Friday, April 30, 2010

The BC Q&A: Myq Kaplan, CD release party at the Studio Saturday

It’s hard to get a straight answer out of Myq Kaplan. The former Boston comic, who moved to New York City in the summer of 2008, is a quick wit. And he jumps to misdirection and word play with a minimum of set-up, and has a knack for structure, which is evident in this e-mail interview.

More people will get to enjoy that wit this week, with the release of Kaplan’s debut national album, Vegan Mind Meld (he self-released his first album, Open Myq Night, recorded at Club Passim). He’ll celebrate the album tomorrow at the Comedy Studio. Also, tonight at 11:30PM, Comedy Central debut’s his half hour Comedy Central Presents special, adding to his Conan O’Brien and Live at Gotham TV credits.

I've heard a lot of the material on Vegan Mind Meld, but there are a lot of new tags for older material. Do you ever consider a joke "done”?

Short answer: Depends.
Medium answer: Not usually. Maybe I used to, but almost never anymore.
Long answer: Most of my jokes are created one step at a time, starting with an initial kernel of an idea, sometimes ending as a one-liner, but more often these days growing larger and larger, as tags and more ideas occur to me on stage or off. So, I might have thought some jokes WERE "done," but in performing them in different situations, sometimes they become UNdone (in the good way, not the falling apart way).
Sometimes, new experiences inform old ideas in a different light, and what was previously one short thought can lead into a longer one, or a story, or a multi-faceted something or other. In fact, I'll probably have an extra-long answer to this question long after it's too late.
(And I might edit out the phrase "multi-faceted something or other."
But feel free to leave this all for now. All part of the process.)

Did you get to preview the Comedy Central special much? Were you able to get everything in as you wanted it to be?

Short answer: Hopefully.
Medium answer: I have not previewed it.
Long answer: I have only seen the clips they put up on the website that everyone can see, and of those, I'm not sure which (if any) of them are actually IN the special or just being used for the web. That said, I was very happy with the taping, so I'll be happy as long as it's not 30 minutes of commercials.
Myq Kaplan - Exclusive - Super Nice Video
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Boston has produced some fine comedians that work in a style similar to yours, in that quick, two or three lines style. Were you influenced by Don Gavin, Wendy Liebman, or any other local comics, stylistically?

Short answer: No.
Medium answer: Maybe.
Long answer: I love Don Gavin and Wendy Liebman, but I didn't know who they were when I started doing comedy. I've only seen Don Gavin live a handful of times, and I've only seen a few TV spots of Wendy's; I really appreciate what they do, and recognize that we have some stylistic things in common, but I believe that I gravitated towards what I do because it's what comes naturally to me. Obviously we are all influenced by everything around us (except for the hermit comedian, but no one knows who that is because I made him or her up...
or did I? If I did, why didn't I settle on one gender?), that can't be helped, but I mostly just aim to be influenced by myself. I enjoy the work of others, both those similar and those dissimilar to me. And thanks.

How was the transition from Boston to New York?

Short answer: Fine.
Medium answer: Difficult at first.
Long answer: Fine and difficult at first. Starting comedy in a new city can often be a challenge, just finding out what places there are to perform, where to see good shows, how to get on shows, who to talk to, getting to know people, becoming a part of the community, etc.
Starting in Boston was great, because it's a decent-sized city with a number of clubs, other venues for standup, and a very welcoming and encouraging and manageably-sized community of working comics of all experience levels. Starting over in New York was more complicated at first, because there are so many clubs (some I haven't even been to yet), so many shows and bookers and venues that come and go, so many communities within the world of New York comedy. I had help a bit, from a few sources: 1) comedians I knew from Boston who were now living in New York and could help direct my efforts a bit, 2) bookers and comedians who were at least somewhat responsive to the fact that I had one TV credit by that point, and 3) not much else. I looked up open mics on the internet, did a lot of trial and error, made a lot of phone calls, hung out at a lot of places, and I'm still in a place where I have to work to get on at some clubs, some shows, which is fine. I like the work. And it's gotten easier, with a few fortunate happenings, a few more credits, a few more comedians and bookers learning who I am (and caring/thinking positively of me). It was definitely a chore at first, getting situated, but I feel very lucky that things went my way relatively quickly.
Extra-long answer: see my autobiography.

What shows do you frequent in New York?

