Category: Stand-Up Comedy

Pol: Raise Comics’ Minimum Wage

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Shecky Magazine caught an article in the NY Daily News about a bill in Albany to make sure comics get $120 for a 20 minute weekend set. The bill was written by Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat. The Daily News editorial has had some fun with this, pointing out how ridiculous it is to claim comedians need a raise because they might have to cab between clubs. The Observer wonders if Espaillat is joking. And Shecky, though for stand-ups, is strongly against anti-raise efforts, stating “Nobody owes any standup comic a living.”

And they’re absolutely right, but the point here shouldn’t be not necessarily a living wage off of comedy but a fair one. Any language in the bill guaranteeing comics an ability to live off their comedy should be dropped. Entertainment is a crap shoot and if you try and eliminate the risk, you’d kill comedy clubs dead. But comedians should have some bargaining power to gain some money.

But the thing that gets me, isn’t this bill moot? Earlier this year the New York Comedians Coalition got club owners to agree to a wage increase. Sure it was not the $120 they originally wanted, but most went to $85, a compromise that all parties seemed grateful for, considering the potential work stoppage threatened at the time.

Worse, Assemblyman Adriano Espaillat seems unaware of this deal. The Daily News reports that a spokesman for Espaillat stated, “If they make a deal, we will withdraw the legislation.” But The Coalition website makes no mention of any sort of backtracking or reneging on the deal made in February, so why is the government getting involved? The two parties have already resolved their differences.

Espaillat might be helping comics just by making himself a good joke.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

It Doesn’t Take a Village.

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

A brand new blog about comedy The Apiary, makes a good point that the Village Voice ignores comedy including a search for young comic Aziz Ansari which brings up nothing. To be fair the Village Voice does give a comprehensive listing of venues that can be found right off the home page. These don’t get down to the specifics of who’s playing where, but at least you know where to look.

It wasn’t always this way. Back during the 80s boom, Laurie Stone had a column in The Village Voice entitled “Laughing in the Dark” which covered stand-up comedy. It was later collected into a book with the same title. Judging from the book reviews in Salon and the New York Times, the coverage wasn’t exactly compelling. (Sometime I worry this blog is a bit pedantic and pretentious but after reading the quote from “Laughing” about Kevin Meaney in the NY Times review, I think I’m A-OK.)

But what The Apiary is talking about is listings. It is rather puzzling The Village Voice doesn’t talk about comedy more, but the alt weekly seems to take itself so seriously, why would anybody who was interested in something funny read it. TimeOutNY and The Onion do a fine job with the scene. Comedy doesn’t really need The Village Voice.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 08:03 PM | Comments (1)

Chappelle Stands Up

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Dave Chappelle is back to stand-up, making two surprise performances in Los Angeles and the Improv and the Comedy Store. College Humor, which sponsors the Improv show, has an account of his set which shows Dave has some good spirits about all the press, telling audiences he better get “my ass back to work” if he wants to get any money from sales of the Season 2 DVD. No mention if he did any racial material like the sketches that were beginning to concern him.

College Humor also goes on to mention that Chappelle was completely surrounded by fans and industry on his way out. Along with Comedy Central promising to talk business “really, really soon”, the pressure ain’t going away, but hopefully, neither will Dave.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Oh I Get It, Rock and Mock Rhyme!

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Comedy in alternative venues is starting to get mainstream attention with a story in the NY Post today. An interesting point made by Christian Finnegan was how much harder you have to work with an alt audience because “You get a lot of bemused chuckling and wry smiling - like, ‘Oh, I see where you’re going.’” Previously I mentioned that comedy clubs surrender up a stink of desperation that make most smart audiences put up a wall between themselves and a performer, naturally making getting laughs harder. But it seems things aren’t easy all around.

Of course, if an audiences is that aware, they’re already a step ahead of seeing comedy in a venue like the Tee-Hee Teepee. They’re at the alternative venues, using their savvy to make Christian’s job harder. Other audience that might be less discerning faithfully head to the Chucklehut, willing to endure the flopsweat. Still, not every hipster loves this trend and working with in rock clubs isn’t necessarily any easier (as anyone who’s seen David Cross take a half hour to pack his bag on the “Let America Laugh” DVD can attest). Despite this, I think anything that gets comedy in a new context is great.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 11:54 PM | Comments (1)

Whistle is Such a Taboo Word

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Comedian Todd Levin recounted a recent appearance where a single joke of his featuring a rape whistle met with audience disapproval. Particularly vexing is that the audience seemed to focus on one word instead of the context. The joke (not stealing, just quoting):

“My mother has always been a scared and cautious woman. For instance, she was in her high school marching band – she played the rape whistle.”

Todd goes on to state that though he hates comics who defend their material, he actually chastised the audience for not enjoying the joke. I think Todd’s distaste for defending his joke is natural, considering most comics misuse it to justify hack material or disturbing exaggerations that lack any wit. But in this case, the bit is pretty clever and the joke isn’t about rape, it’s about fear. I’m glad Todd did it. Though laying into the crowd only rooted one clap from the back of the room, I think sometimes comics need to remind audience to listen with more than their ears.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:36 AM | Comments (1)

Boston Leaves New York

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

No official confirmation yet, but there’s some rumors that New York’s Boston Comedy Club is closing down. Earlier this year, in a letter about the negotiations between his club the Improv and the newly-formed stand-up union New York Comics Coalition, BCC owner Al Martin stated that “the Boston Comedy Club at best breaks even.” I suppose that the “best” was far too rare.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

The Aristocrats Joke Database

Filed Under Jokes, Stand-Up Comedy

The blogging been rather light… ok, ok, nonexistent… lately because I’ve been working on a little project. It’s inspired by the new film The Aristocrats, which features tons of comics like Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, George Carlin telling their version of an infamous dirty joke that has been around since vaudeville. And now, you get to tell it.

Submit your version of the Aristocrats joke to Dead-Frog’s Aristocrats Joke database. It’s very light so far. They ain’t just lying around the Internet on regular joke sites. I’ve started us off with one… and will be adding more this weekend, hopefully some from a few funny friends.

The Aristocrats Joke Database.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:41 PM | Comments (2)