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Aspen Stories: Brent Weinbach


Two weeks ago, the HBO's Aspen Comedy Festival brought comedians and comedy industry insiders from all over the nation to a little resort town in Colorado. Several Sound of Young America pals were among the attendees, so we thought we'd debrief them on their experience.

First up: Brent Weinbach. Brent is one of San Francisco's most unique and succesful comics. His delivery veers between pitch-perfect impressions and a soothing monotone. His passionate Bay Area fans are known for attending his "Advanced Weinbach" shows, which feature his most bizarre routines, and wearing his trademark Weinbach t-shirts. Recently, he's spent more time in Los Angeles, with a TV development deal and a growing fan base in the Southland.

Had you been to Aspen before?


What did you expect it to be like?

I expected it to be really cold and the audiences to maybe be kind of sucky. They ended up being very kind of sucky.

What surprised you about it when you got there?

I was surprised about how nice my hotel room was compared to my friends'. I had a jacuzzi with a skylight over it, a microwave and refrigerator, a couch, and an extra sink. And other stuff too. Also, I was surprised at how little I had to spend while I was there, due to there beingfree buffets and stuff. I spent less than $50 for the whole week.

What was the audience like for your show(s)?

The audience was composed of three different kinds of people.
  1. Industry. They were the only ones who laughed and were the best portion of the audience.
  2. Old, white, rich, Republicans whose frame of reference was very removed from what most of the comics were talking about on stage. They did not laugh, because they didn't get it. You would see rows and rows of people with white hair or baldness, sitting there with still faces. I guess they were expecting something else.
  3. The worst portion of the crowd: country red-necks from surrounding towns. These people constantly yelled things out, heckled, and loudly answered rhetorical questions. At such a prestigious festival, you would think they would organize security to deal with these things, but they didn't. Comedians had to sometimes battle it out with these people, as if they were in Modesto or some place like that. During one of my sets, someone yelled out, "Get a job."
What was the best social event you attended? Why?

Apparently, the one party I missed was the one that everyone said was the best party, the one at the Goldberg house. I guess the best social event I went to was -well, I don't have an answer. They were all the same to me. I'll tell you what though, about nine of us went snow mobiling one morning. If you consider that a social event, that was the best. It was like a video game or an action movie or something, sort of. It was very fun. We rode through the mountains and ate burgers at this log cabin and raced at the end. We met amysterious man named the Red Zinger.

What was the best show you saw that wasn't your own?

The Whitest Kids U Know. I was falling out of my chair because I was
laughing so hard. Great acting, silly, over-the-top -they were the best thing
I saw at the festival, and I saw almost every show.

What was the strangest social interaction you had while there?

Well, this one well-known manager introduced himself to me and said he really liked my stuff and so on. Then I brought up this story about him and my manager that may have been too innapropriate for just having met him. After I mentioned it, he didn't really laugh. Neither did the couple of agents I work with who were there too. There was a brief awkward moment and then the subject was somehow quickly changed, but I was still very embarrassed. I felt like I
really put my foot in my mouth and stressed out about it the rest of the night. In the end, I don't think he took any notice of it or cared. I hope.

Would you reccomend it to others?

Yes. As long as you go in expecting to have mediocre to decent sets, it's a very fun time and a great opportunity to see other acts from around the country.

Brent Weinbach Online (His CD, "Tales From the Brown Side" is reccomended)
TSOYA: "Laugh Riot" featuring comedy from Brent (MP3 Link)

Next up: Sherry Sirof

Improv Everywhere on This American Life


This weekend on public radio stations across America, the wonderful This American Life will be re-running their program which features the nearly-as-wonderful Improv Everywhere.

IE's motto is "We Cause Scenes." They organize events which are a cross between theater, comedy, and situationism... like installing a bathroom attendant in a McDonalds, faking a rooftop U2 concert, or offering boat tours of a public fountain.

The show airs this weekend on your local station, but if you're impatient, you can listen to the show now.

Or, you can listen to IE founder Charlie Todd on The Sound of Young America:
Download "Odd Ends" with the Charlie Todd Interview (MP3 Audio)
Listen to the RealAudio stream of the interview

And yes, he was on our show first. EAT THAT IRA!

Bob Newhart in El Tiempo


There's a nice article in the New York Times today about the great Bob Newhart, who's performing tonight in Brooklyn. For some reason, they went to Bernie Mac for a quote... he delivered a great one:

"A lot of people define courage as being out front and in your face," Mr. Mac said, "but Bob didn't come out of his picture frame for anybody. That bland style, that plaid jacket, with the hair combed to one side over the bald spot — that was Bob. And there's nothing wrong with that. Because it takes courage to be yourself, and he showed everybody that."


On tommorow's show...


I just finished up an interview with writer George Pelecanos, and I have to say I'm *very* excited about tommorow's show. The theme's going to be Elements of Style...

