Posts Tagged ‘Goodnight’s Comedy Club’

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On Wednesday April 17, 2014, the weather in North Carolina was as inconsistent as ever. Just two days prior, daily highs were in the 80s and all was beautiful. On Wednesday, the highs were in the 50s, and the lows dipped to around freezing; unpleasant to say the least. As odd as it was, the weather was appropriate for the show that was about to start. Just as out of place as a Mid-April freeze in the south, Pro Wrestling Icon “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley was about to take the stage at Goodnight’s Comedy Club.

Before the Goodnight’s Comedy Club opened for the night, people from all around the area began to congregate outside the club awaiting their chance to get in to the show. The line to the front door that formed stretched down the block and around the corner of the building. Goodnight’s has had some truly amazing talents take the stage in its history; lines down the block are somewhat of a regular occurrence for the club.

Even if the line itself was not really remarkable; the group of adults that made up the line was very noteworthy. There were a couple of hundred people standing outside in the cool 50 degree air waiting patiently, but only about 10 of them were women. This particular line was not normal for Goodnight’s, as it was overwhelmingly biased to one sex. Upon closer inspection, not only was the line made up of mostly men, the men who were there did not appear to be entirely “normal”.

There were two gentlemen with championship belts draped over their shoulders; I know who the WWE Heavyweight and Intercontinental champions are and neither of them were those two guys. Also a bit odd, a good number were carrying books into the show. Were they expecting the show to be THAT bad? Perhaps the oddest item that was in-hand by a member of the line was a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli. I guess he must have missed dinner before he had to come to the show. There were even two guys that entered with the crowd that looked strangely familiar, but out of place as well.

At around 7:15pm, the doors opened and the crowd quickly filled the venue. They each took their places in the showroom and anxiously waited for the show to start; title belts, books and the can of ravioli in hand. The host for the night took the stage to get the crowd ‘warmed up’ for the headliner. He told a few stories and made a few funny jokes, but overall he wasn’t needed. This crowd was ready for the main course, appetizers were not required.

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Before the host left the stage he had the responsibility of introducing the headliner for the night. Again, he was not needed. As he began to speak, the sound system began to play a familiar track, a car wreck sound followed by a distinctive guitar riff that seemed to immediately excite the crowd. Before the host could even finish his intro, the crowd had relieved him of those duties; they loudly chanted, “Foley, Foley, Foley”.

Mick Foley made his way through the crowd on his way to the stage similar to the way he used to make his way to the ring during his Hall of Fame career in professional wrestling. However, these days he moves more slowly, he has a very noticeable limp and slouch to his shoulders; the years of brutal bumps and travel have taken a tremendous toll on him. His hair was long and jet black, maybe to cover his missing right ear. He had a thick full beard instead of the scruff that fans were accustomed to. He wore a black pair of Tom’s shoes, black sweatpants, a Cactus Jack t-shirt, and an unbuttoned short-sleeved shirt that featured little pictures of snowmen. The crowd was in awe of this oddly unkempt looking man; “The Hardcore Legend” Mick Foley.

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Once Foley took the stage and grabbed the microphone the crowd immediately quieted down, they were apparently waiting for something specific. He started by giving the audience a couple of ground rules and set some expectations of what was to come. He instructed the crowd to keep a count of the number of times he dropped the ‘F-Bomb’; it was only supposed to happen once. He let everyone know that afterwards he would take questions from the crowd, pledging to answer as many as he could. He did make one unique request of the audience; he asked that no one ask him, “Did it hurt?”

Mick got rolling with his stories at about 8:00pm, the audience hanging on everything he said. He told stories of his time with WWE, ECW, and other organizations. The Undertaker, Brian Pillman, The Steiner Brothers, Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and others notables all were part of his stories. As he relayed the anecdotes of the people from his past, he did it in a way that was funny, but he didn’t take shots at anyone or “settle any scores” on stage. Except maybe for Buff Bagwell; he was the center of one story that may or may not have actually occurred.

One wrestler from his past that Foley seemed to take great pleasure in using as the butt of his jokes was Al Snow. Mick asked the crowd, “What was the main difference between the 100 Year War and Al Snow?” When the crowd was unable to respond, he filled in the blank, “Eventually the 100 Year War was over.”

Jokes like that one gave the crowd a good laugh at All Snow’s expense, but it also allowed Mick the chance to teach the audience members about wrestling, its terminology, and ways of the business. He explained that “over” referred to a wrestler being accepted and popular with the fans. He did things like that to make sure that his show was enjoyable to the wrestling fan and non-wrestling fans well.

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As Foley spoke it was hard to miss the lack of polish or refinement in what he wanted to say. When telling the story of the origins of his “Bang, Bang” catchphrase he failed to really set up the story and appeared to forget the title of a song that played a role in the story. He looked out into the crowd with a befuddled look and said, “You know my career better than I do, help me out!” He was either really lost, or using his “ring psychology” to make sure the audience was fully engaged. Either way, it worked. The crowd didn’t let him down and his stories never really “hiccupped.” In any other setting that type of performance would be fatal for a talent; for Foley, it seemed almost on purpose.

Mick’s shows are not routines; they are actually the exact opposite. The shows are often “one-off” or otherwise customized to the city or area where the show takes place. Mick said, “Whenever I go to a place that has a rich history in pro wrestling, like Raleigh, I tell stories about my times there.” That type of show does not lend itself to being one that can be rehearsed for any real length of time. The spontaneous nature to the flow of stories he told contributed to the unpolished feel, but ended up being very endearing.

