging Comic nominees, btw) that decided to kidnap ESPN's Kenny Mayne. Or did they? You'll just have to watch and find out what happens. Roll the clip!
Just in time for the holidays, comedian Kurt Braunohler unveils a four-week comedy showcase, a new one-man show, and a series of videos for Comedy Central? We speak the truth!
Braunohler's stand-up showcase, "The Inevitable," kicks off tonight at Union Pool in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and runs Mondays through Dec. 28. His one-man show, "Autumn at the Chuckle Shack," will be at the UCB Theatre on two Wednesdays, Dec. 9 and Dec. 23. He describes it as "lots of things, including: birds, libraries, toilets, bar fights, guitars, and yelling. And how I looked like a lesbian when I was 12 years old." And his "Holiday Survival Guide" includes four videos for Comedy Central and Southern Comfort. Here's one of Braunohler talking cookies with Scrooge. Roll it!
If all you know about Kristen Schaal is her delightfully quirky turn as loyal fan Mel of Flight of the Conchords on the HBO sitcom, then you will want to tune in tonight as Comedy Central debuts Schaal's first half-hour special. With a medieval royal backdrop (that happens to timely coincide with this weekend's return of The Tudors), Schaal lets us in on her one-woman show about Anne Boleyn, sexy dreams, her audition for Law & Order: SVU, the journals of Clarence the caterpillar, George Washington, marriage and birds. Her comedy partner, Kurt Braunohler, also got into the mix several times, carrying Schaal onstage. "Now I know what Obama feels like!" she said to applause. As for why this is not a Kurt and Kristen special, Schaal said: "We both wanted to do it together. Because I'm more famous, they said just I could do the special."
Watch a couple of clips from Kristen Schaal's Comedy Central Presents:
|Kristen Schaal - Birthday Surprise|
|Kristen Schaal - Sex Dream|
The final three episodes of web series, Penelope: Princess of Pets, finally went online at Super Deluxe this morning. Will Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal fulfill their mission and save the world? Probably, but probably not before more wacky misadventures ensue. It's not safe for work, but then again, would you expect it to be? We're trying to save the...
Some performing duos have odder interpersonal dynamics than others. Take The White Stripes. Great band, but they wanted us to think they were brother and sister, when really, they used to be married...to each other. OK. Perhaps you've also wondered how Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler get along offstage, too. Are they lover lovers in addition to comedy lovers? They revealed Saturday at the inaugural Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival that they are, indeed, twins! "Not identical," they added. As part of the fest's "best TV supporting cast members ever" showcase at The Bell House, a great new venue in the otherwise kinda quiet warehousey Gowanus Canal neighborhood of Brooklyn, Schaal and Braunohler talked about how they have used their twin status to work on gigs, and showed a clip of their appearance on Law & Order: SVU. It really was a family affair, as two of Schaal's nephews hung out backstage, which means one of them may or may not be Braunohler's son! Blogging promise kept. In related news, ahem, Super Deluxe has released three Penelope: Princess of Pets videos from their online exile in the past week. Let's see what we have been missing...drunk birds and dirt bike turtles and killers, oh my! NSFW action ahead:
After that, a new intro and a community play that gets into your head:
They were toasts of the town in Montreal last summer at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival, won the biggest award earlier this year in Melbourne, Australia, and were the only Americans nominated for the top prize at this summer's Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. New Yorkers, of course, have come to know and love the majestic weirdness of Kurt and Kristen for years now. They headline Comix this weekend (Sept. 5-6) with Gabe & Jenny hosting and Shayna Ferm as an opening act.
The duo of Kurt and Kristen (he's from New Jersey, she's from Colorado) teamed up more than four years ago when both Braunohler and Schaal were improvisers at the Peoples Improv Theater looking to host their own variety shows. Though they hadn't performed together before, the chemistry, Braunohler said, was "pretty immediate!" Their initial show, Hot Tub, was a hit at the PIT and eventually moved to Pianos, then to Comix.
"It was kind of amazing," he said. "Obviously, when you first start doing stuff, we were feeling each other out, but I think we just fell in love with performing with each other." It didn't take audiences long to feel the same kind of love for the quirky duo.
Their current show, "Double Down Hearts," takes scenes from a play told in reverse to create a running narrative "for fitting in all the weird s&*@ we want to do in between," Braunohler said.
That weirdness, though, has captivated audiences on several continents. Does their style of comedy play better abroad than it does in the United States? "Kristen and I have different opinions on this," Braunohler said. "I think yes. Specifically with the U.K., and a little bit with Australia, there's more of a long history of sketch comedy, (Monty) Python and stuff. And in America, the mainstream vocabulary is stand-up, so things outside of that structure seem weird and strange. Of course, what we do is weird and strange anyhow."
