Friday, January 30, 2009

Erin Judge and Ailin Conant Share Their "Meaning of Wife"

Can a sketch comedy show change people’s perceptions of marriage?

It’s a lofty goal, to be sure, but one Erin Judge and Ailin (pronounced like Eileen) Conant are taking on with their two-woman sketch and stand-up show, “The Meaning of Wife,” which is playing at The Comedy Studio Monday. Judge and Conant plan to explore the theme of what it means to be a wife, using their personal experiences as a road map.

Judge, a stand-up comedian, and Conant, artistic director of Theatre Temoin, are both recently married, Erin to a man named Jesse and Ailin to a woman named Julia. Neither of them expected to be married so young (Judge is 28, Conant is a couple of weeks just shy of her 27th birthday). The two women dated when they went to Wellesley College, and never saw themselves as people who would, as the term goes, “settle down.”

“I think both of our marriages are unconventional in the sense that, I think Erin still identifies as someone who is queer,” says Conant, “and I’m married to a French person who is a woman. So there’s a lot to talk about there.”

The show is a comedy that covers the relationship between Judge and Conant, how they’ve evolved since college, their attitudes toward love and relationships, and how they came to be married and still a big part of each other’s lives (Conant was Judge’s maid of honor last July – with Comedy Studio owner Rick Jenkins presiding, Judge notes). It’s a theater piece, with sketches strung together around a theme, an environment Judge found challenging. “It’s great for me as a stand-up comedian to be doing theatre, because it’s a whole other world,” she says. “And it really has a whole other structure and I’m learning so much about it.”

But it’s also a political statement about the fact that one marriage is fully legal and recognized internationally and the other is not. “It’s basically how do we cope with the fact that we think wives are boring, and we are wives.,” says Judge. “So that’s sort of where the comedy comes from. But once we sort of set ourselves up, we really show the audience who we are as people and how our marriages work, and then it really helps, I think, show how absurd it is that one of these marriages is legal and the other one is not. By the end, it’s like, well, they both have their own way of negotiating what their relationship is with their spouse and they both have this unique situation, they’re both these interesting, unique people. At least that’s how I think we come across.”

“There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter relationship or a cookie-cutter marriage,” adds Conant. “Within that legal term or whatever that structure, you still have to negotiate in that relationship just like any other relationship.”

The legal aspect of marriage is a part of the show, dealing with legislation like the Defense of Marriage Act, the main stumbling block to the legalization of gay marriage, and the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow permanent partners of U.S. citizens the same rights to pursue permanent resident status as accorded to the spouses of U.S. citizens. With one side arguing a narrow definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, and the other side pointing out the various incarnations of marriage throughout history, legal definitions become murky.

To Conant, an evolution of the definition seems perfectly natural. “I think it makes perfect sense that the definition of marriage is something that is bursting out and changing really, really dramatically recently,” she says, “and that’s because it’s only been in recent history that marriage has been linked only and directly to love. Never before maybe 50 years ago has that been true. In this country and in other countries it’s still very, very new, the idea that marriage and love – in some countries, it’s still not even the case.”

Making any rigid rules about marriage and relationships also seem a bit futile to Judge. “It’s absurd to differentiate between people’s relationships when I feel like the rules in my marriage are things that I make up with my husband, and we just get all these rights because we signed a piece of paper,” she says. “We get all these rights that other people should be able to have with the person that they choose to sign that piece of paper with.”

There are plenty of unconventionalities in both marriages. Conant’s wife, Julia, can’t get a green card through marriage because the marriage isn’t legally recognized. And Judge says of the two of them, she has a much more public job than her husband Jesse, who often jokes about being a “comedy wife.” And the two had a join bachelor/bachelorette party that Judge describes as extremely tame.

“We had a great time, but it was the most non-scandalous thing,” she says. “There were no strippers. We played charades, because my husband and I, all of our friends came together for a big party.”

Conant says her bachelorette party was similar, but for different reasons. “I’m in an open relationship, in an open marriage, so it’s not like, oh no! We’re about to get married, we can never kiss somebody again,” she says. “We’d better just go crazy the night before. It’s none of that.”

But don’t expect to get a stern lecture when you see the show. Yes, the political points are made, but according to Judge, “The Meaning of Wife” is still the story of two human beings working out the issues. “This show, more than anything,” says Judge, “is about our relationship, and how our friendship is, and how we talk to each other and how we process things together and how whenever either of us wants to figure out what’s going on, we turn to the other to talk about it. That’s the dynamic going on onstage. The dialogue is how we casually talk to each other.”

Judge and Conant expect to take the show to California this summer, and have submitted it for consideration in several New England theater festivals.

A bit of "Meaning of Wife," in Judge and Conant's own words:

The Meaning of Wife at The Comedy Studio, Monday, February 2 at 8PM. Details on Erin Judge's Web site. Advance tickets are sold out, get to the Studio early for walk-ups.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Aziz Ansari at the Middle East Downstairs Tonight

Aziz Ansari brings his "Glow in the Dark" tour to the Middle East Downstairs tonight, with special guest Dan Boulger. Aziz stands to have less time to tour soon when he starts shooting a spinoff of The Office with Amy Poehler for NBC. Which also means Human Giant probably won't see a Season Three, but Ansari didn't say never in a recent interview with Philadelphia City Paper.

Juston McKinney: Blue Collar from Maine to Mottley's

Juston McKinney may have seemed like an odd fit to some when he was tapped last year for the Blue Collar Comedy: The Next Generation tour and subsequent DVD. But before he was a comedian, he was literally a blue collar worker as a police officer in Maine. In his mind, and in the minds of the Blue Collar producers, McKinney was a natural.

“Being from New England I didn't identify as much with the southern redneck stuff,” he says. “I would say Ron White was the one I identified with the most. On this tour they wanted to give it more of a traditional "blue collar" feel. Being a cop in rural Maine fits that bill.”

McKinney, who plays Mottley’s Friday and Saturday, also landed his own show on the Blue Collar channel at Sirius XM, called “Live from the Woods,” which he broadcasts from his house in New Hampshire Mondays at 9PM. It’s a topic driven call-in show that, every so often, brings him back to his roots. “Whenever appropriate I throw in some Maine references and material,” he says. “Last weeks show we had a caller from Maine which throws me in that direction.”

