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INTERVIEW: Nick Prueher of the Found Footage Festival

Imagine what kind of gems you could unearth if you spent an afternoon digging through the video collection at a thrift store. Instructional aerobics from the 1980s? Battered VHS copies of local cable access television shows? Home videos, starring the most spectacularly mustached men you could imagine?

Nick Prueher and Joe Pickett, co-creators, co-curators, and hosts of the Found Footage Festival, have spent many an afternoon elbows-deep in such thrift-store video bins, and the fruits of their labor are screened, for a live audience, at shows around the country. Sometimes awkward, always hilarious, this “found footage” serves as an authentic historical marker of consumer, health, educational, and fashion trends from the past several decades. And damn. People were funny.

[The Found Footage Festival is currently on tour! Click here to see when it hits your city!]

Rooftop spoke to Nick about his favorite types of clips, those dadgum Internets, and the magic of the movies.

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INTERVIEW: Lisa Cohen of WitStream.com

If you’re simultaneously obsessed with social media but irritated by the sheer banality of most content, (It’s raining. We get it.) WitStream.com is the place for you. Founded by television producer Lisa Cohen and co-operated by comedian Michael Ian Black, WitStream is a hand-picked collection of Twittering comedians, writers, and humorists, whose updates are savory little nuggets of freshly-fried funny.

Perhaps the best part about WitStream is that the users (including Matt Braunger, Rob Delaney, Myq Kaplan, and Laurie Kilmartin) engage in conversation with each other in a way that’s easy for an audience to follow. No “@” symbols and re-tweets here; comedians ruffle each others’ feathers in real time, and you get to watch.

The site officially launches today, November 2, and is celebrating with an A-list show TONIGHT at Comix, featuring Michael Showalter, Baron Vaughn, Pete Holmes, Doug Benson, Josh Fadem, Morgan Murphy, and, of course, MIB himself.

Rooftop managed to tear our eyes away from WitStream activity long enough to catch up with Queen Bee Lisa Cohen.

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Guest Editor: Special Ed

What’s so “special” about Special Ed? For one thing, the man can eat an entire burrito in less than a minute. Sorry, ladies. He’s taken.

One-quarter of Boston’s beloved morning show sausage fest The Sandbox on 101.7 WFNX radio (92.1 in New Hampshire, for the yokels), Ed — also the show’s producer — is super picky about the funny. (He does like a good fart joke, but it has to be well-crafted. Finessed. Seamless. Did you know there’s a fart art?)  Ed has bantered on the mic with some of the country’s best comedians, so we trust his judgment.

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Hallowheeeeeeee!(n)

It’s here! The Rooftop staff’s favorite holiday. Nothing better than costumes and candy!

Behold! The ghosts (and vampires. And soccer trophies?!) of Rooftop’s Halloweens past:

GUEST EDITOR: MYQ KAPLAN

Myq Kaplan does not spell “Mike” that way to be a gimmicky wackadoo comedian; he changed his name to Myq as a pre-teen at summer camp, and never looked back.

Well, he may have looked back. But he never stopped spelling his name that way.

However you spell it, you should commit his name to memory; pretty soon, it’ll be all over the place. Featured as a “New Face” in the 2009 Montreal Just For Laughs festival, Myq is about to tape his first half-hour Comedy Central special, and can be seen stumping for Pizza Hut and Subway on a series of Comedy Central promos. (Even more impressive when you consider that he’s been a vegan since college.)

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Interview: Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter

Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter need little introduction. The stars of the Comedy Central hit Michael and Michael Have Issues, and two-thirds (with David Wain) of the wildly popular comedy troupe Stella, Black and Showalter have earned the sort of cult following associated with fans who memorize decades worth of sketches and one-liners and movie quotes. [Black is also the Chief Content Officer of Witstream, an aggregated Twitter feed of hand-picked writers and comedians. No banal updates about the weather here, kids.]

