Month: October 2006

TrendSpotting: Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin called me from Orlando, Fla., where he had just awoken from a post-Epcot slumber. Then again, he deserved a nap. As he told me, "We walked through 10 countries, around a lake. A lot of travel." Martin’s stand-up comedy tour comes to Boston on Saturday — that’s tonight, my friends, at the Berklee Performance Center. He’s happy about that. Not so happy to learn he’s here the same night and time as Denis Leary’s Comics Come Home. "So I’m basically fighting their cause? S—, that’s too bad. Maybe there’ll be some people who are against them, so they’ll come see me," Martin told me. Lots of people are quick to try to compare Martin’s dry delivery to either Steven Wright or Mitch Hedberg. Certainly, a few of Martin’s initial jokes on his new CD/DVD, These Are Jokes, sound Hedbergian in tone, subject matter and cadence. But who else would think to "remix" their jokes with glockenspiel? Or introduce an interpreter (in Martin’s case, Leo Allen)? On one joke in particular, though, I thought of another stand-up, my friend and Martin’s friend, Val Kappa. The joke has Martin describing how he got his hair cut especially for the show, and told the stylist what he wanted, "but it must’ve come out, gay Beatle please!" I could just hear Val saying that in just that way. Only, as I...

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Denis Leary on the 12th Comics Come Home

Right before jetting off on vacation last weekend, I managed to get Denis Leary on the phone to talk up Comics Come Home, which returns to Boston for a 12th year Saturday to raise money for the Cam Neely Foundation. Some of my interview got Tracked up today (observant Boston Herald readers should spot which paragraphs have been translated into Track-ese), so here is the full story… Last year, Leary opened Comics Come Home with a videotaped clips package recounting the many flubs of President Bush. Knowing that last month, Leary and his band debuted a Mel Gibson song, I wondered what he might have up his sleeves this time around. "Actually, we’re opening up with an expanded version of the Mel Gibson Blues, which also has an extra verse based on Mel’s interview with Diane Sawyer," Leary told me. "It’s not a tribute, because we all know the man and his background. I think everybody needs to single him out and know what he’s thinking about." "Every year, we try to do something that coincides with the number for the show," he said. "For No. 9, we had (Bruins legend) Johnny Bucyk alive and there, and then we had Ted Williams’ head in a bucket from the freezer. We thought 12, that’s the number of the apostles, which is the name of our production company…I think people are...

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D.L. Hughley on Studio 60

I had the pleasure of spending some quality time last night with D.L. Hughley, one of the Original Kings of Comedy, and a star of NBC’s new hourlong drama (?), Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Hughley and I had talked on the phone earlier yesterday, some of the results of which you can read here. Hanging out with him in the green room of the Comedy Connection, though, you truly get a sense of how focused and balanced this guy is — listening to him talk logically and eloquently about Iraq, North Korea, Darfur, education, health care, then watching him get up, walk onstage and deliver another hour-plus (and the plus can be plussss, depending upon how much crowd work Hughley feels like putting in) of laughs. He also was quite honest and forthright about how he views his current primetime network TV opportunity. Everyone is bringing their A games to the table, he said. When I asked him earlier if he has gotten to the point yet where he wants to stand up during a table read and yell, "Don’t you know I’m an Original King of Comedy," Hughley knew to instinctively fill in the "God Damnit!" I had on my screen but didn’t say. "What’s funny is, it’s about comedy," he told me. "Comedy is something people, to their detriment, all think they’re experts. They all...

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Robert Klein, still standing up

Robert Klein had a funny recollection of his first professional performing gig in Boston four decades ago. He performs in Newton Saturday and Sunday. "I’m still a well-kept secret, performing in person," Klein said. "I mean, I’m not a big tour guy. I do a lot of work as a stand-up comedian…but now I do much more corporate stuff." Tell me something we don’t know. "I took a lot of time off this summer. A little time visiting Richard Belzer in France…pretty much taking it easy." His memoirs, covering his early years from 9 to 25, are now in paperback. "I got to take part in the sexual revolution, which was a lot more fun than either the French or the Bolshevik revolutions. No one was shooting at you. And number two, no AIDS." As for his comedy writing, Klein said: "98 percent of it comes from improvisation. Initally, ideas come out of my head onstage. I record them to tape. I listen to them afterward and think about them, make suggestions." He said with a guy like George Carlin, all of the stage hands know exactly what to expect from one show to another. "I have this Second City bug in me, ’65, ’66, that’s where my career started. I can’t do the same show twice, ever. There’s a lot of set pieces, I wouldn’t change a punchline…but...

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Steven Wright’s first special in decades

Steven Wright’s first TV stand-up comedy special in 15 years, "Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away," premieres at 9 p.m. tonight on Comedy Central (repeats at 11 p.m. tonight, 10 p.m. Monday). The hourlong special shows Wright is still as funny as he was when Bostonians and everyone else first heard his unique yet simple takes on life back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Wright was kind enough to talk with me at length. Then again, most other comics, from wily vets to newcomers, say the same thing about him. At any rate. He told the audience at last month’s Boston Comedy Festival to "trust your gut" and "you have to take risks," whether it’s about comedy or anything else. Does taping your first TV special in 15 years count as a risk? Wright initially told me what he has told other interviewers. "I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve. I just…I hadn’t done one in so long. All comedians notice stuff. That’s where the comedy comes from, from noticing things, but I didn’t really notice that the time had gone by so fast, which is strange…I would look out at the crowd at the theater as they’re coming in, there were 20-year-olds, and 30s, but mostly they were in their 40s and 50s and 60s. Which is fine. But the people who are in college now...

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October 2006
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