NYC Underground Comedy Festival 2004

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 11th, 2004

They’re still firming up the venues, the seminars and the performers for this year’s New York City Underground Comedy Festival, but their website is uploading new schedule information on a nearly daily basis.

The NYCUCF is set to hit various New York City locations, including The Improv, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, and The Bitter End & The New York Public Libraries on Monday, October 4th to Sunday, October 10th. There will be two categories for performers to be considered from. (Main Festival and New Comic Contest.)

"Overrided?" Guess again!

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 11th, 2004

A reader writes:

Just a suggestion for your blog– if you’re going to make fun of someone’s grammar: ( We wrote in our L.C.S. Update: “Keep in mind, we’re dealing with a website that uses the phrases “developmental deal” and “executively produced.”) Then don’t use words like “overrided.” (We wrote in that same L.C.S. Update: It seems that the celebrity judges at the Las Vegas portion of this season’s L.C.S. were frosted that their votes… were overrided by the producers of the show.”)

Just trying to help,
Shaun

We reply:

Right you are, Shaun! According to Merriam-Webster, we should have used “overrode” instead of the entirely made-up word “overrided.” We will fall back on the immediacy of blogging as an excuse for our sloppiness. And the late hour (9:28 PM). And if we think of any other excuses, we’ll run them as well!

P.S.: That entire sentence is a tortured mess! Not one we’re particularly proud of. But we’ll put up our relative grammatical correcticity up against that of any other site out there!

P.S.S.: Technically speaking, we weren’t making fun of their grammar as much as their Norm Crosby-like mangling of show business terms that everybody in the biz should know.

"Writer/Comedian/Animal Activist!"

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

From a Business Wire press release:

Pax TV has named high profile comedian Elayne Boosler as host of the network’s new game show, “Balderdash,” based on Mattel’s hilarious bluffing board game. Produced by The Hatchery, LLC and run by the production team behind the successful series “Hollywood Squares,” the half-hour original series is set to premiere later this summer, airing Monday through Thursday.

It goes on to describe the game show, but, we all know that it’s nearly impossible to describe a game show without making it sound ludicrous. And, this is the best part: they actually describe Boosler as a “writer/comedian/animal activist.” Traci’s demanding that her bio be amended immediately. From now on, she wants to be described as a “writer/comedian/stuffed animal activist.” Says Skene: “Everywhere I go there’s Beanie Babies for sale and nobody wants them. Somebody’s gotta look out for them!”

Who owes whom an apology?

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

From an AP story:

Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night talk show was pulled off the air for a night following a joke the comedian made about Detroit during Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Jimmy Kimmel Live did not appear in his usual time slot at midnight ET Wednesday on ABC affiliates around the country. In Detroit, WXYZ ran an episode of The Wayne Brady Show with a crawl across the bottom of the screen saying Kimmel’s show would not be seen.

Kimmel was talking to ABC sportscaster Mike Tirico during halftime Tuesday when he said, “They’re going to burn the city of Detroit down if the Pistons win, and it’s not worth it.” Tirico, an Ann Arbor resident, immediately objected, telling him to be careful in talking about his home state.

Of course, Detroit probably will burn down if the Pistons win. Why should Detroit be any different from any other sports town with a healthy population of drunken college students and sports fans? Writing in a recent Sports Illustrated, Tim Layden wrote, about the overturned and charred vehicles in, of all places, Storrs, CT, after UConn won the NCAA title:

The ruckus in Storrs was only the most recent party gone wild, but it was actually sedate compared to similar celebrations in, say, East Lansing, MI, after Michigan State won the NCAA title in 2000. Wild revelry now has become commonplace on and around the Michigan State campus every time there is a big game. The precedent has been set and the bar raised. Or lowered, depending on your view.

Now in East Lansing– and in almost every city with unfortunate experience in this area– police are put on alert whenever a big game is played. Sports sections run stories quoting the coach and players talking about the game; metro sections run stories quoting the mayor and chief of police describing their readiness for tipped-over cars and spontaneous fires.

Andrea Parquet-Taylor, WXYZ’s news director, said, “Frankly, we were shocked. We thought it was uncalled for.” said Andrea Parquet-Taylor, WXYZ’s news director. She added that Kimmel’s apology wasn’t an apology at all. Is this a major metropolitan news director speaking or some sort of municipal psychotherapist?

"I'm Rick James, Bitch!"

