Tag Archives: Roast

Stand Up Wit…Pat Cooper

Pat Cooper is an angry guy.

Of course you know that; angry is Pat Cooper’s schtick. I’ve listened to him do variations on the angry Italian guy my whole life, and as an act, it’s pretty funny even if a one-note performance. But who knew he was this angry in real life…about everything?

Sure, Howard Stern listeners have heard him rant on about just about everything, including pot-shots at his own family. But damn, after reading  How Dare You Say How Dare Me, I’m starting to wonder who Pat does like. If there’s a theme to the book, it’s not letting anyone tell you what to do, even if that costs you your family, a shitload of money and some great career opportunities. But Cooper, approaching 82, is still working steadily and has done so for almost sixty years. He’s on to something.

Video: Friar’s Roast of Frank Pastore

I was hoping Cooper’s autobiography would be a treasure trove of anecdotes about show business and comedy; he’s only crossed paths with thousands of famous names over the years. But those which are more than passing references are few and far between – some with praise (Jerry Lewis, Sergio Franchi), and many who got on Pat’s bad side for one reason or another. Some borrowed money and didn’t return it. Some didn’t treat him with the respect he wanted. Some just landed opportunities he thought he deserved.

It’s a pretty bitter story, actually, with Pat constantly reminding people that he’s “a name act”. Usually when you have to do that, it’s not that true. It might have been more interesting to hear how other people felt about him and thought of him, but autobiographies are usually one-sided affairs.

Video: Drew Carey Roast

In fairness to Pat, he is and continues to be a huge draw in the showroom circuit, and he’s carved such a niche for himself that he’ll likely work until he keels over on the stage. Thousand of people will pay top dollar to see him and likely laugh their asses off, and when he gets invited to roast some celebrity I’m sure he’ll go off on them like clockwork. But those people would be advised to skip the book.

Biographies of comedians usually fall into two categories – informative and funny, and the best ones are both. This one, unfortunately, is neither. I didn’t really learn much about Cooper that I didn’t know already, and what I did learn wasn’t complimentary. Pat is a legendary comic; just ask him, he’ll tell you. Pat holds a grudge. Pat doesn’t suffer fools, whether waiters, actors, radio hosts or his own family. If there is an astounding fact in the book, it’s that he was married to one woman for so long.

Pat Cooper on Wikipedia

Pat Cooper website

Pat Cooper swag at Laugh.com

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Stand Up Wit…The Jim Florentine Roast

Earlier this month, a group of comedians assembled in NYC to roast comic Jim Florentine, an occasion that became a bittersweet experience. The event was originally supposed to feature Greg Giraldo, perhaps the most devastating roaster of our era, whose shocking death numbed the comedy community. The event was then changed to a benefit to raise money for a fund for his three children. When I saw Rich Vos in October he mentioned that he had been tapped to host and I’m sure the loss of his close friend resonated through his nervous preparation for the event.

But comedy is  a tool of release, and it became quickly apparent that nothing was sacred that night. And I’m sure Giraldo and the late Robert Schimmel wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

The array of comics delivered in spades, no balls were left unbroken and a large sum was raised to donate to the Giraldo Children’s Fund (readers who wish to make a donation can do so via Paypal). Comics included Vos, Jim Norton, Otto and George, Reverend Bob Levy, Bonnie McFarlane, Jesse Joyce, Joe Matarese and Don Jamieson, one of Jim’s co-hosts on vH-1’s The Metal Show.

Kudos to Patrick Milligan and Cringe Humor for hosting such a great event and then being generous enough to share the event with the rest of us. Although there are no plans to release the show on DVD at this point, you can still savor a lot of what went down that night. Needless to say, it’s NSFW – even the text could burn a hole in your corporate firewall.

Click here to read a detailed recap of the roast.

Click here to watch selected videos on YouTube.

 Cringe Humor website.



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Stand Up Wit… Greg Giraldo

giraldo-roast

I’m not a big fan of Larry the Cable Guy– I don’t dislike him, I just don’t find his shtick hilariously funny – but if Comedy Central is going to roast someone, I’m watching. The Comedy Central roasts are modeled after the classic Friar’s Club events as well as the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts – as ribald (or more) as the former and as accessible as the latter. And although the honorees are fairly easy targets (Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, Flavor Flav, etc.) there are always a decent array of comedians taking their shots and a few performances that have you falling out of your chair. The roaster’s basic job is to take the podium, insult everyone else on the dais and finish by skewering the honoree. Few are better at this than Greg Giraldo

Giraldo is a law school graduate, which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with his acerbic and cerebral wit. I never saw his short-lived television series Common Law, but I’ve seen enough projects centered around edgy comics  to know that network television in 1996 could never have handled what Giraldo was probably hoping to dish out. Outside of a couple of sound bytes (probably from his Howard Stern appearances) my first immersion into Giraldoworld was probably Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, the late, great comic round table that aired on Comedy Central for two seasons. Quinn’s format was loose, a hot topic free-for-all where the bad jokes aired right alongside the good ones. Giraldo was among the most frequent guest panelists along with Jim Norton, Nick DiPaolo and Patrice O’Neal.

Tough Crowd was crude, rude and loud, and the comics often talked over and ganged up on one another; definitely not a show for everyone. But it was clear that Giraldo was fearless and funny, and had the show not been abruptly cancelled, it might have become his springboard to fame. After initially promoting the program, Comedy Central turned its back on it; one wonders what would have happened had the network spent even a fraction of the dollars it threw at Dave Chappelle, and later, Carlos Mencia. Giraldo was eventually offered his own show which didn’t make it to air, and later hosted Friday Night Stand-Up (later Stand-Up Nation) which allowed him to get a few short bits in-between recorded broadcasts of comedy specials on Comedy Central. These days you’ll find him guesting on the aforementioned roasts, appearing as (irony alert) a lawyer on Root of All Evil, or a popular guest on the late night talk show circuit. His two half-hour comedy specials are must-sees and air frequently on cable.

Giraldo continues to be one of the most underrated comics in the business; despite his success on television and as a live performer, he doesn’t get the respect or the high profile he deserves. I don’t understand why – he’s hysterically funny, smart as a whip and lightning fast on his feet.  Late in 2006 he finally released his first comedy CD titled Good Day To Cross A River. The hilarious live show features many of his best classic bits along with a slew of (then) newer material. It’s a perfect testament to his performance style; sharp social observance (Bruce, Carlin) tempered more by incredulous exasperation than anger (Lewis Black without the foaming mouth). I highly recommend that you buy a copy of this…you’ll be quoting lines from this album for a long time.

And Greg, it’s time for a new one!

"You ain't from around here, are ya boy?"

"You ain't from around here, are ya boy?"

Giraldo roasting Cheech and Chong (along with TCM‘s Robert Osbourne and Tommy Chong’s wife). “Cheech met Chong in Canada where Cheech went to avoid the draft. Wow…you’re the first Mexican ever to leave the country illegally….”

Giraldo dissects Larry the Cable Guy. “You’ve been inside more farm animals than Purina!”

The classic LazyBoy collaboration, “Underwear Goes Inside The Pants“.

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