Kudos to the brothers Walsh, David and Chris, for getting more mileage than I would have suspected for jumping in -- er, rather, lying down upon -- the "planking" fad.
You see, today's dumb kids are currently enjoying lying down in public places and calling it planking, because they're supposed to resemble wooden planks, or at least their brains are as functional as wooden planks. Or something like that. So the Walsh Brothers, knowing a fun idea when they see one, decided to make their own planking video around Los Angeles.
Only their video caught the attention of L.A.'s local FOX TV affiliate.
Yesterday, people wore shorts. Today, it's snowing. Am I in Las Vegas? Good guess, but no, this all has happened right here in Brooklyn (aka The Comic's Comic HQ). Yet another sign that up is down, down is up, and there must be news going on in comedyland. Let's catch up.
Anyone who still thinks the National Lampoon has anything to do with the landmark magazine or company of the same name that produced Animal House and Vacation a generation ago probably got snookered by the stock market scheme that landed the current Lampoon execs in court (NYT).
Rob Corddry took over Comedy.com yesterday because he could, and he shows you his favorite clips, and his favorite stand-ups.
NBC has promos up for Howie Mandel's new TV prank show, Howie Do It. Premieres Friday, Jan. 9, 2009. Hello, Larry.
Punchline Magazine is helping Marc Maron get a new one-man show off the ground, launching Scorching the Earth, on Jan. 3, 2009, at The Green Room at the Bleecker Street Theater in NYC.
The Apiary catches up with my friend DJ Hazard to see what's going on in his noggin. It's almost always stimulating stuff.
Which reminds me, up in Boston, they're throwing the Greater Boston Alternative Comedy Festival tonight, which is weird, because last time I checked, that's mostly everyone in Boston comedy these days. Read a new interview with The Walsh Brothers, back home for the holidays. Meaanwhile, the brand-new Boston Comedy Hall of Fame inducted Steven Wright last night in that alternative of venues, Showcase Live next to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough (you say Foxboro, I write Foxborough, let's call the whole thing off).
Jim Tews is a stand-up comedian from Cleveland looking to take the next step in his career, and this online video series with HBO Labs called "The Opener" documents that process. Sort of. Not really. But it's a funny look inside the comedy world, with episodes featuring Ian Bagg, Jen Kirkman, Maria Bamford and others. Ian Bagg gave Tews fashion advice. Maria Bamford reveals the secret to finding success is a straight line. Jen Kirkman took time during her Cleveland visit to explain the L.A. comedy scene. Today's episode has him struggling with the idea of adding a guitar to his act. Enjoy this typically deadpan look at how Tews attempted to get stage time in Los Angeles with the Walsh Brothers:
David and Chris Walsh, brothers from Charlestown, Mass., known as, well, The Walsh Brothers, returned home last week from Los Angeles to perform at the inaugural AltCom fest. And they brought the show home early and large with this rendition of their proposed theme song for the Fung Wah bus company, backed by The Grownup Noise. My apologies for jumping into the song halfway through.
The second and final night of AltCom saw a packed crowd of enthusiastic comedy fans at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday night. Certainly more of a buzz in the air. Then again, in comedy clubs across the country, 8 p.m. Saturday is considered the sweet spot for audiences, because those customers tend to have circled the date on their calendars, get all dolled up and are more than ready to laugh. So it was this night, too. More than a few in the crowd appeared to have arrived specifically to see headliner Patton Oswalt.
Boston-based comedians Myq Kaplan and Micah Sherman again opened with their warmly received rendition of the "Comedians National Anthem." But Saturday's show certainly had an unusual flow to it in terms of energy and material.
The Walsh Brothers, raised in nearby Charlestown but recently relocated to Los Angeles, got things going with an early gag on a seating upgrade for the fan with the worst seat in the house (Q-16?), inviting a young lady named Denise to come downstairs -- not to the front row, but to a chair Dave and Chris Walsh put onstage next to them. (Spoiler alert: Denise actually was local comedian and friend of the Walshes, Renata Tutko) The brothers then began by talking about their new neighborhood in Los Angeles, remarking on all the men who happened to be really good at dressing up as ladies. "Fool me once, shame on me," David said. "Fool me twice? (pause) You're good!" But what they really wanted to talk about -- and these brothers are known stylistically for their storytelling banter -- was something closer to home: The Fung Wah bus company. Ah, the Fung Wah. I've heard them talk about the Fung Wah more than once, and in fact, once called up David one noontime to tell him to turn on the local TV news when a bus had careened into a Mass Pike toll booth. This time, their story included a flourish I hadn't heard, though, about the idea to turn the Fung Wah into an amusement ride with special harnesses, having the bus hurtle down the Pike at 150 mph and then have the walls and the floor disappear. That'd be a way to get to NYC, I tells ya. The Walshes also got to close with their elaborate ad pitch for the Fung Wah, complete with a rockin' theme song backed by local band (and Walsh Brothers friendlies) The Grown-Up Noise. Playing it down the road in the basement at Jimmy Tingle's former theater is one thing, but on the big stage in front of 900 fans turns it into quite the production.
Which made the transition to Morgan Murphy more than slightly jarring. After a few minutes, though, Murphy got the audience adjusted to her pace and energy, and they were completely onboard with her proposal to do away with all of the pre-existing holidays and replace them with 12 Halloweens. Hard to believe, but Murphy flew all the way from Los Angeles on Saturday just for this show, then departed for her return Sunday morning. She deserves a prize for that. I don't know if they also give out prizes for ending your set with the word "cuntface," but it works for her!
