If you’ve ever watched the Discovery Channel trivia game show “Cash Cab,” and found yourself thinking “hey, this host is kind of funny,” well, that’s because he is. Ben Bailey, he of the mighty testosteroned voice, shaved head and 6’6” frame, got his start in showbiz by standing up on a stage telling jokes to strangers — before he made a living driving a casino-lit NYC cab around asking strangers questions.
It’s hard to say exactly how Brent Weinbach — one of the Bay Area’s comic talents truly deserving of wider recognition — is funny. His shtick is inconceivably awkward, his delivery of punchlines uber-droll, his voice that of an unbearably uncharismatic statistics professor, with all the stage presence of a To Catch a Predator star.
The father of an old friend once shared some sage wisdom with me, albeit reluctantly, lowering his voice as if he were divulging an insider’s stock tip: “When meeting someone for the first time, usually the first sign of intelligence is a sense of humor.” His thesis still seems far-fetched some ten years later, but then I talk to someone like Demetri Martin, a Yale graduate and a former NYU Law student who also happens to be one of the funniest people on the planet.
Fans of The Daily Show know poignant, meaningful humor cannot be expressed in 140 characters or less. Comedy of a higher order necessitates well-articulated ideas, counterintuitive analogies and word play; in other words, it craves patience. Wyatt Cenac, a writer and correspondent on the show, is an unexpected posterboy of this old-school approach to jokery, speaking in paragraphs instead of soundbytes and subtly working his way to a point. A tweeter he is not, but Cenac is relentlessy in touch with modern culture, whether it's underground music or the political zeitgeist. You've gotta be when you're a part of The Daily Show's Best F*#@ing News Team.
Charlie Murphy has seen through the looking glass, and he’s still not entirely what side he’s on. The famed comedian was at Cobb’s last night — the second of a four-night stint at the North Beach comedy club — and outlined for a boisterous crowd his take on our surreal popular culture. Reality, turns out, is one hell of a drug.
Few could have hallucinated the life of Murphy, who has spent his entire professional career in the daunting shadow of his megastar brother Eddie. He’s managed to forge his own singular identity and cult following thanks to a coup of a gig on Chappelle’s Show and various semi-high-profile TV and film roles.