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The Woodshed

StandUpIt’s amazing how something obvious can take you by complete surprise.

When the Foo Fighters arrived in 1995, I was as stunned as anyone. Here was the drummer from Nirvana fronting a band. Not only was he fronting it, he played all the instruments on the debut album, having written every song. And those songs were pretty fucking awesome.

Jaws were agape; minds were blown.

The. Drummer.

I didn’t give much thought to Dave Grohl’s backstory; most people assumed he watched Cobain write great songs and learned how to write himself.

Which is only partially true.

Nirvana was his university, but his life before that was a 24/7 path to success. Watching the TV series Sonic Highways, a discovery was made: Dave Grohl wasn’t just a drummer. Since childhood, he had been playing guitar and composing. Dave described owning two cassette players; he would hit record on one, and play guitar. He would then rewind the tape, and hit play while simultaneously hitting record on the other. Dave would then sing along to the guitar, creating a two-track recording.

Basically, Dave Grohl has been writing songs his whole life.

While on tour with Nirvana, he would sit in his hotel and work out the melodies and ideas bouncing around his brain. At tour’s end, he would go to a friend’s studio and record those songs, building up an inventory. By the time Nirvana was no more, a backlog of over 40 songs existed. Dave Grohl was constantly putting in his Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours.

As a comedian, I look at success stories like that with crossed fingers, hope, and resolve.

My “career” in stand up comedy began when I was in the neighborhood of six years old, at Interlochen summer camp in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. For the talent show, I donned a paper bag and did a set as The Unknown Comic. He was someone I had seen on Laugh In and The Gong Show. I was too shy to show my face, and didn’t yet understand the concept of thievery—I probably thought taking his shtick was OK because I was a kid. In my defense, I did perform original material, making fun of the counselors, and camp food. I did well, too, because I was talking about things the other campers could relate to.

From that moment forward, I was interested in comedy. I spent my time listening to George Carlin albums and seeing Richard Pryor stand-up movies. In school, I was a gifted class clown, with smartass remarks rolling off my tongue with ease. Years later, when I started down the path as a professional stand up, I went to the local comedy club every week to watch every person gracing the stage. I went to as many open microphones as possible, and comedy was nothing short of an obsession.

To this day, I hope I’m always learning. I watch every comic I work with. Sometimes I learn, sometimes I judge. It is what it is. But I’m always putting in the effort, always trying to refine and better my act. I’m putting in the hours, and working toward originality and funny.

If—or when, if I’m trying to be positive—I get an opportunity, I want to be able to take hold and not let go. Just like Dave Grohl did.

Do I think I’ll achieve his kind of greatness? I don’t want to answer in the negative, but I’m not cocky enough to answer in the positive.

But either way, I think I’m on the right path.

And I think that’s important.

 

Nathan Timmel likes to write.

You can read his weekly scribblings on his website.

Live Comedy: Week of April 13

StandUpYou know it: live comedy is the best thing you can do with your weekend. Get off the couch, get outa the house, giggle.

Alvin Williams, Beth Stelling, Johnny Beehner, and Nick Griffin all have CDs at the Rooftop Store.  You can go download them. Right now! Really! Nathan Timmel blogs, podcasts, and posts more videos than you can shake a stick at.

(He’s even written a few books)

If they’re not performing at the club near you, request them.

(And then get out of the house and go see the comedian in your neck of the woods. Go. Now!)

 

Alvin

Beehner

me

beth

nick

Stand Up Shots: April 15

Adam Newman Interview

Adam Newman is on fire. In the past few years he has:

  • Appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman
  • Had a Comedy Central Half Hour Special
  • Appeared on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show
  • Appeared on Gotham Comedy Live
  • Toured these last few months with Bo Burnham

Now Adam has released his latest CD, Killed, on the Rooftop label.

Nathan Timmel fired off these questions about the disc.

 

NT: Your disc contains several bonus tracks; were these recorded in the same show and edited out, or another show and you couldn’t find a home for them, but wanted the material on the disc?

AN: Everything on this album was recorded over a week of shows at ACME Comedy Co. in Minneapolis. The bonus tracks are things that I wanted to include on the record, but I didn’t think fit into the flow of the “set.”

NT: How many shows were recorded for this particular disc?

