Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Road Trip Album Picks: "Thin Pig" from Todd Glass

WHAT: Todd Glass' first album of 100% stand-up
LABEL: Comedy Central Records, 2009
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Quality modern comedy albums
WHERE TO FIND IT: Online or bust
LENGTH: 60 minutes

Comedy Central Records should be ashamed of themselves for releasing this record. That is, they should be ashamed of releasing this album as a download-exclusive. Todd Glass' superb Thin Pig is one of the best albums we've heard in the past few years. Glass' second album, this release covers material from his whole career and a gag or two first shown on his original album which nobody ever heard in the first place. (Including you, our statistics show.)

His former podcast Comedy and Everything Else does influence his material slightly, in between the bits going for big laughs are a few attempts at applause lines. For example, he has a marvelous routine about K-Mart and Target, pointing out that the former is, essentially, something of a shithole. (If you live in Los Angeles and can still find one, odds are you can verify this.) His outrage is real, and really funny if you, like Glass, understand the importance of things like clean floors. Spoiler: they're important.

My one big beef with this release is that it wasn't put in stores. Comedy Central Records releases a ton of albums, many of which may sport bigger names but this is easily one of the funniest. Also, Glass has a fantastic voice which carries well in a car, which is the most important thing about a good road trip comedy album. Aside, you know, from being great. Get this one. Oh, and it was recorded at the Tempe Improv in Arizona, in case you were curious.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekly Comedy: Amazing News That Will Amaze You

This week’s comedy offerings are a mixed bag with some excellent stuff, some promising stuff and some crap, as usual. But that's not why we're here today - there is some STUNNING NEWS to be found at the end of this post!


Cop Out – Kevin “Southwest Airlines” Smith is now directing movies he didn’t write, which could be a really good thing. The premise of this is simple: it’s a buddy cop movie where one of the cops is Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock, as portrayed by Tracy Morgan. Looks like it could be fun. We’ll have a review up on Friday.


The Informant! – Easily the best thing out this week. This is a really unique comedy wherein Soderbergh has cast a bunch of recognizable comedians – Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale – in serious roles as FBI agents and lawyers surrounding Matt Damon’s comic performance as a corporate whistleblower. There’s a lot more to this film than just that, though; it’s very entertaining and funny and ultimately a really fascinating true story. So go rent it already.

Superjail! Season One - Superviolent abstract comedy from Adult Swim. This one doesn't seem to have nearly as many fans as Metalocalypse or even Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, but hey, here it is on DVD if you're curious.

Night Court Season 3 – WHO is buying Night Court DVDs? Seriously, who? Is there one sad old guy sitting in his crappy apartment, coffee table littered with divorce papers and beer cans, scratching his gut and chuckling at Night Court Season 3? Answer: probably.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead – Some Troma thing that fans of Evil Dead or whatever will probably like. Sounds z-z-z-zany!


Sinbad: Where U Been? – And now your promised BREAKING NEWS!

Sinbad is not dead or in rehab or the subject of a depressing VH1 reality TV show - he has a new Comedy Central special out on DVD this week.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekly Comedy: The HBOpocalypse

There aren’t a whole lot of exciting new DVD releases this week, but there’s enough new stuff on Friday night alone to keep you busy for a while. HBO is doubling down on comedy programming and the winner is (potentially) us (maybe).


Black Dynamite – Surely to be the most-played DVD in college dorms for the next 3 years, this blaxploitation spoof has gotten pretty mixed notices from critics. Basically, if you saw the trailer, you’ve pretty much seen the film. Or so I’ve heard.

Good Hair – Chris Rock’s amusing but admittedly thin documentary about the African-American hair industry. It’s certainly eye-opening and actually pretty funny; worth a rent for sure, or catch it on cable in a month or two.


The Ricky Gervais Show – HBO is launching their new Friday night comedy lineup with this, which seems like a really weak premise – they’ve taken the old Ricky Gervais podcasts and animated them in Flash with Hanna-Barberra-esque cartoon versions of Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. If you’ve heard those podcasts – and millions of people have – then you’ve seen this material already (and frankly it was funnier when Pilkington's nonsense wasn't visualized Shorties Watchin' Shorties-style). Hopefully there’s some original stuff in here and it isn’t 100 percent rehashed, but we’ll see.

