Howdy Inter-Webbers. I’m Matt Cohen. And I dig live comedy.
From a young age one of my favorite things to do has been going to live comedy shows. When I was younger, it was standup; Everyone from Dave Chappelle and Jim Bruer to Jerry Seinfeld and yes, even once, Andrew Dice Clay. Once I got a bit older, my interests shifted to the improv/sketch realm and I have seen countless shows in both genres over the past five years or so. Today I take a look at a very special show I had the honor of attending last week, a benefit cd taping of the comedy how-to book “Comedy by the Numbers”. Also, take a look at the current season of one of my favorite shows, South Park, to see how it stands up against the rest. It’ll be fun, it’ll be heartfelt, it’ll be what America was founded for.
Comedy by the Numbers 3/24/08: I entered the doors for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to be greeted with the sight of a totally sold out house, and for good reason. This night promised to be special. A charity benefit that proceeds the Valencia chapter of 826, a nationwide tutoring center for kids, started by McSweeny’s Dave Eggers was the reason to gather all these folks together in one place, and it was a memorable evening. On stage, a group of well known and quite frankly, extremely gifted comedians would be doing an book reading of the Comedy How-To guide, Comedy by the Numbers written by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren and edited by Naomi Odenkirk. The performers were as follows; Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show), Jay Johnston (Mr. Show), Brian Poshein(Mr. Show), Paul F. Tompkins (Mr. Show), Andy Kindler (Late-Nite), Matt Besser (UCB), Kate Flannery (The Office) and Tim Heidecker (Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show). With a cast like that, there was nothing keeping me from attending this show. The main selling point, in my case at least, was the chance to see Mr. Bob Odenkirk perform live, a man who I consider a comedy god and one of the funniest people on the face of the earth. Luckily, I was not disappointed in the least. The basic concept for the show was pretty simple - the book, Comedy by the Numbers, would be read in excerpt form by the attending comedians. The segments were short “How-To” guides on certain types of comedy, ie. Racist Jokes, Knock Knock Humor, etc…, all written in a nonsensical and often hilarious manner. No other hooks or gimmicks, it was purely going to be funny people reading funny things for the sake of a compact disc. One great thing about the relative small size of the LA branch of the UCB is that the technical crew (audio recorders, cameramen, etc) were pretty much sight unseen, due to the limited capacity for crew. One camera man, one sound guy, both as high up in the theater as to not disrupt anyone’s show, which is usually what happens during comedy tapings, where the taping takes precedent over the live experience. It couldn’t have been more the opposite at Comedy by the Numbers.
As far as the actual show went, it was as funny as one would expect from such a pool of collective brilliance. Though these jokes were already written, the laughs were not diminished in any way, thanks in a large part to the hilarious delivery of *most* of the performers. I don’t want to pick on anyone, and I enjoy both their work on their respective TV shows, but unfortunately Kate Flannery and Tim Heidecker never really seemed to get it together. True, they were the only “Duo” of readers, but it seemed like with a bit more preparation, their segments would’ve gone a lot more smoothly. I expect major edits or possible re-takes for their part of the CD. The other performers were mostly spot-on, with Bob Odenkirk being particularly funny. It may be my years of loyal Mr. Show devotion, but there is just something about that man’s voice and delivery that makes me laugh until I tear (which happened about three times during this show, all during Odenkirk segments). The night was for a very good cause as well, and more money was raised during the show in the form of a very funny auction hosted by Paul F. Tompkins and Andy Kindler, in which the winner got a chance to get on stage and read a segment to be recorded for the album (I believe the winner’s segment was about Farts, if I’m correct). The show went on a bit long (topping out at almost three hours) but it was a great night and a great chance to see some comedians do something good for society (Those dirty hippies rarely do). Please check out the book and the CD when it’s released. I think you’ll really enjoy what you find.
South Park Season 12: To the critics, the naysayers, the people who say it’s lowest common denominator - $@#$@ you… South Park is, simply put, one of the best television shows of all time, and it may be the only show in history that gets progressively better as the seasons go on. Yes, the show has always been one of the funniest on TV, but it seems that around season six or seven it really found its voice and since then has continuously been the most outrageous, hilarious and, oddly, topical show on prime time television. And, good news for all fans, if the first three offerings of this season are any indication of quality to follow, we’re in for an extremely funny ride. So far, we’ve seen Cartman and Kyle get AIDS (”I’m not just sure, Kyle… I’m HIV positive), Britney Spears wearing “some kind of crazy new half face look”, and what may go down as one of the more awkwardly hilarious moments in the shows legendary history, Butters preforming his debut internet hit “What, What In The Butt”. South Park truly is the show that keeps on giving and, as usual, is one of the funniest things around. If you don’t watch this show, there is something wrong with you… Seriously, go see a doctor or something. I’ll pay for it
Rumor is Kenny may die this season…
That’s it for this week folks, tune in next for a look at Funny Books. (Though, rarely are they that funny… ‘cept for DeadPool. Deadpool brings the laughs). Have a goodun, kiddos.
And as always,
“Keep em’ bagged and boarded”
-Matt Cohen is currently asking the grinning bobcat why he grins.
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