Author Archives: Mike Bobbitt
You can listen to me guesting on the Big Time Garbage podcast with Detroit comedians Blain Hill, Brett Mercer and Ken Witzgall. It was a super fun free-form conversation with three really funny guys.
I am proud to be a comedian from the Metro Detroit area. We’ve always had a strong voice. Michigan is the birthplace of the three person comedy show. Mark Ridley, owner of the Comedy Castle invented that format thirty years ago, and it’s become the structure of comedy clubs worldwide.
Comedy clubs are unfortunately in short supply these days. When I started 15 years ago, in Michigan alone there was Chaplin’s, the Comedy Castle, Joey’s Dearborn, Joey’s Livonia, Cool Jerks, Pesto’s, Split a Gut, Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, Connxtions, Gary Fields, and Dr. Grins. Now? The Castle, the Showcase, Grins, the reopened Cool Jerks and a new room called Punchline are all that’s left.
But Mike, the title article says that Detroit comedy has never been better. How so?
I’ll tell you, Mr. Narrative Device that’s helping me get to the meat of this article. Showcases. There are so many showcase rooms run by comedians now. It’s insane! If alternative comedy is defined as comedy that happens in a space that’s an alternative to a comedy club, this is it. And it’s good. Really good! Most of the bigger name comedians in LA regularly play the clubs there, but the stars of tomorrow are sweating away upstairs in Chinese restaurants or in the back of a juice bar.
On December 19th, 2004 I put together a comedy show that had Jesse Popp, Dave Merheje, Mike Stanley, Dave Landau, Brent Sullivan, Mike Kosta, Vince Averill and more. All of the guys I mentioned have gone on to do incredibly great things. I would put money on the fact that many of the people I hope to highlight will do the same.
Before I moved to LA, my buddy Mike Lebovitz, one of the co-founders of the now coast to coast Comedians You Should Know, came to Michigan and was surprised at how few comedian run rooms we had. Darnell Anderson had something in Ypsilanti and Lauren Uchalik had the Painted Lady in Hamtramck. Both those shows were fun, but the audiences, for the most part, were the other comedians on the bill. Now, these comedian run shows have a following! They’re generating fans! And because the performers aren’t so worried about performing in a club for money, they’re not generating easily digestible material and instead creating something new and unique. And that’s fun to watch.
I’m hoping to highlight some of these artists regularly. I apologize that these first five are just white males. I was initially disappointed when I moved back that the entire scene was just white males, but I’ve been happy to discover there are more than that here. Yeah, it’s not the rich diversity of shows I sought out in LA like the amazing Micky’s in West Hollywood where many times I was the ONLY straight white male on the show, or the variety show circus of Cobra Juice, but it’s diversifying and that makes me happy. So please excuse the fact that these are four bearded and one clean shaved white guy. I will do better next update. I promise.
In no particular order…
Bart Dangus runs a show called Prankis every Monday night at LJ’s Bar downtown next to Slo’s Barbecue. Prankis is a show where heckling isn’t just allowed, it’s encouraged. The Chewbacca to Bart’s Han Solo is sound guy Zech. It’s kind of like if Chewbacca looked like Germs-era Pat Smear and Han Solo looked like…well…Chewbacca. Zech has the “god mic” and flavors every set. Bart has a wonderful and stupid (and I mean that as the highest compliment) jazz joke that I love. His material ranges from revealing to cleverly silly. He also hosts the Something O’er the Hill podcast. So check that out too.
Alex Bozinovic was a pleasant surprise. I hate to admit, but I judged a book by its cover. I met him briefly at Cellarman’s, a comedy room he co-runs in Hazel Park, and he booked me there. Most of our interaction had been online and I didn’t put it together who he was when we talked the other night at Kelly’s Bar in Hamtramck. When he hit the stage, I was dismissive at first because part of me feels like I’ve gotten the point of view of every young bearded straight white guy I needed. That’s not Alex. Not by a long shot. I was totally and completely wrong. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. I don’t even know if it is a surprise or if it’s just a matter of me being a judgy judge. But I will say, the next day I sent him a message and told him that I thought he wasn’t just doing funny comedy, but he’s also doing important comedy. He does a bit about relationships and video games, that if I try to describe, will sound hacky, but it’s the furthest thing from hack. It’s great! Like it’s the bit that’s going to elevate him closer to being a household name great.
