Forget everything you thought you knew about the new Comedy Central series, Jon Benjamin Has A Van. Oh, wait. You didn't know much of anything? Well, good.
Because the series that Benjamin and Leo Allen have co-created -- with Funny or Die, Andrew Steele and Abso Lutely's Dave Kneebone also executive producing -- is the funniest thing I've seen on Comedy Central in years.
It's so funny, in fact, that I'm not sure how it'll play with the network's target demographic of young man-boys aged 18-24. The network does have enough faith and trust in the show that it's launching JBHV tonight after an all-new episode of Tosh.0, with a second episode to air the following evening.
You should place your faith and trust in JBHV, too. Because if you do, you will be duly rewarded for it. Absurdist. Silly. Ridiculous.
It can be high-brow, but also very low-brow -- one real-life bit is called "Ca$h Stall," a parody of Cash Cab that Benjamin tries to pull off in a public men's room. It's also very meta at times (see: "You Can't Shoot Here"). In "Project Poor Farm," there's a long stretch that will test your willingness to buy into a joke that also challenges the very conventions of television. And all the while, it's spot-on funny. I just hope the audience is smart enough to get it and hang on for the ride.
If Slovin and Allen reunite onstage in disguise as Spy vs. Spy for a Jason Bourne spy-themed comedy variety show, then it only makes sense for me to surreptitiously record it, right? Or how about just the first couple of minutes, then? This cuts out before Leo Allen catches Eric Slovin breaking character after he mentions attending Temple Beth Chuckle. OK. I've already said too much.
Roll the clip.
Thanks to the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival for existing.
HBO has a new look online, and that includes a home page for the upcoming series of sketches from Funny or Die called Funny or Die Presents, and along with it, a fresh "Buzz" video that offers insider looks at FoD Presents (Brett Gelman dancing in 1,000 Cats! Leo Allen with a snake! Will Ferrell in disguise!). That's not all, though. You also get behind-the-scenes with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington on animated their popular podcasts, a look at the second season of animated series The Life & Times of Tim (with Nick Kroll talking improv!), and previews of Bill Maher's latest stand-up special and season of Real Time. It all debuts Feb. 19.
When you throw a party for a TV show, much less a Web series, you're never quite sure how it will translate as a live experience for audiences to sit and enjoy. No such worries last night at the 92YTribeca, which hosted "Wainy Days Live," a party that not only marked the start of the fourth season for David Wain's amusing ode to seeking love and finding plenty of sex jokes along the way, but also the relaunch of a newly designed My Damn Channel, which made Wainy Days possible.
Rob Barnett, head of the small, plucky crew at My Damn Channel, told the audience at the start: "My Damn Channel is a brand-new thing today." The redesigned site features a larger player and a cleaner design. Barnett told me that his strategy all along has been to focus on a small group of talented performers and give them free reign to do what they do. That's how My Damn Channel can stand out from the many other players in Web comedy. He told me that Sam Seder's "Pilot Season" had gotten two million views in its first two weeks as a reborn Web series. So far, so good.
David Wain kept the live show moving at a nice pace last night. In between video clips of this week's latest episode (Amanda Peet has a curious fetish in #27, "Jill") and a snippet from #28 that features Lake Bell -- Wain warned before screening it, "If it shows up on YouTube, I will kill you!" -- he treated the crowd to several musical performances from Wainy Days (Wain has skills both on the drums and piano), readings and an anti-chat.
