comedy

  Mark Twain, the highest-paid writer in America in 1894, was also one of the nation’s worst investors.

The publishing company Twain owned was failing; his investment in a typesetting device was bleeding red ink. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars back when a beer cost a nickel, he found himself neck-deep in debt. His heiress wife, Livy, took the setback hard - but Twain vowed to Livy he would pay back every penny. And so, just when the fifty-nine-year-old, bushy-browed icon imagined that he would be settling into literary lionhood, telling jokes at gilded dinners, he forced himself to mount the “platform” again, embarking on a round-the-world stand-up comedy tour. No author had ever done that. He cherry-picked his best stories—such as stealing his first watermelon and buying a bucking bronco—and spun them into a ninety-minute performance. Twain trekked across the American West and onward by ship to the faraway lands of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, India, Ceylon, and South Africa.

Richard Zacks' new book is Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour

  18-year-old Diggy Lessard's Senior Project at Woodstock Day School is entitled Modern Vaudeville -- it will tell the story of James Hurst’s "The Scarlet Ibis" through music, dance, and comedy in a one-night only variety show at BSP Lounge in Kingston, New York on May 22nd. Diggy’s project was to schedule, promote, and produce the show which will benefit Woodstock Day School’s music programs. (Joe Donahue interviewed Diggy and his dad, Stefan Lessard from Dave Matthews Band earlier this week.)

One of the participating acts is comedian, Bobby Tisdale. Tisdale is an film and television actor and provides the voice for Zeke on Bob’s Burgers on Fox.

  18-year-old Diggy Lessard is a senior at Woodstock Day School and he had created just about the coolest senior project we’ve ever heard of: Modern Vaudeville will tell the story of James Hurst’s "The Scarlet Ibis" through music, dance, and comedy in a one-night only variety show at BSP Lounge in Kingston, New York on May 22nd.

The event will benefit Woodstock Day School’s music programs and Diggy joins us now along with his father, Stefan Lessard – who happens to be the bassist for the Dave Matthews Band.

  In the summer of 1925, The New Yorker was struggling to survive its first year in print. They took a chance on a young cartoonist who was about to give up his career as an artist. His name was Peter Arno, and his witty social commentary, blush-inducing content, and compositional mastery brought a cosmopolitan edge to the magazine’s pages—a vitality that would soon cement The New Yorker as one of the world’s most celebrated publications.

Alongside New Yorker luminaries such as E.B. White, James Thurber, and founding editor Harold Ross, Arno is one of the select few who made the magazine the cultural touchstone it is today.

In his new biography of one of The New Yorker’s first geniuses, New Yorker cartoonist Michael Maslin dives into Arno’s rocky relationship with the magazine, his fiery marriage to the columnist Lois Long, and his tabloid-cover altercations involving pistols, fists, and barely-legal debutantes.

Michael Maslin’s cartoons have been appearing in The New Yorker for nearly forty years. He is the author or coauthor of eight books of cartoons. His new biography is: Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist.

Becky Mode, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jason Moore
Walter McBride / Getty Images

  Fully Committed starring Jesse Tyler Ferguson opens tonight at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City.

The play, written by Becky Mode, follows a day in the life of Sam. His job is to man the red-hot reservation line at Manhattan's number-one restaurant. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (best known for his Emmy nominated work as Mitchell on ABC’s Modern Family) plays all 40 characters, acting out the coercion, threats, bribes, and histrionics of both the would-be patrons and the staff at the very chic eatery.

Jason Moore directs this production which is scheduled for a limited run through July 24th. Moore directed the films Sisters, starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and Pitch Perfect. For Broadway he's directed Shrek The Musical and the Tony Award winning production of Avenue Q.

  Lauren Weedman is living what should be the good life in sunny Los Angeles. She has a great career, a loving husband, and an adorable baby boy, but she finds herself starring in a tabloid-worthy nightmare: she’s a Hollywood actress whose husband has an affair with their babysitter. Her new book telling her story is: Miss Fortune: Fresh Perspectives on Having it All from Someone who is NOT Okay.

Weedman is an award-winning comedic actress, playwright and author. Her television credits include The Daily Show, True Blood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development and HBO's Looking. Weedman's first book was A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body: Tales from a Life of Cringe. She is the host of the popular Moth Storytelling series in LA.

