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Velveeta Room Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Esther’s Follies is stepping aside the weekend of the ROT Biker Rally for The Velveeta Room’s 25th Anniversary and Comedy Festival. Over it’s colorful history since opening in 1988, the Velv has become one of the best clubs in the Southwest to see standup comedy. Every comic who’s played there wants to join the festivities, so an all-star lineup of 25 will divide up the various bills throughout the weekend. Confirmed at this time are JR Brow, Kerry Awn, Nancy Reed, Lucas Molandes, Mike MacRae, Matt Sadler, Mario DiGiorgio and Howard Beecher, plus appearances by legendary club founder Ronnie Velveeta.

Thursday June 13, 8PM – $12 general admission / $17 reserved
Friday June 14, 8PM, 10PM – $15 general admission / $20 reserved
Saturday June 15, 8PM, 10PM – $20 general admission / $25 reserved
Tickets can be purchased online at https://esthersfollies.com or by calling our box office at (512) 320-0198.

Broken News Daily now on Hulu!

After over 200 episodes, Rooftop’s broken take on the news, has branched out and can now be seen on Hulu. Hosts Brian Kane and Sean Keane can now rub elbows with your favorite clips from SNL, Katharine McPhee’s Smash and Splash, a new celebrity diving competition show. Here are a couple episodes to make your day brighter.

In Memoriam: Scott Kennedy

On Thursday, March 14th, 2013, I logged on to Facebook like it was any other day. I scrolled down the innocuous news feed of people talking of how there was only “One more day until Friday!!” and extolling the virtues of coffee, when a status update floored me. A former MWR representative from Kuwait posted, “I am shocked and saddened to learn my good friend Scott Kennedy passed away in his sleep last night…” There may have been more to it than that, but my mind was already too numb to read further. Scott was gone? Just… gone? The concept was too foreign for my mind to digest. He couldn’t be gone; he was my friend. Friend’s don’t die, death is something you hear about other people experiencing and grieving over…

I met Scott years and years and years ago, in the “delightful” little burg known as Modesto, California. Scott was headlining a comedy show; I was the middle act. The club was downtown, a location in the middle of an ever-evolving revitalization project where new stores were surrounded by old Bail Bond shops. Affluent yuppies stepped around bearded homeless men with little concern as they marched into the trendiest of trendy clubs.

Scott and I bonded over a mutual appreciation for one another’s comedic chops, as well as a passion for civil rights. I say “civil rights,” because if you didn’t know it, Scott was gay. He wasn’t in the closet by any means, and in fact, talked about his orientation in his act (and on television), but it was nothing he led with. No, Scott would drop that bomb right in the middle of his set: “Oh, by the way, this big, burly man that’s been talking football, family and relationships? Yeah… he’s gay.” Sexuality wasn’t something Scott wore on his sleeves like a less talented comedian might do—using “gay” as a crutch to get cheap laughs—no, Scott went up and performed comedy, winning the audience over using his wit and observational eye. Only many minutes deep into his set did he let the audience in on his secret, and it challenged the hell out of what stereotypes people thought “gay” was. Which, Scott would tell you, is exactly why he tailored his set the way he did. With his magician’s reveal, Scott became the everyman; “Why, he could be my brother, cousin, uncle…” It was a fantastic way of combating homophobia, albeit by not even mentioning homophobia or being confrontational. If anything, it was designed to be an afterthought. Which is made it all the more subversive, brilliant, and effective.

After those shows, Scott and I kept in… probably somewhat-annual touch after that; maybe checking in every 13 months or so, just to say “Hi,” and then like happens so often in the comedy world, we just forgot to reach out to one another. Somewhere in the couple years between exchanges, Scott got involved in military tours, and that is where his legacy will shine. Were I a better researcher, I would look up the exact number of times Scott put himself on the line to make sure the men and women who serve knew they were appreciated. As it stands, I know the number is north of 50, which means calling him this generation’s “Bob Hope” would not be too far off the mark.

