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:
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
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.