Monday, February 28, 2011

Michael Showalter's Mr. Funny Pants - At the Brighton Music Hall Tonight

Michael Showalter's Mr. Funny
Pants Tour in town tonight.
Michael Showalter is out at the new Brighton Music Hall tonight with Michael Ian Black on his Mr. Funny Pants tour, which also happens to be the name of his brand new book. You can find more info here.

Mr. Funny Pants has been described in the press as a mix of humor pieces and memoir, which is apt, except the pieces aren't side by side, they're integrated. Before you even get to actual chapters, you have five "About" sections, "Acknowledgments," a "Table of Contents" that is just an illustration of a table, a "Preface," "Post-Preface," "Post-Post-Preface," a "Pre-Post-Post-Preface" (which comes after the "Post-Post-Preface"), an "End of Pre- and Post-Prefaces Preface," and an "Introduction." Then a short bit about Showalter taking ecstasy and peeing on himself (in a chapter titled "Taking Ecstasy and Peeing on Myself," before a couple of different versions of the book proposal for Mr. Funny Pants itself.

The first thing you learn about Showalter from the book is something you already know -- that he is a very, very silly person. There is some personal information in there, some of it fairly frank, but you don't go too long before you hit a chart or a list to illustrate and make light of the topic. As Showalter put it in his chapter, "Book Proposal, Part 3," "I can't write the memoir I want to write if I stick to the facts. My life simply isn't eventful enough for an accurate portrait." Instead, he says, he will write whatever comes to mind, whether it's an imaginary interview with Charlie Rose or writing about a college girlfriend.

Mike Birbiglia summed it up nicely in a quote on the back of the book, "Mr. Funny Pants is unlike any book I've ever read. It's this weird, hilarious, choose-your-own-adventure inside Michael Showalter's brain."

If the more personal stuff becomes a bigger part of the stand-up, it will make for an interesting show.

Scheduling didn't work out for the interview I had planned with Showalter, but I may print that later this week. In the meantime, a thing called Flavorwire has an interesting interactive interview with Mr. Showalter for you to peruse. Take a look here.

And for good measure, here is Kevin Kline reading from the book.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Potylo Playing Last Live Music Show For “A Long While” Tonight At Great Scott

Quiet Desperation Night tonight
at Great Scott
Rob Potylo posted on his Facebook page that tonight’s Quiet Desperation Night at Great Scott will be his “last little musical performance for a loooong while.” That’s not terribly surprising when you realize he is now working on two different shows for MyTV – Queit Desperation, and a children’s show called Worried All the Time that Potylo expects will debut in May or June.

Potylo has been hyping Worried on Facebook as a kind of surreal take on The Little Prince. “Worried All the Time is a kid's show geared towards kids that grew up like me,” he said by e-mail, “Not quite fitting in... Bullied.... Nervous.... Just trying to stay afloat.”

But considering Quiet Desperation has the backing of WBOS 92.9 and music is such a big part of the show, it is surprising to hear Potylo say he’s backing off live shows for a while. When I asked him if he might be planning live shows that weren’t music oriented, he said, “Who knows? I’d rather be creative than social.”

So if you want to see Potylo playing music, get out to Great Scott tonight. He’s playing with Taiwan Typhoon and Hooker Clops.

Here’s the Facebook page for the event.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Boston Comedy Interview: Nate Johnson and The Great Boston Molasses Comedy Disaster Show

Nate Johnson turns the 1919 Molasses
Flood into comedy.
On January 15, 1919, a giant storage tank burst in Boston’s North End, flooding the area with roughly two and a half million gallons of molasses, killing 21 people and injuring more than 150. A little less than a hundred years later, Nate Johnson figures we are ready to laugh about it.

Johnson brings his Great Boston Molasses Comedy Disaster Show to Mottley’s tomorrow, with stand-up from Matt Donaher, Dan Boulger, Ken Reid, and Lamont Price, and sketch featuring Johnson, Tim Vargulish, Ryan Douglas, Maria Ciampa, and Sean Sullivan. Apparently, there will also be a group called the Burnin’ Love Sauces on hand to hawk 1919 Molasses BBQ Sauce, and a local band called Hot Molasses.

