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Esquire Magazine Publishes List of Best New Comics

Esquire recently published a list of the best “new” comics, curated by the likes of Aziz Ansari, Jim Gaffigan, Chris Hardwick, Amy Schumer, and others. While comedy fans will rush to judge Esquire‘s liberal use of the term “new” (we’ve been Nate Bargatze fans for years), there’s no denying the strong pool of talent here. Here’s who made the cut:

Chelsea Peretti

Moshe Kasher

Nate Bargatze

Ron Funches (pictured above)

Adam Cayton-Holland

Kyle Kinane

Hampton Yount

Josie Long

Jonah Ray

Tig Notaro

James Adomian

Jackie Monahan

Mark Normand

Rory Scovel

John Mulaney

DeAnne Smith

Dan Soder

Touched by Anything But an Angel

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, boys, girls, and illegal Canadian immigrants of all ages: I’ve just released my very first Kindle Single, Touched by Anything But an Angel.

It’s a mix of old and new; two chapters from my book I Was a White Knight… Once, and a preview of what’s to come in my next full-length release.

Four chapters in all.

Included are a story about performing comedy for American soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, as well as the tale of my professional massage at the hands of a burly man.

It only costs 99 cents, which is less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but more than it takes to sponsor a starving child in Africa.

(Coffee > Human Life. Take that, starving masses)

Right now it’s only available on the Amazon Kindle; if you own one, then please, take a look.

If you don’t own one, that’s OK: Amazon allows you to download Kindle Apps for free.

All you have to do is go to my Touched by Anything But an Angel page, and scroll down the right-hand side until you see the following picture:

See that link at the bottom?  It says “Free,” and it allows you to read Kindle books almost anywhere you please, even if you don’t own an actual Kindle.

Neat, ain’t it?

Since it’s only available on the Kindle, no trees were harmed in the making of this product. Sure, plenty of slave-labor went into making the electronics in China, but put that out of your mind; think of the trees. The oxygen-emitting, life-saving trees.

They weren’t harmed at all.

So there you go; it’s less than a dollar, it doesn’t kill any trees, and it’s got a picture of (and story detailing) me being touched by a tubby gentleman.

What more could you ask for?

 

 

Andy Woodhull Interview

In many ways, Andy Woodhull is just a comedian with a degree in geology and a dream. Yet he’s come a long way from juggling his 9-to-5 lab job and the demands of being a comic always on the road. Andy’s garnered some considerable cred as a comedian, appearing on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, performing at the renowned Montreal Just For Laughs festival, and winning the Best of the Midwest competition at the 2011 Gilda Radner-honoring Gilda Fest. Rooftop is happy to announce the release of Andy’s second album, Lucy, showcasing his ventures into manliness, dating, and more. We recently chatted with Andy about the Chicago comedy scene, his writing process, Butterfinger’s sneaky corporate loopholes, and more.

Rooftop Comedy: What was it like getting your start in the Midwest?

Andy Woodhull: Well I started in St. Louis, right after college at The Funny Bone there. I took a couple comedy classes and then moved to Chicago about a year later. I went to some of the open mics in Chicago, but I got most of my stage time at Zanies in downtown Chicago. I did a couple clubs in the suburbs and I would go back to St. Louis a lot and I just tried to do comedy as much as I possibly could. I was working in a laboratory—my degree is in geology—so for the first five years I was in Chicago I was working in a lab and then trying to be on the road as much as I could. It was crazy. Sometimes, I would drive to gigs and then drive back to Chicago, sleep in my car in the parking lot, and then work in the lab. Then I would drive to the show again the next night.

RC: I imagine that lifestyle reached a breaking point after a certain time.

AW: I did it for about five years and eventually it got to a point where I was on the road a lot and I was getting super drained from all the driving. It almost comes out to be two full-time jobs when you’re doing it that much. The last year I did it I was on the road probably 45-50 weeks a year, somewhere in there. I was working almost every weekend.

RC: The past few years have seen an influx of stand-up clubs into the improv/sketch-heavy city of Chicago. Do you think this is affecting the comedy community there?

AW: I think that lately there have been a lot of successful comedians coming out of Chicago, like TJ Miller, Kyle Kinane, Kumail Nanjiani, and Hannibal Buress. All of these guys are coming out of Chicago and then at the same time, Chicago is the third-biggest city in the country and there has been only one club downtown for maybe 30 years. So I think it makes more sense that more stand-up clubs are moving in. I think it’s going to be great for comedy in Chicago too.

RC: Was there a specific moment or show in your career that really pushed you to pursue comedy full-time?

AW: I think I wanted to do it fulltime from the beginning and that was always the goal to not have a job and just to do stand-up. It was just so fun and I loved it right away out of St. Louis. I didn’t quit my job until I won the Butterfinger comedy competition in 2008, where I wrote a joke about candy bars and ended up winning this contest. I quit my job right after that. They gave me 365 Butterfinger coupons and I was like, “I don’t need to work anymore”.

RC: Have you redeemed all the coupons?

AW: Yeah they’re all expired—the ones I didn’t use. I don’t even like Butterfinger that much, but I gave a lot of them away. The funny thing about the coupon is that you still have to pay tax. So each Butterfinger wasn’t exactly free—it was 9 cents.

RC: Last year you won the “Best of the Midwest” title at Gilda Fest. How was it performing at that event?

AW: It was very cool. This year was a lot bigger than it was last year. Last year, when I won it, I really didn’t hang out that much. To give some levity to my win, when I won, the Best of the Midwest was on a Wednesday and I had a show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Thursday. After the contest, after I had won, I got in my car and drove overnight to Sioux Falls—13 hours in the car or something like that. That’s a good way to not get a big head about a contest win.

RC: Your new album is titled Lucy, after your beloved black Labrador. Do you think Lucy appreciates the honor?

AW: She has always been a big fan of my comedy. She used to come out on the road with me sometimes. Maybe it was overly sentimental to name the album after her, but I’m not really good at making up names. I knew I’d never be sick of that name and also I have a joke on the CD about Lucy.

RC: That one is a stand-out for sure. Listening to it, you get the sense you’re having a lot of fun telling the story, adding embellishments and tags here and there to fully paint the picture.

AW: That’s kind of how all my bits evolve. I’ll write something or I’ll have an idea and I’ll do it once and then they’re pretty fluid. I don’t normally have jokes that are done and then they’re always that way. I have a couple short ones that are like that, but the longer jokes I’ll often try to add to and take them in different directions—it keeps them kind of fun.

RC: Why did you want to release an album now?

AW: I guess it’s because you kind of want to graduate material—for me, anyway. It’s probably different for everyone. You also want to make that money! I started having jokes that I wasn’t wanting to tell anymore. When you get to that point, I like to make a CD or an album or whatever, because then those jokes serve a purpose. They’re there forever. They’re not just forgotten—if that makes any sense.

Andy Woodhull will be performing at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago June 25-30. Be sure to follow Andy at @AndyWoodhull. Listen to some free tracks from Lucy at the Rooftop Comedy Shop

Heckler Diaries: Getting Heckled at a Biker Bar

For comics and audience members alike, heckling just goes with the territory at comedy shows. Even the most well-behaved crowds are prone to drunken shouts, vaguely directed to the comedian on stage. We’ve been talking to comics all across the country, asking to hear their memorable heckler experiences, and we’re now sharing them with you. Check out the latest edition of Heckler Diaries, in which Chicago-based comic Mike Lebovitz recounts that one time he almost got beat up by a Hells Angel Biker. Tough crowd indeed.

Spring Fling Flirting Tips from Mo Welch

Spring is most definitely upon us and with the warmer weather comes a chance to re-evaluate your social life a bit. The bountiful sunshine and ample daylight provide a great opportunity to put yourself out there in the dating pool. But that pool can be awkwardly cold. What to say? Where to go? What should I wear? With that in mind, enjoy this new video featuring the very funny Mo Welch. Learn from Mo’s mistakes with these pro-dating tips and you’ll be deleting that OK Cupid profile in no time.

Video: LAUGH AT: HOW NOT TO FLIRT

ANDY HENDRICKSON INTERVIEW

Andy Hendrickson is a burgeoning powerhouse in the comedy world. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard him on either the Bob & Tom Show, or on Sirius/XM Radio. Not only is he a showcase winner at HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Andy has performed at TBS’ The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and was a finalist at the Great American Comedy Festival.

He’s calling his newest release, Underacheiver, his first “real” CD. Underacheiver will be released March 13 wherever fine comedy is sold and streamed.

Rooftop had Nathan Timmel dial Andy up and chat about the disc, comedy classes, and finding your comedic voice.

Nathan Timmel: Easy question first: where did you come up with the title Underachiever?

Andy Hendrickson: A friend suggested it, actually, because I have a chunk of material about my family, and how every one of them is an overachiever. My oldest brother is exceptional; he went to the Naval Academy, became a Navy Seal, and went to Harvard.

NT: So you are the Black Sheep of the family then; you are the underachiever.

AH: Yes, I would be the slacker of the family.

NT: Where was your album recorded, and over how many shows?

AH: I recorded it up in Ottawa, Canada. There’s a great club up there called Absolute Comedy. I had two shows on a Friday night to record the material, and luckily I got it all on the early slot because the late crowd was a little drunk and rowdy, so I didn’t use any of the audio from that take.

NT: What kind of set up did you use?

AH: I hired a local sound engineer who works with bands and theaters. He used a simple three-microphone setup: he wired the stage mic, and then a left and right mic to capture the audience.

NT: How many years in the making was the material for Underachiever? Is this your first CD? 

AH: [Laughs.] Well…there’s a CD that exists from three-years into my career, when I was desperate for money, that if I could buy back every copy and burn it? I would.

NT: [Laughs.] We all have one of those – a “starter” CD. Every comic gets way too excited early in their career and records something, then pushes because they’re so proud of themselves: “I’ve got a CD! I’m a real comic!” Then years down the road you give a listen and you shake your head and say, “Holy shit, what was I thinking?”

AH: Exactly. At the time, it made sense. I had just started doing comedy full-time, and was only featuring, and needed money desperately. So I put out a 25-minute disc and tried to keep my head above water by selling it. So that one doesn’t count.

I put out one in 2005 or 2006 called It’s Ready, and I have a little 25-minute sampler on my website that I give away… so to me, this is my first real CD—it’s the first one I’m truly proud of. It has all my best material, and I have my voice now… I’m really excited about this one. Which is weird, because as a comedian you generally beat yourself up over everything, but I’m really proud of how this turned out.

NT: Talk about your voice: how far into your comedy career are you, and how long did it take you to figure out who you wanted to be on stage?

AH: I went through many stages; imagine your teenage years. You’re trying to fit in, and you don’t know if you’re going to be a skateboarder, or a heavy metal guy, or a jock. The same thing applies to trying to figure out who you’re going to be on stage. I used to… [laughs] I used to do a “dumb stoner guy” character when I first started out. Then I was really silly, acting out on stage a lot.

I’ve been doing it about 13 years now, and I think it took 11 years to just be me on stage, which is a dry, sarcastic guy. And that’s who I am, it’s what I am off stage. I just had to go through all the trying-on of personas just to be myself at the end of it all. Some guys are lucky, and they find it early, but it took me a while to figure out.

NT: Did you go through that phase where you’d work with someone, really like what they were doing, and accidentally adopt their quirks?

AH: Oh, absolutely. I was middling for Daniel Tosh years ago in Cleveland, and I really enjoyed his stand-up. I was watching every show, and on the last night found myself delivering my jokes with the same kind of tempo Tosh had. I remember catching myself and thinking, “What the hell are you doing?” It was still my material, my jokes, but his delivery had rubbed off on me.

