Ted Greenberg's The Complete Performer

Starring Emmy Award winning Letterman writer, Ted Greenberg!

Eric André Comes to Town

Categories: Comedy Shows
Posted: August 1, 2013

Last summer, I interviewed the uber-talented Eric André for my one-man comedy blog. So listen up New York City. The very funny man returns to New York this August. Catch his show, I’ve Been Doing Stand-Up Comedy for Ten Years… and I Still Fucking Suck at It, at Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory. Tickets are only $5 in advance/$7 day of show. Skip seeing Pacific Rim, and you can afford to go and have a drink.
For that insanely low price, you can also see Hannibal Burress and Sam Simmons. There’s no better deal in New York right now.
Get your tickets before they are all gone. Visit the Knitting Factory web site.

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Women Are Taking Over Comedy

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows
Posted: May 30, 2013

There have always been funny ladies. Carol Burnett. Gilda Radner. And the list goes on and on. The last decade, though, has enjoyed a renaissance of women comedians. Amy Poehler. Wanda Sykes. Kristen Wiig. Tina Fey. And who’s hotter than Melissa McCarthy right now? Maybe Lena Dunham. And now Amy Schumer.
Amy Schumer
Halfway through Comedy Central’s first season of Inside Amy Schumer, the show has already been renewed for a second season of 10 episodes, slated to air in 2014. Not bad.
Entertainment Weekly raved about the show, giving it an A. And started the review with “Amy Schumer is just as profane as any man, woman, or drunk robot on Comedy Central.” And then wrote, “There’s something communal about Schumer’s approach to comedy. It’s not just about punchlines. It’s about conversations. And she makes the women around her seem funnier, just by letting them in on the joke.”
Clearly Comedy Central and its fans like being in on the joke. And they will be, at least for one more season. Congrats Amy.

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Auld Lang Syne | New Year’s Eve 2012/2013

Categories: Latest News
Posted: December 31, 2012

All eyes will be on New York City, my beloved hometown, as the crystal ball drops in Times Square at the stroke of midnight. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…Happy New Year. The cheers will sound around the country, but one person will be sorely missed. “America’s Oldest Teenager” and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Host Dick Clark passed away in April. Adored by millions for decades, Clark’s cheery demeanor was the perfect welcome to greet the hope of a new year.
Dick Clark
After his stroke in 2004, Clark had a limited role on the special (even missing 2004 into 2005 to recover), but seeing him on TV reminded everyone of the great music he introduced to America through his thirty year gig hosting American Bandstand. The program served as the TV launching pad for many bands that went on to huge fame and fortune. Ever heard of Talking Heads, Ike and Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson or Stevie Wonder? They all debuted on the cultural juggernaut. And Madonna‘s post-performance interview on the show is a classic (see below).

American Bandstand was significant in other ways. According to Clark’s Wikipedia page also bridged the country’s racial divide in the 1960s. The program presented artists of all colors and the audience was not segregated in a time when it was sadly the norm to do so. Breaking down barriers and bringing people together. The arts are great at accomplishing both those things.
So a tip of the cap to you Mr. Dick Clark. Tonight is a reminder that you are missed. As well as a call to celebrate the joy you brought to the world on New Year’s Eve and from 1957 to 1987 with your seminal TV show.
And, to all my fans, friends and fellow comedians, here’s to a great 2013! Looking forward to sharing my resolutions for the New Year with you later this week. Until then, best wishes for a safe and happy New Years Eve.

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Interview: Maari Suorsa of Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: December 3, 2012

