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Archive for the year 2011

WATCH PATTON OSWALT ON CONAN

Patton Oswalt sat down on the Conan couch last night to promote his new film, Young Adult. The conversation, though, didn’t just focus on the Jason Reitman-directed film that looks awfully good and the logical perplexities of Patton adding a love scene with Charlize Theron to his resume. Naturally, the holiday season came up and Patton wants to know the Little Drummer Boy’s secret to soothing babies (Jesus or otherwise). Watch his full interview:

Point/Counter Point: Jono vs Dominic

In this edition of Point/Counter Point, Finwë Carnesîr and Elladan Súrion (known by their un-elvish names as Jono and Dominic) take on the topic of LOTR Elves versus good old fashioned Santa Elves. Who will win in this holiday themed round of Point/Counter Point??

 

-Jono

ElveHere’s a question: when’s the last time you saw Hugo Weaving toiling with some pathetic rocking horse for your baby cousin Zach? Never. Hugo Weaving is far too busy gazing sternly and being immortal. Elves that inhabit the Middle Earth of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings are less about being replaceable servants to a fat white man and more about mastering archery, among their other pursuits.

Maybe you’ve sampled their bread—lembas. Well, probably not because either a) you’re evil (there’s a reason Gollum was so averse to it) or b) you’re not an elf. They like to keep this miracle food in the elf family. By family, I of course mean the likes of Orlando Bloom, Liv Tyler, and the aforementioned Hugo. Lembas keeps you full for whatever elvish activities you have going on in your day. Maybe you’re off to fight in just some little battle at Helm’s Deep (Legolas/Orlando Bloom); or maybe you need to go ponder the burden of immortality in the face of true mortal love (Arwen/Liv Tyler). These elves keep their calendars booked and they need a badass snack to go with it. Lembas stays fresh for months and even just a few bites will keep an elf full for a whole day. Santa’s cookies these are not.

The pointed ears are where the similarities end between Middle Earth elves and Santa’s elves. No need to crouch down to their level. Legolas will look you straight in the eye and tell you he couldn’t care less about Christmas. They rather spend their time, according to my sources, doing smithwork, sculpture, dancing, and eating. Who couldn’t get behind that? Also, they don’t just pop up as a seasonal thing, hawking tablets for Best Buy. I rest my case, but let’s watch the elves make their entrance into Helm’s Deep.

 

-Dominic

Long before their species was immortalized by Will Ferrell in 2003’s Elf, those known as “Santa’s little helpers” had carved a nice niche for their kind.  They made toys, spread joy through their gift of song and worked tirelessly to ensure that children all over the world had something to look forward to on Christmas day.

Christmas is a big deal.  And while Santa might run shop, its the elves who make things tick – literally (they make thousands of watches each holiday season!).  Now, my misguided cohort might praise the value of the elves from Middle Earth but, come on.  There is no Middle Earth.  But there is indeed a north pole.  With candy cane lanes and sugar plums and all kinds of goodies that the superior elves (Santa’s elves) inhabit year round.  Rather than concerning themselves with one ring to “rule them all”, these elves are actually making DVDs of Lord Of The Rings as well as board games, action figures and collectible goblets to actually make children happy.

Let me get down to brass tax.  Tolkien’s fantasy-world of elves and rings and hobbits is something that may appeal to some of us.  But joy and snow and hot cocoa and picturing cute mini-people making etch-a-sketches and jack-in-the-boxes and rocking ponies is something that I think all of us can get behind.  My troubled friend Jono may not have any holiday spirit but I hope that someday the splendor and magic that Santa’s elves personify can find a way to infect him.  I’ll leave it to Papa Elf to explain why Santa’s elves are the very best elves.

 

Who takes it? If you don’t think words were enough, perhaps a dance battle between the two will settle this.

TEN ADVANCE IN THE MAGNERS COMIC STAND-OFF

After some heated Facebook voting, the Magners Comedy Festival moves on with the top 10 comics. Thousands of “pints” later, the all-knowing Facebook told us who should move on to win the contest.  In January, the ten finalists will face-off in person in Boston for a great weekend of comedy that’s not to be missed. One lucky comic from that bunch will fly to Scotland to perform in the renowned Glasgow International Comedy Festival. In no particular order, here are Top 10 comics moving on in the Magners Comedy Festival:

Trenton Davis

Linda Aarons

Brian Mitchell

Kat Radley

Raj Sivaraman

Will Noonan

Matt Donaher

Sean Wilkinson

Lance Weiss

M Dickson

You can catch these comics in Boston for the semi-final rounds (Jan 26 at Nick’s Comedy Stop and Jan 27 at Mottley’s) and the final round (Jan 28 at Nick’s Comedy Stop). Thank you so much to all who voted and please visit the festival’s site for more info.

 

 

 

 

WATCH NICK VATTEROTT ON CONAN

The wonderfully weird and recent Andy Kaufman Award winner Nick Vatterott delivered a distinctly quirky set on Conan last night. Apparently he’s gearing up to do some shows for kindergarten students and that sounds just about perfect. Nick also reflected on his own (distracted) childhood and the inherent awkwardness of the letter “Q”. Be sure to watch the rest of Nick’s clips on Rooftop and keep up with him on Twitter. Great job Nick!

BRYAN BRUNER INTERVIEW

Las Vegas doesn’t immediately jump to mind when people think of comedy hotbeds. For Bryan Bruner, though, that’s where he got his first gigs and where he jumped the first hurdle of stealing people’s attention from the slot machines. Since then, Bryan has only been improving, crafting his own style that’s a blast to listen to on his debut album, Welcome to Djibouti. We recently sat down with Bryan to talk about some intense (and violent) heckling, Kal Penn’s relationship with cheetahs, and the comedic muse that is Florida’s swingers’ community.

Rooftop Comedy: What was it like to get your comedy start in the Vegas scene?

Bryan Bruner: It was tough because it still is a very young, tiny scene. It’s not like New York, where there’s six generations of comics and an established way of doing things. In Vegas, it’s starting. It’s creating itself. You’re doing video poker bars. People’s attentions are everywhere but being geared up for comedy. People are figuring it out though. They’re figuring out how to set up the room and how to give comedy a fighting chance. Coming from Vegas definitely gave me the chops to have the fighting chance to survive in New York.

RT: So how about that one time a Marine attacked you while you were performing onstage?

BB: I think I was doing stand-up for six months and I was hosting this show and it was in the back of the bar. I’m dying on stage. I’m getting nowhere. My mom’s in the audience. My grandma is there. It’s her 80th birthday. I’m eating so much dick. I’m getting no laughs and one of the jokes tanks and I turn and I repeated the punch line at this guy or whatnot. Out of the blue, he comes out of nowhere and spears me from the side, knocks me into the TV and into the wall. Just a few minutes earlier, his buddy had heckled me and I made fun of him. It wasn’t anything mean. It was kind of a shitty comeback. Anyway, his buddy heckled me and I went back into the bit and then after that bit is when he just charged me onstage. It was a weird thing where I got stuck in the wall and I had to unplug my ass out of the wall. After that, I think I quit doing stand-up for quite a long time. [Ed. note: you can watch the incident on YouTube]

RT: How was it going on a U.S. Army tour overseas?

BB: We were in Djibouti and our tour—we were just a bunch of no-name comics—but there was also a USO tour called the Hollywood Handshake tour. It was Christian Slater, Kal Penn, Zachary Levi, and Joel David Moore. So their tour meets our tour and we’re in Djibouti and they take us to this cheetah refuge. Some of them are contained behind a fence and there was one cheetah that was actually domesticated and you could pet the cheetah. I’m a little stand-off-ish about this and I’m sitting next to Kal Penn and some military officer was like, “Hey Kal, don’t try to ride this cheetah”, because in Harold and Kumar, they have to ride a cheetah back to White Castle. So they start fucking with Kal Penn and Kal Penn for a second was like, “Dude, I don’t think you guys understand. I really fucking hate cheetahs. When we were filming the movie, they purposefully didn’t feed the cheetah, so it would come across meaner”. So when Kal Penn wouldn’t go into the cheetah refuge, these military guys would just give him shit the whole time. I’m glad I’m not a movie star.

RT: Your album features a few stand-out long-form stories, including one about your introduction to the swingers’ community in Florida. Are these bits pretty polished at this point, or do you continue to develop the delivery?

BB: Yes and no. It’s got to change and it’s got to evolve. I can’t do the same thing every time. My problem that I have is sometimes I load it too much with detail and it loses focus. I’ll know I have a good story, if I feel like I’ll be embarrassed to tell it. If I’m like, “I don’t even know if I should be telling you about this”, well then that’s a story everyone wants to hear. For me, the hardest part is just getting out there and saying it. The more I say it, the more comfortable I become talking about it. What I’ll do is I’ll just go to some open mic and I’ll take my five minutes or whatever I’m allotted and I will just tell the story. I don’t care if it works or if it doesn’t. I just need to get the beats down. I’ve always been a storyteller for my friends and whatnot. Honestly, though, it was something I just started getting into before we recorded that record.

RT: You also produce the Sorta Secret Comedy Show. How did you decide to host a comedy show in your New York-sized apartment?

BB: Obviously, like everyone in New York, I have two roommates and they’re stand-ups. I wanted to do a show in a parking garage or in an auto shop and I started coming up with all these weird places I wanted to do it. We wanted to do one in our living room, but our landlord is a dick. We have a really big place. We kind of looked at each other and were like, “That’s so crazy of an idea that it just might work”. We started taking tape measurements of the room and started figuring out how we could line up couches and where we could get chairs. We charged $10 to get in the door and then it’s free beer—all you can drink. I think at our first show we had 45 people. The biggest show in our living room we had 55 people. Now, we’re taking it elsewhere. We’re working on getting into a laundromat. We just did the top of a hotel. Brown Paper Tickets totally sponsored us and rented us a sick as rock star suite at the top of a Holiday Inn. We really want to get into a Planned Parenthood.

Keep up with Bryan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Welcome to Djibouti is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and the Rooftop Comedy shop.

WATCH SEAN PATTON ON CONAN

In case you missed it, Rooftop friend and owl look-alike Sean Patton stopped by Conan recently. Sean hit his stride right off the bat with a spin “dance move” that Conan really enjoyed. In a great set, he revealed his tricks to picking up ladies, including some surprising tips from the owls. He also congratulated himself for quitting smoking cigarettes and marijuana–an accomplishment that’s had some unforeseen effects (no more tuna-mac cakes!). Nice job, Sean! Don’t forget to catch out all of his Rooftop clips–you don’t want to miss his analysis of how college students party. You can follow Sean on Twitter.

WATCH TIG NOTARO ON CONAN

Tig Notaro returned to the Conan stage last night, building off her hilarious last visit in September. Topics of the day included unusual reflections on her name, the bathing style of toddlers, and stool sounds. Be sure to watch all of Tig’s Rooftop clips. You can catch Tig on her weekly podcast Professor Blastoff, where she is joined by Kyle Dunnigan and David Huntsberger. Great job Tig!

CHRISTINA PAZSITZKY INTERVIEW

Rooftop Comedy Productions is proud to release Christina Pazsitzky’s It’s Hard Being a Person. Christina’s debut comedy album shows off her style of comedy that’s taken her everywhere from Last Comic Standing to Chelsea Lately. Christina’s not afraid to wear her “Going Out” sweatpants to someplace fancy like Applebee’s or talk about her thing for fat guys, including her very funny husband Tom Segura. We recently chatted with Christina right before Thanksgiving to discuss this generation’s Brett Butler, her personal identification with sausage, and comedy in old Hungary.

Rooftop Comedy: Are you doing any traveling for Thanksgiving?

Christina Pazsitzky: No. Thankfully, my relatives are here in Los Angeles. My husband and I are hosting this year to get our drink on.

RT: You’ve expressed your intense dislike for the term “girl comic”. Do you think there’s still a degree of pressure on funny female stand-ups to be cutesy?

