Comedy Death-Ray Spectacular

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2010 by thebeardedspectre

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre L.A.’s “Comedy Death-Ray” show on Tuesdays sells out in about an hour each week. The theatre is small (around 100 seats) and provides the best comedy show for only $5 so it’s not that strange that it sells out so quickly. Still, only something like two years ago, only the most savvy comedy fans knew about the goldmine across from the diluted celebrity “church” on Franklin Ave. in Hollywood. Now though, the majority of people have caught on and the line for standby tickets starts early and grows exponentially past the bookstore, restaurants and around the corner.

I’ve been a fan of Scott Aukerman and BJ Porter’s CDR for years and have attended quite a few shows. In fact, the driving force behind me finally relenting and registering for a (shudder) Twitter account is the opportunity to get a text message the minute the lineups are posted (and incidentally, tickets are made available). Last Friday, I received such a text message stating, “CDR tickets now on sale! With Michael Ian Black, BJ Novak, MORE!” I immediately scrambled for my laptop and and purchased two tickets, being an enormous Michael Ian Black fan–especially after seeing Stella’s reunion tour a couple years ago. BJ Novak was an interesting addition and with just these two guys, I would have been happy paying the $11 for two tickets.

I arrived early at the theatre last night to make sure I caught Doug Benson’s free show/podcast taping “Doug Loves Movies” before CDR started at 8:30pm. Michael Ian Black was apparently too busy to honor his commitment to “Doug Loves Movies” as he decided to do Adam Carolla’s more popular podcast, which is understandable. The three guests for DLM were Tommy Johnagin, the hilarious and soft-spoken Todd Barry, and CDR co-founder Scott Aukerman, who filled in for Michael Ian Black. I wasn’t too disappointed as I love Scott Aukerman.

I’m going to go over my personal highlights from the show as there were too many comedians to write about in one post. Among those who performed but I won’t detail here were Jonah Ray (who hosted), English comedian Matt Kirshen, and Last Comic Standing runner-up Tommy Johnagin. They weren’t terrible by any means, but the other comedians were pure dynamite and most of them I’ve wanted to see live for quite a while.

BJ Novak, who plays the character Ryan and is also the head writer for The Office, performed a pretty short set–about fifteen minutes. I was interested to see what his stand-up would be like and I was pleasantly surprised. For some reason, I had a feeling his act would be full of pretentious humor that I didn’t feel would play well with the savvy UCB crowd. Most of his material, actually, was regional stuff–little observations about living in and around L.A.

After BJ Novak performed, I sat wondering who the mystery performers would be, knowing that Zach Galifianakis likely wouldn’t randomly appear on-stage like he did last time I attended Comedy Death-Ray. Jonah Ray came out to introduce the next comedian saying, “This next performer also has a television show Thursdays on NBC…”

DONALD GLOVER!

At that point, I lost my shit. I’ve been raving about Donald’s comedic timing, ability to pull the best facial “re-acks” (reaction shots), and acting prowess since the early sketches of his hugely popular sketch group, DERRICK Comedy–long before his popularity blew up via Community. More recently, I’ve really wanted to go see Childish Gambino (Donald’s hip-hop alias) perform in preparation for his upcoming tour, but I haven’t had the money necessary to buy tickets. Donald performed for about twenty minutes and I don’t remember a point when I wasn’t laughing during his set. I can’t speak for the rest of the audience, but he left me pondering the answer to a question I’ll likely never resolve: “Does Keira Knightley lick buttholes?”

After Donald Glover made his way offstage, we were lucky enough to enjoy a (particularly long) set by Todd Barry (The Wrestler, Delocated, Louie) who I assume was kind enough to give us a show while he stalled for time, waiting for Michael Ian Black to arrive. Donald Glover must have been pretty embarrassed, though, as during Todd Barry’s set, we found out that HE is dating Keira Knightley. Sadly, he wouldn’t tell us whether or not she licks buttholes. Todd’s comedy is really interesting and it takes some patience for audience members that don’t get it. Most of his material were thin jokes that he then incessantly deconstructed, which is something that usually disembowels the humor from a good joke. His trademark soft, monotone drawl makes him hard to hear and better than warm milk for tired or drunk audience members looking to catch a quick nap in a theatre seat.