Last week, I had a really fascinating conversation with Maira Kalman, who created an illustrated version of the classic writer's guide "The Elements of Style." When I heard about the book, I was intruiged, and when I saw it, I was sold a bajillion times over. One of the really amazing things about the original Elements of Style is how surprising and funny it is. One of the most wonderful things in writing is extreme pithiness, and EB White had that in spades. Kalman's illustrations bring that to life in amazing ways... the one above is for the entry, "Illusion: see allusion." She had wonderful things to say about it.

Later on today, I'm talking with Nico Muhly, who wrote a song cycle about the book. He's my age (24), and has already worked with John Adams and Bjork. We'll see if there's room for that in the show, otherwise it's going up on the web here. They were nice enough to let me use Nico's music in the show. Here's a beautiful artwork/interview about his work with Bjork.

And as I mentioned earlier, I also got to talk to George Pelecanos. He's a brilliant crime novelist, and a writer/producer for HBO's The Wire, which I'm pretty sure is the best show on television. He just edited a new compilation of stories called "DC Noir," and he's working on The Wire now. I talked to him about both of them. After the interview, I allowed myself a moment to gush... I told him how many copies of his books I'd sold to people when I worked at Borders at 18th & L in DC.

Total Annihilation

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Ever since my (10-year-old) brother Brendan played the first song his band ever recorded on The Sound of Young America, people have been asking me about his band, Total Annihilation. Brendan (aka Eddy Demon) sings lead vocals and plays guitar. An awesome guy called Pete (Pietro D'Amato), who recently turned 13, plays drums, and our family friend Damon (D. Harmoniak), who's a grown-up, plays bass. They play punk rock music, with lyrics influenced by General Awesomeness and Metal.

Total Annihilation is on MySpace, and their first CD is available in stores... or more accurately, a store. If you visit Aquarius Records in San Francisco, you can buy their debut EP, which features original songs like "Rock & Roll on a Friday," which features the awesome lyric printed above. You can hear it on the MySpace. If you don't live in San Francisco, call Aquarius at 415.647.2272 and order it over the phone... they totally do mail order. Each CD comes in an amazing hand-colored package with a special art card for each song. My dad think it costs $10, but he can't remember.

They're also looking for gigs in the Bay Area, in venues that allow kids to perform. Warning: they play very, very, very loud.

Thanks for linking Brendan, BoingBoing!

The Human Giant Hosts Comedy Death Ray

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If you live in LA, prepare for a confluence of comedy forces of such awesome power that even having heard many of them on our show before will not protect you.

Comedy Death Ray, Tuesday night at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, features...

Todd Barry, Neil Hamburger, Morgan Murphy, The Human Giant, and MORE. This is a pretty monstrous lineup. Aziz Ansari says The Human Giant will be playing their short Illusionators.

Tickets are only $5, so make your reservations now, or cry yourself to sleep Tuesday night, and dream of what you missed.

For those who don't live in LA, Live the Magic through these amazing links to past Sound of Young America programs:

February 18th, 2006 - The American Dream with Neil Hamburger (MP3)
July 9th, 2005 - Qay Into You with the founders of Comedy Death Ray, Scott and BJ (MP3)
Todd Barry Interview (realaudio)

A peak at the new Outkast record...


from the Fader blog.

The highlights were "Morris Brown" (paying tribute to the college who's marching band is featured on the song), containing an inescapable "My heart is like a marching band..." hook by Purple Ribbon R&B wunderkind Scar, and a woozy, "Whole World"-style banger mixing live drums and loops with juke-joint instrumentation. Both were being considered as lead-off singles to the soundtrack...but then Andre decided he wanted to rap again, and it's back to the lab. ANDRE 3000 IS RAPPING AGAIN. STAY TUNED.

What's Your Podroll?


On the right, you can see a list of podcasts that I listen to. I also listen to a lot of KQED-FM and KPOO-FM here in San Francisco. KQED is the local giant NPR affiliate, KPOO is a community station that plays music... mostly "urban" music. I got my first MP3 player a couple months ago, a Rio Carbon, and I really enjoy it. I've been downloading MP3s since the pre-Napster days.

What podcasts do you listen to? Why do you like them? How did you find them?

Cory Doctorow's "Craphound"


My e-friend Steve Eley hosts a podcast called "Escape Pod," which features readings of science fiction stories. Steve's a real leader in the podcasting community, and he does a great job with the show, which is, last I checked, significantly more popular than The Sound.

I offered to read a story for him, and he provided me with a real doozy. "Craphound" is a story by Boing-Boing blogger (and renowned SF writer) Cory Doctorow about an alien with a flea market fetish, and his fraught relationship with a junk dealer. It touches on themes of authenticity, nostalgia, and cross-cultural communication. It's also very funny. I had a great time reading it.

You can download the story for free from EscapePod's Website.

Tim of Tim & Eric's Harrowing Tale...


Yesterday, we reported that Tim of Tim & Eric had been stabbed... today, he posted the full story on his blog.

...but when I call his name, he responds with a very violent, guttural growl; RHAAAAHGH!!!!!!! which immediately tells my brain to tell my body to run back down the stairs, quickly. I look behind me at the bottom of the stairs to see him coming fast behind me holding an 8-inch butcher's knife...

The moral of this story is: DO NOT USE PCP.

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