Perhaps their most popular routine is a dance number, quite simply titled, "Kristen Schaal is a Horse."
I don't want to spoil it for you, but if you've already seen it, look here to see how well it went over before a televised audience in Melbourne! Now let's learn more about this example of genius in simplicity...
Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler made the shortlist yesterday for the if.comedy prize (still better known as the Perriers) from the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The other nominees are Irishman David O'Doherty, Welshman Rhod Gilbert and Englishman Russell Kane, with the winner announced Saturday at midnight.
But what about the critical reviews for the duo? The Guardian says: "The pair's relationship makes for wonderfully impish comedy, and after only three quarters of an hour, it's hard to accept the end of the affair." The Scotsman called them "the classic odd couple." The List highlighted their "delightful silliness and delicious, cream-filled comedy gestures." Chortle, interestingly, has not reviewed them yet. Nor did ThreeWeeks, at least not as of last night (updated: they say the Double Down Hearts scenes presented "the weakest moments in an otherwise entertaining hour"). Nor had Fest Mag. Hmmm. Metro wasn't as hot on them.
Odds? From the Guardian today: The bookmakers have made Gilbert 5/4 favourite, with O'Doherty at 2/1, Kane at 7/2 and Schaal and Braunohler at 6/1. A spokesman provocatively said: "We've written off the Americans. They couldn't hold a candle to the Welshman." The winner of the £8,000 top prize will be announced on Saturday.
This weekend marks the fourth annual SketchfestNYC. Plenty of videos and interviews on the festival's online home page this week to get you excited about the shows, happening June 12-14 at the UCB Theatre. Tickets: $10 show/$40 night/$100 full pass. Here's a video to pump you up...thanks Dirty Jean & Thunderchief!
The full SketchfestNYC schedule:
Saturday, June 14
2:30pm: The Onion News Network Panel Discussion
4pm: The Sound of Young America Live
6pm: Team Submarine + Hey You Millionaires
7pm: Becky & Noelle + Blitzkrieg
8pm: Summer of Tears
9pm: Elephant Larry
12am: Closing Night Craptacular
Did you enjoy watching Kristen Schaal strip down to her Wonder Woman costume last night on The Daily Show? (Yes) Did you wonder if she had borrowed Seth Herzog's WW outfit to do so? (Yes, but she didn't, which means you can buy your own Amazonian superhero costume if you want to) Would you like to see Kristen Schaal live and in person tonight performing a special preview of her 50-minute Edinburgh show with comedy partner Kurt Braunohler? (If so, go to The PIT tonight for their 11 p.m. show and pay $8, please)
You may have heard or read that Kristen Schaal shared the Barry Award for best act at the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival. The award is named after the Australian festival's founding patron, Barry Humphries (whom Americans probably would know better by his better-known character, Dame Edna). Anyhow. What really got me was seeing this video of Schaal with her comedy partner, Kurt Braunohler, on the big stage in Melbourne. It's one thing watching this sketch in a New York theater or bar's back room. It's quite another with the arena crowd and the TV broadcast. Saw them do this bit in Las Vegas, but this has to be the biggest audience they've played to, right? Watch and enjoy. As the show's host says: "I just love that raw enthusiasm."
Also, this is a good time to mention my friends at Comedysmack, who relayed this video to my inbox. Please join me in welcoming them to my links section.
Does a hot tub automatically make any interview funnier? Apparently so. And I'm not the only one to think so. Super Deluxe is the latest to co-opt the concept with the debut today of Bathing with Bierko, with Craig Bierko in the tub talking up John Malkovich.
This may not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Tub Talk with Sara B., which can be, well, NSFW. It's been on Nerve.com, after all. It did come as a surprise to Sara Benincasa, however, who sent me this missive: "Here is my official statement on this heinous act: "'Tub Talk with Sara B.' fan Ryan Grim's eagle eyes have alerted me to perhaps the greatest act of creative skullduggery since Esau wore Jacob's robes to eff with Isaac's sense of smell and steal the sacred birthright: an Internet bathtub talk show on SuperDeluxe entitled "Bathing with Bierko," hosted by one Craig Bierko. This rape of my web video vision shall not go unpunished! Bierko must prepare to feel my wrath! Cursory Wikipedia research indicates that Bierko has romanced such actresses as Meg Ryan and Charlize Theron. I have romanced a variety of drunken unknown bitter actormedians. Also, I don't have a Wikipedia entry. The point? Bierko's playing with fire here, and his Oscar-bait girlfriends had best get out the way, lest they get burned. This isn't over, Craig Bierko. In fact, it's only just begun. And P.S. Maybe you got Malkovich, but I got Mulaney. Suck on THAT!" And here is that evidence. Did I mention it's NSFW?
