Month: December 2007

RIP, Adara Almonte

Maybe you knew Adara Almonte. Maybe you didn’t. Almonte was a stand-up comedian in New York City, and she died earlier this week. I didn’t really know Almonte well. We were MySpace friends. We exchanged emails a couple of times, around the time of this performance of hers captured below in August. I’d seen one of the shows she had produced on a rainy night this summer in the back of a Midtown bar, with a lineup of comedians I’d never heard of before. Not that they weren’t funny. But it helped show me once more how no matter small you may think New York’s comedy scene is, it’s actually much larger than you realize. Comedians of all shapes and sizes and colors, young men and women, desperately trying to get their voices and their jokes heard. For those of you who knew Almonte, you already may be aware of her funeral arrangements, or even of the circumstances of her passing. It’s so sad to see another young comedian lost, another voice silenced much too soon, seemingly self-destructing. Why must it be this way? You can hear Almonte say herself late in this clip, talking about live comedy: "It’s the only place where people can get together and rip each other apart, and it’s like, no, but we’re really all in this together." She’s right. We really are all...

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Human Giant’s season 2 preview

The UCB Theatre in NYC hadn’t seen all three members of Human Giant (Aziz, Paul and Rob) together onstage for Monday night’s Crash Test in quite some time. In fact, they’d been out and about so long that the joint changed the late-night Monday show name from Crash Test to Cavalcade. But last night, there they were once again, in front of a packed crowd — helped in part because half of the seats were reserved for friends and TV show crew for a special preview of season two of their MTV show (which debuts in March 2008). Look, here’s a video! Human Giant gets a Sponsor for Season 2 from PaulScheer on Vimeo. No. Wait. Here’s a photo of all three together on the UCB stage last night, which means we need a microphone tech to clear things up (as well as an education in cameraphone technology). They opened with some jokes about Hannah Montana and The Hills. "I’m not contributing to this because I’m too old to watch that channel," joked Rob Huebel. "Paul and I have no problem watching shows geared to other demographics," countered Aziz Ansari. On to the preview! They showed three videos. The first offered a darkly humorous look at a police sketch artist who turns out to be more of a caricaturist (the above video spins off of that sketch). The second...

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Shark Show Holiday Party recapper

For the first time in months, the fellas from the Shark Show all found themselves in New York City at the same time and Gabe, Nick, Dan and Ari decided to celebrate with a special reunion/holiday show back in the Parkside Lounge on Dec. 13. As Ari said up front, "We killed Mo Pitkin’s House of Satisfaction! Shark Show is like a virus. We’ve been around for six years, going from club to club, slaying!" Methinks he meant that in the good, comedic way, right? Actually, both ways. Nick Stevens trotted out several oddball characters, including toy inventor genius Lester Frank, old-school comic Noodles O’Reilly and one-half of gift-wrapping specialists Ribbons and Bow, which involved a lot of audience wrapping and wrestling mayhem. Pete Holmes, the Drink at Work crew, God’s Pottery, Seth Herzog and Shark satellite member Jeffrey James all got in on the act in a show that lasted what seemed like three hours but actually clocked in a minute or two less than that. But since this was the first full Shark Show in ages, and a holiday party to boot, they get a pass on this one. Managed to snap a few photos, displayed in a photo album on the right-hand side of this Web site....

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HBO vs. Showtime vs. Comedy Central

Late into the night, or early this morning, after seeing parts of three different comedy specials on Showtime, I couldn’t help but think about how Showtime’s comedy specials all have a uniquely odd look and feel to them. Especially when compared to the consistent theater sets and production values of one-hour comedy specials that get aired on HBO and Comedy Central. Why is that? For one thing, HBO tends to control its own comedy output, which means its comedians often tape their hourlong sets at the same venue with the same crews. Comedy Central does the same for its half-hour Comedy Central Presents, and for hour specials, they’re most likely edited versions of highly stylized and produced DVDs. But Showtime is another matter. Whether it’s Joe Rogan (at the Tempe Improv), Paul Mooney (at the Laugh Factory) or Mo’Nique at an Ohio prison (or even Doug Stanhope at Gotham Comedy Club), these specials will go anywhere. They’ll feature lots of close-ups. They’ll bounce the camera angles around the room. They’re as OK filming in a small club as they are outdoors. They’re independent. They’re rogue, even. Performance art pieces. I get the sense that many of these specials were made by the artists themselves, then later sold to Showtime. But does that make one network’s comedy specials better than the others? Depends upon what you mean by better, I...

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