McKinney is working on a new DVD/CD, which he will shoot later this year.

Mike Birbiglia on Conan, The View

Comedians with Boston roots some together tonight when Shrewsbury native Mike Birbiglia appears on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. O'Brien, a Newton native, will leave Late Night on February 20 to take over hosting the Tonight Show from Jay Leno (coincidentally, an Andover native).

Birbiglia's off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk With Me, has been held over until March 22 -- no mean feat in a climate where the big name, big ticket shows are closing.

Birbiglia was on The View last week with Nathan Lane, who "presents" the show. The interview included a primer on how to pronounce "Birbiglia" (Joy Behar pronounced it "Bare-bee-lee-ah" instead of with the hard "g") and the difference between producing and presenting (apparently when you "present," you don't have to put up any money).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Entertaining Digression with Dr. Katz

To Interview Jonathan Katz is to be caught in a constant series of entertaining digressions. He’s often trying out new material, which would be irritating from some comedians, but not from Katz. Somehow, the conversation becomes the set-up, he tees off, and moves on. And his poker-faced delivery (even over the phone) never gives you the impression that he’s “on.” Which are, of course, the qualities that made him such a great foil, and made his Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist such a great show.

I originally called Katz, who still lives in Newton, to talk about The Best of Dr. Katz, which Comedy Central released in December. He offered this, within the first couple of minutes:

“This is my marital advice tip of the day. You’re married right? Don’t ever compare your marriage to life in prison. Because I said to my wife, you know the biggest difference between marriage and life in prison? Conjugal visits. It’s not a bad joke, but she’s the wrong audience.”

We went from that into talking about Katz’s new venture, the nation’s first therapy-based theme park, called “Happy Acres,” in western Massachusetts. Again, there is no clue, other than the outright preposterousness of the premise, that he is joking.

“The big attraction is going to be a ride called ‘The Great Depression,’” he says. “It’s a place where you can go with your shrink, just to have a good time, really. To see the other side of life in therapy. There’s of course the Emotional Roller Coaster. There’s the Tunnel of Self-Loathing. What else? We have the Haunted By Your Past House. If you spend a day at a theme park, eventually you get hungry. And there’s a snack bar there called Munchausen’s.”

Here’s a little video peek at Happy Acres, recently posted on YouTube:

We did eventually wind up talking about the DVD and Dr. Katz. In December, Katz did another “Dr. Katz: Live!” show, similar to one he did at the Somerville Theatre last year. “I like doing it,” he says. “It keeps changing forms, which is interesting. It’s gone from a vehicle for me, similar to the show, me usuing the stand-up comedy of my patients as a therapist, to the most theatrical version, which is what Tom and I did in Somerville, where he plays my therapist and I get the chance to be an asshole, too.”

The new DVD features a lot of great comics, with a lot of comedians with Boston connections – Louis C.K., David Cross, Janeane Garofalo, Conan O’Brien, and Denis Leary. But the roster is not complete, according to Katz. “Two things about that list – it doesn’t include Dom Irrera, who is my favorite,” he says. “The other thing is, I was reminded how funny Julia Louis-Dreyfus was. Because she was pregnant at the time I recorded her, she was on a speaker phone. And she was very funny. Unless it’s me I’m thinking of.”

The new compilation was Comedy Central’s idea, not Katz’s, but he did get a chance to show off some scenes with Laura Silverman and H. Jon Benjamin, which were muc more at the core of the show than the comedian therapy sessions. And compilations may help him as he continues to pursue “Dr. Katz: Live.”

“I think the hardcore Dr. Katz fan is somebody who owns the boxed set, but I guess it’s a good reminder to people,” he says. “To the press, it’s a good reminder.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

BNN Mondays: Thoughts on the Inauguration

Boston News Net's Quentin James shares his experiences attending last week's inauguration of President Barack Obama.

See more Boston News Net videos here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Louic C.K. Update

Earlier this week, we announced that Louic C.K. will be coming back to Boston to play the Orpheum Theatre on March 14. Today, C.K. announced on that he will most likely be filming that show, which means it could be his next special. "I am 99% certain that we are filming this performance," he said. "I cannot add the other 1% because it isn't entirely official yet."

DJ Hazard Talks Man of Hazardium

DJ Hazard is one of the founding fathers of Boston Comedy. He was there when the Ding Ho was swinging, not only performing, but helping out with the creative end of promotions and even writing the theme song. For his new CD, Man of Hazardium, Hazard pulled from recordings from his past 20 years in comedy, including live bits and music. It's his third album, if you include the out-of-print Lock Up the Planet When You Leave, and a CD he was selling at his shows last year. He’s now doing stand-up and acting in indie films in New York City, but look for him next month at Mottley’s Comedy Club.

What time period does this CD cover?

For convenience sake, I went with from 1988 to 2008. To be honest, I believe that session of the Ding Ho Song was recorded in the fall of 1980. Wet Cigarette was part of that session, as well. I recorded the Ding Ho Song because we were going to make a 45 vinyl and put it in the juke box at the Ding Ho. One thing lead to another and it never happened. I recorded Wet Cigarette that day because we would have needed a 'B' side.

Why did you decide to use bits and pieces from that period instead of just going to a club or a theater and doing a full set?

I don't feel like I had a 'perfect' set on film or sound. A lot happens during 45 minutes. A lot happens with different crowds and their reactions to the same joke on different nights. I call this macropsychodynamics. I gave up trying to figure people out. I just try to exist with them until the mother ship comes and gets me.

It also would be lopsided to have this 45 minute set, then a whole bunch of studio sessions. This way, it's a little more broken up. Like a collection of short poems, maybe. Yeah, I think I'll stick with that answer, Meredith.

Will you release the last album on CD Baby now, too?

Nah. It would be a rip off, since the best parts of the last CD are on the new CD.

Do you think you’ll ever rerelease Lock Up the Planet When You Leave?

Not in the least. LUTPWYL was actually a debacle. I was terribly mismanaged and misguided while making LUTPWYL. I hear there's a cache of unsold albums somewhere. I never made a dime off of that project. Fortunately, it was financed by somebody else, so I didn't exactly lose money either.