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Specific to Raleigh and North Carolina, he told stories about the first place he did his famous diving elbow off of the apron. He shared North Carolina’s role in him no longer having front teeth. Perhaps the funniest story with local flavor was his “Cookie Story.” It involved him and Diamond Dallas Page along with plastic wrap and cookies at a NC hotel that was to remain nameless.

Not all of his show had local ties; it also covered many topics from many eras and places. The crowd learned how he lost an ear in a match in Germany and how the ear ended up in a French referee’s hands. He told the full story of his famous Hell in a Cell match and how he and The Undertaker grew from it. He enlightened the audience as to the legitimacy of the craft that he worked so hard at. He asked, “How many sporting events continue on when one of the participants is totally unconscious?”

After about an hour of continuous storytelling and crowd interaction, the audience had heard tales of Foley’s career that they may not have heard before. For the stories that he told that they did know, he was able to add a new layer of humor and perspective. But, It was time for the “go home” story to complete the evening. At this point, the “F-Bomb” counter was still very much stuck on zero and one particular trademark shtick had yet to make an appearance.

Not one to send a crowd home unhappy, Foley set up his final story of the night by inserting his famous “cheap pop,” it got an immediate thunderous applause by the crowd. He then told a hilarious story involving a beat up yellow Walkman, Tori Amos and Kane. By the end of the story the “F-Bomb” counter read “1” and the crowd was well fed.

After the final story, Mick sat on a stool and readied himself for the Question and Answer portion of the night. He began by inviting a special guest to come up onstage to join him during the segment. Former WCW and WWE Cruiserweight and WWE Tag Team Champion, Shane “The Hurricane” Helms came up onstage to a loud applause from the crowd. The Hurricane immediately cut off Mick before he could get started with the audience questions. He informed Mick that there was someone else in the audience that needed to join them onstage; he called up former WWE Tag Champ Matt Hardy to another very loud round of applause.

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Once the three men were onstage the audience spent the next hour peppering them with questions about their time on the road, their most embarrassing moments, and their funniest stories in general. Mick often would defer to Hardy and Helms to answer questions asked of him to get their perspective before giving his own.

A pleasant, but not surprising, part of the Q&A was the stage command that Hurricane Helms demonstrated. Mick was the star of the show on this particular night, but Hurricane Helms showed that he could probably do a show of his own given the chance. His timing with Foley, Hardy, and the audience was perfect and his delivery of anecdotes was great.

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After the Q&A was over Matt Hardy and Hurricane Helms said their goodbyes to the fans and Mick and went on their way to call it a night. Mick did the opposite of “call it a night”; he went outside to the front of the club where his merchandise table was set up. It was set up to sell pictures and Cactus Jack t-shirts to anyone that wanted.

Mick sat down at the table in near freezing temperatures, visibly in pain, until just before midnight. Remember that 8:00pm start time? Mick proceeded to meet, and take a picture with, EVERY SINGLE FAN that came up to him. He didn’t just sell stuff, sign stuff, pose for pic and then move the fans along assembly line style either. He took the time to chat with everyone and generally carried himself like a person that truly appreciated the fans that were there to see him.

Not to be ignored in all of this is the physical toll on Foley’s body that the night seemed to take. Foley’s wrestling career is known for the large amount of physical punishment he took “fake wrestling”. At the end of his career his body had taken hundreds, if not thousands, of full contact bumps on concrete floors. That and other things that a normal human is not supposed to do helped him to earn the moniker “Hardcore Legend” in 100% legitimate fashion.

During the show, the years of abuse were evident as Mick would have to alternate between walking the stage and sitting on a stool. It was very apparent that he was feeling a good bit of physical discomfort just standing onstage holding the microphone. None of that pain or discomfort seemed to deter him from doing all that he could to give the fans in attendance a good show.

Standing outside in the cold, after every other fan had gone home, Mick was left with his assistant to break down the merchandise table. Despite being “on” for over 4 hours, wincing with every movement he attempted, he stopped, put away the pain, smiled and posed for one last picture with me.

Mick gave me and everyone else in attendance an amazing and truly unique experience and perspective on one of our idols, we should remember this night fondly for years to come. His performance is one that is a labor of true love and 100% “for the fans”.

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Todd-Glass

Bio courtesy Comedy Central

Solidly ensconced in the 30-40 demographic, comedian Todd Glass may now be considered ineligible to be labeled a wunderkind — but he certainly was one, having launched his career in comedy at age 16. Since that precocious start, the Philadelphia native has developed into a polished performer with a bent for inventive material that often mocks the conventions of standup.

Todd’s comedy is often satirical, sometimes irreverent but always funny. His television appearances are many, including performances on “The Sarah Silverman Show,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Conan O?Brien,” “Showbiz Show with David Spade,” “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn” and “Politically Incorrect.” With his unique delivery and divergent style of witticisms, Todd quickly becomes a host and viewer favorite.

This weekend Goodnight’s Comedy Club in Raleigh will play host to the nationally regarded funnyman, Todd Glass. You have seen him on all of the late night talk shows and on the occasional episode of Tosh.0. Todd will perform 5 shows starting Thursday and wrapping up Saturday night.

MAS – I recently took the opportunity to go on to Netflix and watch your comedy special. I was really impressed; I really like your comedic style. I have seen you on Tosh.0 and other stuff like that, but that is a little different. Where does your style come from, how did you develop that?

Todd Glass – I guess for everybody it is a little different. For me, I guess, the more you do comedy hopefully you start talking about things that mean something to you. It doesn’t have to be social or political, although it could be. It could be, also, anything that means something to you. It’s just something personal. Maybe that is the best way to put, something personal.  Personal has a wide array… it’s wide as to what personal means.

