Spit Take Saturday: Saturday Night Live FAQ

SNLFAQWelcome 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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Stephen Tropiano declares himself a Saturday Night Live loyalist early in the introduction to his Saturday Night Live FAQ: Everything Left to Know About Television’s Longest Running Comedy. The book, he explains, is written from the point of view of a “critical fan,” someone willing to sit through all the bad sketches and lame premises, and to ignore the conventional wisdom when it’s down on the show. He’d have to be, to sit through more than 38 seasons of television, what he estimates as “1,117.5 hours of original programming,” to put together this guide, which runs from the first season through May 2013. (For the initiated, the book starts with feeding your fingertips to the wolverines and ends with the marriage of Stefon.)


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The Mid-Week Beat: Happy Birthday Mike D and Phife Dawg!

Today is the birthdays of two prominent contributors to the so-called “Golden Age of Hip Hop” – Mike D of the legendary Beastie Boys and Phife Dawg of the equally influential A Tribe Called Quest.

Mike D was born Michael Diamond on this day in 1965 in New York City. Born into an upper-middle class Jewish family, young Diamond was drawn to the gritty, urban hardcore punk scene that was starting to blossom around clubs like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City.

In 1978, at the age of 13, he co-founded The Young Aborigines, an “experimental-hardcore” band with Diamond sitting in on drums. Eventually, Adam Yauch (later dubbed MCA) would replace Jeremy Shatan on bass and Diamond would move from drums to vocal duties. In 1983, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) would join the group on guitar and they would eventually change their name to the Beastie Boys. The group released the legendary Polly Wog Stew EP in 1982 and it would be their only release as a hardcore punk band.

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


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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

51XAsonDjrL._SL500_AA280_Welcome 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 she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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For the past ten months, Tom Shillue has been on a comedy marathon, releasing one new album every month, each with its own theme. With Heyday, he is nearly to the finish line of what has so far been a successful experiment. He has done a remarkable job putting out consistently funny work, producing this series of Moth-like personal stories.



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Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

51tRQr3VaRL._SL500_AA280_Welcome 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 she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Throughout The Spit Take’s coverage of Tom Shillue’s 12 in 12 project, we’ve used the word “experiment” a few times to describe the venture. That word choice is no accident; Shillue’s endeavor to release 12 albums in 12 months is utterly experimental, as even for someone with the utmost confidence in his or her comic ability, it’d be fairly difficult to guarantee success at the outset of such a project. Yet despite perceived high and low marks in the series, Shillue’s experiment must be deemed a success. We are at the three-quarters mark, and with each album that passes it becomes clearer and clearer that Shillue’s melding of sustained quality and prolificness is, frankly, unheard of.


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Tuesday Tease: The Return of Vaudeville!

220px-How_to_Enter_Vaudeville_coverIn the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, vaudeville ruled American and Canadian stages. Vaudeville performances usually consisted of a variety of different, unrelated acts grouped together on one bill. Typically, this included comedians, musicians, dancers, magicians, actors, acrobats, and, in the more risqué houses, burlesque. Vaudeville was an extension of the travelling medicine shows, sideshows, circuses, burlesque shows and dime museums that had entertained working class audiences around the country in the early half of the 19th century. It basically took the crowd-pleasing elements of these travelling shows and combined them under one roof while, in most cases, toning down the bawdy material, in an attempt to draw in middle class audiences of all ages.

Ironically, despite the attempt to tone down more risqué material, it was in vaudeville that we first started to see America’s fascination with the female form. Many historians believe that it was during the early days of vaudeville that the female body became a “sexual spectacle” in itself. For the first time in American culture the sexualized female form began to permeate popular culture: in the shops, the restaurants, the grocery store and in the newspaper. And as the image of the sexualized female form became more popular with the general public, vaudeville producers began including more female acts where the women would wear revealing attire and tight gowns. Even an innocent sister act would sell better than a comparable male act and many female vaudeville performers were then encouraged to focus less on talent and more on their figure. Eventually, audiences would be surprised when a female possessed actual talent in addition to being good looking.
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Spit Take Saturday: Gary Gulman

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Welcome 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 she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Despite the title of his latest Comedy Central special, “In This Economy,” Gary Gulman doesn’t really have much to say about the financial state of our country. Money is very much on his mind throughout the special, but his jokes are more microeconomic than macroeconomic, focused primarily on his own one-man financial system. He starts out with a seemingly dated rant against Blockbuster Video, but that soon segues into an amusing bit about Netflix, which cleverly encapsulates the absurd minutiae of the video-streaming service. “In this economy, if you’re not watching a movie, you’re losing money,” Gulman says to explain his obsession with getting the most out of his monthly subscription fee, and he’s certainly not the only person to feel this way.