I caught up with Johnson by e-mail to get a few more details.

What led you to write a show about the Great Boston Molasses Disaster? Are you a history buff?

Yeah, I’ve always been a kind of history nerd, especially as I’ve gotten older. The molasses flood I’d known about for a while and really wanted to do something about it-whether it was a bit or a character or video or whatever. Doing an entire show about it provided all those options.

This was actually a tragedy at the time – how do you turn it into comedy?What’s the structure of the show?

There’s a little thing I like to say-time plus tragedy equals Thursday night comedy show. It’s always tricky writing anything about something that people could potentially find offensive. But if you’re just going with your reaction-which in this case, for me, was, “Wha? Seriously? Molasses?!”, then, ideally, the audience will get that and understand the intention isn’t malicious or disrespectful. The show is structured so there’ll be bits about the actual event, broken up by comics, with the goal being that people learn about this weird thing without feeling beaten over the head by it.

How does the stand-up fit with the overall theme? Are Matt, Dan, Ken, and Lamont going to taper their sets to the night?

Of the comics on the show, I think Ken’s the only one I heard do a bit about the molasses flood and Dan has some great history material. But the comics are really there to kinda break up the show and not make it too molasses-heavy. I’m just shooting for a funny show that I’d want to go to.

How did you put Tim, Ryan, Maria, and Sean together for the sketches?

I’d had them all in mind when I was putting the show together and knew I wanted some sketch. Doing sketch at Mottleys can definitely be challenging, but I feel pretty confident because I’ve done stuff with all of them before and they know the space pretty well. Also, they can all do excellent ethnic accents that no one will find offensive.

Who are the Burnin’ Love Sauces?

They’re a local saucier that makes a BBQ sauce called 1919 and molasses is an ingredient in it. It’s a great sauce and I thought it’d be fun to have them sell their stuff at the show. Plus, I don’t think there are enough shows with barbeque sauce vendors at them.

Who is Hot Molasses?

I’d really wanted a band to play at the show and found these guys online. They’re from Somerville and sound kinda like the B-52s. They’ve got a new EP coming out soon and they’re debuting a song about the flood at the show. Yeah.

Any plans to visit other Boston tragedies? Race riots? The 1986 World Series perhaps? Stephen Tyler?

Totally. I’m actually working on an operetta about the Charles Stuart murder and a 2-act play about the Blizzard of 78 performed by puppets.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Erin Judge Pitches The Date Rape Squad On Open Salon

Erin Judge, star of
The Date Rape Squad
ABC just cast actress Krysten Ritter in new sitcom called Don't Trust the Bitch, which, according to, "centers on June (Dreama Walker), an earnest, honest, optimistic girl from the heartland who, due to circumstances beyond her control, is forced to move in with Chloe (Ritter), a sexy, unstable New York City party girl who has the morals of a pirate."

This made Erin Judge think, if you willingly cast yourself in the title role of "Bitch," what opportunities might Judge be able to find for herself in Hollywood? She posted her ideas on her Open Salon page today. I especially enjoy idea number two.

Judge is in New York now, but she comes back often to play The Dress Up Show at Mottley's Comedy Club.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Sauce Radio with Josh Gondelman and Nick Zaino

Me on Big Sauce Radio
last Thursday.
I appeared on the Big Sauce Radio Show last Thursday with Josh Gondelman, talking comedy and music and playing a couple of songs. The show regularly features comedians, many of whom are covered on this blog, and broadcasts live as part of UnRegular Radio.