Maari Suorsa
Four times a weekend, SoHo Playhouse is home to the outrageous 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, a hit in both New York and the cast’s native Chicago. Set in the 1950s, five women battle Communism and each other in a quiche bake-off. Filled with innuendo and pizzazz, the show has kept audience laughing for months, and will continue its hot streak through January 2013. I interviewed one of the aforementioned ‘lesbians’ Maari Suorsa about her time in New York, her brother’s favorite moment in the show and her best egg dish ever. Check out what this charmer had to say.
TED GREENBERG: What do you ladies do to warm up before a show?
MAARI SUORSA: To warm up before a show I usually have a beer with the ladies in the dressing room accompanied by a lot of yelling, laughing, and singing! We’ve had some rituals but the afore mentioned are what have stuck around!
TED: You guys have lived in a bunch of places during your NYC run. What’s been your favorite?
MAARI: My favorite place we stayed was our last location, I think it was in Clinton Hill (Brooklyn). It was probably the homiest of all the places and we did some late night baking one night!
TED: What airline do you guys fly from Chicago to NYC?
MAARI: In the beginning we flew Spirit airlines, early early am flights! Now that our schedule changed we’re on Delta and United etc! EVERYTHING feels like first class after flying Spirit!
TED: What’s your favorite egg dish?
MAARI: In college I had 18 eggs in my fridge on the verge of going bad so I quickly made custard. It made the kitchen reek and I was nervous about eating it so I got my guy neighbors to eat it. That’s my favorite egg dish I’ve made.
TED: What’s your brother’s favorite moment in the show?
MAARI: My brother has only seen the recording of the show so I texted to ask him and he responded with this: “The female empowerment… You see so many girls playing weaker roles early in their careers…and to see little sis along with some other strong ladies taking names on stage is pretty awesome!” Aww man I love him!
Check out 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche at the SoHo Playhouse Fridays at 10 pm, Saturdays at 3 pm and 10 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. For tickets, visit the SoHo Playhouse web site.

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Emmy Nominations | Comedy Writing, Directing and Guest Actors

Categories: Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: July 23, 2012

Emmy Awards
Last Thursday, I profiled the Emmy Award nominations in the major comedy categories: show, lead actor and actress and supporting actor and actress. Today, I take a look at the comedy writing, directing and guest actor categories.
In a landmark year, two women are nominated in the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series category: Lena Dunham for the Girls pilot and Amy Poehler for an episode of Parks and Recreation. Poehler has been nominated before in the Lead Comedic Actress category, and Parks and Recreation has been nominated as Outstanding Series. But, this is her first nomination for writing. Not bad for Dunham either to receive her writing nomination right out of the gate. The ladies face stiff competition in Chris McKenna for Community, Louis C.K. for Louie and Michael Schur for another episode of Parks and Recreation.
Lena Dunham and Louis C.K. also square off in the directing category for Girls and Louie, respectively. Their shows are two of the most talked about, beloved by critics and audiences alike for their freshness and incisive looks at modern life. Veteran director Jake Kasdan received a nomination for the pilot of freshman series New Girl. Jason Winer and Steven Levitan were nominated for two different episodes of Modern Family, and Robert B. Weide rounds out the category for an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Guest stars also get their due on Emmy night. In the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, two Saturday Night Live hosts (and former Bridesmaids co-stars) Maya Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy are nominated. McCarthy is also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, the category she won last year. Movie star Elizabeth Banks and comedian Margaret Cho got nods for their work on 30 Rock while Dot-Marie Jones received love for her turn on Glee. But, my favorite may be Kathy Bates. The veteran actress — also nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Harry’s Law — was recognized for playing Charlie Harper, the character embodied by the fired Charlie Sheen, on Two and A Half Men. So meta. So unforgettable.
Five-time Emmy Award winner Michael J. Fox pulled double duty this year, notching nominations in both Guest Lead Actor in a Comedy for Curb Your Enthusiasm and Guest Lead Actor in a Drama for The Good Wife. He will face off against film star Greg Kinnear (Modern Family), Bobby Cannavale (Nurse Jackie), Jimmy Fallon as host of Saturday Night Live, Will Arnett (30 Rock) and Jon Hamm (30 Rock), who is also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Mad Men.
These Emmy races are too close to call, mainly because everyone’s work was top notch this past year.

