I certainly wouldn't consider myself a successful alcoholic. But who could, really? And yet, that's the title of the 25-minute short film written by TJ Miller and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2010. It's finally online in its entirety for you to enjoy. Certainly Not Safe For Work. Miller and Lizzy Caplan star in Successful Alcoholics, with featured roles for Nick Thune, Matt Braunger, Nick Kroll and Whitney Cummings.
What do you get if you're the first stand-up comedian to perform on a late-night TV show in 2011? Do you win a prize? If you're Matt Braunger, then you win this clip of your performance last night on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Roll it!
The only thing people love making more than year-end list are decade-end lists, and some of them seem as much about generating page-views as they are about subjectively ranking things that should not be ranked. That's rank! So where are my lists? I've got something else up my sleeves for this December, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you the iTunes list of their choices of the 20 best comedy discs from 2009, along with my thoughts on said list.
For one thing, it's really across the board. Any list that puts Brent Weinbach side-by-side with Katt Williams is looking to appeal to all sorts. I'm not exactly sure I agree with everything on here, but then again, I haven't quite listened to all of them just yet -- there are stacks of CDs and DVDs in my apartment, and I hope to get through them all by year's end and share my own thoughts on them with you. I have listened to and reviewed eight of the iTunes 20; most of the rest are waiting in my queue, and a few I don't even have my hands on just yet? My loss or yours? Also, iTunes missed some great ones from the past year. No John Mulaney? I haven't heard Paul F. Tompkins new disc yet, but would presume it's worthy. And no ladies on the list? Not even Maria Bamford? Harumph. Here, then, are the iTunes choices from the year in comedy -- I'm not sure if they have a ranking order from iTunes, so I'll list them alphabetically:
When Comedy Central announced its special "Hot List" showcase of new talented comedians, I could not say the list surprised me. Many of these people got multiple mentions here at The Comic's Comic in the past year, and when I thought about Kumail Nanjiani's achievements in the past year, even I was duly impressed with what he's been able to accomplish since moving to New York City from Chicago. So I talked to him briefly outside of Comix during the club's holiday party this week (holiday parties already!) and asked him to put it into some perspective -- Letterman, Kimmel, Live at Gotham, Michael and Michael Have Issues, The Colbert Report, and a development deal with NBC. Where does he go from here? Roll the clip! (Warning: Includes improvised absurdity from Eugene Mirman, who actually fits into Kumail's NYC story, as well as a joke at John Mayer's expense, and a cameo by Nanjiani's newlywed wife, Emily) Roll it!
Of course, Nanjiani isn't the only one on Comedy Central's Hot List special, which airs on Sunday, Dec. 6. Here's a clip featuring all nine -- Anthony Jeselnik, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, Matt Braunger, Jon Lajoie, Whitney Cummings, TJ Miller, Donald Glover and Nanjiani -- describing why they made the cut. Roll it!
Hey there, comedy fans! Would you like to see Owen Benjamin and Matt Braunger perform for free this weekend (Oct. 2-3, 2009) at Comix comedy club in New York City? Well, then, have I got a deal for you. The first four people to email me at thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com will get four FREE tickets to see one of their shows on Friday or Saturday night. Don't worry, though. The rest of you can still see them perform this weekend and get a $5 discount on tickets if you enter the code TCC (for The Comic's Comic) when you buy your tickets online. Note: You'll still need to buy two items in the showroom, either way. But you like to eat and drink, right? Right. Alrighty then! Watch this video, and know that in a matter of minutes, I'll have an exclusive interview to share with you with Mr. Owen Benjamin...roll it!
In Matt Braunger's world, his family would more easily believe he were a ninja, a werewolf, even a unicorn hunter "for their candy-like meat" than think he (or anyone really) could earn a living in comedy. Even after his yearlong stint on MADtv. Hopefully, Braunger's new CD, "Soak Up the Night," will be the proof they need -- despite the fact that the Comedy Central Records release is digital-only. We don't need a physical disc as evidence (although note to Braunger's relatives: I actually do have one if you want to look at it). Truth be told, I find it's better to see his stand-up comedy to believe him than to listen to him, so in telling you about his CD, I will be making use of visual aids.
