Your Week in Comedy – Big Guns

newtest1AROUND THE WEB

Texas Monthly featured a nice piece on Smart Girls at the Party, an Austin based web series hosted by Amy Poehler.

This month’s Believer Magazine has a fascinating in depth article about the search for Dave Chappelle 10 years after he left his talk show.

Entertainment Weekly posted an exclusive excerpt from Henry Bushkin’s biography of late night legend Johnny Carson.

Comedian Sam Hyde pranked an entire TEDx conference with hilarious results. His talk entitled “2070 paradigm shift” was rambling nonsense that he delivered with a straight face to a crowd at Drexel University.

 

BIG SCREENS

The Austin comedy ZERO CHARISMA is out on VOD this week! The acclaimed feature stars Sam Eidson and was directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews. The film debuted at SXSW this past year.

Peter Dinklage has signed on for an R-rated comedy that is said to be tonally similar to BAD SANTA. Dinklage will play a man who tells people that he is a leprechaun.

 

TV PARTY

Workaholics’ Adam Devine is hosting a brand new talk show on Comedy Central on October 24th at 12:30am. Entertainment Weekly has a preview of Adam Devine’s House Party.

Meanwhile, Adult Swim will air pilots of Paul Scheer’s Filthy Sexy Teen$ and Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories.

Will Ferrell, Tobey Maguire, and Kristen Wiig spoof The Thorn Birds in The Spoils of Babylon for IFC.

Festival Supreme week kicks off today on IFC with multiple showings of their comedy catalogue including Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Trapped in the Closet, Monty Python and more!

Bruce Willis hosts Saturday Night Live this Saturday for the first time since 1989. Watch the promo with Cecily Strong below.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Will Ferrell will attend the Austin Film Festival to participate in a live reading of a script written by Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan. The reading will be directed by Rian Johnson who directed the acclaimed “Ozymandias” episode of said series.

Sarah Silverman has been added to the Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup. She will join Tenacious D, Doug Benson, Patton Oswalt, Craig Robinson, Jenny Slate and others on the Yellow Stage.

Margaret Cho performs at the Paramount on Wednesday October 23rd. Her new show is entitled MOTHER and is billed as a complicated and completely original take on sex, queer politics, drugs, guns, identity and madness.

FPIA winner Mac Blake headlines the Velv

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This Saturday night, 2013 Funniest Person in Austin winner Mac Blake will headline the Velveeta Room for the first time ever. Blake is one of the hardest working men in comedy as part of Mascot Wedding, Stag Comedy, and Master Pancake (to name but a few) but he’s relatively new to standup. Since winning FPIA earlier this year, he has already gone on to perform at the esteemed Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.  I spoke with Blake about juggling projects, developing material, and what the Austin comedy scene is missing (hint: it’s racist).

 

Is Mac your real name?

Mac is short for McClain, which is my real first name.

What’s your favorite thing about the comedy scene here?

I love how diverse it is. I also love the lack of obstacles between you and stage time. You have an idea for a show? All it takes is a little bit of hustle and you can do that show.

What’s one thing you think the scene is missing?

I can think of stuff I wish there was more of, but nothing that’s completely missing. I don’t think Austin has a single racist puppet comedian though. If you’re reading this and you have hate in your heart and a sock on your hand, there’s money just sitting on the table, waiting for you to scoop it up with a foam mouth.

In addition to standup, you perform with Stag Comedy. How do you decide that a certain funny idea you have is better suited for standup or sketch?

Usually the idea itself sort of demands to be either a sketch or a bit. In the past, there’d be stuff that I’d definitely do as a sketch, but as I’ve gone along, I’ve started to diversify my material and do more “acting” on stage. Those quote marks are there for a reason by the way. Oh, and my material is still 90% complaining though, so nobody panic.

What can people expect to see at your Velveeta shows this weekend?

They can see me doing my favorite material, plus some new stuff. Also the very funny Brendan K. O’Grady and some other great Austin acts. This is my first time headlining the Velv and I’m very excited about it.

