Tag: bill burr

A Comedy History Lesson – Joey Gaynor – The Comedy Store Memories

A Comedy History Lesson – Joey Gaynor – The Comedy Store Memories
The iconic Joey Gaynor joins me to share some of the history of stand up comedy, The famed Comedy Store, and the current state of the artform.

Joey Gaynor is a stand up comedian and actor from the great state of New Jersey, who began his stand up career in the mid ’70s and t he was doing television shows like ABC’s FRIDAYS the west coast answer to Saturday Night Live. It was there he cemented his friendship with one of his mentors, Andy Kaufman.
In 1983 Richard Pryor took joey under his wing having him as his opening act for countless sold out shows in Hollywood where Joey says, “I got the best damn tutoring you could ever have, Every night after the shows he would sit down with me and talk to me about what I was doing, and more importantly WHY and how I should try this or that. I feel so Blessed to have had a relationship like that with my idol.”
Over the years Joey has worked in film and television with the likes of Leslie Neilson, Paul Sorvino, Thora Birch and the late great Jonathan Winters. Joey also co-starred in what is now a cult classic “COMEDY’S DIRTIEST DOZEN” with , Tim Allen and the late great Bill Hicks.
He also was one of Robert Townsend’s “ORIGINAL PARTNERS IN CRIME” for HBO and guest starred on “HOUSE”, “E.R.” and in the movie “THE FIVE HEARTBEATS”. Joey was also one of the driving forces behind Troma Films Cult CLassic “FEROCIOUS FEMALE FREEDOM FIGHTERS” which Blockbuster rated five stars and called it “Even funnier than “What’s up Tiger Lily”. After a much needed hiatus, Joey is back and rocking audiences once again.

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How The Internet Ruined Stand Up Comedy

I’ll admit the the headline “How The Internet Ruined Stand Up Comedy” was meant to be provocative and help grab some traffic. Of course nothing can “ruin” stand up comedy, not even COVID-19. The Internet definitely hurst stand up comedy in a big way and I’ll explain how and why.

When I was a kid I attended a magic clinic given by the sleight of hand artist, Al Baker. He defined for me the difference between a profession and an amateur. A professional, he said, performs well tested and refined material for a new audience, while an amateur constantly needs to perform new material for the same audience.While not an absolute, there is a mountain of truth in that view.

I have been a connoisseur of comedy and, in particular, stand up, since I was a very young child. My parents had more comedy records than music and I would listen to them endlessly, and remember and recite all the acts from Mort Sual, Bill Cosby, Flip Wilson, Redd Foxx, Pat Cooper and countless others. As I got older, I became fans of Carlin, Pryor, Dick Gregory, Lenny Bruce, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Buddy Hackett and dozens of others. I learned all the routines. They were called routines on purpose. They repeated them routinely. I learned to take note of improvements and refinements in both content and delivery over a prolonged lifespan of an “act”.

The best comedian recognize the need for material to evolve. A different word or and extra second pause in delivery , a slight gesture or facial expression can make the difference between a good bit and a great and memorable bit. To facilitate that, comedians need to work a routine, experiment and sometimes find out by what Bob Ross would call a “happy accident”. Routines were important.

One of the many day gigs I’ve had was as a multimedia producer for an entertainment corporation. Somebody in above my pay grade got the idea to buy a struggling retail chain and hire stand up comedians to do 5 shows daily in the local stores. I had the job of videotaping and editing those performances and that meant seeing the same comics, daily for 2-3 each every day for a week or ten days. I then saw those shows again payed back in the editing suite another 30 to 40 times each. I got to see the evolution of routines in real time. Playing the final edits back for the comics they got to comment on how bits evolved, words were added or admitted, sometimes complete segments were added or omitted, inflections changes, pauses added or taken away, and art was created.

The advent of Youtube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services has created a mindset of protecting the material from being “burned” being far more important than refining the bits. As a result, comics feel pressure to write more, A LOT MORE! One a special has been “burned”, the general practice is to not do that material live any more. For consumers that generally means quantity over quality.

Whether the mindset behind the idea of “burning material” is valid is another discussion, I’m not sure it is valid. George Carlin would put out an album and then tour with that material for a year or more before starting on a new album. I saw Rodney Dangerfield four times and each of those performances was filled with jokes repeated from the others. The audience enjoyed the hits and laughed just as hard as if it were new material. And most of it had been heard before from television exposure.

In reality, every time a comic performs in public, the material is at risk for being “burned, due to people with cell phones that insist on ignoring protocol, and violating the performers intellectual property rights, and then posting the clips on social media.

What matters most, of course, is the comics perception that the material has been “burnt”. Rge working comic can tell if the material is still effective by the response they get from their audiences.

This is not just some boomer waxing that comedy was better in the old days. In my opinion, the state of comedy is as good as it has ever been. There are more quality comedians creating more ideas and hour specials than ever before and there is gold. That gold could be much better with old fashioned polish with time, nuance and craftsmanship.

So okay, the internet did not ruin comedy, but it lessened the quality substantially.

Sam Tallent – Running The Light – The Story Of A Life In Comedy

Known for whip-quick wit and rollicking improvisations, Sam Tallent is one of the sharpest, most original rising talents in comedy today. For the last 10 years, he has performed at least 45 weekends annually across America, Canada and France. Called “the absurd voice of a surreal generation” by the Denver Post, Sam is beloved by fans of contemporary comedy. He was a New Face at the 2019 Just for Laughs Montreal Comedy Festival, he won his battle on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, hosted the Denver episode of VICELAND’s Flophouse and appeared on the Chris Gerhard Show to impress a girl. His writing has been published on VICE.com. His critically acclaimed debut novel, Running the Light, was published by Too Big to Fail Press in 2020. He lives in Colorado with his wife and his dog.