NT: I’ve heard a lot of people do that after working with Attell; his voice is so distinct, his delivery so unique, that after a week with him you’ve picked up his cadence.

AH: I guess it’s similar to spending a couple months in the South, and after a while you just start slipping little colloquialisms they use into your own speech patterns.

NT: Let’s talk about you’re becoming a comedian: was there a light bulb moment in your childhood where you said, “I want to be a comedian,” or is it something you discovered later?

AH: I was exposed to stand up at a really early age. I used to live in Hawaii, and there was a comedian named Poi Dog my family would listen to. He did a lot of jokes about Hawaiian culture… I would have been around eight. I didn’t really know that’s what I wanted to do at the time, but I guess I was always a cut-up. I eventually moved to Atlanta—after college—took a comedy class, got my first taste of the stage and getting laughs, and loved it.

NT: Every comic out there seems to have a passionate opinion about comedy classes; would you say they helped you, or that you wouldn’t recommend them?

AH: To be honest, I thought it was very helpful. It all depends on your personality, and I was petrified by the idea of getting on stage. So to invest my money in a six-week class, and knowing at the end of it I had to get on stage, which is something I was very frightened by, the class was very helpful. I mean, I had financially locked myself into it; it was like skydiving. Once you’re up in the plane, you gotta jump. Taking a class also gave me a sense of structure as well. Some guys, like me—underachiever—need that push. Other’s don’t. I also knew that at the end of it I’d have that 5-minute set I could take with me to open microphones.

Andy currently resides in New York City. You can follow Andy @AndyHendrickson.

Underachiever comes out March 13 and will be available on iTunes, Amazon, and the Rooftop Comedy Shop. You can also stream Underachiever through Pandora and Grooveshark.

I Was a White Knight… Once

In 2011, I took some time away from my duties as a Rooftop blogger/interviewer because I was finishing up a project;  I wanted to devote my time to its final touches.

That project was my first book, titled I Was a White Knight… Once. It is a memoir that discusses my upbringing: ten cities, ten schools, and ten sets of friends within the first decade of my life, and parents whose volatile marriage sparked more than one horrific memory (including my mother’s ride on the hood of the family car to keep her estranged husband from taking the kids). It moves across the country and around the world, telling tales of performing for American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One life-story takes place in the mid-1990s, when a female stalker entered my life. We discovered one another via an email list of a mutual friend, Pete. Remember, the 1990s were a time before Facebook, MySpace, or any other form of social networking. Email was the hippest thing being online had to offer, so when you met someone new, it was pretty nifty. The fact you were chatting up someone of the opposite gender made it all the more enticing, as this was a time of Internet ignorance; long before Chris Hansen showed us that the thirteen-year-old girl a pervert thought he was talking to was actually a cop, people naturally assumed the person you were interacting with was exactly who they said they were.

In retrospect, we were indeed very naïve.

The following passage is about my time being stalked, and it takes place within Chapter Eight: An Attraction to the Idea of Me

The segment has been edited for length, and picks up as I begin to understand just exactly what I have gotten myself into regarding the mysterious woman from the Internet…

*  *  *

Two weeks later I received a female condom in the mail. If you’ve never seen a female condom, it’s akin to a windsock at an airport; like a Magnum condom times twenty. This makes it very big, and therefore very intimidating… until you realize you do not wear the condom. No, it goes inside her, meaning every thrust you perform will involve rubbing against plastic. Basically, you’re going to be making love to a Hefty bag, which is neither enticing nor romantic.

I thought it was an odd gift, as our interactions had never been anything more than friendly. We got along easily, but never discussed any sort of sexual attraction and had never even exchanged photos. A note was attached to the condom; it read, “Save this, I’m coming to visit.” In my imagination, should this woman happen to look like, say, Jennifer Aniston, I would be in heaven. No being dummy, I did not believe fortune would smile upon me so and became cautious. I asked Pete if I should be afraid. His single word reply was, “Yes.”

[Note: in the mid-1990s Jennifer Aniston was exceedingly desirable; she had yet to wear the stench of John Mayer.]

