Tag Archives: Bill Burr

Best Comedy DVDs of 2010: #6, #5

We continue the countdown of the ten best comedy DVDs of 2010…

#6) Glenn Wool: Let Your Hands Go

I’m glad there was both a CD and a DVD in this package, because as hilarious as Glenn Wool is to listen to, he’s that much funnier to watch. The bonus footage has some overlaps with the audio show, but this underrated Canadian comic is an extemporaneous performer and both shows are strong. Looking like Steve Zahn gone to seed, Wool’s scruffy attitude might make one think cracker comedy, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Wool masterfully uses manic facial expressions and voices from a whisper to a scream to hold up ridiculous ideas and gleefully shame them. While he’s expert at taking down deserving targets like financial institutions, gay bashers and exclusionary religions, the more personal bits – like the battle between “Drunken Glenn” and “Sober Glenn” (and their rude friend “Cocaine Glenn”!) – are clear highlights. Wool is kicking ass all over the globe, and with upcoming TV slots on John Oliver’s Stand Up and Green Room with Paul Provenza, hopefully the US will wise up and catch on.  (Stand Up! Records)

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#5) Paul F. Tompkins: You Should Have Told Me

Last week I mentioned being an equal opportunity cheater by placing Bill Burr’s Let It Go into the Comedy Album list rather as a DVD. The flip side to that decision is that I’m including Paul F. Tompkins’ album Sir, You Have Fooled Me Twice as a companion piece in my recommendation for this DVD, even though they were released separately. I know siblings when I see them.

Tompkins, always a great comic, has really taken his game up a notch over the past two years. Freak Wharf was a mindblower, and he came right back a year later with this one-two punch. Not everyone can get that personal and that confessional and still walk the tightrope, but he’s proven he can captivate and mesmerize an audience with a deep, personal exploration as sharply as he can with surreal storytelling. (Yet he can still be silly enough to include a non-interactive menu on a DVD.) I don’t think there’s anything that Tompkins can’t do, and it’s exciting to watch him push himself to new heights. (A Special Thing Records)

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The countdown continues tomorrow with #4 and #3

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Best Comedy Albums of 2010: #7-6-5-4

Year End List caveat: I’m splitting comedy albums apart from comedy DVD projects, so if someone had a DVD that was basically the same as the album I’m rating it as an album. If someone winds up in the DVD category that doesn’t mean their album wasn’t top ten material…just trying to find some way of being fair. That said, there’s not an item on either of these lists that I don’t think is worth your immediate attention…click to hear clips and judge for yourself!

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#07: Bill Burr, LET IT GO

Ok, probably cheating a wee bit here, because Burr does have a DVD of this show and there were a couple of extra jokes on it, but the two are very close in content. (I’m an equal opportunity cheater, as you’ll see when the DVD list is posted.) But no matter where this is listed, it’s great. Burr just keeps getting better every year, baring his soul in his shows and flushing out his brain, unfiltered, on his weekly podcasts. He’s the guy like you and I who is just too fucking tired of putting up with the lack of common courtesy, the ineptitude of customer service and the complete banality of what passes for modern society. The odd thing is that a lesser comic would go down in flames trying to work these topics, but Burr is so passionate and magnetic that he sells every moment. (Image Entertainment)

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#06: Joe DeRosa, THE DEPRESSION AUCTION

A comedian – and an album – that deserves to be far better known. Both self-deprecating and intolerant of others, Joe’s aptly named collection of rants places him as the man who just doesn’t fit, whether it’s ineptitude at sports, being taken seriously as a person or just trying to justify his own anger at boorish people and bad cable before realizing that it would probably mean more if he wasn’t observing this from the fetal position. He tees off on hecklers, reality stars and himself and caps it all off with the tale of performing for fans of The Insane Clown Posse. I don’t know what’s stranger – that the Juggalos invited him to perform and he accepted…or that afterwards they invited him back again . (Comedy Central Records)

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#05: Myq Kaplan, VEGAN MIND MELD

A master of language, one of the best comic wordsmiths that I have heard in a long time. With his intellect, he could leave most of the audience in the dust and be the ultimate nerd comic playing to tiny Mensa gatherings. But fortunately he has a good dose of silly in his DNA and he loves puns. There are so many jokes layered within jokes that it will take multiple listens to shake every one of them loose. Incredible with call backs – if you saw him on Last Comic Standing you watched him weave them into every set. And for the icing on the cake, he’s a razor-sharp moralist taking society to task on politics and religion, which means he’s leaving you laughing and thinking.  (Live at Comix)

