Masada is no stranger to the American immigrant experience, born in Iran he eventually immigrated to the United States in his teens. “My father sold his accordion so I could be here… I worked at an apartment building. I was paid $35 and I would send home $30 to my parents. One day, I walked into The Comedy Store and someone said, “Are you a comedian?” I thought this was a job interview so I said “Yes.” They brought me up on stage. I was so nervous I told all my jokes in farsi.”
This eventually led to other spots on stage and a bit role as Hebrab Comando Number 5 in Neil Israel’s satire “Americathon”. The cult comedy starred John Ritter, Jay Leno, Harvey Corman and was narrated by George Carlin. “I was a young little guy and in 1979. Comics were on strike because the Comedy Store wasn’t paying comics. I had an idea to have a club that would pay comedians. Neil loaned me the money to open the Laugh Factory… It took me a long time to pay him off.”
“I have a dream, perhaps naïve, of bringing the world together through smiles and laughter. Religion, diplomacy, and democracy haven’t succeeded so maybe it’s time to focus on something more universal. And that is why I launched the first annual Funniest Person in the World Competition.” Masada added. “It is my hope, that by the time the competition enters its 5th year, representatives from each of the world’s 195 countries will eventually submit to be part of this yearly global competition.”
“Laughter is a universal language. This is a chance to find alternative ambassadors, the kind that bring diplomacy through a belly laugh. After all, laughter exists everywhere within the confines of culture and traditions. Laughter based on observations , laughter that acknowledges the gap between ideals and realities and laughter at the stereotypes – as well as the oddballs – of the culture, any culture, every culture.”
Ten Comics from South Africa and Wales to France, and Sweden to United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Israel and tonight anybody online can vote for their favorites here at www.laughfactory.com.
Of the hundreds of adorable people I met and performed for in North Carolina this past weekend I received one complaint, apparently there was a patron who thought I played the “race card” in my performance far too often. Help me out here.
What exactly is that? Why are black people so susceptible to it’s definition?
Currently it’s a two day comedy festival. It will grow next year, ideally it will be four days. It’s a two day comedy festival from 4pm in the afternoon to one in the morning. in all three rooms in Warehouse Live! Each room is a different venue.
All Stand Up?
It’s not strictly all stand ups. There are going to be podcasts, potential movie interruptions, improvisation, and even some burlesque.
So who’s going to be on it?
Maria Bamford, Todd Barry, Kevin McDonald & many many more.
Wow! Those are some really big names. When can you announce them?
I can’t announce it until October 7th.
And what Houston Comics are on it?
As soon as I’m locking in larger talent first. I’ll start announcing the locals.
Paul Virzi is a longtime opener for Bill Burr and the host of the The Virzi Effect Podcast. He has been a guest and frequently mentioned on the Bill Burr Monday Morning Podcast. Virzi was also part of Bill Burr Presents: The All In Comedy Tour with Joe Bartnick and Jason Lawhead, and he recently toured with Bill Burr, performing in sold out theaters all across Canada.
Talking with Virzi about comedy was both inspiring and entertaining. Virzi opens up to share stories of his dark and troubled past, along with the obstacles he overcame throughout his journey. He also talks about his first time on stage and takes us all the way to opening for Bill Burr at Carnegie Hall, and everything else in between. And most importantly, Virzi shares his knowledge and wisdom with some good ol’ fashioned shop talk, giving advice for other comics. Paul Virzi learned from the best, and it’s time we learn from him. Continue reading →
Richard Pryor with Jamie Masada at Laugh Factory Comedy Camp, 2002
By JAMIE MASADA
JULY 16, 2014 | Los Angeles, CA
Word is out that the casting net is circling to find someone to play the late, great Richard Pryor in a film bio. Hopefully, the focus will be on finding someone who can capture not only Richard’s stand-up skills, but also his richly humanizing personal life. As great as he was on stage, his offstage actions made a believer of a teenager, who was celebrating his first night as a comedy club owner back in 1979. It was a first encounter I will never forget.
It’s late Friday night and a comic hears a knock at his hotel room door. A half dressed cutie stands there and says, “I saw your show tonight and got so turned on that I want you to make love to me tonight!“. The comic asks, “Was it the early or the late show?“.