Funny or Die Presents – This is the highlight of the week and is not to be missed by any discerning comedy fan. It’s not clear if this is going to be all original material – the trailers suggest it’s a mix of stuff from the website, with more new stuff than old – but it seems every talented comedian and comic actor is taking part in this sketch show, including most of Human Giant, Zach Galifianakis and more. It’s on at midnight on Friday after Real Time.

The Life and Times of Tim: Season 2 – More of the somewhat-animated comedy series I haven’t seen nearly enough of to comment on. Time to rent season one!

Real Time with Bill Maher – The world’s smuggest (and probably most entertaining and interesting) talk show is back after a long hiatus this week. Last season Maher experimented with his format a lot; sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and he seemed to be running low on interesting guests (every panel should probably have at least one person whose job it is to be entertaining), but it was certainly more hit than miss.


Small Wonder Season One – Shout! Factory has given unto us many marvelous things on DVD; Mystery Science Theater 3000, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared and a whole bunch of other great, somewhat obscure shows.

They have decided to abuse this magical power they have and are releasing the first season of one of the worst sitcoms of all time, Small Wonder. Feel free to give this a rent at some point and make sure you have a stopwatch handy so you’ll know exactly how many minutes you were able to tolerate how horribly, embarrassingly bad this show is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Weekly Comedy: A Rollercoaster of Quality

One of the best movies of 2009 is released this week alongside one of the worst and they’re both in this column! Fancy that!


A Serious Man – Even though this black-as-pitch comedy was nominated for Best Picture, it still feels underappreciated. The Coens have constructed something special with this movie; it's structured almost like a traditional joke with a really hilarious punchline at the end. It’s probably one of the darkest comedies ever made, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but since you’re reading this on a site aimed at nerdy comedy snobs, odds are you’ll dig the hell out of it.

The Life and Times of Tim: Season One – The barely-animated HBO series featuring the likes of Nick Kroll and Eddie Pepitone is out on DVD now, so if you missed the initial airing, here’s your chance to catch up. It’s definitely hit and miss, but there are some really funny episodes in here. Worth a rent, at least.

The Sarah Silverman Program: Season 2 Part 2 – Sarah Silverman’s sitcom had a pretty strong season 3 premiere last week, and the rest of season 2 is (finally) out this week, so there’s enough Silverman material for you to figuratively roll around in. If that’s your sort of thing.

Gary Unmarried Season One – wait a second how did this escape the toxic waste pit


Valentine’s Day – Gary Marshall rises from his cursed crypt to once again inflict his particular brand of focus-group-tested “romantic comedy” treacle on the unsuspecting public, this time with every shiny-faced actor and actress accepted as “pretty” by empty-headed housewives who snap up new episodes of People Magazine as though its foul pages provide them with the very putrid nutrients they need to keep their black blood flowing.

Anyway it looks pretty bad.

Couples Retreat – But it’s hard to tell if it’s as bad as this fucking nightmare, the latest from the now-untrustworthy Vince Vaughn –Peter Billingsley duo who are now responsible not only for this unfunny pile of laugh-free white bread bullshit but also Four Christmases and Fred Claus. Fuuuucccckkkk

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mike Birbiglia: Sleepwalk Unplugged

The show was held at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles on February 4, 2010. It was great.

If you're a comedy dork and also an NPR dork, there's a very good chance you're already familiar with Mike Birbiglia. He frequently contributes to This American Life, and also has a couple of albums under his belt in addition to some Comedy Central specials. He's what you call "good." So good, in fact, Nathan Lane came along and saw some of his stuff and went on to finance a show in New York where he told the audience the perils of a sleepwalking disorder mixed in with tons of jokes. And tonight, he brought it to Los Angeles for five bucks a head.

Having not seen the regular Sleepwalk With Me show, but having heard bits and pieces of it on the radio and elsewhere, I can't say how much this show is like the regular show, particularly because through an unfortunate directional issue we stumbled into the show just a couple of minutes late. For all I know, he said what was different, but the entire tale of woe and why you should date someone who will demand you go to the doctor when you have a potentially crippling sleep disorder were all here.

Since he's based in New York and tours a lot, Birbiglia coming to your town is kind of like an eclipse. In that you probably won't know until it's too late, unless you're paying attention to this sort of thing, which you absolutely should. As one of the most likable comics working today, this is an act you can absolutely take your parents and, most likely, teenish or older kids to without fear of looking like a horrible, horrible parent. The audience was quite respectful and the show was excellent. If you have the means to see Birbiglia-- this show in particular-- let me suggest that you do so. (Unless there's like a DVD of it you can just score, in which case you can probably just go ahead and get that.)