Category: Live Events

Bonnaroo: David Cross, Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll - “You Might Be a Deadneck”

Filed Under Live Events, Stand-Up Comedy

If you’ve ever watched one of the Blue Collar specials, you might remember that Jeff Foxworthy and company all join together on stage at the end for a round of storytelling or catchphrase riffing (some might argue spewing) on Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck.” At this year’s Bonnaroo, David Cross, Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll did a wonderful parody of the later. Part of what makes this so fun is that though Bonnaroo’s a music festival, it’s one set in the south — Manchester, TN. So it feels a bit like a mind bomb.

Kroll’s Southern accent is insanely funny but Cross’s is disturbingly accurate. My favorite joke of the whole set: “If the bumper sticker on your Toyota Prius says ‘This Car’s a Faggot’, you might be a Dead Neck.”

A slightly different version of the bit, shot at a second Bonaroo show is after the jump.

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Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:25 PM | Comments (7)

Look Who’s Laughing: Women in Comedy Panel

Filed Under Live Events

As part of the Tribeca Film Festival, this panel saw Rachel Dratch, Susie Essman, Rachael Harris, Debra Messing and Samantha Bee spending time on the topic of women in comedy that, soon after moderator Jay Roach introduced it, was asserted as horrible. Dwelling on the pressures of being funny and female in a male-dominated business doesn’t sound like an ideal Sunday afternoon.

Some of the highlights:

  • Rachael Harris mentioned that she believe that women were probably going to have to write for themselves in order to get the quality comedic parts. Though when the question came to who would back them, i.e. put up the money… that was sadly, harder to answer.
  • Rachel Dratch said that lots of people wanted to see Will Ferrell fall down with no clothes, but that they didn’t want to see her do it. After more than a few “I do"s sprang up in the crowd, Dratch gamely launched into giving the audience what they wanted.
  • On the subject of whether teenage boys wanted to see women be funny, Susie Essman said that she’s stopped most often by teenage boys so that she can tell them “to go fuck themselves.” Studio don’t seem to get that appeal.
  • Besides the much publicized revelation that Debra Messing stood up to network execs for her character on Will & Grace to be small-breasted, she also related as story of a scene where she improvised Grace airing out a fart from her dress. The bit apparently got huge laughs in rehearsal, but sitcom director Jimmy Burrows said it was “too gross.” There was some frustration from Messing in the desire to not keep her character too precious but not being allowed to fart.
  • Jay Roach, who’s directed quite a few comedies, described male and female responses to humor as similar to sex. Men are easier to make laugh - there’s a very direct way. Women require a bit more subtlety, the foreplay of the comedy world.
  • Jay Roach also told of how he couldn’t get a greenlight for the comedy “Used Guys”, which was all about women ruling the Earth and men are commodities for sale. Despite a seemingly female friendly plot, executives put the kibosh on it because they didn’t think it would reach women because of its futuristic setting.

Afterwards, I talked with the very funny Catie Lazarus, who’ll probably end up on a panel like this one day (how’s that for a backhanded compliment?). Both of us agreed that, strangely enough, that the panel needed more of a male presence. Because the problem isn’t with the funny people on stage, it’s with the executives in power who can’t see and don’t think there’s an audience for it. Get more of them on stage and challenge their notions. As Susie Essman put it, the question isn’t “Why aren’t women funny?” but “Why don’t more men find women funny?”

As I walked to the panel, I started thinking about my first exposure to stand-up comedy, which was from watching Joan Rivers guest host the Tonight Show. I’m not really certain of how she’s influenced my appreciation of the art form, but I know that your first introduction can leave an impression. Seeing how she can entertain my mother certainly sparked my interest. And what I think what’s important about this is that when some future up-and-coming male comedian list his influences, he’ll say “Sarah Silverman” or “Tina Fey” or “Janeane Garofalo.” Because that’ll mean we’re broaching equality, that female comics aren’t just markers for how to make it in a male-dominated industry but how to make it period.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 09:48 AM | Comments (3)

Melbourne Comedy Fest: Laughter has Rhythm

Filed Under Live Events

This is a fun ad for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (in Australia, if you failed geography). (thanks Adrants)

First off, it’s great that a comedy festival is a big enough to advertise on TV. And then, it’s even better than it can hire great creatives to make a spot like this. I kinda wish I was goin’ now.

