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Top Five with Jason Downs

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

It’s been a while since we here at Rooftop got to welcome Jason Downs back home to San Francisco! We last got a chance to catch up with him when his album, Excessive Talking, was released and he’s been a busy man ever since! Moving and shaking in the City of Angels now, he’s getting his generous share of acting work, from Super Bowl and other NFL commercial spots to performing on NBC’s Last Comic Standing! He continues to keep stand up part of world though, including being featured in our city’s premiere comedy festival, SF SketchFest! His brand of enthusiastic energy circling around real situations he comes across has made him a desired act for any show! You can catch him during SF SketchFest performing with the likes of Mike Lawrence and Dan St. Germain on February 5th and in the lineup to the fantastic Rude City Comedy Show on February 6th! While giving him the warm hello he deserves he shared a list of his favorite comedy albums and specials to our blogger-in-residence that helped shape the state of the modern stand up world.

 

Chris Rock – Roll with the New (1997)

Every ten years or so an iconic comedy album is released that demands the public’s attention, that’s Roll with the New. After the boom and bust of the comedy golden age of the late 1980’s/early 90’s, stand up was slowly dying, then came this masterpiece. After his brief stint on S.N.L., many considered him a flop and Rock’s career was in trouble. Rock’s HBO special Bring the Pain and this album version, Roll with the New was his comeback. The now classic bits Ni**as Vs. Black People to O.J., I Understand, Rock wrote, rewrote, performed, and honed this act to create the last iconic comedy album of our time.

 

Jerry Seinfeld – I’m Telling You for the Last Time (1998)

Bring up the greats of stand up comedy and you will hear names like Kinison, Pryor, and Carlin. But, Jerry Seinfeld’s name is often unjustly left out of the conversation. I’m Telling You for the Last Time is the first attempt by a stand up comedian to walk the tightrope, while at the same time, striping the rope to make the rope thinner and thinner by recording and broadcasting it live on HBO. Seinfeld is an absolute craftsman, master of his domain, and that domain is stand up. There are many masterful jokes on this album, but the Olympics bit is one of the greatest well-finessed bits ever performed. Seinfeld proves that to get laughs you don’t have to be a self-deprecating goofball (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but rather you can be hilarious by using your sheer wit and cleverness.

 

Maria Bamford – Burning Bridges Tour (2003)

Maria Bamford does what everybody else simply cannot do. On the Burning Bridges Tour, Bamford uses her remarkable talent for characters and scene development and organically takes us to an abstract, gooey world: a bent reality, all without breaking our suspension of disbelief. Many wonder why Bamford was never cast on S.N.L., the simple answer: she is just too big, too much, too intense for S.N.L.

 

Doug Stanhope – Deadbeat Hero (2004)

Doug Stanhope: part philosopher, part prophet, part twisted human being; a modern day Hunter S. Thompson minus the gunshot wound to the head. Stanhope’s talent is taking taboo subjects others can’t seem to mine for gold, walk into the mine empty handed, and walk back out covered head to toe in a gold-plated suit of armor. On Deadbeat Hero, everything is funny, nothing is off limits, and swearing is nothing to shy away from. Stanhope taught me a lesson in comedy I’ll never forget; never trust a comic who doesn’t swear, i.e. Bill Cosby.

 

George Carlin – Classic Gold (1972-73)

George Carlin’s Classic Gold is really three albums, AM:FM, Class Clown, Occupation: Foole, in one, packaged together as a double disc. Classic Gold displays Carlin’s talents not just as a master of stand up comedy, but a master of many different forms of stand up. On the first album, AM:FM, Carlin performs, by today’s standards, an alt comedy set, weaving in and out of one man sketches. With the second and third album, Carlin begins to evolve into the socially conscious comedian we would recognize before his passing. Class Clown’s, Muhammad Ali is one of the best single jokes ever told, full of dense words, rebellion and injustice. Finally, Occupation: Foole features the famous 7 words you can never say on television chunk that would later become the subject of a Supreme Court ruling, making this collection not just funny but part of United States history.