So, unsurprisingly, when Rooftop asked Michael and Michael fans to submit questions for this interview, most of them were based on monkey torture and quotes from Wet Hot American Summer. Which we’re cool with. And hell, I even dared to ask Showalter if there were anything that he wanted to dip his balls in. I did it for you, Rooftop fans. I did it for you.  (And, for the record, he declined to answer. I’d keep that info private, too, if I had balls.)

I was thrilled to catch up with the Michaels while they’re in the midst of their “Michael and Michael Have Live Tour” (upcoming dates in Oakland, CA, Montclair, NJ, Boston, Washington DC, and Philly. Click here for more info.) and ask them some of your pressing questions. Are you ready? Here it comes! OPEN WIDE!!

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We smell a B-school video war

MIT Sloan business school students are nerds. But funny nerds. Funny nerds with autotune.

Whatchu got, Harvard? Stanford? Chicago? Bring it.

Damn, MIT. Last month you Rick-Rolled an entire city. And now you’re taking on SNL? We like it.

THIS WEEK’S GUEST EDITOR: DAVID NADELBERG

David Nadelberg is one of the bravest men in comedy.

As the creator of Mortified, a hysterical smorgasbord of teenage angst wherein real people share their real childhood artifacts (such as diaries, letters, poems, songs, etc), Nadelberg has hit the nail on the painfully nostalgic head. Audiences go nuts for the stage show, and the press has, too; the show has received countless accolades, including Day-Glo raves from Entertainment Weekly, Newsweek, and “This American Life” on NPR.

Can you imagine hopping up on a stage and reading, aloud, to a group of strangers, your most intimate and, yes, embarrassing, teenage thoughts?

We told you it was brave.

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Album: The Beards of Comedy!

[ <--We stole this from Mr. Morph's Gallery - The Beard Community Bulletin Board.]

Even more exciting than the sweet’n'hairy morphing action happening on this page? The release of “Comedy For People”, the brand-spankin’ new album from our fuzzy buddies The Beards of Comedy. (Click HERE to purchase!)

Comprised of Rooftop comedians Dave Stone, Andy Sandford, TJ Young, and Joe Zimmerman, the Beards of Comedy have a combined resume that includes appearances with Aziz Ansari, Todd Barry, Doug Benson, Jim Breuer, Greg Giraldo, Andy Kindler, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Greg Proops. Plus. a collective yard of wooly facial sassafras that simply can’t be beat.

The Beards are celebrating the release of “Comedy for People” with a multi-city tour. Dates include:

October 15DSI Comedy Theatre – Chapel Hill, NC
October 16The Melting Point – Athens, GA
October 17
Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC
November 13-14
Nutt Street Comedy – Wilmington, NC
January 16-19
(2010) – The Laughing Skull Lounge – Atlanta, GA
January 22-23
(2010) – The Charleston Comedy Festival – Charleston, SC

Favorite funnies?

I was thinking today about what got me interested in stand-up comedy, what my earliest memories of comedians are, what made me laugh as a kid that still makes me laugh today.

My parents were fairly strict about monitoring my TV and movie watching habits growing up, so I was never exposed to, say, Richard Pryor or George Carlin. (Except, of course, when Carlin appeared as The Conductor on “Shining Times Station.” Choo chooooo.) But Dad was a huge Mel Brooks fan, and the jokes encompassed enough innuendo that, as kids, we didn’t get it when Young Frankenstein‘s Inga vanted to take a roll in ze hay, or when Blazing Saddles’ Lili Von Shtupp crooned that men were always coming and going and going and coming…too soon. We just thought that Frau Blucher was silly, that Sherrif Bart was goofy. We just liked to laugh.

Then, when I discovered Gilda Radner…I was hooked. I’d found my idol. Most girls my age were into (and I’m dating myself here) Debbie Gibson and Tiffany and the New Kids on the Block. I loved Gilda. Loved Steve Martin. Loved loved loved Gene Wilder.

What about you?