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Entries in Robert Buscemi (6)


My Cousin Stefan from Hamburg

By: Robert Buscemi

My cousin Stefan (pronounced "SHTEFAN!!!") from Hamburg has been staying with (and BORING THE SHIT OUT OF) me, so I've been playing him DVDs of Freaks and Geeks.

I'm not sure he gets it. He says...

"But hoooow am I KNOWINGK, in zees SHOW... veech vuns ahh zee FREKS..."

And then he falls asleep for like three episodes. I watch ghost-ellipses float above him like Lawrence Welk bubbles. Then he wakes up abruptly and shouts...

"UND veech vuns..."

Two more episodes pass. He sleepily hums the fight song for the Düsseldorf Cyclones.

"...ahh zee GEKS?!"

I balk. "Shtefan! The title of the show just connotes high-school misfits generally! They're not gangs! And you don't just willy-nilly add a 'K' to the end of every 'ing' word. That's really annoy--"

"PERHAPS!!!" he counters. "Zuh two opposingk YOOTH GENGKS should vear ... VARSITY SVEATERS ... to IDENTIFYINGK THEMSELVES. For zee FREKS ... zey could vear zee YELLOW MOONS! And for zee GEKS ... zey could vear GREEN CLOVERS!"

"Shtefan! That's Celtic iconography!"

Stefan goes quiet, then betrays a toothy Rhine-region grin.

"Guessingk VAHT, Robert? Do you know vaht? I aaaahm zee FREK!"

Our ham-pineapple pizza arrives. We eat then hit the hay. He whispers to me from the opposite twin bed.


"No, Shtefan."

"Und YOU..."

"Yes, Shtefan."

"Ahh zee GEK!!!"

"Goodnight, Shtefan."


The CHI Hip Tip

WHEN:    8 pm, TONIGHT
WHEREThe Annoyance Theatre & Bar, 4830 N. Broadway, Chicago, $7 for the show, $12 for the show and a signed copy of the album

Robert Buscemi is back in Chicago, and is celebrating the release of his latest comedy album, Palpable, released by Rooftop Comedy Records. Performers include Second City performer Abby McEnany, stand-up comics James Fritz, Nate Craig, and Ken Barnard, Annoyance Theater players Mark Sutton and Marz Timms, and sketch groups The Accountants of Homeland Security and Gentlemen Follies. Beth Stelling and the Puterbaugh Sisters host.

Recorded in December 2009 at the Lincoln Lodge, the album is an hour-long culmination of Buscemi’s material from 2009.

Buscemi spent last weekend hosting Chicago Improv Festival shows at the Second City Skybox and the festival’s closing-night gala.


The CHI Hip Tip

Robert Buscemi | Photo by Sarah Hadley

Tonight, stand-up comedian and actor Robert Buscemi (Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival, Chicago Improv Festival, Snubfest, Andy Kaufman Awards), will be recording his album, Palpable, for Rooftop Comedy Records. Top local comic Adam Burke will host. Tickets are $10; click to purchase. 8 p.m., TONIGHT, Lincoln Lodge, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago.


An LA Comic Squeezes the Big Apple: The 2009 Andy Kaufman Award Shows and 'Big Terrific'

By: Robert Buscemi

Photo: Ben Shichman

I was nervous.

I knew my 2009 Andy Kaufman Award semifinal showcase Monday at Caroline's would be strange. For one thing, I'd have to pass through that Devil's Rectum they call Times Square to get there, which always rattles me and depletes my life points. Then I'd have to descend Caroline's creepy neon stairs into that unnervingly purgatorial Harlequin-checkered subterranean dungeon they call a comedy club. And THEN I'd have to lay down 6 dubious minutes of a 25-act lulu-bird parade of a comedy show that would take God knows what shape, last God knows how long, and have God knows what effect on my frayed, just-in-from-LA nerves.

Furthermore, Andy Kaufman was and remains the Original Master of messing with your head, and I'd already been spooked back at LAX when the speakers played--I kid you not--REM's "Man on the Moon" as I prepared to board my plane. And sure enough, Kaufman's spirit loomed palpably at both nights of the Caroline's proceedings ... like a moose head with its eye holes cut out.

So I had my concerns.

* * *

But I needn't have worried. Michael Kaufman (Andy's brother) and Al Parinello (Andy's best college buddy) greeted us warmly, going out of their way to let us know how much they'd enjoyed our video submissions and how much they liked us as performers. Kristen Schaal, the 2005 Andy-Kaufman-Award Winner, was adorable and sweet as could be, complimenting us performers and doling out hugs as well. We all swooned.