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Emmy Nominations | Checking Out the Comedy Players

Categories: Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: July 19, 2012

Emmy Awards
TV is currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts with some of the funniest comedies the boob tube has ever broadcast. Early this morning, the Emmy Award nominations were announced. As a former Emmy-winning comedy writer for the Letterman show, I’ve got a rundown of the comedy categories for series and acting.
This year’s Outstanding Comedy Series category is an interesting mix of veteran shows and two new female-centric HBO comedies. The Big Bang Theory, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family and 30 Rock have all been to the big dance before. The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and 30 Rock represent network television — CBS, ABC and NBC, respectively. They are quality-written shows that deliver observational laughs. Curb Your Enthusiasm is all about Larry David and his dyspeptic, yet wry view of the world. The two newbies in this category — Girls and Veep — followed each other on HBO this spring. Girls has gotten the most press — and two other nominations for its creator Lena Dunham for lead actress and director — for its racy, confessional, warts and all approach to 20-something life in New York City. Veep stars the excellent Julia Louis-Dreyfus — also an outstanding lead actress nominee — and though, somewhat uneven as a series, Louis-Dreyfus makes it compelling.
As I mentioned Dunham and Louis-Dreyfus lead the Outstanding Lead Actress category. They are joined by perennial nominees Edie Falco for her bracing turn in Nurse Jackie, Amy Poehler for playing clueless in Parks and Recreation and Recreation and Tina Fey as a producer on 30 Rock. Falco, Poehler and Fey are true veterans of the small screen. Falco is an acting powerhouse also known for her beloved role of the Carmela, Tony Soprano’s long suffering wife, on The Sopranos. Poehler and Fey are former Saturday Night Live castmates, whose spot on impersonations of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, respectively, are missed. Rounding out the nominations is Zooey Deschanel for her titular role in the New Girl. Deschanel has a certain insouciant charm you either love or want to crush. This category is the hardest to call, simply because it pits newbies versus a serious slate of former winners.
Something old, something new, something blue is how the saying goes, and the Outstanding Lead Actor category has it all. Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory has taken the trophy home the past two years. He’s pitted against wily veterans Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) and Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) as well as new to this category, the estimable Don Cheadle for Showtime’s House of Lies. And the final (blue) nomination goes to Louis C.K. for Louie, who has the most heat in this category. The critical praise for his show is off the charts, and the public has embraced it in profound ways. Louie is the only water cooler show of the bunch.
Kristen Wiig lands an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination for her final season on Saturday Night Live. No surprise here. Kristen has been beloved for many years, and since Bridesmaids, her Q factor is off the charts. The late Kathryn Joosten received a nomination for her work on the final season of Desperate Housewives — the only actor from the show to get any Emmy love. Mayik Bialik has made more noise in the media due to her advocacy of attachment parenting, but it’s great to see the former Blossom star get a nod for her typecast role on The Big Bang Theory. She actually holds a degree in neuroscience. Merritt Weaver, who is fantastic on Nurse Jackie, is also nominated. And, let’s face it, it pays to be an actor on Modern Family. And I don’t just mean in dollars. All six of the leads are nominated in the supporting categories — Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The final nominees in the Outstanding Actor category feature one surprise and one expected nominee. Max Greenfield sneaked into this category — somehow, some way. He’s been adorable since Veronica Mars, but I did not see him coming — at least this year — in New Girl. He’s great as a lothario, and I’m pleased his nominated. Just surprised. Bill Hader also gets a nod for his work on Saturday Night Live.
All in all, the Emmy nominations are a mixed bag filled with expected veterans and a few newcomers. I’m most interested to see if Greenfield or Hader can overtake the four men from Modern Family and win the Outstanding Actor Emmy.
On Thursday, I’ll recap the writing and directing comedy nominations.

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Saluting SoHo Playhouse | Great Downtown Theater and Comedy

