Interview with Comedian Eric Schwartz

You may have seen comedian Eric Schwartz in hi

1.  Who in the hell is the OTHER Eric Schwartz and how did he beat you to EricSchwartz.com?  He isn’t near as funny as you are.

THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION AND STARTING IT WITH “WHO IN THE HELL…”

Most people don’t realize we’re two completely different people. Yes, two different people, who happen to have the same name, and who happen to both do comedy and music. It’s beyond frustrating–it’s infuriating! But, I have to admit, “the other Eric Schwartz” is a supremely talented musician and brilliant writer.  It’s hard to be mad at the guy when his only crime is not changing the name his parents gave him. At least he’s not out there bringing shame to the name. By the way, I’m pretty sure he calls me, “the other Eric Schwartz,” too.

To make things even more interesting, we actually know each other.  He moved from the East Coast to two blocks from me in L.A. We’ve actually shown up to the same gig before after the booker tagged the us both on Facebook. He once dated someone I knew and she would sometimes accidentally call me all sultry like, “Baby…did you see the moooon tonight?”  I was like, “Yeah, Suzanne. But I’m not taking my clothes off like the last time we talked.”
And yes, one of my biggest career regrets was not grabbing EricSchwartz.com when I was building my first website in 1999.  For some reason, I chose “SuburbanHomeboy.com,” which now forwards to my current site, EricSchwartzLive.com.
2.  How did you get into comedy?
I got hooked on Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Robin Williams and SNL as a kid. I would do their bits an characters to my friends at school. Everyone already thought of me as a comedian at that point, but I knew I had to start writing material. I was also a DJ, which is where the musical element came in. In college, I put on my own comedy shows in the dorms mixing comedy and music and somehow didn’t get kicked out.
3.  When do you know a joke is working?
Unless my ears take the night off, I can tell right away. The cool thing about a live show is the audience will let you know if it’s working or not.
4.  Follow up – see above
5.  Do you have a good “I put that heckler in his place” story?
Most hecklers are actually having a good time and want to participate. They just go a bit overboard on their approach. But if you ever encounter a mean-spirited heckler, here’s something you can do. Make peace by offering them a free CD. When they thank you, shout, “SEE DEEZ NUTS!”
6.  Besides your tour, what else are you working on.
The Release The Sounds Tour is in support of the audio from my first hour special, “Surrender to the Blender” being re-released to Sirius-XM, as well as digital platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. I’m also working on shooting my second special this year

Interview with Comedian Sandy Bernstein

 

I’ve known Sandy Bernstein for over three decades.  We met at a backyard party her boyfriend at the time was holding in the fall of 1984.  She was cute, friendly…and funny.  I’m happy to say that 34 years later she hasn’t changed.

At age 50, she threw her hat in the ring of stand-up comedy and is quickly climbing the ladder of funny.  She recently achieved her dream of performing before a packed house on the main stage of the Washington D.C. IMPROV and she killed!

Sandy recently took time out from her schedule to chat about her career.

 

Mike Smith:   What made you pursue comedy at this stage of your life?

Sandy Bernstein:   Interesting story behind how I decided to get into comedy. I was 53 years old, and had never even considered it. There was no way I thought I could do it, so it wasn’t even an option.

I am a writer/editor in the marketing department of University of Maryland University College. My team handles internal clients, like Human Resources and Diversity Initiatives. In summer 2014, HR decided they wanted to do a talent show and needed my team to promote it. I attend all the kickoff meetings with my boss, and at this meeting, I made a wise crack: “I have the perfect headline. ‘Who Wants to Commit Career Hari Kari?'” One of the organizers of the talent show said, “That’s it, I’m signing you up to do stand-up!” I started to object, and my boss said, “Sandy, you need a stretch project for your performance review.” I said, “Fine, when I go down in flames, you’re going to have to be the one to write the Performance Improvement Plan.” So I guess you could say I did it on a dare.