  The Blue-Sky Boys dramatizes the unorthodox creative process used by a group of maverick engineers at NASA to land men on the moon.  It’s a wild comedy about the beginnings of the Apollo space mission and about the crossroads of science and art.

Capital Repertory Theater in Albany, NY will launch (pun intended) a production of the play directed by Gordon Greenberg. Previews begin tonight and the show opens on Tuesday.

The show is written by Deborah Brevoort who joins us to tell us more. 

Comedian Dave Hill
Mindy Tucker

  This Friday and Saturday the inaugural High Mud Comedy Festival comes to MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA and will feature acclaimed national comedians and local stand-up heroes.

Tig Notaro headlines the festival which will also feature Ophira Eisenberg, Sean Patton, and the MASS MoCA return of our guest, comedian, writer, musician, actor, radio host, and man-about-town -- Dave Hill.

Dave Hill fast facts: he hosts The Goddamn Dave Hill Show on WFMU and contributes to This American Life. His band, Valley Lodge, tours globally and performs the theme song for HBO’s Last Week Tonight. He often competes - if that’s the word for it - on @midnight on Comedy Central. His first book is entitled Tasteful Nudes (St. Martin's Griffin) and his upcoming book is Dave Hill Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (Blue Rider Press). His first comedy album came out last June on aspecialthing records and is called Let Me Turn You On.

The Madison Theater

Mar 8, 2016
Marquee of The Madison Theater in Albany, NY
The Madison Theater Facebook page

  When The Madison Theater in Albany, NY opened its doors in November of 1929 it was owned by Warner Bros. and served as a single-screen neighborhood theater. In 1994, the theater was acquired, redesigned, and turned into a multiplex of five screens, with two more added in 1998.

In 2013, Tierra Farm purchased the Madison Theater from Riverfront Cinemas of Albany, and renovated and re-imagined the theater – it now features three movie theaters, and a live performance venue.

James Manning has recently taken on the mantle of Director at The Madison Theater and he joins us to tell us what they’ve been up to and what they have coming up.

Sebastian Maniscalco performing stand-up comedy
http://sebastianlive.com/

  Saying what we’re all thinking has always been Sebastian Maniscalco’s specialty. Except when he says it, it’s a whole lot funnier.

The comedian will bring his observational comedy (tinged with funny physical twinges) to The Egg in Albany, NY on Saturday, February 13th.

  In The Comedians, comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff brings to life a century of American comedy with real-life characters, forgotten stars, mainstream heroes and counterculture iconoclasts.

Based on over two hundred original interviews and extensive archival research, Nesteroff’s groundbreaking work is a narrative exploration of the way comedians have reflected, shaped, and changed American culture over the past one hundred years.

Jaye McBride
Jaye McBride

Back in August, Albany briefly became one of the comedy capitals of the world for a few days when Aziz Ansari used The Comedy Works as a boot camp before embarking on a national tour. In a matter of days and using two stages in rotation, Ansari performed 13 sold-out sets.

  Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on.

Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show is a new book written by Don Knotts’s brother-in-law and featuring extensive unpublished interviews with those closest to both men.

  It might be a silly week to talk about the other "Star" franchise, but actor Michael Dorn has appeared in more Star Trek episodes as the same character than any other actor; playing Worf, son of Mogh of the Klingon House of Martok on both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.

The Seth McFarlane movie Ted 2 is out on DVD, BluRay, and for digital download this week and in it Michael Dorn has a memorable role as the lover of Patrick Warburton's character, both of whom cosplay at New York Comic-Con as the real-life geek properties they’re best known for -- The Tick and Worf.

  This Sunday, November 15th, The Paul Green Rock Academy will play a benefit concert for Maddie’s Mark at Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, NY. Doors are at 6 and the show is at 7.

Maddie’s Mark Foundation was established in early 2012 to honor Madeline Musto - a vibrant 5 year old who died after developing an inoperable brain stem tumor. The foundation's mission is to spread Madeline's spirit by providing opportunities, creating environments, and enabling children and families live a life of 'best days ever'. The foundations organizes a ‘best day ever’ -- a family's opportunity to see something, visit someone or go somewhere with their child that may not be possible without the organization’s help.

