Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jon Lajoie: Straight Outta Montreal

Chances are, if you know the name Jon Lajoie, you are an avid YouTube watcher and a fan of musical comedy. The Montreal native has been posting videos on since 2007, gaining enough momentum to tour Canada and now the US with his musical comedy and stand-up. “Everyday Normal Guy” has over nine million views, and he has five others that have broken the million view barrier. And he just released his first album, You Want Some of This? Not bad for a guy who posted his first video just to show his friends his music.

Lajoie is in town tonight at the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre, and he’ll be making the radio rounds this morning on WFNX and WBCN. I caught up with him by e-mail last night to ask a few questions.

When "Everyday Normal Guy" started getting popular on YouTube, were you already established in Canada?

No. That was only a few months into my career as a comedian (At that point, I had no idea that I'd have a career as a comedian). Funny story: I recorded "Everyday Normal Guy" a few months before I shot the video, and I wasn't even sure I was going to release it because I thought the whole "loser rapper thing" had been done to death. It was my brothers and friends that convinced me to shoot a video for it. And finally, when I shot the video, half of the footage was scrap because it was a rainy day and my friend was holding an umbrella over the camera to protect it, but, what he didn't know, was that the umbrella was in most of the shots. The video is actually a collection of shots that don't have the umbrella in them.

Did you post on YouTube as sort of an afterthought, or did you think the video could really catch on? Seems it's hard to predict, and there's a lot of competition.

I actually put them on YouTube so that I could send them to my friends. My friends didn't really like them (at least the first ones). I don't know, I kind of wanted people to come across them, but I had no idea people would react as they did. When one of my videos reached a thousand hits (about a year and a half ago) I was like "holy shit, a thousand people! That's fucked up!".

How do you play live? Is it just you and a piano or a guitar? Backing tracks?

The rap songs are just my vocal with a backing track. For the other songs, I play them acoustic. But I don't only play music.

Do you think the success of other musical comedy acts lately (Flight of the Conchords, Bo Burnham, Lonely Island) helps you, or does it just crowd the field?

Well, the beauty of it is that it's all good stuff. We're all doing the same thing in a very different way. I think it's nice. I don't think I do the same thing as Bo, The Conchords, or the Lonely Island... It's musical comedy, sure. But Nirvana is alternative rock, and so is Radiohead, and they're worlds apart. I can't believe I just made that comparison, but hey, I did.

Have you toured much in America yet? What's your sense of how well you're known here?

I've toured in the States a bit over the past 4-5 months. I'm constantly surprised by how many people actually show up. I'm always expecting 3 people to show up, but I'm always pleasantly surprised. Some towns know me more than others, but generally speaking, the shows sell out, or close to it. In Canada it's different. I just performed in Toronto for a sold-out crowd in a 1300 seater.

Do you do straight stand-up or sketch, as well?

Yes, I do stand-up and sketchy stuff. It makes up about half of my show.

How well is the album doing, as opposed to the YouTube videos? It seems an album serves a different purpose now than it may have just a few years ago, in terms of promoting yourself and reaching fans.

I didn't really write the songs with the idea that I was going to release them on an album. I just wrote them and recorded them for the videos But it just seemed like a logical idea, at this point. I gave them away on my website for about a year, and now I'm making millions of dollars selling them on iTunes. Not really. I don't even know how many I've sold yet. I should get a sales report soon. Probably 18. Big labels approached me to release it, but it just didn't make sense to me to sign with a big label. I just put it out myself.

What's the career ideal for you, as a musical comedian? Touring? More videos? A sitcom?

I want a role on Two and A Half Men! That's the goal. Maybe I can be the wacky neighbor that comes over and sings funny songs! That would be awesome. Honestly, 2 years ago I didn't even know I that I wanted to do comedy. I have no idea what I want to do. I like the live thing because it's kind of like the internet, you get to say whatever you want. TV is not like that. But it looks like maybe I'll be doing the TV thing soon. Hopefully it doesn't destroy everything that I do. But then again, I'd suck a homeless guys dick for a handful of change and a joint. Maybe I'll be on some shitty sitcom sometime soon. Who knows?

