Tag Archives: stand up comedy

A Conversation Piece

To quote comedian Michelle Wolf, a blog is a conversation no one else will have with you. I saw her show at Acme Comedy Company the other night and, of all her musings on life and funny stories, this line resonated with me the most.

I got excited because, hey, I have a blog and I like to think I write in a conversational tone that people totally get … wait, was she talking about me? Probably. I am sure Michelle Wolf reads this.

She is right and to take it a step further maybe a blog is a conversation you don’t want to have with anyone. I could talk about my thoughts on movies and comedy with a total stranger if I had at least two hours to prep and then recite it to myself a couple of times. Plus this person would definitely have to listen to a week’s worth of internal monologues I might have about a post just so they know where I am coming from. Then we can talk.

This morning I thought, oh it’s just a typical Sunday … I got up, worked out and ate an apple while thinking about making hash browns for breakfast instead. Then I thought, based on Wolf’s line of wisdom on blogs, would I tell anyone that? No, but it will make a perfect segue to write about “Friday Night Lights.”

Big news – I made it to season three and all I want to know is why are the characters always at Applebee’s watching the news about themselves and trying to get away with murder and stuff? Is Applebee’s run by the Texas mob and are they the mastermind behind that show?

It is good I can get these things off my chest here because I am pretty sure I am the only person who is still watching “Friday Night Lights” and will still want to talk about it even years from now.

I have actually talked in-depth about this next tidbit with my friends and family because I believe I made Todd Barry mad after his show in Madison a couple of weeks ago and I don’t know why.

It was a great show and I told him something to that effect while he was signing my copy of his book “Thank you for Coming to Hattiesburg.” All he said was, “Who’s it for?”

The book is all about being a comic on the road and smaller venues he performs at, including the Comedy Club on State. I didn’t expect anything from my “meeting” with Mr. Barry in terms of conversation, especially since I was nervous and didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of one of my comedic idols. I wanted him to know I liked his show and I’m a fan, but maybe I should have gone bigger and told him I have a deep obsession with peanut butter or something because I may have gotten the same reaction no matter what I said.

Was it because I shook his hand after he did a bit about being a germaphobe or because we were talking to him and he’s an introvert? Maybe he was dreaming about writing about signing his fans’ books and not having to talk to them in the process? All of this  analysis is not a complaint about Mr. Barry. I respect him and am just as much of a fan, if not more, as before, but I can’t get the interaction out of my head.

I think this look says it all:

img_2207.jpgDon’t hate me, Todd. Please don’t hate me.

I’m an introvert, too, and would be willing to give up on germs if I need to. But not peanut butter, sorry.

Moving on to other things I don’t hate (I guess one perk to actual conversations is you don’t have to say things like that when you can’t think of an effective transition), from comedians I love: “The Big Sick” will be in theaters this month and “Dean” from Demetri Martin has a stint at the Edina Cinema right now.

I am also intrigued by — and probably will love — the new show about stand-up comedy in the 1970’s, “I’m Dying Up Here.” It premieres tonight on Showtime and you can watch the pilot online now. It seems to be getting mixed reviews, but I’ll give it a shot and if I don’t like it (this is probably impossible) I’ll just watch “Crashing” again.

Don’t worry, I have more recommendations of things you should watch to convince you that comedy is the best thing on Earth.

Hot off the Internet presses is the trailer for season four of “Broad City” and “Oh, Hello on Broadway” from Nick Kroll and John Mulaney is coming to Netflix on June 13. As Illana and Abbi would say, “Yas.”

Try Sarah Silverman’s new special on the aforementioned Netflix, or if you’re in the mood to be scared, anxious, depressed and angry over the course of seven hours or so, watch “The Keepers.”

Then pick yourself back up with a deep-dive on Tom Hanks’ Instagram account.  It’s delightful.

Are we done talking now? I thought so. Bye!

(P.S. – Watch Now Hiring with Michelle Wolf on Comedy Central.)

 

Catching up with My Friend Dean

IMG_2081Well I’ve seen four movies in the last two weeks. I guess I really am failing at me trying to be me in 2016 when I was watching the equivalent of a movie a day.

