Fear and loathing in Boston-- heads to Ville de Legume
to see what all the fuss is about

CLICK HERE FOR: Update #2 Update #3


(Filed APRIL 30, 2004)
DEDHAM--We're stationed in Dedham... that's a town that sits at about 7 o'clock on the inner beltway that surrounds Boston (the city center is at 3 o'clock). It takes about 20 minutes to get into town from here. Not a bad tradeoff when you consider that the hotels in town are charging $37 to pahk the cah. Besides, the official barracks for the International Boston Comedy & Movie Festival, the Park Plaza, sold out. So... if you're not going to be staying in the Fest epicenter, and if you're not drinking (Dr. Agatston says only red wine is acceptable.), a 20-min. car ride is neither death-defying nor a major inconvenience.

We'd been invited to perform in the Boston International Comedy & Film Festival back in February or March. Traci on the XXX Show (more on that later), me on the Campus Comedy showcase. Anyone will tell you that being at a festival is profoundly different from being in a festival. We've speculated on the pressure, the stakes, the wholly different set of rules that any festival showcaser faces. Now we're dealing with those things firsthand.

Things are most bizarre for the SHECKYmagazine HQ crew (all two of us). We're here at the BCMF (and actually in the BCMF). We've been invited to perform at the upcoming Calgary Festival. We're looking forward to our sixth visit to Just For Laughs in Montreal in July. And we're in the midst of celebrating the magazine's fifth anniversary.

And things are most bizarre for the comedy biz at large. Exhibit A: Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Standup Comics of All Time.

If you haven't seen the list, take a moment to peruse it... We'll wait... Take your time...


1. Richard Pryor
 2. George Carlin
 3. Lenny Bruce
 4. Woody Allen
 5. Chris Rock
 6. Steve Martin
 7. Rodney Dangerfield
 8. Bill Cosby
 9. Roseanne Barr
10. Eddie Murphy
11. Johnny Carson
12. Jerry Seinfeld
13. Robin Williams
14. Bob Newhart
15. David Letterman
16. Ellen DeGeneres
17. Don Rickles
18. Jonathan Winters
19. Bill Hicks
20. Sam Kinison
21. Dennis Miller
22. Robert Klein
23. Steven Wright
24. Redd Foxx
25. Bob Hope

26. Ray Romano
27. Jay Leno
28. Jack Benny
29. Milton Berle
30. Garry Shandling
31. George Burns
32. Albert Brooks
33. Andy Kaufman
34. Buddy Hackett
35. Phyllis Diller
36. Jim Carrey
37. Martin Lawrence
38. Bill Maher
39. Billy Crystal
40. Mort Sahl
41. Jon Stewart
42. Flip Wilson
43. Dave Chappelle
44. Joan Rivers
45. Richard Lewis
46. Adam Sandler
47. Henny Youngman
48. Tim Allen
49. Freddie Prinze
50. Denis Leary

51. Lewis Black
52. Damon Wayans
53. David Brenner
54. DL Hughley
55. Alan King
56. Colin Quinn
57. Richard Jeni
58. Larry Miller
59. Gilbert Gottfried
60. Jeff Foxworthy
61. Bobcat Goldthwait
62. Eddie Griffin
63. Jackie Mason
64. Richard Belzer
65. Cedrick the Enter.
66. Shelley Berman
67. Kevin Pollak
68. Dave Attell
69. Pat Cooper
70. Wanda Sykes
71. Red Buttons
72. Bernie Mac
73. Billy Connolly
74. Paul Rodriguez
75. Eddie Izzard

76. Robert Schimmel
77. Paul Reiser
78. Sinbad
79. Dom Irrera
80. Bobby Slayton
81. Dick Gregory
82. Howie Mandel
83. Norm MacDonald
84. Drew Carey
85. David Cross
86. Jay Mohr
87. Brett Butler
88. Paula Poundstone
89. Kevin James
90. Dana Carvey
91. Jim Breuer
92. Louie Anderson
93. George Wallace
94. David Alan Grier
95. Andrew 'Dice' Clay
96. Joey Bishop
97. Sandra Bernhard
98. Louis CK
99. Janeane Garofalo
100. Gallagher

