Month: November 2007

Damon Wayans, on stand-up, online comedy

Damon Wayans always seems to be getting back into the game, and this week is no different. The native New Yorker popped in to the Comedy Cellar on Wednesday night for a surprise half-hour set, telling me afterward: "I’ve got to get ready for the big show." That big show is Friday night at Beacon Theatre as part of the New York Comedy Festival. When we spoke over the phone last week, I asked him about an upcoming Comedy Central special, and somewhere in between that and Last Comic Standing, we got talking about comedians being ready for primetime. "I’m not a primetime guy, not in stand-up," Wayans said. "You don’t want to be. If you don’t express yourself — if you can be primetime you’re not expressing yourself." How do you look at comedy differently now after more than two decades onstage? "I’m a little more seasoned right now. I’m definitely a lot less afraid now. I think I enjoy it more because I realize I’m not going to be as physical now. It’s time. I’m 47 years old. That youth when I used to bound onstage, now I’m a little more like Cosby, looking forward to sitting down on a couch." But he still remembers his first time onstage, when he wrote all of his jokes down so he wouldn’t forget them. "I put the paper in...

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Doug Benson gets ready for Carnegie Hall

Doug Benson will perform with Sarah Silverman and Todd Barry tonight at Carnegie Hall as part of the New York Comedy Festival. Big deal, right? No worries for Benson. "Even if half of the people laugh at the joke, that’s still a lot of laughter," he said. And he figures they’ll laugh. Why? "I’m the sixth-funniest comedian in the world. They did an international search!" he said. Benson, of course, is referring to his participation in this year’s edition of Last Comic Standing. He also ranked highly with members of the comedy message board, A Special Thing, ranking #8 among working comedians on their latest poll. "I got an exciting move up on that one," he said. "I jumped from 14th on that one." Not that it really matters to him. "I don’t know why anything needs to be compared. But people love to do it. I contribute to that with all of my participation on all the VH1 shows. People like things in a nice orderly fashion. What am I going to do? Somebody puts me on a list. So be it. I can’t say anything about it…When I won ‘Stoner of the Year’ for High Times magazine, I don’t understand what that process was at all, three or four guys getting baked and picking a name." So it wasn’t a poll or a contest, then? "I think...

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Artie Lange’s “crazy weekend” (of comedy)

Artie Lange isn’t dead yet. I know you’re thinking it. Better yet, Artie Lange knows you’re thinking it. The comedian and sidekick for Howard Stern calls this the happiest time in his life. He’s the only performer in this week’s New York Comedy Festival to have two headlining gigs, Friday at Town Hall and Sunday at Avery Fisher Hall. In between, he’s driving up to Boston to take part in Denis Leary’s annual Comics Come Home. "It’s a crazy weekend for me," Lange told me last week. Isn’t every weekend crazy for him, though? Just talking about the festival got him reminiscing about last year, when he played Carnegie Hall. " Caroline Hirsch and her people there, Louis Faranda, they’ve always been great fans of mine," he said. "But a guy like me getting Carnegie Hall, that’s as big as it gets. It sold out in two hours. Great story, and it shows you the power of the Stern show." He said his Town Hall gig sold out during the American Express pre-sale. "Look, it’s a great point in my career and you try to enjoy it while you can, because there’s ups and downs as you go," he said. Why squeeze in Saturday in Boston? "I did seven episodes of Rescue Me. Denis Leary did me a great favor, so I said I’d do this for him." Carnegie...

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Shoot the Messenger, with Roseanne, Mo Rocca

The Ace of Clubs basement got packed more than I’d ever seen it Monday night for Lizz Winstead’s weekly Shoot the Messenger show, which has only gotten stronger as a morning-show parody since the last time I saw it. And it’s also got a Web site now (thanks to Todd Jackson from Dead-Frog), so you can get a glimpse of what you’re missing. Anyhow. Monday night’s guests were Roseanne Barr and Mo Rocca. Roseanne (who also shared the stage Tuesday with Rosie O’Donnell at her NYCF Avery Fisher Hall show), took part in two interviews: one fake, and one very real. Roseanne had a lot of things to say about the current White House administration, none of them favorable and few of them printable here. But she pointed out that even being able to speak her mind shows we’re still a free country. "As they get loudmouthed women to shut up, it’s all over," she said. Roseanne on Ann Coulter: "She talks for the people she talks for absolutely and perfectly, but she baits people." Especially the liberal white men who hate her, Roseanne said. Mo Rocca, on tonight’s political comedy panel at the 92nd Street Y for the NYCF, previewed his special "Liz Taylor marriage electoral rosetta stone," in which you can view American history through her romantic entanglements. "If Liz is ready to date a black man...

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Bob Saget comes clean, sort of

To answer your first question: Yes, Bob Saget does keep in touch with his former castmates from TV’s Full House. The night before we spoke, in fact, Saget had gone out to dinner in New York City with Ashley Olsen. The paparazzi made much ado about them being spotted together (although they made even more hubbub out of an Olsen twin being in the same hangout as Lance Armstrong later that night). "I’ve been TMZ’d!" Saget told me. Saget recently made his Broadway debut in The Drowsy Chaperone, and he hosts a benefit Tuesday night at Carolines for the Scleroderma Research Foundation, "Cool Comedy Hot Cuisine," with performances by Susie Essman, Robin Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Gilbert Gottfried and more as part of the New York Comedy Festival. Saget sounds like he’s having a blast on Broadway. "Drowsy’s really cool beacuse Bob Martin is brilliant. He writes all this stuff that I get to do. He’s got all these levels — he’s got parts that are very very dark, very critical, and then there’s these other gushy things about loving musical theater. It’s a fascinating journey. And I’m on Broadway! It’s an exciting piece. It’s so well-written and it’s so fast, it just goes." That sounds a lot like your stand-up comedy, which is fast and loose. Is that why you’re enjoying it so much?"That’s how my bowels are," he...

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November 2007
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