Tag Archives: Comedy Moontower

Ex-Austinite Jim Hamilton’s FALLON Set

Former Austin resident Jim Hamilton made his network television debut this week on NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Now Los Angeles-based, Hamilton is a four-time finalist in Cap City’s Funniest Person in Austin contest, he’s appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, and he recently released his well-received debut album, “Poems About The Ocean” on AST Records. Paste magazine just published a feature on the rising comic (and that article can be viewed by signing up for a free trial). Hamilton trades in brutally dark self-deprecation, clever observations, and unabashed pun-y wordplay. His line “Spoiler Alert: The bell tolls for thee!” may not garner the Big Laugh from audiences but it’s a classic time-release nugget as far as Comedy Moontower is concerned. Oh, and hey, thanks for your concern. We kid. Check out Jim below (and note that the clip may take longer than usual to load-n-buffer for reasons unknown).

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Preview “A Liar’s Autobiography,” the 3D Animated Feature of Graham Chapman’s Fictionalized Memoir

In what appears to be something completely different and wildly creative, the animated feature, A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, “in lewd, crude 3D,” will be premiering on EPIX and in select theaters on November 2, 2012. The film is based on Chapman’s fictionalized memoir “A Liar’s Autobiography, Volume VI,” which was first published in Britain in 1980 and credits four other authors. Michael Cieply of The New York Times reported that he recorded himself reading his book in a single evening at the studio of Chapman’s friend, singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, before Chapman passed away from cancer on October 4, 1989, at the age of 48 (which shows incredible foresight since audio books were not de rigueur then and also since postmortem audio engineering is so interminably difficult).

The film uses Chapman’s narration to interact with new dialogue by fellow Pythons John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, who play various characters and sometimes themselves, in what is billed as their first reunion in 23 years. Apparently, Eric Idle did not participate but he did write an afterward to Chapman’s book when it was re-published in 1991 and which appears in all subsequent reprintings. On a side note, Comedy Moontower was utterly tickled to see Idle singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian at the 2012 Olympic Games in London since the film initially caused such an unwarranted “blasphemous” kerfuffle in the UK.

The Pythons have been the most influential comedy (and sketch comedy) group since BBC One aired Monty Python’s Flying Circus from 1969-1974. A Liar’s Autobiography should be a massively entertaining trove for both Chapman/Python fans as well as animation aficionados— the film features 17 different animation styles from 14 animation studios.  In typical dark and surreal Python-esque fashion, the trailer even boasts a plug from Chapman claiming A Liar’s Autobiography is, “The best film I’ve been in since I died.”

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The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival Aug 28 – Sept 3

Improv, sketch, and stand-up? You’re soaking in it as the low-key and high caliber Out of Bounds Comedy Festival commences for 7 days with 500+ performers putting on 100 shows at 6 venues. Now in its 11th year, OOB 2012 continues its renown for showcasing the vibrant Austin comedy landscape and hosting brilliant acts from near and afar. This year also really brings stand-up into the fold and folks may want to park their keisters at the Velveeta Room for the amazing parade of comics Wed – Sat.

From improv maestros Adsit and Lutz, to the Monk’s Night Out reunion, the sublime Mary Jo Pehl, and to the untold new favorites waiting in the wings, OOB obliges whether you wade or dive in. And in addition to the Velv, shows are at ColdTowne, the Hideout, the Institution Theatre, New Movement, and Scottish Rite. Viva laugh-filled Labor Day staycations. Thanks OOB!

30 Rock’s John Lutz & Scott Adsit                       Get Up’s Shana Merlin & Shannon McCormick

 For so, so very much info, visit outofboundscomedy.com


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Richard Linklater’s Amazingly Offbeat Travelogue Hulu Series “Up to Speed” with Speed Levitch

Director Richard Linklater and tour guide Speed Levitch (photo by Conor Lamb)

Austin-based filmmaker Richard Linklater re-teams with tour guide, historian, and flâneur Timothy “Speed” Levitch in their new “Up to Speed” original travelogue series, which premiered on Hulu last week. Like a psychedelic Ken Burns on a “magical history tour,” Levitch invites viewers to, “Join us as we hang out and empathize with the inner psyches of famous landmarks and visit with the great, monumentally ignored monuments.”  With an adenoidal and insightful voice whose eloquent loquaciousness is equal parts whimsy and weighty philosophy, Speed indeed engages with mostly inanimate yet renowned objects off the radar of mainstream history’s beaten path. In the premiere episode, “San Francisco: A City Shaped by Earthquakes,” Speed raps with a redwood and converses with the “rather flamboyant” gold fire hydrant that functioned so valiantly the day after the Earthquake of 1906. That these things talk back is more than jubilant kitsch and the laughs and vast knowledge to be gleaned from this show make it less “infotainment” than what Sarah Silverman coined as “learnmedy.”

