Friday, September 25, 2009

Nick Di Paolo plays the Hard Rock with Joe List and Dan Crohn

Danvers native Nick Di Paolo is back in town tomorrow, and he’s bringing former Boston comic Joe List with him. Di Paolo is playing the Hard Rock Café, with Dan Crohn hosting and producing (he also produced the Doug Stanhope show there in May). Di Paolo was a regular part of Colin Quinn’s Tough Crowd, a show that featured comedians busting each other’s chops and speaking off the cuff. Di Paolo was one of the few comics commenting from a conservative standpoint, and with a Democrat in the White House again, Di Paolo says the political quotient in his act is rising. I spoke with him by phone earlier this week.

How’ve you been?

I’m hanging in there. Making a living, traveling the country.

Are you concentrating mostly on stand-up and touring right now?

Right now, yeah. I’ve got a few things in the works that I’m supposed to keep close to my vest because it’s new technology. Radio/Internet stuff. A blog/radio thing. It’s with some pretty big names in radio here in New York.

I thought you were going to tell me you were doing comedy as a hologram on CNN.

That’s it, dammit. How’d you hear that? You know, what’s funny is, I am going to be doing Joy Behar’s new show on Headline News. HLN. Her show’s premiering September 29th, it’s an hour talk show, political, a roundtable. I’m scheduled to be on there October 8th.

She’s always been really good to comics, regardless of whether she makes you laugh or not.

Yeah. I knew Joy years ago before she got kind of famous. I went to audition a couple of weeks ago and it was great. It was at a conference table, and there were a bunch of people around there, and they were filming it. And it was me and this black comic from Boston, you probably know. He’s got like an African name. He’s a young kid. He’s Harvard educated.

Oh, Baratunde.

Yeah. Baratunde. It was me, him, and another kid from Boston who writes for, what paper was it? But it was a good mix. I went in there and my Tough Crowd training really [kicked in]. They were like, nervous and I was like, let’s get this over with. I was really loose and I was cracking up everyone at the table and I was taking shots at Joy and she was laughing. And I said, if they don’t make me a regular on this…. Anyway, they did call and they said they want me on October 8th with Arianna Huffington.

I suppose you’re looking forward to that.

Yeah. I go, can we get a translator, ‘cause she sounds just like Zsa Zsa Gabor to me. “I’m telling you, darling, the Republicans are…” That’ll be interesting. I’m doing that and then Dennis Miller, the radio show called and they want me to do his show on October 1st. I got things in the mix here.

Are you looking to do more stuff with a political bent?

Uh… yeah, actually. I try to be relevant with my comedy and it’s pretty interesting times, you know? There’s nobody on the right as far as… [clears throat]. I’d like to get back on the radio. But it’s a tough market to crack in New York. It’s just hard, when you come from the right and you’re a comic, stuff that I go after is stuff that’s been deemed politically correct by everybody. It’s almost taboo, if I point out, like when The Daily Show, and again, I always bring them up, when they’re going after white Republicans, okay, I understand that. But if I want to make fun of the president or Michelle Obama or Charlie Rangel, even conservatives won’t laugh out loud and be called a racist. That’s why you don’t see real conservative comedy. All the shit is taboo.

Do you feel like you’ve jobs because of that or missed out on opportunities?

I don’t know. I can’t say definitely, but you’ve got to admit, the business I’m in, the people who run it don’t think like I do. So I’m sure that’s come into play but that’s like when Obama says, “Do you know how many jobs we’ve saved?” How do you count that?

The thing about your political stuff, it never seems to be personal, beyond the chops-busting level, and regardless of whether you’re coming from the right, you’ve never seemed like a big talking points guy to me.

Yeah. Well, it depends. I’m doing WABC radio this Sunday from four to six, which is the big, that’s the one all the heavy hitters are on. And I did it a couple of months ago. They’re audition people to fill like a four to six slot on the weekend. When I did audition a couple of months ago, I was kind of a talking points guy, but it’s funny, her note was she wanted me to be funnier, the program director. I was hitting on all the talking points. I guess that was too serious for her.

How big a part is politics in your act?

In my stand-up? Right now, it’s more than it’s ever been. Just because, Obama, it’s amazing what’s going on. It’s crazy, whether you like what this administration is doing or not. It makes great Sunday morning television and I love picking up the newspaper, and I did get that opinion from Tough Crowd of wearing my right-wing opinions on my sleeve.

Nobody’s carrying the baton for the right side. It’s not real deep-cutting. Some of it is, when I talk about the torture memos, Michelle Obama being more muscular than I am. Right now there’s a nice chunk in there, but it’s not all I do. Like I said, I don’t see a future in it. The people who call the shots in this business are the same people who love Bill Maher, and they’re not going to put me on HBO, are they?

Do you know Bill Maher?

Why would I, and I said this to my agent, why would you as a conservative go on that show? Even if you made great jokes, the whole audience is just going to sit on their hands. And it’s just going to play to dead silence, you’re going to look like an asshole. If he didn’t have a large studio audience I’d go on there.

How did you hook up with Dan Crohn for this show?

Through my middle act, Joe List.

He seems to be your connection back to Boston these days.

Exactly. By the way, Joe List, we were just in Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, and the whole time we were in Milwaukee, he kept bragging how he’s got tickets to the Monday night game against the Buffalo Bills. That’s all he’s bragging about, right? Well come Monday morning, my phone starts beeping. It’s a text message from Joe List saying I’m in the hospital, I have to have my appendix removed in a couple of hours. He missed the game. He probably missed the most exciting game of the year. So I guess he knows Dan, and Dan knows me. And I said sure. I like the idea of it not being at a comedy club venue.

Geek rocker Jonathan Coulton comes to the Paradise

Writing a song a week is no easy task. Writing a good song, one you’re willing to release to the public, one that isn’t about the pencils on your desk or whatever is directly outside of your window even if it’s jus the neighborhood cat, is even harder. But that’s how Yale graduate Jonathan Coulton made the transition from computer programmer to king of the geek musicians and an Internet sensation. Coulton comes to the Paradise Saturday in support of his new DVD/CD Best. Concert. Ever. I caught up with him by e-mail this week.

What was the initial impulse to write your own music? Was it something you were doing frequently before you thought of the ³song a week² idea?

I've been writing music since I was in high school. And before that I always listened to music with an ear to how it was written - I used to listen to certain songs over and over trying to figure out how they got the magic stuff in there that made it awesome. So I wrote stuff all through high school and college and into my 20s and 30s before I ever started doing it professionally. I can't listen to those now, I've learned so much about songwriting since then.

How did you arrive on a way to support yourself with the music?

By luck mostly - I did Thing a Week for a year, and by the end of it I had attracted enough attention and fans to be profitable, and things have just grown from there. Putting my music out there for free certainly helped get it into people's hands and heads, and I've always been very clear about the fact that I hoped people would buy it and make it possible for me to make a living from it.

Do you get a lot of people downloading for free still? Was that tough to compete with, selling CDs and downloads?

Not really. I've found that competing with free actually works pretty well. I don't know how all the numbers work, but you can bet that if there wasn't so much access to free stuff nobody would ever have heard of me. And a lot of people tell me about how they downloaded it all for free and then later came back to give me money because they liked it so much. In a way, that's more meaningful than when people buy it the first time around.

