Fay started with gimmicks like everyone else, wearing baggy pants, squirting seltzer, delivering straight lines for a comedian that circled him on roller skates - and he hated it. After humiliating himself onstage for two years, Fay decided to use the same persona he had offstage. No props, no costumes, no partner, he took to the stage wearing a well-tailored tuxedo and told jokes alone. It was so unconventional that The New York Times frowned: "“Fay needs a good straight man, as before, to feed his eccentric comedy." There was initial resistance to a man just standing and talking, but Fay's success would transform stand-up as an artform. Fellow comedians saw Fay succeed and they abandoned their props and emulated his style. Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Bob Hope and Jack Paar all cited him as an influence. Fay became one of the most influential stand-up comics of all time.
Frank Fay: The Fascist Stand-Up Comic
He was also comedy's most notorious racist. In January 1946, several months after Germany had been defeated, a rally of ten thousand white supremacists gathered at Madison Square Garden. They delivered speeches in support of Franco, Mussolini and their fallen hero Adolf Hitler. They promised that the defeat of Germany would not go unpunished. The podium was beneath a banner that saluted their guest of honor. The event was called "The Friends of Frank Fay."
by Kliph Nesteroff (for WFMU's Beware of the Blog
) [more inside]
"My count is now up to five. Five of my friends and fellow comedians have taken their own life.
It's shocking, but, sadly, not surprising. Non-comedians — or as we call them, 'civilians' — are always surprised. And I am always surprised they're so surprised. They have yet to realize the Two Big Things all comedians know.
" [may be triggering] [more inside]
"The routine Cosby was about to perform—immortalized on the landmark album To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With
—represented a turning point in his career. A full 16 years before The Cosby Show
debuted, the performance would serve as the blueprint for the themes that would define his work: the father as a loving disciplinarian; the siblings who could switch from screaming at one another to plotting together at the drop of a hat; the confidence that no matter what conflicts and tragedies arise, the bonds of family will hold. In To Russell
, Cosby didn’t just find his voice; he tapped into something deeper." [more inside]
"Live comedy thrives off an audience, but what if the comics have no idea how the crowd is responding? At 7 Minutes in Purgatory
, half a dozen local [Chicago] comics were tasked with doing a set alone in a soundproof room while the crowd watched via live stream elsewhere in the venue." [more inside]
Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle
is both a television show featuring stand-up comedian Stewart Lee (previously
), and the whimsical clown car
in the opening credits of the show’s first season. Lee’s patronizing
, and defeatist
style may appear thoughtful or ironic, but taking him at face value reveals a darker, more interesting picture (NSFW language): [more inside]
Amy Schumer's tale of courage, sex and self-worth as told at the Ms. Foundation Gala.
"I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say. I say if I'm beautiful. I say if I'm strong. You will not determine my story — I will. I will speak and share and fuck and love and I will never apologize to the frightened millions who resent that they never had it in them to do it."
Comedian John Pinette is dead
. I've always been partial to his "everything has gluten in it
Given the expense and uncertainty of lawsuits, how does the comedy community enforce the proscription on joke theft
? Part of an ongoing Slate series called The Humor Code
The Lost Roles of Rodney Dangerfield
– Rodney Dangerfield starred as himself in this unsuccessful NBC pilot about a pre-teen boy who idolizes Rodney Dangerfield and gains the ability to magically make him appear to give him advice. Where's Rodney? was a co-production between Aaron Spelling and Hanna-Barbera and also starred Jared Rushton, Soleil Moon Frye, and Breckin Meyer.
talk to Sarah Silverman about her HBO special 'We Are Miracles'
, and why women run comedy
. Though according to Variety she shouldn't be so dirty
... or maybe Variety should shut up
The longform.com guide to standup
. Not a ranking, but rather a collection of links to long form articles about some legendary stand-up comedians. [more inside]
Stewart Lee asks "Where are all the right-wing stand-ups?"
after BBC Radio 4's commisioning editor Caroline Raphael recently admitted they struggle to "find comedians from the right"
on shows such as The News Quiz
does stand-up comedy
, but also likes to sing, both as a part of her act
and just because she's good at it
. She garnered some attention for her impressions
on America's Got Talent (various videos abound) and does a mean Maria Bamford
"There are plenty of reasons to recover from addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma....But comedians are perverse people who often don't care about any of those things. So maybe this will convince them, and maybe this will convince me: get better — so you can get funny."
In a frank, personal, and revealing article, essayist Jaime Lutz interviews comedians Marc Maron
, Eddie Pepitone
, Paul Gilmartin
, and Anthony Atamanuik
about the uneasy relationship between mental illness and comedy.
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”Daniel Tosh
has more or less apologized
after a Tumblr user posted a friend's experience at one of his recent shows.
But the controversy has now somehow drawn in Louis C.K.,
who posted an apparent message of support
for Tosh on Twitter the same week a date-rape-themed episode of Louie aired on FX.