Neither of these should be confused with Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal's Hot Tub Variety Show, hot tub no longer included.
Previously: Eddie Murphy as James Brown. Hot tub!
The melodrama mockery continues on this second episode of Horrible People, thanks to creator A.D. Miles and a couple of cameos from Bobby Tisdale and Kurt Braunohler. Language NSFW.
Over the years, I've witnessed some of the uglier facets of comedy contests as both a participant and as a judge. Last night, however, I saw the sunnier side at the ECNY Awards (please don't call them the Emerging Comics of New York anymore) ceremony at Comix in New York City. Even before the showcase started, you could see something special happening. Comedians got dressed up. There was a red carpet. Small, to be sure, but still there and still red with correspondents talking to a camera in footage that presumably will wind up on the Internet. A very festive air. And so nice to see a scene -- or at least a distinctly unique scene -- come together in celebration of the art of comedy. Host Jon Friedman said they changed the name of the awards KFC-like to just ECNY to show they were rewarding all sorts of comedy, not just the emerging kind. At the same time, though, it would've been nice to really see all of New York comedy represented in the room. When the ceremony ended, several comedians had to turn around and go back to their table because they didn't have their proper receipts on hand for the door guys. We spent the night in a traditional comedy club with traditional item minimums and rules, and yet we could've used a few more traditional club comedians. Maybe next year?
Anyhow. I was saying how nice the night was, right?
Some highlights: The show opened with a six-minute video montage of the nominees speaking directly to the camera. Well-edited. And made funnier after Joe Mande said it'd be creepy if this montage turned out to be their memorial video. Friedman, not only hosting the show but also an organizer and a nominee for best host, acknowledged the conflict, quipping: "This for me is a lose-lose." Later, when he lost, he immediately asked the other "losers" in his category to play his Rejection Show. Another big laugh line from Friedman: "I was told to be very Seacresty." Scott Bateman provided professional animated videos to list all of the nominees. And most of the award presenters brought it, too. Matt McCarthy, presenting best director, opened the proceedings with a wicked Stanley Kubrick from the set of The Shining. Andres Du Bouchet delivered the opening and closing lines from Act 1 of his upcoming fictional one-man-show (100 and Me Percent?) that went over so well, he almost wasn't joking when he said, "I can tell it's going to be a big hit." The Whitest Kids U'Know went to see a psychic yesterday for help determining the best sketch group winners. Carolyn Castiglia joked: "It's great to see so many comedians get dressed up to get drunk and cry. Usually I do it naked and covered in pizza!"
What else? All of the musical comedy nominees performed during the show. Only Reggie Watts got a standing ovation. And didn't win. Eddie Brill received the first "lifetime achievement award" and really took it to heart, confessing in his speech, "I've never been more nervous." They also debuted a new soap opera parody from A.D. Miles called "Horrible People" that'll begin airing soon online on My Damn Channel. I sat next to Jordan Carlos and Andrew WK. Carlos was nice. WK was nice, but awfully quiet aside from his brief stint as a presenter. The show limited acceptance speeches to 30 seconds, but the show still lasted close to two-and-a-half hours. The afterparty at Comix lasted just as long. At said afterparty, Nate Sloan from The Apiary wanted Todd Jackson from Dead-Frog and I to dish our "hot tips." I'm no Gossip Girl. XOXO.
The winners! Congrats to all, for whatever an ECNY Award is worth, you got one! Hooray!
Best Director: Kurt Braunohler
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Nick Kroll (Fabrice Fabrice)
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Harvard Sailing Team
Outstanding Achievement in Flyer or Postcard Design: The Apple Sisters (Matthew C. Johnson, Keith Huang)
Best Technician: Pat Baer
Best Short Comedic Film: Minesweeper: The Movie (Elephant Larry)
Best Website, Original Content: The Onion News Network
Best Website, News and Commentary: The Apiary
Best Host: Eugene Mirman and Michael Showalter, Tearing the Veil of Maya
Emerging Comic Award: Joe Mande
Best Musical Comedy Act: The Apple Sisters
Best Female Stand-up: Kristen Schaal
Best Male Stand-up: John Mulaney
And for those of you playing the Full Disclosure Home Game, four of the five producers of the ECNY Awards also were up for awards (the exception: Alex Goldberg). Friedman (host) and Carol Hartsell (tech) didn't win. Alex Zalben (sketch) and Nate/The Apiary (website/news) won. I was not nominated. Snub? Jackson joked to me that I was too new to New York City to get a nod and would have to wait my turn, like Barack Obama. I'll take an Obama comparison, so thanks, Todd!
UPDATED/CORRECTED! I cleaned up a couple of things in this post that weren't entirely clear when I first wrote them (thank you, commenters!). Also, if you want to see what I look like, as well as Dead-Frog's Todd Jackson, there is a lovely picture of us taken last night by Rachel Kramer Bussel!