I was lucky enough to tour Iraq with Scott in 2010, and it was unlike any other experience I had ever had. Scott was a man born without ego; everything he did was for the troops. No matter the situation, he was ready to perform for them. In a war zone, nothing is done under optimal conditions, but that didn’t matter in the slightest to Scott. “How can we give the soldiers the best experience possible?” was all he wanted answered. If there was an outpost in need of distraction, if there was any single person who needed to be reminded they were appreciated and cared for, Scott wanted nothing more than to make sure they got a show. His dedication to those in harms way was unparalleled.

I cannot for the life of me remember how it happened, but at one point on the tour, one of us referenced the Family Guy episode where James Woods exclaims, “Oh, piece of candy!” Like many little things that make up the best in friendships, that became our calling card. It was a running joke for the rest of the tour, and for months and months after, a random text would hit my phone, “Oh, piece of candy!”

My deepest empathy is with his family at this time.

Scott was a good man, and will be missed.

I am proud to have known him.

 

An Inattention to Detail

An Inattention to Detail

A Comedian Lobs Jokes in Iraq

On August 31, 2010, President Obama addressed the nation. He declared combat missions in Iraq over and announced a troop drawdown would begin. One day later, comedian Nathan Timmel boarded a plane as a part of the first group of entertainers to enter the war-torn country under this new ‘mission.’

Telling jokes to soldiers who face death every day is a different kind of performance – no stages, microphones, or spotlights. Rec rooms, dining facilities, and courtyards become performance spaces, and comedians use their best stage voice to tell their stories without the benefit of a P.A. system. All the while, armed escorts scan the perimeter for signs of danger.

A most notable—and unfortunate—difference is: when playing a comedy club in America, you don’t tour the local emergency room and receive information about the customer who died there last week. While being shown a medical facility outside Basra, however, that’s exactly what happened. A quiet moment that brought home the true cost of war.

Thought-provoking, sentimental, and an unflinching critique of a seemingly lazy mainstream media, An Inattention to Detail is a reflection on the unique responsibility of delivering punch lines to those who need laughter the most.

Price: 99¢

Available for: Kindle

Buy This Book Now on Amazon

Don’t have an E-reader? Use Amazon’s FREE E-Reader Apps

The Four-Legged Perspective…

Hey, Rooftop readers…

Once again I am returning from a light sabbatical. Last time, I was working on the release of my first full-length book, I Was a White Knight… Once.  (Something you can check out by clicking the nifty link provided)

This time around, I was finishing up my second mini-book: The Four-Legged Perspective.

(Yes, that’s also a clickable link.  Go ahead, check it out.  You know you want to)

The tale is a split-story regarding the arrival of a new baby under my roof; half is from my dog Kitty’s point of view, half from mine.

Right now, it’s only available on the Amazon Kindle, but hopefully that will be changing soon.  If you don’t have a Kindle, they have plenty of free reader apps available, and guess what?  My download is less than a buck.  99-Cents is all it takes to take to read yourself to sleep at night, and keep this in mind: as it’s an e-book, no trees were harmed in the making of it.  Sure, plenty of Chinese slave labor went into making the electronics device you’ll be reading it on, but don’t think about them. Think about the trees. The carbon-dioxide absorbing/oxygen-emitting trees.

They weren’t harmed at all.

Below is an excerpt.

(Oh, and if family-friendly comedy isn’t your style? Check out my first mini-book, Touched By Anything But an Angel.  That’s about me getting a massage from a man.  Disgusting, isn’t it?)

From The Four-Legged Perspective:

On December 2nd, 2012, at 1:10 in the morning, I awoke with a start. Something didn’t feel right, and it was my belly and body. I was warm, and immense pressure was pushing up from my stomach into my throat.

I was going to throw up.

Maybe. Suddenly the urge to purge was more the sensation I was about to make liquid boom-boom.

(I’m not sure which exit strategy frightened me more.)

