Aziz Ansari, Dorff & Gausas, Demetri Martin, Charlie Todd amongst "Ten Funniest New Yorkers You've NMar 19, 2015
The next Seinfeld, the next Sedaris (David and Amy), and the man behind the year's most rocking TV ad.
You May Have Actually Heard of Him If: You frequent the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre-the CBGB of alternative comedy-where Ansari hosts the weekly stand-up show 'Crash Test.' The Setup: Aziz Ansari, only 22, won this year's Best Male Stand-Up at the Emerging Comics of New York awards.
The Punch Line: "Texas senator John Cornyn's argument against gay marriage is, "If your neighbor marries a box turtle, it doesn't affect your everyday life. But that doesn't make it right." I myself was not a psychology major, but I think it's safe to assume that at one point or another, Senator Cornyn has thought about making love to a box turtle." Vernon
Chatman and John Lee
Dorff and Gausas
You May Have Actually Heard of Them If: You watch a lot of Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Kevin Dorff plays the recurring Coked-Up Werewolf, and Christina Gausas has appeared in many roles, from a mom to a porn star.
The Setup: An improv duo, Dorff and Gausas are known for brainy, off-the-cuff interplay that recalls the heyday of Nichols and May.
The Punch Line: Dorff: "It's my brother's funeral. He was a suicide bomber." Gausas: "So then he totally saw it coming."
You May Have Actually Heard of Him If: You are one of the swooning Demetri-ites who flock to his appearances at UCB or the 'Eating It' show at the Zipper Theatre.
The Setup: Martin melds Wes Anderson hipster innocence with the deadpan brains of Steven Wright, crafting smart, incisive one-liners. Plus, he writes palindromes, including a 222-word opus titled "Dammit I'm Mad."
The Punch Line: "I've noticed that at most theme parks, the theme is 'Wait in line, fatty.' "
You May Have Actually Heard of Him If: You happened to catch the two guys with a megaphone in a dinghy giving a 'Circle Line' tour of the fountain in Union Square.
The Setup: Charlie Todd is the founder of Improv Everywhere, practitioners of guerrilla improv. Basically, they loose controlled comic chaos on the city, including such stunts as placing an attendant in a McDonald's bathroom or staging a 'Meet Anton Chekhov' reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. It's like Candid Camera, without the camera-though the stunts are chronicled on their site, improveverywhere.com.
The Punch Line: Two guys with a megaphone in a dinghy giving a 'Circle Line' tour of the fountain in Union Square.
You May Have Actually Heard of Her If: You've caught her excellent character work at the People's Improv Theatre. Or you have an obsessive interest in the bit players in the Meg Ryan film Kate & Leopold.
The Setup: Schaal's like the bastard offspring of Sarah Vowell and Amy Sedaris: a collection of whip-smart characters, suffused with endearing, dorky charm.
The Punch Line: Her grade-schooler who gives a book report on George Washington and ends up dirty-dancing with the Founding Father to "(I Had) the Time of My Life."
Aziz Ansari in the Village VoiceMar 19, 2015
Drinks with stand-up comedian Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari, a 22-year old comedian with a high-pitched voice and a fondness for hooded sweatshirts, performs every Monday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chelsea. Some of his best routines involve pretending to be a bigger, angrier version of himself: he woos imaginary girls by snapping dogs' necks, wielding bricks, and acting, as he puts it, 'quite ruthless.' I recently met him for drinks at 288 Bar, and we talked about how hard it is to find a good joke comprised of perfect 'little bits of stupidity and ridiculousness.'
What's an instance where you actively sought out some stupidity?
I was at Croxley Ales a couple months ago with my friends, and we noticed Scarlet Johansson sitting there. So I took out a napkin and wrote, 'I think you're really cute. You should definitely come to my show tonight.' And I put something about the Rolling Stone thing so she'd know I was legit. I dropped the flier right in front of her and then skidaddled off. She never came, of course. But I made a joke about it that night.
In one of my favorite routines, you talk about Googling yourself-the first thing that pops up online is a sentence about how you look like a nerd and do nothing to stop this. Do you feel obligated to play up the nerdy image?
I actually don't think I act that nerdy.
I liked in your act when you used the word 'nerd-dom.'
But that was when I was talking about my little brother.
So you were annoyed by the sentence?
I just thought it was funny-it seemed so random. I'm not the hippest guy in the world or anything. I definitely don't like going to hip bars . . . It's not cool to think that you're cool or want to be cool-that's the whole conundrum.
Is it easier to perform at a bar with a drink minimum? Are people more willing to laugh?
No, I don't like the idea of people having to pay so much. It shouldn't be $50 to see a show. It should be five bucks, or free, like at Upright Citizens Brigade, Pianos, and Rififi, and other-although I hate the word-'alternative' rooms-
What's wrong with the word?
Because it doesn't mean anything. I perform in both types of places. But I've never seen anyone have to be thrown out of an alternative room because they're being too drunk or rowdy or trying to be funny, but that happens at comedy clubs almost every night.
How do you usually come up with your routines?
I can't sit down and force myself to write. I wait until something happens. Like the other day I was at a grocery store-I probably won't be able to get a joke out of this-but I bought five things: some Hi-C, oatmeal, iced tea, cookie dough and toasted strudels, and I thought it was interesting because 40 percent of the things I bought had the Pillsbury doughboy on it. And I was like, 'that's so weird.'
When you're meeting strangers, do you feel like you shouldn't be funny-it'd be showing off?
Yeah, I never tell jokes. I think it comes off weird. Especially if you're a comedian and it's like 'oh fucking comedian guy.'
But doesn't everyone try to be at least a little funny?
Oh no, I'm always trying. But I didn't come here thinking, 'OK, I should really impress this girl so she'll think, 'Wow, I had a drink with a comedian.' If I wasn't doing comedy I'd just be my friend's 'funny friend,' nothing more. Or, I don't know, maybe a little bit funnier than that.
Matt Walsh in new Comedy Central showMar 19, 2015
NBC's loss is Comedy Central's gain: The cable channel has picked up a series from DreamWorks Television that the broadcaster passed on last season.
Comedy Central has ordered 10 episodes of American Lives, which blends scripted and unscripted material, from executive producer Dan Mazer, creator of HBO's Da Ali G Show. The series will premiere in the summer.
In keeping with the Ali G format, the cast of Lives will mine laughs by having fictional characters interact with real people under the guise of being local news reporters. But unlike Ali G, Lives moves beyond skits to take its characters into a full-blown narrative that follows their chaotic lives even when they're not messing with random strangers.
"I think I set out to do something deliberately different than Ali G,' Mazer said. "This show will really distinguish itself from the typical network sitcom."
Comedy Central will keep the cast originally attached to the project, including Zach Galifianakis (Tru Calling), A.D. Miles (Stella), Andrea Savage (Significant Others) and Matt Walsh (Upright Citizens Brigade). All actors with background in improv, they play the staff of a fictional Spokane, Washington-based newscast.
Lives was developed at NBC for the 2004-05 season, but the network ultimately passed on it. When Lauren Corrao, Executive VP Original Programming and Development at Comedy Central, heard the project was available, she felt it had the right fit for the cable channel.
"Most projects that are developed for broadcast networks are not appropriate for Comedy Central in the sense (that) they're much too traditional and not for our audience," Corrao said. "But once in a while, you find something that works."
This isn't the first time Corrao has turned a busted broadcast pilot into Comedy Central gold: Primetime series Reno 911! sat on the shelf at Fox Broadcasting Co. for two years before the cable channel reactivated it.