What’s your favorite bit on the album?

That part where I say that thing, y'know?

How much of this material have you retired?

Other than the MacGuyver bit? I also don't know why I went with that spelling of MacGuyver/MacGyver. The "Hazard History" tracks are bookmarked that way as a subtle hint that they're just old chestnuts. Iran-Contra, Hinckley shooting Reagan, Elton John regifting his Marilyn Monroe song for Princess Diana- you pretty much ain't gonna see these in my set this weekend.

Was it a sentimental choice to include the Ding Ho Song?

No, not at all. I would have omitted it if not for the documentary When Stand Up Stood Out. Enough people have seen that film and come up to me to talk about the film. I wanted Man Of Hazardium to make sense to anybody who listens to it, and the Ding Ho Song now has enough cred to be more than an ancient inside joke.

You once told me people think you’re a prolific writer, but part of that is having a few decades worth of material to dust off. Do you ever find old stuff going through tapes or video that you want to add to your current set?

Oh, yes, for sure. I believe Tony V. once said to somebody that I've forgotten more material than other comedians have. I look at old note books that I've manage to spare from my artistic purges, but most of the notebooks are just pages and pages of 'bullets', one word names that comedian have for entire bits.

I have about three hours of video that I've hung onto, spanning three decades, different looks, different eras, different head spaces. I think at one time I was toying with the idea of making a mockumentary about myself, as if I was dead or disappeared or something. I think I decided that was either too ghoulish or egomaniacal or stupid or something.

How do you work the songs into your average set? They seem to me more a part of your recordings than your live show.

I'm actually pretty concise about the stand up/music proportions of my set these days. It's about 25 minutes of stand up, 20 minutes of music. I don't do a lot of parodies anymore, except for "Untie My Ankles," as the crowds would probably tar and feather me if I didn't close the show with that, and a Springsteen piece, because people come up to me and say that's the most frighteningly dead-on Springsteen impression they're ever seen/heard.

On Man Of Hazardium, I do Bruce as he might sing "I've Been Working On The Railroad." Live, I have him do "Take Me Out To The Ball Game."

"Railroad" is sung the tune of "Born To Run," "Ball Game" is a parody of Meeting Across The River. I LOVE doing "Meeting Across The River" live, as it's a deeper back and lesser known Springsteen composition. I see those who know the song, I see their eyes light up and they REALLY get the joke. For everyone else, it justs stands on its own as how Bruce would sound turning a lively song into a dark and haunting epic.

"Ankles" and "Ball Game" are the only complete songs I do in my live set, at least usually. The rest are parts of songs I wrote. I don't think people want top sit through 10-11 whole songs at a comedy show. At least not my comedy show.

What’s on your plate as far as film work these days?

I have some webisodic things in the oven. Nothing to report about yet, but I'll let you know.

My comedy/acting buddy, Mark Riccadonna, and I recently did what we call our first 'Ballywood' movie. It's not the traditional singing and dancing extravaganza. It's actually a very well shot and artistic short psychological thriller. A two man cat and mouse, if you will.

If you watch episode 4 of this season of 'Damages' on FX, I'm one of the convicts in the prison.

If you watch the very last episode of Battlestar Galactica this year, I have a love scene with all the Number 6 Model Cylons at the same time.

Okay, I lied about the last one.

What’s available on DVD?

Blackballed: The Bobby Duke Story (directed by Brant Sersen) and Bourbon (directed by Adam Woodworth are both definitely out on dvd... along with When Stand Up Stood Out, of course. Cold Calls (directed by Jack Daniel Stanley) is doing the fest circuit as we speak, but is slated to be viral online at some point.

The Tourist (directed by Kelly Knudson) is still in post production, but I heard there's a working copy now. It takes place in the 70's and Kelly went so far as to buy 1970 film stock from some crazy warehouse so that it actually looks and feels like you're in the 70's. He's been lovingly and painstakingly crafting this film for over a year since we wrapped shooting.

Shows This Weekend

Three shows this weekend deserve a special highlight. Tonight’s line-up at The Gas at Great Scott is solid from top to bottom – Anderson Comedy hosts Chris Coxen, Josh Gondelman, David Grabiner, Lamont Price, Robby Roadsteamer, MC Mr. Napkins, The Steamy Bohemians, and Mehran. Not bad for five bucks… You may not have heard much about it, but there’s a benefit show with a great line-up tomorrow at the Wilbur at 2PM, with Ira Proctor, Jim Lauletta, Tony V., Jon Lincoln, Dan Boulger, Mike Hanley, Jon Porch, Ahmed Bharoocha, and Roman Pierce. Proceeds benefit a family that lost their father to suicide… Also Saturday, at 7PM, is a great show for comedy and rock and roll fans. Jimmy Tingle is emceeing a show with Mission of Burma and the Neighborhood at the Somerville Theatre. Proceeds will benefit the Center for Arts at the Armory.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chris Zito Hangs It Up

Last year, when Chris Zito had a feeling his radio gig at 104.5 XLO might be coming to an end, he jumped back into one of his first loves, stand-up comedy. He hadn’t performed for five years, but never officially said the “r” word – retirement. But tonight at Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault, Zito will call it a career and quitting stand-up comedy.

Zito was on the line-up for the Vault’s first night, according to Dick Doherty, on September 27th with Doherty and Paul D’Angelo. And that has been his regular hang out since he came back in September of last year. Zito says he’s enjoyed his time back, but now that he’s on the Zito and Karen Blake show mornings on Oldies 103.3, he won’t have time to pursue it anymore.

“I didn't really miss it while I wasn't doing it, but after a few weeks back when I started to get my chops back I had a really good set,” he says. “There's nothing like that. Nothing. I had forgotten what it was like to be up there feeling in complete control of a room.

“Who knows what the future holds? But for the foreseeable future all my creative energy will be in the Zito and Karen Blake show on Oldies 103.3. We're having a ball. It's very competitive and I just can't afford to go at it with anything but my best and complete effort. I owe that to my partner. And CBS.”

