This past weekend I was at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase with my friend Nate Fridson. I’ve only seen Nate once since he moved to New York about a year or so ago. He churned out a ton of new material. It was really nice watching him. I was nervous going into the weekend since it had been a good month since I did more than 15 minutes of time in one set. Maybe stand up is like riding a bike. I haven’t ridden a bike in years and I’m worried how my first attempt would be.
The shows ended up going pretty well. With the exception of about four or five minutes on being an uncle, I’m not doing any material from my CD that I released just about a year ago. I have a pretty good track record at the Showcase so I took advantage of that trust to try out some new pieces. Most of them worked.
This week marks the start of two months of road work. The boredom I feel from doing the same jokes over and over again tends to go away when I’m in new cities. I know everything will be brand new to them. This week I’ll be at the Skyline Comedy Cafe in Appleton, Wisconsin. It’s a great club and I’m really looking forward to it.
Earlier in the week I did a live episode of WTF with Marc Maron. That was pretty awesome. I know Marc has his reputation, but he’s been super cool to me. I was nervous for the interview, but it went fairly well. We dug a little more into my personal life than I would have wanted, but that’s the nature of the show. After that I went over to the UCB Theatre and did a set on Comedy Bang Bang. Zach Galifianakis closed that show. Backstage he seemed like a genuinely good guy. That made me happy. Eric Andre was there too. He was just super nice and charming. It really does seem like the only dicks you encounter in this business are the people at the bottom who are bitter being stuck there. The higher up you go, the nicer people seem to be.
I closed out my LA trip with a set on The Meltdown and Meltdown Comics. That show was simply amazing. It’s a small room, packed full of comedy super fans. The line up is always great. I was so honored that my Jonah Ray let me be part of it. Through my years I’ve met a lot of people who I don’t get to see nearly as much as I’d like. Jonah is one of those guys. He’s another guy who in addition to being a really good comedian, is also a hell of a nice person.
Sean Patton from New Orleans closed the Meltdown show and was simply amazing. I worked with Sean here in Michigan and thought he was great. Earlier this week though, that greatness was on a whole new level. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, another super awesome person too. Hopefully Sean and I will be able to do some shows together in 2013. He’s going to be on Maron’s television show for IFC next year. I have a feeling that’s about the time that he’s going to blow up and become a household name at least with comedy nerds.
From start to finish, last week was a blast! Enjoy some clips from Nate, Jonah and Sean.
It’s the 15th Episode of Nerd Comic Rising, and the end of the NCR Fast!! This episode kicks off season two with a second interview with Mike Bobbitt! We talk about his recent trip to LA, depression, and our mutual love of Brad Austin which leads to planning his destruction. Check out more great content at JeffreyConolly.com or email feedback to email@example.com
They say you should never meet your heroes. I’ve found that to be untrue. When I was 18, I met and became friends with Dave Brockie, better known as Oderus Urungus lead singer of Gwar. He took me under his wing for a few years and helped direct me onto my journey as a professional entertainer.
As an adult, my hero is Marc Maron. He’s a master of his craft and a truly unique voice. He’s said in the past that young comics tell him that they want to be “real” and he responds by telling them to work on being funny first. Marc is both real and really funny.
My biggest fear driving home from my week in Madison, Wisconsin was Christine asking, “Did you have a good time?” I’d answer, “Of course! I was at one of my favorite clubs working with my absolute favorite comedian, who I feel like I got to become friends with, of course I had a good time!” Then she’d say, “Good, because that was your Make a Wish. I have some bad news for you.”
Mike DeStefano died Sunday night. I never met him, but I wish I had. I first heard him on The Moth storytelling podcast. Mike had a couple stories on there that I remember. He had one that really stuck with me. It was about how he was visiting his wife in hospice. They were both HIV positive, but hers turned into full blown AIDS and she was dying. He ended up buying a motorcycle and took her for one last ride. It was such an inspiring story about living life to its fullest all the way up to the end. It was a story about love. It was a story about saying goodbye. It was a story that touched me. At the end of the stories on the Moth, the host Dan Kennedy comes on and gives a little bio about the speaker. He said that Mike DeStefano was a comedian living in New York. I had a feeling he would be the kind of comedian that I respected and strived to be more like. I had a feeling his comedy was raw, original and honest.
