What do Ted Leo and the Pharmacists need to do to get their music noticed by the people? In the official music video for their song, "Bottled in Cork," Paul F. Tompkins plays Reginald Van Voorst, who thinks what the band needs to do is to turn their album into a Broadway musical. To help them, they'll get tips from Julie Klausner, and need a good review from the theater critic, played by John Hodgman. What, was this music video written by Tom Scharpling? Why, yes. Yes it was.
Roll the video!
According to most cable TV guides, Paul F. Tompkins will be talking about the pros and cons of neighbors tonight when his new special, "You Should Have Told Me," debuts on Comedy Central. In reality, his new hourlong set, recorded last year at the Laughing Skull in Atlanta, is much more about other things, such as why he does not smoke pot anymore, and how he dealt with the death of his mother. But it's funny! Look. Here's a clip of Tompkins talking about getting a house, so he won't have to deal with neighbors who are so close to him. Roll it.
The special should be released as a full-length DVD on AST Records, Tompkins told me earlier this week. He'll be performing at The Bell House in Brooklyn on Sunday as the latest stop on his Tompkins 300 tour, and he talked to me about all of that, and some other things.
So what can we expect on the DVD? "The set will be around a full hour and then there wll be bits that got cut out because of flow, and then maybe some other stuff. I want to do some commentary with my director, Neil Mahoney, and who knows what else?"
And then you'll be in Montreal for Just For Laughs, but that's also billed as a UCB show. So does that mean you'll be doing ASSSSCAT with the UCB, or something else? "To my knowledge, I'll be doing a half-hour set. To my knowledge." So why is it billed as the UCB? You and Rob Riggle get different billings from the other one-man shows. "I think that's because we're alternative." Um, right. Like Donald Glover isn't alternative? "We're going to be doing crazy stuff that a mainstream act like Donald wouldn't even dare to attempt. I know Donald won't see it because then he'd slit his throat."
Are you still planning on starting your own podcast? "The podcast, I'm just beginning to wrangle that all together. Because I want to do a more produced thing, rather than the conversational thing...I get why people would want to just sit around microphones and chat. That requires so many fewer buttons. It requires work. But it's going to happen." And the name is still Pod F. Tomcast? Or is that one of the many fakers out there on Twitter? "Actually, no, somebody did reserve that name as an account but they did let me have it."
How did all of those fakes sprout up on Twitter last week, which included the likes of RuPaulFTomkins, MallFTomkins, TallFPumpkins, and many others, how did that happen? "I have this jokey desire to be verified on Twitter, because I wasn't quite sure who determined who needed to be verified. I know they did some people at random. They lead you to believe it's an expensive process. But then there was a real issue behind it because people have a real problem spelling my name. And they're addressing replies to a name that does not exist. I was asking what does it take to get verified. I don't know if I'm really me. Ted Leo, the musician, he has a verified account, and he had somebody do an imposter account, so he asked them to verify him for that, and they did. I said tongue in cheek wondering if someone would impersonate me to help me out, not intending it to be this...and I don't know if it was a lot of different people, but all these fake Twitter accounts with variations on my name started popping up. Some of them were really, really funny. Some people got very agnry. Some people said this was the same unfunny stuff you did tha ruined Best Week Ever! And they're still following me! A year later!
"I still have not been verified. There are still people who cannot spell my name. It does get confusing and I'd rather have the badge so people knows it's from me. People will doctor my Wikipedia page and put fake information on there. For me, Twitter's not a vanity thing, where I want to step down from my castle and talk to the regular people. This is how I promote my projects. So it's important to me to have that official little ribbon that says this is the actual guy."
I seem to recall some celebrities took photos of themselves as if they were hostages holding up the current day's newspaper, except instead of the newspaper, they held up a piece of paper that had their Twitter handle written on it, and that seemed to verify them. "What piece of paper do you have to hold up to make Twitter care about you?"
For the second year, Just For Laughs Montreal is putting several of its shows into an offshoot called Zoofest, and this time, they're opening acknowledging it as the "off the wall parallel" to JFL. In other words, for all of the unique, interesting and possibly amazing one-person shows by performers who aren't headlining Galas or otherwise big-ticket names to Canadians, why don't you try Zoofest? "1 show for $15, 2 shows for $20" Or get a Zoopass for $29.99 (do I need to tell you these are in Canadian dollars) It's all about marketing, really.
