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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dec. 27: Harry Doupe

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Or Friday.

What's So Funny? keeps on keeping on over the holidays. Tonight, comedian Harry Doupe makes his first appearance in the WSF? studio. We had a half-hour sit-down interview with him in Saint John in October, but the dynamic is always different in studio. No idea what we'll talk about tonight but I'm always interested in hearing stories about the early days in Vancouver. Doupe, despite moving away years ago, still considers himself a BC'er, having grown up in quaint Fort Langley and started his comedy career at Punchlines in Gastown. Give us a call, if you feel like it, and join in on the conversation. We're on the air from 11 to midnight on 102.7 FM in Vancouver. Or listen via livestream right here. The studio line is 604-684-7561.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dec. 20: Marc Maron

When this show started, way back in 2004, there weren't any comedy podcasts. Or at least I didn't know about them. And what I don't know doesn't exist in my world. These days, cyberspace is littered with them. What's So Funny? isn't technically a comedy show. It's a show about comedy, is how I describe it.

Since I discovered podcasts, I've listened to my share of them. Some I like, some I don't. And of those I like, I find I often tire of them in relatively short order. The schtick gets old with everyone trying to one-up each other. Sometimes I sit there and wonder why I'm listening, and then they'll stumble onto something interesting/fascinating/hilarious.

With so many comedy podcasts, how do you even choose what to pick? I start by looking at the hosts and whether I'm a fan of theirs to begin with. That's a good start. Next I look at the guests, and whether I'm a fan of the guests. Then I commit. You've got to listen to the whole episode and give it your full attention. Doing something mind-numbing like a menial chore works.

Some of my favourites are Never Not Funny (with Jimmy Pardo), Comedy and Everything Else (with Jimmy Dore and Todd Glass, although I think he quit recently), Comedy Death-Ray (with Scott Aukerman), and Stop Podcasting Yourself (with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka).

I keep going back, on and off, to all of these, depending on who's on. But one keeps me coming back every single episode: WTF with Marc Maron. Despite what you probably think, WTF doesn't stand for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Maron is a bit of an acquired taste and he's clearly not for everyone. But for my money, this is the best show on the internet. Why? Maybe because Maron doesn't try so hard. He's a confident conversationalist, albeit a self-centred one. He's funny when he needs to be but doesn't feel the need to always go for the laugh. He's intelligent. He's forceful. He's full of neuroses and anxieties. He's got a great voice. He's raw and honest and intense. He's curious, both intellectually and psychologically. And the show gets better each time out.

It also doesn't matter who his guest is. It's usually a comic (some of my favourite episodes have been with Zach Galifianakis, Doug Stanhope, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Brill, Jen Kirkman, and Andy Kindler) but not always. It's just as fascinating to hear him talk to a former junior high school friend who is now an astronomer, a music journalist or a musician. Each show starts off with a solo rant or rumination by Maron and usually ends with either a prepared bit. Not coincidentally, his show is one of the most popular requests on iTunes.

Maron was in town a couple weeks ago to tape an episode of The Debaters on CBC radio. I couldn't have him in the same town without trying to get him back on our little show. So I asked. No problem. He even let me use his fancy equipment instead of my rinky-dink iPod. So we sat up in his hotel room and rolled tape, the results of which will air tonight at 11 pm PST on 102.7 FM in Vancouver or via livestream here. And we'll let you know here when the episode gets posted to iTunes. Probably sometime next week.

If you heard WTF's episode 29 with Andy Kindler, you'll hear Maron talk about food waste. When you hear him on our show talking about the same thing, though, know that he said it there first. We just aired ours later. But if you stick around, we do get a scoop. Maron starts talking about his old pal Sam Kinison and tells us something he's never said in public before. I won't spoil it for you.

So tune in. And when you're done that, if you haven't already, go download some WTF episodes.

NOTE: The video bar there on the right should be clips of Maron's comedy. If you see rapsters doing their raps, try hitting the refresh button.

Episodes 175 & 176

It's de rigeur for podcasts to number their episodes. But our show predates podcasts. It's first a radio show that only later was available in podcast form. So I have no idea how many episodes we've done over the past five years. I can't just go back and count the weeks because, as you well know, some weeks we're off the air, some weeks we run encore presentations, and we have no set vacation schedule. I do know that we've done more than are available on podcast. Who knows how many episodes there are?

I used to have to go into the station to download the shows, save them to disc, then deliver said discs to the Comedy Couch mistress, who would then upload the podcasts when her schedule permitted. It was a delicate dance. One whole year we couldn't arrange our schedules so no new shows were put on the podcast. And if I didn't make it into the station for three weeks, the episodes were gone forever. These days I can sit at home on my couch and download shows from the past six months and deliver them electronically to the Couch. So we're a much smoother operation now. We're all caught up and we're pretty prompt in getting the shows to the internet.