Jim Jeffries followed and quickly ramped the energy in the room back up past 11. The "unhealthy Australian" who seems healthier by living in England proceeded to school the audience as to why kids should be exposed to pornography at an early age, why nondrinkers are boring people who should not be listened to, and why he'll end up being a TV spokesman for penis cancer. That last story, by the way, as colorfully told as it was, ended with a lengthy applause break from the audience. Perhaps sitting on the floor to tell part of the story helped soften the blow of some of his material. He's a charming bloke, that's for sure, so even if he's talking filth, it mostly goes over easy. So Jeffries wanted to reward these fans by closing his set with, as he put it, "my signature filth." Good luck following that!
Of course, Patton Oswalt would not need any luck headlining the showcase. He had fans in the crowd there to see him and clap loudly at any mention of a word that sounded like a previous bit. He opened topically with a tale reportedly from the night before in New York City, when he had a waiter tell him, "Have fun with that salad!" That led Oswalt into a routine about his current physical condition. Then, perhaps in an act of defiance against the nature of "alternative comedy" itself, he spent the next several minutes talking about flying on airplanes, and specifically, about JetBlue. It was funny enough. But still. Hmmm. I didn't get a chance to ask him about this afterward. In the meantime, Oswalt moved on to funny observations about the James Bond music and the inappropriate nature of his own real-life Bond experience involving a restaurant bathroom. I told you it was inappropriate. He then went current again by talking about the recent death of his grandmother, and how, leaving only one of his grandparents alive, whether it makes his grandmother Oswalt the "Highlander" of the family. Oswalt offered a look ahead at the 2008 presidential election, condensed into a four-second shouting match between his Egyptian cab driver and a black pedestrian. A long discourse about being an atheist but loving religion for all that it's given us over the centuries was followed, oddly, by an observation about self-checkout grocery stations. It was a set that went all over the place, but delivered to an audience that was willing to go anywhere Oswalt wanted to lead them. He acknowledged that getting interviewed by kids for last year's hit movie Ratatouille unnerved him deeply. He offered a delightully macabre vision of the birds and the bees as told by the oldest couple to reproduce, and then, by request, did his best Daniel Plainview impersonation from There Will Be Blood, putting the character played by Daniel Day-Lewis into all sorts of other occupations (and telling the audience that he'd love to have had his former job back writing for MADtv just so he could pitch this sketch). Oswalt closed his almost hourlong set by calling back and updating his now famous routine on the KFC Famous Bowl (related: he wrote about actually eating one earlier this year) with thoughts on how the bowl now includes a biscuit and the dangers of the newest test product, the MegaLeg.
Known friend of comedy Aimee Mann congratulated the comedians backstage (she happened to be in the neighborhood following her in-store performance at First Act Guitars in Boston), and Friday's performers such as Emo Philips and doktor cocacolamcdonalds also hung out, at least for the show. Afterward, Philips, Oswalt and Murphy all looked for a cab back to their hotels, while the rest of the crew took over the downstairs lounge at Redbones to celebrate the end of the inaugural festival. AltCom founder Brian Joyce beamed and talked of plans for next year. Jeffries said he'd just finished a long tour and was ready to get back home. Which reminds me, it's time for me to get back to the city, too.
Here is what Judi Brown-Marmel, Levity Entertainment Group partner who signed David and Chris Walsh to her management firm, had to say about the Charlestown brothers who are heading to the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen... (and this weekend, at Jimmy Tingle's place in Davis Square)
"They're exactly what Aspen is looking for -- they've been able to work out their show off the radar."
"They're not contrived in any way."
"They are doing it for the pure comedy."
"They don't sound like anybody else I've ever seen or heard."
"Their career could ultimately take them a million different ways."
"I think it's refreshing."
"It doesn't feel overproduced."
Here is what Rick Jenkins, owner of The Comedy Studio, had to say about the Walshes getting national success...
"It's all a question of them finding the right venue."
Here is what Lainey Schulbaum, half of The Steamy Bohemians, had to say about them...
"I hate them because they're that good."
Here are three videos the Walshes have uploaded online at vSocial.com...
Make friends with them on MySpace.
David and Chris Walsh in some ways resemble the Smothers Brothers as they tell their tales.
But the Walsh boys don't play musical instruments or fling yo-yos, they often dress in T-shirts and jeans, and they're completely over-the-top ridiculous.
Which is why they've been a hit many late Thursday nights at ImprovBoston in Inman Square, and Friday nights at The Comedy Studio in Harvard Square. Tomorrow, they ditch the skits and short stories to recount their attempts to be discovered at this summer's Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Perhaps if they had used one of their many prop mustaches, the Walshes could've crossed the border a bit easier.
David: "We've got these six-way adjustable mustaches, which are inaccurate because we can adjust them 20 different ways and play 20 different characters.''
Chris: "It's not hiding anything, though.''
Fans soon wanted their own fake 'staches. Some receive them as prizes along with membership into The Walsh Bros. mustache club.
Chris: "It was just a silly thing that became a good idea.''
David: "We're paying it forward.''
Chris: "We found if we bought six mustaches we were wearing two and giving four away. They found it just as fun as we did when we were f---ing around doing silly characters. Dave always has three mustaches in his pocket because whenever there's a dull moment, you just pull out a mustache. On the bus or the train, no one really acts goofy. No one says that guy's goofy or that guy's a weirdo, because they're just laughing.''
David: "It's instant fun. Everywhere you pull it out, people want to put it on. No matter how disgusting that sounds, people want to put it on. When I was working at the State House, I'd work at the door. If I knew the person coming around the corner wasn't going to flip out . . .''
Out comes the mustache.
David: "Everyone would give you a smile. Everyone is having a good time.''
Chris: "It's almost a silliness divining rod.''
Their Montreal tale involves a box of 200 mustaches. How many will be worn during the show and how many will go home with fans?
David: "I don't know. We're pretty selective, too. Not everybody gets one.''
Chris: "Well, anyone who demands one.''