Did you write any more traditional or non-geek songs before you found your groove writing about programmers and zombies? And do you have a song about zombie programmers?

No song about zombie programmers yet. And yes, I've written quite a few non geeky songs. I never really decide I'm going to write this thing or that thing, I just kind of go with whatever pops into my head.

After that yearlong burst of production, writing a song a week for 52 weeks, did you lay off writing or was it hard to stop?

It was very easy to stop, I was very tired. And it's been hard to pick up the pace again, mostly because I've become so busy with touring and the daily business stuff that needs to get done. I'm not sure I'll ever have the kind of luxury I had when I started Thing a Week - all the time in the world and nothing to lose.

Were you surprised to see so many home made videos for your songs, like the ³Re: Your Brains² videos with HALO characters floating around?

Yes, I'm continually delighted to see people re-using the music in various ways. There's so much creative energy out there, it's just amazing to see how much time people spend making things, and very satisfying to be a part of it.

Has anyone covered your music?

Yes, there have been a few. A band called We Fight Dragons recently covered The Future Soon and I thought they did a fantastic job of it.

How did you decide you wanted to do a live DVD/CD?

I've spent the last couple of years learning how to do a live show, and learning how to make a lot of these songs work in that setting.
It's often a very different feel from the recorded version, and having that interplay between me and an audience is a lot of fun. So it's nice to have this artifact that represents all the stuff that I've learned.

How did you choose the venue for the live recording? Wouldn¹t it have been easier to record closer to home in New York?

San Francisco has always had really fun exuberant crowds, and the Great American Music Hall is a beautiful venue that always sounds fantastic. It just felt like the right place to do it.

Did you find you had a big following with MIT and the college scene in Boston?

I do well anywhere there's a tech community, and Boston is no exception. I'm playing there in a couple of nights, and I know they're going to be loaded for bear.

What are your plans for after the current tour is over?

I don't do long trips, just these short weekend things throughout the year. As a result, I'm sort of always touring - as far as I can tell, the current tour never ends...

The Naked Comedy Showcase at Club Oberon tonight

The Naked Comedy Showcase adds a new venue to its roster tonight with a show at Club Oberon. Producer and host Andy Ofiesh launched the show -- which features, for those who think the title is some clever reference, comedians who perform naked -- at ImprovBoston in December of 2005, and continues to produce the show there the first Wednesday of every month (he also does it at the People's Improv Theater in NY the first Saturday of every month).

It's an interesting dynamic, tough to pull off an onstage persona with any bravado, or really to maintain any sort of pre-fab persona, when you're standing nude in front of an audience trying to make them laugh. Quite often, comedians don't like to put their name in the press for the show, but Ofiesh tells me Micah Sherman is closing tonight.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tom E. Morello at the Latin Pride National Awards tonight

Boston’s own Tom E. Morello will receive the 2009 Comedian of the Year award at tonight’s Latin Pride National Awards at the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre, honored along with actor Cesar Evora and writer Laura Posada. He’s been a part of this scene for ten years now, and the honor is well-deserved.

How long have you been doing comedy in Boston?

My first stand-up set was in May of 1999 at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square. It's technically a 10 year span, but realistically it was 4 years of messing around and 6 years of serious business.

What made you start?

I had dreamed of being a stand-up comedian since I was 8 years old, when my mom let me watch "Bill Cosby - Himself" on Cinemax. I didn't take the plunge until I was 25, because I was absolutely terrified of the Boston audiences. I would go to Nick's Comedy Stop and watch a packed house of rabid baboons jeer and heckle, and I wondered: what type of chance would I have against that? That's why the Comedy Studio is the driving force behind the resurgence of not only Boston comedy, but comedy in a general sense. It's nearly impossible to become a unique and original comedian when you're playing behind chicken wire, hoping the glass bottles being thrown don't make it through. The Studio afforded all of us the opportunity to learn in a stable and supportive environment. It has paid off in spades, when you see the sheer volume of incredibly successful performers who made their start at the Studio, under the tutelage of Rick Jenkins.

Are you doing a set tonight?

I'm either infusing my acceptance speech with some of my "greatest hits", or they'll tell me at the last minute that I'm cutting a live album because a salsa band had problems with their work visas at the airport. I honestly don't know, but I'm always prepared for anything.

Will this be the biggest audience you’ve played for?

A few years back, I opened a pair of sold-out shows for Jeff Dunham. That was about 1300 people, so this audience at the Wilbur Theatre will likely be about the same size. I'm at my most comfortable in front of large crowds. My act is broad and theatrical, I actually had to learn to dial it back so I could work in front of 8-10 people in a small club setting without blowing their ears off. I have an acting background, and always relish the chance to work a large stage without any limitations on presentation.

How did you get involved with the Latin Pride National Awards?

A couple of years ago, I was a red carpet interviewer at the Awards for Boston Latino TV, (a local Hispanic news show) and I can't say that I enjoyed my time on the opposite side of the velvet rope. I'm a terrible interviewer, because I kept wanting to ask the question, "why are you more important than me?" Last year I was at the LPNA to present an award, I sat in the orchestra pit with the celebrities and silently wondered the same thing.

How did you get the news you were Comedian of the Year? Were you surprised?

I was told that a write-in campaign led to the award. I had a large volume of friends and fans write to the producers on my behalf, and it led to them rebooting the Comedian of the Year award, (which they had actually skipped over last year.) I am always surprised at how many people are willing to go bat for me. It is humbling and heartwarming that I've been able to entertain and befriend so many wonderful folks who in turn, made this happen. I am a micro-celeb compared to the other names on the bill, and I will make the most of my opportunity.

What will you do with the award?

I'm sure my mom will find a place for it at her house, right next to Ceramic Baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary Candles, (which would be a great name for a salsa band.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frank Santos, Sr. R.I.P.

I have heard from several sources today that Frank Santos, Sr. passed away suddenly late last evening. I will pass on more info in this space as I get it. Santos has been a staple of the Boston comedy scene for twenty years, doing his R-Rated Hypnotist act at the Comedy Connection and clubs and colleges.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mike Bribiglia's Video Tour Diary

Mike Bribiglia kicks off his video tour diary by speaking with the stranger onhis tour bus. He'll be back in town in November at the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Boston Comedy Interview: God's Pottery

According to the bio on the back of their new book, What Would God’s Pottery Do? The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens and/or Being Successful, God’s Pottery is Gideon Lamb and Jeremiah Smallchild, international television stars touring the United States. Last Comic Standing brought the Christian musical duo national attention last summer, but before that, they played Great Scott in 2006 when the Allston venue tried to form a partnership with the Upright Citizens Brigade to bring regulars from their New York stage to Boston.

Tonight, God’s Pottery is back at Great Scott, this time as part of Anderson Comedy’s regular Friday night show, The Gas. I caught up with the duo, who are played by Wilson Hall and Krister Johnson, by e-mail this week and tried to get them to break character (I know that Johnson, who plays Gideon, is originally from Newton, and asked about it, but other than a Joey McIntyre reference, they didn’t take the bait).

This is the interview, with a couple of clips from GP’s new prank web series, Christ’d, which is featured on In the first episode, they get Mike Birbiglia.

