Comedy Ninja Q&A: Chuck Parello Discusses LA’s New Film and Screenplay Festival

Comedy_Ninja_Festival_Logo_no_datesCan comedy sneak up on you? Yes. The inaugural Comedy Ninja Film and Screenplay Festival takes place April 30-June 1 at downtown Los Angeles’ Japanese American National Museum. In addition to panels, parties and comic Dwayne Perkins hosting the final evening’s Hi-Yah! Awards ceremony, festival director and programmer Chuck Parello promises a non-stop attack of stealthy laughs.

Where did the idea for the Comedy Ninja Festival come from, and how does it set itself apart from other festivals?

My friend, filmmaker Quentin Lee, and I decided to start a film festival a while back, but we weren’t sure what kind of a festival it would be or any of the other details. I am a filmmaker myself and I had been having a lot of fun attending comedy film festivals with a short I made called Dr. 420, so I suggested to Quentin that we start our own comedy film festival. He liked the idea because LA has such a huge comedy community and things just started moving in that direction from that point on. Comedy Ninja is different from other comedy film festivals I’ve attended because it aims to be completely unpretentious and fun. Ultimately our goal is to create a welcoming environment that celebrates funny filmmakers and screenwriters and the gut-busting work they create.

What did the selection process entail? Are there any specific styles, themes or attribute you wanted to highlight?

We received submissions from every corner of the globe and were happy to be able to view so much stellar work. The reason we called our festival the Comedy Ninja Film Festival is because we’re most interested in sly comedy that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. We really aimed to invite stuff that was extremely clever and unobvious, and when I look at our delectable line-up I have to say that we most definitely succeeded in this goal. Our submission team catchphrase was that we were seeking out “comedy with a kung fu kick!”


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L.A. Comic Richard Bain Crowdfunds to Aid Sister, Who Lost Home and Son

bainLos Angeles-based stand-up comedian Richard Bain is crowdfunding money for his sister Ashley, who lost her home and one-year-old son in a North Carolina tornado the evening of Friday, April 25. Additional information and donation links are available at https://fundly.com/help-ashley-bain

“My sister’s house was destroyed by a tornado Friday night,” Bain reported on Sunday. “The roof collapsed on her and her one year old son, Gavin. He was in a medically induced coma, but passed this morning.”

Originally from Edenton, North Carolina, Bain moved to Portland before relocating to North Hollywood in 2011. His credits include The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Portland’s Bridgetown Comedy Festival and L.A.’s Riot Comedy Festival.

The scattered tornadoes hit North Carolina last Friday, destroying or 730a515a-31f0-47c1-b5fd-4429db3c9c4dheavily damaging around 200 homes and businesses. As you can see by the photograph, Bain’s sister’s home was completely destroyed.

While the money raised will never replace her infant son, it can, at least help her rebuild her home so that she can focus on her grieving. Our hearts go out to Richard, his sister and the Bain family. It’s hard to imagine what they’re going through right now.

If you can, please donate generously and help this family in need. The Fundly campaign ends on May 31st so donate now.

ad more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/27/4869343/gov-mccrory-tours-eastern-nc-tornado.html#storylink=cpThe Fundly campaign ends May 31.
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Austin’s Moontower Comedy Festival – Five Picks for 2014

MariaBamford_300x225Hannibal Buress, Aziz Ansari, Dennis Miller, Colin Quinn and 100-plus additional acts head to Austin, Texas this week for the third annual Moontower Comedy Festival, held next Wednesday through Saturday at venues including The Paramount Theatre, Cap City Comedy Club, The Parish, The Speakeasy, The Hideout and New Movement Theater.

Last year’s festival offered an inclusive, community spirit, not to mention great stand-up courtesy of Amy Schumer, Reggie Watts, Pete Holmes, Dana Carvey and more. In addition to a newly-added cookout and ping pong tournament, here are five of the most exciting events to catch at Moontower 2014.

4Eyes

7:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 23

Moontower certainly comes up with some unique groupings to differentiate its showcase offerings (She-Bang=female comics, Switch=LGBT comics, Unhinged=the more out-there comics), and 4Eyes is no exception. Not only do Andy Kindler, Mike Lawrence, Sara Schaefer, James Adomian, Ari Shaffir and Rory Scovel each sport corrective lenses, all are solid headliners in their own right. Badgeholders would have to be, er…blind to skip a lineup this sharp.

Maria Bamford

7 p.m. Thursday, April 24

Bamford is one of the most original, unique and unpredictable comics working today, and the Comedians of Comedy vet’s never better than when winning over new crowds. From the darkness of mental illness to the lighthearted absurdity of pterodactyl calls, fumbling family members to crushing societal expectations, she runs the full stand-up spectrum.
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Comedy Critique: Jackie Kashian

screen shot 2014-02-18 at 55930 pmBlog post courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit TakeSelected blog post by Nick A. Zaino III

Jackie Kashian begins her new special, This Will Make an Excellent Horcrux, with a couple of notes up front, away from her audience. For the uninitiated, she explains that a “horcrux” is a Harry Potter reference, an object that contains her soul. She may not look or sound like a prototypical “dork,” but she does host a podcast called The Dork Forest, and her dork cred becomes hilariously obvious later on. The second thing she does is congratulate her audience on their choice of downloading the special, with the corollary that seeing stand-up comedy live is the best way to experience it.

Horcrux was taped at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis, and it feels like everything a good night out at a comedy club should be. Kashian is smart, bracing without being bitter, and she knows how to keep the punchlines rolling without seeming manic or insincere. It’s the kind of set that might make those who look down on “club comedy” as the petri dish of the lowest common denominator in stand up reconsider.

