Category: Stand-Up Comedy
Judd Apatow’s upcoming film “Funny People” has a huge viral media blast going on, with a lot of it centered around Aziz Ansari‘s character in the film Raaaaaaaandy, who I always assumed was going to be a lot of what’s wrong with modern stand-up. The latest piece is this faux documentary of the character by Ansari and Jason Woliner, the director and 4th member of Human Giant. Let’s watch, unless you’re at work, because there’s some borderline NSFW stuff here:
Maybe it’s because I know Ansari’s own performing style well or I’m used alt comedians doing incredibly annoying characters as a bit, but I don’t see Raaaaaaaandy the way I’ve assumed I’m supposed to see him. So I don’t really think this is targeting any particular stand-up at all. Because the difficult thing about terrible comedy is that the characters, just like the perpetrators of bad comedy in real life, have to be absolutely sincere that what they do is funny. But, as Raaaaaaaandy might say, this video winks at me like a muthafucka. And Ansari’s just so naturally funny, he actually makes Raaaaaaaandy look like he has some nascent skills.
In the context of the film itself, this may very well play differently. And this isn’t to say, I’m not laughing my dick off at this. Because I am. Particularly at DJ Ol’ Youngin, who does come off completely committed to his shit here. Maybe it’s because I don’t know him outside of this vid is why I absolutely buy it.
The most annoying to me about Raaaaaaaandy is his name and how he spells the damn thing. It should be Rannnnnnnndy. 8ns not 8as!
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
I’m in Chicago for Just For Laughs, getting ready for another night of the ha-ha. But if you’re not here, the best place might just be your couch for Joe Rogan’s new hour special, “Talking Monkeys in Space.” Joe has been making his name as a stand-up in the last few years with his willingness to confront the ills of the business, particularly joke thievery. But more than a passionate defender of the art, Rogan is a great practitioner of it, weaving some philosophical insight into his jokes that bring him into territory few comics cover. This bit of evolution here is just a small part of something larger about human hubris in going places we shouldn’t be. Check it:
“Joe Rogan: Talking Monkeys in Space” airs tonight at Midnight on Spike.
With a pit-bull-like hold on their branding, TBS is adding a late night stand-up show entitled “The Very Funny Show”, all of which will be filmed at Zanies Chicago during the upcoming Just For Laughs Chicago. Tim Meadows, not typically known as a stand-up, will host the ten episode series, each episode featuring three comedians. Names include John Mulaney, Steve Byrne, Nick Thune, T.J. Miller and Matt Braunger. From the press release and Zanies website I’ve only been able to compile about 22 of the 30 comics that’ll appear (that list after the jump).
It’s been pretty obvious for a while that TBS won’t let Comedy Central own the stand-up game anymore. The question I’ve always been concerned about is that have network execs learned anything from the ridiculous ubiquity of stand-up on TV in the late 80s / early 90s, which pretty much killed the form for a while.
I think the performers are definitely sharper now, more seeing this as an art in itself rather than the sitcom stepping stone. And there’s a lot more diverse voices in that community, so there’s far less likelihood that every performers going to be seen as interchangeable. Plus content restrictions are far looser, leading to a lot more territory for a comic to cover. Although, that does suggest to me the airline food joke of this generation could end up being comics using the word “rape” in a bit.
But this is a little bit out of the hands of the comics themselves. Presentation is going to be a big part of whether stand-up on TV can avoid that again. As someone who looks as thumbnail of stand-up comedy videos every day, I can tell you that a lot of stand-up looks the same. That’s the beauty of it in many ways - one person and one mic. But there’s a lot that go inside that - audience reaction shots, close-ups, editing, angles, focus, etc. None of this should just be monkeyed with for the sake of making something look different. But I fear in a visual culture, that audience will judge stand-up harshly simply because it looks the same. Execs should look at how to present a comedic voice, not just throw a few performers on a stage and call it a day.
Zanies, the club where they’re shooting “The Very Funny Show”, doesn’t look too glitzed up judging from the web videos I’ve seen (never been myself, so I could be wrong). It seems like a nice departure, particularly if the lights can stay a little low. But a more interesting difference about “The Very Funny Show” that may create a break from the way stand-up is seen on Comedy Central is the fact that they’re charging for tickets. Comedy Central doesn’t do for that for either their Comedy Central Presents series or Live at Gotham. I think it always creates a different vibe when an audience pays money for a ticket – perhaps they’ll be more demanding, perhaps they’ll see the comics as more experienced hands. It’ll change the feel of the room a little, maybe enough that folks might notice at home. Let’s hope that’s a good change.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Every month Los Angeles’s Candor Entertainment holds a stand-up comedy event that’s “invite only.” I’ve been asked to come, but as I’m in New York, it’s a little difficult to check out.
Fortunately for me and the invite-less, clips from their shows have gone up on Hulu. Here’s an exclusive clip from the next set of stuff that’s to go live on Hulu on Tuesday, but is of course live now. It’s from Adam Ray. who I’ll forgive for the backwards baseball cap since he has a nicely tragic response for those who demand a joke from him upon discovering he’s a comic.
Just For Laughs is making its big U.S.A. invasion in just a month, putting down a flag in Chicago and establishing what’ll probably become America’s premiere comedy fest almost by default.
I’m planning on going next month and these are some of the shows I’m looking forward to checking out:
- The local Chicago comics who I don’t see. Living in New York, I’m blessed that big names end up doing a lot of spots around me. So traveling to see a comic who I could probably see do a similar show down the block for me is a little ridiculous. So I intend to explore Chicago-style comedy, simply because it’s a vital community that I never get to regularly experience. This includes stuff like Don’t Spit the Water, Schadenfreude Rent Party and Alone: Chicago’s Best Solo Acts. If you’re in the area and don’t get to see some of these big comics, definitely go. But keep an eye on the great stuff in front of you after they leave. I can’t.
- I hope I can balance out the time to catch both showings of Green Room with Paul Provenza, where he talks to comedians about comedy in a funny, engaging way that reveals a lot about the art of being funny. This manner marked his directorial debut “The Aristocrats” and will probably be a big component of his upcoming book Satiristas. It didn’t get too comedy-wonky, just comics talking like comics to each other.
- Alright, here’s one I’ve checked out last year in Just For Laugh’s Montreal counterpart, but Patrice O’Neal’s Positivity is worth more than a second watch. He’s an incredibly conflicted and complex comedian who tells incredibly blunt jokes. Here’s my review from last year. (Buy Tickets for this show)
- I’m, of course, a terrible comedy nerds if I didn’t check out Bob Odenkirk’s Best of Sketchfest and then Odenkirk reunited with Mr. Show partner David Cross for Bob, David and Friends (Buy Tickets for this show).
After the jump, you’ll find my map of the comedy fest…
Australian comic Jim Jefferies comes via the U.K. to deliver his first HBO special tomorrow, May 16 at 10 PM.
Here are audio clips from my interview with him, which will be updated as I edit them.
British Comedy Clubs vs. American Comedy Clubs
Spoiled Big City Audiences
His Problem with Overly Intellectual Comedy
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: