Tag Archives: Drew Carey

Happy Birthday Drew Carey!

From the first sighting on old cable comedy shows through Human Cartoon, The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway, Drew Carey has consistently been among my favorite people. Self-deprecating, lightning quick and a bit on the raunchy side, he’s proven that he can make anything funny, even a game show. (Not that I’m watching The Price Is Right, even at gunpoint…)

The Drew Carey Show (and where is the complete series on DVD, people?) featured a first-rate cast and was cool enough to have Joe Walsh as a stoner guitarist (not much of a stretch); thanks to Ian Hunter and Drew Carey, Cleveland regained its coolness. We learned to appreciate Diedrich Bader and Ryan Stiles as comedic actors,  and were introduced to Mr. Wick, who we have come to love even more as Craig Ferguson, subversive late night host.

Adapting the British improv show, Whose Line introduced many of us to Greg Proops and Wayne Brady and especially Colin Mochrie, a first-class nutjob whose hundreds of interactions with Stiles are comedy classics at the level of Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.

It’s Drew in a nutshell – secure and unselfish enough to surround himself with brilliant people and let them shine, because the show comes first. If only more stars would be so egoless.

Happy Birthday, Drew!

Drew Carey - a true star.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Tweety Birds

Six months have passed since my last Tweet, so I am wondering if I should blast out another message. Since I post every day, I guess I don’t see the need to tell people that they should stop by, since twenty-six months of daily posts should be enough to subtly infer that you might want to stop by regularly. I mean, after all, I’m trying to attract readers and thinkers, not someone with the attention span of a gnat on fire.

I really don’t want to waste anyone’s time telling them daily what the daily post is about – you can sign up for email or use an RSS feed for that. and frankly, I don’t think you’d really care that I ate a really great cheeseburger or that I went to a movie in a theatre for the first time in four months or that Mountain Dew still tastes like dog piss, or at least how I imagine dog piss would taste, not having actually sampled the nectar first hand.

But I do occasionally check in on some comedians who Tweet, and for them, the recent Oscar broadcast was like shooting fish in a barrell. I’ve had a long week, so let’s keep it light with Ten Tweeters you should check out – at least for their Oscar wit! Have a great weekend!

(01) – Norm MacDonaldBy the time the dead guy montage starts, Kirk Douglas will be in it

(02) – Nick KrollStutter is the new retard

(03) – Bill MaherIf you’re black and want to make it in Hollywood you better be a swan

(04) – Joan Rivers The smart nominees get Botox injections before the Academy Awards so if they lose, we won’t see the rage lurking behind their frozen faces.”

(05) – Chelsea Peretti I know nothing about fashion but I wanna say shoulder cut-outs were a miscalc

(06) – Drew Carey To everyone disappointed in last nights Oscars: Serves you right for watching in the first place.”

(07) – Moshe Kasher Wow Franco is ruining lines that were pre ruined by the writers.”

(08) – Natasha Leggero Anyone know what corporation is shoving Anne Hathaway down our throats?”

(09) – Patton Oswalt  Whoever hugs Reese is gonna slit their jugular on her jawbone…”

(10) – Whitney Cummings When did Gwyneth Paltrow become the Sarah Palin of country music?

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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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Stand Up Wit…Jeffrey Ross

Although I love Jeffrey Ross’s stinging barbs on the Comedy Central Roasts, I was not a fan of his first CD/DVD release, No Offense. Matter of fact, I gave it a kick in the nuts at the time, and I stand by that review; he’s capable of much, much better.

But I need to give credit where credit is due, and over the past few weeks I wound up viewing his film Patriot Act and finally reading his book I Only Roast The Ones I Love. Big thumbs up to both.

The book is a combination of three things – light biography, showbiz back room stories and a how-to-be-a-Roastmaster primer. Credit the author or credit the editors, but it juggled the three topics adeptly and for the most part is a breezy and enjoyable read. The how-to part is obviously written tongue-in-cheek, since being funny is a gift, not a trade. But he offers some valuable tips for the weekend/wedding roaster which should elevate a clumsy act with potential into at least a clumsy act that’s organized.

The bio and backstage bits are well-balanced; lots of caustic one-liners from the roasts, some inside and backstage bits about famous comics and several heartfelt exchanges with or about legends (i.e. Milton Berle) who Ross obviously reveres. While obviously charting his own success he deftly describes this rise with a minimal amount of ego-stroking.

Fans of his generation will no doubt appreciate the anecdotes involving contemporaries like Jimmy Kimmel, but anyone who appreciates the art of comedy will see the respect that he has for the history of the art form. By extension, they’ll learn to respect Ross a little more in the process. I know I do.

But that Bea Arthur story is going to give me nightmares.

I’m as much an avid fan for films about stand-up comedy as I am films of stand-up comedy. Ross promotes this as little more than a “home movie”, but it’s simultaneously as strong a documentary about comedy as it is an endorsement of our brave troops stationed around the world. I don’t mind when those of us with different political agendas get caught up in deep discussions about our political beliefs, but it’s a weak mind that thinks a person opposed to a war is “against the troops”.