For some reason, this season of American Idol has been the first in many years that's failing to hold my attention. Don't get me wrong, I still know enough to know that Megan changed her last name and looked purty the other night, and that there's a teen finalist who looks like someone I know, and that the TV doesn't know what to do with the blind guy, that there's a guy who's so fierce he's like Constantine and Clay made a supergay baby, there's seriously someone named "Lil," there's a widow who everyone already thinks has won and that Anoop, Anoop, Anoop is on fire. But even with a new judge that I like (Team Kara) and perhaps despite that new judge's opening sequence, it all seems a little tired. Are they trying too hard this year? How would I know? What I do know, however, is that the folks over at Funny or Die have constructed a far more entertaining parallel universe called American Contestant. And in episode three, Matt Braunger tells Jon Daly he's ready for his audition, and yet, somehow, judges Bob Odenkirk, Natasha Leggero and company are not having it. And I want more of this. Thank you.
The credits say Eric Appel directs, with appearances also by Brandon Johnson, Angela Trimbur, John Bowie. Background: Tiffany Haddish auditioned in episode one.
Before I get to my review of Cheech & Chong: Roasted, the TV show that'll air on TBS at 10 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30 -- and the TV taping over the weekend at Caesars Palace was a mess from start to finish thanks to production snafus, delays, and some awful attempts at roasting -- let's meet our roast victims, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, the pioneering stoner comics of the 1970s who have reunited after many years apart.
So yes, they're happy to be together again and touring with a live show. But what about the roast, which is sure to test the TBS editing crew?
Things I learned from watching the TV taping of Cheech & Chong: Roasted...
We haven't forgotten about MADtv, which also aired its third new episode of the season on Saturday night, and really put a focus on new cast members Eric Price and Matt Braunger, having them open the show as guys wanting to live like Mad Men, which was fun and would have been more meta-fun if Crista Flanagan had reprised her actual Mad Men secretarial character!
Coincidentally, on the same night SNL made repeated jokes about Facebook, MADtv had the social networking site in its sights, with Braunger playing an assistant to John McCain (Bobby Lee) trying to help him learn Facebook in a recurring sketch. Braunger also got his own segment portraying John Mayer, while Price got additional face time in a recurring sketch as a reporter covering the launch of a new iPhone, a shot at Tim Gunn, and played host of "Albania's Got Talent." Also of note: Nicole Parker turned in more than passable interpretations of Dina Lohan, Kathy Griffin, Sharon Osbourne and Sarah Palin, in the latter character taking questions from the audience. Though it seems as though this show arrived late to the Palin parody sweepstakes. And oddly, at the end of the show, only six cast members were on hand to wave goodbyes?! Hmmm. The episode is not yet up on Hulu. Further hmmmm.
Time for the new fall season of TV sketch comedy, and while you may have heard that swimmer Michael Phelps is hosting Saturday Night Live, let me also remind you that MADtv continues to operate over on the FOX television network. They have three new cast members this fall, and help you get to know these folks -- Matt Braunger, Erica Ash and Eric Price -- with video vignettes.
Hey comedy fans, before you start weekends, know that Comedy Central has a new Live at Gotham to share with you tonight at 10 p.m. (also 3 a.m.), with host Daniel Tosh, Matt Braunger, Hannibal Buress, Owen Benjamin, Mary Mack, Nigel Lawrence and Adam Devine. The network also replays Tosh's one-hour special beforehand at 9 p.m. This taping was the spring finale, and all of the lighting equipment was so fried that it forced Braunger to have to retell his opening bit several times. Here is a preview clip from him, with more videos to come from everyone after the show airs. Enjoy!
