Here, for example, is his explanation as to why he’s playing the NC Comedy Arts Festival at Cat’s Cradle:
“Well, about two years ago, I played Charlie Goodnight’s in Raleigh, and (festival creator) Zach Ward came up to me afterwards, and asked, ‘Would you like to play this festival?’ And I thought, ‘Boy, it’d be nice to play a slightly different market.’ Because Charlie Goodnight’s is amazing, but this festival is pretty far away, and it’s probably going to skew a tad younger, and it’s good to get the younger generation excited about me, because by the time I go back to Charlie Goodnight’s again they’ll all have families and they can afford me with their jobs working for the government, monitoring people’s thoughts or whatever we’ll be doing, I don’t know how technology is going. But then again, an asteroid might be heading toward Earth by 2036, so that takes the pressure off considerably.”
[The club formerly known as Charlie Goodnight's is now called simply "Goodnight's Comedy Club."—Editor]
Philips came to prominence in the 1980s, with his witty wordplay and bird-like voice and features granting him a distinct stage presence. He’s toned down his look—gone is the Prince Valiant haircut from his early years on stage—but there’s no mistaking the voice that uttered such classic one-liners as, “Some mornings it just doesn't seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps.”
He often uses religion in his humor (a few years ago, one of his longer jokes was picked as the best religious joke of all time).
“For some reason, religious jokes seem as trivial as jokes about food or driving,” Philips says.
He says that religion is a topic that almost everyone in an audience can relate to. "Even if you don’t care about religion, your neighbor might, if he votes.”
Philips admits times have changed since he started doing stand-up.
“A few days ago, it was my birthday, and it was in the newspaper, and growing up I never would have guessed that a) my name would be in the newspaper, and b) that I might outlast those papers.”
Even in today’s age of MySpace, YouTube and Funny Or Die, Philips remains a staunch supporter of old-school stand-up comedy. Still, he’s adapted to new media (“My latest Facebook fan is a teenage girl studying drama, kind of like a Mexican taking Spanish”), but he doesn’t text and needed confirmation from this reporter to confirm that “LOL” stands for “laugh out loud.”
He prefers the communal feeling of a live show to a tiny screen on the Internet.
“I understand if you want to stay home and watch me on YouTube, but it’s like incest—you’re putting convenience over quality.”
Emo Philips plays Cat’s Cradle Friday, Feb.18 at 9 p.m. as part of the NC Comedy Arts Festival. He has been in town all week, though, and additional sightings are possible.
But in recent years, the once larger-than-life Goldthwait is keeping it small. He’s gone from the guy who once set The Tonight Show guest chair on fire to the acclaimed writer-director of the small-scale, ribald and pitch-black comedies Sleeping Dogs Lie and World’s Greatest Dad.
Still, his wild-man reputation persists. Not that Goldthwait—whose weekend gig at Goodnight’s Comedy Club continues through Sunday, Feb. 19, is completely against that perception by fans.
“I think I’m always fighting being a nostalgia act,” says Goldthwait on the phone from Los Angeles.
“I understand how people want to talk to me about my older material, and I hate it when some showbiz people don’t want to talk about their pasts. But you’ll see something about you posted (on YouTube) and think, ‘Wow, that’s all I am to this person?’ But it’s a perception that I perpetuated, so I could be frustrated by it, but it’d be a lot of wasted energy.”
Goldthwait sounds completely different on the phone than those only familiar with his acting and stand-up work would expect. He’s calm, laid-back and thoughtful when it comes to describing his life and career.
These days, he prefers to stay behind the scenes with his films, a career he eased into with a few years of directing Jimmy Kimmel Live.
“At this point in my life, I’m interested in working out things that I’m concerned about, or that eat up a lot of my gray matter,” Goldthwait says.
“Just simply to be famous is not fulfilling, so that’s why I’ve got to get stuff going with a little meat on it.”
His next film starts production in April, based on an original screenplay he calls “kind of like Badlands or Network, about the American coliseum, about how we’re all about throwing people under the bus.”
Last year, it was announced that he’d helm a film version of the Kinks album Schoolboys in Disgrace, though he says that project’s taking longer to come together, resulting in his going with the smaller original project in the meantime.
“I like keeping it smaller,” Goldthwait says of his films. “The Kinks musical I am very serious about—it’s going to cost more than the size and scope of the movies I usually make, and I keep working on it, but it’s going to take longer to get it going. And I like the freedom of doing a tiny movie.”
Though Goldthwait has announced his retirement from stand-up comedy a few times, he says he continues to draw inspiration from the people and places he sees on the road, and is looking forward to returning to Goodnight’s, a venue he’s played several times throughout his career.
Does he think the Goodnight's audience will be open to his new material?
“I just hope folks come out to the show and not expect the Grover voice,” he says.
Bobcat Goldthwait appears at Goodnight’s through Sunday.
Months ago, when this show was announced, I bought a ticket and reserved a dinner table at Goodnight’s Comedy Club. It turned out to be a smart move—not only did it get me a front-row seat for one of the club’s biggest shows of the year, but reserving for Saturday meant I wasn’t one of those affected when Morgan had to shift his schedule for his 30 Rock taping.