 
 

Make sure to check out Jason Downs at the 2015 SF SketchFest on February 5th with Mike Lawrence and Dan St. Germain and on February 6th with the Rude City Comedy Show. Jason Downs’ album, Excessive Talking, was released on February 18th, 2014 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

Top Five with Adam Newman

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

Adam Newman is an odd specimen. Not just for his creative headshot choices, but also in the way that he always seems to be in the right place at the right time – or wrong time depending on your feelings. Newman has a knack for finding himself among some of the more bizarre crowds a comic could imagine – from stumbling upon cocaine in a heckler’s jacket to being trash talked by police mid-set and mid-arresting of an audience member. His enthusiastic, playful, and pun-centric performances emit the feeling of fun and recall simpler times when you were free to laugh at anything – diarrhea jokes included. Fresh off the heels of a Comedy Central half-hour special, we had the pleasure of working with him again on his new album, Killed. We took a moment to pick Adam’s brain about some albums that shaped his affinity for the more peculiar sides of comedy.

 

George Carlin – Class Clown

This is the first comedy record I ever heard. My mom gave me her whole record collection when I was so young, I used to play them on my Playskool record player. I don’t think Playskool ever intended for a 7-year-old to listen to Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” on one of their players, but I swear it happened. This is the album that got me into comedy.

 

 

 

Adam Sandler – What the Hell Happened to Me?

This one just barely gets the edge over They’re All Gonna Laugh at You! I was obsessed with these albums when I was a kid. My parents had only heard “The Chanukah Song” and “Lunchlady Land,” so they had no idea what dirty, filthy comedy they were letting their 12-year-old listen to. Although, they did give me Carlin years earlier… Most of my childhood after this point was dedicated to imitating Sandler’s “goat” and “cock-and-balls-grandma.”

 

 

Dave Attell – Skanks for the Memories

I mean it’s a perfect stand-up record. It captures a rowdy, late night comedy club audience being bombarded with perfect joke after perfect joke by a comedian who can handle anything thrown at him.

 

 

 

 

Team Submarine – Glass Matthew

This album is pure silliness all the way through. I love comedy that isn’t afraid of puns or pubes or poop. And the track where you discover where the album name came from is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard recorded.

 

 

 

 

Matt McCarthy – Come Clean

Matt was probably the first person I actually knew to release an album. This was back when I worked at CollegeHumor, and Matt came by our offices to drop off a stack for the whole staff. I popped it into my laptop and couldn’t believe someone I actually knew was capable of making a record as good as my favorite “big-names.”  l’ve always loved Matt’s commitment to his bits, the way he thinks outside the box, and I remember especially liking how he really played with the format of the CD (i.e. “Preview Track”).

 

Adam Newman’s new album, Killed, was released on January 25th, 2015 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available digitally on Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes. Adam Newman’s first album, Not For Horses, can be found at these locations: Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Top Five with Joe DeVito

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

It’s not very often that you get to go on a first date with someone as accomplished as Joe DeVito. From his semi-finalist position on season five of NBC’s hit show Last Comic Standing to numerous late night appearances such as the CBS’ Late Late Show, and frequent other TV spots on roundtable shows like Fox News’ Red Eye and E!’s Chelsea Lately. He’s known for his generous doses of sarcasm layered on top of a observational wit that keep audiences engaged throughout the country and comedy festivals alike. Also he’s a former competitive powerlifter and holds the current world record for the Inverted Cat Press. So making conversation on our blind meet-up we asked him about his favorite albums, and now it’s your turn to meet the man and guess if that’s a high class cocktail you smell or if he bought a new cologne just for going out tonight with you.

 

Woody Allen – The Night Club Years (1964-1968)

Perfect combination of a clear comedy persona, killer material and dead-on timing – aside from a few topical references, this is just as funny as it was 40+ years ago. The Moose, Bullet in My Breast Pocket, Kidnapped were staples in FM radio stations’ “Sunday Funnies” shows for decades, and with good reason.

 

 

Brian Regan – Live (1997)   

The first track “You Too and Stuff” must hold the record for shortest time between a comic’s introduction and when he has you wetting your pants. And Brian works squeaky clean, so you can play it for your parents when they insist that all comedians are degenerates.

 

 

 

Bob Newhart – The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart (1960)

How great was Bob Newhart? Well, this debut and its followup were numbers 1 AND 2 on the Billboard Pop Album chart – a feat no modern  recording artist matched until Guns & Roses “Lose Your Illusion 1 & 2” (take that, Madonna). It’s amazing, when Newhart does one half of a phone conversation, you can actually hear the other half in your head (take that, Shelley Berman).

