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SHOWGIRLS in the NY Daily News

Mar 18, 2015

'Showgirls' Takes Off as Cult Classic
It's considered one of the worst movies ever made, but 'Showgirls' has enjoyed more staying power than a superglued pastie.

Since opening more than 10 years ago to mostly scathing reviews, director Paul Verhoeven's unintentionally campy film - about a hooker/stripper/showgirl who lap-dances her way to the top in a Las Vegas topless revue - has since become a cult classic. And it achieved that status despite its place on practically every all-time bad-movie list.

In recent years, 'Showgirls' has been a popular midnight-movie attraction, the basis of a home drinking game and the inspiration for 'Harvey Finklestein's Sock Puppet Showgirls,' a Fringe Festival theater parody two years ago that featured a cast of naked, pole-dancing sock puppets (the show returns to New York in the spring).

Now comes the live comedy show 'Showgirls: The Best Movie Ever Made. Ever!' Performed at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Manhattan on Thursdays, it cleverly skewers the movie's horrid acting, laughable dialogue, trashy stereotypes, mind-numbing plot and gratuitous nudity through reenactments of key scenes and video clips of some of the film's naughtier bits.

Not to mention an in-depth 'interview' with an actor who portrays Showgirls screenwriter Joe Eszterhas as a bloated, beer-swilling misogynist.

'What makes the movie so spectacularly bad is that had such a big budget and great resources to make this amazing movie, and they ended up making this horrible movie,' says 'Best Movie Ever' co-creator and writer John Flynn.

'But that's why it's the best bad movie of all time - because everyone involved thought they were making a masterpiece,' adds co-creator Jackie Clarke, who plays the evening's moderator.

'And the reason why people have become so obsessed with Showgirls is the same reason why people are obsessed with World War II - there's so much tragedy there.'

Rated NC-17 - a first for a big-budget Hollywood movie - Showgirls opened in September 1995 to plenty of hype. The film reteamed Verhoeven and Eszterhas, who had pushed the envelope three years earlier with the Sharon Stone-Michael Douglas erotic thriller Basic Instinct.

But Showgirls flopped faster than a double-D dancer in a B-cup bra, thanks to its silly, sleazy story line and over-the-top performances - none worse than Elizabeth Berkley's (of TV's Saved by the Bell) as stripper-turned-dancer Nomi Malone.

'It was one of those movies that was so anticipated before it opened,' says David Schwartz, chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, 'but then became an incredible car wreck that people still love talking about. That kind of spectacle fascinates people, and it's how a movie like Showgirls becomes such a guilty pleasure.'

It's that very infamy that has continued to make  Showgirls such a guilty pleasure. Its distributor, MGM, even tried capitalizing on it by rereleasing the film as a comedy soon after its initial theatrical run.

And two years ago, the DVD rerelease included shot glasses and instructions for a drinking game to complement home-viewing parties.

'It was fun to watch it the first time with your jaw open, because audiences were just astonished at what they were watching,' says Schwartz.

'But it's even more fun to look back on it now.'
NY Classes

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Aziz Ansari named on Time Out's list of "25 New Yorkers to Watch in 2006"

Mar 18, 2015

Aziz Ansari was listed in Time Out's list of 25 New Yorkers to watch in 2006.

Killing joker

Aziz Ansari, 22 | The staggering amount of buzz that surrounded Aziz Ansari last year is starting to pay off for him in 2006. The young comedian will appear on Comedy Central's Premium Blend in February and at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen this March; he also just shot a few scenes of School for Scoundrels, the latest movie by Old School team Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong. "I hope I don't get completely cut out," Ansari half jokes. Just in case, he's coproducing his own short film project, "The Illusionators," on the side. "I just try to keep putting out good stuff," he says, "and ignore all the hype." 
NY General

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Mar 18, 2015

Kurt Braunholer
Gabriel McKinley
Todd Levin
Seth Herzog
Jon Benjamin
Reggie Watts

SURE, anyone can turn on cable to watch a club-circuit comedian offering his top line, but how many can say they played a drinking game with one of them?

At How to Kick People, a literary-focused comedy room that celebrates its two-year anniversary show in February, co-hosts Bob Powers and Todd Levin make sure that comedy fans are experiencing something they can't see anywhere else, including a game of 'I Never' with the entire audience.

Visit one of several emerging and established independent comedy rooms in the city on any given night, and you're bound to see the next big thing - or the next really great little thing - just about everywhere you look.

'I feel like this happens every few years,' says Powers, who finds his own career taking off with a book deal and a visit this March to HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen. 'The alternative scene peaks and dies down for a little while. Right now it's at a peak.'

Within the scene, comedy fans can find several performers seemingly on the verge. Take 25-year-old Baron Vaughn ('Actor, Comedian, Negro') who is also seeing his years of performing paying off with an upcoming showcase at the respected Aspen festival. The busy performer is also launching a new room called Comedy Is for Humans! at Mundial, in the East Village, on Wednesday.

