Archives for posts with tag: Sketchfest NYC

Back Stage 07.12.12 pg 4 News Read the rest of this entry »

The cast and director of "Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film!" at the Paley Center in NYC.

"Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film!" (left to right: Kurt Braunohler, Leo Allen, Rob Paravonian, Kristen Schaal, Liam McEneany, Victor Varnado, Christian Finnegan). Photo credit: Lindsay Aikman/Michael Priest Photography

Last night, Sketchfest NYC presented the New York premiere of Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film!, a documentary about the indie comedy scene in New York City and the long-running comedy show “Tell Your Friends!,” which is hosted each week by Liam McEneaney on the Lower East Side. McEneaney and director Victor Varnado (The Awkward Comedy Show) say their goal was to create a filmed document of the current comedy movement — like Woodstock or The Last Waltzdid for music — by combining live performances with insightful interviews and candid backstage footage to create an overall sense of the scene.

The film was shot at a live “Tell Your Friends!” show at The Bell House in Brooklyn last summer and features performances by Reggie Watts, Kurt Braunohler & Kristen Schaal, Christian Finnegan, Leo Allen, Rob Paravonian, and McEneaney. The documentary also includes interviews with comedians Janeane Garofalo, Jim Gaffigan, Colin Quinn, Marc Maron, Paul F. Tompkins, Eddie Brill, Wyatt Cenac, Hannibal Buress, and Kumail Nanjiani.

Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film! premiered at SXSW earlier this year, and has also screened at Just for Laughs in Montreal and Chicago, as well as other film festivals. Watch the trailer for the film below, then check out my video interviews with the creators and cast:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sketchfest NYC 2010Sketchfest NYC — which wrapped up its sixth annual festival last night, after three straight days of sketch comedy at the UCB Theatre — continues to showcase the wide variety of comedy and performance styles that makes sketch comedy such a vibrant and vital art. We were there for every single blackout, costume change, and musical cue at Sketchfest NYC 2010. Read about the entire weekend, below (and read more about the first night of the festival here):

Two of the annual highlights of the festival, Elephant Larry and Pangea 3000, each combine childlike wonder — or, more accurately, the awkward feelings of 13-year-old kids — with visions of an alternate reality in their sharply-written and energetically performed sketches. The boys of Pangea 3000 remind you of somebody’s goofy younger brothers as they played baseball in the future, shouted about whispering, conjugated verbs, won a fart noise spelling bee, and didn’t forget to thank anyone (especially Jessica Hess). Elephant Larry, meanwhile, would be our troublemaking yet deceptively wise older cousins, pointing out the ridiculousness in things we take for granted such as how to wear clothes, why “that’s not what your mom said last night,” if someone could be attracted to a circle, and how relish is really made.

Rue Brutalia

From left: Murderfist's Henry Zebrowski and John Moreno help Rue Brutalia (Jason Kalter and Jon Pack) chase pedophiles.

In other Sketchfest NYC shows, Team Submarine was frustrated by affirmative action for Klingons, but found art in a student’s insulting drawings. Last Call Cleveland brilliantly deconstructed cliche stand-up routines at the “Giggle Boner” comedy club, took a seizure break, then serenaded us with “The One-Semester-of-Spanish Spanish Love Song.” Rue Brutalia  tried and failed to advertise orange juice from Betsy Ross Farms, taught valuable self-defense lessons, and confronted a child molester. Free Love Forum introduced us to the Bilk brothers and regretted ever saying “See you, wouldn’t want to be you.” Long Pork got cartoonishly violent, performed magic, and shocked a gentleman repeatedly with a dog collar in the name of improv. Read the rest of this entry »

Dave and Ethan: Double Date Us

Dave and Ethan: Double Date Us

About two years ago, Dave Ahdoot and Ethan Fixell began challenging pairs of women to double date them, then documented the hilarious results in a series of YouTube videos. They’ve adapted their internet phenomenon into a live show with embarrassing stories, video testimonials, special guests, and maybe even another date. Dave and Ethan bring “Dave and Ethan: Double Date Us” to the UCB Theatre tonight at 7 p.m. to kick off the final night of Sketchfest NYC 2010.