 

Jim Gaffigan – Luigi’s Doghouse (2001)

The first of Gaffigan’s self-produced CDs, now out of print. Another one that had me and my friends quoting lines and braying like jackasses. Contains an early version of the classic “Hot Pocket,” plus delightfully unexpected cursing!

 

 

 

 

Maria Bamford – Ask Me About My New God! (2013)

Thank God Maria is so prolific because she gets better and more Maria Bamford-y with every release. Her character work has always been so good it’s scary (and sometimes so scary it’s good), but it’s the little things that kill me now, like the quick shoutout to Nerds candies in “Paula Deen’s Suicide Note.” I’m in awe because it’s the complete opposite of what I do; is it possible a bit like that starts with a pad and a pen?

 

 

Joe DeVito’s debut album, First Date With Joe DeVito, was released on January 13th, 2015 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available on Amazon, Bandcamp, and iTunes.

Nore Davis Interview

Nore Davis is on fire. He’s been to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, he’s been on Comedy Central, MTV, and Gotham Comedy Live on AXS TV. And now he’s acting, from comedy shows such as Inside Amy Schumer and Last Week Tonight, and dramatic roles like the Emmy award winning HBO series Boardwalk Empire.

Rooftop Comedy just released his latest CD: HOME GAME, and had Nathan Timmel discuss the craft of comedy with him.

NT: Discuss the use of voicemails as track bumps; who left them for you? What was the creative reasoning for adding the little bonus tracks to the beginning of the comedy tracks?

ND:  I just didn’t want a ordinary comedy album. I wanted something unique and different. The voicemails are reminiscent of the ol’ school hip-hop albums were they broke up their albums with comedic interludes and sometime very violent audio sketches. Its those small settle gems that make an album full, fun and memorable. I think.

NT:  Your humor stems from real life experiences; example, attempting to transfer credits between colleges. Are you always on the lookout for experiences to discuss from the stage, or does it happen organically?

ND:  Oh yes, its definitely happens organically for me. I remember that particular situation back in 2005 and it seriously pissed me off. I was actually trying to attend FIT but it wouldn’t accept my credits from Delaware College and I called my cousin screaming “Why these colleges acting like two bitches that hate each other” and he laughed. So majority of my humor does stem from anger whichI hope the audience shares the same frustration by laughing at it together.

NT:  You mention having had a small role in Boardwalk Empire. Is acting something you’re looking to get further into? Television, film? Or is the stage where you’d like to remain?

ND:  Acting is great. For me it’s a whole other world that I would love to invest much more time into but I don’t have control. I was luckily casted. In stand-up comedy, I write, direct and perform my own material which is so freeing. Don’t get me wrong Boardwalk was a great experience and I learned so much but I can’t wait to write, produce and act in my own series one day.

NT:  Describe the difference in preparation for acting, vs. taking the stage to perform a live set.

ND:  In my opinion, It’s the same difference between Clark Kent and Superman! Acting, I’m preparing to become someone else and bring someone else’s lines to life. Stand-up is ALL me. I know Nore Davis cause I’ve been him for 31 years now. Im myself on stage. I’m Superman. Meaning I’m me minus all the super powers. On Set I’m in a controlled environment and the role really doesn’t allow me to be ME.

NT:  When Jason Collins came out of the closet, the first thing I did was look at his stats and say, “Those aren’t that great… but no one will be allowed to say that now, because of his orientation.” Yet you jumped right in. Is that the role of a comedian, to say what everyone wants to, but is too afraid to?

ND:  I believe a comedians role is to just make people laugh. That’s it. A comedians role is to give the audience a break from their reality. Personally I like to take taboo topics and find the funny in them which leads to a very interesting show. Makes it fun for the audience and for me. Plus comedians have the liberty to say whatever we want! We live in this socially sensitive world where everything offends people and I think a comedians job is to make sure it’s just knee-slapping funny.

NT:   You recorded in NY, but where specifically? What venue? Did you have a personal relation to the venue; e.g., is it your home club, or the first place you ever hit the stage?

ND:  I recored at the World Famous Comic Strip Live on the upper east side which for sure is my home club. It’s where I started 8 years ago. I actually took a class there with D.F. Sweedler as teacher, and this is early 2000 when older comics actually cared about helping young talent and not hurting your bank account. D.F and that club taught me how to fish and then I went out to sea to catch as many big fish as a I can. Still fishing and loving it.

