Tag Archives: Colin Quinn

T.G.I.F. – Ten For Tough Crowd

My little corner of the universe is finally starting to draw some first-rate comedians on a regular basis. Tomorrow night I’m headed out to see the great Nick DiPaolo, and in two weeks Patrice O’Neal lumbers into town. Perhaps because both have recent specials they’re hitting some of the stops they might not ordinarily target, but whatever the reason, I’m thrilled.

I first became a fan of both on the late, great Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn. Sure, it wasn’t the biggest hit in the history of cable, but anyone I’ve ever talked to who watched more than a couple of episodes became a total loyalist. I’m still flummoxed that a network like Comedy Central hasn’t figured out that an anthology of those shows – hell, even a three-DVD “best of” package – would be gobbled up immediately by the core fans.

Maybe this year, Santa?

So in honor of Nick and Patrice, as well as Colin Quinn, Jim Norton, Greg Giraldo and the rest of the comics who made those shows magical, here are Ten For Tough Crowd. Enjoy the weekend!

(01) – Nick DiPaolo

(02) – Colin Quinn

(03) – Patrice O’Neal

(04) – Jim Norton

(05) – Greg Giraldo

(06) – Judy Gold

(07) – Dave Attell

(08) – Keith Robinson

(09) – Rich Vos

(10) – Jim David

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(T)rump Roast

What do Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and Donald Trump have in common?

A. They are dumb blondes…even if it’s fake blond.

B. Their 15 minutes expired 15 years ago.

C. They are more famous for being famous than for actual worthy accomplishments.

D. They are how low the bar has sunk for “celebrities” at Comedy Central Roasts.

E. All of the above.

Which doesn’t mean that I’m not tuning in to watch; when truly funny people like Anthony Jeselnik and Whitney Cummings are going to savage easy targets, I’m game. But not only has the roastee gone down hill, but the dais now features the brain-dead (The Situation) and the living dead (Larry King) where giants one sat. Sadly, ace roaster Greg Giraldo is no longer with us, but where is Nick DiPaolo? Where is Colin Quinn? Where is Norm MacDonald? Where is…oh wait, I know where Gilbert Gottfried is

Maybe they were busy. Maybe they didn’t want to go slumming. But here’s how The Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump did go…

I think Seth MacFarlane is a perfect host; he’s got a great voice and really knows how to deliver a joke. Even if they’re ones he didn’t write, like perhaps “If his plan is to fire everyone he’s two years too late” or “He has such a big ego, when he bangs a supermodel he closes his eyes and imagines he’s jerking off.” With David Feldman and Jesse Joyce writing copy, at least there were good zingers for those qualified to deliver them. He’s also unafraid to go there, like feigning retardation while talking to the Jersey Shore mook.

Of course that was half the problem – the dais. Larry King was horrible, stumbling through lines he looked like he was seeing for the first time, and giggling at every one with that pedophile heh-heh-heh that is beyond creepy. “Lisa Lumpa Jelly“, he snarked…wow. But he seemed like Rodney Dangerfield next to the Ab Man (I’m not typing his name again), who was so inept that the crowd either booed or sat in total silence until Jeffrey Ross had to go up to the podium and beg for mercy. Granted, he’s not a comedian…but then why the fuck is he up there trying to be one? Is he banging Trump’s daughter? The Proactiv commercial during the break was funnier.

Marlee Matlin played the role of the proper girl who gets filthy-mouthed for the event; this is now a staple of every roast. And she was a good sport, and funny – using an interpreter to speak for her (when the camera picked him up earlier, I thought he was a Barack Obama look-alike who was going to engage in a skit with Trump!). But when he quit in mock exasperation, Gilbert Gottfried came out to take his place and got a huge ovation before tearing the room a new one. Obviously filmed before the Tsunami Twitter incident, Gilbert proved that nothing was ever sacred by saying Trump had defiled New York so much he is known as the “twentieth terrorist“.