We like to call the list "The 50 Greatest Standup Comics of All Time... with 50 Other Standup Comics Who Probably Have a Merchandising Tie-In with Comedy Central." A bit cumbersome, but perhaps more truthful. We applaud Comedy Central for even trying to assemble the list and crafting five hour-long shows around it. It's a sign that standup is on it's way back and it's refreshing that the folks at Comedy Central are acknowledging standup comedy (which was their bread and butter in the early days before they went all South Park and Remote Control on us). But some of the inclusions (and some of the more egregious exclusions) only serve to erode the producers' credibility and awaken our cynical side. (But we aren't mentioning any names... okay maybe one or two names!). Hey, look, lists like these are bound to disappoint. And we understand that comedy is sooo subjective. But c'mon!

Sandra Bernhard?! What were they thinking? Bernhard is included, but not Rita Rudner. Hmmm... David Alan Grier is on the list, but they leave off Shecky Greene? And where the fuck is MITCH HEDBERG?

Oh, sure, there's minor quibbling about ranking-- Shelley Berman is 66th? He pioneered live comedy albums and he had three gold records. 66th? Damon Wayans (52) is ahead of Jackie Mason(63)? If you're going to frump up a list like this, with actual numeric rankings, at least make it plausible!

The most often heard complaint among real comics is that the list confused sitcom success with standup excellence and influence. Comic actors (and their success in movies and television) account for rankings for some that are way too high. (The word "Greatest" is in the title, after all. Not "Wealthiest" or "Most Recognizable") Would anyone think of including Kevin James on such a list if his sitcom weren't one of the most successful of the last decade? He's a good standup, a likeable guy, but is his contribution to Standup Comedy greater than that of Shecky Greene? Or Jackie Vernon, for that matter?

The Diceman is on the list. Influential? Definitely. Controversial? Without a doubt. Successful? He was filling arenas! He doesn't make our revised list of 50, however.

We don't know what kind of viewership the series garnered, but we're sure that comics (and comedy fans) will be talking about it for some time to come. For that, it's genius. It's like the age-old Ruth vs. Maris vs. McGuire vs. Bonds debate that baseball players are lucky to own. And some of the clips were entertaining. And the copy was informative. I had one comic (in his mid-20s, in standup for two years) confess that he'd never heard of Rickles before he saw him profiled (at #17). So, in some ways the list is helping this magazine to fulfill it's mission!

But overall we're shocked that the list wasn't worse! We take it as a good sign that George Wallace and Larry Miller were included. It demonstrates that someone associated with this affair actually knows standup comedy. But we could still slash the list by a little more than half and add a handful to bring it up to a solid 50 that most comics could agree on.

Should comics be ranked? Sure! Why not? And the same answer goes for "Should comics enter competitions?" Which is what seems to be the main attraction at this here festival. The movie portion of this festival (the "M" in BCMF) seems to have been whittled down (6 films and a short, all shown in one night at the Park Plaza) but the contest (which seems to have stumped the boys at the Catchy Name Department) is a sprawling affair and it includes 96 comics! It started Monday and the semifinals are tonight at 8PM. It ends on Saturday night, with the big gala, hosted by Hollywood Squares' and America's Funniest Videos' Tom Bergeron. Local Comedy Founding Father Steve Sweeney closes out that whole affair.

Here's a list of a different kind. It's all 96 of the combatants in the Fest's competition. Some of these brave soldiers may already be headed south on I-95 or making their ways back to Ohio or Seattle or wherever it is they go when they aren't chosen as one of the two to make it out of their bracket. Take a moment or two to peruse the list... go ahead... we can wait.


Frank Santorelli
Jessica Casciano
Colleen Galvin
George Hamm
Mike Della Penna
E.J. Murphy
Carmin Lynch
Tim Kaelin
Joe Wong
Chris Wong
Chris Tabb
Ben Boime
DJ Hazard
Ira Proctor
Mary Beth Cowan
Emily Singer
Rich Gustis
Brian Gordon
Dan Sally
Shane Kinney
Ray DeVito
John Antonio
Keith Alberstadt
Peter Costello

