Tag Archives: comedian

Lily Tomlin

You’d think someone who had performed as long and influenced as many as Lily Tomlin would want to retire, but at 75 the comedian is as feisty as ever. Decades after getting her start as a breakout success on the sketch comedy show Laugh-In and expanding her career to film and stage, she’s taking on a brand-new project: Netflix series Grace and Frankie, in which she plays one of two reluctant friends united when their husbands leave them — for each other. She’s also still touring solo and will be making an appearance at Madison’s Overture Center to embody some of the fascinating characters she’s played over a 40-year career.

At 201 State St. Tickets range from $45 to $65 and can be purchased at 608-258-4141 or overturecenter.org.

8 p.m. June 12

Incoming ‘Daily Show’ host rejects backlash over graphic tweets about Jewish people, women

Trevor Noah, the newly announced host of “The Daily Show,” rejected the backlash over his graphic tweets targeting Jews and women as an unfair reflection of him and his comedy.

“To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian,” Noah posted on March 31 on his Twitter account, the same one that included past tweets others deemed offensive.

Comedy Central also came to his defense, calling Noah a “provocative” comedian who “spares no one, himself included.”

“To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair,” the network said in a statement, adding that he has “a bright future at Comedy Central.”

Noah was announced as Jon Stewart’s successor on March 30.

The next day, he was a trending topic on Twitter as he drew fire for jokes described as tasteless, hateful — and unfunny.

Roseanne Barr was among those calling out the 31-year-old South African comic, who has an international following and 2 million Twitter followers.

“U should cease sexist & anti semitic `humor’ about jewish women & Israel,” she tweeted late March 30.

Noah’s controversial tweets were posted between 2009 and 2014.

In 2009 he wrote: “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!”

A 2012 post derides “jewish chicks.” Another graphic tweet from 2011 jokes about “a hot white woman.”

In a post from 2011, he writes: “Oh yeah the weekend. People are gonna get drunk & think that I’m sexy!” He attributes the joke to “fat chicks everywhere.”

He also slammed the United States’ midsection in a 2013 tweet, writing that “When flying over the middle of America the turbulence is so bad. It’s like all the ignorance is rising through the air.”

The tweets showed a different side to Noah than the picture painted by Comedy Central and the comedian himself just a day earlier: In a phone interview on March 30 from Dubai, where Noah was traveling on a comedy tour, he likened himself to the New York-born Stewart, saying, “One thing we both share: We are both progressives.” He added, “traveling the world I’ve learned that progressives, regardless of their locations, think in a global space.”

Noah, the son of a black South African mother and white European father who speaks six languages, was being pitched by Comedy Central as reflecting a new age of global multiculturalism, “a citizen of the world,” in the words of Michele Ganeless, the network’s president.

He was named a little more than a month after Stewart unexpectedly announced he was leaving “The Daily Show” following 16 years as the show’s principal voice. Although no dates have been disclosed, Stewart is expected to depart by the end of the year, with Noah taking over soon afterward.

On March 30, Ganeless spoke of the advantage of introducing Noah to a mainstream U.S. audience through “The Daily Show,” with viewers coming to the show he hosts with no preconceptions. “They will get to discover him, and form their opinions of him, as they watch him host.”

But by March 31, some opinions were already forming.

Weighing in on Noah’s selection, a Slate column compared his vetting to that of Sarah Palin as a running mate for presidential candidate John McCain.

The choice of a new host for “The Daily Show” is a critical decision not only for the satirical-news program, but for the network, whose identity has largely been forged by the “Daily Show” franchise, which for years was followed by the likewise signature “The Colbert Report.”

By the end of this year, Comedy Central will have completely remade this programming block. In January, African-American comic Larry Wilmore replaced the “The Colbert Report” hosting “The Nightly Show.”

Cerebral palsy is part of this gay comedian’s act

Greg Walloch is a hilarious guy. A first-rate storyteller with a sharp sense of humor, Walloch is an author whose work appears in a variety of publications and anthologies. But he’s probably best known for his performances as a monologist and comedian. 

