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Monday
Aug072006

The Cupid Players: "Cupid Has a Heart On" at i.O.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Cupid Players entertained The Bastion Saturday night at i.O. with their musical sketch production of "Cupid Has a Heart On - a Musical Guide to Relationships."

Their several years together have created a smooth flow as they go from sharply-written song to song, lamenting the pains and strains of modern romance. Ever feel bad about the 'I only call you when I'm horny and lonely" friend you keep on speed-dial? Laugh away your guilt with troupe members dancing around in giant foam beer cans.

The Cupid Players have performed across the country, in sketchfests from New York to San Francisco, and are as happy to dance around a t.p. maypole as remind us all of the heart-stomping effects of a sweetly delivered "I like you, but I don't like you like you."

-Elizabeth McQuern

Friday
Aug042006

More Scoop on Chicago Comics in NYC From the Boosh

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingF.O.B. Robert Buscemi has more Chicago/NYC comedy dish for us today.

(Just to clarify, F.O.B. is "Friend of the Bastion," not an anti-immigrant sentiment, nor a nod to well-placed Clinton associates, or even members of AA, although there are certainly lots of F.O.B.'s who are one or two of those things. Thanks to Kumail for gently pointing out to us the multiple meanings of this acronym, and thus preventing us from establishing a "lose friends and alienate people through use of derogatory terms" policy.)

Anyway, here's Bobby's latest report on the ground in NYC, and is it ever chock-full of Chicago-ey goodness:

"Saw the most killer lineup at Invite Them Up night before last—including Chicago's Mike Burns and (from WAY back in Chicago comedy history—before my time) Brad Steuernagel . (I hang out with Steuernagel pretty much all the time when I'm in NYC.) They went up in character and showed a film of Burns's dark "Caleb Hodgekiss" character (used to appear at the Lincoln Lodge) with the hideously taped up glasses and hands. The film was a masterpiece of tension, and people really went for it.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSharing the illustrious bill were a limping host Bobby Tisdale (who jumped while skinny-dipping into an overly shallow part of a river near Woodstock, NY), A.D. Miles (from Man Bites Dog)—he was VERY funny. Also great was Eugene Mirman (who played a very funny phone interview some company randomly conducted with him about the current Middle East conflict—Mirman's at his best mixing it up with people like that I think, because he's highly sharp and satirical, but never mean-spirited), Todd Barry (who's an absolute master of understatement and crowd work), Aziz Ansari (bringing home tales of being able to enjoy Pitchfork Music Festival's mockably hippyish "sonic forest" only in an altered state). Also a VERY funny Mike Birbiglia talking about fly fishing and bears in Alaska. All for $5.

ITU feels like it's at an apex of excitement, I think—it has a serious fan base that follows all the little inside jokes of the show and everything. The room's star right now is so high it's crazy. The old Lyon's Den had nights like that, believe it or not. Fifty-plus comics at an open-mike and--no kidding--a large handful of them were (and remain) some of the best comics you'd ever seen. Quite a time (he says, arthritically).

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI fly home Saturday, so I will get to perform a standup showcase "Sweet Paprika" Friday, and last night I saw co-Sweet-Paprika-host Ophira Eisenberg's one-woman show about being a comically timid dominatrix while researching a journalistic assignment she once took, then I was on to "Oh, Hello" at Rififi, where John Mulaney (funny young comic—just performed on Gotham Live on TV) and Nick Kroll (all over the air in a billion commercials, VH1, etc.) host a show in character as these Upper West Side middle-aged guys from circa 1976 who adore Alan Alda. They put so much into it, and the characters are so ludicrous. It's great. They've put me in their August 17th show, when I'll be in town for Don't Spit the Water's NYC Fringe Fest run."

Friday
Aug042006

Kara Buller and Tony Sam Tonight at the Cornservatory

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTonight marks the first staging of Kara Buller's new one-woman show, Kara Buller Live! at the Cornservatory, which will run every Friday in August at 8 PM.

Kara will be pulling out all the stops (and the mullet) for her "sex-aholic, rage-aholic, pick-up truck-aholic" JT Munson character, among others.

She also promises, that, unlike that control freak Madonna, she provides a show including air-conditioning, besides carefully constructed comedy delights.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingTony Sam will be opening for Kara, in his one-man show Have You Seen My Marbles? Tony occupies the overlap space in a very special Venn Diagram that includes both Charles Darwin (published in the scientific journal Nature) and John Belushi (performed comedy in a bee costume). Rare company, indeed.

Insightful interview with Kara Buller, conducted by her friend Jeremy, after the jump:

-Elizabeth McQuern
I had a chance to catch up with Kara Buller while she's not calling me and asking me if she should do Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Or Long Days Journey into Night for her opening scene or asking if she needs to clip her mullet wig some more or whatever current crisis she is dealing with.

Now the last time I interviewed you, you were about to embark on a trip to Asia. How did that go?

Terribly. So terribly I wrote a show about it called Khmer You! It's a comedy about Cambodia. I realized this is kind of "pushing it" so I've tabled that project. Actually, Asia was fantastic and I consider it my "life's greatest accomplishment", in case you were wanting to do a Proustian survey ala back page of Vanity Fair. Hello?

Kara, tell me about your current show... Why am I not in it?

This is "Kara Buller Live!" I'm really trying to stick with that theme. Keeping it Kara Buller and keeping it live. It's no slight to anyone else, it's just the name of the show and I'm really trying to honor that.

What is your favorite memory of performing with me?

My all-time favorite performance memory is the night Kim (Name withheld) was playing Aunt Martha to my Aunt Abby in Crystal Lake Central's 1994 mounting of "Arsenic and Old Lace." I forget who you played, but Kim completely blanked out, forgot her lines and just walked onto the set and said "What about the biscuits Abby?" I was totally not prepared to talk about biscuits. She was supposed to be telling me about a dead body in the basement. It required some quick thinking on my part, so needless to say things did not go smoothly. We ended up chit-chatting about biscuits for five minutes until we remembered to talk about the dead body. We were both very cute and very dim.

You are doing three characters in your show. Coincidentally, "Three's Company" was one of my favorite shows when I was a child. Is your show anything like "Three's Company"? Will there be lots of physical comedy and wacky misunderstandings?

I'm actually doing four characters, but I understand and respect your desire to have it be like Three's Company--if I may infer that from your question. There will be physical comedy---in other words there will be physical things present that will be causing people to laugh. Or that's the idea anyway. I can't give too much away...that really deflates the heart of physical comedy.

Now on Madonna's latest tour she required that the air conditioning be turned off. First, will your show be air conditioned? And what special demands do you have when you are performing?

Yes, the show will be air-conditioned. I demand that I give all of myself to every performance. THAT is my special demand.

I'm running low on cash. Will you buy me a pack of cigarettes or two? How many would you buy me before it became awkward? When would you cut me off?

Me buying you packs of cigarettes has always been an uncomfortable issue. It's just something about their scientifically-proven direct connection to cancer that makes me uncomfortable.

In the press you have been accused of being an "unfit mother" to your newborn son. How do you respond to those allegations?

That is your fantasy. And I am not going to play into your sick fantasy version of me. You and your obsession with unfit mothers. This is big thing with you gys.

Say you were going to see a therapist and some of your checks bounced and then you called her and said that, you know, you'd like her to send you a bill so you could pay your balance in full and then she didn't call you, what would you do?

This has been going on for a while now hasn't it? This issue with Dr. Weiss? I would have her send the bills to my parents. To give them an opportunity to help pay for therapy, that's truly a sign of a child's love and forgiveness.

What is the secret to your success?

I think the key word there was "secret."

Please list the entire contents of your handbag...

Ipod, wallet, Kiehls lipgloss, tape dispenser for hanging up posters, checkbook for paying theater rent each Friday, cellphone for texting you and that Italian guy with the sxy and toxic personality... Do you think I should cut off all communication with him? He calls me Babe! It's so 80s! I love it!

Let's say you are a gay man who lives in Chicago and you have never had a real boyfriend....Do you think you will ever have a boyfriend? Do you think there is something fundamentally wrong with you?

I'd say I will. I would clip out a picture of a hot man and look at each day and say a silent prayer to God. Thoughts become things. It's true! It happened with the leather bomber jacket I wanted in 7th grade.

Who is the funniest person you know? Who has always been there for you?

You are, of course dear. Who has always been there? My mom.

Friday
Aug042006

Chicago Comedy Goes Lollapalooza

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingLollapallooza is storming The Bastion and invading Chicago tonight through August 6, and Chicago comedy is making its presence felt at the ginormous rock festival.

Second City will be running the Mindfield Stage, where, according to Chicagoist: "A mix of Mainstage, e.t.c., and Touring Company performers will make sweet, funny music (it is Perry Farrell’s party, after all) and go interactive with their audience. They’ve also got a prank or two up their sleeves and some viral videos on their projector."

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWe also heard that random Second City cast members will be roaming around the festival, to perform pranky interactive bits with concertgoers. Hope they're going to film some of that; it could lead to some hilarious moments. (Or some "interactivity" with the Chicago Police Department.)

i.O. West 15-man troupe Mission IMPROVable (which has roots at i.O. but, we are told, was originally formed at Umass Amherst) will be doing their thing Friday, Saturday & Sunday, from 3-3:45.

Second City also invited longtime local favorites Schadenfreude to entertain the moshing masses, and Schad-man Justin Kaufmann tells us that they'll be "introducing the Alderman Ed Bus Tumblers, our version of the Jesse White Tumblers...our tumblers are out of shape and they do burpees instead of flips." They will be onstage Friday and Saturday from 6-6:45.

Go! Rock it out! Say hi to Jane for us while you're there.

-Elizabeth McQuern

Friday
Aug042006

Catch Bombast at the Spot, Before it Goes to UCB in New York

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAfter a successful show at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles, Chicago comedians TJ Miller and Prescott Tolk return to The Spot tonight at 8:30 to perform their show Bombast.

Prescott recently enjoyed a spot on Comedy Central's Premium Blend, and TJ spent some time rockin' the Del Close Marathon and schmoozing the bigwigs in New York last week with his troupe Chuckle Sandwich.

Critically acclaimed by Time Out Chicago, Bombast features the "cream of the crop of the Chicago alternative comedy scene." Blending two-man sketch with stand-up comedy, TJ and Prescott take the stage in preparation to take their show to NYC's Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre.

Catch this one-night only performance before they head off to the Big Apple, where they will perform at the UCB Theater on August 17. Head over to Bombast at the Spot, 4437 N. Broadway. Reserve your $5 ticket by calling 773-989-4515.