Category: Stand-Up Comedy

Making “Fun” for Audiences

Filed Under Movies, Stand-Up Comedy

Video excerpts are up from the “Making Fun of Filmmaking” conference at the SxSW Festival. Interesting stuff from Patton Oswalt and Paul Provenza about censorship, sort of a contrast to my last post. Particularly insightful is how audiences, both left and right, are the main censors at comedy clubs.

Audiences have only one expectation from comedians: laughter. But as the now-deified humor writer Michael O’Donoghue argued, a laugh is only one response to a joke and not always the most desirable one. It’s a little confusing, but when you are feeling uncomfortable at a comedy show, that’s a good sign. Patton’s right, anyone who tells you they’re “edgy and dark” isn’t and is simply attempting to fake the atmosphere and tension that real comedy creates.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)

Every Joke is a Little Miracle

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy serves up another installment of Birth of a Joke, this time featuring the familiar-to-reality-daters comic Chris Hardwick. The cool thing about this installment of “Birth” is how it demonstrates again how little you need some set-ups. In his first time telling the new joke, Chris naturally details how he discovered the observation he finds funny… hicks prejudiced to robots. This story involves his band researching films for a music video and finding an old short with a robot who’s essentially a slave, then the leap of slavery to racism and then the leap to prejudiced hicks. It’s a lot of ground to cover for the punchline. It’s great to see how it all gets circumvented and create a run that really works, including the strong punch that inspired the joke in the first place. Check it out.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

Gallagher, #1 Asshat

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Gallagher can't stand that he was only #100 in Comedy Central's "100 Greatest Comedians" list. So he rallied his fans in an ineffectual gesture against his ranking in the who-gives-a-shit list. He had them rank all the comics in the list on "Funny", "Original/Ad Lib" and "Performance" and not only did he top the chart on his own site, he topped every one of those categories as well. Above Carlin and Pryor!

Louis CK (#99 in the CC list), who Gallagher ranted against because he's never heard of him (which could be a sign of why he's at the bottom), is now #100. Louis CK, states on his message board that though he's "not proud to be at the bottom of (Comedy Central's) list", he is "proud to say I came in dead last" on Gallagher's.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

Take My Messiah, Please

Filed Under Print, Stand-Up Comedy

A conference is attempting an academic feat that, to some, is akin to trying to prove pi repeats. They’re trying to show that the Bible’s pretty funny, actually.

To me, this actually makes complete sense. When you’re the underdog, the victim of persecution (in this case Romans), one of the best weapons you have is satire and being funny. It’s only once you become establishment do you tend to become humorless. It’s no wonder that the conference, entitled “Laughter and Comedy in Ancient Christianity” focuses on the early days, where, apparently, parodies of Adam and St. Peter were appreciated, and not feared.

Of course, there are some, like Brad Stine, who are trying to connect comedy and modern Christianity (of the evangelical variety yet) as reported by the New Yorker. Interestingly, a comic like Stine has arose at a time when evangelicals claim they feel persecuted by Hollywood, activist judges, etc., etc. Do people only attempt comedy when they think they’re getting kicked in the face?

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:03 AM | Comments (0)

Stand-Up Union Not a Joke. Really? You Don’t Say!

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

The New York Comedians Coalition has been pretty good about getting coverage for their cause, even if those stories have cliched “no joking” ledes like the one in Tuesday’s New York Times. Most of New York’s eleven (11!) comedy clubs have already agreed to raise rates for the comics, although the article suggests that the new expense might be passed on the club-goer.

The last four hold-outs in the negotiations according to a letter to Coalition membership posted at are Dangerfield’s, Standup NY, the New York Comedy Club and the New York Improv. The Times articles mentions that contacts have been made with all the clubs, so picket lines, as of now, sound unlikely.

Also posted in the same message board thread is a letter from Improv owner Al Martin where he makes the case for why he does not want to give all of the raises demanded by the Coalition. It’s a pretty compelling argument, if he had to start paying the spots set aside for developing act the same as he would “a-line” comics, it’s likely that he’d stop booking those spots for young talent. Though it’s hard to imagine what’s good for an industry when you’re trying to take care of your pocket, ensuring young comedians get exposure, even if means less money, is essential to keeping a vital industry. I won’t pretend to understand the economics of a comedy club, but I don’t believe either side has the luxury of being “right” (though the comics certainly lean more that way, considering how low their price per set was before).

According to the Coalition’s web site, the group will vote to accept or reject club’s offers this afternoon at 2:30 PM. We should know what raises and compromises have been made soon.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

And Then the Mother Fing… Wait, I’m Telling it Wrong.

Filed Under Movies, Stand-Up Comedy

Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette premiered their new film “Aristocrats” at the Sundance Film Festival. The film is primarily the telling of one joke over and over again by comics as varied as Phyllis Diller, Steven Wright and Jon Stewart. The punchline is revealed in the title of the film. But even if you didn’t know it, the real humor comes from how darkly filthy the joke is told, with some versions including incest, bestiality, coprophilla and whatever else the comic can improvise at the moment.

The MPAA will likely rate it NC-17. If the language doesn’t kill ‘em first.

Shecky Magazine speculated that the film is a hoax, but the traditions of the joke are well established. Probably the most famous telling of the joke was by Gilbert Gottfried during the Friars’ Club Roast of Hugh Hefner… the joke never made it to air of course.

At 87 minutes of the same joke over and over again, the film could be close to a Bataan Death March of comedy, but it might be of the Mike Myers’ school of extended joke, where it because funny because it is so relentless. Personally, I can’t wait to see it. If you want to sample a segment of the film, a link to the “South Park” version of the joke can be found here (highly adult language, you have been warned…).

It strikes me this can be almost a comedic Rorschach test, with the improvised middle section revealing something of the comedian’s own dark weirdness when he or she starts describing the Aristocrats act. Or just a really good excuse to curse. Either one.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 01:57 AM | Comments (0)

Gallagher Busts Heads! Raise Your Sheets!

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Gallagher is pissed. He’s disappointed that in Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time, he was only 100. And in this interview with the Oregonian, he proceeds to trash all the names above him (well, those he recognizes… he claims to have never heard of most of them). Letterman only has three jokes. Robin Williams jokes are only “C-level.” Jim Carrey was just embarrassing.

Why Gallagher’s angry about a program that was essentially just another variation of snarky commentators on pop culture artifacts is beyond me. He says New York and Los Angeles doesn’t get him… but he certainly doesn’t get NYC or LA if he takes meaningless programming like this seriously. Judging by the invitation on his site for visitors to claim he wuz robbed (bottom of the page on the right), he’s pretty serious.

Or maybe he’s just deluded and bitter. He’s actually mystified why Tom Hanks and Michael Keaton, who were “horrible” comedians, have film careers and he doesn’t. First, they’re different skill sets. Second, it’s hard to built a movie around “hey, look at this funny looking thing.” Third: Gallagher. In a movie. Brain. Hurts.

Could someone please greenlight “Attack of the Killer Watermelons”?

(Thanks to Mike Sacks for the link)

Posted by Todd Jackson at 08:30 AM | Comments (1)