What comedy fans want to know is who's going to be there this July? Why don't I tell you!
Bill Burr, "You People Are All The Same," July 12-16 at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Bo Burnham, "Words Words Words," July 12-15, 17 at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Donald Glover, "Gross!", July 12-17 at Katacombes
Jamie Kilstein, "No God, No War, No Nickelback," July 14-15, 17, at Theatre Ste-Catherine
Jim Jefferies, "Alcoholocaust," July 12-17 at Katacombes
"Kim Noble Will Die," July 12-7, 20-24 at Theatre La Chappelle
Noel Fielding Live, July 12-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Patrice Oneal, "Mr. P," July 13-17 at Katacombes
Phil Nichol, "A Deadpan Poet Sings Quiet Songs Quietly," July 12-17 at Katacombes
Tim Key, "The Slutcracker," July 14-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Tom Wrigglesworth, "An Open Letter to Richard Branson," July 12-17 at Savoy at Metropolis
Related: Zoofest ticket info.
Just when you thought you knew the truth about professional wrestling, James Adomian and his L.A. group The Midnight Show have another theory. A conspiracy theory. Starring Adomian as Jesse Ventura, Paul F. Tompkins as Iron Sheik, Josh Fadem as Ultimate Warrior & Nic Wegener as Vince McMahon. Directed by Payman Benz. Roll the clip!
Today seems like random day in my comedy mailbag. To wit:
And here's a video Angelo made for his project:
This is circulating around the Internets today, and for good reason. It's funny, and it's original. It's comedian Paul F. Tompkins with Mad Men's Rich Sommer in "Sketch Of The Dead," an Atom.com original sketch. And no, it's not a stretch at all to see Sommer doing comedy -- not only does he hang out with funny people quite often in NYC and L.A., but he's also a UCB alum. (See Sommer talk to me about Monty Python on the red carpet back in October). Roll the clip! Pre-P.S. Don't shoot me if you think I'm a zombie, because I'm not. Thanks.
We're about to see a bunch of new live stand-up comedy on our basic cable TV sets thanks to Comedy Central. The fourth season of Live at Gotham debuts this weekend, and in the first week of November, 24 stand-ups get to tape their very own half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials to air in early 2010. In between those two things, the network has given the go-ahead to John Oliver to present his very own stand-up showcase. If John Oliver & Friends sounds like something as fun and magical as the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, well, then you can pretty well guess the lineup. It's going to be good.
There will be three tapings (Oct. 23-25) at NYU's Skirball Center, which will produce six half-hours of stand-up comedy, featuring Oliver and his friends. A few names appear multiple times, which is curious and suggests the format could spin a bit. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we!
SHOW 1 ~ Friday - Oct. 23 - 6:45 p.m., with Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Wyatt Cenac and Pete Holmes
SHOW 2 ~ Saturday - Oct. 24 - 7:45 p.m., with Paul F. Tompkins, Maria Bamford, Greg Fitzsimmons, Nick Kroll and Eugene Mirman
SHOW 3 ~ Sunday - Oct. 25 - 5:45 p.m., with Brian Posehn, Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Greg Fitzsimmons, Eugene Mirman, Pete Holmes and Mary Lynn Rajskub
If you're going to be in NYC and are at least 18 years old, go to The Black List's John Oliver page and follow the instructions to request tickets.
Apparently, when Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins goes off the air this week (Friday, June 12), it'll do so for the rest of 2009...and beyond. Mark Graham over at NYMag's Vulture blog claims an exclusive on this tonight, but PFT's own fiancee broke the news via her vlog on Friday (skip ahead to minute seven for the relevant BWE news). For his part, Paul F. Tompkins wrote Friday on Twitter that he didn't know what VH1 was thinking, exactly. I wish I had asked PFT about this when we crossed paths Sunday afternoon at the cinemas. Argh. Wondering what this means for the Best Week Ever blog, and also thinking that they're probably taking extra advantage of their open bar party tonight with Thrillist.