How did you guys meet?

Jeremiah: Well, we first met as kids in our small town in the Midwest. I was riding my bike past the Great Pines Lumber Museum when I saw a boy lying prostrate outside the gift shop. It was Gideon, and he had eaten too much Captain Humely’s Lumber Fudge with Sawmill Sludge (fudge logs with caramel) and a whole jar of Mighty River Log Jam strawberry jam straight from the jar, no bread! I saw that this boy needed a friend to guide him through the misery caused by his overindulgence. he friend I had in mind was Jesus. A couple days later, things really clicked for Gideon and he began to see the importance of Jesus when he fell on his head after attempting to fly off his roof like Superman. He called me, and we became fast friends.

Gideon: So I made two friends that day!!!

Do your siblings come to your shows?

Gideon: Not as often as we’d like. My younger sister, Princess, has come to some shows. (Her real name is Vicki, but everyone calls her Princess because when we were kids she was really into princesses—and still is!)

Jeremiah: I keep trying to get my brother, Brent, to come on out whenever we play the Quad Cities, but he’s always tied up with his responsibilities with the Jaycees. It’s weird though, he always has time to go to the gun range, and he’s invited us every time, but we don’t like guns.

Gideon: “Hugs not guns,” as the saying goes.

What led you to perform in comedy clubs? Aren't they mostly dens of sin and unhappiness?

Gideon: We have to go wherever we’re needed! Jesus didn’t say “Oh, I’ll just let the lepers figure out how to heal themselves while I hang out at the arcade and blow my allowance on video games.” No, he went out to where the problem was—just like we do—and did his part to make a change. Of course, what Jesus did is much more important than what we do…

Jeremiah: …Yeah, but we’re getting there. You know, something we’ve learned is that addressing all the issues out there is a lot like driving in the snow: you have to steer into the problem.

How did Last Comic Standing help you spread your message?

Jeremiah: This one’s easy.

Gideon: Yeah, you have to realize that by being on national TV—and we’re talking about NBC here—we were seen by literally hundreds of viewers, and just the exposure alone helped us spread our message.

Jeremiah: And then add to that the fact that most people are sitting around thinking “I wish someone would tell me more about Jesus and the Bible, and I wish someone would tell me more about what I’m doing wrong and ways I can change that, especially in the middle of a prime time comedy TV show that is otherwise pointlessly secular.” It’s the same reason that religious politicians keep getting elected—people love to have someone making decisions for them based on the Bible.

Christ’d Episode One: Mike Birbiglia

In your new book, you sometimes mention rock bands like the Rolling Stones, and you sometimes play songs that could be construed as rock songs. Have you read The Devil's Disciples by Jeff Godwin or Why Knock Rock? by Dan and Steve Peters? Are you concerned you might be leading impressionable kids astray?

Jeremiah: Hey, listen, we like to rock out every now and then…

Gideon: Sure, we listen to a little Ronnie Milsap, or maybe some Christopher Cross…

Jeremiah: Yeah, we’re not against “hard rock,” it’s just that some of the harder stuff—The Spin Doctors, REM—should be avoided for various reasons. We address this in our book.

Gideon: Look at Fergie, talk about a dangerous character: she was once a nice girl on Kids, Incorporated, and then she grew up and now sings hip-hop, and recently urinated herself on stage. You have to be careful whom you listen to!

Jeremiah: We haven’t read either of those books you mentioned, I’m sure they’re terrible.

What can you tell me about Newton, Ma?

Jeremiah: Newton is famous for two things: fig-based cookies and Matt LeBlanc (Joey from “Friends”)! That’s all we know about Newton.

Gideon: We had a friend from Newton named “Krister” (at least that’s what he claimed his name was), but we had to sever our relationship with him after Krister boasted about spiking his Pepsi with lemon extract at his High School dance to get high and/or drunk. We have no time in our lives for drug addicts, let alone boastful ones. And ESPECIALLY ones who misuse baking products.

Christ’d Episode Two: John Roberts

Why write a self-help book? Was the Bible not enough?

Jeremiah: We feel that reading is the language of learning, and learning is the gateway to knowledge. All the famous teachers have written books, including Bill O’Reilly, whose book “The O’Reilly Factor for Kids” really inspired us to write our own book for kids.

Gideon: And one thing that’s cool about a book compared to writing songs is that a book doesn’t have to rhyme! We actually started writing the book trying to make everything rhyme, but we gave up pretty quickly.

Jeremiah: Notice how all Dr. Seuss books are very short.

Gideon: As for the Bible not being enough, well, the Bible is like the best piece of food on your plate—like a hot dog—but it’s still helpful to have some other food, like potato salad or a pool of ketchup to eat along with the hot dog.

Jeremiah: And that’s where we come in.

Gideon: Think of us as a pool of ketchup.

Jeremiah, if you're jealous of Gideon for always wearing his orange "Virginity Rocks!" t-shirt, why not get a "Virginity Rocks!" t-shirt in a different but complimentary color?

Jeremiah: I wasn’t jealous of the shirt itself, I just didn’t like that everyone thought of Gideon when they thought of virginity, and not of me! I’m just as big a fan of virginity, if not bigger!

Gideon: Yeah, but I have it on my shirt, so…

Jeremiah: See? That’s why I was frustrated. But I’ve found a way to work through my frustration, and that’s just that I vow to be a virgin longer than Gideon.

Gideon: Ok, well, you better be prepared to wait a long time then.

Jeremiah: Oh, I am. And you see that? That’s an example of a good contest, a good game that the Youth can play, instead of “Who can get pregnant the fastest?” or “Whose shirt is the most see-through?”

What other projects can people look for from God's Pottery?

Gideon: We’ve got a brand new web series called “Christ’d!” where we prank our comedian friends with goodwill and concern.

Jeremiah: It’s like the show Punk’d, but the pranks are good-natured.

Gideon: So far we’ve Christ’d Mike Birbiglia and youtube star John Roberts, and we’ve got plenty more to come!

Jeremiah: Plus we’re on the road these days performing all around the US, and when people come to see us, they’ll hear songs they’ve never heard before, including on TV and the Internet!

Gideon: We hope you’ll come say hi!

Mitch Fatel addresses Boston Comedy fans

Okay, so Michael Loftus made a video a couple of weeks ago talking directly to the readers of this blog, and his PR people sent it to me blind, hoping I'd post it. He was promoting his new Comedy Central stand-up special, which aired that week.

Well, what can I say? I'm a sucker for that kind of hustle, and I'm sure Loftus taped a few hundred of those to send out to different places.

Mitch Fatel has a new special out this week, and he happens to be represented by the same PR people. So Wednesday, this video showed up in my inbox. And Fatel takes it one step further, addressing you, my reaading audience, from his bathtub, and including a bit from the special (a routine about inverted nipples and other strange phenomena of genitalia).

