Sunday, May 11, 2014

Women In Comedy Festival founders with the celebratory cake at Laugh Boston.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

‎Jackie Kashian at Laugh Boston.‎

‎Rye Silverman says, "This is just how my brain works, and I have the legs for it."‎

‎Seattle-based comic Emmett Montgomery at Laugh Boston.

Kelsie Huff demonstrating the dance that got her kicked out of church camp.

Kelsie Huff onstage now at Laugh Boston.

‎Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher at Laugh Boston for a live taping of "Put Your Hands Together Podcast LIVE!"

‎Judy Gold at Laugh Boston. 

‎Kendra Cunningham at Laugh Boston.

‎Leah Dubie at Laugh Boston. 

‎Robby Hoffman at Laugh Boston.

‎Erin Judge at Laugh Boston. ‎

‎Wendy Liebman at Laugh Boston for the Women In Comedy Festival.

Todd Barry's "Crowd Work" in the Boston Globe

I spoke with Todd Barry about his "Crowd Work" special and tours for today's Boston Globe, in a piece called "Barry's winging it with crowd-sourced comedy." Barry is on his third and "Final Crowd Work Tour," which comes to the Sinclair Sunday night. There is no pre-written material, just Barry talking to the crowd.

In the story, Barry mentions an audience member in Minneapolis whom I say was a lawyer working for a "sex toy factory." He was a bit more specific, but the Globe is a family paper, and I couldn't mention it. Here is Barry, explaining how some audience members can still throw him a curveball now and then.

"Some people surprise you. A guy in Minneapolis had like a corporate lawyer job, and it just seemed like it wasn’t going to be anything to talk about, and then he said, somehow, ‘But I am representing a dildo company now.’ You know, I have questions then." 

WICF Spotlight: Robin Maxfield

Robin Maxfield came to stand-up comedy through storytelling, a skill she’ll get to show off this afternoon at Club Passim as part of the Women In Comedy Festival. She’s also a mother, which is why she has organized the Haha Mama Mother’s Day Show for the past several years. This year, there will be two Haha Mama shows (1PM and 7PM at Laugh Boston) featuring Bonnie McFarlane, Andrea Henry, Kerri Louise, Jane Condon, Bethany Van Delft, Roz Browne, and more. Maxfield talks about storytelling, the WICF, and more below as part of a series of interviews about the festival.

You have a bigger presence at the WICF this year. What are your thoughts on the festival, how it’s put together, and various acts on the schedule?

It’s wonderful to be able to collaborate with the producers at WICF. The festival is so jam packed with great events that it’s hard to choose which to go to and when you’re producing there’s even less time.

You come from a storytelling background – what’s the difference between stand-up and storytelling, in your experience?

These two worlds are not only merging more but they are developing respect for each other. Stand-up has structure that is measured by getting people to laugh as often as possible with the least words, storytelling allows a comic a longer set up and often a bigger payoff with a huge laugh. Really good stand-ups will have a story arc to their set, a theme that builds.

You’ve been doing the “Haha Mama” Mother’s Day Show for a few years. For the uninitiated, what can people expect from that night?

They can expect to be comfortably seated in the newest and most beautiful comedy club in Boston laughing at a hilarious line up of women comics talking about motherhood- a universal topic wrought with chaos, confusion and emotional roller coasters. Birth belongs exclusively to women, no one can deny us that. In fact, no one would be here without a woman somewhere being willing to carry them to term and then letting them live, whether they know her or not.

We’ve talked about “mom comedy” before. Focusing your material on one particular type of material can help your establish a comic identity that might provide opportunities, on one hand, to relate to an audience, but on the other, also limit other opportunities. Is that a battle you’ve faced?

The first time we did the haha mama show there was a mom who brought her 19 year old son along. I raced up to him and asked him if he found the comedy relatable and he said “It was awesome, I was cracking up!” I said “Really? even the menstrual cycle and blow job jokes?” He said “absolutely!” From then on I continued to ask the men of all ages including a group of gay men what they thought and it turns out EVERYONE loves Mom humor because almost everyone has a mom. My own theory too is that people like to see confident women expressing themselves freely, they not only laugh but they learn.  It’s like having a window into a Girls’ Night Out, they don’t hold back because women find their strength in numbers. Male comics compete, females tend to collaborate, support and strengthen each other, at least that’s what I’ve witnessed.

You’ve got a great line-up for the show, as well. Anyone you’re particularly excited to see?

I’m super excited about our headliner, Bonnie McFarlane. I saw Jane Condon at last year’s festival and I was falling over laughing so hard so I can’t wait to see her again.  Everyone in the show is super strong and we had so many talented women that we have a different line up for each show so you can go to both!

What’s next after the festival? 

I’m thrilled to be continuing with the monthly Boston Comedy Chicks at Doyles and we have excited plans to livestream the show on the Internet as well as continue running our workshops for female comics to work on their material.

Emmett Montgomery at the Comedy Studio.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Emma Willmann

‎Emma Willmann at the Comedy Studio.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Kate Ghiloni

Kate Ghiloni at the Comedy Studio.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Heidi Foss

Heidi Foss at the Comedy Studio.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Selena Coppock

Selena Coppock plays the Comedy Studio.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Wendy Liebman

Wendy Liebman, who got her start in the Boston comedy scene, plays the Comedy Studio for the first time as part of the Women In Comedy Festival.

PHOTO - Bettysioux Tailor at the Jerkus Circus

‎More Bettysioux Tailor.

PHOTOS - The Steamies Tell a Story

The Steamies hunting for mushrooms and playing with aliens in Vermont.

PHOTO - Danny Morsel's Big Finish

‎Danny Morsel demonstrating a move he calls "You're Gonna Die."

PHOTO - Danny Morsel and Combat Dancing

Danny Morsel prepares to combat dance.

PHOTO - Danny Morsel and the War Doll Boogie

Danney Morsel combat dancing with the War Doll at the Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO - The Steamies Sing

They're love for you is like dental floss. The Steamies at Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO - Amy Macabre at the Jerkus Circus

Amy Macabre dances at the Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO - More Mating Dances

More mating dances of the New England Saxophone Player.

PHOTO - The Human Knot Juggles

Oh, a man pushing his body through two tennis rackets and a toilet seat isn't enough? What if he also juggled razor-sharp knives?

PHOTO - The Human Knot at the Jerkus Circus

A man who pushes his body through two tennis rackets and a toilet seat? Why yes, the Jerkus Circus has that. The Human Knot.

PHOTO - Bettysioux Tailor Sings at the Jerkus Circus

Bettysioux Tailor at the Jerkus Circus.

Friday, May 9, 2014

PHOTO - Saxophone Mating Dance at the Jerkus Circus

A saxophone and a mating dance at the Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO - Pete the Human Floor In Action at the Jerkus Circus

‎Pete the Human Floor and his 13 volunteers.

PHOTOS - The Steamies Want To Know...

The Steamies play a (drinking) game with the audience.

PHOTO - Barry Tattle at the Jerkus Circus

Barry Tattle (a.k.a. Chris Coxen) and his fabulous sugar broom at the Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO - Allix Mortis at the Jerkus Circus

Burlesque act Allix Mortis ‎dancing to Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around."

PHOTO - Steamies Folk It Up at the Jerkus Circus

More of the Steamy Bohemians at the Jerkus Circus, singing a traditional Appalachian folk song.

PHOTO - Steamy Bohemians at the Jerkus Circus

The Steamy Bohemians onstage now at Oberon for the Jerkus Circus.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Judy Gold

Judy Gold drops in on the Comedy Studio at the Women In Comedy Festival.

PHOTO: At the WICF - Erin Judge

Erin Judge hosting at the Women In Comedy Festival.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

PHOTO: The Crowd Watching the Eddie Izzard Q&A

‎The crowd at the Wang.

Photo: Eddie Izzard Answers Questions at the Wang

Eddie Izzard on the stairs, taking questions from a packed lobby.

Eddie Izzard Gives Slutcracker a Shout Out at At Q&A

Eddie Izzard came out to answer audience questions tonight after his "Force Majeure" show at the Wang, and the very last question belonged to local burlesque dancer Sugar Dish. Izzard had riffed on stealing makeup back before he was an executive transvestite (he was still a rank private then), so Ms. Dish asked him what his favorite lipstick to steal was. That's when Izzard noticed her t-shirt, and asked, "Does that say 'Slutcracker?'" That brought some catcalls and applause from the crowd, which had filled the lobby and peppered the two balconies waiting to see Izzard (see following posts for a couple of more photos). 

From Sugar Dish's Facebook Fanpage:
@EddieIzzard called on me during Q&A, read @Slutcracker off my shirt, audience cheered, I did a jig. #truestory

For more on Izzard's tour, which is in town for the next two nights, read my piece in the Boston Globe here.  

Oh, and for the record, it's "Lady Danger" by MAC. 

WICF Spotlight: Jackie Kashian

Jackie Kashian is a comedian you should see. And lucky you, she’s in town this week as part of the Women In Comedy Festival. This is the first of a series of Q&As I’ll be posting with performers and organizers of the WICF, one of the best festivals in town. Kashian has appeared on “Conan” and has her own podcast, “The Dork Forest,” which she will be recording live at Laugh Boston Saturday night. In case that’s not enough geek cred for you, she also named her latest special “This Will Make An Excellent Horcrux.” She will be hosting the Geek Stand Up Showcase Friday, also at Laugh Boston. Being a “dork” is a big part of her personality, but is only part of her comedy. She’s got a sarcastic, common sense wit and a nice touch with a personal story.

You've played the Women In Comedy Festival before. What are your  thoughts on the festival? What made you come back?

I like the people involved. That's usually key. Not even usually. Heh. I love Boston and I never get to come here so this is a great treat. I worked in Provincetown for three summers (or two, I was very drunk) so I love Massachusetts.

When did you first self-identify as a dork?

After I wrote the bit about "how deep in the dork forest do you have to go?" It was on my half-hour special on Comedy Central. Previously, others had labeled me. I just started celebrating it.

Is there a difference in your mind between "dorks," "nerds," and "geeks?"

People think so. I think it's all mixed up. Enthusiasm, a lot of (what some might consider) extraneous information about what were considered non mainstream interests. Turns out, though, that even jocks and cheerleaders enjoy comic books and video games. So even the line is blurry. The Dork Forest Podcast adds to that. I let almost anything be a dorkdom. Baseball, the Beatles and knitting aren't traditional geek topics ... But people dork out hard on those and a hundred other things. It's so great.

Do you know any of the other comics on the "Geeks Stand Up Showcase?"

I've met some of 'em. Maggie Faris is from Minneapolis and I'm a Minneapolis I know her pretty well! I'm looking forward, of course, to seeing everyone's sets!

Did growing up in Milwaukee affect your sense of humor at all?

Oh yes. Wisconsin is this weird mixture of progressive politics and an impatience with a (real or imagined) lack of frugality and common sense. And every time there's contradiction, in life, there's an opportunity for comedy. I love Wisconsin but the disconnect is glaring sometimes and it makes me laugh.

Do you find there are regional sensibilities you have to take into account when you travel?

Well. Probably. But, the way I think of it, is that everyone gets cable. All audiences can get all jokes. There is, sometimes, a purposeful balk at getting some things. Like, initially, you may not get the reference because it's not regional, but then you get mad that they didn't adapt it. I felt that, some, in Australia. They get enough US television to get every reference but they can get annoyed that you didn't even try to pronounce aluminum "correctly." People everywhere love a local reference though.

In your latest special, you addressed some stand-up stereotypes, especially some punchlines you often hear from male comics - sex and money in relation to marriage, spouses not listening to each other, and driving issues, etc. How often do you see what you'd consider stereotypical material from comedians? Does it split along gender lines?

It spills over into everywhere land. That bit isn't (the common trope) that "men aren't funny." I know a lot of funny men and, really, the media should stop encouraging all the conversations. Headlines that are all "Wonder Woman movie makes us ask, are movies about male superheroes just not viable?" are gratuitous. I'm sorry, what was the question?

Oh. I think all comics write about the same things. The trick is to make it unique. And, in my experience,the only way to do that is to make it personal. I had lunch with a friend yesterday and he said, "the new comics today are so great. They are STARTING from the inside out." There are plenty of people doing very funny observational stuff, silly, smart twisty observational. So great as well.

A lot of new comics are still trying to get out of the first couple years trap. In the first couple years of doing standup, you’re often just looking for any response. So hacky stuff is inevitable. I, myself, in the first year of stand-up used to do a little gem about how I thought Batman and Robin might be gay! I know! Hilarious. I believe the punchline revolved around the bat pole.

There are, also, comics I don't like. Doesn't mean someone doesn't love their work. And I've been accused of not “getting” it. That is very possible. Some comedy just wasn't written for me. And I find hate comedy hacky. If someone's been doing stand-up for more than, let's say, four years and all they can do is rage on their husband, wife, ex, men in general, women in general, race or religion...I'm annoyed. Mostly I'm bored, but, when I am forced into seeing it, I'm annoyed.

Comedy, whether or not anyone doing it realizes, tends to teach people about things. It can shed a light on rape or incest or hot pockets, or it justify your worst thoughts about life and humanity. It can keep you scared or it can free you up. I love the comedy that says "yes, I, too, have weird thoughts that I act on (eating at McDonalds) and don't act on (my daughter’s friends are really good looking)." And really personal stuff, “I have gone to prostitutes, I have mental illness, I masturbate all the time,” those things can really brighten a life in the audience.

I'm being too philosophical, perhaps. I know comedy isn't like being a doctor or priest or social worker or city councilman...but I tend to think that every job can be done to better the human experience. Even if it's shouty, wiggly comedy to make you giggle.

What's next for you once the festival is over?

I am on tour a lot (Scottsdale, Tacoma, Dallas A-Kon, Wyoming). I might play a guy's mom in a pilot pitch thing. I'm recording a lot of Dork Forest podcasts. I might lie down for a nap in late June.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Photo: Daniel Kitson at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival

The actual Daniel Kitson, winner of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. "In a gathering of art, there will always be a victor," he says.

Photo: Wyatt Cenac as Daniel Kitson with Eugene Mirman

"It's me! English Daniel Kitson!"

Photo: Kristen Schaal at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival

Kristen Schaal, whom Eugene Mirman introduced as his "comedy spirit angel sister.‎"

Photo: Eugene Mirmman Eye Contact Booth

The much ballyhooed Eye Contact Booth.