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Comedy >

Spit Take Saturday: Tom Shillue

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Welcome 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 she feels all you comedy lovers out there will appreciate.

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this week’s Spit Take Saturday!

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Recorded at the Buell Theatre in Denver, “Big Room is the second of 12 consecutive monthly releases by Tom Shillue. It was recorded by Shillue himself over two shows with a combined audience, according to his estimate, of 3,600 people. He was opening for Jim Gaffigan.

As The Spit Take’s review of Shillue’s first album of the series, “Bigger, Stronger, Faster,” appropriately puts it: “This is a project worth following. Shillue is off to a strong start. Now he just needs eleven more 35-minute chunks as good as this one, and he’ll be set.”

Big Room is a 31.5-minute album, but there are only about 25 minutes of on-stage comedy, each of the two tracks being bookended by Shillue speaking directly into the recorder. Moreover, while each of the three tracks on his first album is built around its own self-contained story, “Big Room”’s two tracks are each opening sets for Gaffigan. By virtue of this premise, neither set allows Shillue room to fully explore his stories and tease out the details. Instead, each finds Shillue appropriately hitting on a few key areas, weaving them together the way any good opener should and would.

This is not to say that “Big Room” is worse than its predecessor, or by any means a bad album. Far from it. It is, however, a different album, and in this way it makes Shillue’s project even more intriguing. His first two releases are decidedly built around two distinct premises, which poses the question: What will his third album bring?


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Picasso’s Birthday Party & Cancer Benefit at The Pit in NYC

Tomorrow, October 25th, is Pablo Picasso‘s 130th birthday. As most of you surely know, Picasso was a Spanish painter who co-founded the Cubist movement in the early part of the 20th Century. His full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, a name that pays homage to various saints and relatives and is quite challenging to say in one breath.

From an early age he had an interest in drawing. His father, Don José Ruiz y Blasco, was a painter who specialized in painting naturalistic portraits of birds and other game who felt that formal artistic training was important. So, from the age of seven, Pablo’s father trained him in figure drawing and oil painting. One popular story says that Picasso’s father discovered his son painting over his unfinished sketch of a pigeon at the age of thirteen and declared that his son had already surpassed him as an artist, whereupon he vowed to give up painting forever. When he was 16, his father enrolled him in the Royal Academy of San Fernando, Spain’s foremost art academy, but young Picasso disliked formal training and quit attending classes.
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New York – Big City, Strong Communities

On a recent trip to New York, I decided to see what a few of our producers were up to, and was able to sit down with Jeff Lepine from the People’s Improv Theater (the PIT) and Larisa Fuchs from Gemini and Scorpio. They put on different types of events–the PIT is an improv theater branched off from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, and Gemini and Scorpio throw awesome parties–but their goals are similar. They both emphasize supporting, nurturing and welcoming newcomers into their respective communities.

Jeff has been involved for two of the PIT’s eight-year history, after being involved in the theatre and improv scenes from Seattle to LA to Manhattan. When he came aboard, the PIT was located in a tiny, second-floor Manhattan theater, but in January was able to move to a ground-floor space with a coffee shop, offices and two separate theaters for different kinds of events.

After the founders’ experience with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, they knew their community well, and knew they had a niche to fill, one with an open philosophy. They work within the ethos of “Craft, Community, Career” – people come to the PIT to work on their craft. In the process, they become involved in a larger community. Ideally, the combination of building craft and fostering community helps the participant’s career. Their programming is a combination of classes and performance, and their house improv teams draw from their classes.
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