Citizen Rothstein Reviewed on TheApiary.orgFeb 19, 2015
Citizen Rothstein @ UCBT - 11.12.10
Earlier this year, legendary theater scribe and executive producer, David Mamet sent a memo to the writing staff of the since-canceled television show The Unit wherein he proffered advice on how to avoid writing bad drama that bores audiences.
Among the list was the simple idea that 'anytime two characters are talking about a third, the scene is a crock of shit.' Well, it isn't often that maxims of this power are challenged, let alone successfully. In the one-woman show Citizen Rothstein, the audience is treated to six different characters talking about a 'third' and never once is shit-crocked.
The brain child of writer/performer Nicole Shabtai and director Caitlin Tegart, Citizen Rothstein is a 30-minute character study centered around Ava Rothstein, a privileged 13-year-old girl who is days away from a highly-publicized Bat Mitzvah promising to be the social event of the season.
Though we never actually see Ava, we learn about her through a gauntlet of troubled friends, family and personal employees who shape the context of her adolescent life. From Ava's mentally-broken rabbi, whose reluctance to perform the ceremony parodies the opening moments of Apocalypse Now, to Real Housewife Jill Zarin desperately fishing for an invite via incessant Facebook videos, Shabtai and Tegart delicately navigate Ava from a spoiled brat to troubled youth to fetishized fashion accessory, creating an engaging tableau evoking the screwball pictures of George Kukor and Woody Allen's Jewish neuroticism.
Citizen Rothstein has all the elements one expects from a good show, namely, big characters with clearly defined behavioral quirks and strong points-of-view, but because of the compelling narrative around which the piece is wrapped, it never feels like anything other than theater.
It is a comedic-drama that explores the tragedy of characters who are ridiculously overwhelmed with the absurd pressures they're facing in life, in this case, being rich on the Upper East Side. And because Shabtai delights in the struggles of her characters, who are essentially hapless victims of circumstance, the audience takes delight in both laughing at and commiserating with the affected. It's an incredible testament to a writer/performer who I don't see requiring any memos from the desk of David Mamet any time soon.
* THE PLUG: Don't miss Nicole Shabtai in
'Citizen Rothstein,' happening WEDS, NOV 24 @ 8PM at The UCBT-NY | $5
-- Lucas Hazlett is a comedy geek who improvises with anyone he can.
James Adomian, Donald Glover, DC Pierson named "Actors to Watch in 2011"Feb 19, 2015
We take a look at ten actors who may breakout in the next year!
In the old days people used to expect 15 minutes of fame, at best. And that was the way it went. Now the people who reach for the brass ring seem to just linger around. This might have something to do with shows like Celebrity Fit Club, The Surreal Life, Dancing with the Stars and Dancing With The People Who Once Danced With The Stars and other such fame-holdover programs. You've got to wonder if shows like this are diluting the meaning of fame. The point is, every actor or actress who breaks into that coveted "national name" status is probably at their best in those golden moments of their first fifteen minutes.
Recently, we assembled a list of the actors who may actually became the biggest fish in the small pond that is Hollywood. Some of these guys might have been around for a while and are just about to become the new hotness. Others are almost completely new on the scene but looking to blow up. Either way if you want to get them while they're hot, and not when they "used to be hot, but for some reason they still have a TV show and even that's not very good," then this is the list for you.
Donald Glover (Troy - Community)
Another Community actor to start of a list? Yup! All you have to do is watch one episode and you'll see why this young actor is already on the verge of superstardom. But while this is his first big role, he's not a stranger to TV, having written on 30 Rock and The Daily Show for some time, and before that he was bringing the laughter with his internet sketch team sensation Derrick Comedy. Donald Glover's ease with comedy and stunning ability to deliver the most farcical lines with a straight face will keep him deeply entrenched in sitcoms for years to come. But I think he's due for much more. Hell, he was even an internet favorite to star in Spider-Man! (look it up).
Why He'll Break Out in 2011: With a hit stand-up special, a hit television show, and a cult favorite movie (Mystery Team) he's already very far along. He'll be announced as the lead in some big Hollywood remake before we know it. Hey, maybe that film will be The Muppets. Oh, yeah.
DC Pierson (Derrick Comedy)
Here's one you probably don't know, but you should. Another alumni of Derrick Comedy, DC Pierson has just started showing up on television (he's been on Community more then once); but his real talent shows in the cult hit Mystery Team. Check these out before he lands his first regular cast role and you'll see why this guy is just waiting outside fame's door. In the next few years all of the Derrick folks will be breaking into the limelight, but I think that DC is next; not only because of his talent, but he simply has a great look.
