Comedy

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Memphis is Funny" Story Inspires New Website, Podcast

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 4:19 PM

MITCHELL DUNNAM, BADASS.
Sometimes your babies have babies. And then those babies have babies. Cue "Circle of Life."

This week marks the debut of a new podcast connected to a slightly less new website inspired by a cover story I wrote back in March. (With bonus coverage here and here)
"Memphis is Funny," was my attempt to create a snapshot of the city's growing comedy scene. Memphisisfunny.com is a website devoted to all things Memphis and comedy-related. Memphis is Funny: the podcast is a weekly talk show on the OAM network. 

And guess who was the very first guest on Memphis is Funny: The Podcast? Never mind, I'll tell you. It's me
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Monday, April 4, 2016

Comedy is Hard: The Night I Attempted Stand-Up at the P&H Cafe

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 4:30 AM

Did you know I'm "Eskimo Brothers" with Patton Oswalt? Well, comedy "Eskimo Brothers" anyway. It's true, see?

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Go ahead, be jealous. 



I spent about a month working on this week's cover story about Memphis' emerging comedy scene. I visited a lot of shows and open mics, and talked to a lot of comics. And then, one terrifying Thursday night at the P&H Cafe, I even attempted a stand-up set. All I can say about the experience is this: I've been an actor, an emcee, a TV personality, a performance artist, a public speaker, and a honky tonk singer, but never in all my years on stage and in front of cameras, has my heart pounded harder than it did that night. That's what I get for wanting to know what it feels like to stand in the glaring spotlight, trying to make jaded Memphians laugh.



Tommy Oler, who hosts open mic at the P&H tried to warn me off. He said I should maybe try Dru's or RockHouse Live first, and work my way up.  "P&H is a monster for new comics," he said. "It's actually the biggest and best open mic in the state, but it's also the meanest. I know cause I've been to, and done every one."

Actual comic Kyle Kordsmeier working out at the P&H.
  • Actual comic Kyle Kordsmeier working out at the P&H.



P&H audiences don't really turn on you— or at least the ones I've experienced don't. They just turn to one another and start talking. When a comic is dying on stage the room gets loud with chatter. I told Tommy I didn't think I had time to develop a set and hone it. I just wanted to go up cold for 5-minutes, with no prepared material, and the tougher the room, the better. Reluctantly, like I might be marching off to slaughter, Tommy put me on the list right behind Benny Elbows, and just in front of Richard Douglas Jones— two quality comics. Talk about a recipe for a shit sandwich. I wanted to be funny, of course, but this was the kind of research where flopping big could be every bit as edifying. And boy was I set up to flop.



There's nothing scarier than knowing that you're on in 5-minutes, and you've got nothing prepared. I figured it was probably best to tell true-ish stories and I hoped I'd seen enough standup over the years to know how to introduce and frame the material. 



"And now, I'd like to introduce Memphis Flyer writer Chris Davis," Tommy said. Clapping happened, and the pressure was on.



"So I received a letter just a couple of days ago," I said. "A reader wanted to know how many blowjobs I have to give my bosses every week just to keep my job."



Laughter.



"Have to?"



Laughter.



"That's more of a perk than an obligation, isn't it? I like my performance reviews. It beats making up a bunch of bullshit about where I see myself in the next five years, don't you think?"


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That part went well, so I decided to stick with work stories for a while. I talked about the Elton John impersonator I'd spoken to earlier that week. And about the person impersonating the Elton John impersonator. When I ran out of work stories I talked a bit about the time in my life where it seemed like I couldn't go anywhere without discovering a dildo of unknown origin: "A lot of people find a dildo of unknown origin and are like, 'EEEWWWWWWWW!' I'm like, 'I need to show this to somebody!'"



Not everything got a big laugh, but nothing really bombed either, and a couple of comics even gave me the business afterward, swearing it couldn't have been my first set, and encouraging me to keep it up. The collegiality felt good, but I was done.



Yeah, it's fun being funny. When you're in the middle of a room and everybody's doubled up because of something you just said, the laughter kicks like a drug. And when the laughter's gone your cells get junk sick and crave more. It's easy to see how people get hooked on the stuff, which is one reason why it's probably best to leave funny business to the professionals. Besides, now that Patton Oswalt's consummated the relationship by liking one of my Tweets, I can die comically satisfied. 


