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Behind The Bits #6 - David Wain
09/26/13 at 02:33 AM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

Bit of a return to convention after the free-flowing greatness that was Andy Kindler. Today's guest a great treat for a number of reasons. He's directed movies that we adore, has created TV shows that crack us up weekly, and he's part of one of the most influential sketch comedy groups of all time. He was also editing his upcoming movie, They Came Together, which was the rationale behind this interview being more succinct. He's acclaimed comedic triple threat (and by this I of course mean 'jew,' 'camp counselor,' and 'Ohioan') David Wain. With the limited time I was allotted for this interview, I opted to just burn through highlights from his career to date, trying to get some insight into his beginnings on MTV with The State, all the way to his more recent endeavors heavily involving AdultSwim. For an under half-hour running time, we got into some great things, and I hope you enjoy the listen.




As always, drop a comment or PM if you have a recommendation for a comic you'd like to see on a future Behind the Bits, and make sure to stop by the AP.net homepage every Wednesday for new installments. Many cool talks lie in store.
Tags: behind the bits, comedy, david wain, the state, wet hot american summer
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Behind The Bits #5 - Andy Kindler
09/10/13 at 08:46 PM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of stand-up comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

This one got off the rails, and I mean that in the best way possible. I knew I was in for a real treat when I booked my talk with "The Comic's Comic" Andy Kindler, but I had no idea the direction our conversation would take. Think of this less as a "Behind the Bits" and more of a podcast. Clocking in at nearly an hour and a half, my talk with Andy involved none of my prepared questions and an opinion on just about every current comedy event. We cover the recent Franco Roast, the incident involving Dave Chappelle in Hartford, CT, try and understand the success of comics like Dane Cook and Whitney Cummings, and even talk about comedian Taylor Williamson making it all the way to the finals of America's Got Talent. There hasn't been an episode even remotely like this yet, and honestly, until I talk with Andy again, I don't think there will be another. I really, really hope you guys enjoy this one, because I had a blast.




As always, drop a comment or PM if you have a recommendation for a comic you'd like to see on a future Behind the Bits, and make sure to stop by the AP.net homepage every Wednesday for new installments. We've hit the ground running, friends. Many cool talks lie in store.
Tags: behind the bits, andy kindler, comedy, standup, roast, chappelle, dane cook
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Behind The Bits No. 4 - Jimmy Pardo
09/04/13 at 08:43 PM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of stand-up comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

A day late on this next installment, that one's my bad. I promise the wait is more than worth it, though, because not only is this far and away the most fun I've ever had conducting an interview, but it's also the most I've ever learned during one. Not surprising once you know my guest, though; it's the one and only Jimmy Pardo! The king of the podcast medium thanks to the consistently successful Never Not Funny, Pardo has built a career off of wowing crowds with his razor-sharp wit and just being an all-around nice guy who has a hilarious perspective on just about any topic. I was lucky enough to chat with Jimmy about how he got his start, what it was like working on the Tonight Show, and somehow, Zooey Deschanel AND God. So stop reading and check it out!




As always, drop a comment or PM if you have a recommendation for a comic you'd like to see on a future Behind the Bits, and make sure to stop by the AP.net homepage every Wednesday (only this one time, Thursday, I promise; my bad about that again) for new installments. We've hit the ground running, friends. Many cool talks lie in store.
Tags: behind the bits, jimmy pardo, comedy, standup
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Behind The Bits No. 3 - Neil Campbell
08/28/13 at 08:59 AM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of stand-up comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

I'm excited to release today's installment, because I'm finally taking the plunge and releasing this as an audio file. Below you'll find my unabridged chat with improv guru and Comedy Bang! Bang! staple Neil Campbell. I apologize vehemently for the audio quality, but I never planned on releasing this as a sound bite until I realized transcribing it was way, way too much work. So hopefully you can look past how choppy the sound is at times, and focus on the cool stuff we talk about, like Neil's improv beginnings, the evolution of the Comedy Bang! Bang! television show, and Neil's question for Paul F. Tompkins, which you can hear the response to in my bonus audio clip with Paul. So take a listen, and enjoy!





As always, drop a comment or PM if you have a recommendation for a comic you'd like to see on a future Behind the Bits, and make sure to stop by the AP.net homepage every Wednesday for new installments. We've hit the ground running, friends. Many cool talks lie in store.
Tags: behind the bits, neil campbell, paul f. tompkins, comedy
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Behind The Bits No. 2 - Paul F. Tompkins (Part 2 of 2)
08/20/13 at 05:30 PM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of stand-up comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

What follows below is the conclusion of the wonderful talk I had with Paul F. Tompkins; it picks up directly where last week's installment left off (and if you haven't read Part 1, it can be found here). In it, we discuss Paul's relationship with the podcast. Covering his introduction to the medium, how he adds characters to his repertoire, and a surprising amount about one of his fan favorites, there's a lot to love here if you're a big podcast listener. I also manage to ask a number of questions that prompt Paul to start his answers by saying 'no,' and there's also a chance that one of us doesn't make it out of the interview alive. So read on below, if you dare.