Though his most recent films—Cop Out and the Death at a Funeral remake—weren’t worth the price of admission, Morgan is a comic genius with the right setting and material. His semi-autobiographical 30 Rock character, Tracy Jordan, is such a masterpiece of malapropisms that this website exists to record down everything the character says. And Morgan’s autobiography, I Am the New Black, features some surprisingly dark passages about his father’s battle with drugs and AIDS and his own fight with alcoholism.
As I sat there in the front row, Morgan shuffled on-stage for his second of three shows that night wearing jeans and a black shirt that wouldn’t be out of place at a club. He turns out to be even more imposing than I’d expected, with a doughy chest and a face filled out with puffy cheeks and large eyes. Although he says he hasn’t had a drink in more than year, there’s a slow, slurry quality to his words and movements—perhaps brought on by exhaustion (I was watching the second of three sets scheduled for the night).
[caption id="attachment_1674" align="alignleft" width="204" caption="Jennifer Coolidge in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans, which plays its final Triangle engagement Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. (Photo courtesy of First Look Pictures)"]
It took one simple acronym to put Jennifer Coolidge in the public eye: "MILF." Since her appearance as the teen-deflowering Stifler's mom in 1999's American Pie, the actress says she's been inundated with scripts for "horny mother and trophy wife" roles. But she looks back on the part with fondness: "It's gotten me a lot of dates."
Coolidge will appear at Goodnight's for a stand-up comedy show beginning tonight and continuing through Sunday, though she doesn't quite know what her set will be: "Probably a lot of weird stories about being an actress." She should have plenty of those, for the last decade has made her a familiar face in film and TV, particularly in such films as Legally Blonde, A Cinderella Story and Best in Show.
"Kids will go up to me who've seen Cinderalla and go 'Are you a bad witch?' Sometimes you'll get someone who goes, 'You're the crazy evil lady in Pootie Tang! Someone said they loved the girl I played on an episode of Friends, and I forgot I did Friends. It all becomes a distant memory."
In the past year, Coolidge has played a hooker on ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a plastic surgery addict on Nip/ Tuck, another mom in Gentlemen Broncos, and a small part in Bat Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans for Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage.
"It's honestly my favorite film from last year," says Coolidge, who that both Cage and Herzog were a pleasure to work with, despite their gonzo on-set antics. "I had no idea what it would be like working with Nic Cage, but he's just such a nice person, a real professional."
And she's a big supporter of the film, which is still playing in the Triangle: "I think it's one of the best movies of the year, and not just because I have a small part in it. Watching it, it was just brilliant. And I think it's the best thing I've ever seen Nic Cage in. He takes such huge risks sometimes, and he just went for it." She also praises Werner Herzog as "un-Hollywood," and reveals that despite the outrageous content of his films, he's "never taken anything stronger than an Aspirin."
Who would she like to work with? "I always liked Jack Nicholson, and I always hoped one day to get in a movie with him. I've always been obsessed with him and Anthony Hopkins. I would love to be like the mother or mentor of Angelina Jolie, or some up-and-coming young actress and show her how to operate the high-powered guns."
Despite her prolific output, Coolidge says her acting plans this year are unclear." "I'm doing the standup so I don't get bored with my life," she says. "When you live in Hollywood, it's like you're behind a tall hedge, this life that doesn't feel normal. When I started doing standup as a lark, you have to fly everywhere and hang out with people at hotels and get to know the area. I've gotten to see all these parts of the United States I never would have seen otherwise. It's like there's this whole life I've been missing."
She's looking forward to checking out the local sights in Raleigh, which could include the flea market. "I have yet to go to a city where they don't have a good flea market," she says.
"It's hard to find places where people are enthusiastic about what's local," she says. "I went on a date with this guy at one stop, and he took me to the mall."
"I'd never written a play before this spring. Since then, I've written nine of them." The surprising words belong to nacent playwright Debbie Barrett, who apparently won the 2009 ArtsCenter Play Slam on Saturday night in Carrboro based on 22% of her total lifetime dramatic output -- to date, at any rate.
Under rules similar to those used in poetry slams, a boisterous crowd of over 200 voted her tender, comic three-minute play Conception as one of the top five plays in the first round of competition. Then A Commitment in Ink sealed the deal in round two, garnering the newby playwright the coveted honorarium -- 100 one dollar bills, tastefully arranged in a plexiglass fishbowl -- along with crucial bragging rights until the 2010 competition.
Though Barrett's works benefited from strong performances -- on the basis of a total of ten minutes' rehearsal time before the night of staged readings began -- both also clearly featured intelligent writing that mixed humor with the humane.More details after the break.
Indy contributor Danny Hooley wrote this preview of David Cross' performance in Durham Wednesday night. He then went to the show and found that the show started before the patrons even entered Fletcher Hall.
Poor "Larry the Cable Guy." He thought he was going to a Jeff Foxworthy show. Instead, he found out that the ticket he purchased for the Carolina Theatre Wednesday night was for his old nemesis, David Cross.
When he discovered his boneheaded mistake, he tried the only thing he could think of: scalping.
"Git 'er donnnne! Y'all need tickets?"
There he was, in all his plaid, bare-armed glory, harassing people lined up at the door, just before 8 p.m.
"It's a souvenir," Larry informed one patron as he showed him the very special ticket. "You know why? 'Cause I signed it. And then I wrote 'GIT R DONE.' And then I wrote 'DAVID CROSS SUCKS.' HAHA HAHAHA! It's only a hundred dollars."