Spend a Couple Hours »Selected Shorts with Miranda July

at Symphony Space

Miranda July is a marvel. Her work is poignant, funny,personal and universal.

She recently read along with some superb actors excerpts from her non fiction book It Chooses You as part of the Selected Shorts series.

By way of procrastination, July began reading the Penny Saver and eventually called and met sellers, documenting it all with a photographer.

The resulting conversations are at times silly, creepy, hilarious, touching, heart breaking and exhilarating.
Not only did the evening strengthen my respect for her but it introduced me to the Selected Shorts radio program whose archives I plan to explore soon.

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Posted on November 18, 2011

Spend a Couple Hours »Jon Brion at The Largo

366 N La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Our good friend Matthew  made sure that one LA experience we had was a Jon Brion show, so I felt absolutely horrible when Jim, Laura and I began dozing off early in the performance!! In our defense: we were totally jet lagged, it was warm and dark, and Brion was playing soft, Aimee Mannish piano tinkles that could easily be released on a collection of lullabies.

But things got wildly entertaining and even the most tired of us perked up when Brion began a mind-bending and mind-blowing cover of Tomorrow Never Knows complete with a Maria Callas video loop, his own looped drumming and guitar, and video of a great looking George Harrison. The rest of the evening consisted of more audience-requested covers (though none of mine took: Sex in the Kitchen, Pony, Thunder Road…) including a xylophone and audience participation version of Don’t Stop Believing, a trippy Wish You Were Here and a straight forward acoustic rendition Gigantic. It was invigorating and amazing to watch: every element of the songs he performs is created right in front of you. He’ll start on the piano, then drums, loop them then add guitar, loop that, they play around with video and voice… it’s totally amazing.

I had no idea what I was in for: admittedly a dunce when it comes to the modern soundtrack scene of Paul Thomas Anderson, I figured Brion was a comedian or something, but in fact he’s the highly respected genius behind not only the (PT) Anderson soundtracks, but the production of Aimee Mann, Rufus Wainwright, Elliott Smith, Kanye West, and Fiona Apple records!

At the new Largo location, the show seems to be almost monthly and sells out quickly; be sure to arrive on the early side to get pick up your tickets if you desire up close seats.

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Posted on February 28, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Wishful Drinking

At The Roundabout Theater

“It’s not like some funny Shakespeare play!” said a ninety year old, wholly perplexed and angry man in the row ahead of upon the conclusion of Carrie Fisher’s delightfully foul mouthed Wishful Drinking. Got to love the matinee crowds, right? But he’s right, it’s not like some funny Shakespeare play! It’s a sometimes sad, sometimes heartbreaking but more often completely hilarious examination of a crazy life by a crazy lady.

Fisher is my kind of person, a sarcastic strong-willed kook who takes what life gives her and rather than lemonade, mixes a stiff drink. The details of her life: mental illness, broken families, alcoholism, addiction, death and loss are not the stuff of usual comedy fodder, but in the raspy voice of the former space princess, you’ll find yourself laughing.

We saw one of the last performances (it ends today) so Fisher had perfected the timing and the pacing. Hopefully, with its success, it will be available on DVD at some point for anyone that missed it live.

Click here for the rest of Wishful Drinking

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Posted on January 17, 2010

Spend a Couple Hours »Rifftrax Live Christmas Shorts-stravaganza!

christmas rifftraxin Theaters Nationwide

Demonic toys come to life, pork-themed three-part harmonies are mocked by Weird Al Yankovich, a Santa of David Lynch-caliber creepiness orders around pants-less elf boys, a toy dog named Gaylord rolls over, a nude doll haunts a little girl’s dreams, the Ding-a-ling toy universe with its King Ding shocks some poor kid – this is not your typical holiday viewing, but the selections from the ever charming Mike Nelson and crew of previous MST3K and current Rifftrax fame for their RiffTrax Live Christmas Shorts-stravaganza!

Performing live in Minnesota but projected in many theaters across the country (we watched from the Chelsea location), they riffed on several Christmas shorts. If you’re familiar with any of their shows and projects, you can imagine the hilarity.

Make sure you try out their Rifftrax on many beloved films, such as Cocktail, Glitter, and The Happening on their site.

