Now in it’s 8th year, the Hoboken Comedy Festival brings a wide array of comedy talent to everyone’s favorite city across the Hudson River. For more information, go to HobokenComedyFestival.org
By David Nazario
Director Asif Kapadia chronicles the life of talented yet troubled singer Amy Winehouse in a new documentary:
You’ve heard of the King of Queens, and Steve Hofstetter might just be the King of Long Island City. His Laughing Devil Comedy Club has made a tremendous mark in the Hunter Point section of LIC since it opened in January, and he’s just getting started.
YS: Tell us about the comedy scene at Hunter’s Point.
SH: Well the Laughing Devil is doing really well. We’ve always been kind of a showcase club where we’ve got 6 to 8 acts a night all doing short sets, and we’re starting to move towards a hybrid of showcase and headliner shows. We’re having big acts come in and do a full hour. Adam Ferrara did it to promote the season premiere of Top Gear, and it went really really well, so we’ve booked a few more. We’ve got Gary Gulman from Last Comic Standing coming in. We’ve got Mitch Fatel from the Tonight Show coming in. Ted Alexandro, whose got two Comedy Central specials, he’s coming and doing one. We’re going to keep adding these to the schedule, and it’s a way for New Yorkers to see really big comics do a full set in New York, which is pretty rare. The only clubs that do that are Gotham and Caroline’s.
YS: How does it feel on a personal level to see your dream realized?
SH: It feels great to see a vision and the realization of a dream, however there’s still far to go before the dream is fully realized. Things are getting better every day, but we won’t be comfortable until I don’t have to think about it. We’re doing very very well for only being open 8 months, but there’s still more to come.
Seinfeld stopped by the Creek, which is kind of awesome. Louis CK has been by both places. I think it’s really showing that Long Island City is not a suburb of the comedy scene anymore. It’s gone from 0 to 60 pretty quickly. The most amazing thing is that between The Devil, the Breadbox Development Stage and The Creek, we’ve got 3 comedy venues within 3 blocks of each other, and the only other place in New York that has that is Bleecker St.
YS: What was the driving force for the Development Stage?
SH: It was a combination of both need and opportunity. We just don’t have enough room for open mics. We would love to do more, but we don’t have room. Not just the open mics, but the experimental stuff: sketch and improv and things like that. We had been talking about how we’d love to expand more to that and then we produced a couple of shows at the Breadbox for the Laughing Devil Festival and those went so well that the BreadBox came to us and said ‘what else can we do?’ and from that the stage was born.
YS: So it’s an atmosphere of successful comedy clubs in one area.
SH: It is, but there’s more than that, because some of the bars are sort of doing one off shows as well. LIC Bar does a weekly comedy trivia night. I’ve seen pop up shows advertised at Cranky’s, there’s the Secret Theatre which is improv, occasionally the Chocolate Factory will do something comedy related. It really is amazing how much comedy there is in the neighborhood.
YS: Has the Laughing Devil been the starting point for a changing of the tides in NY comedy scene?
SH: I’d like to think we’re at least the catalyst for it. While I’d be hesitant to take credit for the whole thing, I think the arrival of a full time club kind of signifies the greater picture and yeah, 2 of the 3 main stages are ours, so obviously we have something to do with it. It’s a culmination of a lot of things, and are we responsible for it? I dunno, but I hope so. I think that with the hundreds of customers we have every week, we’ve certainly brought comedy to a new audience here. A lot of people will say to us, ‘Hey this is the first time I’ve ever been to a comedy club,’ and a lot of the comedians that we work with have never been to LIC before, so that definitely helps. The frequent comment from them is either about how easy it is to get to or how surprisingly nice it is. We’ve had a number of shows where comedians have shown up an hour before their set because they thought it would take forever to get here.
With so much of the population of New York in the outer boroughs now, it was a matter of time before the entertainment went that way too. It’s nice that Brooklyn no longer has a monopoly on cool.
