contributors: Brandon Wetherbee, Michael Foody, Brandon Wardell, Hillary Buckholtz, Svetlana Legetic, and Cale
Writing about comedy is hard. After all, who are we to tell you what’s funny? So, instead of a typical guide (we did do a brief cheat sheet of must-see performances in there too, don’t worry), we went the “completely subjective” route and asked a few people whose comedy tastes we fully and irrevocably trust to write anything they want about the state of comedy affairs this Fall. As expected- things got weird and incestuous and great.
- Joe Rogan (of Fear Factor and hilarious BYT interviews) @ Warner, September 30
- Dick Gregory’s 80s Birthday Celebration @ Riot Act, October 9
- UMD 2011 Homecoming Comedy Show featuring Aziz Ansari, October 13
- Weird Al @ Warner Theatre, October 19
- Dave Attell @ the DC Improv , October 20-23
- Brian Posehn (from Devil’s rejects, Comedians of Comedy etc) @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, October 22
- Cinematic Titanic (from the creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000) @ GW Lisner Auditorium, October 27
- Shawn and Marlon Wayans (you know, from everywhere) @ DC Improv, October 27-30
- Jon Oliver (from Community etc) @ the Warner Theater , October 29
- Donald Glover/Childish Gambino (from Community etc) @ Fillmore Silver Spring, November 1
- Chris Hardwicke and Nerdists Podcast LIVE! @ 930 Club, November 6
- !!!!!!!Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious (you know, that guy who always steals the show but you can never remember his name from The Office, Zach and Miri Make a Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine, etc) @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, November 17 !!!!!!!!!!
- Raspberry Brothers Present Sing-A-Long with Moulin Rouge! @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, November 19th
- Michael Ian Black @ Sixth and I Synagogue, December 1
- Steve-O (you know, from JACKASS) @ DC Improv, December 1-4
Nothing screams “Comedy!” like autumn in the nations capitol! That sentence has never been written, said, uttered drunkenly before now. Why? No one comes here for laughter. In fact, people leave here much too soon because New York is so close and New York has a few comedy jobs and people like to smell like New York which will never make sense to me (You, Me, Them, Everybody Live! will be in New York October 19-22. Come on out!). That being said, there is some neat and/or interesting stuff to look forward to this fall.
1. Betting on when “Whitney” will be canceled
There’s no way this show is going to be good. The promos are shot with a single camera but the show is in traditional sitcom format, three cameras on a sound stage. Do you know when that was last used for marketing? Never. That has never been done. When you have a really awesome thing that you’re proud of, it’s very common to make a completely different thing somewhat resembling the thing you’re proud of. Or the opposite. The consensus from all of my comedy nerd friends who are fuming with jealousy over the success of people like Whitney Cummings (I’m no better than them) is that Whitney will get two episodes on air. My guess is four, the same number of shows “Twenty Good Years” had on NBC in 2006. The fact that I remember the show “Twenty Good Years” means I will never be as commercially viable as Whitney Cummings.
That’s the end of the list. “Whitney” is number one with a bullet. It’s all about Ms. Cummings this fall. The entire comedy world is rotating around someone that’s extremely successful because she works hard, does Sarah Silverman inspired bits but is not nearly as funny and is attractive enough to carry a sitcom. Now I just sound bitter.
If you’re not content with watching “Whitney,” why not head outdoors! Then directly back indoors!
The two stand up, sure fire bets for your money this season of dying things is:
Attell is a weathered veteran that is at the top of his game. He seems remarkably unhappy with the weird niche he worked out for himself with the long running and underrated “Insomniac.” Oliver goes a little more meta with his stand up than his personality on “The Daily Show.” If you’re a fan of heady comedy that makes fun of god, politics and all cultures in an academic way, Oliver can’t be beat. Either of these guys would be excellent choices for the talk show slot following “Conan.” Thankfully, the people that produce “Conan” and run TBS are big BYT readers and/or I’m delusional.
MOVIES: Nothing in the theater looks as funny as “Bridesmaids.” I’m not saying that nothing will be that funny, just that nothing looks that funny. Unless you’re a big Sarah Jessica Parker fan, which I am (I am lying), this season is an excellent opportunity to catch up on films you missed. Like “Freddie Got Fingered,” a film I recommend to everyone because I think it’s funny and no one else does and doesn’t Sarah Jessica Parker have a great life? How does she do it (with maids, nannies and personal assistants)! Oh yea, “The Muppets” looks good. Go see that.
Back to T.V.: If you’re not able to catch “Whitney” when it airs live, why not check out a show Whitney is producing, “2 Broke Girls.” Based in the big, bad city of New York City, a place where if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, fuck this shit.