I left the bedroom and went to the living room to assess the situation; was this a false alarm, or was I really about to be sick? The hot cocoa I had before bed was burning in me. I wasn’t feverish or achy, so it wasn’t the flu. Food poisoning, maybe? I had been in Mexico ten years earlier; maybe a sleeper cell of Montezuma’s Revenge had taken root in my colon and was finally coming to fruition? No, that’s just silly talk right there.

Twenty minutes later, at 1:30, I heard Hillary fuss in her room. My ears perked, but I made no motion toward her; she often makes little pig noises as she transitions between sleep cycles. As a new dad, when I first heard them months earlier, I would lay in bed petrified, horrific new parent thoughts running through my head: “Do these sounds mean she can’t breathe? Is she getting enough oxygen? Is she about to wake up and start crying?” Should I get a bottle ready? Should I go pick her up? I should probably pick her up. When in doubt, always pick the baby up and let her feel Daddy’s warmth to let her know she is loved.”

(I know that’s in absolutely zero parenting books, but I thought it just the same. And I did, thankfully, just let her sleep.)

Very quickly, however, Hillary’s transition squeaks became comforting. Once we discovered they were natural, they were a sign all was well in Hillary-world, which acted as a sort of melatonin to us: “Ah, she’s good. Now I can sleep, too.”

But, snap back to the present, a few seconds after her initial peep, I heard Hillary gurgle, then choke and spit up. As I stood to check on her, she started crying.

Before I could get around the chair I had been sitting in, Kitty burst into view; he was headed from the master bedroom to Hillary’s room. Kitty saw me walking in his direction, and paused…

.

I can be found on Twitter @nathantimmel

Steve Gillespie – Get Stever Fever!

When Rooftop asked if I wanted to talk to Steve Gillespie about his new CD release, Stever Fever, I said “Absolutely yes.” I don’t know the man well, but I had bumped into him several times on the road and really enjoyed his comedy.

The last time I worked with Steve, it was at a bar in Iowa. At least, that’s what our itinerary said. Upon arrival, Steve and I discovered the location was a supper club, and a fairly swanky (by Iowa standards) one at that.  We looked at our clothes–we had each dressed our best for a dingy bar–and felt a little out of place. To make matters worse, the space was decorated for a wedding, one taking place the next day. The walls were adorned in white lace, and our “stage” was the altar.

Fortunately, the audience was in a laughing mood and not in any way confined or defined by our surroundings; they laughed with ease and the gig was a fun one.

With a wink to Justin Beiber, Steve’s new release is out now.

Here’s the story behind the CD.

Enjoy.

~nathan

 

NT:  Where’d the title and cover come from; was it a difficult process?

SG:  The name was the easy part. The cover art was challenging. I like taking goofy pictures, I have quite a collection, and deciding which one I liked best and fit with what I thought the title is conveying, was difficult.

With that said, I am really pleased with how it came out. I thinks its look sharp.

NT:  Any rejected titles you’d like to share?

SG:  I overheard a women in a restaurant say “I’m a badass girl in a tough ass world” and I thought for a moment that A Badass Girl in a Tough Ass world could work, but I’m glad I went with Stever Fever. It fits well with the tone of the album.

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

SG:  I think all of the material on the album has been written over the past 4 years. Some of it within a month of the release.

NT:  Is this your first CD?

SG:  Yes, and some are probably hoping its my last.

NT:  How long have you been performing; how long did it take you to find your voice?

SG:  My first time on stage was on Jan. 17th 2006, so just over 7 years.

Find my voice? That’s hard to pinpoint and in a lot of ways I think you never stop finding it. It should evolve as you evolve.

For the sake of the question, I would say I started to notice a definite direction around year 3-4.

NT:  Do you see yourself remaining in Minneapolis, or have you an eye on LA or NY?

SG:  The plan for me right now is to remain in Minneapolis for the next 2 to 3 years at the most and then move to Los Angeles.