Lisa Lampanelli’s “I love the brothers” routine is beyond tired but she did get off a couple of good lines. To Trump about his hair: “What do you have to say to a barber to get that haircut? I fucked your daughter?Snoop Dogg, always cool, got off a keeper when he riffed on Trump running for President by saying if he won it wouldn’t be the first time he kicked a black family out of their house. More consistently solid was Whitney Cummings, who peppered the stage with jabs on her first few jokes but then finished in a flurry of uppercuts and right crosses. By comparison, she had the biggest balls on the stage.

The clear winners of the evening were Jeffrey Ross and Anthony Jeselnik. Great to see Ross absolutely kill; he had the line of the night (to Trump: “Are you having a good time? Yeah? Tell your face…“). And Jeselnik deadpanned his way through one winner after another, from the simply clever (“the sense of humor to embarrass yourself on Saturday Night Live…and the casino business“) to the brilliantly subversive (“Marlee Matlin…are you even listening to me?”).

Theer were a few heartfelt mentions about Greg Giraldo, and he was sorely missed, although Jeselnik scored well enough to be considered for the role of roast assassinOr maybe they can feature Jesse Joyce, Giraldo’s writing partner and a hilarious dude in his own right (who also wrote some of the better lines on this show). Get some fresh blood up on the dais – quick thinkers with a ruthless streak like Joe DeRosa, Joe Materese and Kurt Metzger. You are filming this in New York, right? I hear some comics hang out there.

Hopefully this will wind up on DVD where some of the funnier or more cringe-worthy elements can be seen in all their glory. Most of the shows have been available, with few exceptions – the Joan Rivers set is a notable omission. Too bad – there were some tremendous punches thrown at her, and she returned hellfire. Much more impressive than Trump reading the teleprompter.

And to borrow a line from Mr. Ross…”Greg Giraldo, roast in peace.”

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T.G.I.F. – Ten For Greg Giraldo

On the calendar for this past Wednesday was the all-star comedy show at The Beacon Theatre to honor the memory of Greg Giraldo. The show, originally organized by his fellow comics to raise money for his kids, eventually turned into a kickoff campaign for the National Youth Recovery Foundation thanks to his widow MaryAnn…“I’ve launched this effort to give more children like mine a break from the chaos of addiction, have fun and meet other children who face the same challenges.” The event was sold out , with another benefit planned for Los Angeles.

I couldn’t make it to NYC for the show, and frankly I’m stunned that I’m having difficulty finding reviews. But if you want to make a donation to the cause, check the link above for The Greg Giraldo Fund for Families Living with Addiction. As with any charity, do your homework and research them first.

So here’s some clips from his friends – Ten For Greg Giraldo

(01)Jerry SeinfeldHis HBO debut

(02) – Tom PapaLive on Leno

(03) – Jesse JoyceI quit drinking

(04) – Dave AttellRacist Dinosaur

(05) – Judy GoldMom and Kids

(06) – Jim NortonRoasting Gene Simmons

(07) – Colin QuinnExcerpt from Top 100

(08) – Ted AlexandroThe Gym

(09) – Lewis BlackNuclear Holocaust

(10)Greg Giraldoa tribute to the master.

In the comedy world, Greg was a perfect ten.

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Greg Giraldo Benefit Concert

Anyone who has had loss in their lives knows that the Holiday season is an especially painful time. Greg Giraldo’s wife and young children are spending their first December without him.

Giraldo, who would have been 45 last Friday, never sparked on the radar of the general public the way he did with devoted comedy fans, who revered him as one of the sharpest minds in the game. Fellow comics spoke often of his unselfishness and approachability; you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who had a bad word to say about him. And although he was often the butt of jokes because of his lack of success, those skewering him were likely as bewildered by it as I am.

Videos: The Best of Greg Giraldo

Many of his peers will be performing as part of a benefit concert to raise money for Greg’s family. The star-studded show already lists Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Attell, Tom Papa, Lewis Black, Jim Norton, Judy Gold, Colin Quinn, Ted Alexandro and Jesse Joyce, with more names to come. The concert will take place Wednesday February 9th at The Beacon Theatre in NYC.

Tickets go on sale Saturday December 18th.

 

In the comedy world, Greg was a perfect ten.

 

 

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Comic Pressure

Still reeling from the loss of Greg Giraldo.

