Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Dane Cook on the night of “Vicious Circle”

I’d interviewed Dane Cook in 2005 upon the release of his breakthrough CD/DVD "Retaliation," but hadn’t really talked to him in-depth in person until April 15, 2006, the night he’d tape two sold-out shows at Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden for HBO’s "Vicious Circle." Cook took some time in his dressing room about an hour before the first of two shows to chat with me. "Tourgasm" had been filmed but hadn’t yet aired on HBO, but people took notice when "Retaliation" debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts, the highest ranking for a comedy disc since Steve Martin three decades earlier. And fans from across the country came calling to Boston to be part of his HBO special. Guys from Aerosmith showed up. Glenn Close brought her daughters, who were in awe of him. This was the biggest night of his career. Are you nervous about tonight? "I spent 15 years thinking this wouldn’t happen. This is what I’ve always aspired to do. The ultimate plateau of comedy. So to actually be here, and be doing it, I feel very prepared. And so no, the nervous was not getting here. I just have to go out and have a blast, do the show." Hear a portion of our interview archived here. Cook had prepped for the HBO special by performing his show in the round earlier that week in...

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NYC open mics

Don’t know why I thought New York City open mics would be somehow different (read: better) than open mics in every other city, but they are, if anything, worse (read: soul-suckingly worse). I returned to the Big Apple to take part in a reunion of sorts of the "Funniest Reporters on the Planet" (a pseudo-contest held in January at the Laugh Factory in Times Square). That time, I took a bus down, performed, hung around afterward, then the bus back. This time, I figured I should at least try to catch some more comedy, if not perform more than once. That’s what New York comedy is all about, right? But first, some touristy sidetracks. I met up with a friend of mine from high school (Mary) who I hadn’t seen in forever, if you define forever as about 11 years. That was fun. Then it was off to the races. I called Jim Gaffigan for advice. He was busy, on his way to an audition, so I did the next best thing: I walked over to the late-afternoon madness outside The Late Show with David Letterman. The studio audience had just begun to line up (or queue, as my British Commonwealth friend likes to say) outside, and Letterman’s studio hands were filming a sketch on the sidewalk. I walked into the Hello Deli, and yes, Rupert Gee was behind...

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Eugene Mirman, the face for radio?

When several radio stations across the country decided to adopt the "Mike," "Jack" and "Wolf" formats, they turned to comedian Eugene Mirman to be their on-air face to promote the song-shuffle concept on TV ads. The ads showed Mirman, who went to Hampshire College and began comedy in Cambridge, Mass., before moving to New York City, riffing about giant burritos or about how he has a radio in his finger. IQTV ad agency in Atlanta contacted Mirman after seeing one of his Robot Video clips online. One Mirman quip that didn’t make it on-air had him boasting that the radio station appealed to "everyone but racists." "There’s even more, but I’m saving them for live shows," he told me. "They were very nice, the people who made (the ads). They had to assume that I would make the weirdest ads I could make with them. But they asked me. There’s one in which I talk about a burrito, which I think is odd, but I heard some markets are playing it." In that ad, he boasts: "Our radio station plays more variety than a burrito filled with everything in a hardware store — and also stuff from a toy store, for variety." Mirman had his own radio show in college, sometimes DJs and has toured as opening act for rock bands. Later in April, he’d head off to tour...

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Mike Birbiglia’s “Medium Man On Campus” tour

Comedian Mike Birbiglia has been performing to packed college auditoriums this spring. Which made his return to Georgetown University, his alma mater, all the more triumphant. Or not. "It was one of the smaller shows, actually," Birbiglia told me. "I don’t want to downgrade their experience like they didn’t have a great time, because I had a great time. It’s just, what’s the phrase? You can never go home again." No wonder his Comedy Central tour got called "Medium Man On Campus." Birbiglia laughed. "The Medium Man returns to his own school and is met with a lukewarm reception! I think I’m going to write about it in my secret public journal." The 27-year-old Shrewsbury, Mass., native turned his journal entries into a CD, and now an online series for Comedy Central, which also put out his latest CD/DVD, "Two-Drink Mike," in February. Birbiglia won a comedy contest at Georgetown when he was a sophomore. "But I was never the class clown in school," he said. "The class clown was always a jerk who walked into the room and said, ‘You’re fat! You’re gay! I’m outta here!’ I was always a little fat and a little gay, so I never got along with that guy." That said, he noticed a lot of childhood friends in the audience the last time he performed in Boston. Birbiglia has other talents, too....

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Greg Behrendt moves to daytime TV

A couple of years ago, Greg Behrendt found himself telling jokes to a few dozen people at a Baltimore comedy club. Now he’s a household name. Give credit to (or blame) him for co-authoring the best-selling relationship book, "He’s Just Not That Into You," which came out of his consulting work for Sex And The City and catapulted him, via Oprah, from stand-up comic to daytime TV host himself. I spoke with him as he was making the transition. Has everything changed? "It hasn’t. It’s just put more people in the room," he told me. "I had never talked a lot about relationships onstage." I first saw Behrendt at Seattle’s Bumbershoot several years ago (1998, maybe?) introduced as one of David Cross’ friends. A few years later, I got to open for him at the Tempe Improv on a weekend that saw him also appear on The Tonight Show — which resulted in Behrendt flying to L.A. early Friday, taping the show, flying back to Arizona for two shows, then watching the Improv’s big screen drop to broadcast his Tonight Show routine. Back then, he liked to joke about people getting his name wrong all the time. Is it better now that he’s got a TV show coming out? "Nah. It’s still the same. People get it wrong. It’s not a national brand yet," he said. "It’ll be like...

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