Some news for fans of The Zog, aka Seth Herzog, aka the man who cannot stop dancing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and has hosted New York City's most popular indie weekly comedy night that also features his mother...
Herzog headlines tonight at Comix in NYC with special guests, including Big Lake's Chris Gethard. Just check out that promo (if you click on the picture, you can make his eyes follow you!). Tickets $10, $5 with discount code SETH.
On Tuesday, Sweet returns for one night only (having left The Slipper Room due to that Lower East Side bar's construction plans) in a temporary home at The Studio at Webster Hall for Sweet's sixth anniversary show. Herzog will welcome comedy stars of screens big and small John Oliver, Jon Glaser, Justin Long and other "very special guests." Zog writes: "I know a lot of you have been waiting for Sweet to come back, and this is going to be one hell of a fabulicious event, that will include some great comedy, some surprises, lots of spontaneiousity, and yes, a Mom or two..."
Sorry, comedy fans. The Comic's Comic did not don something scary or silly this Halloween, but that didn't stop plenty of our favorite comedians from celebrating (and sometimes even performing) in costume on Saturday night. And in the age of the Internets (the age...of the...INTERNETS) that also means going online to share our Halloween disguises with our friends and followers. Here are some of my favorites that I spotted over the weekend. Who were yours? Did I miss it? If so, please share!
To kick things off, though, how about a "doodle" from Michael Showalter about Halloween parties:
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:
When I heard that Pete Holmes wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having his friends and fellow stand-up comedians roast him, my first thought was that he had lost his mind. And then I attended the roast last night at the UCB, and was quickly reminded that this is a rare opportunity for comedians to unleash not only their mocking jabs at one another, but also some heartfelt tender moments. But you didn't click here looking for heartfelt or tender, did you? As Holmes himself said during the show: "I want it to be meaner!"
Leo Allen, the regular host of Monday night's Whiplash, served as the roastmaster (pictured here by Mindy Tucker) -- and despite allegedly forgetting that the roast was happening, managed to find several zingers up his sleeves. The dais was a regular who's who of New York City's current crop of up-and-coming comedians, with John Mulaney, Anthony Jeselnik and Kumail Nanjiani represented. Also on board: TJ Miller, who flew in for the event, Jared Logan, David Angelo, Nate Fernald, Seth Herzog, a tardy Julian McCullough and Holmes' girlfriend, Jamie Lee. Here are a few of the many zingers I managed to jot down for posterity:
I wondered how many of the audience members knew what they were in for (there were a dozen or two other comics scattered in the seats, too), and I knew it'd be something when one young woman, when asked by Allen if she knew who Holmes was, shouted: "Security in the basement!" Yeah, that's a Greg Johnson bit. ROASTED!
It's Tuesday, which in New York City anytime over the past several years, means it's time for another edition of Seth Herzog's Sweet show, in which "the Zog" (pictured at right with President Obama) regales audiences at The Slipper Room with tales and dances, shares quips with a celebrity sidekick DJ, puts on any number of talented comedic performers and has a live onstage discussion with his mother. Tonight, Sweet celebrates its 200th show (Janeane Garofalo, Reggie Watts, Jon Glaser, actor Frank Whaley and surprises are in store). So I sat down with the Zog -- actually we both sat at our computers late last night and exchanged Qs and As. Let's get to it.
First a fun fact: Seth Herzog also is the new "audience warm-up guy" for NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Herzog said last night's debut was crazy fun, and that he and Fallon have been friends for years, and Fallon asked him to join the team.
What were you doing before Sweet, comedy-wise?
Before Sweet I was performing at everyone in else's shows. I had been doing stand up in New York since the mid 90's. The alt comedy movement began in NY the year I moved here, but at the time "Eating It" was the only great show outside of the clubs and it was very hard to get on, so for the first few years when I did spots it mostly in the clubs, although I did do spots at "Stella" and "Moonwork" later (in fact it was at a Moonwork show back in '97 that I danced on stage for the first time). Then in '01 Josh Weinstein asked me to be a regular part of his new weekly show "The Industry Room" which was at a theater space on West 44th called "Freaks Local" and in the same month "The Shark Show" began and asked me to a regular part of their show too. So although of the sudden at two regular shows to perform on and I was doing other shows, where ever I could as well.
Did you have your own show under a different name and format?
