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

    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 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.


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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On This Day In Comedy History

I was just sitting down to post this week's review when I checked my Google calender and realized that on this day in comedy history something very important happened. Something so important that I have decided to delay my review this week until Thursday. Something so incredibly important to not only the history of comedy but some would argue our right to free speech.  Something so gigantic in size that I have strung you along this whole time in an attempt to build suspense. That something was... The birth of Lenny Bruce.

I can hear alot of you utter "Who?"

Lenny Bruce was a starting point in comedic history. He was one of the first comedians to challenge the social conventions of what a comedian was and did. Up until Lenny the majority of comedians simply got on stage and told jokes or very simple "observational humour"(although the term "observational humour" wouldn't be used with any kind of regularity until years later). Lenny changed everything in a lot of ways and opened the doors to some of the most important free speech trials North America has ever seen.

Tragically Lenny died of an overdose at the age of 41.

I honestly don't feel like I can do the man justice in such a short post so I'll conclude with a quote from Herb Caen, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist, who reviewed Lenny one night. I'll work on a full length bio for another day.

"They call Lenny Bruce a sick comic-and sick he is. Sick of the pretentious phoniness of a generation that makes his vicious humor meaningful. He is a rebel, but not without a cause, for there are shirts that need unstuffing, egos that need deflating and precious few people to do the job with talent and style. Sometimes you feel a twinge of guilt for laughing at one of Lenny's mordant jabs-but that disappears a second later when your inner voice tells you, with pleased suprise, "But that's true." The kind of truth that might not have dawned on you if there weren't a few Lenny Bruces around to hammer it home." Herb Caen

Monday, October 11, 2010

On This Day In Comedy History

On this day in comedy history Comedian/Actor Redd Foxx died while rehearsing for a show that had yet to be aired(The Royal Family). He was 68.

Known best to television audiences as Fred Sanford from the hit show "Sanford and Son" Redd Foxx was a pioneer in stand-up comedy. He performed "blue humour" which was the type of humour that was considered too dirty for white audiences so for years he performed at "black clubs".

While appearing to have gone "mainstream" with his humour in the seventies simply type his name in the youtube search bar and you'll find his humour never got any cleaner.

Here he is sharing a civil rights story:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On This Day In Comedy History

On this day in comedy history George Carlin makes his first ever television appearance on the Jack Paar Tonight Show as part of a comedy duo(Burns & Carlin).

In just over a year together as a comedy duo Burns & Carlin went from radio show disc jockey's to creating a single comedy album(Burns & Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight) to their appearance on the Tonight Show before going their separate ways in of March 1962.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My First Time

The first HBO special I can recall seeing is also the one that had the greatest impact on my love of stand-up comedy.

Dana Carvey's 'Critics Choice' was filmed in 1995 which would make me no older than 11 and yet I can remember the events leading up to me watching it quite vividly. I remember my mom had to convince me to watch it with her and my dad. Her argument was simple and concise "He does voices. You love people who do voices." I, as a child, couldn't argue her logic and so I sat down and watched with mom and dad.

In retrospect I think my parents would not have invited their impressionable young man to watch the special had they actually seen it for themselves before hand. What they were expecting was the Dana Carvey from Saturday Night Live(Party On Garth!) and what they got was a profanity laced, sexual joke telling, comedian who happened to do voices.

It's a mystery to me now as to whether or not I understood any of the jokes but I do remember hearing my parents having this conversation at some point. "This is terrible. I had no idea or I wouldn't have offered should we turn it off?"
"What's the point he's heard everything already now" and we finished watching it.

Afterward I convinced my parents to tape it for me the next time it re-aired. I played that tape like a kid watches Barney and I introduced my friends to the brilliant and filthy Dana Carvey. Below is my favorite bit from the special...Enjoy!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Braindroppings - A Review

One of things to expect from me here is a weekly review of something comedy related. Today I review/revisit George Carlin's Braindroppings. Enjoy!

Author: George Carlin
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: May 1, 1997

    Anytime I find myself sitting down to read a book penned by a comedian I find it to be a rather unique experience in that often times while I’m reading I find myself hearing their voice in my head and not my own. And if it’s a comedian I am very familiar with I can go pages without hearing my own voice, which brings us to the first offering by George Carlin: Braindroppings. Carlin is someone whom I idolized as a teenager and young adult so for the majority of this book I hardly heard my voice at all.

    A Carlin fan will easily be able to hear Carlin’s voice performing the material which can cause the occasional let down. At times reading the material I was familiar with would cause the greatest sense of disappointment because you lose everything in the comedian’s ability to perform the material. However there is also tons of new material from short lists with bullet form punch lines to full length material several pages long.

    While it may appear outdated his take on political correctness was a personal highlight for me. There were and are still comedians who talk about being against any form of political correctness however they often stop short of saying what needs to be said. They censor themselves and fall into the political correctness trap. Only Calrin and a handful of other comedians ever truly went against the insanity that is and was political correctness.

    Carlin has been dead now for over two years and I found that even though this book was released over ten years ago all of the material still stands the test of time and, as a Carlin fan, was a real treat to revisit. I found that there are lines that appear that show how far in advance and how organized Carlin was. There is a line about suicide that would appear much later in his career about the idea of suicide being a rather mundane and stressful task like anything else in life. It caused me to wonder how long this single line was sitting in a file somewhere just waiting to be expanded upon. I also wonder how many more lines like that are sitting in a file somewhere now that will never get to reach their full potential.

What You Really Want To Know
Is it safe to read in public? Yes but only on the condition you are very familiar with Carlin’s material otherwise read this one at home where no one will judge you for giggling to yourself.

A Comedy Timeline

Good Morning,

So I finally did something I've always wanted to do: I've created A Comedy Timeline. As it stands right now it is simply a series of birth and death dates but my goal is to continue to add to it by highlighting interesting points in Comedy History. It will be a constantly evolving project with dates being added regularly which I will highlight here for you.

As with any major project one needs a starting point. I chose to use "Comedy Centrals Top 100 Comedians" as that starting point.

If I've missed anything(obviously early on I've missed tons) or you would like me to add something send me a comment or email and I will research the dates to be added to the timeline.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Welcome to Idolizing Clowns.

I had planned a really nice post to get things started here about when and how my love of comedy and specifically comedians really started to take shape but alas life got in the way.

On September 29, 2010, comedian Greg Giraldo died of an accidental overdose. Greg is probably best known for his work as a judge on the reality show "Last Comic Standing" or one of his many appearances on the"Comedy Central Roats" specials. What most people are likely unaware of is that he earned a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a law degree from Harvard. This was an incredibly smart man with all the potential in the world who chose to make others laugh.

Greg Girlado - December 10th 1965 - September 29th 2010