NT:   How long have you been performing, and how long do you think it took you to find your voice?

ND:   I’ve been performing for 8 years now. My voice? Well, I consider myself still young in the game and have a lot to learn. Im very hungry and never thirsty. Meaning I will continue to push myself creatively but being famous or being the center of attention isn’t my goal. My goal is to give audiences a break from their reality thru laughter, hopefully build a demand and I can tour making the world laugh! Especially its the only thing, so far, I’m good at. And when I say “good’ I mean I’m actually paying bills and making living. I made it into a career. I used to be a shitty graphic designer and my artwork sucked. Never felt like I was scratching the surface or could actually make a living but with comedy I feel like I finally found my medium. Yes!

 

Buy Home Game now.

Top Five With Davon Magwood

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

Photo by Jordan Beckham

Davon Magwood is a pop culture-savant from Pittsburgh making waves by marrying his love of the 90’s while playing around with controversial topics. With the release of his new album, I’d Rather Be Napping, he talks about job pursuits, a child’s tantrum, and the best OKCupid date ever. Davon, in preparation for the release of his new album, shared his top five comedy releases of all time that helped shape his impression of the comedy world at large.

 

5. Bill Cosby “Himself”

I know he’s a creep, and that CRUSHES me. This special was the very first comedy special I ever watched. I knew it word for word. I admired him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Bill Burr ‘Let It Go’

I really enjoy how he can just talk and sound like an everyday guy and make such quick wit and relatable jokes.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Hannibal Buress ‘Animal Furance’  

So fun to listen to. He goes to such odd places and draws you in. I envy it and respect it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Dave Chappelle “Killing Them Softly”

This special is amazing. His comedy is solid, he makes statements about the world around us. He makes jokes about race and life without you even realizing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Chris Rock “Bring The Pain

I will always admire Chris Rocks writing and his command of his space on stage. Just watching this as a kid really made me want to be on stage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davon Magwood’s new album, I’d Rather Be Napping, was released on December 16th, 2014 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available digitally on Amazon MP3, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

Top Five with Nore Davis

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

 

Photo by Phil ProvencioNore Davis is a comedian with a sharp composure and charismatic stage presence that draws you in like the most casual and inclusive of conversations, all while making you feel like your gut wants to bust. Nore weaves in and out of characters to breathe amazing life into his jokes and add dimensionality in a way that sets him apart. Fresh off the release of this album Home Game recorded at the legendary Comic Strip Live in New York, Nore shared the comedy albums that inspired his act and shaped his comedic identity.

 

Richard Pryor – The Anthology ’65-’92

When I embarked on my stand-up journey, I wanted to study my favorite comedians – But to study a “great” comedian, I believe you must study who they studied and Pryor was the common denominator of every great comedian.

The Anthology is basically the Encyclopedia Collection Set of Pryor’s work. ALL OF IT. I believe you should enjoy all of an artist works. Good or bad. And Pryor’s bad was better than anybody’s best during his time. I’ve learned so much from listening to him about crafting jokes and telling a story by going in and out of characters while slaying the crowd. All of his albums sounded like a party; A party you wish you attended. He took you on a joyous ride and that was always my goal! To take the audience on a ride like he did. Huge influence and impact on creating my album.

 

Dane Cook – Harmful If Swallowed

I never understood why comics older then me and some of my peers hated this man. I will always admit I was a huge fan of Dane Cook in college and stand by that proudly today. F*ck the haters. Dane Cook is f*cking dope. Went to a show in NJ at the pinnacle of his career and he gave a phenomenal show. His energy and story telling was unmatched. I enjoyed his work and also learned to just be imaginative on stage. The line “No! This tire hunted Mary down” floored me because he took that joke to a whole other level. Cook’s stage presence and stand-up performance seemed so effortless to me and that’s my goal. Make my art seem effortless.

 

Martin – LIVE Talkin Shit

Martin is a powerhouse performer and in his album “Talkin Shit” displays that. Its nothing but raw hard hitting comedy. I learned to tell a great joke and also HAVE to perform it. You can say the most mediocre premise but with a great performance (an “Act-out”) you really paint a full picture for the audience. Martin’s jokes were far from mediocre but when he was on, he couldn’t be followed quoted from Chris Rock! This album was the blueprint to his HBO special “You So Crazy” which was played only in theaters. So raw and so dope!

