Spit Take Saturday: Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

momsmabley05Welcome 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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Whoopi Goldberg clearly has a lot of affection for pioneering African-American comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley, and that affection comes across in her HBO documentary Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley. Goldberg’s enthusiasm and ability to pull in big-name interviewees (including Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Joan Rivers) are the movie’s greatest strengths, but Goldberg isn’t much of a filmmaker, and she certainly isn’t a journalist, which makes her portrait of Mabley a little sketchy and incomplete.



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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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Tuesday Tease: Russell Bruner, The King of Burlesque

5388867_origWith so many people walking around with handlebar moustaches and tweed vests, one can easily get annoyed with the current wave of retro-enthusiasm. Bars calling themselves “speakeasies” are popping up everywhere and every 20-something seems to be learning to play the banjo, riding a penny-farthing or waxing poetic about rye whiskey. Surely, this trend will pass and the hipsters will find another by-gone era to emulate, but for hardcore retro-enthusiasts like Russell Bruner, this is more than a trend, it’s a lifestyle!

I first met Russell on a trip to Portland back in October, where I checked out one of his swing dance nights at Kelly’s Olympian. I’d been meeting with burlesque performers that whole weekend and all of them had nothing but great things to say about Russell. When I saw him in action that night at Kelly’s, I could see why. I was blown away by his pleasant demeanour, his style and, most of all, his dance moves.

Russell is the founder of the Portland, Oregon-based production company Swing Time PDX. He started Swing Time “as a project to provide and create more opportunities for swing bands and swing musicians to encourage and help them to provide dance events to the public.” Over the better part of the last decade, he has incorporated more than just swing bands and dancers into the mix. He now hosts circus events, vaudeville shows and, of course, burlesque. All with his decided old-time flair.


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Tuesday Tease: Here Comes Festival Season!

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Winter is coming to an end and spring is springing up all over the place! The snow is beginning to melt away and be replaced by flowers, which can only mean one thing: festival season is here!

Burlesque conventions are a great way to not only network with fellow performers but also to see some great up-and-coming talent, perhaps see a living legend of burlesque and to witness the top burlesque performers that are touring the convention circuit. You can get a few tips, perhaps pick up some stage gear, and hob-nob with your burlesque idols.

This year, Brown Paper Tickets is ticketing more burlesque conventions and festivals than ever before and the first batch are going on sale already with the PA Burlesque Festival coming up this weekend, quickly followed by BPT newcomers, the Southern Fried Burlesque Fest and The Great Burlesque Exposition in Boston, where Brown Paper Tickets will have a table set up and where we’ll be teaching a class on the Sunday of the conference. If you’re planning on attending the Expo, be sure and come up and say hi!

As we get closer to summer, we’ll feature more festivals but be sure and get your travel plans in order for these incredible festivals and conventions. Just judging by this list, it’s going to be HOT this Spring!
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Tuesday Tease: Mama Dixie and The Pink Box Burlesque

Burlesque and vaudeville are booming in the South! We recently started selling tickets for an incredible burlesque troupe with a serious vaudevillian streak out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They call themselves The Pink Box Burlesque and they’ve been keeping the South steamy for the last five years.

They’re unique in that they incorporate both men and women in the troupe and mix things up with contortionism, live music, hula-hooping, comedy and even live piercing. They really harken back to the grand old days of carnys, rubes and midways while adding their own decidedly modern and seriously Southern take on it.

Pink Box were also sponsors of the first ever Alabama Burlesque Festival which took place this past weekend. It’s great to see the Southern burly scene thrive and produce unique talent like The Pink Box.

I caught up with Pink Box’s main Madam, Mama Dixie and asked her about her troupe, the Southern burly scene, the rise of boylesque and more! Without further ado, I give you, The Pink Box Burlesque!
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