Michael Sullivan, a producer on the morning show at Oldies 103.3 is glad to have Zito’s full attention. He met Zito years ago, when they were both working on another morning show at Boston’s WZOU (which eventually became WJMN Jammin’ 94.5). He also worked with Zito in Detroit, where Zito worked another radio gig from 1996 to 2001. “In the nearly 20 years I have known Zito, he has been one of the funniest stand-ups I have ever seen,” says Sullivan. “And he's a better Morning Show host. And we're lucky to have him on the Zito and Karen Blake Morning show.”

Tonight is his official retirement, and he’s got to be on the air every morning at 6AM, which means you probably won’t see Zito in the audience much, either. “I'm a morning radio guy,” he says. “We're notorious for never going anywhere. This job just has a way of making you want to be in your jammies by dinner time, even on Saturday night. But yes, occasionally I'll pop up somewhere.”

Pat O'Shea Preview

You got the interview with Pat O'Shea yesterday, and today you get a peek at O'Shea from a show last year in New York. O'Shea is at Mottley's tonight and The Comedy Studio tomorrow and Saturday.

Billy Bob Neck Reacts to the Inauguration

Billy Bob Neck watched Tuesday's proceedings very carefully, and doesn't believe that Barack Obama is officially president yet. Which gives him hope, ironically enough.

Billy Bob Neck's latest video missive:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pat O'Shea CD Release at Mottley's, The Comedy Studio

Pat O’Shea returns to Boston this week with a new CD, Not Friendly, and spots at Mottley’s Comedy Club Thursday and the Comedy Studio Friday and Saturday. O’Shea left Boston in June of 2002, and since then, has apparently sharpened his sarcasm, if the CD is any indication. Like some of the best comics, he blurs the line between storytelling and pure joke telling, skepticism and self-deprecation (especially in regards to his muttonchops – you may recognize him as a bartender from the Titanic or as the guy who looks like Wolverine and harasses young women asking for the time). He is appealingly, maybe even affably, disgruntled. You can find news about the CD and his schedule on his MySpace page.

When did you first start comedy? What was your first time onstage?

Dec 23rd,1997.It was the "graduation", if you will of this comedy class I had taken at BCAE, where you had to perform a five-minute set in front of an audience at the Comedy Studio.

What do you think you gained from coming up in this scene?

Boston was great because you didn't have to worry about industry showing up when you weren't ready, and you could just work on your act.

What drew you to New York?

Industry,mostly I guess.I remember talking to Loius C.K. at the Comedy Studio one night circa 2000,and I asked him how long should I wait to move to New York, and he said"four years".I took it as gospel.

Boston and New York are both sarcastic cities. I was thinking about that listening to your Brooklyn Bridge bit. Is there a different quality to that sarcasm in both cities?

Bostons' is a little more subtle, whereas New York for the most part is more in your face with the sarcasm.Germans don't get sarcasm, did you know that?

Was the audience at the CD taping mostly people you knew, as you mention on one or two of the tracks?

It was about half and half probably, although my friends, most of which had never seen me, decided to sit up front.Also, I noticed with a lot of these things, comics make up a good amount of the audience which was not the case with my show at all. I think there were like two there. I promoted it pretty heavily, so it sold out fairly quickly, and a good amount of people were not let in.Wow, I sound like a big shot, don't I?

Was that what you were hoping for, or is it better to make a crowd of strangers laugh?

While I did know a majority of the folks, there were about 20 or so I had never met, and they seemed to enjoy it.I just wanted people to laugh.I didn't really care if I knew them or not.

I hear a bit of Patton Oswalt and Dave Attell in your delivery – do you consider either of them influences?

Yeah, they're both great, although my main influence when I started was Steven Wright.I used to have a deadpan delivery when I started, something I abandoned with time and experience.It also turns out, I'm a bit too angry and bitter to sustain a deadpan delivery.

Have you seen Mottley’s yet?

No, this'll be my first time.Hopefully, it'll work out better than most of my first times.

What is your age?

I could sue you for asking me that.39.But I don't look a day over 37 and a half.

Is it tougher to get noticed as a comic in his late 30s in New York? Seems like there’s a certain limbo in between the younger 20-something comics just starting out and the bigger name headliners.

First you ask me my age, then you ASSUME I'm in my late 30's.Bastard!YES, as with anything associated with the entertainment field, it's very hard to make a name for yourself with the words"late 30's,early 40's"attatched, especially if your a woman, which I am not at the moment.Although I think comedy is a little more forgiving with the age thing than say acting or music.I was in the music business for 12 years before comedy, and it's even more shallow than the comedy biz.Just look at American Idol.O.K., I'll get off my soapbox now.

Nick live on WMFO's Hear It Wow Tonight at 8PM

I will be once again joining Derek Gerry on his Hear It Wow show tonight on Tufts Radio 91.5 to talk comedy. I'll be phoning in at 8PM with a couple of picks for this weekend and a few Boston Comedy questions. I am told Mr. Tony Moschetto will be in-studio. Hear It Wow starts at 7PM, and you can hear it at 91.5 FM or on I'll be calling in every week at this time.

Also, if you happen to be in Lynn tonight, I'll be calling in from Tatiana's, where the Speak Up spoken word open mic is happening. This week's featured speaker is Jimmy Tingle. You'll be able to identify me as the guy running out the door with his cell phone just before 8PM.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breaking Concert News: Louis C.K. at the Orpheum

Louis C.K. has just announced a new Boston show. His new "Louis C.K.: Hilarious" tour comes to the Orhpeum Theatre March 14 at 10PM. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10AM at or by phone at 877-598-8689 and the Orpheum Theatre Box Office. The tour features all-new material.

C.K. is a Newton native who recorded his last special, Chewed Up, at the Berklee Performance Center last year. It's now available on CD and DVD.

See my review of Chewed Up here.