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And speaking of professionals, it's Memphis Comedy Festival weekend. Go see some. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Comic on Comic: An Insider's Guide to Memphis' Comedy Scene

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 11:58 AM




Memphis is known around the country for its lip-smacking good BBQ, its toe-tapping Blues and Rock n’ Roll music, and, of course, its knee-slapping hilarious comedians! In honor of the 4th Annual Memphis Comedy Festival this weekend, we’ve compiled a list of the funniest, most recognizable local comedian types working in Memphis right now! 









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"My word, I've got a rather severe case of the giggles!!!"














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#7) Marquel (2Funny) Parram



Catchphrase:

“I can only tell you what I heard I did…”









Marquel (2Funny) Parram is one of the hardest working comedians on the scene today. You can find this Comedian anywhere there's an audience in Memphis, and I mean ANYWHERE!



“I wanted to get strong as a performer,” he said, “so I figured I need to practice in as many different venues and in front of as many different audiences as I could.”



Not only has Marquel performed stand-up at Memphis’s top venues, he’s performed on street corners, buses, trolleys, grocery stores, doctor’s offices, carpools, and even at the zoo!



“You know a joke’s not good when you can’t make a hyena laugh.”



Marquel has been on the Memphis Comedy scene for four years now and said he is ready to make the transition to full-time comedian. He has had semi-recent success opening up for the ducks walking at the Peabody. You can see Marquel (2Funny) Parram…well…anywhere!

2funnycomedy.com




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#6) Josh Feveret








Catchphrase: 


“I have a knife on me.”




Our number six pick is the wild Josh Feveret! Josh moved to Memphis from Chattanooga just three years ago. And since then he has shook up the local comedy scene. Josh has often made a habit of riding the lines of appropriateness when it comes to his standup sets.



“Comedians today have to be shocking in order to get any attention,” Josh said. “I may say things that might offend you, but that’s part of the art of standup.”



Josh did make local headlines recently when he briefly set himself on fire during one of his standup sets at the P&H café’s open mic night.



“I wasn’t getting any laughs that night, so I thought well… let’s kick things up a notch. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best decision, but that’s what open mics are for. The paramedic did laugh a little when I asked her for a light before they took me to the emergency room, so I’d say the night wasn’t a complete waste.”



Josh will be opening for a local punk music band The Mindless Ripoffs this Saturday at Murphy’s bar.

Joshisonfireyall.com




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#5) Thomas J. Freeman 


Catchphrase:

“I thought this was a music open mic not a comedy one, but the host said I could do a few songs before you guys start.”








Thomas J. Freeman has been part-time musician in Memphis for the past 12 years. He doesn’t consider himself a comedian, yet will religiously show up to all the comedy open mics and shows in Memphis asking for stage time.



“Otherlands coffeeshop won’t have me back anymore because apparently you have to order something once in a while, which I am against,” he said. “Also they really only want you performing during the open mics, not to people trying to use the Internet.”



Thomas hopes to soon sell at least 10 of the CD’s he’s made of all originally songs he recorded in his sister’s boyfriend’s bathroom. The album is called “Echos by the Throne.” Buy it online here.

 




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#4) Jessica Talbert








Catchphrase:

“I may not know a lot, but one thing I know for damn sure is that airplane fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel!”





Young, energetic, and fearless are three worlds that come to mind when you think of this up-and-coming Memphis comedienne. Some comics like to do impressions, others tell stories of their personal life experience, but comics like Jessica like to go more political.



“It’s easy to make people laugh. I mean look at the New World Order!” She said. “Our reptilian shape-shifting lizard overlords have been laughing at our ignorance for years. Wake up people!”



Recently Jessica has taken time off from her full time job as a blogger for ChemtrailsAreBrainControl.com to focus more on her stand-up career. Although she has yet to finish a complete set without the microphone being cutoff, she is releasing her first full-length comedy album called “Live from Hollow Earth.” You can see Jessica perform at the back porch of most bars trying to get you to stop drinking water. Also check out her Podcast, “Tinfoil Hat Thoughts” on the Shut up and Listen Network.




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#3)Tim “The Biff” Johnson









Catchphrase:



“It’s Biffing time!!!”





