October 30, 2012 | 3:18 pm
Posted by Steven Alan Green
So far, San Francisco’s been great. Unlike Los Angeles, it’s a real city. And, it’s beautiful without make-up or fake tits. The local city government communicates with its citizenry, in the same friendly paternalistic way London does with its own. A great public transportation no less, that actually lets you know to the second, when the next bus, train or street car is due. Bus drivers who speak with you and strangers on the street who not only don’t run away, but actually know of what they speak. I saw a fire truck roll by Market Street today, full on sirens, heading to some sort of mid-town emergency, but what struck me were the two giant San Francisco Giants flags flanking the emergency vehicle. And apparently – I haven’t checked this out yet – but apparently there are flanks of naked men walking around the Castro District under some local self-expression ordinance. Let the truth hang out! Haight Ashbury (where I start working on this week’s blog at “Coffee to the People”) is like the Grove during the day and Falluja at night. Long-lensed touristas swarm the holy corner of Ashbury as if they were hypnotically visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but instead of leaving paper written prayers in its fissures, they write little notes on rolling papers as they unconsciously pass by where Jimi Hendrix lived and breathed his first cup of vomit. I drove up here two weeks ago with comedian/filmmaker Dave Sirus, who is directing me in his mockumentary about the world’s worst comedian, Archie Black. Dave never stops talking. Even when he’s dead, Dave will still talk. In fact, he’s the Talking Dead. But, I love Dave and he’s really a whiz kid comedy genius filmmaker and I’m very lucky to work with him. (Does that cover it?) Dave’s the passionate sort and the thing which raises his cockles more than anything is stupidity, especially bad drivers. He would rail against this driver or that driver and yet, I would try and point out to him that to make himself so upset over people you’ll never see again in your life is the definition of insanity. It’s like me going on and on about Jerry Lewis. And, everyone knows, I would never ever do that. Besides, I don't drive. Remember?
I spent the first week at the lovely home of Doug Ferrari. Doug was one of the local comedy all-stars back in the day when the San Francisco comedy scene included pre-national/international famed local heroes Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGenerous and Robin Williams, and was to be the citadel of American stand-up comedy where The Comedy Big Bang occurred, at least according to comedy historians, astrophysics and the eponymous Big Bang herself, Snooki. These days Doug spends his time in semi-seclusion, working on writing projects in his high-tower security building. Doug is a bit infirmed with a bad leg and doesn’t go out much. I’ve never met anyone more passionate and knowledgeable about local history of the San Francisco comedy and he’s been an absolute Sherpa guide. Another alumnus from that era, Rick Right (real name Brian Seff) was up here last week and we drove out to see him perform at The Throckmorton Theater, where Rick dazzled them with his amazing Flamingo Guitar (it looks like a flamingo) and his never-ending knowledge of not just how to play any rock and roll song every written, but in making it originally funny. Rick was on my first High On Laughter Show at the 2,000 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and eventually settled in, got married and lives to this day in England. Rick was part of Rick and Ruby, a famous San Francisco comedy rock duo in the 80’s and made several appearances on both Mork and Mindy and was Robin’s opening act at concerts. Last Saturday, my new friend, comedian and radio show host Howard Stone and I went to his place of employ, the Encore Karaoke Bar in Polk Gulch, where I sang “Danny’s Song,” enjoined in dance and harmony by a random sexy young lady, as the entire place sang-a-long, “Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey….” It was truly a great moment for me. And, for “my audience,” of course. I cannot deny them their feeble pleasure of enjoying my vast array of talents. Howard likes to eat. Maybe that’s why he’s fat. I mean let’s face it. He’s a big round ball of hairy Jewish flesh. At the same time, one of the smartest and nicest persons I’ve had the pleasure of urinating on quite a long time. (I’m kidding. It wasn’t so pleasurable.)
