Day: July 17, 2008

Montreal 2008: Photo, Jeff Dye and mascot

Readers looking for a recap of tonight’s episode of Last Comic Standing? Good news and bad news, I have for you. Well, maybe just good news. I won’t be able to give you my full recap until I return from the Just For Laughs fest on Sunday, but as you can see in this picture, I fully believe and expect LCS finalist Jeff Dye (sporting the fest’s mascot on his shoulder) to help fill me and you in on what we missed...

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Interview: Russell Brand

This week’s issue of Time Out New York, out today, includes my new interview with British comedian Russell Brand, who just so happens to be arriving in Montreal today for Just For Laughs hot off sparking a new controversy over in the U.K. Coincidence? I’ll have to ask Brand about that. Americans and Canadians alike probably have just started getting to know Brand — named best comedian in the U.K. by Time Out London — from his breakthrough performance in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. No coincidence that Brand is here in Montreal this week along with Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen. He’ll make his New York City debut next week (Sunday and Monday, July 20-21) at the Blender Theater. Click on my Ticketmaster button for tickets. Aside from what Brand already told me in our interview, here are a few other asides… What Brand has learned from other Brit comedians. Among them: "Eddie Izzard literally told me don’t consider yourself a stand-up until you’ve done a hundred gigs. So he gave me a vital piece of advice there," Brand told me over the phone from London earlier this month "And Ricky Gervais told me, don’t give explicit tales of prostitutes in his hometown." On coming to North America to win over new audiences, Brand found a comparison here, saying: "I know sex is a delicate proposition, but that doesn’t meatn...

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Montreal 2008: Just Comedy’s opening keynote

This year, to entice the industry who no longer can hobnob on the ski slopes of Aspen each February, the folks at Montreal’s Just For Laughs created a spinoff two-day confab called Just Comedy, which formally kicked off this morning with a keynote address from Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks/TBS. The schedule billed it as a chance for Koonin to talk about the state of comedy and reaching the youth market. What it really turned out to be was a chance for Koonin to trumpet the rebranding of TBS from Ted Turner’s UHF "SuperStation" into the "Very Funny" channel and take a few shots across the bow of Comedy Central. And don’t forget a stereotypical laugher. Koonin opened his address by talking about the health benefits of laughter, including stress reduction. "Obviously, those doctors never a met a Jew," Koonin said. HEY-O! Koonin also publicly called out the Variety reporter in the room to beg her not to write about something painfully silly he said about the fact that TBS bought the 1-800 VERY FUNNY number from a porn company (that’s not the silly part from his story) and someone being uptight or something, yawn yawn yawn. We learned, too, all about TBS, and how just as Turner did in ye olden times, Koonin’s channel is rebuilding itself upon the backs of successful syndicated programs, using Family...

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Montreal 2008: Meet Sean Patton

One of the pure joys of writing about arts and entertainment is the chance to happen upon something or someone quite unexpected or new, to get a chance to see it/them develop, and then to watch as this new unexpected thing gets recognized by others. I suppose it’s much like the feelings a parent has watching a child grow up. Without the tantrums and whatnot. Naturally. Anyhow. I bring this up because I have seen and watched Sean Patton perform stand-up this past year in a variety of alternative venues, alternative to alternative venues, rock clubs, dive bars, hip dive bars, and really, anywhere but in an actual comedy club, in front of crowds made up mostly of comedians and those that either label themselves "hipsters" or would eschew the term in a millisecond. I also saw Patton take part in a silly "dating" exercise with two other comedians for The Tyra Banks Show (those videos are available here and here). So even just seeing his name among the 2008 New Faces for Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t sure how he’d translate on a big stage in front of hundreds of traditional comedy club patrons, many of them Canadians, plus the many industry folks lined up in the back of the club waiting to make a quick verdict on him. But Patton delivered,...

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Montreal 2008: New Faces 1

The judge’s rulings are final. So I’m going to withhold final judgments on some of the New Faces until further review. At Montreal’s Just For Laughs, the New Faces have to deal not only with the pressure of a large foreign comedy club, but also with the added nerves of performing for all of the industry people who likewise stand and sit in ultimate judgement from the back corners of the bars, ready to make or break a comedian’s career. Wow. What a build-up, eh? First off, let it be acknowledged that nobody bombed last night. Referring to my Simon Cowell Playbook, I can definitely also say, however, that several of the comedians need to do more to make a lasting impression, if they want that impression to be a positive one. Host Greg Giraldo killed it, both in his opening remarks and also, at the halfway point, after he threatened a particularly persistent idiot heckler, surging into several minutes of high-power comedy. "Maybe I can get a show called Washed Up Hacks Stomp On 60-Pound Dickbags," he wondered aloud. Giraldo also reflected on how important this night was for "these kids," and what it means about his career that he’d be calling the New Faces kids. Among the kids, the two real stand-outs from last night were Sean Patton and Brendon Walsh. More than a few people asked...

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