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Archive for the ‘John Mulaney’ Category

[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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SOUNDTRACK: J.S. ONDARA-Tiny Desk Concert #937 (January 24, 2020).

WXPN has been playing J.S. Ondara quite a lot since his album came out.  And while the DJs would often give some details about his life story, he gives a bit more here.

J.S. Ondara’s journey to the Tiny Desk is a fascinating one. From his home in Nairobi, he listened on his sister’s radio to American artists, including Nirvana, Jeff Buckley, Death Cab For Cutie and, most importantly, Bob Dylan. He wanted to be a folk singer, so he moved to Minnesota, Dylan’s home state.

In between songs he narrates his life in a wonderfully comically understated style.

Ondara told us his story. “I remember, at one point, someone told me about this contest that you guys do called ‘the Tiny Desk Contest.’ And I was, at the time, desperately trying to be a folk singer. And I’m not quite. I’m not a big fan of contests, but I like NPR. So I figured I’d give it a shot. And I’d just written that song, ‘Lebanon.’ So I made a video of me playing that song, and I submitted it. And I suppose that things didn’t go quite in my favor. So I figured I’d find a bit of a roundabout way to get here, which involved making a record and touring it relentlessly and stalking Bob [Boilen] all around South by Southwest. (I actually didn’t do that part.) I was thinking about it. And now I’m here. The journey would have been a lot shorter had I just won the bloody contest. It’s on me, not you, I suppose, I should have written a better song.  But in the very wise words of Miley Cyrus, ‘it’s not about how fast you get there, it’s about the climb.’  I can’t stop quoting that song, it’s one of those words even when I don’t want to.”

“Lebanon” is a slow ballad with Ondara’s unique singing style (S. and I genuinely didn’t know if Ondara was a man or a woman upon hearing his song “Saying Goodbye” because his voice is so multivaried.  I really like the passion of the lyrics and how it is countered with the slowness of the music.

In the water, fire
I’ll go wherever you go
In the valley, in the canyon
I’ll go wherever you go
Hey, love, I’m ready now
Can’t you see this riot
Inside of my veins
Hey love, I’m overcome
By desire
How must I wait?
Up next is “Days of Insanity” with this fascinating lyric

There is a bear at the airport, waiting on a plane
There is a cow at the funeral, bidding farewell
There is a goat at the terminal, boarding the C-train
There is a horse at the hospital, dancing with the hare
Somebody call the doctor, from the university
Somebody call upon the witch and the wizardry
Somebody call the rabbi, the pastor and the sheikh
Coz we are coming on the days of insanity
The days of insanity.

In talking about this song he says it is such a rich time to be a folk singer in America.  He wrote the song while making the record.  He was watching videos of kittens and puppies as he does every night before bed and the video suggested watching Stephen Colbert with John Mulaney.  Mulaney took a trip to Japan and described things in America as being like seeing a horse loose in a hospital.  It’s like something no one’s ever seen before.  Ondara encourages us to watch the clip and he is right–it is hilarious!

“Saying Goodbye” is the song that’s been getting the airplay.  It’s passionate and powerful and when he sings in the higher register it really is otherworldly.

This live version is quite a revelation.  His delivery is different–much more slow and deliberate.  But he can still hit that glorious high notes..

Amazingly, Tales of America was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Americana Album (not bad for a guy from Kenya).  Sadly it didn’t win.

[READ: January 30, 2020] Cleopatra in Space Book Five

It took Maihack seventeen months to make this book!  He says that sixteen of those months were spent growing the beard on his author picture.

This story is action-packed with some fascinating twists and turns.  Consequently, seventeen months is a long time to go between books.  Fortunately, Maihack’s quality of illustration and storytelling has maintained its high standards.

The book opens with a flashback to the moment when Cleo first disappeared from Gozi while they were having target practice (back in book 1).

The actual story has followed Cleo on her adventures.  But now we see what happened to Gozi.  He was attacked by … someone … and imprisoned.  Gozi believes that whatever happened to Cleo–it was her choice not to return and help him.

I have to admit I was more than a little confused as to just what happened next, [Gozi explains things later on].  In the montage of events, there’s a spaceship and lots of cats (I suspect that if I had read the other books more recently this would be more clear).  In whatever happened, Gozi is badly burned and the pain never goes away.  He was wrapped in bandages but that didn’t really help at all.  Then we see exactly what happened to make Gozi turn into Octavian and to agree to use the Lion’s plasma to carry out the ruin of the galaxy. (more…)

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