Leo Allen and Callie Thorne re-enacted their performances from Episode #4: Cyrano d'Bluetooth, with Joe Lo Truglio playing Wain's part. Live, the pacing was a bit slower and the reactions a bit more animated. But still quite amusing and over-the-top NSFW. Amy Miles sang selections from an upcoming "two-part epic rock opera" that may not be epic, but certainly provided reason enough to bring Paul Rudd onstage. The crowd also got a sort-of Stella reunion when Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter arrived to perform a sketch the Michaels claim Comedy Central does not want them to produce for their upcoming series, Michael and Michael Have Issues. Though for the life of me, I could not see what could be so wrong about having "extra farts" with dinner. "Can you believe it? They don't want us to do that one," Ian Black said. "But we're going to tell them that the f---ers at 92YTribeca f---ing loved it!" Wain got most of the actors from Wainy Days, plus Thorne and Rudd, to stage a reading of what Wain claimed was his first draft of the series, written when he was 12 (but most likely last week). Let's just say that even as a middle-schooler, he was preoccupied with sex. Best offensively funny line: "That's cool. What's the point of Roe v. Wade if we're not going to use it?" The "Stella" trio also got the audience to indulge them in their own spin on Mad-Libs. And he topped off the evening with an anti-chat segment with Rudd (sample topics: How much fun must it be on a Judd Apatow set? And the cast of Friends really are friends!).
Videos after the jump:
When I heard that Pete Holmes wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having his friends and fellow stand-up comedians roast him, my first thought was that he had lost his mind. And then I attended the roast last night at the UCB, and was quickly reminded that this is a rare opportunity for comedians to unleash not only their mocking jabs at one another, but also some heartfelt tender moments. But you didn't click here looking for heartfelt or tender, did you? As Holmes himself said during the show: "I want it to be meaner!"
Leo Allen, the regular host of Monday night's Whiplash, served as the roastmaster (pictured here by Mindy Tucker) -- and despite allegedly forgetting that the roast was happening, managed to find several zingers up his sleeves. The dais was a regular who's who of New York City's current crop of up-and-coming comedians, with John Mulaney, Anthony Jeselnik and Kumail Nanjiani represented. Also on board: TJ Miller, who flew in for the event, Jared Logan, David Angelo, Nate Fernald, Seth Herzog, a tardy Julian McCullough and Holmes' girlfriend, Jamie Lee. Here are a few of the many zingers I managed to jot down for posterity:
I wondered how many of the audience members knew what they were in for (there were a dozen or two other comics scattered in the seats, too), and I knew it'd be something when one young woman, when asked by Allen if she knew who Holmes was, shouted: "Security in the basement!" Yeah, that's a Greg Johnson bit. ROASTED!
Chalk up another of the 10 original half-hours coming soon to HBO via Funny or Die, because Slovin and Allen filmed about a half hour's worth of material last week in Los Angeles, directed by Jason Woliner. Leo Allen told me that the FoD folks asked them to deliver two separate 15-minute collections of sketches and comedy bits, ostensibly so they can be matched up with segments from other comedians. Sure looks like it's shaping up to be a celebration of UCB comedians.
By the way, if you try looking for Slovin & Allen footage on YouTube, then you'll find several amateur tributes to their "Time Machine" sketch. Here is how Slovin & Allen did it for their Comedy Central Presents back in 2001:
|Slovin & Allen - Time Machine|
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).
Heh heh, heh heh, heh heh. Here's something to brighten your Friday, especially if you live in any part of America that got doused and frozen yesterday (which is many parts). Dana Foyer from 50/50 caught up with animated TV icons from the 1990s -- Beavis and Butthead -- live and in the flesh to see what they're up to now that they're in their late 30s. Face it. You've waited long enough to hear someone say they're Cornholio, haven't you. Starring Slovin & Allen, and featuring Heather Fink. Enjoy!
The UCB Theatre in New York City has a tradition of offering great stand-up comedy showcases for free late-night Mondays. For a while, Aziz Ansari hosted the showcase under the name Crash Test. Then Ansari got all Human Giant, and the showcases took a break. Leo Allen has taken over hosting duties in the 11 p.m. Monday timeslot, now known as Whiplash. This week, audiences got treated to Allen, Sean Patton, Eugene Mirman, Janeane Garofalo, John Mulaney and Hannibal Buress. For free! (Well, there is the "Bucket of Truth" to accept your comedy donations afterward, but still...) So imagine my surprise this week to see the house only half full?! You're missing out, people!
