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Friday
Apr222011

THE HONEY SHOT - MEGHAN O'KEEFE

Meghan O'Keefe | Photo: Comicopia

  • THE PLUG: Don't miss Apiary contributor Meghan O'Keefe hosting "The Geek Show" ( feat.  Jared Logan, Jake Young and Lee Rubenstein), happening SAT, APRIL 23 @ 10PM at The Creek | Free
  • Meghan will also be performing her one-woman show "Julie Bell on Julie Bell"

Wanna plug? E-mail me photo & credit. And join our flickr group. Send 10 days in advance.

Friday
Apr222011

The House of Blue Leaves @ The Walter Kerr Theatre - 4.13.11

 

Ben Stiller and Edie Falco headline The House of Blue Leaves, a revival of a 1971 Tony nominated play about the intersection of religion, celebrity, and delusion. The show is now in previews for a "strictly limited engagement."

  NOTES

--SYNOPSIS: Stiller plays a middle aged songwriter who's past his prime and never made it. But on this day, the stars begin aligning. The pope is coming to New York City. He's in love with a pretty young thing. And Stiller's bigshot Hollywood friend from childhood took his phone call.  Although Stiller is saddled with a wife who's slipped into dementia, a son who's gone postal, and the reality of his limited talent--things are looking bright for the first time in a long time. Until of course, they stop looking bright.

--Stiller is great but Edie Falco gets the win for playing his sad, manic wife who gently meanders around the stage subtly twitching and fidgeting like a real crazy person. Imagine the anxiousness on your dog's face when he needs to go outside. She kinda looked like that for two hours.

--FULL CIRCLE: Ben got his big break doing this play 25 years ago in a 1986 revival at Lincoln Center. 15 years before that, his mom, Anne Meara, starred in the original. You can expect his kids, Ella and Quinlin Stiller, to star opposite each other in the 2026 revival on the moon where we will all be living by then.

--I picked the wrong day to wear my pleated, sausage casing-like khakis: noted Vogue editor Anna Wintour was sitting right behind me! She was there with a Louis Vuitton clutch and a man who was basically a life-sized version of a Louis Vuitton clutch. Where was Roger Federer??

--Jennifer Jason Leigh's character has a one-liner in the show about how she reads Vogue to know what she'll be wearing 3 years from now.  I looked back for Wintour's reaction and it was blank. 

Thursday
Apr212011

NEW EXC!TEMENT @ THE PIT - 4.2.11

New Excitement | Photo: Eric Michael PearsonBy: Lucas Hazlett

Two men sit alone onstage, both humbly genuflecting before their God, praying as one of the men announces he is leaving the priesthood.

Before the other can respond, we hear a rumble just beyond the theater's locked doors. Is this the moment in a dramatic piece when a higher power calls to intercede? Not quite. It's the beginning of an onslaught of self-abusing mania about to unfold over the course of the hour.

With Flights, New Exc!tement (Mary Grill, Matt Hobby, Chris Manley, Randy Pearlstein and Chris Roberti) delivers sketch that hits all the right buttons and never veers off-course. They manage to be inoffensive without ever being bland, shocking without ever being purely disgusting, and when their sketches get high-brow (for instance, Roberti reciting lines of Robert Frost to frustrate his teammate Pearlstein during a game of Password) they never pander to any particular intellectual sensibility.

They have a voice that is original but still tips its hat to its historical influences. Much of New Exc!tement's style feels like a classic vaudeville group or cartoon -- think the Marx Brothers or Animaniacs -- whose only purpose seems to be to infuriate the straights of the world. The only difference here is that New Exc!tement revels in infuriating themselves.

In one sketch, the team rallies around ruining Matt Hobby as an actor trying to impress his father during a show; in another, Randy Pearlstein plays a sentient celestial being interrupting a pair of teenagers (played by real life couple Mary Grill and Matt Hobby) having an awkward first kiss.

And in perhaps the night's most absurd sketch, Hobby, Manley and Pearlstein play horses who lure a sickly Roberti outside his home to his death. All of this done with an absolute deference to the physicality and logistics that make slapstick comedy and cartoons so popular. The lines defining what are real versus impossible are redrawn at the discretion of any character but are never done arbitrarily. The logic is always sound. Even when objects that shouldn't exist in the reality they establish are suddenly -- and sometimes literally -- pulled out from someone's ass (okay, back pocket) to satisfy a joke it never feels like they're cheating!