 

Robin Harris – Be-Be’s Kids

This album was everything to me. When I first started stand-up like 7 years ago, I didn’t own a iPod so all I did was play this CD on repeat in my lil’ depressing broken-down Honda Civic. Loved Robin Harris and wanted to be loved and demand the respect from your own (black) people like he did. He totally got respect from one of the hardest hardcore black crowds in Compton. He’s the only comedian, I know, that could curse-out Blood and Crip members on his album and still be ALIVE!  My favorite part is when a gang member said “HEY! IM FROM NWA MAN. DONT DISS US!” Robin shouted right back: “FUCK COMPTON! IM FROM STRAIGHT OFF A NIGGA ASS AND Y’ALL MAKING ME HOME SICK!” Can you imagine being so funny and respected that gang members laugh when you tell them to fuck off?! I doubt it. Robin Harris’ Be-Be’s Kids is such an excellent album.

 

Chris Rock – Born Suspect

I believe that Chris Rock’s Born Suspect is a straight up classic. Recorded in Atlanta back in 91. Its a perfect album for any upcoming comedian to listen too because it gives you Rock’s perspective on everything hot during his time and sharp insight into his childhood. It’s pretty timeless and a majority of all his topics such as black women’s “Weaves,” “Taxes,” “Black Aren’t Crazy,” and “Teenage Suicide” still hold up today. What makes a comedian great is to see and damn near predict the future. Rock did that. Consistently. Still to this day. Again, huge influence and impact on creating my album. #GOAT

 

 

 

Nore Davis’s new album, Home Game, was released on November 26th, 2014 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available digitally on Amazon MP3, iTunes, and Bandcamp with physical CDs through Amazon and Bandcamp as well.

 

Dylan Brody Interview

Dylan Broody has been in the comedy game for decades. So long, in fact, he had fans in legends such as Robin Williams and George Carlin.  To promote his first release on the Rooftop label, Nathan Timmel shot an email of questions Dylan’s way, and the answers are absolutely worth reading…

 

NT: So where is home? I ask because Mill Valley is an interesting choice of location for recording a CD. Many comics pick the big cities—LA, Chicago, NY—to record. You went tiny. Do you have a relationship with the Throckmorton Theater, or a whimsical history with Mill Valley?

DB: I live in Sylmar. It’s not a crap neighborhood, really. It’s crap neighborhood adjacent in the L.A. area. I went to Mill Valley because I love the Throckmorton. It’s one of my favorite venues on the planet. Also, I wanted to be close enough to San Francisco that it would be easy for Rooftop people to get there to record the show. Also, there are dogs everywhere in Mill Valley so that ensures that I’ll be having a good day before any show I do there.

NT: Gay issues: you speak very rationally about gay rights—I’m thinking of the joke involving soldiers in Afghanistan—do you ever have anyone come up to you after a show and say, “You changed my mind” or, in the least, “You gave me something to think about?”

DB: Not really, no. Though I always hope that I am persuasive. I started doing a lot of that anti-homophobia humor years ago when I was still a straight-ahead political comic. This was in the eighties and early nineties when a lot of road comics were doing horribly homophobic material. I knew if I wanted to get my point across and get laughs, I had to be sharper with the writing than people getting shock-value laughs about anal sex and limp-wristed stereotyping. I was writing to change the zeitgeist, rather than to pander to it. When I was the feature act and a headliner was doing fag jokes, I would bring out all my sharpest material about how homophobia was an accepted form of bigotry. The joke you reference, though it wasn’t about Afghanistan then, always killed. It often got an applause break. If the headliner didn’t bother to watch what I was doing in the feature spot, he’d often be baffled to find that material that usually went down very well for him was getting little or no response. My work was serving to inoculate the audience against the contagion of hate speech. I suspect none of it was every consciously processed that way by the audience, but it had an effect. Whether that lasted beyond the duration of the evening for much of anyone, I couldn’t say, but when it took the impact out of material with which I disagreed for a night or a week’s worth of nights, I felt pretty good about what I was doing with my stage time.

When I started headlining, it became a whole different thing, and the piece grew and became more powerful because now I was the one taking the stage with authority.