CP: I think the pressure is always there for girls to be agreeable and attractive, comic or not. The culture is starving for a female voice that doesn’t reinforce the norm.  It’s all well and good to be girly—I’m not taking a dump on the girls that do that—but I think the culture is ripe for somebody like Roseanne or Brett Butler to kind of be that other voice. There needs to be balance in the comedy universe.

RT: Just this week, GQ magazine named Kristen Wiig “Bro of the Year”.

CP: Like Kristen’s so funny, she’s guy funny? It’s odd to have Comedians in GQ at all. Gone are the days when you could just have a personality and have a career. I’m trying to think…who’s that guy? Marty Feldman? He had one wonky eye and that guy was in a bunch of movies in the ‘80s. Well that culture is gone. I think it’s because of people like— not to knock him or his comedy—but Dane Cook, who was the first of that, “Oh my god. You’re so attractive and you’re funny?” Dane can sell tickets to guys and the girls who think he’s hot. But as far as posing for lad mags…I don’t see myself doing it, unless it’s the way Sarah Silverman did. She posed in a gorilla costume, which is great.

RT: So you were born in Hungary.

CP: Actually, no. For storytelling purposes, I condensed the details a bit. That popped out of my mouth in a Chardonnay haze during recording. My parents escaped from Hungary in ’69, fleeing the Communist regime, and they were put in a camp in Italy for a year and then the Catholic Church sponsored them to go to Canada. I was born in Canada, in Windsor, Ontario, across from Detroit.  My father worked at a car factory in Detroit and we moved to Los Angeles when I was four. I grew up in a working class immigrant household. My parents never told me I was a “little princess” or any nonsense like that.  On the outside, I look like a white blonde girl, but I’m made of sausage. I’m made of Hungarian kolbasz.

RT: Speaking of, sausage seems to be a common theme on It’s Hard Being a Person.

CP: I think it’s such an unconscious thing for me, because I really have a love for all processed meats. It’s just part of my upbringing. If you opened my father’s fridge right now, you would find at least 4 links. To me, sausage really speaks to what class you’re from, because it’s all the meat you’re not supposed to eat, but if it’s flavored just right, you can make it really good. But you can’t think about it. It is kind of a metaphor for life. You’re given these nasty bits and you try to put it together and make it palatable and tasty.

RT: What’s the comedy scene like in Hungary?

CP:  I don’t know what exists now, I’m assuming they get our movies and stand-up. Stand-up is a really American art form, with some Brits and Australians thrown in, too. The only Hungarian stand up I ever knew of was a guy named Hofi Géza and he was a stand-up comedian during the Communist regime. Hofi was one of the very few subversive elements allowed during the regime, because he would make jokes about stuff that you knew had a double meaning.  He was taking jabs at what was going on, but it was permitted because everyone loved Hofi.  I’d listen to my dad’s records  of Hofi when I was a little girl. I’d pick up on stuff here and there. I didn’t understand all the humor.

RT: When you were on MTV’s Road Rules, was there any pressure from the producers to be the funny blonde woman?

CP: I was actually, for many years, goth and punk growing up. I was very angry and very depressed. When I did Road Rules, I was studying philosophy in college and took myself very seriously. At best, I was snarky and sarcastic. They didn’t cast me because I was funny. They casted me because I was—I don’t know why. I was dumb, that’s for sure. I just wanted to see the world. I know my humor comes from being an angry, 14 year-old punk. I love that fiery, conscious, action-driven, DIY ethic. I’m proud though, to have been on Road Rules and in a time when they didn’t vote people off or set them on fire. Nobody even hooked up on my season. We were just a bunch of douche bags in a Winnebago having fun—good clean, honest, drunk fun. I’m still very close to a couple of my cast mates, they’re like family.

RT: What factors went into your decision to release an album now?

