Ted Greenberg's The Complete Performer

Starring Emmy Award winning Letterman writer, Ted Greenberg!

     
Give the Gift of Romance AND Comedy This Valentine’s Day

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Posted: January 31, 2013
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I’ve written for a late night TV show. I’ve driven a New York City cab. I’ve worked in risk arbitrage on Wall Street. I’ve run a marathon. But, nothing scares me more than Valentine’s Day. I’ve got a sweet lady, but the pressure to have the perfect day — one that showcases your love and commitment to your special person — is nearly debilitating. One false move and you’re in the doghouse. Or worse, moving toward a break up.
 
In two weeks, Valentine’s Day will be upon us. If you’ve spent a few years in a relationship, you know you’ve got to keep it fresh year after year. Do something new. Show her that your relationship is worth the effort. If you’re like me, you’ve already done flowers, jewelry, chocolate, the works. So what can set Valentine’s Day 2013 apart from previous years?
 
If you want to add a touch of humor and a bit of surprise to this year’s celebration of love, I have a suggestion for you. A Telly-gram. That’s right. Telly Savalas, the improbable 70s heartthrob, will either send a special video or make an appearance your significant other’s place of business. Not actually Telly Savalas. The legend has been dead for quite some time. But, comedian Tom DiMenna, whose meta-Telly show “Who Loves You, Baby?” ran for nearly a year in the same space as my Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer, channels Telly in a brilliantly savant way. His show was delightful to watch, and I bet the sweet words he purrs to your honey will melt her heart (and crack her up).
 
Telly Savalas
 
Here’s the Craigslist ad for Telly-grams. Snap one up now. The video version is only $50 and an in-person appearance (in NYC only) will set you back $80. Roses in this town cost way more than that.



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Family Is Funny, At Least on TV

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Posted: January 28, 2013
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Tonight, nighttime soap opera Dallas returns on TNT for the second season of its relaunch. And while the themes of “extortion, ambition, family tradition” aren’t inherently funny, I defy you to watch the promo remix for season two (embedded below) and not bust out laughing. Cut together as a 1980s music video where the ridiculous lines the Ewings spout are the lyrics, the video is as over-the-top as the series. And, I love every frame of it — from J.R.’s maniacal laugh section to the bit about the money to the spliced together “family tradition”. Talk about a 2 minute, 25 second clip filled with (probably unintentional) hilarity. But, isn’t that how we like our comedy?
 

 
Thirty years ago, Dallas was one of the biggest forces in entertainment. The show was broadcast all over the world, and everyone wanted to be an oil man from Texas. And live in Southfork. And Larry Hagman played J.R. Ewing as a villain as big as the Empire State Building. He was devious through and through. One of the main reasons to tune into the CBS show. Before Hagman’s sad death last year, he and Patrick Duffy, who portrays his do-good brother Bobby, dropped by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to promote the second incarnation of Dallas. You can check out his appearance here.
 
After watching that appearance and his crazy laugh in the season two promo, I wish he’d come by Late Night when David Letterman was the host and I was writing for the show in the early 80s. It would have been outrageous to write something absolutely insane for him to do.



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How this Comedian Drives a Cab

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Posted: January 24, 2013
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My weekly Off Broadway comedy show, Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer, has a couple of hallmarks. Most notably, a free cab ride home for one group of lucky audience members. That’s right, I drive them home or to their next stop in five boroughs in a real New York City yellow cab. You may check out some of the rides here. I’m often asked how I am able to do this. There are two answers.
 
New York City Cab
 
#1 Back in the late 80s, I spent some time as a cabbie. I’d always dreamed of driving the iconic yellow taxi in my hometown. When I began performing my show five years ago, I renewed my hack license.
 
#2 Elizabeth Osei of Napasei Taxi Management Corporation. She makes sure I have a cab for my show week in and week out. The show owes her a huge debt. Elizabeth is a lovely woman with a terrific heart and head for business. I’m thrilled to work with her. You can see her and hear her infectious laugh in my anniversary video below. You can also read this profile the New York Times did on Elizabeth and her husband Isaac. They start their days early, and have business — important business to tend to in Ghana as well. And, I cannot thank them enough for their help with my show.
 