Monday, April 27, 2009

AltCom News: Michael Showalter/Micahel Ian Black Show Canceled

AltCom just announced the Michael Showalter/Michael Ian Black show, previously set for May 7 at the Somerville Theatre, has been canceled due to shooting schedule conflicts with the pair's new Comedy Central series, Michael and Michael Have Issues. AltCom director Brian Joyce said the pair tried to accomodate the show but couldn't do it. He hopes to reschedule them for next year's festival.

Stay tuned here for more festival coverage this week.

BNN Mondays: Date Help from the Pick-Up Artist

Bosotn News Net's Ken Breese gives you the inside skinny on the Mystery Method to help the folks at ImprovBoston during Geek Week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reader's Digest: Call for Submissions

Last week, the folks over at Reader's Digest e-mailed me about this blog. They are fans of Boston Comedy, as it turns out, and coincidentally, are looking for new contributors for their Laugh! page. And they asked if I could help put them in touch with some Boston talent. Which is why you are reading this post right now. So here are the details.

Material should be "family-friendly and LOL," according to RD's guidelines. Topical jokes probably won't work, and the format should be a typical setup and punchline "one-liner." Lead time is usually two months (which is fairly standard in the magazine publishing world).

You can send jokes to at the beginning of the month in a Word document. There is no limit to submissions, but I am told 10-15 jokes probably works best. If they want to use your stuff, they'll get back to you, and you'll be paid $100 per item used. You are credited with the joke, and you keep the rights. If you're affiliated with a club, they'll credit the club, too, or a personal/professional Web site.

That's the deal. Reader's Digest has a circulation of eight millionm, which translates into 35 readers per month (this the whole "reader" part fo the name), and as someone in the trenches of freelance writing, I'd have to say $100 is a pretty good payday.

If you get in touch, let them know you saw this.

Monday, April 20, 2009

BNN Mondays: Billy Bob Neck Teabags Again

Billy Bob Neck really loves teabagging. It's important to him as a protest against liberal fascism. And he's disappointed in all of you who didn't teabag on tax day. Brings tears to the eye. Really. *sniff* Mine eyes have seen the glory, courtesy of Boston News Net.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Joe Wong on Letterman: A Behind-the-Scenes Look on

Besides updating Boston Comedy several times a week, I also write for the blog. Sometimes, I have a subject with a bit of crossover, and as I was planning on writing a story about how Eddie Brill prepares comics to be on Letterman, Brill told me Joe Wong was going to be on the show. So I got to write my behind the scenes story and include a great Boston comic in the mix. Brill was impressed with Wong, and said the audience was, as well. The buzz about this has been building all week in the Boston comedy community, and while Wong will be watching tonight with his family at home, some of us will try to catch it on the TVs at the Comedy Studio (check the Kvetch Board for details).

The story is here.

And remember to tune in to Wong's appearance tonight on Letterman. He'll be on the late end of the show, closing things up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Discount Variety Tonight at CinemaSalem

It’s the third Thursday in April, which means tonight is the third edition of Presents… Discount Variety at the CinemaSalem CafĂ© (One East India Square, 8:30PM). The weather’s nice, the commuter rail is running, and there’s no excuse not to come out to see piano songstress Liz DeBiase and comedian Maria Ciampa, who will also bring a few shorts for our video segment.


BIO: "Liz DeBiase is a talented singer-songwriter whose music is both spirited and complex. Propelled by her mesmerizing piano riffs, DeBiase's sweet, lilting voice carries these songs to a higher plane. Sensual, sweet, dark, haunting, melancholy...take your pick DeBiase covers all of the bases on Loop and more. If your looking for one of Boston's finest up and coming songstresses, look no further, Liz DeBiase has arrived."
--- Doug Sloane(Metronome Magazine-Boston, MA

How long have you been playing in Boston?