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

Liza Foreman, writing in the Hollywood Reporter:

Comedian David Chappelle (is) in early talks to play Rick James in a film based on the funk musician’s upcoming memoirs, “Memoirs of a Super Freak.”

This comes as no surprise. Chapelle’s portrayal of James is hysterical and “I’m Rick James, bitch!” has become a catchphrase around SHECKYmagazine.com HQ. The re-enactment of Charlie Murphy‘s celebrity stories are a triumph in concept, writing and editing. And Chapelle’s acting is outstanding.

And if you think he’s not capable of drama, check out his supporting role in the Wayne Brady crime spree sketch the next time Comedy Central re-runs it. It could be considered a pitch for a buddy pic starring the two. Last we heard, Chappelle hadn’t re-upped with Comedy Central. At the rate he’s going, he won’t need them or their paycheck.

Saskatoon Comic Recovers

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

From Night Life In Saskatoon, a story on Saskatchewan comic Bryan Cox by Mark Behrend:

“In a span of four years, the eighteen-year veteran of the Saskatchewan club and bar scene has fractured his neck, had a heart attack and most recently had a sizable portion of his tongue removed due to cancer.”

Click the title above to read the rest.

Our Predictions for L.C.S. (Las Vegas)

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

Our predictions (arrived at in a totally bloodless, producer kinda way, not based on who might or might not be funny, but on what a producer might think will make for “chemistry”):

Traci’s predictions on who makes it out of Vegas:

John Heffron
Gary Gullman
Tammy Pescatelli
Jessica Kirson
Todd Glass
Kathleen Madigan
Corey Holcomb
Jim Norton
Bonnie McFarlane
Alonzo Bodden

Brian’s predictions on who makes it out of Vegas:

Marina Franklin
John Heffron
Dan Adhoot
Sue Costello
Jessica Kirson
Todd Glass
Jim Norton
Bonnie McFarlane
Ant
Alonzo Bodden

Last Comic Standing '04 (Episode 2)

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

Who made it in from the second group of 20?


Timm Young
Marina Franklin
Monte Hoffman
John Heffron
Gary Gullman
Kerry Louise
Dan Adhoot
Dan Naturman
Tammy Pescatelli
Jay London

Random impressions:

The most shocked people in the building: Tom Cotter, Will Durst, Jim Wiggins, Frank Santorelli.

You know, a long time ago, comics usta start out in strip clubs. Thing is, back then, they were COMICS! How badly does NBC want ratings that they would put a stripper on the first two shows, just so you can do a “profile” and show her sleazing on a pole in a strip club. That spot could’ve been taken by someone who can actually do comedy. We understand how television works, but this is low.

Hmmm… Let’s see… I wanna stock a “reality” house with comics… but I don’t want them to skew too old… so… I got it! I’ll whack the 40 comics into two groups of 20, I’ll only take half of each of each group and I’ll put all the old ones into the first group! that way, I’m guaranteed that those pesky 20-year+ pros won’t be dominating the house! It’s pure genius!

Sad to hear that Tammy Pescatelli’s dad is in the hospital. We met him once and he’s a swell guy. Hope he had a speedy recovery.

Kerry Louise made it to Vegas. Hubby Tom Cotter did not. Just last month, Louise washed out in the first round of the the Boston Comedy Competition, Cotter won the whole thing. Fickle beasts, these competitions!

We predicted that Gary Gullman would make it to the house. He’s going to Vegas. The final tally: Five of the nine we predicted would end up in the house are at least going to Vegas. Perhaps after Vegas, we’ll predict who goes all the way! Stay tuned!

Wait for the fireworks in Vegas.!

Who made it in from the first group of 20?

Sue Costello
Jessica Kirson
Todd Glass
DC Benny
Kathleen Madigan
Corey Holcomb
Jim Norton
Bonnie McFarlane
Ant
Alonzo Bodden

We predicted that Santorelli, Ramey, Francisco and Durst would make it into the house. All of them are gone! We did, however, predict that Glass, Madigan, McFarlane and Bodden would make it into the house. So, we’re not doing that bad. We’re going to watch the second group now. We heard Jay Mohr interviewed on a local television station the other day. He said that a 20-year veteran “wets his pants.” Of course, he didn’t mean literally. But we’re anxious to see who he was referring to.