The cast of comedians from VH1's Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins (11 p.m. Fridays on your TV) will interact with you, the general populace, in real life, and not just in a comedy club, but in a bar, to do things involving Twitter and the beginning of the end of another season of American Idol. Does that sound like something you would be interested in? If so, then look at the instructions on the handy color invite! In addition to appearances by Tompkins (@pftompkins), Chuck Nice (@nicechucknice) and Doug Benson (@DougBenson), VH1 also teases there shall be special guest surprises...
"Are you the table of bloggers and hotel concierges who do not want to be made fun of? Then you might not want to have conversations right in front of me, where I can see you."
Tompkins also touched upon how not to react to well-wishers at a funeral, things to avoid doing (namely, napping and stealing) while working in video stores, what to do if you ever find yourself vomiting in a taxicab, and many other funny stories from his life in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and now New York City. The audience really took a turn for the weird, though, after the exchange above. But not with that table. Surprisingly?
See, hear, more: PFT recently recorded a new CD, and you can also see him on your televisions most Friday nights on VH1's Best Week Ever.
If Eugene Mirman could pull off his own comedy festival, then what would he have in store for the release of his first book, The Will to Whatevs? We had to take the first B75 or F train we could get to the Bell House in Gowanus Brooklyn to find out last night for ourselves (why do I refer to myself in the first-person plural? not relevant). A sold-out crowd watched what turned out to be two hours of comedy and a full set by GnR tribute band Mr. Brownstone, and before you ask, why Mr. Brownstone, note that Eugene's brother joined them on guitar for "Knocking on Heaven's Door," with Eugene and David Cross taking over one of the microphones, and Todd Barry and Cross' girlfriend Amber Tamblyn joining them all onstage.
Of course, it wasn't all rock and roll. After all of that, Sarah Vowell took over the turntable with a more leisurely mix of tunes.
But first, Mirman welcomed the crowd with a multimedia presentation about his new book (related: read my interview with Mirman about The Will to Whatevs). John Hodgman took the stage and immediately apologized for being sick with the cold/flu bug that has circled New York City. Although that's not how Hodgman caught it, as he claimed instead: "I got sick hugging Al Gore last week at the TED conference." If that wasn't odd enough for you, Hodgman talked a bit more about the personalities who show up to talk hot topics at TED each year, and revealed that he once tried stand-up comedy at one of Mirman's shows. "Eugene was nice enought to let me come up and insult his profession, and now he has insulted mine," he said. And now that they're competitors in the book world, Hodgman decided to plug his own book and read from it.
In case you missed it, John Hodgman moderated a highly amusing panel and performance last night at the 92YTribeca by the folks at VH1's newly revamped Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins, including not only PFT but also Doug Benson, Chuck Nice, executive producer Sean Johnson and writer/producer Caissie St. Onge.
Hodgman and Tompkins have begun an equally compelling comedy sideshow in 2009 on Twitter, where the two comedians carry on a continuous conversation as @Hodgman and @Twitterkins -- in between moments of online oneupsmanship, they managed to pose for a photo, which they naturally posted last night on TwitPic. PFT told me after the show that Hodgman turned him onto the 140-characters-or-less mode of communication with friends and fans, and that he realizes that their "private" dialogue is, in essence, another type of performance. But you clicked on this post looking for details, details, details about Best Week Ever, didn't you? Alrighty then. Let's do this thing.
Before that, actually, this side note of news for PFT fans. Mr. Tompkins said he'll be recording his next comedy disc on March 14 at the Lakeshore Theatre in Chicago, so if you'd like to bear witness to that, you shall plan your Ides of March Eve accordingly. Tompkins and Janeane Garofalo also will host a monthly comedy showcase at the 92YTribeca in NYC. OK. Now to matters concerning the network formerly known as Video Hits One.
Hodgman and Tompkins had a running joke last night in which they continued to introduce each other onstage. Cute. Acknowledging his look (as seen in the above photo), Tompkins said at one point, " I thought it'd be appropriate tonight to dress up as Indiana Jones's dad." Before the panel began in earnest silliness, Tompkins, Nice and Benson each did about 10-15 minutes of stand-up, and then they showed a highlight reel of moments that had gotten cut from VH1, as Tompkins said, "because it was too hot to handle...or it was too long!" Among the unaired clips, a bizarre Outside the Actors Studio sketch filmed on the street between PFT and Andy Richter, a recap of the CSI: Miami episode that revolved around a "Doug Benson" (though that did air, as I recall), and PFT's "Yes We Can" music video set to Lindsay Lohan's ill-fitting leggings.