This comedian has the largest and most loyal fan following in Memphis. His high energy comedy is a force to be reckoned with. It’s hard to find any comedy fan in Memphis that doesn’t enjoy a good “Biffing”. He is one of many headlining comedians working in Memphis, but what sets him apart from the others?



“It’s the Biff-Squad, definitely,” he said. “My fans are come out in full force waiting to get biffed, and what can I say? I always deliver.”



Tim Johnson has been doing comedy for 18 years now and has a career ranging from stand-up to movies to theater.



“The Biff has done Shakespeare before; the Biff can do it all.”



You can see Tim “The Biff” Johnson getting his Biff on at his comedy showcase at the Cooper Penny off Central Avenue the 12th of every month. Click here for official Biff Merchandise.










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#2) DJ Tickle-Cheeks







Catchphrase:

“Goo goo…haaaa HAAA Ppppppffftttt drrrrrppp ma ma ma….”





Who said this list was only featuring stand-up comedians? You may not recognize his face, but you’d definitely recognize his voice! DJ Tickle-Cheeks hosts the #1 podcast in Memphis, “Nap Time; Snap Time” on the OAM Audio Network. DJ Tickle-Cheeks got his start in comedy when he ate spaghetti for the first time. Combined with a deep appreciation for dubstep music, DJ Tickle-Cheeks has built a strong following here in the city of baby blues.



“We cannot wait till he gains more control over his motor skills and is able to actually hold his head up to the microphone, then there is no stopping him,” said audio producer Gil Worth.



Listen to DJ Tickle-Cheeks every Friday on the OAM Audio Network.




And finally we come to our number choice for best local Memphis Comedian... 



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A Horse







Catchphrase: (N/A)

It’s a horse guys, horses can’t talk.




As most of you know there is a horse that appears randomly in Memphis comedy clubs and venues.



“Oh shit, that horse is back” is a common phrases said by host and hostess at open mics and showcases.



“He just keeps to himself most of the time, which is fine when a show isn’t going on. But have you ever tried making an audience laugh when there is a 900lbs thoroughbred horse standing in the middle of the freaking room”, said one Memphis comedian. “He goes to like 80% of the shows in town, and he doesn’t even laugh! He just stands there knocking shit over.”



You can find the Memphis Comedy Horse at a majority of comedy venues in town.






And there you have it! The undisputed top 7 entirely made up comedians working in Memphis!  If you'd like to see the real, hardworking, and funny local comedians in Memphis, this weekend’s Comedy Festival is the perfect place to start.



For a listing of shows, tickets, and venues go to MemphisComedyFestival.com. All joking aside, Memphis does have a very strong, very funny comedy scene and they deserve to be recognized. Go out and see a show and support local performers and artist. BE A PART OF IT!!!



Mike McCarthy is a standup comedian who is sometimes confused with Mike McCarthy the filmmaker and occasionally mistaken for the Memphis Comedy Horse. He is also a Wiseguy and contributor to Fly on the Wall. 




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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Katrina Coleman Talks Memphis Comedy Festival

Posted By on Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 8:07 AM

Katrina Coleman
  • Katrina Coleman

This year’s Memphis Comedy Festival – which opens on Thursday, March 5 and runs through Sunday, March 8 - is shaping up to the biggest, and arguably best, in the event’s history. What originally started as a last-minute schedule filler for local “non-commercial” performance space Theatreworks, has evolved in four short years into full-blown comedy bonanza, with well over 20 individual shows and workshops spanning across a myriad of venues in town, including Theatreworks, Co-Motion Studio, the Hi-Tone, and Studio on the Square. The festival’s founder, comedian and popular Memphis tweet-er Katrina Coleman, spoke to FOTW this week about organizing the event and much, much more.

Fly On The Wall: What inspired you to start the Memphis Comedy Festival?

Katrina Coleman: Like all good origin stories, there are three that are all very nearly the same with one variance. I started the Memphis Roast Club to bring all the best comics I knew together and do work on the comedy scene. Larry Clark, an international artist, is based out of Memphis. He had booked Theatreworks for his nearly-yearly one man show, “Just Larry.” Circumstances and a busy winter kept him from putting together a whole new show to his standards in time, so he opted not to. He was talking with our close friend and stage manager Nathan Hiller about it and as founding members of the Roast Club, decided maybe we could use the theater for something. When they called me, we talked about a series of shows or a headliner or. . . why not all of it in a festive fashion? All three of us think it was our idea, but it was mine because I say it was. So in six weeks we pulled off the first one and it was so good, we had to again. And again.

