Just in time for Valentine's Day, here comes Ted Alexandro's latest set on Late Show with David Letterman, in which the 42-year-old comedian espouses the joys of being single. Alexandro also has the audacity and temerity to bring up gay marriage. He's comedy's very own George Clooney! Sort of. You know.
Roll the clip!
Greg Giraldo was a maestro, a master of his craft. One of the things I treasure most about coming up through the New York City comedy scene is the opportunity to learn by watching the very best in NY's clubs, an unconventional university scattered over the expanse of New York's five boroughs. Classes are rarely scheduled, they often just pop up and if you're lucky, you're in the right place at the right time. Professors Attell, Rock, Chappelle, CK, Barry, Giraldo - maestros, one and all - hold court and we, the students, sit and learn. And from the very start, Professor Giraldo was one of my very favorites.
An exciting thing happens when one of these maestros takes the stage. The mundane rhythms of a comedy club are transformed. Comedians line the back of the room with childlike excitement in anticipation of something special. Even the waitstaff momentarily stops and becomes part of the audience. The fractured energies and scattered focus of the many are harnessed and fused into one energy- something inexplicably beautiful- in the hands of the maestros. When Greg Giraldo walked into a club, class was in session.
I remember countless nights when I was filled with giddy excitement at the sight of Greg's arrival at a club. I'd take my place in the back and savor every moment of his performance. Greg possessed a very rare and special combination of gifts. He had a fierce intellect, a quick wit, a philosopher's insight and a sweet, goofy innocence that was infectious. The best comedians distill their essence with ease and you could see all of Greg up on stage every time he took the mic from the stand.
His ideas would spill out with a fury that was intoxicating and overwhelming. His rhythm was rapid fire, smart, funny, surprising- brilliant. The kind of funny that makes you turn to the person next to you because you need to share the moment with another soul and affirm that it is real. Greg Giraldo raised the bar and often left you in disbelief, as the maestros do, sending you home with an assignment to get to work. Certain nights it seemed like he was channeling something from the heavens and sharing it with the fortunate humble assemblage.
After September 11th New York City, like the rest of the country and much of the world, was in shock and grieving the terrorist attacks. Comedy essentially shut down for several days and even when it started up again, many comedians- myself included- were floundering, wondering how to proceed. How could anything be funny? How could you dare attempt to broach that topic. Doing the same old jokes the same way felt so hollow and insignificant. Enter the maestro. <>It was a week or so after September 11th and Greg walked into Gotham Comedy Club. I was thrilled because I was curious to see if he would address the attacks and how he would handle it. I hadn't really seen anyone do it yet. Greg proceeded to launch head on into the topic with a daring and magical set that was both astoundingly funny and cathartic. I laughed so hard that I cried. I cried because maestro Giraldo had taught us all a lesson once again. Nothing stops life. Nothing is off limits. It is all fodder, it is all available to us to create something beautiful. There was something so reassuring in his cocksure presence on stage. It was like "Okay motherfuckers, here we go!"
I don't remember much but I do remember a bit about seeing a bachelorette party with penises on their heads, post 9/11. The site of these bachelorettes made him realize "The terrorists haven't won. Life will go on!" Greg, with his performance, embodied that very lesson that night.
Another indelible impression that Greg made on me occurred on "Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn". One night Denis Leary was among the guests on the panel, alongside Greg, a frequent panelist. Leary was his usual cocky, aggressive self. At one point Leary, blustery and condescending, made the mistake of going after Greg. The dynamic was fascinating; it was like the bully assuming he could take a shot at the young gun, who he took to obviously be beneath him. What happened next was classic. Greg undressed Leary with a barrage that was fast, brilliant and decisive. It was the perfect display of Greg's brilliance, sending Leary to the deck before he even realized what hit him. Leary had a look of shock, it reminded me of a disoriented Mike Tyson on his knees searching for his mouthpiece after being knocked out by Buster Douglas.
