Posts Tagged ‘Steve Martin’

This Week in Steves 5

March 11, 2015

TWS


Steve, the Eddie Izzard Extra

I love Eddie Izzard as a comedian and an actor. He has a lackadaisical delivery that almost sounds like he’s making it up as he goes along. The thing is, I know he plans his act to minute detail because he has translated it into other languages and performed it in front of non-english crowds. One moment he’s casual about things and then the next he’s really excited but always there’s an improv kind of feeling, like he’s experiencing it for the first time with us. He tends to cover a lot from the bible and history more than stories from his own life. He wore a dress and make up on stage and it was cool. It was no big deal.

I noticed a while ago that whenever Izzard needed a name of a character he leapt on the name Steve. I had listened to and watched plenty of his stand up routines to come to this conclusion but I thought I might be hearing things since it is my name and I might be blowing it out of proportion. After a little research, I found that I was correct. He more often uses the names Steve and Jeff when he needs to name a character or extra in his stories. Not much to say about that but I like that my name is constantly honored or shamed by one of my favorite comedians.

Steve Borden aka the Man Called Sting

As I’ve said before, I was not as big a fan of WCW when I was growing up because DVR didn’t exist yet and brand loyalty kept me from changing channels. What I did see was because of the US Open or the Westminster Dog Show and it was interesting but I was kind of lost except for the ex-WWF guys. Some stuff started to filter to me about the real WCW guys by reading wrestling magazines a little so I started to learn more about Flair, the Steiners and a few others but really I was totally in the dark. It wasn’t until after WCW fell apart that I got introduced to some of their talent. The rise of the internet and specifically Youtube did a lot to educate me about how the other half lived.

This brings us to a guy who was one of the crown jewels of WCW, the man they call Sting. He first caught people’s eye as the more skilled and more succesful partner of the Ultimate Warrior. He went on to be a hero to the people, borrowing from and learning a lot from Ric Flair while remaining a good guy. He spent quite a while as a guy who beat the odds and killed monster heels dead. His matches with Ric Flair are legendary and definitely elevated Steve to star status. Eventually, he took a cue from the nineties fascination with The Crow and changed his look and never looked back. He stuck with WCW until the end and then vanished. He reappeared in TNA and arguably became even better on the mic and gained superior acting skills. I would have to sell my soul to Satan to get his physique at his prime but I’m glad to share his creativity.

Steve Martin

I have also talked before about my love of Steve Martin as a stand up comedian. Of course, as a performer he was actually one of the most guarded about his personal life that I remember seeing. While other stand up comedians were going into great detail about their lives, he was basically a cartoon character being silly on stage. I loved the guy but I really knew nothing about him for most of my life because his work only reflected so little of the real him. I was pleased when I saw his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile because it showed a more subtle, less silly side to him. Likewise, his serious music pursuits showed a passion for a form of music I had kind of dismissed. His further writing showed a sensitivity that wasn’t visible before.

Recently, I read his autobiography and I was completely blown away. It shows how the wild and crazy guy has been in show business most of his life. From working at Disney into his teens and then working at Knotsberry Farms and then hitting the club scene as a young magician/comedian. There was so much I did not know and so much that had been kept hidden from me. I learned a lot more about his anxieties and his humanity that I ever thought was possible. I’m proud to be a complex onion just like Steve Martin and I hope that I have even a fifth of his comedic talent.

My Top 11 Favorite Stand Up Comedians

December 3, 2014

1 Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani is consistently the comedian that makes me laugh the most.  The stand-up specials I’ve heard had me laughing like crazy.  His bits are so well-constructed that I did a whole routine of his and got somebody else laughing hard.  He’s the cohost of Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail and is a hilarious host.  He also hosts two podcasts and guests on Harmontown all the time and he’s just so much fun to listen to.  His humor comes from very personal experience and a lot of it is mixed strangely with horror.  Most of this comes from telling stories of his childhood in Pakistan which sounds pretty terrifying.