Jean manned up first and asked for a picture of me. Playing off Pete’s chillingly brief warning, I sent a photo of me skydiving. My head was bowed and the protective, centimeter-thin helmet—a helmet obviously designed to protect my skull if my chute didn’t open and I fell 8,000 feet to the ground— this helmet hid my face in the picture. I gave no indication of my looks and did so half as a joke, half for identity protection. Jean emailed me that she loved the picture and that she had hung it in the middle of the living room she shared with four roommates. They told her I was “something special,” which scared me more than Pete’s warning. Not only did I have no idea how I was being described to deserve such a compliment, but I hadn’t really told anyone about her. There was nothing to tell. I was exchanging emails with a random woman, big whoop. To me, she was a neat correspondence with a hint of “could-be” fantasy and nothing more. But I was common knowledge to her friends? Creepy.

The condom was followed by a string of erotic messages left in my email account, each more graphic than the one before. They began to detail what she wanted to do to me and how her visit was going to be “the best night of my life.” Though several weeks had passed since I sent my picture, the favor had not yet been returned, a definite cause for alarm.

I immediately cut the number of messages I responded to in half. Where to this point I had always dropped a decent reply every time she contacted me, I now began sending short notes to roughly every third one. A detailed account of actions she was going to perform on my body would receive, “Just got home from work, got your letter, am too tired to write” in response. She used my shying away as a sign to double her efforts, and began sending two or three emails a day. Some would be violently angry, complaining about her life or job or boss, then mid-paragraph she would make the most bizarre switch into how I would rescue her from her mundane existence.

“I hate my job! Everyone I work with is stupid! I need a vacation. Can you perform oral sex for several hours in a row?” is a direct quote.

I was told my picture was masturbation material and I received a second package in my physical mailbox. Nothing sexual this time, thankfully, but instead several small, peculiar, gifts. According to the accompanying note, she thought of me when she saw each item and decided to buy and send them. One trinket was a bizarre looking plastic mug shaped like a cartoon vampire, another was a Frankenstein refrigerator magnet. As I didn’t have a particular affection for old horror movies and had never hinted to her I might, why these reminded her of me I do not know.

I decided I needed to stop being a pussy and just get everything out on the table. Where was she going with all of this, what did she look like, and what did she think we had going on?

Her reply was hesitatingly honest, and I felt somewhat ashamed.

“I am a little self-conscious because I am surrounded by women who eat red meat all the time and never exercise,” she wrote. “It wears off on me and makes me lazy.”

At the end of the note, she dropped a mini-bomb; “By the way, I’ll be visiting friends in Wisconsin in two weeks, and on December 28th we’re going to road-trip to Milwaukee to meet you. You better be home, or else…”

The “or else” was probably meant playfully, but my reaction was immediately the opposite; I felt a little threatened and told her I was going to be out of town. At the time, it was a true statement. There was a photography exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art by Andres Serrano, and several friends and I had plans to spend several days visiting the Windy City.

Jean was furious. “ASSHOLE MOTHERFUCKER BASTARD SHITBAG ASSHOLE MOTHERFUCKER” was left in my inbox the very next day. “I AM COMING TO MEET YOU WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT ME TO, SO YOU BETTER FIND TIME FOR ME TO DO SO BEFORE I LEAVE ON SUNDAY!”

Her “How to Win Friends and Influence People” response sealed the deal. I told her my schedule was full and that there was nothing I could do about it. Because of that, I received another thrashing. I also received an oddly timed surprise. On the same day her second email of anger and spite found its way into my inbox, my actual mailbox received an envelope from her, something obviously mailed before I told her I wouldn’t be around for her visit. Gathering up great courage, Jean had finally sent her picture. The note with it read, “Just wanted to send something so you’d know who was knocking at your door when I get there.”

The picture was only her face, which was enough. As cruel as it sounds, it was a face that created the phrase, “Only a mother could love.” As much as I knew I was dealing with an easily wounded ego, I was also concerned with the tone of her emails and entirely sure I didn’t want to end up in a room alone with her.