How has the festival grown since that first year?


The first year, our banner was very carefully cut sparkly letters taped to a dollar store table cloth and I made stickers with a manual Xyron machine. This year, Lauren Rae Holtermann designed our posters and we'll have merch that, holy crap, doesn't look like a craft project. The shows have also come to include every kind of comedy, with so many in the weekend that no one person could physically see every single performance. The community support through sponsorships and volunteer efforts has grown by incredible and humbling leaps.

The thing that really gets better and better is the support we get in accommodating the comics. They generally crash on couches, they're fed every day, given coupons and passes and discounts from all manner of local businesses. This city just flings its doors open wider and wider so that when people leave to go back to their various homes, they feel like they've been the cool side of their family.

What would you say your primary role in the festival is? Who else contributes to putting it together?

Most of my time is probably spent just listening and nodding and saying things like, "We'll fix it. It's ok. You have to go tell jokes now. Blow your nose." In years past, I've taken crash course in promotions, organizing, scheduling, festival-ing in general. From making the interview appearances to plunging the "trouble toilet" again, my job is just to keep going. My role is also largely recruiting the right people. Every year the core team grows and changes, but keeps improving. Nathan Hiller has always been the guy who knows all about the stuff that plugs in. I tell him every year he has the job no one notices until he screws up, "And buddy, no one noticed you! Thanks!" Kate Mauldin has been our volunteer coordinator this year, thanks to her expertise in complimentary sandwiches. Cara McLane came on, and with Doug Gillon have made the marketing stuff just so beautiful it hurts. The Stanley Justice team organizes the entire film night, and Josh McLane has even taken the additional role of hospitality coordinator. Benny Elbows wrestles the monster that is our schedule and also is always awake when I text at 2 AM to tell ask him what I forgot to do today. Jada Brisentine headed sponsorship and she is very good at getting yes as an answer. Richard Douglas Jones is the sonic screwdriver of the festival, hosting shows, running cable, shaking hands, all things. Mike Degnan wrangles improvisors. Katie Wood comes by to yell when yelling's needed. Twin Face Kline, OAM Audio, Looks Like Lisa, all those teams are holding down a station. It never would have happened without the support from the beginning from Jack Pirtle's, who feed us every year. Every single year I get to watch a new person discover fried chicken livers. There are at least three dozen people I could list, and another dozen I wouldn't get to before you ran out of pages. Team effort doesn't even cover it, this is an army effort.

What is the booking/submission process like? Is it tough to decide who gets in and who doesn't?

Every year, we solicit comics all over the place to send us a video, bio, and a small fee. Then, we sit in a room and watch and yell and discuss and yell more. This year we only meant to take 27, and ended up with 32, because we simply could not bear to cut the list shorter. Every dispute is handled in a manner that may not be dignified but is certainly group effort. I've been outvoted more than once. This year, 127 videos played in Richard's living room and great battles played out to have our favorites here. There's an unofficial policy that if someone gets shoved over your submission tape, automatic entry.

How much importance do you place on showcasing local comics vs. bringing in out-of-towners?

There's always local talent, specifically as hosts, and a vast majority of our volunteers and staff are local comics. There's a local showcase specifically for us, but most shows we try to fill with visitors. We take a fairly Southern approach to hospitality, giving our guests the finest portions, as it were. We get the joy of Memphis audiences the other 361 days of the year, so we use our good manners and share.

What have been some of your favorite events or performances over the years?

Oh, that's a hard question. Comedy Secrets came last year. They do a show in which comics tell a true, personal story that has never been on stage. There's even a vow of secrecy at the beginning so I can't tell you much, but in an hour and a half I cried like a baby and laughed so hard I was choking. The Memphis Film Society gave us a live commentary over an awful sci-fi softcore movie from the ‘70s that included a game that got at least two people out of their pants. Jason Earl Folks comes here every year and every single year I find myself spelling his name for someone who just HAS to find him on Facebook RIGHT NOW. Twin Face Kline once interviewed Tawanda and Cordell Pirtle and I found out that Mrs. Pirtle is the funniest, sharpest woman in town. And she's not afraid to tell a comic to shut the hell up.