CP:  It was time and I was finally a full-time comic. The title, It’s Hard Being a Person, came from a promise I made to myself when I was working in telemarketing years ago. I was so miserable. It was one of those jobs where you just call people every day and just get shit on—rightly so, because you’re calling people at home and offering them a survey on eggs. This guy David I worked with was so funny. One day, I just slammed down the phone and was like, “Man, I fucking hate this job”. He goes, “Yeah, well, it’s hard being a person” and I thought “Ah! That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard”. The most existential—it is hard being a person. I swore that when I became a full-time comic, I’d name my album that. The time came and I did.

RT: Do you like working the rooms in LA more than touring all over?

CP: I love LA. Because I grew up here, I understand the crowds better. I like to develop new jokes here. I do the Comedy Store a lot when I’m home. Bits are born in LA and then taken on the road to be honed. I see no value in being a comedian that only five people get. Your job as a communicator is to make your ideas understandable to a large audience. I’ve really started to enjoy the Midwest a lot. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, because I grew up in LA and had no idea how the rest of the country lived.  But they’re down to earth people. They care about family and the neighborhood. And they love hot dogs. I can respect that.

Christina will be headlining at Crackers Comedy Club in Indianapolis Dec 14-17. Her podcast “Your Mom’s House” is available for download on iTunes. It’s Hard Being a Person is available now on iTunes, Amazon, and the Rooftop Comedy Shop.

INTERVIEW WITH PETE O’NEIL OF THE SEBASTIAN COMEDY SOCIETY

Pete O’Neil likes to think big. The Managing Director of the Sebastian Comedy Society and the brand new Ft. Lauderdale Comedy Club has every intention to bring the Ft. Lauderdale Comedy Retreat to the next level. He wants the annual event to become the Sundance of the comedy world, where the next big comics of tomorrow, migrate south to participate in networking events, seminars, showcases, and the ever-popular fishing tournament. Rooftop recently chatted with Pete about the Florida comedy scene, what separates the Ft. Lauderdale Comedy Retreat from other big comedy events, and why Shanghai needs a new comedy venue.

Rooftop Comedy: What new events and programs can people expect at this year’s Comic Retreat?

Pete O’Neil: We’re doing the first two showcases, the first two nights at our new home, the Ft. Lauderdale Comedy Club, but the third night, we’re doing it at the War Memorial, which is a big auditorium down here. It’s a landmark. For comedy, it’s gonna seat 2,100. Jose Sarduy is gonna be our comic who’s going to be performing at that showcase—the headliner. Then we’ll take the best from the showcase shows the days prior and put them in as part of the show. So you may have a new young comic, who’s just started out, then comes down, does a showcase at our show, and then on that Wednesday, he’ll be performing in front of 2,100 people, which is a pretty big room.

Of course, the fishing tournament is always a big thing every year, because we’re in Florida and there’s boats. We call it a fishing tournament, but it’s just a bunch of wild guys out on the boat and the locals are invited to go be part of it. This year, we’ll make a rule up that you’re not allowed to go cheat and buy frozen fish like last year. This year, you cannot come on board with a frozen fish and win the tournament. The other thing—bowling is real fun, as strange as that sounds. A lot of the comics love to bowl, everybody local likes to bowl. That’s an event that locally, everybody really likes. It gives locals a chance to hang out with up and coming comics and spend some time with them.

RT: With the new club opening up, what kind of comedy is Ft. Lauderdale looking for?

PO: I think it’s different genres. When we do a 6:30 early bird show, those are seniors, so they’re looking for a clean show with clean humor. The good thing is 20 years ago when I started out helping promote clubs, if you told a comic, “No F-word or dirty language”, they’d be insulted. Nowadays, I notice most young comics are cool with that because they understand and they have two different sets. What I think is important about Comic Retreat is that we make it part of the community and now we’re in an even bigger market, Ft. Lauderdale, which likes to party. What we think is great about Comic Retreat is it’s really a celebration of the art form of stand-up comedy. We didn’t want to build another festival, because there’s so many festivals, and a lot of the time they’re just—no disrespect to festivals—but young comics show up and perform for free. We don’t do that. Any show that the comic performs at, they get a piece of the door, and the other thing is we think it’s important that the comics, no matter where they are in their career, that they can take a couple days off every year and they can take stock of their career: where they’re going, maybe they need a booking agent. This year, we have Joel Pace from Heffron Comedy, who’s going to be giving a seminar about how you get signed with a major agency. We’re not there yet. We’re probably two or three years off from where we want to be, but we want to be what Sundance Film Festival is for emerging filmmakers, we want to become that platform for emerging comics—where they can come together once a year, they can party, they can have a good time, do workshops, do showcases, fish, and sit by the pool. We’re kind of excited now, because Ft. Lauderdale has totally embraced it. We think this is somewhat like their Sundance Film Festival every year.

