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Archive for the ‘Comedians’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 28, 2022] “Weird Al” Yankovic

This was my ninth time seeing Weird Al.  I’m shooting for ten.  We’ll see if he can muster up one more tour (why did I skip the Strings Attached tour)?

I was pretty thrilled by the first Ill-Advised Vanity Tour.  It was great seeing so many songs that rarely got played (amusingly, I had seen some of those songs on their original tours back in the early 2000s, which is pretty crazy.

I was hoping that this tour would be a whole new set of obscure old songs.  I thought he might pull out “Buckingham Blues” for the Queen’s death or something really odd like “Slime Creatures from Outer Space” or holy cow, “Genius in France” would have blown my mind.

I see that he actually played a largely different set in NYC (which I considered going to, but decided against).   Including “I’ll Sue Ya” (not a favorite, but I haven’t heard it before) and “Velvet Elvis (talk about an obscurity!).  But he also did the two songs that I would LOVE to hear live….and it might have been worth the hassle of Carnegie Hall just to hear “Nature Trail to Hell” and “Albuquerque.”

Having laid out that complaint, we did get four songs I hadn’t heard live before including a wonderful “Don’t Download This Song” and the sheer surprise of “Buy Me a Condo.”  And this new, improved, extended version of “Craigslist” was outstanding.

I will never complain about hearing “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”–and the crowd was really into it.

Of course, any “Weird Al” show is a good time.  Al gave amusing introductions to all of the songs and even did an amusing “encore” bt where he stood at the side of the stage checking his phone and then arguing with the band about whether they were going to do an encore or not.

The encore was worth the price of admission.  He did a (straight and fantastic) cover of Elton John’s “Saturday’s Alright for Fighting.”  And the closing medley of songs in very different styles was outstanding.  I especially enjoyed that someone in the audience was able to do the Yoda chant dance. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 28, 2022] Emo Philips

I saw Emo Philips open for Al four years ago.  I rather enjoyed his set.  As I said:

Emo’s comedy is really dark but–delivered in his bizarre manner that goes somehow beyond deadpan–it makes his jokes really hilarious

I wasn’t sure if I needed to see his set again–I wasn’t sure how different it would be.  And so, coupled with a Phillies game, it being a Friday night and it taking place in the center of Philadelphia, I rather assumed I’d be late and miss some or all of his set.

I arrived at the show at a little after 8 and by the time I got to my seat I guess I missed about half of his set.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 1, 2022] Kurtis Conner

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

My daughter tells me that they Holy Trinity is Kurtis Conner. Danny Gonzalez and Drew Gooden (whom he has toured with in the past).  But without doubt, Conner (whose name is so simple and yet sound confoundedly hard to spell correctly with that K and the e) sits on top.

So what could Conner possibly do if he has made his career based on commenting on YouTube videos (or something).  And, I wondered aloud to both of my kids if I would enjoy this gig or not know what he was talking about.  I decided not to watch anything before hand s that I would have no expectations whatsoever.

So I glad I didn’t read this review beforehand

A big aspect of Conner’s set was integrating some of his classic jokes from his videos into his in-person stand-up punchlines. Of course he did it flawlessly, and I — along with everyone in the theater — loved it. Because prior knowledge of his jokes is needed, though, many of his references wouldn’t be understood by someone who didn’t watch Conner’s YouTube.

I have to say, aside from a few times when he said a line or catchphrase that people applauded (and I had no idea why), there was nothing about his show that I didn’t get.  And, best of all, I thought he was really funny. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 1, 2022] Dean Hebscher

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

When he announced a tour, my daughter begged to go.  But most of the venues were far away.  Then he announced Philly and how could I say no?

We had seats in the high balcony–it didn’t seem like the kind of show you’d need to be super close for.  A short time before the show, my daughter’s friend was able to get a seat in the same row.  So I drove them both and then they sat together and I sat next to a group of twenty-something girls–not awkward at all.

After the Jacob Sharpe set, we didn’t have to wait long for Dean Hebscher to come out.  That’s one thing that comedians have over bands–no need for set up time.

