Tag Archives: Marc Maron

Doug Stanhope is My Hero

Doug Stanhope rules.

Prescriptioneers are well aware of the high regard in which I hold Doug Stanhope and his fearless comedic career; I believe that he, Louis C.K. and Marc Maron are the three best stand-ups on the planet at the moment. Doug takes no prisoners, and that doesn’t just extend to the hecklers in the crowd.

His latest newsletter tackles those who profiteer by “teaching comedy”.

I’ve previously been involved in some healthy discussion of the Comedy Boot Camp announcement at the AST website, where the initial comments turned into a roll-up-those-sleeves debate involving the relatively known proprietor of the camp, his not-famous brother and a plethora of comics and comedy fans. The general consensus was that it was a Ponzi scheme of psycho-babble about having self-esteem, but if you think you’re getting your money’s worth, well…it was your money.

But Stanhope just showed up at the knife fight with a bazooka.

It is very easy for a comic – or anyone I guess – to get bogged down in hate and cynicism. I am guilty of that most hours of the day. It has nothing to do with money or career or all the other trivia. While some of my bitterness could be attributed to excessive drink, it is mostly rooted in the idiocy that surrounds me and the shit people will accept as good or correct or real, etc, without any question whatsoever.”

It’s important – especially in my business – to have a very deep well of hatred. One thing though that I’ve hated since even my youngest,hope-filled days as a comic – worse than bad comedy, hack comedy or even joke thieves – are people who teach stand-up comedy classes. Keep in mind that before I started comedy, most of my young adult life was spent working in low-level fraud – from toner scams and ad-specs to inventor/patent hoaxes. But comedy classes fall into that gray area of deceit – like Jesus or psychics or chakra healing – where you can’t prove that it’s a con.”

“I’m grumpy and caustic and miserable all around and my advice isn’t worth a sack of rat-shit either. But I know a raging scam and dream-profiteering when I see it.”

So Doug has decided to fight fire with fire. Hello, Comedy Death Camp.

I won’t dignify the hucksters he’s talking about by mentioning their names. And I won’t spoil the lengthy, venemous, pit-bull attack that Stanhope lays down on them like Armageddon. Instead I suggest – nay, I implore you to read the whole thing verbatim at his website. He rips a few of the charlatans a new asshole, then lays out what he will do if you insist upon giving your money away by trying to pay for something you can only really learn from time and experience.

It’s caustic. It’s brilliant. It’s impeccably written and pitch-perfect. It’s hilariously funny. And it’s all based upon truth.

In other words, Doug Stanhope in a nutshell.

***
R.I.P. Harvey Pekar. I’m going to read one of your American Splendor comics tonight and watch that great movie about you starring Paul Giamatti. (Speaking of Giamatti, James Adomian absolutely crushed an impression of him last night on Last Comic Standing. More on that in this Friday’s TGIF…)

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Life Is Good

Went to see The Beehive Queen tonight, as part of the Rochester International Jazz Festival (yeah, I know…) and she was amazing. Had the crowd in the palm of her hand the whole time; got a standing ovation during the last song.

And that was just the early show. I’ll have a link to the live review later this week, but here’s a link to 83 song clips that will blow your mind.

Also on the horizon as part of the Jazz Fest – The Bottle Rockets on Thursday (yeah, I know – also not jazz!). Later this month, Zappa Plays Zappa; next month Crowded House, John Hiatt and maybe even a road trip to see a double bill of Squeeze with Cheap Trick. Already saw Marah once last week and might catch another show.

Todd Barry, Doug Stanhope and Marc Maron are all coming to the hinterlands – those three are very high on my list of the best comics around. There’s a Bill Hicks movie on the way, too.

And I’m looking at the Detroit calendar (thanks Suebedoo) to see how I can maximize another pilgrimage to see the hottest band on Earth, The Hell Drivers. Speaking of which, it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a summer.

Life is good.

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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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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…Dwayne Kennedy

Oh. My. God.

Prescriptioneers know I am a huge Marc Maron fan. Love the guy. Along with Doug Stanhope and Louis C.K., maybe the very best comedian on the planet at this moment. And his twice-a-week podcast, WTF, is a godsend.

Prescriptioneers also know that I have been touting Dwayne Kennedy for years. Well, today, the parallel universes crossed paths. Dwayne Kennedy joined Marc Maron on Episode 46 of WTF.

If you’re scratching your head trying to place the name Dwayne Kennedy, maybe Maron put it best in his introduction when he says “as soon as anything is about to happen for Dwayne – in a big way, in a show business way – Dwayne disappears!”

I first saw Dwayne do short sets on a couple of comedy shows and he absolutely killed, so I hit his pseudo-website which said that there was a CD that would be coming along soon. Of course, that was 2003…wherever that website was, it’s long gone. And sightings since then, sadly, have been few and far-between.