Like I mentioned before, from May of '01 to Sept '02, I was a weekly performer and one of four producers of a weekly show called "The Industry Room" that was a great time! It wasn't my own show, but it was good practice to organize a weekly show and write a new show each week with others to help. It was created and hosted by Josh Weinstein (who has since moved to LA) and also produced along with John Viener (now working on Family Guy) and Ophira Eisenberg and myself. We would each
do a set and have three other guests each week as well. It was mostly a string of stand ups, but I was always pushing to book non-traditional acts. I thought it was important that we have at least one character or conceptual performer on each show. Also, the show was held in three different spaces in its 18-month exsistence. The first two spaces were little theater spaces, which were perfect for what we were doing. Then we were the first show at the Village Lantern and were there for last seven months of the show.
What was the first Sweet show like? Were you at The Slipper Room? Who performed?
The first Sweet show was a great night, I remember it well. It was the first Thursday of August in '04. We had about 80 people show up, mostly friends of mine at the time. Michael Showalter and Zak Orth (aka "the Dollies") performed. They had written the song "We had to do the show!" specifically for the first Sweet show (and I understand that song has now made it way on to Mike's latest album), also Demetri Martin and Ed Helms performed. Ed told a story about drunkenly throwing up in Itzahk Perlman's home studio when he was in high school. I know there was one other person who did it, too but I can't think of who it was. And very funny drummer Ethan Eubanks was my sidekick/ DJ for the first months of the show. And yes, this first show was at the Slipper Room, although originally the show was conceived to be done at Mo Pitkins (when it opened) but a year later when it finally opened, I
ended up just keeping the show at the Slipper Room, and it's a good thing I did.
Did you miss last week's Time Out New York approved comedy showcase at the UCB that was part of the New York Comedy Festival? Would you like to see some highlights from the sets of Anthony Jeselnik, Max Silvestri, Reggie Watts, Sean Patton, Seth Herzog, The Hazzards and host/TONY Comedy Editor Jane Borden? Of course, you would. So here that is. Note: Language is NSFW!
Eugene Mirman has announced the planned lineups for his crazy-yet-true-because-it-is-Eugene-after-all comedy festival named for him, taking place Sept. 25-28 in Brooklyn. Mirman pretty much has it covered -- most of his usual and unusual suspects will appear over those four days and nights at two venues, Union Hall (where Mirman already hosts the popular Tearing the Veil of Maya showcase on Sundays with Michael Showalter in Park Slope) and The Bell House (a new joint the Union Hall folks are opening nearby).
Time Out NY playfully hinted at what a Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival might look like, with hints from Mirman himself.
Want to see who's scheduled to perform?
Almost missed this entirely somehow...but tonight, as in an hour from now, doors open at 7 p.m. at the Knitting Factory in NYC, there's a comedy benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society featuring Todd Barry, Eugene Mirman, Leo Allen, John Mulaney, Max Silvestri, Seth Herzog, Andy Blitz, Daniel Dratch, Mike Birbiglia, Jim Gaffigan and more? Get out of town. No, stay in the city and head on over and donate $20 to the cause. Here's a link.
By the time you read this, comedian Seth Herzog will be in Iraq on a USO tour to entertain the troops. That's big news for him. Of course, many comedians have made the trek over the past five years. But none of them had to do pack up and move out of an infamously tiny apartment in New York City first. Just guessing. Herzog hosts the popular Sweet show on Tuesdays in NYC (popular enough he took the show on the road to the Sundance Film Festival, and has plans on bringing Sweet to the Democratic National Convention this summer) and has a gift for gab, which as a McCarthy and rightful heir to the Blarney Stone, I certainly can appreciate. Anyhow. I thought I'd stop by on Herzog's last night in his 12-by-5 home last Thursday and get a look at his tiny abode before it's gone (The Breslin is converting the apartments, save for the top floor, into hotel rooms). The Village Voice documented Herzog's place in 2003, and documentary filmmakers did the same in Zog's Place. Now, here is Herzog one last time to show us around.
Note: Herzog does utter a NSFW word a few times in this clip, although South Park proved you could say this word on TV many many times.
The video actually goes on for about five more minutes, in which we both get a little sappy and slap-happy. I've included that portion of the video after the jump.
While Herzog performs in Iraq, his friends Craig Baldo and Bobby Tisdale take over the reins for tonight's Sweet show at the Slipper Room. Baldo's guests include Roger Hailes, Eddie Pepitone, Joe DeRosa and Baldo's biological mother. Should be sweet. Just not the same sweet as usual.
The following comedy lesson is brought to you by Michael Showalter, The Slipper Room, the F train and Road Runner Internet service...
Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedian poking fun and the target of the poking are good friends and all is friendly. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Such was the case Tuesday night at Seth Herzog's Sweet showcase at The Slipper Room. Everything was going along smoothly and long as usual during the two-hour affair, with Herzog dancing like a fool, Brett Gelman presenting the angry insult comic Jimmy New York, and Showalter describing the first time he and childhood friend Herzog visited Hoagie Haven in the sixth grade. "He is like a cat rolled up in catnip, because I'm telling a story about him, instead of doing my material," Showalter said. He then followed up with an essay about dating girls with boyfriends, which if I didn't know better, sounds like it could've been the inspiration for his charming comedy, The Baxter. So far, so good. Right?