So it turns out that my daughter tells me that Jacob Sharpe is cool but Dean Hebscher is not.  She wished we had missed Hebscher’s set.  (According to Conner, Sharpe and Hebscher are his best friends).

Hebscher’s set was a little different.  He talked about growing up in rural Canada.  He talked about how his school had a “kick the ginger day” (there was one red-haired kid in school).  He pointed out that it wasn’t school sanctioned (that’s pretty funny) but everyone knew about it through facebook.  I did rather enjoy when the poor ginger kid got his revenge (also through facebook).

I think I enjoyed the set up of his jokes more than the actual jokes themselves.  I enjoyed when he talked about being a camp councellor when he was like 16–barely a few years older than the kids he was supposed to watch.  But he got bogged down with when the kids found the jets in the pool stimulating.  In act I felt lik e alot of his jokes got bogged down in a kind of sexual trajectory that he mined for too long.

I did rather enjoy an absurd story about when he was young and waiting to get into a club.  He was on a long line and farted essentially on the girl behind him.  The line was really close and she was knocked back by the horrible smell.  She spent the whole time that they were waiting to get into the club announcing that this guy in front of her had farted on her.  There was a nice payoff later too.

These jokes were clearly polished but they felt very anecdotal, like he was thinking of details as he went along.  For better or worse.

I liked his set but not nearly as much as the other two.

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[ATTENDED: November 19, 2022] Jacob Sharpe

My daughter (and apparently my son, too) loves Kurtis Conner.  They kept saying his name as if I had heard of him.  I had no idea who he was at all.  Turns out he is a YouTuber with a billion fans.

When he announced a tour, my daughter begged to go.  But most of the venues were far away.  Then he announced Philly and how could I say no?

We had seats in the high balcony–it didn’t seem like the kind of show you’d need to be super close for.  A short time before the show, my daughter’s friend was able to get a seat in the same row.  So I drove them both and then they sat together and I sat next to a group of twenty-something girls–not awkward at all.

We wound up leaving later than I wanted to, and as we got to the exit, it turned out that President Biden had been in Philly and the exit was blocked off!  Traffic was terrible and I wasn’t sure how we were going to go around to a new exit when the police just pulled away and let us use the exit.  So our timing was actually perfect–any earlier and I’d be driving around who knows where.

But we stilled missed much of Jacob Sharpe’s set. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 11, 2021] Ali Macofsky [Cassandra Jenkins]

I hadn’t heard that there was going to be an opening act for the St. Vincent tour.  In fact it wasn’t until the night of the show that I found out there would be one at all (although I see that the information was publicly available, I must have been searching the wrong way).

We were supposed to have Cassandra Jenkins as an opening act, but the St. Vincent team, decided to limit the number of people on the tour to prevent COVID infections, so Cassandra was removed.  I don’t know if Ali Macofsky did the entire tour but she was clearly slated to open the first few shows and she did our shows, so I’ll assume she was on board the whole time.

Ali Macofsky is a comedian whom I had never heard of.

She is young and, shall we say a kind of shock comic (she has a history of working with Joe Rogan I have just found out.  In 2021 that would have instantly made me hate her.  I don’t know if he was as much of a douchebag in 2019 when she worked with him (and maybe she still does, I’m not willing to find out). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2021] John Mulaney

We don’t see comedians very often.  We do like to go to some of our favorites, but we’re unlikely to go to an unknown at a club or anything.

John Mulaney, on the other hand, is hilarious and has made S. and I laugh and quote and requote some of our favorites lines of his.  Recently our son made some kind of reference to one of Mulaney’s jokes and so I thought maybe we should go see him.  After all, he was doing an outrageously long run of shows at the Academy of Music in Philly–14 shows in 12 days!

Recently, Mulaney had made headlines for doing all kinds of questionable things.  He and his wife got divorced, he wound up going to rehab and then started dating someone else with whom he is now expecting a child.  Normally that kind of stuff doesn’t really interest me, but it proved to be a huge part of this routine (especially the rehab, which he entered in December 2020 and exited I guess in February).