Janeane Garofalo, pictured here resting her bad back. "Mama's got a bum stem!" she told the crowd. Photo by Mindy Tucker. More photos at With Reservation.
Eugene Mirman has announced the planned lineups for his crazy-yet-true-because-it-is-Eugene-after-all comedy festival named for him, taking place Sept. 25-28 in Brooklyn. Mirman pretty much has it covered -- most of his usual and unusual suspects will appear over those four days and nights at two venues, Union Hall (where Mirman already hosts the popular Tearing the Veil of Maya showcase on Sundays with Michael Showalter in Park Slope) and The Bell House (a new joint the Union Hall folks are opening nearby).
Time Out NY playfully hinted at what a Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival might look like, with hints from Mirman himself.
Want to see who's scheduled to perform?
Why would anyone mourn a venue that's essentially a dive bar with inconsistent air conditioning, horribly horrible bathrooms, a movie screen that had a massive tear in it (until, ha-ha, this past week!) for a place that still had a sign outside boasting it was Cinema Classics, and really, all of the fun that the East Village had to offer? Then again, the independently-produced comedy community of New York City has been through this before, whether it was last year at Mo Pitkins or years ago with Luna Lounge. So there we were, after an abrupt email sent out in the wee hours yesterday morning, trying to figure out if it really would be the final hours for comedy at Rififi. Spoiler alert: It was.
While rumors flew about what made July 30 the last night for Rififi (a month-to-month lease that finally found someone willing to pay the increasingly high East Village rents seemed to be the leading speculation), the indie comedy scene hastily recast the weekly Gelmania show originally scheduled for this Wednesday night. The hosts from Thursday's Totally J/K (Joe and Noah) and Friday's Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy Show certainly would be there. So, too, would many others come to pay final respects. The Whitest Kids U Know, Andy Blitz and Todd Barry showed up as spectators. The final bill would see Joe Mande and Noah Garfinkel take over first-half hosting duties, with one final "List of Nothing" and a joke Mande had uttered earlier in the day via Facebook, that the current Rififi owner would be fleeing on Thursday and taking all of the Glade air-fresheners with him to "Molester Town." Gabe and Jenny (Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate) returned to host the second half. The final schedule will show that Adam Newman, Pete Holmes, "John McCain," Baron Vaughn, John Gemberling, Slightly Known People, Hannibal Buress, Tom McCaffrey, Chelsea Peretti, Greg Johnson and Larry Murphy, Jon Glaser, John Mulaney, Leo Allen and Eugene Mirman took part in this last Rififi effort. There was a one-woman lip-synch effort to Les Miz with Pez, or is that called Pez Miz? Mirman shouted out requests to Glaser to "do some oldies!" Mulaney even used the opportunity to try new jokes! The show began auspiciously late (?) at 9:11 p.m. and lasted past midnight, with Mirman taking the stage at 12:01 a.m., getting all rock 'n' roll by play-real trashing the stage, and Leo Allen rejoining him onstage for some last-minute banter that was odd and appropriately poignant for the occasion.
Among the quips I quoted...
"Rough week, first Bennigan's, now Rififi!" -- Pete Holmes
"I like how the owner never learned our names," Jenny Slate said. "And we had a show here for two years," Gabe Liedman replied. "Well," Slate said, "He only knew me by who I was sleeping with."
"So, Rififi's closing...ninth time's the charm, right?" -- Tom McCaffrey
"I only saw the last episode of Seinfeld, if that makes you feel any better." -- Chelsea Peretti
"I could stand up here and tell jokes that I've told 5,000 times on this stage, and I think I might." -- Greg Johnson
"Greg Johnson and I tried to save Rififi once." -- John Mulaney, adding that they discovered at a city meeting that, at that time, Rififi didn't even have a license to host live events such as comedy. Rut-ro!
