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Ladies & Comedy

Categories: Comedians
Posted: October 16, 2014
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Lucille Ball was an icon. A powerful woman in a man’s world. A comedian. A charmer. The creator of hit TV shows and a beloved performer. Life magazine just released a series of photos from her illustrious career in the 1940s and 1950s. You can see the photos here.
 
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Speaking of talented women, Elizabeth Peña passed away earlier this week. I was fond of her performances in dramas Lone Star and Jacob’s Ladder, but she did appear on Modern Family. And had a light comic touch. RIP Ms. Peña. Your luminous presence will be missed on screen and off.
 
And in other comedy news, there is a protest and storm brewing in Portland over a women’s comedy festival. Here are two different takes on the issue from Mic.com and Death and Taxes. They are really of the same mind. One is serious and the other a humorous take on the issue.
 
Have a great weekend.



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Obvious Child Opens on Friday

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: June 2, 2014
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This Friday, June 6th, Obvious ChildGillian Robespierre‘s indie comedy–opens at the movie theater. If you’re not spending the weekend binge-watching Orange is the New Black or if you blow through the 13 eps of the Netflix series in no time, perhaps Obvious Child is the film to see.
 
Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern, a 20-something who has the worst Valentine’s Day ever. She loses her job, gets dumped and finds out she’s pregnant. The trifecta of unexpected news causes her to re-evaluate her life. Slate, whom I adored in Bored to Death, is joined by Gaby Hoffman, whose career is having a renaissance this year and my friend Richard Kind, who wished me well on my show’s anniversary a few years ago.
 
Here’s the films trailer plus a couple of review snippets.
 

 
“It really is a classic summer movie…Jenny Slate gives a singularly hilarious yet incredibly vulnerable performance” — Vulture
 
“Obvious Child is funnier, and more honest, than any female-centric cinema produced in Hollywood today.” –Indiewire



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Writing About Comedy To Check Out

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: May 22, 2014
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As an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, I am intrigued by Mike Sacks’ book Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers, which features interviews with the best in the biz. He spoke with Glen Charles (Cheers, Taxi) and Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers). Sounds like a great insider baseball read.
 
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Sacks has also contributed to Esquire magazine. This month’s issue is about fatherhood, and features a great interview with Jerry Seinfeld about the ‘burden’ of celebrity (or lack thereof) and Patton Oswald in a cheeky article called Fatherhood for Men. Both are worth checking out.
 
Have a great Memorial Day weekend.



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Must Read: Insights into Comedy

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: March 27, 2014
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Jason Zinoman writes about comedy for The New York Times. He’s had a recent run of excellent articles in The Grey Lady about the ins and outs of the business and what makes certain comics tick.
 
Earlier this month, he profiled Sean Patton and Ted Alexandro and what makes their live sets work so well. His assessment of why some comedians work well on TV and why others don’t is brilliant:
 
“As happens with many comics, some of his peculiar gifts don’t translate to the rigid constraints of late-night television talk shows. Mr. Patton is a kinetic, physical comedian who favors large, dramatic gestures. Standing still and staring into a camera puts him in a straitjacket.
 
He also specializes in coherent personal stories that dart across time and involve several characters, an approach that is riskier than a collection of disconnected jokes, since if one doesn’t work, the next offers the possibility of a fresh start.”
 
Check out his profile of comic Billy Eichner searching for comedy on the streets of New York.
 
And his assessment of the brilliant T.J. and Dave is a must read as well.



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RIP David Brenner

Categories: Comedians
Posted: March 20, 2014
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Earlier this week, I wrote about Jimmy Fallon’s first month hosting The Tonight Show. Each late night talk host has had favorite guests. Jimmy Kimmel loves Matt Damon. David Letterman has a fondness for Drew Barrymore. Back in the day, President Bill Clinton left a mark on the original Arsenio Hall Show. Chelsea Handler is a big fan of friend Jennifer Aniston.
 
Word broke earlier this week that one of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests — David Brenner — had passed away. He made 158 appearances on the show — more than any other person. Brenner, who was 78, performed as recently as two months ago. He had a long, storied stand-up career that included specials on HBO and work around the country.
 
Here’s Brenner’s first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1971 when Johnny Carson called him “warped”.
 



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Tomorrow Night at The Improv

Categories: Comedians
Posted: December 5, 2013
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There is a new must-see documentary. EPIX will air The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall, a one-hour behind-the-scenes look at the famed club, Friday, December 6th. Some of the biggest names in comedy will appear in the film and share stories about their work at The Improv.
 
Adam Sandler hosts the documentary. The who’s who of comedians interviewed for the project include: udd Apatow, Lewis Black, Russell Brand, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Kathy Griffin, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans.
 
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The Improv opened in New York City 50 years ago before opening a Los Angeles branch. The clubs are now throughout America.
 
The documentary airs at 8:00 pm. I’ve got my popcorn ready.



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Going to The Bell House

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows
Posted: December 2, 2013
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Looking for plans for tomorrow night, December 3rd? Look no further than the taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, hosted by comedian extraordinaire Ophira Eisenberg. The live taping features trivia, music and much, much more. Plus this particular night it’s A Holiday Extravaganza with John Hodgman, Lizz Winstead, and AJ Jacobs. How could you go wrong with that pairing.
 
