Month: August 2009

Exclusive interview with Jim Jeffries in his hotel room

I had the chance to spend more than a few minutes with comedian Jim Jeffries in his hotel room during the Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival earlier this summer, and no, he did not touch me. Not physically. His website is now called Jim Jefferies, because that's his name now. Did you know that? You should, because I had told you he changed his name earlier this year for his first HBO special, which debuted in May. When I caught up with him in June, I asked him about the name change, plus got his thoughts on playing American comedy clubs, being known as an offensive comedian, and what he now knows about baseball, thanks to an autographed ball from Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. Jim Jefferies hosts tonight's taping of Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, kicking off four nights of tapings at Gotham Comedy Club in New York City. OK. Enough intro. Want to know what Jim Jeffries' real name is? Roll the clips! Here Jim Jeffries explains the differences between working in American comedy clubs versus his usual gigs in the U.K. Since Jim Jeffries has developed a bit of a reputation as an "offensive" stand-up, does it help when audiences don't know who he is before hearing him for the first time? Let him explain: Just For Laughs Chicago gave Jim Jeffries a baseball signed by...

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Kevin Allison: Not afraid to take a comedy RISK!

Many independent comedy showcases in New York City go dark in August, either because the potential audience members all have gone on vacation, or perhaps because the comedians themselves would like to enjoy a summer break. Kevin Allison is going the other way. This alum from MTV's The State is starting up his new weekly comedy storytelling showcase in August, starting Thursday at Arlene's Grocery in NYC's Lower East Side. A risk, you say? Well, that sounds about right for a title, too, so there you go, and here we are, talking to Allison about his new show, RISK! This week's debut focuses on "Strange Sex: Our Wildest Encounters," with stories from Margot Leitman, Marc Maron, Jessi Klein and Jonathan Kesselman. "I had been doing these character monologues for so long, because I was never really into stand-up for myself personally. I loved telling a story," Allison told me. "(The shows) were always great. But the last show I did, I felt I was trying to say a lot more about myself…and then I thought, f*ck it. why not just get up and tell my own f*cking stories? Why such a production? And the response, was a full 180 degrees. People were giving me really big laughs, (saying) thanks, that was inspiring hearing you talk about that stuff." How would you compare RISK! to other storytelling series that already exist, such...

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Robert Wuhl “Assumes the Position” at Ars Nova

They say history is written by the winners. For Robert Wuhl, who has brought his humorous lecture on history, Assume the Position, from HBO to the stage, he prefers to go with Aldous Huxley's take on life, "who says the charm of history lies in the fact that nothing changes from age to age, and yet everything's different." Wuhl said the motives of people don't ever change. We act out of our desires, for food, for power, for sex, or for money. "Nothing changes and yet everything's different," he said. And he hopes that looking back on it all provides some laughs along the way. Wuhl is one week into a two-week workshopping run of the live show at New York City's Ars Nova theater (Ars Nova schedule here), and so far, so good. "They're very much with it," he told me. Here is a clip from the first HBO special in 2006:   He followed that up with a second HBO special, Assume the Position 201, in 2007. In all cases, the audience becomes part of the show — that's no different now that it's a theater and not a formal classroom. Wuhl already has workshopped the theatrical version at the La Jolla Playhouse, and then in Los Angeles. This is the second of two weeks here in New York City. "Then I believe in probably the fall, or early...

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Montreal JFL 2009 in review: Details Are Sketchy (The Sketch Show!)

For a look at this year's sketch groups at Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy fest, take a click over to IFC's Details Are Sketchy, where I contributed a few thoughts as a guest blogger today. The way my fest schedule played out, I ended up seeing so much more of British troupe Idiots of Ants than I did any of the other groups — L.A.'s The Birthday Boys, Toronto's The Imponderables, and Jordan Peele and Rebecca Drysdale as Two White Guys — that I wish I had gotten to see more than the glimpse The Sketch Show afforded them. Particularly The Birthday Boys, as several of the West Coast comics had spoken so highly of them. Just one more reason for me to start planning a California vacation in the near...

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