The rise of 12 Angry Mascots

Comedians in New York City have a way of turning their offstage obsessions into onstage talk shows. Just check out the Comic Book Club on Tuesday nights at The PIT for a weekly meeting of the minds among comedians Justin Tyler, Pete LePage, and Alex Zalben learning more from professional comic book artists, or Game Bros. Live at the UCB Theatre in which Thomas Middleditch and Kumail Nanjiani get fellow performers to discuss their love and strategies on video games.

Now comes 12 Angry Mascots, a sports-based comedy-variety talk show by Scott Rogowsky (writer, The Onion News Network) and Neil Janowitz (writer, ESPN The Magazine). They first attempted 12 Angry Mascots as a "Spank" show at the UCB in September, and return tonight for what they hope is a regular run at The Cell Theatre at Ninth Avenue and West 23rd Street. Tonight's special guest is Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Fernando Perez, who made his rookie debut as a September call-up during the Rays magical run last fall. There also will be stand-up comedy from Greg Johnson, sketches from Matt Mayer and Laura Lane, videos and more. Here's a video from the "Super Bowl Writers Room" featuring Connie Renda, Tom McCaffrey, Adam Newman, Zach Norton, Trevor Williams, Rogowsky and Janowitz.

After the jump, Rogowsky answers a couple of questions.

Where did the idea to mix sports and comedy in a talk show come from?
The idea to do a sports show stems from going to shows at Rififi and seeing comics try sports material, most of which fell on deaf hipster ears. They were good jokes, but the audiences weren't on the same page. I thought if we could concentrate all these sports jokes from stand-ups, sketch groups, filmmakers…and incorporate an interview with a sports personality or pro athlete, we'd have a fun little show that could be marketed specifically towards sports fans.

How did the September show at the UCB go?
Neil and I put in for a SPANK in August and got a date for September. Along with Brooke Van Poppelen and Joselyn Hughes with whom we shared our slot, we packed the house. The crowd was into it, but (creative director) Anthony King ultimately felt the show hadn't 'found its voice.' We thought it was a valid critique, since there really isn't much of a collective voice behind the show…we simply envisioned "12 AM" to function as a showcase for NYC's sports comedy talent. There's no theme, per se, other than 'let's take the seriousness and ridiculousness of pro sports and media coverage of sports down a peg!' To that end, we came up with some absurdist sketches for that UCB show, like a Jack Hannah-type 'sports wrangler' (played by Heather Fink) who introduced Neil and me to some exotic sports from around the world — and we reacted as if they were dangerous animals prone to unexpected and potentially violent behavior. We also recruited Onion Sports staffer Seth Reiss to burst onto the stage with the breaking news that George Steinbrenner and the Yankees figured out a way to remain mathematically eligible for the post-season using an incredibly complex Euclidian equation. I know, weird!

Is this show the same format, or what did you change?
We had 30 minutes to work with in the UCB spank, and that wasn't enough to contain us. Our interview with founder (and current NY Mag editor) Will Leitch was so engrossing that we neglected to heed the flashing the red light and went 15 minutes over (maybe another reason we didn't get asked back?). Moving to the Cell Theatre gives us more freedom to try different things and allows us to stretch out the show to a full hour. The format is mostly the same, but we're including an original video that we shot featuring comedians Adam Newman, Trevor Williams, and Tom McCaffrey, and we've added a four-part sketch to help tie the show together. We also expanded our focus to include more sports. NHL, NFL, baseball, college basketball, and tennis are all touched upon in this show.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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