Tag Archives: American Idol

50 Years of The Zombies

Fifty years? Yikes! But they did get together in 1961.

But how does a new Zombies albums come out with so little fanfare? Oh yeah…radio. Right. Lady Gaga, American Idol, country pop stars. No Country For Old Men indeed. No matter how great they were…and are.

Video: Colin Blunstone talks about the reunion.

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent are joined by Tom Toomey, Steve Rodford and Jim Rodford (well, so much for that Kinks reunion). Looks like they will be touring a lot to support the album, and frankly, they sound great. But don’t take it from me – listen for yourself.

Video: “Any Other Way” (live)

Grab a copy here.

The Zombies official website

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Pimp That Band

Yeah, probably not the slogan they’re looking for.

The brain trust at Rock and Roll Tribe fueled by Belgian ale, it turns out – is offering a platform for members to tout under-known bands to build a groundswell and bring them to the attention of higher powers. And if the powers-that-be turn a deaf ear, at the very least there will be a list of highly recommended artists with links to sounds and videos. Now your search for something new and interesting might be able to focus its scope a little more sharply than…oh, the whole freakin’ Internet.

Grassroots favorites get famous? Yes, RRT knows there will be skepticism. “I know there are plenty of folks who believe that music fans are too apathetic to really get behind something like this.  We think that’s BS, and that we can prove them wrong.  But this has to be a community effort.”

Absolutely right. Every parade starts with one step.

Know a local band who are only held back by anonymity? Nominate them. See a great band passing through your burg who burned the club down? Nominate them. Find an obscure artist’s indie CD in a dump bin and you can’t get it out of your player? Nominate them.

American Idol is only going to produce the next safe bet. It’s up to you, the fringe, to do the right thing. And often.

So click here and start pimpin’.

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Idol Chatter

I know that the day before the Super Bowl is a tough time to get your attention, so I’m all too happy to pass the buck.

This past week I paid tribute to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, a longtime favorite who has been lighting it up in recent months. A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to his recap of the first episode of American Idol, which was absolutely hysterical. Last week, it got even better.

I think even people who like the show are not only getting the jokes but starting to think about the reality juggernaut in a whole different light.

(Gee…a comedian who makes you laugh and think. Really?)

Follow along here. Much better than the real thing.

"No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public." (H. L. Mencken)

And Happy Birthday, Mom. 25 years ago seems like yesterday.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Worthwhile Weblinks

Yes, I know…I’ve got to get an alliteration editor…

I’m in the midst of finalizing the countdowns for comedy CDs and DVDs (starts tomorrow!) and as usual have stumbled across a few things worth sharing. One of the drawbacks of the Internet is that there is so much out there, it gets harder and harder to maintain a good filter. I hope the Prescripton is part of your formula (just like most of the Blogroll – lower right column to you – helps me navigate oceans of content).

So today, a veritable potpourri of links – satire, movie trailers, MP3s of great songs…Ten Worthwhile Weblinks that will each take only a few minutes of your time. In this wireless age, perhaps this is the future of “bathroom reading”, a browser window in place of a paperback novel that has likely been handled by suspicious people with questionable hygiene. Assuming you are the master of your laptop, feel free to click away…

(01) Stewart Lee on Harry Potter – Lee is erudite, sarcastic, incisive, brilliant and one of the funniest people on the face of the Earth. This bit is but a gnat’s pimple of his recorded work, all of which is worth your immediate pilgrimage.

(02) Brighton Rock – Yes, they’re remaking the classic Graham Greene tale (the first starred a young Richard Attenborough in the role of “Pinky” – worth chasing down). Ominous music, looks cool.

(03) The Filthy 42s – they put out one album (the subject of an upcoming Under The Radar feature) and this great song didn’t make the cut. “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Hold Us Down” cross-breeds The Clash and The Rubinoos.

(04) Louis CK and Robert Smigel – as dog whisperers (before that was cool) in a sketch on a 1993 Conan O’Brien episode. Two words: Hair Triumph!

(05) Social Distortion – hey, SD has a brand new album!! Here’s a very Faces/Black Crowes sounding “Hustle and Flow“…

Living Candle, Zsa Zsa 2011, Black Drew Carey

(06) Paul F. Tompkins recaps American Idol – Talk about taking a bullet for a buddy! Why watch this if Paul is willing to do it for you?

(06) Gainsbourg – Obviously, I was born too late, in the wrong country, and with the wrong instincts.

(08) The Cynics – Any Sonny and Cher cover is fun, but these garage giants not only nail “I Got You Babe” but light the video on fire.

(09) Gilbert Gottfried Death or Ugu? Umm…not safe for work, home, public, careless forwarding…do you have headphones?

(10) Ricky Gervais – In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s Golden Globe host Gervais ripping Hollywood a new one in 2010 and again in 2011. Savor the moment(s).

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Dave

Ever flip channels and stop on a movie you’ve seen a few times, but you settle in to watch it anyway? Of course you have. And when it’s heavily does with commercials, and you’re thinking “I have that DVD” but you sit there anyway? Okay…maybe that’s just lazy…but that must be one good movie. Usually it’s a broad comedy I can quote line for line, like Caddyshack or Major League or Animal House. It usually isn’t a plot-driven movie.

But tonight that happened to me with Dave. Again.

The plot, simple but brilliant – a corrupt administration finds a look-alike to double for a critically ill President so they can continue their illegal agenda. Kevin Kline as the titular character is the head of a temp agency, a nice guy who puts others before him and a dead ringer for the incapacitated President. At first agreeable to follow orders, he soon sees both the diseased plans of the ambitious Chief Of Staff (Frank Langella, great as always) but also the opportunity to do something for the right reasons.

Director Ivan Reitman had stumbled badly after a winning trifecta (Meatballs/Stripes/Ghostbusters), but this film resurrected his credibility. The cast is uniformly brilliant, with Sigourney Weaver, Ving Rhames and Kevin Dunn providing excellent support. Don’t even get me started on the brilliance of Kline, surely one of the most underrated actors of his generation. Great cameo roles for Bonnie Hunt and Laura Linney. And a Charles Grodin sighting? That’s bonus points, son. And kudos to Gary Ross, who also scripted other movies with big heart like Big and Pleasantville.

The only sad thing about Dave is that it makes me wish our leaders had those same unselfish, uncorrupted qualities. Much like Dennis Haysbert’s performance as President Palmer on the early episodes of 24, I came away wishing that just this once, fantasy could be reality. But they don’t, and it’s not.

But there I go again, talking about the deeper meaning of a film that is ultimately a redemption story about second chances and good triumphing over evil. Sometimes, even in the guise of light comedy, deeper points can be made. And when flipping channels on a Monday night, sometimes a well made movie can be appreciated for being  just that.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Comics Standing

So last week we got the dog and pony show.

Taking a cue from American Idol, the ten finalists were trotted out onstage to do a couple of minutes, after which they got to hang around for some uncomfortable close-ups while their voting number was displayed onscreen. Of course, you couldn’t vote until after the show, so whatever.

Unlike the other crapfest, the LCS judges were absent this round – wonder if that was to stop people like me from throwing shoes at the television because of their omissions in the top ten selection process? But then I remembered that it’s all about the off-camera producers and network execs pulling the strings. Shoes and television, saved.

The voting will eliminate three of the ten by next Monday’s episode and the judges will reportedly return. Not quite sure what the format is from that point forward, but it will be interesting to see what happens. Personally I didn’t cast a single vote – any voting process that allows and encourages multiple votes per person is absurd, from baseball’s All Star Game to reality TV competitions and web polls.

But I will tell you that based on pure funny, I would eliminate Feinstein, Vance and Esparza.

And I will also tell you that if the American public is voting, they will eliminate Adomian, Kilmartin and Thymius.

Tune in Tuesday to see how I did. For now, here are Ten Comics Standing and how I think they did…

01 Laurie Kilmartin – Awesome writer, solid performer, but I haven’t seen her at her best yet. And I think that oddball crowd reaction last week might have hurt her badly. What the heck was wrong with those people?