I played two original songs, one of which, "Live Through You," is less than two weeks old. The other song was "The Good News," which I wrote as a kind of barroom singalong. Gondelman talked about his stand-up life and also about a hip-hop blog, Guy Raps, Girl Sings the Hook, that he writes with his girlfriend. Here's the link the last week's show in podcast form.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Patrice O'Neal On Leaving Boston, Plus A Preview of Tonight's Elephant In the Room Special On Comedy Central

When I first spoke with Patrice O’Neal in 2001, he was already in New York, already drawing attention at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, on his way to better things. His first one-hour stand-up special, Elephant In the Room, debuts tonight on Comedy Central. O’Neal started out in Boston. He grew up on Dorchester and moved to Roxbury when he was 17, and threw himself into stand-up after heckling an act at a club called Estelle’s. He thought he was funnier than the comic onstage at the time. So, unlike most hecklers, he got up and proved it.

O’Neal didn’t leave Boston happy. He got to a certain level as a middle act, and then couldn’t break through the headlining scene and had to leave. A lot of comics from Boston have faced that dilemma. But O’Neal went on a local radio program and spewed a lot of venom at club owners. The way he describes it, he “pretty much had a falling out with everybody in Boston.”

“I officially walked over and tore the paper bridge with lighter fluid and lava shoes,” he told me in 2002, for a story for the Boston Globe. “I’ve had a chance to make amends with certain people. It was just a young black dude lashing out at what he thought was an old white dude thing.”

The scene has changed in Boston since O’Neal left. There is more diversity, there are more women and more minorities in the scene making a name for themselves. Probably still room for improvement, but it seems a vast improvement from O’Neal’s days.

“In Boston, there’s one black or two blacks,” he told me. “There’s always ‘the black guy at the time.’ Jimmy Smith was the black guy, and then Carl Yard and Gerald Bennett was the black guy. I came along, I was the black guy. And then after I left, Dwayne Perkins was the black guy.”

O’Neal told me that he loved Boston. He didn’t want to leave his mother and his girlfriend, but when he left, he felt he was pushed. In a sense, that was probably true, but it was the same for Eugene Mirman, Brendon Small, or any number of comics who had to leave to find a bigger stage. If you’re looking to get the attention from TV or film, the opportunities are few in Boston.

Now O’Neal is a headliner with his own TV special, and by 2002, he had also changed his attitude toward his Boston exit. “I outgrew that whole anger thing,” he said then. “I felt like I was thrown out of Boston. I don’t think that anymore. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. It wasn’t a conspiracy.”

[NOTE: I’ll be addressing the question of why comics leave Boston in a story next month, after the redesign is launched on March 1.]

Onstage and off, O’Neal is gruff and direct. Which is why he has been a favorite on the Opie and Anthony show on satellite radio. He makes no excuses for his point of view. “I have a very misogynistic viewpoint on life,” he told me in 2006. “Somebody has to.”

“On regular radio, it’s so inhibited, you can’t be honest at all,” he said then. “Fuck the swearing, just honesty in general is hard. You’re offending everybody. But cable radio, people are paying for it. You can do anything you want.”

O’Neal likes to use profanity (“Sometimes a good well-placed swear expresses it for you,” he said), he is sarcastic and off the cuff, and he clearly enjoys making people uncomfortable. That applies to O’Neal the comic and O’Neal the person, and it’s what you’ll get if you tune in tonight.

“I’d rather be sarcastic than to just sit around and talk about my favorite cheese, you know?”

Here’s a preview of Elephant In the Room (Comedy Central, 10PM).
Patrice O'Neal - Valuable Life
JokesJoke of the DayFunny Jokes


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comedy Studio’s Comic In Residence Interview - Alana Eisner

Alana Eisner - Comedy Studio
Comic In Residence for February
Every month, The Comedy Studio features one comic on every show. And each month, the Boston Comedy Blog interviews that person. For February, it’s Alana Eisner. Eisner started comedy while a student at SUNY Albany, and moved to Boston in 2008 in part because she heard it was a good comedy scene in which to develop. That, and her sister is in Boston. Since then, she has become more dedicated to her craft. “Comedy didn't start out as my main objective, but it is now,” she says. “I can't picture myself doing anything else.”

When did you start doing comedy?

I started doing comedy about four years ago. I started out towards the end of college in Albany so I didn't get to go on stage very often in the beginning.

How often have you played the Studio?

