Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

John Oliver’s new show on HBO looks like it’s going to be pretty delightful, especially if we’re judging by these two parody videos, featuring Josh Gondelman making fun of those dumb hipster GOP ads.

And check out this new web series, Littlefinger Lately featuring not one, but two of my current & former roommates - Robby Slowik and Rell Battle.  And you know I only let very funny people sleep in my livingroom. (In fairness to Robby, he only technically sleeps in our livingroom because it’s a flex 3, so he built a wall with a door so it’s actually a bedroom. And he has a job).

Anyway, this was created by Robby & Greg Gallant and stars Nick Hoff, playing against his all-american boy type as the evil vicar, Robby, Greg, Rell and Jake Weisman. I’ll feature this again if Jake’s knife collection makes a cameo.

The important people - family, friends & boon

The important people - family, friends & boon

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

Oh man, Chelsea Handler has had her guns blazing lately! I don’t know if she’s piping up to promote her upcoming tour or someone told her “okay, go ahead and speak your mind again” but it’s fun.

I miss Roast Battle, guys. And I knew this week’s Joe Dosch v Nate Hurd battle was going to be a great one. They are both smart and quick-witted and don’t have any of that “I want everyone to think I’m a nice guy” thing that can hold back other great writers. I’m told we’re only going to get one clip from each show online now (You get big and you forget the little people, that’s fine), so here’s your joke of the night. Though it should be obvious from the joke, it might help you to know going in that Joe is gay and Nate is not. Enjoy.

And I’ll finish with two clips from The Pete Holmes Show. One’s from before this past week, but I missed it in the move.  new Material Seinfeld.  Of course.

I’m also throwing in this recent monologue because I like how much more comfortable and Pete-y Pete seems now.

Comedy as a Second Language at Kabin Lives Up to The Hype

"All right ‘Linchpin of the New York Comedy Scene (2012),’ let’s see what you’ve got." I’ve heard so many good things about Kabin (the show’s official name is Comedy As a Second Language, but it takes place in the back room of Kabin bar, so everyone just calls it Kabin), I was bracing myself for a stunning disappointment.  Instead, I got a show that more than lived up to the hype.

It’s a small room with only about a dozen seats, but almost twice as many people packed into the standing room around the edges. It’s intimate, but feels professional.  The crowd was split about half and half between first-timers and repeat visitors and only like one guy was being a douchey “helpful heckler.” So, all in all a very good environment for a show.

And the lineup was solidJason Saenz, Jenny Zigrino, Adam Newman, Louis Katz, Josh Gondelman, Casey Balsham, a couple of guys whose sets I missed waiting in line for the bathroom and, oh yeah a pop in from Louis CK.  The show felt just a little bit too long, but the crowd was with everyone from start to finish because everyone was so good.

I’m already a huge fan of Josh Gondelman, who was charming and funny as ever.  And Jenny Zigrino was delightful! She’s definitely going to one of those people who, when I see her name on a lineup full of all these comedians I don’t yet know, I’ll be like “okay, that’s gonna be a win at least” And I know she’s one of my besties so you might not trust this, but Casey Balsham crushed.  Host Chesley Calloway was still wiping laughter tears from his eyes when he got back on the mic to introduce the next act.

So, okay, Kabin, you win.  You’re pretty awesome.

Comedy Juice NY at Gotham Comedy Club

I checked out Comedy Juice NY at Gotham last night. I really like the setup of Gotham, even though it’s got somewhat high ceilings and is a little too well lit for my taste, it’s more wide than deep, which is way better for getting a cohesive, laughing audience. Last night’s crowd were laughers, but kind of weird.  They were Full Stop Laughers, as in they came to a full silent stop after laughing at each joke, only once or twice did it really keep rolling and start to have momentum. And it wasn’t for lack of talent and trying on the lineup’s part.

Gibran Saleem was hosting.  I caught most of his set at Frantic Mondays and I’m kind of glad I went a whole extra day without hearing his opener, since I was thinking “hey, that guy’s got a solid set” and now I’m just going to think of him as Ross from Friends. (Even his voice started to sound like Ross after he pointed it out). Jade Cata-Pretta is out from LA and started the show. They liked the dirty and almost managed to come together as a great crowd just before Jade finished her set.  Like I said, full stop laughers.

Brooks Wheelan has a great self-deprecating opener, “Not the guy from SNL you were hoping for, hunh?  I am NOT crushing it this season.” Though his bit listing rejected SNL sketch ideas was great - most of them sounded better than most of the sketches that actually made it to air and I for sure want to see Undercover Boss (with Bruce Springsteen). Of course, most of his set is non-SNL themed and I could particularly relate to his new-to-NYC “don’t you realize leaving trash on the sidewalk is how rat-based societies come to exist??!!”

Sheng Wang crushed. Of course. Man, that guy is so good. He even made me laugh with a pants pooping bit (a feat only Ari Shaffir has succeeded at up til now).  I don’t know what else to say, the guy’s a beast.

