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Archive for November, 2010

Schtick or Treat

Zach Sherwin and I started the weekly standup show French Toast in June, and it’s gotten pretty popular. Hilarious comedians like Marc Maron, Maria Bamford, Nick Swardson, Donald Glover, and many more have done the show in recent weeks, and the audiences have been great.

Halloween night fell on a Sunday this year, and we wondered whether or not we could draw a crowd to a regular comedy show on that crazy night. So I talked to Matt Ruby and Mark Normand, two friends and really funny comedians in New York who started an amazing Halloween comedy tribute show called Schtick or Treat a few years ago. The show is done annually on or around Halloween, and comedians dress up and perform as other comedians/”comedy legends.”

Matt and Mark gave their blessings, and Zach and I did the the first LA Schtick or Treat on Sunday night to a packed room at Taix. We even had a table of people wearing sheets, I mean ghosts, who said “Booooo” in spooky voices instead of laughter or applause. At least I hope it was meant to be laughter!

We didn’t have to turn down any comedians who wanted to do the show, and even had some last minute spots filled by comedians who had planned on watching but decided they wanted to play too– Paul Danke (as John Belushi), Merrill Davis (as Joan Rivers), and Kevin Kataoka (as Dat Phan) went up spur of the moment and nailed it!

Zach went as Weird Al Yankovic and performed Eat It (with an extended rap part at the end!). I went as Sarah Silverman and loved the challenge. “It’s Halloween, do something that scares you a little.” I think I said something like that to myself. And it was really fun. I admire Sarah Silverman. I think she is hilarious, but I could never get away with what she gets away with talking about onstage (sometimes it seems like she can’t even get away with it), so it was fun to try it on for evening. Oh, and the pacing! Like a lot of pros who’ve been at it awhile, Sarah uses pauses and even extended silences to help build the tension before a punchline. For me, it’s still really scary to do that. Sometimes I’ll get nervous and rush the pauses that I wrote in, or fill in the gaps with extra unnecessary words that probably soften the punchline but ultimately makes me feel more comfortable onstage. It’s not risky. Sarah will take risks. She’s fearless onstage.

Josh Androsky as Eddie Izzard, Will Weldon as Bill Burr, Paul Jay as Paul F Tompkins and Lindsey Jacobsen as Sinbad were a few of my favorites because the comedians were paying tribute to other comedians who have inspired them. Sinbad might surprise you, but Lindsey Jacobsen told me it was the only comedian she was allowed to watch as a kid. Yes, I watched reruns of “The Sinbad Show” on the Disney Channel too. The first standup comedian I was ever aware of was a character in the Albert Brooks movie, Defending Your Life, which I saw when I was 7. Brooks goes into a comedy club in Judgement City and the comedian does a bit where he says “If you gotta fart, go outside!” It had an impact on me.

Cornell Reid and Barbara Gray paid a different kind of tribute to John Mayer and Carrot Top, and they were incredibly funny. I could go through the whole lineup and tell you why each one was fantastic, but there were 36 comedians. Check out the full lineup here.

This was my favorite Halloween ever. Thanks to everyone who chose to spend their Halloween night at Taix, let’s do it again next year!

Bonus footage: Carrot Top hits on Sarah Silverman at the after party

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