'One percent of all comics ever reach the level of a Chris Rock or a Jerry Seinfeld,' Vaughn says. 'When audiences come to the underground rooms, they have a chance to watch the process that happens along the way - and see the comedians grow.'

At Invite Them Up, a popular showcase co-hosted by Eugene Mirman mixing stand-up, video shorts and the occasional 6-foot-long sandwich, comedians often come up with bits that then make the leap onto a bigger stage. Co-host Bobby Tisdale developed an obsessive Southern character that later ended up in the sleeper movie hit Junebug, and Daily Show correspondent Demetri Martin is a frequent visitor to the Wednesday room.

'You get to see first versions of material that often goes to television,' Mirman says. 'Demetri constantly tries out various things and a week later will be doing it on Carson Daly.'

Other times, smaller rooms such as Aziz Ansari's Crash Test at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre serve as launching pads for material that reaches its own level of Internet notoriety. Who could forget the viral hit of the world's worst mixtape video, whereby the comic was forced to walk around the city rocking out to Gloria Estefan and the Dawson's Creek theme on a giant boombox? (Check out: /movies/Aziz+Ansari.)

'The mixtape was developed for the show, and it's been passed around all over the Internet,' Ansari says. 'It's just helped my career in general to have that kind of presence.'

There's also a practical element to visiting the smaller underground rooms, points out Best Week Ever favorite Christian Finnegan, who will perhaps forever be remembered as the white guy on Dave Chappelle's ' 'Mad' Real World' Comedy Central sketch.

'It is comedy for other New Yorkers,' concludes Finnegan. 'You can do 10 minutes on the G train if you want.'

Essential comedy shows, all the way to 11:

1. Tell Your Friends

What you missed: Onion head writer Todd Hanson previewing his stories. Christian Finnegan practicing for 'Friday Night With Greg Giraldo.' Todd Barry running through his full half-hour Comedy Central Presents before taping.

What you will see: More musical guests, more sketch, and on Jan. 30, Letterman favorite Jim Gaffigan.

Feels like: A comedy iPod.

Sounds like: 'I'll admit I've never been a woman's first time. Once or twice I was told that I was a woman's last time.'

Looks like: 75 percent young, attractive women in the audience.

What you need to know: Mondays at 8 p.m., the Lolita Bar, 266 Broome St. Free with suggested drink purchase.

- Answers from Liam McEneaney

2. Giant Tuesday Night of Amazing Inventions and Also There Is a Game

What you missed: A production of Shakespeare's Hamlet performed by an entirely drunk cast. Dead celebrity charades. An impromptu jog-off.

What you will see: Upcoming shows include an all knock-knock joke show on Jan. 31, and a murder mystery. Drunken Macbeth is also being considered.

Feels like: The Muppet Show meets Merv Griffin meets The Price Is Right meets Star Trek.

Sounds like: 'I am from Boliviguay, where the national language ees English, but with a Spanish accent.'

Looks like: Young, hip nerds abound.

What you need to know: Tuesdays, 8 p.m., Rififi, 332 East 11th St. Free with one drink minimum.

- Answers from Andres du Bouchet

3. How to Kick People

What you missed: The drinking game 'I Never' performed with the entire audience. A mini-musical about the friendship between a squirrel and a rat. A duet via cellphone.

What you will see: On Feb. 22, in honor of the show's two-year anniversary, the hosts are staging their own funeral.

Feels like: A literary show for people who still enjoy Mad Libs.

Sounds like: 'I come from a very long line of cowards. In fact, my family crest features a picture of a lion disappointingly eating a meal it didn't order.' - Todd Levin

Looks like: Expect to see bold and stylish eyewear.

What you need to know: Last Wednesday of every month, 7:30 p.m., Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction, 34 Avenue A. $8.

- Answers from Bob Powers and Todd Levin

4. Variety Shac

What you missed: Matt Higgins pushing the envelope talking on his cell phone onstage, then turning his bit into a lecture. Jon Glaser pretending his father was the lost member of ZZ Top. A dream about a gorilla that you will never forget.

What you will see: Unforgettable guest spots including Cory Arcangel displaying modified Nintendo game cartridges where everything from Super Mario Bros. has been removed but the blue sky and clouds.

Feels like: Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Laverne & Shirley.

Sounds like: 'TGIF! Danceparty! Friday! Friendship!'

Looks like: There are often a lot of hot guys in attendance.

What you need to know: First Tuesday, every month, 8:30 p.m., Galapagos Art Space, 70 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn. $5 donation.

- Answers from Chelsea Peretti

5. The Shark Show

What you missed: Breast puppets. 'Battle of the Shark Show Stars,' ending with a bloody nose and an empty 12-pack. An episode of 'Fraggle Rock' directed by playwright Clifford Odets.