Now, homophobia is really recognized as a form of bigotry. Now these ideas are far more comfortable for an audience to absorb and agree with and I’m very happy to have the current turning my direction. I’m also glad I got this good recording of a live performance of that material. It frees me to move on to whatever my next issue is. You know, when I figure out what it is. Then I’ll move on to it.

NT: Was this a one-off recording? Many comedy discs are cobbled together from two or more shows over the course of a weekend. This sounds like a one-take shot from the hip; no saying, “Well, I think I can tag that joke better tomorrow night…”

DB: Yeah. This recording was one night, one take. I flew up, did the show and flew home the next morning.

NT: Your bio (website) has many recent accomplishments listed, starting in the 2000s. When did you begin performing, and how long do you feel it took you to find your voice?

DB: I started doing open mics in New York in the summer of ’81. In ’82 or ’83 I became a “developing regular” at the Improv there. I wasn’t old enough to drink in the club, but I got two or three spots a week on the stage. I didn’t really start to feel relaxed and at home on stage doing stand-up until ’84/’85 when I worked the London circuit and figured out how I was funny. It took me another year or two to start doing the sort of material a really wanted to be doing, which was political, topical stuff.

Around ’94, when Carson announced his retirement and the comedy boom ended, shutting down a lot of clubs that I loved, I sort of dropped out of the business for a while.

The stuff I do now, the long-form story-telling, started with KYCY radio in San Francisco running stuff that I recorded badly on my laptop. When I found myself jonesing for the stage again in the early 2000s, I figured this stuff might work and started taking it out. I found out that not all of it works in comedy clubs. It took me a while to get my footing again, to figure out that I could do funny stuff in clubs and more poignant stuff in theaters; it could all work as long as I kept true to my own voice and my own ideas regardless of the environment. Now I just try to choose the right stuff from the repertoire to fit the circumstance.

NT: I got wrapped up in your story, what felt like an intro to me, to Hollywood. Where you were meeting with a producer to discuss a screenplay you had written. Your few jokes on the subject were dead on regarding how the town operates, and it seemed like you were going to continue down that path, because you began an aside regarding being a straight male in West Hollywood…

…but you never went back to Hollywood and the producer. I’m assuming that was intentional, but sometimes I start one story and forget to go back, so I have to ask if there’s more to the Hollywood angle.

DB: I have a lot of stories about pitch meetings and meetings with producers. In this case, though, it’s just a soft way of getting into the hard material that comes afterward. The couple of lines about the meeting are just to get me into West Hollywood, dressed for a meeting to set up the time in the coffee house. Remember that the whole thing is an explanation of how I came to write the poem with which I open the set. That’s the thing I need to circle back to.

NT: You’ve been compared to David Sedaris and Spalding Grey, both powerhouses. Ever bump into Paul F. Tompkins? There’s the similar storytelling vein in the two of you; you’re more interested in the craft of telling a fascinating story than setup-punchline.

DB: I love Paul F. Tompkins. There’s also a similarity, I think, in our style of presentation, our neo-dapper appearances. I’ve also worked with his brilliantly talented wife Janie Haddad who used to do voices for us when I wrote regularly for The David Feldman Show on KPFK.

NT: You pause mid sentence during your bit involving breast-feeding, and at the end of the pause you let the listener in on what the whole audience knows: someone is leaving the theater. You make a crack that “he’s” an offended Republican; it turns out to be a woman who just went to the bathroom, but how do you deal with folks who might not appreciate your take on politics, gay rights, and the like?

DB: If they want to debate me after a show, I try to avoid engagement. If they want to debate me during a show, I ask them to leave. I don’t like to get involved in heckler control during a performance. The truth is, I like to make the points I believe in during my stage time. People can agree with me or not as they please, but I’m not all that interested in getting into arguments with people. I want to make my case as clearly and as strongly as I can and let it stand on its own. If I’m doing my job right, people laugh at the jokes and don’t know that their minds are being changed a little bit by what I’m saying, by the pull of the crowd, by the clarity of the premise or the lucidity of the prose. That’s the real secret to art of any kind. The craft offers a beautiful spectacle of whatever sort and disguises – or at least makes palatable – the complex, nuanced ideas that the artist truly seeks to communicate. People who might not agree with me over coffee, find themselves laughing at a thing that I couch in a joke on stage and can never quite think about that thing the same way again. The effect is marginal, incremental, but valuable nonetheless.