Short answer: None.
Medium answer: Honestly, unlike Boston, where I might perform at the same venue once a week or more, in New York, there are so many shows and places to perform, that I don't necessarily end up any one place "frequently."
Long answer: That said, the club I perform most at is Caroline's.
They've been the most generous with stagetime and support, and I can't be more grateful. Comix is another club that I love, and that I perform at as often as possible. In the non-club scene, UCB's Whiplash show is wonderful, as is Moonwork, and Thursday nights at Kabin, Tell Your Friends at Lolita Bar, Bowery Poetry Club, and many more that I'm probably rude to be forgetting. Sorry!
Myq Kaplan - Religious Extremity
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Anyone on the bill with you Saturday at the Studio you're especially looking forward to seeing?

Short answer: Yes.
Medium answer: Just kidding.
Long answer: I always love performing at the Studio, no matter who is on the show. I believe I know almost everyone on the show and think very fondly of them.

Any other Boston shows coming up soon?

Short answer: Yes.
Medium answer: Is this joke/concept getting old?
Long answer: I believe I will be performing with Greg Fitzsimmons on his annual BU Alumni show at Boston University's graduation weekend on May 14, and I will be opening for Bo Burnham's DVD taping at the House of Blues on May 21. Looking forward to both of those with great anticipation. But not as much as this Saturday at the Studio, maybe.
CD release!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The BC Q&A: Sam Walters returns to Boston with King Hell at Great Scott

I first met Sam Walters shortly after I moved to Boston and started covering comedy in 1998. He was part of a comedy group that included The Walsh Brothers, Kyria Abrahams, Val Kappa, Ben Joplin, Dan Sulman, and Tim McIntire, a bunch of regulars at The Comedy Studio, trying to do something a little different, and generally succeeding.

Walters was always a musician, as well, and when he moved to New York City several years back, he turned his attention to music. His band, King Hell, is making a rare appearance tonight at Great Scott as part of Rob Potylo’s Quiet Desperation Presents the 32nd Annual WBCN Rock n Roll Rumble, hosted by Niki Luparelli and Shawn Sixx.

I spoke with him by Facebook about the show yesterday.

Do you perform comedy anymore, or are you strictly staying with music now?

I'm not doing stand-up at the moment--my long suffering liver would up and quit if I started attending both comedy AND rock shows--but there's plenty of comedy in King Hell. I've got a two-horned anvil now... Christ, I've become the Carrot Top of metal.

Do you still get out to see comedy?

Not too often, though we played the Jerkus Circus earlier this month in Worcester, which was phenomenal. The hosts, the Steamy Bohemians, were as hilarious and deplorable as I remembered them... which isn't too clearly. Man, stand-up was a boozy time. I remember coming out of the Comedy Studio one night and thinking, "Damn, I'm drunk AGAIN." Thanks Jenkins...

What's the difference in dynamics between fronting a band and doing stand-up?

Stand-up, for me, was an intellectual exercise in crowd seduction; "intellectual", in my case, consisted of high-brow dick jokes (a genius concept). I was trying to solve the riddle of the audience, poking and prodding them 'til something clicked. Fronting a rock band is much more of a one-sided physical display; the audience comes to you. Some comics can bridge that gap though, like Kevin Knox (may he rest in peace, though he's probably not resting, wherever he is). That guy was a rock star. Ask Brian Longwell about his night at the Kowloon with Kevin and these twin sisters who... um, ask Brian. Don't let him leave out the part about the snakes.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe King Hell?

We're like Parliament meets Metallica (though, mercifully, without a band member in diapers). We're a funk-fueled, old-school metal band chock fulla melodic hooks and bawdy humor that, according to a recent review, will make you break out in a maniacal grin and new dance called "the fist pumping booty shake". Call it Berzerk Du Soleil.

Anyone you're looking forward to seeing again in Boston?

Certainly not Tim McIntire. Now that he's vegan, he won't take me fishing. Otherwise, being a metal front man, I'm entitled to say, "I love you all!!!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Micah Sherman with Second City in Boston

Micah Sherman made a strong impression during his short time in Boston as a improv performer with Improv Asylum and a stand-up comedian, often working with Myq Kaplan at The Comedy Studio. He has since moved to New York City, but makes it back to Boston frequently (and Bostonians can always see him on YouTube in short videos he makes with Boston ex-pats Dan Hirshon and Joe List at FunnyCakesComedy).

