"Joey Devine Is A Superstar" is happening tonight at the Dark Room. It's an exciting monthly showcase dedicated to standup comedy, videos, and advancing the cause of Joey Devine's superstardom. Last month, Joey debuted an ambitiously-titled feature called "The Movie Game". Comics draw two actors from one hat and a genre from another at the start of the show, then have until the end of the show to write and deliver a movie pitch involving those elements. Let's take a look at last month's participants and the blockbuster ideas they came up with.
Joey Devine Actors: Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins Genre: Oscar bait drama
Pitch: In Castro!, Al Pacino plays 60-year-old Fidel Castro, and Anthony Hopkins plays 70-year-old Fidel Castro. 70-year-old Castro has to travel through time to warn 60-year-old Castro about the exploding cigars that JFK sent through the space-time continuum.
Sean Keane Actors: Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas Genre: Sexy movie
Pitch: Tom Cruise plays Bill Yards, a legendary pool hustler who wants to learn to dance. Antonio Banderas is Juan Momento, a Spanish salsa instructor who needs to win a billiards tournament to avoid being deported. In a series of tender scenes, Cruise teaches Banderas how to play pool, and Banderas teaches Cruise how to have anal sex. The movie is called Corner Pocket.
Pitch:You Got Served 2: Tall Order
Barack "Brickfeet" Sharpton (Shaq) is a waiter by day, aspiring Chris Brown backup dancer by night. Dallas Raines (Robin Williams) is a post-op transgender man who was once a Rockette dancer in NY. He comes out of retirement to teach Sharpton the art of dance. It's basically You Got Served meets Finding Forrester meets My Giant.
Chris Thayer (had two pitches,; I can't remember the other one) Actors: Vin Diesel and John Cusack Genre: Romantic comedy
Pitch: Vin Diesel plays a homophobic operator, whose world is changed when he gets stuck with World Blowjob Champion John Cusack. See the sparks fly in Going Down.
Nick Stargu, AKA "DJ Real" (The Winner) Actors: Cedric the Entertainer and That Kid From Twilight Genre: Horror movie
Pitch: The movie opens with That Kid From Twilight sitting in an electric chair. He stares at the camera, and says, "No more Mr. Nice guy." Then gets electrocuted. The next scene has Cedric the Entertainer buying a shirt with his girlfriend, but he's sick of buying clothes. But his girlfriend is like, "Come on baby, try this one on. Another shirt won't kill you." Except, this happens to be the same shirt that That Kid From Twilight wore when he was executed. And it will kill him. So the whole movie is him fighting this killer shirt. It's called, Clothes Call.
At the Seanukkah Show on Wednesday night, we were lucky enough to have guest sets from a few out-of-town comics. In addition to Panorama City's own Jerry Johnson, Santa Claus himself did a set. As you might expect, he killed. Why is Santa such a dynamic performer? because he's got a ton of stage presents. Here are some highlights from his set:
"Santa isn't so sure about the effort to 'go green'. After all, can you put wind power in the toe of a naughty child's stocking? Can you wrap up solar power in a package for a disobedient young boy? No, no you can't."
"All of you think that you're on the nice list because you live in San Francisco, and you're liberal, and you phone banked for Obama. Well, think again. You better HOPE someone else gets you a present, because Santa is not having it. SANTA voted for John McCain. Santa shares certain similarities with John McCain. Mrs. Claus is a bit of an ice queen. And Santa is almost as old as John McCain.
"One foggy Christmas Eve, Santa once called her a cunt. There were no milk and cookies that year for Santa."
"What's the deal with leaving out milk for Santa Claus? Yes, when you've been busting your ass delivering presents all night, tired and thirsty, what you really want is a thick glass of milk. A glass of room temperature milk that's been sitting out for hours. Gee thanks. Santa REALLY appreciates that."
"Who's definitely on the Naughty List this year is Frosty the Snowman. That guy has a serious problem with cocaine. Let me tell you - that corncob pipe is not for tobacco. It's for crack. Also, they claim that there was magic in an old silk hat that made Frosty dance around? No, that was cocaine. He goes into the bathroom and does a bumpety bump bump bumpety bump bump, and then look at Frosty go!
"Actually, he just got out of rehab for the third time. We want to be optimistic about his reocvery, but the children know, he'll be back again someday."
Here's some stand-up from 2/3 of the residents of my apartment. (Christine will be taping her set this weekend.) Chris's set is from "Laugh Out The Vote" at the Purple Onion last Friday; mine is from "Things We Made" at the Dark Room last Saturday, after I forgot to tape my own LOTV set. First, Chris on McCain and the election:
November 10: Laughs For Turkeys at the Punchline. It's a showcase to benefit the SF Food Bank for Thanksgiving turkeys, with a lineup of comics that includes Sean Keane, Brandon Stone, Mark Zhang, Chris Storin, and other special guests. Tickets are $12, with a two-drink minimum.
People often tell me, "Sean, I love your writing. And somehow your standup comedy is even more entertaining than your blog. Would you ever consider lending your brilliance to a sketch comedy group?" Well, hypothetical Sean Keane, fan, the answer is yes. There's only two words you need to know: Frown and Land.
Frown Land, San Francisco's hottest sketch sensation, premieres "The Happiness Show", on Friday, October 10th, at the Dark Room. Showtime is 10 PM, and admission is $5. With its combination of sketch, theater, and short films, Frown Land is prepared to shake up the San Francisco comedy scene like an autistic child jiggling a snow globe.
Frown Land is comprised of veteran comedians Joey Devine (Your Name Here), Sean Keane (Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience), and Kevin O'Shea (Blah Blah Blah). Above all, Frown Land is dedicated to making America smile.
Joe Gorman is the founder of the Baby Faces of Comedy Tour, and every Wednesday, he co-hosts an open mic at Delirium called Your Name Here. Once a month, the open mic becomes a showcase, as it did last month when I hosted and refereed Street Fight: Kevins vs. Joes. Mr. Gorman spoke to me about comedy, Full House, and his new showcase, The More You Know (tonight @ Delirium, 6:45, Free).
Sean Keane: How did you get the idea for The More You Know?
Joe Gorman: [Co-host Joey Devine and I] were were brainstorming possible themes. It was originally going to be a lecture, then a classroom, and finally we decided that if it was more of a PSA it would fly best.
Sean Keane: So are the comics supposed to be altering their sets to be more PSA-like? By the way, I just watched Almost Famous, so watch out for my inspired journalistic attitude.
Joe Gorman: No, they do normal sets, but after each one, Joey and I will break down the jokes and make bullet points of the important stuff, and there are questions at the end.
And for the record, I am a golden god.
Sean Keane: You're just going to deny that quote later, Gorman, unless a groupie shames you into coming clean later.
Is this show at all similar to "Get It!?" the famous comedy game show at the Punchline?
Joe Gorman: I'm going to say no because I've never seen it, so any similarities are just coincidental. Plus I think Get It? has prizes involved. It's not a quiz, just Cliff Notes. The audience is welcome to ask questions.
Sean Keane: Are you analyzing joke structure, then?
Joe Gorman: Just punchlines. It all comes down to what the audience asks.
Other comics on the bill include Moshe Kasher, Louis Katz, Cereus B.T. Kingsley, and Joe Tobin. If you can't wait until the 21st, or you live in the Cotati-Rohnert Park multiplex, you can catch Joe Tobin and Sean Keane (along with Kevin Munroe) at Sonoma State University on Thursday, April 17th.
Get your tickets soon, because these shows usually sell out. Fifteen bucks, two drink minimum, doors at 7, show at 8, hobnobbing with Sean whenevs. Just remember: High fives on the right, makeouts on the left.
In conclusion, here is a photo of Moshe Kasher riding a hobby horse in his underwear:
There's also a sketch group called Omar & Rodrigo and possible surprise guests. Tickets are $7-15 (sliding scale), and the Dark Room is BYOB.
I have some experience writing about buffalo, though it's mostly the football team, and in the context of the Music City Gambling Miracle. The song "Home on the Range" has made me sympathize with the buffalo, because of the false picture it paints of their relationship with the deer on the range. Supposedly, the range is the place where the buffalo roam, while the deer and the antelope play. But not with the buffalo, of course. Apparently deer only play with the svelte hoofed mammals. Some blame the excessive hunting of the 19th century for the American bison's near-extinction, but I think we have to consider the effects of negative body image issues on the buffalo population. Antelope aren't even native to North America, but they're still more acceptable than the fatties of the Plains. It's just sad.
I'm not sure the song is totally accurate, however. We know from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that deer are quick to exclude even members of their own species from playing reindeer games. If a red nose disqualifies a deer from playing, are we supposed to believe they're totally cool with hanging out with antelope? The line should be, "where the deer and the antelope play, in species-segregated groups, because deer are a bunch of assholes".
