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What's Going On? with Mike Mitchell featured in LA Weekly

Feb 21, 2015

'What's Going On? With Mike Mitchell': Late Night Show Brings Laughs and Charm to Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

It's close to midnight on Saturday as an army of comedy fanatics amass in front of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. They're all eager to see the evening talk show "What's Going On? With Mike Mitchell." The program has attracted a huge following and usually sells out quickly.

The premise is simple. Host Mike Mitchell, has no clue what will happen during the show. He knows as much as the audience does, which is pretty much nothing. He doesn't know who the celebrity guests will be or any of the jokes and sketches that have been written for him. What's Going On is an original, one of the more hilarious and well-written productions to come out of L.A.'s comedy scene in recent memory.

Inside the 92-seat theater, the small stage is designed to reflect the set of a talk show, complete with two chairs, a desk with a coffee mug adorned with Mitchell's face and a large image of the downtown L.A. skyline framing the background. Given the program's clever concept, you have to wonder how Mitchell keeps it all together without failing miserably. He does stumble a few times, but pulls it off in a way that somehow endears the audience to him.

'It's the classic underdog story,' says co-producer Meghan Falcone. 'When people see that he is frustrated, you just want to root for him.'

The evening begins with announcer Michael Cassady introducing the intrepid host. Mitchell starts his opening monologue by reading jokes off note cards. He fumbles the setup of a few.

'I'm very nervous,' Mitchell tells the audience. 'I apologize.'

Despite his mea culpa, Mitchell exudes an amiable charisma and a wide grin that makes it hard not to like the guy. The crowd responds to his apology with applause and cheers. The next bit has Mitchell's personal assistant come out with his dry cleaning. Mitchell never knew he had a P.A. Showing a need to please his new boss, the overzealous assistant pulls out a toothbrush and cleans Mitchell's teeth. He later has Mitchell spit out the toothpaste onto his hand, eliciting laughs and groans from the audience. Crew members wearing 'Team Mitch' shirts later rush out on stage, throwing a judge's gown and a white wig over him. They're doing a parody of the The People's Court. Two women from the audience come on with one complaining that her friend doesn't show off her breasts enough in public.

'I have my ruling,' Mitchell says immediately, amid chuckles. 'You have to show the boobs.'

Most guys in the audience clap in approval.

Then come the celebrity guests. Simon Helberg of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is introduced first to our illustrious host. Helberg seems to be relishing Mitchell's anxiety.

'Are you sweating through your blazer?'' Helberg asks.

Mitchell nervously tries to pivot back to asking questions that reveals he never watches the sitcom.

'So how are things on the set?' Mitchell asks a smirking Helberg.

Ashley Bell, star of the upcoming horror film The Last Exorcism comes out next. Mitchell is clearly smitten with the attractive actress, revealing that he always has a fascination with the paranormal and thinks Bell is 'very pretty' despite being a demon in the movie. The whole interaction reads like an awkward first date.

As the night draws to a close, Mitchell thanks everyone for being part of the show's six month run as dozens of balloons fall from the ceiling.

'I love doing the show,' Mitchell tells the Weekly. He expresses gratitude for the hard work that the crew puts into the production every month. As he's talking, a small crowd lines up backstage after the show praising the winsome host. People just seem to love Mike Mitchell.

LA Shows

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Donald Glover, Ellie Kemper, Aubrey Plaza talk Fall TV in Nylon Magazine

Feb 21, 2015

It's Show Time

21 shows, 34 actors: a hell of a lot of reasons to channel surf this fall.

Donald Glover

Donald Glover experienced many crazy moments during the first season of Community -- pirouetting across a stage in a leotard, getting shot point-blank with a paintball gun -- but none compare to the massive loud fight that broke out amongst the Greendale Community College students. 'Total mania. I have never smelled anything like that before in my entire life,' he says, eyes widening behind his thick-frame glasses. 'Like somebody made a panda wear a diaper and then made it eat nothing but ketchup and SpaghettiOs for years.' That's par for the course on Community, the NBC comedy that follows a motley crew trying to graduate from a local college. For one thing, there's the stellar cast, which, besides Glover (as the onetime jock Troy Barnes) includes Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie and none other than Chevy Chase. 'He's like the cool, grumpy grandpa,' Glover notes of working with the icon. For another, the actors were given carte blanche with their characters. 'They were like, 'Do whatever you want with .' Which you can never do!' But although the cast goof off even when the cameras stop rolling (Danny Pudi, who plays awkward Abed Nadir on the show, helped Glover move over the summer. 'I'm sure people thought we were a gay couple -- he's wearing short shorts and I have , like, a visor'), they'd never poach humor from each other. 'Everyone has their own thing,' Glover says, suddenly sounding very serious. 'I'm not going to do a Pierce joke, and Chevy's not going to do a Troy joke.'


How would you describe Troy?

He's kind of nerdy! I think he's becoming more and more me because we don't talk about sports or anything. It's all about being accepted and figuring out girls.

How would Troy describe the show?

Troy is just very emotional and really happy and doesn't think as much. Kids who see the show are just like, 'I like this!'

What were you like in college?

I was pretty nerdy and kept to myself. I went to comedy sketches and wrote poetry in my room. I was Jehovah's Witness, so I had my first birthday party in college. I was like, 'Is this for free?!'

Why should people watch Community?

Because we're trying to beat the paintball episode.

Season two of Community premieres September 23 on NBC

Ellie Kemper

Ellie Kemper joined The Office nearly a year and a half ago, but there's something that still makes her nervous: working with Steve Carell. 'I have a problem sometimes laughing when I'm not supposed to, like in church or in scenes that are funny,' she admits. 'And then of course that ruins the take, so I really try hard not to do that.' Kemper, who joined the hit show as secretary Erin Hannon at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin during the fifth season, after Pam (Jenna Fischer) leaves for the Michael Scott Paper Company, was quickly invited to stay on full-time. The writers of the series -- many of whom star in the show -- encourage spontaneity but, Kemper says, she doesn't improvise that much because 'I'm new and I don't want to be bad at it.' She hopes that the coming season -- the seventh for the NBC mockumentary -- will explore Erin's backstory a bit more. 'I do think there's a dark side to her,' says Kemper. And what will happen when Carell leaves at the end of this season? 'Well, I'll also be leaving,' Kemper says with a straight face before scrunching her nose and letting out a laugh. 'No, I'm kidding!' But perhaps Erin, who she says 'even out-weirds Michael,' could replace the paper company's dim-witted boss? 'Mindy actually said that as a joke, like, a year ago. I feel confident that Erin could not take over.'


How would you describe Erin?

She's naive and thinks the best about people, but she's also not Mary Sunshine.

How would Erin describe the show?

She would be a bit scared of Dwight, and she would probably really like Kelly.

Do you watch a lot of television?

Mostly I watch a lot of late-night shows. Not like pay-per-view -- I just mean talk shows! OK, maybe I watch the occasional pay-per-view show.

Why should people tune in to The Office?

Steve Carrell is only going to be on it for another year!

Season seven of The Office premieres September 23 on NBC

Aubrey Plaza

Of the many comedies posing as documentaries, Parks and Recreation sounds the least relatable on paper; while we've all spent time in odd office environments (The Office) or had to deal with insane family members (Modern Family), few of us have logged hours as a mid-level bureaucrat in Pawnee, Indiana. Nevertheless, the show has proven to be a hilarious and endearing gem. That has quite a lot to do with Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt, whose apathetic April Ludgate and clueless Andy Dwyer have come into their own in the second season of the NBC show (they have also come together as a couple onscreen). 'If are smart, they'll get it. Some people don't, and that's why they're stupid,' jokes Plaza. Adds Pratt, 'They're just stupid people. Idiots!' Although they're as funny in person as they are on TV, Plaza insists that there's far less improvisation than you'd expect from a cast that includes comedy all-stars like Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari. 'We really follow the script, and the scripts are really strong, so there's not really a need to make it any funnier. But they always allow room for us to play.' Does she have anything in mind? 'I wrote already. I have, like, 20 episodes of April running for office,' Plaza deadpans. 'April's president and she takes over the world.'


How would you describe April?

There's a lot more to her than meets the eye. I think she comes off as really jaded and disinterested, but she really does want to be there or else she wouldn't be.

How would April describe the show?

'It's a show about a bunch of weirdos that work in the most boring department of local government.'

Is April too apathetic to fall in love?

No, definitely not. She's, like, obsessed with Andy. I have so much fun with that because I have to pretend like I don't even care, but I really care so much.

Why should people watch Parks and Recreation?

Because it's the best show on TV. And the second season ended with a cliffhanger -- are going to get together or not? -- and season three answers that question in a very big way.

Season three of Parks and Recreation premieres in 2011 on NBC.

LA General

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The Paul Downs Syndrome Reviewed in The Apiary

Feb 21, 2015

The Paul Downs Syndrome @ UCBT-NY - 9.9.10

Paul Downs is an irresistible performer to watch onstage. If you've ever seen him improvise at any of the local theaters, he carries with him at all times the energy of a whirling dervish, and a cachet of characters who speak, stroll and sideways glance in the most hilarious of manners.

So to isolate Downs in his one-man show, 'The Paul Downs Syndrome,' is to isolate his comedic mind and to display it in full, vibrant color for better or worse. Longtime collaborator Lucia Aniello directs Downs, corralling the funny as he sports tight, bright red stretch fabrics to demonstrate high-level art projects at Oberlin College, hosts an MTV Europe show called 'Hey Guys!' and invokes everything there is to be loved and hated about Euro Trash as Euro-pop star-sex symbol Tudu.

But Downs is also endearing, as he is able to ground his emotions while playing ludicrous characters, despite every possible absurdity being thrown at them. In one scene, Downs plays a seven-year-old child star named Mikey Starr who faces exploitation at every angle.

In another interesting turn, Downs trots out celebrities in his video bits: He pitches a sketch idea to one and creepily massages another. But for anyone in the audience who saw this show, it should be quite clear that Paul Downs is on his way to becoming a star himself.

* THE PLUG: Don't miss the next 'Paul Downs Syndrome,' happening THURS, SEPT 23 @ 8PM at The UCBT-NY | $5
NY Shows

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