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Weekly Stand Up Shots

Comedian memes have exploded in popularity over the past year, and with good reason: they’re easy to create and share, everyone loves a quick giggle, and they give comedians direct access to a wide, diverse audience. You can find them on Reddit, imgur, and on websites across the Internet.

Since the Internet can be a messy place to navigate, Rooftop is going to use Stand Up Shots on Twitter to find some of the best memes of the week and plop them in one place–our blog–for you.

Enjoy…

…and if you see a comedian you like, follow them on Twitter, look for their videos here on Rooftop, and tell us!

(Because we’re always searching for great comedians to put on our record label)

Joe DeVito Interview

Joe

By his own admission, chasing the stage wasn’t Joe’s idea. Coworkers pressured him into performing, because he was always cracking wise at the office. A former journalist and advertising writer, Joe is a comic who has appeared on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson and been a part of the Just for Laughs festival.

Rooftop writer Nathan Timmel shot him these questions regarding his first release with the label.

NT: how long have you been performing, how long did it take you to find your voice?

JD:  This summer it will be 14 years since I was first forced onstage by my coworkers. I think around 10 years in I started to feel the consistency in my material, but the people who’ve been listening to me for a while say it was there early on. Ask me again when I hit the 20-year mark, that’s when the real fun will start.

NT: Where was the disc recorded, and over how many shows?

JD: May 2014, 3 shows over 2 nights at Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore, Long Island. I’ve done hundreds of spots there so I had a good comfort level.

NT: The bonus tracks: what was the thought process behind removing those specific jokes from the set and attaching them to the end of the disc?

JD: Rooftop did a great job with my insane requests to blend together jokes from all three shows – sometimes word by word – to make it sound like a complete headlining set. I boiled it down from about 75 minutes, then sent them charts & graphs that looked like the chalkboard from Good Will Hunting. The bonus tracks were jokes that I liked but didn’t fit in with the rest of the set. And what the hell, who doesn’t like bonus?

NT: You write a sort of love letter to NY though several of your jokes; you describe it in a way that allows non-natives to relate. Do you feel NY has heavily influenced you as a comedian, or is it the fact you’re a comedian that allows you to view NY through observational eyes?

JD: I didn’t hang out in NYC when I was a kid, so I’m still fascinated by the stuff you get used to seeing in an average day. You get blasé when a rat runs by holding a bagel in its mouth – I don’t think that happens elsewhere. But until you get used to it, it’s a constant assault on your senses, including your sense of decency.

NT: You hint of politics in your set, without going into “taking sides.” How far away do you see America being from the legalization of marijuana nationwide?

JD: I think there’s no turning back at this point, and that’s a good thing. To deny free adults access to something that’s less harmful than aspirin is nonsense. When my friends say, “But don’t you think legalizing medicinal marijuana will lead to casual use?” I tell them, “Yeah – THAT’S THE PLAN.”

NT: Marriage equality?

JD: What other people do is none of my business. I don’t feel threatened, because successful same-sex relationships are just as alien to me as successful heterosexual relationships.

NT: I would almost describe your comedy as… “Surprise left turn.” You hear the setup, and then the punchline is out of left field. I don’t want to give away specific punchlines, but the “homemade bong” comes to mind, as does a moment with the couple on the first date. Would you agree with that, and/or how would you describe yourself to someone preparing to listen to your disc or see you live?

JD: It’s interesting what I’ve learned about myself from my act – it turns out I like confusing and misleading people. We’re lucky I’m a comedian and not a crossing guard or air-traffic controller.

NT: You joke openly about medications, depression, OCD; how close to home is that part of your set?

JD: As much as I love “jokes,” it feels like the longer I do this, the deeper into my own life the act has to go. When a comic talks about something that’s true, it makes a different connection with the audience. I’d rather someone come up to me after a show and say that they could relate to personal stuff than some hilarious “talking-GPS” bit.

NT: Single when you recorded the disc… found a mate yet?

JD: Nope. But expecting better results once I bump my Tinder radius up from “8 feet around my apartment.”

You can download First Date with Joe DeVito from the Rooftop Store.

Davon Magwood Interview

Davon Magwood is a “Do-it-yourself” kind of comedian. Want to go on tour? Line up a tour. Want to get in front of audiences? Create those audiences. Davon doesn’t wait for the Comedy Gods to book him, he goes into cities on his own and brings his comedy straight to the people.

Rooftop Comedy is proud to release Davon’s first full-length comedy CD, I’d Rather Be Napping, and had Nathan Timmel talk to him about the album.

NT:  Your bio describes your comedy as “alternative.” Tell listeners what that means, and how it might differ from “traditional” comedy.

DM:  I think it’s a different approach to comedy, I have set ups and punchlines I just believe the approach is different.

NT:  Your disc sounds very free-form… how set in stone is your act, and how much is stream of consciousness?

