The aptly-named Comedy Nerds have made a discovery that’s quite welcome. The State’s “Comedy for Gracious Living” - the lost album recorded by the group for Warner Brothers records. It’s apparently been available via torrent files, but the slightly-less-aptly-titled blog Unheard Music (only less aptly-titled since “The State” album isn’t entirely music) has posted it in a place that the far less web-savvy can get to it. If you’re a State completest or curious, visit Unheard Music for that link right now.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Someone has put up some video from MTV"s Half Hour Comedy Hour, circa 1989, back when we first peddled the nonsense that comedy is the new rock & roll. The best stuff from it is Tom Kenny, pre-Mr. Show and pre-Spongebob. You can see the fit for both in this clip:
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
In an age of video or it didn’t happen, it’s a natural that Tommy Tiernan’s recent Guinness World Record breaking stand-up set this past Easter would be filmed. The Irish comedian went for 36 Hours, 15 Minutes. You don’t get much of a suggestion here of what kind of show Tiernan put on or if any of the audience did the same marathon with him in this clip, but it has a cute little punch at the end.
There’s some audience footage out there on the YouTubes but it doesn’t really give a sense of what the show was like either. Hard to sum up a storyteller like Tiernan in a two minute clip, even more so when he’s doing a 36 Hour Show.
Any word on who the previous record holder was. I thought it was Florida comic G. David Howard, which we learned during 2007’s six hour plus Dave Chappelle / Dane Cook sets. But his record was 16 hours and the video pretty plainly states 24 hours as the previous record. Was there somebody in between?
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
I’m not one to post super-promotional videos, but I’ll make an exception this time. Because it’s about fucking time.
If they blow off this release date, there better be lollipops. I swear to God.
Filed Under Sitcom
Starz new comedy “Party Down” has been a lot of fun, despite my initial worries about it being yet another show about show business. But the show, which revolves around a crew of a catering company who all have other aspirations (or once had them, in one case), nicely reflects the outer edges of the Hollywood dream. Meaning: you might as well not be having one. There’s a little talk about audtions and scripts but very little about showbiz egos, power or anything of that sort.
The amazing cast helps a lot here to including the State’s Ken Marino as Ron, a former druggie now cleaned-up and responsible for managing the employees. Even his aspiration to be a franchise owner of a all-you-can-eat soup and salad restaurant seems as far away as selling a script or getting a role. Also a part of the crew is Jane Lynch who has pretty much stolen scene from every great comedy from the past five years.
Plus, being on the premium cable channel Starz, they can get away with a bit more than your network sitcoms. But there’s a slight test of that tonight as the show tilts into risky territory with the grew catering the after party for a porn industry award show. A real danger for cheap gags ahead there.
Despite advertising they can’t show you much of this episode in their own promos, Starz seems to have no problem throwing a lot of it up on the old YouTube. This clip below made me think they might avoid those traps. It’s the aforementioned Ron getting asked about becoming a porn star because of his large penis, but the producer is played as more of an investor than a sleazeball.
We’ll see tonight when Party Down airs on Starz at 10:30 PM.
You can find the find the full first episode of the show after the jump.
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
Hulu just put up the best of Abbott of Costello, perhaps in honor of the recently begun baseball season, because what’s the best of Abbott and Costello without “Who’s on First?” It’s amazing how resilient this routine is. It feels a little long today but the pacing and the rhythms are still strong and it’s even a little dark, with Costello constantly gesturing with a bat, implying more than a little violence if he continues to be frustrated by Abbott.
God damn that’s still funny.
What’s even more impressive is the amount of variations that its inspired (see the popular culture section in the routine’s wikipedia entry), most often as a way of borrowing that incredible rhythm for another concept but sometimes as an example of how something funny can be parodied itself.
Here’s a recent variation, with Paul Mecurio using it on the Bob and Tom Radio Show to play off modern baseball’s steroid problem.
And another recent play on the sketch, this one more of a style parody from UCB Comedy, taking the routine and having it shot as if Wes Anderson directed it.
Of course, my all-time favorite is one that destroys the very conceit of the joke but at the same time plays a wonderful homage to Costello’s performance, from Slovin & Allen’s Comedy Central Presents.
The little pause Leo Allen gives before he goes into the actual Yankee names just kills me.
And there’s a ton more. Johnny Carson using the routine to highlight Ronald Regan’s confusion. Abbott & Costello’s orginial all rendered in typography. A bizarre recreation featuring actors unaware of the routine(!) with entirely naturalistic speaking. And another conceit-attacking version from Kids in the Hall, which eats the routine whole and leaves nearly nothing left.
Perhaps because it had vaudeville roots a while before Abbott & Costello took ownership of it, “Who’s on First” has a similar quality to the Aristocrats joke. It can be told a thousand different ways, in different styles with new targets. It almost makes me contemplate a “Who’s On First” competition/festival. I just pause for fear of beating it death with a baseball bat other than Costello’s.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
I’ve defined comedy on occasion as the art of surprise. There’s a lot of stand-ups who can’t help but surprise because they are working with thoughts rarely expressed or said. There’s extreme power there. They can’t help but surprise with things they say. So it’s perhaps an easier shortcut to funny, right?
It’s probably a far too simple a way of looking at it. But I think it points out what’s so impressive about a comic like Jim Gaffigan. The danger in working with the everyday is not that you don’t get laughs. You can and will. But it’s the nature of the laughs that you will get. It’s harder to surprise when you’re working something people know because it’s in the fabric of their daily lives.
We laugh for a lot of reasons. Often when a comic talks the everyday that elicits the laugh of recognition. Of the “I’ve done that.” Or “That’s true.” They’re good. But they’re not the hard surprise laughs, that open up and show things anew.
Those recognition laughs are certainly a part of Gaffigan’s act.But what makes Gaffigan a great comic is that he doesn’t stop there. He’ll break it to find what’s on the other side of recognition, where the everyday becomes strange again.
Here’s a fast food bit that’s in the special “King Baby” that Jim Gaffigan did during a recent sit down with Letterman:
The simpler comparison of how fast food goes through you is taken to the non-parallel of spinach and dysentery, an anti-comparison which makes it sharper. But even richer, he finds that little bit of our relationship in time with fast food restaurant and matches it with our dating lives. To me it created a comparison I won’t forget the next time I surrender to a late night urge to eat at a McDonalds or Wendys.
It’s really, the most desirable results of a surprise: a new recognition. A connection that can’t be escaped. Even if it’s about something as simple as what we eat, it makes the common life refreshed. Something I think many could use in these times.
It seems ridiculous to talk about King Baby, without giving you some of it. So here’s Gaffigan on his love of bologna.
King Baby airs tonight on Comedy Central at 9 PM and will see release on DVD and CD on Tuesday.