A few years ago I took some time off to write a musical—a fully-fledged, 2-act, 20-song musical—and this year, after a really fun and productive read-through, a theater company in the Tampa, FL area has expressed interest in putting it on their 2020 schedule! I’m beyond excited for what the future of this musical will be, and even at this early-middle stage the project already has an interesting history.
It started with a sketch I wrote for my 2001 album Keep Your Jazz Hand Strong in which a shady boyband manager (played by the wonderfully talented Michael Bernard) informs a member of one of his boybands that he’d been traded. The boyband-as-baseball team premise included talk of cutting payroll, a farm system of up-and-coming younger bands, and a career arc for performers similar to the career spans of athletes. In the sketch I chose Tampa as the location for the young band because at the time Orlando seemed to be where the major league boybands were coming from (Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, O-Town). Tampa felt like the right market for a feeder team. Plus it’s an inherently funny-sounding name. “Tampa.”
For years the idea of expanding the sketch into a film script rolled around in the back of my head. The idea of a veteran performer forced to take a big step back in his career plus the hilarious shadiness of a boyband manager unabashedly treating pop music like one big grift were waiting to be explored and played with. I thought it could be a really fun movie with lots of music, like the Blues Brothers or Tapeheads. But a movie with a lot of music is—duh—a musical! So I decided to just do that.
After submitting to several festivals and theater companies—and not hearing back from most of them—I began to pursue other projects and career paths. I wasn’t completely discouraged though, I still believed it was a really solid script with good music that would make for a fun show. The project wasn’t lost, it was just hibernating. The work that went into it would still be worth it if and when the time came for it to hit the stage.
And that time might be next year, in 2020, and the place will be, oddly enough, Tampa, Florida! And the way my musical that is set in Tampa found it’s way to a theater company in Tampa is a bit of a story in itself.
My older sister moved to the Tampa area about two years ago and just this past year started playing oboe in a few local bands and orchestra pits (we’re a musical family :P). While playing in the pit for Ragtime she told the musical director about my musical; the fact that it was set in Tampa (and that he was familiar with my Pachelbel Rant) intrigued him enough to take a look at the script.
My sister suggested we try a read through should I visit the Tampa area, and that read through happened just this past Monday at the offices of Not Your Normal Entertainment. Joseph Scarbrough, the head of NYNE, brought together a lovely group of actors who brought life to the script while I played demos of the songs from my laptop. The jokes landed, the story flowed, and hearing people who live and work in Tampa react to the song “What’s in Tampa?” was a double bonus!
I am thrilled by the opportunity to debut this project on the stage. I’ll update here and on my social media, and follow NYNE on social media too, they do amazing work!
We finally pulled the trigger and pushed our site redesign live! There are still some bugs to work out, some of our “load more posts” buttons don’t seem to be working, but a lot of the new pages are here and ready to go. And if you’re looking for an older post that you can’t find, fear not! It’s sill in our database, we just need to get all the links and buttons pointing to the right things.
Give us a few days to get things running smoothly, and after that if there are posts or things you’re looking for that you can’t find or access, let us know and we’ll do our best to track it down.
OK, I think I just made up a French verb, but it doesn’t matter because everyone speaks the universal language of Music With Funny Lyrics But If You Don’t Understand Them You Can Still Enjoy the Music!
I had a wonderful time doing shows in Switzerland and Paris, and catching up with my longtime friend Jen Kirwin, an American comic who runs several English language Expat Comedy Nights in and around Geneva, Switzerland.
My first show was the day after I landed (and was still pretty jet-lagged) at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva. The English-style pub is a haven for expats and the downstairs showroom was a perfect spot for a night of English language comedy. Sharing the bill with me were Magda Mihalia, a very funny Romanian comedian who performs in English, French, and Romanian; Robbie Toole, an American currently living in Geneva; Marie Connolly, an Australian comic who now makes her home in Lyon, France; and Jen.
The crowd was a lot of fun and included people from several countries, not just the English-speaking world. As a performer it was interesting to see the different levels of English comprehension and how it affected my set. I have a few songs where the lyrics are rapped rapid-fire so I tended to slow down as much as I could without changing the groove of the music from pop track to ballad. One person, an Italian I think, said after the show that he couldn’t understand everything but even when he couldn’t he enjoyed the music. Totally made lugging my guitar across the Atlantic worth it!
The day after my first show I hopped a train to Paris, and not just any train, one of those fancy high speed ones! Got to Paris in 3 hours, spent a lovely weekend there and did a set on an English language monthly show called The Great British American Comedy Night! There were 5 comics in the lineup, 2 French, 2 Americans currently living in Paris, and me, and the crowd was packed into a cozy showroom on a boat docked in the Seine.
The crowd was energetic and amazing and it was a truly unique experience.
Then it was back to Switzerland and another Expat show with Jen and Magda, this time in a lovely music room called the Bleu Lézard, in Lausanne, Switzerland. They call these basement rooms “caves” (pronounced “kaaahve”) and the Bleu Lézard was my favorite of the bunch. Even though my voice was a little scratchy from a long weekend in Paris I had a blast performing.