Ten years.

What are your favorite places to play?

The Kendall Cafe (I miss it so), The Burren, The Middle East, & Les Zygomates (great piano).

Who are your favorite comedians, locally and nationally?

Tina Fey and the cast of 30 Rock, Dave Chappelle and my old high school peer...Tammy Pescatelli.

What is the best comedy show you've seen?

Probably tonight with Maria!


BIO: Maria Ciampa has been writing, performing, and directing comedy since 2002. An alumna of Boston’s Improv Asylum’s Mainstage, She is producing the 2009 ImprovBoston Women In Comedy Festival, happening May 13 -16, 2009, and was a featured stand up comedian at the 2009 North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. Maria is also teaching yoga, writing a book, and editing a series of comedy shorts called "Interviews With My Husband", all the while wondering who coined the phrase "coined the phrase".

How long have you been playing in Boston?

I have been doing improv comedy since 2002, and I started to focus more on stand up in 2007.

What are your favorite places to play?

Comedy Studio, Mottley's, and anywhere there are people who like laughing, like nursing homes and the companies I temp at.

Who are your favorite musicians, locally and nationally?

Locally, right now I'm listening to a lot of DJ / producer Justin Carr, and when my sister Elena Ciampa does any kids music shows in Northampton, I try to make that before they sell out, those kids are vicious with the ticket sales. Favorite musicians of all time are Bjork, Tribe Called Quest, and Orbital. I just bought the new Feist album with all the dirty electro remixes on iTunes and I listened to that on a loop many times. I'm also into all the new folky types, like Ingrid Michaelson, William Fitzsimmons, and Cary Brothers - I like how they are getting techy remixes to their calm stuff too. It's a nice mix of the two worlds.

What is the best music show you’ve seen?

That's gotta be a tie between my first ever concert in 1986, which was the Indigo Girls at St. Anselm's College in NH where my sister Elena was attending, and DJ Justin Carr at a Kingsize event, I think at Roxy/Underbar a few months ago. But I also love it when my sister Sarah sings along to "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" when she plays guitar hero. Her whammy bar usage and dance moves are through the roof.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Notes: Joe Wong, Mottley's Bailout, Bill Burr, Billy Bob Neck

Joe Wong on Letterman

Boston comedian Joe Wong has taped his spot for the Late Show with David Letterman, which will air Friday. Word from Letterman’s Eddie Brill, who worked with Wong on his set, is that it was a “grand slam.” A few others from around the scene managed to get down to New York for the taping, and Brill’s assessment seems to be the consensus. The Comedy Studio plans to show the appearance on the TVs on the second floor, but keep checking the Studio Kvetch Board for details.

Mottley’s Comedy Bailout

If you happen to see this as you’re making plans for tonight, Mottley’s Comedy Club is unveiling a new show tonight, called Mottley’s Comedy Bailout. Tickets will be $8, $5 for college kids, and free if you bring your layoff letter or an unemployment check stub. Jon Lincoln hosts tonight with Val Kappa, Mike Whitman, Joe Madaus, and Chris Coxen. This will be their regular Wednesday night show.

Bill Burr on

If you’re both a comedy and a hockey fan, then finally has something that combines your favorite interests. Bill Burr will be blogging about the Bruins throughout the playoffs, or at least throughout the Bruins’ participation in the playoffs. Here’s the first shot.

Billy Bob Neck Protests Taxes

A lot of people are protesting the bailouts with Tea Parties on Tax Day. Billy Bob Neck would like to participate. We think. This is his plea for you to join him.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random Notes: Jimmy Tingle, Joe Wong on Letterman, Tmomy's to Open in May, Robby Roadsteamer Pilot

For those who don’t do digital downloads, Jimmy Tingle for President: The Funniest Campaign in History is now out on good old hard copy CD. Tingle has been offering the album as a download for a couple of weeks. (You can hear a track, “Cafeteria Catholic,” here).