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What a Weird Week in America

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Posted: January 21, 2013
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Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Our country celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and accomplishments by giving most people — and governmental offices — a much deserved day off. I know I tendThere’s nothing that screams funny about Dr. King’s life. He is a hero to millions for taking up the struggle for equal rights for African-American citizens and paying with his life in Memphis nearly 45 years ago.
 
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
And, later today, Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term as President of the United States of America. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir will help make the occasion festive. Nearly 1 million Americans are expected to witness the ceremony. Again, another event that is more serious in nature.
 
Still this past week has felt like an episode of the Twilight Zone.On Wednesday, a Deadspin.com article about a girlfriend hoax went viral in the most explosive way. Within a day, even people with a passing knowledge of college football, had heard of Manti Te’o (pictured below) and his supposed deceased girlfriend. A 22-year-old’s love life — or lack thereof — had vaulted to THE news story of the week. And, it’s just been announced that Te’o and his family have one of those sit-down, cathartic interviews lined up with Katie Couric. The Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame is the only athlete making headlines for NOT sleeping with someone. Talk about an amazing PR strategy. This never happens. It is hard to get America this interested in things you’ve not done.
 
Manti Te'o
 
Whereas the other major sports news story had one of the most notorious athletes in the world — Lance Armstrong — finally admitting to what the world already knew. He cheated to win his seven Tour de France titles in a row. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey — a two-parter — Armstrong hoped to begin rehabbing his image for something he’s done. While Americans may forgive him for cheating, it’s hard to imagine he’ll get a pass for intimidating and hurting the lives of former teammates and other cyclists, who had the ‘audacity’ to suggest back in the day that Lance had done EPO and other performance enhancing drugs. Look, I would need something to help me ride up those hills in the French mountains. The Tour de France course is pretty inhuman. And Armstrong’s work on behalf of cancer patients through his work at the foundation he created and recently left — Livestrong — is admirable. But, as the Daily News’ Mike Lupica points out: being a blowhard is NEVER in style.
 
What to make of our week? MLK Jr., President Obama, Manti Te’o and Lance Armstrong. One man was gunned down because of his work on behalf of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. We celebrate his enduring legacy today. Another will be publicly sworn into the most powerful office in the world. And two athletes make major headlines — one for what he did and the other for what he didn’t. Our country is a strange, but fascinating place. I’m sure in a days time or two, another Kardashian will be pregnant, and we’ll forget about everyone else.



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Planning the Perfect Bachelorette Party | New York Edition

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Posted: January 17, 2013
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Planning a perfect Bachelorette Party can be tough. And in New York City, even tougher. Do you make your night naughty or nice? Do you stay in and watch the “7 Man Candy Movies” or go to Hunkmania for a little bit of debauchery? Or blow your monthly entertainment budget on a very expensive club?
 
Forget all of those and make with Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer a part of your Bachelorette Party. I promise my long-running comedy show will be as entertaining at Channing Tatum in Magic Mike and a whole heck of a lot funnier. And smarter than Hunkmania. No offense fellas. This past weekend, a lovely group of young women (pictured below) were enchanted by the wild ride that is my late night comedy show. And they aren’t the only ones. Over the past four and a half years, we’ve hosted Bachelorette Parties, more than 70 birthdays and groups of all kinds. Going to a comedy show is a perfect way to spend time with friends, acquaintances and brides-to-be.
 
Bachelorette Party
 
And downtown Manhattan is a great place to be on a Saturday night. You can eat at the nearby Barrel Room at City Winery or at the David Burke Kitchen at the James Hotel, then see my show, and after laughing your butt off, dance the night away at local hotspot Greenhouse or like the ladies on Saturday night, head to the Fat Black Pussy Cat for drinks and merriment. It’s guaranteed to be a great night.



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Right on the Money: Volkwagen Passat Commercial is Hysterical

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Posted: January 14, 2013
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The Super Bowl is just a few weeks away. And, when you don’t have a team in the big game (what happened to my New York Giants this year?), you keep an eye on the commercials. Those 30-second spots go for millions of dollars and have high hopes riding on them…that you will be enticed to buy more beer, cars, you name it.
 