2 Patton Oswalt

I have laughed at Patton Oswalt until tears have run down my face and black spots have formed on the edge of my vision and I needed to stop to catch my breath.  He’s so good at forming relentless stories that hit you over and over again.  His comedy is really smart and I know he’s a big comic book nerd which puts us somewhat on the same wavelength.  I find myself nodding my head a lot when I listen to Patton Oswalt.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

3 Robin Williams

If you can get in the rhythm of his rapid-fire delivery, this is really great stand up to listen to.  Robin was all over the place all the time in a manic-yet-driven style.  Beyond the pop culture references and impressions and screaming he had a point and it always felt like the truth.  Robin Williams was nothing but honest with his fans even when he was talking about his greatest faults.  Behind that bouncy and bright grin there was always a bit of a realist there.  At least, that’s how I always saw it.

4 Amy Schumer (NSFW)

Talk about honest, Amy Schumer tends to push honest through R-Rated and into NC-17 while still being classy enough to take seriously.  My first exposure to her was her special Mostly Sex Stuff which was a very accurate title.  She’s definitely not safe for work but her bits and delivery are dead on.  She also has a show on Comedy Central which is very good even if I could never watch it with my family.

5 Steve Martin

Steve Martin is one of the first stand up comedians I ever became a fan of.  I will remain loyal to him for a long time, forever if he keeps behaving the way he is.  I realize that it may be unfair to put Steve Martin on this list since he was less of a stand up comedian and more of a performance artist.  Most of the comedians I like tell stories that are mostly true.  Steve Martin did everything but tell the truth.  He was a wacky cartoon character come to life and he brought that to every role even if he was playing the straight man.  Still, I could listen to Steve Martin albums forever.

6 Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick has been around forever (or at least since the nineties) but only lately has he became a juggernaut in the geek and comedy worlds.  Chris has honed his craft to a sharp edge but I’ve liked him as soon as I first heard him.  He’s a big enough nerd that he adopted The Nerdist as his brand and has taken that to the bank several times over.  He rubs elbows with every comedian that matters in the business and is funny enough to hang with all of them legitimately.  I’m genuinely happy to see him show up anywhere.

7 Eddie Izzard

When I first saw Eddie Izzard, probably pointed his way by Arthur or somebody way back when, my first thought was:  “Who is this guy in the dress and why is he wearing makeup and why is nobody mentioning it?”  My second question was: “Why haven’t I heard of this guy before now? He’s hilarious.”  Like Robin Williams, Eddie Izzard doesn’t stay in one place for long and jumps along lines of thoughts towards either a conclusion or sometimes just into the ether.  His comedy is surreal and imaginitive and his accent tops it off nicely.

8 Ellen Degeneres

Yeah, I know she’s not somebody you usually think about when you think about stand up comedy.  At least not in the last decade or so.  Still, Ellen has a simple way of setting up jokes that catch you off guard.  Most of her stuff keeps away from personal stories but instead focuses on the everyday stuff we all take for granted.  Thoughts we may have half-formed ourselves but let go of pretty quickly.  Those thoughts do deserve a look though, if only to laugh at how stupid we all can be.

9 Doug Benson

Doug Benson is probably the biggest stoner who has ever held down a job with any reliability.  Get ready for a lot of pot humor since it is his bread and butter but once you’ve accepted that, it gets better.  He has a tendency to giggle along with the crowd which should be annoying but ends up being infectious. His jokes also tend to take a lot of left turns out of nowhere so I end up being caught off guard and laughing harder.  A guy I thought was a one-note stoner comedian ended up being a fun listen.

10 Gabriel Iglesias

Gabriel Iglesias is another guy who looked one note when I first heard his stand up.  He talked alot about how he’s fat (not fat, Fluffy!).  Again, this should have gotten tiresome but the thing is, he was just so damned excited about it.  His enthusiasm flows through every single word he delivers.   He talks a lot about stuff that has really happened to him or at least close enough to seem real.   He has an interesting perspective culturally who lights up like a roman candle when he tells jokes.  If that makes any sense.

11 George Carlin

I have deep respect for George Carlin.   Though, to be honest, I didn’t like his earlier work.  The hippy, dippiness of his earlier work seemed too unfocused and to insubstantial.   He was playing characters instead of speaking from the heart.  In his latter work he never talked about himself too much but he spoke straight from the heart.  He dissected language, pointed out hypocrisy and proudly stated his opinions.  Sure it could come with heavy sarcasm and deadly cynicism but I always liked that.


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