We entered the venue which was a “no phones” place.  This was fine, except that our tickets were on the phone.  So I had to lock my phone in a bag.  I was worried that this would be a huge time suck on the way out, but I carried the bag with me and then on the way out they  demagnetized the bag and off I went. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2021] Seaton Smith

I don’t go to see comedians that often.  I knew in the back of my mind that there would be a warm up act, but it didn’t actually occur to me that there would be one.

The line was INSANE when we arrived.  We were fifteen minute early and didn’t get in until just about 8 o’clock, but they delayed the start, thankfully.

This show gave you a secure bag to put your phone in so that you couldn’t use it during the show (that process was quite seamless, I have to say).  But I hadn’t turned my phone off and was concerned that it might ring during the show.  But while I fretted about that, the lights dimmed and they introduced the comedian whose name I didn’t hear.

This is the second comedian I’ve seen whose opening act was introduced quickly and unclearly who then never repeated his or her name during the set.  It took more than a little work to discover he was Seaton Smith.

Smith started his set with jokes about growing up poor and black.  They were quite funny, but it seems like Mulaney’s audience is pretty white so it seemed kind of unrelatable.  And yet the jokes were really funny and the crowd was very responsive.

After a little while he started talking about politics.

He said he was all about bringing people together–so who did you vote for in the last election? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-3rd Annual Green Sprouts Music Week Show 7 (Ultrasound Showbar, Toronto Ontario September 23 1995).

It has been a while since I’ve listened to a live Rheostatics show.  Darrin at Rheostatics Live has added a number of new shows in the last eight months.  On the last night of Green Sprouts Music Week, the band played two shows in one day. This first one is all ages, which I kind of think of as a children’s show, but really it means that people under 21 (or whatever the drinking age is) can get in too.

Seventh and final show of the annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar September 18-23 1995. Excellent finale to the week with some peak performances of the material being worked on for The Blue Hysteria album – most of which debuted live during the week long run. There are some great references in this show as well – to Martin’s new double neck guitar used for the first time and which they were debating how ugly it was (it had yet to be painted), the Whale Music Movie premier which was to take place in Los Angeles the following week, as well as Dave talking about the actual Joe Jackson at Massey Hall event noted in My First Rock Concert which is the sample noted below. Farm Fresh and Tamara Williamson guest, a great Spirit Of The West segue into Claire via Scaffolding and the traditional gift exchange at the end. Less than a month after this show they would perform Music Inspired By The Group Of 7 at the National Gallery in Ottawa…which at this point not a single note had been written.

Tyler from Farm Fresh will sit in with them tonight.  Sgt. Tielli will start the show (he’s wearing some kind of fancy suit–Martin: we used to tour with these outfits all of us.  Tim: I bet you never washed yours.) He begins with a lovely “Song of Flight” that segues into “California Dreamline.”

During “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” the chant is Farm Fresh and They Suck. Tyler does a turntable solo.

Tamara Williamson comes up for “Sweet Rich Beautiful Mine.”  She’s with Mrs. Torrance and they’ll play her next Tuesday.

Martin debuted his double neck guitar this week. Martin: It’s a trial basis–I’m borrowing it to see if I like it.  Dave: It’s ugly but in a nice way.  It goes with the jacket.  It needs stickers (!).

After a lovely “All the Same Eyes,” Dave says “you just gotta spina around when you hear that song.”

Some Green Sprouts start whistling “You Are Very Star.”  Dave: You could start your own religion with a tune like that.

Don talks about a concert event this Sunday.  He’ll be playing with Cake (I don’t know if it’s that Cake), and on the bill is “Don’t Talk, Dance” and Bob Wiseman.  It’s a benefit for The Campus Coop Day Care which burnt down.  Tim: so when it says “members of the Rheostatics, they mean you.”  Tim says Bobby Wiseman’s new album is awesome.

The do alright with the counting on “Four Little Songs” and Dave says Neil Peart’s kitchen.  When Dave tells them to count off on the final 4321 some says “that’s your job Dave” and Dave retorts: “You guys are getting lippy.  On Monday the audience was quiet.”  Don: They’re tired of your jokes–same jokes 6 nights in a row.