Of course that’s not a fight Kashian is taking on in an obvious sense. She takes on stand-up stereotypes that bug her because, as she says, she loves comedy, and she’ll do comedy wherever they’ll let her. Her first line in the live set after introductions is “I’m overweight. You may consider that addressed.” Translation: no tired fat jokes will follow. Kashian does, however, address her appearance further to establish a sense of place rather than to self-deprecate. Where she grew up in Wisconsin, she’s a solid six. In L.A., where she lives now, she’d be cast as an airport cop.


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SXSW Comedy 2014 Recap

20140317-billcosby-x600-1395071403Attendee response to the first day of comedy at Austin’s 2014 South by Southwest Interactive/Film/Music Festival proved one thing undeniably: comedy personalities and projects are garnering more mainstream attention and attracting larger fan bases than ever before.

By early afternoon, the overflowing Convention Center hallways were rivaled by their meeting room counterparts. Though it was technically filed under Film programming, the 2 p.m. discussion between moderator Jeffrey Tambor and fellow Arrested Development castmember Jason Bateman (regarding directorial debut Bad Words) reached capacity and then some, with badgeholders huddled around the closed-circuit television outside the doors. Similarly, the Inside Late Night with Seth Meyers panel attracted a line that doubled back on itself an hour before its 3:30 start time, and hundreds were turned away after doors opened and the room immediately filled.

Over at 6th Street venue Esther’s Follies, Aisha Tyler’s 4 p.m. Girl on Guy podcast had been cancelled (a new TV pilot forced the comic-actress to break her SXSW commitment), meaning the first comedy event most fans could actually attend was a 5 p.m. live recording of the Harmontown podcast. Though the late addition to the lineup—a bid by Community and Rick and Morty writer-producer Dan Harmon to up interest in the four Film screenings of his Harmontown documentary—was offered the Esther’s Follies locale freed up by Tyler’s absence, Harmon curiously insisted on the Hilton Hotel’s Liberty Tavern, a cavernous bar off the lobby with high ceilings and plenty of background chatter.
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SXSW 2014 Comedy Preview

jim-breuer-03The newest tech innovations, music from all over the world and copious amounts of smoked meat are all well and good (or in the case of Franklin Barbecue, reeeally good), but SXSW attendees shouldn’t overlook the impressive spate of comedy events scheduled for 2014.

With the likes of Bill Cosby, Portlandia’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, Jeffrey Tambor, Pete Holmes and many more taking the stage in Austin March 8-14, it’s one of the annual festival’s strongest lineups to date…and that’s not even counting the presence of Jimmy Kimmel Live, which will broadcast five shows from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts.

On the party front, Funny or Die, Above Average and IFC will all host shindigs open to badgeholders. Most impressive, the festival’s opening night kicks off with a party sponsored by Late Night with Seth Meyers, slated for 10:30 p.m. at Buffalo Billards.

Some of this year’s many comedy highlights additionally include:
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Spit Take Saturday: Karen Kilgariff

KK-cover-1600-copyWelcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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There’s an outtake from Season 3 of HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David in which Karen Kilgariff, then a performer on the Nineties sketch series, mocks herself by furrowing her brow and shaking her fist at someone off camera after flubbing a line. It’s throwaway by design, but it sticks with the viewer and underscores Kilgariff’s ability to turn random moments of self-awareness into pointed, memorable humor.

** WARNING! This video contains language that my be offensive to some viewers. Discretion is advised. **



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Spit Take Saturday: Ted Alexandro

ted-alexandro-IDidIt-585x585Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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The title of Ted Alexandro’s new special derives from his proud declaration that he is “44, single, never married, no kids. I did it!” It serves as both a memorable joke and a fantastic setup for the beginning of his new special, filmed last August at The Creek and the Cave comedy club in Long Island City, Queens.



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Spit Take Saturday: Glenn Wool

glenn-wool-this-road-has-tolls_30342Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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An Edinburgh Festival Fringe veteran several times over, Glenn Wool has the art of delivering a multi-faceted performance down to a science. One can, for instance, kick things off with a light-hearted video featuring hand puppets performing Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog.” Tales of time spent abroad can temper bewildering experiences with transformative lessons learned. There’s also the option of utilizing as a backdrop a few Popeye slides, the purpose of which remains tantalizingly unclear until the closer’s big reveal. And who knows? An arsenal of geography-related puns might even earn several applause breaks over the course of an hour.

** WARNING! This video contains language that may be offensive to some viewers. **



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Spit Take Saturday: Greg Fitzsimmons

greg-fitzsimmons-life-on-stage-330x219Welcome to Spit Take Saturday, courtesy of Brown Paper Tickets’ Comedy Doer Julie Seabaugh and her professional comedy criticism site The Spit Take. Julie’s goal with the site is to “elevate the public perception of stand-up comedy to that of a legitimate art form, and to enable comedy criticism be taken as seriously as that of theater, film, music, food, even video games. No a**-kissing. No bias. No mercy. Just honest, unfiltered, long-form reviews written by professional, knowledgeable comedy critics.” 

Every week Julie will select an entry from the site to be included on our blog and hand-pick some related events happening that week that So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Greg Fitzsimmons is a solid, tight comedy writer. That talent won him four Daytime Emmys as part of the Ellen DeGeneres Show staff, made his book Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption From An Irish Mailbox a worthy read, and helps make him a stand-out onstage. He’s a veteran with more than 20 years of experience as a comic, which makes it a happy occasion to see he’s finally getting his first one-hour special, called Life on Stage, on Comedy Central. That’s the resume Fitzsimmons brings, which means it’s not surprising that Life is filled with clever material, but disappointing when he indulges in a few tired premises.



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