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#04: Hannibal Buress, MY NAME IS HANNIBAL

Buress redefines casual; unlike comics who start their set with a bang, he’s so laid back that you might wonder if he’s talking in his sleep. But he’s s sneaky bastard. Little jokes start piling up one after another and before you know it, that snowball is hurtling down the hill like an avalanche. And when he does eventually explode with an expletive or a loud voice, it only makes the punch line that much funnier. He has a great knack for making the mundane sound insane, and his absurdist takes are stellar. It’s as if Louis C.K. and Bill Cosby had a love child – he’s got the Cosby pacing and the lunacy of Louie. How could SNL suck so bad if he is writing for them? (Stand Up! Records)

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The countdown concludes tomorrow with #3, #2 and #1.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Stress Relievers

Holiday time is stressful for a lot of people. Between shopping in a dubious economy, self-assessing at year’s end and preparing to start all over again on the first of January, it’s no wonder that people start snapping. Hey,cheer up – if the Mayans are right, you don’t have to fret much longer.

But what the hell – I could use a good laugh today. Couldn’t you?

So here are Ten Stress Relievers; quick YouTube comic clips to give your brain a quick reboot. (Headphones only if you’re at work.) I’m leading off with Auggie Smith, whose new album is incredible go get it now!

01) Auggie Smith Obama and the Oil Spill

02) Bill BurrNothing But Muffins

03) Louis CK Technical High School

04) Nick Griffin We Have No Patience

05) Paul F. TompkinsAnne Murray

06) Josh Sneed Moron Sales Clerk

07) Dave ChappelleMan Rape

08) Maria Bamford Crazy Office

09) Darren Frost Jenna Jameson and Miley Cyrus

10) Bob Biggerstaff The Self Checkout Hired Me

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Let’s Hear It For The Girl

My daughter Eli attends Emerson College, a phenomenal place for anyone interested in entertainment, whether production or performance. Lots of famous alumni of course – among them Stephen Wright, Bill Burr, Gina Gershon, Jay Leno, Denis Leary, Henry Winkler and Norman Lear. Successful show creators, too – her freshman dorm was funded by Max Mutchnick (creator of Will and Grace) and last year ahe worked with Friends creator Kevin Bright  to create a sitcom from scratch. Doug Herzog, President of Comedy Central, is another graduate.

 The list goes on and on…if I were a high school grad interested in a career in the arts I would crawl through broken glass while on fire just to apply. (Or at least ride a bike.) Of course, when I was looking at colleges, that area of Boston was known as the Combat Zone, rivaling the pre-Guiliani Times Square for opulent decadence. Today it’s the Theatre District, much hipper than the sanitized Disney-fication of the most famous intersection in Manhattan.

My enthusiasm is exactly the opposite for Lady Gaga – it’s the kind of processed dance pop that makes my skin crawl. But my Dad didn’t “get” The Beatles; likewise I’m not the target demo for the songs that she/he/it creates.

But even I have to give props for this amazing Emerson Lip Dub.

Most schools have an informative brochure or website to give potential students an idea of what it’s like to attend their university. I think the Admissions Department just trumped the competition – courtesy of the effort of over four hundred students. Kudos, Emersonians!

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Stand Up Wit…Greg Proops

I now have even less spare time.

Whip-smart comic Greg Proops has taken the plunge and has started a live podcast. Just when I was figuring out a way to keep up with Marc Maron and Bill Burr, let alone the several other comics that I try to slot in, now Proops has tossed his cap in the ring. From the website: In this, the inaugural episode of “The Smartest Man in the World,” Greg takes on Jerry Brown, Ayn Rand and the ACLU. No word on the frequency of these podcasts, but hopefully we’ll see some type of regular schedule.

Greg’s words tumble from mind to mouth to microphone so fast it’s hard to believe there’s a filtering process in place. But whether there is or not, there are so many subtle jabs peppered within the overt jokes that you – like the live audience – might miss a few on first listen. (Thank you for a second chance, podcast!) And doing this live in front of an audience adds even more charm and wierdness to the process. Who else would start coughing during a live taping and then – to regain the lost momentum – shift into a tuberculosis-ridden Doc Holliday impression?

Proops is well-known to many as one of the key contributors to the improv comedy program Whose Line Is It Anyway?  (both the original UK program and Drew Carey’s US version); he also has a wealth of credits ranging from animation voice-overs to guest appearances and recurring character parts on TV. But I most admire Proops as the snarky stand-up comic ripping society and all its foibles a fresh new one. He has four releases available: Joke Book, Houston We Have a Problem, Elsewhere and the newest title, an EP called Proops Digs In (recorded at Largo, where Proops often hosts a star-studded comedy talk show).