This week through May 9, he'll be performing with the Second City stage show One If By Land, Late If By T at the BCA, sponsored by Improv Asylum (click here for tickets and times). We spoke in some sort of odd conference room set up at the Second City after party last week.

Part One:

Part Two:

Friday, April 23, 2010

The BC Q&A: Rich Ceisler

Boston comedy veteran Rich Ceisler headlines Mottley’s Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow, and then heads out to Tommy’s Comedy Lounge on Monday to help an old friend. Ceisler says he is eager to play Mottley’s, a room he has never played, and is happy to help out Tommy’s co-owner Frank Ahearn, who suffered a stroke in December. The Tommy’s show will help him pay the bills as he recovers. Ceisler’s relationship with Ahearn stretches back to the latter’s time at the Comedy Connection more than fifteen years ago.

I spoke with Ceisler about Mottley's and Ahearn by phone earlier this week.

How long have you known Frank?

When did he start with the Connection? It’s got to be ten or fifteen years, something like that. I knew him because, originally Paul Barclay was with the Connection and he wa I think originally hired by Paul Barclay. Always was a great guy, and a great friend, an advocate for the comedy scene. He was just like another peer. It’s different for a manager to be a peer and not a managing authority. He was great friends with Kevin Knox and things like that. He’s just a regular guy. The community, we’re strong with helping each other.

Have you spoken with him since he started recovering?

I have not been able to, because unfortunately, I’ve been traveling. I’ve been speaking to people regularly who speak to him like Paul Barclay and Paula Murphy and there’s this Web site that gives updates on him. I haven’t been able to speak to him yet, but I will, obviously at the benefit. Hopefully he’ll be at the benefit. If not, I’ll go down to where he’s going through rehab afterwards.

What was your reaction when you heard he’d had the stroke?

I was shocked. I was shocked. I had seen him not too long ago, before the stroke. I went to visit him at the restaurant he was managing over in Quincy. Fireflies. I knew tha the was working like a bastard at Fireflies. He was really, I mean, managing, but getting his hands dirty, delivering plates to the tables, setting up, just working really hard. I’m sure the job was three times as hard as running the Connection. I knew his stress level was high, but I was shocked when I heard, you know?

When did you hear about this benefit?

Paula called, Paula Murphy. She called me and then she sent out an e-mail saying she’s going to do a series of them on these Monday nights – who’s available what nights? So I immediately looked at my schedule, I was on a cruise at the time and said, “This Monday, I’m available. So me and Tony and Jim Dunn were the first to respond, and Tom Cotter. And then later on I guess she added Dan Gavin, Steve Sweeney, and Patty Ross.

It’s a high-powered show with a lot of people on it. I can’t imagine we’ll get to do more than ten minutes apiece.

How many of these benefits do you wind up doing for local causes each year?

I’d say about twenty a year.

Do you think that Boston’s unusual in that respect, that so many comedians donate their time?

I don’t think so. I know with Ray Garvey, they were doing benefits in L.A. and Vegas and New York. I think the comedy community I unusual in that we support our own, because we don’t have unions and things like that. So I think just the comedy industry is unusual. I don’t think Boston is that unusual. I think it goes back to the fact that we don’t have a union, we don’t have group insurance unless somebody’s married to somebody with medical family benefits. It’s been hard. We don’t have pensions. I think the combination of that has made everybody support each other.

Are you looking forward to playing Mottley’s this weekend?

Yeah. I’ve never played it. I only walked in once, and I love the set-up of the room. I never even saw a show there, I just walked in before a show and thought, oh my god, if this room fills up, what a great space this is, you know. So I am looking forward to it. Looking for a host, I asked Tim to recommend a comic, and he said, well, what kind of comic. I said as long as they’re a smarter comic, not super high energy and not real dirty, that would go well with my style. He suggested Jon Rineman. I do a lot of stuff with timing, and I don’t work at the typical Boston frenetic pace.

Is there something about the room in particular –

Yeah, it’s intimate. Really, when I walked in, it looked like the perfect room. I’m really curious. Hopefully it’ll fill out. It was set up by a comic. That makes it much better.

What do you think about all the different clubs? I think you’ve worked at every club in that area now.

