You know that 30-something friend of yours who doesn’t have kids but already seems to have assumed the persona of a fun dad? That’s Pete Holmes, and that’s how he proudly describes himself these days. Indeed, on first glance, everything about him screams “average white guy” and “non-threatening,” but he’s got a subtle edge, which has helped him earn an increasingly wide pale of work. His growing résumé includes writing credits on NBC’s (recently canceled) Outsourced and Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans, stage time on Jimmy Fallon and Conan, a half-hour Comedy Central special, a gig as cartoonist for The New Yorker and the voice of the ubiquitous e*trade baby. He’ll be at Punchline tonight, and he recently took a moment to answer a few questions about his career-in-motion.
Last night’s Sleigh Bells/Neon Indian show at the Independent was one of those nights we’ll recall 20 years from now when we’re explaining to our robot doctor why we’ve gone partially deaf:
“Why didn’t you wear ear plugs?” the doctor will ask, unfamiliar with human masochism.
“Well. It was f-ing’ Sleigh Bells doc. They’re gloriously loud, and we didn’t want to miss a decibel,” we’ll say sans regret, adding “that’s kind of the point with some bands. Now fix me.”
Anyone who has witnessed Bob Saget do stand-up or Dustin “Screech” Diamond do porn knows the actors' off-camera sensibilities do not always align with their television personalities. And perhaps it’s no surprise that some of our most endearing fictional network TV heroes are actually some of our crudest, gutter-minded citizens. Everyone needs a release from their day job, right?
Actor/comedian Tracy Morgan has reached the heights of television stardom differently than most character actors. That is, he’s been able to be himself. Kind of.
His 30 Rock character is vaguely similar to his own persona and even his own name — Tracy Jordan, a cartoon-voiced, overly manicured, narcissistic yet also sensitive TV talent. Critics generally say it’s a fantastically meta sendup of the Hollywood ego, but Morgan doesn’t really buy the similarities.
“It’s a fictional character, not me,” he says bluntly.
So who is Tracy Morgan? For one, he’s not all slapstick and gags. He’s a family man, a street philosopher, an artist. And yes, there’s still some street in the Brooklyn native.
First things first: Comedian/actor/producer/director Michael McDonald is a separate person from white fox/baritone/Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers voice Michael McDonald. The two inhabit very different worlds, but the former is slowly working his way toward a similar level of fame in his own mediums of stand-up and television. The former “MADtv” star has since found regular acting and directing work on hit shows such as “Scrubs” and “Cougar Town,” and still finds time to tour the comedy club circuit, which he’ll be doing this weekend at Cobb’s.
When the rules were being re-written for the modern generation of stand-up comedians, an odd thing happened. Many decreed that it was an audience's place to laugh, not the comedian's. There's a sense (or so it seems from today's hyper-cynical, humbler-than though comedy scene) that for a jester to admit his own wit by laughing is a bad business practice.
History’s Renaissance men have never come packaged quite like Joe Rogan. The former reality show host/current UFC commentator/psychedelic drugs advocate/podcaster/martial artist is a compelling mix of brain and braun — part Harvard, part Vegas. He’s something of an enigma, bringing a streak of intellectualism to a sport and demographic that could probably use it — the now-mainstreamed culture of mixed martial arts. Rogan is as interested in politics, socioeconomics and modern science as he is in round-house kicks and choke-holds.
A day in the life of his Twitter feed (@joerogan) refers to topics as diverse as the taxoplasma parasite, the state of country music, illiteracy in urban areas and beyond, as if he’s on a mission to bring a well-rounded education to his MMA-loving followers (for an idea of his demographic, his podcast’s sponsor is a masturbatory assistance mechanism called the Fleshlight).
We can only assume there’s a collective wisdom in the old showbiz saying that the show must go on, as it did for mid-career Brooklyn band TV on the Radio last night at The Independent. Their bassist-keyboardist Gerard Smith, a band member since 2003, passed away on April 20 after a brief but brave bout with lung cancer, which the public learned of just a month before his passing. So fingers were dutifully crossed in the hopes that last night’s rescheduled show offered some therapeutic value, or at least the occasional moment of distraction from the grim tragedy that has befallen this band.
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