Reese Waters was supposed to be on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson earlier this month, but got bumped to last Friday.
In his network TV debut, Waters jokes about trying to quit smoking and his relationship with his ex-girlfriend (fun fact: who also is a stand-up comedian). Another fun fact: Waters used to work with Jenn Sterger on the Versus sports-talk show, The Daily Line. OK. Enough fun facts. Time for funny jokes. Roll the clip!
How was this a thing that happened and we don't already all know about it? Comedian Reese Waters sat down for tea with Mike Tyson for -- well, I don't know what for, exactly, although I do know that this aired earlier this month on the new nightly Versus cable show, The Daily Line.
Watch iron Mike Tyson share his opinions on tea (not a fan of the Earl Grey blend), his love of honey, his fear of cannolis, and his curiosity about his interviewer. Roll the clip!
It's not quite FOX Sports' The Best Damn Sports Show, nor is it ESPN's SportsNation, but Versus did launch something somewhere in between the two Monday night in NYC, with stand-up comedian Reese Waters as one of the four co-hosts. You may have seen Waters on the blog before as a winner of the old Carolines "March Madness" tourneys, and he also had a few lines in Comedy Central's Michael and Michael Have Issues.
Waters told me the other night that this new Versus show is trying to be something different, and he knows that as the comedian of the quartet, he has a role to play. Here's a clip of him explaining himself for the Versus masses. Roll it.
The current print issue of New York magazine asked a bunch of insidery insiders in the show bidness to name their favorite funny people who have yet to make it big but coulda woulda shoulda someday, particularly if magazines such as New York would only profile them. It's like opening Paradox's Box in here. So the mag invited 10 of these comedians to perform recently at Gotham, and, spoiler alert, didn't invite an audience! Awkward styling and profiling ensued. Here's some of the video from that experiment (note: some language NSFW):
Features Craig Baldo, Ophira Eisenberg, Max Silvestri, Hannibal Buress, Kumail Nanjiani, Carla Rhodes, Desiree Burch, Claudia Cogan, Reese Waters, and Sara Schaefer. New York also spoke briefly with the comedians afterward. If you pick up an actual copy of the magazine, though, you can see that each of these 10 funny peoples got their own official magazine profile picture and brief bio (thanks for the JPG, Carla!).
If you were to ask me at the start of the 2008 New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest, who I thought would win, well, someone did, and before I could say "John Mulaney" (whoops, he's not even in the contest? wait, what? oh, right, Mulaney is headlining at the Punchline in San Francisco this week, so he already had plans), I thought, Julian McCullough was the only Carolines club comic returning from among the 2007 contest finalists, so, yeah, him. McCullough did win the $2,500 prize last night at Carolines, along with a week of gigs at the club and an additional spot opening for one of the New York Comedy Festival headliners.
"I'm going to move to Hoboken with this money," McCullough joked while holding the large cardboard fake-check, in between sincere sentiments about his fellow competitors. "I want to thank Carolines. They've changed my life over the past two years."
McCullough told me afterward that he already had a festival gig opening for Susie Essman at Carolines this weekend. Which makes me realize that picking the winner of this contest is simple! Last year, winner Wil Sylvince had a festival gig before the contest; this year, 'twas McCullough. So if you want to win in 2009, get yourself booked in the fest first!
As even McCullough pointed out when he opened his finals set, stand-up comedy contests don't mesh well with stand-up comedy personalities. "Take the hardest job in the world and pit us against each other," he told the audience. And this contest has some work to do, too -- it uses the same audition process as Last Comic Standing (preferring appointments over open calls), which gives an advantage to comedians who know the system and the Carolines staff; and the name, well, the name of the contest, "New York's Funniest Stand-Up," is about as much of a misnomer as Grammy's Best New Artist. Actually, it'd make more sense if they called it New York's Best New Stand-Up, because even if the stand-up has worked for years, he or she is new to the New York City scene and industry and at least that separates that title from the many great and funny stand-up comedians who live in the city. That said, it's great that the Carolines-produced festival addded the contest to its lineup, because it's one of those events that helps make this week in NYC comedy more special and unique than any other week.
Want to know who I think New York's funniest stand-up is? Want to know how everyone else did in the contest? Keep reading...
One of my newspaper alma maters, the New York Daily News, devoted much of its Sunday features section to comedy, thanks in part to this week's New York Comedy Festival, but also to how much comedy has impacted politics this campaign season. There's a story from Caroline Waxler about how comedians might react to an Obama presidency, brief interviews with fest headliners Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan and Carlos Mencia, a profile roundup of the 11 finalists in the New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest, and a look-back at some quotes from Bernie Mac, who appears posthumously in the new movies Madagascar 2 and Soul Men.
A reliable source informed me that these are your first five comedians advancing to the finals of the 2008 New York's Funniest Stand-Up contest:
Nate Bargatze, Esther Ku, Julian McCullough, Stone & Stone, Reese Waters
While you wait to see if I'll break down and break down the funniest reporter contest, let me first get you up to speed on the New York City Underground Comedy Festival's "Emerging Comics Contest," in which comedians who are not yet well known compete to become better known as judges put their know-how to the test. I'm not even sure I know what that means, but then again, what does it mean for a comic to emerge? Does it mean he or she has matured or become ripe with age? Does it mean he or she is ready for more exposure? I can tell you that Reese Waters is emerging as a newer NYC comedian to watch, since he not only won this contest, made the finals in the ongoing So You Think You Can Roast challenge from the Friars Club and won the Carolines March Madness contest earlier this year. Runner-up Jamie Lee could be the next comedian to emerge from within the belly of the industry beast that is Comedy Central (and her day job as a publicist), so that's some feat of emergence right there. Ed Murray finished third, which means, what, exactly? For now, he's just merging? Until I find out the answers to those pressing questions, congrats to all.