The Apiary talks with Ann Carr, who is branching out from her already creative short-form character work to explore herself and her career in a new one-woman show, Use It. Her advice to other performers: "Just do the work and dedicate yourself to it. Energy begets like energy. Keep close to what engages and encourages you and stay far away from the people, places and thoughts that disenchant and discourage you. And don't ever be shy about asking for help. You may be better for it and you'll never be any worse." At the UCB tonight and Jan. 29, also Feb. 12, Feb. 26.
Punchline Magazine talks with Lisa Levy, who invites comedians to lay down on her couch and act out a live therapy session in "Stand Up, Lie Down." At Ochi's Lounge (Comix downstairs), tonight with Ted Alexandro, Sara Schaefer and John Teti; next show Feb. 6. Levy tells Punchline she started the show with audience volunteers, but found much more to work with when she switched to stand-up comedians: "I also found a lot of fun stuff to work with. A lot of creative people have emotional angst. Their reaction is to do something creative. And there’s crying behind the laughter, and that sort of thing."
Gothamist talks with new Best Week Ever host Paul F. Tompkins. Tompkins grew up in Philadelphia, but moved to New York City for the VH1 gig after 14 years of life in Los Angeles. A big fan of the Twitter, here's how he responds to the question of BWE competing with all of the other chatter online: "In a world where everybody has the ability to comment in a public forum (i.e. the internet) on things that are happening in the world, we’re trying to say, 'But here’s what happens when people get paid to do it. It’s maybe a little funnier.'" Tompkins hosts a "Best Evening Ever" live panel with the show's writers, producers and moderator John Hodgman, Jan. 27 at the 92YTribeca.
Aimee Mann not only befriends comedians, but she also tours with them, and stars in comedy videos with them. Behold, all ye triumphant souls, and God bless us, everyone, for this four-parter take on A Christmas Carol. "A Christmas Carol spoof? Really? Yes. That's what we're doing." (thanks for finding this, Videogum!). Featuring Aimee Mann, Michael Penn, John Krasinski, Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker, John C. Reilly, Grant Lee Phillips, and Paul F. Tompkins. Directed by Tim Heidecker. Ah, technology!
Before you head off for the weekend and whatever your plans may be, you should set your TV recording devices for the following new comedy programs this weekend:
1) The new and improved Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins debuts tonight at 11 p.m. on VH1
2) The fourth and final episode of HBO's Down & Dirty with Jim Norton premieres tonight at midnight, with Joe DeRosa, Russ Meneve, Ari Shaffir and Patrice Oneal performing
3) The new D.L. Hughley Breaks the News debuts Saturday at 10 p.m. on CNN
4) Another new edition of Saturday Night Live this Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on NBC, with Jon Hamm (Mad Men's Don Draper) hosting, Coldplay playing, and a rumored return to the show by Maya Rudolph
Here's Hughley talking about his new CNN show:
Paul F. Tompkins had alerted all of his Los Angeles area fans that he'd be leaving the West Coast for a year due to the show business. We learned he'd be hosting a new version of VH1's Best Week Ever. But what would that mean, exactly? The weekly recap mockery of pop culture didn't have a host before, but rather a seemingly endlessly rotating cast of comedians offering their best quips of the moment. So now we know.
This week, PFT began hosting a 3.5-minute nightly edition at 11 p.m. Monday-Thursday of Best Day Ever. And in a press release, VH1 offers these details of Best Week Ever with Paul F. Tompkins, which debuts at 11 p.m. Oct. 24. The cast: Doug Benson, Mike Britt, comic duo Frangela (Angela V Shelton and Frances Callier) Christian Finnegan, Greg Fitzsimmons, Nick Kroll, Chuck Nice, Melissa Rauch and Jessica St. Clair. And some of the cast will tour colleges together this fall. From the press release: "For almost five years, Best Week Ever has been a destination for anyone who loves pop culture and comedy. By adding a guide like Paul, a comic with a truly unique voice, we'll be better able to expand our coverage and make the show even stronger," said Jim Ackerman, Senior Vice President of Development, VH1.