Tim says that he taught the fellows the next song (“An Offer”) during rehearsal this week.  He kept writing out the charts but someone kept stealing them.  He got tired of writing them.  Someone shouts: I heard some other band play the song on the radio today!

After the song, someone shouts “encore!”  Dave: Encore already? The longest encore in rock.

“Desert Island Poem” features some scratching from Tyler and a solo from Martin.

Don sings “Never Forget” (I feel like he never quite gets the vocal right).

Dave says he was interviewed by CBC.  Originally he said no, but they paid him fifty bucks.  They interviewed him for like an hour and he was on TV for all of two and a half seconds saying “Italo-Canadian.”

Next song is in French.  “Chansons Les Reulles.”  Tim says, “Play it in French, Don.”

Martin: Someone asked me if the Joe Jackson song is really true.  Dave tells the story then sings the son.  He adds an extra first verse about Aerosmith and the Carpenters.  Never heard it since.

A footnote to ELO.  They were going to come out of a big spaceship–like a Big Mac box.  As it turns out they were sued for playing backing tapes.  My first real rock concert wasn’t even live.

“A Midwinter Night’s Dream” sounds good even though Martin doesn’t even try for the high note.  But he plays a wild solo.

Dave says that Whale Music is opening in Santa Monica.  Are we going down there?  No Hollywood party for them.   But then we thought–Hollywood party–free coke.  Don tells a story about cocaine when opening for a big big Toronto band.  He found a rolled up $20 sitting on a mirror.  He made $20 that night because you never get paid for those big gigs.

They play “Claire” (hard to believe how rare this song is. Tim opens with a verse of Spirit of the West’s “Scaffolding” before starting the song properly.  During the solo, Tim says, Martin, can you play the other neck?  Both at the same time?  he must do it because Tim sings “purify me / blow my fucking mind with that thing.”

They invite Farm Fresh to the stage for a gift exchange and Andrew Rourke’s vocal debut.

Farm Fresh brought 40 tapes and they sold out in the first night, so they’ve been dubbing them in the back.  Then Farm Fresh plays “Space.”

Their gifts include a music trivia book (he asks some of the questions).  Apparently a Red Sonya #1 (it’s worth $700 at least) and a Fantastic Four #358.  And also The History of the Bonzos by Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Then Dave thanks a bunch of people.  The T-shirts sold out!  Or we lost them.
Dave thanks everyone.  Being a rock guy and playing big stadiums is good, but playing a club for a week and having people come all week long is the dream.

Farm Fresh present the Rheos with an album: Truck Stop Comedy by Gene Tracey: Double Clutchin “for tough adults only.”  Tim reads the back of the record (it’s hilariously bad) and they all fight for who will play it first.  You can actually find comedy by this guy online.

What a great week of music.  I wish I’d been able to go to alo of the shows, although I didn’t actually know them yet.

[READ: February 20, 2021] “Visiting George”

This is listed as a “Memory” in this issue.  I thought I was familiar with Nadine Gortimer’s work, but I don’t know if this is anything like what she normally writes.

It was really hard to follow as I don’t know who she’s talking about or even what exactly happened.

She says they were in London for a conference and wound up near a house where old friends lived.  She was about to say they should pop in–it had been so long. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKDakhaBrakha-GlobalFEST Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #133/141 (January 11, 2021).

DakhaBrakhaGlobalFEST is an annual event, held in New York City, in which bands from all over the world have an opportunity to showcase their music to an American audience.  I’ve never been, and it sounds a little exhausting, but it also sounds really fun.

The Tiny Desk is teaming up with globalFEST this year for a thrilling virtual music festival: Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. The online fest includes four nights of concerts featuring 16 bands from all over the world. 

Given the pandemic’s challenges and the hardening of international borders, NPR Music and globalFEST is moving from the nightclub to your screen of choice and sharing this festival with the world. Each night, we’ll present four artists in intimate settings (often behind desks donning globes), and it’s all hosted by African superstar Angélique Kidjo, who performed at the inaugural edition of globalFEST in 2004.

The final band on the first night is DakhaBrakha.  I have wanted to see DakhaBrakha live for years–ever since I saw them ona Tiny Desk Concert.  It’s wonderful to see them again, this time with new songs.

