Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Message from the UPA

Here's something I wrote awhile back that I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

Jermaine Godsworthy
54 Roughside Rd.
Toronto, Ontario
L1E 4Z6

Dear Ms. Clarke

    My name is Jermaine Godsworthy and I am the current President of the Ugly People Association(UPA). It has been brought to my attention by one of our members that you have been making "funny faces" while at work to entertain your co-workers. While this may seem like an innocent and fun thing to do, I assure you this is no laughing matter.

    Were you aware that 1 out of every 3 people is deemed ugly? Those numbers are staggering. It is the most commonly held disability in all of North America and the tragic part is most suffer without ever being properly diagnosed.

    I beg of you on behalf of the UPA to please be more considerate and to stop making "funny faces". It is a terrible practice that should be outlawed, and with our growing movement, will be someday. Should you insist on continuing this egregious practice we, the UPA, will have no choice but to seek disciplinary action from your corporate offices, up to and including termination.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,

Jermaine Godsworthy
President
Ugly People Association
jermainegods@upa.com


Like the website? Follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Charitable Review


    On Friday December 17th, the Durham Improv group held a "Night of Comedy" at the Dubliner Irish Pub & Restaurant with proceeds going to The Denise House (an emergency shelter for abused women and their children).

    The night began with the emcees (Christian Pritchard & Kasia Bodurka) taking the stage and getting the crowd warmed up, while working through some audio technical difficulties. They handled the minor blip like pros and brought on stage Kyle Lucey who preformed stand-up comedy. Kyle's confidence, animated delivery, and current themes (Facebook stalking, etc.) won the crowd over. The crowd was now good and ready for what some people (okay, me) are calling the highlight of the show: Sheri Prescott's grade 12 Improv class.

    The eight performers (Brandon Paris, Kash Reddick, Meghan Williamson, Sarah Clancy, James Keating, Alex Jackson, A.J. Fisico and Hunter Birch) took the stage, and their "stage presence" was enormous; they seemed to command people's attention. The group preformed classic Improv games (like the ones found on "Whose Line Is It Anyways?") including a few I had never seen before, which was a pleasant surprise. There were a lot of young, up-and-coming talent on the stage at that moment, and one can't help but wonder if we'll look back at this one day and say, "I knew them when...".

    As hard as it was to follow Sheri's class, Adam Wilkinson, Kendra Hughes, Kyle Lucey and Bryan Hudgin came on next to preform some sketch comedy. There was a sketch about "the Beast" from Beauty and The Beast being trained by the "Dog Whisper" as well as (arguably) the world's worst date. These were both well written and acted, but the initial audio problems continued and the pub seemed to be very loud with conversations, so only the first couple of tables were able to truly enjoy these pieces, which is a shame as they were very funny.

    Before a brief intermission, we highlighted what we were there for: The Denise House. The Denise House at this time of year is always at or near maximum capacity, and they need all the support they can get. I encourage you to visit The Denise House website and give in anyway you can for a very good cause.

    Finally the Durham Improv group took the stage. With the audio problems cleaned up and a now slightly drunker audience, Stephanie Herrera, Sheri Prescot, Nick Dipchand, Adam Wilkinson, Kyle Lucey, Arylnne Ruiter, Bryan Hudgin and I took the stage for some long-form Improv. The 20 minute set was one of the craziest, longest, bizarre, story-lines that I have ever had the privilege to be a part of, and we made it work. The audience loved it (granted, maybe not as much as the performers did) but it was a fitting end to successful night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Very Wordy Review

This week I take a listen to the latest offering by Bo Burnham.

Words, Words, Words
Bo Burnham
Recorded on June 30, 2010 at Carolines on Broadway
Released: October 19, 2010

    Bo Burnham may not be the most recognizable name to a lot of my readers and that's what makes a review like this so enjoyable. My brother first turned me on to Bo Burnham about two years ago when he got me to watch some of Bo's now infamous Youtube video's. I was instantly hooked and as someone who considers himself a "comedy conisouer" viewed Bo as a force to be recoknoed with even back then.

    As I listened to Words, Words, Words, one predominate thought kept running through my head: "If he can keep up this level of quality for his career we are witnessing the development of a comedy a legend." Bo raps through most of his songs and does so with crude, thought provoking lyrics that are delivered at break neck speeds and its because of this that one doesn't truly appreciate a lot of what Bo talks about until one listens to the album a couple of times. He's clever, quick witted and a master linguist.  What causes Bo to stand out from the rest is the obvious brains behind the sexually charged lyrics. Many, MANY comedians try to use vulgar language to hide their lack of content but Bo uses it to show his understanding of how it  and how it can be made funny. 

    Every track is enjoyable and will have you laughing and thinking at the same time. My single complaint with the album could be viewed as a compliment and that is the production values on the track "Rant" may be too good. I found myself engrossed in the beat and rhythm on that song and paid very little attention to what Bo was talking about.

    Needless to say at this point, if you have never heard Bo before or listened to one of his albums what are you waiting for...we are witness the development of a legend.

Now here's two tracks from Words, Words, Words and one from Bo Burnham(Bo's first album)










Like what you read? Follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being Offended By Nothing

    I apologize for not posting more frequently. Life, as it is one to do this time of year, keeps getting in the way.

    About two months ago I got rid of my cable package and now my household does not have The Comedy Network(I know it feels like a sin for someone like myself) and as such I lost my daily dose of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Unless I happen to catch it at midnight on a basic cable station however that does not happen very often as I am usually sleeping or still at work however three nights ago I was able catch an episode of the smartest show on television.


