For new parents, the idea of personal time tends to go out the window once kids come into the picture. Meals become more like uphill battles than enjoyable family moments. Romance can also get lost in the shuffle pretty easily as our latest episode of Today in the Parkexplores. Watch it after the jump. Be sure to catch up on every episode of our original series that we’re producing for MSN.
Comedian Nick Griffin is somewhat of a machine. He’s really in his element when he’s on the road, headlining everywhere from Mason City, Illinois to San Francisco and back again. Along the way, he’s managed to wrack up an astounding 16 late night television appearances, bringing his salty, cynical, and hilarious material to the national stage. The idea of downtime is somewhat lost on Nick, so he fills his days writing TV pilots and working on his horror movie screenplay. On April 3, Nick will release his second album with Rooftop, Shot in the Face, building off the success of his previous title, Bring Out the Monkey. We recently chatted with Nick about his work ethic, love of horror films, and being called “less happy” than Marc Maron–by Marc Maron.
Nick Griffin: I did it in 2004. It was in Columbus, Ohio. I wasn’t even planning on recording, but I think another guy on the bill said he was recording and he said, “You know, if you want to, you can just record after me”. It ended up being a really great show and I really was happy with it and I didn’t have a CD at the time. I was one of those geniuses that didn’t think selling CDs after shows was cool, so I waited until CDs had pretty much gone out of fashion before I started. Anyway, the show went really well and I had all this new material I really wanted to get out, but I really hadn’t spoken to any record labels. So the reason I wanted to re-release was I recorded it myself and I sold it after shows. So people haven’t had access to it unless they were at one of my shows. So I thought it was a good idea because I was really happy with the way Rooftop did my first one and how they worked with me.
NG: I think there’s a lot of parallels going on. I think being a comic or an entertainer or whatever you want to call it, it’s always hard to keep relationships together, so there’s a lot of that in there. I think I did this CD probably two years after my divorce, so there’s a lot of that in there that was kind of the material that really helped me elevate my game. It’s sad that getting divorced had to happen, but the divorce material is what got me on my first Letterman spot. They just really liked how I framed it in my act and so there’s a lot of relationship material. I think it’s a little bit angrier than Bring Out the Monkey. I don’t know if I’m just more medicated now than I was, but it’s definitely a little angrier.
[Nick Griffin's most recent Letterman spot, from February 2012]
RT: Some 16 late night appearances later, that first Letterman spot did you a lot of good.
NG: Yeah, like I said, I did that first Letterman spot and it went really well. I actually got a little development deal with Letterman’s company right after I did my first Letterman spot and then I just started getting a lot more people interested. I was probably 17 or 18 years into the business before I got my first TV spot. I had a lot of stuff saved up and that’s still the most fun for me. I love clubs, but when you’re in the middle of Boise, Idaho on a Thursday, you’re wondering why you’re doing this. When you get to go on Conan or Letterman, it really makes it worthwhile.
RT: Any pre-show rituals before you go on stage?
NG: I always check my notebook and write out two or three of the newest jokes and make sure to remind myself to get through them on stage. You can get lazy on the road and not work on your act as much and I’m just trying to prevent myself from doing that even as I continue to go on after all these years. Just reminding myself to do the new material is one thing I do.
RT: You’re also somewhat of a horror movie enthusiast.
NG: I am. I unfortunately haven’t sold any [screenplays], but I’ve written four or five movies. I had an older brother, who’s only three years older than me and when we were kids, there was a late night show on Fridays that they called Friday Fright Night and they had a host and they would introduce these movies. We’d watch them all the time and it just got into my DNA. With all this time on the road, I’m just trying to figure out what the hell to do and I just thought, you know, as a goof, let’s try to write a horror movie and I did and it was just fun to do it. I haven’t sold it or anything, but I continue to write them and someday hopefully something will happen.
RT: Do you have similar writing practices for comedy and horror? Or are they completely different monsters?
NG: It’s kind of a completely different monster. I mean, I can’t start a screenplay until I have a beginning and an ending and that’s what I’m always looking for. It’s rare that I come up with just a little scene or something. I do come up with horror ideas, just walking around.
RT: Marc Maron once called you possibly the only comic that’s less happy than he is. That’s quite an honor?
NG: Yeah I’ve done WTF a couple times and I moved to New York when I was 22 or 23 and he was there. I just have a horrible walk-around face. My daily walk-around face does not look particularly happy and it’s often misconstrued as being depressed or whatever. I get as depressed as the next person, but I don’t think Marc Maron knows me well enough to make that statement, but we’ve spent some time together and chatted about getting divorced and struggling and all that. I did a live WTF in Brooklyn and that’s where that came from.