In reality, toward the end of the DLM Challenge, weekends would mean watching several movies in one day and thinking that if things went south during “Sleepwalk With Me” my obit writer from The New York Times could at least lead with “She died doing what she loved.”

For those of you fascinated with The New York Times, (see also “Page One: Inside the New York Times), there is a new documentary with an inside look at the obits department … wait for it … “Obit,” and the process the writers use to have information on those who are still with us at the ready to publish when they become the opposite. Two of the film’s subjects, Bruce Weber and Margalit Fox, were recently interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Even if you can’t stand her voice like me, it’s a good listen. Good news, “Obit” is coming soon to the Lagoon Cinema and there are several other screenings listed on the film’s website.

I also saw a sold-out screening of “Dean,” Demetri Martin’s first feature film at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Festival.

Judging from the crowd and audience’s reaction, and its festival buzz, this film will make the rounds at independent theaters again this summer.

Martin stars in the film as Dean, a wayward writer coping with his mother’s death and how his father is coping with it by selling the family home. Dean runs away to Los Angeles to work on his book only to find old and new friends and a healthy dose of complicated romance. The mix of sadness and comedy in the film seemed a little uneven at times, to the point where you may forget what the premise of the story is, but maybe that’s the point. Who really wants to think about what’s making them sad when they can go on impromptu road trips and chill at the beach?

The film is also illustrated with Martin’s own drawings to depict Dean’s feelings, which adds to the distance from his struggle with processing mortality (for the viewer) while you see him try to woo Nicky (Gillian Jacobs) at a party in LA.

The mortality theme comes back with full force in the end, ultimately making the whole audience cry, from what I could tell. That said, you may want to watch “Dean” at home and really let it all out. Then you can watch some of his stand-up comedy as a palate cleanser.

I returned to the film festival the next night for a Finnish film “Little Wing” and a Q&A with the lead actress Paula Vesala.

It also stars Linnea Skog as the young girl in the film, Varpu, struggling with her own independence while in some ways taking care of her mother. Varpu defines her independence by stealing a car and driving overnight to find her birth father.

That journey ultimately brings Varpu and her mother closer together. Vesala talked about the music she wrote for the film and the connection between the title “Little Wing” and a Jimi Hendrix song of the same name. Skog, who is 12, won the Finnish Academy Award for her performance and it’s one that deserves more attention in the United States if the film gets distribution here. Unfortunately Vesala said they’ve struggled with video on demand rights and other streaming distribution, but if you can find it I definitely recommend this film. I also listened to the song “Little Wing” today and can see the connection and inspiration between the lyrics and the character of Varpu.

“Well she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind
That’s running wild
Butterflies and zebras and moonbeams
And fairly tales

That’s all she ever thinks about

Riding the wind

When I’m sad she comes to me
With a thousand smiles
She gives to me free

It’s alright, she says
It’s alright
Take anything you want from me
Anything

Fly on, little wing.”

The story has a happy ending overall, so you shouldn’t need any comedic relief after watching it.

If you need some anyway try Pete Holmes’ new special on HBO “Faces and Sounds” or Maria Bamford’s “Old Baby” on Netflix.

I ordered a T-shirt I am going to try to incorporate into my wardrobe … not pajamas … just because Bamford’s special is so wonderfully uncomfortable and brilliant comedy.

IMG_2078

I’ve watched “Faces and Sounds” twice now and will again because with Pete Holmes, joy is everywhere.

It’s also the perfect follow up to any episode of season 2 of “Fargo,” or anything from “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos” in case you’re still catching up on those. For me, each episode of “Fargo” is 45 minutes of worrying that Jesse Plemons’ character is going to be brutally murdered. Landry Clarke CANNOT Die. Wait, wrong show, but you know what I mean.

Last thing (I am not in the best writing mood today and my usual perfect transitions are just not coming to me) there is a podcast for all of you Fargoheads “Aw Jeez: A Fargo Podcast” that analyzes each episode based on historical accuracy, the actors’ Minnesota accents and a view hidden plot points.

Okay, that is all for today. Bye!