Day: March 3, 2008

This week’s comedic late-night guests

Time again to check in with comedians and comedic actors making the late-night TV rounds… David Letterman (in repeats) —  Thursday: Don Rickles Conan O’Brien (in repeats) — Monday: Howie Mandel Jay Leno (in repeats) — Wednesday: Larry the Cable Guy; Friday: Will Ferrell Jimmy Kimmel — Tuesday: Jackie Mason; Friday: Will Arnett Craig Ferguson — Monday: Michelle Billoon; Thursday: Wanda Sykes; Friday: Amy...

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Shoot the Messenger at 45 Bleecker

If you haven’t seen Lizz Winstead‘s latest creation, then you’re missing out. Winstead, who co-created The Daily Show and later went on to Air America Radio, now has her sights set on skewering morning TV. Her Monday night show, Shoot the Messenger, recently moved into larger digs at The Green Room at 45 Bleecker. In the new venue, the set design and everything else feels much more like an actual morning TV program (even if it’s not actually six hours, as advertised in the tagline for "Wake Up World with Hope and Davis," TV’s only six-hour morning ‘infonewsment’ show). There are the requisite sofa, chair and coffee table. A separate news desk. Benari Poulten plays the frat-tastic energetic audience warm-up guy. Baron Vaughn as Davis Miles plays affable co-host to Winstead’s ridiculous Hope Jean Paul. Each week typically features a taped interview segment with self-help author, "Life Expert" Dana Levan (Carol Hartsell). A big screen behind the stage plays these pre-taped bits, new toons, and last week offered a well-executed debate between other 24/7 network anchors (played by Lucas Held and Sean Crespo) with Vaughn moderating it live. Here is a segment from last Monday: And here is a toon they produced about the Democratic horse race: It’s unlike The Daily Show, which makes direct jokes about actual news and newsgatherers, nor is it like The Onion News Network,...

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Shades of Black and the BCE

The Black Comedy Experiment worked (!). Who knew? Crowds packed The Tank for the final night of shows on Saturday. If there’s any one show that defines the "experiment," it’d have to be Shades of Black, because that stand-up showcase exists to prove that there’s no singular definition for a black comedian. Michelle Buteau hosted and had the crowd rolling with her issues — "Who said it? Yeah, I said it!" — while Baron Vaughn killed with bits about his girlfriend’s voice mails and the silliness of the KKK Website. Donald Glover deftly told the crowd to lower its expectations before telling funny stories and delivering impersonations of Barack Obama, Tracy Morgan on a PTA visit (whom he writes for on 30 Rock) and Chris Rock in a reinterpreted bit called "Black People vs. Vampires." BCE creator/producer Elon James White followed and challenged the audience by saying he was afraid of "retard babies" and didn’t think his girlfriend was hot like a Pussycat Doll (White told me later that he’d killed with 15-20 minutes earlier that night at Laughing Liberally, so he wanted to switch things up). Victor Varnado closed the show with solid energy, and noted his albino status right up front, asking Shades of Black: "How far are they going to take it?" Varnado has a great new(?) bit about playing a practical joke on his white...

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John Mayer at the Comedy Cellar

So I finally got to witness Grammy-winning rock star John Mayer perform stand-up, as he dropped in at the Comedy Cellar late Saturday night (well, 1:39 a.m. Sunday) and did an eight-minute set. What’s to say? The guy is a rock star. Which means he already has command of the stage and is comfortable putting himself out there — that’s more than half the battle for any aspiring stand-up. As for the material, it’s not bad. You cannot hang around guys like Sherrod Small and James Smith and not learn a thing or two about writing a joke. Mayer got a few big genuine laughs from the surprised crowd. The one line I distinctly remember was one of Mayer’s first quips, about catching flack for dating celebrities. "It’s f*cking people from work. That’s what it is." Stand-up comedians will tell you that a great set feels as close as they can get to being rock stars. And you can find more than a few comedians who have performed in bands themselves. Heck, Todd Barry just played drums with Yo La Tengo last week. Many actors similarly have attempted success as musicians. Who’s to begrudge a guy like Mayer for trying to be a comedian? Especially if he’s coming at it from a sincere and honest place. Trying to earn his laughs. Just like any other comedian. I’ll give him...

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March 2008
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