There were difficult things going on in my life at that time. My boyfriend (now husband) was undergoing chemo and radiation for Stage 3 colorectal cancer, and my mother was in a nursing home, dying from Alzheimer’s Disease, so I was having a lousy year. I figured this would either be a welcome distraction or the cherry on top of my shit sandwich. In any event, I figured, WTF.  I was looking at it as a one-shot deal. You know, one and done.

I was terrified. But having worked there for seven years, I had a lot of material. I put together a PowerPoint to run in the background. The first slide was my head on Mylee Cyrus’s body, because I had a joke about twerking at the talent show. I figured if that didn’t get them laughing, nothing would. So I practiced relentlessly for several weeks. My poor husband had to hear it over and over again. He said he preferred chemo.

So the day of the show came, and the second I stepped on stage, before I even said a word, people were laughing hysterically, because they had already put up the Mylee Cyrus slide. I probably had one of the best sets of my life, and I’ve been chasing that pink cloud ever since. Now I know how junkies feel. Before I even left the stage, I was thinking about where I was going to get my next fix. People were coming up to me afterwards asking me how many years I’d been doing it. I was blown away. I actually have a video of that set, along with talent shows from subsequent years, on my website, www.sandybernsteincomedy.com.

The rest is history, but it took me a while to get going. My mother passed away in November of that year, and my husband had finished his treatments and surgeries. (BTW, he has been cancer-free for four years now.) So in January 2015, I took a course at the DC Improv called “Five Minutes to Funny,” taught by Chris Coccia. It was on five or six consecutive Sundays, culminating in a graduation show on the main stage of the Improv. Chris had done a great job with us, and we all ripped the room. From there I started doing open mics once every week or so, and some showcases for new comics. I had heard that you needed to go up at least three times/week if you wanted to progress, but with a full-time job, I couldn’t even fathom doing that. But by that summer, I felt kind of stuck. There were some comics who seemed to be making remarkable progress, and one of them turned me on to The Fat Doctor. He was one of only four comics to make Richard Pryor’s top four comedians list. After dealing with some health issues, he focused on training other comics. He has taught, mentored, wrote for, and/or influenced comedians such as Martin Lawrence, Patton Oswald, Tommy Davidson, Wanda Sykes, and Dave Chappell,  just to name a few.  I have been studying with him via Skype sessions since September 2015. In January 2016, I resolved to get on stage at least twice a week. I figured out how to make it work while working full time. I ended up getting out a minimum of three times a week, sometimes more, and only then did I feel like I was starting to make progress.

 

MS:  With some of the comedians out there today, your comedy could almost be called “tame.”  Was that a decision going in or did you just find that it suits your style better?

SB:  Tame is in the eye of the beholder. I just did a Jewish-themed comedy show where I kept it PG-13, but my references to sex and body parts did not go over so well. Even though my stuff could probably fly on late-night TV, it definitely isn’t tame enough for many clean comedy shows. I’m actually trying to work cleaner!

MS:  First joke you ever told – not on stage but in your life?

SB:  I’m afraid I don’t remember. I was very shy as a kid. I have an older brother, and he was the one to make all the jokes growing up. He’s my biggest fan.

MS;  First time you told a joke on stage and nailed it?

SB:  From our work talent show –  “Apparently, twerking is frowned upon in this organization.”

For Sandy’s appearance schedule, check out her website, www.sandybernsteincomedy.com

To check out Sandy’s performance at the Washington D.C. Improv, click HERE

Interview with Comedian Eric Schwartz

You may have seen comedian Eric Schwartz in one of his many appearances on Showtime, “The Tonight Show,” BET or his HULU special “Surrender to the Blender.”  If you haven’t, get over to YouTube because you’re missing one funny man.

Schwartz is currently embarking on his “Release the Sounds” tour (he is in Kansas City on Tuesday, April 17th) but found time to answer some questions between gigs.

