RooftopBlog RooftopBlog Home RooftopComedy.com

Categories

HOMEPAGE

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.

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.

Isaac Witty: Talkin’ Conan, People

 

Big night for Isaac Witty! Making his 2nd television appearance tonight on Conan.  We were thinking about what a comic can expect from a TV appearance and Isaac filled us in. Read on and check out his album “Zero Balance” but don’t miss him TONIGHT on TBS!

RC(Rooftop Comedy): Congrats on booking Conan! How did your last appearance on Letterman affect your career? Are you expecting the same thing from being on Conan?

Doing Letterman was about 10 years ago.  It allowed me to get a bunch of college, corporate and club work that never would have come my way without it.  It changed people’s perception of me, which mostly just freaked me out at first.  I do not want to have any preconceived ideas for what doing The Conan Obrien Show will do for me.  That’s how people fumble the ball.  Too busy thinking about what kind of endzone dance they’re going to do.  All I know for now, is that it’s really cool to be asked to do the show.

 

RC: Are you going in knowing that you’re going to crush it? What is your confidence level like?

I’d say I’m 95% confident, 5% of the time… earth trembling panic mode.  It all happens in waves.  I ran the set at Acme Monday night and crushed, but all I could think about for the next 2 hours was the fact that I went 15 seconds too long.   Of course, I’d like to do well, but I’m not trying to think about that.   Believe it or not, it helps me to downplay things like this.  When you start doing comedy, you think every set is make or break, but it’s not.  This thing is a marathon.

 

RC: Any reason in particular that you’re excited to be on Conan vs. other late night shows?

I’m excited to do Conan because his fans seem be smart.

 

RC: Describe your ideal experience of performing on the show.

My ideal experience?  Do the set, get laughs, exchange pleasantries with everyone.  I’m really not asking much here.

 

RC: Is what you visualized realistic?

I think I can do the set and get the laughs, but I’m not very well liked, so the pleasantries part is a stretch…

 

RC: Do you know any other guests that are going to be on the show? How could you harass them in a way that would amuse you?

Jeff Goldblum is also on the show!  Ideas on how to harass Jeff Goldblum?  What kind of insane prankster do you think I am?  I’m almost 40!  I’m not going to attempt any hijinks on a famous actor that I don’t know.  “Did you hear about Isaac?  He almost got to be on Conan, but he tried to freeze Jeff Goldblum’s underwear in the craft services room and was forced off the premises.”

 

RC: Are you taller than Conan and could you beat him in a street fight? What would be your plan of attack if he came after you?

I am 2 inches shorter than Conan O’Brien.  Being that I’m the “little guy” in this fight, I’d have to use his height against him.  I haven’t been in a fight since I was 8 years old.  I imagine that if I did fight to win, I’d have to fight dirty, so I’d most definetly go for the kneecaps.  I learned most everything I know about fighting from the Cobra Kai.

 

RC: Besides stand-up, what have you been up to lately?

What have I been up to lately?  I’m in a sketch comedy group called The Turkeys.  We’re just about to release a bunch of stuff on the internet.  I’m really excited about it!   We’re all a bunch of rag-tag comics that got tired of waiting around for something to happen in our lives and careers so we decided to do force ourselves to create something.  The problem is, after about 2 weeks of writing sketches we realized that we’re all just lazy sacks of crap, and creating video sketches is really hard work.  We’re all good friends.  Over the last year, we’ve gotten it together and I’m just really proud of what we’ve come up with.  Check us out out: @The_Turkeys or facebook.com/theturkeyscomedy

 

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.

Jason Downs Interview

“Jason

If you looked closely, you saw Jason Downs while you were watching the Seattle Seahawks manhandle the Denver Broncos.

No, he wasn’t on the field, Jason was starring in one of the coveted Super Bowl commercials.

A comedian by trade, Jason is dipping his toes into the acting world in Los Angeles. But that doesn’t mean he’s straying away from comedy; no, that’s Jason’s first love.

Rooftop had Nathan Timmel chat Jason up regarding his new CD, Excessive Talking.

NT:   Let’s start awkwardly: when I listened to your disc, I popped it in without reviewing any of the promo material. When you started speaking, I created a picture in my head of what you might look like, and given your lovely almost-baritone, my immediate thought was “African-American.”  Then I looked you up, and… nope! Watching your YouTube videos, I began to question why I ever thought it in the first place.  You make reference to your weight on the new disc; do you believe weight gain and the addition of a beard has changed the tenor of your voice?

JD:  Yeah, I’ve heard I kinda sound black, which is why when I apply for college scholarships I do so over the phone.  But seriously, I guess I’m just a product of where I was raised.  My schools we’re mostly black and Hispanic with some white sprinkled in there too.