Is there something you’re really looking forward to this year?

The Stanley Justice guys haven't let me see the film submissions, so the anticipation for Don't Be Afraid of the Shorts might kill me. Unlockable Characters is a nerd-centric, queer-positive show that I have been begging Amy Sulam to bring to us for MONTHS. But Penny Wiggins may be what I'm most excited about and will be hiding from all responsibility in the booth to watch. She's just so very, very funny.

Tell me about Penny Wiggins, this year’s headliner.

Penny is better known as “Psychic Tanya,” the lovely assistant to The Amazing Johnathan. Since his recent illness, she's returned to her standup roots. She's an actress, too, so she also has a whole pocket full of characters. Happi Johnson, a locally based comic, but definitely an old pro - she used to write for Phyllis Diller - knew Penny and basically called in a favor for us. It's the right time for Penny as she's just begun touring again, and for us to have a chance to see her before she comes back through and has to play the Orpheum. Getting her here may or may have not included a promise to take her to Graceland.

Do you feel there is a legitimizing effect on the festival in bringing in more well-known performers like Penny and last year's headliner, Billy Wayne Davis?

Oh, absolutely, yes. For comics considering submitting, the headliner becomes a huge incentive to them. In addition, it's gained us much respect here at home. From tablecloth banners to hosting performers with resumes longer than my arm, I certainly think people believe we aren't just dabbling in this. 


As the festival grows, is it getting harder for you to personally attend and oversee every single show? Do you see yourself ever wanting or being able to step back from that?

Last year was the first year that one pair of eyes could not have seen all of every show, and I was so very proud of that. Everyone knows that at the Beale Street Music Festival you have to make difficult decisions, sometimes, right? Because so many incredible bands are around you just have to sometimes run from one end of the park to the other. Music is everywhere you look. The idea of a weekend like that with comedy, well, it makes my heart beat real fast. Last year, I was just able to check into every show and then run off to make sure the next was ready to go. At the very least, I was able to see each crowd for myself and get a feel for how it was going. This year, the schedule is such that I can't do that at all. I've got enough capable people that I can trust to make sure the lighting is right and the chairs are reasonably spaced. It's like my little baby has gotten too big for me to tie her shoes or walk her in to school any more. Maybe one day I'll relax and just enjoy the shows, let other people handle the way the tshirts are folded and what color cups we have and can I please have a ladder to adjust this light? Maybe I'll just relax. No, I won't.

How do you see the festival growing in the future?

Bigger. I always want it bigger. Scratch that, I want it stronger. I want it to be a thing that comics want to come to so badly that they send us bribes in the mail. (Rum. I like spiced rum.) If I got my wish, of COURSE I'd have Louis CK or Maria Bamford here. I still hold on to hope that Chris Hardwick will come back home to visit. Going forward, we've toyed with the idea of outdoor events, things that families might enjoy. I've also decided that by next year, I'll convince Tony Allen to do an open mic.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about this year’s Memphis Comedy Festival?

Buy a pass. Sit on the top row at Theatreworks. Hydrate. Don't be late, you'll miss something. Follow the @memcomedyfest so you know what's poppin’ off and where. Always be prepared to dance battle. And never, ever, EVER buy a comic drinks after midnight.

For tickets and schedule information, visit www.memphiscomedyfestival.com.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

W. Kamau Bell at Minglewood Hall

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at 1:54 PM

W. Kamau Bell
  • W. Kamau Bell
With the recent opening of Chuckles Comedy House in Cordova and the emergence of the local comedians guild Memphis Roast Club (which promotes Memphis-area comics and stages the annual Memphis Comedy Festival event in Midtown, bringing in comedians from around the country), the comedy scene in Memphis has never been stronger or more vibrant. That said, Memphis still misses out on most big-time touring comedians due to a perceived lack of audience and/or venues.

This Friday, however, will be an exception to that rule as Memphis plays host to San Francisco-based socio-political comic W. Kamau Bell at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge. Bell is perhaps best known as the former host of Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell on the FX and FXX cable networks, both subsidiaries of Fox. The show received rave critical reviews and developed a considerable following, but was ultimately cancelled after two seasons.