 

Mike Smith:  Who in the hell is the OTHER Eric Schwartz and how did he beat you to EricSchwartz.com?  He isn’t near as funny as you are.
Eric Schwartz:  THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION AND STARTING IT WITH “WHO IN THE HELL…”

Most people don’t realize we’re two completely different people. Yes, two different people, who happen to have the same name, and who happen to both do comedy and music. It’s beyond frustrating–it’s infuriating!  But, I have to admit, “the other Eric Schwartz” is a supremely talented musician and brilliant writer.  It’s hard to be mad at the guy when his only crime is not changing the name his parents gave him. At least he’s not out there bringing shame to the name. By the way, I’m pretty sure he calls me, “the other Eric Schwartz,” too.

To make things even more interesting, we actually know each other.  He moved from the East Coast to two blocks from me in L.A. We’ve actually shown up to the same gig before after the booker tagged  us both on Facebook.  He once dated someone I knew and she would sometimes accidentally call me all sultry like, “Baby…did you see the moooon tonight?”  I was like, “Yeah, Suzanne. But I’m not taking my clothes off like the last time we talked.”
And yes, one of my biggest career regrets was not grabbing EricSchwartz.com when I was building my first website in 1999.  For some reason, I chose “SuburbanHomeboy.com,” which now forwards to my current site, EricSchwartzLive.com.
MS:   How did you get into comedy?
ES:  I got hooked on Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Robin Williams and SNL as a kid. I would do their bits and characters to my friends at school.  Everyone already thought of me as a comedian at that point, but I knew I had to start writing material.  I was also a DJ, which is where the musical element came in. In college, I put on my own comedy shows in the dorms mixing comedy and music and somehow didn’t get kicked out.
MS:  When do you know a joke is working? Or isn’t?
ES:  Unless my ears take the night off, I can tell right away.  The cool thing about a live show is the audience will let you know if it’s working or not.
MS:  Do you have a good “I put that heckler in his place” story?
ES:  Most hecklers are actually having a good time and want to participate. They just go a bit overboard on their approach.  But if you ever encounter a mean-spirited heckler, here’s something you can do. Make peace by offering them a free CD.  When they thank you, shout, “SEE DEEZ NUTS!”
MS:   Besides your tour, what else are you working on.
ES:  The “Release The Sounds” Tour is in support of the audio from my first hour special, “Surrender to the Blender” being re-released to Sirius-XM, as well as digital platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. I’m also working on shooting my second special this year.
For upcoming tour dates or to hear some of Eric’s work, click HERE

Kansas City fans, win tickets to see comedian Eric Schwartz

 

Eric Schwartz, one of the fastest rising comedians in the country, will be making an appearance on Tuesday, April 17th at the Record Bar in Kansas City and Media Mikes has arranged for one lucky reader and a guest to go to the show.

All you have to do is let us know below, if you had the chance to see any legendary comedian live in person, who would it be?  Your choices can be living or dead.  Just let us know who you think would make for one funny evening.  One winner will be chosen randomly from all entries on Sunday, April 15th and will be notified by email.  Good luck!

Recently Eric tried to challenge some of the unwritten rules of Kansas City barbecue.  Click HERE for the results.

Comedian Margaret Cho Announces “Fresh Off The Bloat” Tour and New TNT Pilot “Highland”

Margaret Cho Set To Introduce Her Newest Stand-Up Comedy Material On Upcoming
“Fresh Off The Bloat Tour”

Tickets Go On Sale July 21 Via http://margaretcho.com/tour/

TNT Order New Comedic Drama “Highlands” Starring Margaret Cho To Pilot.

Five time Grammy & Emmy nominated comedian Margaret Cho has much to celebrate as she was recently named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time and is set to launch what is sure to be her sickest stand-up comedy show to date this fall. A pioneer amongst women in comedy, Margaret doesn’t take anything for granted as she continues to tackle difficult subjects with sensitivity and her razor sharp insight with her takes on addiction, abuse, activism and Asianness. It’s all about the politics of disgust and what is disgusting about politics. Aptly titled, “Fresh Off The Bloat,” Margaret says, ““Fresh Off The Bloat” is my sickest show to date. My grandmother said “You look like bloated as if you’ve been found dead in a lake after several days of searching.” Koreans are the most savage of all the Asians. My new show is all about being fresh off drugs and drinking and suicide and coming back to life – finally fished out of the river Styx. It’s meta. It’s magical. It’s me.”