DM:  I know how I want my show to go. I know what jokes I’d like to tell, and I allow room for myself and the Audience to play a bit. So I’ll have a set list and order. But I riff if the opportunity presents itself.

NT:  How long did it take you to fine tune the material for the CD; over how many years did you write it?

DM:  This album took 3 years for those jokes to be album ready. Hopefully now that I’m more comfortable with my writing style, it won’t take another 3 years.

NT:  Your set comes across as fearless; you touch on “taboo” subjects almost immediately. Is that a way of challenging the audience, or is it simply a way of letting them know up front what they’re about to see?

DM:  I believe you should know what you’re getting into from the jump. I like to hit them hard.

NT: You’ve done a lot of independent shows, and a self-produced tour. Talk about the effort it takes to mount something like that. Did you have sponsors, or backing? Is this an approach you took consciously, to avoid traditional comedy clubs, or did you try your hand and not enjoy the experience with the regular venues?

DM:  I haven’t had any sponsors yet. Maybe in the future I will. I just wanted to experience the road and other comedy scene and there was too much red tape when it comes sponsorships. And paper work is hard. It’s hard though, putting on your own shows its real hard work. But I love every second of it. I’ve done comedy clubs. I don’t mind that them. I just don’t get the right vibes when I’m there. It’s like performing at Medieval Times. You’re performing while people eat and they’re not really engaged and then the prices for everything suck. Just rather book a small venue and have a good time.

NT:  Your disc closes with “Final show in Pittsburgh…” You moved to NYC. What brought about that choice, and how are you finding NYC?

DM:  I love NYC, but I won’t stay long. I’m going to head to LA.because I promised myself if I left Pittsburgh, I’d go to a place where snow doesn’t visit. I just needed out of Pittsburgh it’s my home, but I need to explore a bit.

NT:  How did being a Pittsburgh comedian shape you, if indeed it did?

DM:  I got a lot of stage time. Pittsburgh is a good scene to develop a tough skin.

 

Davon Magwood’s new album, I’d Rather Be Napping, was released on December 16th, 2014 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available digitally on Amazon MP3, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

Interpretation

SameI’m a comedian, which means I use words for a living. I also have a degree in English Literature, which means I know how to choose those words carefully, and for maximum effect. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean people always listen to what I’m saying. Sometimes they hear what they want to hear, or a trigger-word will deafen them to the content of what’s being said.

Though I make it very clear I’m pro military and speak of touring for the troops with pride, I once had a member of the Army enraged by my comment: “We should bring the men and women we care about home and send gang members over to fight.”

“Are you saying my friend sacrificed his life for nothing?” he shouted at me drunkenly enraged.

The man had to be removed from the showroom, and after the fact his handler explained he had a severe case of PTSD and lashed out often. He didn’t quite understand the point of my joke was that his friend should have never died in the first place.

I also have a joke about using prisoners as land mine sweeps, sending them into the field to find IEDs, keeping our military engineers safe in the process.

“Prisoners have rights, too, asshole!” was once hollered loudly from the back of a dark comedy club. The man who said it then stormed out to the amazement of 200 people who watched in confusion.

I used to perform a pro-immigration joke, where I said “The phrase ‘illegal immigrant’ is a polite way of saying ‘Mexican’ without sounding racist. No one is worried about Canadians slipping across our border.” I then went on to say we should have a “White-trash-for-worker exchange program,” meaning whenever someone came up from Mexico, we sent down someone from a trailer park.

A Latino woman began berating me, shouting that Mexicans were hard workers and that I should leave them alone. It didn’t matter that I was praising immigrants and insulting racists, she heard what she wanted to hear, which was enough to get her fired up.

These instances are very, very rare, and usually contained to a single moment in the showroom. But every so often someone gets a bug so far up their butt they have to take it public. Recently, a comedy club owner told me he had a negative review on his Facebook page, one calling me out by name. I looked it up and was instantly a combination of disappointed, and livid.

It’s not the fact the reviewer didn’t like me, what got under my skin is why he didn’t like me. In his own words: “I’m gay. I’m not politically correct or hyper sensitive. The show I just paid to see was disgusting. The main act, Nathan Timmel, forced me to walk out. He would, ‘prefer to sit next to a gay than a Muslim because he’d prefer to be sticky than falling from the sky in pieces.’”

He went on to say he would never return to that comedy club again.

Well, to begin to dissect this, if your opening statement is “I’m not (fill in the blank here),” then yes, yes you are that very thing. That shows a defensive attitude and is very telling to your character.

Second, I didn’t force him to walk out. That implies I berated him specifically or took action against him, which didn’t happen.

Third, and most importantly, what offends me is his poor interpretation of my joke. This is the actual joke, in meme form, posted many months ago online.

