They're not exactly the Three Musketeers of comedy, but Bill Burr, Robert Kelly and Joe DeRosa did figure out the value of teamwork. By joining forces, they sat down, wrote, produced and directed a short film all on their own, and Cheat will debut this weekend at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. There are five screenings, starting April 23 and continuing through May 1.
The film has opened up other opportunities for the trio.
Let's take a look at the trailer, and then talk to the fellas about it. Roll the clip.
So whose idea was it? Who had to convince the other two to get on board with making a short film?
BURR: "I think Bobby was the guy who said this was a movie."
KELLY: "I was the most desperate to do something. Bill has a very successful career and doesn't need us guys."
BURR: "No...Stop. He was the star of Tourgasm. I was on I Love the 80s Strikes Back. There's no strife between us. This was the three of us clinging to a raft and surviving together."
DEROSA: "Yeah, it was Bobby. The three of us had talked about it. Why are we waiting for something to happen. Why are we waiting for the next audition? Why don't we make it happen? That was the planted seed. And we called Bill and Bill liked it."
So what's the cheat in the movie?
DEROSA: "The logline is three friends to pull off the perfect crime. It looks like it might be a comedic heist, but then there's the big reveal!
BURR: "I always just bring up the movie Speed, Part 2, where they just showed the first two-and-a-half acts. They showed everything but Sandra Bullock walking on the beach. They burned 90 minutes of the movie and we knew the boat didn't blow up. We're kind of doing the opposite. We're in between Speed 2 and The Crying Game."
Were film festivals the initial goal for this?
Up late at night on Oct. 9, 2010, and need a fix? Comedy Central will be your TV sponsor at 1 a.m., setting a time and date for the premiere of "Comics Anonymous."
Here's the network description: "The support groups may be anonymous, but their problems certainly aren’t. Tune in to “Comics Anonymous” for Jim Norton’s analysis of cheating and the dangers of S&M, Rich Vos’s desire for people to rank their favorite children, Robert Kelly’s food addiction and “fat worry” and Mike DeStefano’s convictions about transmitting AIDS by doorknob."
The special taped back in February, and DeStefano told me then that he was hoping to put together a tour this fall. Of course, that was before he went all the way to the final five on Last Comic Standing, and with it, a separate North American theater tour. So you may have to wait until 2011 for a Comics Anonymous tour. Don't worry, though. It'll be worth the wait.
Sometimes it seems like every comedian has a podcast and a streaming online talk show, because I think every comedian has launched one in the past year. Where's yours?
Kevin Nealon has started doing something slightly different on Tuesday nights at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood. It appears to be live comedy show, combined with a live talk show. The club is posting clips from the first week already. Here are highlights from Nealon's frank discussion with Robert Kelly on sex and marriage. Do I need to tell you it's NSFW? I think I just did. Roll the clip!
Apple did not tell me how it came up with its list of Best of Comedy 2008 in iTunes, so I cannot tell you if this lineup is based on sales, judged rankings or something else entirely. But I can tell you who made the iTunes cut in 2008 (I've reviewed half of these CDs, which means I still have some work to do). Whom do you think they overlooked?
Robert Kelly, Just the Tip
Steve Byrne, Happy Hour
Gabriel Iglesias, Hot and Fluffy
Josh Sneed, Unacceptable
Lisa Landry, Put Your Keys in the Keybowl
Pablo Francisco, Ouch! (Live from San Jose)
Jimmy Dore, Citizen Jimmy
Dov Davidoff, The Point Is
Bill Burr, Why Do I Do This?
Jeffrey Ross: No Offense, Live from New Jersey
Anyone who doubted whether TBS could or would pull together a full slate of A-level comedy talent for its first edition of The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas without HBO as a partner, well doubt no more. Over the weekend, TBS unveiled its first look at the official schedule for Nov. 20-22 at Caesars Palace, which includes Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Dane Cook, Katt Williams, Jim Breuer, Kids in the Hall, Russell Peters, Jim Norton, a roast of Cheech and Chong, David Alan Grier, Jeff Dunham, Laffapalooza hosted by Tracy Morgan, Andrew Dice Clay, Mike Epps, John Oliver, and Caliente Comedy with Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco and Anjelah Johnson. The network also says it'll have 25 up-and-coming stand-up and sketch acts performing in a separate LOL Lounge. Full sked after the jump!
