By Erika Delfini
(For the Hopeless Romantic in all of us….
Or for anyone who has to date…
And then of course there is love….)
Something Outrageous is a series of sketches that takes the audience on the wild ride that is modern love, also the somewhat awful truth and/or nature behind the misunderstood, misdirected, ideals of love, sex, and romance in the 21st century. The cast offers their very own unique interpretations of love and sex in today’s day and age.
The show is a non-stop series of sketches intercut with appropriately placed music. The characters are almost outlandish, lending themselves to the inexplicable characteristics as seen in a David Lynch film – perhaps not as creepy, but the feelings of what it means to be human do arise when watching this show, just as I’m sure they arise when watching a David Lynch film. (If you are unfamiliar with David Lynch, then I do implore you to seek him out on Google, in order to gain a greater understanding of the extremes that is “living”).
Without giving too much away, the show is just a fun time to be had with a date or by yourself, the talent is enthusiastic, talented, and offers some of the best facial expressions I have seen in ages. There is something to be said about the free alcohol – it is free. There is also something to be said about the enthusiasm and unlikely approach to defining the unpredictability and/or (treachery) open to any situation that may arise when looking for love, living today, and doing both at the same time.
Reggie Watts at SummerStage
with Natasha Leggero
The musical and comedic thrill ride that is Reggie Watts pulled into Central Park’s Summer Stage on Wednesday night, accompanied by his opener, the lovely and petite Natasha Leggero. Ms. Leggero, who is known for his judging on last season’s Last Comic Standing (as well as hosting That 70’s House a few years back), is from the same mold as Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings. She’s small, she’s full of energy, and likes to make fun of Paris, Britney, and Kim – but then again, who doesn’t. She should probably have a fake-reality show that mimics one of those three aforementioned starlets. She’s also a feisty comedian, spending much of her time running around the stage and dancing. She reminds me a bit of former SNL star Cheri Oteri, except more crass. To close out she invited up three nice Jewish boys to beatbox while she danced, which you can get away with when you’re small and in a dress.
Now on to Mr. Watts. Reggie Watts is a unique individual. He’s a bit like Robin Williams in his ‘Mork’ days mixed with ?uestlove’s haircut and DJ Danger Mouse’s mixing skills. There are many components to a Reggie Watt’s show, and yet he transitions smoothly from one bit to the next. Admittedly, I had only heard about Reggie Watts during his tour with Conan O’Brien last year. I had seen his ‘Why is Shit So Crazy’ concert film, so I knew what his deal was, but he always has a surprise in store. The first surprise, for me, was that I finally heard his real voice. Mr. Watts has a tendency to do shows in every voice he can mimic but his own. He will come out and talk like a 70’s funk soul band leader, or a British statesman, or a Rastafari, or even a member of The Force. His act is that eclectic, you’re not really waiting for anything because you don’t know what you’re waiting for.
He came out on stage and then discussed the beauty of New York and its surrounding boroughs, and then transitioned to a song about fucking. While it seems that a portion of his humor is derived from the site of a chubby guy in suspenders and an Afro pouncing around the stage doing funny dances, it is effective humor. He’s a harmless and creative comic. He’s not out to offend anyone, and honestly I don’t know that he could if he tried. His set is built on going from one random thing to the next, and the beauty is he doesn’t care if you’re with him or not. Many people are amused just by the site of him doing what he does, rather than how hilarious it is. The more complex part of his act is the music. He uses a loop medal to both beat box and get a rhythm established before he begins his rap. While loop pedals are common in music, they are not common in comedy, and the fact that he uses it so well during his show is a testament to his immense talent. He very well could pass for a long lost member of Parliament Funkadelic.
For more show info, please visit www.ReggieWatts.com
Robert Klein at 92Y Lexington Ave
By Adam Ullian
On Thursday evening, the funny version of Kol Nidre rolled into the 92Y @ Lexington Avenue courtesy of Robert Klein. There was no praying, but it was the gathering of people you’d expect to hear a nearing-70 Jewish comedian on the Upper East Side.
Robert Klein is known for, among other things, having 8 HBO specials, including the very first one in 1975. I don’t know if he’s considered a comedy god in the same way that Seinfeld, Carlin, and Pryor are, but he is certainly a comedy legend, and has the stories to prove it.
The evening was hosted by New York Times film critic Jeffrey Lyons, an encyclopedia of film and humor knowledge himself. Mr. Lyon’s first question was if Klein felt that the term ‘observational comedian’ rang true with him. Klein didn’t really have an answer, and having been in a position to ask comedians to define what type they are, there tends not be an answer. There are certainly categories, like political comedian versus fart joke artist, but at the end of the day, all comedians are observing something, that’s what they do.