Just watch “Louie.” The last season was brilliant. Did you see the episode that rehashes “Lucky Louis” and sounds like every sitcom that’s popular on CBS? Just watch that a few times. Sure, it’ll ruin all future viewings of committee assembled sitcoms very popular on CBS, but you shouldn’t be watching those anyways. They’re the Subway 5 dollar foot longs of television. Easy to find, it’ll fill you up and you’ll regret/not remember what you just did. Stick to what everyone that can read already watches, whatever NBC airs on Thursday besides “Whitney.”
So, to sum up fall comedy, WHITNEY WHITNEY WHITNEY! Amazing comedy shows will pop up and disappear at not legally sanctioned venues and that’s why they’re not in this piece. In fact, the best reason to be on Facebook is to find out about these type of shows. Some overlooked new sitcom like “Free Agents” will be canceled and the six episodes already made will develop a cult following. “It’s Always Sunny” will be good and whatever follows it probably will disappoint. Podcasts like “Comedy Bang Bang” and “The Pod F Tompkast” will be released and absorbed by die hards. No one will continue to watch “Conan” and “The Daily Show” will make smart people feel smarter. This summary is bleak. I’m sorry. I’m sure “Whitney” can save us all. Did you see that promo? She wears the dress and eats the cupcake!
by Brandon Wardell, the funniest person in DC that still can’t legally drink.
Hi, it’s Brandon Wardell, aka stand-up comedy powerhouse Brandon Wardell, aka wunderkind Brandon Wardell, aka underfollowed Twitter gem Brandon Wardell, aka Chingy. BYT asked me to contribute something to the comedy guide so I compiled a list of some really solid tweets. You’re welcome.
“Art is just gay sports you guys” – @brandonwardell, 9 June 2011
Hahaha, spot-on B! I’m always making great points on my Twitter account.
“DO Y’ALL THINK KEVIN BACON CALLS HIS TESTICLES BACON BITS” – @brandonwardell, 27 May 2011
I printed this tweet out and framed it above my bed.
“YO WHY HASN’T THE HAMBURGLAR TRIED TO STEAL HIS OWN HEAD *mic drop*” – @brandonwardell, 14 August 2011
Someone from McDonald’s later tweeted at me to make the point that the Hamburglar does not have a hamburger head and that I must have been thinking of Mayor McCheese or Officer Big Mac. This woman is like the Media Matters for dumb jokes about defunct McDonald’s mascots.
“Herman Cain/Breadsticks 2012” – @brandonwardell, 7 September 2011
This is a) topical and b) brilliant. Brandon, you are truly one of the greats.
“Watching Source Code and I found everything plausible until they showed the protagonist using Bing.” – @brandonwardell, 23 July 2011
“I just watched Source Code on DVD – it all seemed completely believable until I saw Jake Gyllenhaal using Bing as his search engine.” – @alyankovic, 21 August 2011
HEY “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC, ANSWER MY CALLS. THIS IS BULLSHIT.
“I think there’s a decent chance that there’s a closet juggaloo in the House of Representatives.” – @brandonwardell, 28 Jun 2011
Oops, sorry for blowing your mind!
Thank you for reading and please love me!
You can catch Brandon on October 6 at the DC Improv Audition Showcase
He also hosts “Cool Dudes Hanging Out” with Hillary Buckholtz on the third Friday of every month at Velvet Lounge, doors at 7:00, show at 7:30, 5 bucks.
by Michael Foody, stand up comic/weird person.
*title not authorized by Michael Foody
One of the things stand-up suffers from, is I think a narrowness of the viewpoints articulated. Angry, lonely, young men are overrepresented to the exclusion of a lot of viewpoints. This can be sort of a bummer if you don’t find the jerk off habits of guys in their early twenties fascinating. There’s a good reason why the world most stand ups occupy is so narrow: stand up is hard. It’s arbitrarily, punishingly hard. It has a tendency to crowd out everything else: relationships, careers, family, and friends. It takes a certain type of person to be OK with that and usually that’s someone who has relatively little to lose in those areas in the first place. Because stand up is hard, it’s hard to find good stand up. In DC that’s particularly true.
There are a lot of funny people in the world. Charming funny men and women who say clever things at meetings and parties. People who tell funny stories about their friends that pull you in and flesh out the characters that occupy the periphery of their lives and draw you in. I envy these people, I can’t do what they do. I’m stifled and awkward. Stand up is very much it’s own thing it doesn’t bleed out into the world off the stage. A lot of great stand ups just sort of mumble and sulk and live in their heads and when we talk to one another it can degenerate into this try hard game of oneupsmanship that is more tedious than funny.
It works the other way too. Sometimes the funny friend will give stand up a try and it seldom works out. Untethered from any shared experience the stories that are so engrossing at happy hour just cause time to dilate. These savvy extroverts know that it isn’t working, their social intelligence is screaming at them not wear out their welcome but they’re alone up there, not huddled in a circle where there is always someone else hungry to squeeze a word in. You can feel their panic and discomfort and it isn’t a funny awkward it’s a real world, cringe inducing, no fun, awkward.
