Tag Archives: Cringe Humor

Stand Up Wit…Rich Vos

File Rich Vos under the “how can Jeff Dunham be so famous but not this guy” category; a veteran club and theatre comic who combines a curmudgeon’s list of grievances with a sharp ability to work the room into the material. Those who have seen Vos rip someone a new one on Tough Crowd, the Cringe Humor shows or Opie and Anthony are well aware of his skill, any doubters will have their concerns laid to rest after hearing  Live In Philly.

Vos is a good enough storyteller that he can float out a couple of topics as frames and chum the water with a couple of prepared jokes, but his true skill is engaging the audience as participants and targets. Sure, some of the bullets are pre-loaded; a good comic will always be ready for a mismatched couple or the drunk who keeps talking long after you tossed them the spotlight. But it’s obvious that Vos lives for that first nibble on the fishing line, and once that bait is taken, he’s ruthless.

Material-wise, there’s no unique ground broken here. Customer service sucks, hotels and airlines suck, certain cities suck and no matter what your religion, race or gender, you probably suck, too. If you want a thumbnail sketch of Live In Philly, look no further than the title of track number six, “People Bother Me“; Vos expounds on being too old and too tired to put up with people’s bullshit anymore. In the process he’s not tiptoeing around gender, race or religion, and by the reaction of the audience, he’s tapping the right vein.

Video Clip: “Live At Gotham

The recording itself is a little thin, although once you jack the volume up it’s consistently listenable. The packaging is simple and direct and thankfully there are no bells and whistles – no funny songs, no extras, no gimmicks. You get the feeling that he just flipped on the recorder one night and let it roll, warts and all, which is very uncommon these days. Maybe that’s not great marketing, but that’s an honest performance you’re getting to hear.  Live In Philly is Rich Vos, stripped down, unfiltered – and it captures his appeal perfectly.

And if you have to ask where the CD was recorded…what hotel do you work at?

Rich Vos website

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Stand Up Wit…Dov Davidoff

Winging it, sorta

Winging it, sorta

Dov Davidoff doesn’t walk out onto the stage in a conventional manner. Tumbling and shuffling in from a side angle, he looks like a guy who’s opened the wrong door but instead of panicking and going back, he  says “what the hell, let’s do this!”. He rambles and paces, makes abrupt turns, stutters and segues in and out of his own material. Generally he comes off like a stoner with comedy Tourettes, a patient on the couch with the audience as psychiatrist.

In lesser hands, it would be annoying as hell. For Davidoff, it’s the perfect character. And most of the time, he nails it.

Last year’s debut album is called The Point Is, after the phrase that he uses to bring you back to the main joke after dancing your brain about like an eggbeater for a couple of minutes. I’ve heard a lot of the same material in his talk show appearances and his Comedy Central special. But I laughed almost as hard as I did the first time I saw the bits because I buy into what he’s doing – a harmless guy who could be the target of his own barbs mocking the idiocy and frustrations he sees in others. And while his stream-of-consciousness delivery might be a bit unorthodox, once you finally get onto his wavelength, it’s easy to enjoy the ride.

Although he’s a very physical comic, you can appreciate the album on its own merits, although I would advise at least seeing a clip or two first just to lock that mental image in your brain. However, I’m not certain how long you want to keep that image up there – just sayin’

Besides being a staple on the club circuit and the late night talk shows, Davidoff is also a good actor; although he’s had minor roles to date, his charisma is undeniable. I hope he lands a few meaty parts, but not at the expense of what is hopefully a bright future making me laugh.

Dov Davidoff’s MySpace page and official website.

A clip from his Comedy Central special.

Dov’s Cringe Humor page.

Davidoff on Jimmy Kimmel

Two crazy people cancel each other out

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A Tip of the Comedy Cap

comedy-mask

It’s difficult to write about comedy, whether live or recorded, because funny is obviously a personal subjective reaction. I also don’t like to give too many details about the specific routines; why would I want to spoil a beautiful set-up and punch line by having you read it like a cue card? That would be like humming “Whole Lotta Love” instead of playing it really loud.