Anything else coming up that you’re excited about?

STAG Comedy has a halloween sketch show every Saturday in October at ColdTowne Theater. Those shows are just ridiculously weird and funny. I also co-host a show with Joe Hafkey called Jazz Cigarette. It’s the 2nd and 4th Mondays at the SpiderHouse Ballroom. Jazz Cigarette has been so much fun. Primarily stand-up with a videos and miscellaneous weirdness mixed in. In November, I’m doing PUNCH!, a certain fun festival, and also probably a run with Master Pancake Theater, so plenty of opportunity for everyone to get real sick of me.

Was this a dumb interview?

Dumb? No. Why? Did you think so? I’m sorry, John.

 


With Ryan Cownie in an episode of “Terry and Gary“.

 

Mac Blake headlines the Velveeta Room Saturday October 12 at 9:30pm and 11:30pm. Brendan K. O’Grady hosts. (info)

Your Week in Comedy – He saw it on the television.

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AROUND THE WEB

Great news for comedy fans, John Mulaney’s sitcom has been picked up by Fox. ‘Mulaney’ which was originally developed for NBC is loosely based on the comedian’s life and features Martin Short. We spoke with Mulaney at Moontower last year for Inside Joke.

CBS announced today that Letterman will be on the air through 2015.

Jerry Seinfeld has opened up his personal archives for us to see. He writes that he will pick out three stand-up bits each day that still amuse him.

The inimitable Chelsea Peretti has an interview with Splitsider where she discusses her new series Brooklyn Nine Nine, Parks and Recreation and the differences between standup in New York and LA.

Norm MacDonald’s Breaking Bad theory has the web ablaze. Warning: tons of spoilers.

 

VIDEO ROUNDUP

Stephen Colbert officiated The 2013 Government Shutdown Wedding of the Century on last night’s Colbert Report and some amazing guests stopped by.

Judd Apatow and Maria Bamford reminisced about the nineties for Vanity Fair.

The Onion reminds us of the dark side of standup.

Hannibal Buress talks gibberish rap with Kamau Bell on Totally Biased.

Eugene Mirman is “Confused About the Details” of Obamacare.

Paul Scheer gave a TED Talk about why honey should not be considered a dipping sauce on Conan.

Samantha Bee badgered the one Republican who didn’t vote for the shutdown on last night’s Daily Show.

And finally, Tig Notaro guested on Rookie’s “Ask a Grown” series and answered questions from adolescents about “making friends, liking yourself, and what to do when the worst happens” in this inspiring video.

 

UPCOMING SHOWS

Donnell Rawlings (‘Chappelle’s Show’, ‘The Wire’, & ‘Def Comedy Jam’) is at Cap City tonight through Saturday, October 5th. Next week, Cap has Pete Correale from Comedy Central, ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ & ‘The Tonight Show’. Tuesday’s Miranda Sings show is completely sold out.

The Late Slots hosted by Lucas Molandes continues to put together some of the best lineups in town. This week features John Rabon, Bryan Gutmann, Maggie Maye, and Eric Krug. That’s three Funniest Person in Austin winners in one show. Recommended. At the Velveeta Room.

Sure Thing is back Saturday night with Twitter phenom Brian Gaar whose tweet was just featured in Esquire Magazine. Looks like a great show. At Austin Java. FREE.

And don’t sleep on those Bob Newhart tickets! The living legend will be at the Paramount Theatre this fall.

Your Week in Comedy – CK, SNL, and Benson

newwebphoto4AROUND THE WEB

Tina Fey will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live this weekend. Austin’s own Brian Gaar got a nice shout out in an interview with SNL’s head writer Alex Baze.

Doug Benson was all over Fantastic Fest this week. He breaks down the fest day by day in a series of Fantastic Fest minisodes featuring audio from his Lord of the Rings movie interruption with Elijah Wood. You can also check out the Fantastic Fest episode of Doug Loves Movies with Chris Cubas, Jeff Dye, and Ti West.

