Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Catching up with Freestyle Love Supreme’s reunion

Normally, the concept of rapping comedians turns my hack sensors on stun with an urge to bolt. So when a friend asked me to join her for a show with Freestyle Love Supreme, I accepted her offer with caution. I mean, they’re from Wesleyan — Gawker’s choice for most annoying liberal arts school. But this isn’t a post about annoying young white stand-up comedians pretending they’re funny because they rap. This is about Freestyle Love Supreme, musically gifted people who put on an improvised hip-hop celebration. Shockwave (aka Chris Sullivan) makes you laugh at Blake Lewis, while Lin-Man (Lin-Manuel Miranda) has a way with freestyle that’s just jaw-droppingly smooth and awesome (as in, full of awe, not as in, 1980s slang). The show I saw last week at Ars Nova was a rarity, as co-creator Thomas Kail explained afterward that this was the first time all of the old and new cast members were onstage together. Lin-Man and some of the FLS crew had just wrapped their off-Broadway musical, In the Heights. So I saw even more MCs than the usual show. But their high-energy performance, albeit rawer than Kail would’ve preferred, managed to quickly riff off audience suggestions and make deliciously funny work of the day in the life of an audience member. And the audience loved it. FLS has some loyal fans — Marina, the gal I...

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Tracy Morgan, at Carolines

Anyone who went to see Tracy Morgan this past weekend at Carolines had to notice the sign by the ticket podium that warned of extremely adult and potentially offensive material. The sign for the 30 Rock star should’ve read: Warning! Crazy funny comedy ahead. No, really. He’s crazy. Not sure how much his sobriety plays into this (more on that soon enough), but it seems as though Morgan has tapped into a completely uninhibited part of himself that, while getting him into trouble offstage, has given his TV career new life. After about 50 minutes of graphic sex talk that had audience members blushing and laughing, he took a drink from his Evian bottle and the tone shifted. "I can’t drink alcohol no more, but I can still guzzle!" he said. Morgan then showed off his ankle bracelet to roaring crowd approval. "Yeah, they got me on the Lindsay Lohan program!" He then apologized to the audience, saying he knew his second DUI would land him in serious trouble. "Thanks for coming out…because I’ve been f—ing up this year." After some jokes about his arrest — the cop "gave me the line test and I kept stepping on his shoe" — he confessed that his arrest came just two nights before he was supposed to light the tree at Rockefeller Center. But his "drinking and speedballing" did him in....

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Chris Rock’s wit and wisdom, in development

I managed to catch Chris Rock during one of his impromptu unannounced club appearances at the Comedy Cellar this summer as he prepared for his first stand-up concert tour in almost four years. A lot of this stuff already was hitting very well, and here are some notes from a 90-minute set delivered late Sunday night (11:45 p.m. start) and early Monday morning (ending at 1:15 a.m.) at the Comedy Cellar, the latest jokes in development from Chris Rock…who opened with a Michael Vick reference…"I was just at home killing some dogs this week." On how much white people love animals: "You know how much better Seabiscuit’s life was than my grandfather’s?!" On Barry Bonds: "Who wouldn’t take a pill to do better at their jobs?…If you pay me Will Smith money, I’ll take needles in my anus right now!" "If Mickey Mantle had Advil, he would’ve hit more home runs.""Babe Ruth had 714 affirmative action home runs.""It’s not a sport without black people. It’s just a game. It’d be like, ‘I won the marathon, but no Kenyans were running.’" On trying to wipe your slate clean with one good deed, as they say of baseball by letting Jackie Robinson play: "If OJ saves a cat from a tree, he’s still a murderer." On the real-life history of the people on American money: "Next time you’re getting change, why...

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Notes from the Del Close Marathon

What happens when you look over your handwritten notes a year later? Let’s find out as we jog our memories on the 2007 Del Close Marathon, held over the last weekend in July… Satellites: Oh, this was a fun way to start my Del Close Marathon in 2007, as Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and Jason Sudeikis got themselves all excited about going to another Dave Matthews Band concert. They got nostalgic (Riggle claimed this would be his 217th DMB concert experience), interacted with fans (as in, audience members) and Sudeikis proved his chops playing multiple parts in this half-hour improvised set, including a drug dealer in Detroit and a driver to a show in Miami. Bro’in Out: With Leo Allen and Seth Morris co-hosting, and guests played by Matt Walsh, Ed Helms, and Matt Besser, among others, with Besser playing the role of MySpace’s founder, Tom. "A lot of people don’t want to be friends based on first impressions of their voice," said Besser as Tom, who continued to hold the MySpace Tom pose throughout the show. "I have a deformed spine that doesn’t allow me to face forward." Chuckle Sandwich: This Chicago-based quartet opened with a song, and showed why T.J. Miller would soon go on to bigger things. Micah Sherman also showed a bunch of energy at this midnight show. The Smartest Panel of Experts in the...

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Live from Montreal, it’s Saturday night!

As they say in France, que sera sera, je ne sais quoi — which translates into not one but two cliches. As for French Canada and Montreal, what better way to close out the 25th anniversary of Just For Laughs than with a gala hosted by native son William Shatner. What’s that? You didn’t know the Shatner came from Montreal? Neither did I, my dear readers. Neither did I. The fest’s grand finale (though the festival continues with a couple of shows on Sunday, Saturday night represented the blow-out of blow-out spectacular shows across the board) had the city’s streets teeming with comedy fans, and other people, too. Let me share a few salient points and thoughts from Saturday night… Is there a stage past post-ironic to describe the public persona of William Shatner, especially when he "sings" Canada’s rock hits? Or is that simply called ironic? Where is Alanis when you need her? Zach Galifianakis doesn’t need a piano to be funny, although it certainly adds a little something something (perhaps that je ne sais quoi?) to observations such as: "At what age do you tell a highway it was adopted?" I now have very mixed feelings about Canadian stand-up Gerry Dee. Why? Dee rocked the televised gala audience with his set Saturday night, but I had the strange sense that I had seen and heard it all...

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