Comic Demetri Martin (who recently became the Daily Show's "Trend Spotting" correspondent) is continuing his string of successes. He just sold a pitch to Dreamworks... per Variety:
DreamWorks has found its way with "Will," acquiring the pitch from comic/scribe Demetri Martin.
Comedic story centers on an ordinary guy who has settled into a typical life with a job and family. After waking up one day and resolving to no longer live an average life, he sets out on a journey to fulfill his hidden potential. Martin will take a key supporting role.
Scot Armstrong, who penned "Old School" and "Road Trip" for DreamWorks, is closing a deal to be executive producer on the project. Martin pitched the idea to both Steven Spielberg and studio head Adam Goodman; latter took it off the market right away.
Bully for you, Mr. Martin.
Some hip-hop related flotsam...
Noz of the hip-hop blog Cocaine Blunts & Hip-Hop Tapes has been blogging over at XXL's cool new website. He checks in with the first three of his top ten underappreciated rappers list... and it's great so far. See what he has to say about WC, MC Lyte, and Suga-Free. WC and Suga-Free are known for their New Sincerity flows, and Suga-Free in particular is NS. The LA-based rapper and frequent DJ Quik collaborator tends to wear suits, perms, and manicures to support his pimp image. Noz is also hosting a few early Suga Free tracks on Cocaine Blunts.
Also, J-Smooth from WBAI-FM in New York (and the excellent hiphopmusic.com) points us to a fascinating profile of producer Just Blaze, best known for his work with the Roc-a-Fella camp (Jay-Z's "Song Cry," Cam'ron's "Oh Boy," etc). Just talks about how he's trying to find his own way through the hip-hop world, while still representing what he loves about New York rap:
"That raw grittiness, the essence of it, is totally down here. I've done uptempo club records with no samples and keyboards; I'm not mad at that. But the more I notice things getting screwed up, the more I'm like I gotta play my part in balancing the scale a little more. And if I fail, cool. I just gotta do what my heart tells me, and right now my heart is telling me that somebody's got to be at the front of people bringing it back. There's not too many people from the boom-bap East Coast era who are even in a position to make a difference in hip-hop. I'm one of the few who anybody even has half of an eye on. A lot of my heroes wouldn't even have the opportunity to do it. It's almost like I have to do it."
also... check out the author's great blog, featuring a totally fascinating conversation between Just Blaze and fellow producer Alchemist.
Henry Rollins will be chatting at 3PM Eastern today on the Washington Post website about his new IFC series. Looks like a pretty wonderful guest lineup he has for the show, too. Can you imagine if Henry Rollins and Chuck D became friends? Or Henry Rollins and Oliver Stone? The universe might fold in on itself.
Listener Tom points us to this fantastic thread on the forums of Soul-Strut.com, a website for record collectors. It's a treasure-trove of amazing stories about the emma-emma-zuh-aye arruh-arruh-zuh-kay to the i-e, aka Biz Markie. Best one I've read so far is Biz talking about why he recorded his classic record "Pickin' Boogers:"
"I wanted to do a record like that becuase I knew a lot of people that used to pick boogers. I used to know a kid named anthony hussey and he used to pick his boogers back in the day."
And that's realer than Real Deal Holyfield.
Biz Markie: Hero of The New Sincerity
23-year-old Ryan Stout is a rising star in the comedy scene, having already whipped through San Francisco on the way to Hollywood Celebrity. His style is quite fairly compared to Sarah Silverman, contrasting shocking transgressions with a calm, confident exterior. He also kind of looks like he should host an entertainment news show. Here's his take on his Aspen Comedy Festival experience. (By the way, a fair portion take seems to be a response to Brent Weinbach's take earlier this week), so if you haven't read that, do so now.
I think I was there briefly when I was a kid—We, my parents and I, just stopped through town to ride the gondola, or something, and continued our road trip on to ‘Elsewhere.’
My biggest worry was the altitude. I don’t exercise much… Well, not at all, really. So, my cardio-vascular system isn’t quite up to par. On top of that, I hold a pretty steady diet of alcohol and diner food. Overall, I doubt I’m in the best shape to be trekking around the mountains. I was sure that I would be getting dizzy and blacking-out, or I would be onstage and the severe tunnel vision would kick in. Turns out, I didn’t have a problem. Maybe I’m in better shape than I thought. Thank you, Genetics.
