Day: October 21, 2006

D.L. Hughley on Studio 60

I had the pleasure of spending some quality time last night with D.L. Hughley, one of the Original Kings of Comedy, and a star of NBC’s new hourlong drama (?), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Hughley and I had talked on the phone earlier yesterday, some of the results of which you can read here. Hanging out with him in the green room of the Comedy Connection, though, you truly get a sense of how focused and balanced this guy is — listening to him talk logically and eloquently about Iraq, North Korea, Darfur, education, health care, then watching him get up, walk onstage and deliver another hour-plus (and the plus can be plussss, depending upon how much crowd work Hughley feels like putting in) of laughs. He also was quite honest and forthright about how he views his current primetime network TV opportunity. Everyone is bringing their A games to the table, he said. When I asked him earlier if he has gotten to the point yet where he wants to stand up during a table read and yell, "Don’t you know I’m an Original King of Comedy," Hughley knew to instinctively fill in the "God Damnit!" I had on my screen but didn’t say. "What’s funny is, it’s about comedy," he told me. "Comedy is something people, to their detriment, all think they’re experts. They all...

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Robert Klein, still standing up

Robert Klein had a funny recollection of his first professional performing gig in Boston four decades ago. He performs in Newton Saturday and Sunday. "I’m still a well-kept secret, performing in person," Klein said. "I mean, I’m not a big tour guy. I do a lot of work as a stand-up comedian…but now I do much more corporate stuff." Tell me something we don’t know. "I took a lot of time off this summer. A little time visiting Richard Belzer in France…pretty much taking it easy." His memoirs, covering his early years from 9 to 25, are now in paperback. "I got to take part in the sexual revolution, which was a lot more fun than either the French or the Bolshevik revolutions. No one was shooting at you. And number two, no AIDS." As for his comedy writing, Klein said: "98 percent of it comes from improvisation. Initally, ideas come out of my head onstage. I record them to tape. I listen to them afterward and think about them, make suggestions." He said with a guy like George Carlin, all of the stage hands know exactly what to expect from one show to another. "I have this Second City bug in me, ’65, ’66, that’s where my career started. I can’t do the same show twice, ever. There’s a lot of set pieces, I wouldn’t change a punchline…but...

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Steven Wright’s first special in decades

Steven Wright’s first TV stand-up comedy special in 15 years, "Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away," premieres at 9 p.m. tonight on Comedy Central (repeats at 11 p.m. tonight, 10 p.m. Monday). The hourlong special shows Wright is still as funny as he was when Bostonians and everyone else first heard his unique yet simple takes on life back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Wright was kind enough to talk with me at length. Then again, most other comics, from wily vets to newcomers, say the same thing about him. At any rate. He told the audience at last month’s Boston Comedy Festival to "trust your gut" and "you have to take risks," whether it’s about comedy or anything else. Does taping your first TV special in 15 years count as a risk? Wright initially told me what he has told other interviewers. "I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve. I just…I hadn’t done one in so long. All comedians notice stuff. That’s where the comedy comes from, from noticing things, but I didn’t really notice that the time had gone by so fast, which is strange…I would look out at the crowd at the theater as they’re coming in, there were 20-year-olds, and 30s, but mostly they were in their 40s and 50s and 60s. Which is fine. But the people who are in college now...

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