I always use the example of, because it helped me when I was starting comedy, Steve Martin. He talked about something personal, even though it was silliness. It was something that was personal to him, this very unique silliness. It wasn’t a formulaic generic silliness that he tapped into, it was something personal. I think that is where it comes from, hopefully.

MAS – You mentioned Steve Martin, what other comedians have you looked to for guidance, who has molded you?

Todd Glass – Indirectly, probably a lot of comedians. Mostly, the things is, comedians that I always say, make me want to punch somebody that is sitting next to me or punch a wall because you are laughing so hard. They are the ones I tend to… Over the years, whether it’s comedians in my generation… Legends, like Rodney or Don Rickles guys in sort of my camp whether it is Brian Regan… I’m a big Eddie Pepitone fan. I tend to watch guys that make me want to punch somebody because I am laughing so hard. Those are that guys that probably make you.

MAS – From your style of comedy, and from the material you used in your special, you are not afraid to tackle some of the more politically incorrect issues all for a little social commentary, if not satire. I have seen you do it in a way that isn’t necessarily family friendly, but also not your typical R Rated comedy. You seem to have found success in your shows with tackling these issues while keeping your show as clean as it is.

Todd Glass – I don’t give people anybody credit for being clean; I give people credit for being funny. So, it is probably just naturally what I talk about, but I never want to make it sound like, “That’s the best way to do it.” Obviously, it’s hard to be fucking hilarious whether it’s clean or what we perceive to be blue. We see a lot of comedians that use language, not at its best. But I’ve seen guys with not one curse in their act that use suck and blow and others. There are tools, there are clean tricks too; they are both offensive to me. I really don’t ever give anybody credit…

I give people credit for just finding a way to be unique and funny. If you give people extra credit, if you go, “and plus your clean and that’s the hardest.” No it’s not. You are sort of saying, “Richard Pryor and George Carlin are funny alright, but you gotta admit they took the easier path”; of course not!  It is sort of just who I am.

MAS – Let me put my question into better context. I have done several interviews with various comedians. I have interviewed comedians that actually bill themselves as family friendly comedy. I have also interviewed comedians that are the polar opposite to that. Both styles can lead one to being a very successful comedian. I am in no position to say who has it easier and who has it harder but, those two styles are so dramatically different you have to appreciate a comic that has chosen to do things that way. Why did they choose to do things that way?

Todd Glass – If they are a good comedian, they didn’t choose it. Maybe, it is just who they are. It’s like people that don’t do comedy, they might not choose to be who they are, but it is part of who they are. So I think it is just representing what makes them laugh, if you are doing it right. I think whenever you decide to please an audience, and give them what they want; it is probably a sure sign if you are not really enjoying yourself onstage.

It’s like if you were doing artwork and you were painting and I ask, “What do you do?”  You answer, “Well, I try to figure out what people like, and then I paint it.” Well, is that fun?

MAS – I am hearing that you like to do what pleases you and if somebody else finds it funny, great.

Todd Glass – I do want to make a living doing this, but I think the ultimate goal is go onstage each night and express what is in your heart and what you feel and at the same time you find an audience that appreciates it.

The Todd Glass Show – Podcast
Follow on Twitter @ToddGlass
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His show is one long verbally articulated stream of comedic consciousness.

 

There are several different ways that you can approach comedy and be successful. We have all see performers that do hilarious impressions like Frank Caliendo. We have truly successful ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham. There is also the tried and true method of finding a societal subject or stereotype to focus in on like Jeff Foxworthy and so many others have done to create a routine.

One of the less often used methods to find a laugh is the style that is used by Myq Kaplan. When you listen to Myq perform, it is almost better if you are able to NOT laugh at his jokes. He delivers one-liner after one-liner in such fast succession; you will often miss a follow-up joke because you are still laughing a previous joke. I would describe his style as automatic rifle comedy; once the trigger is pulled you no longer have control of the number jokes you are going to get.

During our conversation, I tried to pin Myq down to learn how he developed his routine. What I got was very enlightening; from Myq, “Stylistically, in the beginning it was just a joke then another joke, a joke, see if it works, another joke see if it works. A few years later I had chunks of jokes that were still one line things. But now here were all the lines I had about being a vegetarian. Here are all the lines I have about certain movies, TV shows, books, relationships, sex, religion, or whatever; so, little topic chunks started forming.”

Every comedian has jokes that don’t always work, when Myq talked about his experience with dud jokes, he showed me how is used it to get better. “It is possible that it was out of insecurity, initially, that I wasn’t comfortable with the silence. It would often accompany a joke not working so, ‘Oh there is silence there; move on to the next joke, move on to the next one. When the jokes started working a lot I still had that ‘Oh that jokes over, move on to the next one’. I was packing more punch lines in the setups.”

As we continued to talk about his development Myq let me in on some not-so -secret, secrets of comedy as it relates to joke writing and connecting with the audience,“When most people start out doing comedy, if you know anything at all, you know that, probably, you are not good at it or are not going to be any good at it for a while… I never wanted to just write something that an audience would like, I wanted to write something that I enjoy and see what the audience likes.” He continued, “In the beginning it was more passive like ‘is this funny’ and then see if they said yes. Now it’s more, ‘this IS funny’. Over the course of time, I gained more confidence in some of the jokes by sheer volume. Some of them started working more than others.”

As Myq continues to talk, I learned that he really is machine-like with his comedy, “I don’t necessarily use that information to craft new things, but I get more confidence in myself and in those jokes in general and become a better performer. I can then go back and those jokes that didn’t work in the past, I do actually like them and now I am a better comedian and can use them better.”

Myq succinctly sums up his style in saying, “What I have done is not necessarily actively to pursue anything specific other than to talk about what I think is funny.”

