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Dylan Brody Interview

Dylan Broody has been in the comedy game for decades. So long, in fact, he had fans in legends such as Robin Williams and George Carlin.  To promote his first release on the Rooftop label, Nathan Timmel shot an email of questions Dylan’s way, and the answers are absolutely worth reading…

 

NT: So where is home? I ask because Mill Valley is an interesting choice of location for recording a CD. Many comics pick the big cities—LA, Chicago, NY—to record. You went tiny. Do you have a relationship with the Throckmorton Theater, or a whimsical history with Mill Valley?

DB: I live in Sylmar. It’s not a crap neighborhood, really. It’s crap neighborhood adjacent in the L.A. area. I went to Mill Valley because I love the Throckmorton. It’s one of my favorite venues on the planet. Also, I wanted to be close enough to San Francisco that it would be easy for Rooftop people to get there to record the show. Also, there are dogs everywhere in Mill Valley so that ensures that I’ll be having a good day before any show I do there.

NT: Gay issues: you speak very rationally about gay rights—I’m thinking of the joke involving soldiers in Afghanistan—do you ever have anyone come up to you after a show and say, “You changed my mind” or, in the least, “You gave me something to think about?”

DB: Not really, no. Though I always hope that I am persuasive. I started doing a lot of that anti-homophobia humor years ago when I was still a straight-ahead political comic. This was in the eighties and early nineties when a lot of road comics were doing horribly homophobic material. I knew if I wanted to get my point across and get laughs, I had to be sharper with the writing than people getting shock-value laughs about anal sex and limp-wristed stereotyping. I was writing to change the zeitgeist, rather than to pander to it. When I was the feature act and a headliner was doing fag jokes, I would bring out all my sharpest material about how homophobia was an accepted form of bigotry. The joke you reference, though it wasn’t about Afghanistan then, always killed. It often got an applause break. If the headliner didn’t bother to watch what I was doing in the feature spot, he’d often be baffled to find that material that usually went down very well for him was getting little or no response. My work was serving to inoculate the audience against the contagion of hate speech. I suspect none of it was every consciously processed that way by the audience, but it had an effect. Whether that lasted beyond the duration of the evening for much of anyone, I couldn’t say, but when it took the impact out of material with which I disagreed for a night or a week’s worth of nights, I felt pretty good about what I was doing with my stage time.

When I started headlining, it became a whole different thing, and the piece grew and became more powerful because now I was the one taking the stage with authority.

Now, homophobia is really recognized as a form of bigotry. Now these ideas are far more comfortable for an audience to absorb and agree with and I’m very happy to have the current turning my direction. I’m also glad I got this good recording of a live performance of that material. It frees me to move on to whatever my next issue is. You know, when I figure out what it is. Then I’ll move on to it.

NT: Was this a one-off recording? Many comedy discs are cobbled together from two or more shows over the course of a weekend. This sounds like a one-take shot from the hip; no saying, “Well, I think I can tag that joke better tomorrow night…”

DB: Yeah. This recording was one night, one take. I flew up, did the show and flew home the next morning.

NT: Your bio (website) has many recent accomplishments listed, starting in the 2000s. When did you begin performing, and how long do you feel it took you to find your voice?

DB: I started doing open mics in New York in the summer of ’81. In ’82 or ’83 I became a “developing regular” at the Improv there. I wasn’t old enough to drink in the club, but I got two or three spots a week on the stage. I didn’t really start to feel relaxed and at home on stage doing stand-up until ’84/’85 when I worked the London circuit and figured out how I was funny. It took me another year or two to start doing the sort of material a really wanted to be doing, which was political, topical stuff.

Around ’94, when Carson announced his retirement and the comedy boom ended, shutting down a lot of clubs that I loved, I sort of dropped out of the business for a while.

The stuff I do now, the long-form story-telling, started with KYCY radio in San Francisco running stuff that I recorded badly on my laptop. When I found myself jonesing for the stage again in the early 2000s, I figured this stuff might work and started taking it out. I found out that not all of it works in comedy clubs. It took me a while to get my footing again, to figure out that I could do funny stuff in clubs and more poignant stuff in theaters; it could all work as long as I kept true to my own voice and my own ideas regardless of the environment. Now I just try to choose the right stuff from the repertoire to fit the circumstance.

NT: I got wrapped up in your story, what felt like an intro to me, to Hollywood. Where you were meeting with a producer to discuss a screenplay you had written. Your few jokes on the subject were dead on regarding how the town operates, and it seemed like you were going to continue down that path, because you began an aside regarding being a straight male in West Hollywood…

…but you never went back to Hollywood and the producer. I’m assuming that was intentional, but sometimes I start one story and forget to go back, so I have to ask if there’s more to the Hollywood angle.

DB: I have a lot of stories about pitch meetings and meetings with producers. In this case, though, it’s just a soft way of getting into the hard material that comes afterward. The couple of lines about the meeting are just to get me into West Hollywood, dressed for a meeting to set up the time in the coffee house. Remember that the whole thing is an explanation of how I came to write the poem with which I open the set. That’s the thing I need to circle back to.

NT: You’ve been compared to David Sedaris and Spalding Grey, both powerhouses. Ever bump into Paul F. Tompkins? There’s the similar storytelling vein in the two of you; you’re more interested in the craft of telling a fascinating story than setup-punchline.

DB: I love Paul F. Tompkins. There’s also a similarity, I think, in our style of presentation, our neo-dapper appearances. I’ve also worked with his brilliantly talented wife Janie Haddad who used to do voices for us when I wrote regularly for The David Feldman Show on KPFK.

NT: You pause mid sentence during your bit involving breast-feeding, and at the end of the pause you let the listener in on what the whole audience knows: someone is leaving the theater. You make a crack that “he’s” an offended Republican; it turns out to be a woman who just went to the bathroom, but how do you deal with folks who might not appreciate your take on politics, gay rights, and the like?

DB: If they want to debate me after a show, I try to avoid engagement. If they want to debate me during a show, I ask them to leave. I don’t like to get involved in heckler control during a performance. The truth is, I like to make the points I believe in during my stage time. People can agree with me or not as they please, but I’m not all that interested in getting into arguments with people. I want to make my case as clearly and as strongly as I can and let it stand on its own. If I’m doing my job right, people laugh at the jokes and don’t know that their minds are being changed a little bit by what I’m saying, by the pull of the crowd, by the clarity of the premise or the lucidity of the prose. That’s the real secret to art of any kind. The craft offers a beautiful spectacle of whatever sort and disguises – or at least makes palatable – the complex, nuanced ideas that the artist truly seeks to communicate. People who might not agree with me over coffee, find themselves laughing at a thing that I couch in a joke on stage and can never quite think about that thing the same way again. The effect is marginal, incremental, but valuable nonetheless.

Also, sometimes, I mock them behind their backs.

 

Buy Dylan’s album, Dylan Goes Electric: Live At The Throckmorton, now. 

It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad)

NathanTimmelAfter selling tens of copies of my first book, I had at least three people ask, “When is the next one coming out?”

Three years and two months later, boom: new book.

Here’s the back cover description:

First steps, first word, first time pooping in the bathtub… as a stand-up comedian, Nathan Timmel missed numerous milestones during the first year of his daughter’s life. Traveling from town to town, he spent his night slinging jokes while his daughter Hillary discovered the world around her.

As she turned one, Nathan vowed to be a part of her life even when far from home. Writing a letter a week, Nathan tells his toddler where he is and tries to give context to her world: why Daddy travels, why a baby brother or sister isn’t the end of the world, and the importance of dismantling the pharmacy section at Target.

It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad) is a touching, funny, and introspective glimpse into a comedian-turned-father’s hopes for—and apologies to—his baby girl.

Read a sample letter.

Pre-order the Kindle Version.

Like the old fashioned feel of a paperback?

Buy one now; it’s already available.

MIKE BRODY’S TOP 5 COMEDY ALBUMS

BRODY_ForblogEveryone has a friend like Mike Brody.  He’s the buddy that manages to stay cool under pressure, despite a clumsy manner and instinctive sense of humor that keeps everyone around him in stitches.  They may not always be around when you need them most, but like all great humorist they’re always right on time.  Mike has spent his entire stand up career aiming to perfect the art of comedic timing, so when he lists his top 5 comedy albums it’s sure to have a few comics so good you could set a watch by them. So without further delay here’s Mike Brody with his Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time and remember, you’re on the clock. Go!

MITCH HEDBERG – “Strategic Grill Locations/Mitch All Together”

I started comedy in the early 2000s in Iowa, and I remember thinking that most of the comics that came through my home club were super antiquated and hacky.  So whenever I had a small one-nighter gig, you’d hear club/bar owners talking about how Hedberg had been there years before and bombed the hardest anybody has ever bombed.  But always, without exception, they’d say “But I knew he’d be famous!”  Sure you did!  All the dive-bar owners in Brainerd had the eye for talent!  That’s what I love about Mitch.  He did it his way until people couldn’t deny him anymore.  Before Hedberg, comedy had kind of lost it’s goofiness. It was a bit stale.”Is this all there is?” I thought.  It was pre-Youtube.  Then I saw Hedberg’s Comedy Central special and my mind was blown.  Yogurt jokes!  Koala bears!  WHAT?!  I must have played Strategic Grill Locations 100,000 times.  Then I actually got to be in the audience for the recording of Mitch All Together.  Play those two albums back to back…you can actually hear the difference between the effects of marijuana and cocaine when you do it.  I still get sad that he’s dead.  We need him.

 

BILL HICKS – “Sane Man”

Can I count this as an album?  It’s a VHS, but I think it’s up on Youtube.  This was my first exposure to Hicks.  People have copied and watered him down so much now that newer comics can’t grasp how different he was.  So many “edgy” comics have aped his style that if you watch it now, it seems kind of ordinary.  BUT THIS WAS 1989!  Think about what was happening comedically in 1989. There were geniuses, but there were also a lot of airplane peanuts. Now consider that Hicks was doing flag-burning jokes in front of mulletheads in Texas. He was ahead of his time and (for better or worse) changed the tone of comedy forever.  Plus, those weird psychedelic screens and pauses in the video tripped me out.

 

BILL BURR – “Let It Go”

Hey, he’s alive!  I was admittedly late to the game with Bill Burr.  Everybody kept raving about how funny he was and I just never got around to listening to him. Then one day I got the CD/DVD of Let It Go.  I was driving home from a road gig, so I put the CD on and loved it.  And yet I couldn’t figure out something about him.  He was hilarious, but how was he getting these people to like him so much?  The jokes were so wonderfully evil.  Then I got home and put the DVD in.  OH, I GET IT!  He smiles!  He’s charming!  He shrugs his shoulders!  Bill Burr is a master at being the winking asshole.  Not literally, of course.  That would be weird.  I mean that he’s the asshole that we all respect and want to be.  Also, his podcast is magnificent.  Bill Burr equally brings me joy and sadness.  Joy because he’s at the peak of his genius right now and sadness because GODDAMNIT I wish I was that good.  He gets my vote for best in the business right now.

 

MIKE BIRBIGLIA – “My Secret Public Journal”

Holy shit, I don’t know if there’s a better storyteller today than Mike Birbiglia. Joey Bag-o-Donuts, the story about the cancer benefit, the Roger Clemens story!  They’re all gold.  The dude’s a master at being so likeable.  He could tell a story about helping Jerry Sandusky break out of prison and he’d win us over.  We’d be like “Go! Go Mike! Set him free!”  Telling a great story isn’t about just droning on and then having a big punch line at the end.  It’s like kicking a ball up a hill.  You got to keep tapping it the whole way or else it’s going to roll backwards.  Birbiglia has that on lock-down.  His stories are hilarious from beginning to end, and he still manages to have the endings have a big payoff.  Really, I’m in awe of this guy.  And if you haven’t seen his movie “Sleepwalk With Me”, you need to yesterday.

 

JOE DEROSA – “The Depression Auction”

I don’t want to sound jaded, but after you do comedy awhile you kind of stop wanting to hear comedy every day.  It’s not that you don’t still love it, but it’s like The Matrix.  You see “the code”; you appreciate it, and even enjoy it.  But you don’t laugh out loud anymore.  At best, you think in your head “Oh wow, that’s really funny” with a stoneface. Joe Derosa’s “The Depression Auction” had me laughing my ass off.  I literally LOLed.  There’s just something about east coast comics.  They have a swagger that you have to be raised with.  The one about how he’s politically stupid but easily lead, the one about doing comedy at an Insane Clown Posse concert, the one about how nobody wants to go to your wedding: brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  He’s a loser and a winner.  He’s a dick, but he’s vulnerable.  Aren’t we all?

MICHAEL PALASCAK’S TOP 5 COMEDY ALBUMS

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There are many typical characters in stand-up comedy.  The zanies, the self depreciating, the truth seekers and the truth tellers.   Michael Palascak sits amongst a dying breed of  character, that of the good guy.  Innocent in his faults with a glass is half full attitude,  Michael’s nature on stage is always likable if not lovable.  In this installment of our comedians on comedians segment, where comics offer us their “Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time”, we find out where the good guys go for good comedy.   Mike, give us the good stuff:

5. Tommy Johnagin – Stand-up Comedy 2.

He kills it.  It’s really funny, original.  I love the story about his sister being lost.  Tommy is so good at having a premise and then having many funny things to say about the premise.

4. Mitch Hedburg – Strategic Grill Locations

His jokes are so funny, random, and true to himself that it just really appealed to me. He was the inspirational genius of my generation of comics.  The Pringles joke and the tennis joke as well as many others are memorable on this album.

3. Jerry Seinfeld.   I’m Telling You For The Last Time

I love his confidence.  I love his story about trick-or-treating.  And it’s clean.  I listened to it with my dad on the way to college and it was so cool sharing that with him.  I think that’s one of the reasons I’m pretty clean.  I want families to be able to share moments by listening to my stand-up.

2. Louis C.K. – Chewed Up

This had a similar impact that my #1 did.  It re-inspired me to think about stand-up differently.  What hit me the first time I listened was how natural Louis was with his jokes and how much fun he was having.  I loved the Cinnabon joke and the observation about masturbation was beautiful.

1. Mitch Hedburg – Mitch All Together

I remember being home from college for the summer and sitting in my room and listening to this.  There was like a white C.D. player my mom had that I listened to it on.  I had bunk beds.  It was hot because it was upstairs and the air conditioning didn’t work that well up there.  I put it on to listen to while I cleaned out my closet and I don’t think I cleaned out anything.  I just laughed so hard.  That was about the time that I started doing stand-up.

Don’t forget to heck out Michael Palasack’s latest stand-up comedy CD “Job Opening” available on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and all major streaming services.

VINCE CARONE’S TOP 5 COMEDY ALBUMS OF ALL TIME

If you are unfamiliar with Vince Carone’s style of comedy lets describe him as a simple man, with simple ideas, to keep the rest of us crazy bastards from ruining this party called life.  

Outspoken, brash, and unapologetic Vince isn’t afraid to speak his mind even if it might offend a few listeners. This begs the question what does Vince put into his brain to inspire such controversial work. Here at Rooftop we answer all the tough questions, so here is Vince Carone with his top 5 comedy albums of all time.  The floor is all yours Vince:

 

 

Doug Stanhope – Beer Hall Putsch

 

Doug Stanhope holds the title when it comes to poignant, relentless, non-apologetic, in-your-face humor. His ability to thrash through topics with his blunt opinions is second-to-none. One of my favorite things in regards to his comedy is the sheer quantity of it. Not only do I thoroughly appreciate his stand-up, I also greatly appreciate the fact that he continues to deliver fresh material every year or every other year. Beer Hall Putsch is his latest comedic assault that encompasses bits that other comics wouldn’t go near. Listen to his tale of truth regarding his mom’s suicide and then tell me that you’re afraid to try one of the new bits that you thought of. This is one-hour of non-stop genius writing that only Stanhope could pull off. This album is what stand-up should be!

 

Richard Jeni – Greatest Bits

 

Richad Jeni is a rare find in the comedy world. He is a comedian that every comic knows, but yet, you ask the average person who he is and unfortunately you’re left going “Jim Carrey’s friend in the movie The Mask”. For a man who had 4 TV specials between Showtime and HBO, he never became the household name that he deserved to be. Richard Jeni had natural comedic timing and knew how to milk a bit for everything it was worth. In his Greatest Bits CD you get to experience Richard Jeni delivering all of the fan favorites. This CD is special for me as I remember listening to this with my family growing up and just laughing together – generations spanning from me as a kid, to my parents, to my grandparents – we all laughed and then really got a treat when we got to see him live in 2003.

 

Bill Burr – Let It Go

 

Right out of the gate on this CD Bill Burr goes into a rant on why he’s “pro swine-flu” and the laughs just don’t stop. I’ve been a ranting comedian for years and then I watched Bill Burr and it made me wonder why I even try. As comedians we like to hold our pride in high regard and don’t always give credit where credit is due – but I want to go on record saying that every time that I heard Bill Burr go into his bit about “Being a Mother”, I am nothing but jealous that I didn’t think of it or anything like it. To be able to take a topic like that and beat it down to the point of saying (I’m paraphrasing) “women give being a mother too much credit” and have the ladies in the audience cracking up, takes an extreme talent…and that’s what Bill Burr is, an extreme talent.

 

Dennis Miller – Black & White

 

Ok, so I know this isn’t on a CD – but I did own it on VHS which ought to count. This is my absolute favorite material that Dennis Miller has come out with. It took me a long time when I was younger to catch on to Dennis’ cadence with his delivery, but once I got it, I got it big time. Anytime that I quote Dennis Miller, I find myself defaulting to his opening bit here regarding impressionists that always paint Jack Nicholson into mundane situations: “can you imagine if Jack Nicholson were a produce clerk at a grocery store?” ‘No, f*ck you, YOU I can imagine as a produce clerk at a grocery store, now let’s not take the world’s highest paid actor and have him spritzing a bag of turnips for $2.95 an hour’. Dennis has been dubbed “The King of Pop…Culture” and this release is proof on why. I watch this knowing Dennis was only a few years older than I am now when he recorded it and he was light years ahead of me as a comedian.

 

George Carlin – It’s Bad For Ya

 

George Carlin is my favorite comedian of all time (with Doug Stanhope in at a close second) and I really enjoyed this final album of his. I run into Carlin fans that tell me how they loved his early stuff but he got too angry for them as time went on. I ended up on the opposite end here; the more angry and cynical that Carlin got, the more I liked him. This CD is a 70-year old comedian exploring the thought process that only somebody with that much life experience could produce. I love listening to the bit about questioning societal norms such as: taking off your hat. The casual listener hears that and thinks that Carlin is bitching about a hat…but if you listen, it’s just about removing the “control” in this country and not conforming to stuff that doesn’t make sense just because people before you and around you accept it. Carlin is a comedic prophet (a term I’m sure he’d hate), he really teaches as much as he entertains. Carlin’s comedic method is what got me into comedy, what has kept me in comedy, and what I will always strive for. Question everything, accept nothing, and remember “It’s all bad for ya”.

 

Have fun and enjoy the ride!

Alvin Williams Interview

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Rooftop has yet another hilarious release for all your giggling needs: Alvin Williams, I Hope You’re Happy.

Rooftopper Nathan Timmel talked to him about the disc.

Read on!

NT: Where did you record your disc, and why did you choose that location? Is it a special venue for you?

AW: I recorded the album at Tacoma Comedy Club. It’s a phenomenal club and the audiences aren’t uptight or afraid to laugh about subjects that tend to be controversial in some regions. Plus it’s a huge venue so you can really feel the laughs reverberate when you’re onstage! There is something special about the city of Tacoma in general. Seattle gets all the love and sometimes people who live there tend to rag on Tacoma. Not sure why, I mean you all share the same airport, be cordial. It’s a blue-collar town that doesn’t always get the respect it deserves and that’s something I believe most of us can relate to in this industry, which in my opinion is why I’ve always had some of my best shows there because I feel like I connect with them really well.

NT: Do you prefer traditional comedy clubs, theaters, or, do you have a favorite type of venue that doesn’t include either of those?

AW: I’m a comedy club guy. If you look at my tour schedule that’s pretty much all you’ll see on there at any given time. I’m a natural homebody so to speak, so I like being settled in one location for an extended period, and by extended I mean a week. I really like gradually easing into a new setting, and getting to know the area where I’m performing. The sites, the people, restaurants and movie theaters. It keeps me on my toes and I will never be complacent, because just when you get comfortable it’s time to pick up and leave for another city to do it all over again! I’m at a point now where none of the areas I perform are new to me anymore, so I’m really comfortable in most places and I feel like that reflects in my shows.

NT: Was it a one-shot take, or is it a series of shows edited together?

AW: This album was recorded over a 2 day stretch of shows.

NT: You use personal segues to talk about pop culture, and vice versa. Overall, would you describe your comedy as personal, observational, a mix of each…

AW: Truthfully? I never know how to answer that one. Comedy comes from everywhere. When you talk about pop culture, often times you can make it personal, because they’re just people like you and I. But when you’re talking about something personal in your life, isn’t it still observational? I can’t really describe myself too well. I just see myself as someone who can relate to damn near anybody on some level. I know I’m funny, I just have to convince you within the first two minutes and we’ll be good!…So I guess “a mix” to answer your question?

NT: Do you feel you’re more a storyteller or setup and punchline kinda guy?

AW: I’m a storyteller by nature. You can probably tell because every question you ask me could have been answered in about a third of the amount of words I use, but I’m working on that I promise! I steer clear of comedy competitions because the comics with the shorter jokes do better, and I’ve learned I’m not as funny when I have to rush. I’ve found my groove in long form jokes. I figure it gives the audience more chances to laugh that way!

NT: You cut your teeth in Chicago—how do you feel the comedy scene is there?

AW: What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I truly cut my teeth in the Pacific Northwest. Mainly Idaho & Washington. I’m from Chicago but when I started doing stand-up I was living in Boise, ID. I have since developed a strong performing relationship with my hometown and now I can say with full confidence that it is a great scene. I’ve been welcomed with open arms and given the same treatment as someone who never left the city. Which is something you don’t hear about in other big cities. I Love performing back home!

NT: Any Los Angeles or New York aspirations in the future?

AW: No. I’m from a big city and I love performing in big cities, but I live a super quiet life in Denver and I’m happy! I’ll take that over fame any day…Why’d you ask, did an agent ask about me???

NT: One thing I have in common with you: we both moved often as children. I take it comedy was a coping mechanism for you? Describe how you feel having moved often shaped you as a person, and comedian.

AW: Moving was always a positive thing for me. I got used to it after a while and I learned to love it. Every place was an opportunity to meet new people, and that’s the attitude I take when I’m on the road. I love traveling and I love meeting new people. Now if you consider money a void, then yes I am definitely filling a void. I wish I could fill it more! Otherwise I do comedy for two reasons: One, I have the ability to make people forget about their problems, even if it’s only for a little while. Two, I don’t have a boss or an alarm clock. When one of those changes I’ll probably reconsider this whole thing. But until then, I’m still enjoying the trip!

 

Buy I Hope You’re Happy in the Rooftop Shop.