NT:    You have quite a bit of hilarious, self-depreciating jokes. Is that something done consciously, or do you write a joke, then look back and say, “Well, kinda busted on myself there…”

JD:    I don’t go out of the way intentionally to be self-depreciating.  Things just kind of happen to me and I report back.  When I first started stand up I would rant about bigger social issues.  Then one day I posted a super intimate blog post about my inner most thoughts and fears.   W. Kamau Bell was like, “that’s what you need to talk about on stage.”  So I did and things just started to click.  It wasn’t intentional.  It’s just kind of what happened.

NT:    Did you have a specific emotional arc you wanted the disc to take when you were lining up the bits, or did you free form it? Basically, describe the artistic process involved in creating a set for a CD recording.

JD:     Well, I’ve been on the road for a few years now featuring for Michael McDonald from MadTV and the Heat.  I’ve been able to develop my act opening for him.  He gives me complete freedom and he aways pushes me to try new stuff.  I don’t have to get off at a set time.  I can end on different bits.  I can rearrange my act.  I could bomb and then get the crowd back; total freedom.  So he gave me complete freedom and this is the act that I developed while on the road featuring for McDonald; along with performing in San Francisco which is where I started.

NT:    How much of your material is invented, and how much is real-life experience? Meaning: did you spend time testing racist Google auto-fills, and/or visit a marijuana expo?

 JD:     All of it is absolutely true.  I’m sure I’ve exaggerated something in there for comedic effect, but not much, if anything.  Yep, that Google auto fill bit is legit.  I really went to a bong trade show in Vegas.  I really saw a pilot lie about turbulence to get everybody to sit down on a plane.  I really saw a woman with no hands drop a coke.  At times I’ve tried to make things up, but the audience can smell it and it just doesn’t work. After a show an audience member might come up and talk to me about a joke and I’ll be like,”That really happened”.  They will be like,”Yeah, I know.  You can tell it’s true.”  I’m glad my material  rings true.

 NT:     You mention a two-night stand at the comedy club, Wed/Thursday. Was the CD recorded over those two nights, or is it more a one-and-done disc?

 JD:   Yeah it was done over two nights.  The actual recording is almost exclusively from the Wednesday night show.  It went pretty much perfectly.  There were a couple of jokes I forgot to do, so we just slide those in from the Thursday night show.

NT:    Did you move to LA to pursue comedy, acting, or both?  Are you leaning toward preferring one over the other, now that you’ve got some national acting spots on your résumé?

 JD:    I moved to LA for comedy.  But you can’t get any stage time in LA unless you’re on TV.  So I started taking some acting classes, I’ve landed a couple of things, and apparently I have this big white guy look that is pretty rare in LA.  It’s like me, Seth Rogan and Kathy Bates.

 NT:     I am neither smart nor Christian, but isn’t St. Peter the gatekeeper to heaven, not Michael the Archangel?

 JD:    Heathen!

 NT:     Were you at all tempted to name the CD “Monkey Pussy?” (which readers will understand when they hear the disc)

 JD:    I wanted to name this album so many different things.  Monkey Pussy was up there, so was Food Boner, and Allergic to Pussy.  I really like the way Food Boner sounds.  I went with Excessive Talking, because when I was a kid I was a horrible student, just goofing off too much.  Every report card I came home with had the term “excessive talking” written in the teachers notes section.  I just love the way those two words sound together; Excessive Talking.  As soon as I started comedy, I always knew that if I had a chance to get an album out, Excessive Talking would be the name.

 NT:     With bitcoins all the rage, have you considered trying to implement your taco-economy idea to the world? They’re tangible, which has to make them more valuable right off the bat.

JD:    Bitcoins!  I keep hearing about these things.  I don’t even know what they are.  They sound like the name of the coins you get in Super Mario Brothers when you jump and hit your head on the bricks with the question marks.

I guess bitcoins is some type of digital currency.  Which I always thought Internet porn was digital currency, but now that Internet porn is basically free they had to come up with bitcoins.

 

You can purchase Excessive Talking…

Green Gravel Comedy Festival

“GreenWhen you hear Toledo, many things cross your mind: Corporal Klinger and his devotion to the Mud Hens.  Ohio. The decades-long run by the now-departed Connxtions Comedy Club, or maybe the current reign of The Funny Bone. It would, however, be hard pressed to find someone hear “Toledo” and respond, “Do you mean the one in Iowa?”

The founders of the Green Gravel Comedy Festival hope to put a change to that. With three members having strong ties to the Hawkeye state, a miniature town in the middle of Iowa was chosen to play host to a new type of comedy festival.

Rooftop’s Nathan Timmel—a fella participating in the Bomb Shelter Showcase that weekend—fired off an email full of questions, and the kindly Lee Keeler (Festival President) sent back answers.

NT: I apologize for the first question, because I’m sure it’s the one you’re getting the most, but: Why Toledo? I mean, I see all the Iowa connections in the organizers biographies, but those are for Iowa City (college town) and Des Moines (capital; largest city). So… Toledo?