Continuing on our little “We never know when you’re kidding” tour, I moved out of Doug’s and found a nice respite from constant random information at the San Francisco Guest House, a very nice, clean and quiet hostel on Geary, run by a Chinese woman named Kim; a place where you are required to take off your shoes. Sleeping in a bunk bed again brought the bed-wetting child back in me, but the creaking of the contraption made me feel macho like Dragline from Cool Hand Luke. I’ve met some very nice interesting world-travelers and twice now, I’ve overslept and somebody ate my eggs. Oh well. Toast with jam will do. I’ve gotta get a job, things are getting very tight. I’ve walked into every store with a Help Wanted sign and have been trawling Craigslist like prospecting desperado. No luck. I filled out one application in a used clothing store and in previous experience, I wrote: “Bereaved Fashion Consultant”. I dropped off my voice-over CD to an agent whom I spoke with months ago. We’ll see. I don’t have much faith in voice agents in America. The ones have had in London have been pretty straight forward. The ones I experienced in LA have run the gamut from boring to insane. The first best time here was at Cobb’s Comedy Club’s 30th anniversary show. Hanging out backstage with my good buddy Rick Overton, there was also San Francisco’s local boy makes good, comedy star Greg Proops (also extremely popular in England) and comedian extraordinaire and Letterman warm-up guy, Eddie Brill. Eddie’s comedy is kind of like if Robert Klein and George Carlin had a baby and then told it not to curse. He’s a very funny man, who’s got that old showbiz thing about wanting nothing more than to make the audience happy-er. I really felt at home, hanging out, playing guitar, talking with Cobb’s retiring manager Tom Sawyer, and doing it all with none of the baggage I usually bring with me, like Pigpen’s swirling stench. I even had a nice heart to heart with Eddie, telling him about my nervous breakdown and my founding The Laughter Foundation and COMEC, the Comedy Museum Exploratory Committee. Eddie said he’d help in any way he could. What a sweet guy. It’s such a shame we both got each other so wrong so many years ago. Oh, well, what’s past is past. What’s present is politics like it’s nobody’s business.
Will Durst is one of the best and most respected political comedians in this or any other country in the Western Hemisphere. Hell. The Eastern Hemisphere too! The New York Times calls him “possibly the best political comic in the county” and he currently writes a nationally syndicated humor column and his writings have appeared in Esquire, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Lampoon and The New York Times. Durst (a San Franciscan stand-up stalwart) recently sat down with your humble ETV comedy blogger precariously balanced atop Coit Tower, to perhaps answer a few of the myriad of vexing questions surrounding the national election. The rest of the interview took place in jail, where I was doing time for TUI (Typing Under the Influence) while Will was making a celebrity visit to a few home-challenged poets who, by lot, won the office pool….. (again, I have no idea what that last sentence even means, but I love the way it sounds)
SAG: This is obviously the dirtiest campaign since Meshulam Riklis wined and dined the Foreign Press Association to secure his trophy wife Pia Zadora a much undeserved Golden Globe for the 1982 film Butterfly. How has this nasty presidential campaign affected your confidence in the integrity in the US Electoral System?
WD: Hasn’t. I actually think we're headed in the right direction. Moving our political process from confrontational to gladiatorial. Mano a mano. Full body contact debate. Looking forward to 2016. “2 go in. 1 comes out.” Thunderdome Politics.
SAG: If Romney wins, do you predict he'd be as dangerous as he sounds or will he be all toast and no jelly?
WD: Slippery toast. Over-buttered toast. Float like a butterfly, sting like a jelly-fish toast. He will be the most limber of all our Presidents. The Human Etch A Sketch has flipped and is shaking so hard the fillings in his back teeth are starting to rattle and cascade like some great crumbling Utah Butte. His ads should end with “I’m Mitt Romney and I both approve and disapprove of this ad.”
SAG: The great Senator George McGovern just passed. A great loss for our country. Do you think a true liberal can ever be president? And, why not?
WD: My answer can best be defined by the great Adlai Stevenson who once was told, “You’re going to get the vote of every thinking American.” And he rejoined, “The problem is, I need a majority.”
SAG: Why are Liberal Leaders (unless they are a Kennedy) less funny in terms of being a target?
WD: Conservatives tend to be funnier because they see the world in terms of us vs. them. Black vs. white. Make themselves easier targets. So I hit them where they hurt the funniest.
SAG: Maureen Dowd has suggested that Obama doesn't really want to serve a second term, which is why (according to Dowd) he may be taking a dive. Care to comment?
WD: Think mayhaps Maureen might just be loitering at the bottomless margarita bar a little long. Again.