According to their promotional materials, Flights is "a sketch show that plays in the places where we all get lost -- in grief, in love and occasionally in the deepest corners of outer space." This place is also the same comedic Twilight Zone where watching people being vomited on manages to be simultaneously shocking and low-brow yet perfect logical and the only intelligent resolution to a sketch. This is a place of comedic genius and New Exc!tement is its Vespucci. We can only hope they draw a map for the rest of us comedy nerds to take similar flights.

--Lucas Hazlett is a comedy geek who improvises with anyone he can.  He can be seen performing at the Peoples Improv Theater (123 East 24th Street) every Wednesday night at 8:00PM with PIT House Team Stranger.

Wednesday
Apr202011

LOOK WHO STOPPED BY: IT'S ADAM PALLY OF 'HAPPY ENDINGS'!

*KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK*
Whooooooo is it?

Adam Pally plays "Max" on ABC's "Happy Endings" | Photo: ABC/Karen NealBy: Keith Huang

Hey, it's Adam Pally, a cast member of the new ABC comedy "Happy Endings." Before he carpetbagged it to Los Angeles with the rest of his talented comedy brothers and sisters, I enjoyed Pally's improv with Death by Roo Roo on the UCB stage. And now he's on a network-TV comedy. It's pretty insane.

Although I initially balked at the show, judging the book strictly by its hacky cover title, I laughed aloud at the trailer for the pilot episode. "These jokes are good," I thought, "and I can't believe I'm actually laughing aloud at a moving image on the Internet." After watching the first episode, I'm still surprised that some of the jokes made it through the writers' room. I often wonder how difficult it must be to write comedy that has an edge to it, but also appeals to the American masses.

The chiefs at ABC were smart to put "Happy Endings" right after "Modern Family," which has already hit its comedic stride and proven itself a ratings blue chip. And to add to its favor, the show features Casey Wilson, one of the two incredibly funny women (Michaela Watkins) who were cut from SNL after one season. Last week, Adam Pally reached out to talk about the show. Here are a few of his questions and answers:

You character Max is described on the Web as "the group's openly gay friend who is still sensitive about his parents divorce and being overweight in college." Was this the role you originally read for?
I read for Max and Dave but they thought I was more Max than Dave because Max is more of "a dude" than Dave. And what am I gonna do huh? I'm all dude. And I am a little chubby, and I'm a little gay.

The trailer for the show has some great bits. In fact, I'm kinda surprised ABC would let something like "pexted" make it through. As a comedy guy, what do you think of the writing?
I was super pleased with the writing. David Caspe, who created the show, has a really fresh voice. It's always hard trying to do edgy stuff on network TV but ABC was really supportive about getting the funniest stuff in the show, which is great.

So is "Happy Endings" the "'Friends" of the new millennium"?
If this show is the "Friends" of the new millennium it would be fucking awesome and I would have such a kick-ass drug-and-whore-induced breakdown. God, that would be great.

Holy shit, everybody in your cast is hot. Please respond.
Yes, everyone in the cast is hot, except me, which is not rare for network TV. But what is rare is that everyone in the cast is also batshit, kill-a-drifter style crazy, including me.

Elisha Cuthbert was on Kimmel last week to promote the show. You must be angry about that. I mean, happy for the show but angry you weren't asked.
Look, I'm not above being pissed or jealous of my fellow actor getting more attention than me, but I was only happy to see Elisha on Kimmel. She looked super hot and she killed, and I hope to do the show later in the month so there, fuck you Elisha, you think you're better than me?

Who's tweeting the show?
Jayson Berger is Tweeting on behalf of the writers room. He's doing a bang-up job. Follow him at @happywrites.

Lastly, and this is just for the fans, can you tell me what it's like to be an improv / comedy guy who's on a show that's about to go nationwide? I mean, seeing you in a Twix ad is one thing, but knowing that you're going to be on so many TV screens ... what's it feel like? Honestly.
Its awesome. I'm super lucky, and I'm really proud of the show.

Thanks for knocking that last question out of the park, Adam! PS. Stop emailing and driving!