Most people know that comics often admit they are insecure, prone to depression, constantly wondering whether they are funny enough or how long they will be able to keep the pace. I’ve read countless interviews where the comedian states that the stage time is the easy part, it’s the other 23 hours that are a challenge.

The lifestyle is difficult – separation from family and friends, countless hotels and airports, the competition, the back-stabbing, the inability for most other people to understand what really makes you tick. The constant exposure to temporary people who you might not be able to trust. The encounters with those who want to make you dance…the constant stream of jealous people who can’t wait for you to screw up so they can take you down.

The booze. The drugs. The boredom. The need to be validated. The fear of failure. The constant pressure to keep moving, keep improving, keep creating. It can be crushing. Some are able to channel it into their comedy, finding solace in the exposure. Others let it build and gnaw and fester until they are incapable of succeeding…or living.

Those who only know the megastars could never imagine this; how could millionaires like Jerry Seinfeld or Jeff Dunham or Larry The Cable Guy feel pressure? But those who delve into the art and know every club comic and struggling performer often see a different story, as those genuine career breaking opportunities are few and far between; the daily reality is a much harsher grind.

I came across the Comedy Hall of Fame website featuring a wealth of short clips from interviews with comedians. So far I’ve watched a few – Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Dave Attell– but I’ve seen enough to highly recommend it.

I also came across this naked and telling interview with Giraldo.

In my perfect world, these creative people would get far more exposure and fame, but our society seems fixated on celebretards. Comedians, more than ever, have a responsibility to hold society up and make us look at it, and we are blessed that so many do it so well. We are also cursed that so many leave us so soon.

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I Still Miss Tough Crowd

Seven years ago tonight, Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn made its official series debut on Comedy Central (a short test run of the show aired in 2002). A round-table discussion featuring four stand-up comics and host Colin Quinn, Tough Crowd‘s scope was everything and anything – race, religion, politics, current events, celebretards and whatever else the writers and the producers found chat-worthy. Issues would be raised and covered, sometimes a brief skit was included and then some bizarre audience participation games and/or final summaries from the comics would close the show.

It was fast and loose, and although the panelists had an idea of what the topics would be, it was anything but scripted. More often than not the comics would launch into tirades at each other, especially if a joke bombed (as it often would) or someone pandered to the studio audience for an applause break (a mortal sin for the regulars and an excuse for a verbal beat down). And by regulars I mean the most frequent panelists who cycled in and out; it seemed as if at least two of them were on every program. Quinn assembled a veritable All-Star team of cutting-edge comics who were quick on their feet, sarcastic and fearless; that they were also friends made the viewer a fly on the wall in a raucous no-holds-barred bullshit session.

Regulars included comedians Nick DiPaolo, Greg Giraldo, Judy Gold, Jim Norton, Patrice O’Neal, Keith Robinson and Rich Vos. Other frequent guest comics included Dave Attell, Todd Barry, Lewis Black, Billy Burr, Louis C.K., Jim David, Marc Maron and Greg Proops among many, many of the top names that sat in on the madness. It seems like everyone sat in at least once – George Carlin, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Robert Klein…you just weren’t seeing that many amazing comedians that frequently anywhere on television at the time, let alone that informally.

For those not used to him, Quinn seemingly bumbled his way through cue cards and stage directions, but Colin’s style had always been to keep moving forward, even if he ran himself over in the process. And Quinn always insisted that the blown gags, the awkward silences, the comics talking over each other remained in the broadcast, warts and all. Above all, Quinn wanted honesty, and although it was unlike anything else on television and certainly not for everyone, it was real.

Although the panelists did try to score points against each other, and it did give them a chance to work in some topical material, there were several moments when a controversial discussion turned fascinatingly serious and animated. Of course, they drove the car into the brick wall on occasion, too, and that was half the fun.

But soon Comedy Central seemed to stop promoting the show, and whether it was a battle to tighten the structure of the show (no way would Quinn ever do that) or the argumentative nature of the program not fitting in with The Big Picture remains unclear. But they let it die; by the end of 2004 it was over. Comedy Central was having great success with Dave Chappelle, but everything they tried to fill the Tough Crowd slot with – Blue Collar Comedy, Adam Carolla, Graham Norton – died quickly. Every time they come up with a Jeff Dunham Show and it sinks like a stone, I figure it’s just karma biting them in the ass.