Klein began with a discussion of how he should have changed his name many years ago when he started out. There were just too many Robert Klein’s out there, and he would get fan mail addressed to Calvin Klein. Among other things, he noted that Whoopi Goldberg is a genius, her given name being Caryn Johnson. I had known that, but by the sound of gasps in the audience, it would appear as though many in attendance had not. He also made a brief ‘I wanna talk about art’ quip, referring to Steve Martin’s widely critiqued discussion last year when he wasn’t funny enough for a select number of attendees.
As an elder statesman of stand-up comedy, Robert Klein has a library of stories about famous entertainers. He told the audience about when he first met Richard Pryor, and how he saw him smack his girlfriend in the parking lot of a Comedy Club and told him he couldn’t hang out with him if he did that. Pryor went away for a year, and then came back as the profane man that made him legendary. There is the story of opening for Chuck Berry, with Berry never showing, until after Klein has made fun of him, and proceeds to charge the stage. Then there is the story of Rodney Dangerfield demanding to sail off of Buzzards Bay in a major storm, then swimming, and then almost drowning, before Klein saved his life.
Klein delved into his feelings on some more recent comedians, included Chris Rock, who he said he enjoys except when he panders to certain audiences and uses foul language. Profanity used properly is great, but used for attention is not. He also commented that Andy Kauffman’s trademark ‘inefficient’ comedy was not something that he had ever enjoyed.
Klein discussed the meaning of Johnny Carson and The Tonight show in terms of its importance to comedians. As Klein put it, Carson was the biggest thing in Hollywood, and while he wouldn’t have wanted to be married to him, Carson certainly did what he could to help emerging comics. It’s interesting to hear about a talk show host with such command in Hollywood, given the current wide assortment of late night entertainers. It’s hard to believe there was once all that power concentrated into one performer. As a younger member of the audience, I wanted to hear Kleins’ take on the recent Conan versus Jay controversy, but seeing as most of the audience probably was unfamiliar with both of those names, it was just as well.
Robert Klein’s new book, ‘The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue’ is on sale now.
Free Comedy at Super Marvelous
by: Will Garre
Gary Vider is a good guy. He’s a funny guy. But never call Gary’s comedy show a “bringer,” because he’ll kill you. Not really. Gary won’t kill you, but he’ll tell you what he told me once: “Don’t call it a bringer, or I’ll seriously kill you.”*
Gary’s free comedy show, Super Marvelous, runs every Tuesday night at The Irish Exit. The show takes place in the sumptuous back room of the pub, which seats about fifty people, lounge-style, and is equipped with its own bar, fireplace, and disco ball. It’s a sweet set up. But what makes this show so special, and why shouldn’t we call it a “bringer”?
A little background on “bringers”: To most new comedians, “bringer” shows provide the rare opportunity to get on stage in front of a real audience. Every performer is required to bring a certain number of guests, and the venue makes good money because all of those guests pay a cover charge and buy at least two drinks. In the end, the new comedian feels great, because he/she has gotten a chance to perform, but, unfortunately, the guests often feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth.
Gary’s show, Super Marvelous, is different. First of all, it’s free. You know how when you walk into your house, you just walk through the door and you don’t have to pay any money? That’s how it is at Super Marvelous, except it’s totally better than your house. (Unless your house has bartenders and mozzarella sticks and good comedians, in which case you should just stay home.)
Also, there is no drink minimum, which is nice, because no one needs that kind of pressure on a night out. You can drink as much or as little as you like.
On top of that—and this is the best part—the comedians are super marvelous, just like the show’s name suggests. Gary recruits tons of pro comics, like TJ Miller, Neal Brennan, Nate Bargatze, Julian McCullough, and Myq Kaplan. Gary himself also performs, and he’s no slouch. Perfectly deadpan, he delivers clever, unpredictable one-liners and short-form jokes that keep the audience engaged and rib-tickled.
In the end, what you get is a win for everybody, and definitely not a “bringer.” New comedians get coveted stage time, seasoned pros get a good audience and free drink tickets, and the audience gets a great show for nothing.
*Gary never said this, because he’s a gentleman. Here’s some stuff he actually did say:
Me: Where are you from?
Gary: I grew up in a few places: Long Island, Massachusetts, and Upstate New York.
Me: How did you get into comedy?
Gary: I got into comedy so I can be a waiter. No I’m kidding. I got into comedy because I enjoy making people laugh, I like attention, and I never wanted to wear a suit. Whenever I see someone wearing a suit on a hot summer day, I think to myself , I’m glad that’s not me.