Please check out http://www.laughingdevil.com for show times and headliners
It’s safe to say that Jimmy Kimmel rivals only the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastic’s team in how busy he is this year. Among other things, Kimmel will be celebrating his 10th year as host of Jimmy Kimmel Live in January, as well as being named host of the primetime Emmy’s next month. Most importantly, his show is taking over the coveted 11:35pm timeslot, which historically has been reserved for heavyweights such as Jay Leno and David Letterman.
Kimmel was in town to do preparation for taping his show in Brooklyn this Fall, and was nice enough to stop by the 92Y for a sit down with NY Times TV critic Bill Carter. Kimmel, who came out in a suit and tie, is remarkably more svelte than in previous public engagements. His first topic was, of course, his Emmy hosting duties and his appearance at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Both opportunities are great and also a lot of work. This was a theme of Kimmel’s discussion, that hosting a talk show requires you to be a real work horse, it’s not something you can show up to 3 hours before airtime and then be prepared. He also mentioned how taping his show later in the evening gives his material a more topical feel – which happens to be true.
For those of you who may not remember, Jimmy Kimmel Live burst onto the late night scene right after the Super Bowl in 2003, and was taped live with a new weekly celebrity co-host each week. This formula didn’t last long, but Kimmel had enough staying power that the show came back revamped with a new set, and has maintained its place in late night for the past decade. Kimmel remarked on how his obsession with David Letterman led to his work in radio, which then led to more radio, and then more radio, and then a hosting gig with Ben Stein on Comedy Central. As Kimmel explained, he never had an interest in doing stand-up comedy, he didn’t like the vibe in comedy clubs, and hearing that Letterman got his start in radio, decided that was the path to follow. Fortunately for Kimmel, he made the right decision: he and Conan O’Brien are the only modern talk show hosts not to start their careers in stand-up comedy.
His path to success is a great example of being lucky and putting in the hard work. Most comics would kill for their own talk show, so to think that the guy who shunned comedy clubs in favor radio and wound up with one – well, that’s how the industry works.
One of Kimmel’s more endearing qualities is that he’s not trying to outdue himself or please anyone, and he’s just sticking to what he thinks is funny. Kimmel has always been known as sort of a prankster, especially when it comes to phone calls – so it was no surprise that when an audience member asked him if his Aunt Chippy was ‘really like that’ he readily prank called her for everyone to enjoy. There’s something about pissing off that brash aunt we all have in a public setting that serves as endless hours of comedy.
The last topic of the evening was Jay Leno, and what Kimmel did to counteract Jay during his usurping of Conan two years ago. He put on a wig and a prosthetic chin and spent a week impersonating Leno, only to appear on his 10 at 10 segment and do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axwO6BkCtIo. It was honest, and a fairly accurate depiction of both his, Dave’s, and Conan’s dislike of Jay Leno. As Kimmel put it, ‘Jay is not a popular figure in the world of comedy.’
Look for Jimmy Kimmel Live airing at 11:35pm on ABC, starting in January.
The following is provided by MarcRyan.com Productions
HOLLYWOOD – Veering from the usual Hollywood path of broken dreams, one comedian is
taking back creative control from television networks and putting the power in the hands of
Marc Ryan, founder/CEO of Marc Ryan Productions is enlisting the power of Kickstarter to raise
$185,000 to film a full-length season of the viral sensation: web series, “i know my rights!”
The series follows Steve Jessup, a working class good ol’ boy lovingly dubbed “The DUI Lawn
Mower Guy,” and his run-ins with the law and vices as he scoots around town on his lawnmower.
Millions around the world have seen Steve’s character online, and though major networks
have expressed interest in developing a series around Steve, Marc Ryan Productions feels it is
important to develop the series in house to properly serve Steve’s character and fans.
The success of the “i know my rights” series is now in the hands of Steve’s adoring fans and
Kickstarter supporters. If you’re a comedy lover, Marc Ryan Productions asks that you visit
Steve’s Kickstarter page and give what you can. Investors may receive a variety of incentives,
ranging from DVDs of the finished series to walk-on roles during the series’ filming!
Only with the help of the fans can “I Know My Rights” move forward with production. Kickstarter
is an “all or nothing” platform. That means that if the $185,000 goal is not met, “I Know My
Rights” doesn’t get any funding.