Stand up is its own thing and it demands a lot of work to even become tolerable at it. To make things even worse that work necessarily needs to be done in public. You can’t find out what’s funny onstage without getting onstage. Stand up is a skill that until you reach a certain level has to be cultivated at the expense of an audience. It requires some combination of delusion or misanthropy to get through that phase. A lot of people never do and they either quit or just keep inflicting themselves on any audience dumb enough to watch them. DC isn’t a great stand up town. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good comics doing good work in DC, but great comics don’t decide to end up in DC, it is where people learn on the job and when they feel they’ve gotten good enough they leave. It isn’t a good situation for a prospective audience member to be in.
If you want to see local stand up, and I totally understand if you don’t want to, here’s what you do to minimize how much suffering you’ll be put through.
- First avoid shows with a lot names on it. If you see a show with like 10 names on it don’t go. There might be a few funny comics but most of your time will be spent with the chore of acting like you are interested. You will be signing up for a bad movie that will have it’s feelings hurt if you leave.
- Your best bet is to see comics who paid their dues here and grew good enough to move on. A lot of terrific comics still have strong ties to the area; Hampton Yount, Aparna Nancherla, Seaton Smith, Rory Scovel, Eli Sairs, Andy Haynes, and many more. People who hit DC’s ceiling and moved on. DC makes good comics. It has a hard time keeping them.
-by Hillary Buckholtz, publicist, producer, and comedian based in DC. She runs the ’80s and early ’90s nostalgia blog “I’m Remembering!”
- 2-3 albums you’re most looking forward to in fall of 2011 and why
There aren’t any comedy albums I’m looking forward to this fall, so I’m gonna talk about podcasts I love.
Julie Klausner’s “How Was Your Week” just gets better and better. She can talk to anyone about anything forever and I’ll listen. She brings on comedians, writers, directors, actors — you get to hear from everyone from Maria Bamford to Rob Delany to the director of the HBO documentary Sex Crimes Unit. The director of a rape doc. I know! Was it a funny interview? Not exactly, but that’s life, kids. Shit ain’t always hilarious. She also wrote a great book called “I Don’t Care About Your Band” that’s being developed into a TV show for HBO.
Another relatively new super special podcast is “The Indoor Kids” hosted by Kumail Nanjiani and Ali Baker. I don’t even game or like gaming and I tune into this show regularly. That’s how funny Kumail is. But If you’re into gaming, you will probably lose your shit over it. Start with episode #3. The guests are Pete Holmes, a brilliant stand-up, and possibly the second-coming of John Ritter, and Emily Gordon (fun fact: Kumail’s wife), a writer, producer, and all-around funny and fascinating lady.
- 2-3 live shows you’re most looking forward to in fall of 2011 and why
DC comedy innovator and man-about-town Brandon Weatherbee is starting a new show called 8×8. The concept is simple: 8 performers, 8 minutes each. A mix of stand up, sketch, improv, story telling and music. Monday, October 10th and Monday, November 14th at Looking Glass Lounge at 8pm.
The storytelling collective Story League is always doing something new and unique with the genre and their upcoming show “Story League Presents: Other People’s Stories” is no exception. Billed as “a break from narcissism,” four Story Leaguers — plus four audience members chosen that night — will tell secondhand tales. Thursday, October 13, 9 PM to 10:30 PM, Busboys & Poets 14/V (2021 14th St. NW). $10 cash at the door.
“Cool Dudes Hanging Out” is a monthly show I co-host with Brandon Wardell on the third Friday of every month at Velvet Lounge. So this is a total conflict of interest, but plug plug plug. We have some great headliners booked for fall, including Lucas Molandes, Brooke Van Poppelen, and James Adomian. Plug. October 21st and November 18th at The Velvet Lounge. Doors at 7:00, show at 7:30. $5.
- 2-3 things you feel will be cool again musically in fall 2011 and why
Hmm. I don’t know about cool again, but I think animation will continue to get cooler. Adult Swim is always doing the coolest stuff. I’ve actually seen a sneak peek of their new show China, IL, and it’s amazing. The first episode airs Sunday, October 2nd at midnight.
- 2-3 people who you think should just retire in fall of 2011 and why
The correct answer to this question is probably: Carrot Top, Gilbert Gottfried, and the puppets guy. But I’m no hater; everyone has a right to do their thing no matter how pandering and awful their thing is (I’m talking to you, Comedy Central Roasts). God bless America.
- a random topic of your choice
There are some really funny internetters and two new books that I must “nerd out” about, as they say. Splitsider has some of the best writing on comedy on the internet, Slacktory is killing it with their unique brand of web satire, Eliot Glazer finds the most amazing riduclousness on bestweekever.tv.com, and Alex Blagg’s A Bajillion Hits is never not funny.
Finally, two books I can’t wait for: VHS: Forgotten Relics From The Golden Age of Home Videos (by the Found Footage Festival guys) and Maybe Your Leg Will Grow Back! Looking On The Bright Side With Baby Animals