Teddy Bergeron
Jonathon Thymius
Melissa Hunt
Mary Kennedy
Brian Longwell
Greg Howell
Todd Parker
Mike Siscoe
Jay Larson
Michael Stinson
Christian White
Tommy Savitt
Jim Colliton
Mike Cote
Dan Hirshon
Jane Warren
Bob Lazarus
Tom Clark
Greg Thibodeau
Jordan Monsell
Barry Rothbart
Jeremy Schachter
MaryAnn Shierk
John Garrett

Tom Cotter
Rob Brackenridge
Kelly MacFarland
Sherry Davey
Daryl Lennox
Tony Gaud
Mark Scalia
Steve Mazan
Eric Roth
Mike Merryfield
Mark Labozetta
Drake Witham
Danny Bevins
Eric Schwartz
Nicole Luparelli
Stacey Yanetti
Corey Manning
Rick Younger
Dean Evans
Matt Malley
John Kensil
Keith Stubbs
Elaine Thompson
Tom Simmons

Kira Soltanovich
Joey Carroll
Joe List
Costaki Economopoulos
Laura Hayden
Max Dolcelli
Tim McIntyre
Mike Kaplan
James Patterson
Tony Boswell
Mark Yaffe
James P. Connolly
Harrions Stebbins
Tom Dustin
Jenn Hyjack
Karith Foster
Tina Giorgi
Mike Serritella
Steve Eblin
Tyler Morrison
Trinty Cole
Lamont Ferguson
Mindi Fay

When we arrived at Dick Doherty's Beantown Comedy Vault, the Contest Preliminary #7 was in full swing, although the word "swing" is overstating things just a bit. The word "vault" does not overstate things, however. It's a subterranean room (below Remington's, the restaurant, on Boylston) and much of the audience seemed to be of the subterranean variety--as in corpses. The comics (those in the contest and non-combatants alike) clumped in the room just off the main room and often hadda be shushed as they would occasionally be making slightly more noise than the crowd was. The low ceiling (I hit my head on it once--hard!) and the mushy lighting conspired with the brick walls and the lethargic crowd to induce torpor. And this was the 8 o'clock show! Indeed the biggest laugh of the evening was had when audience fluffer Ben Boime-- he hadda kill time while the evening's votes were tallied-- loudly berated the audience for being so historically sucky. At one point, a comic with a video camera jumped up and said, "I getta get this (Boime's tirade) on tape!" (Sadly, Boime's pyrotechnics petered out quickly and just in time for the announcement of bracket winners Costaki Economopoulos and Tony Boswell.)

(Full disclosure: In a mere 48 hours, I would be mounting the stage in this very venue, as one of the performers on the Campus Comedy showcase. And, in just an hour or two, Traci would be mounting it for the XXX Dirty Show-- more on that later.)

The Vault is one of three main venues for this week's extravaganza (The others being Nick's and a room over at the Park Plaza) but I admit I've never been in this place. All those years of gigging at the Connection and at Nick's on Charles St.(and even at the short-lived Duck Soup) and we never knew that this venue was only about 500 yards to the north.

While this was transpiring, there was a simultaneous prelim going on over at Nick's. That one was won by James P. Connolly and... and someone else whose name we'll have in the next update.

Eventually, the zombies from the first show wandered out and, it was alleged, there would be a XXX Dirty Show at 10PM.

Which there was... sort of. At about 10:30 or so, there were about a dozen or so people scattered about the tiny room. And it was decreed that there would be a show. (At one point, prior to the show, XXX-ers Skene and Carole Montgomery observed that, among those in attendance were a couple with TWO BABIES. Let it sink in: Two babies... at a XXX show... Skene remarked: "I do the Women's show at the Fest in Vegas and it's hosted by a transvestite... I do the XXX show in Boston and there's babies in the audience! I'm a festival bad luck charm!") The tots eventually left... either that or they grew to be adults while waiting for the show to grind to a start.)

A crazed Spike Tobin emceed. He took the stage and did well. The first act didn't fare nearly as well as Tobin. Skene went on next. She can't say how any of the rest of the bill fared as she fled and wept with lightning speed.

"Fortunately, there were so few people who witnessed it, that I could easily have them all killed." Skene was heard to comment through salty tears. "If a comic bombs in a forest and there's no one there, is it technically a bomb?"