"I like Rififi because you could do things that you thought were funny, but most audiences would disagree vehemently with you." -- Leo Allen
"When you leave, take a door with you!" Eugene Mirman said, then made some banging noises on the ceiling. "Oh, wait. The neighbors will complain...to the next landlord."
I have video of the final 13 minutes of the show, after the jump. You may think it a bit anti-climactic, but remember, comedians and fans didn't really have much of a chance to plan this out, even though we all knew this night would be coming sooner or later. Perhaps all of those false closing rumors of Rififi made some believe the dive would never change hands. This night proved us wrong. So now where does this scene hang out and perform now? Suggestions and thoughts encouraged in the comments. Don't be shy.
Almost missed this entirely somehow...but tonight, as in an hour from now, doors open at 7 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in NYC, there's a comedy benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society featuring Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Leo Allen, John Mulaney, Max Silvestri, Seth Herzog, Andy Blitz, Daniel Dratch, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan and more? Get out of town. No, stay in the city and head on over and donate $20 to the cause. Here's a link.
I didn't make it Bonnaroo this weekend, but thousands of other music and comedy fans did. And more than a few of them already have weighed in with their opinions of the massive Tennessee festival.
Stereogum took plenty of pics, loved Chris Rock, thought Reggie Watts was "custom built for a music festival setting." Entertainment Weekly also thought Rock fared well on the main stage "opening" for Metallica on Friday night. The AP provides a more basic overview from Friday day and night, but followed up with a more thorough account and a quote from Louis CK: "60,000 people is too many for stand-up...even if 40,000 people love you, you're still bombing really hard." David Carr of the New York Times was among those who felt Chris Rock had a more difficult time getting his jokes across to the hipster rock kids and Southerners. A reporter from Atlanta's Creative Loafing laughed a lot and enjoyed the A/C in the comedy tent, but laughed hardest at an audience member who started peeing everywhere during the show.
If you're reading this, it's a Sunday morning, and probably not the time you're thinking about seeing a comedy show. Unless you have kids. And then you may want to hear about a limited-time production called The Wizard's Lounge, which offers performances today and next Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the UCB Theatre in New York.
Billed as "part PeeWee's Playhouse and part Harry Potter," the hourlong show built for small children is the work of comedians/animators Matt Hall and Patrick Borelli, with wizards, knights, odd guests, riddles, magic orbs and more. They're helped by a cast of comedians that you'd normally see producing comedy for adults and adults who feel more like kids on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, including Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate, Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, Larry Murphy and Leo Allen. But there they were last Sunday, performing for an audience at the UCB that consisted almost entirely of small children (ages ranged from toddlers to around 8) and their parents. Last week, Gelman helped open the show and warm up the kids as Samuel Squire. Hall hosted as Dr. Carl Manteesean, Wizard's Order 3rd Class. His sidekicks included Prince Mando, who, turned into a raven, was played by the voice of Glaser, and Wrangleswift the Sleepy Knight, played by Borelli. The knight is on hand to protect the show from getting taken over by the bad, evil wizard (played last week by Allen), except his sleeping fits meant he'd need the kids to wake him up early and often. Over the course of the show, Hall used animated displays to lead the children through a series of riddles and games that alternated between silly and slightly educational. The show also would see several drop-in guests, including Lady Flufferton (Slate) to play a version of the memory game, and the Rollin' Yogi (Benjamin) to display his "magic" talents of perception.
With kids in the audience, you always/never know quite what to expect (and I know this all too well from a year I spent working as a professional clown at birthday parties and company picnics in Seattle back in 1997). Last week, the performers realized they had to watch their language even more than simply avoiding profanity when one of the children in the audience blurted out in reply: "Stupid is a bad word!" There were giggles all around. Also the kids really latched onto Glaser's raven and his sales pitch for his potential nightclub, "The Bird's Nest," and somehow picked up on it themselves as a natural callback throughout last week's show. The kids loved Buzz the bee's song last week, yet hated it the week before. And the kids did manage to hold off throwing their magic orbs until properly cued, at which point Allen's evil wizard hat made for a surprisingly easy target. All in all, the show did offer laughs for both children and adults alike. It still felt like a work in progress, though, as I mentioned earlier, most of these performers are probably more used to dealing with subversive college-age crowds than innocent and attention-starved children. They told me afterward that if all goes well this week and next, they may decide to mount the show again later this year. It'll be interesting to see how it develops as both the performers and the audience get more and more accustomed to the framework of the show.