In today's NYT on BWE with PFT, our new host notes this will now make the show seem more like E! show The Soup. We also learn the show will keep "The Sizzler" segment (really?), but overall, it will adapt to the personality of its new host. I'm just happy that Tompkins will get more and more airtime. If you recall, he got a weekly segment years ago on the debut season of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, but they never really allowed Tompkins to show his strengths as a comedian and as a quick-witted commentator. Here's hoping VH1 doesn't get in the way of a good thing.
Bob Odenkirk laid down the news tonight that he and David Cross have decided to scrap their own HBO pilot that played with sitcom conventions, called "David's Situation." Although they all thought the pilot succeeded, they felt that the format they had created, well, why don't I just let Odenkirk say it himself: We "lost interest in the overall concept. The show was a strange hybrid with a "sit-com" base. We used the actual set from Everybody Loves Raymond. The sitcom framework really felt like a drag on our energy and sensibility. This was fairly obvious to us and not as disappointing as it might sound because the whole experience energized us to create something new and more better." Maybe it was the Curse of Raymond?! At any rate, Odenkirk promises he and Cross will try to figure out what their next TV project should be and give the fans something to see and laugh at.
Related: Odenkirk this week did release three spoof ads he did for a new giant Samsung phone thingy, based on the new types of "mobile professionals" for jobs that do not exist, such as a Carousel Booking Agent, Brothers for Hire, and a freelancing firefighter (played charmingly by Paul F. Tompkins). I don't know that any of these ad-type videos make you want to buy the Samsung, but they are fun to look at for a few minutes. Well, maybe not the carousel one.
What I like about Lewis Black's new Comedy Central show, Root of All Evil: It takes the Tough Crowd formula, stand-up comedians talking smack about issues of the day, and refines it with tight focus without watering down the concept. These planned bits, the mock trial arguments, work better in a 22-minute TV format than the spontaneous conversations from Tough Crowd, which were hit and miss precisely because they relied so much on the ad-lib chatter. We want the highlights. And when you give great social commentating comedic minds such as Greg Giraldo and Paul F. Tompkins some advance notice, you're going to get highlights. Here's one:
In related news, Comedy Central unleashed a "Weekly Evil" segment online that gives several stand-up comedians a chance to weigh in on a topic (in the style made famous by VH1's Best Week Ever). This week's evil? St. Patrick's Day. (Psst: Can you find the typo?)
And you thought Rififi was done when Invite Them Up left the building? No. Instead, Brett Gelman has taken over Wednesdays and assumed the title of President of Comedy. His "inauguration" took place last night. In a cockroach outfit.
Let me try to explain.
Perhaps Gelman himself said it best in his opening remarks. "This is not just a celebration of me. It's a celebration of all of us celebrating me as the new president of comedy," he said. "This is a show people are going to be lying about -- saying they were at it."
As First Lady, Jackie Clarke. In dog ears. Putting down Gelman at every opportunity.
The first show included Anthony Jeselnik. A very strong joke writer, except for that one joke about jail rape, which is far too cheap and easy. Jon Daly appeared as Shirtless White Bill Cosby, with a voice that wavered between spot-on Cosby (circa 1982) and British. Here is a short clip.
I have a theory that Gelman and Daly have a standing bet to see who can be the most ridiculous figure in the comedy world, and that they're both winning, which makes me hope and pray that their Comedy Central pilot, "The Scariest Thing on Television," gets picked up for a full season. The network announced it yesterday as part of its development slate. Gelman said last night that they just finished work on the pilot yesterday, coincidentally, and are hopeful about its prospects. In it, Paul F. Tompkins stars as anthology series host Julius Darkshaft, taking us "through his vault of hilarious morality tales and gorefests."
But back to last night's show.
Larry Murphy made a guest appearance as working-class man Gene Shirley. Andrea Rosen was funny and more than slightly raunchy (ask her about her eye). MC Chris rapped! About Boba Fett! There was a final three-way scene so perverse that even Clarke had to describe it as: "This is just like a Troma film." And, lest I forget, Bobby Tisdale came onstage to pass the torch of Wednesday nights, and with it, perform the comedy presidential inauguration.
Wait. You wanted to know how it ended? I guess you really did have to be there.