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Howie Mandel, Lena Dunham, Emma Stone and more share videos for #MyYoungerSelf campaign supporting mental health awareness

Tue, 05/16/2017 - 15:34

For more than a decade now, Howie Mandel has been an open book about struggling with mental health issues, namely Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which, in his case, shows itself through an irrational fear of germs. But the comedian wasn’t always so forthcoming about his conditions. “There was always a stigma attached to mental health issues,” Mandel, who wasn’t diagnosed until he was an adult, once said. “I’ve always felt a little bit different and I always knew I wasn’t as comfortable with life as everybody else seemed to be. But I didn’t know what I could do about it. When I was a kid I didn’t know anybody who went to a psychiatrist.”

And that’s why, in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month, Mandel is making sure young people know it’s ok to speak out if they think they might be suffering with any number of mental health conditions. The America’s Got Talent judge and Deal Or No Deal host has teamed up with the Child Mind Institute’s campaign, #MyYoungerSelf. The concept is simple yet powerful: Mandel, along with other celebrities like Jay Leno, Lena Dunham, Emma Stone and more, share a homemade video wherein they explain how they grew up dealing with mental illness or a learning disorder (another cause the Child Mind Institute addresses throughout their work). They then explain what they would tell their younger selves.

In the video below, Mandel admits, “I have a lot of mental health issues.” More importantly, though, he urges young people not to hide their conditions. “Don’t be quiet. Tell people. Tell people, like ‘How can you help me?’ Talk to anybody. Anybody! A friend, a doctor, a parent,” Mandel says. “Not everybody’s going to understand, not everybody has an answer, but since I spoke out about it, I’ve gotten a lot of coping skills and I’m doing pretty well. A lot better than I was doing when I was younger.”

Throughout the entire month of May the Child Mind Institute will post a new video each day from a celebrity. You can already check out videos from Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Rachel Bloom, Lena Dunham, Wayne Brady and more.

“We are grateful to have so many notable figures participating in #MyYoungerSelf and speaking up about such an important topic,” said Dr. Harold Koplewicz, Founding President of the Child Mind Institute. “I know that their inspiring stories will help millions of families open up about their own mental health and learning disorders and seek out the help their children deserve.”

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EXCLUSIVE FULL ALBUM PREMIERE: Scout Durwood – ‘Take One Thing Off’

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 14:37

“I came up as a performer in queer nightlife, so a lot of what other pop songs were about didn’t resonate with me,” comedian, actress and singer Scout Durwood says about “Go Go,” one of the 19 tracks that make up her debut musical comedy album Take One Thing Off. After one listen of the entire album, however, one can argue the dearth of popular music easily embraced by the LGBTQ community is why Take One Thing Off exists. So much more than a set of goofy songs, Take One Thing Off is a collection of expertly crafted pop tunes – with help from acclaimed producer Dave Darling – that will bounce around your brains for days on end. It helps that Durwood’s pipes are on par or better than most of the disposable pop stars of 2017.

And that’s why Laughspin is proud to exclusively stream Scout Durwood’s entire album before it’s officially available May 19 through Blue Elan Records. So, sit back, check out our little Q&A with Scout, watch her amazing video for the title track and get to listening to her album!

Oh, and one more thing. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, you’re going to want to make it out to Take One Thing Off Live at The Hotel Café on Saturday, May 20 at 9 pm. Get your tickets now!

PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM NOW!

How would you explain the relationship between music and comedy in your life?
Comedy is my head and music is my heart. There is so much about the human condition I want to figure out and explain, and for that, I use comedy. Why are we here? What are we doing? Is any of this at all relevant? And whatever I can’t explain, I sing.

Is there some sort of comfort in putting out a comedy/music album as opposed to, say, a straight-up music album– in that, if people say “it stinks!” you can always, say, well, it’s JUST a comedy album so, what did you expect?
Ha! No way. The comedy tracks on this album give me way more anxiety than the music. There’s a bullet-proof-ness to singing where you can close your eyes and tune out the audience and really just be in it with the song. It’s harder to do that with comedy. Impossible, really. I’ve never imagined people would want to listen to what I have to say unless I was being funny, however, so it’s been my main focus in life for always. In a way, all of my years as a comedian were just a means to get me to a place where people would listen to me sing.

