Roy Wood Jr. doesn’t act like a comedian adored nightly on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. When we sat down at a table above New York City’s infamous Comedy Cellar, he asked about the latest Wolverine movie like we were comedy buddies catching up.
Wood stays accessible because, to him, he isn’t above any other comedian. He’s just in a different part of the cycle. I asked rising New York comedian Neko White what words he thinks of when he thinks of Roy Wood Jr. He said, “Black. Proud. Intellectual.” After meeting with the Birmingham native, I would add “humble” to that list.
The special finds funny nuggets of truth in the otherwise tragic race relations still plaguing this country. Whether that’s a white tour guide at the civil rights museum to racist McNugget policies, Wood’s jokes provide a serious relief to those seeking an escape.
His set list is full of perpetual punch lines befitting of a nearly 20-year comedy veteran. We spoke about his special, as well as The Daily Show‘s election night coverage, the future of radio, and why he learns more from new comics than “the old heads.”
So you shot the special in Atlanta. Any particular reason why you chose to shoot it there?
Well, I’m talking about race and I’m Southern. I wanted to shoot it where race is an issue. I don’t think you should talk about stuff away from where it’s happening. I think that’d be a little disingenuous. The people who are effected the most by a lot of what’s happening in this country are black people. So, I want to tell some jokes to some black people. There’s a lot of black stuff in my act. I wanted to shoot my special in a place where those issues are still relevant. There’s not a lot of black stuff you can find a joke in these days, but I tried my best in this special. The people dealing with the pain and carrying the weight of these injustices are the ones who deserve to laugh the most. If it’s a black joke about blackness, black people are the ones who deserve that five seconds of relief from whatever the weight is on their shoulders at the time.
I like that you didn’t say, “Hello,” to the crowd. You didn’t ask them how they’re doing. You just walk out and say, “What if…”
“Fuck you, let’s start.” Yeah. I’m trying to do more of that in my live shows. It’s something that musicians do and I really enjoy it. Musicians will just start. I saw Janet Jackson at Caeser’s and I saw Jay Z in Atlanta at Phillip’s Arena. And the one thing that was common between the two of them was they just started. The lights dropped and the fucking music started and you got going. I feel like you have to earn the right to even say, “Hello.” The other reason why I started doing that was, when I first moved to New York in 2015, I started realizing that’s 20 to 30 seconds of my act where I wasn’t telling a joke. In my head, it didn’t work for my style.
That’s two or three jokes you lose out on.
At minimum it’s two. And so, unless I have a jokey way to say hello — like, Jim Gaffigan’s the opposite — Gaffigan has this way of getting a laugh on hello. I don’t know how to do that. I kind of did it on Fallon, but my preference is to just start with material. The difference between late night and your own hour special is that the formalities of hello are kind of expected on late night. So it’s almost too jarring to a late night audience to dive right in like that. But the concept of starting with your material was something I saw Jay Z and Janet Jackson and Carlin also did that.
I don’t know if it was You’re All Diseased or Live in New York, but there was a special that George Carlin did where he said, “Thank you,” and then he opened with an abortion joke. Out the gate, first two sentences: Thank you. Comma. Do you ever notice the most of the people who are against abortion… “
“…are people you wouldn’t even want to fuck in the first place?”
Yeah. I was like, that’s jarring but it instantly brings people into your world and what you’re trying to do. That was the reason why I just dove right in.
You saw Carlin live?
I wish. He came through Birmingham years ago, before he died, and I saw him in the comedy club but I was too pussy to speak to him. Even now, when I see the gods of comedy, I don’t speak to them. I’ll give them a nod, an acknowledgement, like when Alfred looked at Batman at the end of The Dark Knight Rises from across the coffee shop. That’s it. I don’t speak to really important people.
Who are the gods of comedy right now? Who are the comics you don’t talk to?
You never know what they’re discussing or dealing with. I respect the fact that comics that are higher on the totem pole than me have a totally different set of circumstances of what they’re dealing with. I’ve seen Chris Rock out, and I’m like, “No fucking way I’m speaking to Chris Rock.” I’ve seen Louis C.K., even Chappelle. I’ve been backstage and Chappelle has spoken to me—he’s been cordial—but I don’t feel it’s my place to go strike up conversation with any of these people.
I’m good friends with George Wallace. One time I was at the Comedy Cellar and George Wallace is sitting at the table with straight up comedy history — Seinfeld, Romano — just all these people. There’s like eight dudes at the table and they’re all legends. I was mad at George Wallace for calling me over. I’m like, why the fuck would you call me over knowing I can’t speak to these people. Don’t do that, Mr. Wallace!
In the totem pole of comedy, everyone is above somebody, basically. You’re nobody new. You’re 19, 20 years in. You realize there are plenty of people who have the same reverence towards you, right?
Yeah, there’s always this feeling like there’s someone who’s been doing it 10 who don’t wanna come over and talk to me. I try my best, as a comedian, to be approachable and to be friendly with everybody. I don’t have many enemies, if any, in this business. I’ve worked hard to be very respectful to most people. There are a lot of comics who helped me who didn’t have to, so I try to do the same thing for the younger guys. Especially guys who ask, because to me if you care enough to ask somebody, you give enough of a shit about your career to recognize that you need some help. To me it shows drive and initiative. That’s something you can’t teach. No comedy class can give you drive.
You can teach all of the other cstuff: how to structure a joke, how to have good posture, all of that. But you cannot teach drive and initiative. More often than not, they’re not asking for blood. It’s just, ‘Hey, who books that thing?’ or ‘Hey, when you did this thing, how did you approach it?’ I talk to comics a lot who are doing the college showcases with NACA. I had a really good stretch of booking colleges with NACA. So I’ll get an inbox from a motherfucker I never even met saying, ‘Hey, how do I do the thing with the thing?’ I just think of all the times with all the older comics when I was featuring who helped me. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2007, I was taking acting classes and I caught wind that Aisha Tyler had gone to that same acting class. For no fucking reason, I sent Aisha Tyler a nine-paragraph Facebook inbox with detailed questions about her approach.
With no ties to her?
I do not fucking know Aisha Tyler. I’ve only met her once since 2007. And she replied. She replied and gave me some great answers and some great guidance for what I needed at the time. She could have just not replied and that would have been fine. I try my best to never be one of the guys who doesn’t reply. [Editor’s Note: that’s not necessarily an invitation for everyone to send Roy a nine-paragraph Facebook message tonight.] That comes as a detriment at times because you can be up all night talking to somebody. But if it’s somebody who seems like they’re going to halfway apply themselves and try to be someone decent, it’s like, I can fuck with you. And why not kick it with all comics?
The other thing I’ve learned about this career is that it’s cyclical. You will have your run and then, if it’s not done properly, you will need a second run. You will need a second wind. Whatever it is you think you’re above, you’re not above it. You’re just at a different part of the circle. You could revolve right back around to that same point.
You might be begging for that thing you think you’re above a few years from now.