The special debuts on Comedy Central tonight at 11PM and comes out on DVD Tuesday. Here's Fatel's personal pitch:

Here's my review of the special on

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Discount Variety Interviews: Tim McIntire and Brendan Boogie tonight at the CinemaSalem Cafe

This month at Discount Variety we have two good friends, Tim McIntire and Brendan Boogie. McIntire is a stalwart of the Boston scene, someone I first came into contact with when I wrote a piece about Bill Hicks for I had just moved to Boston, and McIntire e-mailed me about it and told me I should come to the Comedy Studio to see his Thursday Night Fights. That became a regular haunt for me as I covered the local scene. Brendan (I can’t bring myself to just call him “Boogie”) I met a year or so ago, and had the pleasure of playing on a show with him in February. We traded bits of Elvis Costello cover tunes waiting for our time to go on, where he gave me his great rocking pop EP Disposable Pop. See him solo acoustic at CinemaSalem Café tonight!


Brendan Boogie played bass with the Boston power pop group Scamper until they were all eaten by alligators. After being rebuilt by science, he started his own outfit Brendan Boogie and the Best Intentions. Brendan's full-length follow up to 2008's Disposable Pop EP is set to fill up your earholes with gooey goodness this December.

How long have you been playing in Boston?

I started with Scamper in September 2004. Before that, I sold my bass and rig to finance an ill-fated trip to LA to pursue a career as an obsolete reality show contestant.

What are your favorite places to play?

Junior highs and women's prisons, mostly.

Who are your favorite comedians, locally and nationally?

I find Ann Coulter hilarious. Whoever is playing her is a brilliant comic performer. Locally, I find the Jim Henson puppet they call "Mayor Menino" pretty good.

What is the best comedy show you've seen?

I might have dreamed this, but I saw Tim McIntire and the Walsh Brothers open for Louis C.K. at the Comedy Studio one time. My spleen hurt from laughing so much.


Tim McIntire has been one of the most prolific comics in Boston for nearly a decade. He began his career in Colorado and honed his act on the road, working every comedy club, roadhouse, and speakeasy between California and Pennsylvania. After moving to Boston to move in with a hot girlfriend—who would eventually become his hot wife—he quickly became a fixture in the comedy scene, gaining notoriety for his Thursday Night Fights at the Comedy Studio, his edgy hosting job for the Boston Music Awards, and for his first comedy album, Poor Impulse Control.

Since that time, he's released a second album (Scatterbrain), written for Nickelodeon (Fairly Oddparents), been featured on National Public Radio (Special Edition with Tom Ashbrook), performed at several comedy festivals (Boston and Chicago), and appeared on TV (Comcast Comedy Spotlight). The Boston Globe has called him a "comic on the verge of stardom," and the Boston Herald has called him "a breakout comic to watch." He is currently seeking representation for his first novel, Suicide Lane. In the little free time he has, he likes to fish—for trout, not bass, because he went to college.

How long have you been playing in Boston?

Since 1996. I moved here, and my first gig was an open mike at Daisy Buchanans. It was such a bucket of blood that I considered moving away immediately.

What are your favorite places to play?

Well, at the risk of seeming too self-promotional (a concept musicians may be unfamiliar with), I love playing at my own club, Mottley's. I don't know how or why, but I kill there like no place else. The Comedy Studio is a blast, too. As far as non-comedy rooms go, I love doing the Lizard Lounge, even though the layout is weird for comedy.

Who are your favorite musicians, locally and nationally?

Locally, I love the Grownup Noise, the Rationales (and Dave Mirabella by himself, too), the Motion Sick, The Wrong Reasons, and my man Brendan Boogie (who in addition to being very talented is also the only guy in Boston I've been able to talk into going fishing with me). Nationally, I'm crazy about Cory Branan these days. I also love Drag the River, Scott H. Biram, and Todd Snider. I'm also on something of a Keb Mo kick. And I am a totally unrepentant, non-ironic, and lifelong Blue Oyster Cult fan.

What is the best music show you’ve seen?

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Roxy back in 1998. Transcendent. Absolutely transcendent.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Jonathon Gates on Starz Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up tonight, viewing party in Randolph

If you want to see Jonathon Gates tonight, you have a couple of choices. You can stay home and watch him on Starz, making his debut on Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up (his episode airs at 11PM). Or you can join Gates, Brooklyn Mike, and some Gate’s favorite comedians at the VFW Post at 10 Highland Avenue in Randolph for a viewing party. Gates has been a staple of this scene for more than a decade bringing his own Black Comedy Explosion to different venues, from the Comedy Connection to its current home at Slade’s. I caught up with him by IM to talk about the show and the BCE.

How did you get the spot on Martin Lawrence’s 1st Amendment Stand-Up?

Well they were having auditions all over the country. The guy who is the host, Doug Williams, told them about me. I hosted the audition in Boston and he got to see me. Only 38 were picked out of 1500.

How did you know Williams? Just from touring clubs and such?

He reached out to me through mutual comics and he came and did my Wednesday night.

What do you think this appearance will do for your career?

Not up to me but whatever GOD has in store I am ready.

How did it feel at the taping? Was it more exciting, or just another gig for you?

Well to be honest I was sitting back watching everyone and going I GOT THIS.
If you go to Starz you can see a piece of my show.

Was it something about the crowd, or did you just feel confident that night?

I know I had a lot to offer to the crowd than I was watching some others do.
The crowd was great.

How did you decide on Brooklyn Mike to play the viewing party?

Well, I am really cool with him and I know the Boston crowd loves him. He is family to me. It was easy.

How did you meet him?

Through another comedian by the name of A.G. White. It’s been over ten years now.

What do you think makes him click with the Boston crowd?

Just like me, he is a people person and he meshes with any crowd.

Do you think any of the Boston comics who auditioned have a shot to make it on the show eventually?

There were some strong performances – Lady Vain, Corey Manning, Chris Tabb, Steve Donavon.

Any of them in particular stand out to you?

Steve Donavon. A white guy doing his shtick to a majority black crowd and he was so cool and collected and was killing them.

How did you hook up with Slade's as the home of the BCE?

After the Comedy Connection , I was doing it once a month at the Russell Auditorium, I just knew Boston need a spot for people of color on a regular basis. I started doing comedy at Estelles from Slades was there almost a year. When they closed the guy who owned the Mirage (Estelles) own Slades, Frank Williams, and he offer me a spot to bring it to Slades on a regular basis. It is a great spot – food, people and great laughter.

Do you feel like the show gives comics, especially black comics, opportunities they might not get elsewhere, or do you feel the scene is fairly open?

Hell in this city and most major cities if I didn’t have this spot a lot of black or Hispanic comics would never be set be seen.

Are you going to be performing at the viewing party, as well?

I don’t think so. I think I will relax and take it all in.

Will Brooklyn Mike do time?

Yes and probably some of the local acts like Big Moe, Just Al, Christine Hurley and Lady Vain and hopefully we get blessed by Chris Tab and Corey Manning.

Was Martin Lawrence an influence on you at all?

I have to give credit where it is due. He and a lot others have opened up doors for black comedians trying to make it. What he has done for comedy is a great thing

Friday, September 4, 2009

Boston Comedy Interview: Tony V on being roasted and World's Greatest Dad

Yesterday’s post of my interview with Bobcat Goldthwait covered Goldthwait’s friendship with Tony V, and how they work together. Goldthwait is in town tonight for the Roast of Tony V as part of the Boston Comedy Festival, and he cast Tony in his new film, World’s Greatest Dad, which opens at the Kendall Square Cinema tonight, as well. Tony, who was working towards his masters in social work at UMAss before he started stand-up comedy, plays Dr. Pentola in the film, a high school guidance counselor in his glory when a tragedy hits his school. It’s a great role for Tony (he doesn’t get strangled to death like he did in Showtime’s Brotherhood), and the film is a wonderfully dark consideration of kindness and lost civility. [Warning -- some of this material may be a bit of a spoiler, if you want to be surprised when you see the film, you may want to skip ahead in the interview a bit].

