Patton Oswalt wrote an essay titled "A Bit Dis-Remembered," exploring one of his famous older bits -- on the Stella D'Oro Breakfast Treats, and his reaction to the old TV commercial for them.
He went back to look at the ad, and how much it had resonated with him and how well he had conveyed the tone of the ad, even if he didn't remember the dialogue with 100% accuracy. The bit appears on his first album, 2004's "Feelin Kinda Patton."
"Well, I remembered it differently. Proust bit into a madeline dipped in tea (or something very much like a madeline - isn't there some dispute as to the actual cookie?) and, upon tasting it, remembered a lifetime. I remembered two sad people eating mass-produced snack cookies and closed a gulf of nearly three decades in my memory. And Proust had better dick jokes."
Here is the actual ad:
Now for Patton's take on the ad:
And back to his self-reflection, eight years after recording the bit...
This meme is all growns up now, as the "twin baby boys have a conversation" has been reimagined by Funny or Die as a sequel decades later, with Michael Chiklis and Patton Oswalt as the twins. For continuity's sake, I guess, they're still wearing diapers?
You have to watch it through to the end. It's not what you think. Unless you were thinking it might be Not Safe For Work. In which case, roll it!
If you didn't see the original video that spawned millions of YouTube visits, then visit twin baby boys have a conversation.
Each year, SF Sketchfest honors a comedic performer or group with a tribute. For 2010, the honoree was Conan O'Brien, but he couldn't make his Jan. 17 date due to, well, didn't you hear his January was kinda pre-occupied?
With his summer schedule fairly clear, O'Brien and SF Sketchfest have cashed their rain-check and called a make-up date for July 17 at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. Bonus: For the tribute, O'Brien will sit down for a fun-filled conversation with Patton Oswalt. This should make for a much more insightful discussion than O'Brien's conversation with Google and YouTube earlier this year. Tickets will go on sale Monday only for those who previously held tickets for the cancelled January session.
Any remaining tickets will go on sale Tuesday for the general public. Ticket info: City Box Office.
Even in this YouTube age we live in now, apparently some comedians still feel like they can get away with going onstage and telling someone else's jokes as their own.
Nick Madson performed Tuesday night at the Harrison Hilltop Theatre in Davenport, Iowa, and by Thursday, video of his performance hit YouTube, and by this morning, Patton Oswalt had more than a little something to say about it. Particularly because Madson had quoted several of Oswalt's bits verbatim. Even Oswalt's very well-known opinion about the KFC Famous Bowls. Here is Nick:
And here is Patton, in case you need a reminder:
Upon discovering Madson's video, Oswalt put fingers to keyboard and wrote about his very personal reaction. After discussing the facts of the matter and his views on joke theives, Oswalt wrote:
We still don't know exactly why Megan Mullally quit the Broadway revival of "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," which was supposed to provide Patton Oswalt with his debut on the Great White Way over the weekend -- but we do know that Oswalt has reason to stick around New York City this month and something to fill his free time.
The trades reported tonight that Patton Oswalt picked up a co-starring role in Beach Lane, the NBC half-hour sitcom pilot featuring Matthew Broderick as "a celebrity author hired by an irresponsible millionaire heir to run his struggling small-town newspaper in the Hamptons." Oswalt will play the irresponsible millionaire heir. Kristen Johnston also co-stars, in the sitcom created by Paul Simms and produced by Lorne Michaels and Marci Klein.
Look. I have a very basic understanding of how the Internet works, and one thing I do know is that when a video debuts on an already popular site around dawn, by late afternoon, if it's funny, it gets circulated to other popular sites. And maybe you weren't like me and slept in after being out late, so you may have seen this. But it deserves to be seen!
Funny or Die's Eric Appel has written, directed and edited a trailer for what appears to be the flash-sideways version of "Weird" Al Yankovic's story. Yes, I just dropped a Lost reference. Please pick it up, and watch this funny feature, starring Aaron Paul as Weird Al, Olivia Wilde as Madonna, Patton Oswalt as Dr. Demento, Mary Steenburgen and Gary Cole as Ma and Pa Yankovic, with appearances by Leeza Gibbons, Brian Huskey, Paul Scheer, Charlie Sanders, Curtis Gwinn, Chris Kula, Jonah Ray, Matt Jones, Johnny Meeks and Andy Bloch. Oh, and Yankovic himself in a cameo! Roll the clip already!
Producers of a Broadway revival of Terrance McNally's "Lips Together, Teeth Apart," announced that Megan Mullally and Patton Oswalt would take the leading roles when the former Off-Broadway hit from 1991 returns to New York City's bigger stages in April 2010. It's set for a limited engagement to run through June.