There’s guys that I know that I used to open for who were on top of the world back in ’98, ’99. They’re calling me asking if I can get them in rooms.
How’s that feel?
It’s humbling and horrifying. It tells me that whatever I’m doing now, if I don’t work hard at it and continue to bust my ass, it could all change. This whole thing could change. Everything about stand-up is about finding your audience so that when Hollywood is done with me, I can still go out on the road and tour and tell my jokes to the people who were on the ride with me the whole time. This whole thing, to me, is about finding my audience so I can have something to do when I’m 65. Everything else in between is about building that. There’s going to be great opportunities in there and there’s going to be so-so opportunities, but you’ve got to continue to cultivate it.
To me, everyone I see as a comic, they’re just potential future co-workers. They’re not below me. I remember when Hannibal Buress was featuring and I was headlining. And [when he started to headline] I’d call Hannibal and go, ‘Who books that?’ I’ve already been through that circle. There’s no curve to this. Some people grow when they grow. There’s no science to this. I’m 19 years in and I’m asking comics that’ve been doing it half the time for advice on how to approach my one-hour special. For marketing advice. But I’ve been doing comedy longer than them.
Right, like maybe they’ve been doing Instagram longer than you.
Yeah. It proves there aren’t levels to comedy. It’s just a carousel. Some people fall off. Some people stay on. Some people get back on at different parts. They can be ahead of you. They can be behind you. They can leapfrog you or you can leapfrog them. So being disrespectful or dismissive of anyone — above or beneath you — is a bad longterm career tactic. Plus, I like talking to the young guys because they keep me humble. I love talking to new comics. I fucking bathe in that shit. I don’t want to come to the Cellar and just sit at the comics table. Let me go sit out in Long Island City and stand on the curb. Even if I don’t know the guys, there’s still a mutual comedic code of respect. We’ll chop it up. That’s how you learn. I learn more from the younger comics than I do from the comics ahead of me.
What’s the biggest thing you think you’ve learned from a newer comic?
Maintaining that tenacity, in terms of following up with club bookers, keeping a fresh Web presence and social media interaction. That type of stuff is where some older comics can slack, or if you’re already successful and doing things, you can slack. It’s like if you’re running a race and you look over your shoulder and you see someone running their ass off to catch you, it’s going to make you run a little faster, too. Because if you’re not careful, these people will replace you. It’s best to try to learn from everyone at all levels of the game because we all have something to offer. It would be naiëve to think that someone who’s been doing it less than you has nothing to offer when there’s been so many people who have achieved something on some level in less time. That doesn’t hold true for everybody—some young comics are fucking dumb. But you’ll meet a couple who have some ideas about podcasts and how to market themselves.
There’s this comedian and poet who goes by the name of Spoken Reasons. Spoken Reasons took over YouTube with his vlogs. Spoke was one of those guys that started out trying to do it in the traditional way: go to open mics, stand in the back of the room, hope that Jesus likes you and gives you three minutes. Through the frustration of the local comedy scene in Florida, that’s what birthed his ingenuity to become this creator. There’s a science to YouTube and Instagram. The next thing you know, this guy, without a major television credit, is cast as a co-star with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. A role I’m willing to bet you fucking money plenty of fucking stand-ups went out for.
Youngins know how to create their own doors. A lot of the youth are rejected by the mainstream. What I get from the youngins that I don’t get from the old heads is that tenacity and drive to find the glitches in the matrix where you can make a way for yourself. If I can make a way for myself and already have what I have now, then I’m twice as good, twice as well off. So, you can learn from anybody in this game. This shit ain’t reserved for people that’s in the union or that are already SAG or already have TV credits. There’s no right way to do this. Everybody who started this shit started at some different process. Comedy is not a linear career. It’s not medical school where you do this and you do your residency and now you’re a comedian. No. You do this; someone says, “No.” You say, “Fuck you,” and get on YouTube. You become a draw and then you start selling out your own shows in independent rooms because comedy clubs wouldn’t book you. And then you get on TV.
There are so many different ways. I was a road guy. I was sold the pipe dream from the old heads down South in ’98 because their path is what I thought was going to be my path. I almost missed my opportunity. I almost missed the Internet because I worked with so many older comics who didn’t come up with the Internet. If you just do what the old heads tell you, then you believe that the path is to get funny and maybe one day you’ll get a showcase and Jay Leno will like you and put you on TV for five minutes. That’s part of it. But it’s also about figuring out a way to find your following in the digital sphere, figuring out what’s next, what’s around the curve.
No sooner than Vine dies, Snapchat grows. And now Snapchat may even be on the way out because of what Instagram and Facebook are doing. So what’s the next thing? What’s the next way to reach people? Ingenuity only comes from being denied and being told, “No.” You gotta be around motherfuckers that are struggling and that’ll keep that fire. I just feel like any comic that thinks they can only learn some shit from someone that’s been doing it longer is a fool. A straight-up fool who’s leaving so many opportunities on the table.
And you found a path through radio, right?
Radio was fine. Radio helped me creatively because thankfully I was at a station that allowed me to try a lot of weird sketches and oddball shit. But I officially cut ties with radio in 2012 when I got fired from my morning show in Birmingham. I booked Sullivan & Son on TBS and we couldn’t work it out for me to do the show remotely. Basically, they didn’t want to fork over the money for me to do the show from Los Angeles. I didn’t agree with it, but it’s your radio station. Do what you want.
But radio was always something I did to accompany comedy. From ’98, my junior year in college, it was always stand-up. But I noticed that if you were funny on the radio, it gave you an opportunity to have your own comedy room. The main thing I did was create relationships with other comedians that came through the station. I co-hosted a show for about eight years and then I hosted my own show from 2010-2012. When I hosted my own show, any comic that came into town — even if they weren’t performing — I’d say, “Come on my show, man. Whatever you got to promote, come on my show. Promote the shit.” I was just trying to build relationships. When I got to Los Angeles, these guys remembered favors. “The best way you can help yourself is by trying to help other people.” I forget who said that. Try to add value to someone else’s existence. And more often than not, there’s reciprocity in that. Instead of just trying to take, take, take from people, add value.
Where do you see radio going now?
I think terrestrial radio will go back to allowing the talkers to talk. I think terrestrial radio is getting kicked in the dick right now. Part of it is because five or six companies own like 80 percent of all the radio stations. Most radio stations are cutting down on the amount of time that jocks can talk. What corporate doesn’t realize is that jocks are the only thing you offer different from Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and Apple Music. Half these cars have Internet now and they can stream music, so why the fuck would I listen to terrestrial radio where you’re going to shove commercials down my throat? The only possible reason to listen to terrestrial radio now is because of the personalities. I believe that for terrestrial radio to survive, stations will realize they’ll need personalities who they allow to talk. Right now, they shorten the breaks. It’s just, ‘Shut up. Play the music. Play the music.’ Music ain’t why the people are here anymore. The problem is radio is run by a lot of old school guys who are too pussy to try to change it up.
