It's all about bouncing back

Friday, September 26, 2008

MaxFunCon -- Sold Out

For those of you attending -- can't wait to see you there!

For those of you who missed it -- how can you ever hope to become truly awesome?

Lucky for you, the ever generous Jesse has started a wait list. Check for more info.

Letterman Spanks McCain

It is probably the most popular video on YouTube today, but I wanted to post it here on the Rabbit both to assure a complete historical record and as a public service to those of you who may have been living down a rabbit hole for the past 24 hours. It is a true thing of beauty. God bless David Letterman.

My warmth towards Dave has really grown these past few years. It seems to me that, since his heart attack and the birth of his child, he is a different man. I don't think he particularly seems to care if what he says offends network leadership -- or anyone else. He is old -- he is successful -- and he has proven himself. He has earned to the right to call it exactly like he sees it -- and not too many people in television are in that position.

It must feel great. :-)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Patton Oswalt, Seattle's Moore Theater, Sept. 6, 2008

I’m really not in the habit of crying tears of laughter five minutes into a comedy show. Especially when the headliner’s performance opens with a fairly straightforward (albeit long form) dick joke (no pun intended). Yet somehow Patton Oswalt managed to bring me to this state during the very first story of his show at Seattle’s Moore Theater. And I am still completely amazed.

It’s a testament to his skill. The very fine specificity of his word choice and delivery can bring even the simplest premise to an unanticipated level of funny – and quickly. I especially enjoy the way his marries that careful attention to detail with his own unique enthusiasm for his subject matter (even when that is not his own penis). The central joy of watching him perform is that it doesn’t matter whether he’s talking about his dick or the Bush Administration – whatever the topic, he engages with it fully and completely.

I don’t necessarily have anything against comics who define themselves by their cool and semi-contemptuous distance from the world around them; but Patton’s warmth and excitement for day-to-day existence is completely enchanting – and it is a big reason why he has become such an engaging performer.

I’m not suggesting, by the way, that his worldview is innocent or childlike. Quite the opposite. The natural and inevitable result of bringing such an upbeat, curious, energetic approach to the real world is, I suspect, repeated disappointment. And that disappointment provides him with more than enough cynicism to produce effective, mature commentary. In fact, he has a great piece in the show where he tells a story that comments on how the two parts of personality -- the upbeat and the cynical -- clashed while on the press tour for Ratatouille.

On the one hand, the exuberance and zeal that Oswalt brought to the role of Remy makes his character endearing to children. (In fact, I’ve heard Patton say in previous interviews that it was his enthusiasm and joie de vive that caused Brad Bird to cast him). Yet, at the same time, he acknowledges that, in his dealings with children during the press tour, he finally recognized how much he actually relies on cynicism as the basis for many of his dealings with the outside world. He encapsulates this with one of the best lines of the night by saying that: “my family coat of arms should just be two rolling eyes, a bag of Cheetos and the work “Fuck!” Crisp – perfect - awesome.

By the end of the evening, what really shone through the entire performance was Patton’s full-hearted passion– for life, and for his art. Frankly, it’s something that I, as an avid comedy follower, just don’t see enough of these days. And it truly sets him apart.

Thanks for stopping by Seattle, Patton!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Edgar Wright on aging alongside your characters

Great new interview of Edgar Wright on KCRW's "The Treatment."

The interview covers one of the Rabbit's favorite themes in comedic creativity: how to address the fears and challenges of getting older?

During the interview, Wright discusses how the characters that he has created through the years, along with his partners Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, have each been age-specific. In other words, when the group was in their 20s, during the creation of "Spaced", they wrote about themes such as finding a career path, exploring new identities, struggling for integrity and understanding their own emotions. As they moved towards 30, with "Shaun of the Dead," they started to address the great questions of that decade: how long one should wait before truly taking action? When should you get on with your life? And do you have to wait until zombies attack your town to answer these questions?

With their third collaboration, "Hot Fuzz", the team started to address the issues that one faces after already excelling in a particular field. The lead character is old enough to actually know who he is and what he is good at -- but he is held back the classic bugaboos of encroaching middle age: small-minded superiors and backwoods boredom.

Happily, Wright says that the team is working on a fourth project which will deal with the biggest threat of middle age and beyond: the gross dangers of attempting to relive the glories of one's youth. That could be the best one yet.

You can hear the interview here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

John Hodgman discusses molemen, revolution and his personal drone battle on Boing Boing TV

Irresistible chick-magnet John Hodgman grants an interview with Boing Boing TV to discuss his soon-to-be-released "More Information than You Require".

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Asssscat Premiere: Andy Daly's "Nine Sweaters"

Debut CD by the very spiffy Andrew Daly will be available tomorrow!! For those of you who follow LA comedy, it promises to compile the material from his Comic Death Ray performances. For those who haven't had the privilege of seeing Daly live, trust the Rabbit: He is a very creative performer with wonderful characters.

Review to follow as soon as I can get my hands on a copy! (Which, by the way, you can purchase from A Special Thing).

Friday, September 5, 2008

More Hodgman on Politics

Again, John Hodgman has the twitter you want to follow if you love political humor. From the night of Sarah Palin's speech:

"Also, thanks Sarah Palin. Before tonight, I didn't realize that community service was purely for elite homos."

Perfect. I continue to be amazed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Kristen Schall and Kurt Braunohler at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Saw this clip and had to share. I haven't seen them work together previously, but hope to see more. Kristen is completely awesome. I've been a fan since "Flight of the Conchords" and truly I just can't get enough of her.

The Maximum Amount of Fun Permitted by Law -- MaxFunCon

Picture yourself enjoying the maximum amount of fun permitted by law.

Picture your friends maxing out by your side.

Picture comedy, movies, cooking, chatting, hot tubbing and s'mores by a beautiful alpine lake in southern California.

Picture a small rabbit doing cartwheels of delight through a pastoral field of mountain clover.

All of this and John Hodgman, too?! It's true!