Tonight at the Hard Rock, though, kindness and civility will most probably be tossed out the window as Tony is roasted by Goldthwait, Lenny Clarke, Steve Calechman, Joey Carroll, Artie Januario, BCF founder Jim McCue, Kenny Rogerson, Frank Santorelli, and Sean Sullivan. I caught up with Tony by phone last week about the film, the Festival, and the roast [see also this story from the Boston Globe].

So was it fun for you, getting back to being a social worker for a bit?

Yeah, it was. In all seriousness, a little bit, I think that’s what made Goldthwait think of me. You know what I mean? Because he knew that part of my life and everything. And although it’s not completely necessary for that role, like anything else, it does help. When we were talking about Kubler-Ross, I had actually done papers on it. You know what I mean? [I had] an understanding of that. And the other part is how cutthroat those people are, too, how somebody like that would actually want to ride the coattails of the guy. Because other than that, he’s stuck in broom closets in schools. That’s his life, going from school to school to patch up something that doesn’t need to be patched up.

One of my favorite parts is when your characters tells Robin Williams’ character, “It’s great, the kids are starting to come to me again.” He’s so happy because people are starting to talk to him.

Right, about misery. About their life, about their misery, and he’s gaining as much from it – he’s afraid the tap’s going to be turned off and there’s a genuine panic in him. I don’t know how closely you remember it, but in the first scene, he’s like, “No one comes to see me. Did he have any friends? Cuz I’m just sitting here.” It’s like an empty office. It’s like, finally I get to do my work. Let’s not put our foot through this.

It’s an interesting issue that the film brings up, because there is some good that comes out of this lie.

Well, some good. If you take it to its absurd logical conclusion, the world is so much better without this kid and with the lie. You know what I mean? The football player comes out, he’s going to live his life. Robin’s getting published, he’s getting laid. The school is a better place. Everybody’s happier. And that ultimately is the dilemma – do you keep the lie going because it made fro a better place but it’s eating you up. Or do you have to live with yourself.

Did you consult on any of this stuff with Bobcat when he was writing any of this?

I consult with him on everything. I can’t say specifically he called me in for my expertise or anything – this came out of his head. But whenever he writes, he constantly calls me with, “Ah, what do you think about this scene,” and “how did you like this.” Even when we were shooting, he works very collaboratively, which is one of the things I like about him a lot. But this came out of his experience and his dark head. We did talk about some of the finer points and stuff.

And as a matter of fact that scene, the one you were just referencing, didn’t come out exactly as it was written on the page. Because we discovered this, his motivation as we did it, and I have to credit Robin with a lot of that. Because that was a bear of a scene for me. You know what I mean? I understood the intent and stuff but Robin being the only reason the film got made, he’s the guy, he said, “This is Tony’s scene, let’s shoot me out first,” and so by the time it came to my coverage, I had done the scene seventeen different times at different angles, getting Robin’s coverage. I know the scene, but, as they say in the acting lingo, you’re discovering it. You know, something happened, and we did one and we got it and Bob goes, “We got it, as a safety do you want to do something that’s in your head?” And I said yeah, let’s do that while it’s fresh. And then we did this take, and that’s what it became. But he pushed it that way the whole time. Both of them, Bob and Robin were so gracious and knew I understood what the point of the scene was.

So how did you come to be roasted this year at the Festival?

I think everyone else was sick. I think that’s really what it came down to. No, I’v eknown Jim McCue for a long time, and I think he’s a good buddy and I think he enjoys what I do. And it’s like a lot of things around here, some of the old guard, or dinosaurs, as they call us, or whatever, are not as in touch with everybody else as I am. I still make it a point to sort of be around and I go to open mics and I see what’s happening, and I’ve not just gone off to make a living and forgotten where my roots are. I’m still here. This is it. I made a decision. So I just think he thought it would be fun. And I think there’s a fair amount of people who’d like to take a swipe at me.

Anybody you’re particularly worried about?

I would think Goldthwait’s got most of the dirt. We’ve been really good friends for many years, and if there’s any coattail riding I could be accused of it would certainly be his, although they’re very short coattails.

When did the two of you meet?

His first night in Boston – and I think it’s 1982, I’m putting it, it might have been late ’81, but certainly the spring of ’82 is what memory serves – his first night in Boston was my first night onstage. He had come down from Syracuse or wherever, Upstate New York. Him and [Barry] Crimmins were friends. Him, Tom Kenny, they were doing improv up there or they had a comedy troupe. “Ducks” was in the title, if I remember correctly.

Then he had come down to start doing stand-up, and he was the new guy, and I was brand new, and we were sitting at the Comedy Connection and no one would talk to either one of us, and we were both nervous as hell, and we started chatting and he said, are you a comedian, and I said, well, it’s my first night, and he said, well, I’ve been doing this up in New York and I go, oh, great. And then he went on, and our styles are completely different and stuff. And we sort of stayed friendly ever since.

What’s your memory of that show?

I was petrified and I think I was doing some sort of bastardized Gallagher act, smacking stuff. I had props and balloons and all of that. The whole Tony V. thing came about because [host] Mike Moto wouldn’t take the time to learn my name.

What do you think brought you and Goldthwait together and kept you friends through the years?

I think we share a very similar sense of humor, certainly not delivery or temperament. I think he’s much more intense than I am. But we can crack each other up without thinking about it and that, on a comic’s level, that’s what you gravitate to. You know what I mean? You can say almost anything to him and it doesn’t matter and he back to me, and it doesn’t. As friends, it’s a comforting thing to not sort of be on guard all the time, or worry.

And then I opened for him on the tour that would never end. I think we were on and off the road for like five years together. We’d go on the road and then we’d come back, and then we just got to be real good friends, even more friendly then. As I say, he’s a little younger than us, but we share a very same sensibility and cynicism towards life.

What is special about playing or coming up here?

For me, it’s home. If anything was a career choice for me, it was to make my home still in Boston. I’ve wandered in New York and L.A. but I’ve never felt more at home anywhere than here. I always wanted my quality of life to be as important to me as anything else I did. This is home and this is where I feel the most at ease.

What local comedians influenced you?

When I was coming up, one of my biggest joys was to watch Jack Gallagher work. I credit him with a lot of keeping me in the business early on. That being said, Lenny Clarke, although we do nothing that’s similar, our attitudes, our politics, our styles, I never laugh as much personally as when I’m with that man. He is one of the funniest guys on the planet as far as I’m concerned. To this day. I’m going to work with him on the Vineyard on Wednesday, and the show will almost get in the way of our good time. And Goldthwait has always made me laugh, on top of everything else. You can’t be friends with someone for almost thirty years and not find them funny. It’s just impossible.

How do you feel Boston fits into the national scene?