SAG: In England, it's the party (not the candidate) that wins or loses. They have three "major" parties, not counting the Monster Loony Party. And their entire national campaign only lasts about 3 weeks; each candidate restricted to spending no more than around $150,000 on advertising. Do you think the Brits have a better election system than America does and, aside from driving on the wrong side of the road, what could we learn from them?
WD: Nah. Three weeks isn’t enough time for Americans. We have the attention span of high speed lint. But, there is stuff we could learn from the world. In Australia, voting is compulsory. Failure to vote results in a $25 fine. Of course, that’s $25 Australian.
SAG: What is America's role in world affairs? Is the Monroe Doctrine dead or just Mr. Monroe himself?
WD: The only Monroe Doctrine Americans care about is the one Marilyn and JFK wrote.
SAG: Compared to 30 years ago, how well do you think today's American youth are fully educated and engaged in national politics?
WD: Kids today aren’t being plucked from the suburbs and shoved into a war. Also they have 30,000 different streams of information shooting at them. Surprised they aren’t collectively shaking like a shaved poodle nailed to the foul pole of Wrigley Field during a night game in April.
SAG: Can government create jobs, other than governmental jobs?
WD: And, what’s wrong with governmental jobs? Maybe that’s what we need. A fedocracy. Where we all work for the government. What did they used to say in Russia? “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”
SAG: Other than Mitt Romney winning, what is the number one threat to our democracy?
WD: Paul Ryan being one chicken bone away from the Presidency.
SAG: Aside from instant news awareness, how has the Internet affected national politics?
WD: Makes suspect polls more accessible.
SAG: Should an American even expect financial security from his country?
WD: It’s called a safety net. Not a safety blanket.
SAG: If North Dakota invaded South Dakota, as President, would you intervene?
WD: Of course, but I sure wouldn’t want to stick my fingers anywhere between Vermont and New Hampshire.
SAG: Do you think a Romney Presidency could reinvigorate Comedy?
WD: Dubyah was the Golden Age for political comedy. He may have sucked for the country, the hemisphere, the planet, the solar system and the universe but for me, he was pure gold. Romney shows great promise along those lines.
SAG: Do you believe, come November 6, Americans will make the right decision? And, why not?
WD: My prediction is Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the Electoral vote, and try explaining that to the Tea Party members. “Yeah, he won. But, not really. Better luck next time. Not really.”
SAG: Other than the price of bagels and other forms of fuel, do you think the average American cares much about what goes on in the Middle East?
WD: Unfortunately, most Americans think the Middle East crisis is a late November football game between Ohio State and Michigan.
SAG: How come there are no (or known and respected) right wing political stand-up comedians?
WD: There are, but they’re not funny. Just angry and mean.
JANN KARAM’S RECLINGING NUDE ON LA CIENEGA - October 6, 2012
I knew I was in for a real treat when I arrived at the Elephant Stages in Hollywood to review Jann Karam’s, “Reclining Nude on La Cienega”. The semi-in-the-round feel of the 99-seat Lillian Theatre audience poised itself in zoo-like view of a huge art loft/gallery. Three pillar canvases, two canvases on easels and nearly random Sergio Mendez music lets us all know we’re more than welcome; as creator, writer and star of “Reclining Nude on La Cienega,” stand-up Jann Karam (Letterman, HBO) invades “our” space, dancing and stretching and being a girl, all as if we were secretly invited guests into her private sanctuary. This was good, as I was still nervously reeling from trying to remember that the theatre was not actually on La Cienega: the concept was, foretelling the disappointment there may not be any nudity involved either, unless I felt too hot in the theatre, then who knows. I’ve been known. Karam fearlessly flies up and down ladders and flitters like a semi-buff butterfly holding a paintbrush, as she expresses something or other (we know not yet) with large brush strokes and drippy colourful real paint to happy Broadway music. Stopping to admire her own creation…
