Hope everybody out there enjoyed their Thanksgiving! I know I did, and here's a bit of photographic evidence courtesy of Mindy Tucker, as we do our own take on a famous TV poster, er, I mean religious painting...
Top row: Me, Jill Anders, Sharon M. Spell, Corey Pandolph, Sean Crespo, Sean Canady; Bottom row: Kristen MacIntire Pandolph, Kelley Robertson Gorden, Rob Gorden, Carol Hartsell, Lizz Winstead, Joe Garden, Barry Lank, Dan Wilbur, Anita Serwacki and David Murrell
Click on it to make it bigger.
What you didn't see: This is a panaromic of shots by Tucker, in which we held our poses while she moved alongside the other side of the dinner table. Also, our hosts (Drink at Work's Sean Crespo and Carol Hartsell) decorated the area above the table with a leafy display -- only two things even give that away in the photo. And no, we didn't study "The Last Supper" image very long before providing our own interpretation thereof. Which explains my lack of accuracy. Otherwise great job, everybody! The Apiary called it the Ultimate NYC Thanksgiving Photo. Thanks!
I was more than tempted to write something whiny and petulant about the ECNY Awards, but then I saw Marc Maron in a Twitter "fight" today with one of his followers about the principle of paying for art (you should definitely pay for art, whether it's a podcast, a creative performance, or this very Website), and then I saw that Funny or Die had filmed a public service video with Heidi Montag (so they obviously are hard up for cash, because why, why, why), and then I saw even more people were following and media outlets were interviewing a 19-year-old that Conan O'Brien followed for no particular reason whatsoever on Twitter, so really, maybe this is just a lost cause. Anyhow. When I saw Gabe Delahaye a couple of weeks ago, I told him that his Videogum and its mighty minions would beat me handily for "Best Website," so I called it. Still. No matter how silly you think any awards are, when they announce them live and decide to nominate you, there's a moment right before the announcement when you get nervous, and moments afterward where they've announced someone else's name when you have to remind yourself that it's just a silly award. I'd much rather have a job that pays my rent and offers me health insurance, vacation and sick days. So if you have one of those, please consider hiring me? Thanks!
In the meantime, here are your 6th annual ECNY Awards winners...
Best Improv Group: I Eat Pandas
Best One Person Show: Supernormal – Tom Shillue
Best Website: Videogum.com
Best Host: Gabe Liedman, Jenny Slate and Max Silvestri
Best Book: Rejected: Tales of the Failed, Dumped and Canceled – Jon Friedman
Best Sketch Comedy Group: Murderfist
Best Technician: Carol Hartsell
Best Variety Show: Risk! True Tales Boldly Told
Outstanding Achievement in Postcard or Flyer Design: Fag Life: A Conversation with Fred Phelps – Mindy Tucker
Best Short Comedic Film: Everyone Poops Trailer – Landline TV
Emerging Comic Award: Myq Kaplan
Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Tweeting: @Lizzwinstead
Best Musical Comedy Act (Group or Solo): Snakes
Best Female Standup Comedian: Morgan Murphy
Best Male Standup Comedian: Hannibal Buress
I have plenty of other thoughts about the ECNY Awards, and comedy awards in general, but I'll save those for another time and place.
From the mind of Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, and her friends, comes this parody of America's first and only six-hour morning "news" show, Wake Up World. They had been doing this as a live show regularly in NYC since 2007 under the umbrella title of Shoot The Messenger. As a television pilot, however, we go behind-the-scenes of the fictional news network, with hosts Hope Jean Paul (Winstead) and Davis Miles (Baron Vaughn), and featuring, among others: Livia Scott, Sean Crespo, Carol Hartsell and Jeff Kreisler. Welcome to America's worst news network. No, it's not the one you're thinking of. This one is fictional. Maybe. Roll the clips (in four parts)!
The Bentzen Ball opened its inaugural comedy festival in our nation's capital last night, and The Comic's Comic was there for what seemed like a flash (because I was only there for about as many hours as I actually spent on the bus back and forth between NYC and DC from yesterday afternoon to this morning). But there I was in the shadows alongside Kyle Kinane, enjoying Rory Scovel's "country bumpkin" act during the Patton Oswalt and Friends show that served as the ball's opening gala at DC's Lincoln Theatre. Did I say country bumpkin? Yes, I did.
I'm fairly sure few people in the audience knew what kind of a show they were getting from Scovel, who joked about needing to smoke pot to enjoy this summer's rash of 3D animated movies, about fulfilling the WWJD motto, and at one point, telling the audience: "This is like Christmas, but I'm eating it!" Oswalt may have been the big draw for opening night -- and certainly did his part closing with a 50-minute set that touched upon routines from his latest CD/DVD, as well as a few memories about his start in stand-up in D.C. clubs, plus a rant about the Christmas song, "Christmas Shoes." He also encouraged the crowd to check out many of the not-so "famous" comedians performing at this weekend's fest. Not that they had to go very far, for they got treated to sets from Kinane (he received prolonged spontaneous applause after his performance, which closed with an adventure in a Chicago public bathroom -- so no need for him to be consoled by one of the festival's organizers, Andy Wood, afterward (as pictured!)), Ian Edwards (who provoked them into rethinking their attitudes on race and sex, and even made them gasp during his closer), and sets by the more famous acts of Todd Barry and Mary Lynn Rasjkub, and host/curator Tig Notaro. For a full set of photos from last night, check out Dakota Fine's full collection courtesy of fest organizer Brightest Young Things.