What it was, it certainly is not. But the legacy if anything is, it continues to give people just starting out a chance to get onstage and work. And that’s what I think makes this place special. It’s still a place where, if you don’t mind working out of your comfort zone and going to VFW or a Sons of Italy somewhere and trying your jokes, you can work a lot. The only advice I ever give people, other than to say don’t ask my advice because if I knew anything else, I wouldn’t be standing in the same club you were, ours is not a job you do in theory. You’ve got to do it. Get onstage any way you can and to suffer sucking as much as the ego will allow.

What do you think this Festival will mean for you or to your career?

I think it keeps something going. It reminds people that we’re still here, that there is a vibrant scene, still. That although it’s gone through changes and it’s certainly not what it was, it’s still a good place and there’s still a lot of people.

What do you see in the near future for Boston comedy?

I think it’s going to keep morphing into whatever it becomes, and I think as long as there are colleges… I think the best thing it’s got going for it now is Emerson and Harvard and B.U. to a certain extent. For better or worse, we live in a country where nothing’s being made anymore and you’ve got to find a living doing something abstract. It will keep becoming a place where you can try to do that. It constantly feeds itself because of geography and temperament. It’s always going to come back. I always going to be a place where people thing, well, there’s something going on there because there are smart people who want to be funny.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chris Fleming at the Boston Comedy Festival

One of my favorite things to do is to find a comedian I really enjoy whom I've never seen before. I got to do that last night at The Dress Up Show at Mottley's, which was part of the Boston Comedy Festival. The comedian in question is Chris Fleming, a 22-year-old comedian that Comedy Studio owner Rick Jenkins tells me has played his club for a couple of years, and whom comedian Jess Baade told me she has seen every so often and thought well of him. He has been to the HBO Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, but somehow, I don't remember having seen him before, at least not doing this material.

It was a pretty strong night, with Erin Judge and Bethany Van Delft hosting, Kelly MacFarland headlining, and Ahmed Bharoocha and Karen Rontowski on the bill. Fleming made an impression, speaking a kind of seemless nonsense in an English accent, and doing an impression of birds trying to attract a mate that sent MacFarland from the room trying to control her laughter. The image of Fleming bent backwards, kicking up one leg, and squawking apparently stayed with MacFarland -- she mentioned the bit later on in her own set.

Here's some of the material Fleming performed on the show. But you should probably see it live (you'll have the chance next week at Great Scott on Anderson Comedy's The Gas. Fleming will be on with some other promising comics like Matt D and Shawn Donovan).

The Boston Comedy Interview: Bobcat Goldthwait talks Tony V and World's Greatest Dad

Bobcat Goldthwait first met Tony V. the very first night Tony tried comedy. Goldthwait was new in town, and had done comedy in Syracuse before moving out to Boston, and the two hit it off. That was in 1982, and the two have been friends ever since. Goldthwait cast Tony in his new film, World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams, which opens at the Kendall Square Cinema this weekend. And Goldthwait will also be in town to give Tony a spin over the coals for Friday’s Roast of Tony V. as part of the Boston Comedy Festival. A bit further down the line, you can catch him at the Comedy Connection Wilbur Theatre December 12.

I caught up with him be phone last week to talk about World’s Greatest Dad, Tony V, stand-up comedy, and his previous work as a writer and director.

Where is the movie playing now?

It opens in Boston I think, in Cambridge this weekend or next weekend. It’s slowly coming out. We’ll see how it goes. It’s funny, I say it’s an R-rated movie where I didn’t aim for teenagers, but I do think a young audience, hopefully, will enjoy this movie. Trying to reach out to them is hard. When I say a young audience, I mean young adults.

Was there a particular audience you had in mind when you were writing it and putting it together?

No, not at all. When I’m making stuff, I’m not really thinking about any of that kind of stuff. It’s just really the kind of thing that comes out of me. In the last five or six years I’ve tried to stop second-guessing what I should be doing or what people would like and just started making stuff to make it.

What was the inspiration World’s Greatest Dad?

You know, it’s about a middle-aged dude finally learning to grow up and say no to unhealthy relationships. And I think if I had written a movie that was just about a series of failed female relationships it would have been kind of misogynistic. You can have a lot of people in your life who don’t treat you right and not necessarily just be the opposite sex that does it.

It has something in common with Sleeping Dogs Lie wherein there’s the one event that seems to be somewhat atrocious that might take a bit for people to get past.


Is that something that you’re conscious of, putting an event like that in there as a breaking point when you’re writing a script?

No, it’s just he way it comes out. But you know, I think it’s funny. Most of these events are something that could happen on an episode of House. The only difference is, like, in a movie, people can watch a movie and people get shot through the whole movie. This is like, somewhat got shot and then you explored, how did that affect his family and his wife and the people around him, you know what I mean? That’s the only difference. Because these events I don’t think are all that startling, it’s just that I kind of play them as realistic instead of as just a footnote.

How has the reaction been?

No, you know, there were a couple of people who hadn’t seen the movie who were complaining, but that’s pretty typical. Which is pretty funny, because they were actually doing what the movie parodied, they were trying to make something that had nothing to do with them all about them.

In America, every product is supposed to be aimed at everybody, and I don’t think people can wrap their brain around this idea of, I’m not trying to play every mall in America. I mean, I certainly hope I reach an audience. Everybody’s got to make everything about themselves.

Which is what playing every mall in America would be, as well.

Yeah, definitely.

It’s strange that in a society where we increasingly have boutique marketing aimed seemingly directly at each individual, everything is so segmented, but everything’s supposed to be for a general audience. But we’ve carved you all into all of these little bits already.

I think it’s funny, too, now, because of the Web, everybody weighs in with their opinion. I read a review for Twilight. I would never weigh in on Twilight. I would never write a review or post a comment. It’s not made for me. A bunch of ‘tween Jesus vampires? I know to stay away from that.

The other thing that the two films seem to have in common, to me, they both seem to have a lot to do with forgiveness and civility. Two things that seem to be somewhat lost or overlooked.

Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know what that’s such a big issue with me, but I would agree with that. That seems to show up in all the things I write, you know. It gets boring if you’re my girlfriend and you keep reading screenplays with that same theme in them. You know, who are we now, man? Where’s common sense and kindness and all these things, they’ve gone by the wayside.

Do you look at that as elements of a story or do you see it as a general societal problem?

Oh, no, I do… that, to me, is the biggest problem with the world right now.

The civility is the other problem, why we just can’t seem to leave people alone.

And also all these things that we do to justify our crappy behavior. It’s not just me pointing my finger at the world, it’s also my own crappy behavior I constantly examine, too.

Is there any of your own crappy behavior that made it into this film?

[laughs] Yeah, I think so. I think this idea of this guy kind of perceiving himself as a victim and then at the same time not taking any of the courageous steps you have to do to change that.

I saw Lakeview Terrace, what made the movie sort of unbearable was, I could see the original idea was a worthy one, but the starting point was so solvable and unrealistic that the characters wouldn’t have done it. Because it started there, the rest of the movie…

It didn’t ring true.

Right. But in both Sleeping Dogs Lie and World’s Greatest Dad, all those events did ring true, even if they seemed like they’d be more unusual. That was kind of clumsy, but….

