Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Review of Day Two From My Buddy Matt

My buddy Matt was able to check out day two of the Mess With Texas Party. What you are about to read are his experiences in his own words. Although, I added in some hyperlinks to make your reading experience more jam-packed with info. Enjoy!

Not surprisingly, the party was a blast. Unfortunately, I missed the first day after arriving too late and waiting in line for an hour. Seems they did a really good job getting the word out. I've never had trouble getting into a SXSW day show before.

I'll do my best to remember what I can. The free scotch courtesy of Dewars made things a little hazy in retrospect. The club had two stages one in and one out. The stage inside alternated between a band and a block of comedy, while the outside stages featured bands only. There were some good bands that day, but my priority was comedy of course. Aziz did an awesome job filling in for Patton as host. The first block started with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer doing a bit as SXSW safety coordinators stressing the importance of stretching, especially the oft-sprained taint. Some Human Giant clips may have also been thrown in here. Brian Posehn had a great set with some material that was new to me. After this everything kind of runs together. Leo Allen and Laura Krafft did an improv bit together. Michael Showalter appeared with ten types of people you see doing karaoke. Eugene Mirman did his thing. Scott Aukerman and BJ Porter acted out parts from their favorite romantic movies with ladies from the audience. David Cross had a strong set with some new stuff and no political material, considering protesters were marching a block away.

One of the highlights for me was Jon Benjamin and Jon Glaser performing as Soundtrackapella. The two proceeded to make some of the crowd squirm while discussing and complaining about the supposed time limit they had to perform. People were actually yelling at them to get on with it. Fucking brilliant. Once they got going, the squirming continued through their a capella renditions of the theme songs from Ghostbusters, Top Gun, and Footloose. Zach also went on towards the end of the party, and things were running late. I don't know if his time was cut short, or if he decided to finish early, but it ended rather abruptly like he was going into a joke and decided he was finished. The crowd was starting to get a little restless, and there was a lot of noise from people going to the stage outside. He still managed to do some good jokes, and took a shot at the crowd by announcing he would later be giving the "most disinterested hipster" award. Another great moment involved Aziz, Eugene, David and later Brian reading a script from a pilot called "Frangela." Neither Aziz nor Eugene would read part of the script, citing it as being extemely racist, at which point Brian came up to deliver the lines. I wish I could remember what it was. Too much scotch by this point. I think that about covers it comedy-wise. The Human Giant showcase that night was also great and featured Eugene and Jon Glaser while I was there plus a lot of clips from the show.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Read It, Will Ya?

My buddies Matt and Alex are in a band called The Forms. Alex was recently interviewed by Gothamist. Check it.

As a brief side note, I wish they'd play out more.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Actor's Playhouse, 3/16/07

Last week, The Apiary alerted readers that not only were there some free tickets to the 3/16, 8pm performance of Gutenberg! The Musical available, but that my generation's most famous Guttenberg would be in attendance. I coincidentally already had tickets for that evening's performance and was quite excited that I would experience the bonus of having Steve Guttenberg in the audience, in the flesh.

Even though everything I've heard about this show has been nothing but praise, the show still managed to exceed my expectations. Here's the basic storyline; these two guys have written a musical about Johanne Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. The two guys regard you, the audience, as potential producers of the musical and want to pitch it to you. They pitch it by performing the entire musical for you. They have an arsenal of hats with characters' names written on them and each time they change character they change hats. The hat changing seemed like such a daunting task that I kept getting nervous that one of them might grab the wrong one; but it was all so well choreographed that it was really stupid of me to worry. The songs were phenominally funny and even though they were legitimately good musical numbers, I got the sense that they were simultaneously giving the finger to the more pompous, corny musical numbers that plague Broadway.

What REALLY enhanced the experience for me was the fact that Steve Guttenberg was sitting two rows in front of me and was having the time of his life. He was clapping, cheering, whooping, leaning forward in his chair with a gape of a smile the whole time. To see him really truly enjoying himself with a veritable childlike wonderment was heartwarming to me.