The Ed Forman Show tour comes to the Dark Room tonight at 8 PM. It's a live, '70s-style talk show, an era where it was perfectly acceptable for a motivational speaker to wear a shirt unbuttoned to the navel along with a chain that spells out, "Terrific" in diamonds. The show is a mix of sketches, standup, and interviews. guests include comics Brent Weinbach, Julian Vance, a journalist named Shaun King who is probably not the former Tampa Bay quarterback, a pickup artist named Dan McDonnely, and a standout shooting guard from Sf State named Alex Thomas. In addition, there's been talk of a round table discussion of basketball with assorted local comics, if you didn't find my sports commentary insufferable enough already.
Ed Forman is the creation of Aaron Ross, a Portland-based improv comic and creator of the one-man show, Al Gore Memorial High School. Ed is based on a real-life motivational speaker, the author of Happy, Healthy & Terrific, and Laughing, Living, Loving, and many other success guides. The show includes segments, In Bed With Ed (interview, taking place in a bed), QuEDstions (audience members ask Ed questions, I think), and A Match Made in ED, where Ed sets up two audience members on a dream date.
Honestly, I have no idea what this show is going to be like, but I am intrigued. Tickets are eight bucks at the door, and as always at the Dark Room, it's BYOB.
Before we get into the Oscar Rodeo for 2008, it's time for some good old-fashioned self-promotion.
First up is a showcase at a brand-new venue for comedy with a brand-new name. The former Woody Zips is now known as The Boardroom, and their former entertainment calendar of Taco Tequila Trivia Tuesdays now includes a comedy showcase on the first and third Thursdays of the month. The first one happens today, February 21st, at 8 PM. Admission is five bucks, but that also gets you a beer or a well drink. Think of it as a free show with a one-drink minimum.
The premiere lineup is, well, a premier lineup. Caitlin Gill (of "Six Feet or Taller" fame) hosts a showcase featuring local luminaries Jason Wheeler (regular at the Punchline and Cobb's; the voice of "Get It?"), Julian Vance (Dave Chappelle opener; hates African people), "Big Al" Gonzales (Club Deluxe host; no relation to Weird Al), Chris Burns (social worker; her name is a complete sentence), and Yours Truly (yours truly). The Boardroom is at 1609 Powell Street (@ Green) in the heart of North Beach.
On Friday, I'll be taking a cue from Ernie Banks and declaring, "It's a beautiful night for comedy. Let's play two!" First off is an 8 PM show at St. Mary's College with the incomparable Brent Weinbach and the only slightly more comparable Mark Silverman. Mark does musical comedy and Brent does indescribably hilarious comedy. I'm not sure what it costs to get in, but Mr. Weinbach is always worth the price of admission. Members of the Wood family take note: Mr. Silverman has been featured on the Dr. Demento Show. Expect Gael-force comedy, and no additional crappy puns about mascots like the one I just made.
It's the hottest show in the Bay Area, and possibly even the hottest in Tijuana.
Don't miss it, or some male prostitutes are going to be really disappointed in you.
Also, enjoy this promotional video in which I wear a purple warmup suit:
Looking further ahead, Ebony & Irony returns on Thursday, March 6th, at Julie's Supper Club (1123 Folsom Street @ 7th). Two of my favorite comics run this show, and I've been lucky enough to be a part of it twicebefore. As usual, it's a solid lineup. First, there's the founders. Joe Tobin is simply one of the best comedy writers in the City, and has the best joke involving Scottie Pippen I've ever heard. Kevin Munroe is a UC Santa Barbara alum, an accomplished swing dancer, and though he's 6'6", he prefers not to date your Sasquatch friends.
Big show tonight in Berkeley, albeit a show that has been decimated by illness. Original headliner Joe Klocek has been sidelined by pneumonia, but we've been fortunate enough to get the legendary W. Kamau Bell to fill in. Kamau is one half of the movie reviewing duo Siskel and Negro (who also do an excellent podcast). Kamau also has a one-man show at the Shelton Theater, where he is an artist in residence, called The W. Kamau Bell Curve, and an entertaining blog of the same name. He's extremely funny, and more importantly, not teetering on the brink of death. As an added bonus, he once referred to Shia LeBeouf as "the Spin Doctors of modern movies."
Incidentally, original headliner Joe Klocek has a joke in his set about how he's too poor for health insurance, so if he gets really sick, financially, his only option is to die. I hope that that is just a joke.
It all happens at 8:30 PM at Blake's on Telegraph in Berkeley. Tickets are $8 at the door. Blake's has just been remodeled, and as part of their re-launch, they're offering some sweet deals: $1 fries, and $1 Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR: the beer that makes you feel like a winner. And, aspiring SF and East Bay comics take note: an open mic will follow the show at 10:30. The official promo is after the jump (or right here, if you follow Zembla via RSS feed):
"Blah!Blah!Blah! (A Talk Show)" (which returns to the Dark Room Theater Saturday night, 2/2/08, at 10 pm) is a deceptively simple event. Creator and host Kevin O'Shea opens the show with a 10-12 minute monologue, and then he welcomes his guests, all comedians in the SF Bay Area. What happens after that is basically controlled chaos. It's like Iron Comic in that preparation goes out the window, and it's all about thinking on your feet and being funny in the moment.
When Blah! Blah! Blah! first started, I think we all had a vague idea that we could simply do our material the same way, only while seated. However, we quickly learned that doing scripted material in that format was quite awkward. The rhythm is off, the audience can tell it's planned, and the BYOB nature of the Dark Rom seems to put performers and audience alike more in the mood for improvisation. The result is that every show is unique. Even if you've seen a certain comic many times, he's pretty much guaranteed to bring out something new for the talk show.
At the last show I performed at, Matt Morales and Jason Downs discussed the awkwardness of Matt living with Jason's mother, Mary Van Note talked about working for a professional ultimate fighter, and I busted out my Nicolas Cage impression (normally reserved for private gatherings and movie theaters advertising National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets). The most recent Blah! Blah! Blah! featured members of the sketch group Boomtime! (one of whom, Alex Koll, returns Saturday night.) and somehow led to a moment of pantslessness where we learned that Moshe Kasher and Mr. O'Shea wear the same style of briefs.
This year, Blah! Blah! Blah! is getting more elaborate with the addition of a sketch duo (Substandard Comix) and critical commentary from comedy coach Kurt Weitzmann. Add those to the already-formidable lineup of Kevin Camia, Chris Garcia, Sean Keane, and the aforementioned Alex Koll, and what you've got is a hootenanny waiting to happen, especially if you grew up in the rural South and never adjusted your slang. There have been rumors of mariachi bands at future shows, which will be held on the first Saturday of each month this spring.
Tickets are $7, BYOB. The Dark Room is on Mission Street at 19th, across the street from >Cancun Taqueria, the traditional home of the Blah! Blah! Blah! burrito afterparty. Bear in mind, the show does occur on Groundhog Day, so until we do the show perfectly, we might be trapped in an infinite loop of blah, blah, and blah. Just a head's up.
The show takes place at 10 PM in the Barn Theater at the base of the Santa Cruz campus. In the words of our host, "It is literally a large barn." Admission is free, and it's reportedly one of the best crowds in the whole Bay Area. Many of my readers outside of the San Jose/Santa Cruz area may not be willing to drive down for such a show, but if you live down there, if you're a UCSC student, or if you feel like making a road trip and watching some comedy with Sean Keane, this may be the Friday night event for you. Otherwise, watch this space for some sweet clips from the show.
If you're in San Francisco, check out Sammy Wegent in his one-man show, "Hell to the Chief". Despite the title, this isn't just a Bush-bashing show (though there's a little bit of that). Instead, Sammy talks about the oddness of the presidential election, and the job of president itself, exploring the idea that we could do a lot better. It's funny and thought-provoking, with excellent slides and Photoshop work throughout (courtesy of opening act Justin Lamb). There are also jokes about William Howard Taft, something that warmed my presidential-trivia-loving heart.
Sammy, who used to be the head writer and director for the political sketch troupe Richter Scale, is a great performer, with a stellar Tim Gunn impression to boot. It's a tight show, but Sammy does allow for some banter with the audience, and remained unruffled even when my companion suggested that the presidential election be settled by means of the Aggro-Crag. He even correctly identified the Aggro-Crag as the climactic event from Nickelodeon's GUTS. This week, Sammy also did an interview with SFStandup.com in which he expounded on America and 50's diners:
"I think that politicians are out of touch with the country because the country is out of touch with reality. The best example of this is the fact that every town in America has a diner set in the 1950's. Sure, that was the 'heyday' of America, but it's starting to fuck with our brains. We’re desensitized to what's actually happening. Now we walk past homeless people and newspapers that tell about genocide in Africa to walk into a diner set in the time period after we won World War II and everybody still liked us. 'Hey Jim, wanna go volunteer down at the AIDS clinic?' 'Nah, let's go eat a patty melt, listen to The Big Bopper, and fantasize about fucking Marilyn Monroe.' Only America would ignore its own problems by building time machines that make you fatter."