THAT, my dear little snuggums, is MaxFunCon. In my mind, anyway. I haven't actually gone yet; but I've purchased a ticket and my bags are packed. Ten months in advance.

More importantly than all of this: I definitely think YOU should go. So that we can hang out, tell stories and discover new ways to be awesome.

Please join us!

xoxo, The Rabbit.

Hodgman on Obama

Personally, I'm not much of a Twitter-er; but John Hodgman has nearly perfected the form. If you add only one Twitter to your RSS feed this year, it should be his. (Although, I also really enjoy his blog simply written in Twitter form -- concise, direct, to the point).

I'm much delayed in posting links to some of my favorite Hodg-man posts from the past few weeks, but this one, posted in response to Obama's acceptance speech last week, probably tops my list.

Rolling Stone's Ode to the "Big Lebowski"

For those of you still reveling in your memories of the most recent Dude Fest, Rolling Stone has an amazing article out on the Big Lebowski and its history called "The Decade of the Dude".

Major devotees of the Dude should also check out some of the great graphic art featured on the website for the fest. Perfect for hanging in the home or office -- something to glance at as you sip your next White Russian. Sample below.

Eugene Mirman at the Republican National Convention

Mirman has a fun series going on 23/6 providing regular coverage from the Republican National Convention. The interactions with Tucker Carlson are my favorite. For reasons I don't understand, I laugh compulsively and somewhat uncontrollably whenever I see Carlson. It's actually more of a guffaw, but I think you know what I'm saying.

This clip covers initial reaction at the convention to the selection of Sarah Palin as VP nominee:

Bumbershoot Wrap Up: Maron, Garofalo, Human Giant, Miller, TSOYA and a Different Type of Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend has always been magical for me. When I was younger, I would usually spend this warm August holiday at Burning Man. It was a great escape and a unique opportunity to bond with my friends, enjoy the outdoors and experience art on a cellular level. But there is an age, my little chickadees, past which that sort of hippy pagan love-fest behavior becomes unseemly and inappropriate. When you reach this age, you need to find a different way to celebrate the end of summer.

So that's how I ended up spending this past weekend at the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival. While walking from the ferry terminal to the Seattle Center on Sunday, I was excited by the potential parallels of Bumbershoot to the Man. There would, after all, be a wide variety of art to explore and experience -- visual, performing and otherwise. There would still be a chance to spend a great deal of time outdoors -- lounging on the lawns and listening to local bands, watching the fountains and talking with friends. Also, on the plus side, very little chance of naked strangers approaching my picnic table to tell me their life story. Yes, I thought, this could be good.

And it was good. In particular, the performances I was lucky enough to experience were excellent. I caught the Sound of Young America which included performances by and interviews with both Human Giant and Rhett Miller. The Human Giant gang opened with a great parody of an inspirational basketball team that promoted cloyingly upbeat "life coach" methodologies ("Put your hopes and dreams into the ball -- and then pass it!"). Very funny stuff -- I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. They stayed behind afterwards to chat with Jesse. The discussion was less of the usual TSOYA style -- they didn't delve much into technique or how they create their work. Instead, the conversation had an improv session feel to it which was relaxed, funny and, surprisingly, very charming. The next TSOYA performer was Rhett Miller who gave a totally exciting, high energy performance of two songs that completely won me over. Apparently, he had literally run to the show from the airport as his plane had been delayed. You would never know it, though -- he was fully engaged and the audience was enthralled. It was a brief but exciting set. It's always a wonderful feeling when someone takes your breath away unexpectedly. And based on the reactions of friends and others in the audience, I wasn't the only one left gasping.

Later in the evening I was lucky enough to catch the Satiristas show with Rep. Richard Martin, Tom Rhodes, Janeane Garofalo and Marc Maron. Martin was a much stronger opener than I had expected. His "Ask a Republican" show -- performed in character as an imagined Republican Congressman from Ohio -- takes questions from the audience about politics, culture and the election. In a way, this has the advantage of somewhat limiting the world of questions likely to arise since I would bet that most audiences focus on the same hot button issues; but that doesn't take away from his mastery of the material or the style and confidence with which he presents it. He uses the stereotypical dress and demeanor of his character (right down to the flag pin on the lapel) to create a sickly sweet faux charm that had me laughing even before he answered his first question. Timely, effective, funny.

Rhodes was second and took a bit of a while to get going, but eventually delivered a solid middle performance that definitely got the crowd on his side. I hadn't seen him perform live before, would definitely seek him out again.

Garofalo followed with her own typical firebrand review of the events of the day -- warming up with a biting hit at Sarah Palin and the RNC's cynical attempt to reach former Hilary supporters. ("Oh look! Another lady! I have to vote for the lady!") I haven't seen her in years, and nearly all of the material was very fresh, current and new to me. The only surprise was in my own mind -- she looked older than I remembered. I suppose that happens eventually when you follow a comedian for nearly 20 years. I felt the same when I saw Maron -- as though he had aged about 10 years since I last saw him perform in the fall. What happened here? Weren't all my heroes supposed to be ageless and timeless? Aren't they all going to live forever? Please?

Maron closed and was pitch perfect as usual. Since I had seen him perform more recently, I had actually heard much of the material before, but that didn't dilute its appeal. Myself and those nearest to me laughed till we were in pain -- the best kind of pain. His material -- despite the name of the show -- wasn't political. And I didn't mind that either. We all exited happy -- just in time to watch the evening sun light up the fountain at the center of the festival and turn it into golden sparkling droplets. It was truly a wonderful evening.

The only downside for me, really, was that it is somewhat tricky to transition one's brain from the atmosphere of no-cash hippy free-for-all to a highly commercial festival with long lines, loud barkers and unbiquitous cell phone advertisements. Bumershoot is a blur of vendors, product giveaways, and long lines. Make no mistake: this isn't art brought to you by the masses; this is art brought to you by Samsung. On the upside: free Starbucks pumpkin spice latte for everybody! And those things are powerful tasty!! Yum.