And here’s a short clip from that show, unlisted on YouTube just for you guys. I opened with a very old bit of mine about the Friends TV show’s theme song, but even though that joke is pushing 20 years old it was a great opener for the international crowd because not only was/is the show popular in Europe, the bit was a good gauge of people’s familiarity with American English!
And rounding out the performances on the trip was a Valentine’s-themed show at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland, just outside of Geneva. Caustic is a beautiful and friendly club and the showroom is another amazing “cave.”
I hope to get back to Europe soon for more shows and to hit these spots again, and check out the photo gallery above for some other pics from the trip, including the invasion of Brooklyn hipness into downtown Geneva!
Thanks to the very talented Jon Taylor I have some great new press and promo shots to share! We did some charactery portraits, some actory portraits, and some shots with the guitar and I love ’em all!
I’m sure my fellow performers know how tricky it can be to get a good headshot or promo shot—one that captures your personality and conveys something about your work. I think Jon really captured some great moments and looks. Look for the new pics in a new show flyer, poster, or real estate bench ad soon!
Are you ready to test your fake band knowledge? The Fake Band Trivia Challenge draws questions from 50 years of fictitious bands from movies, TV, and print! That’s half a century of fake bands!
There are 3 rounds of 11 questions. Yes, because these rounds GO TO ELEVEN! But I couldn’t even stop there, there are a few bonus points available in each round, so the total possible points are: Round 1: 15 possible pts; Round 2: 17 possible points; Round 3: 16 possible points; for a grand total of 48 possible points!
This challenge was created for my monthly variety show at QED in Astoria—The Odd Rock Comedy Hour, which I renamed the SHAM Rock Comedy Hour for St. Patrick’s Day—and the winning team took the crown with 20 points.
Will you do better? Will you hate me for leaving out your favorite fake band? Only one way to tell! Grab some paper to write down your answers and good luck!
I’ve accidentally embarked on the quest to create the most epic fake band trivia challenge ever!! It started as a play on words—“Sham Rock” instead of “Odd Rock” Comedy Hour to acknowledge that the March installment of my monthly variety show falls on St. Patrick’s Day.
“I’ll do a couple of covers from fictitious TV and film bands,” I thought.
“I’ll show slides of some of the more esoteric fictitious bands,” I pondered.
But when I had the idea to create a fake band trivia contest I had no idea it would become my mission in life to create the MOST AMAZING AND TRULY AWESOME FAKE BAND TRIVIA CONTEST EVER!! I’m having an absolute blast putting these questions together, I think I may have found my calling in life!
The questions will range in difficulty from “everyone should know that” to “why would anyone know that?” with a lot of room in between. Some questions will be easy with supplemental bonus points for more in-depth knowledge on the same subject. There will be some “everyone wins” questions with prizes for anyone who gets it right. So even if you answer only one question right you could still get a prize.
And on top of this epicness we still have great comedy and music: dope and dirty rhymes from La Dynasty and standup comedy from Boris Khaykin, and more! So get your tickets now! It’s only ten bucks, but you can get tix for seven dollareedoos with the discount code ORCHVIP at QED’s website.
The Odd Rock Comedy Hour is putting on an odd rock holiday show! Comedy music superduo Sam & Bill, Killy Dwyer, Lauren Hope Krass and me, Rob P., will bring to the stage twisted musical holiday cheer in the form of top-notch comedy, music, standup, sketch, and candy! And if you get your tickets in advance and use code ORCHVIP, you can get in for just $7!
It all takes place on Saturday, Dec. 16th at 7:30 pm at Q.E.D. in lovely Astoria, Queens. The Odd Rock Comedy Hour will help make your season hilarious.
The Odd Rock Comedy Hour, my new monthly comedy/music/variety show, launches Saturday, Nov 18 at Q.E.D.! After a great 3-year run of my monthly show Don’t Feed the Musicians! I’m ready to kick off a new show that will feature the best of what you’ve come to love from the old show along with some new twists and turns.
One of the reasons for the name change is that I wanted the name to clearly convey that the show was a fun collection of comedy, music, and something a little off the beaten path. Also, the name Don’t Feed the Musicians! is kind of bossy when you think about it.
The new name is inspired by a very quirky rock club in Milwaukee where my old band The Steppingstones played our first gig: The Odd Rock Cafe. The venue was a converted Victorian house in an industrial section of the city and all of the interesting 80s acts played there: The Jesus Lizard, Gwar, G. G. Allin, Social Distortion, and many more. We opened for a Milwaukee-based psychedelic jangle-pop band The Petals and we were so amped to be playing our first gig we blew through our entire set in about 30 minutes.
We came off the stage to some confused looks from members of the Petals.“You’re done?” The asked if we wanted to play a few more and we had to respond, “we don’t know any more.” We should have pulled the line Bob Newhart used after his first nightclub gig earned him calls for an encore. He came back out on stage and said “Okay, which one do you want to hear again?”
So there you have it: somewhere between quirky music with a D.I.Y. aesthetic and Bob Newhart lies The Odd Rock Comedy Hour. Coming to Q.E.D. on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 7:30 pm. Come join the fun!