Tag Archives: WTF

R.I.P. Mike DeStefano

God damn it, it never ends.

Mike DeStefano, a NYC area comic whose career had finally started to explode, passed away last night after suffering a heart attack. His history of substance abuse was a central part of his act, and it was no secret that he was diagnosed with AIDS years ago. Yet despite those health obstacles and the enormous crapshoot of forging a career, Mike finally put it all together last year.

Video: Mike DeStefano on his resume. “I am a stand up comic. Before that, I was a drug counselor. Before that, I was a drug addict. Before that, I was 12…”

In 2010, he lit up the stage at the auditions for Last Comic Standing and blazed his way through the competition, making the finals. Although he didn’t win (he placed fourth), the visibility expanded his following, and his take-no-prisoners style of cringe humor made him a clear audience favorite. He parlayed that into a Comedy Central special and a show called Drugs, Disease and Death: A Comedy in which he discussed his heroin addiction, being HIV positive and the death of his wife. A new version of that show titled A Cherry Tree In The Bronx was set to open this Wednesday night.

Mike released an album last year, OK Karma, which will now be a testament to his truly original comic voice. I listed it in my top ten in what was a very prolific year for comedy releases.

In recovery for eleven years and counting, Mike took the accomplishment seriously. Now using comedy as a tool, he made working with and helping other recovering addicts a priority with the same diligence that he had when he was a drug counselor (check out Recovery Comedy ).

Many friends and fans are leaving comments at his Facebook page, at Stand Up! Records, and Punchline Magazine  (who conducted this funny and telling interview with him last year); I’m sure someone will open up his website for that as well. Patrick Milligan of Cringe Humor posted an amazing testimonial to his friend.

Mike with Mark Maron from a December interview on Maron’s WTF podcast.

Wrong Side Of The Bed – Mike’s webfilm series on Atom.com.

My condolences to his family and friends, and like “hundreds of people who think (he) is great“, I will miss him terribly.

R.I.P., Mike. Say hello to Greg for us.

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T.G.I.F. – Maron and Mirman

Going to see two of the best comedians working today, Eugene Mirman and Marc Maron. Been a fan of both for a while; I respect Mirman’s absurdist take on the world and I think Maron has raised his game to a level even he probably didn’t anticipate.

And that’s not even counting the brilliance of his WTF podcasts.

So for those not familiar, here are Ten for the M&M Boys

(01) – Maron on Craig Ferguson

(02) – Mirman says Pot is Bad!

(03) – Maron being texted by a stalker

(04) – Mirman on Scientology

(05) – Maron on Chinese food

(06) – Mirman is The Secret Agent

(07) – Maron and his inner demons

(08) – Mirman is a Punk.

(09) – Maron and The Grateful Dead acid story

(10) – Mirman being Mirman

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WTF Turns 100

Congratulations to Marc Maron – tomorrow will mark the one hundredth episode of his brilliant WTF podcast. Since September 2009, like clockwork, these hours of self-analysis, penetrating interviews and social observation keep popping out twice a week like gold.

The WTF Podcast page

The very first episode featured the Roastmaster General himself, Jeff Ross, and the array of guests he’s welcomed is staggering. Patton Oswalt, David Feldman, Maria Bamford, Jim Norton, Robin Williams, Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Doug Stanhope, Andy Kindler…he’s quietly assembled a library of audio documents that any serious comedy lover should savor.

And Maron, beyond being incredibly funny in his own right, has proven to be an incisive interviewer who is unafraid to broach sensitive topics (and yes, sometimes with a personal edge). Some of my favorites included a frank discussion of race with Chicago comic Dwayne Kennedy and some gutsy exchanges with two popular but controversial comedians accused of joke thievery (Dane Cook and Carlos Mencia).

Although many are recorded in his garage studio, Maron has taken WTF on the road and has even filmed a pilot for that will hopefully be picked up as a series. Not only will it bring in some welcome funding, but the show and its brilliant guests will get much-needed exposure to the vast majority of people who don’t even know the show exists, let alone where to find it. Surely there has to be room in the vast cable landscape for intelligent discourse?

For now, I’m just thankful that Maron, Bill Burr, Kevin Pollack and so many others have adopted the format and put this out there for free. With literally hundreds of hours of these shows available, there will never be another boring car ride. Ever.

Congratulations, Mark! Please try to enjoy the moment.

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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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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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