    Jon decided to take on The War on Christmas and Jon put together ONE OF THE BEST SEGMENTS I HAVE EVER SEEN ON THE SHOW. The clip is long(over 9min) so only view if you have the time but it's definitely worth it. Even if your not normally a Jon Stewart fan I think any reasonable thinking person will be able to appreciate what Jon does here. 

    Normally I would simply place the video here for you to enjoy however Comedy Central is(understandably so) protective of their biggest money maker and does not allow their videos to be embedded here in Canada unlike the Youtube videos I post so you will have to visit the following link and watch a brief commercial then enjoy...



Like us? Follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Self Indulgent Post

    Please forgive a moment of sheer self indulgence on my part. Below is a GIANT poster of an upcoming comedy event that I will be taking part in. Get a group together and contact me directly for tickets. You'd hate to be turned away at the door.


Like us? Follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Grown Up Review by an Immature Man


Grown Ups
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade
Released: June 25, 2010

    When "Grown Ups" was first released this past summer I had many of my friends wonder why I didn't appear overly excited about seeing it. The movie on paper appeared to have everything I would want and more, but there was something holding me back. Regardless of the reason I did miss my opportunity to see "Grown Ups" in theaters largely due to a review I read about the movie in a local Toronto paper. Which proves one thing. I do know how to read.

    The review that I read had described "Grown Ups" as more of a "gross out comedy"  starring five men who are longing to recapture their youth on film, which proves one thing. The reviewer in question only paid attention to one scene. 

    "Grown Ups", at his heart, is an attempt at a "dramedy" for middle aged men. The characters are relate-able and familiar(we've seen all these characters before just with different names) and the script is well acted. However there's something missing that stopped me from truly loving this movie. 

    It's not a lack of talent. All of the lead actors are at their best here and the supporting cast(including the children) are excellent.

    It's not a lack of humour. On several occasions I found myself laughing out loud(or LOL'ing for you young kids).

    What it's lacking is direction. I wanted this movie to be more serious. I wanted to feel a deeper connection to all of the characters. I wanted the serious and heart and warming moments to last longer and not be interrupted by ill timed jokes. But sadly, all too often just when the viewer is starting to feel something that could have a lasting effect on them a joke or sight gag is inputed and ruins the moment.

    In the end I'm glad I watched "Grown Ups" and would happily recommend it. It's an enjoyable film, with an excellent cast and an attempt at something that hasn't been done well in years. However, Adam Sandler and crew had a chance to do something special with this script and this movie but instead it becomes another average movie worth watching a couple of times then forgetting about.


Like this review? Follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Last Time...

  
    There's something to be said about a man that can make people laugh even in death and with the amount of times I read "Leslie Nielsen has died, Surely you can't be serious" or some variation of it indicates just what kind of appeal Leslie Nielsen had. Personally my Twitter account filled with messages from nearly everyone I follow with a comment or two praising Leslie and thanking him for all the laughs and inspiration.

   Leslie was born February 11, 1926 and passed away yesterday. He was born in Saskatchewan, Canada and was a proud Canadian(which is one of the reasons why us Canadians love him so). In doing my research I was surprised to learn that Leslie had appeared in over 100 movies and 1,500 television programs. I guess when I think about Leslie I only really see him in three movies(Airplane! Naked Gun and Mr.Magoo) but that shows my age more than anything else.

    Leslie was not always a critical darling(his later attempts at spoofs including "Scary Movie 3 and 4" were ripped by critics) and he wasn't always funny(he took a shot at several serious roles all with varying levels of success) but he was well respect by his peers and that says something about his character as a person. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and will be sorely missed.

    Yesterday we lost another clown. Surely you can't be serious.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad!

    Today my Dad turns 50 and I could only think of one clip that is a perfect take on Birthdays. So Happy Birthday Dad and enjoy Jim Gaffigan's take on Birthdays from the special "Beyond The Pale".


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Something Funny

    I'm not going to lie, you have to be a bit of a music buff to really appreciate today's post so if you're not go back  to Facebook stalking the girl you had a crush on in grade 7.

    Anyone who knows me knows that my second favorite thing to talk about is musicians. I could just have easily started a website called idolizingmusicians so when I stumbled across a video of Neil Young signing Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair" I couldn't help but watch.

   What I actually ended watching was Jimmy Fallon doing an INCREDIBLE impersonation of Neil Young singing Willow Smith's "I Whip My Hair". For a moment I believed it really was Neil Young and I was going to credit Jimmy with being a genius for being able to co-ordinate such a stunt with the real Bruce Springsteen singing back-up. Instead I will commend Jimmy.

    I'd be lying if I said I was a huge Jimmy Fallon fan from the beginning(in particularly as a Late Night Host) but in the last year or so he's really grown into the role and grown on me. He's becoming more confident in his role and it shows. He's taking more chances and really targeting his audience with video's that go viral like the one below.

   The first video is of Willow Smith's actual music video for "Whip My Hair" then is Neil Yong(aka Jimmy Fallon's) version. Enjoy the brilliance.





Don't Forget to follow us on twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Me of Little Faith - A Review


Me of Little Faith
Author: Lewis Black
Publisher: the Penguin Group
Released: 2008


    In the politically correct world it is not polite to bring up politics or religion in conversation. It should come as no surprise then that comedians who go against that rule of thumb are often the most critically acclaimed and disliked. There is an instant shock value when these topics are brought up, which leads me to "Me of Little Faith" by Lewis Black.

    When I picked up this book I was expecting a highly critical look at religion and faith systems similar to Bill Maher’s documentary "Religulous". What I found was an incredibly even keeled and balanced view of a variety of religions and beliefs. This caught me off guard, and I believe the sheer shock of it lead me to having a hard time diving into the book the way I do so often with books by comedians. However once I realized the angle that Lewis was taking (although it did take me a couple of chapters to alter my view) the book became an enjoyable read.

