Unlike the vast majority of comedians these days, Harland Williams doesn't believe that being on stage gives comics the right to bully an audience.
“At the end of the day, comedy is about being funny,” he says. “I guess you can make anything funny, but I think sometimes comedians forget that at the end of the joke, there's a human life and there's some suffering.”
The goofy characters Williams has played on screen, from the pee-drinking cop in Dumb and Dumber to a very weird hitchhiker in There's Something about Mary, all have a couple things in common: they are funny without needing shock value, and each are made better by Williams' whip-fast improvisation, qualities he brings to his stand-up and weekly podcast, The Harland Highway.
While in town for a recent gig at the Improv, Williams spoke to Creative Loafing about his wacky sense of humor, new YouTube movie, and what is off-limits when it comes to making people laugh.
At long last Dad's Garage has finally closed on what the theater is referring to as it's "forever home." The news comes some months after Dad's successful Kickstarter campaign, the largest for live theater in the fundraising website's history. The 1.2-acre property is a church at 569 Ezzard St., in Old Fourth Ward, and includes 90 parking spots, and has already been rezoned thanks to a little community support.
The Ezzard Street space cost a little more than $2 million, and since August 2014, more than $690,000 was pledged for the purchase. The aformentioned Kickstarter campaign netted $169,000, with more than a 1,000 donations. There was also that anonymous donor who offered to match every dollar donated up to $150,000. The rest of the funding? The board of directors offered up 5 percent of the purchase, and the rest came from a bank loan to cover the remaining costs, including some renovations.
The current congregation at the Ezzard Street church will occupy the space for another year, with the Dad's crew tentatively planning to relocate by mid-2016. In the meantime, Dad's will continue to operate out of 7 Stages in Little Five Points. When up and running, the new facility will include an improved sound system, concessions area, and elevated seating. There are plans for some limited fundraising which will go toward additional renovations.
After three decades and more than 10,000 shows the Punchline Comedy Club is looking to move from their current location at 280 Hilderbrand Drive. Though the new location has yet to be named, the club plans on moving sometime in April.
In the meantime, and in celebration of its 33rd anniversary, the Punchline will host a slew of events and shows.
"It's the right time for this move," Punchline's co-owner Jamie Bendall said in a statement. "A variety of things lined up with the redevelopment coming in Sandy Springs and some exciting things happening around Metro Atlanta. It's hard not to love your original showroom and all the memories from over the years; nevertheless, we're excited for the opportunity a new location offers that will incorporate the best aspects of the current club with some new features."
The house that played host to everyone from Robin Williams and Richard Pryor to Jeff Foxworthy and Jerry Seinfield, will host several shows leading up to their big move. The Punchline will also have pop-up shows throughout the summer, and other events at temporary venues around town till they find a permanent location. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
He wound up taking an alternate route to the small screen, which ultimately landed him a gig as writer/correspondent for "The Daily Show." Definitely a step up from receptionist.
His second comedy special, Brooklyn, which began airing on Netflix in October, should translate well when he comes to Atlanta's Laughing Skull this Sun., Nov. 16. Despite the geographic specificity of that title, he dishes on some universal themes, like "his problems with gentrification," according to A.V. Club reviewer Vikram Murthi.
Hopefully that doesn't mean he'll be abandoning his earlier material on pretentious pseudo-intellectual neighbors that like to brag about not owning a TV while blasting NPR through their stereos: "Just calm down. Ok, I get it. You all hate TV. That's fine. But you know where else you can find terrible stuff? In books. You think Snooki's a piece of shit? Read her book."
Wyatt Cenac. $15-$20. 6:30 p.m. Sun., Nov. 16. Laughing Skull, 878 Peachtree St. 877-523-3288. www.laughingskulllounge.com.
You know you're in for a good evening when the usher who's checking your ticket says to you before you walk into the auditorium, "You're going to like him—he's very funny."