I spoke with Dave and Ethan via email before their Sketchfest NYC debut. (“We actually both wrote all the answers together,” they explain, “which is kinda weird… because, apparently, we do everything together.”) Read the Q&A below to learn more about Dave and Ethan and their upcoming Sketchfest NYC show.

What are your expectations of Sketchfest NYC, and of your first performance at the festival?

Dave and Ethan: We’ve always been big fans of Sketchfest, so we’re super excited to finally be participants. Our main expectation is to finally meet our future wives in the audience of our show. Or just one-night wives.

For audiences who have never seen you perform, describe Dave & Ethan’s comedy and performance style.

As dating experts who have been on close to 200 double dates (most of which were disastrous), we’re aiming for uncomfortable laughter. Dating in general tends to make most people uncomfortable — some miserable, even. So we attempt to shed some light on that misery (though often making ourselves miserable in the process). Read the rest of this entry »

Long Pork

The Gentlemen of Long Pork

The gentlemen of the sketch comedy troupe Long Pork — Lee Russell, Zoran Gvojic, Charley Carroll, Zack Whittington, and Seth Gorham — have traveled from Chicago to NYC this weekend for their first-ever Sketchfest NYC performance. They will be sharing a bill with Canadian sketch duo 2-Man No-Show at 8 p.m. at the UCB Theatre.

Next week, they’ll be performing at the TBS Just for Laughs Festival in Chicago. But this weekend, New Yorkers have them all to ourselves. I spoke with Russel, Gvojic, and Carroll before their performance at Sketchfest NYC tonight. Read the Q&A below to learn more about Long Pork and what to look forward to at Sketchfest:

For New York City audiences who have never heard of Long Pork, describe your comedy and performance style.

Zoran Gvojic: Constant. After watching other sketch shows, we have made a conscious effort to avoid blackouts – bringing the lights down while we change scenes – and instead incorporate dance-inspired musical transitions that carry the viewer from one scene to the next. This makes our show into one complete experience.

Lee Russell: We’re very violent and very silly. There’s a little cross dressing, a lot of dancing, too many drugs, and a few monsters. It’s like watching live action cartoons. Read the rest of this entry »

Sketchfest NYC 2010The sixth annual Sketchfest NYC began its three-night sketch comedy festival at the UCB Theatre last night, with opening night performances by BoF, Harvard Sailing Team, Audience of Two, Sidecar, Livia Scott, and John Phillips, as well as a special talk with former Saturday Night Live writer Tom Davis and a final hour of musical comedy performances.

As the sketch duo BoF (Best of Friends), Stephen Soroka and Mamrie Hart used their quick wits and wordplay — “We don’t say ‘puns,’ we say wordplay,” Soroka informed me — in an all-new show of fast-paced sketches that coined the phrase “enemends” (not to be mistaken with “frienemies”), gave away prizes to a few lucky audience members, performed inscrutable celebrity impressions, and turned a drug bust into a dance party. Compared with their Sketchfest NYC debut a year ago, BoF was noticeably more confident and looser in their performance, timing, and writing last night.

Like BoF, the guys and gals of Sketchfest NYC favorites Harvard Sailing Team seem to be a happy-go-lucky bunch in their matching polos — until you realize their comedy style is to disarm the audience with a polite smile before punching you in the face. Sketches last night included some of the group’s trademark song and dance routines, “Yo Mama Canada,” and learning that “McDreaming” is an action verb. Read the rest of this entry »

Sketchfest NYC 2010The sixth annual Sketchfest NYC, in which 30 different performance groups from around North America converge on Gotham to celebrate the art of sketch comedy, begins tonight and runs through June 12 at the UCB Theatre in NYC. I spoke with several of the producers and performers participating in this year’s Sketchfest NYC about the festival, and how they think this annual event has grown to contribute to the creation of a unified sketch comedy community in New York.