    I learned a few things about Lewis by the end, for instance did you know he was a graduate of the Yale School of Drama? This knowledge alone explains why Lewis's humour is so well crafted and executed. It also makes his use of "vulgar" or "obscene" language even more comical to me because here is a man who could battle wits and educational pedigrees with anyone but chooses to work in the venue of comedy. I also learned that his belief system is essentially what I believe to be a growing group in today's society. That is those who believe in a higher power but are not convinced that any of the current religions or gods are the real deal.

    In "Me of Little Faith" Lewis describes his run-ins with religion. From Judaism to a psychic friend everything gets discussed except Islam which he mentions but does not dive into. I have debated in my own mind whether or not I find this cowardly and to be honest after much thought I still don't know. However his earnest opinions regarding religion are refreshing considering whenever the topic is generally brought up people take "matter of fact" type views.

    There are two real highlights from "Me of Little Faith": one is the chapter "Virtual Reality" where Lewis discusses a theory that our reality is possibly just a computer simulation. Secondly the chapter “God Knows Funny” where Lewis talks about the power of laughter in religious sense, its poetic and thoughtful and as a separate entity is worthy of publishing alone or being expounded upon into its own book. It's unfortunate in some ways that this was the last chapter as it felt like it took me so long to get to the heart of the book, if this chapter had been a "preface" for example I  believe it may have set the tone better.

    In the end I liked this book. It may not have been what I was expecting but was definitely worth my time and money. If you’re open minded enough, pick it up. If your closed minded, how the hell did you stumble across this website?



Don't forget to follow us on twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us facebook

Monday, November 22, 2010

This Day In Comedy History

    On This Day in Comedy History a legend was born. He lived a good long life(82 years) and despite what he claimed, he was given tons of respect.


    Jacob Cohen(aka Rodney Dangerfield) was born on November 22, 1921 in Deer Park, Long Island, New York. Jacob Cohen started writing jokes for other stand-up comedians at the ripe old age of fifteen. He decided to make a go of it on his own at the age of nineteen with the stage name Jack Roy.

    Jack Roy struggled for several years until he decided that what he was missing was a "hook" and thus Rodney Dangerfield was born. He continued to struggle until a cancellation on The Ed Sullivan Show landed him a chance to shine. On March 5th 1967, Rodney Dangerfield made his television debut and stole the show. In comedy lore it was reported that Ed Sullivan himself laughed at Rodney which was a rarity as Ed was impossible to make laugh.

    From there it was mostly uphill for the "King of Self-Deprecating Humour." He made regular television appearances after that including the The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Saturday Night Live. Rodney's star reached it peak in the 1980's when he starred in a comedic masterpiece known as "Caddyshack".

    In the '90's and '00's Rodney continued to make occasional television appearances however once his health started to deteriorate so did his time in the spotlight. Sadly on October 5th, 2004 Rodney Dangerfield passed away at the age of 82.

    It is surely the purest form of irony that a man who struggled all his life to make others laugh would find success by telling people "I get no respect."



Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Forty kilometers from nowhere...

Today I take a trip back to Dog River.

    
    Corner Gas is a Canadian sitcom that follows the lives of simple average people from the town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. Corner Gas initially aired on Janauary 22nd 2004 and ran until it's final episode aired on April 13th 2009. In it's six seasons on the air it revolutionized the way Canadians view Canadian produced television.
    
    Up until Corner Gas debuted on CTV  with over a million viewers it was thought(by those who know) that Canadians wouldn't watch a Canadian sitcom. "Those who know" had every reason to count Corner Gas out before it began because what Corner Gas would go onto to do had never been done before and, even though it's only been a couple of years, hasn't been done since.
   
    Corner Gas was an idea that Brent Butt had been kicking around for years. The idea was simple: What would life be like if I never left Saskatchewan? What he came up with was the fictional town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. A place so boring that every minor event makes the headlines of the local paper(The Dog River Howler).
    
    In it's six seasons on the air Corner Gas continued to average over a million viewers per episode and accumulated way too many awards and nominations to mention. However the real legacy of Corner Gas will be that it convinced Canadian production companies that Canadians will watch Canadian programing it just can't "feel" like a Canadian show.

On A Personal Note:
    
   I, like many, was hesitant to give Corner Gas a chance at first. I had always liked Brent Butt's stand-up but the stigma of bad Canadian programming was so strong that I resisted at first. However one evening I tuned it and was instantly hooked. It became a bit of an obsession of my mine to be honest.
   
   I dove headfirst into the online community and even won a prop from the show using their auction site. I was asked for my thoughts on Corner Gas and what I responded with was highlighted on the website in 2006. I saved the email they sent me. 
My thoughts on CORNER GAS: 
I've been watching Corner Gas since season one and was instantly hooked. I have gotten several of my friends and family hooked on the show since then. I actually look forward to Monday's now. I like to think that I'm one of the biggest Corner Gas fans around. I own the Corner Gas hat, Guzzlers softball jersey, Brent's Corner Gas shirt, a Corner Gas mug, all three season on DVD and was at Corner Gas Live when it came to Toronto. Also my girlfriend and I are currently planning a road trip to Saskatchewan for this upcoming spring/summer. I love the idea of the auction and I bid on this item because I love the show and wanted something substantial for my Corner Gas collection. I plan on getting the poster framed and hung somewhere in my house. Please send my thanks to the actors/writers/crew for producing such a quality Canadian show that myself, my family and friends look forward to seeing on a weekly basis.