You can pick up Proops Digs In from AST Records; I highly recommend the three-EP package that also includes new works from Dan Telfer and the amazing Paul F. Tompkins. An absolute steal – all three for just fifteen dollars. But while you’re waiting for the package to arrive, here’s a free seventy-five minutes to tide you over.

Grab the podcast on iTunes, via RSS Feed or simply visit the website.

Visit Greg’s website.

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WTF Turns 100

Congratulations to Marc Maron – tomorrow will mark the one hundredth episode of his brilliant WTF podcast. Since September 2009, like clockwork, these hours of self-analysis, penetrating interviews and social observation keep popping out twice a week like gold.

The WTF Podcast page

The very first episode featured the Roastmaster General himself, Jeff Ross, and the array of guests he’s welcomed is staggering. Patton Oswalt, David Feldman, Maria Bamford, Jim Norton, Robin Williams, Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Doug Stanhope, Andy Kindler…he’s quietly assembled a library of audio documents that any serious comedy lover should savor.

And Maron, beyond being incredibly funny in his own right, has proven to be an incisive interviewer who is unafraid to broach sensitive topics (and yes, sometimes with a personal edge). Some of my favorites included a frank discussion of race with Chicago comic Dwayne Kennedy and some gutsy exchanges with two popular but controversial comedians accused of joke thievery (Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia).

Although many are recorded in his garage studio, Maron has taken WTF on the road and has even filmed a pilot for that will hopefully be picked up as a series. Not only will it bring in some welcome funding, but the show and its brilliant guests will get much-needed exposure to the vast majority of people who don’t even know the show exists, let alone where to find it. Surely there has to be room in the vast cable landscape for intelligent discourse?

For now, I’m just thankful that Maron, Bill Burr, Kevin Pollack and so many others have adopted the format and put this out there for free. With literally hundreds of hours of these shows available, there will never be another boring car ride. Ever.

Congratulations, Mark! Please try to enjoy the moment.

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Manic Mondays

Yeah, I know it’s Sunday. I don’t want you to be late!

Love Bill Burr; one of my favorite comics. He’s mastered the art of balancing naked self-deprecation and outward anger issues.  That way you don’t get on him for being too cranky because he’s beating himself up about as badly as anyone else in his cross-hairs. And while I’ve always liked his work – his CDs are consistently funny – I think he’s really found his voice the past couple of years, and I’ll bet ranting into a recorder every Monday has had a lot to do with it.

I don’t do iTunes, so if I want to keep track of podcasts I like I have to remember to log onto the website and listen or download. Amish of me, I know, but it’s a good way to check how senile I’m getting if I don’t remember where to go or who I like to hear. I’ve toasted Marc Maron’s WTF before, and even had a TGIF on podcasts where he and  Burr were included. But I think it’s time for a reminder because Bill is taking his to a new level.

After my Sam Kinison piece yesterday I dropped a note on a forum talking about how lucky we were to have had Kinson, Richard Pryor, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Hicks and George Carlin all out there swinging at the same time. It wasn’t that long ago, and now they’re all gone. I followed by mentioning that it made me appreciate having Doug Stanhope and Bill Burr and Marc Maron around; three guys who are fearless and funny.

A kind fellow forum member hipped me that Maron had just done a guest spot on Burr’s podcast on Monday, and the exchange included some Kinison stories. This stunned me because Burr (to my knowledge) had never had a guest on before. Having an wildcard like Maron as a guest would be entertaining, but if he was telling road stories, this could be great. And it was.

The two are friends, and the conversation is all over the map, from road behavior to alcoholism to organized religion to puritanical audience members with checklists of taboo subjects. But the highlight is Maron recalling a few incidents from his days at the Comedy Store, especially when Sam would blow into town. Even though he has told the stories before, you can tell Maron is enjoying Burr hearing them for the first time.

Listen to the April 5 poscast here.

So if you aren’t already on board with Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast, I’m doling out this invite today so you can sign up and be ready for new madness tomorrow. Maybe it won’t take away the pain of a dull week, but at least Monday will be better. The early episodes (where Burr used to launch a stream of consciousness rant) are hilarious enough, but here he demonstrates a great affinity for hosting a one-to-one interview; I hope this is the first of many.

You can sign up on iTunes through the above link. Or (if you’re a Luddite like me) you can simply select any of the past episodes and stream them. Either way, don’t miss it.

Bill was a guest on Maron’s WTF podcast in January: Episode 37.

Bill Burr website

Mark Maron website

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