He's one part regular guy, one part Hanson band member and one part gifted deliverer of exposition.
Why He'll Break Out in 2011: I'll let the Derrick sketches speak for themselves here. Check out these two with DC and Donald kicking it funny style: http://bit.ly/DCGLOVER1 and http://bit.ly/DCGLOVER2. Oh and check out the rest of the Derrick regulars, because they would all be on this list if there was space.
David Blue (Eli - Stargate Universe)
Peter Serafinowicz (Fa'ad - Running Wilde)
James Adomian (KROG)
Here's another guy you may not recognize right away, but if you've even seen or heard somebody playing George Bush on TV or in a movie (like say Harold and Kumar 2) well that's him. This gifted stand-up and impressionist is on his way to overnight fame with upcoming series "KROG," in while he'll be the lead. The series, which is about the members of a GWAR like band that are in fact real demons trying to take over the world with music may end up being a flash in the pan, or a giant hit.
But either way, Adomian will make his skills known. If you want to get a taste of the man's gift for voices and humor now, look out for him when he's touring the nation at various Stand-Up clubs. When he's the biggest name in comedy you'll be glad you did. Also listen closely to radio/podcast sensation Comedy Death-Ray Radio for regular appearances as a variety of celebrities and characters.
Why He'll Break Out in 2011: James Adomian has all the hallmarks of a major star, he's simply not quite a known property yet. "KROG," or any of the other projects he's already attached too in 2011 will do the job of getting the message out. He'll have his own sketch show before you know it. Just imagine Frank Caliendo only more well rounded (and talented) and boom!
Charlie McDermott (Axl Heck - The Middle)
Dan Byrd (Cougar Town, Easy A)
Michael Raymond-James (Terriers, True Blood)
Noel Fisher (Various)
Ryan Robbins (Henry - Sanctuary)
Tremendosaur's Justin Michael & Jacob Reed interviewed by Daily Br!nkFeb 19, 2015
These LA-based sketch comedy pros, already Comedy Central and FunnyOrDie.com favorites, are all about being seriously funny.
Justin Michael and Jacob Reed might have relied on a mysterious online word generator to name their sketch comedy troupe, Tremendosaur, but all other forms of their creative output are distinctly their own. The comedic duo teamed up in 2007 and has yet to put the brakes on their mission to create all things funny. Along the way, they've left their mark at Los Angeles' Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, on FunnyOrDie.com, and on Comedy Central. In the world of comedy, standing apart from the rest often means sharing a common point with the best -- an innate sense of humility that lets the jokes communicate louder than the person telling them. Justin and Jacob neither express nor have any need for excessive self-praise -- the world is soon going to be clapping (and laughing) for them.
I think a lot of people know you guys as a unit. What's your back story? How did you meet?
Jacob: At USC. We were on an improv group called Second Nature. I started the year before -- I'm a year older, I'm twenty-five. God, that makes me feel so old. I'm halfway to thirty.
Justin: You're a quarter of a century.
Jacob: Oh, shut up. That's terrible.
Justin: You're going to be dead tomorrow.
Jacob: I hope not. Anyway, Justin and I were kind of ridiculously serious about sketch writing.
Justin: We were already writing a bunch of stuff sort of together -- we'd be constantly checking in with each other about how the other person felt.
Jacob: I think we just got hungry to get stuff out there. So then we started Tremendosaur.
Justin: Our first video was this one called The Number 24.
Jacob: That sketch blew up on the internet, but someone uploaded it to Break.com and cut off Tremendosaur at the end, and cropped it so you couldn't see our watermark. I think this video got two and half million views on Break before they took it down, and no one knew it was us. First opportunity at internet stardom- a swing and a miss.
How'd you guys get the name, "Tremendosaur?"
Justin: Well, it wasn't originally Tremendosaur. One night I woke up, had an idea, and for some reason thought it was brilliant. It was "kitten penis." It was about a guy who has a kitten for a penis. I wrote it down, and the next morning-
Jacob: - he shows me the paper and all you can really read is scribble-scribble-scribble-scribble KITTEN PENIS. Scribble-scribble-scribble-scribble KITTEN PENIS. Scribble-scribble KITTEN, scribble-scribble PENIS.
Justin: So then when we were like, "what could our name be?" --
Jacob: It was perfect! But- a couple months later, we kind of assumed that people might hear Kitten Penis and not take us seriously- so we decided to pick a REAL serious name: Tremendosaur. We found this online word generator and typed in a bunch of things we liked and it just spit out all these words- and one of those words was Tremendosaur.