Tingle has been editing the project for a while now, putting together the best from his shows at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown last year, taking out specific references to the race for the presidency that would date the material. He’ll celebrate the release of the album with a show tomorrow at the Regent Theatre in Arlington (he’ll also play shows there in May and June).

Joe Wong on Letterman

Boston’s own Joe Wong is tentatively set to record a set for the Late Show with David Letterman Monday, which would air next week. Letterman comic booker Eddie Brill, recently in town for auditions for his Great American Comedy Festival, has been working with Wong on his set, and Wong gave a preview of it Sunday at the Comedy Studio.

Tommy’s Comedy Lounge to Open in May

John Tobin and Frank Ahearn completed paperwork this week to open a new club in the Charles Playhouse on May 2. The name “Tommy’s Comedy Lounge” comes from Thomas Wignell, the 18th century actor and humorist for which Tobin also named the Thomas Wignell Award, presented to comedians chosen for the Boston Comedy Hall of Fame, another of Tobin’s projects. The club will run Thursdays through Saturdays, and reach out to college comedy groups for Thursday night shows.

New Pilot from Robby Roadsteamer

Robby Roadsteamer posted his pilot for a new show on the Boston comedy scene, called “Quiet Desperation,” this week, with an assist from Shaun Bedgood, Mehran, and Tom Dustin. And a new character from Chris Coxen, Renaldo. He’s a singer. Kind of. And he’d like to free women from… well, just watch this.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sue Costello returns to Boston with Minus 32 Million Words

Seeing the ruckus the diminutive Sue Costello can kick up onstage, it’s hard to believe that she ever struggled onstage. But the Dorchester native was a theater major before she was a comedian, and had to work up the nerve to be herself onstage. Once she get going, though, she was never short on nerve again. She once had her own sitcom, which Fox canceled after a few episodes. Tough to take, but it toughened Costello up, perhaps enough that she started to look at herself with the same withering sarcasm she looks at others, leading to her one-woman show, Minus 32 Million Words. Now based in New York, Costello brings her show to Right Turn Live in Arlington Friday and Saturday. You can also catch her at one of her old haunts, Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault, tonight.

Growing up, what did you find funny?

Bill Cosby albums made me roll around the floor laughing in my feety pajamas.

When did you decide you wanted to be a comedian?

Ever since I was a teenager, people would tell me that I should do stand up. I never had the guts, I couldn't even step foot into a comedy club until I played a hooker in a play at UMass Boston. Everyone was hysterical.

The sad part was that I was being serious. So, my friend signed me up for a comedy competition at Duck Soup. The scores went from 1 to 10, 10 being the best I got 2's in everything but a 10 in stage presence. I was hooked.

What were the clubs you started in here?

Dick Doherty's Comedy Vault, Duck Soup, Nick’s Comedy Stop and the Comedy Connection. Back when I started, the headliners would host the open mikes and they would give us pointers. Billy Martin told me that all I had to do to get my stage legs was to stay on stage for 5 minutes no matter what. So one night, these big Italian guys yelled "You Suck, Get Off the Stage!" And I responded with; "I know I do, I just have to stay up here for 5 minutes!"

What made you write Minus 32 Million Words?

I was going to die if I didn't express what was inside of me.

Was it harder to look at yourself in a show like this than to riff on other people?

Yes, the show is all about going inside; to find out who I was born to be, by removing all the things that others told me I was. I had to go through a lot of ugly feelings but I would do it 32 Million times again if the way I feel now is the reward.

Are you nervous bringing the show back to your home town for the
first time?

YES!! OMG YES; did I mention YES? I am really being honest and vulnerable with my show, there is no hiding, so yes, but it's okay, that's part of the electricity that comes with being and artist and exposing yourself. And, I am very, very proud of it.