C.K. has also broached heckling
[NSFW], and had previously defended Tracy Morgan
in a similarly charged situation. [more inside]
Louis C.K. on eating pressure and providing an alternative to The Man
- "I ask him to think about what he really needs; when he tells me, I give him a little more. It buys me goodwill with this person; I feel good about what I'm paying them. I like to give people a little more than they want, and I like to ask people for a little less than they're willing to give." [more inside]
Two whole stand-up performances
by comedian Daniel Kitson can be downloaded on a pay-what-you-want basis (even if you want to pay nothing). These are the 2004
Edinburgh performances (2004 performance previously on MeFi
). Kitson has also recorded a story album
with musician Gavin Osborn, selling for ₤2.50, and the first three tracks, of eleven, can be streamed online. [via The Bugle]
Australian comic Jim Jefferies tells a story: Last Wish for a Friend [more inside]
Congratulations Graduates! Here are some comedic commencement speeches to send you off into the world:
Stephen Colbert's advice for the Northwestern graduating class of 2011: Don't follow your stupid dreams
. Jokes start right away, serious bits start 18 minutes in.
Amy Poehler addresses the facts of the 9/11 memories of recent graduates.
Comedian Dwight Slade speaks to his own high school graduate
More? [more inside]
The website of the late comedian Mitch Hedberg
has been revamped and relaunched by his widow Lynn Shawcroft, with photos, videos, and selections from Mitch's notebooks. (via) (previously) (sadly)
[NSFW: swear words galore] Hecklers
, the bane of many a performance. Here you can watch a documentary about Hecklers
[ part 1
- part 2
- part 3
- part 4
] and other critics. Someone at the beginning of that "Heckler" movie says something like, "A show was never made better because of a heckler." If only all of the banter was as funny as when Matt Walsh was heckled at SXSW.
More often, it's like how Kyle Kinane states right off the bat during his act: "Every trainwreck needs a fuckin’ caboose; let’s get it over with,"
before he launches into a semi-drunken 9-minute conversation/shoutfest. But every once in a while, you get the perfect "point, counterpoint" moment.
Let's see how different stand-up comedians react when the social contract of audience/performer is broken. [more inside]
Louis C.K. has what most artists dream of: total creative control over his show
"Anybody else give up the use of their left side for Lent?"
Carl Warmenhoven, the owner of a Seattle's Comedy Underground had a stroke -- and two weeks later does a stand-up routine about it. [SLYT, via SLOG
The manager of Girardi's Frozen Yogurt wants to make sure his employees understand what the corkboard in the back is for...in a monologue entitled: Girardi's Frozen Yogurt
) [more inside]
Monica Potts on Louis CK and privilege:
"For the most part, people of color are the ones who initiate serious discussions about race and privilege in the public sphere -- and in the world of comedy ... Some white comedians, like Sarah Silverman, tend to joke about
racism, making fun of white people and their ignorance in ways that shock and offend. ... But Louis' comedy is about being a white man -- and about how others view white men. He doesn't accept ignorance as a point of view. Moreover, this isn't the occasional stand-up bit; a significant number of his jokes are about race, class, and gender." [more inside]
Can a stand-up comedian's performance be objectively evaluated and ranked? In the recent documentary I Am Comic [imdb | clips]
, Steve Roye
demonstrates his product, the Comedy Evaluator Pro
. A "Positive Audience Response" (PAR) score is the percentage of PAR during the time the comedian is on the stage (not taking into account other factors such as venue size, etc.). Of course, this method stirs controversy
about the art vs. science of stand-up. Ritch Shydner
, the protagonist of I Am Comic
, thinks that booking agents shouldn't rely on PAR scores
to choose who gets to be on stage, while the director of I Am Comic
, Jordan Brady, disagrees, seeing PAR as a way to elevate the quality of stand-up
. So, drum roll, please: Who is the world's funniest comedian?
According to PAR score, it's J.R. Redwater, during this bit at the Pow Wow Comedy Jam. [agree | disagree]
Louis CK is a pretty funny guy
. While the Boston comic hasn't fared well in scripted formats -- projects like The Dana Carvey Show
, Pootie Tang
, and Lucky Louie
were all commercial flops -- his stand-up is quite popular, and his new series Louie
(premiering tonight on FX) looks like a winner
-- and just in time
, too. But that's something you'd need a TV to know about. Luckily, the guy's a big hit on YouTube
, and has even added some of his own homemade content to the mix. Click inside for a collection of some of his best (and most NSFW) routines. [more inside]
Life as a Comic
is series of short videos by Rob Paravonian (famous for The Pachelbel Rant) about what it's like to be a working stand-up comic. It has recently started up again after a long break. Here's the first episode
which is about doing gigs at venues which aren't full-time comedy clubs. Direct links to the rest of the episodes, all of which are in quicktime-format, below the cut. [more inside]
A 1989 NYU student film (shot by Judah Friedlander) asks "Who is Chris Rock?" (via)
Funnyman and "All American immigrant" Joe Wong
at this year's RTCA dinner
Maria Bamford's One-Hour Homemade Christmas Special!
by Maria Bamford
, stand-up comic and pretty much a native speaker in Pretend Tiger. FYI, if you've heard some of those jokes before... it's a gift! She made it for us, for Christmas, to celebrate her success at selling out this year
"For a lot of comics, it's OK to talk about raping women now. That's the new black on the comedy circuit." "One false move, and I'm Jim Davidson." "Don't go thinking I'm the new Bernard Manning. I'm being postmodern and ironic. I understand that what I'm saying is unacceptable." The new offenders of standup comedy
!!!!!!!! (nsfw) [more inside]