**Note: The interviews in this column contain references to jokes, albums, and other comedians that may only be known or recognized by those with more than a cursory knowledge of comedy. When things veer into lesser-known territory, I will try my best to link to the appropriate materials.**


So then if they don't present themselves like that, do you ever find yourself in the middle of one of the aforementioned riff suites, notice that something is hitting a little harder than all the other adlibbed material, and then try and make a point to work it into your actual act in the future?

Not really, and that stuff kind of comes and goes, because itís really kind of absurdist stuff. I tend to feel Iíve gotten everything I can get out of those jokes; you know, Iím asking questions like 'if foundation is the bones and the skeleton of a house, what are the internal organs?' I donít think I can get much more from that.

So you are quite the staple in the stand-up world, but Iíd be remiss if I didnít mention your relationship with the podcast scene, which youíre almost more synonymous with now. Youíre a fan favorite on just about anything on the Earwolf network, and I love the Pod F. Tompkast, but Iím curious, how did you first get involved with that medium?

Probably the first one I did was Jimmy Pardoís? Thatís most likely. You know, thereís a great community of comedy here in Los Angeles, and a lot of people started doing podcasts, and I started guesting on them, and it honestly all happened very quickly, and I love it. I love podcasting, I really think itís a great medium, and I think itís terrific that itís still so democratic and that anyone can do it. Iím not one of those people whoíll make jokes about there being too many podcasts, I really just think itís a great thing. I have gotten a little more choosy about which ones I lend my time to, just because my time has become more finite and thereís other stuff that I want to do, and in truth, because of all that, I havenít really given enough time to my own podcast lately, so you know, Iím just defining all of this as I go, which I think a lot of people are, but I think itís a great thing.

It really is, because thereís overlap between podcasts and sketch, and thereís a lot of overlap between podcasts and stand-up, but thereís a certain magic--

**A loud crashing noise occurs on the other end of the line**

Cody, hello? Podcasts, magic?

Are you being robbed, or did you just knock over a bunch of large boxes?

[laughs] No, I moved some pens, but apparently I did it in front of an amplifier.

[laughs] Yeah, you moved a couple writing utensils, I thought your house burnt down.

No, I think Iím alright. Anyways, what were you saying?

Essentially, thereís so much overlap between all the potential ways to do comedy, but at the same time, thereís a certain magic captured only by podcasts; something you canít find anywhere else. To me, thatís the most amazing thing.

Oh, yeah, absolutely, I think if you are a comedy fan, as I am--Iím not just somebody who makes comedy, but I consume comedy--this is such a great time. Thereís so much comedy, itís so easy to get, and itís free. Itís amazing. I listen to way more podcasts in my car than music these days, and especially in Los Angeles, a place where you have to drive a lot, itís a real godsend. Itís a great thing to have, so yeah, I absolutely love it.

And just, no matter what your tastes are comedically, thereís a podcast that represents it.

Yes! Absolutely.

You do a lot of characters on these podcasts -- almost exclusively, unless youíre on something like Who Charted? where youíll play yourself -- and these characters, they run the creative gamut from John C. Reilly all the way to Andrew Lloyd Webber; seemingly unrelated people. Is there a process that you use to decide which character youíre next going to tackle? Iíve always been curious about that.

No, itís always kind of come about by accident sort of. You know, a lot of the characters I do on my podcast or on Comedy Bang! Bang! came about from voices that I started doing on Best Week Ever, when I was working on that. Sometimes we would write for that show, and instead of just making a joke about a topic, we would act it out, and I would become those people, so thatís where I first did Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ice-T and Cake Boss. John C. Reilly, I think that came about from me and my friends quoting lines from Boogie Nights, because I love that movie and I love John in that movie. We all realized Ďoh, this is a voice I can doí and once I started doing the voices on Comedy Bang! Bang!, I started thinking ĎI wonder what other voices Iíve done in the past that Iíve just never used for anything,í and then I started some of the other ones.

Thatís such an unexpected yet obvious explanation. Youíre just hanging out with your friends, quoting Boogie Nights, and someone says Ďhey, you do a really good John C. Reillyí so you just run with it.

Yeah, pretty much.

Not only do you improvise basically everything when you take the guise of these characters, Iím assuming, but you also have to know kind of just a general knowledge of their career to date to be able to really play them.

Well, yes and no. What I try to do is start from a place of reality, but then take it to a strange place, like taking Garry Marshall and making him not just the creator of Happy Days, but also someone whose life goal is to hunt the Loch Ness Monster, but thatís also to keep it from being mean. To me, doing those characters is not about ridiculing the person in real life--

Or attacking their real work.