The video for “Take One Thing Off” is pretty amazing. Can you of explain the inspiration behind it?
Hell yeah. We had a bunch of ideas floating around, but Sammi Cohen and Sarah King who directed and produced the video, respectively, came up with the laundromat. They also decided to get a motorcycle into said laundromat, and it was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed I almost always perform with two male back up dancers, so I brought in Graham and Cory, and the rest was a big party that all fell into place. It’s super hipster and super queer and we had In ‘N Out for lunch. All the things that I love best!

The video shows a lot of hijinks…. did the party continue off camera as well?
Once that paint powder came out, it was game on. Graham, the dancer in white with the big ol moustache, got blasted in the ear with blue paint in basically our first shot, and from that point on, everyone was all in. We tested a bunch of the paint on our producer, so by the end of the day, no one in the crew was safe. My skin kept turning bight green from all of the paint in the air, so I was constantly wiping myself down with baby wipes. I was also incredibly sick at the time, and had been for over a week, so my face was super chapped from blowing my nose. I spent a huge chunk of the day peeling bright green skin flakes off of my face. Super sexy. And then after the shoot, we went out to dinner and totally forgot that we were still covered in paint. Jason, one of our dancers, had a friend from high school in town who came and Jason totally forgot until he was topless that his friend hadn’t seen him since he transitioned from female to male. It was a fantastic moment and everyone cheered. There was also a moment towards the end of the shoot where Sarah, our producer, very gently put it out there that we’d love to get some shots of people making out, and immediately a bunch of us were like, ‘Uh, yes please!’

How and where would you suggest people listen to this album?
Great question! I’ll start with my perfect world first. The album is a narrative, so pour yourself a large glass of wine, turn the lights down low, and have a one person listening/dance party to the album from start to finish. From there, pick your favorites and feel free to shuffle.

GRAB SOME WINE AND LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM HERE:

PRE-ORDER THE ALBUM NOW!

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WATCH: Orange is the New Black trailer season 5 is here!

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 12:24

Orange is the New Black returns to Netflix for season five on June 9! When we last left the ladies of Litchfield Prison, a riot sparked by Poussey’s death quickly escalates when the inmates gain control of the prison. Once they get a taste of power, chaos ensues through the halls of Litchfield. In real time and over the course of just three days, season five of Orange Is The New Black will leave the inmates’ lives forever changed as they are emboldened to fight for redemption, resolution and the respect they deserve.

About Orange is the New Black, in case you already didn’t know: Piper Chapman is a public relations executive with a career and a fiance when her past suddenly catches up to her. In her mid-30s she is sentenced to spend time in a minimum-security women’s prison in Connecticut for her association with a drug runner 10 years earlier. This Netflix original series is based on the book of the same title. Forced to trade power suits for prison orange, Chapman makes her way through the corrections system and adjusts to life behind bars, making friends with the many eccentric, unusual and unexpected people she meets.

Lewis Black: ‘The Rant is Due’ on Audible capitalizes on crankiness

Mon, 05/08/2017 - 10:16

Lewis Black got America’s 70-year-old, 5’1”, perennial TV journalist Connie Chung to say “fuck”—a lot. Actually, one of the comedian’s fans repeatedly put the angry, four-letter word—amongst others—in her mouth. “I was never allowed to say that…my apologies to Edward R. Murrow,” she says after the first cheered utterance. This was the big closer at a New York recording of his new audio show Lewis Black: The Rant is Due where the Grammy Award-winning comedian performs diatribes submitted by his fans. Other guest readers on a recent night at Five Angels Theater, part of the 52nd Street Project, were Nurse Jackie’s Edie Falco and True Detective’s Michael Potts.

America is angry. Whichever side of the aisle they are on—or if they’re against the concept of aisles entirely and are shouting from outside the building—everyone in this country seems eager to vent their major gripes in obnoxiously long Facebook rants. Professional griper Lewis Black has volunteered to be America’s mouthpiece on his audio show, available exclusively on Audible Channels (curiously not called a “podcast” by the company). Black’s stand-up act has always ranted about incompetent politicians, Starbucks locations, and the moronic game of golf. In The Rant is Due, he takes America’s anger and adds in that quintessential Lewis Black rage.

In an unabashedly liberal city like New York, boos erupt when Black reads one rant about how Medicaid is for “lazy assholes.” He puts down the iPad to give more than his 2¢—a rant is due. He shakes mid-rhapsody as if he has idiot-induced Parkinson’s. Fans enjoy the classic hand gesture, head gyrations, and comical insight. This happens several times throughout the show, taking time to interrupt a person who is not even there with his hilarious take on the matter. He sprinkles in his retort not directed at the fans who wrote in but at the world.