I have spent the past two summers in Los Angeles and have been slowly prodding in that direction.

NT:  How has the Minneapolis comedy scene influenced you?

SG:  The “scene” (fucking hate that word), has made an enormous impression on my work. I’d put this city up against any other in the world as fast developing comics. I know the rebuttal, “(whining voice) but, but, but Steeeeeve, what about LA and New York?”

Those are the places you go when you’ve developed into a professional.

Of course there are always exceptions. I have performed pretty much all over the country and there are a few good and a lot of bad comics just about everywhere I have been.

NT:  Your disc opens with self-depreciating humor. Is that done with intent, to set the audience at ease? “Look, I’m not taking myself too seriously here, so don’t get all sensitive when I get into slavery.”

SG:  In retrospect I wish I would have called the album Stever Fever Live, because that’s what the it is, a live show. I don’t really know how I’m going to open a show until I get in front of the audience and feel their vibe (for the lack of a better word). That material chunk was going to be used at some point and when I got on stage it felt like the audience was um….uneasy about my appearance, so I naturally worked into that piece. But I don’t always open the same way.

And yes, my material can get pretty dark but I like to keep it all silly and absurd.

NT:  Describe your comedy to someone who hasn’t seen—or in my case, worked with—you.

SG:  Personal and dark subjects delivered in absurdity.

NT:  You keep a road journal on your web page; is that for fans, or a way to keep track of your own career?

SG:  Its basically just something on my site people can look at if they’re interested. Its becoming more of a picture/news journal than anything.

 

You can follow Steve on Twitter (@epigillespie) or be his Internet friend on Facebook to keep up with his day to day activities and tours.

You can buy his release Stever Fever in the Rooftop Store.

Who Books That?

Ben Evans, stand-up and manager of Laughing Skull Lounge in Atlanta, Georgia, has captured a brutally honest comic experience. My hat is off to Ben for having the foresight to make this documentary and I’m proud to see Tushar Singh bravely representing for comics everywhere. TUSHAR IS HILARIOUS and proves it moment by moment while the camera is rolling. Here’s the situation in Ben’s own words…

“Late last spring I followed fellow Atlanta-based Indian-comedian Tushar Singh to a one-nighter he was booked to do in Birmingham, Alabama and documented the entire experience. The result of my efforts was a 36 minute documentary  which I shot, directed, narrated, and edited by myself. What enticed me about this particular show was the parameters of the gig which required Tushar to do two separate 30 minute sets of clean material to a group of Isma’ili’s (Muslim Indians) in a hotel conference room with no alcohol – pay was $500. However, Tushar does not have 30 minutes of material.., let alone a separate hour dedicated to folks who are expecting some clean wholesome family wise cracks. And what low-level comic turns down $500!?

What came out in the end was what I believe to be a solid depiction of a good comedian and person, a lesson in preparation/or a lack-there-of, and what it can be like to be a comedian starting out.”

If you’re a seasoned comic looking for a trip down memory lane or a new comic drooling over a paid set, this will take you on the emotional roller-coaster that can potentially be stand-up.


Thank you Ben and Tushar for allowing us this glimpse into the real world of comedy!

Rooftop Gives You 4 Great Shows This Weekend Because Rooftop Loves You!

Hey Dudes and Dudettes!

Not Jono here, and I’m really proud to tell you all about some amazing shows we have coming up this weekend! Rooftop Comedy is getting together with SF Sketchfest again to sock you in your face with four comedy shows this weekend alone! You should come! Well, unless you hate fun, then you should probably stay home. Hopefully we’ll see you non-fun haters there!