This weekend, we have the opportunity to see this unique comedy style in person at Goodnight’s Comedy Club in Raleigh. Myq Kaplan will be performing a series of 4 shows on Friday and Saturday night. Be sure you take this chance to see a truly unique comedian.

Tickets

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This weekend Raleigh is being treated to a series of shows at Goodnight’s from funnyman Gary Gulman. Gary brings a comedic style that uses random aspects of everyday life to build material. He will have you laughing about items as mundane as grapefruit and as complex as the impact of the Old Testament on the Jews of today.  Tickets are available HERE

MAS – In just a couple weeks you are going to be performing at Goodnight’s in Raleigh. A lot of you contemporaries like to make special requests, did you have any? Like maybe fresh cut grapefruit halves and Vanilla Ice playing in your dressing room?

Gary Gulman {Laughs} No, I just want to get a check at the end of the week. That would be my only request. I like compensation for services rendered. No, I guess just a hotel with fresh sheets and flights were my only requests.

MAS – You are not like a lot of your contemporaries.

Gary Gulman – {Laughs} Yeah, as long as I can sleep and fly, I am okay.

MAS – I recently had the pleasure of talking with Natasha Leggero and she told me that she got into comedy due to not being loved enough by her parents. What sent you into the life of comedy?

Gary Gulman – {I would say that most of your comedians are going to have a lack of attention paid to them when they are growing up or somebody thinks that everything they say is brilliant and hilarious. Those are the two ends of the spectrum.

I fell in love early with the power that jokes and comedy had over other people. I would memorize the jokes that I heard on Saturday Night Live or on The Tonight Show or whatever stand-up comedy shows I watched. I would just memorize them and then the kids at school would really react. It was early on that I realized how powerful and how exciting it could be to get laughs off of people.

MAS – You are able to make generally random parts of life truly hilarious. For example, your bit on grapefruit had me rolling.

Gary Gulman – Wow! Really? Thank you. That is from a really long time ago, like maybe 2006. I always get requests for that at shows. I guess the origin of that probably was as a child being confused by the disparity of the fruit grape and the grapefruit. That was just something that I finally had the knowledge and the vocabulary to construct.

MAS – In general, with your jokes, are you just sitting around saying, “I haven’t heard a good Discman joke in a while, let me see what I can come up with?” How do you pick topics you make jokes about? They just seem to be random, but always funny.

Gary Gulman – I find that the longer you do it, if you see somebody with a Discman now that you do a double-take or things that occur in your life or are striking in the hypocrisy or the confusion or lack of common sense involved. Like the fact that they have those things on the side of the highway that tell us how fast we are going but there is not one that works equally as well inside the car, like in the dashboard. Those were the types of things that I was interested in at the time when I wrote them. Usually when I identify something as a subject I can talk about it onstage. 9 times out of 10 I can find something funny just by talking it out and then I will try to remember it for the next show. That is usually my method.

MAS – So there really is a certain degree of spontaneity to it?

Yeah, initially, then when I find humorous parts that really stick out or get a great response, then the next time I do it I have to make it seem like it is spontaneous. That becomes the real joke to it after a while.

MAS – In watching “Boyish Man”, I thought it was very funny, especially the bit on Hanukah. Most of my family is Catholic, but a big part is Jewish. We have those discussions over dinner at Thanksgiving. So that part hit home for me.

Later in that show you talked about the contributions of the Chinese. That also had me rolling, especially the handcuff joke.

In talking about Jews and Chinese, there are enough people in this world that have hypersensitivity and what I call the “PC disease”, has anyone ever approached you acting all offended by a joke you did?

Gary Gulman – Not those particular ones. I don’t specifically remember what I talk about with Hanukah. There are certain things that I talk about, like the overall treatment of my people in the Bible by God and our neighbors. I always say that The Old Testament could have easily been called, regarding God, “He’s Just Not That into You.” With God, we’ve been chosen, but he is just very hard on us. He might be trying to break up with us.

To me, that type of thing is light-hearted and fun. To my family it is sacrilege and blasphemous. So when I think about something like that, it is like, “Oh, this would really aggravate my older brother or really make my father uncomfortable.” There is a bit of mischief there and some risk at least in my family if my family was to hear these jokes. They would be furious, so it makes it a little more fun.

As far as the general public goes, I have not had too much trouble with people being offended. To me with comedy going further and further, I am considered tame.

MAS – I can’t think of anyone else that has a style like yours. Who influenced you? Where did you get your style from?

Gary Gulman – I was influenced later on by the comedic actor, Chris Elliott from the Letterman show and Life. I always loved that he was always great at playing people that were over confidant, arrogant, losers. I always admired that. I tried to take some of that confidence into my act. There is just a charm to that type of attitude that I have always loved.

The other thing, as comedians we really love words; the use of words, word play and vocabulary and stuff. So I am really influenced by a lot of authors and rapper and poets and people who are really into getting the most out of a sentence or a word.

MAS – You have appeared on just about every late night show that there is to appear on, been a part of many tours and performed at countless clubs. Is there any one particular show that you did that, looking back, you wished you didn’t? Sort of like Laurence Fishburne in Pee Wee’s Playhouse.

Gary Gulman – Last Comic Standing and Tourgasm were my most well know TV shows. They were forms of reality shows, so there were trade-offs. I would have rather gotten on TV doing something that was strictly my stand-up. So, there is a trade-off; some competitions, some contests and just stuff that had nothing to do with stand-up. You wish you could just do the stand-up but it was a fair trade-off as far as the fans I was able to make and the exposure of getting to play in front of as many as 18-20 thousand people at once. You can’t prepare for that unless you do it. That was very helpful, and I would not trade that for anything. I would have liked to have been able to hold onto a little more privacy.