RT: Do you like doing podcasts?
NG: I’d like to do more. I haven’t done a ton of them. I spend so much time on the road. I get asked, but I don’t end up doing them just because I’m always on the road when they’re doing them, but I love doing them. I think they’re a blast and they’re cool and it’s a great way to get your material out there.
Shot in the Face will be available on April 3. You can pre-order the album and get 15% OFF at the Rooftop Comedy Shop with the discount code: ShotInTheFace. Shot in the Face will also be on iTunes, Amazon, Pandora, Grooveshark, and wherever you can find good comedy.
Even in today’s world, where the Battleship board game franchise is the hottest ticket to get optioned into a multi-million dollar blockbuster, one would think that Bingo would be off the table for big business. In that case, one would be wrong. Tune in to the latest Crashing the Market, featuring our esteemed host Mariah Castle, and you’ll learn why Bingo–ahem, full contact Bingo–could be the next big thing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in this week’s episode, which you can find after the jump and on the MSN Money page. Mariah brings you up to speed on the new Steve Jobs plush toy, the business connections being made at AA meetings, and more.
Rooftop’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day continues with this new video featuring Mark Normand and Matt Ruby. In the newest installment of their Think Tank comedy series, Mark and Matt break down the holiday of all things Irish, green, and Guinness-related. You just might learn something. For example, did you know that leaving a bar without saying goodbye to anyone is an “Irish Goodbye”? Watch their video after the jump and be sure to watch until the end when things get nice and awkward.
Stay tuned for more videos from Mark and Matt. You can follow both of them on Twitter (@MattRuby and @MarkNorm).
In the newest episode of Rooftop’s original series Crashing the Market, we take a look at an astronomical bar tab, the iced tea/beer hybrid you didn’t know you needed, and exotic robot dancers–obviously. Goings-on in the business world tend to veer toward the absurd, so sit back (pop a bottle of pizza-flavored beer) and enjoy as host Mariah Castle brings you up to speed on the headlines. Watch the full episode after the jump and stay tuned for more Crashing the Market. And remember, the next time you wake up and realize you never closed your bar tab the night before, just hope you didn’t spring for that $100K+ bottle of champagne.
In the newest episode of our original series, Crashing the Market, our esteemed host Mariah Castle brings us up to speed on the ridiculous business headlines you may have missed. This week, an Apple imitator gets shut down (Siri cannot cook your dinner–yet), a German pork company takes the consumer-product relationship to the next level, and Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt won’t be going to that Taylor Swift concert with you. Watch this week’s episode on MSN and stay tuned for more Crashing the Market.
We’re proud to announce the start of this year’s Next Big Comic, a yearly competition we’re producing with CMT. The search is on this year as 12 very comics face off. Check out all the clips over on the CMT site and be sure to share your favorites. Show your support and you can vote as many times for as many comics as you wish. The comics with the most votes will advance each week and the four finalists will perform at the famous Stardome in Birmingham, Alabama. Who are these 12 contestants exactly? You’ve seen them headline clubs all over the country and they’re some of our favorite comics:
Be sure to keep up with the action on Twitter (#NextBigComic) and spread the word! We want to know who you’re supporting. Next week, the eight comics with the most votes will move on and we’ll have new clips for you to consider.
Check out our new series Crashing the Market, now showing on MSN. It’s a weekly send-up of all the business headlines and gossip you may have missed. From McDonald’s fumbles in social media to financial tycoons losing their knighthood, we’re here to help you laugh at the absurd world of business. Click through the link below to watch the first episode, featuring host Mariah Castle. Take a look and let us know what you think!
Rooftop Comedy Productions is proud to release Everything’s the Best!, the debut album from Josh Gondelman. Josh established himself in the Boston comedy scene, winning over crowds—preschool students and club crowds alike—with his musings on dating, children, his years as a teacher, and more. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a comic as grounded in his awkward dorkiness as Josh, but that just makes him that much funnier. Rooftop recently chatted with Josh to discuss performing for preschool teachers, channeling insecurities into a confident, hilarious act, and sharing the stage with carrying the Boston comedy mantle to New York.
Rooftop Comedy: You recorded Everything’s the Best! in Boston at Mottley’s, right before you made the move to New York.
Josh Gondelman: I did. I wanted to have all my creative stuff to do with it done by the time I left Boston.
RT:Was it a packed club with all your loyal friends and family?
JG: Yeah it was great. It was really nice. I had some childhood friends who came and a lot of comedians— the Boston scene is really supportive of our own. So I felt it was a really warm send-off. And my family was there. It was great! We had two sold out shows, even during the Stanley Cup finals.
