A Beacon in the Smog: Comedy Benefit for Grist.org
Eugene Mirman, Wyatt Cenac, David Cross, Eleanor Friedberger, Kurt Braunohler
149 7th Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11215
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
A Beacon in the Smog: Comedy Benefit for Grist.org
Brooklyn resident (and Russian immigrant) Eugene Mirman is a really great guy and comedian. Eugene has appeared on television, which is still a relevant medium for another few years. Some examples include: his own half hour special on Comedy Central, appearances on Conan O'Brien, a recurring role on HBO's Flight of the Conchords, Bob's Burgers, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Home Movies, Lucy, Daughter of the
Devil and the Adult Swim live action series Delocated.
Photo: Seth Olenick
Wyatt Cenac is a Brooklyn-based comedian and regular contributor and correspondent on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He reported his first field story in 2008 about Barack Obama, who was a Democratic presidential hopeful at the time. Cenac grew up in Dallas, Texas and later moved to North Carolina, where he attended college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduation, Cenac moved to Los Angeles, where he spent three seasons as a writer on FOX's popular animated show, “King of the Hill.” In 2008, Cenac starred in the film, “Medicine For Melancholy,” which was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards. In 2011, Cenac recorded his first one-hour comedy special, "Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person" for Comedy Central. Cenac is a staple of the New York comedy scene and can be found headlining in venues across the country.
David Cross began his professional television career as a writer on "The Ben Stiller Show." It was there that he first met Bob Odenkirk, with whom he would later co-create the award-winning HBO sketch comedy series, "Mr. Show with Bob and Dave." Cross has since starred as Tobias Fünke in "Arrested Development" and has appeared in numerous films including "Men in Black," "Ghost World," 'Scary Movie 2" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Cross also maintains a notable stand-up career and has released two comedy CDs on SubPop Records: the Grammy-nominated "Shut Up You Fucking Baby!" and "It's Not Funny." In addition to his larger roles, Cross has made cameo appearances on "Just Shoot Me," "The Drew Carey Show," "NewsRadio," "Strangers with Candy" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Cross also provided voices for the Xbox game "Halo 2" and appeared on Adult Swim's "Tom Goes to the Mayor" (for which Bob Odenkirk is executive producer).
At a time when most female singer-songwriters perform as alter egos, Eleanor Friedberger is simply, refreshingly herself. And that's just the way her fans like it. Having spent the last decade fronting the indie-rock institution The Fiery Furnaces (currently on hiatus) with her brother Matthew, in 2011 she emerged as a formidable solo artist with Last Summer, a thoughtfully crafted tale of memory and place couched in the organic pop of her '70s idols. Instantly, Friedberger established herself as a modern-day heir to the tradition of Donovan, Todd Rundgren, Ronnie Lane, and their ilk: Warm, nuanced, timeless songs. No gimmicks necessary.
The title of Friedberger's sophomore album is Personal Record, and it is, in a sense. Personal, that is. But not personal in the way of, say, a coming-of-age record, or a diary about the past, which Last Summer was. Many of the songs seem to be about love, or love lost, but whether any of the experience is hers or someone else's, she isn't saying. "It's not as specific a narrative this time," she says. "There's a universality to it." So incisive are the lyrics, in fact, that Friedberger's bassist incorrectly assumed that two of the songs were about him. "I loved that," she says. "I want him to feel like the songs are about him. I want you to feel like the songs are about you."
The term "personal record" also refers to an athlete's best, and the double entendre is apt. An intense decade-plus of touring and recording has burnished Friedberger's voice and imbued her songwriting with newfound depth; there's a maturity and mellifluousness to this outing that feels downright epic. It was always the Eleanor-penned songs that gave the Furnaces' albums their most poignant and graceful moments, especially in later work like I'm Going Away. Last Summer took that promise into full flower; Personal Record "is part of the same growth process," she says. Faced with a six-month gap between the completion of Last Summer and its release and accompanying tour, Friedberger holed up at home in Brooklyn; by the time the tour started, she had twelve new songs to road-test. Though most bands work this way, the Furnaces didn't. For Friedberger, touring with the unreleased material allowed her to flesh out a more rollicking, full sound from the get-go. "By the time I came home," she says, "I knew exactly what I wanted the songs to sound like."