Also, sometimes, I mock them behind their backs.

 

Buy Dylan’s album, Dylan Goes Electric: Live At The Throckmorton, now. 

It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad)

NathanTimmelAfter selling tens of copies of my first book, I had at least three people ask, “When is the next one coming out?”

Three years and two months later, boom: new book.

Here’s the back cover description:

First steps, first word, first time pooping in the bathtub… as a stand-up comedian, Nathan Timmel missed numerous milestones during the first year of his daughter’s life. Traveling from town to town, he spent his night slinging jokes while his daughter Hillary discovered the world around her.

As she turned one, Nathan vowed to be a part of her life even when far from home. Writing a letter a week, Nathan tells his toddler where he is and tries to give context to her world: why Daddy travels, why a baby brother or sister isn’t the end of the world, and the importance of dismantling the pharmacy section at Target.

It’s OK to Talk to Animals (and Other Letters from Dad) is a touching, funny, and introspective glimpse into a comedian-turned-father’s hopes for—and apologies to—his baby girl.

Read a sample letter.

Pre-order the Kindle Version.

Like the old fashioned feel of a paperback?

Buy one now; it’s already available.

Top Five with Mike Brody

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

Everyone has a friend like Mike Brody. BRODY_Forblog He’s the buddy that manages to stay cool under pressure, despite a clumsy manner and instinctive sense of humor that keeps everyone around him in stitches.  They may not always be around when you need them most, but like all great humorist they’re always right on time.  Mike has spent his entire stand up career aiming to perfect the art of comedic timing, so when he lists his top 5 comedy albums it’s sure to have a few comics so good you could set a watch by them. So without further delay here’s Mike Brody with his Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time and remember, you’re on the clock. Go!

MITCH HEDBERG – “Strategic Grill Locations/Mitch All Together”

I started comedy in the early 2000s in Iowa, and I remember thinking that most of the comics that came through my home club were super antiquated and hacky.  So whenever I had a small one-nighter gig, you’d hear club/bar owners talking about how Hedberg had been there years before and bombed the hardest anybody has ever bombed.  But always, without exception, they’d say “But I knew he’d be famous!”  Sure you did!  All the dive-bar owners in Brainerd had the eye for talent!  That’s what I love about Mitch.  He did it his way until people couldn’t deny him anymore.  Before Hedberg, comedy had kind of lost it’s goofiness. It was a bit stale.”Is this all there is?” I thought.  It was pre-Youtube.  Then I saw Hedberg’s Comedy Central special and my mind was blown.  Yogurt jokes!  Koala bears!  WHAT?!  I must have played Strategic Grill Locations 100,000 times.  Then I actually got to be in the audience for the recording of Mitch All Together.  Play those two albums back to back…you can actually hear the difference between the effects of marijuana and cocaine when you do it.  I still get sad that he’s dead.  We need him.

 

BILL HICKS – “Sane Man”

Can I count this as an album?  It’s a VHS, but I think it’s up on Youtube.  This was my first exposure to Hicks.  People have copied and watered him down so much now that newer comics can’t grasp how different he was.  So many “edgy” comics have aped his style that if you watch it now, it seems kind of ordinary.  BUT THIS WAS 1989!  Think about what was happening comedically in 1989. There were geniuses, but there were also a lot of airplane peanuts. Now consider that Hicks was doing flag-burning jokes in front of mulletheads in Texas. He was ahead of his time and (for better or worse) changed the tone of comedy forever.  Plus, those weird psychedelic screens and pauses in the video tripped me out.

 

BILL BURR – “Let It Go”

Hey, he’s alive!  I was admittedly late to the game with Bill Burr.  Everybody kept raving about how funny he was and I just never got around to listening to him. Then one day I got the CD/DVD of Let It Go.  I was driving home from a road gig, so I put the CD on and loved it.  And yet I couldn’t figure out something about him.  He was hilarious, but how was he getting these people to like him so much?  The jokes were so wonderfully evil.  Then I got home and put the DVD in.  OH, I GET IT!  He smiles!  He’s charming!  He shrugs his shoulders!  Bill Burr is a master at being the winking asshole.  Not literally, of course.  That would be weird.  I mean that he’s the asshole that we all respect and want to be.  Also, his podcast is magnificent.  Bill Burr equally brings me joy and sadness.  Joy because he’s at the peak of his genius right now and sadness because GODDAMNIT I wish I was that good.  He gets my vote for best in the business right now.