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Here’s a tidbit about the show from its website:
 

For an hour, listeners can play along as(Ophira) Eisenberg puts questions to a rotating band of puzzle gurus, audience members and special mystery guests, who then takes a turn in the contestant’s chair facing trivia games written especially for him or her. What you’ll hear resembles the casual intimacy of game night at a friend’s house: one where scores are forgotten in favor of hilarious gaffes.
 
Ask Me Another is recorded live at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
 
Ask Me Another is a co-production of NPR and WNYC.

 
If you don’t get into tomorrow night’s festivities, there will be another event next month. But, for goodness sake, check this amazing event out.



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Who Is the Funniest, Sexiest Man Alive

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: November 18, 2013
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People Magazine is slated to announce its Sexiest Man Alive this week. Rumors have been swirling that Adam Levine- the model-loving Voice judge and Maroon 5 frontman – will take home the honors. He would certainly fit in the magazine’s previous winners- hot, pretty men.
 
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But, when you ask women what they want in a man, the first thing they say is they want someone funny. Scroll the list of previous winners- Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt (twice), Johnny Depp (twice), Sean Connery- and you don’t see anyone funny on the list. Two-time winner George Clooney is known as a prankster, but not as a comedian.
 
Where’s the love People Mag? Why not show some love to Louis C.K.? He’s got a hot award-winning TV show. Or what about Nick Offerman, who is genuinely charming on Parks and Rec? Or there’s everybody’s fave-Patton Oswalt? Women love him. Perhaps Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart would be better choices as they host hit comedy shows? Kevin Hart and Aziz Ansari have been on fire this year. Comedy specials and you cannot read an article without hearing their names. I think it’s time what women really want-a funny man-was reflected in the choice.
 
Sure perfect abs are winning. A killer smile too. A big box office film as well. But none of those things will keep you in good spirits like a funny man. Take a chance People!



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Perfect Pair: Susie Essman & Mario Cantone

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows
Posted: November 14, 2013
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Next week, Stage 72 is hosting an evening with Susie Essman and Mario Cantone. It will be an over-the-top laugh riot. Most people know Essman from her foul-mouthed turn on Curb Your Enthusiasm; in fact, people often come up to her and ask her to swear at them the way she does on the show. Cantone, despite an illustrious theater career, is best known to audiences as Charlotte’s best friend on Sex and the City.
 
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Essman is a quite funny comic and actress. I remember seeing her in the Vagina Monologues in 2000. She starred for a couple of weeks opposite Robin Givens and Donna Hanover. Susie had the audience in the palm of her hand from the minute the curtain went up. She was hilarious and heartbreaking.
 
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Likewise, Cantone has wowed Broadway audiences and is a hit with the popular series Celebrity Autobiography where celebrities read from other celebrities’ autobiographies. The narcissism and navel gazing provide big laughs.
 
November 20th, check out Susie Essman and Mario Cantone together.



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Comedian to Comedian | Interview with Ali Farahnakian

Categories: Comedians
Posted: October 24, 2013
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Ali Farahnakian founded The PIT in New York City, has written for Saturday Night Live and is also an actor.
 
Ted Greenberg: Of all the characters you’ve played, what’s your favorite?
Ali Farahnakian: Playing T.B. on Adult Swim’s “Delocated” was a lot of fun, I got to work with my friend Jon Glaser, it was his show and he put me in it, I got to be around a great cast and crew like Janeane Garafolo, Marc Wooten, Amy Shumer, Eugene Mirman, to name drop a few. I got to be a Blackwater Bodyguard carrying multiple guns. When I was a kid I lived in a small town, Danbury,NC,population 150, and we ran around the woods with fake guns playing army. In one scene I was running around the woods with fake guns playing, and I thought, I did it!
 
TG: Your bar, The Pioneer, seems to be always hopping. What’s the wildest idea you’ve ever had as a bar add-on?

AF:
Pioneers on 138 w 29th is the first bar on 29 b/t 6th and 7th in the 400+ year history of NY, so we feel like Pioneers, we have tried a lot of things, Giant Jenga, we have Pinball now, and someone is trying to pitch body painting, we also do two nights of karoke. One of the coolest things that happens there is ASL story telling, once a month on a friday night the space is filled with the deaf community telling each other stories in their own way.
 
TG: How old are your daughters? And of all the jokes or bits you’ve done, what’s the favorite of your daughters?
AF: Ella is 7 and Oliva is 5, one of their favorite games to play with me is “the Tap Tap Sisters”, It happens at dinner, I take a piece of food, like broccoli and I say in a real old timey voice, “After a long day of work, I really enjoy a piece of well cooked Broccoli” then one of the sisters taps me on the shoulder, I turn my head to see whate she wants and the other one takes the broccoli off my fork and eats it. I usually say something like, ” Why you Tap Tap Sisters, You’ve struck again” It’s got a real silent movie feel, and they love it, they want to do it way longer than anyone should, but they eat a lot of healthy broccoli.
 
TG: Anything else you’d like to say?
AF: I feel very blessed that I get to the things i love doing, I prefer a buffet to an entree, so I like the life i’ve somehow created through luck and some hard work where I get to teach improv and sketch, do some improv and sketch, act in cool shows, do some voiceover and commercial work, oversee these various going concerns, do some architechture and design, and help people follow their bliss and fulfill the promise within them. I try to enjoy it while I can, because nothing lasts forever.



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