This past Monday I went to Whiplash at UCB in Chelsea for the first time. It was an amazing show and all the comics killed. Sean Patton headlined the show, and I’m not sure that I’ve seen him perform before. He’s a totally different act than what I’m used to seeing and it was pretty refreshing. And Patton especially murdered.
Anyways, I’ve been sharing a lot of articles and such lately so I figured it was time to get some more videos going. Here’s a fun one.
Nick Vatterott is a big name in comedy. He’s a working comic who has been around New York City for a while now, working some of its best clubs. I think the consensus is that he hasn’t had his “breakout” moment yet on TV, but he has a huge cult following because he’s awesome. (see more of him on his website)
Yesterday, in frustration with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, he typed out this long Facebook post, which has accumulated upwards of 800 likes and 80 shares in 17 hours. His frustrations with the theater have garnered a lot of support from the stand up community. Everybody seems to be sharing or posting about it today!
If you want the tl;dr on this, Vatterott is upset with how UCB treats stand up comics compared to improvisers. On top of that, he implies that UCB doesn’t even treat improvisers very well – they’re being taken advantage of too. UCB doesn’t pay performers for paid shows and they seem to have done some mean things to Vatterott and other stand ups. To add some context, UCB is essentially THE place for improv and sketch in New York and they’ve expanded to four locations: two in NYC and two in LA. Essentially, if you want to do improv, you kind of have to go through them. But they have comedy shows with all different acts, including stand up. And Vatterott feels like they treat stand ups as outsiders because of that.
I can’t speak to any of this from experience (not being a paid comic) but Vatterott’s words seem to be resonating with other comedians. I was just at UCB in Chelsea earlier this week to see Whiplash, which is one of the best free shows in the city. UCB makes that sort of thing possible, which is great. But, at least from Vatterott’s frustrated comments, it seems like they might not always go about things the right way.
Continue reading “Nick Vatterott’s Letter to UCB”
This is an Atlantic piece from 2012, which, as you might know, was about four years ago. It’s interesting to see how this piece has a lot of relevance today and might have even garnered more attention today. In fact, it reminds me of another very similar Atlantic piece, Plight of the Funny Female, which came out this fall and I think even comments on some of the same research. I wrote an article about that one, which you can find here.
I think this one is subtly different, but it’s equally as interesting. Throughout the history of comedy, women have been putting themselves down in various ways. Physically making themselves appear less pretty is just one of them. One thing I will point out, that I don’t think the article addressed is that, pretty obviously, men comics put themselves down too. So many times I’ve heard a female comic get up on stage and say, “Wow there are a lot of good-looking guys here!” (referring to other comics) and then a guy will get up and say something like, “I look like a rapist! Haaaa! I’m gross!”
My point isn’t to de-emphasize how women comics have unfortunately had to put themselves down over the years in an attempt to seem funnier. It’s just to show that self-deprecation is a common tool in comedy that women have used to break their way into a formerly male-dominated profession. If people don’t identify with you, you can always make fun of yourself. It’s fascinating how easily people will get on board when you’re pointing your finger at yourself and going, “Look at me, I’m an idiot!” Sometimes it’s even a little unnerving.
Here’s a little list of things to know when you’re starting out comedy that I did not write. But it’s pretty short and pretty good advice, so I like it.
It was written by Hollis Gillespie, a humor columnist/writer and comedian who lives in Atlanta.
This is a humor piece written by NYC Comedian Lucas Gardner and published in the New York Times. It’s a funny thing I like that pokes fun at the hoops you have to jump through to get stage time as an open mic comic in New York. Garner has written a lot of funny stuff. If you like this, check out his personal site.
I was reminded of this awesome Atlantic piece today when I was writing my article about how math jokes are kind of taboo.
It’s about how people often have this very visceral negative reaction to puns that’s really weird and trying to find out why that happens. Super intersting.
A lot of people hate math. People hate math so much that our word for “complete and utter destruction” is “after–math.” That’s pretty bad. Like, what’s left after a bomb – we compare that…to multiplication tables.
That’s a joke I wrote that pretty much sums up how 50% of people feel about mathematics: it’s the absolute worst thing in the world. Physical torture cannot compare to the mundaneness of arithmetic nor the frustration of solving a system of equations. And yet, there are some crazy, weird people who actually like math.
What?! Who?! Well, I’m one of them! And so is San Francisco/Los Angeles based comedian Sammy Obeid. And if you’re a comedian who likes math, sometimes that can work against you.
Continue reading “Are Math Jokes Taboo?”
“His gigs were part strip show, part heavy-metal concert, all primal-scream therapy.”
If you’re young and don’t know anything like me, you might never have heard of Sam Kinison. I heard about him once when I started comedy and now I have one of his comedy records and we get along just swell. Kinison is up there with the greatest comedians of all time. Why? I actually don’t know. I actually don’t find him very funny. But I do think he’s unlike anyone I’ve ever seen and if I was friends with him I know I’d think he was hilarious. That’s why I like listening to him so much.
I know my mom wouldn’t like him because he screams and yells all the time in his stand up, something he might have picked up as a short-lived Pentecostal preacher. Kinison was a weird, crazy guy and he died too young and too suddenly.
He did a lot of stand up. And something I didn’t know until reading this article was that apparently every one of his sets was different. That’s insane. He told different jokes every time he was on stage. So, a lot of his material has been lost over the years, especially since not everything was video recorded in the 80’s (that’s why you can’t find too much of his stand up online and why I’ve gone to albums).
Comedy Dynamics is coming out with The Sam Kinison Comedy Collection, which will pull together all his “lost” specials. Apparently there will be a bunch of stuff that hasn’t really been seen before. How do they do that? I don’t know. But it sounds cool and I’ll be looking forward to it.
Here’s some of his stuff. By the way…sorry if you’re like, “Duh! I KNOW who Sam Kinison is!” But it’s better for me to pretend you don’t than to pretend you do. And hey, you get to see a little more of him! Lucky you!
And it’s probably true. Comedians are super weird people, so it’s not a huge stretch to say they might have psychotic tendencies, too.
So these British scientists took a bunch of comedians and compared them to actors and a control group and found that “comedians scored significantly higher on all four types of psychotic personality traits compared to the general group.” Comedians scored especially high in impulsive non-conformity and introverted personality traits, which, well…yeah.
I found this article about it pretty funny. There are some great quotes in the article like,
“The creative elements needed to produce humor are strikingly similar to those characterizing the cognitive style of people with psychosis – both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”
That’s really nice, scientists. But you really don’t have to use online questionnaires to discover comedians are crazy. Just go to an open mic at 1AM and listen to everybody talk about killing themselves as the audience stares, blankly, half asleep.
One of my comedian friends just taught me how to pee on the street in the middle of Midtown, Manhattan in broad daylight without anyone noticing. He was like a magician. And he was beaming the whole time: the proudest I’ve ever seen a person. I think my anecdotal evidence might trump your numbers. You’re late to the party, science.
This has been all over Reddit, but I can’t help but share it because it’s hilarious. If you didn’t know, H. Jon Benjamin is the voice of infamous Archer and also Bob from Bob’s Burgers. And he’s a hilarious guy. He’s been all over TV, too – I’ve seen him in everything from Important Things with Demetri Martin to Aziz Ansari’s Master of None.
He released a new jazz album where he plays along on piano with a jazz band composed of world-class musicians…and he doesn’t know how to play piano. It’s the same kind of funny as those horrible recorder-playing songs, but way classier. And funnier, I think.
You can actually buy the album, too. So do that. If you like it.