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!
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!
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.
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.
In case your streaming queue is lacking any share of top-quality stand-up, the popular LA comedy showUnCabaret is now available on Amazon Instant. UnCabaret is a mix of stand-up and special musical guests and has long been one of LA’s most popular comedy events. These filmed shows are now available to stream as episodes and season one looks awesome. Dana Gould, Tig Notaro, Rory Scovel, and Rob Delaney are among the featured comedians. Watch a clip from episode one (which features Delaney, Sandra Bernhard, Alec Mapa, and Andy Dick) and let us know what you think!
New York comedian Dan Soder performed on Conan last night and was full of advice. What sort of wisdom was he dishing? Well, let’s just say if you are a child of a single parent or a New Yorker who wants to know how to avoid getting mugged, you need to watch. Dan is rising fast in the comedy world and we totally have his back. Great job Dan!
Comedians Jon Dore and Rory Scovel are building a reputation of bringing a little “something extra” to their Conan appearances. Last year, Jon and Rory walked out onstage, claiming that Conan‘s producers double booked them, and simultaneously performed their sets. Yesterday, the guys returned to the show together, delivering a hilarious and bizarre performance that you just have to watch.
New dad Tommy Johnagin performed on Conan last night. Like many new parents, Tommy is learning on the fly and has some hilarious fatherly insights to share with the world. Whether you’re wondering how to break the baby news to your friends or you’re looking for the best nanny possible, Tommy has it down pat. Tommy also tweeted an adorable photo of his newborn daughter backstage. Watch Tommy’s full set after the jump and be sure to follow him @TommyJohnagin.
As we continue to follow the Beards of Comedy across the country, the guys recently filed what could be their most urgent video yet. If television has taught us anything, it’s that the zombies are nearly upon us, and it’s only a matter of time before The Walking Dead gets a little too real. Luckily, the Beards have you covered. In the latest installment of Beards Across America, the guys find themselves in Atlanta–the epicenter of all things zombie. From physical training to camouflage tips to shelter building ideas, these Beards will teach you everything you need to know to survive the imminent zombocalypse. You can watch the episode here.
Rooftop pal Keith Alberstadt (pictured here with Danny Bevins) recently went overseas to perform for the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. As part of the Comics on Duty World Tour, which also included Bevins, Phil Palisoul, Shawn Halpin, Drake Witham, and Paul Ogata, Keith did some shows and generally pal-ed around at the military base. He also documented being mauled by a US Army-trained dog. Don’t worry–Keith was fully protected. That said, the dog could use a little cinematic enrichment (seriously, Raging Bull? C’mon). Watch Keith face off with the dog after the jump.
And here’s a montage of Keith and the rest of the touring comics. Welcome back guys!
In November 1972, the Ms. Foundation for Women released Free to Be… You and Me, an album and book geared toward children, championing self-acceptance and rejecting societal gender norms. Actress Marlo Thomas, who came up with the idea for the project, hoped to fill what she saw as a void of progressive children’s entertainment. Singers on the album included Thomas, Alan Alda, Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, and Carol Channing.Forty years later, Joel Levinson (The Tonight Show), Stephen Levinson (Channel 101, Funny or Die’s Noah’s Ark), and Rob Kutner (Conan) decided to do a comedic send-up of the classic album they listened to so often as kids. Turning the album, titled It’s OK to Do Stuff, around in an incredibly short two-week period, they invited actors and comedians like Lizzy Caplan (pictured),Eddie Pepitone, Fred Willard, Samantha Bee, and Colin Hanks to lend their vocal talents. It’s OK is a light-hearted and funny take on the original, mixing songs and skits to pay tribute to Free to Be. We chatted with Joel, Stephen, and Rob to discuss theirmusical comedy inspirations, the songwriting process, and more.
Rooftop Comedy: So what, if any, exposure did you have to Free to Be…You and Me while growing up?
Stephen Levinson: My parents, who were also Joel’s parents, bought it on vinyl and I played it until it was battered. It was one of those albums, as a kid, I made them play it over and over and over again. It’s funny because I probably haven’t listened to it since childhood, but when Rob approached me with the project, I re-listened to it and it was just—amazing. When you haven’t listened to a song in so long, you listened to it so much back then, you instantly remember so much.