Friday, August 29, 2008

David Mitchell Interview on TSOYA

Since I seem to have made an annoying habit of providing you with every tiny speck of "Peep Show" news I come across, I feel I should mention that there is a great interview with David Mitchell buried in the Sound of Young America archives which you should really just listen to immediately.

You can find it here or, if I'm really lucky today, then an audio link will appear below. Here's hoping:

The Sound of Young America: David Mitchell

Yes! Awesome! Enjoy!

Matthews and Olbermann --- the funniest comedy duo on U.S. television

I have been fairly glued to U.S. political news this week -- not only because Rabbits are good citizens, but also because MSNBC currently hosts its coverage with the most humorous comedy duo currently working on U.S. television -- straight man Chris "Tweety Bird" Matthews and master of the political one-liner, Keith Olbermann.

I'm glad to the see that the Daily Show has finally milked this team's amazing evening banter for its full comedic worth:

Bonus Chris Matthews fun: Check out this great story Mike Birbiglia posted recently about Matthews' attempted heckling at a comedy roast. Once again, Tweety ends up as the straight man; but frankly, he deserves it. Who would throw a bottle at anyone as sweet and cuddly as Birbiglia? Unbelievable.

Robert Popper -- "Look Around You"

Robert Popper is responsible for many of your best Britcom laughs. He has produced multiple episodes of "Peep Show" (including the amazing "Wedding" episode) -- he appeared in "Shaun of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz" AND "Spaced". That should really be enough, shouldn't it?

Oh, but there's so much more. This week's Sound of Young America podcast features an interview with Robert Popper that discusses his series "Look Around You" -- a brilliant poke at the educational films of our youth -- and his wonderful book "The Timewaster Letters" (written under the nom de plume of Robert Cooper). If you like the lovely "Look Around You" clip from episode one below, then do listen to the podcast of Jesse's interview with him and Popper's interesting analysis of how he developed the show. As Jesse notes, the whole approach is somewhat different from how the same genre has been mocked in the U.S. and I think that's part of what makes it interesting for me. Also: funny.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Soon to Be Classic Quips from Mitch Hedberg's "Do You Believe in Gosh?"

I had the recent honor of listening to an advance copy of Comedy Central's soon to be released Mitch Hedberg performance CD "Do You Believe in Gosh?"

In my review, though, I didn't have a chance to include some of my favorite jokes from the CD. Here is just a sampling of the many that I think will soon become oft-quoted Herberg classics:

"I'm drinking Nyquil on the rocks -- for when you're feeling sick, but sociable."

"I'm done with the soup of the day. I want to know what the soup will be from now on."

"If I had a dollar for every time I said that, I would be making money in a really weird way."

"Every Improv has the name of the club spelled out on the brick wall behind the stage. If you have a bad set and come back the next night, they add an "e" on to the end."

"I'm working for 50% of the door tonight; and 50% of the door tomorrow night. By Sunday, I will have a complete door."

"The easiest way to collect stamps is to stop mailing shit."

"The sign on the record store said 'Hard to Find Records and Tapes.' Nothing in the store was alphabetized."

If you like these, you will definitely enjoy the dozens of additional gems that grace "Do You Believe in Gosh?" The CD will be released on Sept. 9th by Comedy Central Records.

Classic Clips from the 2008 Comedy.if Champ: David O'Doherty -- Superpowers and FAQ

For all of us who didn't make it to Edinburgh this year, here are a few clips from this year's comedy.if winner, David O'Doherty (awesome additional funny from Russell Brand in the first clip):

Monday, August 25, 2008

Steve Coogan Developing Pilot for HBO?

Steve Coogan has told the LA Times that he is in talks with HBO to develop a pilot with Justin Theroux who co-wrote "Tropic Thunder."

Obviously, the Rabbit approves. American television audiences need more Coogan and they need him now. HBO is also the perfect home for his work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Maron v. Seder EVERY DAY!!

So Marc Maron and Sam Seder re-launched their video podcast program last week with a Big Announcement: They will be posting a new show every day between now and the election! They have also been offered a new show on Air America -- working as a team -- that Maron has promised will included a number of creative humor elements as well as straight political commentary. Maron may even bring back some of his classic team from the late great Morning Sedition!

Through the end of this coming week, however, watch Sam's site for detailed daily Seder v. Maron coverage of the DNC Convention in Denver. (Well, with Seder in Denver and Marc -- of course -- in his kitchen in L.A. It's just like old times! The comedy of daily life mixed with politics served just the way I like it. Plum pudding perfect [minus a few technical challenges, natch]).

Now if only I could convince Keith Olbermann to broadcast Countdown from his kitchen whilst still wearing his pajamas. No? Please?

I am very, very happy. It's like Christmas, Easter, my birthday and election day all rolled into one easy to download delight!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

BBC1 Considering A New "Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin"

Chortle is reporting that BBC1 is planning to make a new version of the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

Reignald Perrin without Leonard Rossiter? Heresy!

To the venerable heads of the Beeb, I must say, "Don't Mess with Perfection."

Okay - yes - I confess -- I'll watch!

But it's still wrong.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sound of Young America Announces Bumbershoot Guests

I already know you are going to see The Sound of Young America each day at Bumbershoot. But you're still pondering: Who will Jesse interview on these shows?

Rabbit has the answers!

Lifted from the Maximum Fun forums:

Interview Guests:
Janeane Garofolo
Adrian Tomine
Chip Kidd

Comedy Guests:
Human Giant
Tig Notaro
Greg Behrendt

Music Guests:
Jonathan Coulton


I recommend that you show up early to get seats for these sweet shows.

Also: bring carrots and alfalfa for the Rabbit!

Bookmark this on Delicious

Maron v. Seder Returns Today

Maron v. Seder will return to the podcast universe today at 3pm Eastern, Noon Pacific.

There are also rumors that they will be podcasting during the DNC convention next week (with Seder in Denver and Marc -- in his kitchen!) They're back, baby!

I can't wait!! You can connect to the SammyCam here during broadcast.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hear Clips from Mitch Hedberg's "Do You Believe in Gosh?"