Oswalt played drama on the big screen this year in Big Fan, but his Broadway debut in the coming year marks yet another stand-up comedian who will learn the lines for the dramatic stage. Is this a new trend or just something we're only now starting to notice? Who's to say? A quick search of my memory and the Internet turns up at least these precedents of going from stand-up to stage:
Mario Cantone has performed in several Broadway productions since 1995. But it seems as though the connection between stand-up and Broadway began heating up in the past six years, when Eddie Izzard received a Tony Award nomination for starring in the 2003 revival of "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg." Since then, musical comedian Stephen Lynch has starred in the stage adaptation of the film, "The Wedding Singer," Bob Saget took a turn as the Man in Chair in 2007's version of "The Drowsy Chaperone," Cedric the Entertainer was part of last year's short-lived revival of "American Buffalo," and of course, the beginning of 2009 saw Will Ferrell romp on Broadway in his one-man show, "You're Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush." Currently, you can see David Alan Grier in David Mamet's new play, "Race," co-starring with James Spader, Richard Thomas and Kerry Washington.
Who else am I missing from this list? Are comedians finally being taken seriously as stage performers? Discuss.
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:
People have made a big to-do in recent days about how and why the Grammy rules could not allow Lady Gaga to get a nomination for Best New Artist because she already had received recognition by the academy in a different field before this year. But the Grammys were more than willing, it seems, to bend the rules for George Lopez. His new stand-up comedy CD, Tall, Dark & Chicano, hasn't even come out yet. It'll be released Dec. 15, 2009, on Comedy Central Records. That's what it says on the press release Comedy Central sent out, as well as, well, everywhere. You cannot get it on Amazon.com yet.
Of course, the recording is based off of a live performance for HBO from earlier in the year. But still. That doesn't mean Lopez's "comedy album" came out between Oct. 1, 2008 and Aug. 31, 2009 -- the official "Eligibilty Year" for the 52nd annual Grammys. Hmmm. Maybe they watched the HBO special and thought, that'll make a great album: Let's nominate it ahead of time?! The future is now, people.
UPDATED: Seeing that the Grammys also called upon Lopez to introduce the nominees for Song of the Year -- and make a Tiger Woods joke in the process -- perhaps there's even more to this than meets the eye? Here's a clip from last night's telecast on CBS:
UPDATED UPDATED: Sources tell me that Comedy Central, in fact, released a vinyl edition of George Lopez's special shortly after it debuted on HBO in August. Which would qualify. Barely. Vinyl???
With that, here are the official 52nd annual Grammy Awards nominations for Best Comedy Album:
Best Comedy Album
(For comedy recordings, spoken or musical)
In other Grammy nomination news that involves comedians, The Lonely Island's "I'm On a Boat" originally seen and heard on Saturday Night Live as an SNL Digital Short with T-Pain, is up for best rap/sung collaboration. Steve Martin's "The Crow" is up for best Bluegrass album. Jonathan Winters is up for best spoken word album for "Jonathan Winters: A Very Special Time." And Jamie Foxx's "Blame It (On the Alcohol)" with T-Pain is up for best R&B duo or group with vocals, as well as best R&B song, and Foxx is up for best R&B album. You can see the full list of Grammy nominations here.
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:
There's no doubt that more people know about comedian Patton Oswalt than ever. And I'm not just talking about people in comedy. Oswalt's new CD, "My Weakness is Strong," has bounced around the top 10 among all albums in Apple's iTunes since it became available for purchase there on Aug. 18 -- it comes out as a CD/DVD package this coming Tuesday, after part of it gets broadcast tonight as an hourlong Comedy Central special.
For all that he has done for independent comedy venues and comedians over the past five years through "The Comedians of Comedy," and for all of the mainstream appeal he garnered playing "Spence" on the CBS sitcom, King of Queens, or even his character roles in Blade: Trinity, Reno 911! and Balls of Fury, none of that has done as much to raise his profile as his voiceover role as Remy the rat in 2007's Ratatouille. The success of that film ($206-million-plus at the U.S. box office, and double that worldwide) got everyone to take another look at Oswalt. He's followed that up with a recurring role on Showtime's United States of Tara, multiple shots taking on pop culture evils on 2008's The Root of All Evil on Comedy Central, and now stars in the upcoming movie, Big Fan, which debuted to raves at Sundance and begins appearing in cinemas next weekend.
But Oswalt has been first and foremost a stand-up comedian. As he told AST back in December 2005: "I’m not doing stand-up so that I can start doing movies or TV shows and never have to do stand-up anymore. I do movies and TV shows and write things so that I have more free time to do stand-up. Or I’m trying to increase my exposure so that I can do more stand-up. Everything is so that I can do stand-up; it’s not the other way around."
Which is probably why he was so excited to promote his new special with his first appearance Friday night on The Late Show with David Letterman. You could see it on his face when he took the stage, and even hear it in his voice. "Wow."
This set is a quick TV-friendly run through parts of three tracks from the CD: 12) Obama, 2) Birth, and 3) Fat. On the CD and DVD, Oswalt tags them up quite a bit.
It's Sunday. Were you looking for some funny diversions, or merely trying to track down a video somebody told you about that just showed up on the Internets? Well, then, you're probably in luck, because odds are I might have posted what you're looking for over on Comedy.com's comedians channel, The Laugh Track. Let's review:
If the initial trailers for Funny People, the third film written and directed by Judd Apatow, looked a little bit too melodramatic to be a comedy, then, well, that's because it is just that. As Apatow explains in the hourlong documentary, Inside Funny People (which debuted at midnight on Comedy Central, with repeats planned for noon Tuesday and 3 a.m. Thursday): “It's hard to make a comedy that’s really more a drama than a comedy. I don’t know if I can do it.” But do it he did.