There’s a reason why The Breakfast Club goes viral with interviews that never air on the station. That’s because good interviews and personalities still matter. The Breakfast Club will interview a motherfucker for probably five or six minutes on air. And then they’ll do a 30-minute longform interview that they’ll put on the Web and that bitch’ll do half a million views in a day. That’s the power of personality. There’s still an audience for terrestrial radio, but the audience is for the personalities, not the music. Go back 10 or 15 years ago before streaming, yeah, play more music. That’s what people want to hear. But now people can get the music anywhere.
What prevents those guys from just starting a podcast?
I believe some of them are. I believe some of them are slowly getting to that place. Terrestrial radio’s got too much money to just go out quietly though. People think podcasts are going to instantly be the new whatever-the-fuck. Terrestrial radio ain’t the DVD player. It’s not going extinct. It’s just going to have to evolve.
Ultimately, radio is already competing with the Internet for advertising. They’ve done studies where advertisers are better off with certain markets advertising on Facebook than the radio. That $100 will get you more eyeballs, it’ll get you more people. Radio’s got to change how they do stuff if they want to survive. And I think the best solution will be allowing the personalities to shine and stop turning everybody into a fucking replaceable robot. That’s why there’s so much syndication. You can syndicate some shit because the jock is only allowed to talk for 30 seconds, so there ain’t enough time to be unique. Anyone who can be unique in 30 or 40 seconds, God bless ‘em! Those are the guys who still have a future because they know how to be funny in bite-sized portions. It’s a short list.
You started when you were 19. What do you think of starting comedy young versus starting when you have some life under you?
Start early. The quicker you learn the performance side of it, when you finally learn the creative side of it you’ll be sharper quicker. I look back on my first five to eight years of comedy, and all I was doing was learning the performance. I was learning to perform on television; I was learning how to perform at certain clubs; I was learning how to do 10-minute sets, versus 30s, versus 45s, and learning how to block out the set. The material was mediocre— it was C- at best. But when I finally found my voice and started figuring out stylistically what kind of comic I wanted to be, that’s when everything fucking took off. I already knew how to stack a set and knew how to where to put a punch line. I could recognize when a joke was good, but incomplete. Why wait? Why the fuck wait? I would never talk anybody into waiting to start comedy.
Just talk what you know. And if you’re young, it won’t be as deep as somebody that’s 30. You just haven’t lived enough. That’s not your fault, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the things that matter to you and make them important to the audience. It’s up to you to set the stakes and really dictate what it is people should give a shit about. I feel like as a comic, we still have that domain. We still have the ability to show you why this is important and why you should give a shit about this thing. When I was 20, I was doing jokes about book buybacks, but I was doing them in rooms where the median age was 40. They didn’t really wanna hear about that. But you figure out ways to craft the bit. What I always tried to do early on was, instead of talking about myself, I’d make the audience reflect on when you were my age. Then the joke becomes something more introspective for you. Now I can do the college material.
One of my first jokes was about my roommate drinking all of my soda—and the joke is so shitty. “My roommate eats my food when I’m gone. I had a bottle of 7-Up. He drank 6 of ‘em.” Just because you feel like you’re not relatable, the crowd doesn’t get to dictate that. Talk what you know.
And now you’re talking President Trump on The Daily Show. How’s that been?
Our election night episode was one of the highest-rated of the entire run of the show. You’d have to find the numbers on that, don’t quote me. [Ed. note: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recorded its most-watched month in October leading up to its election night coverage.] Something’s definitely different. Before that night, when someone recognized me from the show it was a quick hi-bye conversation. But now, when someone sees me and recognizes me from The Daily Show, they say, ‘Thank you.’ It’s weird. I’ve never heard that. It’s people going, ‘Thank you. This is what we need.’ Even from the other side, people who didn’t really care about some of the stuff we would do or say, even the Fuck Yous are a little stronger. People are definitely charged up more about things.
Do you think comedy gets more political when Republicans are in office?
Comedy is one of the tools of the oppressed. When there’s more things to be upset or indignant about, then comedy becomes more prominent. It’s a coping tool and an educational tool. It’s a tool of activism to try to invoke change. When there’s more things to be in an uproar about, I think political comedy bubbles to the surface more.
What was that first show after the election night like? What was that Wednesday like in the writer’s room, on set?
I said on air on election night, ‘It feels like I’m at the funeral for America.’ Everybody came in and took a deep breath. It was a very somber mood—definitely downbeat. But people came in, took their breath, and started pitching stories. The day after the election, everybody was looking for Hillary. ‘Where’s Hillary? That was the big thing. I think what the election also gave us was an opportunity for both sides to reflect on themselves. There was definitely some liberal arrogance. You got to point the light over on that side, too. I don’t think it just becomes The Anti-Trump show with Trevor Noah. I think it still has to be a very fair television program that finds the bullshit on both sides of the aisle. And I think this election revealed that there was a lot more bullshit in the Democrats’ backyard than people originally thought. But it’s so hard to even get to that stuff when you have a president who does 10 things that are newsworthy every day.
There’s so much Trump material now, I almost wish all the late night shows could just form a pact. I feel like all the late night shows should meet and Samantha Bee goes, ‘Alright, we’ll cover press conference jokes. Seth Meyers, you do international relations jokes. Trevor Noah, you handle anything about the Democrats vs. the Republicans in the Senate.’ There’s so much material, we literally could divide it up amongst the shows.
But who would be left to make fun of Kim Kardashian?
I think John Oliver would pull his weight.
Watch Father Figure online at cc.com and in the Comedy Central app. The extended and uncensored album is available for purchase on iTunes on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Bill Burr visits Conan O’Brien tonight to chat about, among other things, the inauguration and first week of a Donald Trump presidency. We have a preview clip of his appearance that will air 11 pm EST tonight.
“It’s been unsettling so far,” Burr says of Trump’s series of executive orders, including his most recent ban on Muslims entering the United States, which has sparked huge protests across the country. I get sick of people making excuses for her. She blew it!” Burr says. “You lost to a guy who said three things a week that would torpedo anybody else’s campaign. How do you do that?”
As is the case often with Burr, the comedian turns the issue in question into a sports metaphor. Trump is the team that throws 20 interceptions while Clinton is the team that still finds out a way to lose the game. That all said, Burr clearly isn’t smitten with our newly elected president. He just telling the truth. Hillary Clinton had an opportunity to truly inspire the country. It didn’t happen. Check out the video below. It’s well worth your time.
Bill Burr’s newest comedy special Walk Your Way Out premieres tomorrow on Netflix!
If you’re browsing Netflix and stumble across a movie starring Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron, then the chances are that you might give it a spin. But be warned as we can safely say that Reindeer Games is such a turkey that it may cause you to reevaluate the whole meaning behind this ‘special time of year’.
Reindeer Games was released in 2000 and pretty much sank without a trace. Although it was heavily promoted as a thriller, it made the mistake of trying to add a touch of humour. And whilst the likes of Die Hard provide a masterclass in seasonal action movies, this one blunders along with a terrible script and a feeling of massive unoriginality.
However, it’s almost so bad that it’s worth viewing as Ben Affleck tries to act as an ex-con who dupes Charlize Theron’s character into believing that he is the prisoner that she’s been corresponding with on the outside.
Inevitably, Affleck’s character somehow gets roped back into the life of crime and we are made to suffer watching a criminal gang dressed as a group Santas robbing a casino. Although this is meant to provide some laughs, it makes for pretty bleak viewing, especially when compared to the fun that can be had at the Betway online casino site where nobody needs to dress up as Santa to play!
However, it’s not all bad. Although this movie marked the low point in Affleck’s career, and Theron said she only did the movie because she liked the director John Frankenheimer, it did give us chance to see the awesome Danny Trejo of Machete fame and it does have a pretty surprising twist at the end.
But when you realise that the movie is so bad that even Vin Diesel walked out of the filming, it serves as a warning to stay far away from Reindeer Games. This is despite the director Frankenheimer creating masterful movies like The Manchurian Candidate and Ronin, and Theron and Affleck becoming the biggest names in Hollywood.
It’s almost shocking that the weight of the talent cannot stop this feeling like little more than a B-movie. But even though Reindeer Games might be good for inspiring Hollywood gossip about the co-stars, for better Christmas entertainment, put on Elf and fire up those online casino games!
Kathleen Madigan has, over the last decade or so, become one of the most consistently skilled comedians in the world—thanks, in no small part, to her ability to touch on everything from the mundane to weightier life issues (religion, politics) without drastically dividing her audience. It’s a nearly impossible balance that few comedians can achieve. Madigan does it with ease. It’s why she’s been able to make nearly 20 stand-up appearances on the Tonight Show and Late Show combined.
On her latest hour comedy special, Bothering Jesus – now streaming on Netflix – the Missouri-bred, Los Angeles-based comic further proves her top-comic status. The perfect follow-up to 2013’s Madigan Again and 2011’s Gone Madigan, Kathleen mines material from her huge Irish-American family, a hillbilly fishing practice called “noodling,” drinking wine and watching House Hunters on HGTV and so much more.
Check out a pair of clips from Bothering Jesus and then immediately get thee to Netflix to watch the entire thing.
This Christmas Eve, skip the feel-good holiday movies (we’ve all seen A Christmas Story too many times to count) and tune in for a full day of bad-ass cop movies with IFC’s Police Navidad marathon. Featuring the Lethal Weapon and Die Hard movie series.
All day Saturday, December 24th starting @ 6:00AM. Check out the video and schedule below!
Beverly Hills Cop III
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 6:00AM
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 8:15AM
Lethal Weapon 2
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 1:30PM
Lethal Weapon 3
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 4:00PM
Lethal Weapon 4
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 6:45PM
Airs Saturday, December 24 @ 9:30PM
Die Hard 2
Airs Saturday, December 25 @ 12:30AM
Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Airs Saturday, December 25 @ 3:15AM
FROM IFC: IFC announced that horror-comedy series Stan Against Evil has been picked up for a second season slated to air in 2017. Created by Dana Gould (The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation) and starring John C. McGinley (Scrubs) and Janet Varney (You’re The Worst), Stan Against Evil debuted Halloween week to strong numbers and critical acclaim. Season 1 concluded in November with Sheriff Evie Barret (Varney) stranded in the past and about to be burned at the stake, accused of being a witch.
Stan Against Evil is one of IFC’s most successful original series launches to date. The show demonstrated steady weekly audience growth across its first season and also saw significant time-shifted viewing, with total viewers and adults 18-49 more than doubling within seven days of each new episode premiere, notable for a new series.
“Stan Against Evil instantly connected with IFC viewers, making it one of the network’s most popular original series launches to date,” said Jennifer Caserta, President of IFC. “IFC is thrilled for another season of keeping Willard’s Mill safe from demons, monsters and succubuses, and we are enormously grateful for the talented John C. McGinley and Janet Varney, along with master storyteller Dana Gould, for bringing this oddly wonderful world to life.”
“It was so great to see Stan connect with its fans. Thanks to DVRs, the audience more than doubled each week. That amazed me,” said creator Dana Gould. “I love the characters and I love the world, and I’m very grateful we all get to go back to Willard’s Mill and blow up more stuff.”
Stan Against Evil follows Stan Miller (McGinley), a perpetually disgruntled former sheriff of a small New England town who was forced into retirement. Stan has trouble relinquishing his authority to Evie Barret (Varney), the tough and beautiful new sheriff in town, but they form an unlikely alliance when both begin to realize things are not quite right in their quaint New England town. Together, they valiantly fight a plague of unleashed demons that have been haunting the town, which just happens to be built on the site of a massive 17th century witch burning.
Stan Against Evil is created, written and executive produced by Dana Gould (The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation), with Tom Lassally (Silicon Valley) also serving as executive producer. RadicalMedia (What Happened, Miss Simone?, MARS) produces the series with Frank Scherma and Justin Wilkes executive producing. Star John C. McGinley also serves as a producer. Deborah Baker Jr. and Nate Mooney co-star.
Deadpool shocked audiences when it was released earlier this year. Sure, we knew the character had raunchy and crude tendencies and that this would be the first modern superhero movie to receive an “R” rating. We just didn’t know it would be so damn funny. The ribald superhero romp was eminently quotable and has spawned lists counting down the 30 funniest lines from the movie. Pick any other superhero movie and you’d have to dig for five funny lines while Deadpool reveled in its own humor.
Deadpool has always been a vulgar character, and no other hero holds a candle to his hijinks. He’ll probably stand tall as, by far, the funniest cinematic superhero we’ll find in this current era of overblown comic book adaptations. But this begs the question of whether any other superheroes could be on this same level if they were allowed to lighten up and play within the comedy-friendly boundaries of an “R” rating? It’s a tough questions but we have a few ideas of some heroes that might be worth considering.
Okay, fine, Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man is pretty funny. The trouble is that he’s pretty much the only actor that brings such a level of charm to his role, which makes Marvel lean on him for comic relief. This leads to his lines becoming campy and predictable. What was once natural wit and carefree charm is starting to feel staged and unnatural the further we get into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At least we’ll always have him getting drunk and playing around with an Iron Man suit.
It’s not hard to imagine a full-blown Tony Stark letting go of himself go more with an “R” rating. He could curse more, make cruder jokes, do a few morally questionable things, and generally be a more of an jerk with none of it looking particularly out of character. He’s a safe pick as perhaps the only superhero character who could match Deadpool, hypothetically, in comedic value.
We can probably agree that Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker was a dweeb. But Andrew Garfield’s was overflowing with sarcasm and wit. Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man didn’t leave too much of an impression, with its sequel more or less disappointing everyone and the series being discontinued. The film’s biggest dent was probably in the gaming market, where it led not only to a console game and a mobile adaptation, but to a licensed online slot reel as well. Called a remarkable and exciting adaptation of the comic, it didn’t fully resemble the film, but it’s still a fun adaptation of the character that brings the wisecracking web-slinger to a slot reel that’s a blast whether you’re a fan of the comics or not.