Alvin Williams Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time

Alvin_Williams_forblog Alvin Williams looks to deliver some cheer to the world with his new stand-up comedy album I Hope You’re Happy.  Alvin is constantly traveling to entertain audiences in comedy clubs across the country, and sometimes things can get a little stressful for him out on the road.  So we asked him to list the top 5 comedy albums that bring a little joy into his life when things on the road get tough, and he happily obliged.  So here is Alvin Williams with his top 5 comedy albums.

 

Eddie Murphy – Comedian

Eddie Murphy is my all-time favorite comic.  I wish he would have done more specials but considering his jokes are still hilarious 30 years later, I don’t blame him. My dad used to take me on a lot of road trips as a kid, and he would always buy tapes from the clearance section of video stores.  I found this one, he bought it, and the rest is history.  Still one of the most memorable road trips I ever had.  We listened to the album 3 times!  Everything that Eddie talked about I could relate to, and his impressions were so perfect!  I still can’t look at Mr. T, Ricky Ricardo or Ralph Kramden without thinking of this album.  A must-have even now!

George Carlin – Napalm & Silly Putty

First and Foremost, I think all of George Carlin’s albums could have been my Top 5.  To me he is the best comedic writer the world has ever produced.  He can do anything with any subject and any audience.  I chose this album because it was the first time I had heard a comedy album without an audience.  I’ve always wanted to do one of these myself, but I would probably need to put out 50 years of genius first before people would buy it, soooo….I’ll wait.  Carlin’s genius is on full display in this album, and I appreciate it even more because it’s like he’s going over the written jokes in a notebook before he has to convert them to an audience-friendly presentation.  That’s the way we all really want to present the joke, in its purest form.  Every time I hear it I feel smarter!

Jerry Seinfeld – I’m Telling You For The Last Time

I love Seinfeld’s work, because it’s laugh out loud funny, but also clean.  When I think of the perfect set, this one comes to mind.  I heard it on audio first before I saw this performance on HBO.  I was in high school when I first heard this and it was the first time I heard a comic and went “That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking!  I thought it was just ME.”  He’s the gold standard in mainstream comedy that appeals to everyone and this album is a testament to his hard work.  Plus I love the concept of “retiring” material and never using it again.  I’ve tried to retire material but sometimes I’m on the road and a joke is WAY too perfect not to use.  Kudos Jerry, hope you do another one soon!

 Chris Rock – Roll With The New

Chris Rock is the guy I tried to model myself after:  Be funny AND have something important to say.  His social commentary is so spot on it just blows my mind how somebody can be that funny and that socially relevant all at the same time!  I’ve watched all of Chris Rock’s specials but this is the only album I owned.  I actually bought it because of the Champagne Song.  SO FUNNY.  Watch the video on your lunch break and it will be stuck in your head the rest of the day!  Also, this album has the best bit to end all bits:  Not sure where this publication is being sent, so for the sake of not being censored, I’ll just say it’s the bit where he differentiates between the various types of black people. :)

Dane Cook – Retaliation

Dane Cook in my opinion was a victim of his own whirlwind success.  He’s viewed now as if he was this all-energy but no substance comic, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  I think over time it just became cool to not like Dane Cook.  But I was always a Dane Cook fan and I cannot deny the influence this album had on me.  My college roommate had this playing in his car and it reminded me of when I first heard the Eddie Murphy Comedian album.  Playing the tracks over and over again.  This is the album that made me want to do stand-up.  Not just a fantasy of being a comic, but actually getting on a stage and DOING it.  This album was perfect.  PERFECT.  I still tell stories “Tarantino Style” in my everyday life because of this album.  It’s just BETTER that way!  I hope that 20 years from now people won’t be jealous of Dane’s rapid success and appreciate the body of work he has put forth.  Anyway, if you’re just a Dane-hater but you’ve never heard him, this is truly worth a listen!

Trey Galyon’s Top 5 Comedy Albums of All Time

Treyforblog

Trey Galyon has just released his comedy album “The Moronic” here at Rooftop Comedy Productions. Trey’s stand-up chronicles his life in a very observational though objecting way. There’s a lot wrong with the world and Trey will speak on it with clarity and focus, weeding out the worst of what he sees and giving it hit after hit, punchline after punchline. He’s a man with high standards and his list of his Top 5 Comedy albums of all time makes a whole lot of scents. Pass us the good stuff Trey!