Steve’s antics, captured by Marc Ryan Productions, have acquired more than 30 million
combined YouTube views and a highly engaged fan base. Marc Ryan Productions has been
involved in the success of the “Drinking Made Easy” tour and the currently aired Outdoor
Channel show, “Mud Slingers.” Steve’s YouTube videos have already received national
attention. Steve has been featured on “MTV Live”, MSNBC “Caught on Camera”, FOX News
“The O’Reilly Factor”, CNN “Showbiz Tonight”, “Maury Povich”, “Speeders” and more.
For more information check head to www.iknowmyrights.com
David Foster is a stand-up comic who was born in Manhattan and raised in Rockland County. He has been performing for 11 years. He has a cerebral yet relatable style, choosing to cover such topics as: modern medicine, the relativity of intelligence and kindness as they pertain to anxiety, and challenging atheism. He is very expressive with his voice and his mannerisms on stage. YuletideSnapper.com caught up with David Foster to discuss his career in comedy.
YS: Who are some of your favorite comics?
DF: On “Tier One” it’s a tie between Richard Pryor and Louie C.K. For “Tier Two”, I like Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle, and David Cross. I’d put Bill Cosby on “Tier 1 ½”.
YS: What’s your favorite thing and what’s your least favorite thing about doing Comedy?
DF: My favorite thing is the experience of trying a new bit that I take pride in and it kills. When that happens, I feel as though multiple positive things have taken place: I’ve evolved as an artist and I’ve been heard and understood. My least favorite thing is bombing with material that you know is good on a show that carries importance [e.g. auditioning for a club or agent]. Also, I do get frustrated by the lack of structure in the business.
What is your writing process like?
DF: I write sporadically: Sometimes on the subway en route to shows I look at my notebook and revise material. For tough topics, I have to sit down at a computer and really work it out in front of me. Though I don’t always write everything down word-for-word. I outline what I’m going to say in bullet points.
Do you have a favorite club to perform in?
DF: The Eastville Comedy Club. I get booked by the weekend (Thurs.-Sun.). And probably partially because of the location there’s a very diverse, intelligent crowd. They pay attention and are usually receptive to thinking, so you can really change minds there. The set up of a room is important, and the set up of Eastville is near perfect. Also, the quality of the comics is high.
You can see David Foster at the Laughing Devil Comedy Club on 8/9 – 8/10, Comix at Foxwoods 8/23-8/25, and at Eastville Comedy Club 8/30-9/1. You can also check out his blog, davidfostercomedyblog.com and other performance dates on his site, DavidFostercomedy.com.
Somewhat surprisingly, Amy Poehler has a similar fanbase to that of teen pop sensation Justin Bieber, or at least it seemed that way when she walked onstage at the 92Y on Friday night.
Ms. Poehler was in town for a sit down chat with film and television blogger Caryn James, just having wrapped up the 4th season of Parks and Recreation on NBC. Amy Poehler sits high above all others on the pantheon of funny comedic actresses, forming a tag team duo of sorts with Tina Fey. She seems very down to earth and approachable, someone whom you could walk up to on the street and say hi to and not get a nasty ‘what do you want’ glance.
The evening began with a discussion of her latest projects and then delved into the struggle that is being a comedian and an actress and being successful at it. Seeing as the audience was predominantly female college students, Amy was very open about help them live their dreams, even if it meant stomping on them first. This is not to say she discouraged anyone – but she did point out that comedy is about loving comedy while not making any money for at least a decade. Poehler discussed her early work and how rewarding it is to find a stage buddy who can help you when you’re sucking at improv.
Amy’s career began with her founding of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, currently a breeding ground for the next big comedy stars. That endeavor took her to Comedy Central, and then to SNL, and now to Parks and Recreation. Amy doesn’t have any bawdy stories to share ala Sarah Silverman, or Chelsea Handler. She’s just funny and upbeat and amusing to listen to.
I recently moved to Central Harlem from Astoria, Queens. This move was based on my rent going up and my apartment not getting any nicer despite the number of bugs and leaks that perked up each morning. Some say that gets me closer to nature – I say it gets me closer to leaving my neighborhood.
