• Jane Lynch sends off Glee with musical comedy showcase in Austin (Review)

    While Gleeks everywhere are singing funeral dirges over the loss of their beloved Fox franchise, at least one Glee cast member is experiencing sensational new life after TV death. But really, if anyone’s going to rise out of the ashes, guns blazing, of the mega-popular high school musical dramedy, why wouldn’t it be the indomitable Jane Lynch? Taking to the Paramount Theatre stage in Austin on Friday, March 6, Lynch

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    Thomas Middleditch, Jonah Ray, Kumail Nanjiani make Fun Fun Fun Fest (even more) weird

    AUSTIN — On the final day of Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest, Thomas Middleditch (HBO’s Silicon Valley) performed a spontaneous impression of a Revolution-era judge shouting the name “John Quincy Adams!” He paused. He laughed. And he asked himself, “What the hell am I doing?” That moment on Sunday represented a crystallization of Sunday’s comedic performances: weird, unexpected, spontaneous. The afternoon featured a collective of three performers from Silicon Valley,

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    W. Kamau Bell, Jello Biafra inject thought into Fun Fun Fun Fest, Fred Armisen brings Ian Rubbish

    AUSTIN — If Friday’s comedians at Fun Fun Fun Fest contended with the low lows of celebrity and popular culture, Saturday’s theme might as well have been “Damn the man, save the Empire.” Politics, politics, and more politics. W. Kamau Bell’s set, for example, offered an appealing blend of his personal experiences and political critique that had the audience at once laughing and thinking carefully about how race works in

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    John Waters inspires at Fun Fun Fun Fest, Neil Hamburger, Rachel Bloom fit right in

    AUSTIN — Once upon a time, before Formula One racing came to roost, before South by Southwest lay at the feet of Microsoft and Doritos, before everyone and their mother moved to the city to catch a whisper of hipness before it vanished into commodity, Austin quietly celebrated the spirit of the weird. Although the city’s eccentric soul is maturing into a more measured—dare I say mainstream?—metropolis, we’re lucky to

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    Tig Notaro Live in Austin (Review)

    AUSTIN – In a paradoxical municipality like Austin, Texas, where small-town mentality seems to prevail even as the city itself continues to balloon, it’s easy to see how a personality like Tig Notaro’s would sell out tickets like a scalper on Super Bowl Sunday. To begin with, Tig is excessively weird – and of course, we mean that as the highest imaginable compliment. As a stand-up, her style has long

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    Marc Maron’s ‘river of rage’ flows freely at Just For Laughs

    MONTREAL – “Yes, there are problems.” The cold opening to Marc Maron’s intimate Place des Arts show drew huge laughs. The line was unexpected, yet not – after all, Maron traffics in problems, to heartwarming and introspective effect. And indeed, we really couldn’t conceive of a more appropriate sendoff to our week in Just For Laughs-land than an evening spent in the company of Maron and his character-defining problems. Spending

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    Kathleen Madigan, Judy Gold prove a perfect double bill at Just For Laughs

    MONTREAL – With the venerable Judy Gold acting as opener, Kathleen Madigan’s headlining show could really have been a double bill for outstanding, fiery comics in peak form. As arbiters of bitingly hilarious, personalized comedy, the two women have been flexing powerful comic muscles for decades now, and it’s refreshing to see that neither has lost steam as the years have gone on. Taking the stage first for an unarguably

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    Lewis Black veers off track to great effect at Just For Laughs (Review)

    MONTREAL – Lewis Black has never been one to shy away from a good vein-pulsing, temple-throbbing holler fest, and that’s exactly the type of forthright rage that keeps fans coming back for another dose of anger, one sold-out show after another. Which is why it was so surprising – and perhaps curiously refreshing – to see Black in a more somber state at Just For Laughs this year. This is

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    NBC’s ‘Last Comic Standing’ off to great start, first semi-finalists announced

    With judges Russell Peters, Roseanne and Keenen Ivory Wayans and host JB Smoove, Last Comic Standing made its triumphant return last night to NBC. And this time, with the guidance of executive producer Wanda Sykes, Last Comic Standing is being done right. In year’s past NBC went to great lengths in order to perpetuate the idea that all of the comedians participating were “up and coming,” whether they were in

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    HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver delivers Daily Show vibe but with f-bombs (Review)

    UPDATE: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver may have opened to mixed reviews, but people were certainly willing to give the former Daily Show correspondent a chance! The premiere of the British comedian’s new show opened with a strong 1.1 million viewers Sunday night at 11pm EST, rising to 1.4 million viewers after a second play. Oliver’s HBO debut followed a new episode of Veep which attracted 922,000 viewers, meaning

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    Dennis Miller praises Texas governor Rick Perry, gets some laughs at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

    AUSTIN – As day two of the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival arrived on April 24, I crossed the threshold of the Paramount Theatre, wondering how exactly a comedian like Dennis Miller would be received by an Austin audience. Well known for his outspoken conservatism and completely esoteric punch lines, Miller could easily have stepped out in front of a theater full of dyed-in-the-wool liberals, hostile to any cracks about

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    Ben Roy’s ‘No Enlightenment in Sobriety’ is motivational misery, salve for misanthropic minds (Review)

    If you follow modern stand-up comedy even casually, youʼre probably aware that booze and drugs arenʼt celebrated today like they once were. Humor superstars like Chris Hardwick, Marc Maron and Russell Brand have all become disciples of sobriety, bemoaning their dark years wasted as cross-eyed drunks. And it would be easy to dismiss Denver comic Ben Roy as just another addition to the Live, From The Wagon! comedy generation, if

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    ‘Impractical Jokers’ comedy crew The Tenderloins kill at Gilda’s LaughFest

    GRAND RAPIDS — Things you don’t see in a church: an extreme close-up photograph of someone’s left testicle projected onto a giant screen, a video of a man eating dog shit and 1,500 people watching with rapt attention to both. That is, unless it’s day nine of Gilda’s LaughFest and the church in question is the Fountain Street Church, one of the most liberal churches in the country and as

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    Jason Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’ is a cringeworthy delight (Review)

    Jason Bateman, of his directorial debut, Bad Words, offers this gentle caveat: “This movie isn’t for everyone.” Screened recently at Austin’s South by Southwest festival to a packed auditorium, the film does resist easy consumption. The story centers on a cynical 40-something protagonist named Guy Trilby (played by Bateman) hell bent on ascending in the ranks of a spelling bee meant for children. Thanks to a loophole, naturally, he finds

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    Chris Tucker talks tax problems, Michael Jackson and more at Gilda’s LaughFest

    GRAND RAPIDS — Ever since news broke in 2009 that he owed the government a few million in back taxes, comedian Chris Tucker unfortunately became a constant presence on TMZ instead of on the big screen or on stand-up stages. In 2007 he starred in the third and what would become the last Rush Hour film as Detective James Carver, alongside Jackie Chan. At the time, he was the highest paid

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