When I met the UK duo Bishop and Douch (rhymes with couch, not the other word) in New York City on Wednesday night, they seemed pleasant enough, but told me they couldn't quite explain what they had planned for their UCB show the following night. They weren't joking.
Their sketch show was all over the place, with segues happening onstage, and comedians Dave Hill and Leo Allen and musician Andrew Thompson participating in the sketches in addition to providing stand-up buffers. In one scene, Bishop played Jesus Christ as a hapless stand-up who shared a flat with King Herod, which culminated in a musical number, which then had Bishop disrobing to become a guy complaining to Douch and his friend about problems at Disneyland, or something to that effect, with Allen dressed up as a princess and the self-knowing repetition of the line that this scene was "perhaps a little too ridiculous!" Also ridiculous, the next sketch in which Bishop and Douche try to steal candy, with Hill as an overly aggressive security officer, superheroes and theme songs. It was all so bizzare that afterward, they had Hill and Allen question the entire show onstage. Maybe a Beatles song or the Benny Hill theme would've helped ease the audience into this, Allen suggested. Another sketch had Bishop and Douche looking for their replacements and getting upended in the process.
Twas all quite whimsical. Reminded me very much of the Monty Python phrase: "And now for something completely different!"
In fact, that's what Bishop and Douch said they were going for, with Douch telling me later last night: "Every show is different." Bishop said they wrote these sketches specifically for New York City, and that when they watch the video back, they'll be surprised to see what they came up with themselves. They'll also perform Sunday at Pianos before heading back to the U.K. on Monday. And expect to see them in Edinburgh this summer.
And in fact, they didn't even rehearse any of it properly beforehand. So Leo Allen and Dave Hill walked into last night's show pretty blind (they did great, considering). "A sketch show with no rehearsal -- I haven't done that in a while!" Allen told me. Hill, I thought, had it even tougher, considering he was hosting his own talk show at the UCB immediately afterward.
The Academy Awards happened last night and much comedy ensued. Or not exactly. But Kambri Crews was nice enough to throw a viewing party at Comix for the night, with her hubby Christian Finnegan hosting. Finnegan noted that the Academy Awards writing staff reached out to several comedians, asking them to submit potential jokes for host Jon Stewart to use in his monologue or later during the ceremony. Here, he reads from a few of his suggestions:
Leo Allen made an appearance just before the Oscars got rolling, but Allen didn't stay long after Jon Stewart's monologue, long enough to see none of his jokes got selected but not long enough to see the cameras cut to Allen's comedy partner, Eric Slovin, who had a choice seat behind Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard. How'd he get that seat? As the New York Times might report, anonymous aides thought Slovin's relationship with Best Supporting Actress nominee Amy Ryan might be appropriate. Todd Barry stuck around for the entire ceremony, thought Stewart did a good hosting job, and thoughtfully offered to let me finish his order of Chicken Tender is the Night. That's right. Kambri Crews and the Comix crew had a special menu with new movie names. Among the nods to 2008 nominees: I Eat Your Flank Steak, Banana Cake Blanchett, Juno & Tonic, There Will Be Bloody Marys, No Cosmo For Old Men.
