Lin-Man, Hanks and other SNL treats

October 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

Leslie Jones & Tom Hanks (Photo: NBC/ Rosalind O'Connor)

Leslie Jones & Tom Hanks (Photo: NBC/ Rosalind O’Connor)

I think if I told my 14-year-old self, “In the future, you’ll be paid to watch SNL and talk about it,” his brain would have exploded and I wouldn’t be here with you now. Here are the first severalback-to-back SNL episodes, wrapped in tidy bows, for Vulture.

Oct 22: Tom Hanks
Oct 15: Emily Blunt
Oct 8: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Oct 1: Margot Robbie

Blur of the Edinburgh Fringe

October 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

Rash Dash's "Two Man Show." (Photo by the Other Richard)

Rash Dash’s “Two Man Show.” (Photo by the Other Richard)

A few thoughts and notes from my first Edinburgh Fringe. In a word, overwhelming. Easily could have spent the entire month (and all my money) there… but incredibly glad to have the week. And runningaround with the cast of Ghost Quartet and Eliza Bent was delightful.

Finding Magic, Skirting Angst at the Edinburgh Fringe

Are Plays Great Literature?

September 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Asa man who received undergraduate degrees in English Lit and Theater, I believe playscripts can begreat works of artand are worth reading, not just whilepreparing to see a show or auditioning for a part, but when in search of lit kicks.

I’m not convinced that manySeriousReaders agree. Most of my friends and critical types feel significantly less interested inpicking up plays than they are in nabbing novels, nonfiction or poetry. I was happy to get the chance to make my case for paper scripts on Lithuba site I really love. (Its content is certainly informative and scholarly, but never skimps on the fun.)

Ten Plays You Can Read Like a Novel

More Listening In…

August 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Aparna Nancherla and Tig Notaro (Photo-Illustration: Kelly Chiello / Getty Images)

Aparna Nancherla and Tig Notaro (Photo-Illustration: Kelly Chiello / Getty Images)

I’ve had the chance to do much more listening in to comics’ conversations for Vulture.Fun in any context, delightful to hear a comic ask the question I am silentlywishing they’d ask…

Tig Notaro Talks to Aparna Nancherla about Comedy, Babies and Being More Direct

Jim Jefferies Talks with Anthony Jeselnik about Being ‘The Gun Guy,’ How to Remain Offensive, and Dating Comedians

W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu Talk about the Responsibility of People of Color in Comedy and the Beauty of a South IndianMan’s Chest Hair

 

Birbigs and Big-Screen Improv

July 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

MIke Birbiglia (Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock)

MIke Birbiglia (Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock)

Spoke with Mike Birbiglia about the new “Don’t Think Twice,” which is about (the dissolution of) an improv group. As a middle-aged occasional improviser, this one hit close to home. (See also: That Onion headline about how everyone in the improv group has a receding hairline.) I do think it’ll hit a lot of people, though… especially creative types who have been at it for some time, and who sometimes ask themselves why they keep at it.

Mike Birbiglia Talks the New Movie ‘Don’t Think Twice’

Though I do think Alex Karpovsky’s TJ & Dave movie “Trust Us, This Is All Made Up,” translated improv to the big screen really, really well, I appreciate the time and energy that went into portraying improv here. It’s clear Birbigs et al wanted the viewer to be a part of it, wanted it to feel lively and fun, and it does.

Bassem Youssef’s American Incarnation

July 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

Bassem Youssef (Larry Busacca/Getty)

Bassem Youssef (Larry Busacca/Getty)

Americans are still a little at sea when Bassem Youssef is mentioned; they seem to perk up, though, when they hear “the Egyptian Jon Stewart.” A brave guy who isn’t waiting for congratulations or tocommiserate about howdifficult it was toget death threats every day. (For the record, he still gets them, they’re just not as frequent.) Here is my profile on Bassem and his new Fusion series for Rolling Stone.

Beyond the scuffle with North Korea re: The Interview and Comedy Central putting the kibosh on images of Muhammad (in a bear suit) for on South Park, it’s a little hard in the states to make sense of the moment Youssef lived through. We’re awash in satire. We presume free speech. Barring some horrifying episode like the one that the writers of Charlie Hebdo went through, Americans can poke fun and feel safe. To get a sense of the transitions Egypt went through, what they mean and what might be ahead, Bassem is an amazing help.

Professional Eavesdropping

June 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

Michael Che and Dan Soder (Ilustration: Vulture; Images: NBC / Getty)

Michael Che and Dan Soder (Ilustration: Vulture; Images: NBC / Getty)

Jesse and Vulture have given me the chance to listen in on comics’ conversations from time to time. I love this shit. One of the silliest and most fun stories I organized at Time Outwas a host-off battle between Scott Aukerman and Eric Andre:

Scott Aukerman vs. Eric Andre

In general, these comic-on-comic conversations have the intimacy of podcasts,andI find even just reading them givesa real sense of the dynamic between the players…

Dan Soder and Michael Che

Tom Green and Harland Williams

Drake, Brie, Fred and the End of SNL 41

May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

HillaryBernieSNL

Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) and Bernie Sanders (Larry David)

As I post my Vulture SNL recaps forthe end of the season, Ilet go bleary-eyed Sunday mornings for the immediate future:

May 7: Brie Larson Cheerfully Keeps Things Moving Along
May 14: Drake Sings, Clowns, Starts Beef with Entire SNL Cast
May 21: Fred Armisen Makes Foot Guacamole

Stolen House

May 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

TJ Jagodowski, Scott Adsit, David Pasquesi, Stephnie Weir and John Lutz performing Stolen House in Chicago (Photograph: Jerry Schulman)

TJ Jagodowski, Scott Adsit, David Pasquesi, Stephnie Weir and John Lutz performing Stolen House in Chicago (Photograph: Jerry Schulman)

A new improv/theater hybrid will arrive in New York over the weekend, and I got the chance to talk with the creators and performers about it for the New York Times.

A lot of thought and planning went into this piece, yet in almost all improv experiments, trust and faith are ultimately more important. So much to talk about, wish I’d had 2,000 words…

No Script, No Roles: It’s No Problem for the Actors of ‘Stolen House’

Obama, Wilmore and the Press Corps

May 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

Larry Wilmore (REX/Shutterstock)

Larry Wilmore (REX/Shutterstock)

Wrotea few impressions about the WHPC dinner, Larry Wilmore’s headliningand Obama’s final stand-up set as the president…

10 Best Zingers from Obama’s Final White House Correspondents Dinner

I wasn’t bothered by Wilmore’s final send-off; honestly, it came across as something sweet. Then again, I’m a white dude; my opinion isn’t worth much in this circumstance.