Categories: Comedy Shows,Off-Broadway Shows
Posted: July 16, 2012

I am proud to perform at the SoHo Playhouse, the historical downtown theater that was once home to the New York political machine and Film Forum, though not at the same time. Located near fun spots — music venue City Winery, dance club SOBS and ping pong maven King Pong — as well as terrific restaurants — Blue Ribbon, Hundred Acres, Mekong Restaurant and David Burke Kitchen — SoHo Playhouse is a charming venue with a full bar – with no drink minimum — located inside the Huron Club where I perform.
My show Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer takes the stage every Saturday night at 10:00 pm. And, there are four other terrific shows that delight audiences every week at the SoHo Playhouse.
While I’ve enjoyed a four-year (thus far!) run at the SoHo Playhouse, Simon Lovell’s Strange and Unusual Hobbies has rocked the stage for five years. His show, like mine, is difficult to describe without giving away the spoilers. Let’s just say it’s fun, entertaining and different than anything you will see on a New York stage. The Wall Street Journal calls it a “Dazzling 70 Minute Show!” Simon is known for his sleight-of-hand and for being a consultant about con men for the popular TV show “White Collar.” Simon’s show is live at 6:00 pm on Saturday nights, and it’s not for the kids. Strictly 18+ simply because of the graphic language. Many people have made it a SoHo Playhouse Saturday night — seeing Simon’s show, grabbing dinner nearby and then coming to mine at 10:00 pm.
Simon Lovell
On Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm, Telly Savalas returns from the grave in the retro lounge act/comedy Who Loves Ya, Baby? Tom DiMenna stars as the late loveable hunk who returns to earth to teach the youth of today how to be a man and how to treat the ladies. It’s an outrageous and funny show for those who remember Telly in all his glory and those who have never heard of the actor.
Tom DiMenna as Telly Savalas
Upstairs, Triassic Parq, the new musical about dinosaurs told from their viewpoints, has been thrilling audiences and critics alike. David Cote of Time Out New York raved, “A very talented and hardworking cast puts across the goofball material with exemplary zeal and precision.” The show is currently scheduled through August 5th. If you’re in the mood for a musical and a comedy, then the one-two punch of Triassic Parq and Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer make great Saturday night partners.
The newest show to grace the stages at the SoHo Playhouse is The Improvised Play. It runs concurrently with my show on Saturday nights at 10:00 pm. Each week a talented group of improv artists take the audience’s suggestions and put on a play in the vein of Tennessee Williams or a Greek tragedy. See my show one week and this one the next!
Don’t forget that Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer is the only comedy in town where a group of lucky audience members win a free cab ride home with the performer — me — at the wheel.
Ted Greenberg at cab

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Comedian Rates Eli Manning on Saturday Night Live

Categories: Comedy Shows
Posted: May 7, 2012

May 5th was a robust day in New York City. Many New Yorkers found ways to celebrate The Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and New York Giants’ two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning hosting Saturday Night Live. Known for his quiet, reserved Southern charm, Manning, at first blush, doesn’t seem like the idea captain for the long-running late night comedy show. While he didn’t crack my top five all-time SNL hosts, he did receive some favorable feedback.
Eli Manning on Saturday Night Live
The reviews are in, and most critics give Eli a very good passing grade. The New York Times football blog, The Fifth Down, gave him props for giving it his all. Dan Good of the New York Post praised him for “a clean showing, solid highlights, no major fumbles.” Entertainment Weekly PopWatch Mark Snetiker raved that “the man [Eli] showed he had courage.”
Eli is known for his late game heroics — fourth down touchdowns and improbably leading the Giants to victory. It’s happened in both Super Bowls and throughout the 2011 – 2012 season. His SNL appearance was exactly the opposite. He started out stronger — with the monologue ranking the hosting gig as the third best night of his life and a commercial about little brothers.
Once he veered into the Scandinavian spoof of Chelsea Lately – ‘Helga Lately’ – the show had turned into a one-note joke. Eli gave it a game try, but asking a man known for his physical, not verbal, prowess to play along and speak ‘gibberish-sounding’ Swedish in his Southern drawl is perhaps asking too much. And for what effect? The skit just didn’t have anything funny to say. Yes, Chelsea Handler, star of Chelsea Lately, loves vodka and is very open about her sex life, particularly in her books. But, there’s not more much to work with other than Fred Armisen playing the Swedish version of Chuy, Chelsea’s small assistant.
And, there’s one thing I can live without seeing again: Eli in drag (see why below). Not a pretty sight, and the skit fell flat. While his cue card reading skills are not top notch and occasionally he seemed nervous, Eli, like any self respecting Giants fan would expect, gave it the old college try, and poured his heart into the episode. Unfortunately, it seems like the writers of Saturday Night Live didn’t know quite what to do with him.
Eli Manning in drag on Saturday Night Live

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Comedians I Love: Richard Pryor

