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.