Random Notes

“The Artie Januario Show” is back at Giggles tomorrow at 8PM. The show has moved from a weekly to a monthly format. Scheduled for tomorrow are Ira Proctor, Tony V., Frank Santorelli, Shaun Bedgood, Dave Russo, James Bowes, Sarah Blodgett, Scott MacNeil, John Garrison, Colleen Morrissey, Big Nez, and Adam Trukas. Januario will also headline Mottley's Friday and Saturday… Corey Manning and Andrea Baptiste’s Laugh Out Loud Thursdays is at Macumba Latina Lounge this week, and the fourth Thursday of every month. Manning will host Chris Tabb, Kelly MacFarland, Tom E. Morello, Steve Donovan, and R&B artist Ray Greene… MC Mr. Napkins has been added to the line-up for at the Somerville Theatre, joining other acts with Boston roots like Brian Longwell and Ken Reid. Napkins will be on the May 7 show… Boston comedian Amy Tee has been nominated for as the 2009 Celebrity Marshal for the Boston Pride Celebrations. She has a strange mix of competition – Israeli singer Dana International, comedian Marga Gomez, singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge, and How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris. See the other nominees at Myq Kaplan has a new blog at Giulia Rozzi is one of the featured comedians on MySpace Comedy this week, and is at the Comedy Studio Saturday… If you happen to be in Amherst, NH Saturday, you can see Paul Keenan with Tammy Pooler at the Amherst Country Club at 8PM.

Comedy Night at the Burren Kicks Off Tomorrow

A couple of weeks ago, comic and booker Dave Rattigan was doing a Sunday afternoon private gig in the back room of the Burren, a pub in Davis Square. When the woman who booked the party told Rattigan the Burren’s owners were interested in having a comedy night, Rattigan went straight to them and set it up. The weekly "Comedy Night at the Burren" series kicks off tomorrow at 10PM, with Rattigan hosting and Tony Moschetto, Maria Ciampa, Mike Prior, Derek Gerry, Dan Crohn, Rob Steen, Rachel Andelman, Susan Reed, Benny Bosh, Sal Votano, and possibly Ken Rogerson.

The show is free, with about ten comics on the bill for each show. “It will be a showcase format, hopefully mixing five new and five experienced comics,” says Rattigan. “It will also hopefully mix in the Cambridge Studio and improv guys with some urban guys, outside room guys, Dick Doherty guys, Connection vets, etc.”

The show is an opportunity for Rattigan to see some comics he wouldn’t otherwise get to consider for other gigs he books, and get some stage time for himself. “This will give me a chance to look at some new guys, as well as work on my material,” he says. “I'm hoping it also gives the guys who only work the free spots in the city some exposure to guys (including comic-bookers) who work in the suburbs, and gives the guys who only work paid spots a chance to work on their short sets.”

The line-up for the next couple of weeks:

January 28
Jim Colliton hosts with Jimmy Dunn, Jennifer Myszkowski, Andy Ofiesch, John Curtin, Linda Belt, Ellen Moschetto, Ken Reed, Greg Boggis, Evan Bowen, Dave Rattigan

Feb. 4
Frank Santorelli hosts with Matt Wininger, Jon Rineman, Dave Rattigan, Mike Koutrobis, Rick Cormier, Bethany Van Delft, Ellen Moschetto, Mike Kerrigan, Jim Laprel, Jeff Koen, Shereen

The Burren. 617-776-6896.

Monday, January 19, 2009

BNN Mondays: Barry Tattle Takes Over

I can't seem to escape Chris Coxen. He shows up at just about every show I go to these days. Part of the reason is that he's more than one person. He showed up at Boston News Net Saturday as lounge singer Barry Tattle, and, as the BNN folks said, "Tattle takes over the broadcast and flirts with the ladies in the BNN studio audience."

Oh, the other reason Coxen seems to show up everywhere is that he's very good at what he does. But you can take a look at this week's BNN Mondays clip to decide for yourself:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flight of the Conchords Preview, Anderson Comedy

Anyone who showed up at Great Scott tonight hoping to see Anderson Comedy perform sketch would have been disappointed to see their role in the Flight of the Conchords preview reduced to a quick plug of their usual Friday night show, Gas, after the preview of the second episode of the new season. The troupe was told earlier in the evening that they would not be performing, but that Rob and Matt could mention the show.

The preview itself was a mixed bag. People were waiting on the sidewalk in single digit temperatures in a line that stretched about 30 feet around the corner. A few people came back out disappointed, apparently not on the RSVP list. Those who did get in were treated to free drinks and food and a preview of the second episode from the new season, which premieres on HBO Sunday at 10. The episode was funny -- the Conchords hit a new financial low and have to consider prostitution to get their instruments out of hock and turn their lights back on. But an open bar and free TV are two good things that don't necessarily go well together. Tough to hear the dialogue over some of the folks socializing near the stage.

Still, everybody will get a second chance to see the episode next week, and got free beer and snacks. And hopefully, some of that capacity crowd will come back to see Anderson Comedy on some other Friday night. Something about a gift horse comes to mind...

Mystery Science Theater Creators Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu Come to M.I.T.

If you are a comedy and a geek (as opposed to just a comedy geek), there is no more satisfying experience than sitting around with a few like-minded friends and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. The show, which started out on a UHF channel in Minneapolis-St. Paul and went on to air on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, was a unique weekly skewering of bad cinema.

For the unfamiliar, the concept was that janitor Joel Robinson was taken from his job at the top-secret Gizmonic Institute and forced to watch an unending series of terrible movies, monitored by evil scientists Dr. Clayton Forrester and Dr. Laurence Erhardt. He coped by building two robots, Tom Servo and Crow, who would help him poke fun at the movie while it was running. Joel was later replaced by temp Mike Nelson. (For any true geek, that summation is horribly insufficient, and I beg your apologies, check the FAQ at Satellite News for more info).

It would make sense that M.I.T., an institution filled with science geeks, would also be filled with MST3K geeks. Tomorrow, some of those fans will host what was originally intended as a retrospective of the show, but has now become a discussion with MST3K creators Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu, sponsored by the Comparative Media Studies Program.

Generoso Fierro, Event Coordinator for the Comparative Media Studios Program, originally contacted representatives from Hodgson and Beaulieu’s new project, Cinematic Titanic, which is coming to the Somerville Theatre February 20 and 21. Fierro just wanted to get work to them about his own show, and wound up getting a lot more. “We just were curious if they wanted to do any promotion, and then all of a sudden they contacted Joel and I got a phone call from Joel,” says Fierro.

