Every Tuesday, Mark Pitta hosts a comedy showcase at The Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. Many of the nation’s top comics stop by to work on material when they are in the Bay Area, and locals Robin Williams and Dana Carvey are frequent guests.
The Throckmorton was a resurrection show for most of the comics tonight. Bernadette Luckett was back doing comedy after some kind of hiatus, as was Ian Williams. Lisa Geduldig had been in Mexico, I had been MIA from blogging, it was Jeff Applebaum’s birthday and headliner Jeff Berghart hadn’t performed there in four years.
I was five minutes late so I missed two stars. Robin Williams and Reno The Dog. Reno is handled by Mark and Jocelyn Pitta. I missed several of Reno’s impressions including Mark putting a blanket over his head for “Sophie’s Choice.” Reno was tense so he wouldn’t do the well rehearsed biting of Mark’s arm when put in a headlock for the “Drug Dealer” bit (or bite).
I was talking with a few comedians the other day and was surprised to find that none of them had heard of Evernote.
Evernote is basically a comedian’s best friend. Their slogan is “remember everything.”
As a comedian, it’s extremely important to record your thoughts and ideas while they’re still fresh in your mind. Evernote is a great (and free) tool for capturing those thoughts, whether they are in the form of text, audio, a photograph, whatever. Anything you need to remember syncs between your computer and phone, so your notes are always with you.
Here are five ways that Evernote will make your life easier as a comedian. By the way, I realize Evernote is not the only tool like this out there, but I happen to think it’s the best one available. If you’re using something else that you love, let us know in the comments.
Be More Prolific
Do you come up with brilliant new premises and then forget them five minutes later? No matter where you are, enter your ideas in Evernote. The next day when you can’t remember what the heck your idea was, you don’t need to go on a scavenger hunt searching through all the wadded-up pieces of paper you’ve got laying around.
Since Evernote doesn’t limit how much you can store, you can keep literally every thing you’ve ever written in one place. Take advantage of the great search capabilities by adding tags to your notes. For example, let’s say you’ve written 30 jokes about Barack Obama. You can create a tag called “Obama” and add it to each note. The next time you get booked for a politically-themed show, just click on the Obama tag and there’s a handy list of all your jokes about President Obama.
Collaborate With Other Comics
Create a shared note and send the link to other comics you want to write with. You can give feedback on each other’s material or work together on sketches, screenplays, etc.
Create an Online Press Kit
If you don’t have your own website, you can even use a public notebook in Evernote to create a free online press kit. Here’s a quick example using San Francisco comedian Ben Feldman. If you need to send a booker your bio, headshot, etc, all you need to do is send them one link.
Keep Track of Set Lists
Evernote offers an easy way to create and save set lists. If you can’t remember which jokes you told at a show last week, just find the set list from that date. You can also come back to the list after the show to jot down ideas to make your jokes better.
So there you have five examples of how Evernote will make you a better comedian. There are tons more ways you can utilize Evernote in your comedy career. Once you start using it, you’ll see that the possibilities are endless.
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, check out this Evernote guide to getting started. I also recommend this collection of posts about how to get the most out of Evernote.
I don’t know if this was a conscious choice, but when you were on The Tonight Show, your bits were more restrained. You took on more of a straight man role.
TG: I didn’t edit those pieces. I was just working for Jay as a correspondent. It wasn’t like the kind of thing I did on my old public access show or my MTV show. I think I learned a lot from working on The Tonight Show for a couple years. Literally, the first thought I had was that they weren’t as crazy as what I’d normally do. But then they’d show the studio audience and they’d be dying of laughter. They were very successful, and I think it opened my eyes to the idea that you can be broad sometimes. You don’t necessarily have to be polarizing and shocking, and you can still get a lot out of it.
I think that’s the difference between Jay Leno, and David Letterman or Jimmy Kimmel’s show. I think his genius comes from really understanding America, and not just appealing to the nutjob audience that I’ve always tried to reach out to.
Do you have specific role models as a host?
TG: Oh yeah. I decided as a kid that I wanted to be a talk show host when I saw David Letterman. I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is so crazy. I want to sit at a desk, and go out in the streets and do crazy stunts with a megaphone, be annoying and outrageous.” Letterman was the first time I’d seen anything on television in that format pushing the boundaries of ridiculousness. When I saw the show at age thirteen, fourteen, it was kind of like the internet is today: you felt like you were watching something no one else knew about. So I love Letterman, but I’ve also gone back and become a huge fan of Johnny Carson, Jack Paar, Tom Snyder. I like those single-guest format shows where the guest really gets a chance to speak. I’ve pretty much modeled my living room after the Tonight Show set.