No, that’s what I hope. I treat the events very straight and realistic and then I approach, too, the way the characters act as mostly realistic. In this movie, it’s a little bit more of a satire and there’s a lot of kooky, flaky one-dimensional characters that start showing up, but I still think of these things more as little tiny stories, like little fables or something. I do treat the events and the characters as realistic as possible. But in my mind, I don’t think of them as real stories, I don’t treat them as real stories at the end of the day.

Did you write Tony V’s part specifically for him?

No, I just wrote the part. But the reason I cast Tony in there is, people hire Tony because of his girth, and if you saw him, you’d think of him as this palooka. So he tends to get hired to play palookas. And the reality is, Tony actually did work with kids and stuff, and that is who he is. But I did think it was kind of funny to even have Tony be kind of corrupt in the movie.

I know his past as a social worker, and I didn’t know if you’d thought of the character with him in mind.

When I thought of it, I thought, I know that in the Hollywood system you wouldn’t have him. But it was funny, we were talking about how he should let his hair grow out and he should be this guy whose still clinging to 60s and 70s ideology and stuff.

A lot of people in this movie seem to be people who are in your circle of friends – Robin Williams and Tony V. and Tom Kenny. How important is it to have people like that in your films?

Robin says working with me is a combination of working with John Cassavetes meets Ed Wood. Everybody;s offended. And it they’re not, they’re like people that become friends and I work with. I like the comfort level of knowing people’s strengths and I mean, I’m middle-aged. Life’s too short. I don’t want to show up in a work environment that’s tense. Tom Kenny says I have a very juvenile approach to all of it. He says I act like a kids that’s like, “Someday I’m gonna make a movie and all my friends are gonna be in it! You’re gonna be in it, and you’re gonna be in it…” And I do think that’s true. He was laughing the other day, he said, “The only difference is, you actually do go back and hire all [of them].”

The newest script I’m writing, I have a cast of a lot… it’ll be the biggest cast I’ve written. So I’m hoping to bring back everybody from Sleeping Dogs and this movie and Shakes. Everybody will work.

What’s the new project?

I’m trying to finish up a spree killer movie right now. But I also, I don’t know if it’ll get going, but I got Ray Davies’ thumbs up to make a movie around the Kinks album Schoolboys in Disgrace.

What was the first one? You faded in and out a bit.

A spree killer movie. Again, it’s about the same themes you were just talking about. The same themes that you brought up. But the idea is, I thought, what if an irrational man were disturbed by the lack of civility in our culture. That was the genesis of the new screenplay. People go, when I describe it to them, they say, well, is it a comedy. I don’t know. Honestly, when I write these movies I don’t really sit down and make them a comedy. I just assume that’ll probably come out. It’s more of a challenge to me to write movies that connect with people. That’s what I’m interested in.

I don’t know if you’d call World’s Greatest Dad a comedy. It’s definitely a funny movie, but every funny moment has this sort of weight attached to it, this sort of undertow.

I remember watching American Beauty. I really liked that movie, and I was cackling all through it. I’m sure that came off as Max Cady in the Cape Fear remake where he was laughing in the theater like a lunatic.

But all of these movies I do go back to, is that a comedy? I don’t know. Like Boogie Nights or any Wes Anderson movie, I don’t know where those movies live. I mean, I think mine are probably more uncomfortable, but I don’t know where these movies all live.

It reminded me a bit of Heathers as well.

I didn’t think of that until after I finished it, and then my girlfriend goes, “You know, it’s got a little Heathers to it.” And then I just ran right into the train and named the goth girl Heather. Like, yeah, I get it.

Did you come to Boston with Tom Kenny? Or did the two of you arrive around the same time?

I came first. I followed Barry Crimmins. Then Tommy came down and then he kind of moved there permanently around the same time I left. That’s another story I’ve been trying to get started, too, about some of the events in Barry Crimmins’ life. I hope I get that going someday, also.

I consider Barry a mentor and also like a family member. And when I get in touch with him sometimes, he’s still always going to be like a big brother to me. Sometimes he calls me on my shit.

I remember at the Ding Ho reunion show you talked about him calling you at three in the morning.

And telling me that I suck. The last time I saw him I picked him up at his house and drove to Western Mass to see Billy Bragg together, which was a lot of fun.

Are you doing stand-up again soon?

I went out on the road and I shot eight cities in ten days and I thought I was going to make a movie about how morning radio teams are douchebags and how club owners are thieves and how opening acts are always bitter. But we were filming it, and I was going, we’re getting none of that. Everybody was really nice. And I go, why do I still hate this? And I was like, oh, I hate this character. It was really clear to me, having the cameras just magnified it. I have to jettison this character if I’m ever going to enjoy doing stand-up, and I did in the middle of it.

And some of the shows went really well and some of the shows, you know, I’m in Des Moines with people going, “Do the voice!” But I had to stick to my guns because if I didn’t, I really should just retire completely if I hadn’t stuck to my guns. So I found myself kind of enjoying stand-up again and even writing stand-up again for the first time in probably seventeen years. I was very lazy, I would write onstage, but now I’m interested in it again.

I keep doing stand-up when I need to to support my filmmaking habit. I’m pretty lucky that I have that choice, you know?

Can you play where you want to or because you’ve been away from it for a while do you have to fight your way back?

No, it’s like, I took six years off. When I go back on the road, things have really changed. It used to be a big deal if you were on HBO or if you had some talk show appearances under your belt. But that doesn’t mean shit anymore. It’s all about how many hits your YouTube video has. So grandpa has to start posting material again on the Web. I’m so out of the loop.

Do people know you more as a filmmaker now than a comedian?

I don’t think folks know me as a filmmaker. I don’t know. It cracked me up the other day. I was getting interviewed and I was like, “You know, the persona people know me for, the character, and I’m trying to stretch, blah blah blah,” and this girl goes, “Hey, I’m nineteen. I don’t know who the fuck you are.” I was like, oh, yeah, that’s a good point. [laughs]

Are you looking forward to the Tony V roast?

Yes, I’m certainly looking forward to it. I changed my schedule around. There was no way I was going to miss that.

Is there anything in particular that you have on him that you’ll be revealing?

I’m sure there’s a lot, but I also see it as an opportunity to say all the things I would say at his funeral.

Michael Loftus addresses Boston Comedy fans

Michael Loftus is not a Boston comedian. He's from Ohio, and lives in Los Angeles, and wrote for The George Lopez Show. But since he has a special debuting on Comedy Central Friday at 10PM called You've Changed, Loftus is working hard to get the word out. Hard enough that all on his own, he decided to record this message to Boston comedy fans and readers of this blog, which his PR company sent to me in hopes I would post it.

So here it is, a message from Loftus to you, readers of the Boston Comedy blog, complete with a reference to the Red Sox.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Erin Judge says farewell to Boston (mostly)

This is an important week for Erin Judge. Not only is she showing of The Dress Up Show tonight with Bethany Van Delft as part of the Boston Comedy Festival, she’ll headline her own send off show Sunday as she leaves for New York City. Judge has been a fixture on the scene since her first open mic at the All-Asia Café in 2002, hosting Sundays at The Comedy Studio, and putting on her two-person show, The Meaning of Wife, with Ailin Conant, and working her way up to an appearance on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham.

Fear not, though, Boston, you will still get to see her once a month at Mottley’s hosting The Dress Up Show with Bethany Van Delft. I caught up with her by phone on August 21, the day The Meaning of Wife opened at the New York International Fringe Festival.