One of the inevitabilities of taking the New York subway is that you will run into panhandlers. There is a warning on the 4/5 line that says in no uncertain terms that it is illegal to panhandle on the subway, but for some strange reason I’ve never seen anyone get in trouble. That’s not true, on one spring day two years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the subway car with two police officers when a nice blind man with a coffee cup walked through the door between the cars asking for money. The two officers told him to knock it off and he was on his way.
So that was one time, and then the other 19,432 times no one seems to care. Now that I’m in Harlem, it seems like the presence of begging for money has escalated 15-fold. It’s sort of like when you step on the subway you’re expecting SOMEONE to beg for SOMETHING, you just don’t know who or what. These group of money-seeker-outers come in different forms. First up, we have the world famous subway dancers – I know it’s not panhandling, but it is people asking for money. Some of them are good, most of them are decent, and all of them almost kick me when I try and get out of the way. They’re always yelling ‘It’s Showtime, ladies gentleman!’ and I want to yell back ‘it’s you still not having a job that requires a shirt’ time – but I don’t. The dancers are followed closely by the candy people, who want you to know that they’re not selling drugs. You have to feel sorry for people whose primary marketing message is that they’re not selling drugs. I want to tell them that 50 Cent didn’t get where he is today by selling nutrition bars on the subway, but I feel like that might be the wrong message.
After the candy people come the people representing a homeless organization who are looking for money, food, or prayers. I don’t even give them prayers, that’s how lazy I am. They are the ones who apologize for the interruption but will take anything that I’ve got – which happens to be nothing, so we’re all good. After them are the people who I think are missing the point. They are the ones who don’t really have a purpose. They are – I dare say – junkies who might want to audition for local theater because they have their lines memorized pretty well. They’re from the neighborhood and they just got laid off and their wives are in surgery and they just need a dime, a nickel, or a smile. I have to believe that there is some type of government organization that can help them out before they get a pamphlet in the mail that says ‘ For more assistance, please go beg for it on the subway. Sincerely, Mayor Bloomberg.’
The good news is, all is not lost in the world of subway begging. About a month ago I was riding the 2/3 into town and I hear a guy yelling about something, and while I’m used to it – I got a little nervous. But then, as I listened, I realized he was telling jokes, and while they’re weren’t fall-on-your ass funny, the guy had a good 5 minute stand-up routine, and even had some of us laughing hesistantly. I didn’t have any money to give him, but it was the most original and entertaining way of begging for money that I’ve seen. I was hoping to have one of those ‘Ted Williams’ moment where I find the homeless guy who happens to have a real gift for something and then becomes famous for a week before blowing his newly found fortune on coke and whores. Instead, I was worried he might mug me if I said hi, so I exited at 96th st.
by Will Garre
New York City comedian Sean Donnelly seems invincible on stage, but I discovered recently that, surprisingly, he is mortal like the rest of us. When I spotted him at the bar, I immediately noticed his left arm was wrapped in bandages. It turns out he had sustained an injury to his left hand when his bull dog, Rickles, was involved in a dog park skirmish. Donnelly broke his finger when it got caught in a leash during peacekeeping efforts.
Luckily, he could still bend his elbow, and, while drinking a medicinal beer, Donnelly shared a little about his background. He is originally from Stewart Manor, Long Island. While growing up, he always enjoyed making his family laugh. Donnelly realized he might have a special gift for comedy when he was a freshman in college, and he was involved with the Youth Adult Participation Project, or Y.A.P.P. Though he really has no idea what Y.A.P.P. did, or why he was a part of it, he remembers one Y.A.P.P event very clearly: “[There were] about 30 people there…[it was] an exercise where we were trying to help people with their problems, and this one girl talked about about how she had this big test coming up, and so the moderator said, ‘What can we tell her to help her with this big test?’ and I said, ‘The answers.’” The room erupted with laughter, and Donnelly became aware of his potential.