However, the actual movie, and Garfield’s performance, seems to have been forgotten. He wasn’t exactly a gold mine of jokes and comedic moments, but he was more crass and amusing than your average superhero, and it would have been nice to see the studios explore that a bit more. There’s some hope for a sassy Peter Parker moving forward with the Tom Holland portrayal, but it seems unlikely given that they’re playing up his youth this time around.
This one is a long shot. There’s almost nothing to suggest that Iron Fist is going to be a funny character when he debuts in his upcoming Netflix series. He’s not particularly funny in comics, and Finn Jones, who will be playing the part, is best known as the decidedly not-hilarious Ser Loras Tyrell from Game Of Thrones. So we’re putting this one into the “hopeful” category, because as good as the Marvel/Netflix shows have been, they’re utterly lacking in comedic touch. Iron Fist is the last main character who will be introduced to the “Defenders” (alongside Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones), and it would be a blast if he were framed as the goofball of the group.
Ever since Rooftop Comedy released her debut alum Bombshell in 2011, we’ve been very fond of Kelly MacFarland’s quick wit and easy-to-love approach to comedy. Which makes us damn pleased to hear MacFarland will release a new album in the new year! On Jan 13, 2017 MacFarland will drop You Woke Up Today, once again through Rooftop Comedy.
Life for MacFarland has changed since we last met her on a comedy album. Tales of dating have now turned into stories about life as a newly married woman, becoming a stepmom, boozing and finding inventive scenarios in which your children could die. Which brings us to the exclusive preview track we have for you below! It’s the title track from You Woke Up Today. We’re sure you’ll find it hilarious, powerful and inspirational. You Woke Up Today will be available wherever digital albums are sold.
Kelly is currently touring clubs and colleges across the country and has entertained our US troops overseas.Kelly headlined the 2009 Boston Women in Comedy Festival, was first runner up in the 2009 Boston Comedy Festival and voted Best of the Fest 2010 Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival. Kelly has also appeared on Stand Up in Stilettos on the TV Guide Channel and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. Kelly is the host of the web series, Fit or Fad on www.ulive.com. Most recently, Kelly was part of the Top 100 Comedians of Last Comic Standing Season 9, appeared on AXS Gotham Comedy LIVE and won the professional category of the Ladies of Laughter 2016 competition.
Kelly is also an accomplished improviser. She has performed with Fred Willard, Laura Hall and has been a resident cast member of the Improv Boston National Touring Company since 2014. Kelly is currently writing a clever collection of short stories based on her stand up and her life. Kelly is also an experienced humor-wellness speaker. Sharing her life experiences in the unique way that only she can, audiences are pleasantly surprised by her candor. Kelly has been a featured keynote speaker for the American Heart Association GO Red for Women campaign for the last 10 years.
Gilda’s LaughFest announces Iliza Shlesinger, Sinbad and more in first round of talent for 2017 festival
Today, officials from the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter, Gilda’s LaughFest, announced the first round of talent and shows scheduled for the festival’s seventh year to be held March 9 to 19, 2017, in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan and surrounding communities. New this year, details were released regarding LaughFest Badges, which allow individuals access to various aspects of the festival depending on the level of badge purchased.
Headliners announced include Iliza (Shlesinger) and Sinbad. Festival favorites and featuring multiple artists are, the Bissell Presents Clean Comedy Showcase, Best of the Midwest Competition, underwritten by Wolverine World Wide; and the Gun Lake Casino Presents National Stand-up Comedy Showcase will be returning during the 2017 festival. Other shows announced at this time include LaughFest’s Best, Pop Scholars and River City Improv.
Iliza’s show will be held Friday, March 17, at Fountain Street Church in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Iliza first appeared at LaughFest in 2015 and sold out multiple shows. Originally from Dallas, she is the only female and youngest comedian to hold the title of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. In 2013, her debut one-hour comedy special, War Paint, reached number one on the iTunes charts and in 2015 Esquire Magazine listed her as one of the top comedians working today. Currently Iliza can be seen in Confirmed Kills, her newest stand-up special for Netflix, which premiered in September and in early 2017 her first book Girl Logic will be released.
Returning to LaughFest on March 10 at 8 p.m., Sinbad will also perform at Fountain Street Church. Ranked by Comedy Central as one of the top 100 stand-up comedians of all time, Sinbad has built a loyal following and is known for “making it sound profound without being profane.” He is known for his starring appearances in Jingle All the Way, Houseguest, and Necessary Roughness. He has starred in the television sit-com A Different World as well as his own series, The Sinbad Show.
The Bissell Presents Clean Comedy Showcase features multiple shows March 9 – March 11 at the BOB. Those performing include Vladimir Caamano, Michael Harrison, Erin Jackson, Brad Wenzel, Gina Brillon, Kristin Key, Tim Northern and Michael Somerville.
The Best of the Midwest Competition will be held on Wednesday, March 15 at the BOB and includes eight artists. Those vying for the Best of the Midwest title include Marty DeRosa, Alex Kumin, Shaun Latham, Zach Martina, Mike Paramore, Ramon Rivas, Will Spottedbear, and Kristen Toomey.
The Gun Lake Casino Presents National Stand-up Comedy Showcase will be held March 17 and 18 at the BOB. Artists participating in the showcase include Matthew Broussard, Drew Michael, Liz Miele, Ali Siddiq, Christian Finnegan, Megan Gailey, Shane Torres and Ricky Velez.
Other shows highlighted during today’s announcement are LaughFest’s Best, a secret sampling of comedians from across the festival including regional and national comics; Pop Scholars, a four-man, fast paced improv team; and River City Improv, which provides clean adult laughs using comedic improvisation with games and songs.
Access to ticketed LaughFest events are available by purchasing LaughFest Badges, ticket packages and single ticket sales. LaughFest Badges are priced at four levels and provide individuals with unique opportunities to experience the festival. Festival badges range in price from $99 – $449 and various options include tickets to their choice of artists, insider perks like access to exclusive parties, early access to single ticket sales, first chance seating at free shows, merchandise discounts, access to the Headliner’s Club, exclusive festival t-shirt, and more.
Information about ticket packages, festival badges and single ticket sales is available at laughfestgr.org. Packages and badges will go on sale later this month, single tickets will go on sale in late January. Updates regarding LaughFest and ticket sales will be shared on the festival’s various social media platforms.
Comedian Jeannette Rizzi will star in a special performance of her solo show Blindsided at 8 pm on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at Actors Theatre Workshop in Manhattan. Tickets ($25 each) are now available at BrownPaperTickets.com.
As raw as it is funny, Blindsided is a personal journey about an all-American teen growing up in rural Florida who is devastated about her best friend Katie’s suicide. The daughter of a former monk and former nun (yes, really), Jeannette – only 17 at the time, was charged with delivering her best friend’s eulogy in front of hundreds of mourners and, worse, living the rest of her life with her own debilitating suicidal thoughts. Ultimately hopeful and uplifting, Blindsided finds Jeannette fully capable of laughing at herself and constantly finding the hilarious side of her situation.
Blindsided is being presented by Laughspin.com, the long-running comedy news and features site and its founder Dylan Gadino.
The Actors Theatre Workshop is located at 145 West 28th Street, 3rd floor.
Jeannette is available for print and online interviews; radio, television and podcast appearances and as guest writing opportunities for select publications.
What do you get when a monk and a nun do the Holy Nasty?
This isn’t so much the set-up to a terrible joke though it could be but rather the origin story of Jeannette Rizzi comedian, storyteller, force of nature.
After retiring from their religious posts and leaving life in Brooklyn, NY, Jeannette’s parents settled in the rural town of Alachua, FL to lead a simpler farm life among the cows. But Jeannette had other plans. By the age of 23, Jeannette found her own calling in comedy and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream.
Inspired by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg and yes, even Cher, Jeannette started hitting comedy stages in earnest, eventually finding success beyond LA. She snagged accolades at Floridas Funniest Comedian competition, the Time Warner On Demand Comedy Contest, the Cleveland Comedy Festival, the Tickled Pink Comedy Contest and more.
Jeannette was also a featured comedian at the Laughing Devil Comedy Festival and earned the honor of hosting the Ovarian Cancer Circles Happily Ever Laughter event.
For the last few years, Jeannette has been performing her one-woman show Blindsided at comedy clubs, theaters and schools. Emboldened by the suicide of her best friend, the show is about finding hope during seemingly hopeless times. Blindsided showcases Jeannette’s deft character work, her willingness to share all aspects of her life and her unique ability to connect with an audience.
Though it’s been 14 years since he’s released a proper stand-up comedy special, Martin Lawrence’s presence on persistent influence to younger generations of comedian has never waned. With a national tour — three more dates coming up! — on the heels of his new special Doin’ Time: Uncut, which debuted on Showtime earlier this year and can now be viewed On Demand, Lawrence is poised to enter 2017 stronger than ever. Filmed live at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, Doin’ Time: Uncut finds the ever-physical Lawrence opining on Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, life in Hollywood and more.
We recently caught up with Lawrence to chat about the new comedy special, his past in the world of boxing and more. Check it out below!
Martin we are all so happy to see you have a new comedy special out! How does it feel getting back on stage after fourteen years?
It feels good! The reception I am getting from everyone welcoming me back on stage feels so great.
What was the process like developing it? Did you get back on the grind of testing out all of your new material in the comedy clubs?
Yes, absolutely. I workout the material with my brothers, friends, and then we go to comedy clubs and try it out. We get back in those smoke filled rooms, small rooms, small venues, and then we work our way up to the bigger venues.
What is it like now when you’re testing new material? Do you feel the same type of pressure you felt when you were first starting out in your open mic days?
I do feel the pressure to deliver because I always want to be funny. That’s always the name of the game. But, the reception I get when I come on stage now is always so warm, I don’t really feel the pressure from that angle.
I would assume the clapping and cheering from the audience almost acts as an anti-anxeity medication for you? It just naturally relaxes you.
I noticed in this special you made a lot of jokes about boxing, but you don’t actually give yourself enough credit. You were a Golden Gloves contender right? Did you ever consider becoming a professional boxer verses a comedian?
Yes, I was Golden Gloves contender. But no, not really. I was a Golden Gloves runner-up and then I came home with my eye swollen and my mother was like, “Oh no, that is not what you’re going to do!” So she took me out of boxing as soon as she saw my eye swollen.
And what would you say hurts worse, a left hook to the ribs or a joke that bombs?
Well I’ll tell you they both can hurt! They both don’t feel good!
In the opening of this special you spoke a little bit about going to see Eddie Murphy and that sort of made up your mind that you wanted to become a comedian. Can you tell me a little bit more about that experience?
It was a beautiful experience because I was a big fan. I drove two hours to see him in Richmond and when I was watching him perform I was thinking, “He is so good!” On the way home, I said to myself, “I got work to do! If want to be as good as Eddie I have a lot of work to do!” From that point on I just kept working really hard on my material.
I have to say I have always been a huge fan of yours and you inspired me to do comedy as well. One day I saw you at Hugo’s and I was so starstruck I could hardly speak. So, my question is, where you like that the first time you worked with Eddie Murphy? Or was it super easy for you?
Yes, I was like that. I was starstruck, I couldn’t believe I was getting ready to work with one of my idols so to speak. I couldn’t believe it, I was in awe. I would watch how he worked, and his professionalism. I was just honored to be around him.
Also, in this special, you mentioned when you auditioned for Star Search you were yourself. You didn’t clean up your material, you were still blue correct?
Yes, that’s correct.
A lot of times when I am in comedy clubs I hear comics talking about changing themselves for the crowd or for the type of venue they are in. How do you feel about that?
I kind of do what I want to do and it is what it is, but I have been in that position where I have done material that isn’t appropriate for that setting. I had a Saturday Night Live incident where I did material that wasn’t appropriate. So yes, I have been in that position before and it’s not a good position to be in. So be yourself, but make sure you have material that’s right for whatever venue you perform in.
Years ago, sadly, we almost lost you. You almost lost your life. Did that change you, how you look at life or how you approach your comedy at all?
I think so. I’m more appreciative of life. I don’t take things for granted as much as I probably did when I was younger. I’m a lot more focused.
You always have really solid relationship material. Is there any funny advice you’d give the single people who are feeling lonely?
I don’t know if there’s any funny advice I have, but the only thing you can do is keep hope alive if you want it to work! You got to put in the hours and the time and it has to be worth it.
So, of course my final question is the one everyone wants the answer to. When we will see Bad Boys 3?
We’re working on it. I don’t have a specific date, but I believe it’s going to happen.
Martin Lawrence Doin’ Time: Uncut is also available on DVD now!
This weekend we celebrate Thanksgiving, or as some correct history purists might refer to it– the systematic murder of the original American settlers. A lot has been written about the first Thanksgiving. How accurate those accounts in American History books that line the shelves of our Elementary schools are, at best, questionable. Regardless it’s the second Thanksgiving that hasn’t been explored nearly as much. Until now.
Thanks to We Are Thomasse, a married British-American comedy team comprised of Nick Afka Thomas and Sarah Ann Masse, we finally get a peek into what went down on the eve of history’s second ever Thanksgiving celebration. Probably. Shot within a beautiful Fall backdrop, we find our happy Pilgrim couple collecting fire wood and discussing plans for Thanksgiving dinner. Elenor wants to invite all their friends, including the Native Americans again. Husband John, however, doesn’t think that’s a great idea– for a myriad of reasons, most of which, as you can imagine, are suspect. Check out the action below to see if they can come to some sort of agreement– you know, in the spirit of Thanksgiving.
If you’re into the video, be sure to check out We Are Thomasse online; the comedy team releases a new video every two weeks.
Comedian/musician Reggie Watts brings viewers along on a one-of-a-kind surrealist experimental comedy adventure in his Netflix Original Comedy Special, Reggie Watts: Spatial, premiering Friday, December 6. The completely improvised show weaves together sketches, short stories, and dream sequences creating a truly unique experience. Filmed live on a soundstage in Los Angeles, Watts waxes poetic about flight, grits, and guns – and takes the audience on a trip fantastic they will not soon forget.
Debuting at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival to critical acclaim, Barry is a nuanced, artistic exploration of a pivotal year in the life of the 44th President of the United States. A young Barack Obama, known to his friends as “Barry,” arrives in New York City in the fall of 1981 to begin his junior year at Columbia University. His experiences over that pivotal school year lay the foundation for his views on race, government, and what it means to be an American.
Director Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré, HBO’s “Vice”), a Columbia University alumni, approached fellow alum Adam Mansbach (author of “Go the F**k to Sleep”) to help tell this origin story, and from that collaboration Mansbach penned the script.
The film stars Australian newcomer Devon Terrell in a breakout performance as Barry, and features a strong supporting cast including Ashley Judd (Divergent, Double Jeopardy), Jenna Elfman (Friends With Benefits, Big Stone Gap), and up-and-comers Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Avi Nash (Learning to Drive, “Silicon Valley”).
To say it’s a rarity that a musician is inspired to write a song about a comedian would be an understatement. And that’s why this just-released song about universally respected comedian Emo Philips is such an endearing, thoughtful tribute. Written and performed by musician Henning Ohlenbusch, who once opened for Philips, the song – simply titled “Emo Philips” — is a delicate guitar ballad tastefully peppered with piano. In two minutes, Ohlenbusch deftly encapsulates the spirit of Philips, known for his understated and absolutely warped joke writing.
Apparently Ohlenbusch heard through Philips’ booking agent the comedian asked if the musician would write a song about him. Ohlenbusch said of course!
“I decided pretty early on that it would be useless and ultimately not very interesting to try to make a funny song,” Ohlenbusch says about the writing process. “Instead, I focused on this image in my head of Philips’ sad, innocent facial expressions.”
And Ohlenbusch delivers for sure. You can listen to the song below (we’ve lovingly transcribed the lyrics to enhance your experience).
Just when we got our bearings straight, we took this sudden strange left turn. How’d we end up here? Emo led the way…Emo…
We tried to catch a rising star, on our parents VCR. Letterman next day, we all heard David say…. Emo…
A continental breakfast in another hotel lobby. All those years ago did they say it’s just a hobby? After the first night did you think that it would last? A whole life spent making people laugh.
And when each evening ends, Emo stands alone on the stage and thanks us for being his friend… Then he heads out on the road again.
“I will never, ever, ever, write funnier, darker, more disturbing more inappropriate and 100 percent clean jokes than Emo Philips. Good God,” Patton Oswalt once said of the veteran comedian.
“Emo Philips” is available for streaming and download at:
This may be the most tenuous Thanksgiving for families in the history of modern day Thanksgivings. And doubt the Election 2016 will be the made reason. Thankfully, Saturday Night Live delivered a trio of stellar sketches to help us all connect in our pain and misery. And because we love you, we’ve thoughtfully embedded them here. The first features Cecily Strong in a Target commercial that encourages people to visit its story– but not exactly for their offerings inside. The second sketch employs the brilliant Kristen Wiig, the former cast member who hosted the Saturday Night Live this weekend, as Sue (“The Surprise Lady), one of Wiig’s old characters. The third sketch below was cut for time and is the most bizarre but maybe the funniest.
As a little bonus we found a pair of older sketches featuring Wiig as The Surprise Lady. The first we find Wiig unable to handle the excitement when Playskool employees (Steve Buscemi, Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, Bill Hader) gather in the break room to surprise a coworker who’s about to get a big promotion. And the second we find Chris (Josh Brolin) revealing to his friends that he’s planning on proposing to his girlfriend (Casey Wilson) and Wiig must contain her excitement, nearly ruining the surprise when the suspense gets the best of her. Enjoy
We’ll have more information on Dave Chappelle‘s deal with Netflix as it’s available. But for now here’s what we just got from Netflix. Exciting stuff to say the least.
Dave Chappelle is bringing his blistering brand of comedy to Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, with three all-new stand-up specials. Chappelle and director Stan Lathan will produce an original stand-up comedy special exclusively for Netflix, with its premiere date to be announced. Two additional never-before-seen specials come directly from Chappelle’s personal comedy vault. Directed by Lathan and filmed at Austin City Limits and The Hollywood Palladium, these represent Chappelle’s first concert specials in 12 years and are slated to be released simultaneously in 2017.
“Dave Chappelle is a legendary voice in comedy — searing, vital, and now more than ever, essential,” said Lisa Nishimura, VP of Original Documentary and Comedy. “Dave’s three new specials promise to be some of the most anticipated events in comedy, and we are honored he will mark his global return on Netflix.”
Chappelle is a stand-up comedian and actor whose trademark wit and sharp irreverent social commentary most often explores race, popular culture, sex, drugs, politics and fame. The panoramic monologue he delivered during his debut on Saturday Night Live — the highest rated SNL in three years – was the comic relief the country needed following the 2016 Presidential election that personified our nation’s deep racial divide.
Arguably the most prolific touring comic on the circuit, Chappelle has performed over 500 concerts in the past three years, selling out shows within minutes of the announcements. In 2014, Chappelle sold out an unprecedented 10 consecutive comedy performances at Radio City Music Hall. Chappelle’s engagement at Radio City marked his first announced performances in New York City in over 10 years. It also celebrated the 10th anniversary of his concert documentary, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, filmed during the summer of 2004 in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Chappelle was the mastermind behind the 2003 sketch comedy hit, The Chappelle Show – one of the highest rated programs on Comedy Central. The show earned three Emmy nominations and went on to become one of the best-selling TV shows in DVD history.
It’s comforting to know that president-elect Donald Trump is such a huge fan of comedy that, despite his busy schedule of meeting with some of the country’s worst possible candidates for his cabinet positions, he’s still making time to watch Saturday Night Live. How would we know such a seemingly mundane, unimportant detail about the man who will become the most powerful world leader this January?
Well, it’s because part of the new, twisted reality in which we live, the president of the United States is a sociopathic billionaire who has the social media presence of an 11-year-old middle child. “I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?,” Trump tweeted Sunday.
Alec Baldwin later responded, also on Twitter: “Equal time? Election is over. There is no more equal time.” He also wrote that now as Trump tries to be president, people respond and “that’s pretty much it,” adding, “I’d be focused on improving our reputation abroad, including actually fighting for freedom and not just oil.”
