28 interviews with stand-up comedians- like what you’d hear backstage at a comedy show.
Each week during much of the pandemic Shaun Eli from The Ivy League of Comedy interviewed a comedian or two or others from the comedy industry.
Originally these videocasts were done in conjunction with Tom Capone from the NY Distance Learning Association but after 26 episodes Tom quit without notice (he has still not released two of the most recent episodes). Tom called the videocast “Coffee in the Clouds- with Comedians.” After Tom left Shaun renamed the videocast.
These are free-form, unedited conversations of roughly a half-hour, and may contain a curse word or two.
(scroll down for audio versions- links to podcasts)
Episode Two Hundred Four
Comedian Scott Blakeman, with host Shaun Eli
In this episode Shaun Eli chats with comedian Scott Blakeman about the end of the pandemic, political comedy and its pitfalls and what it was like to work at, or being in the audience at, The Comic Strip, one of NYC’s first comedy clubs. They also talk about doing shows at synagogues and about making sure that the line-up of a show is properly balanced. Also discussed- working overseas and how comedy shows are different elsewhere in the world.
Episode Two Hundred three
Comedy club owner Al Martin, with host Shaun Eli
In this episode we talk about what’s involved in running a comedy club, why Al went from being a comedian to hiring them for his comedy clubs, how he chose the name for his most recent club, how much pandemic relief money some clubs received and some of Al Martin’s pet peeves as a club owner. We also discuss that Al invented the bringer show, which is a subject of much discussion and scorn among comedians.
Episode Two Hundred two
Comedian Brian Fischler, with host Shaun Eli
In this episode Shaun talks to blind comedian Brian Fischler about his charity Laugh for Sight and their shows in NY, LA and Miami. Brian explains about using a screen reader on the internet and how he can listen at such a rapid speed that sighted people can’t follow it. They talk about changes in the real estate market as a result of covid, and how Brian got a mass of emails from comedy club bookers that shows were being cancelled as a result of the virus. Brian talks about lower-level comedians being the insecure, obnoxious ones and about drunken audience members wanting to pet his seeing-eye dog when he’s working.
Episode Two Hundred One
Comedian Shareen Kassam, with host Shaun Eli
In this episode, our first without Tom, we talk about working overseas, racial and gender discrimination in comedy, what our parents think of our career decisions, and whether comedians should date each other.
Episode Twenty four
Comedian Mike Burton, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Mike talks about how comedy has to be in the right setting, that comedy isn’t an essential service, how he’d always wanted to be a comedian and how he got started in stand-up. Shaun explains that when you start out in comedy you have to pay to perform at open-mic nights (usually just five dollars). Mike says that new comedians think they have hours of material but it’s really only three minutes. That he was never the class clown but he still said stuff he thought was funny. That before stand-up he was an actor and had a lot of experience being on stage in front of an audience. Tom asks if Mike started with lessons or coaching and the usual debate ensues about whether you can teach people to be funny.
Episode Twenty three
Comedian Myq Kaplan, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Myq and Shaun talk a lot about language and linguistics as Myq has a master’s degree in linguistics and language features prominently in his act. Myq talks about his latest comedy album being nominated for a Grammy and how he hopes to become a member of the academy to vote for future nominees. Tom, Shaun and Myq talk about on-line ads and how advertisers may be tracing not just your activities on the web but also your conversations and email content, and how that may play into presents you receive. Then Shaun and Myq talk about how language changes and that the use of the word “fun” has changed.
Episode Twenty two
Comedian Joe Larson, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Joe talks about virtual corporate events and an upcoming hybrid live/virtual comedy show at a comedy club; Shaun asks how a comedian is compensated in such a circumstance and they discuss the decline in pay during the pandemic for the few shows that do exist. Tom asks what we’d do if blueberries cured covid-19. Shaun and Joe talk about how late-night TV has fallen apart with no live audiences. Joe and Shaun give their thoughts on the quality of “Saturday Night Live.” Shaun talks about the difficulties of writing during the pandemic because there aren’t life experiences to write about, and Joe offers to give away his family.