Sincerely,
Joseph

    My girlfriend and I did take that trip and it turned into one of the greatest two weeks of my life. Thanks Brent Butt for everything...



Don't forget to follow me on twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook just search for idolizingclowns.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Improv Thursday

    Tonight was my last improv class for the year and seeing as how I already gave you some insight into the worlds most popular improv show(Whose Line Is It Anyway?) I thought I would talk about Canada's most well known improviser. The man, the myth, the legend Colin Mochrie.


    Colin will be celebrating a birthday in about a week so in case he ever stumbles across this. Happy Birthday. Born November 30th, 1957 in Kilmarnok, Scotland, Colin 's family was moved to Montreal, Canada in 1964. His family would eventually end up in Vancouver in 1969 and that is where his future began to take shape.

   After dropping out of school Colin competed in theatre sports, which is where he met Ryan Stiles(now another very well known improviser & actor). Their friendship has held up throughout the years and it's no coincidence that their careers have crossed paths on more than a few occasions. 

   Colin then moved on to Second City Toronto before landing a lead role in what become the most watched Improv Franchise in television history with "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" in 1988.

  While best known for his work as an improviser Colin is also an accomplished writer, actor and producer. He is still high demand these days and keeps a busy schedule. You can follow him on twitter @colinmochrie or visit his website http://www.colinmochrie.com/ for more scheduling info.

  I guess technically, Colin is a Scot but to me he'll always be a Canadian and one of the reasons my fascination with Improv turned into love this fall...Thanks!





Finally you can follow us on twitter @idolizingclowns or "Like" us on Facebook just search "idolizingclowns"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Improvised Review

  
 On Saturday night I was given an opportunity to fulfill a bit of a dream of mine and preform Improv with a group of professionals.

    Sheri Prescott, Nick Dipchand, Adam Wilkinson, Kyle Lucey, Michael Lake, Arlynne Ruiter, Bryan Hudgin, Stephanie Herrera and I preformed at The Atria in Oshawa to a packed house full of family, friends and a handful of strangers. In fact, I overheard a waitress say, "This is nuts. We're never busy at this time."

    The majority of the the performers had never met until that night and for most of us there was at least one game that we had never played yet we made it work and the audience responded with great suggestions and an abundance of laughter.

   The evening was a huge success for all parties involved and the plans are already in the works for a show next month.

   I can't wait to get back on stage again and I'll see ya at the next show.

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Place Has Been A Sausagefest So Far...

    As I sat down to write today's post it occurred to me that I've only highlighted one female comedian thus far on the website. While it is inevitable that there will be more males written about as the industry is dominated by men I will make a conscious effort to ensure some semblance of equality.



    Born Roseanne Cherri Bar on November 3rd 1952 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Roseanne would grow up to become one of the greatest comedians of all time. Ranking 9th on Comedy Centrals Top 100 Comedians of All Time in 2004(the highest ranking female).

    Roseanne's claim to fame is her humour surrounding the life and times of the typical American housewife. Her first big break came when she got to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. That single appearance in 1985 helped land Roseanne her own show on HBO in 1987(On Location: The Roseanne Bar Show) which did not last as long as anyone had hoped.

    It was her second crack at television where Roseanne elevated her stature to legendary status. "Roseanne" premiered in 1988 and was an instant hit. It ran for nine seasons and stayed in the top four(in terms of Neilsen ratings) for six of it's nine seasons. The show would go on to win awards from The Emmy's, The Golden Globes, The People's Choice Awards and a Peabody Award.

   Since then(sadly) Roseanne has had a series of television shows that all failed or flopped. However, like all great comedians,  Roseanne continues to work on her craft. On November 4th, 2006 Roseanne hit the main stage on HBO for a special called "Roseanne Barr: Blonde N Bitchen".

   She is scheduled to have her third book release in January 2011.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Due Date - A Review

    Insert some corny play on words about this review being on time or late here.


Due Date
Starring: Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis
Released: November 5th 2010


   What do you get when you take two of Hollywood's hottest stars and place them with one of the best comedic directors around? Simple. A pretty good movie.

    Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis take their turn in a classic movie cliche: the road trip. From Bob Hope and Bing Crosby to Steve Martin and John Candy the road trip movie is a classic and Robert and Zach preform admirably. 

    Robert Downey Jr plays a character that is similar to all other Robert Downey Jr characters who needs to make it home in time to see the birth of his first child and after a series of unfortunate incidents his only way home is with Ethan Tremblay(Zach) an aspiring(albeit awkward) actor. Hilarity ensues.

    There really isn't much of a need for me to go much further than that in terms of story-line or acting ability. The story is well written, acted and directed. You will laugh from beginning to end and there are definitely some scenes that come right out of left field.

    However, while I ultimately liked this movie quite a bit, I feel like it lacked originality and thus some of the fun was gone for me before it ended. If you've seen "The Hangover" and "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" then you've seen "Due Date". And it's because the movie feels so familiar that it falls just short of being an "instant classic". It still may end up being a classic, just not instantly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Moment of Seriousness

 

    Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. A single day where we take a moment to salute our veterans. As a proud Canadian and the grandson of someone who fought in WWII, I take Remembrance Day very seriously and it seems like every year I feel the need to voice my opinion on how we as Canadian's observe Remembrance Day.

    In this great country of ours we have a lot of holidays(the majority of which stem from the Christian belief system) however we have yet to make Remembrance Day a mandatory statutory day of Remembrance and I take great issue with this. Remembrance Day is the one day of the year that we should have off because regardless of your sex, political views or religious views if you are living in this country you owe a huge debt of gratitude toward the fine men and women who have served and continue to serve for you.