It wasn’t until about a year later when Marc Maron interviewed Mike on the WTF Podcast that I really sought out his work. I was glad that the same story touched Marc like it touched me. It’s a powerful story that even paraphrasing it for Christine one night brought tears to her eyes. In the interview, Mike explained how he became a comedian. He was giving AIDS awareness lectures. When people would ask silly questions, he’d give silly answers. “Can I get AIDS from my dentist?” “Only if your dentist is fucking you in the ass.” I found out Mike had been on Last Comic Standing. To me, that didn’t bring legitimacy to Mike. Mike brought legitimacy to what is essentially a game show. Mike DeStefano was the real deal.
This time I wrote a note reminding myself that I wanted to research Mike’s work and see what I could find. I ended up downloading his CD “OK Karma” off iTunes. Much like the performer himself, the CD is raw and rough around the edges. He has moments where he rants and it doesn’t really hit strong with the audience. He wraps up that rant with announcing that what the audience is just heard is going on the CD. It’s a real moment. A polished CD from a punk rock comic would sound…wrong.
Coincidentally, Saturday morning I was driving with a local punk rock spoken word artist Jimmy Doom. The night before Jimmy was talking about wanting to take a stab at comedy. His spoken word CD is raw and witty and I’m sure he’ll do great. I wanted to introduce Jimmy to DeStefano’s work because I knew they shared a similar sensibility. It always brings me joy when I can make someone laugh, whether it is from something I said or something I played for someone. Jimmy cracked up.
After the Maron interview, I found Mike on Facebook, friended him and sent him a message thanking him for sharing his story and being inspiring. He never wrote back and that’s okay. I know I’m not the only person he touched. I wish I would’ve gotten the chance to work with him. I wish I would’ve gotten the chance to share a stage with him. And I wish I would’ve gotten the chance to say thank you. We all overcome adversity in our lives. Mike overcame losing his soul mate, battling a life ending disease and drug addiction and he did it all with a smirk and a middle finger in the air. It kind of makes a lot of my problems seem small by comparison. If there is a heaven, I hope the first thing Mike said to God was, “Fuck you, I beat HIV! I win! Now where’s my old lady, mother fucker?”
Here are five of my favorites:
How Did This Get Made?: This is a brand new podcast, just two episodes old, but absolutely terrific. The League’s Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas, Diane Raphael (Flight of the Conchords) and a weekly guest break down exactly what’s terrible about the terrible movies we love to hate. So far they’ve skewered Burlesque and Nicolas Cage’s Season of the Witch. They’ve talked of expanding the show to include DVDs and television shows, sparking my secret hope that they’ll take on The Cape.
The Bugle: Featuring the Daily Show’s criminally underused John Oliver and his long time comedy partner Andy Zaltzman, this is a satirical commentary on the news of the day. If you like the Daily Show or Colbert Report, The Bugle is square in your wheelhouse. Even if you don’t; if you enjoy British humor, give this a spin. And it’s worth it to dive into the back episodes, their string of podcasts covering the 2008 elections in particular were hilarious.
WTF: The great thing about this podcast is that the host, Marc Maron, is just as interesting as the people he interviews. Maron and his guests get into the highs and lows of being a comedian and the business of stand-up over the last two decades in a way that is incredibly frank and always gratifying.
The Nerdist Podcast: This is the second podcast I really got in to. Chris Hardwick has thoroughly entertaining conversations about comedy and showbiz, but with a nerdy slant, with everyone from his fellow comedians to MMA fighter Mayhem Miller to Ozzy Osbourne to the Muppets. The variety of guests and Hardwick’s palpable enthusiasm for comedy is what makes the show so enjoyable.
The Pod F. Tompkast: Hosted by Paul F. Tompkins, this is a variety show of a podcast, featuring ‘The Undiscovered Project,’ an ongoing series documenting the making of a movie shrouded in secrecy and ultimately hidden away by the very geniuses that brought it to life; clips from Tompkins’s various live comedy shows, the occasional phone conversation with comedian friend Jen Kirkman and assorted other shenaniganery. Sadly, it’s a monthly podcast, but it never fails to amuse. Cakeboss!