The delightful Maria Bamford talks to Melinda Hill in an alley in the new episode of All Growz Up.

NPR has a nice piece on David Cross and Bob Odenkirk’s new book: ‘Hollywood Said No,’ But ‘Mr. Show’ Fans Said Yes!

Zach Galifianakis talks to Justin Bieber in the latest chapter of Between Two Ferns. He also beats him with a belt.

C.J. Toledano shares an inspiring email he received from Louis C.K. when he was 18 and talks about it in his blog post, A Louis C.K. Thing That Isn’t The Louis C.K. Thing That Was Already Posted A Million Times.

Louis was recently on Conan and the two reminisced about working together in the early days of the NBC show. Season Three of Louie is now available for streaming on Netflix.

 

UPCOMING SHOWS

Comedian/musician Nick Thune plays Cap City Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm and 10:30pm. Featuring Ramin Nazer and hosted by Ryan Cownie.

Lucas Molandes hosts The Late Slot Friday at 9:30pm and 11:30pm at the Velveeta Room.

The very funny Jake Flores headlines the Velv on Saturday night with feature Bob Khosravi.

And tickets are still on sale for  Russell Brand, Whitney Cummings, and Bob Newhart all at the Paramount Theatre this fall.


Doug Benson catches Elijah Wood participating in an impromptu slap fight at the closing night Fantastic Fest party.

Nick Thune plays Cap City this week

Nick Thune is a very funny man. And it’s not just me who thinks so. Many of the biggest names in comedy agree with me. Just take a look at his résumé. As an actor, he’s worked with legendary writer/directors Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, and Mike JudgeAs a comic, he’s performed on Conan, Fallon, and the Tonight Show over a dozen times. He has a successful Comedy Central special and his album Thick Noon was voted one of the best albums of that year. Nick has a new special coming out soon and, tonight through Saturday, he’ll be at Cap City Comedy Club.

I spoke with Nick about his new special, working with Mike Judge, and farting.

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When did you first think about becoming a comedian? Was there a moment when you realized that it was something that you were going to do as a career?

My first thought of becoming a comedian was when I was in 7th grade.  I farted in class and my teacher laughed and said “I give that an 8”. The whole class laughed.  I was the king.  The next day I held my farts in all day.  Waiting for Mr. Foster’s English class.  Knowing I would probably nail it again and get a lot of laughs.  During the 15 minute silent reading, I let loose again.  This time Mr. Foster said “It was funny the first time.  This time it’s gross.”  Nobody laughed.  Ever since then I’ve been searching for that first laugh.  And farting.

You have acted in a number of films including EXTRACT written and directed by Austin’s own Mike Judge. How did you get involved with the project and what was it like working with him?

I auditioned for one role and didn’t get it.  Then a week later I got a call saying Mike liked what I did and wanted to find something for me.  Next thing I know I’m in the valley wearing a Sam Ash uniform and Mike Judge is directing me and Mila Kunis was speaking Russian on her cell phone between takes.  Just another normal day.

Any projects coming up that you are excited about? 

I’m just wrapping up the editing process for my new hour special, Folk Hero.  Pretty excited about that.  Also I’ve been working on getting the grass in my backyard to stop dying all the time.  Those are my two big projects right now.

You’ve spent a good deal of time in our fair city. What do you like to do when you’re in town?

BBQ.  Thats the simplest way to put it.  I love BBQ.  Also, There is a Ramen place I like going to.  So, FOOD is the answer.

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Nick Thune performs at Cap City Comedy Club September 25-28th. Tickets are available here.

Your Week in Comedy – When it Rains it Pours

newwebphoto3AROUND THE WEB

Saturday Night Live’announced new cast members and revealed that Cecily Strong will join Seth Meyers at the “Weekend Update” desk. One of the new recruits, Beck Bennett was recently in town filming Intramural, a comedy film written and directed by Austinites – Bradley Jackson and Andrew Disney respectively – that also featured Kate McKinnon and Jay Pharoah from SNL.