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Posted on December 20, 2009

TV Shows »Stella: Live from Boston

stella live in boston2008 Performance at the Wilbur Theater

The unique comedic style of Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain may not be exactly mainstream stand up, but it certainly makes me laugh. This is their first live show released to DVD and their easy banter (which should be easy, since they’ve been comedy partners for like twenty years) is an infectious blend of high and low brow humor. Not just anyone can just make me laugh by uttering the phrase, “M’lady farts”, but Wain says it oh so right. The only thing that didn’t go over so well with me was Showalter’s dirt beard.

Watch it instantly on netflix.

Click here for the rest of Stella: Live from Boston

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Posted on November 22, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Daniel Kitson

I've recommended the work of British comedian Daniel Kitson on this blog before (once right before we saw the amazing Stories for the Wobbly Hearted and another time just for the podcasts) and probably will again any time he makes a rare US appearance. His most recent (and completely sold out) show at Union Hall was part of The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival (which ends tonight).

Kitson had death on his mind, which may not sound like a great centerpiece to a comedy routine, but his performances are beyond stand-up and he always manages to balance deep, real-life truths and jokes with poignancy and seamless hilarity. I dare you to find a gentlemen (or lady) more deftly combining poop jokes, stories about eating an entire cake and heartfelt memories of a recently deceased aunt.

At the risk of having to again watch the show on my feet because limiting seating fills so quickly, I have to strongly suggest you go to any and all of Kitson's future performances that you can. Beyond overuse of the word 'brilliant', the experience is a bit difficult to describe.

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Posted on September 21, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Mortified Live

Mortified ?Why do I mention it now?

Because it will make you laugh and the next NYC performance is coming up on July 16th.

Here's what I said back on 3/19/07:

There is only one upcoming New York performance listed (March 21st), so I have to give you a heads up before I have a chance to actually see it. So if it is terrible you can go ahead and blame me, see if I care. I truly don't expect anything less that a great time however, especially since having read the book version of this cringe-fest (more on that book next week, promise).

The book and live show feature real diary entries, notes, and letters from the most embarrassing and awkward years of the authors' lives. I have no idea who will be reading this week, but if the book is any indication, there will be at least one journal entry dealing with the hotness of Duran Duran's John Taylor.

Mortified is the brain child of David Nadelberg and he and friends have opened several grass roots chapters across the country, so keep an eye out for a performance near you. If you live in the city, pick up a ticket (only $12).

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Posted on June 15, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia

sleepwalk with me mike birbigliaI can probably just address this post directly to Mike Birbiglia since I know that he'll get a Google alert soon enough, and Mike (whose last name, even with concentrated effort, I have difficulty pronouncing correctly) let me assure you that this brief recommendation will not include any insults of your physique. In the hipster comedic universe, where the relatively unskinny Zack Galifinakis is the hottest man ever, I don't think you have anything to worry about anyways.

The one man show, Sleepwalk with Me, which many of you might recognize from the ubiquitous subway poster, is extremely charming and funny. Focusing on his own experiences with illness and an extreme sleep disorder that once had him jumping out of motel window in the middle of the night, the personal anecdotes speak to larger truths. I was laughing to the point of shaking several times, but be warned that the show is peppered with sudden emotionally poignant pitfalls that can even bring one to tears if, say you've had a few margaritas before entering the theater.

Playing at the intimate Bleeker Street Theater, we were able to get obstructed tickets for under $30 from Theater Mania but truthfully, the performance is well worth full price admission. Portions of the show have appeared on This American Life, but there's plenty of stuff you haven't heard on WBEZ.

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Posted on April 27, 2009

Spend a Couple Hours »This American Life Live

tal liveI'm so very excited to see This American Life live on the 23rd and I want to give everyone who wasn't able to get tickets, or doesn't live here, plenty of heads up because even though the show's sold out. you can still see it live, kind of, at your local movie theatre. From the TAL site:

Ira Glass will host an actual episode of the radio program, performed onstage by some of our favorite contributors. Dan Savage, Starlee Kine, and Mike Birbiglia will tell stories. David Rakoff and Dave Hill will conduct a ?pecial investigation.' Plus a new cartoon by Chris Ware, additional visuals by Arthur Jones, and a very special appearance by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! The performance will last around two hours. We're going to capture the whole thing with a bunch of HD cameras, and send it live* to movie theatres all over the country.

So get tickets now, it's showing at a bunch of theaters here in the city, including the big one at 14th Street.

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Posted on April 13, 2009