Same

My favorite part of it is the inference; I never, ever, say “Muslim.” Of course that’s where everyone takes it, but I never say it. It’s more fun to me to let people paint that stereotypical picture than to verbalize it. So right off the bat the reviewer puts words into my mouth, which isn’t fair. But so be it.

As I see it, I’ve made a mildly pro-gay joke/statement, yet he preferred to view me in a negative light. Unfair, but not much I can do about it. If he chooses to go through life with a chip on his shoulder, that’s his choice. I don’t know his story, and have no idea what it means to be gay. Was he called names in school? Did his dad disown him when he came out of the closet? Something in his life made him very sensitive, so much so he now lashes out at people simply for mentioning a group he aligns with. He hears what he wants to hear, not what is.

That said, I feel I can still loathe the fact he took his attitude public. To misinterpret something is fine; to offer your anger to the world as truth is annoying. On top of that, attempting to damage the reputation of the comedy club by writing the review in the first place is simply mean spirited. Two thoughts come to mind: if you see a movie you don’t like, do you write a negative review about the theater? Of course not, that would be silly. “Avatar was the worst movie I’ve ever seen! I’m never attending a Carmike Cinema ever again!”

More importantly, as shown above, that joke is online, and has been for many months. I have over an hour of videos on YouTube. What he did was show up at a random entertainment venue without any research and expected the act to be suited to his specific tastes, which is fairly arrogant. No one goes to the movie theater and tells the ticket monkey, “Give me one to whatever you think I’ll like.” Maybe had he put the time and effort into researching my act he might have said, “You know what? This isn’t for me. I’ll go another night.” But that would have taken the slightest modicum of effort on his part. Instead, it was easier for him to just show up, not like what he heard, and then whine online about it.

Many thoughts ran thought my head upon seeing the review: I should thrash him! I should point out how wrong he is about everything! I should email some of my most reliable friends and have them start attacking him!

But as the thoughts ran through my head, I thought of the negativity involved in every one of those actions. Is that something I wanted to participate in, to reduce myself to his level of discourse?

No.

Instead of jumping into an online fight, I started looking at pictures of my kids. Within seconds, most of my anger was gone. Evaporated immediately, with only wisps of ether lingering behind.

Part of me was still upset with him for his attack on my career—what I do keeps the very kids calming me fed and warm and so on—but that was a very tiny fraction of the peace looking at my children gave me.

I figured I could rage against him, point out what a sanctimonious jerk he was being, and explain how he missed the point of my act completely.  I could even have gone self-righteous and pointed out that I authored a mini-eBook about being a straight white male who doesn’t understand homophobia… but it would be a waste of my time. Trying to speak reason to anger is like kicking water uphill.

As I was calming down and deciding not to engage, I noticed something. His review started getting comments; several people from that very show said they had a great time and called him out on his nonsense. That made me smile. Two people specifically said they believed my jokes sounded “pro gay” to them, and one woman pointed out, “I’m a Christian, and I laughed at Nathan’s comment about Christians. It’s a comedy club. You have to expect jokes about your fundamental beliefs.” Even better, several more people wrote their own 5-star reviews of the evening.

I went to bed feeling OK about the situation, and when I woke up, the negative review was gone.

The only person who had access and the power to delete it was the author, which had me wondering: did he calm down and look at the situation rationally in the morning, or did he just not like being challenged publicly for his misguided beliefs? The former leaves hope for growth and awareness, the latter not so much. I know of a couple people who have such little self worth that attacking others is the only way they can feel good about themselves. It’s sad, but as said, there’s nothing I can do about that.

Nothing but shake-shake-shake-shake-shake it off.

Fuck.

I just quoted a Taylor Swift song.

Now I dislike me as much as that customer did.

You can fart around on my website, nathantimmel.com, whenever you so please.

Nore Davis Interview

Nore Davis is on fire. He’s been to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, he’s been on Comedy Central, MTV, and Gotham Comedy Live on AXS TV. And now he’s acting, from comedy shows such as Inside Amy Schumer and Last Week Tonight, and dramatic roles like the Emmy award winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Rooftop Comedy just released his latest CD: HOME GAME, and had Nathan Timmel discuss the craft of comedy with him.

NT: Discuss the use of voicemails as track bumps; who left them for you? What was the creative reasoning for adding the little bonus tracks to the beginning of the comedy tracks?

ND:  I just didn’t want a ordinary comedy album. I wanted something unique and different. The voicemails are reminiscent of the ol’ school hip-hop albums were they broke up their albums with comedic interludes and sometime very violent audio sketches. Its those small settle gems that make an album full, fun and memorable. I think.

NT:  Your humor stems from real life experiences; example, attempting to transfer credits between colleges. Are you always on the lookout for experiences to discuss from the stage, or does it happen organically?