Maybe it’s the word troops; these are people like you and me, or our sons, daughters, siblings and parents, who have volunteered to serve our country and by that definition, serve the rest of us. When I hear some politico accusing another of being “against the troops” I know they’re out of mental ammo and gasping. It’s bullshit cheap shot rhetoric that only idiots and talk radio sheep buy into.

I wish all those poison hearted people who toss words around with such callous disregard could watch how a group of comics interact with our military personnel and juggle full frontal comedy with complete deference and respect. But even if you miss the more important point, you’ll come away having enjoyed some great jokes courtesy of Ross, Blake Clark, Drew Carey, Rocky LaPorte and Kathy Kinney. (And as a longtime fan of Drew Carey, I was glad to see his tireless efforts for the troops get some overdue recognition.)

Coincidentally I just re-read Jay Mohr’s book Gasping For Airtime this week. He and Ross both revered Buddy Hackett, and while I grew up watching Hackett on television and in the movies (It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World is a stone cold classic), I came away with a new respect for him as a both a comic and a mentor. And seeing a new generation of comics paying genuine respect to those who laid the foundation is heartwarming; both Mohr and Ross knew Hackett well (and Mohr does a killer impression of the man). Maybe someday the DVD wizards will finally release this gem.

Jeffrey Ross on Wikipedia.

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American on Purpose

He's had enough accidents already

It’s hard to dislike Craig Ferguson. 

Unless you’re a close personal friend of a famous person, who really knows what they’re really like?. Fame is a sales game, and there are divisions of major agencies that spend countless hours teaching their clients what to say and more importantly what not to say. The really good ones can do this while seeming to be glib. The bad ones sound like they have no mental acuity unless it’s neatly printed on a cue card (or, if you’re a politician, maybe on your hand). That scene in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner teaches Tim Robbins how to cliché his way through an interview might be an inside joke to baseball fans, but in Hollywood it’s reality incarnate

That’s why guys who can succeed on late night television are so rare, and why it takes even the great ones a bit of time to find their footing. Ultimately, you have to be yourself or it doesn’t work. When the audition process to replace Craig Kilbourn on The Late Late Show was in full swing I assumed (as did many) that D.L. Hughley would walk away with the job without breaking a sweat. He is an established comic, very smart, fast on his feet and a likeable guy. Famous guests come on the show to plug a movie, a television show, a new album or tour. Softball questions are proposed, topics slated as in or out of scope, straight lines prepared. So simple, a caveman could so it

But after the auditions, the producer of the show approached Craig and noted that he was really listening to his guests and engaging them in conversation. “That’s what I thought the job was about”, Ferguson replied. And that’s how and why he landed the gig. He was interested enough to invoke talk on a talk show

Craig Ferguson has had a pretty incredible life, and despite bouts with addiction demons and a couple of marriages gone awry, he seems to continue to fall into opportunity and make good when it happens. American on Purpose is an unusual bio in that it avoids the formula timeline walk from childhood to present for a more anecdotal, lessons learned approach. Writing almost conversationally, Ferguson is no apologist; he freely placing the blame for most of the bad decisions in his life squarely where they belong. And while proud to be a driven man chasing a dream, he’s also honest enough to admit when his fortunes relied on someone to give a needed push

Adolf Crosby didn't have a ring to it, apparently

If there is a personal disappointment, is not only that he skirts quickly past his stand-up career (Bing Hitler aside) but also the show that gave him his big break. Ferguson clearly acknowledges The Drew Carey Show as a major turning point in his life and career but moves on with nary an anecdote; admitting the work became like punching the clock. He does point out that Mr. Wick would simply pop out of his office like a groundhog from its hole, spout his one or two witty lines and return to the office, but I couldn’t imagine being on set with Carey, Ryan Stiles, Diedrich Bader and Kathy Kinney (among others) being anything less than gut-bustingly fun. 

But that small nit aside, Ferguson’s heartfelt and witty tale is very entertaining and endearing. It’s an easy read, and while I could recap many the particular stories, I suggest you read it yourself; Ferguson’s words are far funnier than mine.  He’s candid, unfiltered, brave and honest, and one gets the feeling that he’d rather have you not like him for what he is than fawn over him for something he is not. (That’s an uncommon trait for normal people; for Hollywood it’s off the charts.) 

Clearly, beneath the libido and appetite of a mad Scotsman beats the heart of a man who appreciates the opportunities he has been given. “Between safety and adventure“, he says, “I choose adventure.”I don’t know if Craig the person would be as much fun to hang and talk with as Craig the author or Craig the talk-show host, but I’d make that leap of faith to find out. Sometimes the good guys win. Maybe this is one of those times

Another round of Buzz Beer, please.