LK:  That’s a great question! We’ve been getting that from day one. I am from Sioux City originally, and growing up there was always this belief that a person usually had go into a city to experience a comedy show. We’d like to turn that on its head. This is our opportunity to curate a completely fantastic experience in a charming little town and have something we can completely call our own. Those cities that we’re from have built comedy scenes that are amazing, but we aim to add on to that culture and bring some attention back to small-town Iowa. Geographically, it’s smack-dab in the middle of the greatest populations of young adults in Iowa: Ames, Iowa City, Des Moines and more. Our greatest inspiration has been the Nelsonville Music Festival in Ohio, which has been happening for a few years at a rural opera house and has brought in acts like Wilco, John Prine, Cat Power, etc.

NT:  Over the course of the 3-days, how many shows do you plan on producing? Will there be multiple shows at any given time, giving people the option to see Improv, stand-up comedy, or the recording (or broadcasting) of a Podcast?

LK:  At this point, we’re looking at something between 15-20 shows throughout the weekend. We are modelling much of scheduling around that of the Limestone Comedy Fest in Indiana (they’ve been amazing mentors, by the way), which usually staggers the appearances of their headliners and the type of comedy to see so everybody has a chance to see a little bit of everything. So if you can’t see Jackie Kashian at the big opera house on Friday night, she’ll be doing a five dollar podcast taping the next afternoon in the Legion Hall.

NT:  Define “Alternative Comedy Festival” for people who may not know exactly what you’re presenting.

LK:  We want the “alternative” to be in the DNA of every aspect of Green Gravel. Staff/performers will be staying in heated cabins at this great camp on the edge of town with crazy fire pits that’s next to a casino. In that sense, just coming to Green Gravel is meant to be kind of a retreat from the usual “club and motel” rut that performers deal with all the time. As I mentioned before, we want the audience to leave their cities and re-examine what it means to have fun in a small town. In terms of content, we are going to be giving priority to oddball/unique performers that might not have the political know-how to break into some of the existing comedic institutions in the region. We also want tickets to be affordable; our festival is bringing in top talent and will be charging low prices to see them.

NT:  Your website says you’ll be offering workshops; are you looking for people interested in getting into comedy/Improv, performers looking to brush up their skills, or both?

LK:  The festival will feature classes for both novices and experience performers. They will have an opportunity to learn from some of the best instructors in comedy, including a sketch workshop being taught by Kids in the Hall alum Kevin McDonald! We’re going to be hosting a free Q&A with Kevin so anybody who is curious about the process of comedy can be inspired. There’s also going to be a free class on the history/evolution of stand-up via Mat Alano-Martin. We want Iowa performers and kids to be given the chance to empower themselves with this information so they can go back home and strengthen the comedy scenes within their communities. I’m pretty tired of running into kids from the midwest that have moved out to LA and are taking classes at UCB among a zillion other kids. We need to keep those people in Iowa and grow something there.

NT:  You just added your third venue; how many venues do you think you’d like to have running for the festival?

LK:  The Wieting Theater will feature some of the larger crowds, we will also have a venue for smaller performances, and a venue for podcasts and classes. We have some overflow venues in mind depending on the amount of submissions.

NT: Your promotional video has some pretty heavy hitters in it—Marc Maron, Jimmy Pardo; any of them making the trek into the heartland?

LK:  We’re still a new thing, so it’s hard to get performers of that magnitude right out of the gate. The fest is going to have multiple headliners that will be very well-known to those that follow alternative comedy and sketch comedy. We have already announced that Jackie Kashian, who hosts The Dork Forest podcast, will be making the trip from LA. We will also have some of Chicago’s very finest up-and-comers: Junior Stopka, Mike Lebovitz and Martin Morrow. Also Mat Alano-Martin is coming in from Indiana, he’s amazing. We’re also proud to take this opportunity to announce that Kevin McDonald from The Kids in the Hall will also be a headliner!

You can submit your stand-up, podcasts, sketch or improv comedy troupe using the Green Gravel Facebook Page.

Paul Mecurio Headlines SF Punchline Jan. 15-18!

Very psyched to be heading back to San Francisco this month, my favorite city with the first name “San.”  Sorry Diego. I am headlining at the Punchline Jan 15-18th. I love San Francisco, the variety of foods, the varied cultures, the Bay, but you need more bridges … and bigger ones! The crowds are always great comedy audiences – I can’t wait to come back and I always have a blast in the city. In fact, I wish it would stay open later. 2:30am?  Come on! By the time I’m done with my shows that leaves me barely an hour to visit some local watering holes, have a few cocktails and engage in illegal cockfighting. Hope to see you at the Punchline Jan 15-18th. And check out my podcast “The Paul Mecurio Show” on iTunes (http://bit.ly/paulmecurio). I’ve interviewed, Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Jay Leno, and The Host of Mythbusters, to name a few.

-Paul Mecurio

Get your tickets HERE!

Paul has won an Emmy & Peabody Award for his work on “The Daily Show w/Jon Stewart.” He is a regular on “Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld” on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and has been seen on “The Late Late Show” on CBS, “Conan” and has had his own special on Comedy Central.