Punchline has posted a link to the site where you can hear some pre-release clips from "Do You Believe in Gosh?" -- the new Mitch Hedberg CD that Comedy Central Records will release on Sept. 9th.

Bookmark this on Delicious

Daily Show Twin Cities Billboard Welcomes the RNC

Stunning. Very excited to see what they post in Denver for the Dems.

5th Season of Ricky Gervais Show available Sept. 16 at iTunes

As per Chortle, the fifth season of the Ricky Gervais Show (which is Always Awesome) will be available on iTunes starting Sept. 16 and will run you about £2.99 to download.

With the current exchange rate, I think that's roughly $412.

(Ed. note: Actually, about $6 and Totally Worth It).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Early Review of Mitch Hedberg's "Do You Believe in Gosh?"

Watching Mitch Hedberg perform was always a creative delight. I loved his pithy beatnik style, the imaginative spin he put on each premise and the unexpected twists he delivered that the audience never saw coming. The heart of his charm, however, was his warm, happy and playful stage presence. No bitterness or anger -- when Mitch was performing, the evening was warm, gleeful and fun.

So, like all of you, I miss him. And I was happy to hear that I might be able to enjoy a few more magical Hedberg moments through the upcoming release of "Do You Believe in Gosh?" on Septemeber 9th. "Gosh" will feature a performance recorded nearly two months before Hedberg passed away in 2005. It includes material that he was developing for what would have been his third CD. When I was offered a chance to give the performance an early listen, I was thrilled; though I'll admit I was also initially a tad bit nervous about peeking at a work that the artist tragically hadn't been able to finalize in every detail.

Those concerns, however, melted away by the end of the first track. I adored "Do You Believe in Gosh?" - and I think other Hedberg fans will too. Everything we all loved is here -- the concise observations, the whimsical digressions, the simple love of fun. The performance is almost entirely new material. (Out of forty minutes, I only counted three brief jokes that I had heard before). Even better, the vast majority of the new material is polished and effective. Yes, a few jokes were still in development; but Hedberg dismisses them quickly with his signature giggle and almost seems to relish labeling them "retarded" and moving on.

Frankly, the mix of new, classic and still-under-development material is a surprising part of the performance's appeal. It's actually a treat to hear someone so creative and professional in the process of developing new gems. The recording feels intimate and even includes some audience work and improvised bits, which add to the cozy nightclub atmosphere.

Yes, if you were a dedicated Mitch fan, there is a small chance that you'll shed a tear by the end (or maybe that was just me), but I also predict that many new bits on this CD will become oft-quoted fan favorites. One of my top choices: "I had a piece of Carefree sugarless gum and I was still worried. It never kicked in." That is classic Mitch.

Maron doing Bumershoot warm up gigs at Comedy Cellar in NYC?

Lots of posts this morning from folks who were lucky enough to catch Marc Maron recently at the Comedy Cellar in NYC where he seems to be prepping some political material -- perhaps to get ready for his Satiristas gig at Bumbershoot; but also, I suspect, just because it's so much fun to do during an election year. (Hopeful rumors also abound that Maron will be doing some Seder v. Maron shows with Sam during the DNC convention. I would *love* that).

Awesome. Labor Day weekend cannot arrive soon enough for me . . . so excited for the festival, and especially for Satiristas.

Edited to add in a fun recent clip from the Maron/Proops Experiment which -- as I have told you many times before -- is a treat. You should never miss a chance to go -- if only to check out what is happening at this point with their increasingly strange middle-aged hair styles. Seriously -- is that a small porcupine above Proops' forehead? Why does it flutter in the non-existent wind?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Great Derangement

I don't usually cover written humor in the Rabbit, but as a diehard fan of politically-focused chuckles, I have to make a small exception to provide a high hop election-year endorsement for Matt Taibbi's most recent work "The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire".

Taibbi is the current national affairs editor at Rolling Stone. The downside to holding this golden post is that readers will always quietly compare him to Hunter S. Thompson and P. J. O'Rourke. On the upside, Taibbi's insight and humor stand up favorably in the comparison. He continues the gonzo tradition of inserting himself directly into stories that exemplify the nation's current political and cultural tableau; but he does so in a manner that is somewhat less snide or superior. He is confident, but certainly more self-effacing than his predecessors. He's also simply a masterful wordsmith who brings a wry perspective to our nation's current state of cultural retardation.

But don't let my reference to his own modesty and general decency lead you to believe that fans of political snark (I count myself amongst them) won't find plenty to love. Taibbi sets out to throw himself into the middle of the country and find out what has gone so terribly wrong that we find growing extremes of ridiculousness on both the left and the right. To find kinship with the Right, he spends time living in Texas with a group of evangelical Christians; and to reach the far left he joins a group of 9/11 conspiracy theorists. His key thesis is that the groups are far too similar in their willingness to disengage from the rest of the nation. "Abandoned by the political center, both groups ascribed unblinkingly to a militant, us-against-them worldview, where only their own could be trusted. What made them distincly American was that, while actually the victims of an obvious, unhidden conspiracy of corrupt political power, they chose to battle bugbears that were completely idiotic, fanciful and imaginary."

My favorite quote in the book comes from when Taibbi first sets out on his quest: "I decided to pick a spot on the map, go there, and get retarded. If the country was going to flip out, I didn't want to be left behind." Certainly you can hear the echos of Rolling Stone editors past in that quote. But Taibbi does maintain his own voice -- particularly when expressing true compassion for the individual Americans he meets during the journey. For that reason, even (especially) long-time Thompson and O'Rourke fans should absolutely give it a read.

Serious blast from your comedy nerd past

Recent Tony Clifton appearance in Chicago. AV Club has the full story.

Bumbershoot Day 3 -- Human Giant

Okay -- I've spent hours trying to sort this -- but I think the highest and best use of your third and final Bumbershoot comedy pass would be to see Human Giant & Friends.

