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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 1:25 pm    Post subject: comedian features Reply with quote

Your face sure is familiar
By Ed Will
Denver Post Staff Writer

You might not recognize Jim Gaffigan's name, but when you see him, you'll know him. Gaffigan, who looks more like your middle-school science teacher than he does a successful actor and comedian, is one of those actors who seems to be everywhere in movies, commercials, TVs and in comedy clubs.

"Someone in their 20s would recognize me from this movie 'Super Troopers,"' said Gaffigan, 39. "Women would recognize me from 'Sex and the City.' I was the guy who went to the bathroom with the door open. I would say a teenager would recognize me from Comedy Central, a college student from (Conan) O'Brien and then somebody in their 40s would recognize me from satellite radio."

And all ages have seen him on television in numerous national commercials, including ones for ESPN, Saturn and Sierra Mist. You can see Gaffigan onstage tonight at the Paramount Theatre and at 11 p.m. Sunday when Comedy Central re-airs his 30-minute special "Beyond the Pale." (That also is the name of his new DVD and CD.)

He knew as kid growing up in Indiana that he wanted to be an actor and comedian but had no clue that it was possible. "I grew up in a family where no one was in the entertainment business," Gaffigan said in a recent telephone interview from his home in New York City. "So stand-up and acting were seen as something unrealistic. I always thought it was just people in L.A. and New York that became actors or comedians."

After high school, he spent a year at Purdue before transferring to Georgetown University. Gaffigan graduated with a finance degree and took a job in New York City.

"I remember the night before I was graduating, everyone was talking about their jobs," he said. "And I was like, 'Jeez, there is a part of me that really wishes I was an actor or a comedian. But I suppose everyone wants to do that.' And I remember my friend going, 'No, not everyone wants to do that."'

After some time in the city, Gaffigan signed up for an improv class. "I kind of took it as a creative outlet or a way to meet women and had a great time doing improv," he said. "And then did stand-up really as a dare. It kind of took off from there."

By 1995, he was doing commercials and two years later landed quality acting roles. In 1999, he appeared for the first time on "The Late Show With David Letterman." "He really jump-started my career, because I was kind of this offbeat, weird white guy," Gaffigan said. "The first time I did his show he offered to develop a show for me. And that turned into 'Welcome to New York."'

CBS aired 13 episodes of the sitcom. Gaffigan and the show were hits with critics but not with viewers. But Gaffigan went on to co-star with Ellen DeGeneres on her sitcom "The Ellen Show." He also landed ongoing roles on "That '70s Show" and "Ed," and did numerous guest shots on other series. He also has appeared in more than two dozen movies, including "Three Kings." Gaffigan will be seen on the big screen this summer in "The Great New Wonderful," with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Edie Falco, and Tony Shalhoub, and this summer in "Stephanie Daley" along with Tilda Swinton and Timothy Hutton.

Now he is on his first national theater tour. "The Paramount is a huge theater," he said, "and to get 1,800 people laughing at the same time is a very powerful thing." And that's true no matter who you look like.

click HERE to watch clips of Gaffigan in action...

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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ricky Gervais: Comedy phenomenon

Gervais recently appeared at a Teenage Cancer Trust benefit
The Office star Ricky Gervais has received an honorary award at the annual Rose d'Or television festival in the Swiss city of Lucerne.

For a self-confessed sloth, Ricky Gervais has become remarkably ubiquitous. From sitcoms to podcasts, children's books to stand-up tours, the award-winning comedian clearly has the Midas Touch. More than two million Sky One viewers watched the Simpsons episode he wrote and appeared in, while his hit comedy The Office has spawned spin-offs in America and France. His other BBC sitcom Extras, meanwhile, won two prizes at the Rose d'Or festival, while Gervais received an honorary award for his "exceptional contribution to the global entertainment business".

Not bad for an unsuccessful musician who only found his niche in comedy at the age of 36. Born in Reading in 1961, Gervais grew up on a council estate as the youngest of four siblings. He studied biology at the University College of London, switching to philosophy because he thought it would be less work. Upon graduation he tried his hand at music, becoming lead singer of 1980s group Seona Dancing. He also managed the band Suede but left before they hit the big time.

After trying and giving up stand-up, Gervais was hired to be head of speech on independent radio station Xfm when it launched in 1997. It led to a presenting role which gave him an opportunity to hone his comedy skills. His TV breakthrough came on Channel 4's The 11 O'Clock Show, playing an ignorant and bigoted reporter. After a short-lived chat show, Meet Ricky Gervais, the actor teamed up with former Xfm colleague Stephen Merchant to write The Office.