When I was at Cheers, they were getting a different type of crowd. They were getting more tourists because they’re in Faneuil Hall. I don’t know what Mottley’s draws, but I don’t think they get as many tourists. I think that draws a little bit more on people from Boston. I believe. That’s what I was told. Cheers, because of the name, probably gets more tourists. Which is not bad, it’s just a different kind of crowd. Dick’s, who the hell knows what they get down there. And Nick’s is the worst. Nick’s is the only one I don’t enjoy, because they get this crowd of people who are really waiting for the disco to start. They’re the worst comedy crowd there, I think. For my kind of stuff, anyway.

Do you think the different clubs are set up well?

Yeah. Dick Doherty’s place is small, but it’s small enough that you can do a real experimental, intimate set. And then Mottley’s looks like the perfect room. I really have good things to say about most of the little rooms.

Do you feel like, with all of these little clubs, the scene is healthier, less healthy…

Well, look, it’s not going to be healthy for our pockets. The 80s is gone, when we would make 150 bucks a show and run from show to show and make a good amount of money. Now, the scene is good as far as working out material, but it’s not a lucrative scene, I’ll say that off the bat. That’s why everyone’s trying to do what I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years, twenty years, and play the cruise ships, because the scene is not a lucrative scene. And it was, it used to be.

Are the cruise ships an idea place for comedy?

No. They’re just more lucrative. Some of them , they’re building comedy room s in some of them. They’re getting better. But they just pay better. Pure and simple economics. You can’t have a house and a family and have four hundred dollar weekends, and that’s your week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The BC Q&A: Chris Zito is the new "Slash"

When I spoke with Chris Zito last January, he was ready to quit stand-up comedy and concentrate on his morning drive gig at WODS. He had done a similar dance before, when he was working at 104.5 XLO, and radio came first. Of course, Zito found it impossible to quit altogether, and picked up a gig here and there.

On April 6, Zito Twittered, “I have a job with slashes again. Comedian/Actor/Writer. Need jokes?” WODS was tweaking its format, and Zito was out. Which means Zito will be back onstage again this Friday at Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault. I caught up with him again by e-mail to see what he has planned.

Since we spoke for the blog about your retirement a couple of years ago, you have done a gig here and there, correct?

Yes, I didn't stay away very long. The format at WODS was new to me and a little more restrictive than what I'd done in the past. The stand up offers so much freedom. I've been having fun on stage.

What keeps you coming back to stand-up?

As I mentioned, it's the freedom. That's always been the thing with stand up. No boss. No meetings. I'm producer, director, writer, and star. Can't point the fingers and can't really complain about anyone else. Besides, I know my way around the schedule C pretty well. I don't mind being self employed. Plus, I have no marketable skills other than cracking wise.

What reason did WODS give you for letting you go from the morning show with Karen Blake?

Just more music intensive. Since they dropped the Oldies moniker they've been focusing on the music. It's really difficult to develop a new music identity and a new morning show at the same time. It's no one's fault. My boss, Jay Beau Jones, and I are friends. Hopefully we'll have a chance to work together again.

Is anyone safe on the radio anymore?

Beats me. Commercial radio is almost unrecognizable to people who go back as far as I do. Let me check my Magic Eight Ball app..."my sources say no."

Do you think you’ll look for more radio work or move back to stand-up full time?

I'm not ruling anything out. I'm not finding a ton of stand up work right now. My prediction is, I'll fill up my calendar for the fall and winter, then get another radio gig in a few months, and have to suffer with being out every night and getting up at 3:30 again! Summers are slow, and most comics book months in advance. I'll catch up. I may go on the road again a little too. Who knows?

Make no mistake though, I love radio. It still seems like magic to me. Hopefully that's where I'll land.

You posted on your Twitter that you have a job with slashes again. Are you doing any writing and acting?

I've reached out to the casting agency's in town and gotten a warm welcome back. As for writing, I've lost my excuse not to write new material for my act. So...a few new jokes. And I'm approached occasionally to write jokes for other people or punch things up. Also, talking to a couple of people about speaking engagements. I don't really even know what that means, but a couple of guys have told me for awhile I'd be good at it. Really? If you say so.

A little bonus, here's Chris Zito on Two Drink Minimum from 1993.
Chris Zito - Teenage Daughter
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Voting starts today for the National College Comedy Competition

The third edition of the National College Comedy Competition starts today, and at least four Boston area colleges -- Boston College, M.I.T., Emerson, and Tufts -- are competing. It’s an unusual competition, in that clips of the comics are posted on, but the comics don’t compete as individuals. They compete as teams in brackets, March Madness style.