Walloch is openly gay and has cerebral palsy. He frequently references both in his work, most notably in About to Eat Cake, a narrative he told for The Moth that is perhaps his most popular to date. Walloch also hosts Eat Your Words, a live performance event where people tell stories about food, held the first Thursday of every month at The Standard in Hollywood. 

An artist who is perpetually on tour and performing, Walloch took time out of his busy schedule this month to talk about his career thus far.

What’s involved in taking a piece from the page to the stage? I love writing and am​ a big fan of human nature. I’m always collecting stories that strike me​, funny moments, and tucking them away for later. I can bring an idea to the stage and tell it on its feet, build it live in front of an audience. That works best and has the most exciting energy. You know, like the way you’d really tell a story in life around the dinner table. Human beings are structure- and story-making creatures, so narrative and meaning ​happens quite naturally if we let it. I show up and literally try to go with the flow. The most difficult part of my process is showering and putting on pants.

How do you test your material? When you’ve been writing and performing for a while, you know what works. If you’re paying attention, it’s something you feel in your gut. Also, don’t mistrust something because it came too easily. Great work can actually feel good to make. Just because you’re suffering doesn’t mean your work is better. As I mentioned, I often take work directly to the audience, I like to think of them as my trusted friends. However, I will not tolerate any direct eye contact after the show (laughs).

Comedians are notorious for being competitive. Is it the same in the world of monologists? Is there a world of monologists (laughs)? They sound like a good-time crew: NPR, ​scones, suicide pacts. There’s a world of storytellers, I suppose. I believe that we become successful as communities of artists. What you accomplish is yours. It doesn’t detract from what I’ve got going on. One of my favorite storytelling shows in Los Angeles is Radio Picture Show, hosted by Lauren Cook, Shauna McGarry and KCRW DJ Marion Hodges. They are kindred spirits for sure, and audiences ultimately win, because there’s more great content happening ​out there.

In addition to performing, you host the Eat Your Words performance series. What makes food funny? Everybody eats and everyone has a story to tell. Food is a constant thread in our lives. In the moments that are happy, tragic, funny — food is always there somehow. With Eat Your Words, I wanted to create an evening that gives folks that feeling of community — that moment where you take a break in your day and just sit around the kitchen table, sharing stories over some great food and a bottle of wine. 

You are famous for your piece About to Eat Cake. What are your top three favorite kinds of cake? Hmm, I love that big wedge of white layer cake with buttercream frosting that you can get down South, the kind you have with an ice-cold glass of milk. If you eat it all, you are totally going to feel sick, but it’s somehow worth it. I love it for what it symbolizes as much as for how it tastes. (It’s) an American icon really. I got hooked on tres leches cake when I lived in West Harlem in New York. How can you not love cake soaked in three kinds of milk? By the way, I can only think of two kinds of milk, condensed and regular. What is the third “milk” exactly? I think I want to stay in the dark on that one and just enjoy it. Lastly, angel food cake, you know, for when you’re on a diet.

What are your three least favorite kinds of cake? I know it’s a clichéd answer, but fruitcake is low on the list. A bad cheesecake that has sat in the refrigerator case too long​ can be really disappointing, and I’m not a lover of carrot cake. Though I have had exceptions in all three cases. So if you think you have a fantastic fruitcake for me, bring it on!

You also spend a lot of time on tour. Do you have a favorite part of the world to perform in? Tel Aviv was a stunning experience all the way around! Audiences in Tel Aviv are so smart, dialed-in and awake. Performance is part of the cultural fabric there. Everybody came out to support it. It’s a different cultural attitude. In America, I think we view the arts as “something extra” or as “​just entertainment.”​ It’s not valued in the same way. 

You have used religion, specifically Christianity, in an interesting way in your work, by talking about the way people of that faith regard you as a person with cerebral palsy. Have you had similar interactions with Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, pagans, Hindus, Jews or atheists? Sure, I’ve had people of various faiths tell me my disability was bad luck or my karma. An atheist asked, “How can you believe in a god that would do this to you?” Folks, I’m fine​,​ really! It’s all just people’s projection and fear​ about their own bodies or mortality​. It’s been a good lesson in understanding where I end and other people begin.