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Podcast: The College Years: Pledge & Rock

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Everybody's been talking my ear off about the lack of new College Years episodes... and you were 100% right, so I'm hitting you with a double shot.

In our first episode, we have a pledge drive blowout. This includes trying to auction off a date with Dan (theme music composer), and hearing some bizarre dreams, as well as pledge messages from Petey the Penguin.

In our second episode, it's all Rock & Roll. Gene brings us rock facts, plus an Ozzy Osbourne themed game. Also, an interview with some folks I don't remember interviewing AT ALL, plus the Evil Computer.

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Hollywood, California: Home of the Stars!

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Last night's big show at the Fake Gallery was a rip-roaring success. With prominent plugs on John Hodgman's blog and Defamer, we had nothing to worry about in the attendance department. A number of people had to be turned away at the door after we filled the Fake Gallery to fire capacity. As patrons sipped on imported beer and fine California wine, the show commenced.

Host Chris Hardwick (left) brought some class to the operation, telling his favorite German knock-knock joke (in ends in existential misery) and pointing out that while many people complain about the lack of jet-packs and blue drinks in 21st century America, they really should be marveling at the presence of vaginal rejuvenation surgery. Who needs meals in a pill when you have "an army of super-tight future pussy?"


The duly warmed-up crowd was then treated to Sideways House. I was backstage, prepping for Prank the Dean's set, and missed their show, but it would have been impossible to miss the audience's laughter. These guys have built an impressive following with monthly shows at the IO West, and there were plenty of SH partisans at the Fake. Above, Jordan Morris of Prank the Dean guest-stars in a horrifying display of adult daiperosity.

The next act, Diani & Devine (above), were San Franciscans before they were Angelenos, and it shows in the sophistication of their style and material. Imagine a 21st century Nichols & May with crackerjack chemistry and audacious concepts, and you'll have a picture of their act. Highlights included the admittedly vulgar closer, featuring Etta Devine as an elderly phone-sex operator.

Prank the Dean closed the show. It's tough to review the show from the stage, but we were very happy with the wonderful crowd. Above, a candidate for office (Jim Real) offers a picture of a dog in a trash can as a metaphor for the grossness of his youthful indiscretions. Below, Jordan (as Michael the Orphan) finds that his fate has improved dramatically, as he learns he will become a robber baron after inventing the velocipede.

"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.

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