The first round of voting starts today and ends Monday. Teams will be cut down to a “Sweet Sixteen,” and another vote April 29-May 3 cuts it further to the “Elite Eight.” The “Final Four” will be determined by yet another online vote May 20-24.

The top four individual comedians, the ”MVP” of each team, will get the chance to perform with some bigger names at the TBS and Just For Laughs-sponsored Very Funny Festival in Chicago June 15-19. Rooftop comedy is sponsoring the Competition, as well.

Rooftop produced on-campus talent searches to find talent from different colleges and universities. The initial eight comics were chosen by audience votes, then narrowed to four by a combination of audience votes and the votes of professional judges. “Given the nature of college campus spirit, it makes for a much more robust competition to engage the entire school through a team competition rather than one individual at a particular school.,” says Jenn Stokes of Rooftop.

Although the winners won’t be on the televised shows, they may be featured on the TBS Web site. As someone who has covered comedy for years, I feel most comics are in a somewhat vulnerable point in their development in college, which makes a competition with possible national exposure a somewhat dicey proposition. Stokes disagrees. She says the NCCC “provides a platform to help promote their comedy, improve their craft and gain national exposure.”

The Boston area teams:

Boston College
• Julian Kiani
• John Scola
• Meg Show
• Michael Wolf

• Michael Lin
• Jose Sepulveda
• Jason Strauss
• Morris Vanegas

Emerson College
• Keele Howard-Stone
• Daniel Rubinton
• Rachel Walls
• Blake Wexler

• Brian Agler
• Ian Donovan
• Samuel McCauley
• Matthew Nazarian

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Vegan comedy tonight at BU

What does vegan comedy sound like? If that question makes you curious, you can find your answers tonight at Boston University’s “Cracking Jokes, Not Yolks: A Vegan-Friendly Comedy Show.” The show is part of BU’s Earth Week 2010, and includes Tim McIntire, Rob Crean (of Anderson Comedy), and Sarah Heggan.

Turns out vegan comedy is pretty much like regular comedy, except it’s told by vegans, who often look like normal people. So it’s possibly meat-eaters have been watching vegan comedy for years without ever knowing it, laughing so hard they forget about hamburgers.

Here’s a taste:

The show starts at 7PM at BU Central, 775 Commonwealth Ave.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheech & Chong's tour doc, Hey Watch This, at the Brattle Saturday

In October of 2008, I got a backstage view of Cheech and Chong’s reunion tour, their first in twenty-five years. The pair had come to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, bringing back characters and scenes from their movies and albums for an audience that included fans from the old days and kids that weren’t even born yet when Things Are Tough All Over came out in 1982 (you can read the piece here).

The natural chemistry was still there, and Chong did stand-up between bits and introduced sketches. They were loose and friendly, although when I asked each of them to sign Chong’s book, Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography, Cheech signed it, “To Nick, ‘Mentidor,’ Cheech 08.” The closest definitions I could find for “mentidor” on the Web were “liar” or someone who had committed a breach of trust. (Chong signed first and wrote, "Read and Weep!") So there’s still a nice, sly edge to their relationship.

Tomorrow at the Brattle, everyone gets that backstage view when Cheech and Chong’s Hey Watch This comes to the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square. The film documents the pair’s tour through 2008 and 2009. It’s a preview of sorts, since the film will be rolled out in a limited theatrical run, on DVD/Blu-Ray, on Video On Demand, and streaming through gaming systems on 4/20 (numbers of some importance to pot connoisseurs.

The movie was directed by Christian Charles, who also directed Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian. Here’s the trailer:

This is also separate from Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie, which still have no official release date attached. Although the trailer for that has been out since last year:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sugar Dish organizes "Mad Tea Party" protest on Boston Common

If you show up to the Tea Party rally today on the Boston Common, or watch the news coverage, you may catch a glimpse of some local burlesque performers and comedians decked out in Alice in Wonderland garb. It’s not an homage to Lewis Carroll or even Tim Burton, it’s part of a "Mad Tea Parrty" counter protest organized by Sugar Dish (from Babes in Boinkland, a troupe that performs regularly with the Steamy Bohemians’ Jerkus Circus show).

