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Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28: Jy Harris

It's been a few weeks. What can I say? Sometimes I just get lazy... Sometimes? Okay, I'm pretty much always lazy, but sometimes I'm lazier than others. Plus I was sick. That's a legit excuse, isn't it? Sure, it was just a cold, but I'm a guy. Those things can lay me out for weeks.

Oh, and I went to Portland for a few days a couple weeks ago. While there, I took the chance to take in some professional men's comedy at Harvey's. I was told it's the most popular comedy club in the city. Judging from the packed lounge prior to the show, I don't doubt it. And they do three shows on a Saturday night, 5:00, 7:30 and 10:00! We were greeted outside by three huge headshots on the side of the building. I have no idea who two were, but the middle was Portland boy, and friend of What's So Funny? (and former guest), Dwight Slade. Unfortunately Dwight was performing in Minneapolis the night we were there.

With a two-item minimum, I decided to have a beer and a burger. You can't go wrong with a burger, right? But there will be no confusing Harvey's the comedy club with Harvey's the hamburger joint. Trust me, at Harvey's comedy club, they definitely do not make your hamburger a beautiful thing. Worst burger I've ever had.

Soon after I started going to comedy clubs regularly in the early 1980s, I realized it was a crapshoot. That is, you never know if the performers are going to be either up to snuff or to your tastes. I've always figured if I come away having liked just one of the performers on a given night, it was a win. So let's see how it played out:

One of my pet peeves is when friends see a comedian somewhere, rush back to tell me, then can't remember the comic's name. And now I'm going to do the same thing. The host's name was Doug. It's possible his last name was Edwards. Doesn't really matter. He was extremely rehearsed and there was no original thought to his pieces. He grew up with five sisters, so of course we got lots of menstruation jokes. And on this night it was the 1oth anniversary of his divorce. Maybe. Shades of Andrew Grose's wedding anniversary every time you see him. So we started off the night oh-for-one. No biggie. On to the middle act.

J.P. Linde was introduced as a Portland legend. Okay. But it's obvious to see why he never became a legend anywhere else. Longevity in any given place is laudable, but there should be other factors that get you legend status. He mentioned the airline crew that was caught drunk "three weeks ago". Forget the fact that story broke much longer than that, is having the pilot singing a rendition of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall over the P.A. really worth keeping that joke in your repertoire? Good Lord. He also broke the comedy lid off the notion that the seat cushion can be used as a floatation device. Finally! I've been waiting years to hear a comic expose that silly idea. Linde looks a bit like Andy Kindler, but he's the anti-Kindler. I don't want to be too mean, though. The guy retired that weekend from stand-up.

Okay, oh-for-two with one last chance to save the night. And headliner Steve White did just that. What a breath of fresh air. The guy apparently has been in five Spike Lee movies. I didn't recognize him, but I'm sure going to watch for him. Great energy and an infectious spirit. And naturally funny. That always helps. He entered by acting as if we were all surprised that he was black based on his name. "Negro!" he said, pointing to his face. "No refunds!" He remarked on the whiteness of Portland: "It's like they build [white people] here. I've never seen so many fucking Subarus in my life."

Other good lines I jotted down:
  • "I have ADHD: Attention Deficit in Hi-Definition. I'm very clear about what I'm fucked up about."
  • On thugs needing to maintain that macho facade 24/7 even if their mom dies: "I'm gonna miss that 'ho. She was my bitch."
  • "Obama made history twice: First black president... and last black president."
Even when making a groaner, he celebrates it with fake bravado. "Kobe beef? What's that? Black beef that comes in a white bun?" Then he mimes hitting one over the fence. "That's comedy gold!"

So was the evening a success? Damn straight, it was. One-for-three, but the one more than made up for the others. I tried to embed a clip of White for you but for some reason it isn't working. But he's got a few short ones on Rooftop Comedy you can check out on your own.