Tonight marks DakhaBrakha’s return to globalFEST and Tiny Desk. The Ukranian band’s first globalFEST performance was in 2014, and their 2015 Tiny Desk concert remains a favorite. We’ve had them in our spaces, so it’s a real treat to see them in theirs, the Dakh Theater in Kiev. Coming together, their performance maintains the energy and joy that define their music, bouncing off each other musically and emotionally. DakhaBrakha aims to keep Ukraine’s musical and storytelling tradition alive by making it more accessible to a younger, international audience, a kind of self-proclaimed “ethno-chaos.” They craft stunning sonic worlds for traditional songs, reinventing their heritage with a keen ear for contemporary resonances.

I was initially disappointed that they only played two songs, but these are long complex and varied song.  And they are both great.

“Komora” is a new song.  It opens with Nina Garenetska singing while slowly bowing the cello. Keyboardist Iryna Kovalenko and drummer Olena Tsybulskajoin join in on backing vocals with great harmony and sweeping high notes.  Then Nina starts playing a bass line on the cello and accordion player Marko Halanevych and the other ladies seem to be having a conversation of sounds.  Iryna takes over on lead vocals.  Marko adds some accordion while Olena plays soft drums.  Nina is back to bowing then it returns to cello/bass line and lots of oohing from all the singers.

Then Marko sings a lead line and the women seem to be answering him.  The song starts getting faster and faster as they call to each other leading to a spectacular ending.

“Vynnaya ya” is from their latest album.  It opens with Iryna and Olena clappin a rhythm and Nina plucking the cello.  Marko sings lead and they sing back in a call and response.  Nina takes over on vocals to mostly drum and cello accompaniment.  Then Marko plays a “horn” solo using just his hands.  It sounds like a duck call or muted trumpet and is weird and wonderful.

Olena sings the next verse and then Iryna sings the final verse.  When her verse is done, Marko puts down the accordion, stands up and plays another “trumpet” solo with his hands.  Then the whole band kicks up the tempo to nearly double speed as they race to a wild conclusion.

I can’t wait to see them in person!

[READ: November 15, 2020] Starlite Memories

I had never heard of Dov Fedler.  The title of this book made me look at it twice and then I skimmed the back cover blurb.

Beloved political cartoonist Dov Fedler had the opportunity in the 1990s to make a lifelong dream come true: Directing a movie. …  A laugh-out loud story of pitfalls follows.

Turns out he was a political cartoonist for The Star for over 50 years.

Then I saw that Fedler is from South Africa.  I’d never read anything by anyone from South Africa before this, I don’t think.  So I was curious to see what a comedy from South Africa was like.

Somewhere along the line I completely missed that this was a memoir.

So I spent the first 2/3 of the book believing that this was based on something that really happened but that he was making up names and other details to protect the innocent.  Especially since in the beginning the note to the reader says writing is always about the story.

There are times when a writer may have to embellish, obfuscate, conflate and conjure to keep the thing alive.

Again, somehow I glossed right over that word memoir (actually I thought it was a the main character talking about writing a memoir or something).

None of that really changed the way I would have read this.  I had no idea who he was or any of thing the things he did, so it might as well have been fictional.  But I think it’s funnier that it really happened.

This memoir proved to be mostly funny with a lot of thoughtfulness thrown in for good measure.  It is written by a political cartoonist who has always loved movies.  He is a Jewish man in South Africa.  There are not very many Jewish families in South Africa, but there are enough to have a small cultural center there.

Each chapter of the memoir is titled after a film.  He then summarizes the film in a few words.  The chapter is tangentially tied to either what happens in that film or to the title of the film.

Dov explains that he was hired to directed the film Timer Joe Part 3.  This crazy film title is a real film–the third after two popular movies.  But this one is clearly made simply to ash in on the popularity of the other two.  The film is basically the brainchild of his producer Moe Mankowitz.  Moe says, “I make films for black audiences.  Black people like the same moveis we do, but they like them with black people.”  Timer Joe 1 and 2 were a success, so he wants Dov to write the script for 3.  What’s it about?  All he knows is that it’s a comedy. (more…)

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