A new-ish ad from agency Deutsch, L.A. is utterly charming that it gets my pre-Super Bowl nod. “Baseball Toss” was created for Volkswagen Passat. In a suburban front yard, a father and son do the time honored tradition of tossing a baseball. But their form is anything but traditional. When the mopheaded young boy lets loose with a throw that looks more like he’s bowling — the ball spends more time on the ground than in the air — your heart breaks a little bit.You’re certain he gets picked on in school and is the last kid chosen during P.E. for sports team. But, the dad offers surprising encouragement. And, then the father unleashes a puzzling throw that looks like a cross between Elaine’s wacky dance on Seinfeld and a contortionist unraveling his body. It’s so brilliantly funny I’m convinced the actor playing the dad needed a chiropractor adjustment after filming.
 
A chip off the old block. Volkswagen has an endearing ad that takes a rite of passage and finds fresh humor in it. I grew up in Manhattan where I didn’t have a front lawn, but as a lifelong Yankees fan, I am smitten with this charming ad. Check it out below.
 



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What’s Hot Now: Downton Abbey and a Certain Sexy Book

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Posted: January 10, 2013
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Ever read an online dating profile? They are full of contradictions. For example, “I am a devotee of The New Yorker, but cannot devour US Weekly fast enough.” Or “my favorite restaurants are Per Se and Mamoun’s.” Or “I bow down to Apple, but am in love with my Android phone.” And the list goes on and on. One moment the wind blows cold and to the East and the next it changes directions and is hot as hell. So, what am I getting at? We are currently living in the greatest cultural contradiction in possibly the history of the free world.
 
New York Subway
 
Sixty five million of you across the globe have turned Fifty Shades of Grey into the greatest selling book series based on fan fiction. Filled with erotic scenes and bondage, the book is read by every second female on the subway in New York City. And, a friend who recently visited Seattle was asked by foreign tourists to take their photo outside the hotel featured in the book. Fifty Shades of Grey is pumping fifty shades of money into the Emerald City. And, yesterday, the big story was that screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who is adapting E.L. James’ novel, admitted that the film version is intended to be rated NC-17, normally the kiss of death rating for films. But, this very popular book turned into film may buck the trend.
 
Downton Abbey
 
On one hand, you have an edgy, sex-charged book soon to be movie that is rocking pop culture. Everyone — ok 65 million people at least — is reading this phenomenon. On the other very well manicured hand,vyou have the buttoned up British soap Downton Abbey, which has become appointment television stateside. The show’s third season premiere drew nearly 8 million viewers on Sunday night, making it the second-most watch program in the United States for that time period. Downton Abbey’s Season 3 picked up in post-World War I as the Crawleys — Robert, his American wife Cora, their three daughters, his mother the Dowager Countess, their distant cousin Matthew and his mom Isobel — struggled with the new world order and the arrival of Cora’s mother (Shirley MacLaine) from America. The series, a startling intricate and lovingly human look at an upper class family and the servants they employ at their larger-than-life estate, lit up Facebook and Twitter. As popular as Fifty Shades of Grey is on the subway cars of the Big Apple, Downton Abbey scores as easily with New Yorkers. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of the 8 million viewers lived in the five boroughs.
 
What exactly is going on? Fifty Shades of Grey and Downton Abbey are both cultural juggernauts? Can we love them both? Apparently so. And with zingers like the ones below, Downton Abbey will continue to capture Americans’ hearts.
 
When one of the servants Mrs. Hughes notices a lump in her breast and decides to go to the doctor. Mrs. Patmore, the head cook, says, “If you’re going to pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker.” Well said. And the Dowager Countess, played by the incomparable Maggie Smith was in rare form in the first episode, particularly since she had American legend Shirley MacLaine with whom to spar. Two of my favorite lines from her include: “Never mistake a wish for certainty,” and in a moment of delirium when she mistakes her son, Robert, for the help and asks for a drink, “I’m so sorry I thought you were a waiter.” Her delivery was so priceless on the last line that it’s become a meme of its own.
 
While I haven’t yet joined the 65 million in reading E.L. James’ novel, I have drunk the Downton Abbey Kool-Aid. It goes down quite smoothly.