(Note: James Dean reference might replace Marilyn Monroe line in actual show.)
The show is at The Purple Onion Friday and Saturday at 8. Tickets are $15. Chester A. Arthur never had a vice president. And the Aggro-Crag has eight actuators, and you must activate all of them before reaching the peak, or you will be disqualified.
Due to Randall Park's illness, I will be making my Punchline debut battling in the joke arena at Iron Comic. Wild 'n Out fans' loss is Sean Keane enthusiasts' gain! Will my routine reign supreme? Come by at 8:00 and see!
SF Sketchfest Presents...
Nato Green's Iron Comic®
Tuesday, January 22, 2007 at 8pm (doors at 7)
The Punchline Comedy Club at 444 Battery St. at Clay, SF, CA
$10 w/2 drink minimum
Whose routine reigns supreme?
Iron Comic® is a live gameshow where 5 comedians rush to write a routine in 10 minutes from topics suggested by the audience. At the end of the night, an Iron Comic® will be chosen. Inspired by Iron Chef, each comic is forced to craft jokes while the clock is ticking.
Hosted by Nato Green, creator of Iron Comic & Laughing Liberally Local 415.
Battling in Joke Arena will include:
• Reggie Steele's charismatic comedy is featured at every club in the Bay.
• Joe Klocek is the host of Get It?! and has appeared on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham.
• Debi Durst of legendary comedy duo Deb & Mike, SF Comedy Day, the Big Fat Year-End Kiss Off, and providing voices for "Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas."
• Randall Park has appeared on Reno 911 and MTV's Wild N Out
• Nico Santos is a regular at clubs, theaters, conventions, and bars everywhere.
If you're disenchanted with the football games this afternoon, if you're afternoon is going to consist of wandering aimlessly around the Mission anyway, or if you just like drinking beer at free events, come see Stay Free Sunday. There's beer, there's music, there's Chris Garcia, there's Kevin O'Shea, and there's probably going to be a bunch of people wearing Chuck Taylors. I believe the comedy will get started around 4.
As the official promo says, "[Our] anecdotes will be the total antidote to the end of the weekend".
When I was growing up and playing baseball, I wore the number 21 nearly every year. Twenty-one has a lot going for it: Blackjack, legal drinking age, seven times three, the century that means the future, and Roberto Clemente's jersey. I started to think 21 was pretty cool, and that my coaches must have realized my affection for that number. Not so. Our numbers only went from 21 to 34, and 21 was the smallest available. My number didn't mean Blackjack
I come from a short family as well. My parents remodeled the kitchen to set up hobbit-level shelves that even my 4'11" mother can reach, but she's still in constant danger of singing her arms trying to reach the top of the stove. My dad had to sell his first motorcycle because his legs were so short, he couldn't stop on even the slightest uphill slope. If a Keane is riding in the back, it's a near-guarantee you'll hear the phrase, "You can move that seat back. I got plenty of leg room."
My performing career was not without its height-related adventures as well. When I did musical theater, my height was a constant punchline. At age 12, and at 4 foot 9, I played "Sir Studly" in Once Upon a Mattress. In that musical, and indeed in nearly every musical I did as a teenager, there was a height-based joke at my expense. Here's the scene:
Choreographer: And at the end, the girls will all fall into the guys' arms. Director: Hold on. What if we switch partners here, and put Sean with the tallest girl in the cast... Choreographer: ...And then Sean falls into HER arms. Director: Because he's so short! Choreographer: He's the height of a girl! Director: In fact, you can say Sean becomes a girl here. Choreographer: He is completely emasculated right now. Director: It's gonna be hilarious. OK, let's try this. Choreographer: And one, and two, and three, and... Director: Hold up right there. Sean, keep your knees together when you fall backwards. You look like a tramp up there.
It left a mark. And that's why I created The Six Feet or Taller Show, taking place tonight, January 8th, at 9PM, at 12 Galaxies. All tall comedians, and me. I'll be hosting, enjoying the stellar comedic stylings, and falling into Marcella's arms at the end of the night. Because I'm so short!
2565 Mission Street (at 22nd)
San Francisco, CA
The Six Feet or Taller Show
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
9:00pm 12 Galaxies
2565 Mission Street (at 22nd)
San Francisco, CA
The Six Feet or Taller Show showcases SF's funniest - and tallest - comics in a night of gigantic laughs. The diminutive Sean Keane (5' 7 1/2") hosts a lineup of sky-high comics with towering talent. Reggie Steele headlines, with featured performances by Sal Calanni, Kevin Munroe, Brendan Lynch, Marcella Arguello, and Caitlin Gill. It's a hilarious assortment of comedic talents that would also make a highly-effective volleyball team. Expect tall tales and highbrow comedy, but be aware that some of the jokes might go over your head. $8 at the door.
Headliner Reggie Steele (6'4") has a laid-back, storytelling style that has made him a favorite at clubs in the Bay Area, and all over the state. He won the 2003 Rooster T. Feathers Comedy Competition and was a Finalist in the San Jose Improv's Battle of the Bay. Reggie has worked with some of comedy's brightest stars, including Dave Chappelle, Arj Barker, Damon Wayans, Wanda Sykes and many more. Mr. Steele has also played basketball professionally in Latvia.
Sal Calanni (6'3") is a stellar comedian from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. He has performed over the Bay Area, including the Punchline, Cobb's Comedy Club, the San Jose Improv. In addition to his standup career, Mr. Calanni is a member of the sketch group Tossing Alice and plays guitar for punk band The Hacks.
Kevin Munroe (6'6") is the founder of the popular showcase "Ebony & Irony", and the Bay Area's funniest Trinidadian comic.
Brendan Lynch (6'5") is a Santa Cruz native, who wows audiences with his dry, understated comedy. Mr. Lynch will be headlining Ben Feldman's Laugh Orgy in North Beach on January 9th.
Marcella Arguello (6'2") is a rising comedy star, and Modesto's toughest export since Sonny Barger. Ms. Arguello has performed all over the Bay Area, including Speech Therapy, Blake's on Telegraph, and Edinburgh Castle.
Caitlin Gill (6'0") has won over audiences with her unique style, and occasionally, delicious desserts. Since escaping her hometown of Napa, Ms. Gill has performed at "Ben Feldman's Laugh Orgy", "Comedy, Darling" at Edinburgh Castle, and recently became part of the Five Funny Females Tour.
I can't independently verify it, but man, what a photo! Just looking at it makes me want to start stammering about my love of Apple computers, and then make sweet sweet love to Geena Davis in 1989. Chris Garcia wants to push this photo to the front page of the Chris Garcia results, though it's obviously not of Chris Garcia at all.
Is there a photo of the real Chris Garcia that's receiving insufficient Google Image search love? Yes, yes there is. The Chris Garcia page on Tarnival (that's Tobacco Education Through Art & Science), has a beautiful Chris Garcia photo:
Some people were born to dance, others were born to run, Chris Garcia was born to rock!
In conclusion, Chris Garcia is trying to scam the internet, and I for one am not going to stand for for this kind of chicanery from this or any other Chris Garcia.
The Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience is happening for the third time this fall, on Wednesday, December 5th, at Blake's on Telegraph in Berkeley. I know that with Kevin Avery, Sheng Wang, Alex Koll, Joe Tobin, and Kevin O'Shea, the show is going to be amazing, but it's nice to see that the media has taken notice as well.
It's on Page 17 of the print edition, or you can read it online here.
Please note that I was a "maverick" English major at Cal, not simply a "poor" English major,as some believe.
You might be asking yourself, "Sean, after this unprecedented local media interest in your comedy, what's next for you?" The answer is, staying humble, keeping my eyes on the prize, taking things one day at a time, and continuing to give 110% every night up there on the stage. I'll be giving 115% on Wednesday, December 19th at the Pleasanton Hotel (Side note: contrary to popular opinion, getting booked on Wednesday nights is the real sign that you've arrived in the comedy biz.)
January 8th marks my first SF comedy production, with a show at 12 Galaxies called "Six Feet or Taller". You can see some of the Bay Area's tallest comics perform, starting at 9 PM. Reggie Steele headlines, along with Sal Calanni, Brendan Lynch, Kevin Munroe, Caitlin Gill, and Marcella Arguello, while I host the damn thing, because I am discordantly short.
The official blurb for the Squelch show is after the jump.
(Amir Malekpour hosted the inaugural Baby Faces of Comedy showcase on Tuesday at 12 Galaxies. Amir has been recently making the leap in the world of stand-up comedy, placing second in the Twisted Biscuit competition and performing on multiple occasions at the Punchline in San Francisco. In addition, he's known as one of the nicest guys in the local comedy scene. Amir was nice enough to sit down with us this week to discuss his experiences with Baby Faces and comedy in general.)
Zembla: You were the host for the first (of many) Baby Faces of Comedy shows. How did you get involved with the show?