Love,

Not Jono and the whole Rooftop Crew

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 10:30PM, EUREKA THEATRE

Conspiracy Theory Live with Jesse Ventura

With James Adomian, Kate Berlant, James Urbaniak, The Mutiny, and more!
Former Governor and wrestling legend JESSE VENTURA is on the ground in Chicago and he’s assembled a team of investigative experts to uncover some explosive information that will unravel the biggest conspiracy yet. The New World Order might keep Jesse off the air, but they can’t cancel the truth! A hit show at festivals around the country, Conspiracy Theory Live is heading for JFL Chicago in June! Featuring James Adomian as Jesse Ventura, and a panel of comedians in character as inside experts, you’ll want to be at ringside for the action.

Tickets: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3255224&pl=sfsketch

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 8PM, STAGEWERX

Rooftop Comedy & SF Sketchfest Stand Up Show Case

Rooftop Comedy and SF Sketchfest present some of the best emerging stand-up comedians from the nation and beyond! Every Saturday night at 8pm and 10pm at Stagewerx in the Mission.

Kunal Arora, Kate Berlant, JC Coccoli, Francoise Gordon, Ian Karmel, Phoebe Robinson, Derek Sheen and house band Bobby Joe Ebola and The Children MacNuggits

Hosted by Katie Compa

TICKETS: www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3261454&pl=sfsketch

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 10PM, STAGEWERX

Rooftop Comedy & SF Sketchfest Stand Up Show Case

Rooftop Comedy and SF Sketchfest present some of the best emerging stand-up comedians from the nation and beyond! Every Saturday night at 8pm and 10pm at Stagewerx in the Mission.

Paul Cibis, Kelly Collette, Joey Devine, Tabari Douglas McCoy, Joe Nguyen, Rob Schultz, Jim Tews and house band Bobby Joe Ebola and The Children MacNuggits

Hosted by Casey Ley

TICKETS: http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=3261464&pl=sfsketch

SUNDAY, JANUARY 27, 8PM, THE INDEPENDENT 21+

Dr. Brown

Dr. Brown is the absurd comedy character of Philip Burgers – a world-renowned clowning skills instructor and actor who trained with the infamous Philippe Gaullier, another of whose pupils, Sacha Baron Cohen, called him “the greatest living teacher of clown”.

His credits include Dr. Brown Because (2010) and Doctor Brown Becaves (2011). He was also awarded the Top Ten pick of the Fringe 2010, Malcolm Hardee Award for Most Original Comedy nomination 2010 & 2011, The Sunday Times’ Best Comedy Newcomer 2010, Total Theatre Award nominee 2011, BARRY award for Best Comedy Show 2012, Total Theatre Award for Innovation 2012, Foster’s Edinburgh Best Comedy Award 2012 and global sell-out runs everywhere.

Burgers’ act much of which is mimed, and much of which is highly uncomfortable and a tad repulsive, nonetheless makes for compelling viewing.

‘About as bonkers an hour of comedy as ever you would find – part Mr Bean, part Buster Keaton, all odd.’ Sunday Times ★★★★

After a spectacular run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 and numerous international festivals, Doctor Brown presents his BARRY Award and Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award 2012 winning show Befrdfgth. His cult following spreads to Prague, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and Toronto, Dubai, Hong Kong and London’s Soho Theatre to name a few; Dr Brown is fast becoming one of the most talked about alternative comedians on the international circuit.

Tickets: http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/eventV2/198891?utm_medium=bks&wrKey=5F5C3A22083A7FEAACC7AD0D9E653E5C

Watch Two New Clips from T.J. Miller’s New Show “Mash-Up”

As loyal T.J. Miller fans, we’re very excited to see his new Comedy Central series Mash Up. Combining sketch, stand-up, and a healthy dose of T.J., Mash Up is set to premiere October 9. Watch two clips from the show after the jump.

First up, “Word Mash Up”, a sketch segment that combines two random words, like  “S.W.A.T.” and “auto-tune”, to form something new altogether. Ladies and gentlemen, “S.W.A.T.-o-tune”:

 

 

Next, a taste of how the show will integrate performance stand-up with scripted footage. Here’s to hoping you’re lucky enough to be on a flight with T.J. in the near future:

 

 

 

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