“That’s superior!,” referring to one of the paintings, making one think, “Hey! We’ll be the judge of that, thank you!!” But, no. We’ve been fooled, tricked and set up. Jann was impressionistically painting her home town, Superior, Arizona, where there are “beige horses, mountains and different shades of brown, scorpions and earthtones.” “Thanks a lot, Cosmos!...Don’t you know who I am???” Karam asks as if each and every one of us in Hollywood don’t already ask ourselves that same question every single second of every hour, waking or otherwise. “There’s no doubt, in my mind, I would move onto greener pastures!” informs us that this story we’re about to hear, doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. The ending seems pending. Unlike all the other “A funny thing happened to me on my way to the forum” showbiz struggle autobiographical one person shows I’ve seen both here in the States and in the UK (Scotland included, even though they’d rather not be!), Reclining Nude on La Cienega is the only one I’ve ever seen that constantly feeds you pure hope, in the literal form of newly splatters of fresh coloured paint, fueled and guided by the perfect balance of romantic (almost gothic-like) dreams, both of the true romantic and of the true artist: two inner-equal-sides of omni-talented Karam, whom – with imaginary long stem rose ‘tween her chompers – metaphorically tangos forth and back on the open-gallery stage, nary to pick who leads, in a show choreographed to mirror her inner-thoughts and well thought out oft-tortured feelings. Her father took over his parents business (a clothing store) and helped the local miners with donations, discounts and deals, allowing him to build a house in the better part of town, and unfortunately cementing Jann’s biggest obstacle: that of breaking free. “It’s not possible!” (to find a better part of town). Living in a house with drawn blinds was “Living in lockdown”, keeping the air-conditioning bill down, “Thanks a lot, Vampira!” and conversations with her mother, are all postcard perfect shorthand for a life too well known to be fully appreciated. Feeling trapped, not comforted, is how we all feel at times in our lives, especially when others can’t seem to understand why you are being so unappreciative. This is what I call the “house pet dilemma”. We think little Sparky is full of love and joy, wagging his tail, but he just needs to get out and pee and he might kill you if he has to. Realizing she holds her own jail cell keys, Karam ventures out into the outlying desert, escorted by her two loyal dogs to the Magical Cactus Forrest. “Needles everywhere!....Now I avoid those pricks!” is not so secret code to her lonely sisters in arms, who have all experienced God’s punishment of dating jerks; the men in the audience thinking they being the sole exception. Our hearts are further broken as “me, Mom, brother Johnny, sister Charlene, travel in a car up to Roosevelt Lake; but Dad was not there,” he was too busy playing local politics, spreading goodwill throughout the local community to spend any time with his kids. Then Jann sees water. Jumping into the lake, she cries, “Heaven is here!” as she splashes bright blue paint on the canvas. “All I had to do was grow up and become an artist” was her perceived calling, as she unceremoniously painted butterflies on old furniture. “The more I engaged in artistic pursuits, the less alone I felt and accepted by my parents,” as proved by a much appreciated and demo’d sock puppet show behind the couch on stage; and in reminiscing her father overhearing her play piano and then the next day, delivering an upright to his talented daughter, only to shout at her, “Goddam it, Jann!” as she played “Nocturne” for din-din.
JANN KARAM'S COLOURFUL POV
Karam dreams forever and repeatedly for an artist colony, her earthly version of nirvana in this life. “We all understood that art was constant and beauty was everything” is the up of the see-saw. “That was my dream. Here’s what happened…” is the down. Literally reclining on the couch, Karam quotes Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, “Life and mortality do not allow us to be true to the guileless unrealism of our youth"; then her shrink throws her out of the office, but a new one suggests finding like-minded people, “So, thanks for coming…” Her Achilles Heel was lover Jack, her downfall, whose, “I’ve been drinking” red-flag remained ignored as she equally was by her own too-busy father. But, she clung to familiarity rather than love, and thus remains the enduring theme of this saga of intertwining odyssey in an oscillating search for a compromise between opposing twins of love and artistic freedom of expression. A criticizing mother who ignores her amazing accomplishment of a Letterman appearance with a simple critique of her hairdo, metaphorically sums up Jann Karam’s lot in life: Nothing she does or tries to be free and happy will ever please her family, which is all she ever really wanted, mostly as sign-posts to self-identity. Nonetheless, she loves them anyway and would never trade them in for the world; but know this about her: She will “make a left on Orlando,” regardless if it’s okay. And, if you don’t like it, then there’s something vapid in your mindless soul.