After British comedian Matt Kirshen performed a decent set, it was time for Michael Ian Black, my initial bet for highlight of the night. He started out with a joke that he had posted on Twitter a couple days before the show, which was a little disappointing. Most of his material was about how he lost his drivers license while in Los Angeles and how it’s basically impossible to do normal, day-to-day activities here without a car/license. Really, I can’t think of any other major city where you’re totally fucked if you don’t have a car or proof that you’re legally qualified to operate a vehicle. Black finished with his old but still funny poem entitled “If I Had a Slave”. He seems to know that racial tension in a crowd is hilariously uncomfortable.

The final mystery guest to perform last night had just performed on CONAN earlier that day, the incredibly talented and really strange Reggie Watts. Reggie’s set is a mashup of a bunch of different things: hilarious accents/voices, incredible beatboxing, awkward dancing, and unintelligible lyrics. I had seen some of his material from his Comedy Central special, but in no way was I intimately familiar with his style. After watching CONAN immediately after I got home from the show to see how the crowd responded to Reggie, I wasn’t surprised to notice that they weren’t sure what to make of him for the first few minutes. It was only after his “horse walks into a bar” joke, did the audience start responding positively. At UCB, it was way different. The place exploded during his performance. He puts on an absolutely amazing stage show and is definitely recommended.

I have a hard time saying that any CDR show is “the best I’ve ever been to” as it’s top-shelf each and every time I’ve attended. But I’ve made a decision, and I must concede that last night’s CDR was the best comedy show I’ve ever attended (with like 20 others in a close second place).

NBC Announces Parks and Recreation’s Glorious Return

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2010 by thebeardedspectre
Current logo created by Chermayeff & Geismar u...

Image via Wikipedia

NBC has finally stopped dragging ass and listened to the internet community:  Parks and Recreation will be BACK ON JANUARY 20, 2011!! It will also get its deserved timeslot of 9:30pm, following The Office. That is big news on it’s own, but it’s nearly overshadowed by the news that NBC will schedule an unprecedented three-hour comedy block on Thursdays running from 8:00pm-11:00pm. The schedule underwent a shakeup, as well, so let’s go over the future Thursday night comedy schedule for NBC:

8:00pmCommunity — This show is fast becoming the best show on Thursday night (despite the bloated ratings of Big Bang Theory on CBS) with its talented ensemble cast that thankfully doesn’t rely only on Chevy Chase and Joel McHale to carry the comedy weight. While I say Community is becoming the best show, it’s not a very fair assertion as Parks and Recreation has been on broadcast hiatus for so long, they haven’t had a chance to build upon two magnificent seasons where the writing and characterization got better with each episode. Still though, Community is a very solid show and it makes me quite happy that Donald Glover is quickly becoming a household name.

8:30pmPerfect Couples — A new sitcom centered around three distinctly different couples will get a shot in the 8:30 slot. The idea sounds like typical, boilerplate sitcom trash to me and also features “actress” Olivia Munn, who is gorgeous but painful to watch when she’s trying to be funny. I personally predict this show to fail quickly but I will at least check it out once to see the enchanting Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Charlie Day’s actual wife) on screen in a much different capacity.

9:00pmThe Office — This series is on life support if you ask me. After Steve Carell leaves following this season, I do not see this show coming back for another. If it does, it will be short-lived, as they have been beating a dead idea for the last couple seasons already.

9:30pmParks and Recreation — Finally, this show will be back where it belongs. I need my weekly Ron Swanson fix so badly I was close to capturing a homeless gentleman, shaving his face down to a powerful Swanson-esque moustache, feeding him turkey legs and bourbon and teaching him advanced woodwork techniques. I’m definitely interested to see how Adam Scott’s character “Ben” will be incorporated into the already well-developed character relationships in the series.