A more philosophical Skene said later: "I take full responsibility for how it went. But conditions conspired to, as my grandmother usta say, take the starch out of me." There's a curious sort of inversion that takes place in the life and the psyche of a comedian. When you've been in the business for a really long time, bombing is easier to recover from, but much harder to take as it's happening. Conversely, the early bombs don't seem to hurt so bad while they're in progress, but the recover time is lengthy. It makes all the sense in the world. The experienced comic has a history of triumphs or successes. But it's those same triumphs (and the clear memory of the success) that makes the bomb sooooo excruciating and bewildering while it's in progress. (Slather on top of that the extra added element of doing same in front of your peers(!)-- and maybe even somebody important hiding in the back of the room-- and you have an entirely new embarassment paradigm.)

Skene apologizes to the unsuspecting al fresco diners off Boylston who heard her yell, "Don't you ever make me do a festival again!"

All of this fleeing and weeping helps to explain why we have only one lonely picture (see Contest Preliminary #7 co-winner Tony Boswell above. He's the one on the right. Left is Mike Anthony.)




That's DJ HAZARD on the left and DANNY BEVINS on the right captured at the Terrace Room at the Park Plaza...They advanced to the finals of the Contest

EDDIE BRILL gives MAX DOLCELLI instant feedback on Max's set after the Letterman Audition Show at Nick's

TONY V (who hosted the Letterman Audition Show) enjoys a good smoke alongside Letterman auditioner JIMMY DUNN in the VIP lounge at Nick's

Contest Finalist COSTAKI ECONOMOPOLOUS (right) and Catch A Rising Star's Kevin Kearney discuss Kearney's horribly misshapen thumb


(Filed MAY 1, 2004)
BOSTON--Busy night here in Beantown. Neither of us is expected to perform this evening, so we're free to roam about and sample shows, shoot the breeze and catch up with folks we haven't seen in a while. It's a warm night and the theater district (location of Nick's, Dick's and the Park Plaza Hotel) is bustling with theatergoers (duh!) and the traffic is exponentially thicker. We find a metered spot on (A street which will remain nameless... parking is at such a premium, I'm not stupid enough to divulge my secret!) and we head on over to the Park Plaza with the intention of catching the beginning of the Semifinal #1 in the Terrace Room in the hotel's basement.

We caught the first act-- SEAN QUINN, last year's contest winner-- and then bugged out just as semifinalist JAMES P. CONNOLLY mounted the stage. (NOTE: Quinn was the "warm up" for this leg of the contest-- we add that lest anyone think he was actually in the contest for two years running!)

We bugged out as discreetly as possible, mind you. We had to hustle over to Nick's to see the entire David Letterman Auditions Show. (A good feature of this fest is its compactness. It's a simple matter to scoot among the three main venues without the aid of any shuttles or cabs.) We arrived in plenty of time and, because of our laminates, we were diverted to the VIP area backstage when we reached the top of the stairs.

A goodly number of Boston's Founding Comedy Fathers was backstage (CHANCE LANGTON, TONY V, MIKE MCDONALD, DJ HAZARD) along with the evening's other Letterman auditioners. And, of course, EDDIE BRILL was there, as it was he, in his capacity as comedy talent coordinator for the CBS talk show, who would be watching each performer and giving near-instant feedback on their sets. Other auditioners included JIMMY DUNN, PATTY ROSS, JIM MCCUE, JOEY CARROLL, MAX DOLCELLI, PETER DUTTON, MARY BETH COWAN and JOHN MCDONNELL. Good idea, this one: Each comic does six minutes while Brill watches from a nearby perch. The audience gets a tingle because they know there's a chance they might see this guy/gal who's up there onstage tonight on their favorite talk show at some time in the near future.

After a minute or two of meeting and greeting, I was immediately conscripted by Fest organizer McCue to be the guy who brings the evening's host, Tony V, out onto the Nick's stage. Actually, I was asked! And I gladly accepted the task. I was also offered the job of Guy Who Gives Them The Light. As I had a watch with a stopwatch feature, I was the perfect man for the job. I had fully intended to watch every second of this show anyway, as I have a keen interest in doing the Letterman show some day (who doesn't?). I also figured that being the timekeeper would force me to pay an almost fanatical attention to time-- a valuable exercise when one is trying to craft a tight, streamlined 4:30 set with very specific parameters. I eagerly accepted and, after I brought out Tony (and requested that the sellout crowd turn off all cellphones and pagers), I was ensconced in the far corner of the house with a miniature flashlight. (Given the packed-ness of the house, it turned out to be the only way I could have clearly watched the proceedings, so this was a fortunate turn of events.)