ND:  Oh yes, its definitely happens organically for me. I remember that particular situation back in 2005 and it seriously pissed me off. I was actually trying to attend FIT but it wouldn’t accept my credits from Delaware College and I called my cousin screaming “Why these colleges acting like two bitches that hate each other” and he laughed. So majority of my humor does stem from anger whichI hope the audience shares the same frustration by laughing at it together.

NT:  You mention having had a small role in Boardwalk Empire. Is acting something you’re looking to get further into? Television, film? Or is the stage where you’d like to remain?

ND:  Acting is great. For me it’s a whole other world that I would love to invest much more time into but I don’t have control. I was luckily casted. In stand-up comedy, I write, direct and perform my own material which is so freeing. Don’t get me wrong Boardwalk was a great experience and I learned so much but I can’t wait to write, produce and act in my own series one day.

NT:  Describe the difference in preparation for acting, vs. taking the stage to perform a live set.

ND:  In my opinion, It’s the same difference between Clark Kent and Superman! Acting, I’m preparing to become someone else and bring someone else’s lines to life. Stand-up is ALL me. I know Nore Davis cause I’ve been him for 31 years now. Im myself on stage. I’m Superman. Meaning I’m me minus all the super powers. On Set I’m in a controlled environment and the role really doesn’t allow me to be ME.

NT:  When Jason Collins came out of the closet, the first thing I did was look at his stats and say, “Those aren’t that great… but no one will be allowed to say that now, because of his orientation.” Yet you jumped right in. Is that the role of a comedian, to say what everyone wants to, but is too afraid to?

ND:  I believe a comedians role is to just make people laugh. That’s it. A comedians role is to give the audience a break from their reality. Personally I like to take taboo topics and find the funny in them which leads to a very interesting show. Makes it fun for the audience and for me. Plus comedians have the liberty to say whatever we want! We live in this socially sensitive world where everything offends people and I think a comedians job is to make sure it’s just knee-slapping funny.

NT:   You recorded in NY, but where specifically? What venue? Did you have a personal relation to the venue; e.g., is it your home club, or the first place you ever hit the stage?

ND:  I recored at the World Famous Comic Strip Live on the upper east side which for sure is my home club. It’s where I started 8 years ago. I actually took a class there with D.F. Sweedler as teacher, and this is early 2000 when older comics actually cared about helping young talent and not hurting your bank account. D.F and that club taught me how to fish and then I went out to sea to catch as many big fish as a I can. Still fishing and loving it.

NT:   How long have you been performing, and how long do you think it took you to find your voice?

ND:   I’ve been performing for 8 years now. My voice? Well, I consider myself still young in the game and have a lot to learn. Im very hungry and never thirsty. Meaning I will continue to push myself creatively but being famous or being the center of attention isn’t my goal. My goal is to give audiences a break from their reality thru laughter, hopefully build a demand and I can tour making the world laugh! Especially its the only thing, so far, I’m good at. And when I say “good’ I mean I’m actually paying bills and making living. I made it into a career. I used to be a shitty graphic designer and my artwork sucked. Never felt like I was scratching the surface or could actually make a living but with comedy I feel like I finally found my medium. Yes!

 

Buy Home Game now.

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.

Alvin Williams Interview

ihopeyourehappy_640X360

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.

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.

In Memory of Harold Ramis

“HaroldFor reasons I can’t explain, when I was a child I began doing something most adults don’t even do: reading the credits during (and after) a movie. I found it fascinating one could be set in Detroit, yet say “Filmed in Los Angeles” at the end.

Within the span of a few short years, I noticed the movies I enjoyed the most had one thing in common: Harold Ramis. His name would pop up all over the place.

It started innocently enough, when I saw Animal House. “Written by” was something I liked taking note of; who was behind the hilarity I was seeing? Then he directed Caddyshack… wrote and starred in Stripes

(Side Note: I remember seeing Stripes and being enthralled when John Winger’s girlfriend entered her scene while topless. I had the thought, “Is that what a relationship is like? Full of awesomely casual nudity?” It looked like the best thing ever… until she dumped him one minute later.)

Harold Ramis was the complete package: he could write, act, direct, and produce. And not only could he do each of those things, he could do them well. It wasn’t like a movie star saying, “I want to direct” and creating some haphazard mess; Ramis was a master across the board.

For a while, it seemed like he could only get better. He followed movies like Vacation and Stripes with Ghostbusters, and then followed that with Groundhog Day, which may have been his plateau.

(I’m fully aware he didn’t direct all of those films; I’m discussing anything he had a hand in.)

I enjoyed his later work—Analyze This! and even Multiplicity—but he will always be remembered for his classic work of the late 1970s and the decade known as the 80s.

Sadly, I didn’t even know he had fallen ill. To find that at one point he had to learn to walk again was tough to read.

It is a sad day for the planet when Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, and Lindsay Lohan are still alive, and Harold Ramis is not.