After some more silliness, including a discussion between Herzog and his mom about her affinity for gay men, TJ Miller (co-star in ABC's new sitcom, Carpoolers, as well as the cameraman in Cloverfield) came on to close out the show. In his opening remarks, he referred to "Michael Showalter and his one-man, four-act play." Gets a quick laugh from the audience. But that perked up Showalter's ears, while the rest of his face and body evoked more of a WTF reaction. In fact, he said something along those lines, and in reality told his friends, "This guy doesn't know me."
The word "douche" also may have been muttered/uttered. From the back of the room, Showalter muttered the words "what a douche." Clearly affected by this onstage diss, Showalter even texted a message to Herzog about it. Herzog, though, made the situation more awkward by having Showalter approach the stage (unmiked) to say something to Miller about his diss. Miller didn't know what to say except to apologize. Minutes later, Showalter confronted Miller again offstage to let him know it's not OK to diss comedians you don't know. A few minutes of verbal volleying followed before Miller said "this is over" and left the building.
To repeat this evening's morning lesson: Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedians in question are good friends all is good. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Because that's often perceived as disrespect.
If you're looking for something to do tonight in New York City, and think it might be a wee bit crowded at Rififi for night two of the Invite Them Up finale, then here are three shows to consider...
1) Sweet. Seth Herzog's weekly comedy showcase at The Slipper Room on the Lower East Side is one of the more unique experiences you can find, even among the myriad of offerings in New York City's comedy scene. Herzog exemplifies the term "host with the most." This guy gives audiences more material to chew on every Tuesday night than other hosts, and you never quite know what's going to come out of his mouth next. He might dress up as Wonder Woman. He might dance up a storm. He might ramble on. You just never know. You do know, however, that you'll get to hear him chat up his mother -- who has her own cadre of comedy fans. Think of David Letterman's TV routines with his mom back in the day, then add a heaping dose of Mama Herzog reality. Seth also grew up as childhood friends with Michael Showalter, so there's that to consider. And he has a mailing list and fan base that seems to include every performer in this city. On recent visits, I've spotted actresses Natalie Portman and Kristen Johnston in the audience. Herzog also has a sidekick/DJ by his side each week, which adds some ad-libbed banter and fun to the proceedings. Herzog's guests tonight include Michael Showalter, Laura Krafft and Kumail Nanjiani. He also has some surprise guests on the agenda. Oh, and if you know of any real-estate deals, please let Seth know. He needs to move out of his infamous spot.
2) Diamonds in the Fluff. Jamie Lee (day job, Comedy Central publicist; night job, stand-up comedian and show producer) launches a new monthly comedy benefit show at Hugs in Williamsburg, with all of the proceeds helping the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition. Lee's guests tonight are Diana Saez, Eric Andre, Baron Vaughn, ventriloquist and musician Carla Rhodes.
3) And in the last, but certainly not least department, Gotham Comedy Club hosts a Bill Hicks tribute tonight. Hicks died 14 years ago today. Jesse Joyce will host, with live performances by Ted Alexandro and Greg Giraldo, recorded footage of Hicks -- including portions of a new documentary in the works by the BBC -- and a live Q-and-A with his only brother, Steve Hicks. It'll cost you $20 and two drinks, but the $20 goes to the Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Years ago, living in Arizona, I turned on the TV screen and found one of them thar talking head funny funny har har shows on. You know the ones made popular by VH1 and then later on CMT, E! and elsewhere, wherein clips from the day or days gone by are rebroadcast, then commented upon and made fun of by quippy quippy people. Twas quite the novelty to love the 1970s or 1980s by mocking them. It's become part of our societal fabric now.
Back then, though, what amazed me even more than this TV mockathon was the fact that several of the talking heads were labeled as comedians, even though I'd never seen them perform or even heard of them before. How'd they get on my TV, then? Well, since moving to New York City, I've begun to learn that some of these so-called comedians weren't headlining club comics, or even regular stand-up comedians, but improv and sketch folk in NYC or LA. Still, though, some of the named comedians on your TV may throw even seasoned performers for a loop. That's what happened the other night when a stand-up comedian at the Comedy Cellar asked me who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks some of these people were.
So I figured I'd help learn him and you on your TV talking head comedians.
