Day: April 8, 2009

Free or $5: Pricing shows in a recession

The ongoing global recession already has impacted live stand-up comedy in a variety of ways. More Americans certainly are seeking out laughs to either escape and/or confront their real-life situations. But they have less money to spend on comedy. And comedians themselves are hurting just as much as people with office or factory jobs. First-hand and anecdotal reports coming in to me from stand-ups on the road seem to indicate that the shows are going on, so long as the ticket prices are right. As in less than $40. The bigger-ticket comics are proving to be the tougher draws. Some clubs with weeklong stints may cut a weeknight performance here or there, or one of the multiple weekend slots. Then again, the recession we experienced 26-27 years ago also coincided with the stand-up comedy boom. For what that's worth. The other trend I've noticed lately is that as bigger clubs try to keep drawing crowds by offering free or radically-reduced shows, some of the previously free indie rooms are being forced to move the other way to pay. A couple of examples of the former include the Laugh Factory in Hollywood comping tickets on Thursdays for anyone who proves they're currently unemployed, and in NYC, Comix hosts a regular Five For $5 showcase (there's one tonight featuring Julian McCullough, Reese Waters, Sean Patton, Nikki Glaser, Shane Mauss and Morgan Murphy,...

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From our fathers: Seinfeld and Leifer talk comedy

Something felt off last night as I sat at home watching TV, as if I knew I were missing out on a special comedy event. Sure enough: I could have been at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side, listening to Jerry Seinfeld and Carol Leifer talk about stand-up comedy. What we missed, according to the 92Y blog and Jane Levere over at HuffPo…aside from some promotional banter by Seinfeld teasing his upcoming reality-comedy show for NBC, The Marriage Refs, he also gave some insight into how you need to take the job of comedy seriously to succeed, and how an aspiring stand-up has to be somewhat insane in the beginning, defying the opinions of others and bad performances onstage to get back up the next night and do it all over again. Even more interesting to me was learning that both Seinfeld and Leifer inherited their passion for joke-telling from their fathers. Here's a portion of that conversation: Leifer: "I remember asking my father why he never pursued being a comedian, and he was like, 'Someone had to make a living.' It wasn't something in our fathers' generation that you would pursue, it was like really crazy to go off and do that, and it wasn't for our generation." Seinfeld said that when his father was serving in the Army in the Pacific during World War II,...

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Charlyne Yi and Fred Armisen in “Rabbit Habits”

Do you remember last year when Charlyne Yi used YouTube to get the attentions of Saturday Night Live, and in particular, Fred Armisen? We do. And so did Lex Halaby, who directed Yi and Armisen in a full blind-date scene to lead into this new music video for Mad Man's "Rabbit Habits." Also featuring Martin Starr. Anyone want to join me for lunch at the Silver Bullet Diner? Enjoy: Man Man "Rabbit Habits" – watch more funny...

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Comedy news that’s good news

Today we have multiple tidings of joy to relay your way… HBO has heard us and listened, granting us with a second season of Eastbound & Down. What will Kenny Powers do next? We'll find out in 2010. Comedy Central has announced that it's next roast "victim" will be Joan Rivers, taping in Los Angeles on July 26, and airing on Aug. 9, 2009. Comedy Central also has announced a deal with Levity Entertainment to release 12 stand-up specials over the next two years. The deal includes orders for Christopher Titus, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco, Jim Breuer, Mitch Fatel, Pete Correale airing this year, and six more to shoot this year and air in 2010, including ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. It's all business. Longtime Levity client Dunham recorded the highest ratings ever for Comedy Central with last year's "Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special." A couple of weeks ago, the network inked Dunham individually to a deal that included not just another special and DVD, but also consumer products (his fans love to buy his puppets) and a new series(?). All of this also means the network is moving ahead with Levity on a fourth season of Live at Gotham, the showcase for up-and-coming stand-ups (also read as comedians who have yet to appear on Comedy Central in a half-hour or hour). Casting is happening now for the new Gotham lineups....

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