Audiences were first introduced to the voluble mind of Speed Levitch in Moneyball director Bennett Miller’s 1998 documentary The Cruise, and Linklater recognized a kindred spirit. Linklater cast Speed in his animated feature Waking Life (2001) and they collaborated again on the 2003 short Live from Shiva’s Dance Floor. “Up to Speed” showcases Levitch, the writer and performer, but there’s no mistaking the great Linklater chat-n-amble milieu or the director/producer’s stamp of subversive bonhomie. “Up To Speed” also teems with playful animation that is evocative of Terry Gilliam’s work on “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” The first episode credits the distinctive animation and illustration to Jake Mendez and Marc English, respectively, in addition to graphic design credit. And although the first slate of six episodes do not visit Texas locals, the production is the fruit of several other Austinites like editor Mike Saenz and composer / bandleader Graham Reynolds of Golden Arm Trio and who also scored Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly and Bernie (and who will also be appearing with the Intergalactic Nemesis at the Stateside at the Paramount on August 18, 2012).

And so gentle readers, since you are presumably a fan of comedy and oddity and “Up to Speed” has both in spades, might I suggest treating yourselves to a screening of this wonderfully inventive program that also merits repeat viewings. Kick it!

Click HERE to watch the premiere episode of “Up to Speed,” with Speed Levitch, on Hulu

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Happy Birthday Steve Martin!

And cheers to the next 67 years!

It’s Steve Martin Day here at Comedy Moontower HQ and in celebration of the great comedian & actor / author / writer / musician / song and dance man / visual arts something something / twitterer / Waco-bred National Treasure / smarty-pants, let’s enjoy—  what?— technically “bootlegged” and “copyright” violating amateur phone-cam footage that pretty much breaks the social contract of being an audience member / human and which is not something the Paramount Theatre condones – really! – but this clip is just so… lively and great. Always, always so great. Many thanks. Happy Birthday Steve Martin to all!

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In Praise of “The Occasional” – Funny or Die’s Nearly Unbelievably Great Digital Magazine.

They were different times way back not-quite-a-fortnight-ago on July 25, 2012, when Bob Odenkirk floated his sixth ever tweet. As of this writing, he’s up to eight. But this one read, “I have a short film in this issue of the online magazine “The Occasional” check it out— its [sic] called ‘Read My Screenplay.’” Tabling an editorial style argument against the need for [sic]’ing tweets (especially in light of that I will eventually commit the Great sin of paraphrasing a comedian, and third-party no less), this bit of info gently registered as something pleasant but orbited on my periphery as being sort of foreign for now. “Cool,” was my exact first thought but then it resigned to something in the vein of  “but I’m not made of MUBI money.”

Perhaps DVR’ing, Kindles, Koozies, NOOKs and Crannies are all old hat for you, but The Occasional is in fact an iPad magazine and although I have no allusions about my steering passenger status, I’m not keen to quickly out myself as a veritable hardware Oliver Twist in this respect. I mean, there’s always been a digital divide for content’s journey from A to Me, well analog in the case of affording a Home Box Office subscription and being able to catch Mr. Odenkirk’s work on Mr. Show with Bob and David and The Larry Sanders Show at the time, or at least historically a digits divide as to whether or not folks had the nickel and/or proximity to get their mitts on the newsy, paper-based Barreled Cheese Gazette and the like. Yet it is not with nostalgia but a sense of adjustment that the third issue of Funny or Die’s brilliantly hilarious The Occasional has already placed itself in the hallowed tradition of Mad, National Lampoon, Spy, and The Onion (the latter of which has curiously disappeared in the Twin Cities market and is now locally published by the Austin American Statesman).