 

MIKE BIRBIGLIA – “My Secret Public Journal”

Holy shit, I don’t know if there’s a better storyteller today than Mike Birbiglia. Joey Bag-o-Donuts, the story about the cancer benefit, the Roger Clemens story!  They’re all gold.  The dude’s a master at being so likeable.  He could tell a story about helping Jerry Sandusky break out of prison and he’d win us over.  We’d be like “Go! Go Mike! Set him free!”  Telling a great story isn’t about just droning on and then having a big punch line at the end.  It’s like kicking a ball up a hill.  You got to keep tapping it the whole way or else it’s going to roll backwards.  Birbiglia has that on lock-down.  His stories are hilarious from beginning to end, and he still manages to have the endings have a big payoff.  Really, I’m in awe of this guy.  And if you haven’t seen his movie “Sleepwalk With Me”, you need to yesterday.

 

JOE DEROSA – “The Depression Auction”

I don’t want to sound jaded, but after you do comedy awhile you kind of stop wanting to hear comedy every day.  It’s not that you don’t still love it, but it’s like The Matrix.  You see “the code”; you appreciate it, and even enjoy it.  But you don’t laugh out loud anymore.  At best, you think in your head “Oh wow, that’s really funny” with a stoneface. Joe Derosa’s “The Depression Auction” had me laughing my ass off.  I literally LOLed.  There’s just something about east coast comics.  They have a swagger that you have to be raised with.  The one about how he’s politically stupid but easily lead, the one about doing comedy at an Insane Clown Posse concert, the one about how nobody wants to go to your wedding: brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  He’s a loser and a winner.  He’s a dick, but he’s vulnerable.  Aren’t we all?

 

Mike Brody’s album, That’s Not What I Meant, was released on April 24th, 2012 on Rooftop Comedy Productions. It is available on AmazoniTunes, and Bandcamp.

Top Five with Michael Palascak

Top Five is a column in which we talk to stand up comics who have just released their own album about their five favorite comedy albums of all time.

palascak_Forblog

There are many typical characters in stand-up comedy.  The zanies, the self depreciating, the truth seekers and the truth tellers.   Michael Palascak sits amongst a dying breed of  character, that of the good guy.  Innocent in his faults with a glass is half full attitude,  Michael’s nature on stage is always likable if not lovable.  In this installment of our comedians on comedians segment, where comics offer us their “Top 5 Comedy Albums Of All Time”, we find out where the good guys go for good comedy.   Mike, give us the good stuff:

5. Tommy Johnagin – Stand-up Comedy 2.

He kills it.  It’s really funny, original.  I love the story about his sister being lost.  Tommy is so good at having a premise and then having many funny things to say about the premise.

 

 

 

 

4. Mitch Hedburg – Strategic Grill Locations

His jokes are so funny, random, and true to himself that it just really appealed to me. He was the inspirational genius of my generation of comics.  The Pringles joke and the tennis joke as well as many others are memorable on this album.

 
 
 
 
 

3. Jerry Seinfeld.   I’m Telling You For The Last Time

I love his confidence.  I love his story about trick-or-treating.  And it’s clean.  I listened to it with my dad on the way to college and it was so cool sharing that with him.  I think that’s one of the reasons I’m pretty clean.  I want families to be able to share moments by listening to my stand-up.

 
 
 
 
 

2. Louis C.K. – Chewed Up

This had a similar impact that my #1 did.  It re-inspired me to think about stand-up differently.  What hit me the first time I listened was how natural Louis was with his jokes and how much fun he was having.  I loved the Cinnabon joke and the observation about masturbation was beautiful.

 
 
 
 
 

1. Mitch Hedburg – Mitch All Together

I remember being home from college for the summer and sitting in my room and listening to this.  There was like a white C.D. player my mom had that I listened to it on.  I had bunk beds.  It was hot because it was upstairs and the air conditioning didn’t work that well up there.  I put it on to listen to while I cleaned out my closet and I don’t think I cleaned out anything.  I just laughed so hard.  That was about the time that I started doing stand-up.

 
 

Don’t forget to heck out Michael Palasack’s latest stand-up comedy CD “Job Opening” available on iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, and all major streaming services.