My buddy Brent Weinbach and I flew out there together and when we landed in Denver we were both surprised by a woman from the festival waiting with a sign that said “Ryan Stout / Brent Weinbach.” Her whole job that day was to make sure that performers made it to our connecting flights on time. So, Weinbach and I loaded up on one of those carts that are normally reserved for the disabled and elderly. The driver hit the gas and we were on our way. We thought we might be going all the way to another terminal. Nope. Six gates. They had someone drive us, two young, healthy looking lads, five hundred feet. I was surprised that no one gave us nasty looks as we got off the little electric cart.
Once we got to Aspen, I couldn’t believe my ears when Weinbach described his hotel room. From his description I thought it was a suite on the top floor. But, on Friday I actually got to see the place: It was just a hotel room.
His “Jacuzzi with a skylight over it” was just a normal size bathtub with a few water jets, and, yes, fine, a skylight. But, really, how impressed are you by the wonderment of a skylight? I still don’t understand how he could be so thrilled about having a refrigerator and microwave—You can have that at any Best Western. I was really disappointed that, for me, at least, his room didn’t live up to the hype.
I’d like to present my hotel room through the eyes of Brent Weinbach:
“Right when I walked in, on the right, there were these double doors that opened up to a huge closet with these really nice hangers. They were plastic, but nice plastic. And, then, I had two beds. Two queen-size beds, just for me. Then, I also had a 27-inch color TV, that had a bunch of movie channels, and stuff, and it was stored in this really nice wooden cabinet. Oh, I had a refrigerator, too. And that was also in a matching wooden cabinet with free chocolates sitting on top of it. They were actually Nestle Turtles, which is my favorite, one of my favorite, chocolates. My bathroom had the special lamp to heat the tiles so your feet don’t get cold. The water pressure was strong, too; I like that. I had wireless internet access… It was a nice room.”
I should also note that the rooms, though not brilliant and extravagant, were nice. And, because of the festival and ski season, they would probably run about $500 per night.
What was the audience like for your shows?
It was the best party maneuver I’ve ever made. From now on, I’m going to spend every party on my back.
Brian Finkelstein’s show was probably the best-crafted work I saw at the festival. His stories had so many crisp images and layers of meaning. The whole thing had such a great arch to it. I was sad when he finished because I could have sat and listened for a lot longer. I was really impressed.
A thousand apologies to Kara Welker. I hadn’t met her until the festival and I must’ve introduced myself to her seventeen times. “Hi, I’m Ryan.”
“Yeah. Kara. We’ve met.” Over and over I introduced myself. To make things worse, every time I did it, I was sober, so I have no excuses.
I learned that anytime you don’t recognize a person and you re-introduce yourself, the amount that you look like a self-centered prick goes up exponentially. By day five I looked like a google-prick, I’m sure of it.
She was the only one I did that to. In my mind she’s a chameleon.
Would you recommend it to others?
I certainly don’t recommend turning it down. If you’re invited to go, go. I had the best time of my life. And I’m not exaggerating. I can’t remember six consecutive days that were so much fun. But, I guess, to have fun, you really have to love comedy, love seeing comedy, and love hanging out with people who make comedy.
Anthony Jeselnik hits the stage with an arrogance that's almost unfathomable, but hey, it works. It turns out that the LA-based comic is a pretty good guy, though, once you get him off the stage. We debriefed him about his experience performing at the HBO Aspen Comedy Arts Festival:
Had you been before? What did you expect it to be like? What surprised ! you about it when you got there?
No, I’d never been to Aspen before. In fact, this was my first festival. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I drew from the experiences of friends who have been in the past. They all told me to just treat the whole thing like a vacation, interrupted by a few shows. People wh! o go into Aspen hoping to get the big deal just make themselves miserable. I was surprised by how much fun I had, to the point that having to perform almost every night was annoying. Also, I was caught off guard by the sheer number of times I heard everyone, and I mean everyone, using the word “buzz” in casual conversation.
What was the audience like for your shows?