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows
Posted: May 3, 2012

I’m going to profile my favorite comedians — the men and women who inspired me to start my career as a 15-year-old and continue to influence me — from time to time. I’m starting this series with the one, the only Richard Pryor. Before he passed away in 2005, he created a vast body of work in stand up, on TV, in films and on albums. I’ve already written glowingly about his ‘bromance’ with Gene Wilder, my second favorite in movie history.
Seeing Pryor play off his opposite — at least on the outside — in the very pale skinned, wild haired Gene Wilder was comic magic. Through much of his work, he challenged and underscored racial tension, ideals and stereotypes, finding humor where few before him were brave enough to tread.
His short-lived The Richard Pryor Show starred Robin Williams, John Witherspoon, Tim Reid and Sandra Bernhardt among others. Lasting only four episodes, it produced the prescient clip below. Playing the first African-American President 31 years before Barack Obama was elected to the White House, Pryor answers political questions with a wound-tight deadpan that unravels with each passing query. Whether championing the merits of sending black people to space or naming Huey P. Newton director of the FBI, Pryor exposes how different the United States might be under African-American leadership.
My favorite moment may be when the reporter from the Mississippi Herald identifies himself before posing a question, and Pryor demands, “Sit down.” He has no intention of dealing with someone from a state known for its lynchings and charged racial atmosphere. The joke is so simple and well-timed, you cannot help but laugh. The clip is even more powerful in retrospect. Just imagine Pryor as the 40th President instead of Ronald Reagan. They could not be further apart.

Richard Pryor was also known for his racy language — as evidenced in the NSFW clip below — but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who was better at telling a joke. He was a masterful storyteller with a rapid-fire delivery and live-wire body before he was slowed by multiple sclerosis. Look at how much he’s worked up a sweat in this clip. He put everything he had into the bit about boxing — whether lamenting going up against Muhammad Ali or “boxing them dudes who look like they just killed their parents.” Try not to laugh as he hits the microphone against his forehand. It’s impossible.

Or take this sweet clip about kids lying. It’s reminiscent of Bill Cosby, but there’s something even more cutting in Pryor’s delivery. He’s charming as a small child trying to lie his way out of getting in trouble. The running part is genius — something we’ve all done as kids while trying to skirt the truth.

In his special, Richard Pryor: Live on the Comic Strip, he recounts going to the Arizona state penitentiary to shoot Stir Crazy. He explains, “It’s strange. It’s about 80% black people. And what’s strange about that is that there are no black people in Arizona.” Watch the NSFW clip and learn about Triple Mike. And how Gene Wilder liked to befriend the men in the pen.

Richard Pryor left a wonderfully comic legacy. An Emmy and multiple Grammy Award winner, he received the first ever Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Humor. In addition to the clips, check out his films, particularly Silver Streak, California Suite, Lady Sings the Blues, Stir Crazy and Bustin’ Loose. Or listen to one of his dozen albums. You cannot go wrong.
About a year ago, I was honored that Richard Pryor, Jr., son of the legendary comedian, was in the audience at my weekly comedy show — Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer. It was an privilege to meet him since my respect for his father’s gifts could not be any bigger.

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How to Embrace the Unexpected at a Comedy Show

Categories: Comedy Shows
Posted: April 19, 2012

I hope that saying that things happen in threes is right on the money. As the star of a weekly late night comedy show, Ted Greenberg’s The Complete Performer, I love the spontaneity of performing in front of a live audience. You never know exactly what’s going to happen. The past two weeks’ shows have proven this point again and again — as two unexpected, but hilarious events arose — things that have never happened in the other 175 performances of my show.
Two Saturdays ago, a male audience member, in the spirit of fun, took off his shirt, and was such a hit with the audience that he kept it off until the conclusion of the show. Sure, you had to be there to get the full experience, but here’s a picture of the man, whose grand gesture earned him my full praise and the audience’s love. Now, there’s no expectation for anyone to disrobe at my show so I doubt this will ever happen again. And, that’s precisely what made it incredibly funny.
Having fun at Ted Greenberg's The Complete Performer
Every week, one lucky audience group wins a free cab ride home or to their next destination in New York City, with me at the wheel. Most people are overjoyed to win the cab ride and be whisked away from the SoHo Playhouse in style. Not so for Megan. Last Saturday, she boldly asked if she could receive the cash value of the cab ride instead! Say what? Watch the clip for yourself.

Now, after these two adventures, I have no idea what to expect for this Saturday night, but bring it on.


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