Summer of Stand-Up

Since I finally broke down and got the cable hooked up to my TV, I’ve really been enjoying all the excellent stand-up comedy this summer has to offer.  Showtime has done an exceptional job bringing quality stand-up and comedy discussion to us masses, and it seems like there’s more goodness on the way.

I wasn’t familiar with Hal Sparks until I watched his special “Hal Sparks: Charmageddon,” and now I’m a fan.  I was initially wary of him, as he seems almost insincere, but I’m glad I hung around.  He’s surprisingly insightful, and he cracked me up.

I’ve been a Jake Johannsen fan since his first HBO special, “Jake Johannsen: This’ll Take About An Hour.”  I’ve since seen him live and try to stay current on what he’s up to.  I was really excited to watch his new Showtime special “Jake Johannsen: I Love You,” and he doesn’t disappoint.  Check it out.  (Note: “Jake Johannsen: This’ll Take About An Hour” has been posted in its entirety to YouTube.  Hopefully Jake approves.  It’s one of my favorite stand-up specials, and it’s well worth watching.)

I had the pleasure of watching Jordan Brady’s documentary I Am Comic the other night on Showtime, and it blew me away.  It should be required viewing for comedians, teachers, wannabes and serious fans.  I have never seen a more comprehensive take on stand-up comedy, and Brady does an incredible job digging into the joys and realities of the industry.  I emailed Brady to ask about purchasing a DVD, and he said he is planning to release it in the fall.  He recommended I join their Facebook page for the latest updates.

I’m also really psyched about “The Green Room with Paul Provenza,” Showtime’s new discussion show about stand-up comedy.  Provenza leads a panel of four other comics through talks about the state of comedy and whatever else comes up, hilariously illustrated by lightning wit and stories of their experiences.  It’s a bit reminiscent of past favorite “Dinner For Five” with Jon Favreau, but “The Green Room” plays looser and much funnier.  Stand-up isn’t easy, and this show makes it very clear why the pros are the pros.

Finally, curiosity brought me back to NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.”  My hopes weren’t high, but I wanted to see Craig Robinson.  Turns out he’s only a very minor presence as the host, but there’s so much more going on.  The always hilarious Andy Kindler anchors the judge’s panel, and Greg Giraldo and Natasha Leggero give him nice support.  I know they’re supposed to be equal presences, but Kindler owns it; he kills me.  The show has come a long way since Dat Phan, and it’s open season for this year’s contestants.  I’m sure it’s disappointing to the amateur hopefuls to see so many pros in the contest, but it does make for good TV.  As of now I’m pulling for Chip Pope:

Have a great summer!