If I hadn't mentioned this before, this whole record-setting comedy show also is a fund-raiser for the troops, and comedian Robert Kelly just got back from performing on a USO tour in Iraq. Kelly said he supports the troops, certainly, but he couldn't help them out as a soldier himself. "What am I going to do, throw an iPod in a Taliban member's face?" Kelly asked.
The sales tallies are in...and Robert Kelly will not get to kick the president of Comedy Central Records in the groin area. Oh well. His CD/DVD, Just the Tip, ranked #7 this week in sales for comedy albums. It would've needed to chart #10 on the overall Billboard 200 to reach his goal of 30,000 discs sold in its first week.
"It's been in the top ten on Amazon all week and it's been in the top 30 on iTunes all week, which is great," Kelly wrote to fans in a MySpace bulletin overnight. "I have to keep getting the word out there."
New this week on CD and DVD, Robert Kelly presents Just the Tip. Before we get to the review, here is a very appropriate promo provided by Kelly himself, with Comedy Central's Anne Harris.
It's an especially apt look at what you're going to get on the DVD disc, which features a 43-minute documentary behind the scenes in the "making of the CD." So you see plenty of Kelly's funny friends trash talking him and his idea to his face, including Dane Cook, Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, Keith Robinson, Al Del Bene and Jay Davis. Yes. That Jay Davis. Though the CD claims it was taped in July 2007, much of the DVD footage comes from 2006, when Kelly was fresh off of HBO's Tourgasm and brought Davis along as his opener because of that. On the CD, most of his jokes he says he's 36, but in the middle he sometimes says he's 35. For further evidence, you can see my newspaper byline from the Boston Herald about Kelly's Comedy Connection tapings at the 37:40 mark (fun fact!). Click here for unpublished parts of my interview with Kelly then (which includes predictions from Kelly about what'll be on the disc!). Anyhow. The "making of" video succeeds in bringing the atmosphere of the Comedy Cellar table out into the daylight and everyday life, revealing that these comedians really are a brotherhood of fools. Norton provides advice on the actual recording process for his CD. Vinny Brand from the Stress Factory in New Jersey makes an appearance to let Kelly rehearse his CD set. Al Del Bene (who led Kelly and Cook in an early '90s improv group, Al and the Monkeys) comes along for the ride. You see that his personality, and his food addictions, are very very real.
The other part of the DVD shows Kelly's Comedy Central Presents without commercial interruption (my thoughts and video clips here). I only wish Comedy Central, which put out this record, would've included the full 36 minutes of footage for Kelly's video. Oh well.
His material has become more personal, and also better. He even acknowledged this in a recent interview with my friend at Punchline Magazine, in which he said "this is just the tip of what’s going to happen and what I’m going to be able to do. So this album is kind of like that turning point in my comedy." So there's a double meaning for the title. I like the CD, but the DVD makes it worth buying.
Here's another reason to buy Kelly's CD/DVD this week. If he sells 30,000 copies in the first week, you'll get more live comedy, at the expense of Comedy Central Records, in Times Square.
Robert Kelly went with a basic, theatrical background for his Comedy Central Presents, which debuts tonight at 10 p.m. His wardrobe also fairly simple: Black jacket, T-shirt, jeans. His fiancee explained to me back on that night in August, "He didn't want anything to distract from him."
It worked. His 36-minute set had no dead spots -- so it'll be interesting to see what Comedy Central cuts to fit the "22 minute half-hour" of TV -- and the crowd rewarded him with a standing ovation. Among the audience members, friend Colin Quinn, Opie from Opie & Anthony, and practically the entire crew from the Comedy Cellar. No cursing. Kelly went ahead and changed out any profanity with TV-clean words. It was as if he was daring the network to go ahead and give him an hour. Instead, he'll get a full-length DVD to accompany his CD, "Just The Tip," when it comes out on Tuesday. Clips follow after the jump. Here, in this interview segment, Kelly explains a classically bad gig back in Boston when he and Dane Cook were part of an improv group.
