The MaxFun Blog

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"A lot of people are afraid of heights..."

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"...not me. I'm afraid of widths."

Steven Wright on SNL in the 1980s

Wright's first new special in years and years, "When the Leaves Blow Away," debuts on Comedy Central Saturday night at 9PM.

TSOYA Presents TONIGHT in LA

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This is going to be a really rip-roaring show, and I hope you'll come. If you're press or industry email me. We'll have free beer & wine for grown-ups. Should be a blast.

Be sure to call for reservations to be guaranteed a seat: 323-661-0786.

Interview: Jon Wolanske of Killing My Lobster

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(Above: the proud beard of Jon Wolanske)

The sketch comedy group Killing My Lobster has, over the last ten years or so, become a San Francisco institution. They put on an all-new show every six months or so, they've got an annual film festival, they even get arts grants. They recently branched out into more traditional theater, producing Peter Nachtrieb's Hunter Gatherers, which was both a critical and commercial success.

KML are performing an omnibus show at Cobb's Comedy Club in San Francisco Wednesday night (tickets), so we thought we'd catch up with our friend Jon Wolanske, a writer-performer-producer in the group.

Killing My Lobster have been a fixture of the San Francisco comedy scene for quite some time. You've seen lots of SF comics (and some KML cast members) come and go... why stay in SF?

We stay in the Bay not only because we love the unique things this part of the country has to offer, but we believe this is the best place to create fresh original comedy in the country. we're kind of known for a blend of different flavors--silly slapstick, meta-humor, literary references, sketches that incorporate found text, and lots of nostalgic and sometimes sentimental humor. it's an odd mix, and based on where we have performed (Chicago, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Vancouver) we think San Francisco audiences are not only among the best when it comes to comedy, they tend to get our eclectic sense of humor the most. we also find that this is a great place to self-produce, where budgets can remain modest and you can still do a lot with that money.

What was it like to put on a real play, after years of sketch comedy reviews?

The play experience was pretty incredible from every aspect. I think the best part about it is that it was a natural outgrowth from what we do--because the playwright is a alumnus of the group, and the play itself--structurally, thematically, and in the end production, aesthetically--seemed to grow out of what we do really organically... it was as if one sketch or concept of a sketch was incubated and really stretched. the best part about it was that it showed we could grow as a producing organization into a new arena, and that our longtime supporters would actually go with us and give us that license to really try something new. Overall, it was really encouraging. and for me personally, playing a character who would have to kill a lamb onstage every night means i would never look at a schawerma in the same way ever again.

KML consistently embarasses other sketch groups with exceptional production values -- sets, costumes, a great band -- what's the role of that polish in the group's shows?

We don't do it to embarrass anyone--sometimes it backfires on us. but we feel that having high production values is a show of respect not only to the work, but to the artists who invest so much time in creating this original programming and to the audience, who we feel pays good money to enjoy a great evening of entertainment. We really enjoy thinking about every aspect of the show--from how a song that precedes a sketch sets up that sketch, to what the program looks like and how it can play off the theme of any given show, to what's in the lobby at intermission. So any sense of polish is there to really just enhance the overall experience of the
show's theme--and what the audience can take away from that.

What's the story with this big show at Cobb's?

We've been chatting with the good folks at Cobb's for a while about getting in there... they've been great about staying in touch--and this show arose as a fun way to preview the fall musical and to present some of our favorite recent and older sketches. We'd like to go back there again and do something where we create original content for that specific space--perhaps some stand-up from members of the group and some sketches we create specifically for there--but for now this show is an experiment to test run our fall musical material and see how we do in North Beach. Plus we always thought our material would really be enhanced by a two-drink minimum. Wo we're hoping for great things.

Have you noticed?

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That I finally got the archives working, for the first time since we made the switch from tsoya.libsyn.com to maximumfun.org.

Terror Cell

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When a friend calls you up and says, "we're making a video for McSweeney's tommorow. Eggers asked if we could do it. You want in?" the appropriate response is, "yes."

That happened to me a few months ago, and this video, "Terror Cell," was the result. James and John Reichmuth of Kasper Hauser, Dave Owen of the SF Sketchfest, some other folks and me got together one day at McSweeney's headquarters to tape this sketch, which was written by Chris Eggers. Dave Eggers was on set, overseeing his troops, and Brent Hoff was running the show.

We basically re-wrote / re-improvised the sketch on the spot, it was a great time, and I didn't hear anything else about it for months and months and months. This was the end result. It's a mixed bag and in some ways reflects the hasty way in which it was thrown together, but I thought I'd share it nonetheless. I hope it will satisfy your insatiable appetite for short films in which I wear an absurd false moustache.

Next time you're making a "Pimp My Ride" joke...

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...think of this performance from Xzibit on Letterman. It's hardly a perfect record, but you have to admit, X really has something.

Free Stickers

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Do you want some free Sound of Young America stickers? All you have do is send me an SASE.

The Sound of Young America
720 S. Normandie Ave. #505
Los Angeles, CA 90005

And by the way, once in a while folks ask me where the photos on the stickers came from. Check out Big Happy Funhouse and Square America for more of these great photos, and thanks to Nick and Ron.

Oh shit, it's days away.

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It's real, and it's about to happen. This is going to be HUGE, folks, and I expect everyone in the TSOYA community to help spread the word.

Days away, friends, days away. PREPARE YOURSELVES FOR A MULTI-MEDIA ONSLAUGHT.

Guess what? The feed is up! I'll post an iTunes link when it's approved, and you will be expected to subscribe, review and reccomend to others.

Joe Budden - Broken Wing Freestyle

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This is brand new (check the Cory Lidle allusion), and it's fantastic. Budden has a bit of Redman, a bit of Jay-Z and a lot of talent. Def Jam has been doing him dirty for almost five years now, but if he keeps making music like this, he'll have a long career.

When you hear Joe you hear the conviction and diction
That open emotion, devotion is different
Real talk of when he ain't have a pot to piss in
He ain't have a car not one rock to glisten
I'm giving 'em non-fiction,
conning his addictions
Ya'll got the easy job, just listen

Link
Lyrics

Hodgmania sweeps into San Francisco, battters TSOYA relentlessly!

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Our friends John Hodgman (right) and Jonathan Coulton (left) are hitting San Francisco tonight for a reading/event to celebrate the softcover edition of Mr. Hodgman's Opus "The Areas of My Expertise."

The event is at the brand new San Francisco branch of Cody's Books, on Stockton street downtown, at 7PM. I will offer my guarantee that it's the most fun you will have at a book reading this year. Perhaps the only fun you will have at a book reading, since most other book readings are hardly fun at all. Edifying, maybe.

Expect a new episode of TSOYA with John and Jonathan this week, as they stopped by TSOYA Studios in Los Angeles the other day to lay down some tracks.

Furthermore, expect John & Jonathan in Baltimore, DC, Richmond, Chapel Hill, Durham, Oxford, and Austin in October.

Below, a sample of the possible hijinks from a Portland show... recognize Hodgman in the necktie, Coulton in the buckskin suit and coonskin cap.

Tom chimes in in the comments today:
I'm happy to report the SF Cody's appearance last night was great. TSOYA listeners should not miss out an opportunity to see John and Johnathan in person. There was music, humor, and quaffing of mature beverages. Note, it was standing room only by 6:30, so you might want to arrive early if you want to sit in the "splatter zone".

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