Month: October 2007

Jim Norton on HBO: “Monster Rain”

Toward the end of Jim Norton’s new hour-long HBO special "Monster Rain" (debuts tonight at 10, available on DVD Tuesday), the 39-year-old comedian takes a moment to recognize and thank Opie and Anthony in the audience. Norton certainly has seen his fan base grow since joining the morning radio duo on WXRK (92.3 FM) and XM satellite radio. He’s also working hard to reach new fans. Since taping the special at the beginning of the summer in Washington, D.C., Norton has published a best-selling book of essays, "Happy Endings: The Tales of a Meaty-Breasted Zilch," launched an online series on SuperDeluxe.com and made the late-night TV rounds. Most nights, he’s working out new material at the Comedy Cellar or performing on the road. "The more big things you can do to put yourself in the public eye, the better," Norton tells the Daily News. "I’ve tried to keep very busy. If you’re not always busy, you’re going to sink like a big dumb rock. Now I don’t have to face the terrifying implication that if this special bombs, I have nowhere else to go." Even if he did, he could always rebound like Don Imus, whom Norton references in his special. "I figured he’d be back sooner or later," Norton says. "But now with the special coming out, it’s perfect timing." He called Imus’ firing by CBS Radio a...

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Show & Tell: Dave Chappelle, Robin Williams

SNL may have had Chevy Chase back at the “Weekend Update” news desk last weekend, but audience members at the Comedy Cellar got even rarer treats late Saturday night as both Robin Williams and Dave Chappelle dropped in for unannounced performances at the city’s top comedy club. That’s Chappelle at about 1:53 a.m. Sunday, doing his thing. Note to self: Get a new phone. And to think, I’d just told Estee earlier that night that I always forget to bring my digital camera when things like this happen. (Bonus comedy nerd points if you know whose head that is in the lower left-hand corner of my photo) Williams, shooting the film “Old Dogs” with John Travolta in Connecticut, performed a raunchy 20-minute routine just before midnight Saturday, complete with his trademark riffing and voices. But after joking about Lindsay Lohan, he got candid about his own recovery from alcoholism, telling the audience that “you realize that life is a precious thing” and telling comedians afterward that stand-up comedy and AA meetings are the two things helping him maintain his sobriety. He seemed very cool and collected and interested in how the other comics were doing. I’d talked to Williams offstage once about five years ago, and it reminded me that this is an even more interesting guy to talk to when he’s not trying to be "on." At the...

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How to get a spot on Letterman

Meet Eddie Brill. You want to get on The Late Show with David Letterman as a stand-up comedian? Well, you’re going to have to impress Brill first. Eddie Brill is the comedy booker and audience warm-up comic for Letterman. On the weekends, Brill also tours the country as a club headliner, sometimes often scheduling a Letterman audition showcase around his travels.On Tuesday night, however, he didn’t have to travel far. Gotham Comedy Club put 10 comics on for him as part of the New York Underground Comedy Festival. Two of the performers — Jeff Caldwell and Ted Alexandro — didn’t have as much to worry about. They’d already done Letterman once already. For the other comics, this was their big opportunity to let Brill know they’re ready for network TV.So…how’d they do?We went straight to Brill for answers, and guidance on how any comedian can make their way onto Letterman. Brill said Caldwell is booked for Oct. 19. He wanted to see what Caldwell hoped to do onstage “so we can pick and choose” what’ll make it on-air. For Alexandro, Brill said he hadn’t seen him in a while, and “I wanted to see how he put it together.”As for the others?“ Joe DeRosa did a nice job. He was very good. I liked Pat Dixon. He has some work to do, though…Some of them I’ve seen for the...

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Michael Ian Black looks for his demo

I spoke with Michael Ian Black while writing for the New York Daily News, and Black wasn’t quite sure he’d be able to sell those readers on why they should see him perform. He’d just released his first stand-up CD, "I am a Wonderful Man," on Comedy Central Records and was heading out on a fall tour Oct. 7 with longtime friend and collaborator Michael Showalter. But Black, after a rapid-fire exchange to determine that it is, in fact, me calling him at his Connecticut home, acknowledged that he was not sure he was ready for the Daily News readers. "I feel like my sensibility and the Daily News readers’ sensibilities don’t mesh," he said. "They may not know who I am, or if they do know who I am, not care for me much…If they come to the show, they’ll get a pat on the head, a hug, maybe a dollar. But I’m not sure they really care about me." Most New York City comedy bloggers love you and Showalter and David Wain, though."We represent in some ways the best of New York, which is to say, we’re well, I’m only speaking in comparison to L.A., we’ve failed. We haven’t achieved mainstream success in anything we’ve ever done, and in New York, that’s sort of considered a badge of honor. You can hold you head high that you’ve...

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