Director Sabrina Lloyd (NOT the actress of “Sliders” fame!) is the master zookeeper who feeds and trains her dancing and dreaming endangered multi-talented and radiantly gorgeous species with the subtle and clever finesse of the bestest friend a performer ever had; never getting in the way and always encouraging and inspiring. Whatever becomes of Jann Karam’s unfulfilled romantic and artistic dreams, are more than fulfilled during this show, maybe not for her, but for us, the audience; which is the textbook definition of bravery in performance. What a gift to us this show is. Perchance to dream whence you’re awake is the bliss we all seek; and only the blessed few will ever find; and if they do, it’s only because they already put in the prerequisite eternal internal work; the external fading to dull grays, unsure blacks and shy whites, drying on the canvas of life and we, the freshly splattered red paint, are merely the honored drips on Karam’s painters smock of love and acceptance. Running away from the crazy family took Karam to the forest of stars in the desert sky. And she thought, “THAT’S where my artist colony is!” True enough. Because Jann Karam is truly a glowing star in the desolate night sky known as Los Angeles, the city of ignored, forgotten, misunderstood and, yes, broken dreams, ever illuminated and eclipsed by sparkling new ones, and even brighter and more meaningful than ever before. (AND, she’s hot!) Kudos to Adam Hunter for brilliant Set Design and Matthew Richter for equally brilliant Lighting Design. Catch Reclining Nude on La Cienega when (and if) it reclines once again. Nothing beige about it whatsoever.
I give Jann Karam’s Reclining Nude on La Cienega 8 out of 8 Menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
SPECIAL NOTE: For RNLC to return to LA, it’s a matter of production money. Any producers or investors out there interested? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
BILL BRONNER'S FREE SPEECH SHOW @ THE LAB - October 8, 2012
Comedian and promoter Bill Bronner explains to us, his “Facebook friends,” he created the Free Speech Show because he was “bored with everything on television”. The packed house at the Improv Lab couldn’t agree more, which is why I suspect they were waiting tooth and nail for this rare comedy show to begin. And for a about ten minutes, nobody could find the manager of the venue to get the air conditioner going; it was like being on the A-Train at Shavuot rush hour! Sardines had more leg room. Okay. Having said all that, the show? The show made me feel utterly miserable. Miserable only because I WISH I could produce a show this good, this funny, this free spirited and this entertaining. Of all the live comedy shows I’ve seen in my first three months or so as your venerable comedy reviewer/reporter/bitter guy, Bill Bronner’s Free Speech Show is up in the top ranks. What makes it good is the same thing Tony Conrad’s and Paul Provenza’s Set-List has. Simplicity. The idea here is that stand-ups go up one by one and all of them deal with the same talking point. It’s almost like improv in reverse. Then, when they’re all done, everyone in the cast comes on stage and there’s a group discussion. What makes this idea genius is that, as the viewer, you kinda know in advance what the talking show points are gonna be for each individual comedian because they already expressed their point of view in their stand-up slot. And as the conversation floats over to various subjects, hither and dither, the audience gets to enjoy how good the comedians truly are because now they have to be true to themselves. No act to hide behind. They are actually speaking their mind. It’s very interesting! Bill Bronner – a middle aged better looking Captain Kangaroo by way of David Lynch – is a former bakery worker with a law degree (there’s a yeast joke there somewhere….), who fought the power back in the day to insure he and his co-workers got their “fair share of the pie.” He’s a good egg and low in cholesterol. He’s also one of the most affable hosts on the comedy circuit in Los Angeles, where most comedy hosts tend to be snarky pimpled punks who think they know so much just ‘cause they live in an age when the cost of a gallon of gas will soon catch up to the minimum wage.
Tonight’s topic: “Advice for the Candidates”
“He needs some enthusiasm. Barack, grow some! They elected you to make change, not to say you can’t make a deal!” Okay, true but not particularly hilarious. Ah..But, that’s where the genius comes in. Bronner is secretly setting this up as the challenge. To make the passion of his life (Social Injustice) the talking point for the other comedians to work off of! NOT a competition….a seminar! I mean yes, Bill is funny. No doubt. Romney taking Ecstasy for example. Great concept. For sure. But, what was most funniest about Bill tonight was how some of the acts made fun of his introductions of them. Bill Bronner is the Joe Biden of Comedy Hosts.