How did New York audiences react to it?

Really, I was overwhelmed with the response from all different types of people. I just wrote the story of my life and how I experienced it and people really identified. It's really a story about humanity; it's so personal, it's universal.

Do you still have family here? Will they be at the show?

Yes and yes.

If you could go back and do anything differently when you had Costello, would you change anything? Do you think the show got a fair shot?

I wouldn't change a thing, because it was a necessary experience in my maturation process. Without it, I never would have become the person I am today.

What are you working on once this show is over?

This show isn't going to be over for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Random Notes: Steven Wright on Craig Ferguson, Louis C.K.

Steven Wright has just announced a new show at the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre May 29. Tickets go on sale Friday.

And if you want to see Wright before then, here are a few clips of his recent guest spots on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. He's been popping in unannounced lately, for a few hilarious bits.

Here's the cold opening from March 31, when he did the cold opening instead of Ferguson:

Here's the panel segment from that same show:

Then on April 2, he showed up again for another cold opening, this time with Brittany Murphy:

Also, Louis C.K. will be taping his next one-hour special in Milwaukee at the Pabst Theater April 18. C.K., who recently taped a marathon show at the Orpheum here in Boston for a possible CD release, will tape two shows at the Pabst, at 8PM and 10:30PM, from which he will cull his next one-hour special, his third in three years.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rich Ceisler Invades Australia

If you look at the schedule for The Comedy Club in Melbourne, Australia this week, you’ll find this listing – “Direct from the U.S.A., 2008 sell-out sensation Rich Ceisler.” In case you’re wondering, that’s Boston comic Rich Ceisler, and he’ll be in Australia most of April playing in Melbourne during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and then the Comedy Store in Sydney during the Sydney Comedy Festival in the beginning of May.

Ceisler himself is a bit more humble in describing his Australian mini-tour. A couple of years ago, Ceisler was working a cruise ship gig that brought him to Melbourne. He stuck around and did a few gigs at the Comedy Club, and they asked him to do a stint during last year’s Festival. They were impressed enough to ask him back this year for another extended run.

So do Australian audiences know this Boston comic?

“A little bit, just by virtue of the fact that I did it all month last year, I should have some people,” says Ceisler, who is blogging about his trip at “But at the end of this year, hopefully between the two years I’ll have a following and be able to parlay it into something. I was able to parlay this year into the Sydney one. And hopefully by next year maybe I can parlay it into getting into the one in New Zealand.”

The club seats 400, and the Festival brings a steady flow of foot traffic. “I know the club’s going to be sold out every night,” says Ceisler. “It’s going to be packed every night [because of the festival]. That’s what happens.”

Playing the cruise ship circuit for fifteen years has made Ceisler shape his material differently. He says he’s written some stuff specifically for Australia, but otherwise, he has to be a bit more general. “No political, no stuff on sports, no news stories,” he says. “It’s more personal stuff about me, which is timeless and international so I can do it anywhere in the world.”

“You can still do some pop culture references, you just can’t make it too specific,” he adds.

He’s also played China, England, and Canada within the past couple of years, which makes his transition easier. “I’m sort of used to the international crowds,” he says.

BNN Mondays: Quentin James Talks Baby

Sometimes, babies can be irresponsible. They fall out of windows, and adult are expected to just catch them and save them. That makes Quentin James angry.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday Comics with Jim McCue on 1510 AM Now

If you're winding down your weekend and want to hear people talking about comedy, tune in to 1510 AM now (noon) for Sunday Comics with Jim McCue. Right now, he's talking to Boston comic Joey Carroll, who is currently on a cruise ship at sea. I'll be calling in shortly to talk about comedy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eddie Brill Scouts the Studio Sunday for the Great American Comedy Festival

Last year, Eddie Brill rolled into Boston with twenty-four spots to fill for his competition at the Great American Comedy Festival. Brill, who books the Festival and also books the stand-up talent on the Late Show with David Letterman, looked at talent from twelve different cities, and wound up taking five Boston comics – Myq Kaplan, Shane Mauss, Dan Boulger, Micah Sherman, and David Powell.