    Furthermore I believe it should be the one day of the year when business is not allowed to continue. Even Christmas now has stores open but on Remembrance Day nothing should be open because without our soldiers fighting for our freedom(s) we may not have the freedom own and operate a business. Every single person in this country needs to be made aware of the sacrifices that were made to make us the great country we are today.

Lest We Forget...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Day In Comedy History

I haven't done one of these in a while but Today In Comedy History...

Comedian Sinbad was born.


    Born David Adkins on November 10th 1956 in Benton Harbor, Michigan comedian Sinbad has unfortunately  become a bit of a pop culture punchline. When you take a look at his body of work over the course of his career, what you come up with is a lot of laughs for all ages.

    Sinbad received one of his first real breaks in "Hollywood" when he defeated fellow comedian Dennis Miller on an episode of Star Search and when you think about the career path Dennis would go on to have, maybe Dennis actually won. But his appearance on Star Search led to the few breaks any comedian needs to become successful.

    He was first cast on the short lived sitcom "The Red Foxx Show". He then went on to have a few minor roles on "The Cosby Show" before landing a character on the show "A Different World". It was a Cosby show spin-off that ran for three years.

    After that he worked a variety of projects and even had his own sitcom(The Sinbad Show) but nothing ever seemed to last. He's appeared in dozens of movies(mainly kids films) and was featured in a Tae Bo infomercial.

    All this does not sound like the resume of someone who has done four HBO specials and was ranked the 78th Greatest Comedian of All Time by Comedy Central in 2004 but it is.

    It seems like every year Sinbad's star fades a little more(which really is too bad) but he can still be seen making appearances and making people laugh. You just have to look a little harder.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wocka, Wocka, Wocka!

    I'm not aware of when my obsession with comedians officially began because it was(as most things are) likely a culmination of influences that lead me down the path I'm on. However I am consciously aware of a few of those influences. One of them was Fozzie Bear. A Muppet.


    Fozzie Bear was the comedian Muppet. He told one-liners that by adult standards were terrible, but for children were hilarious. After the punchline of the joke he would usually remark "Wocka, Wocka, Wocka!" to emphasize "the funny". Just remembering his delivery brings a smile to my face.

    Fozzie Bear first appeared in 1976 as part of "The Muppet Show" and was created by Jim Henson, was performed by puppeteer Frank Oz and voiced by Greg Berg. 

    It's amazing that a comedian as bad as Fozzie would go on to become a positive influence for so many comedians because, as you may recall, many of Fozzie's appearances on stage ended with hecklers(Statler and Waldorf) and tomatoes being thrown at him. On the other hand maybe it was that determination that made Fozzie so real. Fozzie had a dream and he was going to succeed no matter what others thought. Regardless of the what the intended message was Fozzie was most children's  introduction to "stand-up comedy" and the idea of telling jokes as a profession. And I, for one, could not think of a better role model.





Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thank You For Smoking - A Review


Thank You For Smoking
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, J.K. Simmons, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy and Katie Holmes
Release Date: April 14 2006


    Every now and then when my girlfriend and I are debating over what movie to watch we will start throwing out movie titles from years past. This usually results in a lot of "trailer" watching on youtube as one tries to sway the other to agree to a particular movie. Last night I won.

    Written and Directed by Jason Reitman Thank You For Smoking(TYFS) was released way back in 2006 and was critically acclaimed despite an average performance at the box office. Starring several familiar faces it follows Nick Naylor, Big Tobaccos cheif spokesman, as he prepares to deal with a piece of legislation that would have a giant skull and cross bones placed on the packaging of cigarettes to identify them as poison. While this may be the main story arc it's the relationships revealed in the subplots that make this movie worth watching. 

    Nick Naylor is wonderfully portrayed by Aaron Eckhart as the ultimate slime-ball but not without heart which is why he is tolerable. This character dances on the line of tastefulness and if acted by anyone else may have come across as insufferable. But Aaron with his natural good looks, charisma and charm makes Nick Naylor not only tolerable but someone you root for.

    At it's heart TYFS is satirical comedy at it's finest. While TYFS was based off of a novel, Jason Reitman deserves a lot of credit for producing a screenplay that never seems to lag. In a movie where dialogue is everything(this movie is about convincing people that cigarettes aren't bad for them after all) each character gets their screen time and has their moment in the sun.

    To be perfectly honest this movie surprised me with how much I loved it. It's clever, witty and perfectly acted across the board. I can't believe I waited so long to watch it and I can't wait to watch it again.


    

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Born Suspect - A Review

     For this weeks review I decided to dip into my CD collection and pull out another classic to listen to and review.

    The year was 1991 and a new generation of Saturday Night Live legends were just coming together and finding their voice. I was seven years old and completely unaware of this.

    
Born Suspect
Chris Rock
Recorded at The Comedy Act Theatre, Atlanta
Originally Released 1991

    Born Suspect was Chris Rock's first ever studio album and I have no idea how I acquired it which is odd as I typically remember how and/or why I picked up a CD. 

    As noted above this album was recorded in a comedy club in Atlanta and it sounds like it. The first impression one gets is that this is a small venue(my research for how big the venue was came up empty) which creates a nice atmosphere for the album. You can actually hear the comments from the crowd which only aides in your ability to feel like you are there and a part of the fun. 

   The second thing that jumped out at me was Chris's delivery of his material. At this point in his career he was already working on Saturday Night Live so it should come as no surprise that he sounds polished in his timing but it was his signature "chuckle" that stood out to me. Most comedians learn to never laugh at one's own joke or only do so during the wave of the emotion that is brought out when the crowd is really into what is being said but Chris laughs at his own jokes and he does so with surprising regularity. And for Chris it works. It feels genuine and actually makes him more relatable.