Yeah, itís more Ďwhatís a ridiculous thing this person would never do?í You know? And that, to me, is the fun. You try avoid just rambling off career highlights and quoting lines from their movies; it goes beyond wondering what this person is doing in real life. The goal is Ďwhat is a weird thing that I can make a facet of their personality that is also not just an insulting, mean thing?í

Thatís a very good point, because when youíre playing somebody like Werner Herzog, at some point the joke will come up that he does not understand conventional humor; super, super dark things are what he finds hilarious. Do you ever start to feel like youíre walking that boundary, that maybe youíre getting a little too mean?

No, I donít think thatís a very good example, because Werner Herzog is somebody with a really great sense of humor. Heís very funny in a very dark way. Thereís a book that he wrote that is his journal of working on the film Fitzcarraldo. That particular movie had a really miserable shoot, and theyíre all out in the Amazon jungle, and the crew is doing this really crazy thing that the crazy character in the film is also doing, which is dragging a riverboat over a mountain. And so, in order to tell the story of this insane person who does this insane, they themselves actually have to do the insane thing, you know? And so his journal about that movie, which is called Triumph of the....ohh, itíll come to me, but itís all about these miserable experiences that heís having and itís hilarious. He knows what heís doing. Thereís a very funny comedic actor named Chris Tallman. Heís terrific. He worked on the movie Rescue Dawn, which was directed by Werner, and he played the DJ, and he told a very funny story on the Sklar Brothers podcast. When the cast was first getting all together, Werner Herzog was introducing everyone, and saying what role they played in the film, and he gets to Chris, and he says [Turns on his Herzog accent] ďThis is Chris, he will be playing the DJ. He will either be our salvation or our doom,Ē and then moves on to introduce the next person. Nobody else got as poetic of descriptors or as singled out, and it was such a burden to put on him, but itís so obviously funny! He has a real sense of humor about his bleak outlook on life, and so the impression that I do of him is very true in the way that he talks with people.

Iím apparently going to have to check out that book then.

Oh, you must. Itís such a hilarious book. And I have the title now. Itís Conquests of the Useless, and itís all about the making of the film Fitzcarraldo.

So letís say that Chris comes to you with this great Werner story, or youíre watching Cake Boss and something spectacular happened on that particular episode. Do those little moments factor in when it comes to picking and choosing which character will appear on which podcast episode? Let me phrase that better, do you just do whichever character you have the most material for at the time?

No, honestly, it all comes down to who did I do last, actuallly. Especially Bang! Bang!, since Iím such a frequent guest on there, it gets hard to keep the rotation fresh. And actually, Scott recorded a bunch of episodes in advance because he was working on the TV show at the same time, and so he would take a day out of the week where he would record two or three episodes, and then do that for three or four weeks in a row, so Iíd sometimes end up being on two weeks in a row, which is very unusual. So it had gotten to the point where I had done all of my characters on previous episodes that had all dropped in the space of a couple months, and so I was stuck thinking of one I could do, and thatís actually what led to me doing Richard Harrow, the character from Boardwalk Empire, the guy who has half a face. You know, heís got that spooky mask on half of his face. That was a voice I knew I could do, and so I thought Ďwell, this could be fun to do,í and as luck would have it, my friend Matt Gourley of the Superego podcast had a Richard Harrow mask, because he had gone as him for Halloween a couple years ago, so I figured Ďoh, this is great, Iím gonna do it.í The first time I did it on stage was actually for one of the Superego live shows, and it was really fun to do, so I thought Iíd do it for Comedy Bang! Bang!, and come up for a funny way to explain why Richard Harrow would be there, and then that was really it. Time crunches like that open a door and they force to think Ďokay, whatís new that I can do that nobody else has done? What can I stake a claim on?í

And you brought up Superego, which is a fantastic podcast in its own right -- check it out everybody, if you can -- but you do stuff like that, and you also work with the Thrilling Adventure Hour which are quite different beasts from things like the Pod F. Tompkast and Bang! Bang!. Do you have to prepare yourself differently when youíre doing something like Beyond Belief [A Thrilling Adventure Hour segment in which Tompkins and actress Paget Brewster play socialites who can see ghosts]? Whatís the process like for that?

Theyíre all really the same. Whatís great about those things respectively is Thrilling Adventure is written out. Youíre literally just reading the script, and the scripts are great. I do get to make character choices, and the guys who write it, Ben Acker & Ben Blacker, are very collaborative, and they like to let the cast come up with different things, so I wonít really improvise much. I wonít really even change words, unless I think Iíve found a word thatís easier for me to say or ĎI think this word should come at the end of this sentence for that joke to hit better,í but even that is very rare. For Superego, itís all improvised, so thereís nothing to prepare for. I just show up, try and live in the moment, and follow along with what those guys are doing, because theyíre seriously skilled improvisers, and they make me better.

Were you involved much in the War of Two Worlds project, when those two podcasts collaborated?

Yeah, I guested on a number of those episodes. That was a lot of fun. Having people from these two drastically different families all together in the same room was an absolute blast.

One more question, and not to completely define your career by podcasting, but youíve done a few appearances on Doug Loves Movies where youíll be yourself but youíll also do a character at the same time. How do you deal with the challenge of essentially having to do twice as much work?

Itís really exciting, and I really like doing it, because it requires I stay on my toes, and I like the challenge of making sure that I am really representing everyone Iím playing equally so that it sounds just like any other episode of Dougís show, you know? The hardest part for me honestly, is when -- because sometimes Iíll do three characters, and sometimes Iíll do myself and two characters -- and so the hardest part for me is remembering to be myself more, and interject more as Paul, because itís so much fun to be those characters. What I really want to do, and not like Iím going to fool anybody, but Iíd love to make people forget as much as they possibly can--

That itís you playing all these parts.

That itís me, yes.

I feel like youíd have a much better chance at succeeding at that when they do their in-studio episodes.

Yeah, I agree.

But then thereíd be no audience, so whatís the point?

[laughs] Also, yes.

Maybe my best half-second idea. Why did I even say that?

No, I get what youíre saying, that would be a thousand times easier, but itís just too much fun doing it as a stunt in front of the live audience.

Well, Paul, I have to say, I think our time has just about run out, but I canít thank you enough for taking some time out of your schedule to talk to me. Youíve been amazing to talk with, so I guess Iíll just ask lastly, is there anything else you would like to plug?

Yes, I would love to bring up my web talk show Speakeasy. Itís a talk show, itís me and one guest, we get some great, interesting people, and we have an in-depth chat over drinks, and I really love doing it, and Iíd love even more people to be aware of it. Have a good one, Cody. Tell your friends theyíre being a bunch of absolute punks. Was that right?

I'd like to thank Paul once again for being an absolute delight to sit down with, and thus concludes the first full interview for Behind the Bits. As always, drop a comment or PM if you have a recommendation for a comic you'd like to see on a future Behind the Bits, and make sure to stop by the AP.net homepage every Wednesday for new installments. We've hit the ground running, friends. Many cool talks lie in store.
Tags: behind the bits, paul f. tompkins, comedy, standup
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Behind The Bits No. 1 - Paul F. Tompkins (Part 1 of 2)
08/12/13 at 07:48 PM by Indoor Living
In the world of music, a behind-the-scenes look is quite common. Whether it's in the form of a studio video, social media update, or released demo, music listeners have a general idea of what a band or artist is going through in the weeks, months, and years leading up to a new album. That type of peek behind the curtain is far, far less frequent in the world of stand-up comedy--or at least it was. With my new weekly (for now) column Behind The Bits, I'm going to be speaking with some wonderful comedians to get a glimpse into their process, see where they draw their inspiration, and hopefully get a little background on great jokes they themselves have written.

I couldn't really be starting this off with much more of a bang. In 2013, when a person thinks of either stand-up comedy or the world of podcasting, few names come to mind quicker than Paul F. Tompkins. Tompkins is a man with his hands in so many projects, you'd think he has 30 hours in his day. He worked hard to reach the echelon he's in, however; with over 25 years in the industry, he's personally seen the rise and fall (and rise) of US stand-up and then some. I was lucky enough to speak with Paul in depth about various highlights of his career, and the end result was greater than I could've ever hoped. Read on for part 1 of our chat.

**Note: The interviews in this column contain references to jokes, albums, and other comedians that may only be known or recognized by those with more than a cursory knowledge of comedy. When things veer into lesser-known territory, I will try my best to link to the appropriate materials.**


Alright, letís get started. I am here with Paul F. Tompkins. Paul, how are you doing today?

Iím very well, Cody, how are you?

Iím great, canít complain! Very excited to do this. I want to jump right into things here, because thereís a ton I want to ask you. You released your most recent special, Laboring Under Delusions, last year, and I found that record doubly impressive, because it plays sort of like a detailed audio resumť; itís a themed hour of your career highlights to date. At what point did it hit you that youíve had enough misadventures to put them all in the same hour?

Oh, boy, I donít know! I think it was when I was doing the hour previous to that, and I was sort of looking ahead, and that hour, which is entitled You Should Have Told Me, was kind of thematic, or it felt kind of thematic to me, and so I was looking for more stories to tell, and by plumbing the depths of my own life, I realized that I had all these stories that happened to be focused on the same topic.

On that record, you openly describe your shortcomings as a college student, and also the personal stress you were battling amidst the format changes on your show Best Week Ever. Those two stand out to me, because theyíre in a very small handful of your bits that deal strongly with self-deprecation. Was mining that for humor difficult for you at all?

No, I feel, for me, that was the way into all of those stories, trying to figure out what my emotional reaction was to what was going on around me. [laughs] Really, all of those stories are about me being humiliated in one way or another. And I felt like anybody whoís had any kind of job can relate to that anxiety.

Yeah, because the overarching theme of it all is essentially ĎHow can I avoid being yelled at in the workforce over the course of my entire life?í and I think who hasnít thought that?

[laughs] Right, yes.

So while you have that through line taking up nearly all of the record, each of your last two CDs have opened up with a trio of what are called ĎRiff Suitesí in the track listing. Is that pre-material banter with the crowd a conscious choice to help loosen you and the audience up or is it something you donít really control anymore?

The former is exactly what it is. I heard about this comedian named Frank Skinner, heís a British comedian, and he used to do these theater shows where he would come out for a good 15-20 minutes and just kind of bullshit with the crowd, and then there would be a short intermission, and then he would come back and he was essentially warming the crowd up for himself. He was doing some off-the-cuff comedy, which people enjoy, but not burning through any of the material he was going to do later, and it not only sounded smart to me, but it also sounded like a lot of fun. And I really like to riff during my shows, and itís certainly a thing that I learned to do when I did the crowd warm-up for the tapings of Mr. Show with Bob and David a million years ago, you know, and so that really helped me develop that muscle for becoming extemporaneous and in the moment. And certainly through podcasting as well, where you have to be quick and thereís a lot of banter going on, that was another thing that I was just in the habit of doing, and so it became a really enjoyable part of the show for me.

Yeah, theyíre the perfect openings for the rest of the album, and actually, itís funny you brought it up the way you did, because Iím pretty sure [Jimmy] Pardo does that same thing for Conan, all the late-night people have that warm-up comic, so it definitely seems to help.

Yes, absolutely.

So you have those on your last two records, but your first CD, Impersonal, is kind of a far cry from the ones that came next, because it holds less of an emphasis on storytelling and more on shorter, isolated bits. It works just as well, that album I still love, but was there anything specific that prompted the slight change in your stand-up style?

It was a very gradual thing, it was not necessarily a specific thing. I think itís a function of becoming more comfortable on stage. You will notice beginning comics, in their first year or two of comedy, they will not really explore topics that much. They will get one laugh and they move onto the next thing, because theyíre nervous theyíre not going to get any laughs, so when they get one, theyíre not going to risk--

Itís just like at a casino. You donít want to press your luck.

Yeah, exactly. So beginning comics tend to move on immediately. Then they get more comfortable, and they start to explore stuff some more. For me, Iíd been doing stand-up in Philadelphia for eight years before I moved to Los Angeles, and it essentially meant starting all over again with new material. So after the move, I was definitely in a place where I was doing much more conceptual stuff, and yeah, thatís just where I was creatively, doing more absurdist bits. Then that sort of evolved more into the material being focused on my perspective, which you can see on [Tompkinsí second album] Freak Wharf, and then by the time of my third hour, itís definitely really about my life and drawing from my own personal experiences.

Speaking of personal experience, one of my favorite bits of yours comes off, I believe itís the You Should Have Told Me DVD, and itís the one that chronicles the loss of your mother and her loss of faith towards the end of her life. It hits really hard because not only did you keep it very funny, but you perfectly conveyed her and the relationship that you had with her simultaneously. Did you feel like an emotional core can make humor more powerful?

Well, first of all, thank you very much for saying that, that is great to hear, because with material like that which is very personal, one certainly hopes to make that connection. What I learned from doing that hour was that it was possible to make a deep connection with the audience emotionally, but still make them laugh, and in fact, it actually enhances everything. Doing that material, people know how I feel. People know exactly what I mean, theyíve had this experience with this deep subject matter. One of the things I would always worry about is Ďokay, Iím going to talk about one of my parents dying, and I know thatís going to make some people upset whose parents arenít dead,í because you know, you get to a certain age and you start thinking about it. Your parents, unfortunately, are not getting any younger, and they do not become any less...[laughs] decrepit over time. Itís just something you think about more and more the older you get. I didnít want to bum anybody out, though, so my task was to connect with those people too, and part of that was in the way I presented that material. ĎHey, this is a sad thing, but I am dealing with it as everyone will deal with it, and itís just a part of life.í It all seemed to work out in the end. I didnít have anyone coming up to me saying ĎI wish you hadnít talked about that.í

A story like that has a pretty good chance at splitting the audience though, because people deal with loss in very, very different ways. Did you ever worry that too many people wouldnít find the humor in it, and you might lose the crowd at that point?

Um, early on, yeah, when I first started doing it, and then I realized, and this happens with all material, you just have to work on it and work on it and hone it until you feel you are communicating your idea in a way that makes sense to the audience. Youíre expressing it in the way you want and also in a way that everyone can understand...which is really the trick for all comedy, you know. It begins with a concept or an idea in your head, and you have to get it to the point where it makes sense to other people and theyíll enjoy it on the same level that you enjoy it. Early on, though, yeah, it was a fear and then after I realized that Iíd gotten it down, that it was making sense to others, I became more comfortable.

You bring up a very good point as far as keeping things universal. You have managed to keep an immense level of relatability and observation throughout all of your work. Have you ever wondered Ďoh, is this a unique enough perspective or viewpoint on this topic to justify moving forward with it?í

You know, I actually worry about the opposite. If Iím talking about my experiences working on a movie, I have to keep in mind ĎOh, is this something that people are going to find funny outside of Los Angeles?í And thatís where the emotional component comes in, is that you donít have to be in show business to understand what Iím talking about because the story is not ĎI was around this famous person,í the story is ĎI felt like I didnít belong, I felt like somebody was going to tell me to leave, I was uncomfortable, I was awkward,í and thatís something everybody but the most seasoned sociopaths can relate to.

Itís not the fact that you acted with Daniel Day-Lewis, thatís not the point of the story. Itís trying to hit on that broader theme of not feeling like you fit in somewhere.

Yeah, essentially.

Going off that feeling of not belonging, you also go quite in-depth about Matt Damon and the period of time in which you thought he was not from Earth. That bit is another thatís always stuck out to me because it just sounds so tailor-made to be told on a stage. Do you find yourself having moments like that often? Where something is happening, and in your head, youíre going ĎOh my god, this is material I can use?í

Oh, absolutely. I mean, that does sometimes occur, but itís kind of a drag when that does happen, because it sort of means youíre not...[laughs] living your life.

Yeah, youíre too busy thinking ĎMan, this is going to be funny one day!í

Yeah, itís better to experience whatís happening so that you can get something out of it later, try and relate people to it on stage.

So then if they don't present themselves like that, do you ever find yourself in the middle of one of the aforementioned riff suites, notice that something is hitting a little harder than all the other adlibbed material, and then try and make a point to work it into your actual act in the future?

For the answer to this question as well as much, much more from my talk with Paul, come back next Wednesday for Part 2 of our chat, which covers such topics as Matt Damon, Van Helsing and his introduction to the podcast world. Also, keep an eye out every Wednesday for new installments of Behind The Bits.
Tags: behind the bits, paul f. tompkins, sneak peek, comedy, standup
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Catching Everybody Up/Going Behind The Bits
08/07/13 at 12:23 PM by Indoor Living
Well, good to see I stuck with my last blog attempt. Daily recommendations, what an unbelievably impossible task. Stupid past Cody. Anyways. What have I been doing these past few years? Writing, performing, applying for comedy internships in Los Angeles, juggling the idea of moving to Los Angeles, not getting any more notoriety than I already have because I don't live in Los Angeles, that's about it.

This is worth noting, though: I was lucky enough to get brought on as a staff member in late March. It was pretty daunting, looking back now; I guess I didn't process what a big risk it was for Drew to bring me on and steer the site even slightly away from music coverage. I think after about 4 months, I'm finally getting the hang of it; I definitely let too many things fall through my hands when I first started, and I'm done with that. Proactivity starts now. The news posts are getting received really well so far, good view counts, etc. The exclusives I've done so far, the same could be said about. I'm also contemplating bringing the round-ups back. I only stopped in the first place because they were a lot of work to keep up with daily, but I think they were a lot of users' main access to the world of comedy, so I'd be a pretty big ass to just let them die.

Another lucky break I caught is the fact that apparently comedians only talk to journalists who don't really care about comedy or are just on assignment. I didn't realize this until an agent told me that knowing a lot about comedy/simply giving a shit about what these people do will get me an interview with just about any comedian I want, so that was pretty amazing.

I guess I should back up about that last part. In addition to lining up more consistent exclusives (to the best of my ability; this is tough, there's no real general calendar for comedy releases the way there is for almost every genre of music), I'm starting my first real recurring feature for the site as the cornerstone of Phase II of AP.net comedy coverage. It's called Behind The Bits, and I'm incredibly, incredibly excited for it.

Behind The Bits is an interview segment (for now, could turn podcast in the future) that's essentially a peek behind the curtain of stand-up, improv, or sketch comedy. So often in the music industry, we'll get studio updates, recording videos, demos, etc, frequent ways of knowing what exactly is going into the process of a band recording their newest album. There's absolutely nothing like that in stand-up; very rarely do we understand the process of the incredible talents so gifted at cracking us up.

So that's why it exists; to try and get some insight and background on some great jokes and characters written by some great comics. The reception from PR people and the comics themselves has been unbelievable. The first installment (with the incomparable Paul F. Tompkins) will be up for your enjoyment next Wednesday, August 14th, with future chats going up bi-weekly. The abridged 'best of' version will be added to the AP.net homepage, while the full, untouched interviews will be available on this here blog. Also, in addition to Behind The Bits, I've got a cool live-chat album review feature coming up that I'm very giddy to unveil later next month that is finally going to bridge the gap between music and stand-up.

I'm excited for the future of comedy on AbsolutePunk, and I'm even more excited for how it's going to affect my life now that I've finally got my head down instead of lackadaisically up my own ass. Get ready to laugh, everyone. It's going to happen a lot more often now.
Tags: catching up, comedy, staff member, behind the bits
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EOTY 2011
12/22/11 at 02:38 PM by Indoor Living
Ugh. Music. List.

Top Albums:
1. Those Dancing Days - Daydreams & Nightmares
2. Charlie Simpson - Young Pilgrim
3. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
4. Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
5. Eisley - The Valley
6. The Lonely Forest - Arrows
7. Drake - Take Care
8. Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto
9. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
10. araabMUZIK - Electronic Dream
11. Childish Gambino - Camp
12. Jack's Mannequin - People And Things
13. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
14. Laura Stevenson - Sit Resist
15. Jonathan Jones - Community Group
16. The Boxer Rebellion - The Cold Still
17. Tiger Riot - Look Up!
18. Bombay Bicycle Club - A Different Kind Of Fix
19. Summer Camp - Welcome To Condale
20. Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
21. Lights - Siberia
22. Transit - Listen & Forgive
23. Bayside - Killing Time
24. Funeral Party - The Golden Age Of Knowhere
25. James Blake - James Blake

Top Bum Al's:


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Daily Recommendation 8/10/10
08/10/10 at 01:03 PM by Indoor Living
This one is going to be tough. After raving about the Reign Of Kindo yesterday, I don't know how to follow it up. I've been searching through music today, trying to find something that fits my mood, but is also a fun summer song. After about an hour of that, I finally found that song and that band.

Hailing from Canada, Tokyo Police Club spell words like 'Favorite' and 'Color' with a 'u' in there somewhere. Now, if their song 'Favourite Colour' wasn't so damn good, this would definitely bother me, but it is. It's one of the most fun, laidback summertime songs I've heard in a while. Lyrically, it's nothing original, but you can't help but relate. Singing along with vocalist David Monks during the chorus of 'Tell me, what's your favourite colour? Tell me, how's your younger brother? What grade's he in?' is inevitable. We've all been at that point in a relationship with somebody, where it's still very early on. At this point, it's probably a late night text-messaging conversation, you're playing 'the question game,' and you have to ask first. This song is a great musical definition of a summer fling, but it's also a great example of an extremely talented indie rock band. Changing the format of the chorus three times, in just over 2 and a half minutes, this song always keeps things fresh.

Off their stellar sophomore album, Champ, 'Favourite Colour' bats second in a great 11-song lineup. Tokyo Police Club has a formula for making fun, sing-a-long indie music, and after only two releases, they've done very well at refining it. So give it a shot!



Amazon Link
Tags: Daily Recommendation, Tokyo Police Club, Favourite, Colour
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Daily Recommendation 8/9/10
08/09/10 at 12:07 PM by Indoor Living
Well, I had my mind blown last night. I don't mean I heard a song and thought 'This is pretty cool.' I heard a song last night that made me stop everything I was doing and focus solely on the song; it needed to soak in. I've had this happen to me less than five times in my life. I've heard a lot of amazing music that needed to grow on me. No big, that happens all the time. Rarely, though, do I hear something one time (ONE TIME!) and immediately know it's something special. Scratch that, beyond special.

This Day & Age was a band that slipped through the cracks from 2000-2004. It's sad, yeah, but it's a way of life. Smaller bands aren't always going to make it, no matter how talented they are. Without the popularity, label backing, and funding larger bands get, it's tough making a living with music out there. Breaking up in 2004, the four original members gave it another shot in 2006, under a new (and much cooler) moniker: The Reign Of Kindo. Releasing a self-titled EP in '06, and a debut album in '08, I didn't discover this little gem until last night. Releasing their second album This Is What Happens, they start out by kicking you in the ass, as hard as they possibly can. They raise SO many questions within the first 15 seconds: 'What genre is this?' 'What do they look like?' 'How many damn hands does the drummer have?' 'Is the guitar player using a power drill with a guitar pick attached to the end of it?' It's unlike anything I'd ever heard in my life! So what genre are they, what's their 'image?' Here's the thing, they don't care! Music is their pawn, and they do what they want with it, caring not about how people view them, only focusing on making the best music they possibly can.

They don't want to be labeled 'post-modern neo-jazz,' 'indie mathrock,' or anything like that, even though both of those would fit perfectly. Here's my suggestion: '5 dudes that are talented beyond belief and just want to rock.' I think they'd be fine with that. Now, I'm going to spare the details here, and let this studio video of them speak for itself. Please, everybody! If there's any blog of mine that you read, let it be this one. Music does not get better than this! Here you go. 'Thrill Of The Fall' by The Reign Of Kindo. You're welcome.



Amazon Page
Tags: The Reign Of Kindo, Daily Recommendation, Holy Shit, This, Is, Blowing, My, Damn Mind
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Daily Recommendation 8/8/10
08/08/10 at 03:46 PM by Indoor Living
Three days in a row, and I'm still doing these somehow. Maybe I'll be a little more consistent this time around.

Today's recommendation wouldn't have happened without Christopher Columbus. Little did he know that his journey would, 517 years later, inspire one of the most interesting & passionate concept albums in the indie world. With most people knowing him as the extremely talented, yet seemingly timid multi-instrumentalist for the band fun., it makes sense that Andrew Dost's debut solo album would go very unnoticed. With an ear for melody matching the Matt Thiessens and Andrew McMahons of the world, quirky lyrics about our country's 'founder,' and a myriad of guest spots, Columbus makes for a informative, funny, and most importantly, enjoyable experience. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, it's a fairly common running time for an album in this genre. Complete with gang vocals, spoken word, and a great storyline, this album has a little bit of everything, and definitely something for everyone. So check it out!