Two weeks passed quickly, with Jean continuing to insist she was going to meet me no matter what. Unfortunately, my plans to visit Chicago fell apart, and I couldn’t think of any way to get out of town for the weekend. I picked up a couple bartending shifts at work and figured that in the least I just wouldn’t answer my door on the 28th.

As if on cue, at one o’clock that very afternoon, I was home alone, sitting in my room reading when the door buzzer went off. Someone was in the lobby. I closed my book and frowned; no one ever visited my apartment.

The door buzzed again, and as I got up cautiously the door buzzed a third time. I decided against answering, and instead walked into the living room and sat down behind a plant next to the window. From this vantage point I could see the front porch; my apartment was on the first floor, and when the person left I would know who it was. If a friend, I would knock on the window, bid them back and explain my childish behavior. If not…

The door buzzed. Two minutes had passed since the first time, meaning this person was persistent. I remained seated. Two more minutes passed filled with intermittent buzzing. I became irritated. When calling someone, how many rings do you wait before deciding no one is home? Twenty? Fifty? This was absurd. What was running through this person’s mind? “Hey, maybe someone’s home, but they’re in the shower. If I keep ringing, they’ll get out and come to the door!” I have no idea the person in the lobby was thinking.

After six minutes, the front door to the building opened. My mystery woman from South Dakota stepped out, shook her head, and walked away. As cruel as this is to say, her description of being “lazy” told only half the story. She was roughly 5’4″ and topped 250 pounds easily. I could see where the self-esteem problem came from, but the aggression that went with it is what had me on edge.

I went back to my bedroom, and moments later the door buzzer went off and was held for ten seconds. While not a long time in most cases, when listening to a door buzzer it is an eternity. I wondered if she had somehow seen me step away from the living room window?

Three short bursts filled the air, followed by silence. I began reading again and after several hours took a peek out the window. I didn’t see her waiting for me, so I made my way to my car went to work undisturbed.

After my shift, I went out with co-workers and finally returned home and went to bed around 6:00 a.m. At 9:00 a.m. my alarm went off; I was driving North for the day to visit a friend. I got up from my three-hour nap and called him, checking to make sure he was awake when the door buzzer went off. I excused myself from the phone and hung up.

Something didn’t feel right.

I took my hidden seat by the window, and waited. The door buzzer sounded repeatedly over three minutes, then paused. Moments later, I heard my neighbor’s door open; the lobby security door soon followed suit. Two seconds later the other apartment door closed and a knock came upon mine. This was not a knock used to wake a person sleeping in on New Year’s morning, but a cautious one, almost too quiet to be effective. Tapping, if you will.

It was repeated several times over the minute it took me to gently tiptoe across my creaky living room floor in order to reach the door. Once I arrived, I looked through the peephole. As sunlight was pouring in behind the figure, all I could see was a dark silhouette. It was very large, and though I couldn’t be 100% positive, who else could it be?

I stood bent over, watching every move, listening to every knock resound a mere inch from my head.

My breathing was light. The figure leaned over. It looked into the peephole from the outside and we were now watching each other separated only by two inches of wood. I had to fight back laughter over the absurdity of the situation, and I stood frozen, so no movement could be seen as she peered inside.

And then, the doorknob turned.

I looked down as it twisted…

Slowly.

Quietly.

Methodically.

This wasn’t a person casually entering a room. Someone was testing waters here, easing their big toe in to check for warmth. The knob reached its crescent and paused. Gentle pressure was applied, and the door creaked in my ear. Someone wanted in. The door moved a millimeter, was halted by the lock, held in place a moment, then relaxed. I returned to the peephole.

The figure stood with slumped shoulders, a defeated pose. Its head looked up and to the side, as if in thought. It retreated into the light and was exposed; though there had been little doubt, it was indeed Jean, and I watched as she looked out the lobby door, back at my apartment, and ultimately left.