A new day for The Comic's Comic. We now have our own channel on Dailymotion. First up: A slice of life on the Greenwich Village sidewalk outside the Comedy Cellar, in which we capture Robert Kelly asking Dan Naturman about his bedtime ritual. Almost edited the end of this, but decided to leave the plot twisty freaky ending in for fun times, and to show how much I have to learn about multimedia. Look for much much more in the future.
As they say in France, que sera sera, je ne sais quoi -- which translates into not one but two cliches. As for French Canada and Montreal, what better way to close out the 25th anniversary of Just For Laughs than with a gala hosted by native son William Shatner. What's that? You didn't know the Shatner came from Montreal? Neither did I, my dear readers. Neither did I. The fest's grand finale (though the festival continues with a couple of shows on Sunday, Saturday night represented the blow-out of blow-out spectacular shows across the board) had the city's streets teeming with comedy fans, and other people, too. Let me share a few salient points and thoughts from Saturday night...
Is there a stage past post-ironic to describe the public persona of William Shatner, especially when he "sings" Canada's rock hits? Or is that simply called ironic? Where is Alanis when you need her?
Zach Galifianakis doesn't need a piano to be funny, although it certainly adds a little something something (perhaps that je ne sais quoi?) to observations such as: "At what age do you tell a highway it was adopted?"
I now have very mixed feelings about Canadian stand-up Gerry Dee. Why? Dee rocked the televised gala audience with his set Saturday night, but I had the strange sense that I had seen and heard it all before -- mostly because I had seen and heard it all before, as his 6-7 minute set virtually echoed the televised sets he had performed this year for both Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham" and NBC's "Last Comic Standing." Most stand-ups understand that any set they've done on national TV gets "burned" (aka retired), so what does this say (or what should I take it to mean) about the rest of Dee's material? Like I wrote, mixed feelings.
Bill Burr deserves a development deal, or a big break. I saw him crush both at the Shatner gala and much much later, past 2 a.m. Sunday, as the final comic in the "state of the fest" showcase, devoted to (as the program says) "this year's breakout acts and must-see talent." He actually closed both shows, for good reason. He literally is sincerely funny and brutally honest onstage.
What are the odds that out of several hundred patrons, the most drunken and annoying one gets seated front and center? Most comedy club customers will say they may fear sitting there for fear of getting picked on by the comedian. But the same is true for the performers, as the New Faces 2 showcase demonstrated Saturday night at Kola Note, with a guy talking to (and sometimes blurting out and yelling at) each of the comedians, publicly apologizing each time until he got kicked out of the show. As host Tom Papa discovered, every square inch of that customer's table was occupied by empty beer bottles. "Two hundred beers and a sailor with low self-esteem equals chaos!" Papa said.
The name "LaQuisha" always seems to get a laugh (New Face comedian Geoff Keith proved that again). Must be the "qu" sound. At least that's what the comedy textbooks say.
New York stand-up Kurt Metzger politely informed the Canadians "why America is like, the best country": We own the moon. "Where is the weird Quebec separatist flag on the moon?" Eh? Metzger also made a somewhat compelling case for why God could be a woman. I shan't dare repeat it here and now.
As New York stand-up Matt McCarthy (no relation, well, not to me, anyhow) and I decided, Montreal is like the French Texas of Canada. Just a little bit different. Acts like it's its own country. And as the other McCarthy said during his New Face showcase, "I have never seen so many churches and strip clubs in my life. Make up your minds!"
Speaking of Texas, New Face stand-up Lucas Molandes showed yet again that Austin breeds very smart and clever comedians. His closing bit on the war in Iraq involved a sexual conundrum between a raccoon and a cat, but he apologized by saying, "Sorry folks, I just read 'Animal Farm.'" A couple of his other touchy observations: Native Americans made the dreamcatcher, "but the one dream they couldn't catch was the American Dream." And reading Anne Frank's diary "taught me you can't hide from your problems." Yikes! Still quite funny, though.
