Category Archives: Comedy

How Church Night Is Bringing Their Wacky, Hilarious Gospel to the Masses

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“A pastor in cargo shorts. A youth minister wearing a rictus grin and a fanny pack. An adult altar boy in bike shorts with the mark of the beast on his forehead. They are Reverend Dr. Stevedore Maybelline Bidet Esq., Kathy Piechota, and Randy St. Oates Jr. And this is their Church Night.”

Read more at the Washington City Paper.

Comic Release: D.C. Comedy Scene is Gaining Steam, But Can it Rival NYC And L.A.?

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“The basement of the Big Hunt is nicknamed Hell’s Kitchen, thanks to its devilish decor, claustrophobic ambience, and red-light glow. The name was especially fitting on a recent Friday night.

A capacity crowd was there for an alt-comedy show, but the mood was tense, as if the people assembled didn’t sign up for an evening of absurd, surreal, and awkward bits about parental sex and nuclear winter. For some, it was comedy nirvana; for others, comedy hell.”

Read more in the Washington City Paper.

Sort-of celebrate the holidays with You, Me, Them, Everybody

You, Me, Them, Everybody is the combination talk show / podcast hosted by DC resident and Chicago native Brandon Wetherbee. Since posting about YMTE in April, Wetherbee has upgraded his DC gig from a Monday night spot at Petworth’s Looking Glass to sister bar Wonderland Ballroom, in the prime, Friday night pre-gaming slot. He’s also continued to take the show on the road, taking the mic to Chicago, New York, and Baltimore.

In time for the holiday season, You, Me, Them, Everybody presents Holiday-ish, a show recorded live at Chicago’s Hungry Brain. Like YMTE, the 20-tracks find indie comedy side-by-side with a variety of musical styles.

Twee indie pop duo Kitchen Table, Illinois bookend the album with a pair of cute holiday tunes. Musical highlights include the Nicole Atkins-ish Angela James (“Misguided Angel”) and the soulful duet “Merry Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Tiger Cry. The comedy is a mixed bag of twisted holiday memories and off-kilter family traditions. Ever Mainard reminds me of Maria Bamford, and her “Christmas is here at Starbucks!” bit will ring true with anyone who’s worked retail during December. However, note to all comedians and musicians: comedy rap (“Christmas in Dem Jeans”) and Def Comedy Jam parodies (“Alonzo Washington ain’t Scared”) have been done better and with more finesse.

For fans of YMTE, what’s missing is the host. I could’ve gone for a holiday-themed monologue – one of Wetherbee’s trademark acerbic rants. Still, like every YMTE, it’s a chance to discover something new, whether it’s a fresh voice in underground comedy or a promising band to follow.

Stream the album at Bandcamp or (as Marc Maron would say), toss YMTE a few shekels so Wetherbee can continue his late night adventures.

My latest obsession: WTF with Marc Maron

I will admit, I’m a bit late to the podcast game; it’s probably a by-product of my old anti-Mac attitude. For what it’s worth, I now work on an iMac, write on a MacBook Pro, and play with an iPod Nano and an iPad. With my new found fondness for the Jobs product line comes an appreciation of a medium made possible by it: the podcast, and chiefly WTF with Marc Maron.

Unless you’re a comedy devotee or Air America’s only fan, you probably don’t know who Marc Maron is. The 47-year old came up in the alternative comedy world, first as a doorman at the famed Comedy Store before a stint as a member of Sam Kinison’s cocaine-fueled crew. He later shared stages (and apartments) with comedians like David Cross, Dave Attell, Louis C.K., and Sarah Silverman (pictured below with the latter three in a 1995 New York Magazine feature about a comedy Renaissance). But while his contemporaries received TV shows, headlining tours and film specials, Maron got… angrier, battling drug and alcohol abuse until getting sober at the end of the 90s.

In 2004, Maron joined the progressive radio station Air America, the Little Station That Could. After two stints (and as many firings) as a political pundit, Maron started WTF, surreptitiously recording the first few in the Air America studios. Ditching his political diatribes, he focused inward, ranting about his disappointments, from his two failed marriages to his bitterness about the success of his friends (and ex-friends). The title, and theme of the show, attempts to answer that everlasting question: “What the fuck?” – in all forms – from “righteous indignation” to “why not live a little?”

Every Monday and Thursday, from the comfort of his home in Highland Park, CA (aka “the cat ranch”), Maron publishes WTF. The show mixes a monologue and interviews, all with Maron’s vitriolic, self-obsessed-yet-self-loathing style. His subjects are comedians, writers and like-minded performers. He usually has a checkered past with the ones he knows, mostly due to his aforementioned anger and bitterness, leading interviews to take the form of public group therapy; “Are we okay?” becomes a frequent rejoinder. But through it all comes honest portrayals of comedians as complex, often damaged people. For true fans of comedy, WTF has become required listening.

Maron has done 185 episodes of WTF, so where is a newcomer to begin? Here are a few of the better podcasts available for free, as well as notes on a couple that are behind a very affordable pay wall ($9 a year).

Free For All

Henry Rollins (143) – Rollins’ evolution from punk standard-bearer to spoken word artist is one of the most interesting journeys in pop culture. Rollins speaks with Marc about the murder of Joe Cole and working with Charles Manson.

Dave Foley (146) – From Kids in the Hall to Newsradio, Dave Foley was at the center of TV comedy in the 90s. Wonder how he ended up hosting poker games on basic cable? Foley delves deep into his divorce and its life-altering aftereffects.

Michael Showalter (162) – After two decades on TV, as a member of The State and Stella, Michael Showalter is taking a break from the LA game and teaching at NYU’s Graduate Film School. The Brown University grad and Maron have the funniest conversation about semiotics you will ever hear.

Garry Shandling (177) – Another recent obsession of mine is the ahead-of-its-time The Larry Sanders Show. Shandling is a charming subject, whose self-deprecation is only matched by Maron’s.

Gallagher (145) – Yes, that Gallagher. The watermelon smasher has recently revealed a homophobic, racist streak which Maron aims right at – causing the first walk-out on WTF. So fuck Gallagher.

Worth the Money

Louis C.K. (111, 112) – Former best friends, Maron and CK get to the bottom of their falling-out and find a way forward. It is a shockingly personal and honest interview, as funny (Maron wonders why Louis named his show “Fuck you, Marc Maron”) as it is heartbreaking (Louis chokes up describing the birth of his daughter). For fans of either it’s worth the cost of admission.

Robin Williams (67) – The legend sits down with Maron for a very un-Williams hour: Williams avoids the pre-written jokes and the frenetic need to please that he usually displays in interviews. His honesty about everything from life and death to accusations of plagiarism is a breath of fresh air.

Carlos Mencia, et al (75, 76) – After a favorable interview wherein Maron doesn’t challenge Mencia’s self-serving push back about joke thievery, he speaks with former friends and brings Mencia back to get the record straight. The pair of interviews paints a portrait of a deeply disturbed man.

Zach Galifianakis (20) – Fresh off The Hangover, Zach talks with Maron on the set of Due Date. Probably one of the last interviews where Galifiankis pulls back the curtain as he did in The Comedians of Comedy.

Judd Apatow (103, 104) – Maron does a two-parter with the architect of the last decade’s comedy landscape. Clips of a teenaged Apatow interviewing Jerry Seinfeld are a great find.