Add to that the fact that I’m not in NYC or LA, let alone Boston or Chicago, so it’s difficult to immerse myself in the scene 24/7, let alone get to see some of the brightest lights and/or up-and-comers without a great deal of planning. My city is fortunate enough to have a thriving comedy club, but it’s a single aisle of comics coming through rather than the massive superhighway of Manhattan’s available stages. (Then again our worst traffic jam is five minutes of driving at 35 instead of 60…so you see, life balances out.)

As a result, like many of you, I scour the web and the late night talk shows and ramble around YouTube or Funny Or Die and wherever else I can to discover (as in new-to-me, I’m no anthropologist) some great laughs. I’ve come across a few sites that any comedy fan should check out – you’ll probably become as big a fan of them as I am. Here are four of my favorites:

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Sean L. McCarthy’s The Comic’s Comic is a wonderland of clips, interviews and information, and worthy of a daily swing-by. An experienced stand-up comedian himself, he’s written about comedy for Entertainment Weekly, the NY Daily News and the Boston Globe (among others) and he’s prolific with updates to the site. Between his absolute love of the genre and his personal access to a lot of the comedians, readers get a great pulse-check on who is about to break as well as some insight that you won’t read in most other places. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a jealous bastard every time I click onto his site.

Effinfunny. Do I even need to add anything else to that name? Sandeep Parikh’s site is the all-you-can-eat buffet for the hungry comedy fan. Do not click on this site unless you are prepared to kill the rest of your day aimlessly following one tangent after another. My most recent discovery of the four and I’m sure I’ll be looking there for links to include in the comedy reviews and profiles I’ll be running.

Brian McKim and Traci Skene run SHECKYMagazine, a by-comics for-comics site that probably focuses more on the inside workings of the industry than simple lists of links and clips. As active working performers, it’s great to get a peek behind their curtain, so you will be just as likely to read a complaint about a shitty clubowner or kudos about a well-organized festival as you will a news blip about a comic’s new special or a critique of someone’s recent TV appearance. Possibly the world’s longest webpage (the scroll bar is so wafer-thin I’m afraid it might disappear!) they’ve been online for ten years and there’s a ton of great reading for those (like me) who can’t get enough.

Cringe Humor is not only a collection of links, clips and features, but produces an annual comedy awards show and hosts streaming radio stations and podcasts…a touch-point for those of you who think Opie and Anthony might be too middle-of-the-road. If you’re a fan of Tough Crowd, Jim Norton, Robert Kelly and other comics on the edge, Patrick Milligan’s site is your clubhouse. Looks like it’s in the process of being revamped, but the material is still available for stream and download. They bill themselves as “comedy that will challenge your morality”, so let that be the caveat – you probably don’t want to be accessing most of this site at the workplace.

Here are some clips and tips – a gift for those who read this far…

How to make a comedian disappear

How to make a comedian disappear

Jamie Kilstein is consistently hilarious. Here’s an older bit where he riffs on alcohol versus drugs, drops a great line about a threesome and somehow makes the standard “Mapquest sucks” routine fresh and funny. Here’s a more recent bit from the Comedy Store in London and a John McCain joke, too.  I hear a lot of Bill Hicks in his attitude and Dave Attell in his cadence/delivery (especially in the London clip) and he’s obviously fearless and relentless. Love his thoughts after the death of George Carlin.  He’s tours the globe, writes columns for The Huffington Post, hosts a radio show and kills on stage…yet he might still be flying under your radar. Jamie did have a limited release CD called Please Buy My Jokes but look for the upcoming Zombie Jesus soon on Stand-Up Records.

Eddie Gossling has an older CD (Fresh Brewed Eddie) available through his site and a newer release Live at the DC Improv (only available through iTunes), but you have probably come across him on Comedy Central or Premium Blend if not at your favorite club. Here’s his fantastic piece about quitting a crap job (you’ll know what the routine is really called after you watch this). Hardly looks like the same guy here, but this other piece you’ll learn why magicians are full of shit and wizards are for real.

And high on my list of comics who don’t have an album out but absolutely need to, check out Dwayne Kennedy. Here’s a clip from Premium Blend along with his first and second appearances on Letterman. His half hour on Comedy Central is priceless; watch some clips from that here.  Dwayne, we need to hear more from you.

Life is short. Laugh every day.

 

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