Month: November 2007

Blake Lewis, still #2

This video is silly and not at all safe for work (profanity), but it does show that Blake Lewis has a sense of humor after American Idol, as well as a sense of Seattle-area camaraderie with comedians Kyle Cease, Bob Bledsoe, Tracy Tuffs and others. Even if they’re all Hollywood now....

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Lingering thoughts from Las Vegas

Now that I’ve had a chance to rest and gather my thoughts, a few things still left to be said about The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. For one thing, I’m still not really sure what Ellen DeGeneres was trying to accomplish with "Ellen’s Really Big Show" at Caesars Palace. They say you shouldn’t critique a TV taping, because it all looks much better once it’s edited for broadcast, but really…this show was a really big dud. DeGeneres had talked up this special as an attempt to rejuvenate the variety show. Only the variety show doesn’t need rejuvenating. Her guests included jugglers, acrobats, and the quick-change artists who had already made a splash on America’s Got Talent. And that show isn’t going anywhere, considering its relatively high TV ratings and the ongoing Writers Guild strike. DeGeneres also included a nod to Ed Sullivan. But isn’t David Letterman doing something similar with his odd assortment of guests with their stupid human tricks every night (when not on strike)? Frank Caliendo impresses you much more in person doing stand-up than on his fledgling TV show, which only makes me question Barry Katz (his show’s executive producer) that much more. One thing you often hear about The Comedy Festival is how it’s built for headlining acts and not for showcasing up-and-coming talent. But I saw plenty of industry people and tourists checking...

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I’m going, going, gone from Disney World

Just got back from a family vacation to Walt Disney World outside of lovely Orlando, Fla. They say it’s difficult for a single guy my age to meet women at Disney World, but I met plenty of them. And their kids. And their husbands. Fun times. Actually. Disney World does offer comedy (and I knew this going in, because Gabe Denning had just come from Orlando and Disney when we both joined an improv troupe in Seattle back in 1996). Anyhow. If you’re curious about such things, the Magic Kingdom has a new attraction called Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, based on the hit animated movie. It’s an animated live comedy show built for kids, and by kids, too, as anyone is invited beforehand to type in jokes and see if the characters use them during the show. Downtown Disney’s Pleasure Island also features a place called The Comedy Warehouse that offers live improv comedy in the short-form game style you’ve seen on Whose Line is it Anyway? And Cirque du Soleil has a freestanding big top there, too, for its show La Nouba, which offers jobs for serious clowns (the show itself is great,...

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Book Review: “Born Standing Up”

As you can see on my home page, I already highly recommend you buy and read Steve Martin’s new memoir, "Born Standing Up," if you have any inclination at all in learning what it takes and what it means to be a stand-up comedian. The back cover of my copy carries a blurb from Jerry Seinfeld calling Martin’s memoir "one of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." But the quote from November’s issue of GQ continues if you read the Seinfeld interview, in which he compares Martin’s book to his 2002 documentary Comedian — which I also highly suggest for anyone looking to get an accurate picture of the mind of a stand-up comedian. Here’s what Seinfeld continued to say about Martin: "The thing I have to write to him and tell him is, people always thought it was a triumph of silly? To me, it was a triumph of intelligence. There was tremendous intelligence in everything he did. It was only packaged in this silly veneer. But that’s what was funny about it. Inside, it was very smart and thought-out. It’s a wonderful document of this profession, which seems to be dying." Whoa…what? The profession seems to be dying??? I wish I’d had the chance to ask Seinfeld about that last part. In the meantime, let’s get back to Steve Martin and this...

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Eddie Izzard gigs Vegas, Vegas digs him

The last time many American audiences saw Eddie Izzard perform stand-up, he was wearing a dress and makeup. Ah, the life of a cross-dressing straight transvestite. Or is that redundant? Well, at least we know it’s not drag, as Izzard explained to reporters before his sold-out performance Saturday night at Caesars Palace for The Comedy Festival. Drag, he said, is the province of gay men. "I’m expressing a feminine side of myself. I’m wearing a dress," Izzard said. "I’m trying to sell straight transvestism to an American audience — that’s strange." For him or for them? "I could wear an elephant suit — it doesn’t matter." Tis true: No matter. Izzard kept on his jacket, facial hair and jeans for this performance, which got huge roars of approval even befrore the show itself, as Izzard took over the pre-show announcement and riffed about each and every element of it. He told me beforehand that as he’s worked out this hour of material in Los Angeles, he hasn’t noticed audiences treating him any differently since his wicked performances on FX’s The Riches. "But maybe some people have come up to me and said, ‘Oh, I love you on The Riches and I heard you do stand-up.’" Izzard opened his set by riffing some more — as is his wont, don’t you know that he loves flying by the seat of...

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