MAS – I have checked out ”Conversations with Inanimate Objects”, “Boyish Man” and “No Can Defend” all of which were very funny and well worth the visit to Amazon. When can we expect to see a new album or maybe even a comedy special from you?

Gary Gulman – I was just talking to my manager about that. I am going to shoot for the spring to make a new special, which would make it two years from the last one. That is faster than a lot, but not as fast as say Louis C.K. or George Carlin who put them out every year. I’m trying to keep up with them, but it isn’t easy

MAS – Go for quality instead of quantity. George is an icon and a legend, but some of his stuff just wasn’t funny.

Gary Gulman – That reminds me of that Lenny Bruce quote, “I’m not a comedian, I’m Lenny Bruce.”  George Carlin transcended stand-up he went into philosophy and social commentary. I guess I’m glad that the he put them out every year, but maybe if he had went every other year he would have been a different type of performer.

MAS – For the show that is coming up at Goodnights, what should we expect from you?

Gary Gulman – They won’t really see anything from my specials or my album. You know, I am close to recording a new special so everything will be new. If there is time at the end, I ask for requests from anything from an old album. It’ll be new, I’ve been touring so my skills are sharp and my brain is moving at a high rate. I was just down in Atlanta and had some really great shows. I will do about an hour or more and I really feel good about the shows I have been doing.

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This weekend (Jan 9-11) Raleigh, NC will get hit by the bus that is the ever controversial, always opinionated, American Degenerate that is Jim Norton.

Fresh off of his hit Epix comedy special, Jim will be at Goodnight’s in Raleigh performing 5 shows. You can get tickets HERE

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the chance to speak with Jim about his upcoming show. I decided that instead of talking about his show, I would talk to him about his take on issues of the world today. What I got out of the experience is a new found respect for the man and an item I can look back on and say, “wow, that was cool”.

MAS – I am online and I see that A&E has suspended Phil Robertson. What is the first thing that comes to mind for you?

Jim Norton It’s one of these things that I jump all over on Twitter. I like to know that I live in a country where we care what one hillbilly asshole thinks about homosexuals. It is mind-boggling that anyone cares what this guy thinks, but he has done nothing wrong by expressing his opinions. I am very pro-gay marriage, I am very pro-gay, and I still have to defend the guy.

MAS – I couldn’t agree with you more. Me personally, everybody lives their own life; do what they want to do. I may not agree with it, but I am going to stay out of it. I grew up Catholic in the south and there are two groups that are going to face a lot of harassment here, Blacks and Catholics. As a result, I grew up to be very tolerant.

What I have seen over my 35 years; I have seen tolerance go to an extreme. I have seen tolerance become codling. What do you see there?

Jim Norton – America is a very phony place when it comes to tolerance and freedom of thoughts and diversity in ideas. It has just gone the other way now. I don’t know why we’re pretending to be surprised. We have never really been a place where we allow for ideas that we don’t agree with. Today, it just seems like we have people that are willing to get in trouble for saying something we find disagreeable.

MAS – The idea of something being off-limits because it has a violent connotation. I agreed with your stance where, “If an actor can portray the role, why can’t a comedian make the joke?” Where do you think we need to go as a society in order to overcome that mentality?

Jim Norton – Individuals are self-righteous, social networking allows us to be self-righteous in a group. Rape victim’s pain is very real, and I think that rapists should be castrated. But, the pain of a rape victim is just as real as the pain of a 9/11 victim, the same as an AIDS patient the same as a molestation victim. Look within the Catholic Church. Look at all the molesting priest jokes; there are a million of them. A, Catholicism has brought that upon themselves by protecting those pigs. B, are you going to tell me that the pain of these kids who are molested is not real? Of course it is! Everyone’s pain is real. You can’t look at any of it as off-limits; otherwise you are going to be talking about balloons and puppies. Do you want comedy that is only making fun of sour milk? I mean, there are social issues that we should make fun of. The fact that there is a real pain associated with that shouldn’t negate the ability to make fun of it.

MAS – Let me put things into context for you, in the last week I have interviewed four stand-up comedians. In order; you, yesterday I spoke with Gary Gulman. Before him, Tracy Morgan and last week I spoke with Natasha Leggero. One of those four does not belong.

Jim Norton – Wow, you could take any one of them. You have a woman, a black guy and a Jew so you could say it is any one of them. Or do you mean by what they have said?

MAS – No, you went exactly where I was going. Why is it that you can have four different comedians that are totally different in every possible way all making jokes that go against social norms, yet you and Tracy are the ones that seem to get blasted the most.

Jim Norton – You know, it is really weird. I haven’t gotten it. People have come after me on Twitter, but no one has threatened my job. I have never had that happen because of what I have said. Tracy got it because he had a network gig and that is why Tash got in trouble. When you have a network gig, there is a lot of money at stake, and the networks come after you. So the comedians will just say, “The hell with it, fuck it, let’s just say we are sorry and move along.” I think that is why they went after Tracy because he had a network gig so they pressured him that way. Believe me, I wish I had that problem. I don’t have any type of network affiliation; I am only a moderately successful guy so I have a little more freedom.

MAS – As a fan, putting aside the whole media side, I have a lot of respect for people that will speak their minds and challenge the societal norms.  I hate to say it, I almost hope you don’t get a network deal so that I can keep hearing you just let it go.