That led to Hodgson and Beaulieu’s appearance at the event, which happens tomorrow at M.I.T. Building 26, Room 100 (26-100) at 7PM ($5 donation for cover). That changed the nature, and the name of it. “I think they want to concentrate more on the creation of the world,” says Fierro, “so the name of the event now – it was ‘Talking MST3K,’ but now it’s ‘The Design and Speculative Technology of MST3K.’ So it’s really going to be about the robots, and it’s going to be about Gizmonic Institute, and the structure they built themselves.”

There will be a question and answer period and a signing following the discussion. Fierro, who will moderate with masters student Jason Begy, will certainly have questions – he has fond memories of watching MST3K during its original run (Comedy Central ’89-96, Sci-Fi ’97-’99). “There would be a bunch of us, mostly M.I.T. folk, just crammed into my little apartment on Park Drive,” he says, “and probably with ten people in a room that would fit three. And every Friday night, most of them would end up staying over and watching it the next morning because they’d miss half of it laughing.”

Fierro and company will get together to watch and discuss some of their favorite episodes Sunday, but that won’t be open to the public.

Watch this space for more information on Cinematic Titanic at the Somerville Theatre closer to the show date, February 20 and 21. Tickets go on sale Monday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bethany Van Delft, One of 5 Funny Females This Weekend

Bethany Van Delft first joined the revolving cast of 5 Funny Females last January. Since then, she estimates she has done between 15 and 20 of the showcases, hosted and organized by New York-based comedian Susan Alexander, all over New England. She’ll add two more to resume this weekend when the show plays Max Stein’s Steakhouse in Lexington Friday and Mission Oak Grill in Newburyport. The other four funny females will be Alexander, Maria Ciampa, Erin Judge, and Andrea Henry.

If grills and steakhouses don’t seem terribly conducive to comedy shows, Van Delft says the comics Alexander books and judgment about who to work with has made for a great experience. “We definitely try to make each space our own, but we pretty much go with the flow,” she says. “Maybe more toned down for a dining room or benefit, a little crazier at a rock club. The show works anywhere because the comics are pros, and the audiences have been so excited to have us. I feel really lucky to be part of it.”

Van Delft says she has seen some familiar faces at the shows, sometimes between 10 and fifteen who have seen a show before. “Some people are at every show,” she says. “The line up is always a different mix of comics, so they still get to see new acts as well as their favorites.”

And what do the comics get out of being part of an all-female showcase? “It's really just us creating opportunities for ourselves,” says Van Delft. “But the camaraderie is pretty cool. And the green room gossip.”

Here’s a look behind the scenes at that “green room,” from a show in Newburyport last March.

5 Funny Females Backstage at Newburyport, MA on 3.28.08

Review: The Rob Crean Show at O'Brien's 1/13

O’Brien’s Pub in Allston might rightly be described as a “joint.” It’s at the end of Harvard Ave, down where most people pass on their way to the Thruway, and the neighborhood is a jumble of hip boutiques, cheap eateries, and car rental shops. It’s a place you’d expect to hear college bands blasting indie rock against the stinging weather outside, or warming up with some more sensitive folk rock. At least that’s the feeling on a cold January night.

But the second Tuesday of every month, O’Brien’s belongs to The Rob Crean Show, a talk and variety show hosted by Rob Crean of the Anderson Comedy sketch troupe. It’s a laid back, late night show. The start time is listed as 9PM, but the show’s audience is more into fashionably late. So by the time Crean starts his monologue around 9:40, there are only a few bodies mingling, glancing occasionally at the TVs behind the bar to check on the Bruins score. The crowd really starts to grow after ten, and everyone is still there at midnight when things are winding down.

Crean is an amiable, self-deprecating host. His monologue is surprisingly traditional for a room full of hipsters, a survey of news about President Bush’s last press conference and the type of offbeat items (a man sells his daughter for meat and beer, a wedding ruined by locusts) that late night talk show hosts love crack wise on.

The monologue is interrupted by Ripps McCoxen (character comic Chris Coxen, who seems to be on every underground comedy show in Boston), a 2-by-4 toting workout maniac who is looking for the band that’s playing next month’s show. Crean is game, and fine with playing the straight man as McCoxen explains how his flexing arm (his “gun”) is often mistaken for Cape Cod.

Crean and Anderson Comedy have put together a satisfying mix of sketch and stand-up (this month’s there was a DJ between sets instead of the usual band, so any judgment on that element is deferred for another time). The women of Anderson comedy perform a monthly parody of “The View” called “The Vagenda” (again a surprisingly traditional approach to sketch parody), which allows them to be catty in character.

Crean also interviews the acts when they’re done, which is where the self-deprecation comes in. Which you can see in this clip with MC Mr. Napkins.

Rhode Island comic Tim Vargulish, a relative newbie, has a promising set of sarcastic geek comedy. Mike Dorval previewed his funny, personal one-man show, Death By Chocolate, which premieres next month at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (more on that in February). And MC Mr Napkins (also fast becoming a staple of any cool indie show in this town) hit his usual hip-hop homeruns, even if he stumbled once or twice (on raps about pneumonic devices, no less).

Anderson Comedy hosts several shows around town, including Gas, which is every Friday at Great Scott, just down the street from O’Brien’s on Harvard Ave (they’ll host a Flight of the Conchords premiere party this Friday). They are aiming to create a new scene for themselves and other like-minded comedians and musicians. Here are Rob Crean and Lucas Lewis of Anderson Comedy, explaining it in their own words:

Tonight on Hear It Wow, Tufts Radio

I'll be appearing on Derek Gerry's Hear It Wow program tonight on Tufts Radio talking comedy and music. Listen on 91.5 or click on the link and listen online.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stephen Lynch Kicks Off 3 Balloons Tour at the Wilbur Feb. 27

Musical comedian Stephen Lynch, last seen on Broadway playing the Adam Sandler role in the Broadway adaptation of The Wedding Singer, announced plans for a new tour, album, Comedy Central special, and DVD on his mailing list today. The 3 Balloons Tour, named for his new album due in March, kicks off at the Wilbur Theatre Feburay 27. Lynch also mentions a new 1-hour Comedy Central special to be released later this year, with a DVD of the special expected "around Christmas."

Here's a link to the title track of 3 Balloons, which I will just say is not about children's parties, from September.