She reunited with Last Summer producer Eric Broucek (the DFA-trained emerging talent whose clients include !!!, Hercules and Love Affair, and Jonny Pierce) to expand upon the warm, textured atmosphere of their first collaboration. Tracking began in fall 2012 with a week at Plantain Studios, the West Village home of DFA. To Friedberger's favored electric pianos and classic-rock guitars, they added a menagerie including an upright bass, an alto flute, a bass clarinet, and even a portative organ. (It's a device made of several recorders and a bellows in a frame that looks like a wooden castle. Or, actually, like Howl's Moving Castle.)
Production then resumed at Broucek's home studio in the Los Angeles hills, where the rest of the record was completed in just ten days. As the songs filled out, Friedberger went full-out in immersing herself in her romantic vision of that city. "I was just listening to Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, driving around in a borrowed Prius," she says. "Walking along Point Dume, playing tennis at Griffith Park.... I ate hippie food every day. Lots of lentils."
The sun-warmed languor of the West Coast and its golden age of rock 'n' roll shines through in Personal Record. It's the aural equivalent of an afternoon jaunt up the PCH in an orange BMW 2002, fist pumping into the wind. "When I Knew" and "Stare at the Sun" rock out like the Furnaces' finest, but with that unmistakable Eleanor gracefulness. "Echo or Encore" is a lilting love ballad underlaid with with a bossa nova beat. "I Am the Past" evokes the mystical side of the Me Decade with meandering bass clarinet and a balls-out flute solo (seriously). Though Friedberger may harbor a bit of a '70s fetish, there's an idiosyncrasy and intimacy to her music that's undeniably modern. Above all, it's pretty. "It's such a romantic album to me," Friedberger says. "But more so than love for another person, it's really about a love of music."
Kurt has been seen on BUNK (IFC), Chelsea Lately (E!), Bob's Burgers (FOX), Delocated (Adult Swim), Comedy Central Presents, Jon Benjamin Has a Van (Comedy Central), The Heart She Holler (Adult Swim), Assy McGee (Adult Swim), Human Giant (MTV). He can also be heard on the radio on This American Life, telling a story which he is currently developing for television for HBO.
Kurt was recently named one of Variety's "10 Comics To Watch." He's also featured in Time Out New York's list of 50 Funniest New Yorkers, named as a "Comic to Watch" by Comedy Central, the New York Comedy Festival and TimeOut NY, as well as "Best Male Stand-Up" by the ECNY and "Best Unscripted Host" by the New York Television Festival.
As a stand up, Kurt debuted his high-energy, absurdist point-of-view on Comedy Central's John Oliver Presents this summer. As far as stages, Kurt has performed at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival, Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal and Chicago, New York Comedy Festival (named a "Comic to Watch"), SXSW, Bonaroo, All Tomorrow's Parties, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (IF.Comedy Award nominee), Melbourne Comedy Festival (Barry Award Winner), the HBO Vegas Comedy Festival, the Chicago Improv Festival ("Improv Ensemble of the Year" Award Winner) and he once performed at Radio City Music Hall.
Kurt co-created a pilot for Channel 4 in the UK with his comedy partner, Kristen Schaal, for their popular web-series, Penelope: Princess of Pets. The duo also have hosted the NYC staple variety show, Hot Tub, for the past 7 years.
"Braunohler is very funny" - USA Today
"So high wattage, he outshines everybody" - Tom Scharpling, The Best Show
"Trust me. You will not want to miss all the shenanigans" - SerialOptimist
"Do you like wunderkinds? Then you will LOVE KURT!" - BrooklynVegan
"Braunohler's brand of humour is insane, life-affirming, silly and above all hugely enjoyable." - Time Out London
Hosted by Eugene Mirman With Wyatt Cenac, David Cross, musical guest Eleanor Friedberger and special guests.
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