Brett Mercer is fucking delightful. He reminds me on one of my favorite comedians and dearest friends, Jeff Scheen, in that Brett is such and original he’s not even doing premises that other people are touching. Brett’s breakdown of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” hits so many jokes, and so many different kinds of jokes. The word nerd in me loves the fact that he points out that at the end the narrator could have kept the same syllable count and said “at the baseball game”, but they’re so dismissive of the sport that they say “at the old ball game”. It literally breaks down that song syllable by syllable. Mercer is a guy who, even though he’s relatively new at this, takes the stage with the confidence of a seasoned pro. He’s like a non-food obsessed Jim Gaffigan the way he breaks down every topic he touches to a subatomic level. He also cohosts the Big Time Garbage podcast.
Jason Brent is surreal and dark. I was always in awe of my friend Brent Sullivan who could shift the pace of an audience to fit his liking. Jason does the same thing. His act is so deliberate and unforgiving. It’s really fun to watch. I feel like he’s one of those guys that I could really over analyze about why it works so much for me. I won’t. But I will say, don’t dismiss some of his material as just shocking. Look at the delivery. There’s not so much an ambivalence about the shocking nature of it as much as there’s a lack of comprehension. His conversation with the barista is a great example of that. I really like it. Jason’s act is musical in the way that it’s not just about the notes that are being played, it’s how they’re being played. And he plays those comedy notes like a virtuoso.
Kenneth Witzgall is timeless. I seriously can’t think of any other way to describe him. He’s got a great voice, both literally and as in his point of view. I ran into him at a party when I first moved back and thought he had an interesting way of taking a room. I remember then, looking forward to seeing how he took a stage. I saw it earlier this week and really enjoyed it. When I write “timeless” what I mean is that he looks just as in place on stage now as he could have in an era of modern comedy. There’s something both classic and contemporary about him. There’s also something completely Detroit about him. He looks and sounds the same way in person I always imagined Detroit rock DJs like Ken Calvert looked and sounded. The actor in me naturally falls into “Central Casting” mode. Kenneth Witzgall is the kind of guy you cast when you need a scene stealing eccentric neighbor or coworker. He’s an indomitable presence!
The Oscar nominations are getting announced today. Earlier I listed my favorite movies of 2017. This isn’t a list of Oscar predictions. I’m terrible at those. This is a list of who I think should win each of the categories.
Even though I did see about 80 movies this year, some categories are omitted because I didn’t see enough of the nominations to weigh in on them. For example, I really wish I had caught more of the animated films.
Best Costume Design – Wonder Woman
- No other costumes have been spoken and written about more this year. It’s serendipitous that a movie praised for it’s less revealing take on a character came out as Professor Marston and the Women, a movie about how the character was originally created as a fetish piece.
Best Visual Effects – Okja
- The end sequence. That’s all I want to say without spoiling anything. My heart melts and breaks for a giant mutant pig that’s ultimately just a series of ones and zeroes on a computer.
Best Sound Mixing – Matthew Wood (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Best Sound Editing – Matthew Wood (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
- I’m putting these both together because honestly I don’t understand the category enough to know why they’re two separate categories. The moment of silence near the end was so unique that AMC theaters had to put up a sign to let viewers know it was intentional. Brilliant and daring!
Best Makeup/Hairstyling – The Shape of Water
- The fact that makeup was used instead of CG for the creature in The Shape of Water, and he looks simply amazing, makes this a no-brainer for me. Unless of course, this isn’t what qualifies as hair and makeup. If that’s the case, then I, Tonya did an excellent job of capturing an authentic 80s/90s look without being a parody. It looks genuine.
Best Supporting Actress – Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
- I already wrote about how captivating her performance is in this when I listed my favorite movies of 2017. She is electrifying.
Best Supporting Actor – Rob Morgan (Mudbound)
- There is so much emotion being communicated with his eyes every second he’s on screen. His performance is a master class in understated acting.
Best Actress – Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
- Hawkins’ wordless performance is simply brilliant. Like Morgan, on the surface it’s small, but there is just so much depth.
Best Actor – Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
- He’s the favorite to win Supporting Actor, but really Dafoe leads this movie. He disappears completely into his role without the aid of expensive prosthetics or anything other than sunglasses and a tan.
Best Original Screenplay – Get Out
- A perfect script. What more needs to be said? There are so many subtle jokes and hints throughout. There isn’t a wasted word on that page.
Best Adapted Screenplay – Mudbound
- This was a powerful story that I’ve never seen on screen before. Every single character is a fully fleshed out human being. It’s a shame Netflix didn’t put this in more theaters.