Jim Norton – Thank you man. You know on the Opie and Anthony Show, that I am on every day, I have had tremendous freedom there. I have my CDs and my DVDs; I have a lot of freedom, I can pretty much say any opinion that I want. I have been very fortunate in my career and I have chosen that path. You might take a little bit less network accessibility for it, but I really like what I do on stage.

In American Degenerate, I blasted the press. It felt great to blast them, and there is nothing they can do about it. Not that they want to do anything, but nobody can do a fucking thing about it. My job as a comedian is to be, hopefully, funny and honest; I don’t always have to be right. I think I am like every other scumbag in this country; half the time I’m right, half the time I’m wrong.  I’m just like Fox news, just like CNN, just like everybody else.

MAS – I watched both of your most recent stand-up DVDs and even dug up your old HBO special. In one of them, you lay into Al Sharpton. He has, sort of, dropped out of relevance. People can now see him for what he really is. Who do you think personifies what is wrong today?

Jim Norton – Great Question… You are right; Sharpton is a lot mellower than he used to be.

I don’t know if you can find any one particular person, I think it is the umbrella in which special interest groups operate because they always target people for speech. Then again, they don’t make the firings, the networks do the firing. Then again, the networks don’t WANT to do the firing, they only do it because the advertisers are upset. Then again, the advertisers are only upset because they think they are going to lose sales because the average person, like you or I, don’t push back. It is very hard to find one person that personifies what’s wrong because it is a very weird cyclical thing. We, the population, could end it immediately. Take right now; there is a Facebook page for the people of Duck Dynasty about “Don’t watch A&E until that guy is back on.” They are supporting him. In a few hours they have gotten a half a million “Likes”. A&E is absolutely going to back-pedal on this because they are going to lose a lot more. Society, that is usually very quiet, decides it is not offended and is instead really pissed off and is standing up to push back. So, I bet you that A&E will, fucking, back-pedal on this.

It is a great question; I don’t want to bring just one person. Because, oh yeah, Jessie Jackson is an annoying asshole, but again Jessie Jackson doesn’t fire people. It is not Jessie who fires people; it is the cowardly executives who fire people. So Jessie is annoying, but I think that these executives who stand up for nothing are even worse. The public in general who fucking, just sits there and takes special interest dick, we are all at fault for not speaking up and not defending each other; for not defending each other and our right to say stupid things and our right to say unpopular shit.

MAS – I am going to disagree with several people, an example will be that “church” out in Westboro. Even though I absolutely abhor everything they say and do, I also have to defend them for having the guts to stand up and say what they believe.

Jim Norton – That is exactly right. I mean, I hate the fact that they do it. I have issues with them, simply because they go to these funerals… there is almost something dishonest about them. They remind me of little children standing on the porch yelling the “F word” knowing that mommy is right behind them to protect them. If they had real courage and they really had faith in God they wouldn’t need to get permits to march, they would just show up without police protection. If they really thought God was protecting them, they would just show up without police watching.

But, you are right. I believe in their right to do what they do. I think they are a great statement as to what we will tolerate in this country. They are just a great image. The whole country thinks that they are just fucking pigs, which they are. However, they have the right to say something so reprehensible. It is just a great statement about our country and what we can and do tolerate at times.

They have really hurt themselves by using such inflammatory rhetoric. Their rhetoric is so inflammatory and so childish and they say things like “God hates fags.” Even people who may be inclined to agree with them have turned against them, even people who are religious and don’t really like homosexuals. They are using such babyish, child terms that people look at them and say, “These people are just absolute assholes.” All the younger members of their congregation are leaving; they have backed themselves into a corner and bitten their own asshole out which is really great to see.

MAS – Hopefully we will see a day when that type of attitude will go away and be replaced by real tolerance, real understanding and real compassion.

Jim Norton – My opinion is, I think that people who do not like homosexuals are lousy. I think that if you do not like gay people, then you are kind of a shitty person. I think that is an ignorant point of view. But I think that if you don’t like gay people, but you still want them to be able to get married and have all the rights you do I think you are a shitty person, but a great American because you realize your personal views shouldn’t interfere with someone elses life liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

I don’t care if people hate gays or hate blacks, that is within your right and you should be able to feel that way. Just don’t ask for your rights to be one iota more than theirs.

MAS – I am in North Carolina; I am going to live up to the southern stereotype on guns. I am one of those “gun toting lunatics” that gun control advocates talk about. I also believe in responsibility, I believe in doing what is right for society and what is right in general. I can’t help but get offended when I get lumped into the same category as the guy in Colorado, that nutcase in Connecticut. It sends me into orbit that I am seen as a pariah because I own a weapon.

Jim Norton – There are many opinions that I hear that find offensive or vile. The difference is, it is okay to be offended or upset by something someone says, but I don’t want them penalized for it. People are always coming up to me, “don’t you ever get offended?” Sure I do! But I understand that is the price you pay for living in a free society. Some people are going to say things that I find shitty, some people are going to have opinions that I find dumb, or retarded or vile. There are people that are going to hate my guts, it is what it is.

The problem is that we want each other penalized for it; we are a country of hall monitors

MAS – I am finally going to ask you about your show… What can we expect as material?

Jim Norton – I talk about Anthony Weiner, I talk about technology, Paula Dean and you can bet I will be talking about Duck Dynasty, plus my use of prostitutes and addiction. I promise to be funny, it is a new set and completely different from my stuff on American Degenerate. I promise it is good.

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“Whatever happens in that theater, let it stay in that theater.” -Tracy Morgan

On January 3, 2014 one of the most controversial comedic talents going today will arrive at Goodnight’s Raleigh for 5 shows. Tickets are available HERE.