Oh yeah, and remember how this crowd likes dirty?  Well they really showed that off during Wil Sylvince's set. They responded all right to his bits about being Haitian and his embarrassing uncle, but boy did they LOVE his bits about booty clapping and pulling out too far to find your way back in in the dark.  Like, they floor-stampingly loved it.

Thanks to Gibran and Rus Gutin (in absentia) for a great show!

Frantic Mondays at The Stand

When I was here in October, I remember thinking one of this things LA had over NYC was Potluck, a low-stakes free show that was a step between open mic and paid spots at a specific club.  Potluck is a long-running Comedy Store tradition and the Improv has recently stepped up to add a similar show. 

Then lo and behold, The Stand added Frantic Mondays, a free 10 pm show that mixes in headliners and younger comedians, usually hosted by Michael Kosta. So of course I had to check it out and I’m glad I did.

What East Coast Potluck (as I already started calling it) has over Original Recipe Potluck is a) a good crowd, b) brevity (2-ish hours, rather than a million) and c) organization! 

I came in a little late, just in time to see a good set from Gibran Saleem, then Judah Friedlander, Monroe Martin and Luis Gomez rocked the crowd for a solid block. I’m glad I saw Luis again because I completely forgot how funny his “congratulations to white people on not just stabbing each other” bit was.  It also reminded me that he’d tried out a new bit at Caroline’s about how Latinos know how racist both whites and blacks are, because we both think they’re on our team. They hate both of us, but we’re all united in our fear of Muslims, thank God.. or Allah, that is. It didn’t get much of a reaction at Caroline’s, but I think it’s a great joke and can’t wait to see it in finished form.  Monroe had a killer bit about how homophobia can’t be a real fear because there’s no horror films about it.

A few more guys and gals were mixed in, with heavy hitters Nick Vatterott, who is just plain hysterical, and Pete Lee at the end. And OH MY GOD, PETE LEE IS SO ADORABLE. I’m sorry to say that before saying how funny he is, but it’s true. I just met him and now I want to hug him all the time.

Even though it’s a free show, I’d recommend you get reservations ahead of time, because it was pretty packed.

The Sam & Joe Show at Caroline’s

Hey kids!  Between building IKEA furniture and yelling at IKEA furniture, I haven’t had much chance to check out comedy fun stuff yet.  And I think it’s the general consensus that The Stand will be my East Coast version The Store, though it has one critical difference - it’s a train/taxi ride away.  But what Caroline’s On Broadway lacks in cool hanging out vibe, it makes up in being within walking distance. So, that made Sunday night’s Sam & Joe Show a pretty easy choice for a lazy Sunday. And the fact that the show itself seems right up my alley may make it my go-to Sunday show.

Sam & Joe are Sam Morril and Joe Machi. You may recall Sam as the hero/victim of one of the more recent feminist blog rape joke witch hunts, which is both a shame and a bit of a blessing I guess.  I mean, you know his name, but you probably aren’t prepared for how smart his jokes are. Dark & dirty, sure, but smart. Joe hosted and sacrificed a set of new material to the check spot, so it was hard to get a bead on his regular material, but I’m told he’s great.

The rest of the lineup was Mike Lawrence, Taylor Ketchum, Leah Bonnema and Luis Gomez. I think we’re all pretty aware of how fond I am of Mike. Taylor’s a guy I know from way back when Sal’s was on La Brea, but haven’t seen onstage too much since we defected to New York a few years ago, so that was a treat. Leah was new to me and battling a weeklong flu, but closed strong with a great bit about the ridiculousness of 50 Shade of Gray (I know it doesn’t sound topical, but it’ll work for years to come, I’m sure). Luis’s opener and closer were great, even though homophobia is what makes both of them funny. But the closer about his dog being gay showed he’s not just lazily relying on being homophobic to get a laugh, but there’s some thought and self-awareness behind it.

So, yeah, great show.  Smart, dark comedians. Definitely a good start to things.

I’m Moving to New York

Indulge me while I’m mushy and self-important.

I love Los Angeles and LA Comedy. We can be cliquey narcissistic flakes, but we also build our own wonderful families of misfits and I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a few different tribes. I love the range of shows and venues and mics, even the ones that aren’t up my alley, I’m glad they’re there. I love that I’ve been able to watch the comedy center of gravity move back to LA (and it’s gonna keep coming) as comedy has become mainstream popular again. I love that I’ve watched The Improv and The Comedy Store evolve and thrive recently, when a couple of years ago I would argue they were unsustainable dinosaurs.

I’ve loved the chance to watch up close as guys (I’m using that gender-neutrally) grew and worked on sets that became their half hours or hours. I’ve loved seeing people embrace new technology and figure out how to leverage things like podcasts and Vine as both artistic and marketing tools.

I’ve loved going down to San Diego for weekends and traveling with The Monsters of Comedy Tour.  I’ve loved sitting in the back of The Store at 1 am on a Monday for a David Taylor set or a BKO performance. I’ve loved seeing Louis CK and Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle and Craig Robinson and Jeff Ross in weird, intimate settings.

There’s shit I don’t like, of course, but my point is I love LA and I’m not so much leaving here as going there.

It was a lot of good timing and serendipity that led to this decision, which is how I fell into comedy in the first place, so why stop trusting that now? I’m sad, but I’m excited.

I’m excited to plunge into a new scene.  I’m excited to see what grows out of the vacuum that’s come from the West Coast exodus. I’m excited to get to watch guys like Ted Alexandro and Big Jay Oakerson and Kurt Metzger on a regular basis and discover a whole new crop of you comedians that are going to grow and flourish. I’m excited to fall in love with new clubs and comedians. I’m super psyched about The Stand, which is as close to how I would run a club if I owned one as you could get without me actually owning it (and if you know the parallels between Patrick and I, that makes total sense). I’m excited to try and produce shows in a city that doesn’t lay in the shadow of The Industry and doesn’t have a completely entertainment-saturated population.

I’ll still maintain CG and I’ll still be contributing to AmericasComedy.Com.  A few new LA writers are coming on board ACC, but you can always reach out to me of you’ve got an album or a show that you want covered. And now you can reach out to me when you’re visiting New York. I’ll still have a couch whose main purpose is for broke comedians to sleep on.

Awesome Shit Your Eyeballs Missed This Week

Aaah, we all like a good heckler story.  And by “like” I mean “cringe even when the comedian ‘wins’” And this is a GREAT one.  There’s some weird kind of synergy between professional wrestling and comedy, but with Grant Lyon, this one went a little off the rails.

And this morning Chelsea Handler wrote a great response to being stuck in parentheses in a survey of Late Night Television.

Awesome Shit That Made My Eyeballs Cry This Week

Okay, there’s probably a little of the “Don’t touch the remote when the moonhole is bleeding" going on, but some funny people put out some legitimately touching stuff this week.

First up, Andy Sandford reposted his August blog “What Jealousy And Bitterness Can Do For Your Comedy Career" It’s perfect.  It’s a really good meditation on where jealousy comes from and why you should mostly ignore it.

You can’t start believing that another person’s success is your failure. You can’t become so jaded that you write off the entire industry because of a few perceived injustices. 

That is a HUGE lesson for comedians to learn, and probably one of the hardest.  I’ve watched people write off a booker or a club or an agency or a whole network because they got passed over. Not even rejected, just passed over.  There’s a difference.  Rejection is personal, it’s saying “no” but in so many cases it’s just “not saying yes.” There’s only so many spots open for Half Hours or the Saturday night 10 pm show and there are always more qualified people than there’s room for.  But comedians, who are generally narcissistic by both nature and through years of practicing this solitary art, take things personally very easily.

But my favorite part of the post is basically the same philosophy I espouse

Be happy for everyone who gets anything, because that means that comedy itself is still valued.

Okay, now on to my favorite time of the week Roast Battle. We all already know I love it, but this week was extra special. Virginia Collins vs Candice Thompson. I was incredibly excited and fearful about this battle.  I was excited because it was another all-female battle and I’d just watched Candice slice and dice Jamar’s birthday Roast, so I knew this one would be different.  This was no second class, Title IX shit, this was going to be real. I was nervous because I only know Virginia as a very sweet stoner chick who is relatively comedy young.  I’ve only ever seen her on stage late night at The Comedy Store’s potluck, so I had no real barometer of her talent or venom level. And she’s Jeff Ross’s girlfriend.  I mean, god, what would happen if The Roastmaster General and now godfather of The Battle watched his lady friend get eviscerated on the show?  Or worse, what if she pulled out a win as contentious as Yassir Lester’s sudden death OT over Benji Aflalo?  There’d be a mutiny, everyone would just assume the show was fixed.

But it went the absolutely best it could. Virginia surprised a lot of people with great writing and delivery right out of the gate. Candice held her own and delivered what the crowd was expecting.  It was fucking great. Candice won by a nose in a decision everyone could get behind. It was the kind of show that makes me excited about comedy all over again.

And THEN Candice wrote an amazing blog post about the experience and the weight she and Virginia were shouldering on behalf of female roasters. It made me tear up the first time I read it and again re-reading it now

 I may have looked collected on stage, but my thoughts were going a mile a minute. And there was only one recurring thought that resonated with me. “DON’T FUCK THIS UP.” 

However, I wasn’t thinking that phrase out of fear of failing to win the battle. It was in my head because so much more was riding on this. I didn’t want to fail women. That sounds so cheesy, but what I mean by that is women have it really difficult; in life. But being a woman in comedy is a whole other challenge. Often times we are not taken seriously, prematurely judged, and even despite the myriad funny women I see on a daily basis, we are still considered to be “comedically challenged” and inferior. I didn’t want to do well that night. Ineeded to do well. And so did Virginia. And I think I speak for everyone when I say we exceeded all expectations.