The beauty of this moment for me was that Greg was never a bully. In my experience he was always humble, kind, sweet, gentle and inclusive, the opposite of a bully. But when a bully picked a fight, Greg had the tools to switch gears and say "Okay, motherfucker. Here we go." And he did it in a way that was pure Giraldo- fast, surprising and brilliant- driven not by ego but by a desire to see justice. Perhaps this was the lawyer in him. When one of your heroes becomes your friend, as Greg did over the years, it is such an exciting, rewarding experience. Greg had his demons, his struggles with addiction and it was sad to see my friend, one of my heroes, struggling so mightily. Certain nights you could sense him putting on a happy face but there was a raw pain apparent that allowed you to glimpse his inner conflict.
When I was a kid I was taught that drugs were bad and I naively assumed people who did drugs were bad people. Adulthood has repeatedly taught me otherwise. I don't know why some people do drugs and other don't. I don't know why some people become addicted and others don't. I do know that all kinds of people do all kinds of things, behave all kinds of ways, and it is not necessarily a character flaw. Often it is a disease, an illness that one must ultimately come to terms with and accept on one's own- with the help of others. I know Greg had so many people in his life who loved and supported him throughout his battles with addiction. Sadly, this battle, this illness took Greg's life in the end. This is what makes the illness of addiction so baffling and heartbreaking. Greg loved exploring the gray areas and what could be more inexplicably gray than a brilliant mind, a radiant spirit- so adept at dissecting life and humanity, yet unable to control his own behaviors?
I am saddened by the loss of my friend, my mentor, one of my strongest inspirations. I remember Greg Giraldo's brilliance, his formidable mind and spirit. I cherish his contagious smile and his childlike, infectious joy. I take solace and inspiration from Greg's own words, one of my favorite bits about letters from Civil War soldiers to their girlfriends back home:
"This morn finds me wrecked by the fiery pangs of your absence. I will bear your cherished memory with me as I battle the forces of tyranny and oppression."
And so, Greg, we will. Thank you Greg Giraldo, sweet soul, dear friend.
Reprinted by permission from Ted Alexandro.
Maybe all of those ads in Aruba for Aruba have convinced Lewis Black that he's ready to take his comedy to the Caribbean. Well, at least for a week. On a boat. With some of his funny stand-up comedian friends: John Pinette, Susie Essman, Dom Irrera, Kathleen Madigan, John Bowman, Larry Wilmore and Ted Alexandro.
Because that's what's happening this November. It's Lew's Cruise? Yes. Lew's Cruise. As Black himself explains on the site:
"Because this show just can't happen on dry land. A cruise offers the possibility of a week of unlimited fun. And we can all go a little crazy and just walk back to our rooms. It provided me the opportunity to spend time with my good friends, who also happen to be some of the funniest people I know. And its a week of non-stop comedy and all sorts of chances for you guys to see where the funny comes from with q and a's and all sorts of other surprises that will be revealed shortly on this site.
"Don't whine to me if you miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. A vacation. And constant live entertainment. You can rock climb on this boat, why I don't know but you can. You can surf on this boat. Don't ask it wasn't my idea. So join us you pricks, who knows, it may even make me smile."
Other activities include a screening of My Favorite Year and Q&A with Mark Linn Baker, Madigan calling BINGO games, Irrera holding forth on his "Comedy Court," improv lessons with Joe Grifasi, and the other activities and excursions you can normally expect on a cruise.
It'll all take place on Royal Carribean's Liberty of the Seas, seven nights, leaving Miami on Nov. 7, 2010, and heading to Costa Maya, Mexico; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico; and George Town, Grand Cayman. Prices for the cruise start at $1,459, not including transportation to Miami.
What do the kids at Barely Political do when they're not unleashed Obama Girl on the masses? Well, turns out they're still making videos, and this new one casts Ted Alexandro as a hacky stand-up comedian (in real life, he is unhacky and very funny) brought in to teach the cop (Barely Political's Mark Douglas) how to deliver proper jokes and catchphrases when making arrests. It's a veritable "Catchprhase Academy"! No. That's the title. Catchphrase Academy. Also, I own that same shirt Alexandro is wearing, but in a different size and for different ironic purposes. OK. Roll it!