Carrie Snow is one of my favourites, if you have been following Enjoy the Veal! religiously, you should already know that. So, ignore what I say about her. I’m biased. And, when I say “religiously,” I mean, on your knees, facing a hanging icon. And, when I say “hanging,”….
“I couldn’t be crankier about this election….!”
An audience cell phone rings.
“It’s my ex-husband, nobody listens to me. I told Sarah Palin: nobody wants to see your unfortunately named children in public!”
Then she gives advice about Trader Joes & it’s “Nobody listens to me: Part II”…. Explaining how politically active she is, “I gave away registration forms to people and felt like Eleanor Roosevelt.” HUGE laugh. Snow is just warming up, but you can’t tell. Explaining to “this kid” who works at her Medical Marijuana dispensary and is complaining why they simply don’t legalize marijuana, she says, “Listen, if the other guy wins, then your girlfriend will die of an illegal abortion and you won’t be able to get high.” As for her direct advice for Romney, “I'm a woman and he wouldn't listen to me anyway, so why bother?” Not much of advice for the candidates; more like advice for the electorate. Carrie Snow, once again, disproved that American stand-up comedy by women has to be vulgar, insinuating, sarcastic, dead-on and cleverly hilarious. But, she does it anyway and the loyal followers at The Lab this night were ready to take torches to the streets; but first, the rest of the comedy show.
Patrick Devine has the cred. His one-man show “Breaking Down in America” is a bravado work of a car’s final road trip and the people he meets along the way. “As a single guy, not married, no kids, nobody cares about my voice” is the only way to open this type of discussion. (Like Rick Overton said, we’re all part of the “Demographic Party”.) Devine’s advice to the Dems is “to go to the CDC, get something percolating in the lab, and then give it to Joe Biden. Give him laryngitis.” Explaining that The Gap clothing store knows Americans better than Democrats, because they know Americans love to be lied to, Devine cuts to the heart of the matter and provides the predilection that Romney’s next card has to be a Christian conversion, but then Devine drops the comedy like a lose mic chord and explains the value of each Swing State, turning it on its head with a Tim Tibow joke. This “ducking and diving” sharp-minded comedy nefro should be heard more often; his comedy thoughts and conclusions could swing the election. Commenting on Bill Bronner’s lame intro, Carol Ann Leif tells the tale of the worst introduction she ever got was from Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, who unfortunately compared her to Emmy winner Carol Leifer. For her, Mitt is a family matter. Romney reminded her of her first husband; her grandfather’s perennial habit of giving a family speech, then rounding the room, addressing each member one by one, saying to the member of the family who didn’t do much,“Hey! Keep doin’ what you’re doin’! THAT would be my advice to Mitt Romney.” Painting Mitt as a “little brother”; and that Barack never had that and should “live with a 5 year old boy,” Leif advises us when we watch TV to broaden our horizon. Realizing she was an idiot “because Ed Schultz had a poll – Will the Republicans ever stop lying about Health Care?,” she pounds in the notion that Rush Limbaugh (and his ridiculous accusations) would chill out with a little brother.
Host Bill returns with the out of place announcement that Rick Shapiro couldn’t make it due to illness, and with that deep hole, comedian and blogger James Tripp was next! Tripp’s advice to the candidates? “Shut up!” Advice for Mitt consists of, “Keep lying! It works!” (I was starting to get the inkling that perhaps – I can’t say for sure – but just perhaps, this comedy show was put on by Liberals. I’m just sayin’.) Getting all Poe in our face, Tripp fantasizes that they should dig up Ted Kennedy, and tells Romney to “keep wearin’ that underwear: ‘cause it works!” Oddly, his advice to Obama? “I’ve got nothing to say to him.” (hmmmm….) Then he closes with, “James Tripp for President!” And, why not. At least, unlike our two contenders, Tripp is a trip on purpose! The crowd nearly carried him off on their shoulders. Bronner: “Our next performer is delightful and hates Romney!” God, this is getting a little embarrassing, Captain! Lighten it up a little, will ya? I looked around and several Dust Bowl farmers standing in the back of the room, holding pitchforks and with the stern look of Merrill Streep.