I don't know who will be appearing with the MTV gang, but I'm curious to see how a group that usually depends fairly heavily on taped bits will function with an audience. Also, after a serious political evening with the Satiristas, I'm just expecting to feel the need for silly:

Appearance schedule:

* Saturday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre
* Sunday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre
* Monday, 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre

Monday, August 18, 2008

Possible Bill Hicks Bio Pic

Joyful Monday for the Rabbit as I find another item that I can file away in the folder marked "Mixing Two Things I Love." In this case, a truly unlikely combo, but I am deeply excited nevertheless:

Russell Crowe in talks to play Bill Hicks in a possible bio-pic.

Yes please.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Funniest School in America

Few experiences shape our mind, character and opinions more than school. Something happened yesterday which caused me to ponder how much my choice of university has influenced my taste in comedy (or perhaps it's the other way around?) I was flipping through some alumni materials recently and found that, much to my extreme delight, Lewis Black, John Hodgman and Dmitri Martin all went to my college! (Okay -- I knew about Hodgman since he mentions it in his book), but the others were a wonderful surprise.

That particular set of comedic talents shares such a strong intelligence and subtle wit that I admire them almost as much or more than the tremendous set of traditional scholars that the place has produced. So thanks to each of them for doing the ol' alma mater proud.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Plans for your Bumbershoot Comedy Pass, Part 2: Satiristas

Okay -- so let's say that on day two of the festival you grab a comedy pass for Comedy Stage South, the Charlotte Martin Theatre. What's the don't miss show on that stage? Tough call.

Of course I'm a big fan of The Sound of Young America -- but that's the first show each day on that stage -- 2:45 pm. So there may be a chance that you can catch it without need of a priority pass. Risky, but it might be worth a try.

If you can manage it, then my pass pick would be the Satiristas show put together by Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron, Tom Rhodes and Rep. Richard Martin. Here's the show summary:

"Satiristas target political hypocrisy and media distortion. Satiristas are gladiators who slash with the sword of knowledge, block with the shield of truth, and kill with the stab of humor. Their stand-up spectacle leaves audiences enlightened by spasms of uncontrollable laughter. Stars include Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Rep. Richard (Dick) Martin and Tom Rhodes."

Which has to leave you wondering: Is Congressman Martin going to do stand-up? I'm a serious fan of political comedy, but it is probably best left to the professionals, right? And how does he find the time to get away from managing Ohio Petroleum and Synthetics? I expect that takes most of his time.

More importantly, though, a bit of research on the Satirista moniker makes me ponder how I've missed this project in its prior incarnations. The comedians who have been performing under the Satirista banner apparently include Maron, Garofalo, Greg Proops, Patton Oswalt and Dana Gould -- a fragrant bouquet of long-time favorites. So what rock have I been living under? And why isn't Paul Provenza planning to attend? Didn't he write the book on the subject? He's certainly part of the team:

Janeane Garofalo and the Satiristas - Secret Stand-Up

I have so many questions! Must check it out.


* Saturday, 6:15 PM - 7:15 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre
* Sunday, 6:15 PM - 7:15 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre
* Monday, 6:15 PM - 7:15 PM
Charlotte Martin Theatre

Planning Your Comedy Pass for Bumbershoot

Okay Puget Sound peeps - just another two weeks til Bumbershoot! With so many comedy shows to catch over three days -- how do you decide? Rabbit can help. Listen up.

The first thing to do each day will be to pick up your Comedy Pass at the Comedy Pass Distribution Booth (northwest corner of Center House) -- 11am sharp. That pass, however, will only get you into one venue for that day -- no stage hopping.

So let's say it's day one and you are starting out with checking the Intiman Theater. When do you want to be there and what don't you want to miss?
My first suggestion would be to catch the joint show put together by Jessi Klein, TJ Miller and Nick Thune.

For those of you who don't know them all, here are some select clips and notes you can use to determine whether they are your cup of tea -- and whether catching their show might be worth waiting on line for hours upon hours in the steamy August sun.

First up: Nick Thune

And then, ladies and gentlemen, TJ Miller:

Note re: Miller: Saw a rumor that he just missed the D.C. Comedy Fest because he is auditioning for SNL. So I suppose there is a small chance that, if he succeeds in said quest, he may not actually visit Seattle. Oh, the excitement and mystery of audition season!

And finally the lovely Jessi Klein.

Nick Thune, TJ Miller and Jessi Klein will be appearing every day at Bumbershoot -- here's the schedule:

Saturday -- 3:45 pm @ Intiman Theater; Sunday -- 5:30 pm @ Intiman; Monday @ 2pm Intiman.

Save a seat for the Rabbit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Peep Show Contest -- Win Season 1 on Region 1 DVD

Due to an odd set of bizarre gifting circumstances (see clip below to view a similar situation), I now have multiple copies of "Peep Show" Season 1 on Region 1 DVD.

So I thought I would give away the extras to any blog reader with sufficient interest in the show to merit the postage. I have three copies (yes, I know). So, in case more than three of you are game to check it out, I thought I'd make it interesting with a contest.

Answer this extraordinarily simple Britcom question and email your response to And then I will mail the three DVDs to the individual readers I like best. (Just kidding -- first three right answers win. I promise).

Query: The stars of "Peep Show" -- David Mitchell and Robert Webb -- met through the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club. Name the year that club was founded and three other past members.

Told you it was easy. That's because I like you.

Love, Rabbit.

See "The Line" online -- and watch the quality of web video evolve

Bill Hader and Joe Lo Truglio, backed by much of the SNL crew (including Seth Meyers [directing] and Simon Rich [writing]), have just posted the last episode in a cute web series about the nerdy joys of a goofy summer pastime unique to our generation: waiting on line, for days on end, to see your favorite new sci-fi feature.