I probably played the Studio about 50 times before this month.

What other clubs do you play?

I perform at Anderson comedy shows such as the GAS shows at Great Scott, Grandma's Basement shows, Mottley's at times. I still do a lot of open mics.

What local comedians have influenced you?

There are a lot of great comics in Boston that have influenced me. Jenny Zigrino is a close friend and great talent. Rick Jenkins and Rob Crean are both strong performers and have helped me develop my act with providing helpful insight as well as stage time. Other local Comics I admire include Josh Gondelman, Shawn Donovan, Bethany Van Delft, Tim McIntire and Dan Boulger.

What's the average number of gigs you've played in a month before this?

About 6-8 shows a month. I still go to open mics and make sure to get on stage at least four times a week.

How will you approach your time -- work on new stuff, refine older stuff, or a mix of both?

A mixture of both, I have been writing more lately, so I would like to work on new material during the weekday shows.

What do you expect to have gotten out of the experience when the month is over?

I have already gotten a lot out of this month. This opportunity rekindled my comic momentum. I hope to work on my writing and strengthen new material. I would like to try out different openers and closers as well work on material that involve more storytelling. Other than that enjoy this wonderful opportunity and interacting with the other comics.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gallery: Barry Tattle's (And Chris Coxen's) Farewell Show

The crowd got a free autographed
Chris Coxen headshot.
Chris Coxen and Barry Tattle went out with a memorable farewell show Saturday at Mottley’s. The show was Coxen’s last before he and his cast of characters leave for London this Wednesday, and included many old friends. Gary Gulman, Niki Luparelli, Jon Lincoln, Josh Gondelman, Shawn Donovan, Lamont Price, and Coxen’s old sketch partner, Nate Johnson all turned in great performances. The Grown Up Noise provides musical accompaniment.

It was a lot of fun to see Coxen and Johnson again, whether they were harassing Mottley’s owner Lincoln as bicycle cops or playing, respectively, a thunder salesman and a hurricane salesman. Tattle crooned to the crowd (it was his Valentine’s Day Surprise, officially), and sang a duet of “Up Where We Belong” that included a remarkable accurate eagle impression from Luparelli.

Since it was his farewell show, Tattle also gave out prizes gathered from cleaning out his apartment, including a tube of shower calk and a nacho plate shaped like a cowboy hat. Shamefully, the person who won the VHS Biography channel special on JFK, JR left their prize on the table after they left.

The biggest surprise of the night happened in the middle of Tattle’s rendition of “Single Ladies,” when water started dripping, and then outright spouting on the band. The dripping spread along different parts of the ceiling, forcing the crowd to rearrange. Apparently, a sink at the upstairs bar had overflowed while non of the bartenders were watching.

No one died, though, and the added dampness couldn’t ruin the show. Here are a few photos from the evening.

Barry Tattle gets sensual to open the show.
Gary Gulman praises legend Tattle.
Jon Lincoln's set interrupted by bike cops.
A blurry Josh Gondelman (he is much easier to see in person).
Tattle and Luparelli on "Up Where We Belong."
This is what a thunder salesman looks like.

A hurricane salesman and a thunder salesman.

A hurricane in motion.

Shawn Donovan speaks of his anti-Semitic haircut.
Grownup Noise - band in the shadows.
Fixing a hole where the rain came in.
Mopping up.
Sex ed with the wrestling coach.
Lamont Price in his "civil rights glasses."
The elusive Chris Coxen.
The nacho hat prize left. The VHS tape lingered.

Friday, February 11, 2011

North of Boston: Mike McDonald Presents His Tenth Annual Comedy XXtravaganza For Charity in Portsmouth

If you happen to be in north of Boston or in the New Hampshire area Saturday, Mike McDonald had put together a great show at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. It’s his Tenth Annual Comedy XXtravaganza, and McDonald will be performing along with Ken Rogerson, Joe Wong, Matt D., and Christine Hurley, plus music from The Boston Naturals.

“I started doing it cause I wanted a theater setting for great comics to interact with a great audience,” says McDonald.