Episode Twenty one
Comedian Judy Gold, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Judy opens by bashing Tom’s intro, explains how she got started in comedy and how much easier it was to start in comedy in the eighties. She talks about how people say things to comedians that they wouldn’t say to anyone else and why you shouldn’t tell comedians that you have jokes for them. She talks about being told she’s too tall to be an actor (though she’s since had parts in a few TV shows). She also talks about the differences between working in comedy clubs and working in theatres, she talks her new book “Yes, I Can Say That: When They Come for the Comedians, We Are All in Trouble” and we have the usual argument about whether you can teach people to be funny.
Comedians Mick Diflo and Maureen Langan, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Mick talks about how he accidentally got started in stand-up comedy but still had a joke ready. Shaun talks about being terrified when he started out and sometimes hoped his show would be cancelled so he wouldn’t have to go on stage. Mick talks about acting and doing extra work and explains that means being an actor in the background of a TV shoot. Tom asks about comedians getting their own sit-coms and why they often hire other comedians. Maureen shows up and walks around with her phone even though she says she was told not to do that during the videocast. She and Tom compare notes about being from New Jersey. Shaun and Mick talk about performing stand-up comedy in a jazz club in Boonton, NJ which is where Tom and Shaun met.
Comedians Ross Bennett and Eddie Brill, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Tom mentions David Brenner, and both Ross and Eddie tell stories about working with him. Eddie and Shaun talk about the importance of mentioning your name several times in your act so the audience will remember it, a lesson Shaun says he learned from watching Dom Irrera at the comedy clubs in NYC when Shaun was a teenager. Tom says that singers and actors continue to train and work with coaches all their career- is it the same for comedians? Both Ross and Eddie teach comedy (although Eddie refers to it as workshopping, not teaching) and the comedians discuss how to get better at stand-up. The conversation continues with the comedians explaining how even 20+ years into it they continue to improve, with “stage time, stage time, stage time” being the mantra for improvement.
Comedians Sherry Davey and Jonathan Samson, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Jonathan talks about performing stand-up comedy in Thailand in both English and Thai. Shaun talks about his experiences performing at Jonathan’s club in Bangkok, Khaosan Comedy Club. Sherry wants to visit and perform there. Sherry talks about her grandfather, who was a comedian, and how she developed her sense of humor when she came to America from England. And how she needs to escape from her family during the pandemic. Tom asks about the differences between acting, improv and stand-up. And asks Jonathan if he always wanted to be a comedian (the answer was yes).
(Yes, we are aware that there’s an integer between sixteen and eighteen. Doesn’t mean we have to number in order- and if you find the missing episode please let us know)
Comedian Marion Grodin & Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Noam talks about shutting down his club at the start of the pandemic. Shaun says the reason there isn’t as big an outcry to re-open comedy clubs as there is for restaurants is that there are simply way more restaurants. Shaun says he thinks that a two drink minimum is a silly business model but Noam explains that most people are going to drink anyway so they’d prefer a minimum to a higher ticket price. Tom asks his usual questions about comedians doing shows via Zoom and Marion explains how her performance, with a lot of audience interaction, can be adapted for shows on the web. Shaun talks about marketing comedy shows and how comedians picking on the audience makes that job more difficult. And Shaun and Noam discuss the practice of dropping the checks on tables while a comedian is still on stage, which almost all clubs do but Noam’s clubs do not.
Comedians Buddy Fitzpatrick, Jeff Kreisler and Mike Burton, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Shaun suggests that we have it backwards- retire when you’re young and then work the rest of your life to get back to even. Tom asks whether comedians are either rich & famous or almost broke and the comedians discuss this. Shaun compares being a comedian to baseball- the vast differences between being in the majors and being a minor-league player. Mike talks about how it’s impossible to predict who, among a group of really funny people, will be the breakout star. Tom asks why there’s no comedians union and the comedians explain why that hasn’t worked. Jeff talks about how comedy clubs that book people with a big social media presence but not enough experience deal with structuring shows.