In his recent Just For Laughs Keynote address, the always cogent and comical Patton Oswalt spoke about the abundance of choice in this freeing new media milieu and “post-Louie world” where “content is king.” Oswalt held up an iPhone as the key that has unlocked comedians from the tether of “the gatekeepers.” And indeed, The Occasional is also available on the iPhone. And not to sound like I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, neigh, I mean “Nay!” but I’m one of those people who have been more excited about the prospect of a cell “phone” and/or service provider that could deliver landline reliability (eyes on you AT&T) before rolling out all the bells and whistles and my new favorite funny e-zine. But ready or not is moot, and it’s just on us whether we can bask in a glorious left field gem and eschew that whole “Internet use disorder” deal. But dammit, however The Occasional might show up on a brainpan-n-scan, I’m such a fan!

With a creative team lead by editor-in-chief Dan Abramson and art director Nate Maggio, the roster of contributors for the July/August issue is a bastion of marquee comedic talent matched with a wonderfully imaginative and satiric visual layout. With photographs by Robyn Von Swank, the “A Day in the Life of Sarah Silverman” cover story by Silverman and Dan Abramson plays like an audio tour guide/slide show for her fans to follow along on her day being very famous and successful. Silverman narrates as a chime lets you know when to swipe to the next picture. Along with spot on fake ads for ABC Family programming and McTavish’s blended pure apple juice, Simon Rich’s “Moon Landing Transcript” is an LOL triumph of brevity with a bickering Buzz Aldrin. Other features, to name a few, include:  “A Bunch of Shit We Didn’t Know What To Do With,” “5 Questions by Jenny Slate,” “Tyler Perry’s House of Tyler Perry, “ “How To Fight A Trashcan by Heather Anne Campbell,” a Q&A or rather a “K&A with Jackée Harry by Julie Klausner,” movie lessons learned in “Film School by Kumail Nanjiani” and the “Prince magazine” within a magazine by Jake Fogelnest (chandeliers, anyone?).

In an utterly inspired and sustained bit, “Woody Allen’s Answering Machine” has Tim Heidecker voicing 27 unreturned messages left by the actor Tony Roberts who gets increasingly anxious, aging, and plucky. I don’t know what kind of awards go to audio portions of digital magazines, but it’s a bravura performance.

And then to ensure that this is an embarrassment of riches, Bob Odenkirk’s film “Read My Screenplay” is a fantastically pitch black humored short that involves novice screenwriting limo drivers and is scored to the Yo La Tengo song “Sudden Organ” (dig the “Two To Tango” screenplay title nod). The film stars D.V. DeVincentis as “Constipated Writer” and features John Ennis. Writer/director/producer/actor Bob Odenkirk (who some may first recognize as attorney Saul Goodman on AMC’s Breaking Bad) is an exemplar of this “post-Louie” paradigm where an artist is deserving of an endeavor with total artistic control.

Here’s to hoping that The Occasional continues to showcase such a deep bench of magnificent contributors. In his “Letter from the Editor,” Dan Abramson writes, “We really hope you enjoy this issue as it’s our third and we feel we’re starting to get a hang of this magazine thing. I want to look back at this issue as `The One Where We Figure It Out.’ Though that sounds like the name of a Friends episode. I hate that I know that…” Well, Abramson & Company have figured it out and Godspeed for the rest of us to catch up.

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Tig Notaro announces she has cancer

Kira Hesser and Laughspin have reported the gut-wrenching news that beloved comedian Tig Notaro revealed onstage at Largo last night that she has cancer in both breasts. This diagnosis comes after the recent tragic death of her mother and what Hesser describes as Tig’s treatment for a “debilitating bacterial infection in her digestive tract for which she was hospitalized and lost 30 pounds off of her already small frame.”

Today, Louis C.K., who was on the Largo bill alongside Ed Helms, Bill Burr, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, tweeted, “In 27 years doing this, I’ve seen a handful of truly great, masterful standup sets. One was Tig Notaro last night at Largo.”

Between the wonderful June profile of Tig in The New York Times and word that she had been hired as a writer for Amy Schumer’s new show for Comedy Central and for which she was planning to move to NYC, the horrible news of her diagnosis has her vast legion of fans dumbstruck but confidant that Tig Notaro will endure this shitty chapter of her remarkable life. She has already displayed stunning grace and humor in the face of this tribulation.