Tracy Morgan, fresh off of the hit NBC sit-com, 30 Rock will bring his straight shooting and often brash style of comedy to give Raleigh a dose of “Funny, funny, funny, funny and then some more funny, funny, funny.”

While his choice of topics and takes on issues are always going to be the subject of scrutiny and, often, disdain. One thing cannot be ignored, Tracy Morgan will tell you exactly what is on his mind and pull no punches in getting his point across.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting that fact smashed into my face first hand recently… The carnage is below…

MAS – In just a couple weeks you are going to be performing 5 shows at Goodnight’s in Raleigh. What can we expect to see from you?

Tracy Morgan Funny, funny, funny, funny and then some more funny, funny, funny.

MAS – Are we expecting some of the characters that we associate with you, impressions and that kind of thing?

Tracy Morgan – Nah, absolutely not! You are going to have some other characters that are based in my life. My sense of humor is based in reality. I have got people in my life that have touched my life and have steered my life in a direction that is hilarious to me. Those are the characters that I will be bringing to share with you guys.

If people want to see Brian Fellows that got to turn on the TV.I don’t walk around with a Brian Fellows suit; I don’t have no wardrobe, no makeup. I don’t do that. So all those characters that I presented to you on those TV shows, they stay on the TV shows. The characters that I have in my life, I bring and share them with you guys.

MAS – It is well known that you, as a young man, had to do some things coming up that a lot of people may not approve of in order to get by.

Tracy Morgan – I don’t even care about what people think about what I had to do. I was raised in Brooklyn; that is one thing we can’t control. Who we are born to and the environment we are born in. I’m a grown man now, I’m 45, and I’m not that person. That was 25 years ago.

MAS – Since you have been performing, which has been quite a while considering you started performing in the early 90s, you have had a bunch of highs and a very few lows. Which of your highs are you the most proud of?

Tracy Morgan – You gotta have the highs and the lows. You have to have the mountains and the valleys. There are no plains; you go through ups and downs. When you are on a heart machine in the hospital and that machine goes beep-beep and goes up and down, that’s life! That means I’m living. I’m going through it. When its flatlined, then it is flat lines, that means you compromised. My ups and my downs are because I don’t compromise. I keep it coming. I don’t control that line of funny, funny, funny, not funny. So that is what that is, I am going to do me.

I have to view my life as I see it. My ups are up, but I don’t let my ups get too up and my lows don’t get too low. I go through the same things that everybody in this country goes through. People just see me on TV and think that money and all that other stuff changes things, and it don’t.

MAS – I have done a bunch of these interviews in my life and you have to be the most “real” person I have talked to so far.

Tracy Morgan – That is why I love talking with you! Because you get it, you were relating and identifying with me. We all go through it. I just inject my sense of humor into it. I want to make folks not feel so bad. We have to add a little levity to things. If we don’t laugh about things, we are going to cry. I’m done crying man! I wanna rap about this crap, ain’t nobody happy! That’s why I’m here, to teach those who can’t say my name. That’s why He put me on this planet, to make everybody laugh. That’s my purpose. I don’t wanna hurt nobody. I just want to make this planet a little bit better than what it was when I got here.

MAS – You said in an interview that I read a while back that comedians have already earned their wings in heaven because they put smiles on people’s faces.

Tracy Morgan – That’s it man! I ain’t here to hurt nobody or nothing. I just want to make people laugh. When I leave this planet, I’m gonna be a shell of a man because I gave you everything I had.

I share my life! I’m sorry I’m not Seinfeld, sorry I’m not Ray Ramano but I didn’t grow up that way. I grew up in some hard shit. Sometimes because of social media people have their opinions. Sometimes your opinions don’t agree with me. If you don’t like my comedy, stay home and make it Blockbuster night. We’re just making fun! That is what Archie Bunker did! That’s what George Jefferson did! That’s what Richard Pryor did! That’s what George Carlin did! As long as I am doing comedy in the spirit those people that came before me, like Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason, and the comedy gods are smiling down on me; I’m good. I know that my spirit is in the right place. I’m not mean-spirited with it; I’m just coming with my approach to stand-up. When I come to North Carolina, I’m coming in good spirit and I just want to make people laugh.

MAS – Something else that you do that I respect, you don’t have limits. If you have got something that you want to talk about or something that want to put into your show, you are going to do it.

Tracy Morgan – That’s because I can guarantee that I am not the only one going through it! If you got people that go out here and they burn their whole family up in their house because they think they are the only ones going through something. I’m on stage going, “Yo look, I got tax problems! Come and laugh at this. You ain’t the only one.” If I go out and do comedy “real”, then people are going to identify and relate me like, “I thought I was the only one with tax problems.” You aint! You ain’t the only one with money problems! You ain’t the only one with car problems! There are people like that all around the world!

MAS – For the future for you, looking towards what you have got coming, you just finished up one of the best shows that I have ever seen and you have got all this energy, all this drive to do new things and make life good for people. What have you got coming up?

Tracy Morgan – I got a new TV show, but more than that man. I’m just living life; I’m living it, everyday man. I don’t know what is up ahead of me, because tomorrow is not promised to anybody. I’m living for today and feeling good! You know, I could get a call from the IRS as soon as we get done! You know they always gonna be around this time of year! They always on me! They feel I short-changed them with bin Laden!

MAS – You keep doing what you are doing, you have got fans out here that are looking forward to your show. You bring whatever it is that you want to bring and you are going to make a lot of people laugh.

Tracy Morgan – The only thing that I ask, leave your camera phones at home and let’s just enjoy the show, whatever happens. Whatever happens in that theater, let it stay in that theater. People want to wonder, let them buy a ticket next time.