Set in a fictional paper merchants in Slough, the sitcom revolved around its incompetent manager David Brent, played by Gervais, and his discontented, under motivated staff. "It's a comedy of recognition and observation and everyone can see something in it," he has said.

Extras saw Gervais co-star with celebrities like Kate Winslet
The show, which ran for two series and two Christmas specials, won six Baftas, two British Comedy Awards and two Golden Globes. Gervais has also enjoyed success with children's picture book Flanimals, stand-up comedy shows Animals and Politics, and created one of most downloaded podcasts on the internet.

Last year he appeared at the Live 8 concert in London's Hyde Park, landed a role in Hollywood film For Your Consideration and was invited by Simpsons creator Matt Groening to write an episode for the long-running cartoon show. Earlier this week Channel 4 announced he would appear in a four-part series in June interviewing four of his comedy heroes. With a second series of Extras now in development, Gervais has become one of the hottest properties in the comedy business.

Not everyone, however, has been won over by this ebullient, self-deprecating Englishman. In September the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre objected to a prostate cancer advert in which he appeared that featured a doctor inserting a finger inside a man's rectum. And in an article earlier this week, the New York Times claimed his Simpsons episode had received "a tepid response" in the US.

Gervais, though, is unlikely to be affected by such criticisms. "It's better to do only one good thing in life than 18 average ones," he has said. "So many people end up regretting their lives, but at the end of day you realise so little actually matters."

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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dylan Moran: Sourpuss supreme
By Ed Caesar
April 2006

The dyspeptic comedian Dylan Moran is notoriously taciturn and finds talking a bout himself ?pathetic and embarrassing?. On the eve of a stand-up tour, he gives Ed Caesar the ultimate unhappy hour The prospect of interviewing Dylan Moran presents a serious conundrum. He refusesto talk about his personal life, and much care for talking professional life either. His ardent distaste of the cult of personality is well documented.

?The trouble is,? says Moran, in the lilt of his Co Meath upbringing, ?I don?t want to listen to someone who?s made something gassing on about how extraordinarily complex and fulfilling and demanding and absorbing that process is. I don?t really see how it?s any different to someone giving you a blow-by-blow description of how they manufacture saliva.?

This is the Moran of myth: the curmudgeon who brought us the wonderfully bleak Bernard Black, of the Channel 4 sitcom Black Books, and whose stand-up comedy has been thrilling audiences with its observed melancholy for 14 years.

Born in Navan, just north-west of Dublin, in 1971, Moran was first inspired to give comedy a whirl after witnessing an Ardal O?Hanlon gig. Moran was already showing hints of greatness when he won the So You Think You?re Funny award for best new stand-up comedian in 1993, but his fame was assured when he became the youngest comedian ever to win the Perrier Award, stand-up comedy?s greatest prize, in 1996.

Ten years after his Edinburgh Festival triumph, Moran still lives in the Scottish capital. He has written, starred in and discarded Black Books. His new stand-up show, Like, Totally? Dylan Moran, is about to tour the UK. And he is also, by rights, a film star now, having brought his maudlin charms to The Actors and A Cock and Bull Story, but you would not dare to call him so if you heard him inveigh against those who make ?a career of being photographed?.

Moran is, in fact, charming in person. You would not call him cheery, perhaps, but as he draws a nicotine hit and relaxes into a basement armchair in London?s comedians-only club Hurst House, he seems content. The trademark scruffy mop of old has been replaced by something less unruly, and he wears a dark blue shirt that can only be described as ironed.

But what to ask him? As luck would have it, I don?t have to. Dylan Moran is a talker, a studied, nuanced talker, with an ear for the absurd and a turn of phrase that would shame a barrister. He will converse about anything and everything. Creationism, the Middle East, the co-opting of scientific research, Fifties abstract art, the New Labour project, modern American fiction, the nature of love, the worth of arguments, cornflakes ? they are all dissected and dispensed with.

Moran even gasses on about his hit sitcom, Black Books, if only briefly. ?I had fun in the making of it,? he says. ?Of course. If the only problem in front of you is how to make more than one egg land on Bill Bailey, you?re never going to get too upset about it? It?s all very mechanical. It was fascinating to see the workings of half an hour and what needs to happen in that time for the thing to work. I was never the kind of kid who took apart radios.?

That?s it. Twenty seconds, in an uninterrupted hour of talk, that he is willing to devote to his own work. Other people?s work, he has always found, holds more fascination. Like his sitcom character, Bernard Black, he loves books, particularly the great American novelists such as John Updike, Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. Don DeLillo, too, holds a special place in his life.

?I?m a huge fan of his,? Moran says with surprising vigour. ?And White Noise is my favourite contemporary novel. It?s a great book. The Americans are always ahead of us in one field, and that?s consciousness. They?re the most over-stimulated nation on earth. They?ve got too much to deal with. So when they do produce these great works, I suppose they have an extra fascination for us, because they are on the front line of modern awareness.

?Every conceivable anxiety, they seem to be exposed to first, whether it?s mad government or exploitative industry or just people having guns in the house. To me, the whole country is hyper real. It?s always in a special gear we don?t have yet ? and we?re glad we don?t have.?

It?s little surprise, then, that Moran is writing a novel (though, naturally, it is ?pathetic, embarrassing? to talk about it). The scope of Moran?s reading has given his writing, whether for stand-up or sitcom, a philosophical bent. And he admits that, 12 years after starting stand-up comedy as a green 20-year-old, he is more interested in the mechanics of narrative than ever.

?Computer games, a sitcom, a novel, all of these things, they all function on the same basis, really,? says Moran. ?They are all guides, maps of particular terrains of experience. When you read a novel, you immediately make yourself all of the characters. It?s never about Madame Bovary or Heathcliff. It?s always about you. It?s always about creating a map, which you can then negotiate.?

Does stand-up work on that basis too? ?Of course,? he says. ?It?s straightforward. People want the map. They want to be told about their lives.?

Moran?s comedic map has always involved a certain disaffection with the world. He has, to paraphrase his stand-up routine, always preferred the blues to rap. For Moran, ?I ain?t got no job, I ain?t got no woman? is infinitely more interesting than ?I got cars, I got bitches?. It is a view of the world that has struck a chord with many.

?If someone has just come back from holiday,? he explains, like an impatient schoolteacher, ?and they show you some photographs, and say it was all wonderful, and the sun wasn?t too hot, and all that, you?re bored out of your mind. Nothing could be more tedious than other people?s happiness, because it happens only to them and it teaches you nothing.?

?But if they tell you that the hotel was crap, how the toilets leaked, how they all got sick ? it?s a wonderful story. Something bad will have happened to you in the past, but it didn?t this time. It happened to them. And you can enjoy it.?

Happy people can be funny too, says Moran, but only if you rip their world apart.

?Love?s not interesting to anyone else,? explains Moran, who is happily married with children. ?But it doesn?t have to be, to work. It?s interesting, though, if you take all those reaffirming things that couples say to each other apart, you find intriguing things going on there. That?s what comics do very well.

?I really admired Dave Allen as a child. He was really good at describing a perfectly ordinary thing that people did every day and taking it apart and showing people how absurd it was. It was about the inherent lunacy of the things you take for granted. Arguing over the bill at a restaurant, for example. It was, and is, a great method: just to stop and look longer than other people.?

The willingness to stop and look longer at things than other people serves Moran well both as a comedian and a conversationalist. This will be nothing new to anyone who has seen him perform. But what is arresting about the string of characters and profiles that Moran conjures during our conversation is that so many of them are political. His act contains few overt references to politics, so it is strange to hear the brutality with which he pulls apart the leading figures of our age.

A self-described ?liberal peacenik?, Moran talks about the ?sheer quality of performance? of New Labour, and about how the Bush administration is impressive for the ?implacable nature of its edifice?. Furthermore, geopolitical discourse, is not, as it was in the cold war, ?about the right way to live, but about the righteousness of how you live?.

But Moran saves his most acute profile for George Galloway. ?Whatever else you might wish to say about the man,? says Moran, ?he can string together an interesting sentence, an arresting sentence, and deliver it with the kind of panache, that, if he had chosen to use it, he could have been a theatre actor that people would have paid money to see. He has this excess energy that you associate with recovering alcoholics or people who are involved in dangerous sports. He has this static fizzing around him, but it?s a directionless drive. He has totally questionable control over it. His appearance on Big Brother, which I didn?t even see, is the most staggeringly obvious example of hubris.?

Time?s up. Moran has other pressing engagements: other cigarettes to smoke and other journalists to wrong-foot. He has been an odd pleasure. In the current self-congratulatory, PR-driven environment of the well known, Dylan Moran is strikingly unaffected. The best thing you could say about him is that he asks more questions than he answers ? an unusual quality for a self-painted misanthrope. The number of times he describes his own endeavours as ?pathetic?, too, is heartening. It is easy to see why people pay to spend an hour in his company.
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Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those look great, Face. I've seen that first guy on a number of progams and he can be kind of funny. Haven't really seen the rest of them but will check them out later.
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PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eefanincan wrote:
Those look great, Face. I've seen that first guy on a number of progams and he can be kind of funny. Haven't really seen the rest of them but will check them out later.

You've not seen Ricky Gervais? Have you been living under rock?! haha
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let Bill Hicks rest in peace

IS BILL Hicks the greatest comedian who ever lived? Well, no, not really. His fellow funnymen only placed him at 13 in the list of all-time greats. Many still argue that the Texan was the most radical stand-up of his or any other generation, but his status is undermined by the relentless overexposure of a limited legacy with each passing year.

He is not the first performer to find greater fame posthumously than in his cruelly short lifetime, but as his first filmed performance finally gets a DVD release tomorrow - Sane Man, filmed in 1989 - surely Bill himself would groan and urge folks to move on.

Since his untimely death from pancreatic and liver cancer more than 12 years ago, Hicks' name has been devalued through being dropped heavily and all too frequently, tarnishing a hard-won reputation. Radiohead dedicated their breakthrough record The Bends to him in 1995, and ever since then, less distinguished rock bands have piled on board the Hicks bandwagon in the desperate hope it would take them to Hipsville.

While performing at this year's Glasgow Comedy Festival, Jerry Sadowitz laid waste to racial minorities, gays, women, men, terrorists, Dundonians and JK Rowling, but only when he took Hicks' name in vain did the audience let out a gasp of collective apprehension and disapproval. The man himself would surely have let out a trademark demonic cackle at the thought of becoming comedy's most sacred cow - that being the name of the company set up to preserve his legacy.

Scotland's most radical comedian scented blood, but his beef is not with Hicks, it's with the UK public's lazy perception of what he was about. Sadowitz argues: "Bill Hicks was not particularly innovative, even in his delivery, but his status says a lot more about a naive British audience who are not familiar with Lenny Bruce, Sam Kinison, George Carlin, Mort Sahl, or even up to that point myself, who as you know has hardly had the opportunity to perform outside the Edinburgh Festival over a 22-year period. I think Hicks was simply the first angry comic exposed first-hand to the British public."

In the early 1980s, Britain had the articulate outrage of Alexei Sayle, and the unhinged slapstick of Ade Edmondson and Rik Mayall's Dangerous Brothers, later to meekly mutate into Bottom. Ben Elton took the Sayle approach and sanitised it with pantomime politics for prime-time viewing, marginalising a minority who felt horribly betrayed by the so-called alternative comedy movement.

So when Kinison and Hicks put world affairs back on the comedy agenda in the United States, and Steven Wright made it all seem like a bad surreal dream, the British market was crying out for something angrier and less polite.

The performance in Sane Man features a newly sober, slim Hicks, with a fresh approach to all the old favourites that have been issued in every possible permutation of formats since.

He is not saying anything new, but what man can, having been dead 12 years? Some fans of Kinison, who has been dead four years less, might argue that the similarities between the two men's styles and substance are too striking to be explained away by their earlier friendship.

History has been kind to Hicks, but even he could not have planned for another Bush waging war in the Gulf, making Hicks' material about Bush Snr still sound eerily topical. But it clearly is not. It is as dated as anything else from the early 1990s. Hicks did not want to still be standing up there cracking cigarette gags, but thanks to the miracle of modern technology, he is stranded on that stage for ever more.

Every Edinburgh Festival Fringe seems to be contractually obliged to have at least one, if not two, Hicks-based shows, just as there were tortuous tributes to Lenny Bruce 25 years ago. Meanwhile, the happy smiling faces of Jimmy Carr or Jack Dee beam down from billboards, advertising their runs at a 3,000-seat venue, where light entertainment enjoys the last laugh over comedy. This constant flogging of the dead comedy horse that Hicks' legacy has sadly become can only maintain this status quo, and he would surely have been the first to stand up and denounce it.

"The best kind of comedy to me," he told a US satirical magazine in 1992, "is when you make people laugh at things they've never laughed at, and also take a light into the darkened corners of people's minds, exposing them to the light."

We have seen the light, but these are now things we have all laughed at before and it is time to make way for the new. Bill Hicks is the best comedian to have died in 1994.

Sane Man is released on DVD tomorrow


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