Now that I've had a chance to rest and gather my thoughts, a few things still left to be said about The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas.
For one thing, I'm still not really sure what Ellen DeGeneres was trying to accomplish with "Ellen's Really Big Show" at Caesars Palace. They say you shouldn't critique a TV taping, because it all looks much better once it's edited for broadcast, but really...this show was a really big dud. DeGeneres had talked up this special as an attempt to rejuvenate the variety show. Only the variety show doesn't need rejuvenating. Her guests included jugglers, acrobats, and the quick-change artists who had already made a splash on America's Got Talent. And that show isn't going anywhere, considering its relatively high TV ratings and the ongoing Writers Guild strike. DeGeneres also included a nod to Ed Sullivan. But isn't David Letterman doing something similar with his odd assortment of guests with their stupid human tricks every night (when not on strike)?
Frank Caliendo impresses you much more in person doing stand-up than on his fledgling TV show, which only makes me question Barry Katz (his show's executive producer) that much more.
One thing you often hear about The Comedy Festival is how it's built for headlining acts and not for showcasing up-and-coming talent. But I saw plenty of industry people and tourists checking out the so-called smaller shows such as "Unprotected Sketch!" and Broadband Theatre. And any chance for Kurt Braunohler, Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts to perform before new audiences is a good thing. The Broadband show, which included performances by Pete & Brian, the folks from Blerds.com, Chelsea Peretti, GarageComedy.com -- featuring the talents of Brody Stevens (whom I still fondly remember from his days in Seattle when Jews and Samoans would take over the world, or at least your cable access TV), and a new Funny or Die video (see below).
Another fun festival fact: Comedy industry lounges attract all sorts, and in Vegas, they bring out the other comedians performing on the Strip, including Carrot Top (cover of that week's Las Vegas Weekly) and George Wallace (performing across the street from Caesars), plus other comedians who may or may not have coincidentally scheduled gigs in Vegas that weekend. Oh, really? There are agents and casting directors in town? Who knew?
Jon Stewart and Katt Williams were down the Strip for the opening of Planet Hollywood Resort, but didn't make it over to Caesars.
And finally, kudos also should go to the HBO comedy festival staff, who managed to maintain solid morale under difficult working circumstances -- whomever thought it'd be a great idea to announce that HBO would be streamlining its comedy operations before the festival?! I wholly sympathize with their situation, particularly since the festival represented a turning point in my own career as well. Good luck to us all. May we meet again under happier conditions.
Could relatively unknown sketch comedy groups compete with national headlining comics for eyeballs, attention and laughs at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas? That was the challenge for "Unprotected Sketch!" a series of sketches hosted by NYC's Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal. Kurt and Kristen, who host Hot Tub at Pianos in New York, already got industry approval in Montreal earlier this year (and Kristen is a past Andy Kaufman Award winner and Aspen winner, too), so they took the lead on this one, too.
"We're excited to be here in the city of broken dreams...and secrets!" Kurt said.
The duo introduced a new recurring sketch for Vegas called "Double Down Hearts" to show off their "dramatic" side, as well as their "dancing" side -- not only then but also in their proven glowstick body dance to promote polio awareness and the rousing crowd-pleaser, "Kristen Schaal is a horse!"
Gareth and Evan, or is it Evan and Gareth? Either way, this duo's entrance looked odd not because they were both wearing all white turtleneck-and-pants outfits, but because Kurt and Kristen also exited the stage in similar getups. Anyhow. On this night, Evan Mann and Gareth Reynolds weren't worried about Axe but about letting us in on their "final" performance together...all really to set up their series of flashbacks...to letter-writing to Jon Bon Jovi, to the first time they met at a support group for people without friends, to when they went on $25,000 Pyramid, and then to an audience-participation gag about their inability to read people's minds. For reasons unclear, they closed with a profanity-laced song about f---ing.
Nasim Pedrad showed off a selection of five characters (two on video) from her one-woman show to illustrate how funny Iranians can be, opening with her take on a rebel insurgent who's losing her terrorist edge due to her illict affair with a Texas soldier. A video spoof on MTV featuring a Persian mafia member and wannabe rapper was redeemed by its closing joke. Pedrad was just getting started, though, first with a 12-year-old girl at a science fair, then with a video about an ultra-aggressive Iranian bachelor, and finally with a Persian-American princess from Beverly Hills on a first date.
Neil Campbell and Paul Rust opened big, jumping onto tables in the audience for a bit on a homeless father and son who use their imagination to escape reality. Several short bits, including two videos, none quite matching the level of their opener, although their sketch on loud eaters at Baja Fresh came close.