Are you all ready to move to New York?

I live in New York. That’s where I am right now. I’m here, and I’m excited.

What made you move now?

I’d say what made me move now is just a feeling of… feeling ready to go into the clubs in New York City and perform stand-up at the level I think is necessary when you get started in New York to make a good impression. And I’m also interested in doing casting and writing for television and exploring the possibilities of those sorts of things, which are less available to me in Boston.

Did you get a sense of that world performing in Boston?

There’s great casting agencies in Boston and there’s lots of people who work at all kinds of levels of the industry there, but I think it’s more like, for me, having the interest in television and the other aspects of the entertainment industry that deal with comedy, from TV writing to screen writing to filmmaking, television, most of that happens in New York and L.A., so I really want to be at one of those places at this point in my career.

Do you have any leads and things like that or are you going out there and starting fresh?

I have some good friends who work either in television or do lots of movies and television commercials who have given me lots of leads, but right now I’m flying solo a little bit.

"Dumb and Crazy" from Live at Gotham:

Live at Gotham
Erin Judge - Dumb and Crazy
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

Is it hard to pick up and move everything? I know you had a day job.

I’ve been doing comedy full time for about a year. I left my day job in July of last year. And I’ve been working as a comedian ever since. So that made it easier. It wasn’t like I was trying to finish off a job. But it’s very difficult to pick up and move, especially when I have such great relationships with the comedy community in Boston. Especially with people like Rick Jenkins [owner of The Comedy Studio] and a lot of the other comedians in town. I’m going to miss them all horribly. But I’m excited to close to Boston. I’m glad I’m that not in L.A. I’m glad that I’m about to be in New York and come up to Boston frequently. And I’m very excited that right around now is when the Boston Comedy Festival is happening because I feel it will be a nice way to kind of say goodbye to the Boston comedy world.

Is the September 2 Dress Up Show your send-off show?

Bethany and I will continue to do the Dress Up Show once a month at Mottley’s. I’m going to come up for that, which is great. The real send off show is going to be at the Comedy Studio on September 6. It’s not part of the Festival, but I’m going to be headlining, doing twenty minutes, which is nice because Rick doesn’t always let people do that. But it’ll be fun, and Bethany is hosting that night at the Studio. Since she and I have worked together for such a long time it’s really great that she’s going to be a part of that show.

"Bad Dating Advice" from Live at Gotham:
Live at Gotham
Erin Judge - Bad Dating Advice
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

As far as the Dress Up Show and the Festival, are you going to be doing anything differently because it’s part of the Festival?

Well, we have a really fantastic line-up of people, national comedians as well as local comedians, which is really exciting. But in terms of the show, we really just want to showcase the format of the Dress Up Show as it is for the people who are coming to the Festival. So it’s just going to be me and Bethany dressed up telling stories and hosting a really fun night of comedy where everybody’s dressed up.

How did the show come to be part of the Festival?

I think Jim McCue and Helen McCue of the Festival have a good relationship with Mottley’s. And last year, the club, Mottley’s, opened in conjunction with the Festival. That’s how they made their opening, with Shane Mauss headlining, as part of the Boston Comedy Festival. So I think the club, Mottley’s, with whom we have a great relationship, Bethany and I do, they continue to have a great relationship with the Festival. So it’s great because it’s additional publicity and it’s national acts who are going to be coming into our monthly show, and we’re very excited to have that.

Are you also in the contest this year? [Editor’s note: Erin moved on from her round Monday and will be in the semi-finals]

I am in the contest. My prelim is 9PM Monday on August 31.

Is that something you look forward to, or is that sort of perfunctory?

Well, I’ve done the contest twice before. I didn’t do it last year. But I really love being part of showcase shows and I love the challenge of the five minute set. And it’s a great line-up on the contest. At least the part that I’m on. I like that part of it. As far as being judged and being competitive with other comedians, I try not to focus on that element of it.

What are your plans for The Meaning of Wife?

Well, we open at 4:45 today in New York City. [Laughs] We open at the New York International Fringe Festival today. And we’re performing this weekend and next weekend. So as soon as I get done with The Meaning of Wife on the 29th, I get to come to Boston and do the Boston Comedy Festival.

Are there any plans past that?

Not right now. At the [New York] Festival, we’re going to gage interest in the show. We have a lot of people from the industry coming out to see us. We’re hoping that someone who has the resources to work on booking us around or touring us or even putting up a run in New York will be interested in producing the show. We’ll see.

How much does having the Comedy Central credit help? Do people recognize that?

I think so. I think that people in the theater world are primarily the ones interested in this Festival. But they’re always looking for talents they haven’t seen yet. And a lot of the people who we know who are coming from the entertainment industry are casting people from film and television, as well. So that’s an exciting element of it.

"Maid of Honor" from Live at Gotham:
Live at Gotham
Erin Judge - Maid of Honor
Joke of the DayStand-Up ComedyFree Online Games

What local comedians influenced you?

Definitely the Walsh Brothers and Kelly MacFarland. And I of course love guys like D.J. Hazard and Tony V. When I think back to the performers that I would work with when I first started performing at the Comedy Studio, people like Tony Moschetto and Bethany Van Delft were extremely awesome to work with from the very beginning. And my other peers like Myq Kaplan.

How do you feel Boston fits into the national scene?

Right now, I think Boston performers are giving some of the most killer five to seven minute showcase, television, and accessible sets in the country. And I think that that is a testament not only to the Comedy Studio and their format but just the various venues around town and the development of the various extremely smart and cool comedians from all over the area.

What do you see in the near future for Boston comedy?

I think it’s just going to keep getting better and better. I think that right now is a great moment for comedy in the world and in television and in all media. And I think that it’s just going to continue to churn out the kinds of talent and the generations of brilliant voices that it has for a really long time now.

Boston Comedy News - Beantown Riots, a date for Shane Mauss, The Walsh Brothers on Funny Or Die

Last week, Roxbury's Jason Cordova won the 1st Annual Beantown Comedy Riot for Amateur Comedians after a six-week competition at Dick's Beantown Comedy Vault. He bested a field of 60 comedians and took an $800 prize. Portland, Maine's Erik Gunderson took second and Rhode Island's Brian Beaudoin took third.

Also, Shane Mauss will tape his Comedy Central Presents... half hour special November 4 in New York City. Watch this site for more details.

And The Walsh Brothers have posted the first Ramada Brothers videos on, so go vote!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Congrats to Jim Colliton, Chance Langton, and Myq Kaplan

Chance Langton called my Monday afternoon with some news, but not the news I was expecting. He did not win the Comedy Album award at this past weekend's Just Plain Folks Awards, but his I'm Better Than Tem did come in fourth. But he did land something that should be a big boost for him -- he signed to Oglio Records (they've released albums by Red Peters and George Lopez). Oglio will rerelease I'm Better Than Them.

Also congratulations to Jim Colliton, whose Stories from the Suburbs won the Just Plain Folks Comedy Album Award. Boston was well-represented, good to see two Boston acts in the top four.

And congratulations also to Myq Kaplan, who is in a series of promos for Comedy Central doing a few bits, including the one posted below about Scrabble. You can see all four here.