AN: I recorded six shows, but used one set for about 80% of the record. Stumbles, hecklers, delivery, and crowd response determined whether I would sub in a version from another show. Recording a bunch of shows takes the pressure off nailing it all in one take, but as you can hear on the record, I still kept some rough stuff in because, sometimes, the real-er, the better.

NT: How long did it take you to write the material?

AN: One day.

NT: The Jetsons… My God, things we’ve never even thought of. How did you stumble upon that? Just as described? Farting around online? How do you think something like that makes it past the creators, or do you think the ages were a dark joke by them?

AN: Exactly as described. Just playing around on Wikipedia and doing a little math. I doubt the creators gave it a second thought. But who knows, maybe they’re all a bunch of pervs.

NT: You discuss your childhood/relationship with your father in a joke about Fenway Park. Comedians are notorious for having “issues” that lead them to the stage. Would you say that about your own path to stand up?

AN: I had a very nice childhood. I just think my parents are silly and I like to talk about them. The good news is, so far they like it.

NT: You do say your parents are supportive of your career, and in fact come see you often. You talk about censoring yourself in front of them; what is the determining factor of a joke you will or will not do in front of your parents?

AN: Well it used to be that if a joke was about a girl barfing on my dick, I wouldn’t do it in front of my parents. But now that I have, I guess all bets are off.

NT: On the disc, you sound like a fan of audience interaction; constant questions, a little back-and-forth. Do you enjoy participation? Does it ever get out of control, or something less-than-fun?

AN: Yes, yes, and yes. But it also makes every show a little different and interesting, so I think it’s worth it.

Download Killed from the Rooftop store.

Live Comedy: Week of April 6

StandUpSo many good things happening this week…

For previews of what’s available, check out Dave Landau, Tiffany Norton, Bengt Washburn, and Nathan Timmel right here on Rooftop.

Like Nato Green?

His CD is available for download at the Rooftop Store.

Go take a listen, then get out of the house and support live comedy!

If you don’t, the terrorists have won.

(Do people still say that? They should. Because, you know.  ‘Merica.)

bengt

dave

nato

Tiffany

wausau

Stand Up Shots: April 8

StandUpThat’s right, it’s Wednesday.

Rooftop brings you quick giggles, right on your laptop or desktop.

(Still working on that mobile friendly version, though.)

Follow everyone on Twitter, support live stand up comedy, and be merry.

Because that’s much better than being grumpy, especially at work, ya grumpy bastard.

 

Live Comedy: Week of March 30

StandUpHere’s who’s where this weekend!

Get off the couch, get out of the house, get to a comedy venue!

Watch Dale Jones, Ella Gale, and Nathan Timmel here on Rooftop, and buy Dat Phan’s CD from our store.

And if these performers aren’t in your neck of the woods, go support your local comedy club.

Remember: laughter has been medically proven to improve health, so stop popping pills and go have a giggle.

You’ll feel better.

Promise.

 

 

Dale

Ella

Me Milwaukee

Dat

Rocky

Stand Up Shots–April 1st

StandUpComedians tell jokes… if you giggle at them, look for their videos and CDs here on Rooftop.

If you’re on the silly beast known as “Twitter,” follow @StandUpShots and/or all the comedians you see here.

It’s a fast, free way to get a quick giggle every day, right on your phone or computer.

When you’re finished here, check out more Rooftop Blog posts, view some videos, and browse our store.

Thanks for supporting stand up comedy.

It’s gonna get you into heaven faster than that cult you joined when you were 17.

Promise.

 

Live Comedy: Week of March 23

Watching videos online is great.

Sharing memes is awesome.

The best way to see comedy, however, is live.

Here are some folks performing this weekend… if you have the opportunity, go check them out.

Click the meme for their website, and check out CDs by Nore Davis, Dylan Brody, and Joe DeVito in the Rooftop Store

Laffs

Maria

Nore


JoeD

 

Dylan Broody

Sober Doesn’t Mean Less Stupid

StandUpIn my line of work—stand up comedian—you deal with people who are drinking. As a whole, people are good, and can handle their alcohol. But every so often you run into folks who would have done society a favor by staying home and downing a case of beer from the safety of their couch. Sometimes they heckle; other times they’re simply belligerent. Either way, they usually have to be kicked out of the comedy club.

I’ve always wondered what they thought of their behavior the next day, when they sobered up. Were they embarrassed by their actions? Any decent person would be. When dealing with the unwashed masses, however, you don’t always get decent people.