Departing Austinite and all around stellar comic Chris Cubas advanced in Comedy Central’s UP NEXT competition. He will move on to one of four semi-final rounds with comics from around the nation in hopes of earning a slot on the New York Comedy Festival’s “Comics to Watch” show on Wednesday, November 6th.

It took 51 years, but Bob Newhart finally got his Emmy. The Hollywood Reporter spoke to the living legend about how he celebrated the win. Catch Newhart at the Paramount Theatre on December 6th. Tickets are going fast.

Photographer Mindy Tucker has been documenting the New York Comedy scene for the past six years. HuffPo Comedy has been sharing select photographs of hers in their  Stolen Moments series. Their latest post captures Sarah Silverman at Whiplash’s 5-year anniversary celebration at UCB and the full album has shots of  Leo Allen, Eugene Mirman, Janeane Garofalo, and more.

Paul F. Tompkins interviews Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut) on his latest Speakeasy show and it’s wonderful.

Original show writer Al Jean breaks down how to write a “Simpsons” episode for Fast Company.

IFC compiled comedy advice from seven comics who’ve made it including Moontower alums Bill Burr, Ari Shaffir, and Judah Friedlander.

Variety announced that NBC is developing a Johnny Carson miniseries based on the upcoming book “Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait”

James Franco spoofs the paparazzi from his Instagram account.

Buzzfeed has a terrific profile of  W. Kamau Bell and Totally Biased, his groundbreaking television show.

 

UPCOMING SHOWS

Comic/musician/Tony-winner Stephen Lynch performs at the Stateside at the Paramount on Friday at 8:00pm.

Money From Strangers host and Last Comic Standing finalist Jeff Dye will be at Cap City this weekend.

Saturday night, check out Shit’s Golden, the acclaimed showcase hosted by Chris Tellez and Rob Gagnon at the New Movement.

Eric Andre announced this week that he’ll present a live version of The Eric Andre Show at Red 7 on November 16th.

And coming up at the Paramount, see Russell Brand on September 26th, Whitney Cummings on November 23rd, and grab one of the remaining tickets to see Bob Newhart on December 6th!

 

Stephen Lynch plays the Stateside Friday

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His resume is filled with accomplishments that most comedians dream about.

He’s opened for Steven Wright, co-headlined with Mitch Hedberg, toured with Louis CK, and performed at the legendary Carnegie Hall. He has two Comedy Central Presents specials, five best-selling albums, an RIAA-certified Gold DVD, and starred in the Broadway adaptation of The Wedding Singer.

He’s also the son of a former priest and a former nun who tests all of his song ideas out on his wife before proceeding (if she doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t write it).

He’s stand-up comedian, musician, and Tony Award-nominated actor Stephen Lynch and, this Friday, he’ll bring his celebrated brand of musical based comedy to Stateside at the Paramount.

Lynch’s most recent album is Lion and he’ll be promoting it on this tour. Of the record, Lynch has said, “I wanted this album to have the Americana flavor to it that I love so much in the music of, say, Neil Young or Patty Griffin or Ray LaMontagne. I think it does. And I’m confident the songs are still funny, if a bit subtler than some of my earlier work. Astute listeners will detect a slight shift of direction, comedy-wise. Musically, it’s the best work I’ve ever done. I’m a little bit in love with it.”

We are too.

Stephen Lynch performs at the Stateside at the Paramount on Friday, September 20th at 8:00pm. Tickets are available here.

Your Week in Comedy – Friday the 13th

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Welcome to Your Week In Comedy! Each week, I’ll bring you links to comedy news and articles from around the web, funny videos from comics, sketch groups, and local entertainers, plus information on upcoming shows and events right here in Austin. Without any further ado, let’s jump right in!

 

AROUND THE WEB

Deadline announced this week that Vince Gilligan is moving forward with his Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul with Bob Odenkirk.