I also checked out the late show at the Bohemian Caverns, which has a basement set up to look like a cave. Nice touch? Maybe, but the stage lighting was a bit off, and the upstairs had turned into a dance club, factors that made it tough for many of the performers Thursday night -- although Seth Herzog and Morgan Murphy both seemed to get the crowd's attention in a good way. The local comedians, meanwhile, were showcasing over at HR 57, and there was an open mic advertised at Ben's Chili Bowl, which I don't remember seeing when Barry, Herzog, Reggie Watts and I went over there to sample the local institution's Chili Half-Smoke (online, the menu says it's named after Bill Cosby!).
Oh, did I mention that the Question Mark Suit Guy (informercial guy Matthew Lesko) was there, opening the festivities with a horrible comedy sketch that he and DC Councilman Jim Graham planned out? You can see that and more in this short highlight reel I put together from my brief sojourn to DC:
The Daily Show is not the only faux news team in the Twin Cities this week for the 2008 Republican National Convention. Lizz Winstead brought her Shoot the Messenger crew from New York City to Minnesota, where they're in the middle of a three-night run at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis (final show tonight at 7 p.m.). The StarTribune talked to Winstead about the field trip -- we learn her brother is the Republican mayor of nearby Bloomington -- and here, we can see an excerpt from their first night's show on Tuesday, which, for those of you who need reminding, is built around "Wake Up World with Hope and Davis," the nation's only six-hour morning program hosted by Hope Jean Paul (Winstead) and Davis Miles (Baron Vaughn):
The 92nd Street Y once again brings comedy to the Upper East Side as only the 92Y does it, announcing a slate of upcoming programming for the fall, including:
Sept. 9: Warren Adler and Stewie Stone on the influence of the Borscht Belt comedians on mainstream American humor
Sept. 15: Alan Zweibel talks with Susie Essman
Sept. 24: Alec Baldwin talks with Janet Maslin
Sept. 28: Lisa Lampanelli talks with Eddy Friedfeld
Oct. 5: A tribute to George Carlin, featuring Whoopi Goldberg, special guests
Oct. 22: Countdown to Election 2008, with Andy Borowitz, Joy Behar, Jeffrey Toobin
Nov. 5: We Have a Winner, with Lizz Winstead and others (New York Comedy Festival)
Nov. 12: Zach Galifianakis (92Y Tribeca)
Dec. 7: Make Em Laugh, the funny business of America, with Michael Kantor, Laurence Maslon
If you haven't seen Lizz Winstead's latest creation, then you're missing out. Winstead, who co-created The Daily Show and later went on to Air America Radio, now has her sights set on skewering morning TV. Her Monday night show, Shoot the Messenger, recently moved into larger digs at The Green Room at 45 Bleecker. In the new venue, the set design and everything else feels much more like an actual morning TV program (even if it's not actually six hours, as advertised in the tagline for "Wake Up World with Hope and Davis," TV's only six-hour morning 'infonewsment' show). There are the requisite sofa, chair and coffee table. A separate news desk.
Benari Poulten plays the frat-tastic energetic audience warm-up guy. Baron Vaughn as Davis Miles plays affable co-host to Winstead's ridiculous Hope Jean Paul. Each week typically features a taped interview segment with self-help author, "Life Expert" Dana Levan (Carol Hartsell). A big screen behind the stage plays these pre-taped bits, new toons, and last week offered a well-executed debate between other 24/7 network anchors (played by Lucas Held and Sean Crespo) with Vaughn moderating it live.
Here is a segment from last Monday:
And here is a toon they produced about the Democratic horse race:
It's unlike The Daily Show, which makes direct jokes about actual news and newsgatherers, nor is it like The Onion News Network, which is all about fake news. No. Shoot The Messenger aims somewhere in between, poking fun at the actual ridiculousness of morning TV news. After each week's 45-minute production, there's an intermission, after which Winstead returns to the stage as herself to talk about what they're up to, then interviews a special guest. Last week, she talked with Andy Borowitz about the 2008 campaign. Borowitz complimented Winstead on creating "a fully realized character" as well as the technology behind the production.
Tonight's Shoot The Messenger won't be the usual production, however. Instead, Vaughn and Darbi Worley will host a show centered on the several comedians who contribute to the program, with video highlights of their contributions followed by their stand-up. On the bill: Jeff Kreisler, Sean Crespo, Lucas Held, Baron Vaughn, Carol Hartsell and Jamie Kilstein.