That’s a pretty high bar to set – roughly twenty percent of the talent came from Boston. But Brill expects Boston will be up to the challenge when he visits the Comedy Studio again on Sunday scouting for this year’s festival (Joe Wong is already slated to be in the Festival). ““My feeling is there’ll definitely be people from Boston because it’s just been a fantastically great city for us for finding great talent,” says Brill.

At least one person on the bill Sunday, Dan Sally, almost made the Festival last year, and Brill asked for him to be in this year’s line-up. “He was someone who was on the cusp,” he says. “I thought he could have gone last year but again, I could only pick twenty-four.”

Brill is a New York guy, but he has strong Boston roots. He went to Emerson, and he started doing stand-up here. He still keeps in touch with his alma mater, and sees Boston comedians all the time in New York.

Brill says he is looking for people who are “on the cusp of greatness,” and makes it clear he is not picking contestants for an amateur competition. “I’m looking for poise, I’m looking for people who own the stage, who call the shots up there,” he says. “People who are one of a kind, who are really true to who they are. I’m looking for great material, I’m looking for people who have a point of view, who have an edge.”

The point of the Festival, which takes place June 14-20, is to honor Johnny Carson in his hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. This year’s gala host is David Brenner, who appeared on more Tonight Shows than anyone. And another Boston guy, Bill Dana, who was the first head writer for the original Tonight Show, will receive the Comedy Legend Award. Every comedian who goes to the Festival is placed with a host family, who shows the comedian around and shows off Carson’s hometown.

Comedians who are auditioning for the festival might want to review a few clips from Carson’s Tonight Show to remind them of the spirit of the show. “Carson, Letterman [they were] Middle America guys but they were really funny, but they were never milquetoast,” says Brill. “They didn’t mind their tongue. I’m looking for that kind of sarcasm, that really smart, funny, biting, great comedy. It’s not like these people have to Johnny Carson, they just have to honor what Johnny did. Johnny was huge for the comedy business. And this is us giving back to him, to the community that he loved so well.”

The Comedy Studio, Sunday April 5, 8PM
Line-up: Ahmed Bharoocha, Andrew Sleighter, Bethany Van Delft, Dan Sally, Dave McDonough, David Grabiner, Jennifer Myszkowski, Jono Zalay, Rick Canavan, Rob Turbovsky, Tom E. Morello, Zach Sherwin, and musical guest Ronald Reagan 80's.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday Night Round-Up: Heavy Metal Bee Gees, Spring Fever with the Steamies, and Games with Jonathan Katz

If you're looking for a comedy show tonight, you're loaded with great options. First off, Berklee grad Brandon Small of Adult Swim's Matalocalypse is at Showcase Live tonight with the School of Rock All-Stars paying tribute to... the Bee Gees? Small will do a Q&A to start the show, and then give way to Tragedy, an ensemble Showcase Live touts on their Web site as "The #1 heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees." I imagine it's not a terrible crowded field. The All-Stars are also slated to join Small to play some Dethklok tunes and a few assorted metal classics. Show starts at 7PM.

If you don't want to drive out to Foxboro or metal isn't your thing, head out to the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge for the Spring Fever show with the Steamy Bohemians, Goli, and Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band. It's been a while since the Steamies have played the Lizard, and this should be an interesting show. Members of all three musical groups will sit in on each other's sets, and the Steamies are doing a full hour, with a drummer. Show begins at 8:30PM with a vrigin sacrifice.

Also tonight, the second installment of Jonathan Katz's One Man, Many Games at ImprovBoston. I spoke with Mr. Katz before last week's show -- read the interview here. Show starts at 7PM.