The initial “Fresh Off The Bloat” tour dates go on sale Friday, July 21 here: http://margaretcho.com/tour/ – Please note that the December 6 show in Belgium will go on sale July 20. Additional dates to be announced in the coming weeks.

Margaret’s new TV project Highland has been picked up for pilot by TNT Network. Highland will chronicle what happens when two extended, dysfunctional Korean-American families who share the same patriarch must come together after tragedy strikes. As it turns out, the most reliable person in both families is the one who just got out of rehab.
“Executive producer Liz Sarnoff (Lost,Barry) and Margaret Cho’s brilliant script exposes Margaret’s warm heart and bracing humor, balancing powerful emotional truths with laugh-out-loud scenes and characters,” said Sarah Aubrey, executive vice president of original programming for TNT. “Highland continues TNT’s commitment to bringing diverse voices and worlds to television. We look forward to making a pilot with such a singular talent as Margaret Cho.”

“Fresh Off The Bloat” Tour Dates
9/23/2017 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL
9/24/2017 Orpheum Theater – Stage Door Madison, WI
9/29/2017 Sands Bethlehem Events Center Bethlehem, PA
10/5/2017 The Wiltern Theater Los Angeles, CA, USA
10/12/2017 2 SHOWS, Gramercy Theatre New York, NY, USA
10/14/2017 Warner Theatre Washington, DC, USA
10/21/2017 2 SHOWS, Castro Theatre San Francisco, CA, USA
11/5/2017 The Fillmore Philadelphia, PA
11/25/2017 Queens Hall Edinburgh, UK
11/26/2017 Tivoli Theatre Dublin, Ireland
11/28/2017 St. George’s Hall Bristol, UK
11/29/2017 Glee Club Birmingham, UK
11/30/2017 The Lowry Manchester, UK
12/1/2017 Academy Sheffield, UK
12/2/2017 Brighton Concert Hall Brighton, UK
12/4/2017 De Meervaart Amsterdam, Netherlands (ON SALE 20 JULY)
12/6/2017 Zuiderpershuis Antwerp, Belgium
12/8/2017 Bremen Copenhagen, Denmark
12/10/2017 Shepherd’s Bush Empire London, UK
12/12/2017 Latter Oslo, Norway

 

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Comedian Margaret Cho discusses her new album “American Myth”

Actress/Musician/Comedian Margaret Cho is set to release her second music album titled “American Myth” on April 29th. The album is the follow up to her 2010 debut release “Cho Dependent” which help add musician to the artists already impressive skill set. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Margaret recently about the new album, her current project with Amazon.com and about just what happened at The Stress Factory on March 26th.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us some background on your new music album “American Myth”

Margaret Cho: I always write music as it’s something I enjoy and is a part of my life. I worked on a majority of the album with Garrison Starr who is a really great artist and someone I have worked with before. She came down to right with me while I was living in Atlanta and I also had a few sketches of songs that I had done on my own. This is the first record where I actually did all the melodies and composed the pieces. I had never done that in the past which made things really exciting. I think the album is really beautiful.

AL: A lot of the song lyrics seem to be very personal. Can you tell us about writing from that perspective?

MC: A lot of the songs on the album deal with loss and compassion. They deal with a lot of human emotions. The songs are very anthemic as I appreciate a good rock anthem. I also did a memorial song on this album titled “Anna Nicole” which is about Anna Nicole Smith. We recently shot a video for this song as well which feature a variety of Anna Nicole impersonators running around a castle. This will be the third video for a song off the new album as I also did videos for “Come With Me” and “Kill My Rapist”. It was a lot of fun running around a castle filled with hundreds of Anna Nicole impersonators.