    Looking through the liner notes of the CD jacket there is a section where he gives "special thanks" to a list of people as well as categories where he points out a list of "funniest ever", "funniest now", "funniest females", "clean team", "new jack", "king of late night", "renaissance man" and "funny white boys". I had never noticed this part before but it was a nice insight into Chris and his influences.  

    Hearing Chris talk about everything from being a Busboy to Equal Rights to Weaves is a joy. There are many lines that are worth quoting and while I don't normally quote a comedian's line because I believe a lot of the "funny" comes in the delivery and timing I can't resist this one:(On the topic of prison over crowding) "In my house we slept five to a bed and we never tried to hang my father."

    The only thing I could do without is the two rap songs at the end. They aren't particularly funny or good.(Do those sentences seem abrupt or of out of place? So do the rap songs.)

    Even back then one could see that Chris was special. Chris speaks with enthusiasm and subtle(sometimes not so subtle) social commentary and leaves the audience thinking about the world they live in which is a true test of a great comedian. Pryor did it. Carlin did it. And Rock does it.

What You Really Want To Know.
Is It Safe To Listen To In Public? This is an easy one. No. The only thing that feels outdated about this album is the reference to a disgraced mayor who was caught smoking crack. Everything else will have you laughing from beginning to end.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Larry Miller - The Original George Costanza

    Seeing as how I will not be reviewing "The Rally to Restore Sanity" as originally intended and my Calendar where I keep upcoming moments in comedy is history blank for the next little while I have decided to highlight some of my favorite bits and comedians.

    I will do my best to watch and/or listen to something this week and have a review by weeks end.

    Larry Miller is the kind of comedian who I'm sure gets this reaction a lot "Oh, that guy. I recognize him. He's funny." And that he is. Born on October 15, 1953 on Long Island, New York, Larry was ranked 58th on Comedy Central's Top 100 Comedians. Larry has been in over 100 film and television shows all while applying his first love to audiences around the globe.

    A fun factoid about Larry is that he is very good friends with Jerry Seinfeld and when initially casting talent for various roles on what would become "Seinfeld", Larry was Jerry's first pick to play George Costanza but Jason Alexander came in a stole the role and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Larry still made an appearance on Seinfeld years later as a "The Door Man" in "The Door Man" episode.

    As already stated, Larry is a funny, funny man and my favorite bit of material that he preforms is "The Five Level's of Drinking." This to me is one of the most complete, well rounded bits ever written. It has a great build-up an appropriate climax and laughter all the way through. One could easily argue that this is a  very rough outline for the script of "The Hangover". It has an absurdity and familiarity to it that makes it timeless and I think must be heard by all at least once...or hundreds of times in my case.

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally To Restore Sanity

Last week I tweeted about a SUPER SECRET POST for this week and here it is...

    In a completely out of character move my girlfriend and I decided to attend Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" at the National Mall in Washington D.C. on a whim. 

    We booked a hotel and left on early Friday evening. The trip overall was a disaster and while I won't get into all the details because I don't want this website to ever become all about me I will add one quick personal note. When I say the trip was disaster, I don't mean "bad weather and traffic", I mean it's "midnight in Pennsylvania I have work in nine hours and we just hit a deer" disaster.

    Now I really wanted to do a review of The Rally. I really did. I even started taking notes on my phone of things I wanted to mention during this very post but reality quickly set. It became apparent to me and several thousand others that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert completely underestimated their ability to draw a crowd. There was an estimated 200,000 - 250,000 people there but I can tell you from being amidst the crowd it felt like millions.

    There was approximately 5 "big screens" but it wasn't enough. The sound system used was not loud enough either and on more than one occasion the crowd dominated the noise by chanting "louder" and "turn it up" however it did little to affect the outcome. You could barely make out what the Guest Speakers were saying or singing and the pre-recorded video's might as well have been on mute. 

    The highlight of The Rally became sign watching. People dressed in costumes with humorous or pithy signs were everywhere and I made note of some of my favorites. These include:
  • "I Could Be Wrong"
  • "I Support a Variety of Things."
  • "Give Us This Day Our Daily Dread."
  • "Browndomly Searched"
  • "I'm a Little Annoyed But I'll Get Over It!"
  • "Bring Back Pogs"
  • "Free Weezy"
  • "My Feet Hurt"
  • "Atheists For a Moral Government"
  • "The Civil War Was An Inside Job"
    It needs to be said that The Rally was attended by some of the nicest people imaginable. An elderly couple showed my girlfriend and me around and took our photo's in front of some of the most well known Washington landmarks. Furthermore I have never felt more comfortable being squeezed into a train with a group of strangers before and I doubt I ever will again.

    I really wish I could say more about the content of The Rally but I can't. Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Washington were not ready for the huge crowds and it showed. 

    I may look back at this one day and tell my kids "I was there" but I sure hope they don't ask me what was was said.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Please bare with me for a bit of self-indulgence before I get into today's topic.

There a few things in the world of comedy that I have always wanted to do. The first was to actually get up on stage and perform "stand-up". Several years ago I got over my own fears and dove head first into it. I skipped classes while at college to write and while at home I practiced in my room with an old karaoke machine. I eventually got up on stage and performed at amateur nights whenever I could find time in my schedule. My last stage performance of stand-up came on a night when all of my family(immediate and extended) were present and I had the best night of my life. It was a high I will always remember.

The second thing I wanted to do was to try my hand at improv and just this past year I have begun taking improv classes at a local college. This has turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience as I am now getting to entertain a room full of people I hardly know on a weekly basis and in a few weeks I will be part of an improv show about 20min from Toronto.(Contact me if you are interested in more info). So in honor of my newest love(improv) I thought I would highlight easily the most recognizable show the improv world has ever generated...Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Whose Line Is It Anyway started as a British radio programme that moved to television in 1988. It managed to run for 10 years and came to an end 1998. Many of the cast members of the hit British show would eventually make the leap to the American version including: Ryan Stiles, Collin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, Gregg Proops and Brad Sherwood to name a few.