The Saturday Night Live cold open in question presents Trump post-election and in a desperate and frantic state attempting to understand what exactly he’s gotten himself into. Also noteworthy is that Kate McKinnon is back opposite Baldwin’s Trump, but not as Hillary Clinton. This time, she reprises her role as Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager and now one of his top aides. In SNL‘s version, Conway isn’t the despicable, lying, gaslight specialist she is in real life. Rather, she’s a human that has regrets about doing her job too well.
Conway appeared on CNN this morning where she defended Trump’s compulsive, immature use of Twitter.
“Why take it up? Why take up ‘SNL’? No president does that. Why waste time? Why distract?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Conway.
“Why do you care?” Conway responded, adding, among other things, “Who’s to say he can’t do that? Make a comment — spend five minutes sending a tweet, making a comment.”
SF Sketchfest presented by Audible will celebrate the 16th annual San Francisco Comedy Festival January 12-29, 2017, with more than 200 shows featuring top comedic talents performing in 20 venues across the city. The 17-day festival will feature major comedy stars and the best up-and-coming comedians from around the world for non-stop entertainment including sketch, stand-up, alternative comedy, music, improv, films, tributes, live podcasts, workshops, and panel discussions.
Audible will be the presenting sponsor of the 16th annual festival. They’ll be presenting live versions of some of their original comedy series, including “Hold On with Eugene Mirman,” “The Guest List,” “Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,” “Fresh Voice of Stand-Up” and more. The full seasons of these, early access to top comedy albums, and many other original comedy shows – from Nick Offerman’s “Bedtime Stories for Cynics” to Will Arnett’s “The Comedy Show Show” – are available exclusively on Audible’s new mobile app Channels, along with a wide range of audio programming.
This year SF Sketchfest has teamed up with 826 Valencia, a nonprofit organization that provides free writing, tutoring and publishing programs to under-resourced students in San Francisco. Founded by educator Ninive Calegari and author Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia comprises two writing centers–a flagship location in the Mission District and a new center in the Tenderloin neighborhood–and three satellite classrooms in Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, Everett Middle School and Mission School. This year 826 Valencia will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and, as part of the official festival program, SF Sketchfest will host a benefit show called “Soundtracks Live” featuring scenes and live music from a classic 1980s teen comedy with actors Matt Ballard, Michael Ian Black, Beth Dover, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Marisa Ryan, Michael Showalter, Bobby Tisdale, and David Wain, with music by Amy Miles.
Before I get into this let me just say that I understand this is a site that covers the world of comedy and that the following words may seem “off brand” for Laughspin. But take a few glances at your Twitter feed, populated with your favorite comedians, and shows like Last Week Tonight, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee — even Stephen Colbert who’s no longer exactly doing a political comedy show anymore — and you’ll notice that the election of Donald Trump is a concern for many of our funny friends. So, bear with me. Because I, too, am deeply disturbed by what’s gone down in the United States in the last few weeks.
Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart sat down with Charlie Rose for CBS This Morning for an interview that aired yesterday. What we find is a measured Stewart who, despite the justified horror expressed by the nation’s Democrats, liberals and those who otherwise supported Hillary Clinton or didn’t support Donald Trump during the presidential election, opines that we’re the same country we were two weeks ago. The overall take-away from the chat with Rose (a second part will air next week) is that there is a lot more nuance in play when it comes to who Trump supporters are. Stewart, for example, warned against those who voted for Hillary Clinton who are now labeling all Donald Trump supporters racist.
“I thought Donald Trump disqualified himself at numerous points,” Stewart says. “But there is now this idea that anyone who voted for him is — has to be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. Like, there are guys in my neighborhood that I love, that I respect, that I think have incredible qualities who are not afraid of Mexicans, and not afraid of Muslims, and not afraid of blacks. They’re afraid of their insurance premiums. In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look as Muslims as a monolith. They are the individuals and it would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real in our country.”
While I agree with Stewart’s fundamental sentiment — that voting for Trump doesn’t make you a racist nor does it mean you agree with all of his actions, regardless of how disturbing — he makes it way too easy for Trump supporters to circumvent responsibility. As John Oliver so effectively outlined on the Last Week Tonight finale this past Sunday, Donald Trump was not a normal presidential candidate and he shouldn’t have been treated like one and we shouldn’t, moving forward, treat him like a normal President of the United States, especially now with his cabinet picks coming to light. With other candidates it may have been acceptable (but only slightly) to vote on one issue– abortion, gun control, healthcare, campaign finance reform, insurance premiums, as Stewart mentions, whatever– because no other candidate was as overtly dangerous as this one. Comedian Hari Kondabolu put it more succinctly this morning on Twitter.
All Trump supporters may not be racist, but they all certainly are accomplices in racism.
— Hari Kondabolu (@harikondabolu) November 18, 2016
Election 2016 was like none other in American history. Some traditional voting practices should’ve been heaved in favor of doing what’s best for the country, despite your political party. It was an election of common sense. And, I’m sorry. But if you thought Trump was the answer to more jobs, a better tax system or whatever it is you believed or made yourself believe a sociopathic billionaire would do for you, then you’re missing a lot of facts– or you’re blissfully ignoring the facts because you hate yourself but love voting against your best interests.
To be clear, this was a triage election that needed votes to be pragmatic and nothing more.
America was bleeding. Hillary Clinton was the bandage that would’ve helped stop the election gore so the U.S. could live to fight another day; Donald Trump was the knife that caused the bleeding in the first place. We didn’t have the luxury of basing our vote on our favorite issue. Our only issue this election cycle should’ve been: let’s not allow the lying, pathologically narcissistic reality show host — the only commander-in-chief candidate in modern time not to release his taxes despite perhaps having the greatest degree of potential conflicts of interest in presidential history — to become the leader of the country we love.
If you voted for Trump in spite of his racist comments about Mexicans, his xenophobic attitude toward Muslims, his bragging about having the permission to sexually assault women due to his fame, his constant and very public references throughout the years about how, if he wasn’t married, he’d date his daughter Ivanka; his well-documented history of stiffing small business owners, his promise to silence American media if they report on things he doesn’t like, his adoration for Russian President Vladimir Putin (who has, in fact, done a great job, himself, silencing Russian journalists) or his tax plan that, regardless of what he said during campaign rallies about lowering rates for the middle class, will mostly benefit the top 1 percent and actually hurt middle class families, then I weep for you.
Does it mean you’re racist? Not necessarily. I’d go out on a limb and say, however, it means you’re not paying attention or, at the very least, you have terrible judgment and a distorted view of priorities. You probably lack foresight, too. And it also means you’re ok with a man who represents so much of what is vile about this country. It wouldn’t have taken a political science scholar or an American History professor to have anticipated that the emboldened-by-Trump far right would begin to act out on their prejudices. You may be a Trump voter who believes this type of hatred is disgusting. But you contributed to it. You’re not allowed to vote for the Trump who’s just pro-Israel or anti-abortion (or whatever cause to which you subscribe). You have to vote for the whole steaming pile of vacuous bluster.
Below is Stewart’s take on the situation. I guess he’s a lot more understanding than I am about the whole situation.
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