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


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.

Roy Wood Jr. and 17-year, overnight success

April 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

Roy Wood Jr. (Photograph: M. Kelly Wilt)

Roy Wood Jr. (Photograph: M. Kelly Wilt)

Roy Wood Junior’s early success on the Daily Show is well-earned… his perspectiveis thoughtful and playful, and hecomes atsubjects from a curious angle. It was nice to get the chance to talk with him about the 17 years he put into comedy before he made it to TDS, and everything else.

Interestingly, as someone with a journalism degree (and unlike John Oliver), he considers his work at TDS a kind of journalism.

How Roy Wood Jr. Became the Latest Daily Show Breakout Star

Ellie Kemper, femme fatale

April 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ellie Kemper (Photograph: Luke Fontana)

Ellie Kemper (Photograph: Luke Fontana)

One of the perks of comedy journalism for me is talking to friends, transcribing our conversations and sending them along after trimming. In this case, I continued to ask my editor at Time Out, Are you sure? We’ve known each other for while. And his response was, Yeah, we already love her, and I’m sure your history will help the piece. We hadfun but I hope it’s fun to read, too…

Ellie Kemper talks furies, vices and wanting to play the next Walter White

SNL Recaps

April 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Peter Dinklage and Cecily Strong (Photo: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Peter Dinklage and Cecily Strong (Photo: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Happy to be asked to do SNL recaps for Vulture recently. Like any bit of writing, there’s a bit of art to it that I’m still figuring out… but my first few attempts are below.

April 3: Peter Dinklage
March 12: Ariana Grande
March 5: Jonah Hill

And oh mercy, staying home to watch the show on Saturday night, or catching up with all of it very early on Sunday morning, takes me back to being 15. That was my Saturday night: Laughing, eating snacks, quoting Sprockets, and being generally awkward and underaged.

Victor LaValle’s MC battle with H.P. Lovecraft

March 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Victor LaValle (Photograph: Teddy Wolff)

Victor LaValle (Photograph: Teddy Wolff)

Had a big hand in Time Out’s fiction issue: Upcoming fiction, local publishers and highlighted events. The most fun bit for me was chatting with writer (and native New Yorker) Victor LaValle. His new novella, The Ballad of Black Tom, is a fun remix andrepurposingof Lovecraft… and this piece was a happy excuse to catch up on his other titles.

Victor LaValle Explains How New York Can “Bring the Fear”