The American version(which is probably very familiar to most of you) ran from August 5th, 1998 to September 4th 2004.

Now enjoy Collin, Ryan and Wayne(really the three consistent stars of the show) doing what they do best...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Button Down Mind Review

This weeks review is a way back play back for all you hip cats...


The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!
Bob Newhart
Originally Released  January 1st, 1960
     

    Lasting appeal is a term that will undoubtedly play a major role in the careers of some of today's "hottest" comedians. Comedians like Dane Cook, Russell Peters and Margaret Cho instantly come to mind. While they have been performing stand-up for years and have found a following not only in "underground" circles but mainstream pop culture I often wonder how their material is going to sound sixty years from now. Which leads me to Bob Newhart. Bob Newhart has lasting appeal. His material is timeless, his delivery unique and his appeal consistent.

    Bob has had a career few people could ever dream about. His debut album "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart" unseated an Elvis Presley record at the time for the number one spot on Billboards Pop Album Chart. He has had two hit shows in his lifetime, numerous Grammy Award nominations(and wins) and most recently seems to have re-invented himself in roles for a new generation(Papa Elf in Elf starring Will Ferrell and The Door Man in Legally Blonde 2). He's a best selling author("I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This" - I will review one day) and one of a select few who has received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. 
        
    "The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!" was follow-up to the aforementioned album above and held up well against his initial success. Bob's style has been called "one side of a conversation" where we only learn what the other people in the room are saying based upon the way Bob reacts. I think this is fair but the word that kept running through my mind was "monologue". I felt like Bob was performing a series of short, well crafted, monologues. 

Regardless of what one would call it, it's funny and with a running time of approximately 45min it's really easy to make time for. Some of the humor will be lost on the "youtube" generation(a griper in the Washington's Army for example) but then there are bits that are just as funny today as they were sixty years ago(Bus Drivers School and Ledge Psychology are fantastic!)

Comedy has evolved over the years and it will continue to evolve but it is nice to revisit a classic album like this because you can never really know where you're going unless you know where you've been.


What You Really Want To Know
Is This Safe To Listen To In Public?:
I think the average listener should be fine to put this on their iPod and listen on their way to or from work but don't be surprised if you catch yourself giggling.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Daytime of the Night

    Unfortunately I couldn't tell you what year it was but sometime about the year the 2005 I watched the "Flight of the Conchords" perform thanks to "Just for Laughs."(Which is where us Canadians get the majority of our exposure to new comedians.) I remember being hooked from the beginning. Their humour was dry and subtle. The music was simple but well executed and most importantly it was funny. The song that stands out from the five minutes worth of screen time they received was "Business Time" a song about a married couple getting ready for intimacy.

    Shortly after that I discovered that they had a half-hour HBO special called "One Night Stand". Of all the songs performed(including "Business Time" and "Albi the Racist Dragon") the one that stands out to me is "Jenny". This song always seems to make me laugh and has been on my iPod since I first heard it. Recently I have been listening to it with more regularity for some reason and I thought what better place to share it than here.

    It was at this point that I was going to give you some information about "Flight of Conchords" but I think I'm going to save that for a future review. So, for now, enjoy "Jenny".


Saturday, October 23, 2010

On This Day In Comedy History - 1925


    On this day in comedy history a hugely important man was born in comedic and television history: Johnny Carson. I almost feel like it's a bit overkill for me to expand on him too much because who doesn't know Johnny Carson but a two sentence post is hardly worth reading so here's some info.
  
    He took over the "Tonight Show" from Jack Paar after Jack had decided to quit the show and Johnny was chosen to be the heir apparent to what would become one of the most important shows in television and comedic history. The very first "Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson(October 1st, 1962) boasted a line-up of Tony Bennett, Mel Brooks, Joan Crawford and Groucho Marx to mention a few. Forty years later when he decided to leave the show he left in his wake a heart broken nation and a slew of famous comedians who owe their livelihood to The King of Late Night.

   Johhny passed away on January 23rd, 2005 surrounded by family and friends and while he maybe gone his legacy will live on forever.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Reading Ahead - A Review


No Reading Ahead
Toronto
2007

    Gerry Dee is a unique entity in today's stand-up landscape for a couple of reasons. First off he works clean. All of his humour is rated PG at worst, and truth be told your average eight year old probably wouldn't understand the occasional mention of drug use or foul language, which makes him the rare comedian who is safe for the whole family to watch.

    Secondly, his material is reminescent of a previous generations style of comedy. A generation where not only did you make observations about life but you also became the characters you were reffering to on stage.(I couldn't help but think of Bob Newhart) Thus the appeal of Gerry Dee.

    In "No Reading Ahead" Gerry walks us through life as an average human being but does so in a way that is both fresh and familiar. Whether it's being called upon to read a paragraph in class as a nervous elementary school student, working in the service industry or trying to teach a room full of students when your not the smartest person in the room Gerry delivers with characters that are recognizable to all.

    "No Reading Ahead" will have you laughing from start to finish as you relive childhood memories, and that is exactly what sets this hour long DVD of material apart from the rest. In my previous experiences of watching various comedy specials the ones I really liked usually left me with a line or two that stuck to memory for myself and my friends to share. However I found myself reflecting on my childhood after Gerry had left the stage. The names maybe changed but Gerry Dee tells you your life story.