Sugar Dish officially designates herself a “glam-o-crat” on her Facebook page, and while that’s a cagey term, she is, to be sure, not terribly Republican friendly. Or at the very least, not very Sarah Palin friendly. “When I heard Sarah Palin was coming to town to promote the Tea Party, I was immediately incensed,” she says. “First of all, it pisses me off that Boston's Tea Party has been appropriated for their cause.”

Being good at costumes and organizing, Sugar Dish got some friends together for a counter protest, inspired by cover art from left-leaning magazine The Nation picturing a “Mad Tea Party,” with an Alice in Wonderland theme. “I think the setting of the Mad Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland is a perfect setting for this campaign,” she says.” I would love to see an intelligently orchestrated creative anti-Tea Party campaign. The Mad Tea Party in Wonderland is all about nonsense, which I think the Tea Party Express is spewing right now.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tony V. and Steve Calechman at Tommy's

Last July, I wrote about Tony V. and Steve Calechman saving the world by answering audience questions at Mottley’s Comedy Club. Their aim tonight and tomorrow at Tommy’s Comedy Lounge is just to put on a good comedy show, with Tony V. headlining. But the two old friends have been known to take the stage together at times, and if you’re lucky, they’ll do it again this weekend.

Did they save the world last summer? Well, we’re still here, aren’t we?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The BC Q&A: Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler is at the top of her game right now. She has a popular talk show, Chelsea Lately, on the E! Network, a bestselling book in Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang (her third), and she’s playing theaters like the Wang in Boston, where she’ll be Saturday. She’s on the cover of the current Shape magazine, and was on the cover of Playboy last December. She's gotten into producing with Pretty Wild, a reality show starring Tess Taylor, Alexis Neiers and Gabriele Neiers.

There is even a stand-up tour spinoff, The Comedians of Chelsea Lately, which comes to the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre on June 11. (Handler also employs former Boston comic Jen Kirkman, both on camera and off, on the show).

But there are some things she doesn't have. She'd like a dolphin. And maybe a duet with Ludacris.

Handler’s latest book is another exploration into her, to put it mildly, eclectic life. She delves into her father’s poor status as a renter, her brother’s proclivity for nude swimming, her now ex-boyfriend’s search for snacks, and her own avoidance of the sun, and her childhood experience with “the feeling.” She also mentions a publication to which I frequently contribute, The Boston Globe.

Handler answered my questions by e-mail.

After having read your third book, I have to ask - is there anyone sane in your life? Everyone is either jumping in the ocean when they can't swim, obsessively searching for snacks for a helicopter ride, or crying inappropriately at romantic comedies.

I surround myself with ridiculous people so that i come out looking like the sanest one in the bunch. Besides, if I hooked up with people who didn't provide constant material in my life, what real use wood i have for them? None of them can cook.

Do you or your father still read the Boston Globe?

My father is so cheap, he doesn't read a paper unless he accidentally swipes it from one of his neighbors. If theirs is off their porch, he will go to one of my brother's or sister's homes to steal theirs.

Do you think you've exhausted your sex life in your writing? (I think you could be the slapstick Anias Nin).

Being newly single, there could be a whole new round of My Horizontal Life, but I haven't started collection research yet.

Do you think you'll ever get the dolphin you asked for in the book?

Oh, I'm gonna get that dolphin if it kills me.

Have you ever had someone quit over the office e-mail pranks? Is everyone suspicious of your e-mails now?

Everyone is not only in on the game, anyone who works in my office gets extra credit if they pull off a good email.

Does it amuse you when you wind up in the entertainment headlines with people like a certain goosestepping mistress, the same headlines you make fun of every day?

I find everything related to pop culture very amusing. Myself, included.

Is it intimidating or strange at all to be on the cover of magazines like Shape and Playboy?

It’s part of the whole factory, and anything that keeps me in tip-top shape is a good reminder for me to never let myself eat burgers two days in a row.

Do you feel that Chelsea Lately is the show you've always wanted it to be? I know after the first E! show, you wanted to do something a little different.

I love this show, this is my favorite book, right now everything I do seems to flow perfectly with how I wanted my life to turn out. Big and Loud.

Are you happy to see the comics on your show touring as The Comedians of Chelsea Lately now?