There’s a lot of anger out there concerning this here reality show. It seems everybody’s got an opinion. We got a chuckle out of one website (that seems to be obsessed with L.C.S.) and their descriptions: “Ralphie May— morbidly obese with a hint of hip-hop flavor, Tere Joyce— a whacked out emotional mess with a crazy look” and “Sean Kent— Southerner with cancer.” (Keep in mind, we’re dealing with a website that uses the phrases “developmental deal” and “executively produced.”)

As we reported this past winter on this very Like We Care page, there was some controversy surrounding LCS. It seems that the celebrity judges at the Las Vegas portion of this season’s L.C.S. were frosted that their votes for whom they felt were the strongest comics (and whom they thought deserved to go to The House) were overrided by the producers of the show.

From MSNBC.com, March 8, 2004:

NBC executives insisted that (Drew) Carey, (Brett) Butler and two other judges– Anthony Clark of the sitcom “Yes, Dear” and Tess Drake, a finalist from last summer’s “Last Comic” were not the only ones involved in the final “casting” process.

NBC said it was up to network brass and producers to decide who made the cut, weighing the opinions of the celebrity panel as just one factor. An NBC spokeswoman said a disclaimer to that effect airs as part of the show’s credits.

And this, from the Drew Carey fan site, LiveDrew.com:

“It’s not about who’s funniest,” Carey continued. “They were casting it. The producers can change the outcome of the show whenever they wish. Why would they have a contest and judges if they were just going to cast it anyway? I thought the whole thing stunk, and I’m mad they had my name associated with it… I’ve got a certain amount of integrity in this business and I’m not going to be compromised… You can’t use me and my reputation. Do it with someone else’s reputation… You can’t have a contest and then have this loop hole… I’m talking to protect myself. I don’t care if (the producers) are mad at me, if NBC is mad at me. I’ve got nothing to lose… It just seems like such a travesty.”

Stay tuned for more commentary tonight!

CAN I GET AN AGENT?

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 10th, 2004

A reader writes:

Hi. I would like to know how I can contact Bob Read and Ross Mark. I’m also a new comic just starting out and looking to get my name and act out there, can you help with this. I do have video tapes and can get head shots of me. Thanks for your help and time.

Kevin
Harrisonburg, VA

We reply:

You are too early on in the process for an agent, in our humble opinion. An agent can’t do you any good right now. One needs 30 solid minutes of bulletproof material, tested in front of real audiences before an agent will have anything to do with you. If you are free to move to another city, you would do well to consider it– a city that has more opportunities to hop onto a stage (for free, usually) and do it as often as possible. The only way to get better at this thing is to do it often. Perhaps you’d do better to find other like-minded people in H-burg and persuade a venue to have a weekly open mike.

Last Comic Standing '04 (Episode 1)

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 9th, 2004

SHECKYmagazine.com Columnist BONNIE MCFARLANE featured on NBC’s Last Comic Standing! Read her latest column HERE!

Well, we predicted it a year ago: NBC’s “comedy contest” would be corrupted (not that it was pure to begin with) and, if it came back again, the producers would crumble to pressure from agents and managers and stock “The House” with comics who have managers and agents and that the “auditions” would be even more of a formality than they were in year one. No big deal, really, but it’s a whole new L.C.S. world.

Now we’re treated to the spectacle of seasoned club veterans like Pablo Francisco, Will Durst and Kathleen Madigan tapdancing for Bob Read and Ross Mark trying to “breathe new life” (Durst’s words) into their careers by trying out for the popular standup reality show.

It’s totally understandable, really. The whole crazy circus drives one more nail into the “television killed comedy” argument. And, of course, the overall caliber of the comics will be somewhat better. But, only somewhat. Why only somewhat? Becasue it’s reality television! The chemistry in the house is what is most important. There’ll be some real, seasoned veterans slugging it out… until Vegas. After Vegas, they’ll sprinkle in the freaks with the real acts and then stand back and let the Reality TV fun begin! Of course, all the contestants will have the advantage of developing strategy based on last year’s show.

Here’s our predictions (as good as any other predictions at this point):

Todd Glass: He can work the medium like no other. He’ll make Rich Vos and Dave Mordal look like pikers when it comes to soaking up the face time.

Gary Gulman: He looks good on camera, he’s funny and he’s huge! (He’ll be very intimidating physically.)