Amir: Soon after Joe Gorman had his historic discussion about Baby Faces with Dave Wiswell and yourself; he mentioned it to me at the SF Punchline and asked me to be in the show if it ever came into fruition. He liked my act and believed that I have a baby face; both of which I am very flattered by. Later on, I suggested that I host the show, so that there would be less of a burden on Joe. He could concentrate on other aspects, like killing in the show.
Zembla: Before Joe approached you, had you considered yourself to be a Baby Face?
Amir: That's a great question. I am not sure if I ever considered myself a true Baby Face. I mean, I definitely have boyish traits: my big cheeks, my shy personality, and boy-next-door qualities. And I definitely think I look younger than I am, provided that I am clean-shaven. One problem that did arise was that I started growing a goatee in weeks leading up to the show, and it was really helping me with the ladies. However, I decided to shave it for the good of Baby Faces, and ultimately, it was a decision I am glad I made.
Zembla: That is the biggest sacrifice I have heard of anyone making for the show. The goatee was looking sharp, by the way. Do you plan to regrow it now that Baby Faces is over?
Amir: Thank you for acknowledging the sacrifice, and that it looked sharp, because it definitely looked sharp, no doubt. I probably will experiment with other styles of facial hair such as the soul patch, handlebar, and the Fu Manchu before going back to the goatee. After shaving my goatee, I have a new legion of female fans that are into the Baby Face Amir, so I am definitely not hurting.
Zembla: There is a certainly a segment of the female population that goes wild for the baby face. How long does it take you to grow a goatee?
Amir: It really depends. For example, during spring and summer, it grows faster. The reason for this is that goatees get their power from the sun. When the temperature is warmer, they tend to grow faster. It's kind of backwards logic if you ask me, because you have more need for it to grow during cold periods. But I am not one to question evolution, or creation, or both.
Zembla: I can barely grow one at all, but I did notice, it got easier closer to the summer solstice. Did you alter or revise your material for the Baby Faces show?
Amir: I did not change any material for the show. I added a few jokes here and there, but I pretty much went with in with my best material that I knew had worked before. In my opinion - and I think most would agree - Baby Faces is a philosophy and an attitude more than anything. As long as your intentions are babyfaced and you have babyfacedness in your heart, then you won't have to alter anything. That is the way I approach life.
Zembla: I think the audience can sense that babyfacedness isn't about particular jokes; it's a state of mind. Any highlights of the show for you?/
Amir: I think being part of the show was a highlight in and of itself. I love working with friends such as yourself, Joe, Julian, Brent, Beata, and Jeff Cleary, all of whom I respect both as people and comedians. Also 12 Galaxies was very gracious, and of course, the audience was super.
Some of the major highlights for me were Julian showing us the sexy baby face, and your fantastic set to close out the first half. I really love your writing and your stand-up act and I had not heard your "middle-age open micer", which had me in stitches. I loved Beata's act because when she took the stage, the place erupted in noise from her fans. I love Joe Gorman's act and it was great to see him do a full set, especially when he closed with his "muffled noise through a pillow" joke, in front of his mom. And of course, Brent Weinbach closed it out and brought it home with his fantastic array of comedy styles, and showed us why he is considered one of the best comedians to come out of San Francisco. I also had a fantastic time doing my set and hosting. There are just too many more highlights to list.
Zembla: I love it when Joe's mom comes to shows. She once called me an "apple-cheeked young man" after a show at 50 Mason ( RIP) You've produced your own shows in the past - normally called Subterranean Comedy. How difficult is it to put on an event outside of the usual comedy club structure in SF? And, how does it compare to host one of these, as compared to running your own?
Amir: Say what you will about its political correctness, San Francisco is the best place to try to be original. There is a core audience here that is willing to spend the money and more importantly the time to seek out underground, non-mainstream comedy. The word "underground" gets thrown around a lot and kind of has turned into a mainstream idea. But when I say underground, I mean comedians who are just as good as anyone out there, but don't get to be seen because they have not been on TV or on the radio, or in the mainstream media.
There are definitely difficulties in running your own show because there are so many variables. You're in charge of booking a venue, getting an audience, booking the performers, advertising, while at the same time worrying about your own performance. The main difference between working clubs and putting on your own show is that you have more artistic freedom to try out new avenues of comedy and be more experimental. It has its own rewards, such as working with people you usually don't get to perform with, and trying out experimental material such as videos and short skits. Risks are, you're more likely to lose money, and since you have the responsibility to fill the place, you may not have a big audience. So far I've enjoyed doing the two [Subterranean] shows. I ended up losing money on both, but had a fantastic time performing in front of a large audience who really enjoyed themselves.
Zembla: Do you have any other shows coming up?
Amir: Its usually best to check www.AmirCat.com for updates of my schedule. However, this month I am doing a benefit for Toys For Tots at The San Jose Improv. Also please checkout for the next Subterranean comedy show in December.
(Note: The Subterranean show is normally at the Dark Room.)
Zembla: Ready for the lightning round?
Zembla:: Who's your favorite comic of all time?
Amir: Tie between George Carlin and Woody Allen.
Zembla: Who is your favorite active performer? Outside of SF guys - we don't need any controversy. It's Arj Barker and Patton Oswalt for me.
Amir: The first set I ever did was 3 1/2 years ago, but in actuality, I didn't start performing standup regularly until a year later.
Zembla: What is your career highlight so far (Baby Faces aside)?
[16:26] AmirXtreme: My professional comedy highlight was opening for Sue Murphy. Comedy highlight overall was producing the first two Subterranean Comedy shows. (Baby Faces aside, of course.)
Zembla: Any final words on Baby Faces, or comedy in general?
Amir: Baby Faces was definitely one of the highlights of my comedy career as I got to work with awesome people who were really funny too, no joke. I think it's also important to recognize all the comedy fans that go to comedy show every week to watch us comedians. You can't have comedians without an audience that is gracious enough and willing to share their emotions with you.
I feel that San Francisco has the best audience because they are smart enough to laugh at intelligent comedy, and educated enough not to acknowledge unoriginal hackneyed material.
Zembla: Excellent, thanks for talking to us. Readers, enjoy "The Amir Supremacy" below:
(Joe Gorman is an SF standup comic, a barista, and the founder of the Baby Faces of Comedy Tour. Recently, Gorman spoke with Zembla about putting together SF's hottest new standup comedy sensation)
Zembla: How did you first come up with the idea for Baby Faces?
Joe Gorman: It originated with me and some friends making fun of some of the theme comedy showcases that happen in SF (all-Asian showcases, all-female, all-Jewish, etc.) where it seemed the people producing the shows were more interested in reaching their ethnic quota rather than having genuinely funny comics on the shows. So we joked about what theme shows we'd be on. Naturally I said I'd be on the Baby Faces of Comedy. There was discussion on who else would be on the show when it dawned on me there were some pretty funny babyfaced comics in the SF comedy scene. Thus a legend was born.
Zembla: Is there an ethnic quota for Baby Faces?
Gorman: I wanted one black guy (Julian Vance) so I wouldn't be considered racist. Amir and Beata are pretty ethnic, too. I'm of mixed race and who knows how many types of white Jane Haze and Sean Keane are. I think this goes to show that being baby-faced is not about the color of the skin but the youthfulness in the face
Zembla: That is an inspiring sentiment. When did Baby Faces move from an idea you joked about to something that was actually going to happen?
Gorman: I think it was when I kept promising to book people on the show, saying how great it would be, and then those same people got upset that it hadn't happened for months. I was thinking about buying some stage time at the Dark Room Theater and hoping that I could at least break even. Then the guys at SFstandup.com said there was an opening at 12 Galaxies if I could deliver an audience draw; that draw being Brent Weinbach.
Zembla: Brent Weinbach is also of mixed race. It's interesting, that in putting together a showcase in part to parody these race- and gender-based showcases, you ended up with an extremely diverse bill.
Gorman: I hadn't thought of that.
Zembla: Were there other formats you considered for Baby Faces, besides the standard showcase?
Gorman: I toyed with the idea of it being sketch-based with Amir, because that's something both he and I are interested in. Then I thought of a round table discussion on the matter, but in a super-serious manner. Eventually I decided that a comedy showcase would work best because:
1) I ran out of sketch ideas after three.
2) The round table discussion just took themes from the sketches and ran with them.
Zembla: In your opinion, who is the most babyfaced comic in the SF Bay Area, besides yourself, of course?
Gorman: Dave Wiswell is so unbelievably babyfaced it almost hurts my eyes. He's a little older than me and smokes about a pack a day, but damn if he doesn't look a day over 14! He was one of the people I originally discussed Baby Faces with. It's only due to scheduling conflicts that he won't be joining us for the premiere.
A babyfaced baby Joe Gorman
Zembla: Do you think that being a Baby Face is more of a blessing, or a curse?