The Paul Green Rock Academy benefit this weekend will feature Gibby Haynes, Kate Pierson, the Paul Green Rock Academy Showband, and musician and actor, Fred Armisen. Ana Dooley is a girl from Kingston, NY -- and a fan of the IFC series, Portlandia. Through Maddie’s Mark Foundation, she had a “best day ever” experience meeting Armisen last year.

Fred Armisen was a stalwart and side-splitting cast member on Saturday Night Live from from 2002 until 2013 with more than 20 recurring characters including original characters and impressions of Prince, Barack Obama, Ira Glass, and David Paterson. He is the co-creator, with Carrie Brownstein, of the Peabody Award winning, Portlandia, and is the bandleader on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

  The history of the Catskills is pivotal in the history of our country that is described in great detail in Stephen Silverman’s, The Catskills: Its History and How It Changed America.

Silverman’s book brings to life the beauty, vastness and turning points of the Catskills history, sharing stimulating stories of the region’s influential entrepreneurs, artists, gangsters, politicians, musicians and outcasts.

Vital to the development of America, the Catskills region was the birthplace of New York’s own Declaration of Independence, a central location for America’s industrial revolution, a rising resort town with hundreds of hotels and an artistic muse for the 19th century Hudson River School of Art and 20th century entertainers like Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and Joan Rivers.

  Twenty-five years after its original publication, Do I Have To Say Hello? Aunt Delia’s Manners Quiz For Kids And Their Grownups is back.

In a series of light-hearted multiple choice quizzes, alternative scenarios, and true-or-false questions, Delia Ephron and Edward Koren, the author and illustrator team who brought us the best-selling How to Eat Like a Child, depict a range of possibilities that reflect life as it is as well as life as it ought to be. The book covers table manners, car manners, video game manners, school manners, soccer manners and more.

Delia Ephron is a bestselling author and screenwriter. Her movies include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, You’ve Got Mail, Hanging Up (based on her novel), and Michael.

ramannoodlescomedy.com

Stand up comedian Krish Mohan is currently on the road on his How Not To Fit In Tour. A native of India who grew up in the U.S., Mohan will bring his show to Albany's Madison Theater on October 22nd.

The Cooking Channel

For many people around my age, Tia Mowry was familiar and welcome figure growing up; her sitcom with her twin Tamera, Sister Sister, was a sensation when it debuted in 1994. Mowry’s quick wit and winning performance endeared her to more than one generation of fans.

  Comedian Craig Ferguson, the former host of CBS' The Late Late Show current host of TV's Celebrity Name Game, best-selling author and popular stand-up comedian will bring his "New Deal Tour" to Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, NY on Sunday.

  The Woodstock Comedy Festival takes place this weekend and the headliner will be Robert Klein. Klein is a Grammy, Tony, and Emmy-nominated comedian and actor who has appeared in film, theater, and on television for fifty years. 

Born in the Bronx, he was a member of the famed Second City theatrical troupe in Chicago. He was nominated twice for Grammy Awards for "Best Comedy Album of the Year" for his albums Child of the Fifties and Mind Over Matter. He received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the hit Neil Simon musical, They're Playing Our Song.

His memoir, The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue is an affectionate coming-of-age story about growing up in the '50s and '60s before embarking on a show business career.

Robert Klein will be performing on Saturday night at the Bearsville Theatre in Woodstock, NY at 7:30.

  You may have seen our next guest on your Twitter or Facebook feeds a few weeks back when he appeared on The Tonight Show as President Obama and gave debate advice to Jimmy Fallon’s Donald Trump.

Dion Flynn brings a new level of comedy to the highest office in the land. The Mop & Bucket Co., Proctors’ improv company in residence, presents the Schenectady premiere of Flynn's new one-man show, The Only Brown Kid In The Trailer Park on Sunday night.

Flynn's autobiographical show is the story of his journey from growing up the only bi-racial kid in a trailer park- where he quickly developed a sense of humor - to appearing as the first black President on national television.

  Eddie Izzard is a man of many talents. He has won two Emmy Awards for his stand-up specials, has been a movie actor in Valkyrie, Ocean's Twelve, Ocean's Thirteen, and is also a keen learner of languages, having performed his entire set in Paris in French, and in Berlin in German. He will speaking English on Thursday at Tanglewood.