10:00pm30 Rock — I used to absolutely love this show, but recently, they’ve become a parody of themselves (much like what happened to The Simpsons) and far too self-aware. I give this show one more season after this current one, at the most.

10:30pmOutsourced — OMG INDIAN ACCENTS ARE SOOOOOO FUNNY. That’s seems to be the general message of this show based off the much better indie film of the same name. The switch to 10:30 will be death for this series, as it benefited HUGELY from The Office’s lead-in. Maybe we should outsource the jobs of this show’s writers. At least the show would be more realistic if it were written by actual Indians.

So that’s the upcoming NBC Thursday night lineup, starting January 20, 2011. Good move? Bad move? What do you think?

The Benson Interruption Airs TONIGHT!!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2010 by thebeardedspectre

As you may remember, last week, my roommate and I attended a taping of the new Comedy Central show, The Benson Interruption. Well, only eight days after the taping, the episode will be airing TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT!! That seems like an insanely quick turnaround to me, but I must give them their deserved propers.

This episode features the crazy-talented Eugene Mirman (Delocated, The Flight of the Conchords), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Human Giant) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, Mr. Show), who all perform parts of their act and tell stories while host Doug Benson interrupts them with the thoughts running through his mind

Make sure to catch the show at MIDNIGHT (11:00 pm central/mountain) on COMEDY CENTRAL or set your DVR in case you have some important night-digging to take care of. I wore my “Grassroots” shirt to the taping and depending on their editing choices, we could possibly see Grant’s polar bear majestically posed across my chest. I’ll be the bearded gentleman next to the other bearded gentleman.

Tim and Eric Awesome Tour, Great Job! Chrimbus Spectacular 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by thebeardedspectre
Happy Chrimbus, everybody! I spent my Saturday night at the camouflaged Club Nokia next to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles to see Tim and Eric at their 2010 Awesome Tour and Chrimbus Spectacular. Before I write about the show itself, I’d like to take this time to bitch about a few things. 

  1. Ticketmaster: Each ticket I purchased for the show was $21.50 but after the absurd and exorbitant fees that Ticketmaster charged, the total for two tickets came out to $76 and some change. That’s about an 80% surcharge and pure profit. How has Ticketmaster been getting away with this for so long? I’m pretty sure they’re the definition of a monopoly.
  2. Parking near Staples Center: My roommate and I tried to park at a $10 lot a few blocks away from the clusterfuck of L.A. Live but of course the lot was full. We ended up having to pay $20 for parking, which is approximately the price of another ticket to the show. We already drove in an hour’s worth of traffic to go 15 miles, now we have to spend all our birthday money for parking? I call bullshit.
  3. Club Nokia alcohol prices: Really? $11 for a 6 oz. gin and tonic?

Anyway, on to the show. Nowhere other than the movie theatre on a Friday night or a Sadie Hawkins dance have I seen more 15-year-old kids congregated in one place. Also, in my opinion, Club Nokia is simply too big of a venue for a Tim and Eric show. I saw them two years ago at a much smaller venue (Spaceland in L.A., if I remember correctly) and the energy and crowd reaction was just so electric. At Club Nokia, I had to fight my brain’s urge to concentrate on other spectators’ banal conversations during the performance.

I was really excited, though, to see the opening comedian, America’s Funnyman, Neil Hamburger. He’s one of the few comedians that I hadn’t seen live. If you don’t know who Neil Hamburger is, search for some of his stand-up on youtube, but only if you aren’t easily offended. If you are, go look at lolcats again for the millionth time. I wish Neil Hamburger’s act would have lasted longer than 20-or-so minutes, but when the crowd isn’t savvy enough to understand the game of his character, I don’t blame him for performing a short set.

Tim (Heidecker) and Eric (Wareheim) never disappoint at a live show. This was especially true this year as after their traditional comedy/variety show with multiple costume changes, sketches, and video material peppered with cameos by friends of Tim and Eric like Zach Galifianakis, they put on an hour long musical concert as original supergroup Pusswhip Banggang. Along with professional backing musicians on drums, bass guitar, and keyboard (with Tim on lead guitar and Eric on rhythm guitar/percussion) they played hit songs from their [adult swim] show, such as “Petite Feet”, “Poke On”, “Sports!”, and “Come Over”, among others.