Complete Tour Listing:
02/27/2009 Boston, MA Wilbur Theater
02/28/2009 Buffalo, NY UB Center For The Arts

03/06/2009 Chicago, IL Congers Theater
03/07/2009 Madison, WI Barrymore Theater
03/13/2009 Minneapolis, MN State Theater
03/14/2009 Detroit, MI Fillmore
03/19/2009 Indianapolis, IN Egyptian Room
03/20/2009 Cleveland, OH Lorain Theater
03/21/2009 Wilkes Barre, PA Kirby Center
03/26/2009 Rochester, NY St. John Fisher College
03/27/2009 Montclair, NJ Wellmont Theater
03/28/2009 Washington, DC Warner Theater

04/02/2009 Austin, TX Paramount Theater
04/03/2009 Dallas, TX Majestic Theater
04/04/2009 Houston, TX Verizon Theater
04/16/2009 Stamford, CT Palace Theater
04/17/2009 Poughkeepsie, NY Bardovan Center
04/18/2009 Albany, NY The Egg
04/23/2009 Westbury, NY Capitol One Theater
04/24 & 4/25/2009 Atlantic City NJ Borgata Music Box

05/01/2009 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern Theater
05/02/2009 Las Vegas, NV House Of Blues
05/07/2009 West Palm, FL Improv
05/08/2009 Orlando, FL Hard Rock
05/09/2009 Atlanta, GA Tabernacle
05/14/2009 San Francisco, CA Warfield
05/15/2009 Seattle,WA Moore Theater
05/16/2009 Portland, OR Alladin Theater

BNN Mondays: A Double Shot

You may have noticed we didn't have BNN Mondays last week, so this week, we have two new Boston News Net videos.

First, Mike Morell breaks down the new marijuana possession laws that just took effect.

Next, we have Sean Sullivan (not to be confused with Sean Sullivan from the Untrainables), talks about single-sex education. As a teacher, he is against it. Follow his reasoning here:

See more Boston News Net videos here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Random Notes

Wendy Liebman is on the Late Show with David Letterman tonight (11:35PM, CBS)… The South Shore Music Circus made the first announcement about their 2009 schedule today. Bill Cosby will play 4PM and 7PM shows on August 8 (the other announced shows are the Beach Boys, WWE, Tony Bennett, and the Russian American Kids Circus). Check for future announcements… Since yesterday’s announcement about “The Meaning of Wife” at The Comedy Studio, Erin Judge has reported that tickets are selling quickly, so you’ll want to get your tickets soon… And for a little Friday relief, here’s Selena Coppock on the first Ikea on Mars (Boston fans will be familiar with the “Martian” accent).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Notes

Mortified is back in Boston tonight, this time at Mottley’s Comedy Club. The show features people (sometimes comedians, sometimes civilians) telling embarrassing stories from their childhood. Show starts at 8PM… News from Eugene Mirman. Mirman looks to have a busy February. He’ll be touring in support of his new book, The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, which comes out February 10. He’ll be reading from the book, which Zach Galifianakis likens to “having a tiny Eugene riding on your shoulder and whispering his advice in your ear,” February 25 at Brookline Booksmith. Mirman is also back on Flight of the Conchords, which kicks of Season Two on HBO January 18th, and on a new live action series on Adult Swim called Delocated, in which he plays a Russian hitman and stand-up comedian. That premieres sometime in February… Erin Judge and Ailin Conant will bring their show, The Meaning of Wife, to the Comedy Studio February 2. The show is an exploration of marriage in both a modern and historical context (and, for Judge and Conant, in a personal contect). Proceeds from the Studio performance will benefit arts programs for children in Rwanda ... and Dan Crohn will bring Doug Stanhope to the Hard Rock Café May 15. Sean Sullivan will host, and Crohn and Dave McDonough will also perform.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nick DiPaolo Back In Boston Friday with Comics for a Cure at the Majestic

Danvers native Nick DiPaolo started out as a stand-up comic in the Boston scene in the late 80s, cutting his teeth at Nick’s Comedy Stop and Dick Doherty’s clubs. He had a marketing degree, but never really took that seriously as a career (he once told me in an interview for the Boston Globe, “If I learned anything, somebody would have known me by now. I really lack in the marketing skills.”).

After a couple of years of one-nighters around New England, DiPaolo moved to New York, where he perfected his angry, sarcastic persona, peppering his act with more right-leaning political commentary. That’s the DiPaolo most people know – gruff, conservative, and unblinking in his criticism of what he sees as an overwhelming political correctness that envelops race and gender relations. He’s been a regular on both Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony, and got a taste of what it’s like to host his own show on New York’s Free FM, which lasted only five months.

DiPaolo still makes it back to Boston regularly (he was part of the NECN Comedy All Stars taping at the Wilbur a few weeks ago, and often comes to town with Artie Lange). And his regular opener, Joe List, is also a transplanted Boston comic now living in New York. DiPaolo is part of a bill of Boston comics, past and present, for Friday’s Comics for a Cure show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, along with List, Gary Gulman, Kevin Knox, and Kelly MacFarland. His new CD is called Funny How?

How did you get involved with this show?

My opening act Joe List was asked by Tracy Harding if I would perform at this benefit and i said sure because I believe every once in a while you should give back. It benefits children with cancer. I mean how could anybody say no to something like that?

How has the new CD been doing?

The new CD Funny How? is doing quite well. I keep shipping boxes of them to Amazon and they call back a few days later asking for more. I figure at this rate it will go "copper" by March.

I recorded it at ACME Comedy Co. in Minneapolis. It's my favorite city besides Boston to perform. I sell out there every time and the people love my shitty east coast attitude. I chose there because the audiences are so polite. They actually sit and listen even when they're drunk. It's the coolest thing.

Is getting a radio show your ultimate goal? It seems to have suited you in the past but it's hard to carve out your niche in a crowded field.

There aren't that many slots to go around in NYC when it comes to talk radio. It's what I want to do still. I enjoyed it so much when I was on 92.3 Free FM. You can be funny without interruption, no hecklers or chatty assholes fucking things up. I loved it!

Do you think you'll be appearing on Fox News again this year?