I got dressed in twenty seconds and left out the back, un-showered and unconcerned by that stinky fact.

*   *   *

Interested in reading more?

I Was a White Knight… Once is available on the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook, as a Paperback, and in iBooks.

www.nathantimmel.org

MOVIE REVIEWS: “50/50″ and “The Ides of March


October is an interesting month for movies. September is usually the dumping ground of shit films and November is when awards-season films start premiering across the country. So, October is a mix of both.

“50/50″ and “The Ides of March” are my two favorite movies I’ve seen this month and, I believe, the films you should go see now instead of crap like “The Three Musketeers” (hasn’t this movie been made, literally, a million times? I swear. I’m going to go look on IMDB [10 seconds late] Oh, I’m sorry. ONLY 29.) and “Paranormal Activity” (you are aware it’s the same movie, right? Like, almost literally the same movie. You’re paying good money to see the same movie for a third time.)

“50/50″ – A powerful indie film about friendship, love, and cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title character, a man diagnosed with cancer. His mother, played by the amazing Angelica Huston, is the next best part of this film. I think almost everyone has had this mother: she freaks out over everything and loves you too much.

Levitt’s character, Adam, is forced through more turmoil after he finds out his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) is cheating on him. That leaves his therapist, Anna Kendrick, and best friend, Seth Rogen to help him out.

Levitt is phenomenal in this film and holds everything together. It has to be difficult to make a comedy with cancer as the centerpiece, but with him as the lead, it works very well.

It’s nice to see Kendrick getting more great roles and breaking out of the “Twilight” hell she is still in. It’s odd that, out of everyone from those movies, she’ll probably have the most longevity as an actress.

And then there’s Seth Rogen. I use to like Seth Rogen. Hell, I defended him to my friends who hated him. But now, I don’t like him. I get it, Seth: you like pot. You like talking about it. You like smoking it. You like talking about it while you smoke it. Please, let’s move on. I think he could do some great work if he had a director who challenged him. Right now, all his reactions are the same. He acts the same way in every movie. P.T. Anderson showed the world that Adam Sandler could, in fact, act. Let’s get him in an Anderson film and see what happens.

But, Rogen aside, it’s a fantastic film that is worth your money. Please, give money to this film. Hell, if you want to see “Paranormal Activity 15,” fine, but pay for a ticket to “50/50″ and hop over to it.

 

“The Ides of March” – If you don’t like political thrillers that are wordy and require you to pay attention to details, then go see shitty movies like “The Three Musketeers” or “Paranormal Activity 56.” George Clooney proves, again, why he is one of the top actors in the world and, one of the top directors.

Clooney plays a nominee for the Democratic Presidential ticket. His closets aides are Philip Seymour-Hoffman and the ever so dreamy, Ryan Gosling.

Gosling is a young guy with clear and good ideals. He wants politicians to be nice and clean and love Americans more than corporations. That’s why he is with Clooney. But, as the film goes on, he learns quickly that once you’re a politician, you’re always a politician.

It’s a fantastic film that I recommend you seeing. It’s main issue is simple: who is hotter, Clooney or Gosling? It’s hard for me to decide, because I look like a spitting image of George Clooney. It’s uncanny. Yet, part of me wants to go with Gosling. Is this because I think it’s weird to want to have sex with myself (Clooney)?

Follow Mark Potts on Twitter
We may never know.

CATCH BARON VAUGHN ON CONAN – TONIGHT!

Our pal Baron Vaughn will be making his late night television debut on Conan tonight! He’ll be performing a set and promoting his new album “Raised By Cable.” Joining Baron on tonight’s program is Roseanne Barr and Paul D. Fantastically random.

Here’s a classic clip from Baron to tide you over!

CNN VIDEO: BEING FUNNY AFTER 9/11

10 years after the tragic events of September 11th, CNN looks back on comedy in New York City following the attacks. Marc Maron, Bill Burr, Jon Stewart, and others, reflect on what it was like to perform during such a strange, dark time. Have a look.