Best Director – Edgar Wright (Baby Driver)
- That opening sequence to get coffee alone is the most visually and technically amazing few minutes of cinema all year…no…this decade!
Best Foreign Language Film – Raw
- It’s the only foreign language film I’ve seen, but it’s the best changing of a protagonist into an antagonist since Breaking Bad. I still wanted to list it because I do think it’s a film people should see.
Best Original Song – This is Me (Greatest Showman)
- I listened to an episode of the Song Exploder podcast where the composers talked about how songs in musicals are “verb songs” because they move a story along and pop songs are traditionally “adjective songs” because they make you feel a certain way. Like their songs on La La Land, they manage to combine the two masterfully here.
Best Cinematography – Barry Ackroyd (Detroit)
- I don’t love Detroit. In fact, I really disliked it, but you can’t discount the cinematography that really trapped you in the hotel with those victims. Apparently he had small cameras hidden on the set so the actors weren’t even aware of them when doing takes. It was such a visceral experience for a middle class white guy to feel.
Best Editing – Lee Smith (Dunkirk)
- George Lucas talks about how hard it was to edit the Jabba’s Sail Barge scene because you had multiple action beats happening at the same time. Dunkirk does a great job of hopping between the multiple stories in a way that movies the movie along pretty quickly too.
Best Documentary – Casting Jon Benet
- I am endlessly fascinated by show business both large and small. This really reminded me of the delusional extras I’d encounter on many, many sets. Kingdom of Us is the best 2017 documentary I saw, but unfortunately it isn’t eligible for an Oscar because it went straight to Netflix.
Best Production Design – Blade Runner 2049
- Blade Runner 2049 really opened up the world from the original movie in a way that was both completely original and tonally true to the source material.
Best Score – A Ghost Story
- Baby Driver’s soundtrack was, for me, the best use of making the music of a film as important as any of the visual elements, but since that soundtrack was largely pop songs, I don’t think it qualifies. I just watched the mostly silent A Ghost Story and the score of that, by John Congleton, carries that film. It was beautiful.
Best Picture – Get Out
- This is a film I believe will be studied for years to come because it is absolutely perfect. It’s the movie that I think people will look back on to represent film in 2017.
- Happytime Murders could be the next Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Melissa McCarthy costars with puppets in a Brian Henson directed mystery.
- The Predator is the sixth predator movie. This one is written by screenwriting superstar Shane Black, who coincidentally acted in the original predator. The cast looks incredible for this one.
- Mute is the new Duncan Jones movie. I love Moon and Source Code. I’m glad that he’s returning to his own stuff. I may even give his Warcraft a try this year.
- Holmes & Watson. Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly together again. What more needs to be said?
- Alita: Battle Angel looks weird, but I like the source material a lot. And I’ll even cop to the Ghost in the Shell live action movie being a guilty pleasure.
- Annihilation is Alex Garland’s follow up to Ex Machina, which is a movie that I still think about regularly. Add Oscar Isaac in the mix again and I’m totally on board.
- Ready Player One is my current favorite book. With that in mind, I’m cautiously optimistic about the movie. It’s Spielberg so it’s in good hands, but I don’t know. I really love that book. Surprisingly, the trailer shows a lot of the pop culture references the flavor the book. That’s quite a licensing feat in itself.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story is another one I’m cautiously optimistic about. I think I would have loved a Lord & Miller Star Wars movie. Marvel letting James Gunn make a James Gunn movie set in the Marvel universe was a homerun. I wish Kathleen Kennedy would have let Lord & Miller make a Lord & Miller movie set in the Star Wars universe.
- Bad Times at the El Royale. Drew Goddard wrote it. He wrote Cabin in the Woods. I’m in.
- A Star Is Born. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga? I unabashedly love the Kris Kristoferson/Barbra Streisand version of this. Like, I love it to the point where the soundtrack is on my iPod.
- Ant-Man & The Wasp because the first Ant-Man movie was so much fun. If the sequel has half the wit of the first one, this is going to be a blast. And Paul Rudd, right? He’s Paul Rudd!
- First Man is Damien Chazelle off LaLa Land taking a stab at a historical drama. I’m intrigued. Ryan Gosling, Corey Stoll, Shea Whigham, and Jon Bernthal. Those are some white guy powerhouses.
- A Simple Favor. Michigan native and my pen-pal Paul Feig takes a stab at a mystery thriller. Sarah Baker is in a supporting role. I think she’s a phenomenal actor who deserves way more work.