The series is called "The Line" and there is a lot to love about these little gems. From battles with costumed uber-fans to the risk of overhearing spoilers, they capture that happy summer feeling of having too much time on your hands (combined, of course, with the two other key secrets to happiness: an all-consuming nerdy passion and a good friend to share it with). The films are also clean and nice looking -- reasonably high caliber for a simple web video. And the high production value and the star power of this series got me thinking about the level of professional comedy currently being created for direct-to-web distribution. Yes, there are lots of other folks out there trying it; but it has been a bumpy road so far. For whatever reason, though, I think that the effort has made a great leap forward over the past year. The writer's strike is certainly partly to credit (this series was started during that time, as was Dr. Horrible), but I wonder whether many writers haven't enjoyed having the opportunity to create these little low cost, low risk side projects which provide them the freedom you just can't get when operating on network (or sometimes even cable) television. And, if they have, does that mean that we can hope to see more inventive future content that provides us an alternative to the more bland material on the tube?

Answer: maybe. This series had the tremendous advantage of being backed by Lorne Michaels' production company, "Broadway Video." As per the NYT profile of the video series: "The ability of “The Line” to attract name-brand talent reflects the increasing number of writers and actors who are showing interest in original Web video. “The Line” was the first straight-to-Internet series to be produced and financed by Broadway Video, the production company founded by the “SNL” executive producer, Lorne Michaels. But it won’t be its last: the company says it will produce other Web series created by and starring “SNL” cast members, and Mr. Michaels also intends to produce Web performances by Jimmy Fallon this fall, as that former “SNL” cast member prepares to replace Conan O’Brien on “Late Night” next year."

There are seven episodes in the series -- and here is number one:

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bernie Mac, RIP

I'm very sad to report that Bernie Mac passed away yesterday evening from complications associated with pneumonia. He will be greatly missed in our home.

Perhaps this news has some connection to Cedric the Entertainer's decision to cancel his Seattle show; perhaps not. I realize that Cedric is a professional, but I can't imagine wanting to entertain a crowd so soon after the loss of a friend.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bob Odenkirk will be your Brother!

For a price.

How much would you pay?!

Cedric the Entertainer Cancels Upcoming Seattle Show

Just got an email that Ticketmaster will be refunding me the cost of my tickets to see Cedric the Entertainer. He was going to be at the WaMu Theater in Seattle on August 17th.

Anyone have the word on why? I am majorly, seriously bummed. Would have been my first chance to see him live.

Mike Birbiglia on This American Life

Mike Birbiglia fans are in for a treat -- he will be heard on this weekend's "This American Life" episode (radio, not television) which is entitled "Fear of Sleep."

Birbiglia and Glass together? If you are turned on by smooth, smart, low-key humor, this show may be the sensual highlight of your weekend.

Updated to add: Birbigs did an excellent job telling a story about the challenges he has faced in dealing with a strange sleep disorder that has left him in some very silly, annoying and downright frightening situations. With his own calming Birbiblia style, though, he makes even the dangerous and disturbing seem understandable and entertaining, rather than overwhelming. Every time I hear or see him, his storytelling powers have increased.

If you were at all curious about his upcoming off-Broadway show and tour -- The Sleeping While Standing Tour -- this performance gives you a taste of it. (You really have to hope that he wears the cute pajamas on stage, right?)

You can download the episode for free all this week at the This American Life website. While you are there, feel free to contribute to support one of the finest shows on American radio. Thanks.

But How Will Gay Marriage Impact My Commute?

Um, not at all.

Ladies and gentlemen, Geoff Tate:

Michael Ian Black and Rabbit Bites

"Rabbit Bites" is an internet video show hosted by two live bunnies and techno voiceovers. Buns and Chou Chou interview a variety of internet celebrities and, from time to time, comedians. The interviews are frequently via video conference and very deadpan (um, not terribly funny) -- hence they sport a deliberate "Space Ghost" feel. (Just to be clear, I *love* "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" -- but I think it is rather difficult to emulate effectively).

I'm not necessarily endorsing this; but given that I host a comedy site with a rabbit logo and name, I feel obligated to mention "Rabbit Bites" (though I don't know why).

If you are interested in checking it out, here is a brief interview that the buns did with Micheal Ian Black.

Again: I'm not saying this is right; I just felt you should know.

Lewis Black -- "Anticipation" -- Review

This may be my favorite Lewis Black CD yet.

I've always admired Black's energetic and angry style. He molds and directs his frustration with daily life in a direct and precise manner that stays well away from personal bitterness and focuses instead on classic "why does the world have to be this way?" bafflement. This isn't Bill Hicks anger -- it's the simple rage of the every man -- but packaged with clear writing and strong timing.

But I will admit that, much as I love his style, I was hoping that he was going to try some variations this time around. (Hey -- I love the finger pointing thing as much as anyone -- I lost my head laughing at it live -- but I always suspected he could do more). And I was not disappointed. "Anticipation" definitely allows Black to recognize that life isn't all frustration and disappointment. There are some really great moments. Unfortunately, most of those flashes of joy and hope occur just before the big events in our life -- not during. (Hence the title).

Black explores how exciting life can feel when you are looking forward to the possibility of happiness -- without dwelling too much on the disappointment that all too frequently ensues. And that leads to some very funny material (which I won't ruin for you by quoting it here. Go buy the thing -- I'm sure Black would like to retire someday).

Above all, I really enjoyed "Anticipation" because it shows Black trying to reach out beyond just seeking laughs from his projected anger. He even ends the show by explicitly saying that he wants his audience to leave laughing and happy -- not laughing but sad about the state of our world. And to facilitate that he ends the show with sincere silliness -- which suits him surprisingly well. Who knew that there was a happy, goofy Lewis Black? It's truly wonderful to see.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Edinburgh Fringe Festival -- Wish-You-Were-There Coverage

So the Fringe is well underway and you're stuck at home?

No need to fret. There are plenty of great sources for up-to-the-minute coverage and pretend-you-are-on-the-Royal-Mile fun.

Here are are few of my favorites:

Chortle (video updates daily)
The Laughter Track: Provides fairly detailed reports from one or two clubs each night.
Guardian Live at the Gilded Balloon: Comedians, performers and Guardian critics, recorded live every day at the Gilded Balloon.
Daily BBC notes and highlights.

Of course what I would like to see is a daily update on very cool 1st annual "comedy only" section of the fest!