Also quite funny: Tommy Johnagin. His performance could be used as evidence that "Last Comic Standing" does indeed find and put promising comedians on TV.
Andy Kindler really is the comedian's comedian.
Joey Kola's and Bobby Kelly's impersonations of a female voice sound oddly similar to an impersonation of Joe Pesci. I don't mean that as a funny like a clown way, either. Just funny. And that's a wrap for now. Time to catch a plane back to JFK.
Opie & Anthony prepared to return from yet another radio exile, right on the eve of launching their second annual summer comedy tour. Good timing, eh? XM satellite radio's month-long suspension ended this morning, and the K-Rock jocks get to celebrate tomorrow when the second annual "Opie & Anthony's Traveling Virus" tour kicks off at Jones Beach.
"The timing is interesting," Gregg (Opie) Hughes told me. "So yeah, they might be excited to see us."
Fans will hear plenty of free speech, too, from comedians Louis CK, Frank Caliendo, Robert Kelly, Stephen Lynch, Otto & George, Patrice Oneal, Bob Saget, Rich Vos and O&A sidekick Jim Norton (7 p.m. tomorrow, $26-$70 via Ticketmaster). The seven-city tour visits Mohegan Sun later this month and Holmdel, N.J., in August.
"I think they're going to be very festive because they can see everyone in a free atmosphere," Oneal said. "Plus, it's the first live thing after all the bull-, so people can just take a breath and enjoy themselves."
The showcase also features an Ozzfest-style village of merchants, artists and crazies to go along with the comedy.
"And that doesn't count the tailgating that happens before," Hughes said.
Last year, the jocks weren't sure what to expect on tour. "We didn't know if fans would have the patience to sit through eight to nine comics," Hughes said. "But there were times when you could hear a pin drop because the audience was waiting to hear the next joke."
Some crowds, though, got a little too into the act. In Philadelphia, the audience booed Bill Burr so relentlessly that he turned on the crowd with a hilarious rant against that city's heroes, a performance which became a YouTube hit in comedy circles. Burr, who appears on "Letterman" tonight, is passing up this tour, saying, "I earned my Purple Heart" the last go-round.
"There's nothing better than killing in front of that audience and nothing more frightening than bombing in front of them," Norton said. "They're loyal fans, but they're barbarians."
Kelly said the fans may be rowdy, but they do know comedy. "They're familiar with all of us, too, from the show, which helps."
The lineup has longstanding relationships with the Opie and Anthony program - something the jocks have fostered over the years, by inviting comics on a regular basis to hang out, share their lives and join the airtime shenanigans.
"It's not just a radio show putting on a comedy show," Cumia said. "The audience has a vested interest in every comic who is part of the show. Their crises, their addictions, their vices - the audience knows these people."
Note: Parts of this report originally appeared in the New York Daily News. More from Patrice Oneal, Robert Kelly and Jim Norton after the jump.
So yes, Robert “Bobby” Kelly has quite the homecoming this weekend, as he’s taping this weekend’s shows at the Comedy Connection in Boston. Kelly is from nearby Medford.
Kelly talked to me in the morning, something he finds himself doing a lot more now that 1) he’s hitting another level of success, and 2) spending time talking to radio buddies Opie & Anthony on their morning show. As he told me the other day, “You want success so bad your whole career, but then you finally get it, you have to work? When I was a nobody, I got to sleep, I got to play games. Then I look at Dane (Cook). I remember when Dane used to do what I do now. I loved the fact that I’d be milling around and go to sleep while he was on the phone nonstop…now I’m doing it…oh boy!”
Kelly stopped in Vancouver, B.C., earlier this summer to film a cameo in Cook’s upcoming movie, Good Luck Chuck. No, not the weekend that Cook had problems with a guest set at Yuk Yuk’s. Anyhoo. Kelly says of his cameo experience on set, “I got to go to my trailer and just sleep. I’m in my trailer all day, sleeping, eating, then I went in his trailer because his trailer was so much better than mine. I fell asleep eating candy bars. I had every candy bar known to man lying on my chest!”