If Tremendosaur had a motto or a mission statement, what would it be?
Justin: Easy. Our goal really is to continue to do what we love -- which is making comedy --
Jacob: Do it with friends of ours that are super-talented and funny --
Justin: The end goal is, I guess, to get paid for what we're creatively passionate about.
Jacob: Recently our motto has been kind of inspired by that last Conan monologue- Justin & Jacob: Work hard, be kind.
You guys have a lot of projects going on aside from Tremendosaur.
Jacob: We both do a lot of improv. I'm on a Harold Team at UCB .
Justin: We do Fiasco! together -- which is a group of Second Nature alums.
What's the LA comedy community like? Is it small?
Jacob: It feels like college for comedians. At UCB, there are generations of people -- the same way there are at college. You can see the next group above you breaking out, becoming successful, and the people who are above them are now famous or well-known. UCB is the place we would most consider our home.
Justin: Definitely our favorite place to perform.
Jacob: Everyone is very supportive. You see people backstage who are on TV or are really talented comedians but at the theatre, everyone's on the same team.
Comedy is terrifying because there's this silent expectation that people are coming to laugh. So what happens on the nights that the crowd isn't laughing? What do you do?
Justin: It depends --
Jacob: I don't want to say that then it gets FUN, but --
Justin: Sometimes it gets fun. It almost takes a weight off your shoulders --
Jacob: Yeah, like, if the audience isn't into us, then, whatever.
Justin: We don't have that to lose anymore.
Justin: I feel like that's our philosophy for anything that we're doing. If something doesn't work out, it's like, "All right, well, we've learned that." I heard you wrote for something on Comedy Central.
Justin: We wrote for a pilot for a show called This Will Get You High.
Jacob: It just recently aired as a special.
Justin: Yeah, the pilot didn't get picked up.
Jacob: We're doing a deal right now with Atom.com (Comedy Central's web division) for ten videos.
What are your other upcoming projects?
Justin: Right now we're working on a project for-
Jacob: I'm not sure if we're supposed to say anything about it. It's a web series for a stand-up comedian. A big name. Someone who tours a lot.
Justin: We're working a lot with Funny or Die. And we're directing a music video for Paul Rust. He's incredibly funny.
Jacob: And then there's all of our own stuff that we're writing -- our own web series or TV series ideas.
Any favorite comedians you could mention?
Justin: As far as influences go, The Muppet Show.
Jacob: Yeah, the Muppets, early Conan-
Justin: Any Conan, really. Bill Murray. Ghostbusters.
Jacob: Seinfeld, Larry David.
Justin: Curb. Right now I'm a big fan of Louie and Delocated.
What's the most difficult part about what you do?
Justin: This sounds really cheesy, but- believing in yourself?
Jacob: No, that's true.
Justin: Things aren't always going to happen immediately. I think that's what's great about us; we kind of keep the other person going-
Jacob: Oh yeah. Two-thirds of the way through anything we're like, "This is awful. This is terrible. We should never be comedians."
Justin: When you sit in front of a computer after writing a script, shooting it, and editing it for hours- it's like, "Is this funny?"
Jacob: Also, take this with a grain of salt, because I definitely don't want to say that we've "found" our voices yet, but- so many people are really, really funny, but the final product of what they do doesn't show that. I think one of the hardest things for me over the years was getting what's in my brain -- and in our brains -- to show in the final product.
Justin: I think being able to organically communicate what we're excited about is the goal -- at least -- for every video or piece of comedy we do.
What isn't funny?
Justin: Jokes that are easy. There's a difference between easy and simple.
Jacob: Something that's not funny to me is something that isn't earned.
Justin: Especially if it's controversial or offensive. I think anything can be funny if you're smart about it, if you earn it.
All right. You know what's coming. What can Daily BR!NK readers do to contribute to your success?
Justin: Well, we have a website "Tremendosaur.com"
Jacob: We have a Twitter, a Facebook, YouTube, we're all over that social networking stuff- he said like an old man-
Justin: - while narrating about himself.
Jacob: I think getting more eyes on our stuff would help. We've had a really hard time selling ourselves.
Justin: We're not great with publicity. How many times can we tweet, "check out this video!" You know?
Jacob: A producer would help. Anyone related to making videos -- editors, production designers. If anyone needs writers for anything. Just watch our stuff, spread the word.
Any last thoughts before I turn off the microphone?
Jacob: No, porridge.
Justin: Go see live comedy.