The Actor's Playhouse is a small enough theater where there really isn't a bad sat in the place. So you have the option to spend $65 for good seats or $35 for seats towards the back. OR you can take advantage of the Saturday 10:00pm shows where ALL SEATS are $35. Get your tickets here. I'll also admit that the seats are a bit tight and that if you have any claustrophia whatsoever you might want to try to get an aisle seat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Director Ronald Bronstein Takes Home Special Jury Prize from SxSW

Ever since we began working together nearly 3 years ago, Ronald Bronstein has been spending his spare time working on a personal film project entitled Frownland. Shooting, re-shooting, editing, digitizing, agonizing over a final cut, finally getting a perfect 35mm print; I didn't participate in any way in the production of this film, but I have been watching him bust his ass to get this thing done since the very first day I met him. I felt an incredible sense of relief when his efforts paid off and his film was accepted into SxSW 2007 where it would premiere and compete in the Narrative Feature category.

Relief turned into unprecedented joy today when I learned that his film took home the Special Jury Prize at SxSW. I can't say that I am surprised though; this film employs such prodigious agility with regards to writing, acting, cinematography and editing that I always knew that this film would stand out amongst it's competetors. Congrats to Ronald and his crew for getting the recognition they deserve.

For clips and info, visit Frownland's official site or Myspace page

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sites scheduling conflicts. Fans sad.

Photo taken from Ryan Russell

Patton broke the news on a recent post on Aspecialthing that he will have to bow out of SxSW this year because of scheduling conflicts. Oh well; you still get David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Leo Allen, Laura Krafft, Brian Posehn, Jon Glaser, Scott Auckerman, BJ Porter, Jon Benjamin, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Showalter, Aziz Ansari and more.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Jesu will perform its first live show in the U.S this Sunday, March 11th in Washington DC at the 9.30 Club and will complete the rest of the tour with ISIS from there on in, performing at the Hydra Head Showcase at SXSW, Austin, Texas on the 15th March along the way.

A Jesu headline tour of the U.S over the next 9 - 12 months will hopefully compensate somewhat, especially since Jesu now have permits/visas for 12 months.

3/14 Irving Plaza New York NY - w/ Isis, Torche
3/15 Emo’s Annex Austin TX - SXSW
3/17 (d) The Middle East - Downstairs Cambridge MA - W/ Isis, Zozobra
3/18 Theatre National Montreal QC - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/19 Barrymore’s Ottawa ON - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/20 Opera House Toronto ON - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/21 St Andrews Hall Detroit MI - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/22 Metro Chicago IL - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/23 DAY OFF -
3/24 DAY OFF -
3/25 Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis MN - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/26 The Picador Iowa City IA - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/27 Granada Theatre Lawrence KS - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/28 Marquis Theater Denver CO - w/ Isis, Zozobra
3/30 In The Venue Salt Lake City UT - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/1 The Big Easy Boise ID - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/2 The Big Easy Spokane WA - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/3 Neumo’s Crystal Ball Reading Room Seattle WA - W/ Isis, Zozobra
4/4 Hawthorne Theatre Portland OR - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/5 DAY OFF -
4/6 Bimbo’s 365 Club San Francisco CA - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/7 Downtown Brew San Luis Obispo CA - w/ Isis, Zozobra
4/8 Henry Fonda Theatre Los Angeles CA - w/ Isis, Zozobra

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Irving Plaza - 2/24/07

Photo stolen from CHUNKLET

I don't know what my problem is, but I find it so fucking impossible to adequately sum up shows that were so incredible and mind blowing. Zach Galifianakis' two shows at Irving Plaza on Saturday 2/24/07 are perfect examples of shows that leave my mind in tatters. I managed to see both the early and the late show, but my mind was slowly dissolved by alchohol and uncontrollable laughter that the second show seems to be a bit of a blur.