Cathy Ladman reminds us, “Those intro’s are getting better!” (I like it when the performers actually review the show for me! Talk about a time-saver!) “I’m really tired and I think I have cancer” is a comedy ice-breaker deluxe and the crowd laps it up. Admitting her husband is not really “informed about this stuff,” but that she’s learned a lot, and still wonders if she’s actually qualified in giving political advice to the candidates, Cathy then did what any good Jew does. She brought her mother into the picture.
“I’ll just say, my mother, when she gave people advice, it never mattered if she knew anything. So, my mother should give advice to Barack Obama.”
Cathy’s mom: “As long as you’re friends with Israel, then okay!”
Cathy’s mom: “You should have a little sucking candy to give you energy.”
Cathy’s mom: “You need to speak your mind!”
But Cathy’s channeling skills were somewhat limited tonight and had to channel Ann Romney, rather than the Mittster himself: “Mitt! You were so great! Just keep lying!” Cathy Ladman is one of the freshest veteran stand-ups on the circuit. Team her up with Rick Overton as they star in their own sitcom. He’s the hard-boiled 91st President of The Federation of Radioactively Safe States of America and she, his Secretary of Sector 9. Executive Odor! This Friday on FX! Cathy got a well-deserved standing-ovation from the entire room.
Michael O’Connell’s opening line carried on the “night of continuous bad intros” with a sad remark about Cathy Ladman’s passing. Hell-arious! His advice to the candidates? “I resent both of you, because you’re vacationing more than I do!” and he advises them to vacation in The States. “If your financial records read like a John Grisham novel, it’s not a good thing!...I think the debates suck because it’s just two guys at a podium. I think they should magically saw Michelle in thirds! Mitt can explain Trickle Down Economics by levitation.” I gotta catch my breath, folks. One original idea after another! On Presidential Fashion, the photo of Barack Obama on a bicycle, eating ice cream, well, let’s just say this is one smart Liberal comedian who agrees with Ann Coulter on this point. (the “R-word”?)
Steve Tatham (“The Ointment”) finally decides to address the elephant in the room. Remarking on the nearly overly sold-out show, Tatham boasts, “67 million watching the debate, not nearly as many people watching this show!” Steven then addresses Bronner’s kid spending way too much time watching his computer.
“I’ve become an advice columnist in a small town newspaper…..
‘Dear Steve…,’” as he reads a letter from Mitt Romney.
“Dear Steve, although I have excellent hair, no one seems to like me. Young people need a little push. I do care about people as much as required by law. So, my question is – what can I buy so people will like me?”
And, now a letter from Ann Romney.
“My Dressage horse competed in the Olympics and though he didn’t perform the way I wanted him to, I think I might let him live. The poor people don’t understand -- My question: Are there no decent restricted country clubs anywhere?”
There’s no need to comment on just how funny Steve Tatham is. It’s all on the page.
It was now time for the last part of the show: the group discussion. The entire audience gave a reverse walking ovation as all the comedians (not the audience) returned to the stage, grabbing chairs and truly relieved that Bill Bronner will not have to introduce them again tonight. A hearty political and funny discussion ensued, Q&A participants from the audience and crew and by the end of the night, I was exhausted. Like a really really good shag with a tranny dressed as Alberta Einstein, I felt smart and satisfied. Brill Bronner’s Free Speech Show is somewhat of town meeting on Mars and Bill, although extremely affable, is nearly the worst at introductions I’ve ever seen, but what saves the night and makes it truly memorable is that Bill, like all great artistic puppeteers, stands away from the spotlight, slightly behind the curtain; because after all, isn’t that what we all really want to know? Who is behind the guy who says he’s on our side?
I give Bill Bronner’s Free Speech Show 7 out of 8 menorahs!
Enjoy the veal,
Steven Alan Green
Last Tuesday, Brian Seff (Rick Right) drove me out to the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, where he was performing. Mill Valley is the place “where the rich hippies live” and where the elite smart and the overly-relaxed just give up. The “Throck” is a very old theatre, where Charlie Chaplin played and seats around 350. Tuesday comedy night and this is the place to be.
I splurged most of the night hanging in the green room with political comedian Scott Blakeman from New York, whom I haven’t seen since Edinburgh ’04, and introduced my toe-stepping self to comedian and comedy producer Mark Pitta, who runs the Tuesday night comedy shows with the flair and aplom of an affable baseball coach. And two other guys, one I met long ago. Robin Williams and the great Mort Sahl.
