Saturday, January 29, 2011

Greg Fitzsimmons at the Wilbur tonight for the Magners Comedy Festival

Kelly MacFarland's new album
Last night Kelly MacFarland packed Mottley's for her CD release show as part of the Magners Comedy Festival. The CD is called Bombshell, and it will be released officially on February 8. More on that in a later post.

The Festival is in its second year, and has expanded to moe clubs, and even to the Wilbur. Tonight, Greg Fitzsimmons returns to Boston for an early show at the Wilbur. If you want to know a bit more about Fitzsimmons, his time in Boston, and his new book, read my interview with him from late last year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

*UPDATE* Clubs Tonight -- What's closed and what's still open

As we dig out from the snow still coming down in some places, a number of schools and businesses are closed. There are some club cancelations for tonight, but the show goes on for others. Here's what's open and what's closed.

The Burren: Steve Macone will host his regular Wednesday night show in the back room at the Burren tonight. Show starts at 10PM. Admission is free.

The Comedy Studio: Owner Rick Jenkins confirms the club will be open. He will be there, and at least two other comics have confirmed. “We'll be there to do a show if any audience shows up,” he says, “but nobody should take any risks to come in.”

Dick’s Beantown Comedy Vault: Closed tonight. Will be open tomorrow.

Improv Asylum: Closed tonight for a private show. “We'll definitely be open tomorrow night and the rest of the weekend,” says Chet Harding, “previewing our newest mainstage show, Leave it to Bieber, which has a grand opening on January 20.”

*Update* ImprovBoston: Closed tonight.

Mottley’s Comedy Club: Closed tonight.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

On tonight: Louis C.K.'s Hilarious

Hilarious debuts tonight
at 10PM on Comedy Central.
Louis C.K.'s latest stand-up special, Hilarious, makes its Comedy Central debut tonight at 10PM. If you have Epix, you may have seen the special when it aired in September. It also played at the Kendall Square Cinema that month. You may want to wait until Tuesday, though, when Comedy Central releases the full-length, uncensored DVD, and also the CD version.

Hilarious has been well reviewed -- you can read my thoughts here from September -- since its debut at last year's Sundance Festival. And C.K. is already working on the next special, his fourth hour since 2007's Shameless, a breakneck pace by most stand-up standards. He is also now filming for season two of Louie on FX.

Marc Maron and WTF in the NYT

Marc Maron in the New York Times
If one of your New Year's resolutions was to dive into Marc Maron's WTF podcast and you're looking for a primer, the New York Times ran a piece today that will bring you up to date on the show so far. They mention a few of the more high-profile interviews with Robin Williams, Carlos Mencia, and Louis C.K.

You can also go back to my interview with Maron before his show at The Gas this past July to see more of what Maron had to say about WTF, different comedy styles, and his time in Boston.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Boston Comedy Q&A: Robert Kelly at the Wilbur

Medford native Robert Kelly plays
the Wilbur Saturday night
Medford native Robert Kelly is looking forward to a busy 2011. He’s touring – he plays the Wilbur Saturday night – and working on material for a new one-hour special. He’s amazed to have a book deal with Joe DeRosa and fellow former Boston comic Bill Burr that sprang from a film the trio self-produced called Shooting Angles. They are currently waiting to hear back from several festivals about screenings.

Kelly first came to the attention of national audiences when his buddy, Arlington native Dane Cook, put him on the HBO stand-up series Tourgasm. He’s also been a regular on Opie and Anthony, and played Louis C.K.’s brother on the FX series Louie, which is filming season number two now.

I spoke with him earlier this week by phone.

You’re taping a new one-hour special later this year, I’m assuming what you’re touring with now is the material you’re preparing for that?

Yeah. I’m trying to lock down who I’m going to do it with right now. But yeah, I’m going to be taping an hour special and it’s definitely the material I’ve got now. I’m trying to unload this chunk and get it done with. And then I’m going to do a new album with the special. I’ll be trying to get the album down and the special down in the next few months.

Have you dropped all of the material from the previous album?

Yeah, Just the Tip? I don’t really use that, anything from it anymore. The occasional hell gig, I’ll wail one of those out. Sometimes when you’re doing a hell gig, you can run through an hour’s worth of material in fifteen minutes. Then you look down at your watch and you’re like, aw, Jesus.

How often does that happen for you these days?

Not that often. I’ve been lucky. The last year of shows has been pretty good. It always matters when fans show up, you know? If your fans come to your show, it’s always a good show. If you’re somewhere where they don’t know you’re there or you’re not really popular in or whatever, and people just show up, sometimes it can get a little crazy. But the last year, a lot of fan support has really helped out the gigs.

Are there areas of the country it has been hard to break into?

I don’t know. I kind of did the whole country with Dane on that big tour. I’e been lucky that I kinda was exposed to every state in the union on a massive level. There’s better than others. Boston, Philly, New Jersey, New York, Vegas, those places always show a lot of support. I’ve done shows, especially in Boston and New York, where people are like, “Dude, I’ve seen you six times, every time I bring friends back.” They’ll just keep bringing their friends back to expose them to my comedy.

It’s just crazy, people have seen you six times. And you can tell, too, when you add new stuff to the act they’ll come up and say, “Dude, I love that you added new stuff to the act. I appreciate that.” There are certain guys who can do a new hour every other week, it seems. I can’t really pull that off yet.

Is that something you’re looking to do?

I think you can do it, yeah, but there’s always that fame factor. If Chris Rock comes into the Cellar working on new material, he’s always got that five to ten minutes of, he’s Chris Rock. We’ll let him slide. If I go down there and try new material, if they don’t know who I am, my fans aren’t in there, it’s like, “This guy stinks.”

So I think it’s a mixture of taking some risks, and you’ve also got to have some exposure, too. If people are your fans and they came to see you, and you’re just going off and trying new stuff, I think they appreciate that. But also, when you find your voice as a comic – if you look at all of the greats, they have their own little way of saying things. It’s a tempo that they have. Even a guy like Louis C.K. has his own little tempo, even Dane has his own little tempo, where you can kind of take any topic, throw it in that blender and it comes out the way they talk.

Do you feel you’re there yet? Where do you feel you are in that?

It’s weird. My life has changed so much. I feel like if I stayed on the path I was on, which was a single guy, chicks, rock and roll, I think I might have been there. But I’m married, I fell in love. My life went in a completely different direction. I’m trying to have a kid. I have a mortgage. I went to sleep at 9:30 on New Year’s Eve. My whole perspective of life is going in a different direction, which is new for me. That’s what’s reflected. But it’s also maybe funnier, because it’s more honest. Because I’m not doing comedy to get accolades anymore, I’m just doing comedy because I kind of have to. So I think I’m closer to my voice or the way I do things than I’ve ever been.

If people saw you at the Wilbur last year and they see you this year, are they going to see a marked difference, either in the material or the way you present yourself?

It’s going to be some of the same stuff, but I definitely added a bunch of new chunks. There’s comics that write jokes, where it’s like joke, joke, joke, joke, joke, set up, punch, set up, punch through the whole act. Then there’s guys like me who, you come up with a chunk of material, whether it’s getting fat or being old or going on vacation or getting married or whatever it is. Anywhere from three to ten minutes on the same topic in a chunk of stuff. So there’s definitely new chunks in there. I’ve fine-tuned it a lot. It’s kind of like a one-man show. Not a theme, but more what I’ve been going through for the past two years.

Does the new material and your recent life experience have anything to do with the book deal?

No, that’s just something that came around. Me and a couple of other comics, Joe DeRosa and Bill Burr, we wrote a short movie and produced it ourselves and filmed it ourselves. We entered into some festivals. Somebody heard about the movie and then our managers got involved. We wrote a book proposal, and they loved it. So in the next few months, I’m going to be hunkering down and writing a book. But I really don’t even know what a semi-colon is, so. Honest to god, I don’t know how to spell. I was in juvee hall from 13 to 15, and then I pretty much was in rubber rooms all through high school.

They didn’t have AP English in juvee?

Oh, no. You played volleyball and just didn’t stab each other. I know when somebody’s following me in New York City and I know when to cover my watch on a train. I know a lot of things that people who do know how to spell don’t know. I know secret codes for video games. I know how to jailbreak my iPhone. But I don’t know how to spell. But apparently you don’t need to. [laughs] I know, it makes me sick, there are guys who are just genius fucking writers and beautiful and put words together magically and they’d just love a book deal. And then some bald chunkball asshole from Medford can make something funny and they’re like, “Yeah, let’s do that!”

Is it going to be the same story as the movie?

No, I don’t know if I can talk about it yet. We have a meeting on Monday. But it’s going to be a controversial book. Let’s put it that way. Men are going to love it, and women, some women, are going to haaaate it. I mean, hate it. Put it this way, some of the publishers that wrote back who didn’t want the book were appalled by it. I think one of the words was “disturbed.”

Can you say if it’s fiction or non-fiction?

It’s non-fiction. A how-to book. It’s guys helping guys.

Any word yet on Louie for season two?

No. You know what’s weird, even last year, I know Louis was doing a show and I knew people that were on it already. I never asked to be on it, and I just got a call out of the blue. Small part. His brother. Just one scene, really quick. I was in Hawaii with Dane at the time and I flew back to do it. It cost me money to do Louie.

But you wound up on more episodes.

Yeah. He liked our chemistry. The only reason he wrote me in is because he never had a brother in life, and since it was is show, he was like, I wanted to write a brother in, just to have one. And he liked what we did so he wrote a couple of more episodes and just kept writing shit for us. It was awesome. Worked out for me.

Anything else you want to mention?

I just released my first iPhone app. I believe that the comic Web site, and Facebook, and Twitter, for comics and entertainers is going to be dead. Especially the Web site. Nobody goes to anybody’s Web site anymore.