My group kept talking about how we were very lucky with the audiences for our shows. For the most part, I experienced wonde! rful crowds. One show, in which we saw our worst crowd by far, was a late night show in a big auditorium. One guy was sleeping in the front row, occasionally waking up to come to the stage and interrupt whoever was performing to show off a pen. In his defense, though, it was one of those pens with a pretty lady with disappearing clothes when turned upside down. I heard horror stories of some groups getting heckled or, even worse, ignored. Aspen audiences, for the most part, were terrible. There aren’t a lot of comedy fans who make the trip out there. It’s mostly industry and wealthy friends of industry. Lots of drunk wives. People like that go to four comedy shows a day and things are going to get rough.
What was the best social event you attended? Why?
There were some fantastic “social events” in Aspen. The “Best Week Ever” party was great, but anything with an open bar qualifies as great for me. I’d have to say the UCB/3 Arts/Collegehumor.com House was the greatest. They had this huge place and hosted parties throughout t! he week. One night all the local girls showed up and the fucking place went nuts. Amazing night.
What was the best show you saw that wasn't your own?
Brian Finklestein’s one man show, First Day Off in a Long Time, was amazing. It was his account of working the overnight shift at a suicide hotline. Not a lot of jokes, but fucking powerful. I felt terrible for the show following! him all week. The whole audience is practically in tears, taking personal stock of their lives and, suddenly, two guys come running out, energy coming out of their pores, yelling about true love and personal choice. Jarring.
Also, The Whitest Kids U Know had fantastic shows. They ran away with the Best Sketch award. Very cool guys. Lots of buzz.
What was the strangest social interaction you had while there?
There were a lot of those. I’ll run down the three most memorable, in no particular order: 1. I introduced myself to one of the founders of collegehumor.com and his started doing a character or something, saying “Oh YEAH!” and dancing in response to everything. That went on for five minutes and was incredibly uncomfortable. 2, An older woman working with the festival came up to me after one of my shows and said “I loved all your jokes, except for the one about cancer”. But I thought she said “I loved all your jokes, ESPECIALLY the one about cancer”. I laughed and thanked her, saying only stupid people get of! fended by that joke. Then she clasped her hands to her chest and, on the verge of crying, said “I said EXCEPT the cancer joke! Except! I just lost my mom!” and walked away. 3. Finally, on the last night (when I was crippled by what I later discovered was the flu) a man came up to me out of nowhere and said “You’d be so much funnier if you did everything deadpan.” I said, thanks for the unsolicited advice and tried to leave. The man then took my arm and said “You should listen to me, because I know a thing or two about comedy. If you did your whole act deadpan, people would shit their pants.” I said “Well, what brings you out to the festival?” He said “I’m here with some friends for the skiing. I’m a proctologist.”
Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, of course. It’s an honor to be invited, incredible fun and only an absolute idiot would refuse the opportunity.
Todd over at Dead-Frog has a fascinating interview with the unpredictable creators of Wonder Showzen. Vernon and John will be on The Sound this weekend.
Children are the magical glue that keeps our society hurtling towards guaranteed destruction. Every morning we force feverish miscreants (selves) to huff that glue, before we translate their death spasms into morse code, and then into English. We lay it out into script format and shoot. Children’s assholes have almost nothing to do with it. What Matt and Trey were probably trying to say was that they are so rich, they can afford to shit from children.
Mitch Hurwitz, Arrested Development's creator and showrunner, has decided to quit, despite a deal on the table from Showtime. That's pretty much the death-knell for the series. Star Jason Bateman's comments:
"I'm so proud of it and so like it as a TV fan that I'm happy we're not going to get a chance to screw it up," he said, in the deadpan style of his character, Michael Bluth, about the only sane member of the dysfunctional Bluth clan. "Our luck wouldn't have held. There would have been cast fighting. We would have messed it up."
Link to the article by long-time AD supporter Tim Goodman of the SF Chronicle.
The inimitable Dame Edna, Australia's spectacular Housewife-Megastar, is hitting LA for two weeks of shows at the Ahmanson Theater. The show opens tonight and runs until April ninth, so get your tickets now, if you're in LA.
If you've never seen Dame Edna, you really owe it to yourself.
”Genius! Hasten to the theatre and sit at the feet of a star. What bliss!” – Ben Brantley, The New York Times
Dame Edna is the official Housewife-Megastar of The New Sincerity.
One of my guests on this week's Sound of Young America broadcast will be Jim Gaffigan, who is one of America's most popular standup comics. We talked for about half an hour, and I'm only going to use about half of that, but I know Jim has a lot of fans out there, so I thought I'd share it with you uncut.
Listen to this week's show online: