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What We're Loving: Hacks!

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison turns hack, Amanda Hahn gets her hair hacked, Jonda Robinson might hack up a hairball, and Ryan Callahan learns some lesson from a LA hack. tina-fey3At this point, it's hack for a person who loves comedy to discuss the greatness of Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. Ugh, we get it nerds, they're funny gals, under appreciated, could have been rocket scientists and once saved Earth by winking at an asteroid. It's quite common for each of them to be lauded with affection, especially from schlubs that like to do make 'em ups on stage for strangers. But this week has been especially kind for fanboys/fangirls of Dratch and Fey as their old Second City/UCB show has found it's way online. The quality of the footage is TERRIBLE. It honestly looks as if the uploader took a Beta copy of their baby steps, converted the footage to VHS, recorded the Dratch & Fey show over it, washed the tape in the dishwasher, hung it out to dry in the Death Valley sun and then decided to upload it to YouTube. Seriously, that's what happened. Even though it's not quite in HD, the quality of the comedy shines through.

Here's a link to the whole thing.

The show begins with dueling one woman shows, one with the intention of educating an audience to women's history and the other with the intention of educating an audience to women's anatomy. From there, Dratch and Fey delve into a really well put together combination of sketch, audience interaction, and monologues. Though the show only ran from 1999-2000, the complete package feels incredibly refined and tight. There's never much downtime and the whole set ebbs and flows so naturally that it's obvious why this sketch show is thought of in the pantheon of all time greats. Hell, the whole thing helped to inspire 30 Rock, so that alone makes it worth watching. The other part that really stands out to me is just how good Rachel Dratch is. That's not to say Tina Fey isn't great, but she's a movie star gosh darn it, we get to see her in stuff all the time. The aggressive innocence with with Dratch plays makes every one of her characters likable and will leave you convinced as to how underrated she is. And then you can finally join us in the chorus of people clamoring for more Dratch & Fey. -David Allison

tumblr_n9jvg93aIB1thkqcyo1_1280I don’t want to seem divisive or political with what I’m about to say, but I need to get it out there: I am a fan of cats. Many times I have said that if reincarnation is a thing, please, make me a cat so I can take naps for days. I recognize that not everyone is a fan of felines, though, such as my friend who believes that they are evil and the only thing keeping them from taking over the world is their lack of opposable thumbs. If she’s right, and they someday do rise up, I like to think I’ve given enough belly rubs that they’ll show some mercy on me.

All of that is to say that when cats are involved in something, it usually catches my attention. And this week that was the case when I stumbled upon the Tumblr “Confused Cats Against Feminism.” Now, when I first heard that women were against feminism and had their own Tumblr dedicated to the cause, I wasn’t really interested. Frankly it sounded boring to me, and I like getting to vote and stuff, so I was like “nah.” But then when cats got in on the party, I was like “yes, please!” There’s one with sage advice about who and what to trust. One who is against both vacuums and the women who wield them. One who believes in equal oppression of all humans. And one who just wants his belly rubbed, dangit.

You should check them out so you can enjoy their cuteness, be more informed about this cat cause, and also so, in the event that they do overpower humans and take over the world, you’ll be in their good graces. Also, if you have an anti-feminist cat in your life, get him or her in on this movement! - Jonda Robinson

1382258215Exciting news, everyone: I got a haircut this week. No, I’m not so vain as to write about how much I love my haircut. I’m here to write about the woman who cut it because I fell in platonic love with her. What I thought would be a normal conversation as she cut my hair turned into a fascinating talk with a fascinating woman named Alexis Lu, AKA Queen Lex Lu. It’s possible that you’ve heard of her already because she has her feet dipped into a million things around Dallas and Texas. She’s a hair stylist, make up artist, photographer, stylist, wig maker, rapper, actor, and a warm, funny person in general.

I warned her that I would stalk her all over the internet, but I did not tell her that I would be writing about her on a public blog. It’s okay though because it’s illegal to get mad at someone for writing about you if it’s nice things, right? …Right?? Right! Good, because I only have rave reviews for Lex Lu. I liked her so much that my new goal is to find reasons to hire her for various things. Do I need my makeup done before the next time go to a coffee shop to write in a corner by myself? No. Do I need to hire entertainment to rap for me while I get dressed for work in the morning? No. But I want to anyway, because not only does she do great work, she’s so pleasant to be around. Plus she has a song called ‘CAN’T FEEL MY FACE’ which makes me giggle because that’s a little too relatable.

I’ll end my post with week with another call to action: Hire this woman. She’s excellent. And just more proof that talking to strangers is the best possible way to spend your day. -Amanda Hahn

03Last weekend, my girlfriend and I watched Collateral, the 2004 crime thriller starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Thief). I lived in LA when Collateral came out and I always thought that the film did the best job of capturing the way LA looks at night. It turns out, that was director Michael Mann's intention. He shot the film in DV, and even had the taxi cab that Foxx's character drives painted a particular shade, to capture the golden hues of Los Angeles streetlights.

I did not remember how much the film was about the nature of improvisation, not just on a thematic or performance level, but in the nature of its structure. The film has the structure of a great long form improv show; diverse elements and characters eventually come together, scenes mirror each other, there are call backs, and everything from the beginning is brought back at the end and tied together.

There are so many parallel scenes in the movie that play off each other - the twin cab rides of Jada Pinkett-Smith and Tom Cruise, the visit to the jazz club vs the visit to the night club, the two run ins with the patrol cops, the two visits to the first informant's apartment. Throughout the film, the same locations and characters are visited and revisited, but each time the suspense is heightened, new information is added. Old scenes take on new meanings. Like a great improv show, the movie does not endlessly invent new things; it takes what it has and escalates and escalates until the everything reaches a fever pitch.

The movie even has a scene of actual improvisation. Foxx's meek cap driver must impersonate Cruise's cold-blooded hit man, and acquire a hit list from a cartel heavy (Javier Bardem) at a night club. Foxx does not know what he's walking into or what to say. His only choice is to "Yes, And" the hell out of everything and hope that he's committed enough to his character to pull it off. That scene is one of the best in a movie full of great scenes, and rewards an engaged audience with its call backs and in-jokes.

I always thought Collateral was a brilliant crime movie, another example of Michael Mann's mastery of the genre. I had no idea it was also a brilliant improv show. - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving - Days of Future Past

This week, in honor of the DCH Prom (get your tickets here), the What We're Loving Crew travels back to the bygone days of high school, and shares their memories of the pop culture that shaped them into the men and women they are today. conan-walker-lever-late-night-e1397435431476I attended senior prom in the spring of 2004 in Mansfield, TX. Now I understand that many of you view me as the peak of cool, which is fair as I’ve been known to sometimes receive comments on these blog posts, but dear reader, I haven’t always been like this. Back in high school, I was a staunch nerd who wore pleated pants and moved midway through my junior year. Basically, I didn’t have a ton of friends. In fact, I think it could be easily said that the person I spent the most time with during my senior year was Conan.

I wasn’t always familiar with the work of Conan O’Brien. I’ve always been more old man than child and didn’t often see the benefit of staying up past 9:00 pm. So when I first saw the ad on Comedy Central stating that the network was going to start to re-air Late Night with Conan O’Brien every morning, I didn’t know what to expect. At the same time though, I didn’t have much else going on, so I decided to give his show a shot and it quickly changed my life. Soon, I wasn’t just watching the morning re-run, but I was actually staying up until 11:30 to watch the original airing. That’s 11:30 PM! Don’t tell my parents.

I loved everything about Late Night with Conan O’Brien and in 2003-2004, he was knocking it out of the park on a nightly basis. This was the time that amazing improvisers that I’ve come to adore later in life, people like Jon Glaser and Kevin Dorff, were creating some of the most memorable bits and characters in the history of the program. The best example is the Walker, Texas Ranger lever, which still might be the funniest thing I’ve ever seen on a talk show. I remember watching Walker as a kid and being really confused as to whether I was supposed to take it seriously or laugh at it, and Conan’s show allowed me to view a dramatic show through a humorous lens. It sounds dumb, but I had never been given that sort of permission before I watched his show. Also, even though Conan was constantly poking fun at anything and everything, I never got the impression that his humor came from a mean place. The way his guests responded to him in each interview, you could tell he was well liked and respected. His ability to walk that line between laughing with someone and laughing at them is something that I still strive to accomplish.

Fun note: This past spring, I actually got the opportunity to see Conan O’Brien live when he came to Dallas. It was one of the coolest events I’ve ever attended because this man gave me something to look forward to each day when there weren’t many other reasons to wake up. And the way he went about earning those laughs on a nightly, or in some cases, morningly basis, was highly influential on the person I am and the person I continue to work towards being. I got a TON of things wrong when I was 17, but loving Conan was definitely something I got right. - David Allison

vimeo.com.Entertainment Tonight and Insider turn digital dreams into reality with Avid HD News solutions on VimeoEleven years feels like a lifetime ago, while simultaneously feeling like yesterday. I've heard that happens as you get older and the decades start zooming past you. Now I can agree with all of those fogies that time does speed up as you get older. I graduated high school on May 31, 2003, the day before my 18th birthday. And just a few weeks after my Senior Prom. That's a lot of coming of age milestones crammed into a pretty small window of time. I've spent the past few days really trying to step back into my younger self. What did I like? How did I think?

I liked a lot of things because I thought it was funny to like them more than liking them because I actually appreciated or enjoyed them. I know at some point I found a "Retro Dance" channel on the digital cable set of audio channels. I fell in love with the words "Retro Dance" as a genre of music . I did a persuasive speech in English class on the topic of Disco and its need to make a triumphant return. I don't think any of my friends or classmates actually believed I was into "Retro Dance", but I think I had my family going. My dad talked to me quite a bit about Donna Summer.

I had the Entertainment Tonight theme song as my ringtone on my Nokia. Yes, it was a midi. Was I a fervent fan of Entertainment Tonight? No. Was I even a mild fan of Entertainment Tonight? No. Did it crack me up when people would first have a look of "this sounds familiar" to "oh, I know what this is" to "why?"? Yes, it did.

Again for English class assignment, we had to bring an ornament for Christmas that meant something to us along with a quote, and present it to the class. Most everyone else had something meaningful: Bible quotes, a line from a Maya Angelou poem, or just something generally moving. I brought a McDonald's toy that was some sort of pink creature with a weird nose. I couldn't identify it. My quote, "I've always wondered what a lifetime supply of pudding looked like" was from the movie, Dude, Where's My Car? I thought it was a solid choice. Though if we can get real, I'm sure I was using this sort of wall of funny as a defense mechanism against exposing any honest feelings.

At some point in my twenties, I started to appreciate things for more than their ha ha, ironic value, and I daresay cultivate a deeper, more refined taste. But if I had need for a ringtone (I prefer my phone on silent), I would totally seek out Entertainment Theme song. In midi format. - Ashley Bright

Pulp_Fiction_coverThe year was 1995. I was a senior at small quaint Mt. Greylock Regional in Williamstown, Massachusetts. And I was in love with Pulp Fiction. My love affair with Quentin Tarantino’s second film began the previous summer. On a visit to NYU I picked up a copy of Film Comment and discovered that Pulp Fiction had won the Palm D’Or at Cannes. Being a fan of Reservoir Dogs, I was excited to hear about Tarantino’s next film. There was no real internet, no blogs back in 1995. I received all my movie news from television and magazines. Even before I saw a frame, Pulp Fiction became an obsession. Over the next few months, I gobbled up every morsel of Pulp info like a Big Kahuna burger. I read every article, tracked down the influences, watched Tarantino on Charlie Rose. As soon as the soundtrack came out, I bought it. My friends and I would listen to it in the car on the way to school every morning, trying to decipher as much as we could about the movie from the dialogue samples.

Finally, in October, the movie opened. I watched it Friday afternoon, right after school. I felt I knew so much about the movie that I wouldn’t be surprised. But I knew nothing. The parts I knew about – the watch monologue, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny in the diner, Zed’s death – were better than I imagined. And the parts I didn’t know about – Bret’s big brain, the adrenaline shot, the Wolf – were like nothing I had ever seen. A celebration of genres and stories and actors and cinematic moments, and everything worked. Everything but Tarantino’s performance as Jimmy. That naughty-naughty move he does with his fingers when Jules makes fun of the hand-me-down clothes makes me cringe every time.

I saw the movie again on Sunday. And again a week later. And again a few weeks after that. All told I saw Pulp Fiction six times in the theater. On my spring break trip that year, I laid in bed one night and started quoting the movie, word for word, from the beginning, while waiting for the room to stop spinning. I reached the cab conversation with Esmeralda Villa Lobos before I passed out.

There’s been a kind of revisionist history over the past fifteen years in regards to Tarantino’s oeuvre. Some people will say Jackie Brown is his best movie. For others it’s Inglorious Basterds. Django Unchained has its supporters. Those are all great movies, but Pulp Fiction is still the masterpiece. In the cinema of my lifetime there are two distinct phases: Before Pulp Fiction and After Pulp Fiction. The movie changed movies. To be there, to see it happen as it happened, that was truly special. – Ryan Callahan

imagesAh, prom season. The year was 2008. It was a simpler time when we were all "Bleeding Love" with Leona Lewis, getting "Low" (… low low low low low) with Flo Rida, and it was relevant, even humorous, to quote "My New Haircut" and "Unforgivable" through the high school hallways. I was loving all of those things along with my peers, but there was one thing I was very alone in loving. I was completely alone in being obsessed with the Australian comedy show, The Chaser’s War on Everything. The Chaser is an Australian comedy group, and this show was a satire of…well…everything. If you put The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Soup, and Candid Camera into a blender and mixed them all up, this show would appear in your glass when you poured it out, and it would taste damn good.

After everyone in my house went to bed, I would watch clip after clip on Youtube. It was just me, my dark bedroom, and Australian satire for hours. I couldn’t fully appreciate the jokes poking fun at their politicians, but I was completely on board at all of their merciless jokes at the expense of journalist Anna Coren and the rest of the Current Affairs/Today Tonight news team. Another part of the show I had no problems fully appreciating was Chaser member Andrew Hansen, my first internet-love. One segment he appeared in was "If Life Were A Musical." He and the other Chaser members broke out into song and dance directed at unsuspecting people on streets, in stores, and even once to The Veronicas. I was convinced he and I were perfect for each other, and I would imagine him singing songs to me and making me giggle. I haven’t thought about him in years, but writing this is bringing back so many old feelings. So...I think now is as good as time as any to make my move. Andrew Hansen, in the slim chance that you’re reading this: will you please go to DCH’s prom with me? I promise there will be singing and dancing and summer romancing. Come on. Make this girl’s high school dreams of come true. Just dance with/marry me already! See you Saturday! - Amanda Hahn

What We're Loving: Exclusive Meals, Old TV Formats, Illusions

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Ashley Bright eats well, David Allison puts up with dancing, and Amanda Hahn visits the world of illusion. 1357889532_franklogotranspFood really resonated with me this week. I had one of the best meals of my life and now I'm going to tell you about it, mostly so that I can re-live it as I type.  In fact, I was so detailed in my re-living of the meal that my first draft of this piece was almost 400 words and I had only made it through the amuse-bouche and the first course.  How can I only hit the highlights if the whole meal was so bright? I'll try.  FRANK Underground is a private dining experience where you sign up to be on the invite list, get invited, sign up again, get on a lottery for that week's meal, and hope to be chosen.  We've been signing up for the past few months and finally got picked.  (By we, I mean good pals and fellow DCHers, Rob and Mariam.)   Days before our dinnertime, they emailed us the secret(ish) location and revealed the menu: "con gusto."  So, I had about four days to periodically look at the menu and drool over it.  Cut to  evening.  That night's location was in a loft at Adam Hat's.  Walking into the loft, there was a giant window giving a perfect view of Dallas Comedy House.  I'd never seen its roof before.  The chefs were plugging away at the meal in the homey kitchen.  All fourteen or so of the diners were asked to sit at the long table built by one of the chef's from salvaged barn wood. The chefs told us the story of the table and FRANK's conception; and they also explained that this Mexican inspired menu is one they've been wanting to do since they started two years ago.  Our first course included huitlacoche or as Americans call it 'corn smut.'  Don't google it, it is very unappetizing.  But it is so very delicious when stuffed inside of a squash blossom.  In our third course, there was an egg cooked at 63.5 degrees for an hour.  It was like no egg I've ever had before.  The yolk was the same texture as the white.  Absolutely incredible.  Okay, I could easily write a novella on this meal.  Please come ask me about it, so I can describe every bite and sip to you with insane detail.  Please.  I haven't even told you about the dessert yet. - Ashley Bright

The Maya Rudolph ShowThe variety show is back! This past week, The Maya Rudolph Show debuted on NBC, finally ushering in the return of one of my favorite television show formats. I love variety shows, their combination of comedy, music, dance, and overall show polish makes for a really enjoyable viewing experience. Now I understand that some of you aren’t dorks and may not be as familiar with what the general structure of such a special is, but fret not, I’m gonna help introduce you to what a variety show looks like. Also, I’ll let you know how The Maya Rudolph Show did in regards to each of these tropes, just in case you weren’t part of the 2.2 they pulled.

Trope 1- Tone I’m sure there was some bullshit Greecian theatre example of a dramatic variety show, but any successful one nowadays is going to be light, upbeat, and fun. Also, the humor is very specific, many times arising from quick banter back and forth between the players or audience interaction. Check out this clip of The Smothers Brothers on The Judy Garland Show to see what I’m talking about. The Maya Rudolph Show did pretty well with this in general, but she could really use a full time sidekick to bounce dialogue off of.

Trope 2- Dancing Ugh. So much dancing. Honestly, this is the part that I care the least about because dancing is boring. Generally speaking, it’s part of a variety show because old people find it graceful. In fact, I can only think of two examples of funny dancing, one is the classic bit “Fat guy is fat but watch out, he can get down!” and the other being the would be the way Rudolph danced on her program this past week. With that said, it’s become so ingrained in what a variety show is that it can’t be eliminated. The Maya Rudolph Show featured some dancing, but that was mostly because of the talents of Sean Hayes who, by the way, should be on every episode.

Trope 3- Celebrity Special Guests The only thing better than watching a famous person host an hour of television is watching a famous person host an hour of television with their famous friends! Mostly, these other celebrities come in the form of featured players that guest star in the sketches. It’s much like Saturday Night Live except it’s almost always self deprecating or physical (Example: “Ha ha, look at this oversized hat I’m wearing!”). Occasionally you’ll see a musical guest like The Maya Rudolph Show did in Janelle Monae’s performance, but most of the time the special guest either acts in the sketches or does stand up. You gotta keep the funny train moving. Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg, Sean Hayes, Chris Parnell, Kristen Bell, and Craig Robinson dropped by the set on the Maya Rudolph show, so they more than filled the celebrity quotient.

Trope 4- Music Any variety show worth it’s salt must have a few musical numbers. There has to be an upbeat opener featuring lots of singing, which The Maya Rudolph Show definitely included with the opening number and a closing number that is more somber and heart felt. My favorite play on the closer comes from Paul F. Tompkins’ variety show, with his stirring rendition of “Skyfall.” On The Maya Rudolph Show this week, they ended with this great lullabye featuring her and Chris Parnell.

At the end of the day, not only did The Maya Rudolph Show nail pretty much every trope, it did so in a refreshing way. I really hope this gets ordered to series, but I’d take any variety show at this point. Except this one. - David Allison

HahnI spent the beginning of this week at a Vision Sciences Society conference. It’s an annual meeting where a bunch of graduate students, professors, and researchers get to together by a beach in Florida. We mainly go to get tan, but we also present and discuss research relating to all things vision. As part of the conference, there is a Best Illusion of the Year Contest. It’s a one-night event where contestants present their illusions, and the audience votes for the best one. It was personally special to me this year because my lovely friend and former lab-mate at Rice University, Kimberley Orsten, was presenting an illusion of her own (and won 3rd place!). Kim’s is a simple one, but it’s also one of the more fun ones to watch. I’ve watched the little roads move back and forth for what feels like hours now. Plus, hers and the rest of the illusions in the contest come with short explanations of why they are able to fool you (fair warning: some descriptions are better than others). The explanations are my favorite part because illusions can teach you so much about how the visual system works. That’s what I love about seeing these illusions presented live, right in my face, by vision scientists at the contest. They present the illusions, induce “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, and then tell you why you saw what you saw. It makes learning about your visual system even more interesting (take notes, Miss Frizzle). Even if you aren’t a vision nerd, they’re just fun to look at. So if you want to see research’s latest mind tricks and learn a little something about why you see what you see in everyday life, pop on over to the Best Illusion of the Year website and view the top ten illusions. (Kim’s is the road one). Have fun, and find me later to let me know if any of them made you say “whoaaa.”- Amanda Hahn

 

What We're Loving: Comedy Legends, Angry Neurotics, Grammy Mistakes, Low Production Values

What We're LovingEach Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week Nick Scott praises a comedy legend, Sarah Wyatt celebrates anxiety, David Allison has a problem with the Grammys, and Ryan Callahan revisits an old obsession.

 

Albert+Brooks+Drive+Premiere+2011+Toronto+KM80ZsXRt5plMost of you youngsters probably know Albert Brooks from one of three things: the voice of the title character's dad in Finding Nemo, Paul Rudd's father in This Is Forty, or as the mob boss who soothes Bryan Cranston while murdering him in Drive. Originally I was just going to write about his latest novel, 2030: The True Story of What Happens to America, but I realized this wasn't enough. He has done too much great work that is almost completely overlooked by the current generation of comedians and comedy nerds. Brooks got his start as a stand-up comedian, deftly playing on audience expectations of what they were normally used to seeing from a stand-up set. His "completely improvised joke" bit using audience suggestions is one of my favorite bits of all time. He was hired to make short films for the early years of Saturday Night Live (all of which are worth watching) before moving on to become a filmmaker himself. The first film he wrote and directed, Reel Life, displayed one of his greatest skills: the ability to see trends in society and predict where they will go. Reel Life predicts exactly what television would become in the age of the reality show decades ahead of time. His next film, Modern Romance, is one of my favorite movies about relationships. Lost in America, a movie which has Brooks playing a man who along with his wife attempts to drop out of society and drive across America in an RV, is in my top 10 favorite movies. He's even recently embraced the modern age, as his Twitter account, @AlbertBrooks, is consistently funny. Throw in some great acting performances in Broadcast News, a small part in Taxi Driver, and his voice work as Hank Scorpio on The Simpsons and you've got an incredible body of work that deserves to be more widely appreciated. RUNNER UP PICK: For Colored Girl Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Not Enuf by Ntozake Shange. - Nick Scott

MV5BMTUwMjkxMTI5Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTU0NDAwNA@@._V1_SY1200_CR85,0,630,1200_Marc Maron is on one. The polarizing comic is having the most success of his career at an age when most comedians are making terrible romantic comedies or sad stand stand up specials that make you wish they'd stop. Instead, Marc Maron is filming season two of his IFC show, Maron and killing it on his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. The show follows the troubled and contemplative Marc as he deals with fictionalized situations in his day to day life involving love, addictions, and recording his podcast. On his podcast, Marc interviews comedians, musicians, actors, anyone about the story of their life in a compelling and honest way that you don't normally hear. I learn a life lesson every time I listen to it and so recommend that you subscribe. Many of his famous friends that have appeared on his podcast are featured on Maron. People like Dave Foley and Dennis Leary fuel Marc’s anxiety and neurosis to a frenzied, hilarious peak. This show and this man make me laugh and give me hope that my life won’t end up as pathetic and spinstery as I sometimes imagine it. I often struggle with some of the same thoughts and issues that Marc does on the show. Sometimes it feels like he’s reading my mind. It’s messed up. I love it. I’m not sure if my current obsession with Marc Maron stems from wanting to be with him or wanting to be him. We both have huge hipster glasses, own multiple cats, and find it incredibly difficult to stop making the same mistakes over and over again. I’d like to think he’s reading this right now, thinking about sending me an email but then never following through. Because that’s what I would do if I were him. - Sarah Wyatt

tiglivemockup9-1.jpgThis past week, the Grammy’s made a gigantic mistake.  No, I’m not talking about this mistake.  I’m instead speaking of awarding best comedy album to Kathy Griffin instead of Tig Notaro.  Now, this isn’t going to turn into a piling on of Kathy Griffin, I think she’s underrated in the comedy community and tends to be marginalized as more of a reality star than a great stand up.  She’s very good at what she does.  But Tig Notaro’s album Live one of the most important comedy albums to come out in some time, is in a different league. If you’re not familiar with the legend of this album, it comes from a set she did at Largo in LA on August 3, 2012.  Tig was given the news that she had cancer (Among many other pieces of horrible news) about ten days beforehand and this was her first time going up after hearing the news.  After the show, Louis CK said “[Tig’s] was one of the truly great, masterful stand up sets.”  It was so good that CK released the album days later using his gigantic comedic social network and giving 80% of the gross dollars to Tig/Cancer Research.  This album alone cemented that the success Louis CK experienced wasn’t just a fad.  It also set in stone the idea that the public wanted honesty from their comedians, not just bits.  One thing I love about Live is listening to her apologize over and over again for just not being able to do routines like a bee passing her on the 405.  That’s not to say the set isn’t funny, it’s consistently hilarious. The biggest reason you need to check out this album though is because of the way Tig opened herself up for this show.  Even if you’ve listened to it before, it’s worth revisiting just to show how badly the Grammy’s screwed up.  Live is  streaming on music services like Spotify and Slacker, or you can just buy it for like $5 and support cancer research. - David Allison

The_new_Channel_101_LA_LogoA recent discussion about the improved quality of Community since the return of Dan Harmon led to a discussion of the talents of Dan Harmon which led to a discussion of some of his earlier, pre-Community work which led to a discussion of Channel 101 which led to me going down the Channel 101 rabbit hole, binge-watching old shows until 5 in the morning. For those who don’t know, Channel 101 was a TV-station-on-the-web created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab in 2003 as a place where writers and directors could bring their work directly to the audience without the interference of TV executives. New pilots, which had to be five minutes or less, were screened each month for a live audience. The top five shows were picked up for another episode and the rest were cancelled, their creators encouraged to submit again. The shows that resulted are some of the funniest, most original, comedy pieces I have ever seen. From the Harmon created Computerman, in which a drop of blood turns a desktop computer into an inquisitive, helpful, kung-fu fighting man-computer played by Jack Black, to The ‘Bu, a pastiche of The Hills from The Lonely Island in their pre-SNL days, to my personal favorite, Yacht Rock, which features the fictionalized exploits of Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and friends, each show abounds with an exuberance, an obvious love of comedy, so often lacking from bigger-budget, made-by-committee efforts. In the mid-00’s, these shows were my obsession. The creators and performers clearly had a blast making these shows, and that enthusiasm comes right through the screen. Do yourself a favor, set aside twenty minutes and dive in. The Wastelander. House of Cosbys. Kicked in the Nuts. You won’t be disappointed. - Ryan Callahan