Variety Shac team member Heather Lawless opened up the first show and she was as good as ever. I seriously think she's brilliant. I can't get enough of her flawless, droning, stream of consciousness style of comedy and think she was an absolute brilliant choice as opener.

Heather was followed by Arj Barker. Being a fan of previous performances of his as well as his role in The Marijuana-logues I had high hopes for him as second opener. But for some reason I just wasn't feeling his set. His jokes just weren't as funny as I remember them being in the past and I actually felt a bit bored. Saying this really bums me out because I really like Arj! It just wasn't a good fit.

Finally it was Zach's turn and he couldn't have been better. He brought his signature riffing-whilst-playing-piano work to a completely new level with a ton of new material. And his crowd work was really phenominal as well. Some of the interviewees were real dead fish, but he managed to produce some incredibly hilarious moments regardless. His final bit, where he was dressed as Little Orphan Annnie, was something I'd heard about but had never seen. A large post-it tablet, a show tune, a bearded fat-body in a tight Annie costume and a mug-full of glitter... I defy anyone to end a show any better than that.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Comedian Tom Shillue

Photo taken from Drink at Work

I have a pretty solid roster of absolute favorite comedians that never changes. Todd Barry, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Eugene Mirman, and Zach Galifianakis are members of a top 5 that will probably never change. It is my personal Mount Rushmore (+1). Unless one of these guys becomes a mass murderer or rapist, this list will never change.

But lately a comedian is threatening to potentially jeopardize the solid foundation of my top 5 favorites; comedian Tom Shillue.

Over the years, I've seen Shillue perform so many times that I can't even count. Each time I've seen him, I don't think I've ever heard the same routine twice. But I've happened to see him 5 or 6 times in just over a month and he has managed to take a prominant place in my comedy consciousness. Besides Louis CK he is the only comedian out there that can discuss married life and fatherhood without making me want to suffocate myself with a plastic bag. Though much less blue than CK, his bits on adulthood are so goddamned funny and well articulated that I'm reminded of the monologuing skills of Spalding Gray, only MUCH funnier.

I do realize, though, that I might be slightly drawn to him beacuse of his Massachusetts upbringing which shines through in almost every performance. As a fellow Masshole, a performance from Shillue is sometimes like a performance from a friend's uncle.

He's absolutely hilarious, he's clean, he's engaging, and he's a master storyteller. He is one of the biggest threats to those sitting in my top 5. Rushmore shouldn't expect any refacing yet, but I cannot guarantee that after a few more Shillue experiences.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Comix 2/22/07, with David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Rhys Darby, and Striking Viking Story Pirates

Photo by Lisa Whiteman

Man, it's been a week since I saw this show and I still can't stop thinking about it. From start to finish, it was so much fun that it had me in a good mood until the following day, which is extremely difficult to accomplish. Now that I think of it, so much happened at this show it might be difficult to have a cohesive review. OK, here goes.

I didn't realize it going in, but this installment of the Hot Tub Variety Show was to be it's last ever at Comix. Hosts Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler reassured the sold out crowd that they would indeed have a new locale in the near future (one without a hefty cover and two item minimum, no less).

The show kicked off with an absurd but extremely funny bit where Kurt was screaming "Kristen Schaal is a horse!!" over and over again while Kristen did a weird jig around the stage. It went on and on and on and just when you thought it would stop, they'd keep right on going. They did it for such an insanely long time that Kurt was absolutely dripping with sweat. LUCKILY, they did the same thing at Sketchfest NYC 2006 and it's LUCKILY on youtube, so watch it!

This manic moment lead right into the appearance of Miss Saturn, a burlesque hula-hoop performer with serious cameltoe and nip-slippage. Though I don't find myself ever enjoying burlesque whatsoever, I can't deny her prodigal skills with the hula-hoop.