Me: Why did you create Super Marvelous?
Gary: I started the show because having your own show gives you complete creative freedom. I wanted a place where I can just do my thing. At my show I can do new jokes whenever I want, and I can put up whoever I think is funny.
For show reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Gary Vider: email@example.com
Tuesdays at The Irish Exit
978 2nd Ave., at 52nd St.
7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
June 8th, 2011
By Natalie Thomas
Trevor Crane: Jackie Mason’s Modern Day Protégé
Actors might know how to make us laugh, but not all actors can do comedy. Trevor Crane, however, proves to be the exception as he takes comedic acting to new heights and delivers a solid performance in the musical comedy, “702 Punchlines and Pregnant,” written by Ginger Reiter and Sheba Mason. The eccentric title of this Off Broadway musical foreshadows comic relief, but it doesn’t fully prepare you for the hysterical antics, controversial scenes, and the emotional roller coaster ride of the plot that ensues.
The musical, which is based on a true story, is showcased every Sunday at 3pm at The Broadway Comedy Club. It recounts the 10 year love affair between comedian Jackie Mason and Ginger Reiter that resulted in the making of lovechild Sheba Mason. Jackie Mason’s womanizing ways and his paternal pitfalls are exposed and Trevor Crane plays the lead role of Mason, who is presently still alive. I had the pleasure of interviewing Crane after his noteworthy performance to discuss the musical and to get a closer look at the evolution of his career. For Crane, portraying a real character gave him a thrill and presented a new opportunity for him to challenge his acting abilities. “I had to learn more about Jackie Mason, and watch some of his stand up comedy routines; the actor in me likes learning about different characters, especially ones that are real and still alive…that was an enjoyable process.”
It is quite evident that Trevor Crane didn’t land the role of Jackie Mason based on his looks. In person he draws a strong resemblance to the comedian Conan O’Brien, “I look nothing like Jackie Mason at all…but they wanted somebody who captured the essence of Jackie, who had the mannerisms of Jackie, and who could do the voice. Those factors are more important than the look.” Crane learned of the musical while rehearsing for a production he co-writes sketch comedies for. He viewed the musical, liked what he saw, and auditioned. After sending follow up emails, a couple of run-ins with Ginger in the hallways, and three call backs, Crane landed the role and only had two weeks to prepare for the show.
Within the very first scene of the musical, the audience gets introduced to the facetious character of Jackie Mason. Dressed in a crisp black suit, Crane leaps onto the stage with his eyes wide open. His greasy salt and pepper hair (with blond streaks) remains motionless while he attempts to do a little jig that resembles a reject funky chicken dance. I immediately laugh out loud. The obvious is clear: Crane has mastered Mason’s mannerisms to a science as well as his rapid dialect which includes vocabulary words such as, “shmuzzle, and shmuck.” His charisma creates infectious laughter from the audience and undoubtedly, Crane steals the spotlight.
Although Crane becomes one with his character on stage, off stage he transitions into a quirky, witty, yet humble guy. During the interview he speaks candidly as he recounts how much he loved comedy as a kid. At the tender age of 7 years old, Crane wrote mini comedy skits with his brother to make his parents laugh. “I loved entertaining my family and enjoyed putting on comedy shows for them…sketch comedy always came naturally to me, but I also held an interest in acting in musicals.” He started auditioning for H.S musicals and by the age of 24, began acting professionally in community theater productions such as Fiddler on the Roof. Crane eventually started touring with a Theater company called Big Kid Entertainment in Ontario that allowed him to visit schools, and public facilities putting on performances of updated Fairy Tales.
Perhaps what is most impressive about this 31 year old Toronto native is the risks he took to pursue his craft. After two years of working with this production, he decided to leave Toronto to try his luck with the NY theater scene. He only had two friends that lived in New York who guaranteed him a place to stay for only two weeks. The rest was up to him to figure out. Crane remained determined and worked hard, a trait he shares with his character Jackie Mason, “Jackie Mason worked hard to get where he is. I admire his ambition and his drive. He never gave up; he kept practicing which led him to have success in stand up and on Broadway. That’s how comedians have to be.”
Crane has an array of creative projects that he would like to tackle. He is very excited about his recent works, which includes a filmed episode of Celebrity Close Calls, where he plays a young Gary Busey, and his very own screen play entitled, “Roomate Wars,” were he plays a lead role. By remaining open minded to new and diverse opportunities in comedy and acting, he is hoping to expand his career. In the meantime, Trevor Crane is looking forward to his next big break. He takes a long pause as he reflects on what fuels him to continue pursuing comedy, “Everybody loves to laugh, everybody gets a high off of laughing, it’s a euphoric experience if it’s done really well.”