Gorman: It certainly has its downsides. I get carded at bars, and when I buy cigarettes, people often think I'm still in high school. They also tend to point that out in a condescending manner. Overall I wouldn't give it up for all the tea in China, because being a Baby Face gives you a special bond with other Baby Faces, plus there's the off-chance that Baby Faces will look like Johnny Depp or Diane Lane in their 40's.
Zembla: This is obviously going to be a sensation, so I eagerly await more Baby Faces shows in the future. Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?
Gorman: I've got a few things planned, but if I learned anything in promotion of Baby Faces, it's that you shouldn't promote a show until it's well underway. That said, my friend Kevin O'Shea is doing his talk show Blah Blah Blah! in the Dark Room on November 3rd, which I am a part of, and I believe Amir is in the process of doing a Subterranean Comedy showcase. There's lots of great comedy showcases in San Francisco right now. I also have to mention the Comedy Speakeasy at Annie's Social Club every Tuesday for always giving me stage time, no matter how drunk I am.
Zembla: Thank you for speaking with us, Joe Gorman. May your show be always successful, and may your face never age.
Baby Faces of Comedy Tour
2565 Mission Street, SF
October 30th, 2007
9 PM, $8
Over a decade ago, Axl Rose began work on Guns N' Roses' sixth studio album, tentatively titled Chinese Democracy. Through ten years, two tours, countless song leaks, $13 million in production costs, and numerous personnel changes, the mythical album remains unfinished and unreleased. Shaquille O'Neal rapped on one track. Brian May played guitar on another. Slash was fired as lead guitarist and replaced with a guy named Buckethead, who only performs while wearing a white mask and an empty KFC bucket over his head. He was in turn fired, and replaced by a guy named Bumblefoot. After all this time, Chinese Democracy is nothing more than a title, and many question whether it will ever reach the public.
For a long time, the San Francisco comedy community had its own version of Chinese Democracy. Young, fresh-faced Joe Gorman would tell anyone who would listen about his brilliant plan for a comedy showcase: a lineup made up of only comics with youthful, child-like features. Spike Lee made The Original Kings of Comedy. Patton Oswalt has The Comedians of Comedy. This would follow in their footsteps as the Baby Faces of Comedy Tour.
Even babyfaced comedians themselves doubted that this project was ever going to become a reality. As a chubby, rosy-faced 28-year-old, carded at every bar I visit, I was a natural for the show, and often discussed logistics with Gorman. Still, as small comedy clubs folded around the city, and Gorman struggled with graduation, housing problems, long nights of drinking, extremely short women, and, most damaging of all, gainful employment, I figured Baby Faces would be one of those things people talked about but never did. Like using dental dams, or doing pilates.
But now, the Babyfaces of Comedy Tour is about to become a reality. Tuesday night at 9 PM, at 12 Galaxies, the Babyfaces of Tour kicks off. The fresh-faced lineup:
Brent Weinbach is one of the most talented and original comedians in the Bay Area. He has performed at Coachella and as part of the Comedians of Comedy Tour, although we all know that Baby Faces is his real meal ticket.
Joe Gorman is a recent college graduate with the cherubic face of a recent driving school graduate. He's a fixture on the local scene and the founder of Baby Faces of Comedy. In addition, Joe's mother once referred to me as an "apple-cheeked young man" after a show, and his cousin Callie and I are Facebook friends.
Julian Vance is a regular at the SF Punchline, where he has opened for Dave Chappelle. He also works at Peet's, where he has served Dave Chappelle coffee. Julian is a good-looking kid with a bright future, a winning thumbs-up, and a brilliant new joke about bukkake that he can't tell anywhere.
Jane Haze has performed all over San Francisco, Tacoma, Memphis, and the American Ambassador to Germany’s House in Berlin. Comedy insider Kori Ono calls Haze, "a bad influence or possibly under the influence. Most likely both." She wears a lot of caps, but there hasn't been a cap yet made that can disguise a true Baby Face. As I tell all the kids I mentor, you're only truly incognito while wearing a ski mask.
Beata Bakhtiari was a member of She Bam at UC Santa Cruz, which is an all-female comedy group. Though she did go to UCSC, Beata does not appear to be a hippie. She owns her own lemonade stand and her first name is misspelled on all the fliers for this show. I can't find much other biographical information on Beata online, so please enjoy an amusing comic, Octopus, Octopus drawn by Beata's friend and fellow She Bammer Emily Heller.
Amir Malekpour has gotten rid of his decidedly adult-faced beard just in time to host the world-premiere Baby Faces show. Malekpour has performed at the Punchline and Rooster T. Feathers, and placed second in this year's prestigious Twisted Biscuit competition. You can find his videos here.
The results are in, and the internet has decided to listen to reason for once. Despite strong competition from the other finalists, America collectively decided to vote for Mo Mandel in Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight. Mo gets an appearance on a Comedy Central show, a spot on a Comedy Central tour, an appearance on a Comedy Central iTunes download, and 10,000 Comedy Central American dollars. Well done, Mo Mandel. Godspeed, and don't make eye contact with Carlos Mencia.
Fresh off his triumph, Mo Mandel will be headlining the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience (hosted by Sean Keane) on Wednesday, October 10th, at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $8, with no drink minimum OR drink maximum, at Blake's on Telegraph in berkeley. The bill also features Moshe Kasher, Kevin Camia, Kevin Munroe, and my mom's new favorite comic, Marcella Arguello.
When you go to an open mic, it is important to sign up as early as possible. Most sign-up, show-up open mics operate on a first-come, first-served basis, though no one ever wants to take the #1 position. It is generally not good enough to simply show up at the posted sign-up time, either. For most open mics, you must arrive fifteen minutes early to obtain a prime position. For a popular weekly show like the Thursday night open mic at The Brainwash, you should get in line for the 6:30 sign-up no later than 8:45 on Wednesday evening.
The reason is that, no matter how devoted the "civilian" audience is, they have limited patience for open mic comedy. There's no quality control, so non-comics will end up sitting through fractured English, uncomfortable descriptions of sex, and so much bombing that the UN occasionally sends human rights observers to Our Little Theater. Anyone who hasn't left by the time #20 gets up is too shell-shocked to laugh.
So comics end up performing for other comics, which has two big problems:
1. They've heard your crappy material already.
2. They're big jerks.
I include myself in the jerk group. An example:
A comic was introducing a bit about a Chicago couple who named their son, "Wrigley Field", and how such a name might doom the kid to a life of misery. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of asking the "crowd" of comics what we thought two die-hard Cubs fans might name their son.
Bobby yelled, "Steve Bartman!"
Chris yelled, "Ryne Sandberg!"
I added, "Leon 'Bull' Durham!"
The comic tried to cut us off. "OK, no, they named him..."
Chris yelled, "Jerome Walton!" which cracked us all up. By now, things were rapidly falling apart. Sitting at the back of the room, we were far more focused on naming old obscure baseball players and giggling than paying attention to the remainder of the set.
By the time we got to Vance Law and Damon Berryhill, the bit had long since ended and we were officially jerks. I went up five comics later, and no one heckled or ruined my set, because they had all left. It was rough, but I have a feeling Bob Dernier would have understood how I felt.
The Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience features San Francisco's finest professional comics in a subterranean East Bay setting. Fresh of his win at the San Jose Improv's annual competition, Mo Mandel headlines the second HSCE, with featured performances by Moshe Kasher, Kevin Camia, Kevin Munroe, and Marcella Arguello. Hosted by Sean Keane. Proceeds benefit the Heuristic Squelch, UC Berkeley's humor magazine.
18+, $8, no drink minimum. Doors at 8, show at 8:30. Tickets available through the Squelch or from Blake's on Telegraph.
Mo Mandel has appeared on "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson", and recently reached the finals of Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight. In 2005, he placed third in the prestigious SF International Comedy Competition. It's not too late to Vote for Mo!
Moshe Kasher was named "Best of the Bay" by the East Bay Express, who said he was "everything you would want in a comedian", and also called him a hunk. Moshe is an actor, playwright,and co-founder of the sketch group Boomtime.
Kevin Camia is a regular at the Punchline, and has performed all around the country and the Philippines. His comedy is a unique blend of dry wit, storytelling and social satire. He's the only comic to successfully make light of panda miscarriages.
Kevin Munroe is one of the founders of popular SF showcase "Ebony & Irony Presents", but he did not direct the 2007 remake of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Contrary to rumors, he does not use "Karl" as an alias when swing dancing.
Marcella Arguello is a rising star on the local scene, and Modesto's finest export since George Lucas. My mom really likes her joke about Fergie.
Sean Keane is an alum of both Berkeley and the Squelch, and recently became the first-ever two-time Iron Comic champion. He's devastatingly handsome, but sorry ladies, his heart belongs to the sea.
I'll be performing tonight at Kevin O'Shea's underground sensation, "Blah Blah Blah! (A talk show)", along with Jason Downs, Matt Morales, and Mary Van Note. O'Shea hosts a freewheeling talk show at the Dark Room Theater (2263 Mission, between 18th and 19th Streets). It's kind of like Charlie Rose, if there was a live audience, multiple guests, and Charlie did the whole show high on peyote.