In addition to hosting Totally Biased, Bell has made numerous high-profile television, radio and podcast appearances, including Conan, Real Time with Bill Maher, WTF with Marc Maron, and NPR’s Fresh Air – just to name a few. He also co-hosts the semi-regular podcast The Field Negro Guide to Arts & Culture with Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid.

Here’s a clip of Bell performing stand-up at the prestigious Just For Laughs comedy festival in Chicago in 2012: 


And here he is discussing his “mixed-race baby” on Conan: 


Also appearing Friday night will be Boston’s Zach Sherwin, a comic/rapper who sometimes performs under the name “M.C. Mr. Napkins,” and local Joshua McLane. Tickets are $15 (plus a $3 service fee) and showtime is 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.wkamaubell.com or www.minglewoodhall.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Memphis Comic Remembers Robin Williams

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Robin WIlliams
  • Robin WIlliams
I hope you’ll indulge me for a bit here.

Robin Williams is dead, and all our lives will be a little poorer for it. Particularly those of us in the comedy community.

I am a child of the 70’s . There are three comics who set me on a path to doing standup and improve comedy. Bill Murray’s film critic on SNL was an early influence in my writing style and my understanding of the mechanics of character based comedy. Steve Martin taught me the syntax of standup, and showed me that comedy can be stupid and brilliant at the same time.

And then there was Robin Williams. His frantic energy and rapid fire brain showed the pure adrenalin fueled side of performance and improv that few have ever or could ever match.

Martin’s 1977 Let’s Get Small and Williams’ Reality…What a Concept a couple of years later were among the first albums I ever owned. And I listened to both endlessly.

And, though I didn’t realize it at the time, all three of these guys proved to be so much more than comedians. All proved themselves to be brilliant actors — serious and comedic- and all showed great depth in their various work.

Sure, I’d later come to appreciate the brilliance of George Carlin and the importance of Richard Pryor. But in the mid to late 70’s Bill, Steve and Robin planted the seeds in my head that would eventually lead me to perform.

I can’t even guess how many times I saw Robin Williams’ various stand up specials on HBO. The man was a force of nature. The jokes and characters and voices were rapid fire (maybe fueled by a little more than brain power at times). And the act was more than jokes. It had heart and soul.

He proved himself to have the capacity to truly act. Not just be silly on camera, but to open himself up and serve raw emotion, humor and wit. No, not all his movies were good. But when they were, they were amazing.

Robin Williams faced his demons over the years. Sometimes he’d beat them down for a while. Ultimately, they won.

The shameful question here is could Robin Williams have been Robin Williams if he hadn’t had that darkness within him? Could he have bared his soul on stage and screen without that thing inside him that ultimately killed him?

I don’t know.

Comedians are often damaged people. It’s a cliché to say it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Performers in general, and comedians specifically, all to varying degrees have some demon they are trying to feed or keep at bay. Performance as therapy is pretty common. Unfortunately, a lot of performers also choose to medicate themselves to stave off whatever it is that eats at them. Drugs and alcohol are the all too common medications of choice. And they take their toll.

Society, and even comics themselves, forget how important their work is. Those of us who can get up on stage and make people really, truly laugh are working magic of a sort. I have had many people over the years personally thank me after an improv show because they had gotten through a terrible day and “just needed to laugh”. It’s not a rare message.

Do you comics understand how important that is? Do you understand that you really are honest to goodness HELPING people when you perform. The ability to ease peoples’ burdens, even if it’s for a few minutes is a gift. Take it seriously and own the fact that you are doing some good out there.

There’s a wonderful thing about comedy. Stand ups and improvisers are part of extended families of fellow performers. Dysfunctional families at times, to be sure. We fight. We talk bad about each other. We take vicious shots at each other constantly. We all think we are better than the next performer.

But, when it comes down to it , we actually do tend to care about each other.

Comics, use your family to help deal with the monsters. Watch each others’ backs. Turn to each other just to freaking talk when you need to. You probably aren’t going to slay anyone’s dragons, but maybe you can help them do it.

Comics, just know that there’s a real good chance that you have a group of fellow performers who actually give a damn about you. Use that to help yourselves tread water.

