Category: Stand-Up Comedy

Just For Laughs: Chicago - What I’m Looking Forward To

Filed Under Just For Laughs, Stand-Up Comedy

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…

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Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:58 PM | Comments (4)

Interview: Jim Jefferies, “I Swear to God”

Filed Under Interview, Stand-Up Comedy

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

Posted by Todd Jackson at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)

Tom Kenny, Human Cartoon, Circa 1989.

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:

Posted by Todd Jackson at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

.02 Percent of Tommy Tiernan’s 36 Hour Plus World Record Set

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?

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:58 PM | Comments (1)

Jim Gaffigan and “King Baby”, Comedy That Refreshes.

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.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

Jim Gaffigan Walks the Bacon’s Edge

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Jim Gaffigan has a new special coming on March 29 entitled “King Baby” and he’s got a fantastic promo for it that’s hysterical funny in it’s own right, particularly if you’re a comedy nerd. Watch:

It’s a fun play off of Gaffigan’s own everyman persona and accessible material, but it’s also just a brilliant send-up of the ubiquitous way comedy specials are marketed these days - shaky rough type on black screens, with all the promotion copy screaming “Edgy!” It’s a great jab to make at comics who assert their countercultural bona fides in between every joke.

After the jump is Gaffigan’s extended riff on a topic other comics are afraid to touch. But Gaffigan’s going to chew it up. Prepare yourself and then click through for Gaffigan’s “Bacon” bit.

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Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:34 PM | Comments (1)

Robin Williams Brings His “Weapons of Self-Destruction” to Broadway

Filed Under Live Events, Stand-Up Comedy

Over the past few months, Robin Williams has been immersing himself in stand-up with a new tour entitled “Weapons of Self-Destruction.” Now, in what seems to be the culmination of the effort (but not the tour), Williams comes to New York to perform the show for only five performances at the Neil Simon Theatre. Williams arrives in New York April 28th and leaves May 3rd. Tickets are pretty much what you’d expect them to be - $70 to $150.

A day or so ago, Robin Williams’ YouTube channel was updated with clips from the current tour. But they don’t really give you a look at the show, which reportedly covers politics, technology and some of Williams’ own issues with alcohol. They’re just jokes for whatever city he’s in that night, which is a little odd. “Hey, here’s the twenty seconds you’ll miss if you weren’t in Chicago!” Lookee:

It’s an odd version of web marketing… to give away the toss offs to other cities. It’s unlikely that would be his best stuff. Well, he doesn’t look to troubled for an audience.

If you’d like to see the regional New York humor of Robin Williams, tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster on Sunday.

Update: This is one of the times I wish I eschewed from even this slight snark. Robin Williams has had to postpone the tour because of health problems, specifically surgery to replace an aortic valve in his heart. Obviously, I hope it goes well and that he gets a chance to finish the rest of the tour.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)