Black is one of those comedy acts that, despite his transparent distaste for the Trump administration, attracts fans from all points of the political spectrum. Complaining is a bi-partisan pleasure. It’s a rare thing to pull off in 2017. Being apolitical draws in a similar political diversity, but even the recent #FireColbert trend proved that a silly and unoriginal editing gag can alienate 50 percent of the country. The Rant is Due brings all sides together to blow off some steam and save our friends and family members an unnecessarily long comment thread.

Lewis Black has always been angry. America is just catching up.

Lewis Black: The Rant is Due is available exclusively on Audible Channels, a premium audio show subscription service that comes with an Audible or Amazon Prime membership. Fans of Black can subscribe to the service, which offers a variety of audio shows, as a standalone offering for $4.95 a month.

Lahna Turner: How I Lost 500 Pounds (guest post)

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 11:03

The following is a guest post by comedian and songstress Lahna Turner, who has just released the first ever comedy music and visual album. Titled LIMEADE, it’s available now on Amazon, YouTube and iTunes. For more info check out, lahnaturner.com.

———————

When I was just 23 and straight out of college, I had the opportunity to travel through India with my Israeli boyfriend Gil who I had met that summer working on a kibbutz. We saw a lot of sad people during our travels in India but there was one woman we came across, a beggar, who didn’t have a nose. Every day for a week we would walk past her and I would whisper, “Gil, she doesn’t have a nose. There’s just two holes.” And Gil would go, “No, no, no, she has a nose. There’s a place that’s the nose.” Admittedly, there was a bit of a language barrier between Gil and I but he was really cute so it worked out.

I’ve thought of the woman without a nose a lot recently as I contend with the implosion and demise of my 10-year marriage. On the days when I don’t want to get out of bed, and there are plenty, I think, ‘Everything that I thought my life was going to be like is gone and I have no idea what I’m going to do.’ And then I remind myself, ‘But I have a nose and I will never not have a nose.’ So in spite of the multi-act shitshow that I’ve found myself starring in, I feel really lucky. I’ve even discovered some silver linings.

Before we go further, if you’re reading this looking for life-changing diet tips, I can’t help you. The 500 pounds I refer to in the title of this article is my ex-husband, standup comic Ralphie May, who you may know from Last Comic Standing or his many comedy specials like Unruly and Too Big To Ignore.

At first when I met Ralphie we started out as friends and eventually it turned into something more. I never thought I would date a comic, let alone a man that big, but I always thought Ralphie was very handsome and I loved him with all my heart.

Over the 4th of July weekend in 2006, we got married in Las Vegas by three Elvis impersonators. Why three? I have no idea. Maybe because it’s a magic number. Ralphie wore the biggest tux we could find and I wore a simple, chic wedding dress that a friend of a friend made for me at the last minute. It was a really fun wedding.

Two years after we got married, Ralphie and I had a daughter and two years after that, a son.

Then six years ago, Ralphie was hospitalized with pulmonary embolisms, which are blockages in the blood vessels of the lungs. The doctors saved his life by seconds. I really believe that I had actually watched him die but he pulled through. He came back to us and even managed to get back to doing shows. But he was never quite the same.
By this point you’re probably thinking, ‘Aren’t you a supposed to be a comedian? This is a fucking bummer! How’d you lose the..you know..500 lbs?’ Hang on, here we go…

On the Friday before Memorial Day 2015, I got served with divorce papers. I had no idea it was coming. I had just been on the phone with Ralphie about an hour before and I thought it was a productive call. I hung up and it was like ding-dong divorce papers.

And then I lost it. I really did. I was barely able to function.

I’m really not a spiritual or religious person. Ever since that trip to India where I saw so much suffering, I’ve believed that it would be really narcissistic to assume there’s something out there that’s keeping me okay. But something’s keeping me okay. I’ve had so many blessings come my way, like with my new music comedy album and visual album Limeade. My friend Joey G hooked us up with Full Sail University in Florida where we were able to shoot the videos with incredible production values. And I got to completely destroy that wedding dress while shooting Limeade. Even the sex shop where we bought dildos for the “Masturbate,” video gave us a free giant black dildo. The clerk said it was too damaged to sell but I didn’t see any flaws. As the old saying goes, “When life gives you limes get a dildo…”

For years, I was trying to force a man who didn’t want to get well to get well and juggling all these plates that were constantly crashing down. Now I feel like if I just work really hard and do the right things, work on myself and take care of my children, it’s going to be okay.

So that’s how I lost 500 pounds. As health regimens go, I don’t recommend it. For a long time, I thought my life was over. But as the days went by, the clouds slowly lifted and I’ve realized that maybe the bad things that happen to us are actually really good things. I’ve got my kids. I’ve got my health. I’ve got my songs and my audiences and friends who went above and beyond to help me bring Limeade to sick and twisted life. That’s a lot.

And I’ve got a nose.

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The Daily Show’s Roy Wood Jr. and the carousel of comedy – Laughspin Interview

Sun, 02/19/2017 - 22:35

Roy Wood Jr. doesn’t act like a comedian adored nightly on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. When we sat down at a table above New York City’s infamous Comedy Cellar, he asked about the latest Wolverine movie like we were comedy buddies catching up.

Wood stays accessible because, to him, he isn’t above any other comedian. He’s just in a different part of the cycle. I asked rising New York comedian Neko White what words he thinks of when he thinks of Roy Wood Jr. He said, “Black. Proud. Intellectual.” After meeting with the Birmingham native, I would add “humble” to that list.

The Last Comic Standing finalist debuted his first one-hour comedy special Father Figure on Comedy Central Sunday night (available for purchase on Tuesday, Feb. 21).

The special finds funny nuggets of truth in the otherwise tragic race relations still plaguing this country. Whether that’s a white tour guide at the civil rights museum to racist McNugget policies, Wood’s jokes provide a serious relief to those seeking an escape.

His set list is full of perpetual punch lines befitting of a nearly 20-year comedy veteran. We spoke about his special, as well as The Daily Show‘s election night coverage, the future of radio, and why he learns more from new comics than “the old heads.”

So you shot the special in Atlanta. Any particular reason why you chose to shoot it there?

Well, I’m talking about race and I’m Southern. I wanted to shoot it where race is an issue. I don’t think you should talk about stuff away from where it’s happening. I think that’d be a little disingenuous. The people who are effected the most by a lot of what’s happening in this country are black people. So, I want to tell some jokes to some black people. There’s a lot of black stuff in my act. I wanted to shoot my special in a place where those issues are still relevant. There’s not a lot of black stuff you can find a joke in these days, but I tried my best in this special. The people dealing with the pain and carrying the weight of these injustices are the ones who deserve to laugh the most. If it’s a black joke about blackness, black people are the ones who deserve that five seconds of relief from whatever the weight is on their shoulders at the time.

I like that you didn’t say, “Hello,” to the crowd. You didn’t ask them how they’re doing. You just walk out and say, “What if…”

“Fuck you, let’s start.” Yeah. I’m trying to do more of that in my live shows. It’s something that musicians do and I really enjoy it. Musicians will just start. I saw Janet Jackson at Caeser’s and I saw Jay Z in Atlanta at Phillip’s Arena. And the one thing that was common between the two of them was they just started. The lights dropped and the fucking music started and you got going. I feel like you have to earn the right to even say, “Hello.” The other reason why I started doing that was, when I first moved to New York in 2015, I started realizing that’s 20 to 30 seconds of my act where I wasn’t telling a joke. In my head, it didn’t work for my style.

That’s two or three jokes you lose out on.

At minimum it’s two. And so, unless I have a jokey way to say hello — like, Jim Gaffigan’s the opposite — Gaffigan has this way of getting a laugh on hello. I don’t know how to do that. I kind of did it on Fallon, but my preference is to just start with material. The difference between late night and your own hour special is that the formalities of hello are kind of expected on late night. So it’s almost too jarring to a late night audience to dive right in like that. But the concept of starting with your material was something I saw Jay Z and Janet Jackson and Carlin also did that.

I don’t know if it was You’re All Diseased or Live in New York, but there was a special that George Carlin did where he said, “Thank you,” and then he opened with an abortion joke. Out the gate, first two sentences: Thank you. Comma. Do you ever notice the most of the people who are against abortion… “

“…are people you wouldn’t even want to fuck in the first place?”

Yeah. I was like, that’s jarring but it instantly brings people into your world and what you’re trying to do. That was the reason why I just dove right in.