But I haven't found that yet. If you see such a blog or podcast, please send it my way!!

And don't feel too badly about staying home. As ever, many folks think the comedy there is losing its edge anyway.

xoxo, Rabbit

Peep Show Season 5 -- Guardian Review and Interview; Peep Show Contest Coming Soon!

I know. You're tired of hearing about Peep Show already! But I can't stop. I'm just constantly amazed and impressed by this show. The Guardian has this review of Season 5 which I thought I would share with those of you who are still non-believers. (They describe the show's joys far more effectively and intelligently than I ever could).

How will I convince you - the reader -- that this show is the television masterpiece of the decade? Coming to this space soon: Resilient Rabbit will be hosting a contest and the winners will receive a copy of the first season of Peep Show on Region 1 DVD. You just have to see it for yourself. And if BBC America won't help you out there, then I will.

Born to lose

Fractious flatmates Mark and Jez are back, still going nowhere fast in a fifth series of the darkly hilarious Peep Show. Ben Marshall joins our favourite no-hopers on set, jumping for Jesus...

Saturday April 26, 2008
The Guardian

Oscar Wilde is often misquoted, in reference to his novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray, as saying, "People say I am Lord Henry, I wish to be Dorian but I am Basil."

This is only worth mentioning because standing in a muddy field on the set of the new, fifth series of Peep Show, watching the three main actors chat with one another, something similar occurs to me. It should occur to anyone who has watched the show. Or, at any rate, any man who has watched the show. People in general think men are Jez, Peep Show's shallow self-styled libertine; men themselves wish they were Super Hans - tall, confident, elegantly wasted, utterly amoral; but men are really Mark, a highly moral, but sexually repressed conservative whose idea of a good date movie is the four-hour German submarine epic, Das Boot.

Jesse Armstrong, who together with Sam Bain writes Peep Show, laughs. "We all wanna be Super Hans," he agrees with a mischievous smile, "but the fact is that most of us are, as you point out, just pathetic old Mark." It's depressing little realisations such as these that help to make Peep Show the most immaculately realised, hard-hitting and painfully funny sitcom of the last decade. Not that there is much that is original about the actual premise of the show.
The two main protagonists, Mark (played David Mitchell) and Jeremy, or Jez, (Robert Webb) are locked in a purgatorial, can't-live-with-him-can't-live-without-him, relationship. Mark, a tweedy, fogeyish loans manager shares his Croydon flat with Jez, a self consciously cool, wannabe musician. So far, so normal. This sort of destructive male dynamic has been a staple of sitcoms for the past 50 odd years. But there are several things that distinguish Peep Show from all that has come before it.

To begin with there are the internal monologues, filmed in such a way as to allow the audience to not just see, but hear what the characters are going through. The thoughts of Mark and Jez are often savagely and hilariously at odds with their actions. By the end of series four Mark had abandoned the woman he purported to love after their wedding at a lovely country church, as Jez, full of cheap lager, was forced to piss against the side of the church. "Richard Dawkins can talk the talk, but does he walk the walk?" he pondered triumphantly.

Both characters can look touchingly, almost heartbreakingly, sincere while harbouring the most excruciatingly self-serving of feelings. This may be why Peep Show worries so many women. Girls simply don't want to know what men might really be thinking. "Fucking hell," says Jesse Armstrong, "We think way worse things than that." It's a very Jez moment. There's a perfect example of this in the forthcoming series (which they're filming today) where Mark, Jez and Super Hans, attend a Christian rock festival. Jez is seen wandering through fields while beatific-faced Christians discuss imminent salvation.

"Look at how happy they all are," he muses, smiling back at the youthful believers. "I could be as happy as that if I only believed in a load of old shit." Jez then quickly agrees to a full body submersion in order to become born again. Not, you understand, because he has enjoyed any sort of epiphany. Jez is just a very modern sort of pragmatist. He won't allow his innate atheism to prevent him from screwing a pretty young evangelical. Cynical? Yes. Accurate? Horribly so.

Fruitless genital gratification, the endless consumption of narcotics (mostly by Jez and Super Hans) and ignorance as bliss; these are just some of the very contemporary themes Peep Show explores. Occasionally, at its very best, it comes over like Eliot's The Wasteland rewritten as slapstick.

It is to the enormous credit of writers Armstrong and Bain that the show's contempt for modernity is coupled with a near-forensic understanding of contemporary culture. Otherwise, Peep Show could resemble a particularly bitter Daily Mail editorial. That said, there is plenty in Peep Show that would infuriate Middle England. For example, when I admire Matt King's trainers, the actor who plays Jez's drug buddy, Super Hans, he replies: "Yeah, good aren't they? I think Super Hans won them after giving the Orgazoid (a techno DJ) a blowjob."

There is a good deal of very unpleasant and extremely cynical sex in Peep Show. In one episode Jez asks a desperately shy girl how many men she has slept with. "Six," she replies coyly."Fucking hell," thinks Jez, "I've slept with more than that, and I'm not even gay."

At its heart though Peep Show, despite its extraordinary innovations and its alarming familiarity with modern mores, is a deeply conservative show. Christopher Hitchens once coined the term "reactionary modernism" in order to describe the work of Evelyn Waugh, TS Eliot and Ezra Pound. The phrase might just as well apply to Peep Show. Jesse Armstrong grins, apparently delighted that a show that has incurred some controversy, should be compared to Eliot and the Daily Mail. "I think we get a lot of different views in Peep Show. But if you are talking solely about Mark, then yes he does seem to come from that perspective. He also shares that prurient, but moralising curiosity about what other people are doing with their own lives and particularly about what others might be doing together in bed."