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The Intersection of Comedy and Magic

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Posted: January 7, 2013
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On Saturday night, a very lively audience member — Vinnie — shouted that he didn’t expect to see magic at my late night comedy show. Guilty as charged. While my four-year plus Off Broadway production, Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer is a mostly one man comedy show, it does mine humor from other genres, like magic. All in the service of a good laugh. Vinnie did not mind one bit. He laughed hardest at…I’m not going to give it away, but that magic bit was his favorite.
 
This style of comedy — conceptual — has been a hallmark of my career from my days at The Harvard Lampoon or as an Emmy-winning staff writer at David Letterman. And for over four years, I’ve taken the late night stage at SoHo Playhouse to ply my version on New York crowds. I’ve yet to give much time to magic and its influence on my style. But, in light of a recent article on a subset of magic, it’s high time.
 
The New Yorker published a terrific, must read profile about one of the best kept secrets in magic: pickpocket Apollo Robbins (pictured below). My father, Ace Greenberg, is briefly mentioned in the article; Robbins once stole a watch off my old man. Not an easy thing to do. Don’t worry, Robbins gave the watch back. As with everything he purloins.
 
Apollo Robbins
 
Part biography, part pickpocket primer as well as a how to manual, Adam Green’s A Pickpocket’s Tale is a fascinating read, offering insight into the world of pickpocketing and why Robbins gives everything he swipes back. As another pickpocket, Whiz Mob, explains, ““God’s not going to let you cheat and have good luck, too.” Like a magician, I don’t want to give too much about the essay away, but I will say the nine-pager is well worth the read.
 
And, once you’ve worked your way through it, check out my interview with con artist and performer Simon Lovell.



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Wishes for the New Year | 2013 Edition

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Posted: January 3, 2013
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Welcome to Lucky Number Thirteen. After the way 2012 ended, I think we are all hoping for a little more luck, joy and happiness. Last year, I set out a number of resolutions, 12 in fact, — some of them (looking at you #4) that I was better at keeping than others (sad to say #8 did not happen). This year, in honor of 2013, I am making 13 wishes — things I hope will come true. Not just for me, but for the world.
 
13. That Scarlett Johansson is amazing in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Of course, if she isn’t, that won’t bother me one bit.
 
Scarlett Johansson
 
12. That the New York Giants regain their swagger and at least make a playoff run next season.
 
11. One of Mascot’s marriages has long term appeal. And by “long term,” I mean lasting longer than 60 minutes.
 
10. Mother Nature is nice to my beloved city. Post-Sandy, we need some luck in this regard.
 
9. Likewise, the 2013 ING New York City Marathon can happen. And as many people who trained for the 2012 edition get to run.
 
8. If I do not see Wicked on Broadway, I will at least read the book which inspired the musical.
 
Wicked on Broadway
 
7. I know I drive a cab at the end of my show for fun and because it’s an iconic symbol for the Big Apple. But, after all the recent subway deaths, I’m concerned for my fellow New Yorkers and audience members. Here’s to no more subway fatalities in 2013.
 
6. That all of the froyo, ice cream and frozen sweet treat stores (16 Handles, Red Mango, Pinkberry, Ben & Jerry’s) all make it through the summer. Who doesn’t love a little sweet, cold dessert in the middle of a sweltering summer?
 
5. That I watch the Polar Bear Run next New Year’s Day. No way in hell I’m getting in that ice cold water, but I will cheer on others. Perhaps with the e Mascot in tow.
 
4. Have the Mascot enter the July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. How many do you think he will eat?
 
Ted Greenberg and The Mascot
 
3. Support my favorite local businesses like Milk & Cookies, which has been so great to my show Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer.
 
2. That you see my show sometime in 2013. If you do, you’ll understand what I mean about the Mascot’s marriages. What else are you doing 10:00 pm on a Saturday night?
 
1. That Kim Kardashian and Kanye West name the “Kimye” baby after me. Kinda. In keeping with the ‘K’ naming tradition, how about KED? It rhymes with Ted, and like the brown-haired beauty I know about short marriages, having racked up one myself.
 
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West



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