Now, on with the show. We've been on the air for over five years and surprisingly we've never had stand-up comic Jy Harris on before. But that's all about to change. He'll join us for his debut tonight at 11. You know him perhaps as Crop Sitter in episode one of DaVinci City Hall, or Clerk in episode one of Life As We Know It. Or maybe you've seen him on the Jerry Springer Show. The Red Rocket is all over the map. I see he's also a lead in the future cult classic Bong of the Dead (see trailer below). Jy is one positive dude and it should be fun talking with him.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7: Carter Hortie

If they handed out Oscars for the best name in comedy, Carter Hortie would surely be nominated. I've never asked him if that's his real name, but I will tonight. Carter's been with us once before, back in May 2005 so no doubt we'll have plenty to talk about. Hortie and Patrick Maliha are organizing a fundraiser for the homeless planned for April 16th at the Legion on Commercial Drive. They hope to do one a month at different locations across Vancouver. This first one will go to the Union Gospel Mission Soup Kitchen and the following one to the Vancouver Foodbank's meal delivery program. So there's that to discuss. And we'll figure out some other things before now and tonight.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Episode 183ish: Ian Bagg

It doesn't happen often, but from time to time a comic will ask me not to run a particular episode he was on. Apparently my Svengali-like powers get them to open up a little more than they'd like. This was the case with Ian Bagg, who dropped by the studio last Sunday night. Well, my powers and the fact he had been celebrating the gold medal hockey game since noon that day. Thanks to the miracle of editing, I don't have to lose the whole show. A simple snip here and there and presto, another gold star broadcasting event. So this particular podcast episode is a little shorter than most but it's still damn entertaining. That Bagg character is a funny guy with lots to say. We talk about his recent "deportation" from his home in Los Angeles, starting out in Vancouver, and why he doesn't feel accepted in his home and native land, among other things.

While in town, Ian has been playing the local rooms so I took the chance to see him at the Kingston on Thursday night. He headlined, as can be expected considering the guy has some major credits to his name (Conan, Leno, etc.) It was a smallish crowd and he was expected to go 30 minutes. But he gave everyone there their five bucks' worth, going 75 minutes. And there wasn't a lull anywhere along the way.

As usual, you can listen here to the podcast, or get it at iTunes (where I'm sure you'll give us a rating and a comment, right?!):

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spring comedy preview

The biannual arts preview just came out in the Georgia Straight. As usual, I did the comedy portion. I imagine the theatre and dance writers have an easier time of it because those art forms usually book a season in advance. Comedy, not so much. Which is to say, this isn't a definitive list. Still, as you can see here, there are some good shows coming up. Two I'm most excited about are Brian Regan and Norm Macdonald. I've seen both of them before (come to think of it, I've seen all but Jamie Kennedy before), but they're always hilarious. Anyway, my point about comedy bookings was driven home right after I sent this in to the editors last week. Three more shows were announced but we were unable to include them. And they are
  • Danny Bhoy, May 16 at the Vogue. He's the darling of the Just For Laughs people, having closed two of their cross-country galas. I can't imagine there's a huge demand for the guy, but those JFL people know how to fill seats.
  • Penn & Teller, June 11 at the River Rock Show Theatre. I've never seen these guys live before and I'm a big fan so I'm looking forward to this one. Granted, I am an unabashed fan of magic. But even people who aren't fans of traditional magic love their meta-magic show. I interviewed Penn Jillette in Montreal about his involvement with The Aristocrats back in 2005, which you can hear on the podcast here.
  • Tim Allen, June 18 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre (two shows). I've never been a fan, but I've also never seen him live before so look forward to seeing if his live show is different from what I've seen on TV. I can't tell you the number of times I've been pleasantly surprised at a live show after years of not liking what I've seen from the same comic on TV.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Episode 182ish: Charlie Demers

We had a good visit with Charlie Demers a couple weeks ago. We talked about his novel, his book of essays, and being fired from City News among other things. If you missed it, it's here for your enjoyment. It's also over at iTunes, if that's the way you roll. Also enjoy the photo I snapped of him in the studio. I keep meaning to do that every show but to date, he remains the only one I've captured.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Attention Female Comics, Attention Female Comics

Former Vancouverite Bonnie McFarlane is looking for a few good female comics. Well, she and her hubby, American comic Rich Vos, are:
Dear Female Comedians,

Rich Vos and I are currently looking for footage of female comedians onstage to be used in a theatrically released documentary that we are making about... funny women. The tapes should be shot independently, not from a tv show or professional showcase. There is a release form (see below) you need to print, fill out and sign to send with your MiniDV or DVD.

Send to:
Rich Vos
P.O. Box 7799
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Thanks and we look forward to your submission.

Bonnie McFarlane
Here's the release:
You may remember Bonnie from the best season of Last Comic Standing, where she was the best thing on it. And beyond that, we don't get to see her too much here, which is damn unfortunate. Did you know she got her start at the old Punchlines in Gastown? I believe she started out taking tickets before moving up to open mike night. Or something like that. If I ever get her on the show, I'll get to the bottom of it.

Meanwhile, here's some classic McFarlane. Beautifully politically incorrect: