Running Late with Scott Rogowsky

Comedian Kevin Allison on the couch with Scott
Kevin Allison and host Scott Rogowsky

By Tara Raiti

Scott Rogowsky’s live, late night talk show, Running Late, commenced The Pit’s first annual Sketchfest Thursday night, 10/11. It featured members of two comedy groups, Elephant Larry and Harvard Sailing Team followed by comedians Kevin Allison and Jamie Lee. Jerf, Ge-off (Elephant Larry), Clay and Sara (Harvard Sailing Team) shed light upon the successes of having a large comedy group and also tackled the definition of “sketch” comedy. The second half of the show gave a strong taste of what an entertaining live talk show is all about.

“I don’t think anyone is doing it in the world, except maybe Bangladesh. You might want to check on that, cause’ they have close-knit family tribal situations,” talk show host Scott Rogowsky said jokingly.

The “it” he was talking about is a father and son talk show duo. Rogowsky gladly shared the stage with his father, also known as his sidekick and former “roommate,” Marty.

Guests of Running Late with Scott Rogowsky
Guests of the show

“It’s nice having someone to deflect off of. I don’t like having the spotlight on me all the time. I can throw it to dad,” Rogowsky said.

The back and forth chit chat and occasional teasing of one another gave this talk show an element of endearment and genuineness.

For those of you who may not know, Rogowsky previously worked on the sports comedy talk show, 12 Angry Mascots, where he admitted to having more control over the conversation during interviews. Running Late has been a new experience for Rogowsky since its start this past year. Now, he says it’s more about letting the guests drive the conversations. While he tries to reign in the direction of the conversation, going off topic can bring about some juicy stories.

“I want to get to the things people want to hear about but not necessarily the thing that they can just Google and find for themselves. It’s cool to get stories out there that have never been told before,” Rogowsky said.

Kevin Allison (The State, Risk! Podcast) shared his gutsy college audition story for his first comedy group. His approach to the group’s acceptance was by proving his “complete insanity.” He recalled taking off all of his clothing in the grimy bathroom of a bar and breaking out into song, an ode to the group. Allison’s self-described “sincerity in his storytelling” is what makes comedy successful.

Host Scott Rogowsky and Chase get ready before the show
Host Scott Rogowsky before the show

The final guest, Jamie Lee, recently on Conan, took the stage with a standup performance. It was brief, but just enough time to get some more laughs in before the show ended. Get more info on upcoming shows here: http://www.runninglateshow.com/

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Introducing Charlene Lite

YS: Describe your upbringing in LA. How did coming from a working class family help get you where you are now?

CL: Both my parents worked: my father owned a scrap metal business and my mother worked in cosmetics. My father would take me to his work when I was a kid and I saw how much he loved being his own boss. I also understood if you work hard, you can achieve success. My mother, on the other hand, always complained about her work…money was never enough. I made a promise to myself that I would always work hard, get an education and never complain about money.

I would write and sing and perform for my mom when I was little and she was very supportive and encouraging but she made a point to tell me getting an education was number one. My father was not encouraging. My parents divorced when I was four years-old. When I’d see my father and tell him I wanted to be a singer, he would tell me that’s not a suitable career path for me. I didn’t realize until much later, I had interpreted his words to mean I wasn’t good enough to pursue a career in music.

YS: You mention singing and performing was not encouraged in your family. When did you realize that was your life path?

CL: I had such a strong desire to sing. I loved Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey and I memorized every word of every song of theirs. I would audition for musicals in Jr. High School and was always encouraged by the teachers and my friends to sing. I also was a shy kid growing up but when I would sing, something allowed me to be bigger than myself. And people would stop and listen. Singing made me feel like I had a purpose. It made me feel like I was powerful. I knew if I continued to pursue music, it would lead me towards something wonderful.

YS: What musicians inspired you early on? Is there any one performer you set out to emulate?

CL: First, it was all Whitney. Her voice gave me chills. She taught me to sing with power and emotion and she was such an incredible performer. I just couldn’t get enough of her. Then, Mariah… I was obsessed with the best vocalists. I wanted to be just like them. I was always told I had “potential” as a singer and as soon as I could, I took voice lessons to try and be the best singer… like my idols. But I learned you can only be the best you.