Case in point: the other week, a table of four had to be removed from the showroom during my set. They had talked all through the host, talked all through the middle comic, and were still talking when I hit the stage. Fortunately, by that point, management had lost their patience. After I had turned to them twice and said, “Hey, quit talking,” they were asked to leave.

There are two ways to exit a room you’re no longer wanted in: quietly, head hung low, or boisterous and defiant. On this particular occasion, it went 50/50; two people quickly slinked away, embarrassed by the attention. The other two at the table were stunned.

“What? We were just talking!” the woman shouted.

After the manager explained talking isn’t permitted during a live performance, they grew even more agitated. The manager explained that they were annoying every table around them, which seemed to stun the couple.

“They don’t have to listen to us if they don’t want to!”

Apparently the woman didn’t understand how audio waves work, and that you can’t really ignore sound.

To accelerate their exodus, the manager asked the audience, “By a round of applause, who wants these people to leave?”

The whole crowd erupted; the table had been sufficiently annoying enough to get on everyone’s nerves.

After several minutes of back and forth, the couple finally made their way out, throwing a couple parting shots my way, since I had dared tell them to quiet down.

As the collective rest of the audience cheered the departure, the thought I mentioned earlier crossed my mind: what would those people think of their behavior once they sobered up?

Lucky me, I got to find out.

The next day around 5pm, a post from the argumentative woman—Cindy—appeared on my Facebook Comedy Page: “Don’t go see this guy. Our table were laughing and talking and we were asked to leave as we left he had the audience clap to see us go. The comedian before him had no problem with us and encouraged the noise and laughter.”

As I made my way through the grammar and syntax errors, I had to give a combination laugh and sad head shake. As stated, this post popped up around 5pm. That means Cindy had all night to sleep it off, and all day to come to terms with her behavior. And when all was said and done? She used willful ignorance to double down on her stupidity.

I didn’t even consider responding to her post; there didn’t seem to be any point. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t wonder how some people make it through life when they’re oblivious to how the world works.

Dissect her very own words: up front, Cindy admits they were talking. She doesn’t even bother to lie, or say “We were kicked out for absolutely no reason!” Nope, she says they were laughing (lie) and talking (truth).

Next, she isn’t self-aware enough to understand that the audience applauding her departure means they were more than happy to see her go. It’s unlikely she made it her whole life without hearing spontaneous applause, which means she willfully denies the fact she wasn’t wanted there.

Finally, the opening comic wasn’t appreciative of her at all. I know, because when he walked off stage he was furious. He even, and somehow Cindy missed this, yelled “Shut the fuck up!” at her table. Twice. I’m not sure how Cindy interpreted “Shut the fuck up!” as encouragement, but I think we can determine from her writing skills she’s not the brightest light on any Christmas tree.

That night, when all was said and done I thanked the manager for his actions, and he laughed; “Oh, that wasn’t anything. If you thought they were bad, you should have been here for Screech.”

He described how during Screech’s set, a man who identified himself as a lawyer got into it with the Saved By the Bell star. The lawyer was exceedingly drunk, and started heckling. This set Screech off, and irritated the audience. They went back and forth for several minutes, with Screech getting in jab after jab and the lawyer getting angrier and angrier as the audience laughed and applauded at his expense.

Eventually, realizing he was on the losing end of the verbal jousting, the lawyer stood up, hoisted twin middle fingers into the air, and shouted “FUCK YOU!” to the world as he stormed out.

A fitting end to his derailing of the comedy show, but that’s not the conclusion to this story.

Several days later, the lawyer interviewed for a job; he was looking to move up in the world, and presented himself as a clean-cut, no-nonsense straight shooter. The potential employer took the man through every stage of the interview process, all the way to one final question.

After jumping through the myriad hoops of the interview process, the lawyer probably felt he had a great shot at being hired, until the potential employer said, “Well, I think we only have one question left; would you like to explain this?”

At which point they showed the lawyer a video of his actions at the comedy club. Someone at the company had been at the show, recorded the whole event on his cell phone, and realized it was the same person coming in for an interview later that week.

Job = denied.

I should start filming all my sets.

Just think; I could have posted a clip of Cindy acting the fool, and made sure all her friends got the link.

Oh well.

Maybe next time.

 

(bonus: sometimes there’s a camera running when I’m dealing with drunk folks)