 

You saw Carlin live?

I wish. He came through Birmingham years ago, before he died, and I saw him in the comedy club but I was too pussy to speak to him. Even now, when I see the gods of comedy, I don’t speak to them. I’ll give them a nod, an acknowledgement, like when Alfred looked at Batman at the end of The Dark Knight Rises from across the coffee shop. That’s it. I don’t speak to really important people.

Who are the gods of comedy right now? Who are the comics you don’t talk to?

You never know what they’re discussing or dealing with. I respect the fact that comics that are higher on the totem pole than me have a totally different set of circumstances of what they’re dealing with. I’ve seen Chris Rock out, and I’m like, “No fucking way I’m speaking to Chris Rock.” I’ve seen Louis C.K., even Chappelle. I’ve been backstage and Chappelle has spoken to me—he’s been cordial—but I don’t feel it’s my place to go strike up conversation with any of these people.

I’m good friends with George Wallace. One time I was at the Comedy Cellar and George Wallace is sitting at the table with straight up comedy history — Seinfeld, Romano — just all these people. There’s like eight dudes at the table and they’re all legends. I was mad at George Wallace for calling me over. I’m like, why the fuck would you call me over knowing I can’t speak to these people. Don’t do that, Mr. Wallace!

In the totem pole of comedy, everyone is above somebody, basically. You’re nobody new. You’re 19, 20 years in. You realize there are plenty of people who have the same reverence towards you, right?

Yeah, there’s always this feeling like there’s someone who’s been doing it 10 who don’t wanna come over and talk to me. I try my best, as a comedian, to be approachable and to be friendly with everybody. I don’t have many enemies, if any, in this business. I’ve worked hard to be very respectful to most people. There are a lot of comics who helped me who didn’t have to, so I try to do the same thing for the younger guys. Especially guys who ask, because to me if you care enough to ask somebody, you give enough of a shit about your career to recognize that you need some help. To me it shows drive and initiative. That’s something you can’t teach. No comedy class can give you drive.

You can teach all of the other cstuff: how to structure a joke, how to have good posture, all of that. But you cannot teach drive and initiative. More often than not, they’re not asking for blood. It’s just, ‘Hey, who books that thing?’ or ‘Hey, when you did this thing, how did you approach it?’ I talk to comics a lot who are doing the college showcases with NACA. I had a really good stretch of booking colleges with NACA. So I’ll get an inbox from a motherfucker I never even met saying, ‘Hey, how do I do the thing with the thing?’ I just think of all the times with all the older comics when I was featuring who helped me. When I first moved to Los Angeles in 2007, I was taking acting classes and I caught wind that Aisha Tyler had gone to that same acting class. For no fucking reason, I sent Aisha Tyler a nine-paragraph Facebook inbox with detailed questions about her approach.

With no ties to her?

I do not fucking know Aisha Tyler. I’ve only met her once since 2007. And she replied. She replied and gave me some great answers and some great guidance for what I needed at the time. She could have just not replied and that would have been fine. I try my best to never be one of the guys who doesn’t reply. [Editor’s Note: that’s not necessarily an invitation for everyone to send Roy a nine-paragraph Facebook message tonight.] That comes as a detriment at times because you can be up all night talking to somebody. But if it’s somebody who seems like they’re going to halfway apply themselves and try to be someone decent, it’s like, I can fuck with you. And why not kick it with all comics?

The other thing I’ve learned about this career is that it’s cyclical. You will have your run and then, if it’s not done properly, you will need a second run. You will need a second wind. Whatever it is you think you’re above, you’re not above it. You’re just at a different part of the circle. You could revolve right back around to that same point.

You might be begging for that thing you think you’re above a few years from now.

There’s guys that I know that I used to open for who were on top of the world back in ’98, ’99. They’re calling me asking if I can get them in rooms.

How’s that feel?

It’s humbling and horrifying. It tells me that whatever I’m doing now, if I don’t work hard at it and continue to bust my ass, it could all change. This whole thing could change. Everything about stand-up is about finding your audience so that when Hollywood is done with me, I can still go out on the road and tour and tell my jokes to the people who were on the ride with me the whole time. This whole thing, to me, is about finding my audience so I can have something to do when I’m 65. Everything else in between is about building that. There’s going to be great opportunities in there and there’s going to be so-so opportunities, but you’ve got to continue to cultivate it.