The real treat for me, however, is that we got a special live performance by gospel singer, Awesome Show alum, and ventriloquist extraordinaire, David Liebe Hart. I’m pretty sure Los Angeles was the only city to experience the wonder of DL Hart live on stage and he didn’t disappoint. After the Pusswhip Banggang performance, they came back for an encore with DL Hart and he commenced to singing his hit songs, such as “Salame” and “Marcama”. But he didn’t stop there. He felt the love of the crowd and kept singing even after Tim and Eric left the stage for good. After ten minutes, Club Nokia turned on the houselights, cranked up the background music and cut his microphone. For shame. Never cut an artist’s microphone. That was David Liebe Hart’s equivalent of an Oscar-acceptance speech.

Now you’ve seen me mention the glorious holiday of Chrimbus a few times in this post and you’re likely confused. Let me shed some light on what I expect to be the #1 winter holiday in ten years. Chrimbus is a holiday of getting, unlike the lesser-known “Christ-mas” and is celebrated on December 5 (which is also when [adult swim] will be airing Tim and Eric’s Chrimbus Special). Those interested in celebrating this year should act soon and buy their Chrimbus bush before all of the bush farms sell the most symmetrical bushes. Make sure to keep your Chrimbus bush both soaking wet and meticulously trimmed; otherwise, Winter Man won’t deliver your Chrimbus present. Forget the other holidays; tell your Me-Maw and Pep-Pep your family is now a Chrimbus family!

Tim and Eric are still touring through December 5, where their tour ends in Atlanta. For a list of remaining cities and links to purchase tickets: CLICK HERE.

Doug Benson and His Friends

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2010 by thebeardedspectre

The Benson InterruptionLast night, my roommate and I made the short trip to Hollywood to attending a taping of the new Comedy Central series, The Benson Interruption. Comedian Doug Benson (Super High Me, Best Week Ever) takes his popular UCB stage show in which he invites his comedian friends onstage to perform their act. However, Doug sits on stage and periodically interrupts their stories and jokes, which usually leads to hilarious improvisation.

I was really excited to attend the taping last night because one of my favorite comedians, Eugene Mirman (Delocated, The Flight of the Conchords), was performing. After waiting in line and being seated in our small, uncomfortable chairs, crowd warmer Brody Stevens (who, incidentally, I met a couple years ago at the Tim and Eric Awesome Tour ’08) revealed to us all that not only Eugene Mirman would be performing but Rob Huebel (Childrens Hospital, Human Giant) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Mr. Show, 24) would also take the stage. The taping was fun, but I’m a huge fan of small comedy clubs and intimate performances, which television tapings do their best to make less natural and more tedious. There were some really funny moments on the night (most of which probably won’t air due to language or subject matter) like both Eugene Mirman and Rob Huebel’s “tweet-off” with Doug Benson.

Best laugh of the night, you ask? I’m really surprised this title isn’t going to Eugene Mirman as he is one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever seen, but it goes to Rob Huebel with his hilarious tweet-off winner, “Good thing they decided to call them ‘Honey Nut Cheerios’ and not ‘Teeny Tiny Buttholes'”.

The first episode of The Benson Interruption premiers tonight on Comedy Central at midnight est/pst. Guests will include Nick Swardson (Pretend Time, Reno 911!), relatively unknown but genuinely funny comedian/actor Nick Kroll (The League, I Love You, Man) and Chris Hardwick (Web Soup). Comedy Central has ordered six episodes and other guests will include Patton Oswalt (Big Fan, Ratatouille), Brian Posehn (Mr. Show, The Sarah Silverman Program), and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, Night at the Museum).