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Since 2006 NBC’s America’s Got Talent has featured some truly wonderful performers. Season 8, which concluded on September 18th, was the first season to feature a dance act as it’s winner. Before Kenichi Ebina was announced as the winner he had to face some very stiff competition by a fresh faced comedian by the name of Taylor Williamson, the eventual first runner-up.

On New Year’s Eve Taylor will be performing 3 shows at Goodnight’s Comedy Club in Raleigh. Tickets are available HERE.

To help get the word out about his style of comedy and the upcoming Raleigh , NC tour date , Taylor spoke at length with me about his performance style and what drives him.

MAS – You have one of the best deliveries and most unique overall performance styles. Where did that come from? How did you develop that character? That can’t be natural…

Taylor Williamson – People say that kind of stuff to me, I don’t know if I should be offended or what. I am just being myself, I’m sorry.

MAS – You have that total package, the jokes you tell are very smart. In one of your routines you make a joke about illegal aliens, if you were not paying attention to political or current events, you wouldn’t have gotten that joke. You have the wit the facial expressions the deadpan delivery just the whole package. That had to take some development. Is that truly your personality?

Taylor Williamson – {Laughs} Yeah, It’s not like I am going to lie to you the first time and then on the second question say ‘No’. But yeah, it took ten years of working in comedy to figure out what to do with it, you know? But Yeah, I’m just weird, I’m sorry.

MAS – Don’t be sorry, you have a gift

Taylor Williamson –Thanks

MAS – I was doing some reading about you and I saw in an interview that you did a while back that you were in college, dropped out. You went out to say that you then found yourself surrounded by 40 year old comedians to better the craft. Tell me a little about that experience. What were some of the things you picked up, how did that develop you?

Taylor Williamson – What I learned from hanging out with creepy 40 year old comedians, um…. Don’t do drugs? I really don’t know what I am supposed to say.

Taylor Williamson – The good thing about being in LA, I got to be surrounded by some really amazing comedians at a young age. I mean I’m in LA; I get to see the best comedians in the world. I got to hang out with them, I got to stand in the circle with them as they talked to their friends, and they didn’t kick me out of the circle. Be a comic with them let me watch really amazing comics every night, so that was pretty special.

MAS – I also read somewhere that you were having a pretty tough go at it for a while there, and then you caught a break with America’s Got Talent. I have to think that you have been able to reap some serious rewards from that. Is there anything new that you have gotten into since you were on America’s Got Talent?

Taylor Williamson – It’s been kinda non-stop. Right after the show ended, like a few days later, we had to go do this two-month long tour that was so much fun. Then right after that I jumped right into my own solo tour, that’s what I am doing right now. That tour is what is bringing me to Raleigh; I’m in Sarasota right now. I am doing comedy clubs non-stop. I am working on a comedy special and some other TV stuff that is definitely happening. But the thing that is current is the comedy tour. That is special, I get to go to all these cities and have people come out. I get to meet the people who are the reason that I am here. They voted for me and supported me, it’s really amazing. Crazy.

MAS – The support that I have seen for you has been almost overwhelming. To think that someone who was almost ready to hang it up would get this type of resurgence. I went to your YouTube channel and listened to your “Video Thingee”, which I found very funny. You have tens of thousands of people viewing that, which is impressive. What do you attribute your success to? How have you built your connection to your audience?

Taylor Williamson – I don’t know, by the way, I was never going to quit. There was a misquote in some articles. I was never ever going to quit comedy. I was going to have to get a day job for sure. So I was going to quit {Laughs}….not working.

Taylor Williamson – I don’t know why people like me, I really appreciate it though.  It’s really funny that for all the things that people in this industry told me that reason why that I am not good enough are all the reasons why people like me now. It’s really nice, I can just be myself. Maybe it is because I am an underdog. Maybe because I am really handsome, I guess.

MAS – What was the AGT quote? “Awkward Cute, Dorky Comedian?” That did endear you to a good number of the population.

Taylor Williamson – Yeah, {Laughs} I don’t know why people like me, but I appreciate it. I just get to be myself. It is kind of nice; amazing actually. It sounds so ridiculous, but I am so appreciative. I have gone from, “I have no career” to “I have all my dreams coming true” in just a few months.

MAS – Where do you see your career going from here? I know you said you are doing the tour now, but big picture, maybe take a step back, what do you see next for yourself? What do you hope is next for yourself?

Taylor Williamson – I hope to have the comedy special filmed really soon, and maybe get a sit-com. That’s the goal. I am working towards that, some bad TV show that I can star in. That would be fun.

MAS – I think you would do very well on a sit-com, with your delivery. You would just do exceedingly well; I see that being really funny.

Taylor Williamson – Thanks a lot, I think so. The goal is just to keep making people laugh and if I can do it in different ways. I don’t know; it’s fun. I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity. I’m going to do my best to keep it going.

MAS – If you had any advice to any up-and-coming comedian that may be hitting a rough spot, what would it be?

Taylor Williamson – If you really love it, stick with it. I had the worst year of my career.  I had ONE OF the worst years of my career. I just had a really really bad year, the year before all my dreams come true. I got rejected by every single thing that I would ever want to do the year before the best few months of my career. If you really love it, just keep working hard and let the rejection fuel you and make you want to prove people wrong and prove yourself. If someone says that “I don’t want to work with you’ or “I don’t like you” or “you’re not good”; that is just their opinion. All you need is one person to like you. So for all the people that have rejected you, realize that you could have a million people reject you and one really cool person to like you to give you a career. Thankfully my cool people were like Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Howard Stern and Mel B. If you love it and you are good at it, work really hard to stick with it and keep having fun the whole time. You never know who is going to be in the audience and who is going to see you.