Miss Saturn was followed by Eugene Mirman who was easily the highlight of the evening. From start to finish, he absolutely killed. And it wasn't an audience of the usual Eugene Mirman fans; these were people who no doubt never even heard of him. But they absolutely love him. I have seen a lot of Mirman the past few weeks and had heard a lot of this material already, but it was all still very vunny.

After Eugene, Kurt and Kristen came out and showed a video called Penelope Princess of Pets. The video featured music by Reggie Watts and starred Kurt and Kristen. Words will never do justice as to just how funny this video really was. The second it's on youtube or on their site I will post it. The video shall speak for itself.

Rhys Darby came out after the video and I guarantee not more than three people in the room knew who the hell he was; I was one of the three. He was funny, but his schtick is sound effects a la Michael Winslow. I think that one thing I learned at this show is that I don't like burlesque and funny man-made noises in my comedy shows. Though, it is a variety show, so I have no right to complain. Anyhow, he was funny and I can tell already that he is going to be so good in the Flight of the Conchords TV show.

I'm going to skip right over the Striking Viking Story Pirates. I went to the bathroom about 5 minutes into their set and when I came back they were about finished. Next time, dudes.

So this leaves us with the final act and probably the reason the show sold out; David Cross. I've actually seen a lot of David lately and though he has been funny as hell, something about his delivery has gotten really indirect and meandering. It's hard to describe, because he's funny, but his delivery has changed. The build ups are slower, the stories get sort of tangential, and the payoff isn't as big. He has admitted in a recent interview that he is rusty, his material isn't great yet, and that the next few months will be kind of sucky as he gets himself back in the saddle again. So I'm not worried. He was good, but not David Cross good.

But the entertainment didn't end with David Cross. As the house lights went up and people started gathering their coats and shuffling off, there was a commotion at a table a few feet away from me. I don't know what the hell happened, but the next thing I know a girl had another girl in a headlock, two dudes were grappling with each other, the table was knocked over, drinking glasses smashed, ice spilled, and my waitress was screaming "security! security!" at the top of her lungs. Security rushed in there pell mell and broke these drunken bridge-n-tunnel meatheads up and escorted them out. Real classy.

UCB Theater 2/19/07, with Martha Plimpton, Zach Galifianakis, Demetri Martin, and The Last Car

Photo by Marianne Ways

Thumbs up indeed, Demetri.

Bro'In Out With Leo and Tony is easily one of the best comedy programs New York City has to offer. The variety of talent they have each month is truly mind boggling; from comedians and writers, to musicians and legitimate theatrical actors, this show is enough to knock anyone's ass off. This week started off with Demetri Martin. By this point in my week, this was my third time seeing him and was afraid I'd hear some all too familiar material. However, Demetri did exactly what one is supposed to do at Bro'In Out; he simply Broed out. He was funny, relaxed, and totally fucking ON.

Next up was Martha Plimpton who, besides Zach, was one of the main reasons for really wanting to see this show. I'm a big fan of hers as she truly is a world class actress. From plays to movies, she does everything so incredibly well. She's part of a rare breed of actor who is versatility personified. And she was such an asset to Bro'In Out! Not only was she plain fucking hilarious, but she was so energetic and engaging that I wanted to hear her talk for much much longer. I really hope to see her in this type of setting again as I really can't afford to see her in The Coast Of Utopia. By the by, this wasn't the first time she did a show at UCB.

Zach Galifianakis followed Martha and was his usual, dead-pan self. When he spoke he was pretty funny, but I felt that Demetri, Martha, Jawnee, and Tony (not so much Leo) were talking over him a bit. I don't know if this was intentional, or if it bothered Zach, but I felt that his time slot on the show was a bit wasted. Although, the banter that was interrupting and talking over him was really goddamned entertaining.

The night ended with the sweet harmonies of The Last Car, who were really great.

All in all, it was probably the best Bro'In Out I've ever been to. Come to think of it, they've been getting progressively better each month. Which means that this month's show could be lethal.