In this installment, we discover who got listed as "comedian" on VH1's Web Junk 40: Best of the New Crap. There's 18 commenters in all...that's a lot, don't you think. The kids from the Best Week Ever blog get face time, which is a nice courtesy. There's someone from TV.com and someone from gakcity.TV, which I'd never known existed and still don't believe actually exists. Two guys show up without any ID other than their names, which I guess makes sense because even combined, they didn't manage to say anything worthy enough to be interested in learning who they were. Ten get labeled as comedians. Who are they? In order of appearance and official identification...
Simmy Kay: Writer/comedian? Hadn't heard of him. Google says...he was a narrator for MTV's Room Raiders, and that his real last name is Kustanowitz and that he's been in some commercials.
Seth Herzog: Comedian? Yep. He hosts a weekly Tuesday night comedy show called Sweet in NYC's Lower East Side. I've seen it more than thrice. Fun fact: He has been friends since childhood with Michael Showalter.
Jenny Slate: Comedian? Very much so. I saw her Gabe & Jenny show last Thursday in a new venue, Hugs bar in Williamsburg, and found her dazzling with comic poise and pizazzmatazz. She's also performing tonight at Rififi, according to what I know and believe to be true.
Dave Holmes: Writer/comedian? Wait. Wasn't he the guy who finished runner-up to Jesse the phony street kid Camp in MTV's first Wanna Be A VJ contest a decade ago? Yes. Yes he was. Holmes eventually did become an MTV VJ with all of his music knowledge. Sometime between then and now, he got into comedy and turned up on Reno 911! Blame/credit iO West.
Carter Roy: Comedian? Apparently. Though I've never seen him perform, he's been on The Shark Show in NYC and also listed as a sketch trouper.
Megan Neuringer: Comedian? I guess so. She's been on Channel 102 productions. She's also done longform improv and write and performed in "Megan and Bridie: Friends W/O Benefits," with Bridie Harrington.
Pete Holmes: Comedian? Yes, indeedy. Stand-up raised near Boston, known in the Chicago comedy community, now residing and performing in NYC. Funny funny. Semi-finalist in this year's Comedy Central Open Mic Fights, as well as in New York Comedy Festival's funniest stand-up in New York contest.
Jake Fogelnest: Writer/comedian? Yes. Although you're more likely these days to hear him on your satellite radio than see him perform live comedy in person.
This year's Sundance Film Festival kicks off this weekend with live laughs, courtesy of Seth Herzog's Sweet show. Well, actually it's courtesy of Toyota and producer Adam Bauer. But that's why they call it show business, right? As for the shows, if you're in the vicinity of Park City, Utah, on Friday and/or Saturday, just head over to the Sidecar Lounge at 333 Main St. between 6:30 and 7 p.m. It's not quite like being in the Slipper Room on the Lower East Side, but from what I gather, Herzog's comedy showcase should be a lot of fun, because he'll be joined by Saturday Night Live's Jason Sudeikis, David Wain (who cast Herzog and Sudeikis in his 2007 film The Ten, which screened at last year's Sundance and came out on DVD this week), Nick Kroll and John Veiner. Oh, and there's likely to be at least one big special surprise stand-up performer, too.
Care to know more?
Well, then, just sit back and let Seth Herzog and Jason Sudeikis explain part of their plans.
I know, I know. The lighting. But I prefer working without all the bells and whistles of traditional videographers. Them and their flashes and microphones and whatnots. Just as I've been known to throw myself into situations as a print journalist, why not go gonzo in digital multimedia, too? It's all on the up and up, but a little more fun going gonzo. In the meantime, if you'd like to know even more about Sweet @ The Dance, it appears they've got a site partially operational here. Herzog said he's likely blogging about his Sundance experience on Heeb magazine.
Today is the final day for open voting for the ECNY Awards, which used to stand for Emerging Comics of New York, but now just is ECNY to honor other kinds of comedians, sort of how KFC decided it was much more than merely Kentucky Fried. The awards ceremony is Jan. 28 at Comix. And the show promises to be a hoot. Jon Friedman hosts. Look for live performances and pre-taped magic, and for a sneak peek, I caught up with ECNY's producers as they got some of the nominees on camera. So I got them getting them on camera. Here's a fun snippet with The Apple Sisters...
Who will be getting your votes? Perhaps more importantly, who'll get my votes? I'm on the "Industry Committee," which means not only do I get until Jan. 20 to place my votes, but also that the Industry Committee's votes count for half of the total -- perhaps they got that concept from Dancing With The Stars, in which the judges get 50% of the say, the audience the other 50% through call-in votes. Since I still have some time before I fill out my ballot, perhaps you can help make the case for your favorites or get me to take a second look at someone I may have overlooked.
As it stands, my thoughts are...