In case you haven't been following the Internets, ABC News recently struck up a partnership with its Times Square neighbor, Carolines, for a weekly interview/performance segment called Carolines on GMA Now. Club owner Caroline Hirsch also takes part in the segments and often has her own questions for the comedians. It appears as part of the magically mysterious third hour of Good Morning America, which doesn't appear on the regular ABC television network, but rather on some digital cable systems, mobile phone networks and definitely online. ABC doesn't like to offer embedded video, so instead, we've got links to share.
The mix includes both headliners working the club that weekend (natural cross-promotion) as well as up-and-coming New York-based stand-ups. Sometimes there's a performance in the ABC studio with a small audience (that's a tough room!). Sometimes not. Last week's segment had a rather revealing interview with Mike DeStefano.
“We’re thrilled to be teaming up with ABC News' ‘Good Morning America NOW’ on this new program,” Hirsch said in the official press release earlier this spring. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to showcase our lively and entertaining programming on ABC News NOW -- across all of its platforms -- broadband, cable and mobile.”
Reese Waters, who won the Carolines March Comedy Madness competition earlier this month, gets part of his prize last week with an interview on Good Morning America NOW (read: online) courtesy of Lee Woodruff (wife of Bob and co-host of an all-star special at last year's New York Comedy Festival) and Caroline Hirsch (the Caroline of Carolines!), plus a performance. The sharing/embed buttons don't seem to work right now. If I (or you) can figure it out, you'll see the video directly here. Until then, click here for the direct link to Waters' interview and performance.
Carolines closed out its second annual March Comedy Madness on Tuesday night with two very intriguing Final Four matchups. One half of the bracket pitted boyfriend against girlfriend, while the other half could best be described as the single white guys uncomfortable with the ladies division. Comedians performed with a scoreboard clock ticking behind them, as well as his or her competition sitting and/or standing on the side of the stage.
First semifinal: Boyfriend against girlfriend, aka Reese Waters vs. Liz Miele. Waters (pictured) went first and, after a hesitant first 30 seconds warming up to the crowd, he really delivered with a fresh and funny take on Obama vs. Hillary and picking between a black man and a white woman, spinning it in turn on the audience's choice between himself and Miele. Miele's best jokes, coincidentally, came late in her five-minute set with bits about dating a black guy (though she never name-checked Waters specifically).
Second semifinal: Single white guys uncomfortable with the ladies, aka Dan Hirshon vs. Rob O'Reilly. Hirshon went with awkward and insecure, while O'Reilly went with overcompensating overconfidence. Hirshon also talked about his Jewishness with bits about failing an audition for an extra in The Departed and working at Bertucci's. O'Reilly opened strong with an act-out joke about having sex and being farsighted, then kept talking about sex.
The finals: Waters vs. O'Reilly.
But first, 2007 March Comedy Madness champ Julian McCullough returned for a guest set while the semifinal votes were tallied. An odd decision for two reasons: 1) McCullough hit strong, making the finals a bit weird because the audience now would subconsciously be comparing the finalists to him, and 2) when the finals kicked off, O'Reilly and Waters would restart not only cold, but also without any of their better jokes from their earlier sets to use in a new 10-minute set.
That said, O'Reilly went dirty and racial, whereas Waters followed with a more personal approach talking about growing up black and poor. Waters made that connection with the audience (not that they were made up of poor, black people, but that he made audience members feel more comfortable about laughing, and therefore voting for him), and won. The Carolines contest format made me think about the San Francisco and Seattle comedy competitions, in that anyone can advance in an early round with a great joke or short set (for Carolines, the initial battles were decided by a 1-minute bit and a decibel reader!), but that comedian with a solid 4-5 can collapse in the finals (where in Seattle and SF, you've got to prove you have another solid 20 or more minutes).
So O'Reilly finishes second for the second year, and Waters, for his victory, gets a paid week opening at Carolines, a trophy and an interview with ABC.com and ABC News Now.
Earlier this month, ABC News Now featured McCullough. Here's a link to the video (embedding? anyone?). I'll upload the video with Waters when it becomes available. Also, fun to note in McCullough's performance that they have him play to such a small crowd in a TV studio. That's always a fun time, isn't it? But he does get them going eventually. And Caroline herself is there, too!
Last year's runner-up, Rob O'Reilly (pictured), makes a return trip to the Final Four tonight, and shared some insight with us about the process and the particular peculiarities:
"This year it's me versus Dan Hirshon on one side and Liz Miele vs. Reese Waters on the other side. Interesting side note is that those two are dating. Weirder side note is that so are me and Hirshon.
We do 5 minutes in the final 4 and 10 minutes if you make the finals."
The early rounds got judged by a laughometer (or laugh o'meter, or Laugh-O-Meter, depending upon your pronounciation preferences), while tonight's semifinals and finals decide winners by audience ballot. The showdowns begin tonight at 9:30 p.m. at Carolines. Will the fact that O'Reilly and Miele recently both taped Live At Gotham give them a competitive advantage? You'll just have to go and find out!