I appeared on the first edition of the show in May, when we touched on topics ranging from Hawaii to the Civil War to Kevin's grandfather, who completed the Irish hat trick of working as a fireman, breaking his leg while drinking, and subsequently opening a bar. You can never predict where the conversation is going to go, but tonight you might hear us talk about Edinburgh, soy cheese, Amsterdam, open mic comics smoking crack and carrying dynamite, and the romantic life of Tom Shane. Don't miss it.
Also, there's still a few days to Vote for Mo Mandel, who will be headlining at Sonoma State University on Thursday, September 27th, in The Pub at the Student Union building, along with opener Sean Keane. Rohnert Park loves me, mainly for my "I rock Cotati that rocks the body" joke, and my resemblance to Sonoma State mascot Lobo the Seawolf.
Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight is down to its final three comics, and one of them is local superstar and occasional Sean Keane bill-sharer Mo Mandel. Mo advanced from a showcase of twelve finalists last week in LA, but the ultimate winner is determined by online vote. Na'im Limm and Raj Desai are the other two finalists, and while they seem like nice people, they really can't compare to Mo. Watch the clips, it's not even close. Just compare the excerpts Comedy Central chose to highlight from each comic.
Na'im Lynn: "I call my dick calculus, 'cause it's hard as hell. You gotta take it three times."
Raj Desai: "Dude, you gotta see that movie. It is a tour de force dot dot dot mesmerizing."
Mo Mandel: "I've never bought drugs and not used them. I mean, they're not condoms."
Mo is clearly superior. Plus, are Raj Desai or Na'im Lynn headlining the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience on Wednesday, October 10th at Blake's on Telegraph (Doors at 8, Show at 9, 18+, $8)? No, but Mo Mandel is!
Voting runs from September 13th to the 27th (vote once per day). The winner gets 10 grand, a TV appearance, and a spot on the Comedy Central Live tour. The man himself says, "I need the Bay Area behind me to win this bitch," so vote for one of SF's finest as often as possible: VOTE FOR MO
I go to a lot of open mics for stand-up. They're often tedious, repetitive, and frankly a little depressing, but sometimes, moments of beauty occur. Generally it's not funny on purpose, but that makes it even more wonderful. Penicillin was an accident, too, after all.
A man came up with a guitarist friend and performed a song, to the tune of "Mr. Tambourine Man", with new anti-Bush lyrics. Sample:
"Hey Mr. President, man
Show some courage for me"
It was like Weird Al mixed with Mark Russell mixed with despair. Parodies of 40-year-old songs are always a risky proposition, no matter how deft the satire. Also, "Mr. Tambourine Man" is not a short song. However, in case you were wondering, a man who would re-write "Mr. Tambourine Man" in 2007 is not a supporter of the war in Iraq.
His performance was met with polite applause, and then the singer went to tell jokes. His first moment of banter was the rim shot to the extended setup that was his whole performance:
A magical week of Sean Keane Komedy kontinues tonight with Ebony & Irony Presents. I preformed in the first incarnation of this showcase, back in June, but this time I will be headlining. Ebony & Irony is about laughs, it's about racial and sarcastic harmony, and it's about puns based on Paul McCartney collaborations with African-American pop superstars. Based on the success of Ebony & Irony, I'm considering founding my own bi-monthly showcase called, The Girl Is Mine.
Showtime is officially 8 PM, though it will probably get going a little later. 18+, $10, no drink minimum. The lineup features:
Kris Tinkle: Appeared on Howard Stern's Meet the Retards Tour and recently entertained the troops in Iraq. Some of you saw his killer feature set at Iron Comic last month, or you may have seen him at the Punchline, where he kills every week, or you may just know his legendary "Hurricane of Dicks" joke.
Joe Tobin: In August, Joe came in second in the 2007 SF Comedy Club Competition, one spot ahead of Sean Keane, and ever since then, he's worn a large, gaudy silver medal around everywhere, which I believe he does in order to taunt me. Joe only weighs 145 pounds, but he's as funny as a man of twice his mass.
Kevin Munroe: Kevin Munroe and I have the same birthday, a date we share with Garfield the Cat, Lou Gehrig, Blaise Pascal, Moe from The Three Stooges, Salman Rushdie, and Nick Drake. Kevin's comedic style could be described as an amalgamation of all those different people, if they'd grown up in Trinidad and then worked in the IT industry. Kevin is 6'6", an accomplished swing dancer, and did not write and direct the 2007 remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Kevin O'Shea: At the SF Comedy Club, you can drink as much or as little as you like, but there is a two-Kevin minimum. Thankfully, Mr. O'Shea is here, fresh off a performance at Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight at the Punchline, so we won't get in trouble with the ATF. Kevin is also hosting Blah Blah Blah (A Talk Show), on September 21st at the Dark Room Theater, with a lineup that features Mary Van Note, a mystery guest, and yours truly. 10 PM, $7, check it out, but that's in two weeks, so first check out tonight's show.
Marcella Arguello: Marcella is, without a doubt, the finest six-foot female Salvadoran comic in the Bay Area. She's a rising star, makes a lot of MySpace videos, and on Saturday night she'll be featured in the Latino Comedy Jam, which might be the only worthwhile thing to happen in Modesto for many months. If you are in Modesto, do check it out, if your first option of getting the fuck out of Modesto is unavailable.
And that's the lineup. Come check it out, in the interest of racial harmony, love of joy, and revitalizing the Tenderloin, one bottle of Heineken at a time.
The Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience was a fairly successful event last night, with 73 people flocking to Blake's on Telegraph to enjoy comedy downstairs. I was a little shaky as host, but I pulled through, the squelch made some money, and everyone had a good time. Highlights for me were Ali Wong's uncanny impression of Charles Barkley (and her reference to NBA star "Anthony Hardaway"), Chris Garcia's "big vagina" joke, Julian Vance on how he learned to be a strong black man from MTV Jams, John Hoogasian on depression, ("Runs in my family? Depression hauls ass in my family!"), and Reggie Steele's entire set.
Thanks to everyone who came out and to Julian especially for filling in at the last minute. Look for another one of these around October 17th, with some possible themes:
"Loma Prieta: Never forget"
"A rally to end the occupation of those oak trees next to the stadium"
"Beware the Ides of October, if October is one of those months that actually has Ides"
"Happy Birthday, Molly and Kristen"
The show is 18+, and there is no drink minimum. However, Blake's on Telegraph wants me to remind everyone that they have a large, well-stocked bar, and everyone should feel free to eat and drink a lot. After all, if you don't drink at least one gin-and-tonic, haven't the terrorists already won?
More promo info:
John Hoogasian is a longtime SF favorite who this summer appeared on Comedy Central's "Live at Gotham".
Reggie Steele's natural and engaging style has made him a favorite at clubs and colleges all over the Bay Area. He can be seen on "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Standup" on Starz.
Ali Wong is adorably inappropriate, performs regularly at the Punchline and Cobb's Comedy Club, and comprises one half of the Rice & Beans comedy troupe.
Chris Garcia is a former Berkeley student, a Punchline regular, and the other half of Rice & Beans.
Julian Vance is a rising star in SF comedy, and recently opened for Dave Chappelle at the Punchline.
Sean Keane is an alum of both Berkeley and the Squelch, and recently became the first-ever two-time Iron Comic champion, and he is totally awesome.
Bonus video! Reggie Steele discusses the first black president:
Alex Koll is a talented local comedian and filmmaker who recently qualified as a regional wild card in Comedy Central's Open Mic Fight competition. Now, Alex Koll needs your vote, and he made an awe-inspiring campaign video:
"You can vote only ONCE a day from your computer, everyday, so ask yourself:
*How many computers are at my work?
*Do I live in a computer lab?
*Will that lady at Starbucks mind if I use her laptop while she's up getting napkins?"
Vote for Alex Koll, not just for our children, but for our children's children. I know all 19 people in my office will be voting for him, as will our scanner, the library books, and this one machine that handles UPS shipping. Because that's how they roll.
Iron Blogging is done for the time being, but please enjoy blogging about Iron Comic, the comedygameshow won by yours truly this past Friday. It was a tough battle, as are all skirmishes in Joke Arena, but ultimately I managed to claw my way to the top. Here's how the secret ingredients worked out:
Ingredient #1: "The end of the world"
Tapan Trivedi talked about terrorism and the end of the world, and discussed the bad rap he gets as a Hindu with no bombs. Sheng Wang impressed the crowd by talking about how he thought it was sad how anyone's efforts to improve the world or do anything inevitably involved making people die, then added, "I meant to say that funnier."
I chose to focus my two minutes on the theory that the end of the world will resemble the film Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The end of the world will be really long, way longer than it needed to be. It will involve incomprehensible mythology about pirates. Keith Richards will be there, because that motherfucker is never going to die. The end of the world will not make any sense. And yet, against all logic, the end of the world will be attended by millions of people, willingly, because they went to the first part and they're curious how everything wraps up.