Sarah Silverman introduces us to the Black NRA in a Funny or Die video featuring David Alan Grier, Neal Brennan, Ron Funches and Deon Cole.

In light of Dave Chappelle’s incident in Hartford, The A.V. Club argues that when comedians walk, it’s the audience’s fault.

Patton Oswalt talked to Conan about auditioning to be on his show on Latino Comedy Night some 20 years ago.

Comedian Cameron Esposito wrote an article for Vice about  the kindest thing Jay Leno ever did for her.

The Arsenio Hall Show topped the talk show ratings in the 25 biggest cities according to The New York Times.

And finally, the Hustle Show takes a look at The Rockin’ Life of David Komie, the Attorney that rocks based on the real life Austin lawyer’s ubiquitous billboards.

 

UPCOMING SHOWS

Saturday night, the very witty Duncan Carson headlines the Velveeta Room. The Moontower veteran is one of my favorites in the Austin scene. Danny Palumbo opens.

Also on Saturday, comedian/author/”Drunk HIstory” narrator Jen Kirkman plays The North Door as part of her “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself” stand-up/book tour. Inside Joke co-host and Moontower favorite Kerri Lendo opens the show.

Last Comic Standing winner Josh Blue is at Cap City this weekend. With Chuck Roy and Katie Pengra.

Next week, don’t miss comedian, musician and Tony Award-nominated actor Stephen Lynch on the Paramount stage. Tickets are on sale now!

And on November 8th, catch Archer Live! featuring the all-star cast and producers of FX’s hit original animated comedy series at the Bass Concert Hall. Tickets go on sale today!

 

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Henry Phillips Returns to Beerland Thursday

Comedian/musician/filmmaker Henry Phillips returns to Austin this Thursday night for a one night only show at Beerland. Henry is one of my favorite working comics whose unique voice and unconventional mix of comedy and music set him apart from other so-called guitar acts – just ask Doug Stanhope. Through his work in his feature film Punching the Clown, The Loner short films, and his YouTube cooking show Henry’s Kitchen, he has elevated awkwardness to an art form with characters that are at least loosely based on his own experiences and usually named Henry Phillips.

I spoke with Henry about his solitary character, why Doug Stanhope thought he was going to suck, and that one time he hung out with the cast of Taxi.

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I love The Loner shorts. The character you created there eventually made it’s way into Punching the Clown and is often at the center of your standup. Can you talk a bit about the genesis of that character? 

I’ve always liked the idea of being the guy who tries to do what everyone else does, but is just really bad at it. The subject matter just mirrors whatever phase I’m going through in life. It started with music, and at the time of The Loner it was meeting girls at bars, and now it’s living alone and teaching people how to cook. Everything Peter Sellers did was a huge inspiration (The Party!), along with Spinal Tap/Christopher Guest movies, Albert Brooks, Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy, etc. I like so many kinds of comedy, but that’s really the genre I feel like I can actually do.

I’ve read that you’ve credited Doug Stanhope with giving you your start/getting you on the road. How did that come to be?

For a couple of years Doug and I were drinking buddies in LA, and eventually he saw my act and started bringing me out to open for him. (He later said he purposely avoided seeing me perform because he knew I was a guitar act and thought I was gonna suck, and it would make the friendship awkward). Through that, I was instantly in with some of the best clubs there were at the time, like the Houston Laff Stop and Acme in Minneapolis. Then I was able to branch out from there. Doug continues to inspire me by beating down his own path to a career as opposed to trying to impress the gatekeepers that decide who succeeds in show business.

What was it like growing up with a dad who was a character actor?

My Dad, while never becoming a household name, was successful in that he was able to make his living at it, and that was inspiring enough for me. The most notable moment was in 1980 when he taped an episode of Taxi and my brother and I watched from the sound booth (I was 10). There was a party afterward, I think for Tony Danza’s birthday, and we all went and met the cast: Andy Kaufman, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, etc. They were all very festive and polite to my brother and I, making jokes etc. All I remember was that I was extremely bored. A couple years later I met John Stamos, and that was much more exciting for me at the time.