It’s an interesting mix of younger comics and veteran talent. So how did he choose the comics, I asked? “I needed a Chinese guy, a chick, a kid who’s never gotten laid, and a guy in recovery,” says McDonald. “Well. Actually I picked these comics cause they can all throw heat.”

The shows, as usual, will benefit charities, this time the Green Alliance and the Seacoast Food Pantry. “We hook up with some local charities every year to give something back from the show to the Seacoast,” says McDonald. “It’s tough out there and anything we can do to raise a little awareness. I picked [the charities] with my co-producer who lives in Portsmouth. I’d look over the cause and the website and if I was onboard with what they do, we go with them.”

Click here for tickets.

*UPDATE* Potylo To Join Jennifer Coolidge At the Wilbur Saturday

Jennifer Coolidge and
Rob Potylo
First, the Wilbur Theatre published a photo of Rob Potlyo and tomorrow’s headliner, Jennifer Coolidge, with the teaser, “What is Jennifer Coolidge & Quiet Desperation's Rob Potylo cooking up for tomorrow's Wilbur show?”

Then Potylo posted this on his own Facebook site: “Lovely evening. TTs was an epic show! But before that Jennifer Coolidge (Best In Show, American Pie, Legally Blonde) came over to the ole' Allston crib to go over some tunes I'm playing with her show at her Wilbur Saturday night.... And even grabbed a Clif Bar. We had some sick vocals cooking. Wish I cleaned the room a little bit better.”

When I reached Potylo to see what was up, he said only, “Looking to sing happy birthday.”

What, exactly, is going to happen? I couldn't say, but it will involve music, and hopefully, we'll see this end up on Potylo's Quiet Desperation on MyTV.

Coolidge was born in Boston and spent her early years in Norwell. After establishing herself as a popular character actor, she has been trying her hand at stand-up. Here are a few thoughts on her last performance in Boston from Brian Joyce.

UPDATE I got a little more info on how this came together from Potylo this afternoon. "I did the wilbur opening for Jon Lajoie last year and crushed, left an impression," he says. "She needs someone to sing happy birthday to her dad. They called yesterday and asked if I was interested and I spoke with her. She came over. I also told her about Quiet D and we could be filming shit with her too."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chris Coxen Says Farewell To Boston - VIDEO

Barry Tattle
 By this time next week, Chris Coxen and his League of Characters will have left Boston for London, where he plans to spend at least a year working the clubs and seeking fortune, fame, and sensuality. Before then, he'll be at Mottley's Comedy Club Friday and Saturday for a pair of farewell shows -- Barry Tattle's Valentine's Day Surprise.

Here is Coxen at Mottley's talking about the shows and the big move. Stick around for a special message from Barry Tattle at the end.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DVD Release: Bruce Bruce - Losin' It! Live In Boston

Bruce Bruce originally came up through the Atlanta scene, but he chose to film his latest special here in Boston, at the Wilbur Theatre. It's called Losin' It! Live In Boston, and it's out today on DVD with bonus footage and an interview. You may even get to see yourself in the audience.

Newbury Comics might be your best bet for finding it without ordering online. A lot of other stores seem to have cut back on orders like this, but Newbury tends stock more stand-up specials, especially when they're new.

Here's a look. First clip is SFW, second clip, NSFW.

"Eating Like A Cow" and "Words"

"What's Sexy To A Man"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Boston Comedy Redesign Hits March 1

Greetings, Boston comedy fans. You may have noticed the site has been a little light lately. I have not been ignoring it. I have been working on a redesign that will include some new features, a cleaner look, and a slight change in philosophy.

For day to day users, there will be more immediate and useful features. For longtime fans, the print interviews, videos, and news will remain, combined with something a bit more personal and opinionated.

This site will continue to grow and change as long as I am writing it. I will always be looking for ways to improve. If there's anything you'd like to see, feel free to drop me a line.

I will continue to update with some news and an interview or two the rest of the month. So keep checking back, and make sure you're hear March 1 for the new look.