I discovered Sarah Mclachlan in college. She blew me away. That was the first time I discovered I wanted to be a songwriter. She was a storyteller. She was singing about something that I related to on a much deeper level. And she had such grace and beauty as an artist. She inspired me to want to write songs where I can express my thoughts and feelings. I felt that would be the ultimate sense of fulfillment. She got me ask myself questions, like, what kind of an artist do I want to be? What do I want to say? What do I want to sing about? And so began my journey into songwriting…

YS: In 2003, you spent some time as a street musician at the Sundance Film Festival. What did you gain from that experience?

CL: At that time, I was working at Sony Music as the assistant to the Film/TV Licensing dept. I had just made my first 3-song demo and played it for my father for the first time. I said, “This is me… this is what I want to do with my life”. He about fell off his chair. He couldn’t believe that I made this CD, wrote these songs, sang them and paid for it all myself! At that point, music was a secret passion and I knew the only way I would get him to realize I was serious about it was to say nothing and show him. So, I played the CD and he said he wanted to be my manager!! He said he would take me to Park City, UT for the Sundance Festival and we could hand out CD’s. I took my friend with as well and that was even better because she got me a gig opening for some band. I sang for the people waiting in line for the movies. We handed out CD’s. And then I sang outside, in the cold while my Dad and my friend handed out CD;s. People stopped and took pictures and asked for my autograph. It was hilarious. It just made me a better artist. And when I got back to LA, one of the filmmakers came to my show and wanted to use one of my songs in his film. It was a great experience.

YS: Tell us about the Dream Diaries. What are they and what motivated you to create them?

CL: It was around 2004 and I was pretty involved in the Open Mic scene in LA. I would go three times a week to get better at playing guitar (I picked up the guitar at 25 and taught myself to play). I was always amazed by all the other artists I would meet there. It seemed to me that the more I knew them personally, the more I wanted to support their music. Around this time, I watched a documentary film by Jerry Seinfeld called, “Comedian” and that’s when I had the idea: I’m going to make my own documentary about the pursuit of my dreams. So, I bought a video camera and started taping.
I had no idea when I started in late 2004, at age 29 that I would quit my job, move to NYC, go back to a corporate job, then quit again, and become a Yoga instructor. I had no idea that I would continue for seven years. I kept taping and talking and recording because I believed in the process. I believed in the journey. And I learned to believe in myself again.
“The Dream Diaries” is for everyone who has ever let go of their dreams because you needed to pay rent some other way. It is for anyone who subscribed to the theory that your dreams aren’t worth pursuing if you didn’t make a certain amount of money. It is for the child inside who used to dream BIG. Keep dreaming BIG. Believe and honor what lights you up inside because who you become is worth it.

I also started a new social network called, www.dreamdiaries.me – dedicated to inspire & share in the journey of pursuing our dreams. You create a profile, just like facebook, but you write your dream at the top of the page and then share in the journey of pursuing it via gratitude lists, video diaries and blogs. I want to build a community of rockstars all pursuing their dreams. How awesome is that!!!

YS: Where can we find out about your next gigs?

CL: on my website: www.charlenelite.com – under upcoming shows!

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Charles McBee

Charles McBee

Charles McBee is from Toledo, Ohio. He has only been doing stand-up for
about three years, yet you’d swear he’s been doing it for much longer. He
has a laid-back, confident style that comes from being naturally funny. It puts his audiences at ease.

YS: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a comic?

CM: When I first realized it, I didn’t necessarily think that I would become one. I just knew I wanted to be, but I didn’t think that it was something I could do. It was in college. Dave Chappelle came out with this special. It was called “Killing Them Softly”. And that’s the first time I said to myself, ‘I want to do that’. But I just had no idea how I would go about doing it. So it was a few years later that I finally actually got the courage to do it. I was about 19, maybe 20.

YS: So how would you characterize his/your style of humor?

CM: Well I don’t think I’m similar in the sense of style or performance style, but just the way he sees things, I kind of see things the same way. ..with Dave Chappelle, he’ll say something, and I’ll say, ‘I feel that way too!’. It’s that kind of a similar connection that you have with somebody. They have what we call in comedy, we have ‘parallel thinking’, where it’s like two comics kind of think about things similarly. So when I watched the special, it spoke to me in that way. And I felt like, even though I never met him before, we probably were the same.

YS: How long have you been doing comedy?

CM: Not long. About three years. I was 25ish, 26, when I first started. It was a few years before I got the courage. I wasn’t even here in New York. I was back in Ohio still in college. Then I moved here. I moved here when I was 25, did acting for like a year and realized I wasn’t as in love with acting as I thought I was. Going through that whole rigorous process I realized my passion wasn’t into it as much as somebody else who was an actor. So with comedy, even though it was still a rigorous process, the thought of me being able to express my own ideas…if I do a crappy show, I’m still at least doing my own material, my own thing. And I don’t know what it was exactly that pushed me over the line, but it was one of those things that keeps you up at night. You keep feeling that tug, that tug, that tug. And then when I found out how easy it was, in the sense of open mikes, there was no excuse. Either you do it, or go back to Ohio, you know. So I finally did it, did open mikes and was like, ‘alright, this isn’t so bad’.

YS: Who are some of your favorite comics?

CM: Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and Bill Cosby is probably my idol, my Yoda, if you will. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen his special, Bill Cosby Himself, where he talks about his kids, and talks about all that kind of stuff. To me, it’s one of the most brilliant, well-written performed specials that I’ve ever seen. You can listen to it now, you can listen to it 100 years from now, everyone can relate to it, but it’s not hacky. It’s so original, but everyone can still relate to it. And it’s so visual, that’s what I loved about it….you can hear it and you see everything, the way he inflects things, the way he words things a certain way. So with that, I feel like that’s an artist, as opposed to that’s a comic telling jokes. He’s probably my greatest influence as far as being a true-life artist.

YS: What’s your favorite thing and what’s your least favorite thing about doing Comedy?

CM: The one thing that I was sure about back then [during childhood] was that I can make people laugh. That I could communicate in a way that made people laugh. And so, even in my adult years, that’s still one of the things that…I know I’m good at. This is one of those things where I can really shine and excel. So that’s the best thing about it is just knowing that this is something that I’m really meant to do, not just something that I would want to do or wish I could do or think I can do. It’s having that sense of know. The worst thing about it I think is the behind-the-scenes stuff. It’s show business for a reason and if you get caught up in the business part, then it can be very draining and crashing creatively because you start to compromise your creativeness. Because creatively you say, ‘this is me, this is how I express myself, this is what I want to do’. But then the business side says ‘well, this is what they’re looking for’. Then you go, well maybe I should change. And those things collide all the time. You kind of have to tread lightly and take everything with a grain of salt and just know what you’re willing to do, and what you’re not willing to do. I guess that would be the bad part if there are any bad parts about it.

YS: What is your writing process like?

CM: I write very sporadically. The thing about me is, it’s a gift and a curse in a sense, because the way I write is it’s very easy for me to come up with a playlist and a punchline. When I first started, it was mostly, what do I think is funny? Which to me, is the wrong place to start from. Like I don’t think that all comedy necessarily has to come from a dark place, but it is a truthful place that you really care about. So that when you’re talking about it, it’s something that you really, truly want to express as opposed to, “hey, is this funny?”. I just look at what am I going through, what do I think about? What bothers me, or doesn’t bother me? What makes me happy? Anything that kind of gets me going. Then I write about it, whether it be family issues, or career. And then you can always put the twist on it to make it funny.

YS: Do you have a favorite club to perform in?

CM: Not really. It can depend on the night really. There’s certain clubs I’m just really comfortable, like the Comic Strip. I’m really comfortable performing there because I’ve performed there so many times. I love any place that’s packed, whether it’s a small place or a large place. I don’t care. When a place is full, it just feels good.

Website: CharlesMcBee.com
Web series (on YouTube): “It’s a Chucked Up Life”.
Twitter: @CharlesMcBee

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