Donnelly’s first experience with stand-up was in 2004 at a Mexican restaurant on 5th Avenue and 32nd Street. It was an open mic, and he did reasonably well. By 2006, he was performing regularly throughout the city and seriously pursuing comedy. Today, he is a staple of the NYC comedy scene. Not only does he have strong material, but his likeable, genuine stage persona makes him an excellent host, and hosting is not easy to do. He is very natural on stage, and comfortable interacting with the audience. When asked about the secrets to crowd work, Donnelly explained that “sometimes crowds just want you to talk about them,” and stressed the importance of “say[ing] what’s on everybody’s mind.”
Despite the fact that hosting is one of the toughest comedic disciplines, it rarely gets the respect that it deserves. One night, after hosting a show at The Creek and the Cave, Donnelly was approached by an admiring audience member who exclaimed, “Hey man! Do you ever actually do comedy, or do you just DJ in between sets?”
Donnelly lists his influences as Bill Murray, Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan, Abbott and Costello, and George Carlin. As a kid, he enjoyed listening to 1960’s Carlin, and he developed an appreciation for Carlin’s classic character, “Al Sleet, the Hippy Dippy Weatherman.”
Donnelly co-produces Comedy Show at Alligator Lounge, a weekly stand-up show in Williamsburg, alongside fellow comedians Robert Dean, Steve O’Brien, and Kevin McCaffrey. The show is free, and attendees get a complimentary pizza with every beer. Not too shabby, especially considering the amazing comedic performances on display. If you don’t catch Donnelly at this show, you can also see him on a huge Bushmill’s advertisement in Israel. Donnelly, among other NYC comics, was selected for a Bushmill’s ad campaign photo shoot, but he didn’t think the images would be used. After some time, one of his friends noticed an enormous Bushmill’s billboard in Israel and said to himself, “That looks like Sean Donnelly’s hat.” He then realized that it was, indeed, Donnelly’s hat. Not only that, it was Donnelly’s visage, in all its bearded glory.
Some Sean Donnelly Trivia Questions:
Yuletide Snapper: What was your best moment in comedy?
Sean Donnelly: Following Louis C.K. at Stand-up New York, or that time when Jim Gaffigan complimented my joke.
YS: What is your favorite food?
SD: Fried chicken.
YS: You don’t get heartburn? Fried chicken gives me heartburn.
SD: It gives me heartburn, too, but I just push through it.
YS: What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
SD: Blockbuster Video. It was horrifying.
YS: What’s your favorite movie?
SD: Raging Bull.
YS: Name three things that make you happy.
SD: 1. my wife 2. my dog 3. comedy
Donnelly recently auditioned at The Creek and the Cave for Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival. To keep abreast of the results and get updates and information on his performances, see his website, www.seandonnellycomedy.com, or follow him on Twitter: @seanytime. His weekly show, Comedy Show at Alligator Lounge, is every Tuesday, 9:00 PM, at Alligator Lounge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
YS.com recently caught up with comedian Jeff Dye, host of MTV’s new hidden-camera show ‘Money From Strangers.’ This show takes off where previous MTV hits ‘Buzzkill’ and ‘Jackass’ left off – using people to cause a public ruckus, all while dishing out prize money for each successful prank.
YS: How did this show come about?
JD: The Twisted and hilarious mind of Rob Anderson. When I got wind of this show I knew it was a perfect match for me because my favorite type of humor is messing with people but I’m to smiley and laugh to much to pull a prank as effective as “Borat” or “Jackass” , so this way I can just tell them the prank and laugh and giggle all I want.
YS: Are there people who give up halfway during the stunt? are there people who try and take over the stunt without your direction?
JD: We have a lot of people give up because they can’t work up the nerve to do the pranks we want. We also get a lot of people who laugh and that is also grounds for elimination. The game is designed to be all or nothing. So the pranks get more extreme and you can’t just decide “okay I’ve made enough money now I’ll just quit”. This way they will do the most extreme pranks to try and walk away with 1000$ instead of zero.
YS: Has there been a time when you thought’ Oh, geez – now we’ve gone too far.’
JD: NEVER! I’m safe in that van and I LOVE pushing the limits. It’s all in good fun and I think as long as we’re having fun and people love watching its never too far. Also I’m a comedian, so if you think it’s too far change the channel.