Ingredient #2: Alberto Gonzales
This topic was almost "Parking", or even specifically "Parking in the Castro". The crowd reacted to this topic with hostility. And with good cause! It was an attempt by some of my companions to circumvent the Iron Comedy process by choosing a topic I'd just written a new joke about. Fortunately for the integrity of the competition, we chose a different topic.
Sheng Wang discussed the extreme negativity in topics so far. Jeff Applebaum theorized that Alberto Gonzales had played shortstop for the Giants in the late '70s, then repeated his joke about Univision and cell phones. Mike Meehan had a good riff on this topic, but I don't remember it because I was staring at my notes.
I decided to take a break from the Gonzales-bashing. I discussed my admiration for his tenacity. Gonzales would not resign even if you wiretapped all of his conversations, deleted his old emails, held him without trial in a secret prison, even if you tortured him, within a loose set of parameters designated by executive order. Nor would Bush fire Gonzales, for a few reasons: It proves Bush is loyal, that Bush won't bow to political pressure, and that Bush knows a Mexican guy. Finally, I speculated that a Texas Supreme Court judge is equivalent to the "hanging judge" depicted in old westerns - only because it's the Bush administration, the hanging judge would be the majority shareholder in a scaffolding business, and his brother would own a rope factory, while his best friend made coffins, and his wife lobbied against the use of horses in public hangings.
Ingredient #3: Bike messengers
Oh, poor bike messengers. Usually, they don't take this kind of abuse in the Mission. But everyone had some mean things to say about their hygiene, their drug use, their casual disregard for automotive traffic. Tapan speculated that bike messenger services would soon be outsourced to India ("We've got the bikes; you've got the messages!") Host Nato Green even had some material on working as a car messenger.
I discussed an old bike messenger service we used to have, Special-T Delivery. Special-T is an example of why you should be careful of business with intentionally misspelled names. I once asked a Special-T employee if the name "Specialty" was taken by someone else. He responded, "No, why?" (Old Pleasant Hill hair salon and Tino's Pizza neighbor Shear Majic had the same story - no rival "Shear Magic" forcing them into an alternate spelling.)
Ultimately, what were their special-Ts*? Bicycling drunk, leaving court documents in a puddle of spilled PBR and bong water under an outdoor table at Zeitgeist, and rolling up one pant leg to knee level. You see that look in two places: bike messengers' klegs and in the yard at San Quentin. Coincidence? I think not.
(*note: exaggerations present.)
Mike Meehan probably did better than me in the lightning round, but I hung on to take the title. Officially, my prize was an Amstel Light and something else unappealingly funny, which I can't remember right now. Meehan's prize for second place was to "open for Carlos Mencia".
As for the featured performers, Nico Santos and Kris Tinkle drew rave reviews from my sources in the crowd. (Check out Kris Tinkle at the Heuristic Squelch Comedy Experience on September 5th in Berkeley!) Host Nato Green did well, but the buzz in the crowd was about how h-o-t he looked. Maybe it was the stylish Iron Comic t-shirt. Watch out, Mrs. Nato Green!
It's only recently that I have had friends who were having babies, and that was a thing to be excited and happy about. It's a weird cognitive shift. I think it's because for the last fifteen years at least, any of my peers getting pregnant was a tragic event, the absolute worst-case scenario. Pregnancy was like an infectious disease. Everyone utilized preventative measures. Girls pre-emptively took pills to avid this tragic fate. You stockpiled condoms in your house just in case, like people buying Cipro during the Anthrax scare. I've been conditioned to feel like choosing to have a baby would be on par with willingly infecting yourself with the bird flu.
The threat of having a baby was a deterrent to sex-having and irresponsibility. Having baby meant you couldn't finish school, you had to go work a menial job, your future was over. I remember my dad playing Bruce Springsteen's "The River" for me and explaining how screwed the guy in the song was. In that song, your fate as a young parent was to abandon your dreams, which became either a lie or "something worse". Of course, even when many of my peers were willingly choosing not to finish school and I met plenty of classmates who had kids, that picture of baby-having remained.
Luckily, there's an easy factor that helps me reconcile my mixed feelings about friends having babies. Babies are really goddamn cute.
Nato Green's Iron Comic is just seven hours away! The competition is all about writing jokes on the spot. In each round, the Iron Comics have ten minutes to write two minutes of material, based on a topic suggested by the audience. For anyone that's hesitated to come to a Sean Keane show due to a lack of new material, rest assured that tonight will be all-new.
As a warmup to the big event tonight (Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. @ Mission, 21+, $8, doors 7:30, show 8:00), I'm going to do some Iron Blogging. Based on the first suggested topic, either via comments or a Meebo message, I will write a blog post on said topic in just ten minutes. I reserve the right to fix typos and insert hyperlinks outside of the ten-minute window, but other than that, it will all be done in ten minutes. Whose blog post reigns, um, the most? Mine by default, because Tapan Trivedi and Jeff Applebaum don't have blogs.
As I understand it, I was first on audience ballots, but dropped to third when the judges' opinions were factored in. Winning the popular vote, but losing out when the decision was thrown to the judges: now I know how Al Gore feels. To be fair, the SF Comedy Club's controversial butterfly ballot didn't help matters, as a few Sean Keane voters have claimed they really meant to vote for Pat Buchanan.
Highlights of the competition included the stellar sets by Mr. Urqhart and Mr. Tobin, Patrick Bulger's joke about stealing someone's mailbox and mailing it back to them, Jeff Cleary's 9/11 waterbed sale bit, my material about being short, Brendan Lynch and Marcella Arguello talking about being tall (Lynch, on short guys trying to fight him at bars: "Sorry, I'm too busy getting laid and promoted."), and Mike Lemcke delivering the best performance by a Chico State alum since the last Time InflatableSupermodel took the stage.
Sean Keane's competitive week of comedy isn't over yet. Check out Iron Comic tomorrow, now with Sheng Wang!
Last year, I reached the finals of the San Francisco Comedy Club's annual competition. While I didn't place, I was pleased with my performance and appreciative of the large crowd. You could say I was just happy to be there.
This phenomenon exists in sports, particularly the NBA. This year, Cleveland had a celebration and trophy presentation on the court after they won the Eastern Conference championship, as if there wasn't an additional playoff round yet to play. They all wore Eastern Conference Champions t-shirts and Eastern Conference Champions caps while the owner made a tearful speech holding the Eastern Conference Champions trophy. Then, the Cavs lost four straight games in the NBA Finals.
My Finals appearance last year was reminiscent of the 2002 New Jersey Nets. They made great strides that year to become a serious contender, then were blown out by the Lakers in the Finals. I like to think I combine many attributes of those Nets: the pallor of Keith Van Horn, the checkered, drug-riddled past of Kenyon Martin, the successful romantic relationships of Jason Kidd, and the speed and agility of Todd MacCulloch.
Like the Nets did that year, I ran into a juggernaut in the finals. The tough duo of Mike E. Winfield and Nico Santos was like a shorter, gayer version of Shaq and Kobe. Second-place finisher Debbie Campo played the Robert Horry role: normally a solid performer, but unstoppable once the Finals arrive.
I hope that this year is more like 2003, where the playoffs were wide open and the Nets returned to the Finals. Of course, they still didn't win, but they did take two games in the Finals. That's what I'm looking to accomplish: make a strong showing, build my fan base, and then trade for Dikembe Mutombo and announce plans to move to Brooklyn.
The show is on Wednesday at 8 PM, at the SF Comedy Club at 50 Mason. Tickets are $10, and the field includes such local luminaries as Mo Mandel, Joe Tobin, Chris Garcia, Ali Mafi, Patrick Bulger and at least seven others. Yes, last year's problem of too many comics in the finals has not been solved, as rumors persist that the Finals field will include some comics who failed to advance out of the semi-finals. Let's hope the field is no larger than last year's group of 14. After all, a twelve-man roster was good enough for the 2003 New Jersey Nets.
There's a brand-new comedy showcase premiering at Frank Chu's favorite bar in San Francisco, 12 Galaxies. It's called Full Contact Comedy, and the debut show is Tuesday, February July 24th. There's an impressive array of up-and-coming SF standups involved, including "corporate douchebag by day, experimental comic by night", Jeff Cleary; the free money from the government guy, Joe Tobin; the finest Afro-Trinidadian comic in the Bay Area, Kevin Munroe; the most Irishly named comic in the Bay Area (at least until Seamus McWhiskeybritches comes back from LA), Kevin O'Shea, and comedienne/filmmaker Mary Van Note.
Show starts at 8, and admission is $7. Now please enjoy the lovely promotional materials.
Nato Green's Iron Comic
Friday, August 3, 2007 at 8pm (doors at 7)
The Make-Out Room at 3225 22nd St., SF, CA 94110 at Mission
Whose routine reigns supreme?
Iron Comic is a live gameshow where 5 comedians rush to write a routine in 10 minutes from topics suggested by the audience. At the end of the night, an Iron Comic will be chosen. Inspired by Iron Chef, each comic is forced to craft jokes while the clock is ticking.
Battling in Joke Arena will include: Mike Meehan has been a local comedy legend since the 80s, is 1/3 of the Meehan Brothers, with countless appearences at clubs and on TV. Sean Keane won the first Iron Comic, and returns to crush all comers. Tapan Trivedi is an Indian-American comedian who tours clubs and colleges with Pundits With Punchlines and Coexist Comedy Tour. Kellen Erskine tours his comedy all over the country, and tours his cartoons all over the internet. Sheng Wang appeared on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham and the American Eagle College Comedy Tour. Jeff Applebaum recently appeared on Craig Ferguson, and played Joey Bishop in the play "The Rat Pack is Back."
Also featuring: Nato Green, creator of Iron Comic & Laughing Liberally Local 415. Reggie Steele whose charismatic comedy makes him a favorite at every club in the Bay. Kris Tinkle whose been heard on XM Radio, appeared with Howard Stern's Meet the Retards Tour, and recently performed for the troops in Iraq.
Sunday night at the Punchline is showcase night. Fifteen different comics get up, all doing 5-7 minutes each, except for the headliner, who goes longer. Last night, there were sixteen comics, because Dave Chappelle stopped by.
The headliner was cut short, and the host announced a "surprise guest". When they heard who it was, the crowds erupted. Dave walked to the stage, flanked by a cameraman and a minor security detail that was pointing out cell phone cameras in the crowd like Secret Service agents spotting handguns. A few enthused patrons gave Dave a standing ovation, which looks strange in a comedy club.
(Digression: It's really weird that they need to actively prevent cell phone photography of Chappelle, as if fans can't truly appreciate seeing Dave without preserving the moment forever with a crappy, low-resolution camera photo.)
Dave got up and proceeded to do his five-minute "set" entirely in a made-up language that made him sound like a Star Wars cantina patron. It was reminsicent of the Gibberish expert improv game, only without the translator. (Sample joke: "Tatanga bah? Shatanga banga tatang!") The crowd went from excited, to expectant, to confused, still waiting for the moment when Dave would revert back to English and deliver the sure-to-be-hilarious punchline that would explain the whole thing. That didn't happen. Just before he got off, Dave asked the crowd, "Awkward, isn't it?" Then he said, "That's the point," dropped the mic on the ground, and walked off.
It was indeed awkward, especially as actor-comedian Greg Edwards returned to the stage to close the show. It was awkward again when Dave walked back up to the stage to explain that he'd just seen Apocalypto, and that he "just wondered whether that would work for comedy". Then Greg sheepishly climbed back up to the stage to close the show for the third time, like the champ that he is.
I have a few opinions about this. First, I enjoy it when things are intentionally disappointing. The crowd thought they'd lucked into a random Chappelle appearance, and quickly went from surprised euphoria to extreme disappointment. People were willing to go a long way with his gibberish stuff, which shows you what kind of pinnacle Chappelle has reached in the comedy world. The crowd still laughed sporadically during his completely English-free bit, and I have no doubt that they would have given him more slack if he'd dragged the bit out longer.
Andy Kaufman would have been proud. However, I was glad to be a comic sitting in the back, and not a regular audience member. I'm pretty sure Andy Kaufman's gags were funnier if you were watching the audience, and not trying to be entertained by Andy himself. Maybe Dave was just seeing how far he could push it. Maybe he lost a bet. Maybe he won a bet. Maybe it was all for YouTube.
From everything I hear, Dave Chappelle is very generous to other comics, and a very valuable asset to the Punchline, and the SF comedy scene in general. At this point, he can do whatever he wants. My only objection is that, before Chappelle made his appearance, it was a very strong Sunday showcase, maybe the best I'd ever seen. Nearly every comic did well, some as well as I'd ever seen them do. But after the Chappelle gibberish set, no one went home talking about Moshe Kasher's killer set, or Clinton Jackson's great routine about grocery lines. For better or for worse, the night was defined by the five minutes of Dave talking goofy at the end. Shatanga banga, bitch!
Only once a year do I get to break out my Flag Day material, and then it goes back into mothballs for another 364 days.
My favorite thing about flags is that it unites different communities. The two groups that embrace flags most are gays, and the military. Traditionally on different sides, June 14th is the time both can find common ground. Flying the flag. Wearing their hair short. Working out.
In her own way, Betsy Ross was the original flag hag.
Mexico has an EAGLE eating a SNAKE while standing on a CACTUS. Badass. It's so badass that even the thing the eagle is perched on is a badass. The Mexican flag should be airbrushed onto the back of a black tank top. It's the flag equivalent of a guitar solo.
This flag could only be more badass if it was a T-Rex biting an alligator that was attacking a shark swimming through an oil fire, and the whole thing was surrounded by barbed wire.
You never hear about anyone burning a Mexican flag. I'm not even sure that flag would ignite. It would just give you a dirty look and shank you.
Meanwhile, the Canadian flag is a delicate maple leaf. The Mexican flag says, "Just try it, ese." Meanwhile, Canada's flag says, "We love pancakes." The US flag says, "We can fit a bunch more stars up here. Don't think we won't make Iraq a state."
"I am an American and proud to be one," [Richard Marshall] said, adding that the 9/11 attacks made flag-flying more important.
Of all the things you could take away from 9/11, that's the one Richard Marshall focuses on. God, if only he'd hung that flag across the back window of his pickup truck a month earlier. Maybe those towers would still be standing.
Ebony & Irony Presents is a brand-new monthly comedy showcase. The first evening features:
Sheng Wang (appearing on Comedy Central this summer) Reggie Steele (recently headlined at the San Jose Improv)
Sean Keane (local favorite, dashing good looks) Kevin Munroe (co-founder, Ebony & Irony), and Joe Tobin (co-founder, Ebony & Irony)
Hosted by Julian Vance
Tickets are $10; call 415.398.4129 for reservations.
I'm a last-minute addition to Kevin O'Shea's "Blah Blah Blah! (a talk show)", taking place at 10 PM on Saturday, May 26th at The Dark Room.
It's a comedy talk show, meaning you'll get to hear some of your favorite local comics performing sit-down comedy for a change. There's Jason Downs, actor-comedian Greg Edwards, co-host Joe Gorman (whose mother called me an "apple-cheeked young man" after one of my shows), and me.
Check out the flyer below for more details, and see if you can guess which comedian I am replacing.
The lineup features local favorite Boxcar, Buffalo native and founder of High Contrast Comedy, as a feature act, and an unprecedented triumvirate of headlining from Jeremy Whitman, Scot Shields, and Adam Hammer, as part of their Just Another Hangover Tour. Show starts at 9 PM, and should finish up about 11.
I learned a lot from going back to school this month. San Francisco State has cheap beer and an enormous video arcade. My baby face still gets me carded at campus bars. Dwinelle Hall in Berkeley still has a disorienting layout. College students everywhere enjoy jokes about inferior academic institutions and mass murders at other colleges. And, most likely, Stanford still sucks.
June brings comedy competitions, more shows with Joe Tobin, and an assortment of South Bay appearances. Watch this space for more details, or check the MySpace calendar.
I've got a last-minute feature gig tonight (May 11th) at the SF Comedy Club at 50 Mason. The show begins at 8, and admission is $10. Headlining the Friday Night Showcase this week is one of my favorite comics, the wiry and wily Joe Tobin. Here's a clip of Mr. Tobin in action:
The May 2007 Sean Keane College Tour kicks off this week at UC Berkeley. On Wednesday, May 2nd, I'll be performing at the TKE fundraiser for Alzheimer's Research. It starts at 7:30 at 155 Dwinelle Hall, on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $5, and other performers include Michael Capozzola, Shannon Gettins, Tim Lee, Matt Morales, and John Jackson Waste.
But it doesn't stop there! Because on Wednesday, May 9th, I'll be performing at the Comedy show at the Depot, on the San Francisco State University campus. The show starts bright and early, at 5 PM, and admission is free. A source at SF State tells me that the Depot is part of "the Cesar Chavez Center, featuring the Rosa Parks Conference Room, all adjacent to the Malcom X Plaza." Which means if you do not attend this show, it might mean you're a racist.
Finally, on Tuesday, May 22nd, I will be hosting the Tuesday Comedy Night on the Stanford Campus. The show starts at 9 PM, at the 750 Pub at 750 Escondido Road (hence the name). Admission is free, and I think they pass the hat for comics.
The College Tour is going to be very exciting, and I may expand it further with unannounced acoustic sets outside SF City College, or a special comedy webcast for the University of Phoenix. It won't just be educational; it'll be special educational.
If you missed the triumphant SF comedy Club show from April 14th, you can see the whole thing here, at Rooftop Comedy.