Ok, Here are my top 5 comedy albums in no particular order…

Dave Attell – Skanks for the Memories
Love this album! Attell is so quick and funny. This was one of the first albums I bought after I started doing comedy and I still listen to it regularly. Who hasn’t mumbled ‘yeah, but them titties ain’t retarded’ about a bazillion times?!! Go see him live! So much fun watching him work

Patrice O’Neal – Mr. P
Patrice’s only CD and it is retarded good. Patrice is one of those guys I watch and say, ‘yeah! That’s what I’m trying to do with my comedy’. He’s so honest and has an incredible way of explaining things. The first 20 minutes of this CD are non-stop laughs and ‘White Women are Pleasant’ has made me laugh out loud on the subway about 3 dozen times. Unfortunately you can’t go see him live, so get ahold of everything of his you can. The Comedy Central special ‘Elephant in the Room’ is just as good!

Bill Burr – Why Do I Do This?
Bill Burr is one of my favorite guys out there right now. Everybody loves him for the Philly rant which is really awesome, but his actual standup is even better. That opening ‘Pedophiles’ bit will drag you right into his world! Fun all the way thru, and then closing it with the ‘Muffins’ bit is perfect. Check him out live also!

Bill Hicks – Dangerous
I started comedy in Austin, TX and when you start comedy in Texas you learn about Bill Hicks VERY QUICKLY. He was one of a kind. You can feel the honesty and passion in his voice. One amazing thing is that all of his political material, even though it was written 20 years ago, is still relevant today. Rant in E Minor and Arizona Bay are great to. I picked Dangerous because it’s his first album and a nice intro into the world of Bill Hicks

Bill Cosby – Why is there Air?
Cosby is my favorite of all time! ‘Himself’ changed my life! Everybody has a favorite Cosby album and everybody is right. I picked ‘Why is there Air?’ because my grandparents had that album and it brings back a lot of great memories. Go see him if you get a chance! You can watch him do 2 hours and it feels like 30 minutes and you’ll want more when he’s done. He’s the master!

There you go. Those are my favorite comedy albums right now…

Buy my album, or buy one of these!!!
And go see some live comedy!!!
It’ll change your life, man!

Thanks Rooftop Comedy!!

Matt Knudsen’s Top 5 Comedy Albums of All Time

In celebration of Matt Knudsen’s latest album release American we decided to dig deep into the comedic actor/stand-up comedian’s brain, to find out what triggers his funny eardrums.  Check out Matt Knudsen’s list of his favorite comedians currently making the rounds, and his top 5 comedy albums of all time. Take it away, Matt…

Before I get to my 5 favorite albums of all time (Household names at this point), it’s worth mentioning some of my favorite people that are currently out there killing it. For your enjoyment and in no particular order, check out:

Kyle Kinane, Myq Kaplan, Zach Sherwin, Henry Phillips, Rory Scovel, Sean Patton, T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Nate Bargatze, Jarrod Harris, Rawle Lewis, Jackie Kashian, Eddie Pepitone, Howard Kremer, Reggie Watts, Matt Braunger, Andy Wood, Beth Stelling, Kate Berlant, Paul Danke, Cornell Reid, Aparna Nancherla, Emily Maya Mills, Doug “DJ Dougpound” Lussenhop, Johnny Pemberton, Brody Stevens and The Grawlix boys. Great. Great!

OK, so…

5. I’m Telling You for the Last Time – Jerry Seinfeld

I’m not sure if this technically counts as an album, since it was an HBO special that was released on iTunes, but Jerry Seinfeld is the master of word economy. I heard shim say in an interview that he’ll spend all day trying to turn 8 words in to 5. Seinfeld knows better than anyone that the quicker you get to the funny part, the better. This is the special where he retired the act that made him famous before starting over from scratch and as such, Telling You, is chock full of the Seinfeld classics. Cab Drivers – “Yes officer, his name was Amal and then the symbol for boron.”

4. A Place for My Stuff – George Carlin

I love George Carlin so it was difficult to pick a fave but A Place for My Stuff was really memorable for me. In addition to straight stand up, he also has these great sketch pieces recorded in a studio. Even at the top there’s an announcement, “This album has been made possible through grants from the following organizations…” and goes on to list hilarious/non-existent entities. After that he goes to live stand up with the opening joke, “Hey, have you noticed that you never seem to get laid much on Thanksgiving? I think it’s because all the coats are on the bed.”

3. Let’s Get Small – Steve Martin

There are only 2 things that all comedians have in common; a microphone and a stage. That’s it. Stand up comedy really just requires those 2 things. So when a guy decides to don a white suit, put an arrow through his head and play the banjo that comedy exists on a completely different stratosphere. Steve Martin played the clown prince better than anyone and Let’s Get Small is full of classic bits that I still quote all the time. “I am so mad at my mother. She’s 102 years; she called me up the other day and wanted to borrow 10 dollars for some food.” This album is also the birthplace of the national catchphrase, “Well Excuuuse Meeeee.”