To me, everyone I see as a comic, they’re just potential future co-workers. They’re not below me. I remember when Hannibal Buress was featuring and I was headlining. And [when he started to headline] I’d call Hannibal and go, ‘Who books that?’ I’ve already been through that circle. There’s no curve to this. Some people grow when they grow. There’s no science to this. I’m 19 years in and I’m asking comics that’ve been doing it half the time for advice on how to approach my one-hour special. For marketing advice. But I’ve been doing comedy longer than them.

Right, like maybe they’ve been doing Instagram longer than you.

Yeah. It proves there aren’t levels to comedy. It’s just a carousel. Some people fall off. Some people stay on. Some people get back on at different parts. They can be ahead of you. They can be behind you. They can leapfrog you or you can leapfrog them. So being disrespectful or dismissive of anyone — above or beneath you — is a bad longterm career tactic. Plus, I like talking to the young guys because they keep me humble. I love talking to new comics. I fucking bathe in that shit. I don’t want to come to the Cellar and just sit at the comics table. Let me go sit out in Long Island City and stand on the curb. Even if I don’t know the guys, there’s still a mutual comedic code of respect. We’ll chop it up. That’s how you learn. I learn more from the younger comics than I do from the comics ahead of me.

What’s the biggest thing you think you’ve learned from a newer comic?

Maintaining that tenacity, in terms of following up with club bookers, keeping a fresh Web presence and social media interaction. That type of stuff is where some older comics can slack, or if you’re already successful and doing things, you can slack. It’s like if you’re running a race and you look over your shoulder and you see someone running their ass off to catch you, it’s going to make you run a little faster, too. Because if you’re not careful, these people will replace you. It’s best to try to learn from everyone at all levels of the game because we all have something to offer. It would be naiëve to think that someone who’s been doing it less than you has nothing to offer when there’s been so many people who have achieved something on some level in less time. That doesn’t hold true for everybody—some young comics are fucking dumb. But you’ll meet a couple who have some ideas about podcasts and how to market themselves.

There’s this comedian and poet who goes by the name of Spoken Reasons. Spoken Reasons took over YouTube with his vlogs. Spoke was one of those guys that started out trying to do it in the traditional way: go to open mics, stand in the back of the room, hope that Jesus likes you and gives you three minutes. Through the frustration of the local comedy scene in Florida, that’s what birthed his ingenuity to become this creator. There’s a science to YouTube and Instagram. The next thing you know, this guy, without a major television credit, is cast as a co-star with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. A role I’m willing to bet you fucking money plenty of fucking stand-ups went out for.

Youngins know how to create their own doors. A lot of the youth are rejected by the mainstream. What I get from the youngins that I don’t get from the old heads is that tenacity and drive to find the glitches in the matrix where you can make a way for yourself. If I can make a way for myself and already have what I have now, then I’m twice as good, twice as well off. So, you can learn from anybody in this game. This shit ain’t reserved for people that’s in the union or that are already SAG or already have TV credits. There’s no right way to do this. Everybody who started this shit started at some different process. Comedy is not a linear career. It’s not medical school where you do this and you do your residency and now you’re a comedian. No. You do this; someone says, “No.” You say, “Fuck you,” and get on YouTube. You become a draw and then you start selling out your own shows in independent rooms because comedy clubs wouldn’t book you. And then you get on TV.

There are so many different ways. I was a road guy. I was sold the pipe dream from the old heads down South in ’98 because their path is what I thought was going to be my path. I almost missed my opportunity. I almost missed the Internet because I worked with so many older comics who didn’t come up with the Internet. If you just do what the old heads tell you, then you believe that the path is to get funny and maybe one day you’ll get a showcase and Jay Leno will like you and put you on TV for five minutes. That’s part of it. But it’s also about figuring out a way to find your following in the digital sphere, figuring out what’s next, what’s around the curve.

No sooner than Vine dies, Snapchat grows. And now Snapchat may even be on the way out because of what Instagram and Facebook are doing. So what’s the next thing? What’s the next way to reach people? Ingenuity only comes from being denied and being told, “No.” You gotta be around motherfuckers that are struggling and that’ll keep that fire. I just feel like any comic that thinks they can only learn some shit from someone that’s been doing it longer is a fool. A straight-up fool who’s leaving so many opportunities on the table.

And you found a path through radio, right?

Radio was fine. Radio helped me creatively because thankfully I was at a station that allowed me to try a lot of weird sketches and oddball shit. But I officially cut ties with radio in 2012 when I got fired from my morning show in Birmingham. I booked Sullivan & Son on TBS and we couldn’t work it out for me to do the show remotely. Basically, they didn’t want to fork over the money for me to do the show from Los Angeles. I didn’t agree with it, but it’s your radio station. Do what you want.

But radio was always something I did to accompany comedy. From ’98, my junior year in college, it was always stand-up. But I noticed that if you were funny on the radio, it gave you an opportunity to have your own comedy room. The main thing I did was create relationships with other comedians that came through the station. I co-hosted a show for about eight years and then I hosted my own show from 2010-2012. When I hosted my own show, any comic that came into town — even if they weren’t performing — I’d say, “Come on my show, man. Whatever you got to promote, come on my show. Promote the shit.” I was just trying to build relationships. When I got to Los Angeles, these guys remembered favors. “The best way you can help yourself is by trying to help other people.” I forget who said that. Try to add value to someone else’s existence. And more often than not, there’s reciprocity in that. Instead of just trying to take, take, take from people, add value.

Where do you see radio going now?

I think terrestrial radio will go back to allowing the talkers to talk. I think terrestrial radio is getting kicked in the dick right now. Part of it is because five or six companies own like 80 percent of all the radio stations. Most radio stations are cutting down on the amount of time that jocks can talk. What corporate doesn’t realize is that jocks are the only thing you offer different from Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and Apple Music. Half these cars have Internet now and they can stream music, so why the fuck would I listen to terrestrial radio where you’re going to shove commercials down my throat? The only possible reason to listen to terrestrial radio now is because of the personalities. I believe that for terrestrial radio to survive, stations will realize they’ll need personalities who they allow to talk.  Right now, they shorten the breaks. It’s just, ‘Shut up. Play the music. Play the music.’ Music ain’t why the people are here anymore. The problem is radio is run by a lot of old school guys who are too pussy to try to change it up.

There’s a reason why The Breakfast Club goes viral with interviews that never air on the station. That’s because good interviews and personalities still matter. The Breakfast Club will interview a motherfucker for probably five or six minutes on air. And then they’ll do a 30-minute longform interview that they’ll put on the Web and that bitch’ll do half a million views in a day. That’s the power of personality. There’s still an audience for terrestrial radio, but the audience is for the personalities, not the music. Go back 10 or 15 years ago before streaming, yeah, play more music. That’s what people want to hear. But now people can get the music anywhere.

What prevents those guys from just starting a podcast?

I believe some of them are. I believe some of them are slowly getting to that place. Terrestrial radio’s got too much money to just go out quietly though. People think podcasts are going to instantly be the new whatever-the-fuck. Terrestrial radio ain’t the DVD player. It’s not going extinct. It’s just going to have to evolve.

Ultimately, radio is already competing with the Internet for advertising. They’ve done studies where advertisers are better off with certain markets advertising on Facebook than the radio. That $100 will get you more eyeballs, it’ll get you more people. Radio’s got to change how they do stuff if they want to survive. And I think the best solution will be allowing the personalities to shine and stop turning everybody into a fucking replaceable robot. That’s why there’s so much syndication. You can syndicate some shit because the jock is only allowed to talk for 30 seconds, so there ain’t enough time to be unique. Anyone who can be unique in 30 or 40 seconds, God bless ‘em! Those are the guys who still have a future because they know how to be funny in bite-sized portions. It’s a short list.

You started when you were 19. What do you think of starting comedy young versus starting when you have some life under you?

Start early. The quicker you learn the performance side of it, when you finally learn the creative side of it you’ll be sharper quicker. I look back on my first five to eight years of comedy, and all I was doing was learning the performance. I was learning to perform on television; I was learning how to perform at certain clubs; I was learning how to do 10-minute sets, versus 30s, versus 45s, and learning how to block out the set. The material was mediocre— it was C- at best. But when I finally found my voice and started figuring out stylistically what kind of comic I wanted to be, that’s when everything fucking took off. I already knew how to stack a set and knew how to where to put a punch line. I could recognize when a joke was good, but incomplete. Why wait? Why the fuck wait? I would never talk anybody into waiting to start comedy.

 

Just talk what you know. And if you’re young, it won’t be as deep as somebody that’s 30. You just haven’t lived enough. That’s not your fault, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about the things that matter to you and make them important to the audience. It’s up to you to set the stakes and really dictate what it is people should give a shit about. I feel like as a comic, we still have that domain. We still have the ability to show you why this is important and why you should give a shit about this thing. When I was 20, I was doing jokes about book buybacks, but I was doing them in rooms where the median age was 40. They didn’t really wanna hear about that. But you figure out ways to craft the bit. What I always tried to do early on was, instead of talking about myself, I’d make the audience reflect on when you were my age. Then the joke becomes something more introspective for you. Now I can do the college material.

One of my first jokes was about my roommate drinking all of my soda—and the joke is so shitty. “My roommate eats my food when I’m gone. I had a bottle of 7-Up. He drank 6 of ‘em.” Just because you feel like you’re not relatable, the crowd doesn’t get to dictate that. Talk what you know.

And now you’re talking President Trump on The Daily Show. How’s that been?

Our election night episode was one of the highest-rated of the entire run of the show. You’d have to find the numbers on that, don’t quote me. [Ed. note: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah recorded its most-watched month in October leading up to its election night coverage.] Something’s definitely different. Before that night, when someone recognized me from the show it was a quick hi-bye conversation. But now, when someone sees me and recognizes me from The Daily Show, they say, ‘Thank you.’ It’s weird. I’ve never heard that. It’s people going, ‘Thank you. This is what we need.’ Even from the other side, people who didn’t really care about some of the stuff we would do or say, even the Fuck Yous are a little stronger. People are definitely charged up more about things.

Do you think comedy gets more political when Republicans are in office?

Comedy is one of the tools of the oppressed. When there’s more things to be upset or indignant about, then comedy becomes more prominent. It’s a coping tool and an educational tool. It’s a tool of activism to try to invoke change. When there’s more things to be in an uproar about, I think political comedy bubbles to the surface more.

What was that first show after the election night like? What was that Wednesday like in the writer’s room, on set?

I said on air on election night, ‘It feels like I’m at the funeral for America.’ Everybody came in and took a deep breath. It was a very somber mood—definitely downbeat. But people came in, took their breath, and started pitching stories. The day after the election, everybody was looking for Hillary. ‘Where’s Hillary? That was the big thing. I think what the election also gave us was an opportunity for both sides to reflect on themselves. There was definitely some liberal arrogance. You got to point the light over on that side, too. I don’t think it just becomes The Anti-Trump show with Trevor Noah. I think it still has to be a very fair television program that finds the bullshit on both sides of the aisle. And I think this election revealed that there was a lot more bullshit in the Democrats’ backyard than people originally thought. But it’s so hard to even get to that stuff when you have a president who does 10 things that are newsworthy every day.

There’s so much Trump material now, I almost wish all the late night shows could just form a pact. I feel like all the late night shows should meet and Samantha Bee goes, ‘Alright, we’ll cover press conference jokes. Seth Meyers, you do international relations jokes. Trevor Noah, you handle anything about the Democrats vs. the Republicans in the Senate.’ There’s so much material, we literally could divide it up amongst the shows.

But who would be left to make fun of Kim Kardashian?

I think John Oliver would pull his weight.

Watch Father Figure online at cc.com and in the Comedy Central app. The extended and uncensored album is available for purchase on iTunes on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

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Bill Burr on Hillary Clinton: She blew it! (Video)

Mon, 01/30/2017 - 22:55

Bill Burr visits Conan O’Brien tonight to chat about, among other things, the inauguration and first week of a Donald Trump presidency. We have a preview clip of his appearance that will air 11 pm EST tonight.

“It’s been unsettling so far,” Burr says of Trump’s series of executive orders, including his most recent ban on Muslims entering the United States, which has sparked huge protests across the country. I get sick of people making excuses for her. She blew it!” Burr says. “You lost to a guy who said three things a week that would torpedo anybody else’s campaign. How do you do that?”

As is the case often with Burr, the comedian turns the issue in question into a sports metaphor. Trump is the team that throws 20 interceptions while Clinton is the team that still finds out a way to lose the game. That all said, Burr clearly isn’t smitten with our newly elected president. He just telling the truth. Hillary Clinton had an opportunity to truly inspire the country. It didn’t happen. Check out the video below. It’s well worth your time.

Bill Burr’s newest comedy special Walk Your Way Out premieres tomorrow on Netflix!

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