Each act was asked to do six minutes. Most got off at about 5:15. One act went way over (You know who you are!) and they all smoked. The crowd was rabid. And each got the promised one-on-one with Brill, who gave immediate and detailed feedback. At show's end, the whole circus was unceremoniously pushed out onto Warrenton St., as Nick's was singlemindedly fixated on turning over the venue with an efficiency and a ruthlessness that bordered on rudeness. In their zeal to convert Nick's into it's alter ego (a dance club), they did the venue equivalent of "Here's your hat, what's your hurry?"

No matter. We had places to go.

On the matter of doing a TV audition set in a club setting, it's no easy task compared to doing the same thing in a showcase club. One is forced to deal with all the negatives that go along with the regular, Friday night comedy club experience (check drops, the occasional heckler, etc.) The temptation is to switch into "club mode" and abandon the audition set. The survival instincts kick in. It wasn't easy, but everyone did a spectacular job.

It was back to the oddly named Terrace Room (oddly named because it's in the basement... pay attention!). The second semifinal show, starting on the heels of the first show, had retained a significant chunk of the audience from the first show! Some of these folks were into their third hour of contest gazing! At least there was a fresh set of judges installed for Part II! And emcee duties for the second part fell to Fest Organizer John Tobin (the announced emcee, John David, was not in evidence and we never found out why he failed to show).

Making it into the finals from batch #1 were: DARYL LENOX, JAMES P. CONNOLLY, TEDDY BERGERON and TOM SIMMONS. The second batch's winners were COSTAKI ECONOMOPOLOUS, TOM COTTER, DANNY BEVINS and DJ HAZARD.

We blew off the seminar (held earlier, at noon, I believe, in the Beacon Hill room), the subject of which was "How To Become A Professional Comedian." (We jokingly suggest to no one in partucular that it should be titled, "How To Become Something That You Probably Already Are!") And, SURPRISE--There wasn't ONE PROFESSIONAL COMEDIAN on the panel! I try to imagine a seminar entitled "How To Become A Professional Chef" with a panel consisting entirely of restaurant owners, food suppliers and food critics. After 45 seconds, my brain aches and I become annoyed. How about this for the future: A panel on the topic of becoming a professional comedian... stocked entirely WITH PROFESSIONAL COMICS who maybe have been doing it for a minimum of 16 years? Heretical, no? Don't you think that a ballroom full of comics could learn something from, oh, I dunno, Mike McDonald and four others like him? (At the very least, he could impart very specific wisdom about buying shirts in bulk... see below.) I daresay it would be more entertaining than most seminar/panels! Most comics are wildly funny when attempting to be serious. As opposed to most industry types, who just manage to be... serious! You could serve beer! It'd be a blast!

The Globe (which, we are pleased to note, has had for some time a regular weekly column in their entertainment section called "Comedy Notes") has spilled some ink on this festival. But, predictably, the big ink has been spilled on the big guns-- JOAN RIVERS (who performed at the Wilbur) and JACKIE MASON (at the Orpheum tonight)-- and precious little has been spilled on the standup comics who make up the heart and the soul, the backbone, the foundation, the (fill in your favorite solid thing here) of this Festival. All too predictable. And typical of the press in these fest cities. (With the exception of the Montreal Gazette, whom we stroked time and again for paying deserved attention to the comics who toil in that city's Just For Laughs Festival year in an year out.)

There were other shows going on. Just because we didn't see them doesn't mean they didn't happen. Like the Boston Jams Show at the Strand. And another pair of shows at the Vault. And the aforementioned Rivers show which was titled "Broke And Alone In Boston." We thought that a perfectly apt title for the Festival in general, as many of the comics we spoke to this weekend were indeed broke and alone! Maybe next year!



This smiling crew above left (L to R: Editor TRACI SKENE, comic MIKE MCDONALD, comic JOHN McDONNELL and comic CHANCE LANGTON) was photographed backstage at Nick's Comedy Stop on Friday night after the David Letterman Auditions Show. McDonald is seen again below left with comic KENNY ROGERSON on the same date just one year earlier at the premiere party for FRAN SOLOMITA's "When Comedy Was King" in suburban Brookline.