What You Really Want To Know?
Is This Safe To Listen To In Public? Not at all. I have watched this DVD well over five times now and each time I laugh and usually at the same spots. In fact there is one joke that makes me laugh out loud just thinking about it. Avoid watching this on your ipod in a room full of strangers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Ya Living? What?

On April 15th 1990 a show premiered that would alter my future in a lot of ways. It introduced me to sketch comedy and gave me my first celebrity role model. That show was "In Living Color".

As anyone who has been to this site before knows I tend to do a fair amount of research before I post anything and more often than not I start my search at www.imdb.com. However when I went looking for some basic information that I could share with you about "In Living Color" this is the tagline I was met with: "An afro-american focused comedy sketch show." 

There are obvious problems with this not the least of which is it comes across as a bit a racist. "In Living Color" was the brainchild of Keenan Ivory Wayans, who wanted to put together a multi-cultural sketch show that could be viewed as funny no matter what race, creed or sexual orientation you were. In the 90's the show was a phenomenon and looking back it's easy to see why. The cast Keenan was able to assemble was nothing short of remarkable. The cast included: David Alan Grier, Tommy Davidson, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Marlon Wayans,  Steve Park, Jennifer Lopez(fly girl - dancer) and of course a young man who went by the name of James Carrey. 

Jim Carrey was my first comedic idol. I wanted to be him.(There are family video's that hopefully remain buried of me doing my best "Fire Marshall Bill") I learned a lot from watching him. The art of slapstick and exaggeration of ones body parts for comedic effect. I learned that being able to do voices or impersonations instantly got you laughs and I practiced my voices as often as I could(and still do). In fact, it must have been around grade six when I volunteered for the school talent show to do impersonations and even now I can remember hearing those laughs. 

Jim has since grown up quite a bit and has taken his attempt at serious roles with some success(Man on the Moon is a stand-out performance and will be reviewed here in the future). But to me he will always be "Fire Marshall Bill".

In short, Thank You Keenan, Thank You "In Living Color" and Thank You Jim Carrey.

Now...LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Jackass Review

Aren't you readers lucky - a second review this week and I've already got my review for next week written and loaded.

And now your feature presentation...a Jackass review.


Jackass 3D
Starring: Johhny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pointus, Preston Lacey & Wee Man
Released: October 15, 2010

I can't remember what movie I was watching when I initially saw the trailer for Jackass 3D but I can remember that I was instantly excited by the idea. As a fan of Jackass from the moment it started to air in Canada and a huge fan of the new 3D technology(I think the visuals are just stunning) this seemed to be the movie for me and I told everyone who would listen that this movie would be soon be coming out.

Last night I went to see Jackass with my two favorite Jackasses: my Dad and my Brother. Right before I entered the theater I did have a moment of hesitation as I wondered what the odds were of me actually throwing up while watching the boys of Jackass perform their "stunts". My fear was that while watching Jackass in the past I have had my gag reflex kick in and now I was going to be experiencing  all of that in the third dimension. Somewhat reluctantly I sat down to enjoy the show.

The movie opens with a cameo from two classic MTV celebrities: Beavis and Butthead which was a pleasant surprise. After that the movie starts and the insanity begins. The gentlemen then go about hurting themselves and each other, which is exactly what you the viewer came for.

I will not go into detail about the stunts or pranks preformed because to me thats like telling the punchline of a perfectly crafted joke before the set-up and that is what Johnny Knoxville and company have become: a perfectly crafted joke. The Jackass guys know their audience and deliver perfectly. The movie is crude and foul and not for the weak stomached(you will gag during this movie) and they do integrate the 3D technology very well(too well during some scenes). But you will also laugh from beginning to end and that, my fellow clown idolizers, is worth the price of admission.




Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'MA Be Me - A Review

As promised here is this week's review. This week I took a look at the latest offering from Wanda Sykes.


I’ma Be Me
Filmed in Washington, D.C. at the Warner Theatre
August 2009

There are very few comedians that I put into the elite category. For my money it’s not about being the flavor of the month or year but someone who continuously puts out quality material year after year. Wanda Sykes is an elite comedian and her latest HBO special “I’ma be me” only further solidifies her as one of the funniest and smartest people doing stand-up today.

As my girlfriend and I sat down to watch Wanda’s latest offering of thoughts we both had similar expectations: This is going to be funny. However what we were met with was one of the funniest hours we had ever seen. This caught us off guard. Looking back I think it’s easy for the average viewer to forget about Wanda Syke’s the comedian. She’s in sitcoms, she has her own show and she never seems that far out of the public light so in a lot of ways, I think we take her for granted.

In “I’ma be me” Wanda talks about changes. She talks about Obama and racism with the first black president. She talks about her physical appearance and those changes. She talks about what it’s like being a parent of twins and  most importantly (arguably) she talks about her own sexuality and how she made the decision recently to come out of the closet. This leads to a piece of material that I’m comfortable labeling ‘pure genius’ called “Coming out Black”.

Needless to say at this point I think anyone who considers themselves a fan of comedy should watch this. Is it safe for the whole family? No, the language and descriptions are definitely R rated however the language and descriptions used will likely only shock or offend someone under the age of 16 or those who get easily offended. In that respect the language is used only for emphasis and not just for the sake of using it.

Regardless of the all the award nominations, the television appearances and HBO specials I personally feel like Wanda Sykes is a bit of a buried treasure in the mainstream stand-up world and my hope is that “I’ma be me” puts her right where she belongs in the stand-up world…near the top.

What You Really Want To Know:
Is it safe to listen to in public? NO! Under no circumstances should you upload this to your ipod and listen to it on the street or subway. You will look ridiculous as you wipe a tear away because you’re laughing so hard.