Craig’s site for The Late Late Show

Also check out A Wee Bit of Revolution

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Last Comic (Still) Standing – Part 1

So it looks like Last Comic Standing (LCS to you acronitwits) is coming back after all. Perhaps this will be Jay Leno‘s new job since his 10pm show is tanking bigtime. Perhaps enough reality television has succeeded (read: cheap cost, big enough ratings) for NBC to revive the corpse. (I have mixed feelings about it, but anything that gets comics more air time is worth trying. As promising as John Oliver‘s new show on Comedy Central looks, it’s still basic cable. Major networks are not what they once where, but for now they still carry a bigger stick.)

If you know one thing about me, you know I despise reality television. Abhor it. Beyond the obvious knock that it takes time away from scripted television programming, it’s often embarrassingly puerile and stupid. Basically the networks theorized that people will do anything to get famous, and they cashed in big. Now we have people wandering the planet who are famous for nothing else than being famous. No accomplishments, no skills, just a willingness to allow their train wreck of a life to be broadcast for money. And to add insult to injury, these delusional mouth-breathers believe that this somehow translates into artistic merit worthy of our adulation and respect.

Wrong. It just makes you a celebretard.

But it’s our own fault. Culture will always pander to the lowest common denominator, and boy, did we drop the limbo bar low over the past couple of decades. There’s nothing real about the Real World or the Real Housewives; prostitution is illegal but we pimp girls out to Bret Michaels and Flavor Flav on broadcast cable, and don’t even get me started on celebrity interventions or the vapid bimbos and L.A. party whores who somehow have multiple shows dedicated to following their every waking moment. Even when a show does try to involve some real people who want to follow a dream – American Idol – they blow it by getting celebretard judges.

So when Last Comic Standing first hit the airwaves, I was nauseated. Not only did some of the selections seem odd (anyone smell ringers?), but some of the weeding-out activities were a bit absurd. Trying to be funny in a laundromat or at a day care center is an interesting test of whether you can appeal to a specific audience, but it’s not anything close to the type of audiences a comedian will be working with professionally. Somehow I can’t see Bill Hicks making children laugh. Weep or burst into tears, perhaps, but not laugh. Does that diminish him as a comic? So I dialed in occasionally to see actual stand-up performances on real stages, but otherwise avoided it like the plague.

So what prompted this little diatribe today? The Fox Reality Channel ran a marathon of Season Two episodes this afternoon, and when I came home my daughter was engrossed in the second hour. She had not ever seen the program, and was only familiar with a couple of the comedians. When I sat down to share some time with her, they were at the stage of moving from the auditions to the group of forty, and I realized that I was familiar with the majority of them – hell, I probably owned albums from at least half. It dawned on me that at the time of the show (2004)  I probably only knew a couple of them, but over the next five years many of them had reached a larger level of success – despite the fact that only one walked away with the title.

I was also pleased to see that although there was a certain level of the bullshit that I hate – preening for the camera, overly dramatic behavior to “stand out” from the rest of the crew – for the most part there was stage time of some sort. Sure, they made some people out to be pains in the ass, and others behaved like they were on an episode of Survivor, but it was light years beyond sticking eight people in a million dollar loft in New York and getting them all cushy jobs and then calling it The Real World. When the ten comics hit the house they laughed at the absurdity of their surroundings and tried to focus on making the next cut so they would be able to have their fate determined by their performance on stage.

Of course, in this season, the credibility of the show took a kick in the nuts when the final ten were announced. Judges Drew Carey and Brett Butler went from slack-jawed to irate when they realized that three of the four judges hadn’t cast votes for some of the finalists, while others they had at the top of their list didn’t make the cut. Turns out that producers and executives behind the scenes were also casting votes, so despite what the four judges onscreen did, it was the unseen movers and shakers behind the scenes who determined the final selections – the ten who would get weekly television exposure as the show went forward. And some of the finalists were clients of these executives and producers.

Hard to believe that controversy didn’t sink the show immediately. But it didn’t.

The marathon continues tomorrow, and so will my story.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten More Laughs

 This week a little cheating – a couple of the clips feature multiple performers and as usual I can’t count to ten. Sad to think that Sather, Hedberg and Jeni are no longer with us; sadder to realize that two were suicides and the third might have been. Every one of these guys has made me laugh so hard that fluids tried to escape my body against my will. Enjoy!

comedy mask

Dave Chappelle doesn’t like Sesame Street very much.

The late Drake Sather was a great stand-up and comedy writer.

Norm MacDonald is effin brilliant.

So was the late Mitch Hedberg; this from the Just For Laughs Festival.

Another guy I miss, Richard Jeni, riffing on Michael Jackson.

Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops on Who’s Line is it Anyway?

Banter between Colin Mochrie and Ryan doing the classic “Greatest Hits” ads.

Nick DiPaolo on drinking, driving and smoking.

Gilbert Gottfried can squeeze every last drop out of a funny line.

Craig Ferguson is funny on his show but his stand-up shows are killer.

Bonus tracks:

Eddie Izzard and the Evil Giraffe.

Jim Carrey channels David Caruso.

Life is short. Laugh every day!

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