Frank Santorelli: See above. (Plus, he’s been a semi-regular on The Sopranos)

Louis Ramey: 2004 is The Year of Louis Ramey. He’s clever, he’s clean and professional. And you can’t underestimate that– the comedy clubs are gonna want clever, clean and professional from this year’s Last Comic Standing World Tour. It’s become a cottage industry. And, because of the ratings that last year’s L.C.S. got, the tour’s gonna have bigger numbers. Bigger numbers demand comics who can consistently deliver.

Pablo Francisco: He’s already filling comedy clubs.

Bonnie McFarlane: As evidenced by her regular column here in the pages of SHECKYmagazine.com, Bonnie has a knack for saying controversial things and not holding back. Which should make for some telegenic fireworks in the house.

Kathleen Madigan: She’s solid as a rock, she’s been on radio and television a lot. She’s probably unflappable.

Alonzo Bodden: He’s appealing, he’s an actor (NYPD Blue and
others) and he knows how to do standup comedy.

Will Durst: A regular on PBS, a recurring character on CNN, MSNBC and FNC talking heads shows, and a veteran “political comic, ” Durst will be good for social and political commentary when he has the camera to himself.

And they all have management and representation.

What is with Buck Star? And why did they let him perform in front of a crowd in Tampa after he did a Garry Shandling joke? (And, then he ends his set with “Thank you for supporting live comedy!” Ooohh… we hate that.)

Read more about some of the people you saw tonight:

Pete LaFaucia’s account of last year’s Chicago LCS audition!

Dave Mordal Question 21

Rich Vos interview

Kathleen Madigan Interview

Will Durst interview

Alonzo Bodden profile

Stay tuned for more LCS commentary.

MASADA INVADES NYC

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 9th, 2004

Georg Szalai, writing for Hollywood Reporter says:

Times Square is about to get a big injection of Hollywood flair as L.A. comedy impresario Jamie Masada readies to take a bite out of the Big Apple. After successfully running the Laugh Factory on Sunset Boulevard for 25 years, Masada on Wednesday celebrated the comedy club’s anniversary with the grand opening of a New York City branch. Actually, branch is an understatement. The latest comedy venue in town is a multilevel complex on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue that features a main show room for headline talent, two smaller rooms for various specialty shows and a VIP room where industry folks can talk deals and more.

RIGHT WING LENNY BRUCE

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 5th, 2004

From “Right-Wing Lenny Bruce” by Alicia Colon, writing for the New York Sun (June 4, 2004):

…the idea of conservative standup is a rarity, and when I met Julia Gorin, a conservative comedienne, last month at the Ball for Life, I was intrigued by her choice of profession. What was even more surprising to learn is that there are more where she came from.

Because New York is not necessarily the breeding ground for conservatives, I first thought that Ms. Gorin was from the Midwest or some other red state. Surprise, surprise, as Gomer Pyle used to say. Ms. Gorin was born in Moscow.

Her father, Edward Gorin, a violinist with the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, was expelled as a dissident when she was only a few months old.

Ms. Gorin goes on tour with a group of comics called Right Stuff Comedy. Other members of the group are Chris Warren, who recently entertained the troops in Iraq, Steve Eblin, and Jeff Jena.

Her comedy is edgy and thought-provoking and she’s been described as a right-wing Lenny Bruce. She usually performs with the group at private corporate functions, and while she usually gets a hearty response from her audience, sometimes they can be programmed to laugh only at safe jokes. She’s found that JFK is one of those offlimits targets.

CABLE GUY GOES NETWORK

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 4th, 2004

From a Universal Music Group press release trumpeting the healthy sales of Larry the Cable Guy’s CD:

Larry The Cable Guy will also star with Foxworthy and Engvall on Blue Collar TV, a sketch comedy series premiering in early August on The WB.

XMRADIO SUBMISSIONS

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on June 4th, 2004

When we were in Boston, we spoke to Joel Haas, one of the two people at XMRadio who program their comedy channels (Sonny Fox being the other). We asked him to send us the details on how to submit comedy to XM. He replied:

We have two standup channels: XM Comedy 150 is uncensored so if a CD has bleeps, we won’t play it! Laugh USA 151 is our clean comedy channel. We have a place for everything. Bottom line for submitting CD’s– if it’s funny, it has a home on XM. Feel free to print my email address and phone number. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions anyone might have.

Here’s the contact info:
Joel Haas – Comedy Director
XM Satellite Radio
1500 Eckington Place NE
Washington DC 20002
(202) 380-4394

Read our XMRadio product review