Dwayne Kennedy is absolutely funny as hell. His bits about the Bible and window shopping when poor, and young dumbasses and Jesus’ lesser known brother are flat-out brilliant. Somebody needs to go ring his doorbell, get him out to a taping and let him fly. It is criminal that there isn’t a CD or DVD out there to document what he does and widen his audience. And until he/they do that, savor these moments.

Dwayne’s first time on David Letterman and his second.

Dwayne on Jimmy Kimmel.

Dwayne’s new website – sadly, still no CD.

"No! I don't have a clue! But good luck in prison!"

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Mad(?) Prophets

My daughter picked up a copy of Network the other day; we had watched it together years ago. I’ve tried to resist imparting my list of music and film “classics” on my kids because people need to get their own socks knocked off and not have pre-conceived notions (at least any more than they will get from the media and/or their peers). But since she is pursuing a career in television production, I made an exception, and apparently an especially valid one since we now know just how prescient Paddy Chayefsky was.

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

I’m a big fan of curmudgeon comedy when it’s done well; few are better angst-ridden wailers than Marc Maron. His podcast series, WTF, is my favorite, and this recent bit with Eddie Pepitone just slayed me. Sure, it’s no Howard Beale going crazy, it’s just a hysterical rant from a comedian. But at the core it’s a rallying cry to see through the bullshit for what it is and realize that (in the words of Dean Vernon Wormer) “fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son“!

“Why do I have to be concious for the horror?”

Subtly – or perhaps not so muchMaron and Pepitone are challenging their fellow comedians to step up their game and honor their craft by holding a mirror up to society and telling the truth. Because no one else is.

Laugh til it hurts, folks.

Marc Maron WTF podcast

Eddie Pepitone website

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Premium Podcasts

iLaugh

iLaugh

Hard to believe that in my short lifetime I’ve experienced the glory of classic AM pop radio, the summit of FM rock radio, the death of terrestrial radio (thanks, right-wing nutjobs and lip-synching pop artists) and the launch of Satellite radio. Somehow, after all that, radio still sucks.

Thank goodness for podcasts.

Of course, the downside to radio at your own terms is that you are able to listen at your own terms. No longer are you tethered to a live broadcast or a physical medium, so you can stack these puppies up like 45s on a spindle and fire one off after another. Productivity? Kiss it goodbye. Family obligations? Whoops!

Hey, in modern society people don’t communicate directly, anyway. This is just another excuse to isolate your sorry ass. So as long as you are going to walk around like a zombie with earbuds, at least let me point you towards some great podcasts so you can laugh out loud while you do so and keep the curious people even further away from you so you can wallow in your self-centered haze…

crowded city street

Alone again, unnaturally

Bill Burr: Monday Morning Podcast. It’s one thing to think quick on your feet, but what do you call it when you’re sitting in a chair? Burr just gets better and better.

Will Durst: A Burst of Durst. Vastly underrated comedian with razor sharp political savvy, a less angry Lewis Black. Grab his CDs – they’re excellent.

Marc Maron: WTF. For my money, one of the three greatest standups working today, along with Doug Stanhope and Louis CK. Twice a week I get to eavesdrop on a conversation I’d kill to be part of.

Jimmy Pardo: Never Not Funny. Three way fun with co-host Matt Balknap and a comedian guest, seemingly plotless but that’s the fun.

Comedy Nerd: The Stand Up Chronicles. Comedians fascinate me, so if I like their routines, I like interviews and features about them as well. Adam has a great ecletic list of comics here.

Ricky Gervais: The Ricky Gervais Podcasts. Don’t let the bland name fool you – he’s never done anything unfunny in his life. Might be on hiatus for now but enough of a backlog to savor.

Doug Benson: I Love Movies. Filmed live in front of an audience at the UCB Theatre and featuring great guests, it’s movie chat and buzzed comedy.

Dylan Gadino: A Tight 5ive. Five minute conversations between the Editor of Punchline Magazine and comics playing at Comix in NYC.

Jon Fisch: In The Tank. A comic who should be better known and a host of visitors chew the fat. Informal and relaxed to the point that they might forget they’re taping.

John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman: The Bugle. I see your RomComs and raise you two BritTwits.

Not secret or hidden Bonus Track: Comedy Death Ray

IOTBS pod

theyPod

There are tons more, of course. Some of my favorite comedians do them very well. Some others who I think would absolutely kill at it (I’m talking to you, Norm MacDonald) just aren’t interested or don’t have the time (or they’re Luddites). Many routines and programs are available for audio and/or video download, of course, but that’s just a convenient way to access already established content. I’m more interested in ones like the above; original material created just for the podcast.

Not saying these are the best shows or even The Best Showyour mileage may vary. Hell, I hope it does!  Enjoy…

Did somebody say Firesign Theatre?

 

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