  Tony winner Mary Louise Wilson -- forever dubbed "the best thing in it" in review after review – has written a memoir about her life in the theatre, movies and television. My First Hundred Years in Show Business tells Wilson’s story through the eight-year journey of turning a memoir of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland into the career-peak triumph Full Gallop, the show that made Wilson a star in her 60s.

Mary Louise Wilson's numerous award-winning roles include Vera Joseph in 4000 Miles at Lincoln Center, Big Edie in Grey Gardens (Tony Award), Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret (Tony nomination), Queen Elizabeth in The Beard of Avon (Drama Desk nomination) and Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop (Drama Desk Award). Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and she teaches acting at Tulane University. She is fresh from finishing a run on stage in the hit revival of On The Twentieth Century.

This Book Show was recorded at The Morton Memorial Library in Rhinecliff, NY, presented by Oblong Books and Music.

  It takes guts to be a comedian, and it takes smarts to make a living off it. In Funny on Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy: Standup + Improv + Sketch + TV + Writing + Directing + YouTube, former Onion editor Joe Randazzo delivers a funny and insightful blueprint for those looking to turn their sense of humor into a vocation.

  In his memoir, I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, Martin Short writes about his early years in Toronto as a member of Second City to the all-American comic big time of Saturday Night Live and memorable roles in movies.

He also writes about the creation of his lasting characters - and about his personal life which includes the loss of both of his parents before the age of 20.

  Legendary talk show host, Broadway actor and three-time Emmy Award Winner Dick Cavett will be on hand to host the one-night-only Shakespeare & Company Benefit Performance of Broadway in the Berkshires on Monday, August 3 at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.

Cavett has been nominated for eleven Emmy awards (the most recent in 2012 for the HBO special, Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett Together Again), and won three. He is a master interviewer. He started at ABC in 1968, and also enjoyed success on PBS, USA, and CNBC.

He has appeared in movies, TV specials, and several Broadway shows including Into the Woods, The Rocky Horror Show, Otherwise Engaged. His most recent book is: Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic moments, and Assorted Hijinks – a collection of his online opinion column, written for The New York Times since 2007.

  Emmy Award–winning writer Adam Resnick began his career at Late Night with David Letterman. He went on to co-create Fox’s Get a Life, starring Chris Elliott, and has written several screenplays, including cult favorites Cabin Boy and Death to Smoochy. Resnick has written for Saturday Night Live, was a co-executive producer and writer for HBO’s The Larry Sanders Show.

Resnick uses the self-descriptor: “euphorically antisocial.” His new book is a tour of troubled psyche - memoir-in-essays entitled: Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation.

  This Friday, the 2015 Solid Sound Festival will kick off at MASS MoCA in North Adams MA. The music and art festival is curated by the rock-band Wilco, a Grammy award winning group that has been trying to break your heart and loving you, baby, for 20 years.

On Saturday The Hunter Center at MASS MoCA will host "John Hodgman's Big Time Comedy Thing" with an astounding line-up of amazing comedy acts including Hodgman himself and Tig Notaro, Jessica Williams, improv group Superego and Paul F. Tompkins. (Lest ye fret about comedy not working in the midday summer sun - know that the Hunter Center is indoors and is perfect for stand-up, sketch, and improv.)

Paul F. Tompkins' career launched from writing and acting on HBO’s Mr. Show with Bob and David. His television work includes hosting gigs and guest appearances on just about everything funny and he's the host of the Dead Authors Podcast, a new Earwolf Podcast called Spontaneanation and regularly appears on Comedy Bang Bang and Thrilling Adventure Hour. It's safe to call him a staple of the comedy-podcast genre (which we're here to assure you is a real thing). He hosts No, You Shut Up! on Fusion, and the web-series Speakeasy for Made Man.

  The Exchange is a NYC based arts institution committed to the to creation of bold new work. Their Orchard Project has made its way to our region.

Over 25 projects will be developed in the various residencies of The Orchard Project in Saratoga Springs this month. It also marks the first-ever Orchard Project Presents season, a series of public performances that will take place at Universal Preservation Hall as well as at venues around Saratoga Springs.

The series will feature events every week in June, including Sneak Peeks, Cabarets and Concerts, and an Open Studio Week. Events are already underway and will conclude with an intimate concert with Tony Award winning actor, singer, and writer Alan Cumming. We get a look now with Ari Edelson - artistic director of The Exchange and founder of The Orchard.

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