Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Show & Tell: Dave Chappelle, Robin Williams

SNL may have had Chevy Chase back at the “Weekend Update” news desk last weekend, but audience members at the Comedy Cellar got even rarer treats late Saturday night as both Robin Williams and Dave Chappelle dropped in for unannounced performances at the city’s top comedy club. That’s Chappelle at about 1:53 a.m. Sunday, doing his thing. Note to self: Get a new phone. And to think, I’d just told Estee earlier that night that I always forget to bring my digital camera when things like this happen. (Bonus comedy nerd points if you know whose head that is in the lower left-hand corner of my photo) Williams, shooting the film “Old Dogs” with John Travolta in Connecticut, performed a raunchy 20-minute routine just before midnight Saturday, complete with his trademark riffing and voices. But after joking about Lindsay Lohan, he got candid about his own recovery from alcoholism, telling the audience that “you realize that life is a precious thing” and telling comedians afterward that stand-up comedy and AA meetings are the two things helping him maintain his sobriety. He seemed very cool and collected and interested in how the other comics were doing. I’d talked to Williams offstage once about five years ago, and it reminded me that this is an even more interesting guy to talk to when he’s not trying to be "on." At the...

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How to get a spot on Letterman

Meet Eddie Brill. You want to get on The Late Show with David Letterman as a stand-up comedian? Well, you’re going to have to impress Brill first. Eddie Brill is the comedy booker and audience warm-up comic for Letterman. On the weekends, Brill also tours the country as a club headliner, sometimes often scheduling a Letterman audition showcase around his travels.On Tuesday night, however, he didn’t have to travel far. Gotham Comedy Club put 10 comics on for him as part of the New York Underground Comedy Festival. Two of the performers — Jeff Caldwell and Ted Alexandro — didn’t have as much to worry about. They’d already done Letterman once already. For the other comics, this was their big opportunity to let Brill know they’re ready for network TV.So…how’d they do?We went straight to Brill for answers, and guidance on how any comedian can make their way onto Letterman. Brill said Caldwell is booked for Oct. 19. He wanted to see what Caldwell hoped to do onstage “so we can pick and choose” what’ll make it on-air. For Alexandro, Brill said he hadn’t seen him in a while, and “I wanted to see how he put it together.”As for the others?“ Joe DeRosa did a nice job. He was very good. I liked Pat Dixon. He has some work to do, though…Some of them I’ve seen for the...

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Michael Ian Black looks for his demo

I spoke with Michael Ian Black while writing for the New York Daily News, and Black wasn’t quite sure he’d be able to sell those readers on why they should see him perform. He’d just released his first stand-up CD, "I am a Wonderful Man," on Comedy Central Records and was heading out on a fall tour Oct. 7 with longtime friend and collaborator Michael Showalter. But Black, after a rapid-fire exchange to determine that it is, in fact, me calling him at his Connecticut home, acknowledged that he was not sure he was ready for the Daily News readers. "I feel like my sensibility and the Daily News readers’ sensibilities don’t mesh," he said. "They may not know who I am, or if they do know who I am, not care for me much…If they come to the show, they’ll get a pat on the head, a hug, maybe a dollar. But I’m not sure they really care about me." Most New York City comedy bloggers love you and Showalter and David Wain, though."We represent in some ways the best of New York, which is to say, we’re well, I’m only speaking in comparison to L.A., we’ve failed. We haven’t achieved mainstream success in anything we’ve ever done, and in New York, that’s sort of considered a badge of honor. You can hold you head high that you’ve...

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Jim Gaffigan explains Pale Force

Jim Gaffigan debuted the second season of his cartoon superhero farce, Pale Force, on Monday night’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien. For those of you who haven’t caught on, Gaffigan helps out, introducing the concept each time he’s on the show, saying how he and Conan "play superheroes who fight crime with our paleness and shoot lasers out of our nipples." And Conan always points out, as he did Monday, "I think I came across as weak and sniveling in some episodes — wait, all episodes!" And each time, they show the first part of an episode, end with a cliffhanger and send viewers online to see what happens next. Here is a sample clip from the first season: Gaffigan and I talked earlier today about how this bizarre Emmy-nominated cartoon came to be. "It’s the idea of Paul Noth. He’s a cartoonist for The New Yorker. It was his idea. He had come to a couple of tapings when I was on Conan and it just kind of, he came up with the idea and we pitched it to the Conan people and did a sample one." Was it a hard sell?"it’s kind of rare for them to take an idea, let alone one that costs a bunch of money to produce, but they liked it, and it kind of snowballed. We got 20 episodes for the first...

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Exclusive: Dane Cook answers his critics

The last time Dane Cook and I talked at length face-to-face, we were in his dressing room backstage at Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden, minutes before he’d perform for two sold-out arenas of screaming fans for his HBO special, "Vicious Circle." At the time, it was the biggest night of his life. He seemed pretty calm and content that night. Earlier this week, we met again, this time in a hotel lounge in Midtown Manhattan. And this time, Cook’s in a different place. He’s now trying to becoming a movie star. He has more than 2.1 million MySpace "friends." Yet he also is at the center of a nasty backlash, both from within the comedy community and from the mainstream media, who use his name as a punchline for things that are wrong about comedy. Perhaps for the first time, Cook decided to address it all (even Louis CK!). Part of our interview appeared in the New York Daily News. But here’s the full interview, in which fans and foes alike should get some rare insight into what this comedian and fledgling actor/musician is really thinking. You’re kind of inescapable at this point.“Now more than ever. The other night I was at a Red Sox game in Boston and a commercial came on for Good Luck Chuck and then a commercial came on for the MLB stuff (he’s the face...

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