Well, I did the show Red Eye and Fox and Friends and hope to do them again. I'm still doing their streaming show called "The Strategy Room." I had a little run in with Shepard Smith on that show and it got 160,000 hits the next 2 days.

Considering your more conservative political views, do you expect the next four years to provide you the kind of boon for material that the last eight years has for more left-leaning comedians?

Please! Making fun of a Black man? Is that even allowed? You see there's the difference. The business I'm in is run by people who are quite liberal as far as politics goes. They don't like it when you attack what they hold near and dear to there pol. hearts and they won't think twice about holding that shit against you when it's time to give you a job. But that hasn't stopped me yet.

Do you still have any connections to Danvers? Is your family still there?

Yes, my coke dealer still has a home there. My parents and one of my sisters is still there.

Comics for a Cure, January 9 at 8PM. The Cutler Majestic Theatre. 800-233-3123.

John Lehr at Improv Asylum Tonight

John Lehr, star and co-creator of the TBS show 10 Items of Less, will drop by Improv Asylum tonight for their Vanity Project show. If you've never seen this IA show before, take a look. A guest speaker tells a few stories, and a pick-up crew of some of the Asylum's better players improv scenes based on themes and details from the story.

Lehr is in town on a publicity stop for 10 Items, which just kicked off it's third season on TBS yesterday. And though it would be tough to recognize him from the spots, Lehr also plaued one of the cavemen in the Geico commericals.

Watch for more on Lehr in this space tomorrow.

Vanity Project, 8PM tonight at Improv Asylum, 216 Hanover St, Boston. 617-263-6887. $15.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Boston Comedy Community Reacts To Lazarus News

There has been an outpour of sentiment surrounding Sunday’s loss of Boston veteran comic Bob Lazarus around the web, from members of the Boston comedy community near and far. Barry Crimmins posted a touching portrait of an unrelentingly positive (but never naïve) friend and colleague. The Boston Phoenix has posted a short obituary. And over at The Comedy Studio site, people are posting news and tributes.

One Kvetch poster noted there is a fund for donations set up:

Donations may be made to the Carly Lazarus College Fund, Kathi Lazarus, Trustee, and mailed to Rabbi Jonathan Hausman, Ahavath Torah Congregation, 1179 Central St., Stoughton, MA 02072.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bob Lazarus 1956-2009

Boston comedian Bob Lazarus died in his home in Stoughton last night. He had been battling leukemia since the summer of 2007. He is survived by his wife Kathi and his daughter Carly.

I only really knew Lazarus, or “Laz,” as his friends called him, for a couple of years. The first time I met him was a few years ago at Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway theater. I would see him in the audience there, and occasionally onstage. But I only really came to know him better after his leukemia diagnosis, when I interviewed him for the Boston Globe before the first benefit held for him at Giggles in 2007.

There are dozens of people in this scene who know Lazarus better than I do, and I can say that no one who knew his name here ever had anything but kind words to say about him. His passing is a sad event for the whole Boston comedy community, a community Lazarus had been a part of since 1978. Benefits for his treatments drew Lazarus’s fellow veterans from the Ding Ho days like Steven Wright, Tony V., Barry Crimmins, Jimmy Tingle, Steve Sweeney, Lenny Clarke, Mike McDonald, and Mike Donovan. And when Laz had his great set at the Wright’s Boston Comedy Hall of Fame induction show December 15, the comics were laughing loudest.

From my e-mails and brief conversations with Lazarus, I can tell you that he faced some very dark times with his sense of humor intact. In early December, his condition took a turn for the worst. But with the prospect of getting onstage with old friends a few days away, it didn’t take him long to bounce back. Within a week of that bad news, Lazarus e-mailed me to say he would be allowed to get onstage at the Wright show, saying, “The odds of me getting leukemia in the first place were pretty slim, so who's to say I can't win?”

Later that day, he wrote back that he wasn’t going to reveal how bad things had gotten in his act, but he was still going to have a bit of fun at the expense of his leukemia. “That's a little tough to poke fun at, but I am going to wear a shirt asking for donations with my address on the back,” he said. And anticipating that I might take him seriously and print that, he said, “I am joking.”

Services will be held at the Stanetsky Memorial Chapels in Canton, Ma on Tuesday afternoon. 781-821-4600 or 1-800-842-4280

More on Lazarus:

Lazarus’s MySpace

Mike Donovan’s Tribute

Boston Globe, November 23, 2007

Shecky Magazine Interview

WBZ Interview

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Design!

This site, and its design, will continue to develop as I add more features and respond to feedback. I've just expanded to three columns, which I hope will make navigation easier and allow me to present more resources cleanly. I'm still working out a kink or two (like the link colors in the left sidebar, which are currently tied to the link color in the main, middle column), but I should have that figured out soon.

Please let me know what you think, and keep checking back for new posts and changes.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Billy Bob Neck Subs for Boston News Net at ImprovBoston Tonight

Boston News Net is taking a break tonight, and Billy Bob Neck will step in with his "Case Against Barack Osama Homo Bin Laden." Neck is hoping to stop Obama from being sworn in on January 20th. This is his plan:

"Download this petition ( and get you're neighbors to sign and send it to President Bush before America gets turned into a nation of all night gay sex and crack orgies!"

See him lay it out tonight at ImprovBoston at 9:30PM.

Billy Bob Neck at ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Central Square. $7/$5 students

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tingle Adds A Saturday Show at the Regent

For those who couldn't make it out on New Year's Eve because of the weather, Jimmy Tingle has added another show at the Regent for Saturday, January 3 at 7:30PM at the Regent Theatre. (Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington. 781-646-4849)

Here's a bit from Tingle's latest show, Jimmy Tingle for President, on public transportation.

Gary Leavitt Holds Auditions for New TV Show Monday

Comedian Gary Leavitt is holding auditions for a new TV show for Woburn Cable Access Monday at Mount Vernon Restaurant in Somerville at 6PM. Leavitt is looking for comedic and musical talent for the variety/comedy show, the first of which will broadcast live on January 14 at 8PM. Come with prepared material, two minutes maximum.

New Year, New Domain

As of today, it's a little easier for you to get to this blog. you can access Boston Comedy through the address or Please make the appropriate bookmark changes.

And Happy New Year to everyone who loves Boston comedy.