Using state of the art technology, we demonstrate that McDonald is indeed wearing the same shirt on two occasions exactly one year apart!

(Actually, McDonald is the one who pointed out. He says, "I liked the shirt so much, I bought ten of them!" His revelation led to a mini discussion on wardrobe strategy. Comic McDonnell (no relation) chimed in that he liked a particular pair of shoes so much that he bought six pairs! This incident provides insight into the buying habits of standup comics. Faced with so much uncertainty, comics try to eliminate variables and control that which might be in their control. Comics are more logical and practical than anyone gives them credit for!)



Festival Contest Winner TOM COTTER and Boston comic TEDDY BERGERON pose naturally for digital photo at the Vault


Author, comic JIM MENDRINOS on the left, internet magazine publisher, comic BRIAN MCKIM on the right, at the Vault

Comics On Duty's Rich Davis poses with GIULIA ROZZI upstairs at Remington's

The mug. Swag rules!


(Filed MAY 2, 2004)
NEW JERSEY--Back in SHECKYmaga- HQ, we're in the office and fielding emails from some of the folks we interacted with at what we are now referring to as "The Festival Where Everybody Knows Your Name" (tres apropos for an event held just across Boston Common from the "real Cheers")

We blew off the seminar--"The Business of Comedy" was the real title. Around here we call it "How To Continue Being The Thing That You Found Out Yesterday You Already Are; Featuring a panel of speakers and experts that aren't the things they purport to be able to tell you how to become" (Sorry... you invite us to your party and you gotta expect that we'll stand in the corner and make fun of the guests!!!) We blew it off mainly because we had a super-duper Festival Update to get uploaded...that and we don't like to get up before noon.

We got to the Theater District much too early for my showcase (Campus Comedy at the Vault, 8 PM), so we wandered over to the Plaza and, aside from spotting a harried Tom Simmons (accompanied by an eerily focused Costaki Economopoulos) trying to get directions to the Berklee Center for the Performing Arts, we didn't see any Fest-related personnel. Odd, considering that the Plaza is the ostensible Fest HQ. And it was also odd that neither comic had been provided with assistance in finding his way to the Berklee, which was the site of that evening's high-pressure CONTEST FINALS! (Or, if they were provided with the info, they lost it... which I suppose happens... but it'd be a nice thing-- and it seems to be a standard at most fests-- to have eager intern-types with clipboards, fake earpieces and Official Festival T-Shirts with directions at the ready.) You've seen these interns at other fests: They wear backwards baseball caps and they're often recruited from the open mikes and they have 6 solid minutes and they're working on their detached attitude. But they can recite the directions to each Fest venue from memory... along with showtimes and a pretty good approximation of how long it takes to get to each one, depending on which mode of transportation is chosen.

While we're talking about organizational matters, on Friday, we visited the BCMF Welcome Center, where we forced the gals behind the desk to actually welcome us, which they did, with a particularly hearty (and totally logical, "WELCOME!" In unison, we hasten to add!) and we were each promptly handed a laminate AND a small shopping bag containing an official BCMF ceramic mug! (See illustration below left) Swag rules, as the kids might say.

But on this balmy Saturday evening, the contestants were frantically seeking directions from Persian cab drivers on Providence St. They, and we, were totally unhelpful. The only info we had with us was the program, and the address wasn't in there!

They made it all right, though. Apparently the announced host, Tom Bergeron, never made it, though. And the announced closer, Steve Sweeney, ended up hosting the show. And when the dust settled, it was Tom Cotter who copped the top prize (a majority chunk of the ten grand)! Coming in second and third were Danny Bevins and Tom Simmons, respectively. We hear the breakdown was: seven grand to the winner, $1,200 to the runner-up and the rest of it was busted up among the six others. A triumphant but subdued Cotter arrived at the Vault just as the 10 PM show was starting there.