Robin Williams was a giant. A flawed giant, to be sure, but he gave a lot to all of us. Comics who grew up in the 70’s-90’s would cite him as an important influence. Even if the sadness behind the comedy was obviously intense.

Comics, keep the magic and your fellow performers alive. You are all too important to this world to do otherwise.

Joey Hack is a member of the Wiseguys and a regular contributor to Fly on the Wall. This story originally appeared at The Howling Monkey blog.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Howling Monkey Reads The Sunday Comics: 6/8/14

Posted By on Sun, Jun 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM

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Due to insanely popular demand by one guy, we are continuing to run our potentially weekly feature in which we explain to you why the Sunday comics are funny!

In this episode, soldiers sing and fight! A wizard sleeps! Dennis goes on vacation! All that and more in this week's The Howling Monkey Reads The Comics!

The Howling Monkey Reads the Comics is a feature of The Howling Monkey blog.

Joey Hack is a regular contributor to The Fly On The Wall Blog and is a member of The Wiseguys improv troupe.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Why Read the Sunday Comics When The Howling Monkey Can Read Them For You?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 11:56 AM

When Arlo makes a promise he cant keep...
  • When Arlo makes a promise he can't keep...

Sometimes you want to enjoy the Sunday comics, but just don't understand why they are funny. As a service to our readers, we provide "The Howling Monkey Reads The Comics".

The goal is to publish this every Sunday (more or less) at The Howling Monkey blog. Depending on how this goes over, it may appear here as well.

Anywho, in this week's episode: Arlo and Janis complain! Hagar enjoys cake! Earl’s dirty pants! School’s out! All that and more in The Howling Monkey Reads the Comics! (Look, we admit this isn't for everyone. But those who it is for will laugh and laugh)!

Joey Hack is a regular contributor to The Fly On The Wall blog and is a member of The Wiseguys improv troupe.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Comedian Josh Androsky Ate Magic Mushrooms and Went on "The Price is Right." This Week He Plays the Poplar Lounge

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 12:24 PM

The Price Is Rights Skateboard Rabbi
  • The Price Is Right's Skateboard Rabbi

Tomorrow night (Thursday, May 29), the Poplar Lounge will play host to a trio of up-and-coming touring comedians: Chris Cubas, Jake Flores, and Josh Androsky.

Cubas hails from Austin, TX and was named one of Comedy Central's nine “comics to watch” in 2013. He's also a regular guest on Doug Benson's Doug Loves Movies podcast. Flores comes from Austin as well (though he now resides in Brooklyn, NY) and is a contributor to VICE Magazine and Cracked.com. But the highlight of the bill might be Androsky, an Los Angeles, CA-based writer/comedian who is perhaps best known as the 'shroom-tripping “Skateboard Rabbi” from TV's The Price Is Right.

Yep, you read that correctly. In May of 2012, Josh Androsky and a group of friends attended a live taping of the Drew Carey-hosted game-show while under the influence of multiple substances, including hallucinogenic mushrooms. Androsky was called up as a contestant at the beginning of the show, and the rest, as they say, was pure comedy gold.

Here's Androsky recounting the tale as a guest on NPR's This American Life

And here's the actual footage of his appearance on The Price Is Right as it aired on network airwaves:

Josh Androsky, Chris Cubas and Jake Flores perform Thursday, May 29 at 8 p.m. at the Poplar Lounge. Admission is $3. Local comedians Katrina Coleman and Josh McLane will also perform.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Eddie Izzard Returns to the Scene of the Crime: Overton Square

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM

Last week Eddie Izzard told the Memphis Flyer all about his first performance in America, in a parking lot that is now the deck for Bosco's Squared.

Eddie Izzard in Midtown
  • Eddie Izzard in Midtown

While in town for his Orpheum date the comic visited the spot where he rode a 5-foot unicycle while escaping from handcuffs. And then, of course, he posted a selfie.

Technically, this shot is a little to the Southwest of the spot where Memphians, intrigued by the unicycle, encouraged Izzard to, "Ride that thing."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Comedy that Leaves a Mark: Shameless self-promotion part II

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Every Part I deserves a Part II.