02 Felipe Esparza – Likeable guy, gets a couple of laughs, but pretty pedestrian stuff and the act wears thin pretty quickly. But the crowd loves him and I predict he’s a top 5 finisher.

03 Roy Wood Jr. – Starts every set with a short, killer line and ropes the crowd in immediately. Good balance of tone and volume and good material, although nothing spectacular. Like the golfer who lays up; always in the mix while the others eliminate themselves.

04 Maronzio Vance – Another likeable guy with some interesting material but not enough variety in the set and he tripped over his own jokes a bit. I could take or leave him for the final seven.

05 Rachel Feinstein – At the risk of sounding misogynistic, I think she’s getting by on her looks and stage presence. Her set last week was horribly hacky – doing mom and grandma voices in the rap culture? Please. But Dat Phan won this thing so I predict at least a top 3 finish.

06 Tommy Johnagin – Probably my favorite so far – strong pacing, solid delivery, great punch lines. Material is made for this quick hit format, and he dug himself out of an offensive turn by ending with the funniest line of the night.

07 Jonathan Thymius – The dazed, stunned, disoriented schtick took a new turn when he burned up his first thirty seconds pretending to get acclimated to the mic. But I think he went so oddball last week that he has people believing he’s the idiot he pretends to be and that will probably hurt him.

08 James Adomian – Took a huge chance by splitting his set between a long (but great) Aesop’s Fables routine and an extended imitation of Paul Giamatti, blending John Adams with Sideways. In other words, too hip for the room. The judges love him because they are smart enough to see what he’s doing…America won’t unless he gets very lucky.

09 Mike DeStefano – Big and caustic, Mike probably has the biggest hit-and-miss quota of the ten. Sometimes his rants fall flat, but when he nails one he gets bigger laughs than just about anyone. I think he’s Top 3 but he might be scaring the crap out of the voters.

10 Myq Kaplan – The smartest player in the competition, he combines intellectual wordplay, perfect timing and delivery and the ability to play in the moment by riffing off the other performers and events of the evening. I think the crowd likes him almost as much as I do.

Here are the voting rules at the official site

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Last Comic Standing – First Five

Last Comic Standing update – five comics move on to the semi-finals.

The first five winners are (in the order they were announced on TV) Felipe Esparza, Myq Kaplan, Rachel Feinstein, Mike DeStefano and Jonathan Thymius. I’d say the judges got it 80% correct. More in a moment.

I like the format of having the comics do a few minutes and then hearing some comments from the judges, even though it’s a tired gimmick used by American Idol ane every other reality competition. It affords the comedians on the panel the opportunity to be funny, although only Andy Kindler is taking advantage of it on a regular basis.

Greg Giraldo had a couple of zingers, but Natasha Leggero spends most of her time…um…just laughing. (Not that most comedy nerds watching from home wouldn’t want a hot girlfriend who laughs at jokes.) But the judges are overwhelmingly positive about everybody, which (1) doesn’t match their facial reactions during the performances and (2) is boring and pointless, and hopefully not supposed to create suspense.

Clear winners for the evening? Myq Kaplan and Mike DeStefano, head and shoulders above everyone else. Both have excellent material, command the stage and have perfect delivery. Thymius is an unpredictable oddball (think a disoriented George Goebel), and although Feinstein is pretty funny I think her obvious sex appeal is contributing to her success.

Lucky finalist? Felipe Esparza, who only had one good joke (his closer) and then blew the timing on the best line, his last. I didn’t think he was in the top half, let alone the top five.

Who would I have put in the fifth slot? Likely Chip Pope, whose solid routine probably gets the nod over Ryan Hamilton (best physical presence of the night, could have tightened up the story) and Adrienne Iapalucci (funny in spots but milked the same material bone dry).

Interesting to watch a couple of the comics go for one extended character piece, but it usually cost them – none more so than Lil’ Rel whose five minutes seemed to be only an introduction to a far longer routine. Next week the other five will be selected, and then the real fun starts.

Last Comic Standing

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