As always, included are a track from the album ('Welcome To Our Native Land' ft. a guest spot from fun.'s lead singer, Nate Ruess), and a link to the album's Amazon page, if you are so inclined to purchase it. Enjoy!

Tags: Andrew Dost, Columbus, concept album, Daily Recommendation, fun.
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Upcoming Concert List
08/08/10 at 11:55 AM by Indoor Living
Summer's just about over, but I've learned to be fine with that. The end of summer brings a lot of great things, including getting to go back to college! While that excites me to no end, the fall is also paired with a much better concert schedule. Here's mine.

Aug. 14 - Lydia @ Triple Rock
Aug. 28 - You, Me, And Everyone We Know & The Graduate @ The Space
Oct. 10 - fun. @ Varsity Theatre
Oct. 14 - Ludo @ Triple Rock
Oct. 28 - Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything, Saves The Day & Valencia @ First Ave.

It's gonna be great. Hopefully there's a few shows I can throw in between there somewhere. What are your guys' show lineups looking like? Shout it out!
Tags: concerts, fall, Lydia, YMAEWK, Graduate, fun., Ludo, MCS
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Daily Recommendation 8/7/10
08/07/10 at 11:09 AM by Indoor Living
What a night I had yesterday. Got to spend it with a good friend, and hang out at a bar for a while. A lot of fun. When I got back, I was in the mood to listen to some stand-up, and that is where my recommendation comes from today.

Hannibal Buress is going to blow up. I guarantee it. By the age of 27, he's been hired as a writer for SNL, done guest spots on shows such Louie & The Awkward Comedy Show, and gained a spot on Variety's 'Ten Comics To Watch In 2010' list. The best part about Buress, though? He makes you feel like you could be a comedian. He doesn't get laughs by being over-confident in his material, and being loud and obnoxious. Instead, he awkwardly tells you about sitting in the corner at a party, drinking alone and texting your friends about how shitty the party is. Haven't we all been there? His quips about the process of Obama's promotion make you wonder, 'Why am I not doing this,' and his confusion about dating in Grand Theft Auto 4 comes as no surprise to gamers the world over. His talent much outshines his fairly timid delivery. He's the every man's alternative comic, but he doesn't have to be.

Included are a Youtube video of Hannibal performing at College Humor live and, if you like him enough (which you all should), a link to an Amazon page where you can purchase his debut album, My Name Is Hannibal. Enjoy!

Tags: Daily Recommendation, Hannibal Buress, Stand-Up Comedy
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Daily Recommendation 8/6/10
08/06/10 at 03:45 PM by Indoor Living
I know a lot of people go into these with good intentions and stop/forget about it in less than a week, but I'm going to do my best to post a daily song recommendation. I've been listening to such a wide variety of music lately, I feel like I should tell people what I'm into when I'm into it. So, without further ado, I guess.

The Juliana Theory were criminally underrated and far too short-lived, releasing only 4 albums in the approximately 7 years they were together. In honor of their upcoming reunion shows across the East Coast, I'm posting a link to the third track off their final CD together, Deadbeat Sweetheartbeat. Entitled 'Shotgun Serenade,' this song encompassed everything that was to unknowingly happen to the band months after releasing the album. A blunt, passionate song about disintegration and falling apart, 'Shotgun Serenade' opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar intro behind Brett Detar's soulful swoon, not taking long before kicking the listener in the ass. I hope you all enjoy.

Tags: Daily Recommendation, Juliana Theory, Shotgun Serenade
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Campus CD Sale
04/14/10 at 09:14 AM by Indoor Living
Just got back from a CD sale on campus put together by our radio station. Two CD's for 5 bucks, it's hard to turn that down. What did I get, you might ask? Well, one of my favorites from 2009, and one of my early favorites of 2010, I got lucky.



The Rx Bandits have been putting together some of the best experimental, genre-mashing rock I've heard in the past five years. I've yet to get the chance to see them live, but I can only imagine, when compared to this album. Mandala is 11 songs, and 52 minutes of very ambient-feeling, yet not ambient-sounding rock. For the sake of space, I won't write a full-fledged review.



It's hard to describe Crime In Stereo with one small blog paragraph. Musically, these guys have been everywhere. Whether it's ...Is Dead, or The Troubled Stateside, CIS has touched every corner and uncovered every stone of musical genres. I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone is a bit of a gut-shot to other bands in this so-called indie-alt-rock genre. CIS, in their early years, were a straight-up hardcore band and they did it well. However, it wasn't enough, so they went completely to the other end of the spectrum. This album is basically them saying to other bands, "Hey, you guys, we got this." For such a supposed short time trying out this sound, Crime In Stereo handles it very well. Where they go from here excites me.

Needless to say, I wholeheartedly recommend both these cds to people trying to find new music. They don't disappoint.
Tags: Crime In Stereo, Rx Bandits, CD Sale, Recommendations.
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