Stewart did well enough, I suppose. A few lame jokes (Harrison Ford, a car dealership?). A few really solid ones -- really enjoyed the line about the Vanity Fair post-Oscar bash. "If you really wanted to show respect for the writers, you could try inviting a few of them to the Vanity Fair Oscar party," or something to that effect. I could look it up for the verbatim (and may well do that). Stewart's nicest touch of the night: Bringing the co-winner for Best Original Song from Once back onstage after a commercial break to let her give her acceptance speech, and then delivering a speech that was worth it.
By the way, here's a fun fact, at least for me and the Oscars: My tenure at the New York Daily News may have been brief, but it did allow me the opportunity to cover the "red carpet" (actually, indoors and hardwood floors) for the New York Film Festival screening of No Country For Old Men, since all of the gossips were out of town or off the clock that night. Which meant I got a few minutes with Javier Bardem, the Coen brothers, Josh Brolin and Kelly MacDonald. All very nice. The Coens really didn't want to talk (surprise!), even when I asked them about the film they were currently shooting in my neighborhood with George Clooney and Brad Pitt.
Leo Allen taped his Comedy Central Presents special with the same NYC audience as Eugene Mirman (CCP taped in groups of two, two groups each night in August; in this case, Allen went first, followed by Mirman). Some pairings seemed more random than others, so audience members might've arrived really wanting to see one stand-up, not so much the other. That wasn't the case with Allen and Mirman. They often perform on bills together and generally attract the same fans. So this packed crowd was hyped up to see their guys get major TV time. Among the fans I spotted watching along were fellow performers Brian Posehn, Todd Barry, Dave Hill, AD Miles and Sarah Vowell.
But back to Leo Allen. Wait, try him on MySpace or Facebook, because he's there more recently -- in fact, I just received a Facebook event invitation to watch his CCP tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST. No worries. I've seen it already in person. And I can tell you to be on the lookout to see how Comedy Central bleeps him (he did drop a couple of profanities) or whether they edit around that. He makes use of the dramatic backdrop for his closing bit (hint: It's about being ready for any conversation). Even from the balcony, it was funny.
Here is a brief interview with Comedy Central in which Leo Allen describes New York City and its underground comedy scene.
After the jump, the opening of his CCP special!
In my 36 years on the planet Earth, not to mention my many years inhabiting other celestial bodies and spirits, I've seen plenty of great comedy shows, hundreds more live comedy shows that provided more than a few laughs, and some clunkers. Never have I laughed so hard, so often, and wanted to see a performer again, then I have last night watching and listening to Emo Philips at Comix in New York City.
Of course, Emo and I go way back (not that he knew this) more than two decades, to the moment when a cassette tape of "E=MO2" fell into my possession. I don't know when it happened. The cassette's liner notes say that he recorded that set live at Carolines in NYC and released it to the world at large in 1985. At some point, in a series of coincidences and events reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings, this one comedy cassette to rule them all arrived in my hands, and then when I acquired a driver's license and a car in 1987, into my car's cassette deck with auto-reverse, wherein it made me laugh on a continuous basis for the better part of a year. One of those formative teenage experience deals that finds a spot in your long-term memory banks, so 20 years later, when your life path finally crosses Emo's, you say there is nowhere else you're going to be on Friday night at 10:45 p.m. but sitting inside Comix, barely paying attention to the two opening acts of stand-up because the expectation is building up inside you, much as it did in October 2004 when you saw the Boston Red Sox do something your grandfather and father had never seen them do and you're thinking, is this really possible? It is. It was.
And yet. Emo Philips, older, grayer, wiser, did not disappoint in the slightest. The same lilting voice, the same bouncy mannerisms, and strikingly, it all seemed to become more magical on this aged Emo. It just fit. With Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones, you're amazed at how they maintain the same energy and precision after all these years, but at the same time, when they play a new song, you're like, eh, that's nice and all but bring us another nostalgic hit, Mick and Keith. With Emo, it's all new. Sure, he says, "you guys are really cheering me up" (which when I used to perform stand-up, I'd find myself saying at some point in my set as my own Emo tribute) and closed his hourlong set with a request, but he has jokes about the 2008 presidential candidates, about everything, really. It's not just his precision as a writer of jokes, but also his mastery of timing and delivery that has you howling in approval.
I tried in vain to write down some of them for you, but often found my pen hand so jittery from the rest of my body laughing to get it down right. Here are but a few I managed to scribble...please keep in mind, that reading them doesn't do them the same justice as hearing and seeing Emo deliver them...
A conversation with a Mormon friend about drinking coffee. Emo: "Drinking a cup of coffee a day gives you many benefits. He said, 'Name one, mwuah mwuah mwuah.' Well, for one thing, it keeps you from being Mormon."
On coming back to NYC, where he once lived: "I miss New York so much sometimes I fill my humidifier with urine."
On President Bush: "He outlawed human cloning. Now we'll never find out how many of him it takes to screw in a light bulb."
On living in Los Angeles: "We have a lot more homeless people there, because the weather doesn't kill them off."
On his aging: "I feel sorry, because I let my hair go gray...for a movie...I wanted to get into cheaper."
On alcoholics drinking nonalcoholic beer: "I don't get it. If you're a pedophile, they don't give you a midget in a Cub Scout's uniform."
And this one: "Cell phones are like a dog's genitals. You don't have to shout into them."
In a word: Riveting! You must see Emo Philips perform live. He's at Comix again tonight, the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., on Feb. 2, the Punchline in San Francisco from Feb. 6-9. More tour dates located on Emo's site.
Eugene Mirman and Leo Allen went to Emo's early show last night and got to hang with him backstage for a while between shows. Jealous! I spotted comedian Shane Webb in the audience at the late show. The Onion's Marianne Ways had seen the first show and was glowing even more when I offered her my extra ticket, and still glowing after a repeat viewing. I stood awestruck with a face in a permasmile, like a 4-year-old who just saw Santa for the first time. Ventriloquist Carla Rhodes said she had a huge crush on Emo. I shot a video of Marianne and Carla meeting and posing with Emo, which is funny just because. Waiting my turn, I still found myself awestruck. Direct evidence: Holding that E=MO2 cassette in my left hand, I never managed to utter the appropriate words before Emo offered, "Do you want me to sign that for you?" My only reply: "Uh huh." It was like the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets his chance at Santa to ask for the Red Ryder BB Gun, only to freeze when the moment arrived. Emo and I sat down and I mumbled something about how I used to perform stand-up and now write about it as a journalist and something something how it's all because of this cassette making me laugh so hard 20 years ago, and Emo was so nice and sincere. Even if he declined Carla's offer to come out with his for banana cream pie (and I think she actually meant pie, not a euphemism) because he was losing his voice. He didn't need worry keeping up the Emo voice. About an hour later, I realized I got his autograph but not an actual photo of me with him. Ack. Next time. Next time.
A short video. "We're going to make an Emo sandwich." "OK, snap it!"
What happens when you look over your handwritten notes a year later? Let's find out as we jog our memories on the 2007 Del Close Marathon, held over the last weekend in July...
Satellites: Oh, this was a fun way to start my Del Close Marathon in 2007, as Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis got themselves all excited about going to another Dave Matthews Band concert. They got nostalgic (Riggle claimed this would be his 217th DMB concert experience), interacted with fans (as in, audience members) and Sudeikis proved his chops playing multiple parts in this half-hour improvised set, including a drug dealer in Detroit and a driver to a show in Miami.
Bro'in Out: With Leo Allen and Seth Morris co-hosting, and guests played by Matt Walsh, Ed Helms, and Matt Besser, among others, with Besser playing the role of MySpace's founder, Tom. "A lot of people don't want to be friends based on first impressions of their voice," said Besser as Tom, who continued to hold the MySpace Tom pose throughout the show. "I have a deformed spine that doesn't allow me to face forward."
Chuckle Sandwich: This Chicago-based quartet opened with a song, and showed why T.J. Miller would soon go on to bigger things. Micah Sherman also showed a bunch of energy at this midnight show.
The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever: My notes on this are messy, and as I recall, this show was messy, too, and Horatio Sanz was in it. I wrote immediately after this that the UCB theater really cleared out afterward, which made things tough on the show that followed, the low-energy Bastards Inc. Directors Commentary LIVE came next and took on "Dirty Dancing," with players taking on roles as cast and crew from this 1980s movie, and the show completely lost control about halfway through as the players went to greater lengths to one-up each other in their risque comments.
I returned on Saturday afternoon in time to see I Eat Pandas earn a standing ovation at 5:30 p.m. My $20 wristband got me into most shows, but it'd take another $10 to get me a guaranteed seat over at the FIT for the Daily Show/Colbert Report Improv Jam (only about 20 people from the stand-by line got in) as Riggle, John Oliver, Ed Helms and several Colbert writers, including Laura Krafft, took audience suggestions. The first one? Iraq?! "I should probably jump into this one," Riggle said. "Because you're a Marine," another player said. "Everything about Iraq is hilarious," offered Helms. "That guy (pointing to the audience member) should be forced to do 10 minutes on Iraq right now." But they ran with the suggestion and got many laughs. They also played off of a military group that attended a Chicago improv show, and imagined a group of St. Olaf and Carleton College students facing off at the town's only bar.
Arrived back at the UCB to see the end of Ian Roberts' Lazy Man show, followed by the iO Chicago team of Washington Generals, who seemed to be led, at least on this night, by a guy I'd seen earlier in Chuckle Sandwich. According to Jim came next, and no, not about the ABC-TV sitcom with Jim Belushi, but rather Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, and Matt Walsh played Gary Sheffield, and I had to write how one woman in the audience remarked, "It's so ridiculous." Yes, and in improv, ridiculous is usually a good thing. They stopped the show seven minutes early for a Q&A with the audience which just got weirder. Pass the Mic was billed as improvised stand-up, and it seemed more like improvised monologues. As Leo Allen noted at one point, "For anyone onstage, your constant writing is horrible." The show turned out to be a bit of a misnomer, as each player told true and funny stories from his or her childhood, building off of the previous player's story. No one even used the actual audience suggestion of hurdles, by the way. BirdDog, from Chicago, seemed more style than substance, although they also seemed to adhere more to the style of Del Close in doing so, which made it apt. And they did make good use of the mic for a talent show. C,C,+C Improv Factory drew consistently big laughs with quick quips. Cracked Out (Jon Daly and Brett Gelman) got the place more than standing room only and laughing. "There's no booing in improv hip-hop!" Derrick smartly recognized the funny nature of quick flashbacks. Match Game 76 had so many "celebs" onstage, including Paul Scheer as the late Gene Rayburn, Jack McBrayer, Ed Helms (as Mark Spitz), and so many others, that it was hard for anyone to follow -- just sit back and watch the madness unfold. If you're going to follow Match Game, getting the audience's attention with Mexican wrestling masks and attitude might just have done the trick for Senor Bueno. Pajama Jammy Jam spun off from Houseparty with one of the guys from Derrick playing Play from Kid and Play. Oh, Hello, led by John Mulaney, played up the shtick of Upper West Siders trying improv. Drunken Sonic Assault, hosted by Walsh and Besser, hit two out of three targets in their name. A weird Thanksgiving dinner played out next onstage, with Jackie Clarke, Riggle, Rob Huebel, Viking brothers, ghosts and a guy with his balls out named Balls Larry. The program tells me this show was called 2 Gays and a Lez with a Baseball Cap. My Left Fuck You was four guys with laptops using voice software. At 4:15 a.m. on a Sunday. Scheer re-emerged as Darth Vader for Star Wars Bounty Hunter Prov. Things got too weird for words in the next two early morning shows, Nicolas Cage Match and Dane Cookin It Up, with several comedians impersonating the two actors. It's no wonder my notes ended here.