Earlier at the Vault, at 8 PM, was the Campus Comedy show. The purported premise of which was to give 8 or 9 acts the chance to do their thing in front of some local campus activities coordinators (the idea being that they might come away from the whole experience having impressed aforementioned campus activities coordinator, thereby resulting in lucrative bookings at their respective campuses... a sort of a "mini-NACA" as it was described to me.) In reality, it was a chance for 8 or 9 acts to do their thing in front of a densely packed Vault crowd made up of good, old-fashioned comedy club patrons, whose woeful inability to lavish lucrative bookings on the comedians was more than compensated for by their obvious love of comedy and their uncanny ability to laugh loudly and heartily in all the right places. In short, they were a great crowd. And Manhattan-based veteran comic Jim Mendrinos expertly hosted the show and was a large part of it's success.

Mendrinos also made up for the utter lack of any Controlling Festival Authority on the premises. After determining that the inmates were running this comedy asylum, he took over, determined an order and got the show rolling.

Chris Jones, Greg Rodruigues, Giulia Rozzi, Jorjeana Marie, John Curtin, Dominic Dierkes, Brian Gordon and's Brian McKim all took the stage, along with one or two unannounced drop-ins (our apologies for not taking better notes). The difference between the Vault on this night and the Vault of Thursday was vast! We surveyed many local acts and found out that the Vault can be very, very good... or it can be, how shall we say, inhospitable. Fortunately for those who took the stage on this night, it was very, very good.

During the second show, ("Best of the Fest") they rolled out the steam tables in preparation for the Fest-capping After Party and after the show, all Fest-associated personnel-- from volunteers to performers still remaining in town to Fest bigwigs John Tobin and Jim McCue-- took over the basement and the street levels of Remington's and the Vault. We know for certain that the blast lasted until 2 AM (because that's when we left), but, for all we know, it's still going on (this is, after all, Boston we're talking about).

Arriving comics brought with them news from the evening's show at Nick's 500 feet to our south. It was the Women's Show, made up entirely of-- you guessed it-- women comedians. And we heard it was a bang-up show as well. (Somewhat poetic considering that Nick's has always had an unofficial "No-Chicks At Nick's" booking policy over the years!) Carole Montgomery hosted.

These after-parties are good places to network, without a doubt. But, we've found out that the best time/place to network is in the 45-minute perioud just before the start of a show. Indulging in our fondness for coining aphorisms: "Arriving Early Is Power!" Being the first one in the room is not a sign of loser-dom. It merely means that it gives you a swell opportunity to talk to the second person through the door! And he/she will talk to you merely because he/she doesn't wanna be totally rude! Arriving early gives one a chance to talk to a person without having a conga line of others clamoring for his/her attention. It's simple math!

We were meeting new people all week. Or meeting people whom we had heretofore only corresponded with via email. It's always nice to meet "our public," as we facetiously refer to the fine people who know us only by virtue of having read the mag. The conversation with those folks invariably went like this: "Ohhh... You're the SHECKYmagazine people," And, then, after a half-second or two of riffling through their memory banks, their faces would darken, their eyes would widen and they'd say: "I can't believe what they did to you guys in Vegas!" Indeed, we say. Neither can we! (Read it again, if you wanna, HERE.)

A performers, we enjoy hitting these festivals for all the obvious reasons. As the editors of the WWW's most beloved magazine about standup, we like being at festivals because no matter how big or small, they are magnets for people who have some sort of announcement or product or idea that is of intense interest to our readers. And this festival was no exception.

In the space of 55 hours, we met with and talked to a wide swath of comics and industry-types, many of whom were enthusiastic and eager to share information about the business. We met Sonny Fox and Joel Haas of XM Radio, and learned that their comedy programming is among XM's most popular offerings. (Fox served as a judge for one of the contest semifinals and Haas acted as sound engineer for the taping of a lot of the programming at the Fest.) We spoke to George Sarris, in town to promote his New York Underground Comedy Festival to be held in NYC in October. We bumped into Rich Davis, who was scouting for talent for his Comics On Duty World Tour which sends comics to both foreign and domestic locales to entertain servicemen. (Stay tuned to for Steve Mazan's account of his upcoming tour that takes him to Iraq, Qatar and other locations throughout the Middle East!) And we spoke all too briefly to Steven Kimbrough, who was enthusiastically promoting both his Laugh Is Hope comedy club on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA (Website: Laugh Is Hope) and the San Diego Comedy Festival, about which you can read more at San Diego Comedy Festival. A comic who goes by the name of Baratunde was handing out copies of his slick, self-published book, "Better Than Crying," a treatise on politics, press and pop culture. (We badgered him for a signed copy... one of the perks of being press!)