2. The Buttoned Down Mind of Bob Newhart – Bob Newhart

Buttoned Down mind was released in 1960 during an era of comedy where a lot of comedians were performing the same jokes. Not writing their own jokes and then performing them night after night, literally telling the same jokes other comedians told all over the country. Bob Newhart was working as a full time accountant and Warner Brothers had to set up shows for him because he had never performed stand up at a club. 2 weeks after his first time on stage, he recorded this seminal album. It went on to knock Elvis Presley off the #1 spot on the billboard charts, is the 20th best selling album (not just comedy) of all time and is currently archived in The Library of Congress. The patient pauses, the controlled stammering and letting an audience use their imagination to fill in the picture were groundbreaking. Newhart made the crowd come to him instead of vice versa and this album has the classics, “Driving Instructor,” “Marketing the Wright Brothers,” and “Nobody Will Ever Play Baseball.”

1. Himself – Bill Cosby 

All hail the king. I really don’t know what else I can say about Cosby that hasn’t been said a million times before but there is a reason that every comedian from every walk of life name him as their favorite, myself included. I had Bill Cosby’s cassettes that I used to listen to on my yellow Sony Walkman and would be beside myself with laughter. Let’s face it; we all know Junior Barnes is a gunky. But with “Himself”, it was the first time I ever saw Cosby performing the things he was saying and it made me enjoy it even more. Sitting in a chair. A chair. Owning it. This album is also a very clear template for The Cosby Show. “The reason we have 5 children is because we do not want 6.” I mean come on. Also, a lot of people don’t know this but Cosby and his wife produced everything (Jemmin Inc.) so he always maintained the rights to all of his material. Even on the business side of show business he was years ahead of his time. If you’d like to see how comedians regard Cosby, watch him spending time with Jerry Seinfeld in the documentary Comedian. That pretty much sums it up. I had the privilege of seeing Bill Cosby perform live about 6 months ago. He did almost two hours. He still sat in a chair. He still owned it. “Dad is great. He gave us chocolate cake.”

Are You There Xenu? It’s Me, Nathan.

“NathanTimmel”Rooftop contributing writer Nathan Timmel is at it again:  another 99-Cent mini-eBook is out.

This time Nathan is writing about his minor experiences with Scientology.

What’s he have to say?

Read an excerpt…

In 1989 I moved to Boston, MA, to attend the Berklee College of Music.

(Motto: “For just $40,000 you get a degree that makes you unemployable.”)

Newbury Street—a happening little avenue filled with many nifty little shops—was close by, and when bored my friends and I would often meander the length of its eight blocks. We would pop in and out of eclectic stores and coffee houses, and when the weather was nice be politely harassed by well-dressed people asking, “Would you like to take a personality quiz?”

For the better part of two years, our answer was “Nope,” but one day a trio of idiots out carousing—my friends Barrett, Peite (yes, that’s how he spells it), and I—were bored enough to say, “What the hell: Yes.”

We thought it would be a quick, five-minute process of being asked silly questions while standing on the street corner, but the cute young woman—and of course she was a cute young woman; you think we would have stopped to talk to a man?—told us to follow her lead and headed north. Well, shit. This was going to eat up more time than we had initially planned, but decided to Prefontaine it across the finish line and followed along.

We walked several blocks to Beacon St. where a Scientology Center awaited us. It was a magnificent, old school converted-home, made of brick and with a castle-like rounded spire on the corner—a tower from which Rapunzel could drop her lockets and be rescued, so to speak. Little was known about Scientology back then, and the Internet didn’t exist for anyone to simply Google-up and Wikipedia an explanation. Basically, we had no clue what we were getting into.

We were shown in, and immediately two things happened: first, our recruiter was greeted as if Norm from Cheers. Everyone knew her; everyone loved her. Everyone was happy, smiling and ready to shake your hand.

“Angela! So happy to see you! Who’s this with you? Nathan? Nice to meet you Nathan, I’m Bob! We’re happy to have you with us today…”

It was a neat trick used to make lonely people feel welcome and relaxed; “Wow, everyone here is like one big happy family. I should hang out with them, and then I’ll be popular, too!” Personally, it made me wonder what Kool Aid everyone was drinking. There’s naturally friendly, and overly friendly. This was the latter by a mile, and I became suspicious.

The second thing to happen was the most important event of the day: divide and conquer. Like a wingman removing the fat chick from her delicious friend, we three traveling companions were separated from one another and taken to different sections of the main room. Once isolated, we were introduced to the person who was going to administer (or monitor) our “Personality Quiz.”

(Naturally, we were all left thinking, “Wait… we came here on the whim of talking to the pretty girl… Where is… Hey she’s leaving…” Very bait and switch classic; use beauty to bring in the gangly and awkward college student lacking self-confidence, then have said beauty skedaddle her pear-shaped heinie away. Kudos, Scientology. Kudos.)

Buy Are You There Xenu? It’s Me, Nathan now.