What you will see: 'Battle of the Funny Bands' is slated for March. 'Iron Comic' comes this June.

Feels like: Verbally and visually PG-13, but 1980s PG-13, not pansy '90s PG-13.

Sounds like: An 'intellectual' quiz where contestants have to identify if the topic is about John Paul (pope), Jean Paul (Sartre) or Jean-Claude (Van Damme).

Looks like: Hipsters and hip replacements.

What you need to know: Saturdays, 8 p.m., Mo Pitkin's, 34 Avenue A. $8.

- Answers from Gabe McKinley

6. Sweet

What you missed: A dance-off with members of the audience. A largely improvised sketch ending with two characters falling in love and going to see Brokeback Mountain. Brutal bar mitzvah tape honesty.

What you will see: The can't-miss Groundhog Show on Feb. 2 and the Feb. 16 Laugh Olympics.

Feels like: The Rat Pack in T-shirts.

Sounds like: 'We picked up these girls who were hitchhiking. One was a Portland street punk who just came back from Anarchy Camp. Nothing says 'anarchy' to me like 'registration fees' and 'lights out!''

Looks like: Intelligent folks looking for a good laugh.

What you need to know: Thursdays, 8:30 p.m., the Slipper Room, Orchard and Stanton streets, $5.

- Answers from Seth Herzog

7. The Hot Tub

What you missed: The cast of Giant Tuesday Night performing their show in 8 minutes. Juggling. Reggie Watts combining beat boxing and improv.

What you will see: New material is debuted every week with an emphasis on offbeat performers and terrific stand-up.

Feels like: Nichols and May meets Mr. Show.

Sounds like: 'OK, we're going to play a little trivia game about my life called 'Acid Trip, Paid Acting Gig, or Time I Killed an Animal at a Drive-Thru Safari?' The sad part is that these are the only memories I have.' - Kurt Braunohler

Looks like: Smart and hip.

What you need to know: Fridays, 9:30 p.m., P.I.T., 154 W. 29th St. $8.

- Answers from Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler

8. Invite Them Up

What you missed: A song set to 'Casual Encounters' from Craigslist. Bobby Tisdale blowing fire. A pinata full of money.

What you will see: The occasional appearance by David Cross. Up-and-coming comedians like Jacqueline Novak. Guest DJs like Michael Showalter from Stella.

Feels like: The A-Team meets Jethro Tull, but less stuff about religion and no land grabbers.

Sounds like: 'This credit card I signed up for allowed me to pick the question they ask me and the answer that I give them. So now when I call they have to ask me what am I wearing, and I have to respond, 'I don't think that's appropriate!''

Looks like: A mish-mash of students and writers and lawyers.

What you need to know: Wednesdays, 9 p.m. (get there by 8:15 p.m., to be safe), Rififi, 332 East 11th St. $5.

- Answers from Eugene Mirman

9. Thursdays

What you missed: Joe Franklin re-enacting a scene from 'What's Love Got to Do With It.' Maria Bamford warming up before her 'Comedians of Comedy' show. Burlesque dancers strolling through the crowd.

What you will see: Constant evolution and Jessi Klein, when she's in town.

Feels like: Really cheap, really funny, always different.

Sounds like: These are the folks behind I Love the 30s on Comedy Central.

Looks like: A bizarrely wide range of people.

What you need to know: Thursdays, 8 p.m., Rififi, 332 East 11th St. Free, one drink minimum.

- Answers from Nick Kroll

10. Midnight Pajama Jam

What you missed: The country singer 'Wyatt Trash.' A dance performed exclusively with calves. David Cross playing a rabbi.

What you will see: 'What people should know is there is a high probability they will dislike the show.'

Feels like: 'Avenue Q' meets a repressed childhood memory.

Sounds like: 'You have an anti-porn van and you travel around and preach the evils of pornography to kids.' 'That's right. We go all over the country and invite kids into our van and show them pornography to illustrate how evil it is.' - comedy duo Slovin & Allen

Looks like: 'It was supposed to be a late-night talk show for children but only two kids showed up so we quickly modified it to adults.'

What you need to know: Monthly on a Monday starting Feb. 20, 8 p.m., Scenic, 25 Avenue B. $5, check for details.

- Answers from Jon Benjamin

11. Crash Test

What you missed: Host Aziz Ansari interviewing a girl he was rejected by onstage. Scientology antics. The classic 'sh-iest' mixtape video.

What you will see: New films and excellent stand-up.

Feels like: A world where Matt Lauer would make an iTunes celebrity playlist called 'Matt Lauer's Fingerbang Mix.'

Sounds like: 'Znappy Zinger!' - Zingy McDaniels

Looks like: College crowds who are up for the late start time.

What you need to know: Most Mondays, 11 p.m. starting Jan. 30, UCB Theatre, 307 W. 26th St. Free.

NY Shows

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