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UCBTLA performers on USA Today: Pop Candy's 100 People of 2009 List

Mar 2, 2015

Pop Candy's Top 100 People of 2009 
Who were your favorite pop-culture people this year?

Something tells me those Jon and Kate characters don't make the cut, nor do most of the faces who dominated glossy magazine covers.

Personally, I've always been the most compelled by folks who spend their time making high-quality work and/or shaking up a scene. Each year I round up 100 figures who enriched my year with their writing, acting, music and other contributions to popular culture.

98. Paul Scheer. When the comedian displayed a kooky painting of Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and a polar bear at Comic-Con's Lost panel, many attendees thought he may have downed some bad Dharma Kool-Aid. The bit turned out to be part of one of the show's most intriguing and creative side projects -- and, along with FX's The League, I'm glad it wasn't the only one up Scheer's sleeve.

42. Charlyne Yi. The filmmaker/comedian/musician/on and on delivered Paper Heart, a "scripted documentary" about love. As a special bonus, it also featured Michael Cera, songs, ... and puppets! (Everything is better with puppets.)

35. Patton Oswalt. The comedian kept moving with a comedy special (My Weakness Is Strong) and TV roles on virtually every network (United States of Tara, Dollhouse, Bored to Death), but his breakthrough performance came with the indie drama Big Fan. I'm not very sporty, but no matter: The movie made my stomach so tense that afterward I felt like I'd spent three weeks at the gym.

14. Amy Poehler. Parks and Recreation has to be one of the year's most impressive turn-arounds, and that's in large part to Poehler's portrayal of Leslie Knope, a small-town feminist with larger-than-life aspirations. This year she also devoted time to her Nickelodeon series (The Mighty B!) and dropped by the Weekend Update desk for old times' sake. Though she's sorely missed on SNL, we love where she went.
LA General

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UCBT performers and shows among Time Out New York's "Best Comedy of 2009"

Mar 2, 2015

Best (and worst) of 2009

Best new venue: Prompted by a fan's dare, Chris Gethard took his show of candid and self-deprecating stories on the road--literally. Forty-plus lucky audience members rode a bus to, among other places, his childhood Jersey home where he pointed out the room in which he lost his virginity.

Hardest goodbye: After five years of singing their way into the hearts of improv fans--and performing a positively transcendent set in this year's Del Close Marathon--Eliza Skinner and Glennis McMurray put their duo, I Eat Pandas, to bed. We're still hungry.

Biggest breakout: This year, 26-year-old Donald Glover landed a starring role in NBC's Community and released a feature film, Mystery Team, with his sketch group, Derrick. Also, he has more deals in the works with NBC, a forthcoming Comedy Central special and a new rap album--just because.

Best sketch show: The Infinity Prison, a one-act from BriTANick (Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney), was intricate, ambitious and stunningly silly.

Best local improv group: Week after week, Death by Roo Roo proves how smart dumb can be; yes, that's high praise.

Show of the year: Although the piece technically launched in Â’08, it is 2009 that belongs to Sleepwalk with Me. Mike BirbigliaÂ’s Off Broadway gem was everything a solo piece should be: hilarious, candid and gripping. And it actually made a little bit of money.

Report card

This was the year of the true-life tale. Comics turned inward for material and embraced long-form storytelling; they even, on occasion, got serious. And it was good—but not without consequence; we saw very little quality sketch. The trend is partly an effect of the recession; audiences want to laugh at and feel catharsis in woe-is-me honesty—an argument supported by this year’s predominantly packed houses. Expensive clubs took a beating, but theaters and indie rooms overflowed with cash-strapped locals looking for an escape. Even the New York Comedy Festival, which should have taken a bath due to high-price tickets, had its best year yet.

But the other reason comics discovered confession is that they were running from irony...which means the pendulum will only continue to swing.

Final grade: A-
NY General

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Bryan Safi named in Out Magazine's Out 100: The Class of 2009

Mar 2, 2015

Out 100: The Class of 2009 

The gay world is just like high school -- but bigger and with fewer rules. We approached all cliques to find the most outstanding and inspiring men and women of the year.


There's no strict entry criterion for being in the 100. We salute the brave (Dan Choi), marvel at the new confident out stars (Adam Lambert), thank our allies (Cyndi Lauper), and recognize the tremendous achievements of the major players who are proud of who they are (Wanda Sykes and Rob Marshall). We also include the bravest young voices, the dedicated campaigners, the openly gay politicians and lobbyists who've brought us so far. And we celebrate the directions, the writers, the Broadway producers and stars who have shaped popular art and culture. More than that, we thank the ordinary LGBT people who have done extraordinary things. And, fittingly, after the moguls, the advocates, the agitators, and the tastemakers, we stand humbled by a class from the Hetrick-Martin Institute's Harvey Milk School.  We are honored to bring you the 2009 Out 100. This year's theme is a gentle nod to the days that shaped, delighted, and terrified us all and made us who we are today -- school days.

The Brat Pack

As the creator-host of Current TV's biweekly segment "That's Gay," Bryan Safi (second from left) who is also a staff writer on Ellen, uses humor to raise awareness of homophobia in popular culture. Fearless in that he takes on equally homophobic gay-endorsed gay pandering ("I love my gays!") and hip-hop's use of "no homo," Safi takes folks to task without preaching.
LA General

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