Backstage @ The Throck with Mork, Dork, and Mort!
Robin loved my Eric Douglas story (read the Rick Overton review) and I swear, when I was telling Robin, face to face about The Laughter Foundation and my dream for The Comedy Museum? I swear I could detect just a whiff of “wow” in his eyes, though to be honest, I couldn't tell if it was just night-blindness. And, I loved meeting and talking with the great Mort Sahl and meant to tell him my theory on who really killed JFK. You see, the 1960 campaign song to elect Kennedy was “High Hopes”, as re-written and sung by Frank Sinatra. The original song was from a 1959 Frank Capra movie, starring Frank. The film?
“A Hole in the Head”. You cannot make this shit up, folks.
Besides, the Giants won the World Series. Yeah, right!
Enjoy the veal, folks. I'm having a great time up here in San Francisco. Sue me.
Have a Happy Halloween, everyone. And, Mitt? Take off the rubber mask.
Your humble comedy reviewer, Steven Alan "SAG" Green
Enjoy the fuckin' veal, already...will ya?
FACEBOOK TWEETS OF THE WEEK:
6.5 million Americans desperately in need of power. Well, 6.5 million + 1, if you count Mitt Romney.
Hurricane Sandy has left hundreds of thousands of undecided voters in the dark. So, no change there!
Letterman's show is funnier without the damn audience!!
Don't know which material I'm gonna do tonight....I KNOW!! I'll do what Mitt would do. I'll make it up as I go along, and hopefully everyone with a brain will laugh at me.
You're the last person I'd ever call upon. Then again, I like to start at the bottom of my list and work my way backwards.
I have the complete collection of Hoarders. I have them on DVD, Blu Ray, Betamax, VHS, Analogue sound tracks on reel to reel, cassette and 8-track; I have the complete written transcriptions of all the narration and dialog (in two separate categories, of course!), plus complete profiles on all the crew (including recent photos) and an accounting of all the officers of the production and distribution companies and a mailing list of all their subscribers.........What?
It's the story of a dyslexic policeman who wears a unicorn.
Prop 46 wants to "protect Californians from dangerous and violent criminals". Thank god for that. I can put up with dangerous criminals, but violent?
When I was a kid I wanted to direct traffic. Now I just want to produce.
To me, being an artist is like being the manager of a baseball team, with the opposing team being reality.
I'm a Nano-Sexual. I like having sex with tiny electronic devices.
Signed up with J-Date. Leno's picking me up at 8.
Romney is a devout Moron.
THIS WEEK’S COMEDY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Uncabaret, Sun, Nov 4. Great line up!
Henry Phillips, @ Molly Malones, Monday Nov 5
Veterans Day Comedy Benefit @ Flappers in Burbank, Sunday, Nov 11.
INTERVIEWS & PODCASTS:
Interview with Steven Alan Green on The Frankie Pace Show.
Interview with Steven Alan Green with The Apartist.
Steve Pearl & Al Clethen's Riff-erendum interview with Robin Williams!
ODDZ ‘N ENZ:
A quick shout-out to our friend, George Wendt, who is on the mend! Hang in there, Norm! We love ya', George!!
Special thanks to All Clethen, Maggie, Bean and Steve Pearl!!!
And to all our comedy friends on the East Coast, please stay, dry, warm and safe.
To have your comedy show reviewed or hire your humble and almost always broke (but always incredibly charming) comedy writer or to complain about anything: email@example.com.
"Never take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive!!"
10/30/12, San Francisco
We welcome your feedback.
Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.
JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.
JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . .
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . .
5.16.13 at 12:22 pm | A great new opportunity for our favourite. . .
4.7.13 at 5:32 pm | It seemed like an impossibility before, but I am. . .
2.20.13 at 1:09 pm | My long-awaited review of Nato Green @ The. . .
1.15.13 at 9:49 am | My public appeal to the director of Duel, 1941. . .
9.26.12 at 3:32 pm | I hereby call upon the powers that be in. . . (14)
10.11.13 at 1:51 pm | Steven Alan Green back from the comedy dead.. . . (7)
5.23.13 at 2:31 pm | On the occasion of my old pal and nemesis Jerry. . . (4)