What’s your favorite thing about visiting Austin?

Austin. Wow. I’ve never NOT had an epic time there. I’ll be hanging with my old pal Mike MacRae, who will be on the show as well. I love BBQ, barhopping, hanging with musicians/comedians/filmmakers, etc., and if this time is like last year, I’ll be doing all those things. Can’t wait actually.

Any new projects on the horizon?

In terms of new projects, we’re going to start raising money for a Punching the Clown sequel, which will mostly cover a development deal we just had for cable to turn the first movie into a series. You can imagine how the plot will end up. Also, I’m always making my web videos and releasing music, so there will be more of that, and maybe eventually something will end up on TV. If not, no one can’t stop me from calling a bar somewhere and doing a show there with my friends!

Henry performs at Beerland this Thursday night at 8pm. Tickets are available here.

Hi, my name is John Merriman

And I’m taking over the Moontower “blog” or “web log”. As your new “blogger” or “web logger”, I look forward to bringing you news and stories from the comedy world at large with a special focus on the Austin comedy scene, the Moontower Comedy Festival, and items from the “blogosphere” or “web logosphere”.

Why me?

Good question. Take it easy.

Well, I have been a comedy fan since I was a kid. I talked my Mom’s friend into taping Lettermans for me while I was away at summer camp.

I was in middle school when I went to my first comedy club. We were visiting New York City and my parents somehow convinced the door guy at Catch a Rising Star to let me and my little sister into the show.

A year or so later, they got me into a show at the Improv in Los Angeles. Jay Leno dropped in and did a surprise set. I was fifteen (and he was still funny).

It was the late eighties. And I was witnessing the tail end of the first stand-up comedy boom.

When I moved to Austin in the mid-nineties, stand-up was harder to find. The alternative comedy scene may have been alive in New York and L.A., but it seemed out of reach here. I watched HBO and Dr. Katz to get my stand-up fix and, one day, I tuned into Austin Stories. The show was a little uneven, but it was funny. My first trip to the Velveeta Room was to see two of the show’s stars, Howard Kremer and Chip Pope, leading lights of the Austin stand-up scene. It was a great show.

After that experience, I started coming out more. I sat in the front row the night Matt Bearden won Funniest Person in Austin and became friends with then local comics Chris FairbanksBrendon WalshJim Hamilton, and Martha Kelly. The Austin scene may have been tiny, but it had more than it’s share of funny people. Everyone I just mentioned would make their way onto late night talk shows and Comedy Central specials within a few years. But at the time, club attendance was down, it was rare to see a national headliner in Austin, and outside of a handful of shows at SXSW, few so-called “alternative” comics came to town.

Today, Austin is a major destination for comics of all levels and national headliners like Jim Gaffigan tape their specials here. So what’s changed?

Among other things, podcasts. Marc Maron launched the WTF podcast out of his garage, and he, along with a slew of others, helped renew interest in live comedy.

But also, the secret was out about us. Austin was an attractive place to live and do standup for a lot of up-and-coming comics. Some great talent started moving here, and club attendance started to rise, for local comics and for the bigger, touring acts. And as many comics will tell you, we have some of the best comedy audiences in the country.

I truly believe that we are in the midst of a second standup comedy boom, and Austin is very much a part of it. Moontower is part of the reason that we’ve become a bona fide destination for big time headliners.

It’s happening all around us. Just last week, Dave Chappelle kicked off his comeback tour in Austin as part of the Funny or Die Oddball Fest while days later the Out of Bounds Fest brought in dozens of stand ups and improvisors. There’s so much going on, it’s becoming harder to keep up.

That’s where I come in. I plan to use this space to keep you informed about what’s going on around town (and elsewhere). I’ll be posting interviews, festival previews, wrap-ups, reviews, link round-ups, and more. And, I look forward to hearing from you about what you’d like to see in this blog.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Chappelle taking the stage at the Oddball tour in Austin. (Video courtesy of Brody Stevens).