Still, I was curious. I just counted the available podcasts and see that we've got 174 episodes available. Well, add two more to that total (my calculator is unavailable at the moment). We've just added another Richard Lett episode, where the newly sober comic swears like a drunken sailor and tells us why he's been booted off so many stages in town. And Bev PoCock and Chris Wes shock the entertainment world with an announcement and make beautiful music together. Jason Bryden and David Milchard make surprise appearances.

Here you go. These episodes, like the other 174, are also available on iTunes, where we await out first ever comment. One day...

Richard Lett, from November 29, 2009:

Bev PoCock and Chris Wes, from December 6, 2009:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dec. 13: Jay Brown & Eddie Brill

What a Christmas season we've been having on the show. Two weeks ago we had Richard Lett swearing up a storm and talking about Jesus. Last week we had Bev PoCock and Chris Wes announce their retirement from show business to reveal they're Jason Bryden and David Milchard (who knew?!).

This week we've got the always outspoken Jay Brown and Eddie Brill, the comedy booker for The Late Show starring David Letterman, who'll be talking to the both of us by phone. Man, can it get any better next week? Sure, it can! We've got iTunes sensation Marc Maron on for the hour on the 20th.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I haven't seen Jay Brown since I don't know when. Maybe it was the last time he was on the show in 2005. I know he's no longer living in Vancouver. I don't even know where he's living. Toronto? New York? We'll find out. No doubt he'll fill us with Christmas cheer and goodwill.

Eddie Brill has never been live on the show, although once we ran a pre-recorded interview and he's always been a friend to the show. Agreeing to come on the air from 2 to 3 a.m. his time should tell you that much. The guy is friends with just about everybody in the comedy biz. We'll try to pry some stories out of him. We'll ask him who vets his act when he does stand-up on Letterman (as he will in January). And we'll ask him what he was telling Barack Obama (that's Eddie on the right chatting up the President of the United States of America with Letterman ignoring the both of them).

But don't forget. We're in Vancouver. Our start time is 11 pm.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New one

Podcast update: The Johnny Scoop episode is up. Listen here or on iTunes.

The future

Two items of interest:

1. Just heard that Dave Attell ("with guests") is playing the Commodore on January 15. I notice that tickets went on sale on November 6th so chances are I'm just slow to notice things. I last saw him years ago at Giggles in Seattle. Since then he's gone on to put out CDs and host a couple of TV series (Insomniac and The Gong Show). On the one hand, I'm excited because he's a great comic and I don't know if he's ever played Vancouver before. On the other hand, I see he's playing the Comic Strip in Edmonton. A club! i.e. the perfect place to see a comedian. Oh, how I wish we could have the equivalent of a Comic Strip in Vancouver, a place that would bring in touring headliners from the States. Yuk Yuk's does a fantastic job of spotlighting Canadian comics (who are often just as good or better than their equivalents Stateside), but the more variety the better, in my book. I'm as nationalistic as the next fella, but who wouldn't want to see some of the best from down south in a club setting?

2. Speaking of Yuk Yuk's, I dropped by the office yesterday and found Mark Breslin's audio book (Yuk Yuk's Guide to Canadian Stand-Up) waiting for me. It's an early Christmas. I started listening in the car to the five-CD set and I love it. Breslin starts each "chapter" talking about a particular comic and their place in history. And the bonus disc is the classic live album "The Funniest 50 Minutes Ever!", which I wore out on vinyl back in the day and haven't heard since. I look forward to playing tracks from it on future shows.

But here's the great part: It's not Toronto-centric. I mean, sure, the vast majority of acts featured are from there, but that's just history. Breslin also didn't ignore those who chose not to work his clubs. There's a chapter on Brent Butt. But here's the cool part: Discs 3 & 4 are called The Future. He includes Vancouverites Craig Campbell, Richard Lett, Graham Clark, Damonde Tschritter, and Jeffery Yu. Not bad. Can't wait to hear them. Being a compulsive sort, I can't go out of order. The discs also come with a nice booklet.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dec. 6: Bev PoCock & Chris Wes

Edgar Cayce, eat your heart out. We've got the modern-day purveyors of positive thinking: the lads from It's Good To Know People (aka IGTKP). Bev PoCock and Chris Wes (who bear a striking resemblance to Jason Bryden and David Milchard) have been bringing their brand of bonhomie to the people for the past four years. After a drubbing at The Debaters taping on Wednesday, losing to the grumpy Marc Maron in a debate about the powers of positivity, they'll be in our studio to try and win me over. They've also promised us a scoop. A big announcement will be made. If that doesn't get you to tune in, I give up.

As always, show goes from 11 pm to midnight on CFRO, 102.7 FM in Vancouver, and on livestream at