Day: November 21, 2007

Tim Minchin’s proper American debut

After electrifying the Las Vegas audience with his extended introductory performance of "So F–king Rock," Tim Minchin said this was his first time in America. Well. Not quite. I’d seen Minchin earlier this year when he wowed the crowds in Aspen. "Aspen’s not America, really," Minchin told me backstage after rocking the socks off the audience for an hour-plus. "They just plop you down on the mountain and then pick you back up." "I didn’t have America as an intention," he said. "The opportunity came to me." Winning the Perrier Award for best newcomer to Edinburgh in 2005 led to an invite to Montreal in 2006, which in turn led to Aspen in February of 2007, where he received more industry kudos. "But after Aspen, I said, ‘Hold on, wait a second…" So here he is, or was, for three shows in New York City last week at Ars Nova — "Ars Nova is the most wonderful small theater I’ve perhaps ever been in," he told me — then Saturday night in Las Vegas for The Comedy Festival (organized by the same HBO folks who recruited him to Aspen), then two nights earlier this week in Los Angeles. Minchin said he hopes to come back in 2008 with something proper and new. "I’d like to sit for six weeks and write a new season in New York," he said....

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The 2007 Andy Kaufman Award finals

Through methods not entirely spelled out — although, really, anything associated with the late Andy Kaufman should go without any easy explanations — eight comedians from across America got invites to Las Vegas to perform in front of Kaufman’s dad, Stanley, and his manager, George Shapiro, for the coveted award named for the eccentric performer. This was the contest’s first visit to Vegas, having been conducted the first three years in New York City. How would it play in a ballroom of Caesars Palace during The Comedy Festival? Well…you can watch the video submissions of all eight finalists here… Past winners Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts co-hosted the affair with their usual pluck and delight. Chad Fogland chose a clowning mime striptease for his act, disrobing 12 pairs of pants, three pairs of boxers and a pair of briefs to reveal…another pair of briefs. Impressive enough, but far from extraordinary. Mary Mack made her case with a washboard that she plays in her day job as a one-woman Eagles cover band. "This is where the show really amps up," she said. Certainly off the beaten path. Nick Gibbons used a lie detector during his act that prompted him to change his answers repeatedly, almost exactly like an improv game my old troupe used to perform with bells and buzzers. Even Gibbons said on his blog later that the bit...

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