RT: What do you think the breakdown this year will be in terms of new comics and more seasoned comics?

PO: It’s 50 percent of comics who’ve been doing it less than three to five years. Then we do get some old road dogs that show up and they have fun. It’s funny—there’s a percentage of comics that hate each other and don’t want to hang out, but for the ones that like to commune, it’s a good opportunity. I’d say 50-60 percent are young comics that are new and have picked it as a career. The other thing that we found last year, is kids who’ve graduated with degrees and they can’t get jobs. You have kids graduating with an engineering degree or a doctorate and they can’t get a job, but they can become great stand-up comics. They have a knack for it, but then they need to look at the business aspect of it. We’re seeing a whole new school of comics, who I won’t say are more sophisticated, but they come into a different opportunity, where they actually can’t get jobs. I think they come in with a really sophisticated view of performing. So we’re about two years off from where I want to be with this event. Every event takes a few years to improve. Moving to Ft. Lauderdale, we’ve been getting a lot of support from Nicki Grossman, who’s the head of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale tourist board. They have a lot of events to choose from, but we were one of the few events they went out and recruited down. We’re having all the workshops at the B Ocean, which is gorgeous. It’s right on the beach—every room has a view of the ocean. A number of our comics come from the northeast, so the good thing is that in January, you don’t have to convince somebody in Detroit or Boston to get out of the cold for a few days. It’s just a celebration of the art of comedy and we’re trying to build it to become kind of like the Sundance Film Festival, but for emerging comics. We encourage people, if people have an idea for an event or a workshop we can add, we consider ourselves an open platform. So if somebody comes to us and says, “Hey, I’d love to put on a workshop”, we’re totally open to that. We truly just want to make it a meeting place for everybody.

RT: How did the Sebastian Comedy Society, the group that produces the Comic Retreat, come together?

PO: My partner and I worked for 12 years up in New York City and we had, of all things, a pet grooming business. I had a stroke a couple years ago, so I moved down to Florida. So when I was in Indian River, I was like, “I’ll get back into promoting comedy clubs”, because I’ve done it, off and on, for that past 22-plus years. And when I was up in Indian River, at a place called Sebastian, we started Sebastian Comedy Society—sort of like “The Little Ladies Bird Watching Society”. I tell people, just like you have a good mechanic, or a doctor, or a pharmacist, in every community, you need to have a good comedy club. That’s sort of how Sebastian Comedy Society started up. In the past couple of years I’ve migrated back to comedy, just because it’s always something that makes people feel good. What we’re looking to do next year, if my investors back me, we want to put a Comedy Zone over in Shanghai, China next year. That’s next year. This year, I think it’s important that we build Comic Retreat. The biggest move is that we put it in a bigger market. This is a cheaper market for people to get to. It’s sort of a party town. It fits nicely into our future plans.

Click here for more info on registering for the Ft. Lauderdale Comedy Retreat (deadline Dec 20th).

WATCH CHRISTIAN FINNEGAN ON CONAN

Christian Finnegan stopped by the Conan stage yesterday, bringing his style of dry, observational wit and a bit of self-deprecation for good measure. Topics of the day included fine dining in Dayton, Ohio, Belgium’s admirable mediocrity, and what the U.S. can learn from Michael Jordan’s career in these tough economic times. Watch Christian’s entire set below and be sure to catch up on his Rooftop clips. You can follow Christian on Twitter @ChristFinnegan