The entire staff of the Paramount Theatre and the Austin Theatre Alliance (parents of The Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival) has Tig in our thoughts. Comedy Moontower still gets enduring smiles from when Tig last performed at the Paramount on November 1st, 2011, as part of Sarah Silverman’s “LIVE From N*****HEAD: Stripping the Paint Off of Good Ol Fashioned Racism” benefit and her set was so hilarious that the elderly volunteer usher ladies were cackling so uncharacteristically loudly and intensely that there was pause for their well-being and also whether they might have had a puff of the gigglier glaucoma medicine. But no, these sassy Southern broads and the entire Paramount audience were just having the greatest, cathartic involuntary convulsions from the masterful wit and charms of Ms. Tig Notaro.

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Summer Classic Film Series Celebrates Comedies

The Paramount Theatre’s 37th Annual Summer Classic Film Series lovingly screens all genres from indie art house to Golden Age epics and this week features a collection of bona fide comedy classics: the ensemble satires of Christopher Guest’s Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, the screwballs Bringing Up Baby and My Man Godfrey, the witty romantic comedies The Philadelphia Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the slapstick farce of Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man plus their second picture, Buck Privates, which launched them into the stratosphere.

Perhaps even more so than other film genres, comedies should optimally (hell, compulsorily) be watched with the communal experience of an audience. And of course, cinema is inherently sublime when seen in celluloid on the BIG screen of a movie palace listed in the National Register of Historic Places, where the house projectionist, John Stewart, has over four decades of craftsmanship, and a ticket is admittance for a double feature. But beating the heat here this week isn’t just grand entertainment— it’s practically doctor’s orders! Or so says the Mayo Clinic about the short and long-term health benefits of laughter (preposterously, the Paramount is still out-of-network for many insurance carriers). And cinephile-wise, The Huffington Post, The Criterion Collection, and USA Today have recently touted the Paramount’s summer motion picture tradition.   Continue reading

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IndieGoGo Fundraising for “Have Thong Will Travel” Documentary on Austin Icon, the late Leslie Cochran

From Freckled Fanny Films: Nine years in the making and told with brazen humor, HAVE THONG WILL TRAVEL is a touching portrait of Albert Leslie Cochran, a 60-year-old cross-dressing, street person who became an Austin icon and an ambassador for keeping it weird. A social activist, mayoral candidate, and talk show host, Leslie arrived in Austin in 1996, walking and biking through the Texas city famous for its embrace of individuality and self-expression. The film follows Leslie, a one-man show in his own absurdist theater, as he survives on unforgiving streets – all while wearing a thong and a smile. HAVE THONG WILL TRAVEL chronicles his journey to find peace while exploring the demons that drove him, the wit that kept him sane, and his passion for bringing awareness to social injustice.

Leslie’s story unfolds as we travel the streets with him and learn what it’s like to be both a local celebrity and a pariah. To many, he’s a beloved folk hero who fights for respect, independence, and self-expressionism in a cookie-cutter world. To others, he’s a vagabond who enjoys a broken system. But to a dedicated few, he’s a beautiful spirit whose adventurous nature is punctuated by the pitfalls of self-sabotage and trauma. While Leslie searches for peace, we find ourselves looking at a new definition of home and the beauty of friendship. Throughout his life, Leslie managed to create and foster a dynamic and provocative community around him. Coupled with hilariously shocking footage of the “Queen of Austin,” HAVE THONG WILL TRAVEL presents Leslie Cochran as a troubled but beloved free spirit.

HAVE THONG WILL TRAVEL is co-directed & produced by Ruby C. Martin and Tracy Frazier with cinematography by Lee Daniels and editing by Nevie Owens. Austin Tighe is executive producer and Grammy-award winning artist Patty Griffin is included in the growing list of musicians who have come aboard to create a truly fantastic soundtrack.   Continue reading

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YouTube’s “Next Comic” Program Application

YouTube is accepting applications through Friday, July 13th, 2012, from individual comedians for a chance to be one of sixteen participants for their “Next Comic” program. Chosen recipients will receive $10K in Google Display Advertising, $5K in video production equipment, training via Google+ Hangout workshops, and mentoring from “YouTube star comedians and other industry leaders.”   Continue reading

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