The wealth of background material on the "funny people" who inhabit the film already has proven to be quite remarkable in promoting the movie and showing that it is about comedians. Apatow's documentary featurettes also reveal just how much of himself he poured into the film, as well as how much of a comedy nerd he was and still is. Case in point: Apatow says the following early in his Comedy Central documentary about the need to get all of his actors back onstage in comedy clubs...
“There’s a feeling you get when you do stand-up, that you just need to experience to know what it’s about. It’s the terror of revealing yourself, and the feeling that if I don’t get a laugh this time, I must get it next time or I will not be able to sleep at night.”
In the special (sure to be on the DVD, which at this point may have to be a box set!), Apatow shows us how he incorporated video he shot of Sandler back when the two shared an apartment in Los Angeles right after both had left college, and used it as a plot device in the film (with Sandler's character making actual prank phone calls, just as he had as a 21-year-old). It's a meta move, but seeing it documented on film is also very endearing. Apatow also shows clips of Sandler performing at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif., 18 years ago, and then again last year as Sandler shook off the stand-up rust to get into character. You see clips of both Sandler and Apatow on A&E's at the Improv with Budd Friedman, then also Sandler at a lunch roundtable in the Improv last year with Friedman, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Carol Leifer, Monty Hoffman and Mark Schiff (comics Apatow said he and Sandler looked up to when they were trying to get stage time). There's footage of Seth Rogen performing stand-up at the tender age of 13 (different from the clip of 13-year-old Seth Rogen I posted back in April), as well as joke-writing sessions that included help from Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Allen Covert, and footage from several of the stand-up performances -- much of which I'm sure will also pop up in a separate Comedy Central special this Friday, Funny People: Live.
While you, me and everyone else was watching the public memorial to Michael Jackson at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the world kept going. Or did it? Either way, time to get back to the rest of the world. And some comedy news. What have we missed?
During the break from Saturday Night Live, Casey Wilson returned to Los Angeles, sat down, and checked to see what people were saying about her on the Internets. Rut-ro. S'ok, though, because Casey knows how to respond to you what-whaters. Wait for the ending.
Comedian Patton Oswalt used his early morning MySpace blog post to deftly recount the story of becoming a new father and how it related to his pop-culture habits, and specifically the new sequel, Crank: High Voltage. There are amusing references to how some comedy sites treated the birth of his daughter, as well as how his friends in comedy and the performing arts all seem to be having babies right about now. But Oswalt also had something to say about why he waited until now, and why he chose MySpace as his forum for sharing all of this:
I didn’t want to announce this on my website, or on my Facebook which, truth be told, I shut down ‘cuz of all the psycho messages I was getting. I mean, I appreciate knowing that you were awake at 3am and heard a katydid chirping my name and that’s why you’re warning me that a hobo-harlequin’s going to kill me with a tire iron on Christmas, but…I mean, didn’t you get tired just reading that?
But MySpace has become a neglected strip mall, which is slowly going out of business because someone built a shiny new mega-mall just down the street. Every now and then you stop by because abandoned, derelict buildings have a weird beauty to them. Have you been over to Friendster lately? The rats are so tame they’ll let you pet ‘em. So think of this as me taping up a discreet flyer in the window of the sketchy Chinese restaurant next to the dollar movie theater where they’re still showing THE WILD WILD WEST. I want to announce this, but people are going to have to pack a sandwich and drive somewhere to find it.
Coincidentally, Oswalt's latest blog post comes just as News Corp. announced Wednesday it was preparing to replace MySpace's founding fathers, Tom and Chris.
Related: MySpace is touting a new design for its MySpace Comedy page. I've always thought that what made MySpace great was its original mission of connecting bands and musicians with their fans, and the expansion into comedy also was a good idea. If anything "ruined" MySpace, it has been the users, spammers and code designers who filled up user templates with junk and auto-running songs and videos that made it nearly impossible to enjoy the experience. Of course, MySpace still can be a great resource for finding and listening to new musical and comedy acts. I hope they get their act together on that.
Furthermore: The weekly Upright Citizens Brigade comedy show, MySpace, changed its name about six months ago to Facebook for its Wednesday night shows in Los Angeles (and NYC before that) that use an audience member's profile page for improvised inspiration. As one of the several members told me: "After a while, everybody we interviewed for MySpace had only updated their page in hopes of being on our show. Sign o' the times I guess."
"I'm expecting a daughter at the end of April...(applause break)...I just hope she gets my looks and personality!"
-- Patton Oswalt, last weekend at Carolines in New York City, during a set full of material about how he'll have to change his lifestyle once he becomes a father. And also "sky cakes." He is recording his performances tomorrow, Feb. 28, 2009, in D.C., for his third CD as well as a new Comedy Central special.
Who does Tim Young from Baltimore think he is...Judy Tenuta? Young spent $700 in a charity auction so he could host Comedy Death Ray, and Patton Oswalt has something to say to the young fella. (Thanks to Videogum)