- An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. Craig Robinson, Matt Berry, Maria Bamford, Jemaine Clement, Aubrey Plaza. That cast alone has me excited!
- Zeroville. I usually shy away from James Franco projects, but this one has Horatio Sanz as Francis Ford Copolla. Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen and Will Ferrell.
- The BBC Weinstein documentary. I am incredibly giddy that a light is being shined down on the dirty side of Hollywood. I think the most honesty that came from this is from screenwriter Scott Rosenberg who admitted to knowing, but turning a blind eye because the perks were good. I can no longer separate the art from the artist, which is a shame, because that means I can no longer enjoy pieces of art that I once loved.
- Juliet, Naked is adapted from a Nick Hornby novel. I really need to read his novels because I enjoy the movies based on them like Brooklyn and High Fidelity. This one stars the charming Chris O’Dowd, Rose Byrne and Ethan Hawke and it seems to be about the obsession of celebrity. I certainly have an obsession with the obsession of celebrity.
- The Cloverfield Movie. Chris O’Dowd will also be in the new Cloverfield movie which is cowritten by Oren Uziel, who also wrote on the really clever 22 Jump Street movie.
The following is my list of my favorite movies of 2017. I’m not saying I think they were the best movies of 2017. Arguably Dunkirk is a finely crafted piece of film, but with only a couple of the characters being named on screen, it just didn’t connect to me emotionally. I’m sure Phantom Thread is fabulous as well, but I have zero interest in it.
Get Out – It was the first movie I saw this year, and it’s stuck with me all year long. There are so many subtle hints and jokes within this film, that I discover something new all the time. It’s a master class in screenwriting and storytelling. I read the screenplay too, which has a completely different ending than either the theatrical or the alternate Read the rest of this entry
In this episode, Allyson Hood and I try our best to convince my cohost Sam Gasch that Goonies is a perfectly fine movie.
Or listen HERE!
The Box would have been way better if Frank Langella wore his Skeletor makeup.
My writing partner and best buddy DJ Dangler and I will be launching a fun little podcast in the next few weeks. While writing, we end up having sometimes silly, sometimes introspective conversations. We decided to record them. In this first one, we talk about our favorite living wrestlers. We hope you like it.
The art is from my friend Joe Apel.
The intro music is from the Mutants.
Sam and I dissect Robocop and figure out how to make the ultimate remake!
My friend, screenwriter/improviser Sam Gasch and I have launched a brand new podcast. The trend in movies these days is that just about every big budget feature is a remake of something else. So every other week we will look at an old movie and figure out what’s the ideal way for Hollywood to remake it.
Here’s a link to the preview episode. Please subscribe in your podcasting catcher of choice and write us a review so we know how to improve the show.
In a city of a thousand planets, surely there has to be something better to watch.
I like Luc Besson. Problably more than I should, considering he’s kind of a creep. Luc Besson is the Woody Allen of France. I also really like weird French and Spanish sci-fi and fantasy. Those can also be kind of creepy by our American standards.
Next week will be the first time in about two years that I’ll be back in Michigan. I miss it a lot. I miss my friends. I miss my family.
I’m incredibly grateful Go Comedy is letting me have a show there on Thursday the 8th. Time is incredibly limited this trip because we’re coming back to wedding plan. This show is a good opportunity to get to see a bunch of friends all at once! So, if you’re going to the show, it will be over with by 9:00, we can all go down the street to a bar afterwards and hang out. What’s that? You didn’t know about this show? Well click HERE for more info. And if you still need tickets to the show, just click HERE.
This year the In Memoriam section of the Oscars is going to be longer than the award ceremony.
I’m writing this shortly after hearing about Carrie Fisher dying. Yeah, I’m a Star Wars fanatic, so of course I dig Carrie Fisher. But to me, she was something more. When I found out that she was a script doctor and wrote screenplays, that was the first time I really considered screenwriting as a cool endeavor. She was sharp and funny.
So that’s why I’m here in Hollywood. I want to write. I want to be like Carrie Fisher and be known for both my writing and my personality. She was amazing, guys. Yeah, she was also bat shit crazy, but aren’t we all?
Here is a more in depth look at my favorite films of 2016. I’ll steer clear of spoilers.
Starting with a cheat…
Here’s my set from a recent Cobra Juice show at the Steve Allen Theatre. Kyle Shire brings me out and we talk about the first time we played Dungeons and Dragons together. Then I talk about how being homophobic phobic put me in a pretty gay situation. I wrap up with a recap of Catcon.
I hope you enjoy!