Want to know how MADtv continues to thrive and survive for a 14th season, coming this fall on FOX? They keep shuffling the cast deck. That's one way they do it. Sure, Michael McDonald has been on for 10 years, and Bobby Lee for seven, but many more are in and out in less than three seasons. Anjelah Johnson lasted only a few months last season before heading back to the club circuit. The year before, Lisa Donovan was the big story as she got cast straight from YouTube, only to disappear (from TV, at least) by season's end. She's still a hit on YouTube. Her new thing is offering sexy "collab-characters" to pump up your own YouTube video stats.
So there's always fresh young talent to tune in and see. We already know (thanks to The Bastion) that MADtv has hired stand-up comedian Matt Braunger -- just a year ago, he was a New Face in Montreal! -- as well as actor/comedian Eric Price to suit up this summer. Who else is joining the show?
The inaugural Great American Comedy Festival got under way last night with an amateur stand-up contest in Norfolk, Neb., hometown to the late Johnny Carson. Eddie Brill, David Letterman's comedy guy, is coordinating the effort, and we all know how Letterman felt about his late-night TV mentor. Robert Klein is set to perform Saturday night along with Brill and the winner of the following...
There's also a competition featuring 24 comics from around the country, with $5,000 going to the winner. Participating: Jesse Joyce, Vince Maranto, Micah Sherman, Matt Braunger, Roy Wood Jr., Erin Jackson, Joe DeRosa, Chuck Bartell, Chris Coccia, Deacon Gray, Robert Mac, Jamie Lissow, David Powell, Paul Varghese, Drake Witham, Myq Kaplan, Joe Klocek, Shane Mauss, Tapan Trivedi, Jim McDonald, Dan Boulger, Marianne Sierk, James Smith and Darryl Lenox. They'll be split into four groups, with two of each six advancing to the finals, all needing to deliver TV-friendly sets. Each night also features a late show hosted by David Reinitz.
The 2008 season of Comedy Central's Live at Gotham debuts the Friday after Memorial Day. But why wait that long for some deep dish insider exclusive scuttlebutt? Especially when we got plenty of bits of tid to share just from swinging by the tapings on Saturday and Sunday at Gotham Comedy Club.
Let's get to it! First off, don't be surprised if many of the guys have a similar look. It's not a new fashion trend in stand-up comedy for the summer/fall runways -- it's a Comedy Central/Levity edict: No red, no patterns, no logos. Also, we learned that TV's standards and practices (read: the censors!) sometimes can actually make your jokes funnier. Matt McCarthy had to change one of his lines from "choke her to death" to "murder her to death" (see? funnier, right?) so it wouldn't sound as though he were endorsing domestic abuse. Baron Vaughn said he couldn't say "KKK.com" in a joke, but realized he didn't need to spell out the Web site for the joke to work. Vaughn noted that Patton Oswalt got a new six minutes out of one joke he had to change years ago for Comedy Central.
Vince Averill was more than just happy to be there. He only got the gig on Wednesday after another comedian couldn't fulfill his or her duties. From first alternate to TV credit. Congrats, Vince.
Lucas Molandes had a funny cover line when the audience didn't know how to react to his dreamcatcher joke: "Sorry I blew your minds with awesome!"
Joe List uses nervousness in his act, so even if he was nervous about his first TV taping, it wouldn't show, would it? Let's ask him, after he's done.
Sunday's final two show tapings had plenty of odd incidents, starting from the top when early show host D.L. Hughley walked offstage with the mic, leaving Paul Ogata wondering what to do. Fortunately, Ogata had a relevant bit at the ready and raring to go. Myq Kaplan blew plenty of minds with his awesomeness, earning multiple applause breaks and the attention of everyone downstairs in the lounge/green room. Very poised. Kaplan told me he had an even better set last week at a showcase for Eddie Brill -- if so, man, Kaplan is on his game. And he didn't let the cold/flu get in the way of delivering a shining performance that'll certainly get him industry attention. Hughley then got Liz Miele's name wrong even though they had the pronounciation in the teleprompter (they should clean that up later, right?) but she seemed unfazed. Shane Mauss, watching his fellow Bostonian Kaplan tear it up, announced he'd go up and get 12 applause breaks. He just might've done it, too. But what I remembered most about his set was seeing him have an "American Idol moment" when the camera panned across the stage and in close-up, Mauss gazed directly in the camera to deliver the set-up punch to his vegan coffee joke.
The biggest thing about the late show Sunday, other than Daniel Tosh and his strong hosting set, was the light show. As in, the lights failing multiple times, most notably during Matt Braunger's set. He was a trooper, though, even starting from the top a third time which must've been difficult considering he had a weary live TV audience to deal with (they can clean that up with his earlier takes, right?). The first time the lights went out on Braunger, without missing a beat, he broke into song: "When the lights...go down...in the city!" Tosh had to return to the stage. "The lights are overheating," he explained. "Which is really good for comedy." During one such break, he exclaimed: "Let's do jokes that won't air. Do you know who loves to get fisted? Sock puppets."
Mary Mack was very nice and funny and you can join us in her writers club, as soon as I find it.
Raj Desai and Anjelah Johnson were both so fun to talk to during the afterparty that I wished I'd seen their Gotham sets earlier last week. James Smith told me he forgot one joke in his set, but I told him not to worry...he can tell it during his next TV apperance! The afterparty brought out most of the comedians who performed during the weekend, plus their friends and plenty of other New York comics. Good times. On a Sunday, even.
Related: Paul Ogata shares his Gotham experience with the folks at Shecky. The Live at Gotham site.
The New Faces of Comedy showcase is Montreal's version of the Best New Artist Grammy. Most of the 16 stand-ups selected for this week's showcases have several years of experience onstage, but they're new in the eyes of industry scouts, because this is the first step up the festival ladder. A few of the acts don't yet have agents or managers. Is that a good thing?
Maria Bamford (one of this year's Masters performers) and I talked briefly about this yesterday. I saw a comedian get an agent and manager -- which quickly resulted in a spot on Conan and headlining club dates -- out of the Aspen fest this winter. Worked out good for him. But Bamford, who once got two new representation offers out of a festival, said it can almost be like last call at a bar. "Who's the hottest one left here?" she said in one of her trademark voices. "And then the relationship has nowhere left to go." So there's that side of the coin, too.
The comics here aren't thinking like that, though. They're looking to be discovered.
How are they doing?
Last night, I caught half of the New Faces, and several members of the first group devoted most of their time trying to connect to the local Montreal audiences at Kola Note (which should be noted, is the most remote venue at the fest -- perhaps another reminder that the New Faces have a ways to go yet). Michael McIntyre (who sounded a bit like Stewie from Family Guy, but not, despite the fact that the FOX show and cast is also at the fest) joked about the local pedestrian signals with his own version of Monty Python's silly walks. Mike E. Winfield said "you guys have the most arrogant homeless people I have ever seen." Tom Segura said: "I was walking in your sex shop district...what do you call it? Oh, Montreal." A couple of the NYC comics in the showcase, Julian McCullough and James Patterson, brought the city with them -- McCullough talking about his Brooklyn neighborhood ("no, not that part") and contrasting the on-field performances of Barry Bonds and Darryl Strawberry ("He'd snort the first base line!"); Patterson on moving to the South Bronx "because my girlfriend wanted to study music -- she played the jazz rape whistle." Nikki Glaser managed to skewer the sponsoring MySpace and won the audience over with some off-color material. Pat Candaras exhibited a Lewis Black attitude if he were a frustrated grandmother. Mike E. Winfield had the look, if not the material. Sheng Wang was a hit with his wit and his closing bit tilting the phrase "you could do better" on its head. Matt Braunger brought this showcase to a close with a very strong personality and a funny bit about killer owls. But really, host Tom Papa had the best sets of the night in between acts, showing the New Faces how it's done.