By Erika Delfini
Judy Moody and The Not Bummer Summer: a throw back if you will, to maybe simpler times, better days, and even good television shows from the nineties (Family Matters). The film follows Judy Moody and her ultimate quest to seek absolute resounding thrill on a summer vacation to end all summer vacations. The adventure comes with her very own “thrill point” chart accompanied by an uncompromising judgment regarding all things fun, exciting and completely thrill chart worthy (things thrill chart worthy include: riding an elephant, the scream machine, tight rope walking). Modest, yes. Humbling, perhaps. Impossible for a group of kids to accomplish from all over the world – NEVER!
Judy Moody is about to embark on the greatest summer of her existence until she realizes that her two best friends, Rocky and Amy are off for (slightly) bigger and better things – circus camp, Borneo. In lieu of certain setbacks, Judy is greeted with a new way to seek thrill. This involves a race with Amy and Rocky, many misadventures with her crazy Aunt Opal, a couple of “big foot” run-ins along with chasing Big Foot all around town with her little brother Stink. All the while, she must remain calm, cool, and collected whilst realizing that she and her adorably timid friend Frank may in fact not win the first ever thrill race, or for that matter, any thrill points what-so-ever.
Alas, a movie, based on a book: skepticism may arise, however the Judy Moody series, written by Megan McDonald and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds was translated to screen quite tastefully. There is a certain dignity to the characters that all lend themselves to their one dimensional counter parts. Jordana Beatty Paris Mostellar, Garrett Ryan, Preston Bailey, Jaleel White, and Heather Graham (to name a few) exhibit on screen what Megan McDonald writes on paper – that of unabashed childishness for the child in all of us, or for the child we still are….? Or something to that meaning effect, and/or formulate your own opinion here, without thinking too much.
For anyone who truly hates what summer might bring, because sometimes it can be crazy, and scary, and hot, and annoying, and totally hopeless (personal note inserted) there is something to be said for a movie that challenges these tenants, and in fact raises the bar for summer time fun, everywhere.
The comedy sketch group known as Elite Delta Force 3 will be performing in the Los Angeles Comedy Festival, which begins tomorrow. Below is a rather in depth Q and A with group co-founder Nefetari Spencer.
YS: How did you girls get started? where did you meet?
Nefetari: Angela and I created this group together because there was a void for the type of comedy we wanted to see. We all meet through friends of friends or at auditions or from previously performing together in another sketch group called Cleo’s Apt.
YS: Why EDF3?
Nefetari: EDF3 was the name of a sketch Angela wrote. We were having a hard time picking a name we liked. We were almost called “The Hattie McDaniels” or “Prom Night Mistakes”….so EDF3 seemed like the best fit.
YS: How does it feel to be part of the LA Comedy Festival?
Nefetari: It feels great to be a part of the 9th Annual LA Comedy Festival. This will be our 3rd apperance in the Festival. We’re trying to keep the tradition going of winning Audience Favorite. It really is an honor and it opens up our audience up to people who wouldn’t normally come to see us. They catch our show and become fans. Its a great thing to be a part of.
YS: Do you enjoy being an all-female comedy group? How it different from having male members?
Nefetari: Yes, I enjoy having an all-female group but it has it’s challenges. The difference with having male members is wondering which married member will be pregnant this year.
YS: Your Real Housewives of Civil Rights video has taken off. Whose idea was it and did each of you have specific characters you wanted to play?
Nefetari: I said to Angie we have to do something with Atlanta Housewives this year. In previous years I was totally against it but there were too many priceless moments on that show to just let die. Angie came up with the brilliant idea of making it a Civil Rights theme. It was easy to cast the girls because we had played Coretta, Rosa and Maya on stage before. Betty, Winnie and Marilyn are icons so it was natural to want to portray these women as well. Although we have taken some slack from people I would have to say the majority has been positive. I take pride in knowing it has started conversation about Civil Rights and who these iconic women are (were).
YS: When you are not collaborating on comedy, what are your hobbies?
Nefetari: Angie is a fanatic scuba diver. I’m also a painter. Leshay and Indira are moms and Nikea is an advocate for Breast Cancer Awareness having been a survivor for 5 years now.
What can we expect next from EDF3?
We plan on shooting more sketches to post to our youtube page www.youtube.com/EDF3Comedy so we can reach people outside of the local LA area. This is all part of our diabolical plan so we can tour later this summer.
You can check out Elite Delta Force 3 at www.elitedeltaforce3.com