There is one more day of taping for The Benson Interruption at The Music Box on Monday, November 15. However, they will be doing two separate tapings that night: one at 7:30 and another at 9:00 pm. Tickets to the taping are still available at can be requested at Doug Benson Tickets. So, if you’re in the LA area, request tickets and make your way to The Music Box. This is likely the only time you could see Doug Benson, Patton Oswalt, Thomas Lennon, and Brian Posehn in the same night at one venue (other than Upright Citizens Brigade LA). Also, it’s FREE!

“Grassroots” Infomercial Contest

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2010 by thebeardedspectre

The independent film I’m working on with my current internship, Grassroots, is having a make-your-own infomercial contest. Voting started today, but the contest runs until December 1, 2011. All of the legal and specific details are available either on the Grassroots website or the Grassroots Facebook page (under the “Contests” tab). Make the infomercials as FUNNY AS POSSIBLE, please. There’s nothing worse than watching a bad parody that also isn’t funny.

"Grassroots" Infomercial Graphic

Director, Stephen Gyllenhaal (Losing Isaiah, Homegrown) is passionate about indie filmmaking and he wants to give budding filmmakers a chance to get in on the action!

Stephen and the GRASSROOTS team are personally inviting students from your university to participate in a CREATE YOUR OWN INFOMERCIAL CONTEST!  The winning video will be featured in the upcoming movie GRASSROOTS starring Jason Biggs (American Pie, My Best Friend’s Girl) and Joel David Moore (Grandma’s Boy, Avatar)

GRAND PRIZE:

*The winning video be featured in a scene in the movie GRASSROOTS

*The winner will be given a screen credit on the film

*The winning video will appear in the EPK for the film

*The winning video will be posted on www.GrassrootsTheFilm.com

Anyone interested in entering the contest or learning more about GRASSROOTS the movie can go to the GRASSROOTS facebook page or website for their chance to win!! Contestants should submit a unique and entertaining, 30 second to 2 minute infomercial for a product that suits the time period of this quirky comedy taking place in early 2001. The product can be real or imaginary, as long as it is not a specific brand or does not infringe on any copyright laws. Videos must be suitable for all audiences. Most importantly, Gyllenhaal has instructed filmmakers to “be creative” and “don’t be afraid to think outside the box”.

Contest finalists will be selected by contestants themselves and their friends through online voting, along with a panel of judges made up of the GRASSROOTS cast and crew.

The 5 videos with the most fan votes will become finalists and be featured on the GRASSROOTS website. Additional finalists will be chosen at random by the judges during the voting process. Contestants never know when someone from GRASSROOTS will stop by to comment on their video or choose their piece to join the list of finalists!


The winner will be selected from the group of finalists by director Stephen Gyllenhaal, who will call to notify the winner personally!

The contest will run from October 15, 2010 until December 1, 2010.

For more information find Grassroots the Film on facebook at:

Grassroots on Facebook

Aziz Ansari’s Halloween Horror

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by thebeardedspectre
The main cast of Parks and Recreation, (from l...

Image via Wikipedia

Last night I went to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights with a group of friends. It was my first chance to get on The Simpsons ride since it opened however many years ago. After my first time on the ride, we were walking across the park through the copious fake fog, evil clowns with metal knee pads, and zombie Nazis wielding chainsaws, when a cloud of about eight people walking the other direction passed by. I looked down a little bit and noticed that one of them was the hilarious Aziz Ansari. I’m not tall by any means standing at 5’9″, but Aziz was only as tall as my shoulders. This isn’t a slight on the guy in the least, I just find it interesting that most truly funny comedians I see in real life are my height or shorter. The government should commission some type of scientific study on the ratio of height to level of humor.

I also thought the random sighting was apropos after my post on Parks and Recreation yesterday. In keeping with that spirit, I’m providing the link from Aziz’s slideshow on Vulture from September 30: “Aziz Ansari, Practical Joker”.

In other news, improv savvy Parker Posey (Waiting for Guffman, Kicking and Screaming, A Mighty Wind) will be guest-starring in the upcoming season of Parks and Recreation as “an old rival of Leslie’s who works in the snooty, richer town next to Pawnee”. Just another reason to get it back on the air.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.