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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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: Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman - "We Are Miracles" ; Standup at The LargoWelcome 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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Sarah Silverman’s new HBO special We Are Miracles opens with the comedian outside the club where she’s about to perform. A car full of presumed gangbangers stops to chat her up. They mock her for performing in the tiny side room at L.A.’s Largo, which seats just 39 people, and Silverman responds with faux-indignation, “It’s intimate, f@#$%&*!”


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Spit Take Saturday: Bo Burnham

indexWelcome 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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The most informative bit in Bo Burnham’s book of poetry, Egghead: Or, You Can’t Survive on Ideas Alone, comes at the end in the acknowledgments, in which Burnham thanks George Carlin and Shel Silverstein. Both had a deep appreciation of language and love for playing with it, a quality Burnham shares. Both also enjoyed decidedly adult material, as does Burnham. That’s how Burnham winds up with a collection that includes a contemplation on the shock of empathy (“The Party”), what could be the start of a science-fiction novel (“Xia Cobolt”), and a meditation on crapping philosophers (“Socrates”).



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Spit Take Saturday: Doug Stanhope

indexWelcome 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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Years ago at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal, Doug Stanhope appeared on a show called Confessing It. The lineup of comedians found laughs in everything from the mildly embarrassing to genuinely soul-searching. Then came Stanhope, who told a story about a former girlfriend using the morning-after pill. His graphic description shocked a few in the room who ostensibly were there to hear people’s deep, dark secrets.



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Spit Take Saturday: Craig Ferguson

14622604_201306031410_265x265_padWelcome 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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If there’s anyone more deserving of the term “cheeky,” that person should promptly track down Craig Ferguson and strip the smiley-faced belt from his jolly Scottish midsection. Ever since Ferguson took over hosting duties for CBS’s The Late Late Show in 2005, he’s nightly brought viewers into his gently pompous world of crude animatronics and winking asides, broadening his American résumé beyond his bit role as the dick boss on The Drew Carey Show to include all manner of sparkly-eyed mugging.

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

I’m Here to Help is the antidote to that. Both richer and harsher than the cutesy Late Late Show monologues, which years ago began to stray into a sort of in-joke schtick, Help reinforces Ferguson’s true mastery of a crowd. Sure, his public image is reflected during the credits of Help, which present a black-and-white montage of Ferguson as jet-setting rock star, complete with an entourage and private jet. Recorded at Washington, D.C.’s Warner Theatre, Help also features pre-show audience testimonials of Ferguson’s mesmerizing effect on his fans.
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Spit Take Saturday: Rick Moranis

09_rick-moranis-my-mothers-brisket-330x330Welcome 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!

Rick Moranis hasn’t been in the limelight much since he retired from acting with 1997’s Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves. And though he was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for country music parody album The Agoraphobic Cowboy, few likely associate Moranis with musical comedy, The Great White North and Little Shop of Horrors aside. So My Mother’s Brisket & Other Love Songs, Moranis’s nod to Allan Sherman’s Yiddish-flavored parodies, will come as a surprise to those thinking they’d next see him in a long-rumored Ghostbusters sequel.

Sherman’s influence is heavy; a quick listen to his “The Ballad of Harry Lewis” and “Harvey and Sheila” reveals the blueprint Moranis used to construct these songs. The music is orchestral, the humor broad, many of the melodies are borrowed from jazzy klezmer music, and the references to Jewish culture come fast and furious. Play this album without telling listeners who it is, and they might think it came from Sherman’s vaults.

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Spit Take Saturday: Fred Stoller

stollerWelcome 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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Over the past 30 years, self-described “schnooky” comedian and character actor Fred Stoller has racked up more than 60 appearances on a number of hit TV series including “The Drew Carey Show,” “Murphy Brown,” “Friends” and even “Seinfeld,” where he also spent a year in the show’s notoriously competitive writers’ pool. He’s also appeared on flops barely anyone remembers, such as the “Married…with Children” spinoff “Vinnie & Bobby” (alongside a pre-fame Matt LeBlanc) and the extremely short-lived NBC sitcom “Singer & Sons,” which lasted only four episodes.



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Spit Take Saturday: Demetri Martin

demetri-martin1Welcome 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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Demetri Martin has a remarkably clear voice. Whatever he’s doing onstage or in print, playing guitar or drawing humorous cartoons, that sedated silliness remains. It’s a strange experience, reading something like “Point Your Face At This,” Martin’s second book of cartoon art, and hearing that voice even when there are no words. It helps that Martin incorporates different media in his live act, and also did so on his short-lived Comedy Central show, “Important Things.” A book of Martin’s creations doesn’t seem so much a sideline, as it might with other acts, as a natural extension of what he already does. It will feel familiar to fans the first time they pick it up.


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Spit Take Saturday: Gilda’s LaughFest

LAUGHFEST_final_2Welcome 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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I tried to get into the back of the cab, but the driver wouldn’t have it. He wanted to talk, and said he felt weird driving me around Grand Rapids if I wasn’t right there next to him.

That’s the tone of this small Michigan city, and it carries over to its touchstone, a 10-day comedy festival honoring Gilda Radner. You might be from out of town, but you’re in the passenger seat—an honored guest and a welcome addition to the Gilda’s LaughFest roster of impressive stand-up shows. This was only LaughFest’s third year, but they’re poised to become the best comedy festival for fans in the country. They’ve cracked the code: book great comics and get out of their way.



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