Cage-Match-300x227.jpg
Anyway, we all know what a cage match is, right? Obviously, it's a wrestling match where two, three, four, five, or even six beefy, screaming, steroid-pumped maniacs climb into a cage, or a barbed wire cage, or an electrified cage, and hit each other in the face with folding chairs. Like this...

The Memphis Improv Cage Match is exactly like that only it's six or eight or a dozen or more beefy area comics who climb in the cage and hit each other with folding chairs. Only, in this case the cage in imaginary, and instead chairs it's zingers and whatnot. And it all goes down Saturday, Nov. 2

These occasional matches are an extended family reunion for Memphis’ Improv community and gives groups like FreakEngine, Running Gag, and The Wiseguys an opportunity to square off in what is being billed as, "a hilarious battle royale."

So this promotion isn't all a shameless selfie, but as I like to mention as often as I can, I get lots of help from the Memphis comedy community, and I couldn't do this blog without assistance from The Wiseguys and contributors like Joey Hack, Memphis ex-patriot Robert Callahan, and all the rest.

You can get all of the details here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Comedy You Can't Refuse: Your Pesky Fly Joins the Wiseguys for an Evening of Gaiety and Laughter.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 5:19 PM

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Do you like what you read here at Fly on the Wall? Do you dislike it intensely? Either way you'll want to know about Saturday's Wiseguys: Storytellers Unplugged event (Sept. 21) so you can come by to cheer or heckle, depending on your disposition. For I, your Pesky Fly, will be the featured storyteller. And, as anybody who knows me will quickly confirm, you never know what will pop out of my mouth. Or where it's been.

For me this performance already feels like a celebration. The new and improved Fly on the Wall is now three months old and I couldn't have gotten this thing off the ground without The Wiseguys who took a chance and agreed to participate in my weird little fusion of comedy, cool things, and community journalism.

In a very short time we've covered the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of the Memphis music scene. We've taken you on an alternative Elvis tour and exposed Janis Fullilove's deepest darkest secrets. We've been topical. We've been obscure. We've invented our own holidays and were even on the Miley Cyrus WTF beat weeks before twerking was the only thing anybody could talk about.

And on top of that we've continued to chronicle all things weird and wonderful about Memphis. I'm proud of our progress, and hope this is all just a surface scratch.

So, why did The Wiseguys join me in this endeavor? I have no idea. But for my part, the seed was sown the last time I was asked to be the featured storyteller and found myself, quite unexpectedly, telling a room full of strangers about an unsettling period in my life when it seemed like I couldn't go a week without being surprised by a dildo of unknown origin. (Yes, you read that correctly, and I apologize for the NSFW language, but that's the long and the short of it).

I'd go for a walk: dildo. My car would break down: dildo. I'd reach into a crack in the wall: dildo. It was like the universe was sending me some message: But what?

In the storytellers format the comics are tasked with creating original comedy performances on the spot responding to whatever tale the storyteller happens to share. I gave the Wiseguys dildos. They, in turn, showed me a good time. So when I needed to assemble a Fly-Team, able to roll with whatever story the news cycle threw our way, these were the guys I thought of first. And every so often I intend to write a post reminding our readers that I haven't assembled just any old Fly-Team. I've got The Wiseguys.

Please forgive this brazen act of shameless self-promotion. But I'm really happy to return as a featured storyteller and I wanted to say so here for any Fly fans who might care to join us.

Details below the fold:

Continue reading »

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Men's Wearhouse Ousts Zimmer

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Pitch perfect.
  • Pitch perfect.

Men's Wearhouse, the fancier cousin of The New York Suit Exchange, today fired founder and chairman George Zimmer.

His termination letter reportedly started as follows:

"You're not going to like the rest of this letter. Guaranteed."

New NSA Slogans

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Slideshow
New NSA Slogans
New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans New NSA Slogans

New NSA Slogans

In light of the recent revelation of the vast collection of American's phone data, the Obama Administration and the National Security Agency have been taking a public relations beating. In order to combat this, the Administration has turned to the advertising agency of Cooper/Sterling/Draper/Targaryen/Lannister to come up with slogans designed to soften the impact.The following suggested slogans were leaked to the Fly by an unnamed source. But it was probably that Snowden guy.

By Joey Hack

Click to View 11 slides

Slideshows are best viewed in full screen mode.

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