As ESPN has been rolling out individual city sites for its online sports empire, the network has introduced specialty programming, and in ESPN New York, that includes weekly doses of comedy thanks to "The Pretty Good Sports Show."
It's hosted by New York City comedians Adam Lustick (Harvard Sailing Team, Snakes) and Matt Fisher (Sidecar, The Law Firm). That's them pictured right here. On the right. You can see them in their sketch and improv groups at places such as The PIT, the UCB Theatre and other places. Other places. I'm clearly reporting like a guy who knows it's Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend.
Their most recent new new thing is a promotional campaign to get even the most casual tennis fans excited about the U.S. Open, which opened play earlier this week at Flushing Meadows. The 7 train goes there. Roll the clip!
New episodes debut online each Wednesday. I chatted with head writer and director Craig Rowin (himself a UCB performer with The Law Firm and the UCB TourCo) about the program. Reading is fundamental, so let's get to rif'ing.
How did the show come about? Did ESPN come to you guys, or did you pitch them? And what's the turnaround like? "We write the episodes every Monday, shoot them Tuesday and they go up Wednesday. The writers are me, Caitlin Tegart, Matt Fisher and Adam Lustick. It came about because these two great producers at ESPN wanted to do a show sort of like Best Week Ever from sports and it evolved over time into the Pretty Good Sports Show. The first time I heard about the project was last September, we shot some pilots in January, and it finally went into action this July."
I see MC Hammer is in this week's episode. Do you have any other fun anecdotes to share so far? "Some fun anecdotes: We wrote a rap for Ron Artest about the Mets, recorded it with us. But the best part was a guy in his crew had a necklace with a three dimensional Super Mario made of rubies and jewels."
"We shot a bit at the NBA Rookie Basketball Card Photo Shoot, and we challenged Jeremy Lin, the newest player for the Golden State Warriors to horse...and Adam Lustick beat him. Adam nailed a half-court shot and a backwards shot from the free-throw line. It didn't make the episode, but it made Adam's heart happy."
Here is this week's full episode, featuring MC Hammer as an WNBA analyst.
You can see a lot of the episodes on the PGSS YouTube channel. And here is an early favorite of mine, from baseball's All-Star break, featuring Will Hines and Leslie Meisel as a couple of Mets fans preparing for the eventual second-half collapse. Good to know that in their fictional marriage, Will takes Leslie's last name. Ha! Also, this clip takes me back to my youth as a long-suffering-but-no-longer-suffering Red Sox fan. Roll it!
Warning: The show "Love Can Suck a Dick...and So Can I," does not feature any actual acts of fellatio. Double warning: Leslie Meisel and Megan Neuringer will make you double over with laughter as they rewrite whatever notions you have of a show that revolves around heartbroken woman.
The show is a true collaboration, with Neuringer writing and directing (and co-starring as the manifestation of Meisel's "broken heart") and Meisel performing a combination of great character work and inspired crowd work. Despite centering on heartbreak and opening on a scene that even Debbie Downer couldn't top (or bottom, as it were), Meisel's whimpering mess goes meta based on a suggestion from her heart to write a one-woman show, which becomes a hit, and fast-forwards more than 3,000 shows to what the audience gets to see. Roll a clip!
As Wendy, who is deaf and has a thing for the ladies, and as Carla, a Staten Island woman who is breaking it down, Meisel shines in improvising with unsuspecting audience members. Fun facts: She learned ASL to commit to Wendy's character, and as Carla, she shows us that any man can sit in as the "perfect man."
I don't want to spoil it all, but if you'd like to see two woman with great working chemistry, who also are willing to eat chow mein onstage for the sake of comedy, and also quote some great movie lines, then you're in for a treat.
"Love Can Suck a Dick...and So Can I" continues its run at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC through September. At the Sept. 1 show, Neuringer and Meisel will be donating $1 to Gilda's Club NYC for every person in attendance, with Paige Davis (Trading Spaces, Chicago) matching the amount.
Don't miss it!