Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Comedy Studio Hosts Auditions for Eddie Brill, Mosaic

Eddie Brill is at the Studio tonight scouting
for the Great American Comedy Festival
When I first started covering comedy in Boston more than a decade ago, you didn’t hear much about auditions. They might happen once in a while, but the biggest industry-related event in town seemed to be Comedy Central’s Laugh Riots. Comedy Centreal doesn’t do the Riots anymore, but this week, The Comedy Studio is hosting auditions for Eddie Brill, who is scouting for the Great American Comedy Festival and Letterman, and for the artist management group Mosaic.

According to Colleen McGarr, who co-owns Austin’s Cap City Comedy Club and is organizing the trip for Mosaic, this trip is more about familiarizing the agency with the local talent for the future than adding clients immediately. She is sending scouts to a showcase at the Studio on Thursday. McGarr calls it “just a good opportunity for people to familiarize themselves with the level of talent in Boston, live. Boston comics do seem to put a lot of clips on the internet. A lot of scouting is done that way these days.”

McGarr has been a frequent judge at the Boston Comedy Festival, and has also scouted here for the Just For Laughs Festival. She now scouts for Mosaic’s TV department, and says she has always been impressed with the Boston scene. “Love the intelligence, the attitude, the accent, the originality, the characters, the willingness to try something different, the joke writing,” she says. “Lots of stuff! It is better to experience it live and in person.”

Brill, an Emerson alum, is a frequent visitor to Boston. He held a workshop out at Showcase Live just a few weeks ago. Brill books the comics for the Late Show with David Letterman and organizes the talent for The Great American Comedy Festival, which takes place every summer in Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk, Nebraska.

He’s at the Studio tonight, and says he is looking for what he always looks for – “Great, smart, one-of-a-kind, poised, clever and funny artists.”

Brill found that in Joe Wong, who made his Letterman in April of 2009. Wong has been on the show twice, and he and Brill are working on getting him on for a third time, something Brill said could happen “very soon.”

Since Brill has been to Boston a lot, he will be seeing comedians he has seen before, which adds a twist to the audition process. He says those comics shouldn’t necessarily try to do anything different to impress him. “If they are themselves, with a nice confidence and an attitude that they are very good at what they do, I will see it,” he says.

He expects a certain growth among the comics he has already seen, even comics he saw as recently as last year. He notes that comics try to reinvent themselves as they grow and get more experience. “It is natural that most comedians are much sharper and funnier a year later because of more stage time,” he says. “If I see a comedian one year and they are making a lot of rookie mistakes – taking the easy way out with their jokes, pandering to the crowd, acting like a comedian instead of being one – I don't hold that against them. I did the same things they did. I am excited when I see a comedian a year later and they have taken leaps and bounds. It is exciting to know that they love comedy so much, they invested the time to do the work it took to find stage time, to take risks and to sharpen their skills.”

Brill calls Boston “one of the greatest cities in America for comedy,” and has been thrilled with the level of talent he finds here. “The real hard and satisfying work is to find and develop young talent and watch them grow in the community and become the best in their craft,” he says. “It's like having a kid and he/she makes you proud of them. Rick Jenkins does that so well, and that is why I like to use The Comedy Studio when I am scouting. There is amazing talent in Boston top to bottom – and incredibly enthusiastic and smart comedy fans.”

He still has a soft spot for Boston, having spent his formative years as a comic here. “It is still one of my favorite cities to do stand up in,” he says. “This is where I cut my comedy teeth.”

Great American Comedy Festival Showcase: 8PM, $10. The Comedy Studio, 1238 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Ma. 617.661.6507

A Very Special Showcase of Boston Comedians: 8PM, $8. Myq Kaplan, Micah Sherman, Kendra Cunningham, Matt D., Ira Proctor, Kelly MacFarland, Mehran, Lamont Price, Tony Moschetto, Sean Wilkenson, and Bethany Van Delft. The Comedy Studio, 1238 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, Ma. 617.661.6507

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