Comedians Moody McCarthy and Robin Fox, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Moody shows off his family’s summer cottage (which he said they call a camp where he’s from). Robin talks about some Zoom shows she’s done and Shaun Tom asks if the comedians prepare differently depending on the audience. Moody says no, his act is mostly the same no matter the audience, unless it’s an industry event in which case he’ll try to throw something in that’s related to their business. Robin talks about performing at a lot of private parties so she tries to customize her material for the audience and reveals a trade secret about how to make a joke seem like it’s about them when it’s not. Shaun says if he’s doing a show at a country club or a synagogue he has material that’s specifically for them. And the comedians talk about why they’re not really performing at colleges anymore. Robin talks about starting comedy at forty along with twenty year olds and how they couldn’t relate to each other’s material. Moody talks about parallel development, when two comedians independently come up with the same joke and that he had to stop telling a joke he wrote because Wanda Sykes had the same joke in one of her TV specials. And Shaun talks about why sometimes you shouldn’t listen to an audience member if they don’t like a joke.
Comedians Ophira Eisenberg and Ryan Reiss, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Ophira talks about her NPR show “Ask Me Another” and working with The Moth, Ryan yells at Ophira for having work to talk about and Ophira tells us how she snagged free office space to work in. Ophira talks about her book “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way To Monogamy” and that slutty doesn’t mean everyone gets a chance until Tom changes the subject. Ryan talks about travelling for gigs during the pandemic. Shaun talks about scary cheap food on the road with Ophira. Shaun talks about why stand-up comedians almost always stand up on stage. Ophira talks about testing out new material on Zoom shows. Shaun talks about performing outside for his neighbors to try out new jokes. Tom asks if the comedians always knew that’s what they would be. And when Tom asks about comedy classes, teachers and coaches, the comedians talk about how you know if you’re going to be funny. But Ryan and Ophira disagree as to whether anybody can be a comedian, with Shaun somewhere in the middle.
Comedians Tom Ryan and Joe DeVito, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Joe and Tom Ryan talk about whether it’s okay to continue telling jokes that have been in your act for a long time, Joe talks about turning his apartment into a gym and all three comics explain why the Friday late show at a comedy club is no fun for the comedians. Tom Ryan says there are some clubs he no longer performs in, and why. Tom Capone asks when comedy clubs started and the comedians discuss the origins of comedy clubs in America. Tom Capone asks what the difference is between a smart-ass and a comedian (Shaun says the smart-ass gets beat up more). And all three comedians say that getting fired is what seems to lead to a career in stand-up comedy.
Comedians Jill Twiss and Joe Matarese, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode Jill talks about how she went from musical theatre to stand-up comedy to writing for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to children’s book author. Joe talks about comedy two decades ago and how comics got money for development deals, and how he impressed his now wife. All three comics tell short jokes (meaning under thirty seconds, not about height). Jill doesn’t plug her new book, which comes out later this month (but we will: Everyone Gets a Say). And Tom asks what the comedians would be doing if there weren’t a pandemic.
Comedians Michele Balan and Scott Blakeman, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode we talk about baseball without fans. Even the Mets. Michele talks about being on a cruise ship in South America during the beginning of the pandemic. The comedians ponder what they’d say their first time back on stage after coronavirus is cured. Shaun suggests why Tom could barely get in a word and why there are so many Jewish comedians. Scott explains about ordering in food; we talk a bit about Brooklyn where Scott lives and Michele’s from. And Shaun tells a story about the fear of really inexpensive food when he was on the road performing.
Comedians Jon Fisch and Ellen Karis, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode we talk about Greek food, Jon’s very new baby, more about comedy shows on Zoom, Ellen’s background in finance and Jon’s in a mental institution (as an employee). Shaun talks about his mother’s claim that stand-up comedy isn’t a career for Jews. Ellen talks about places to perform other than comedy clubs and Jon talks about the perils of professional management. Shaun talks about his novel and Ellen promises that she’s going to write a book. Shaun talks about the Ivy League of Comedy’s 13 camera TV shoot and wonders why late-night talk shows during the pandemic are all one-camera shoots.