Rob Kutner: I have a four year-old daughter and, pretty recently, I was playing it on CD for her after not hearing it for a really long time and almost every one of those tracks opened up a well of memory. And I remember at the time, it was kind of this mind-blowing album for what it is—there’s nothing else out there like it. Not only are there all these empowering things about boys and girls and what you can do, but also so entertaining and so charming. It wasn’t at all ideological, even though it’s highly ideological now.
RC: In planning the album, did you guys intend to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Free to Be’s release?
SL: That was the original impetus, I think.
RK: I saw that story being listed. I have a twisted mind so my immediate thought was, “What if there was this bizzaro version of it? What happens in the recording studio that we can do sort of like an ultimate history of it? And then I remembered that I knew Joel and Stephen and they’re amazing. [Joel laughs] I have a string around my finger to help me remember. I was like, “Oh, that can actually exist”.
Joel Levinson: Yeah, ultimately, it was driven by the 40th anniversary so it was kind of like, “We’ve got two weeks. Let’s see what we can do”.
RK: My wife had a baby a few weeks ago, so literally there was this biological ticking clock going on, where Joel and I were like in this creative frenzy trying to get this thing going. And then we brought Steve in because Joel and I are incapable of actually taking something into the real world.
SL: My baby’s not born until January, so I had a little bit more breathing room than they did.
RC: Did you listen to any musical comedy growing up?
SL: Stan Freberg in particular. Stan Freberg was one of those albums that we listened to it as music, before we even knew it was comedy.
JL: You’re right! [Laughs]
SL: Our parents played those albums for us…
JL: Before we had any chance of getting a joke. We just knew that people in Allan Sherman’s audience were losing their shit. They couldn’t get enough of Allan Sherman.
SL: I was going to say Tom Lehrer also. I think also, the musical songs that Monty Python does. They do these amazing dark and twisted songs that sound very light and upbeat. No one else does songs about the things they do, like “Finland” and things like that.
RK: I was just going to say, I’m the youngest of the bunch of us and the music I listened to growing up, I think, the line between comedy and real music blurred a lot. If you look at Poison and Billy Idol and the videos I was watching. When Steve was watching them in high school, I was watching them as a five year-old and it’s much harder to see whether or not they were joking.
RC:I wanted to ask you guys if you could tell me about what went into writing some of these songs and what the process was.
JL: Rob brought about the general idea then he threw some titles at me, I threw some titles at him and we tried to get a laugh and whichever one did was our pick. It was all done via e-mail.
RK: There was one point at which Joel just sent a list of potential song & album titles – I remember one was “Friends Of Friends” and I just immediately starting writing the song in my head. I could instantly hear this whole story of awkward people who didn’t really know each other and were stuck in a room together… things like that would be like a little spark and explode and other songs grew into something.
JL: Musically it’s born out of the original Free To Be… The music they wrote and performed on the original album is actually really great music. Those songs had a lot of rhythmic changes though, and with comedy you kind of want to stay away from that but it was basically pretty major chord-heavy and simple so we could lay the jokes over it. The whole point on this musically is to stay out of the way as much as possible.
SL: And Joel, for a living, enters online video contests and most of his entries involve songs, so he’s great at just whipping out a song and then forgetting about it – and it’ll be stuck in my head for the next month.
RC: Do you think Free to Be holds up today as a relevant, useful piece of entertainment for parents to share with their kids?
RK: I do think that, like with the Doll thing, Disney has sort of set up this empire that every girl is indoctrinated into princess school, starting at age three and a half. Our daughter is already obsessed with unicorns, just because the culture is there.
SL: Our parents bought me a doll, I think because of this album. I was not into it. They tried.
JL: The Free to Be album also went with this amazing Free to Be book. Some of those Shel Silverstein poems are just as worthwhile today as they were when they were written. Same with “It’s Alright to Cry”. That one is totally timeless. It’s totally beautiful.
SL: And how many times does that get quoted and people don’t even know where it’s from?