It’s interesting that while you’re doing a very new, unique show, the conventions of it are very classic, in terms of the look and orientation of everything.
TG: I love all the old talk shows of the ’60s. It was an amazing time for television because everything was new. And while there are so many great talk shows today, it does seem to me that all the talk shows on the air are attempting to do their version of Johnny Carson. They have their own variations, but they have the desk, the band…
Tom Green took a Canadian public-access show and made it the highest-rated show on MTV, before continuing on a career of acting, directing, and music that took him to the cover of Rolling Stone and the guest host spot on Saturday Night Live. His film career includes “Road Trip,” “Stealing Harvard,” and “Freddy Got Fingered,” and his hosting acumen has taken him to his own MTV late-night talk show to guest-hosting The Late Show With David Letterman to his current gig, hosting “The Tom Green Show” on the web out of his own living room. Recently, Green embarked on an international stand-up tour, which has taken him through Australia, Canada, and from October 1-3, it takes him to Cobb’s Comedy Club in SF.
TOM GREEN Live @ Cobb’s Comedy Club
Oct. 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
Thanks for talking with us. I interviewed Harland Williams a few weeks ago, because all Canadian interviews default to me.
TG: Harland is amazing. He’s a good friend of mine and one of my favorite stand-ups. I grew up watching him in Ottawa, Canada when he’d come through the Yuk Yuk’s club. Very inspiring.
TG: It’s nationwide in Canada. It would be kind of like the Improv in the U.S., where there’s a club in every city. I would do stand-up there on amateur nights when I was fifteen years old, and I started doing little opening spots when I was in high school. Harland was my favorite – him and Norm MacDonald.
Had you been doing much stand-up in the interim period between when you were a kid and the current tour?
TG: I’ve never really done a full-time tour like this, where I’m on the road playing comedy clubs and theaters. I’ve always written a lot of stand-up – I’ve done monologues on my show, hosted award shows, and worked with a lot of great stand-up comedians and comedy writers. I’ve never really said, “I’m going to go on the road full-time. I’m going to write a set.” So this is pretty new for me.
Past competitors include Robin Williams, Dana Carvey, Ellen Degeneres, Patton Oswalt, Dane Cook, Steven Wright, Louis CK, Mitch Hedberg, Roseanne Barr, and many many more.
This year’s contestants for preliminary round 1 are:
Chris Bennett, Tempe, AZ
Daniel Carroll, New York
Solomon Georgio, Seattle
Vahe Hova, Walnut Creek, CA
Jonny Loquasto, Los Angeles
Jay Montepare, Los Angeles
Toby Muresianu, San Francisco
Patrick Nye, Chicago
Sammy Obeid, Fremont
Rob O’Reilly, New York
Sean Ottey, Tacoma
Marc Patrick, Las Vegas
Lizzy Pilcher, Seattle
Marianne Sierk, Los Angeles
Auggie Smith, Portland
Insane Wayne, Stockton
Night 1: @ Biscuits & Blues, SF, 9/15
Host: Will Franken
1. Auggie Smith, Portland
2. Marianne Sierk, Los Angeles
3. Solomon Georgio, Seattle
4. Rob O’Reilly, New York
5. Jay Montepare, Los Angeles
Beginning September 18th, watch LOUIS C.K.: HILARIOUS on cable channel EPIX. If you don’t get EPIX, you can also download the film from their website.
The film is also showing on Wednesday, September 15th, 7:30pm at Embarcadero Center Cinema. (Tickets)
Louis CK opens his new concert film, “Hilarious,” by somehow referencing Hitler, reminding the audience of their inevitable death and acknowledging how awkward it can be to start a show. And then, he proves himself wrong – because he’s completely in charge of the stage from the moment he steps on and picks up the microphone.
Harland Williams is a Canadian actor, comedian, author, artist, and musician. An accomplished stand-up comic, Harland is known for memorable roles in some of the most beloved comedies of the last twenty years, as well as his eclectic and unpredictable late-night talk show appearances. On Saturday, September 4th, he comes to the Herbst Theatre for a night of stand-up and sketch comedy. (Tickets)
You’re coming to San Francisco for just one night in September. Is there something special about the show that makes it a one-night-only engagement?