David Mitchell, who plays Mark and who the Mail On Sunday once described as "a posh ex-public schoolboy and a natural-born conservative" agrees that he and his character share a certain well-founded horror of the new. "I do think Mark and I have certain things in common. But hopefully I am a less worried, less angry and less upset person overall. I entirely agree that the show itself exhibits a horror of the modern world. My own personal knee jerk reaction is that novelty, which everyone else seems to embrace unquestioningly, should be at least questioned. One of the all-embracing themes of the show is that Jeremy utterly and unquestioningly embraces novelty. And Mark, perhaps equally as unquestioningly, rejects novelty. Neither is absolutely right, but I certainly feel more affinity with Mark than with Jez. You see, we live in a society where no one is allowed to say that change is bad. Now maybe it's a waste of breath to say that. But I think it's pretty important. For instance, the internet seriously threatens the media. Now there's not really much that can be done about it. No one can actually stop it, no matter how desirable that might be. So the fact that the dross on YouTube may kill off established channels does not make it a good thing simply because it's new."

So is Mark Peep Show's moral centre? David laughs: "When you see what he gets up to in series five, I think you'll seriously doubt that."

"That's the thing about Mark," says Webb. "People assume he is moral because he's always worried about things. But in fact he's just a moral coward, someone who simply doesn't have the courage to behave like Jez and Super Hans."

Matt King concurs: "Both Jez and Mark are cowards to differing degrees. Super Hans is just a nihilist. And when you believe in nothing it's actually very simple to be self-contained, to be at ease with yourself, to be happy in fact. Super Hans is the only character who is pretty much free of moral neurosis, because he doesn't actually give a shit about anything. He is a very, very modern man."

So everyone does want to be Super Hans? David Mitchell shakes his head. "It comes back to what I said about YouTube. There is nothing that really can be done about it. However does that really necessitate all the CEOs in broadcasting gleefully declaring that they are desperately excited by all the new challenges presented?

"What transparent nonsense! Why shouldn't they, and the rest of us, just scream in rage, 'Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.'" Which, in a sense, brings us back to Lord Henry, Dorian, Basil and Peep Show. Mark it is then. Mark we are.

· Peep Show, Fri, 10.30pm, C4

Please stay exactly as I remember you: David Mitchell edition

As part of my diligent efforts to follow the national and international comedy news, I recently ran into a random article in the Brit tabloids which noted that charming British comedic performer David Mitchell had lost a great deal of weight. It caught my eye because at the height of my Peep Show obsession, I really fell for Mitchell. Annoyingly so. My husband grew especially bored of it, but he has learned to adapt.

So here's the odd thing: I took a quick peek at the snap of the new, thinner Mitchell and I find him totally unattractive now. How odd is that? I don't think I've ever previously thought that I preferred someone's appearance when they were actually a bit less angular; but apparently, in this case, I'm not alone. As I started poking about a bit more, I found that the British tabloids and TV forums seemed to be chock full of previously adoring female comedy fans who were bemoaning the loss of the old Mitchell with his fuller and clearly sexier stature.

As Mitchell's Peep Show character Marc would say: "Change isn't always for the best."

Ah, well. Here's hoping he's healthier and happier.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More Bob and David?? Yes, please!!

Bob Odenkirk just posted an update about the sitcom-ish pilot he and David Cross just completed for HBO called "David's Situation". Apparently, it went very, very well -- tremendous energy, awesome audience response. The super sexy duo don't seem thrilled at the idea of pursuing this particular show because they felt that "the sitcom framework really felt like a drag on our energy and sensibility", but the tremendous response has them thinking of continuing to work with HBO to do something that is more "free form."

Free form, huh? Maybe more like -- um -- what was that awesome crazy sketch show from the 90s that I loved? The one that these two guys filmed in that little L.A. cafe? I think they once did a sketch where Jack Black sang the lead in a Jesus Christ Superstar parody. Oh! and then another time everyone sang and ate Hippy Pie -- that was great. Even the ads made me laugh because one time they ran this strange promotion for a cockring warehouse close-out sale . . . oh, darn, it'll come to me . . .

I'm so excited!! If you share my insane joy at this great news, then I suppose that makes all of us "fantastic, amazing, wondrificul comedy nerdles." I couldn't bear a prouder title.

xoxo, Rabbit

Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Dog at Comicon

Dead-Frog has another fun analysis piece today. Through a series of short clips, you can see the process Robert Smigel uses to create a short Triumph the Insult Comic Dog remote for Conan. In this bit, Triumph visits Comicon -- which is a perfect situs for Triumph's shtick. So we are already off to a great start.

Todd's post gives us a rare behind-the-scenes trip through the process. We see Triumph's initial conversations with the convention nerds and get to observe how tidily Smigel prepares ahead for each interaction (I thought Triumph's remotes were too spiffy to be 100% ad lib). We also have an opportunity to compare the initial interaction to the final edited piece and see how well Smigel can remain focused on his true audience -- the Conan viewers -- without worrying at all about the fact that Triumph's line aren't always playing that well to the Comicon folks.

It's totally fun and fascinating.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stephen Merchant doing stand up

I'll agree with nearly any random assertion that Ricky Gervais is something of a genius. Until he struck out alone and started doing stand up, however, he bolstered his laughs-per-minute rather hardily by working closely with a few very talented folks -- most notably his long-time writing partner and fellow podcast host, Stephen Merchant.

I've always thought that the towering and very clever Merchant was greatly under-appreciated. Fully half of the best laughs in "Extras" came during the simple seated banter bits in Darren's office. The celebrity scenes were fun; but the audience could never have fully appreciated Andy Millman's frustration and desperation were it not for those golden discussions between "actor" and "agent". And since that very desperation is the key to understanding how confused and misguided Millman's actions become, I actually believe Merchant's character is even more central to the story than Jensen's Maggie.

Merchant provided the same high level of wit and support to the many seasons of "the world's most popular podcast" -- The Ricky Gervais Show. Sure Pilkington is a dream straight man; but you can't beat the power of having two great minds there to tag team his denigration.

So I was especially happy to learn recently that Merchant has started trying his hand at stand up. Yes he is suffering the pain of starting out at small clubs (the "Amused Moose"?! ouch) and I don't think he (yet) has all of the natural stage presence and charisma that Gervais has been nurturing for years, but he certainly has the comedic intelligence and I could see his awkward goofy style working to his favor if he sticks with it. I hope he does.