Day: July 14, 2009

CD Review: Matt Braunger, “Soak Up The Night”

In Matt Braunger's world, his family would more easily believe he were a ninja, a werewolf, even a unicorn hunter "for their candy-like meat" than think he (or anyone really) could earn a living in comedy. Even after his yearlong stint on MADtv. Hopefully, Braunger's new CD, "Soak Up the Night," will be the proof they need — despite the fact that the Comedy Central Records release is digital-only. We don't need a physical disc as evidence (although note to Braunger's relatives: I actually do have one if you want to look at it). Truth be told, I find it's better to see his stand-up comedy to believe him than to listen to him, so in telling you about his CD, I will be making use of visual aids. Buy Matt Braunger's "Soak Up the Night": Braunger has a strong stage presence, which is one of the reasons I prefer to get my fix from him preferably live, and failing that, on video. For "Soak Up the Night," you'll get to hear the comedian (raised in Portland, Ore., funnied in Chicago, now living in Los Angeles) talk about the art of classy bathroom graffiti, the insane interview stylings of professional athletes and rappers, why Billy Joel's "Piano Man" is not the classic you think it is, things one should not do as an actor in pornography, a re-imagining the...

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The “Bruno” movie and the irony of satire

All of the to-do over Sacha Baron Cohen's new Bruno movie left me wondering what the big to-do was supposed to be about. Oh, that's right. Homophobia! Hands were wrung in the mainstream media over whether Bruno's uber-gay character would pose more harm to real gay people than to the homophobes Sacha Baron Cohen was exposing on camera. For a good recap of all of that, turn to one of my favorite newspaper writers who still has a newspaper job, the Washington Post's Hank Stuever, for his take on gays and Bruno. The enterprise reminded me of a recent Ohio State University study on "The Irony of Satire," which found that conservative-minded people believed that Stephen Colbert has only been pretending to be joking about being a pompous conservative blowhard. To wit, the objects of the joke of The Colbert Report don't get the joke. Hence. Ergo. The irony of satire. What happens when you're lampooning someone, or some segment of society, but in exposing their ridiculous notions, they only think you're promoting their cause? Dave Chappelle cited this concern in quitting his successful Comedy Central series and leaving millions of dollars on the table. And now, here we are with Sacha Baron Cohen, and people questioning if gay-haters would simply hate gays more because of Bruno. Well? After debuting with $30.6 million in box-office receipts over the weekend…...

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Comedy writers reflect: Read “And Here’s The Kicker”

When I first heard that Vanity Fair's Mike Sacks was coming out with a book full of interviews with comedy writers both legendary and should-be legendary, I overcame any initial sense of jealousy with a worry: Would this endeavor prove too insidery, and appeal only to the nerdiest of comedy nerds? No worries. "And Here's The Kicker" — or at least the portions I've devoured from his online site for the book, only make me want to find a spot in the summer sun, kick back and read the whole thing. Sacks tracked down and got many greats to talk openly, not just about their own childhoods and writing careers, but also into areas where we see who influenced them and why. Along the way, of course, these conversations help turn up all sorts of other writers and performers who you'll certainly want to look up and find out more about. In the few full interviews on the site, Sacks gets Lemony Snicket author Daniel Handler talking about the Marx Brothers, Roald Dahl, Mr. Show, Stephen Leacock and more. Sacks also interviewed Buck Henry, Stephen Merchant, Todd Hanson, Merrill Markoe, Dick Cavett, Larry Wilmore, Paul Feig, Irving Brecher, Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, Dan Mazer, Bruce Jay Friedman, Daniel Clowes, Marshall Brickman, David Sedaris, George Meyer, Al Jaffee, Allison Silverman, Harold Ramis, Larry Gelbart, Mitch Hurwitz, Jack Handey, Dave Barry,...

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