Folks performing at the Melbourne Fest include Dylan Moran, Ardal O’Hanlan, Rich Hall and Jim Henson’s Puppet Up!, which was part of 2006’s Aspen and Vegas Fest. There’s also a course in comedy appreciation called Dissecting the Frog.


Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

SF Sketchfest: Red Wine Boys

Filed Under Live Events

I’m not in San Francisco for the Sketchfest, but Dead-Frog tendrils reach pretty far. In this case, to writer Ian Lendler, a friend who knows funny. Here’s what he saw:

An auspicious start to the evening: The opening act for Red Wine Boys was Triplette, a 3-woman sketch group. The actresses themselves were extremely talented; the material was middling. But comedy is about the element of surprise, and there’s nothing like live theater to introduce that.

While running off stage, one of the actresses managed to smack face-first into an iron railing holding up a curtain. She then performed the rest of the act while bleeding profusely and holding a cold compress to her head. It became such a funny gag that Your Frog Abroad Correspondent (YFAC) became convinced that the whole thing had been faked.  YFAC then revised his opinion after the show when the actress was escorted off to, what was assumed to be the hospital, with a large bandage on her head. The fact that it was real did nothing dispel the fact that a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence goes a long way to breaking up the monotony of basic sketch-comedy.  There’s possibly a lesson in that for any sketch groups out there.

But on with the show: It was almost like a night back in Luna Lounge, NYC, with the Red Wine Boys Todd Barry and Jon Benjamin acting as hosts for a series of quick stand-ups by Mirman and Showalter. Barry and Benjamin (of Coach McGuirk fame) are two of the funniest human beings in America this side of pre-breakdown Dave Chappelle. And together, they’re even funnier. But it’s worth asking “Why?”

They don’t do punch-lines. They don’t have a shtick or props, although they did occasionally gyrate erotically with their glasses of red wine to thumping techno music. This show was as shticky as they get in that they were imitating fine-wine lovers, but that hardly mattered. They could just as easily have been the Pet Rock Boys or ‘65 Ford Mustang Boys. This show was just Barry and Benjamin riffing off each other.  They are pure stage presence.

They took questions from the crowd. YFAC dared to ask what was wrong with white wine. He was informed by the Red Wine Boys that he was not, in fact, a man. And where were his balls? And would he be leaving his balls on the seat when he left the theater? And how could one leave one’s balls behind as that seems a physical impossibility?

They then handed out samples of their own line of wines (sample styles: “Cum-thumping Cabernet” and “Less Funding For AIDS Shiraz”). After this, they introduced the acts, each of whom kept their bits short.

Eugene Mirman showed the audience the false-bottomed can of shaving cream he’d snuck onto his flight to San Fran. Its contents were a picture of George Bush and a pack of condoms. He then read from an e-mail exchange he had with a band that invited him to one of their shows through Myspace.  An exact quote from his e-mail response to the band: “I’d love to come to your show…I often like to send my dick on vacation…blah blah blah…your mouth.”

For his act, Michael Showalter pulled a page from the Cringe shows that have made their way around America. He read a faux-Kerouac poem he had written while in high school in suburban New Jersey. Sample passages: “I smoked a reefer with two unemployed actors across the hall of my apartment building. They don’t know shit about fuck.” “In my room is a 6-string guitar…it only has 3 strings.”

Everyone then joined together on stage to sing “It’s Raining Wine” while sipping copious amounts of said beverage. Todd Barry in particular seemed to enjoy this product in large amounts throughout the night.  A great night of comedy.

–Ian Lendler

Ian’s also particularly qualified to judge anything even tangentially related to alcohol as he’s the author of Alcoholica Esoterica, a collection of lore and info about booze. It’s informative enough that you’ll feel smarter talking about inhibition-lowering beverages, but not so much that you turn into Cliff Clavin. Check it out.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

San Francisco Sketchfest Coming Next Week

Filed Under Live Events

I’m very pleased to say that Dead-Frog will be one of the sponsors of this year’s San Francsico Sketchfest. The line-up this year is very impressive right from the beginning with an opening night gala on January 11 featuring the comedy team Stella.

I won’t be able to be there, as I’m grounded in New York for a bit, but here’s some of the highlights I see on the schedule:

  • RiffTrax Live This show will feature that missing comedic commentary track that all DVDs should have, as delivered by Mystery Science Theater 3000 vets Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy And Bill Corbett. The target: a major motion picture not yet announced!
  • Match Game Live The game show I always used to love to stay home and watch when I was sick will be hosted by Jimmy Pardo and feature the panel of David Cross, Maria Bamford, Paul F. Tompkins, Doug Benson, Todd Glass, Scott Aukerman and B.J. Porter.
  • Upright Citizens Brigade: A.S.S.S.S.C.A.T. The original brigade nearly reunite save for Amy Poehler. Standing in for her is the perhaps not lovely but insanely talented Sean Conroy. And better yet the monologues will be provided by Bob Odenkirk
  • and a Tribute to Paul Reubens Pee-Wee’s progenitor will talk with legendary journalist Ben Fong-Torres about his amazing career.

There’s more. A lot more. Including shows from sketch comedy groups Elephant Larry, Killing My Lobster, Troop and Kasper Hauser. Plus, the Benson Interruption, Invite Them Up, Comedy Death-Ray, Naked Babies and a Tribute to Mitch Hedberg with rarely seen footage.Simply if you’re in the bay area, you’d be a fool not to gorge yourself on as much comedy as you can stand. Check the SF Sketchfest site for more details. Enjoy.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:32 PM | Comments (1)

Win Tickets for “In the Spirit of Bill: A Tribute to Bill Hicks”

Filed Under Live Events

In New York City? Dead-Frog is proud to give its reader’s a chance to attend “In the Spirit of Bill: A Tribute to Bill Hicks” .  On what would have been the late comic’s 45th birthday, the show will celebrate his legacy with rarely seen footage of him as well appearances by comics like Lucky Louie’s Rick Shapiro and the 2006 winner of the Bill Hicks Award, Jeff Kreisler. The show is also a fundraiser for The Bill Hicks Foundation for Wildlife Rehabilitation. The show takes place this Sunday, December 17 at 9:30 PM at Comix.

Dead-Frog has tickets for two for a lucky reader. For a chance at these free tickets, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) before Midnight EST December 16, 2006.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Don Rickles: “Mr. Warmth”

Filed Under Live Events, The Comedy Festival

When a comic of my generation uses a term like “Mr. Warmth”, it’s usually meant to be entirely ironic. But with Don Rickles, there’s a level of sincerity underneath it. Earlier in the day, Whoopi Goldberg described him as able to get away with his insult comedy because “there’s no malice” about it. It’s true, but there’s also a genuine care and like of people that comes through too, particularly at this late stage of his career and life.

The show will probably be the most Vegas-y of the shows I’ll see; there’s songs and a little soft shoe thrown into the mix. The delight of Rickles is, of course, his interactions and putdowns of the audience. One woman was told, “Are you a Japanese lady? If you’re not you better get your teeth fixed.” Even bits I feel I’ve seen a thousand times, such as Rickles doing a take after he tells a man his wife is stunning, are still hilarious. The laugh may come from recognizing something familiar, but to me it’s also still brutal to hear a performer just slam someone like that.

Rickles doesn’t spare his friends at all - chef Bobby Flay was in the audience and we were encouraged to go to Flay’s restaurant and to “get what I get, the runs!” Even someone with an apparent handicap could not escape Rickles. He told one apparently blind woman that he’d “speak to Jerry Lewis. I’ll get you on the show.”

Much of Rickles’ act has him reminiscing about his friends and his 47-year history in show business - and the people he mentions, damn, so many of them are gone. Carson, Sinatra, Dean. It’s lays real edge to when he talks about his annual Christmas plans with Bob Newhart and parenthetically adds “God willing.” To me, even some of his bits are stereotypes I don’t even know or remember - they’ll pass with him.

Another song saw him telling James Cagney to watch out for our young troups overseas in between verses of “Yankee Doodle Daddy.” His presence was so strong that I actually felt stirred when Rickles strongly asserted that we would win the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite my own misgivings about the war. Also particularly poignant are Rickles’ mentions of his mother, who he obviously adored for standing by him when other’s booed.

There’s still so much humor sprinkled throughout all this heartfelt material. He swung right from Yankee Doodle Dandy to sharing memories of serving two years in the Navy: “The was a Jap there, saying, ‘Where are you Jew?’ And we had a Pollock Captain going, ‘We’re over here!’”

The show is the whole package and I heard many comment afterward surprised at how much they enjoyed it. If you’re a fan or even if you’re curious, you should check him out when, God willing, he plays the Golden Nugget February next year. (As a side note, Dave Attell was also in attendance and was acknowledged from the stage by Rickles who thanked him for “paying full price for the ticket.”)

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:31 PM | Comments (1)