My performance of Angelina, my hapless, wordsmith poet, went swimmingly, and I was proud to be among such esteemed performers, including fellow Chicagoans (past and present) Sasha and The Noob (Steve Gadlin and Paul Luikart), Shawn Cole, Michael Lehrer, Sarah King, and Ken Barnard. 
After all 25 of us had gone, they announced the 6 finalists: Mike Amato, Sasha and The Noob, Blaine Kneece, Robby Roadsteamer, Harrison Greenbaum, and Eric Davis (a.k.a. "Red Bastard").

Robert Buscemi at Don't Spit the Water | Photo: Elizabeth McQuern

Though I was partial to my old pals Sasha and the Noob, since I've performed many times in their hit Chicago stage show “Don’t Spit the Water," I had also loved watching Eric Davis as "Red Bastard" shove huge rubber balls into his red one-piece Union Jack and bounce maniacally, bedeviling the crowd. Picture a little fiend with a bloated butt staring at you until you want to scream.

One of the highlights of the second night was the host, Tony Clifton, one of Kaufman’s alter egos, played perhaps (no one's ever sure) by Andy's old man-at-arms Bob Zmuda. Clifton was truly unctuous: racist, sexist, and offensive. In other words, he did not disappoint, eventually being escorted off the stage by security, but not before Eric Davis threw a drink in his face.

Blaine Kneece was crowned the winner for an avant-garde live performance mixed with video showing himself running around the city and getting sloshed around in time. It was fully realized, sophisticated, film-auteur hijinks of a high order. Kneece won the trophy, a check for $2,500, and a place in the now formidable pantheon of the award's winners.

* * *

On my way out of town, I performed stand-up at "Big Terrific." DUDE. This show is amazing. It felt a hell of a lot like the old "Invite 'em Up" at Rififi, which I'd seen a handful of times. I drank two Brooklyn Lagers with my drink tickets AND had half-price SHRIMP CHOWDER with my food ticket, soaked up some top-tier performances, and farmed as many laughs as I could during my set. The triumvirate running it (Max Silvestri, Gabe Liedman, and Jenny Slate) were so friendly I hated to leave. So I didn't. I hung out with Chicago legend and recent NYC transplant Nick Vatterott, one of the funniest comedians I've ever known.

It was like the city kissed my forehead and swatted me on the ass before I left.

Thanks, NYC, you fresh, ribald gooser! See you again soon.

--Robert Buscemi was named "Chicago's Best Stand-Up" this year in The Chicago Reader. He's also a veteran of the Washington DC, Chicago Improv, and Rooftop Aspen comedy festivals. Rooftop Comedy Productions is about to release his debut CD, "Palpable."


Andy Kaufman Semi-Finalists of the CHI Variety Get Word

Word has been trickling in to the Chicago-bred semi-finalists invited to perform in this year's Andy Kaufman Award Show. The contestants will be performing Tuesday, November 3, at the lauded Caroline's comedy club in NYC. Al Parinello, executive director of the awards, said of Chicago, "This is an excellent showing, placing second to NY and far ahead of all other geographical areas." A big congratulations to the following folks: Ken Barnard, Robert Buscemi, Michael Lehrer, Shawn Cole, Sarah King, and Steve Gadlin and Paul Luikart as the characters Sasha & the Noob. You can watch all the contestant video entries here.

--Kristy Mangel


Stand-up Comic Robert Buscemi to Record First CD Tonight

Robert Buscemi | Photo: Elizabeth McQuernChi-town indie comedy darling Robert Buscemi finally made the long-threatened move to the left coast this past May, and he barely stopped to unpack before hitting the stand-up stages of Los Angeles.

He's been part of "The Fake Show" (Eddie Pepitone, Frank Conniff, and John Vargas's Wednesday show at the Fake Gallery), "Tiger Lily" (Maria Bamford and Melinda Hill's Monday Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill show), "12 Shiny Nickels" (Dan Bialek's late show Fridays and Saturdays at the Sunset Gardner Stages), "The Josh & Josh Show" (Josh Haness and Josh Weinstein's Thursday show at Bar Lubitsch), "The Great and Secret Show" (the Walsh brothers' Hollywood Improv Thursday show) and "The Tomorrow Show" (Ron Lynch's Saturday midnight show in Hollywood).

But tonight, he'll perform a long set, recorded for posterity and as part of the Rooftop Comedy CD Series at 8:30PM at Hollywood Improv's Comedy Lab (8158 Melrose Ave.).

For us CHI kids, he'll be back in town this week Thursday, performing at the newest hotness Riot Comedy on Thursday, the wacky and wonderful Entertaining Julia on Sunday, and will be back with his old Chicago Underground Comedy cohorts next Tues., Sept. 29.

--Kristy Mangel