What does the app do?

It’s just crazy, it does everything. It has all of my tour dates, but instead of, you know like Google Maps with all the pins, it’s my head. You can zoom in and buy tickets from the head. I have my own little Twitter feed right in there. Videos, text, and photos that only go to the app people. It has my podcast up there. A soundboard of all the crazy shit I’ve said over the years.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Selena Coppock and Leah Dubie bring their hometown Comedy Rivalry to Mottley's tonight

Selena Coppock and Leah Dubie
bring Comedy Rivalry to Mottley's tonight
 Selena Coppock and Leah Dubie are from neighboring towns west of Boston – Weston and Wayland, respectively. Their high schools used to play football every Thanksgiving, and, as Coppock reports, got into the occasional late night scuffle in fast food parking lots. That’s why their show tonight at Mottley’s is called Comedy Rivalry.

Coppock and Dubie didn’t meet until they both moved out of Boston and became regulars on the New York City comedy scene, where they met and discovered their common history. They became good friends, and both come back to play Boston frequently. You can see Coppock’s work on her Web site, and find her “Townie Martian” series on Dubie’s work is on her Web site, as well.

I spoke with Coppock by phone earlier this week.

How much rivalry is actually going to be in this show?

We’re actually going to be doing a Weston/Walyand trivia section, so Leah and I are both brushing up on our sort of lame trivia. So there will be a little bit. It’s all in good fun. We are great friends, but we thought it would be a pretty jazzy little hook because we think it’s hilarious that we’re from rival schools.

Did you know each other when you were going to those rival schools?

Actually, no. Leah is class of ’95 and I was ’98, and I don’t think we played any of the same sports. I played field hockey in high school, but I was terrible. Leah played, I think basketball and softball. So we never overlapped. Although she knows some of the older guys for Wayland I used to have crushes on. But we did not know each other in high school, no. We just met on the New York City comedy scene.

Was it a pretty big rivalry between the two schools?

Yes. We’d play every year in Thanksgiving football. And when I was in high school, there was. As corny as it sounds, and it’s so small town, I remember my freshman year there was a huge fistfight behind the all-night Burger King, and it was Weston versus Wayland. And Wayland definitely womped some Weston ass.

They were pretty tight rivals in all sports. When I played field hockey it was always a big game when we played Wayland. And same with basketball and all that stuff. Because I think the towns were so similar, socio-economically and in so many respects. It is a pretty intense rivalry. I know from dating a Wayland guy when I was in high school, it doesn’t make you very popular in Weston.

Where did you and Leah wind up meeting?

We met here in New York a few years ago. We were both doing a pretty crummy show at the Laugh Lounge on the lower east side. And I used to do, I don’t do it to much anymore, but I used to do a joke that alluded to growing up with a bunch of rich kids, and I actually said the name Weston and I heard from the back her somewhat jokingly booing me. But I didn’t even know her so I was kind of like, “What?”

But we ended up talking, and over the years we’ve become great friends. We went out to Fire Island this year for a great gig. And she used to run a show here in New York and I run a show, so we book each other on our shows a lot. It’s been maybe three years since we met, maybe three and a half. She’s awesome. She’s hilarious.

So you never ran in the same circles when you were both doing comedy up here?

No. Leah went to school in New York. She used to watch a lot of comedy when she was younger, she said she used to go to the Comedy Connection all the time. But she didn’t try it until she got to New York, so for the two years that I was doing stand-up in Boston while I was still living there, we never overlapped because she was doing stand-up in New York at the time. Which is good, because, man, my first two years, I was pretty terrible.

But you had a somewhat common language from having seen the scene here in one form or another?

Yeah. When she goes back to Boston to see her parents, she performs at the Studio sometimes, and Mottley’s and stuff. There is definitely a commonality there. It’s fun, too. Sometimes we go to Dunkin’ Donuts together and hang out in Boston.

Is there a version of this show you do in New York or is this only for Boston audiences?

It’s only for Boston audiences. It kind of randomly came to me, and I thought that it would play best in Boston, just so we could do more local stuff and [be more] Boston-specific. Leah and I end up on a lot of shows together in New York, but I think the Weston/Wayland show might be just a specialty for Boston.

For people who may not be familiar with one or the other of you, what can you say they can expect to see?

I think we’re both going to do a fair amount of local stuff, which is always really fun. I am a very high energy, kind of a spaz onstage and talk about everything from ex-boyfriends to pop culture and what’s going on in my life right now, which is all of my friends in the world getting married and having babies and my thoughts on that. And Leah is a hell of a writer. She’s very steady onstage, great energy but great power behind it. Just calm, and she can run the show. Very witty. And then we have Maria Ciampa hosting, who I love. And we’re bringing Garry Hannon, who is also from Massachusetts, and he lives in New York now. He is very fun and silly. I think it’s going to be a great show, start to finish.