RT: Oh wow—not exactly the easiest act to share the stage with.
JG: In Boston, sports can ruin comedy. It’s really nuts. When the Red Sox won the first World Series, everyone was really psyched. Then in 2007, it was like “Oh, this is really great”, but at the same time, the longer they string this along, the more shows will get cancelled because no one is leaving the house.
RT: I imagine the Boston comedy community as one big, loving family, with Joe List and Kelly MacFarland cheering you along at your show.
JG: It’s really great. Kelly and Joe both recorded with Rooftop, so I called them both to be like, “Hey, would you recommend this? Also, do you think I should do this?” They were both like, “Yeah, man. Go for it. Rooftop’s great; you’re great”, which is very sweet of them to say. When I got to New York, there was a really nice nest of Boston people that I know through generations, like Myq Kaplan, Dan Hirshon, Joe List, Gary Gulman, Jon Fisch, Micah Sherman, so many from the improv and sketch world. It was so nice and comforting to come and in my first week, I ran into a lot of people that I knew, but probably four or five people that I knew that were Boston comics. We live in New York. We do comedy in New York, but we came up in Boston. It’s a lot of loyalty and a lot of pride.
RT: Your comedy draws a lot from your personal life and experiences as a preschool teacher. Do you like to blend these various circles and bring them to your shows?
JG: The preschool teachers, actually, that I used to work with were the best crowds when they would come. They love the preschool material and it was almost like when a group of moms go out or a group of people that don’t get out much together all go out together and so they would just be out of their mind with excitement, just cheering for everyone on the show. [Other comics] would be like, “Who’s this whole row of 28-year old women?” And I’d be like, “Oh, that’s my co-workers back when I used to teach”. They’re super nice and my old co-teacher called me, because I used to write the holiday play for the kids every year and she was like, “I know you don’t work here, but will you still write the holiday play and come watch us do it?” I would always direct it and I would be the guy onstage, telling the kids where to go, but this year they’re going to do it without me, but they still asked me to write it, which is really sweet and funny. I hope they don’t screw it up. I kind of have a reputation.
RT: Do you miss your preschool students?
JG: I do. I’m really happy to have more flexibility in my day and be able to travel more and write more, but I miss having something that I got to do every day that made me feel like a valuable member of society. I would always leave school and be like, “Man, that was a rough day. One kid was crying because his dad was out of town. Another kid pooped on the floor, but I feel like I made someone’s life better today”. I miss that. It’s a very delightful way—even when I come back to visit, because I go back to Boston, if I have time, I’ll drop in and just say hello to my old boss and the little kids. There are kids there that I know from when they were babies and they always go crazy and it’s super sweet.
RT: On stage, you mix self-deprecation, warmth, and wit. Has this always been your comedic inkling or did it evolve overtime?
JG: When I started, the self-deprecation was a lot more down. It was a lot more “Aww”. Now, I’m a very comfortable person in general. I’m kind of a weirdo, but I’m very comfortable with it. I’m very at ease most of the time. I’m not anxious, socially. I feel comfortable on stage. It’s easier to just kind of be a person and write about who I am as a person. There are things that I say that are kind of self-deprecating, but I feel like they’re not in a way like, “I suck”. I always try to do it in a way like, “I’m not good at this. I wish I were better at this. I don’t understand this. I’m fascinated by this because it goes over my head”. When the jokes are good, and I hope they are, it keeps the audience more on your side. I started when I was young. I started when I was 19 and I wasn’t as confident as I am now. So even though I’m still kind of a dork, I’m a very comfortable, at-ease dork. I feel like that puts the audience at ease.
RT: It’s also easy to relate to.
JG: Thank you. It’s not like the heavy Richard Lewis anxiety and sense of discomfort. It’s not like Louis C.K. self-loathing. Things in my life are very happy and very fortunate and where there are little creases or little wrinkles, I try to dig into those and find the little weird things that are relatable to other people.
RT: Anything else you want people to know about Everything’s the Best!?
JG: I’m just really excited for the album to be out and to have this hour of comedy out for people to hear. I have my hard copy CDs and I’ve just been handing them to people I see and been like, “I hope you like it!” Then I run away. Obviously, there’s the idea of selling a CD to make money on the road, and I’m planning on doing that, but I’m just very hopeful that people enjoy it. I don’t think this project is going to catapult me to superstardom, but I’m just really excited to have people react to it and hopefully to have it be something that they enjoy.
— Everything’s the Best! is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and the Rooftop Comedy shop (where you can listen to a free sample track!). Josh will be performing at the Afterlife Comedy Show, Nov 18th at the Sidewalk Café in NYC.