To be a standup comic in the San Francisco Bay Area is to live in Robin Williams’ shadow. He lived here. He came up here, performing in the legendary Purple Onion and Holy City Zoo comedy clubs. Every so often, my Facebook and Twitter feeds would light up with posts reading “ROBIN WILLIAMS IS AT MY SHOW” or “Robin Williams saw my set and told me I was funny!” or simply a photo of an open miker, beaming next to a comedy demigod who looks exactly as kind in reality as he did on the big screen in his Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting “inspirational teacher roles.”
I never met Robin Williams. Not once. I never found myself standing in a room with him, and even if I had, I doubt I would have approached him. I don’t take photos with celebrities, as a rule—it always feels self-serving and weird to me, a strange visual humblebrag that my Midwestern upbringing tells me is inappropriate. And what on earth would I have said to Robin Williams? “Hey, I’m a comedian, too, sort of. I have a day job, but someday I’m going to quit, and then I’ll be a real comedian, like you.” That, too, feels gross—if I couldn’t tell Robin Williams “I’m a comedian,” full stop, with no qualifications, then I wasn’t really a comedian. I would wait. I would become a real comedian. And I would run into him some other time, later.
I thought I had more time. We all did. Read More →
Funny stuff is happening at Pandora!
This week marks two years since Pandora launched the Comedy Genome Project. Just like our music stations, Pandora Comedy is designed to give our listeners a personalized listening experience to help them discover comedy they love, while providing artists with radio airplay and a new way to connect with fans.
Since May 2011, our Comedy collection has grown from 10,000 comedy tracks to over 25,000 tracks, and from 700 to 1,700 comedians. Each of those tracks has been analyzed according to specific comedy traits before being added to the collection. We’ve captured exclusive content at performances in both New York and Los Angeles and hosted live comedy sessions at our Oakland HQ for comics Jason Love, Don Friesen, Beth Stelling, Will Durst, Ian Karmel, and Kevin Avery. Since the launch, we have also doubled the number of comedy genre stations with exciting additions like Women in Comedy, Alternative Comedy, and Latino Comedy. Read More →
Comedian Will Durst paid a visit to Pandora HQ in Oakland and brought the funny with his Emmy-nominated political satire. He has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, Comedy Central, HBO and Showtime. Will has also been featured alongside some of the statesmen who have tickled his funny bone over the years — Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Al Gore. After his performance, Will sat down with me to discuss his first open mic, the charms of terrible comedy venues and what he’d be doing if he wasn’t skewering leaders on both sides of America’s political divide.
What do you remember about your very first open mic or the first time you did comedy?
WD: A friend of mine told me about an audition for a comic to perform in between musical comedy acts at an airport lounge. I was writing a humor column for the underground newspaper in Milwaukee at the time, so I cobbled some funny bits from that and I put together a seven minute act…and I died a horrible death. There were five people at 5 PM in an office, running this comedy audition, sitting in comfy chairs with coffee cups full of scotch. It was awful, it was just awful. Read More →
Comedian Beth Stelling dropped by our office in Oakland and cracked everyone up with material from her new album, Sweet Beth. Beth was featured at the prestigious Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and, in 2011, and was awarded the Rooftop Comedy’s Silver Nail Award, recognizing the Best Underground Standup Comics. Beth has also been named “Best Standup Comedian” by the Chicago Reader, and this past July, she made her late-night television debut on Conan. Read More →
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…if you love holiday music, that is. If carols aren’t your jam, the last couple months of the year can be as unbearable as watching Santa Claus Conquers the Martians without hilarious commentary from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys.
It always starts the same way. In early November, some local radio station fires the opening salvo by switching over to all “Sleighride” and “Frosty The Snowman” tunes. Department stores and online retailers jingle their bells in the background of their commercials. By the time Black Friday rolls around, the entire world has gone “Holiday”. Coffee shops are swathed in tinsel while Karen Carpenter coos about frosted windowpanes and three-quarter time; the local mall plays the 16 covers (yes, there really are 16) of that John Lennon “Happy Xmas (War Is Over) song on a continuous loop; and gaggles of kids gather on street corners to raise money for charity by singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Raindeer” and “Winter Wonderland.”
So congratulations on maintaining your sanity for this long! While many of us delight in our ability to bask in holiday jingles this time of year, I’m here to help all the rest of you get through to December 26th with some festive comedic relief. Read More →
Stand-up comedians Don Friesen and Jason Love stopped by Pandora headquarters in Oakland to entertain employees with our very first live comedy Whiteboard Session. After waking the staff up with a 9:30 AM performance, they kept us laughing as we chatted about open mics, vomit, and advice for aspiring comics.
Don Friesen is the only two-time winner of the San Francisco International Comedy Competition. He has appeared on Comedy Central and his recent special Ask Your Mom is currently airing on Showtime.
Jason Love has appeared on Comedy Central, Last Comic Standing, and HBO’s Luck. His award-winning humor column, So It Goes has run in over 50 publications. Read More →