Comedians Myq Kaplan and Leighann Lord, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode we talk about the benefits and challenges of doing comedy via Zoom, compare it to performing live or on television. The comedians address what they’d want to say to the president of Zoom who would be watching, and what they would suggest to make Zoom shows work more smoothly. Plus the benefits of having a tech person run a Zoom show. Myq talks a bit about the Edinburgh Fridge Festival and the tour he’s missed out on because of the pandemic, and that he managed to get his album released. That he works on a new hour, then releases an album, but doesn’t run his romantic relationships on the same timeframe.
Comedian Talia Reese and comedy club owner (and former comedian) Al Martin, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
We talk about shows on Zoom and the future of the comedy club industry once clubs re-open. Talia explains how she got started in comedy. Al talks about what it’s like performing in his own club when he sees something go wrong when he’s on stage. Talia talks about working in comedy clubs in NY and Al talks about his new book “DID IT ON A DARE: How I Created a Comedy Empire in 30 Short Years.”
Comedians Frank Vignola and Karen Bergreen, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
Karen talks about being home with her family during the pandemic and why she wants to be named Elizabeth. Tom asks the comedians what they would be doing today if there were no pandemic (the episode was recorded on a Friday afternoon). Frank criticizes Shaun for interrupting Karen and Karen talks about teaching comedy via Zoom. Frank talks about the career drawbacks of being a raunchy comedian and ponders about disruptive comedy class students. The comedians talk about the difference between a one-person show, stand-up comedy and a comedic essay.
Comedians Jim Mendrinos and Cory Kahaney, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
Jim says that everything I have that I love comes from comedy. Cory, Jim and Shaun discuss the late show on Friday, the comedy club show that comedians often dread because the audience has probably already been drinking for several hours. The comedians discuss the importance of the show’s emcee and what it’s like to follow Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Breuer or Sam Kinison in a comedy show. Cory explains why she no longer works in the restaurant industry. And some tips for a successful show on Zoom.
Comedians Tony Deyo and Jane Condon, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
Tony talks about marching bands and why he isn’t doing comedy shows on Zoom and Jane talks about the perils of performing at the end of corporate events. Shaun talks about working with Jane amidst political comedy, and not discussing politics on stage in America but insisting on it overseas. Jane refuses to disclose which of her parents was in a more dangerous occupation, her father the FBI agent or her mother the first grade teacher. Tom asks what we’d be doing if we weren’t comedians so the three comedians talk about what they did before becoming comedians. Tom asks if there’s a modern equivalent of getting to perform on Carson’s Tonight Show. And Tony talks about the ultimate revenge against a youtube heckler.
Comedians Wali Collins and Maria Shehata, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
Maria talks about why she went from being a U.S.-based comedian to a U.K.-based comedian and how it’s different, Wali talks about how his mother urged him to try stand-up comedy, Tom asks about performing during a pandemic and whether comedians all want sitcoms and Shaun talks about how he first met Maria and Wali, and performing for severely rich people.
Comedians Carmen Lynch and Liz Miele, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
In this episode we discuss going months without performing on stage, Liz talks about what it’s like to start performing comedy at 16, Shaun talks about being in his fifth grade play and why that kept him from trying stand-up for a long time and Carmen talks about performing all over the world in both English and Spanish. We talk about career obstacles, what it takes to be a comedian and how we have to adapt to new technologies to make a living as comedians.
Comedians Kerri Louise and Clayton Fletcher, with co-hosts Shaun Eli (The Ivy League of Comedy) and Tom Capone (NY Distance Learning Association)
Kerri talks about her family, Clayton talks about being a paid jazz musician at age 12 and Shaun describes his job as standing on a box and talking into a stick. We discuss performing options during the pandemic and why both the comedians and the audience need to hear the laughter, and Shaun makes fun of Kerri’s math skills. Tom asks about comedians becoming actors and vice versa, and how we got started in comedy and Shaun keeps interrupting with jokes. Because that’s his job.