The Bentzen Ball is a comedy festival in Washington DC 10/22- 25th. Curated by Tig Notaro and featuring great comics from across the city and country. Named after an unfortunate soul who supposedly died while watching A Fish Called Wanda the Bentzen Ball is not to be missed by any fan of comedy.
The Bentzen Ball is a comedy festival in Washington DC 10/22- 25th. Curated by Tig Notaro and featuring great comics from across the city and country. Named after an unfortunate soul who supposedly died while watching A Fish Called Wanda the Bentzen Ball is not to be missed by any fan of comedy. Comics include: Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, Todd Barry, A.D. Miles, Aubrey Plaza and more. Check out www.bentzenball.com for information and tickets..
Johnny Hugel: What film set in DC presents your ideal image of the city?
Jesse: Murder at 1600 starring Wesley Snipes. My aunt’s brother was/is Wesley Snipes hair dresser and when it was filming in DC at the Washington Monument I got to meet Wesley. He was a nice man, and he gave me a hug.
Dave: The Exorcist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to push [email protected]#kers down those steps in Georgetown. The priest who blesses the other priest who gets thrown down the stairs at the end of the movie was a real priest who taught at Fordham University when I was there. His name is William O’Malley and he was like a rock star- he dressed in black a lot and knew all about Satan and stuff. It was like having Dio at your college or something.
What advice do you have for surviving these types of fests?
1) Eat more regular meals
2) Miss things you would have enjoyed seeing
3) Go to sleep early
Dave: Get hammered and stay hammered. But I say that about everything, so take that with a grain of salt.
How do you kill time while traveling?
Jesse: There’s so many shows you could hardly find time to kill, but I’m not ashamed to admit that it would be at the Smithsonian.
Dave: See previous answer.
What’s your most recent horror story from traveling?
Jesse: The Benjamin Franklin Museum in Philadelphia is the single saddest museum in the world. It’s underground and it has two centerpieces. The first is a bank of 40-50 phones that Benjamin Franklin would use to call historical figures. If he were alive today he would use these phones to communicate with them. Secondly was a set of dioramas with figurines and sound recordings and a spotlight shines on different figures depending on who is speaking.
Dave: I have the same name as some terrorist apparently and for a long time I would have to undergo all sorts of extra screening whenever I flew. I finally got removed from the list after being detained by customs in Canada last year while they finally figured out I wasn’t really that much of a terrorist. Two weeks later though, I accidentally tried to bring some nunchuks on a plane with me from Cleveland to New York. The TSA agents and the police came and asked me all sorts of questions. I think I might be back on some sort of list now, but it’s more likely a list of people you might want to ask to play Dungeons and Dragons or something.
Who do you find funny but totally under-appreciated?
Dave: Charles Manson. And the amazing thing is it’s mostly improv.
When was the last time you discovered someone from the Internet that surprised you by making you laugh?
Jesse: I try not to spend too much time with the Internet… Well, recently I purchased online the full run of the Canadian television show The Trailer Park Boys and was completely obsessed with it. If it weren’t for seeing it online I never would have seen it since it’s online available on Direct TV in the states.
Dave: That video where the cat flushes the toilet over and over again is pretty good.
What has been the impact of tools like Twitter and Facebook on your career and the projects you’re involved in?
Jesse: Put This On is a good example. We launched a twitter feed before we had a website. We funded the pilot using a service called Kickstarter, and most of the donations came from followers of our twitter accounts. It’s all completely changed my life.
Dave: I think both of those sites are good ways for people to find out about each other and also maybe have sex. And if you make a new web video or something, you can also use those sites to tell people about it, which in turn could very well lead to more intercourse.
Have you noticed a difference in the requirements of a performer versus what it may have been like when you first imagined yourself doing this for a living?
Jesse: There are two great things going on right now. Successful media is what people choose to enjoy rather than simply tolerated. On television they have to choice, but on the Internet you can choose not to click on something. The gatekeepers are also becoming less important. You can make something funny yourself and pay attention to your own strengths. It’s great that performers have opportunities that aren’t dictated by TV executives.
Dave: Thanks to the Internet I was able to find out that I’m apparently a fat faggot that no chick would ever have sex with ever. I had my suspicions about this before, but YouTube comments have confirmed it for me. I’m realizing this doesn’t really answer the question. It’s just been on my mind lately.
Do you think someone from a small town with an interest in comedy would have an easier time getting attention today than when you started out?
Dave: I’ve been doing comedy for about five years, so it’s probably about the same as when I started I suppose with the exception of Twitter. Banging aside though, I do think Twitter is really good for getting your stuff out there and meeting people and stuff.
What sources of learning would you point to as being imperative to your growth as a performer?
Jesse: One tool that anyone who is interested in doing what I do should get is the This American Life comic book. It came out before the age of the Internet, and is a simple guide that shows that it requires talent and hard work but making it is an attainable goal. I also learn from my peers: Merlin Mann and Adam Lisagor his partner on You Look Nice Today. I also keep my eyes open and see what moves me, and how that it moves others too… Also, the bible.
Dave: I recently performed for 300 violent felons at Sing Sing, the maximum security prison. After performing for murderers and rapists and other historically irritable people, I think I’ve become slightly less scared of pretty much everything, even murderers and rapists.
What are you finding funny these days?
Jesse: I loved the last few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry is the… second greatest after Letterman. He really is at the top of his game right now. I’ve also been watching Seinfeld again lately, and hadn’t since it was on. The only reason it didn’t change television that much is because no one else is that good. Also my dog is hilarious. She is as dumb as a rock and as adorable as a new born puppy.
Dave: I have a picture on my computer of Tig Notaro dressed as Joan Jett’s mother in the upcoming Runaways biopic. I get a big kick out of that.
If you don’t pull a Bentzen and die of laughter, what else do you have coming up the next few months?
Jesse: Ha, hopefully I won’t die. The premiere of Put This On is on the 30th of October it will go up on the Internet and in Los Angeles there will be a party. I’m always pushing forward with The Sound Of Young America and Jordan, Jesse, Go! There’s also planning for MaxFunCon 2010. We opened up reservations on Monday, and I was just speaking with John Hodgeman who was confirmed today to appear along with Mark Maron, Maria Bamford, Jimmy Pardo, Kasper Houser… It’s more than enough to keep anyone busy.
Dave: I’m doing a new one-man show type thing called “Big in Japan” that I am performing in New York, Los Angeles, and London over the next few months. I’ll be on the “This American Life” radio program again next month. And my brilliant but cancelled “King of Miami” program is now airing in the UK if you happen to be there on vacation or something. I am also hoping to get a sandwich or something with Todd Barry at some point.
by Johnny Hugel
All images are courtesy of their respected owners and occur in the order of interview appearance.