Speaking of books, Jim Mendrinos is justifiably proud to announce that his book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing, will be released soon. (And, if you'd like to pre-order it RIGHT NOW, click HERE! and your browser will whisk you to the exact location on the Amazon site where you can do so over the internet. Technology is a wonderful thing.)

ALERT: While hanging with Tony Boswell at the bar at Remington's on Friday night, we spotted a hunk of one of those hotel-supplied notepads on the floor, among the barstool legs. It turned out to be three rumpled pages of what was unmistakably a COMEDIAN'S NOTES! Please read the following transcription and, if you recognize the notes as yours, we can negotiate their release:

"Add Utah Jazz to 'teams bit'...

Friend in Mall 'Code--just call out, coo-hoo!'

That sounds just like the indigenous creatures of the mall

Dog sitting OK but owners use command words like 'PP & Poo Poo'

Embarassing. Dogs don't know, so just make up a word


We also owe a huge apology to Comedy Studio honcho Rick Jenkins. As it turns out, Jenkins expected us at his fine club on Friday night to do a set! (In our defense, we thought it was a "Stop on by and I'll squeeze you in" kinda commitment. Turns out, it was a "Names listed in the paper" kinda commitment!) Whoops! Jenkins showed up at the after-party and we had splendid conversation! We had a spirited conversation about the Comedy Central 100 Greatest list (See above). And Jenkins gave us the idea for a great parlor game: He printed it out and went down the list, checking off all of those comics with whom he had shared a bill over the years. He was might pleased with himself when the total came to 17! He was crushed, however when Tony V, in the club on that particular evening to host, went down the same list and came up with a total of 61! (Note to Jenkins: Not meaning to pile on, but we tallied 18! Ouch!) Jenkins also told us that, in a somewhat innovative program, the abovementioned Baratunde will be what Jenkins described as "our comic in residence for the entire for the month of August." Every night the Studio has a show, Baratunde will be on the bill and, it is hoped, he'll have a platinum opportunity to work on material, experiment with other facets of his performance and, as Jenkins jokingly suggested, "When he's done, he'll be licensed to practice comedy in the state of Massachusetts!" Hats off to Jenkins for using his power for good and not evil!

We were talking to a coupla comics at the bar on the topic of festivals and whether or not it's a good idea to attend even if you're not actually performing and one of them piped up and said that her/his manager discouraged that practice. Some sort of nonsense about it looking bad for the comic. We solicited opinions from others and concluded that it is of tremendous benefit to attend any festival no matter what your status. One comic, Kelly Nichols, who was in attendance but not performing, summarized thusly: "I have to say, hands-down that it was the best decision to come. I felt that I learned so much, not only from the seminar I attended on Saturday, but from just talking to and seeing the sets of other comics. I met so many people who gave me information on the business, ideas for joke writing, staying organized, etc... that I can't imagine having not gone... Even if you didn't get a spot, it was valuable for so many more reasons than just that... because not only are you seeing and learning yourself, but you are being seen and, purely from a business standpoint, at least at the level I am at in my career, I think that's beneficial. It's an investment in your career and yourself. I feel that performers can sometimes lose sight of the fact that this is a business and going to an event like this can not only provide information, but also a little bit of a support system; other comics who are going through the same things you are."

CAROLE MONTGOMERY (R) engages in Steel Cage Death Match Smiling Contest with's TRACI SKENE at Remington's

The attitude of any festival trickles down from above. Tobin and McCue are genuinely nice guys who, it is apparent, like and respect comics. It would follow then that they would put together a festival that reflects that respect and that affection. We'd like to point out that, at any kind of a large event such as this one, it is inevitable that things will go wrong or will unfold in a manner that is not quite what the organizers or the comics may have envisioned. But, if the tone is positive, if the attitude of those in charge is upbeat, miscues don't seem to matter all that much. This festival wasn't executed flawlessly (no fests ever are), but everyone involved obviously had a great time and we daresay that they all benefited greatly from their involvement. That's what happens when the comics (and the crowds and the industry) are led to believe that the comics are the most important part of the festival. HOME Back to the Top