Laurie Kilmartin was one of the writers. Her thoughts here.

Many current shows now use the same format – Bill Maher has three guests who discuss issues, but he has both the freedom of language and the restriction of audience that HBO brings. Chelsea Lately has two segments where the host (Chelsea Handler)  riffs on a news item and then has three guest comics pile on (albeit far tamer than Tough Crowd). and now we have the excremental Marriage Ref, which combines the host/panel format with reality television into a train wreck of a program.

There are dozens of Comedy Central products available and a humongous video library online, but Tough Crowd has been buried like a bad habit. No DVD. No reunion special. No re-airing of over two hundred episodes. On that network, Tough Crowd is forgotten.

But not to the fans. It lives and breathes in the hearts of anyone who loved the show.  And so tonight I tip my hat to Colin and Greg and Nick and Jim and Keith and Judy and Patrice and Rich…and all the writers, staffers and producers who had the brains and the hearts and the balls to make controversy entertaining every night.

Here’s hoping Comedy Central does the right thing – even if only to make some money – and makes those shows available again. In a universe where According To Jim stays on the air for eight seasons, surely Tough Crowd fans can be thrown a bone?

Best of Tough Crowd, Part One

Best of Tough Crowd, Part Two

Wiki site

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Stand Up Wit…Jim Norton

Jim Norton on - not dropping - a stool.

It only seems fair that as the rest of the world focuses their attention on the Olympic Games, I choose to draw your attention to the re-release of two of Jim Norton’s comedy albums. Although previously available in CD format, today marks the first time these albums are available for digital download and streaming through popular stores such as iTunes, Amazon.com and Rhapsody. In other words, welcome to the Twenty-First Century, Jim

If you don’t know Jim, let’s just say these are not safe for play at the workplace, although I would hope that anyone who can read would figure out that bits called “Liz Taylor’s Hairy Hat” and “Bloody Lump on the Linoleum” might draw their own conclusion in that regard. Both are irreverent, hilarious, filthy, perverse, bizarre and mind-blowing, but what do you expect from a hooker and self-gratification fan whose two favorite words are teabag and tickle? It’s safe to say that when they made Little Jimmy Norton, they smashed the beaker

Used copies of Yellow Discipline and Trinkets I Made With Gorilla Hands have been going for over twenty-five bucks, so to be able to get these digitally for a normal price is a godsend for Norton fans, most of whom would have needed to chloroform Grandma and take her wallet to get the hard copies. 

I’m a big Norton fan; he draws his own line, crosses it and goes further down the road to drag someone back to see what he did. Although many swear by his Opie and Anthony tenure as his best comedic moments, I’m more partial to him walking the tightrope (and usually falling off, spectacularly) on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, and his acerbic, perverted, leering pot dealer on the late, great Lucky Louie. (When you can make Rick Shapiro look normal, you are dancing on the edge, my friend). 

Norton has also written a pair New York Times best-selling books (Happy Endings: The Tales of a Meaty-Breasted Zilch and I Hate Your Guts)  and has had three HBO specials (Monster Rain, Down and Dirty with Jim Norton and One Night Stand, all now available on DVD) plus numerous stand-up sets on all the top shows. 

Amazingly he was in good standing during a run of Last Comic Standing when a filming conflict forced him to withdraw from the round of twenty finalists. The next step was whittling down to the ten comics who would move into the house (and therefore reap the most benefits from the television exposure). I still can’t imagine how Jim would have been able to survive the censors (although he killed on Letterman) but if the network had any cojones that would have turned reality television on its ear

So please buy Jim Norton’s CDs – hookers aren’t cheap, you know. 

Formal Attire

Tour dates, merch links and more info at Jim’s website (be sure to read the survey at the bottom!) and Jim’s wiki page 

Videos, including Jim on the Bob Saget Roast 

*** 

And they’re no longer here to celebrate, but we can – Happy Birthday to Ward Cleaver, Elvis Presley’s Best Songwriter and Cher’s Husband

More cake for us!

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