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:
That's right. Louis CK just recorded enough material Saturday night in Boston from his ongoing "Hilarious" tour to fill two CDs. When I mentioned this to him after he finished signing autographs and taking photos with fans, he realized he hadn't thought about the limitations of the compact disc -- such is the nature of our relationship with digital technology these days. Of course, our increasing reliance on high-tech gadgets and innovations is one of the many topics that came under his microscope during his 95-minute set at the Orpheum (crews captured another three minutes of his pre-show announcements that may find their way onto the CD, plus an encore of about 12 minutes, from which he told me he may use only a little bit on disc). An October 2008 panel appearance with Conan O'Brien -- in which Louis CK talks about how we have forgotten what technology and science has made possible for us -- has shot around the Internets recently, as evidenced by the crowd giving him an applause break Saturday night when he began getting into the topic. The few minutes he told Conan is part of a broader message that lasted about 18-19 minutes on Saturday on how all of the great things that our world has invented and created in the past two decades have been wasted on us. When he railed against people complaining about the reaction times on their cell phones, noting, "The sh!$$iest cell phone in the world is a miracle!" I could not help but note that just before the show, my cell phone, combined with the application of Twitter, not only informed me that rising teen comedian Bo Burnham was also in the crowd, but also allowed me to find him among the 2,600 fans at the Orpheum and exchange greetings in person.
Summertime, and the comedy is easy to find, even outside here in New York City.
Central Park SummerStage offers its first "Comedy Central Park" of the season tonight with Stephen Lynch, Mike Birbiglia and Julian McCullough. It's free!
Down at Tompkins Square Park, NY Laughs offers its second free summer of laughs, with shows June 29, July 13, July 26, Aug. 10, Sept. 19 and Sept. 28. Ted Alexandro kicks things off in the first show, which has an early start time of 6 p.m.
Almost there...almost there...stay on target...stay on target. We have put 49 hours of continuous stand-up comedy in the books here at Comic Strip Live, leaving one final hour to reach the finish and a potential Guinness World Record. Christian Finnegan has already performed, and the rest of this finale bill features Lisa Landry, Ted Alexandro, Rich Vos and Judah Friedlander. The house is packed and laughing heartily. Everyone is in high spirits, including many of the club staffers who have worked with little sleep, the host William Stephenson who's had barely a couple of naps, and, of course, myself. We shall not be denied this prize on this night.
Just as I finished typing that last update, Pete Dominick switches gears completely and decides to talk about how some people watch comedy shows and think maybe they should do it. So Dominick offers tips and guidance. First, he says that most comedians wish ill on each other's careers, and when they ask how another comic is doing, they really want to know what's going on with your career (not how you're doing personally) so they can hope it fails or try to audition for the gig you're working toward. Dominick talks about how age and looks play differently in the industry (he claims 27 is seen as too old to start comedy and if you're bald, like him, good luck with that, too, getting industry folk to look you in the eyes). And yet, when he got his gig hosting a show on Sirius Satellite Radio, he said he got tons of dates performing stand-up -- despite being no better or worse as a performer than before he got the radio gig. "But that's how this business works," Dominick tells the audience. "It's f#%&ing insanity."
Dominick also decides to heap praise on fellow stand-up comedian Ted Alexandro, whom many in the audience had just seen earlier this morning. "He is an aberration," Dominick said of Alexandro. "He is such a nice and humble and honest person."
Where is all of this coming from?
"I could be up here crushing with my act, but I do that so often," he quips. "So I thought, why don't I give you some behind the scenes." So there you go.
12 Hours! New audience members! An applause break! Duly noted, Ted Alexandro. Duly noted. A quartet of new audience members recently arrived, and say they're visiting from San Diego and saw this was happening as a "thing to do" on the "Internet." Alexandro applauds us all for being here as record holders. "I remember reading that (Guinness World Records) book as a kid. It was two fat guys on motorcycles and a midget Chinese guy," he quips. "Why aren't they here?" Just the boost of energy this show needed. "I'm not a night comic. I'm a morning comic," Alexandro says after more applause. "It only took me 14 years to figure this out."