Wednesday
Apr202011

New Video Wednesday! Broadway Week Edition

My Wicked Unsigned Playbill Collection (All 125 of Them)

Cop Tells Guy to Stop Being an Idiot on TKTS Booth Steps

10 Questions For Robin Williams | Time

Tuesday
Apr192011

Extended Run Offers a Nice Unobstructed View From the Upper Mezzanine

"I approve of Extended Run's content!"

Steve Cronin is one of the members of the improv/sketch collective Blood Money. In his spare time, he moonlights as the Michael Riedel Jr. of the Tumblr set as proprietor of Extended Run. Steve has one ear to the ground listening for all the latest Broadway happenings while his other ear has a Beats by Dr. Dre headphone pumping in the smooth tribal sounds of Disney's The Lion King 24/7. Here are some Extended Run posts I liked:

Tuesday
Apr192011

The Motherf**ker With the Hat @ The Gerald Schoenfeld Theater

The phone conversation with the operator from Telecharge went like this:

"Hi, I'd like 2 for, uh.. the er... M.F. with the hat."

"Oh do you mean, The MOTHERFUCKER with the Hat?"

"Yeah... that one."

I was as embarrassed to say it as she was overeager.

The filthy language didn't stop in that sordid phone chat. It continued into the night, all throughout the play. I generally find swearing to be a lame way of adding limited shock value to ideas and statements that aren't strong enough to stand on their own without it. For example, if you start an improv scene with "Fuuuuuck!" it's kind of weak, right? You're going to get laughs, but that vulgarity up front comes with a cost.  You lose some of the audience right away and you have to continually top it or else you'll lose the rest of it. To prove that point, the play actually opens with a girl snorting drugs while talking to her mom on the phone--oooh, shocking!

But I didn't come to this to hear swear words and see drug usage. I came for Chris Rock in his Broadway debut.

For someone at Chris Rock's level, the theater is his final frontier. Or I guess maybe politics?  The same motivation pushes rappers to become comedians and Christina Aguilera to become a gameshow judge--there's simply just nothing left to do in your field.

The premise of the play is that Bobby Canavale finds some mofo's hat in his girlfriend's apartment. After Bobby puts his nose to the bedsheets and smells "Aqua Velva and dick," they fight and he moves in with his AA sponsor/supposed friend, Chris Rock, a married man who aside from having a bitter wife, seems to have his life together.  The identity of the mofo is later discovered and more fighting (stage combat!) and swearing ensues. 

It's decent!

PREVIOUSLY ON BROADWAY

Monday
Apr182011

How to Pick a Broadway Show

I'm about to reveal some lessons I learned that will make the creators of eHow shit their ePants with jealousy. Here's how to choose a Broadway show.

Rule #1 - Don't buy tickets in advance

There's no point. If you don't commit to anything, you're available for everything. Plus -- there are very few shows that are sold out all the time. See, look at this weekly earnings chart.

Rule #2 - Define the type of show that will satisfy you and be open to the outcomes you discover

Sample situations could be:

  • Any musical
  • Any funny play
  • The show with the cheapest seats
  • The show with closest seats
  • Any show where you won't see Harry Potter's "wand"
  • A show that gets horrible reviews and is loosely based on Spider Man

Rule #3 - Steer the conversation. Be the decider.

Stay away from the marketing cronies trolling the TKTS line. If you go to the booth with guests from out of town, they might seem knowledgeable and just "here to help," but these fast-talking turkeys will zero in on the weakest-willed person in your party and infect them. Unless you put a stop to it, it's all but certain you will find yourself at Newsical: The Musical. If you know more about the shows, you should decide what's best for everyone.

Rule #4 - Pay full price... if you're insane!

Get Rush tickets. Be a student. Join a social club for young theatregoers. Know a guy. Score comp tickets. There are a zillion ways to save. Even sold out shows that aren't advertising discounts like The Book of Mormon set aside cheap lottery or same-day tix.

Rule #5 - Take your smartphone or web-enabled device.

Before you go to Times Square, look at the TKTS booth app to get a sense of what's there. But don't get caught up thinking the booth is the last chance saloon. You WILL get cheaper tickets from a show's box office if you pull up the Playbill discount page and wave your Motorola Xoom at the attendant.