This was the case on Oct. 24, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center where comedian, actor, and author Jim Gaffigan performed back-to-back stand-up shows in promotion of his latest collection of essays entitled Food: A Love Story.
To those not familiar, Gaffigan's shtick is not limited to storytelling and observational humor. His forte is jokes dedicated to food. The title of his new book may be a surefire indicator of this as it serves as a follow-up to his 2013 New York Times Bestseller, Dad Is Fat.
After following his stand-up circuit for the past couple of years and watching a few of his specials, however, part of me was wondering if I had seen it all already—the cracks about eating too much McDonald's, the backhanded insults thrown at him by his wife and five kids, his extreme level of paleness that doesn't go unnoticed by strangers.
Not even 30 seconds after picking up the mic, Gaffigan dove right in to a bit about smuggling doughnuts into his roller suitcase in his hotel room and getting randomly chosen for bag search by airport security.
Without so much as a pause or stutter, Gaffigan paced the stage with the beam of white light from the catwalk following him, telling us all about his irrational hatred of stairs, his wish to be laid to rest in a steakhouse, and the phenomenon he refers to as "fatting out"—the process in which one becomes too portly for his or her clothes, but cannot come to terms with it.
Gaffigan even gave us a glimpse into life on the road, as he's performed shows domestically as well as internationally. His solution for his young children who just want to hear their daddy's voice when he's away? "Buy my albums, you know what I mean? Play those suckers on loop."
While Gaffigan's show seemed like it ended all too quickly with his likable Everyman persona making the time fly, what is unique about Gaffigan's brand of comedy is how it has introspective qualities that make his self-deprecating humor both relatable and endearing. It's these flaws that he shamelessly confesses to rooms full of strangers night after night that not only brings him closer to the audience, but the audience closer to him as they witness a well-to-do celebrity describe to no end the embarrassing side-effects of eating too many Hot Pockets.
Perhaps this is why the crowd filed out of the theater post-show and immediately made way for the lobby where they formed a mega-line to buy his book from the tables set up with copies stacked high on top. They wanted more Gaffigan, like a fat kid wants more cake.
Tig Notaro was already notorious for creating awkward moments onstage. Then came Aug. 3, 2012. That's the day she stepped onstage and casually announced, as the crowd welcomed her with applause, "Thank you, thank you, I have cancer, thank you, I have cancer, really, thank you."
Though her stage 2 breast cancer has gone into remission since her double mastectomy, Notaro's career remains in full surge. Her deadpan delivery and her ability to turn personal tragedy into comedy won her a new legion of fans, and a 2014 Grammy nomination for her sophomore release Live. Aside from continuing to host her weekly podcast Professor Blastoff, she has plans to release a recently recorded a Showtime standup special Knock Knock, It's Tig Notaro, a TED Talk, and memoir in 2015. In anticipation of her scheduled performance at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta this Thursday, she traded emails with CL.
Sometimes when comedians get really famous for something specific, the new fans they attract have very little patience for them doing anything but that one thing they did that one time. Do you ever get the morbid sense from your new fans that they're just waiting for you to talk about the cancer?
Not in the slightest. I think people, my fans especially, understand that was a time and place performance. Whether it be a festival or a college or one of these recent tour dates, I have had the sense that fans came out to see me do stand-up and laugh whatever it is I choose to talk about.
How has it been for you to have your career take off on the heels of a personal tragedy?
This is why you gotta love social media. It levels the playing field with the quickness.
A young, unheard of Vine comedian who calls himself DC Young Fly and decides to roast established box-office draw Kevin Hart this week and he's suddenly gone local to global. Or something like that.
Like locally-based comics before him — such as the Hudson Brothers, who were featured in last week's CL issue, and Lil Duval — DC Young Fly is using the web as his come-up. Laughspin has a thoroughly documented account of his roasting of Hart. The Atlanta-based comic who recently surpassed 1 million followers on Instagram has a style reminiscent of a young Chris Tucker.