“We throw a three-day party celebrating and honoring something that we all love to do and watch,” says Shayna Ferm, part of the sketch comedy troupe Fearsome and also a solo sketch and musical comedy performer. “Everyone has fun. Everyone meets people. We all get inspired. You remember your Sketchfest experiences and feel like you ‘know’ each other afterward. It’s a big love-fest.” Ferm has been involved in all six years of the festival, not only as a performer but also volunteering, selecting performance groups, and now being part of the producing team for the last two years.

When I first attended Sketchfest NYC four years ago, I immediately felt like I had been initiated as the newest member of some sort of secret club. Three nights of live sketch comedy from some of the best performers across the U.S. and Canada introduced me to the sketch scene in New York, and beyond. Read the rest of this entry »

Sketchfest NYCWhew, what a weekend!

This year’s fifth annual Sketchfest NYC featured 34 different sketch comedy groups from across North America, performing three days of the best sketch comedy in the nation June 11-13, 2009 at the UCB Theater in NYC. This was certainly the biggest year yet for the festival, with special performances including The College Humor Show, The Kids in the Hall’s Kevin McDonald, The Whitest Kids U’ Know, various video-based groups, and many new and returning stars of the ever-growing sketch comedy scene.

The festival kicked off to a packed house Thursday night with some NYC favorites, including Kristen Schaal, Rue Brutalia, Sidecar, The Apple Sisters, Murderfist, A Week of Kindness, and more. Shows were sold out and standing-room only throughout the first night. And that was only the beginning. (Late the next night, I was fed a pancake on stage. Keep reading for more about that later…) Read the rest of this entry »

Just hours before the fifth annual Sketchfest NYC opens tonight at the UCB Theatre in NYC, Blog Stage spoke with some of the members of Murderfist, an 11-person sketch comedy group performing tonight as part of the festival. The group describes itself as “a journey to the extreme horizon of your mind-ocean. Winston-Salems, a couple of old chubbies, a horse with a banana in it’s mouth, a man dressed up like a doctor, some Peppercorn schnapps and Monster Mash playing on repeat, Murderfist is going to get loud and get weird and this show may just help the pain of being alive.”

Like The Money Kids (read yesterday’s Blog Stage Q&A with the comedy duo here), Murderfist was accepted into the three-day sketch comedy festival after wowing producers at a live audition in February. (Back Stage posted the casting notice for auditions. Did any Back Stage readers try out?)

We were too afraid to talk to all 11 of the funny people of Murderfist at once, but Henry Zabrowski, Holden McNeely, Ed Larson, and Tim Dean took the time to talk about their audition, creating sketch comedy, and getting “Late and Dirty.” Dean says that everyone in the group can call themselves a writer-director-performer, but McNeely also calls himself the town drunk.

Read the full Q&A: Read the rest of this entry »

According to press materials, female sketch comedy group The Money Kids “formed in 2006 when Candy Lawrence and Lauren Lapkus realized they were in love with each other.” To put it in a (slightly bigger) nutshell, they met in 2006 while performing in an improv troupe in Chicago, moved in together, realized they were in love with each other, and started performing sketch comedy as a duo.

The girls moved from Chicago to New York in September, and immediately started making their mark on the NYC sketch comedy scene. They have previously performed at the Chicago Sketchfest and will be making their first appearance at Sketchfest NYC this week. (SketchFest NYC is an annual three-day festival dedicated to promoting the art of sketch comedy, featuring groups from NYC and across the country.)

Although most of the sketch groups participating in this year’s festival put their submission tapes in the mail, Back Stage also published a casting notice for live auditions for the fifth annual sketch comedy festival in February. The Money Kids was added to the 2009 Sketchfest NYC line-up after attending those live auditions. Blog Stage spoke with The Money Kids before their performance at the fifth annual Sketchfest NYC. Read the full Q&A below: Read the rest of this entry »