There is nothing a comic takes more personally than bombing. Most would rather be accused of a crime than to be exposed to the uncomfortable stares of entertainment inadequacy. You never see it coming. The Bomb assumes its position when you least expect it. There is no clue as to its arrival, no prep for its ire and certainly no remedy for its results. Pre-bomb symptoms often take on flu like qualities. They include a sudden hot flash, a tightening in your vocal area, watery eyes, confusion and that one bead of sweat that develops somewhere in the middle of your back and rolls precisely through ass crack center. No matter how physically comedic or rhetorically gifted you are nobody is outside of its realm of influence. Many years ago I performed at the HBO comedy festival in Aspen and watched George Carlin stop in the middle of a taping and opt to close a showcase show later that night because the audience just wasn’t there for him.
Somewhere over the Rainbow…. If George Carlin can bomb, why oh why can’t I.
There are many ways to handle the Bomb, but as a comic who has experienced it few times and witnessed it many, I wanted to offer a few options as to how to address the humiliation with your head held high.
I work at a bar that has a comedy open mic. An open-micer myself, I really enjoy the work environment and look forward to the nights I get to work on open mic night because I get to see comedy. I’ve even done a couple of sets on the job. I’ve always appreciated the community at the heart of an open mic, both the people going up and the people goodly enough to put it on. It’s great to see audience members come out to them and them walk away glad they did. They’re a good time. I’m not ashamed to admit that doing open mics are often the high point of my entire week. It just bugs the shit out of me when people get the clever idea to foul the whole establishment with god-awful jokes about rape, or by referring to women as “bitches”, or whatever travesty inflicted upon those unfortunate enough to be in the proximity during that comic’s set. (The worst I’ve seen was a dude do a joke about the Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy Hook shooting).
Oddly enough, those jokes don’t go over well. Nor do they strike me as being very intelligently thought out. Those jokes seem to serve no purpose other than making a group of strangers in a bar uncomfortable. I never understood why a person would consciously decide to spew such repugnant garbage into a microphone. I could only imagine if it comes from a place of sadism or just plain stupidity. It scared me to imagine if somehow they were simply honestly and sincerely trying to be funny. I regard that theory as being the least likely.
A joke, traditionally, is told with the intent of getting laughs. Hence the “Comedy” part of the phrase, “stand-up comedy.” The only measure of a good bit, be it a one-liner or a rant, is the audience’s response. Most comics understand that laughter, specifically, is their ultimate goal. After all, making the audience laugh every 5-15 seconds is our job. Any pro in Houston or the world over understands that and makes a living doing so. When you’re watching a comedian play their role successfully, it’s because of a certain creativity and the effort put into turning funny ideas into funny bits. With the objective killing and dying in comedy; and the expectations placed on us, it’s not an easy task. (At least to me). When a joke about necrophilia instead yields groans, it’s because it’s shit. It seems the reason this kind of anti-humor exists is because some people in all walks of life don’t realize the simple concept that is, You can’t say whatever you want. Be funny or get out of our way.
A drunk dude offstage at a bar telling a street joke about the holocaust will seldom get laughs. I remember kids in middle school having arsenals of dead baby jokes. Even then, having the mind of a 14 year old, I found them pretty fucking obnoxious. There’s a reason that those jokes fail. No matter how vehemently you demand the freedom to “speak your mind”, people get offended by things regardless. Todd Akin uses the word “legitimate rape” in a sentence and then John Stewart makes fun of him. Anytime you speak, you speak at the jeopardy of people being put off by your words. Even more so if you’re telling jokes at a comedy club, or you’re appearing as a guest on Fox and Friends. Society has standards. Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequence.
What bothers me most about comics with such flagrant disregard is the how they violate the venue itself. Not only is a comic being a dickhead onstage going to damage his own relations with the crowd, but the crowd will have damaged perceptions of where they were when the saw this. I highly doubt Letterman would ever mention someone’s knack for rape jokes as he intro’s someone on national television. People bitch and moan about “political correctness gone mad”, but so-called “political correctness” is really just the practice of verbal self-preservation. People who firmly believe that they are “artists” and therefore should have carte blanche are missing the point. The whole thing is bigger than them. The impact of the rape comic ripples throughout the entire comedy scene. The rape comic on Monday isn’t going to make people wanna come to the Saturday night show. If only that asshole went with the airplane food material.