He hashtags each video post with the same ratchet call-outs that he uses to bookend each of his hood snap sessions: #bringdatassheaboi and #fukumean. In between, he goes in like lightning. Over the course of a day, he posted several Instagrams poking fun at Kevin Hart's diminutive stature. The YouTube below captures them all in order.
Kevin Hart, who's used to getting roasted by comedians on Twitter, responded with his own hashtagged assault cracking on Young Fly's face and neck tattoos. So far, the Internet seems to be favoring the heavyweight over the contender. But by virtue of the fact that we now know DC Young Fly's name, I'd say he won easy. It was cool of Kevin Hart to throw the young one a bone.
Eager to keep the buzz going, DC Young Fly came back with several more videos that portrayed him having a phone conversation with Hart afterward; it was really just one of his comedy buddies Tattoo Man Paige mimicking Kevin Hart. You can follow the rest of their back and forth below.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the cult-fave comics behind the "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!," have done something truly surprising by making something scary. Their new show, "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories," is an anthology series, a weekly procession of contained, 11-minute stories that riff on a mélange of moods and subjects (suburbia, toes), with the help of an eclectic guest cast including Zach Galifianakis and Laurie Metcalf.
"There was a little more thought, I think, this time put into making endings happen and making consequences happen and twists and those kinds of things that we don’t really care so much about in the sketch show," Heidecker said recently. The result, it seems, lies somewhere between Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone" and "It's Spagett!". But as "Bedtime Stories" soon teaches you, appearances aren't just deceiving — they can be horrifying, too.
We spoke with Heidecker about the new project and about the Tim & Eric tour, featuring John C. Reilly's Dr. Steve Brule character, which makes a stop at the Variety Playhouse this Sat., Sept. 20.
After being forced out by the good 'ol mixed-use development craze taking over Atlanta, Dad's Garage Theatre Company could be on their way to securing their new home. Last week, the 19-year-old theater company which draws some 32,000 people a year with their unfiltered brand of improv and scripted works, launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $116,000 from the public. Back in July, Dad's Garage announced that they were under contract for a permanent space, a church at 569 Ezzard St., in Old Fourth Ward. Dubbed, "Help Build the House of Dad's!," the campaign is looking for fans and local supporters to raise about $100,000 (after Kickstarter expenses) over the next two months in hopes that Dad's Garage can close on the property this December.
"We're not an organization with deep pockets," Artistic Director Kevin Gillese says in the campaign video. "We appeal to younger demographics and regular people like you who can't really afford to write a million dollar check, so we're really going to have to pass the plate and have everyone chip in what they can."
In what Gillese calls "the most important turning point in our history," the remaining funds are set to come from bank financing, corporate sponsors, private donors, community leaders, and foundation support. Overall, Dad's Garage needs to come up with a little over $2 million in hand by Dec. 1, in order to close on the property.
Donation benefits include the basic rewards of tickets to shows and music downloads, but to step things up a notch, the rewards for bigger donors include naming a toilet in the new building after your mortal enemy, and, according to a release, "tattooing whatever you like on an ensemble member's tookus."
There are also plans for spreading the word about the 60-day campaign stretch including a pizza night at Ammazza and karaoke night at Sister Louisa's Church." For more info (and hilarity) or to donate, visit the Dad’s Garage Kickstarter here.
I still remember the high school days when my buddies and I would huddle around a desktop monitor to watch clips of comedian Michael McDonald’s famous Stuart character from “MADtv” before trying — and failing miserably — to mimic his squeaky voice and vacant expression. Any fan of McDonald knows that his ten-year stint on the program was just the early stages of his success. From the security guard dramatically screaming “Nooooo!” in front of an oncoming steamroller in the first Austin Powers movie to starring opposite Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat (yes, I saw it and loved it so judge me all you want), McDonald has come a long way.
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