I am happy for any of the success of all the comedians on my show, and being able to put a tour together with them all has been a great testament to the quality of comics they all are.

How did you find Jen Kirkman for the show? She's got Boston roots.

She came in to interview as a writer, and I realized she had the perfect combination of being sane while also being insane. She's also one of the brightest in the office, which can also lead to being a little insane.

Do you have to keep your stand-up and the material you do on the show completely separate? Is a joke burned once you use it on the show?

Mostly, but there are always a few that can slide into stand-up or some of my stand-up that slides into the show. We have no major rules here, except, to show up late.

How do you approach the celebrity interview on your show? You seem to be a bit more forward with them than most hosts, as with the Justin Bieber interview.

That's what I do, and I like to give these guys who go from one press outlet to another a different experience. It's short, fast, and I like to get everyone going.

What's your role on "Pretty Wild?"

I'm an executive producer, and trying to figure out where i'm going to donate my funds from this show, so that i can never be held responsible for the next thing they do.

Is there anything else you'd like to tackle in show business?


The BC Q&A: Erin Judge on The Dress-Up Show's one-year anniversary

Erin Judge and Bethany Van Delft celebrate their one-year anniversary of The Dress-Up Show tonight at Mottley’s with Ken Reid, Tom Dustin, Mehran, Jenny Z, and Tim McIntire. The concept is that comedians wear their fanciest duds, or, likely in the case of many comics, borrow some fancy dud to wear. The audience is encouraged to do the same, to create Boston’s funniest formal party.

Judge moved to New York City last year, but comes back to the city where she started her comedy career once a month for the show. She’ll also get back to her native Texas to play this summer.

Do you have anything special planned for the one-year anniversary?

As everyone knows, the one-year is the "paper anniversary." Both Bethany and I will incorporate paper into our outfits, plus we'll have special prizes for EVERYONE who comes to see the show. We'll also revisit some of our best moments from dress-up show history, including some of our favorite performer costumes.

How much have the comics indulged in dressing up? Have any been reluctant to dress up?

For me, the comics' reactions have been the absolute best part of doing this show. Everybody seems to enjoy kicking it up a notch. Ken Reid wore a Space Ghost costume the first time he performed; Dan Boulger rented a formal tux with coattails and a top hat. At our very first show, Mehran came in drag. It's been a fantastic time. A couple of comics along the way were reluctant because they thought "dress up" meant "wear a dress," and we had to explain that we just wanted them to wear something different from their usual on-stage attire. The comics who do the show all seem to love it.

How have audiences reacted? Do they generally dress up, too?

I've been impressed! Of course, the audience doesn't have to dress-up, but their outfits can win them prizes. Each week we draw a category for an audience prize -- best shirt, best bag, best shoes, etc. That element of the show really gets the audience involved. And we've had some really snazzy audience ensembles, especially from some of the bachelorette parties that have come our way. Even people who don't come particularly dressed up have a good shot at winning the prize, which is based on audience votes.

Does it affect the comedy at all?

I think it makes the performances particularly memorable! It sometimes takes comics out of their comfort zones, but usually I see them come into a really fun place as a result of the snazzy attire. I love watching the comics at our show. It's always a whole different level of performance.

What made you think of a dress-up show?

Well, I wanted to co-host a show with Bethany Van Delft, because she's fantastic, and we work really well together. A couple of years ago, I went to go see the "Sex and the City" movie, and I was just amazed by how everybody dressed up in their best cocktail outfits to go see that movie. We thought it would be a great idea to create a monthly show where people could wear their dress-up clothes in an informal setting, just like going to the movies.

Plus, Bethany and I both tend to work the "alternative comedy" scene, where comics tend to wear ripped up hoodies and legwarmers on their faces and stuff like that. We wanted to give them an unselfconscious setting where they could dress like the old-time comics always did, in suits and ties and dresses....and costumes too, if they so desire.

Are you looking forward to going home and playing Texas again this summer?

That'll be super fun. I'm psyched to perform in Austin at the LAF Festival, and it'll be very interesting to stay with my mother for several few weeks.

Do you think you'll keep doing the show for another year? How has it been coming up here for the show once a month?

I love doing the Dress-Up Show. We did one in New York, and it went extremely well. We're hoping to do a monthly show in Boston and a monthly show in New York. Bethany and I always bring something new to each show, but mostly the showcase format is what keeps it fresh. I think we can keep it growing and building for quite a while.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Backstage at the Women in Comedy Festival 3/26

This year’s Women in Comedy Festival was an unmitigated success. There were interesting acts in stand-up, sketch, improv, and storytelling, mostly full and sold out audiences, and a feeling that something creative and unusual was going on. I caught up with WIC co-founder Michelle Barbera, who also performed at the Festival, about how WIC had changed in its second year.

I also got a little history from Edie McClurg, whom you might remember from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, A Bug’s Life, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and countless other movies and films. She was performing in an improv group called the All Girl Revue with several other talented improv comics, including Jane Morris. I also spoke with Morris, co-founder of Second City’s ETC stage, the second stage of the legendary Chicago improv and sketch house.

More to come this week as I process the videos.

Michelle Barbera:

Edie McClurg:

Jane Morris:

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter. Have some soup.

And now a word from our sponsor, Soup Boots!

From local comedy writer Dave Metter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Video: Danny Morsel, auctioneer

Chris Coxen is currently tearing up the comedy scene in London, but in his absence, he has posted a new Danny Morsel video, which reunites him with Nate Johnson (with whom he once partnered for Coxen and Johnson). Coxen has reported that his characters are going over well with English audiences, but he's still coming back later next month.

Until then, we have Danny Morsel as an auctioneer, and The War Doll as his bidder. A funny short, well shot by Matt Walczak.

Friday, April 2, 2010

ColorStruck tonight and tomorrow at Tommy's

Bethany Van Delft can hardly believe it. The little show she, Deb Farrar-Parkman, and Janet Cormier started with a handful of comics at The Comedy Studio in 2000 marks its eleventh year tonight. ColorStruck: The Women of Color in Comedy show officially enters its second decade when it kicks off its two-night stand at Tommy’s Comedy Lounge this evening.

“That's crazy,” says Van Delft. “I don't think we've taken the time to think about how long it's been. We've just been making sure that the show keeps going year after year. We might have to have an anniversary party.”

More than just an annual show, ColorStruck also books showcases at colleges and festivals, expanding its roster with new comics as others leave the fold. “I'm grateful that we've been able to withstand the tests of time so to speak,” says Farrar-Parkman. “We've lost a few along the way. Most of the originals have left comedy altogether and others who joined the group in later years, have moved to other cities and are actively pursuing careers in those venues.”

Alycia Cooper (BET’s Comic View, Last Comic Standing) is a new face at the show this year. Susan Alexander, founder of the Five Funny Females traveling show, performs in her second ColorStruck this year, as does Iranian comic Asie Mohtarez. “We're getting to bring in established acts we work with on the road from around the country, as well as talented new comics we meet along the way,” says Van Delft.

The show has helped create a community amongst women of color in comedy, but Van Delft says it has been important for audiences, too. “I think it's been more of an important experience for audiences,” she says, “to get to see an entire line-up of women comedians of color, all talented with unique voices and stories to tell. It's not something you really see in Boston or New England very often.”

Farrar-Parkman, an Emmy-winning producer, says ColorStruck has helped her as a stand-up comedian. “The festival has truly helped me to refine my career, hosting abilities, stage presence and ability to perform before truly diverse crowds from old to young and in between,” she says. “I'm doing a show at the Improv in LA on April 22nd and am fully aware that were it not for ColorStruck, I might not be at the performance level to do the LA scene.”

Here’s the line-up for each night. Bethany Van Delft hosts both nights.

Alycia Cooper
Deb Farrar Parkman
Janet Cormier
Shereen Kassam
Susan Alexander
Esther Ku

Deb Farrar-Parkman
Janet Cormier
Asie Mohtarez
Susan Alexander
Sketch by Sheila Jackson
Alycia Cooper

Video: Shane Mauss's exit interview

By the time you read this, Shane Mauss's six-year stay in the Boston comedy scene will be over. The La Crosse, Wisconsin native left the Hub and headed for Austin last week after having found his voice here at clubs like The Comedy Studio, where I caught up with him for what was supposed to be his CD release party, if only the pressing plant actually pressed his CDs.

Mauss did go out on a strong note, releasing Jokes To Make My Parents Proud and his half-hour Comedy Central special in March. I spoke with him about his recent projects, his style of comedy, and leaving town (complete with fire engines and babies).