AL: What was it about releasing a music album that was more appealing than say a new comedy album from your recently aired comedy special?

MC: The stand show album will be coming out as part of the DVD release of the special. That’s something that will generally always come out. The music album is a very different undertaking. It is something that is very personal to me. Stand Up comedy is also very personal but music is a different part of my work.

AL: Over the past few years you have become very involved with bringing attention to homelessness in various cities here in the U.S. Can you tell us how you got involved in that?

MC: The “Be Robin” events are kind of a way for me to honor the life of Robin Williams and to be an advocate for the homeless population. We have events going on all the time in lots of different cities. I can’t always be at the events because of my schedule but we try to have them whenever I have the chance. They end up just being these big, crazy, fun events. There is actually a documentary about this as well which has been sort of a way for us to bring closure to the grief caused from his passing.

AL: What other projects are you currently working on?

MC: I am working on a pilot for Amazon right now called “Highlands”. The show is a comedy/drama about an Asian-American family involved in the marijuana business. I am working with Liz Sarnoff who has worked on “Lost” and “Deadwood”. She is a real genius. We just finished the script and start shooting soon. Everyone at Amazon has been really wonderful as they let the artist be themselves. They have really given a lot of creative freedom to the project which I feel has been priceless.

AL: You have quite a few live dates lined up can you tell us about those and also give us an update on the recent incident that occurred during your show at

MC: I will be in Detroit during the middle of April and then in Nashville at the beginning of May. As for what happened recently at the Stress Factory Comedy Club I speak about a lot of personal things in my shows. I talk about rape and sexual abuse because I feel it’s important to discuss those things. We are living in an age where as a survivor you don’t have to stay silent. That sometimes can be very confrontational to people and an audience. It can be very upsetting. Some jokes are meant to make you laugh while others are to make you think. As comedians we try to wake people up so there is this weird thing when people get angry but that’s part of the great arc of comedy. I am going to be going back to the Stress Factory for a makeup show with those who were there. I want to do a reenactment of what happened and talk to the audience members about why they got upset. (Laughs) It would be fun to bring in Dr. Phil to moderate. I love comedy so much and don’t want to hurt it or the Stress Factory as it is a really important venue in that it’s an independent club owned by comedians. The place is like a dojo and holy to me so I want to invite everyone back and to work this out. We will buy them dinner and drinks and allow them to have a conversation with one another. I think it could be very funny.

Comedian Ralphie May talks about new special “Too Big To Ignore”

Ralphie May is a comedian, who recently released his special “Too Big to Ignore” on DVD. Ralphie is constantly touring and took out some time to chat with Media Mikes  about the new special.

Mike Gencarelli: Do you feel your latest DVD “Too Big to Ignore” differs in any way from your previous releases?
Ralphie May: Yes. I think the content of the material is a lot deeper. I think it’s the best stuff I have ever done. It shows me as a family man, a thinker and a motivational speaker. It’s very raw and there are a lot of elements to it. It’s big.

MG: How long does it take you to prepare for each show?
RM: It takes me about 2 years to get 2 hrs. of solid material. Most comedians in 2 yrs. Might get 30-40 minutes of material and I get 2 hrs.

MG: Are you afraid to touch on any certain subjects?
RM: I don’t think so. If I have I just haven’t gotten to that subject yet.

MG: What do you enjoy talking about most when you are on stage?
RM: My babies. I like talking about my kids because I get to relive those moments which are true stories.

MG: Did you feel restricted in any way with your Comedy Central special?
RM: Of course. There were some restrictions. There were accommodations for image to sell me in other ways. I work within those boundaries and try to respect them. I want to help them by making the product as good as I can.

MG: Do you feel DVD live shows are the future of comedy?
RM: Audio albums are definitely out. You can get the audio via iTunes but then most people are watching it on their iPhone’s or iPad’s.

MG: What do you like most about touring?
RM: I don’t. It’s work now that I have children. People think they pay for the jokes well they don’t. They pay for me not being at home. The jokes are on the house. I will tell them to anybody.