Chicken Scratch

Chicken Scratch Messy thoughts about comedy, scribbled from the collective minds of Steve Heisler, Julie Seabaugh, Matthew Love and John Wenzel. ChickenScratchComedy.com

Experimental NYC comic Kate Berlant is getting a lot of press lately for a reason: she's awesome. John Wenzel catches up...
01/31/2014
Kate Berlant's experimental comedy is the best thing since oh God I'm melting | John Wenzel

Experimental NYC comic Kate Berlant is getting a lot of press lately for a reason: she's awesome. John Wenzel catches up with her in advance of her show at Denver's Oriental Theater tonight with Beth Stelling.

Kate Berlant popped onto my radar when Denver comedy troupe The Grawlix flew her in for their monthly showcase, but it wasn’t until I saw her at last year’s inaugural High Plains Comedy Festival that...

After a few weeks off, the comedy journalists at Chicken Scratch are back with a group piece about what we'd like to see...
01/28/2014
2014 is the Year Comedy Changed Comedy

After a few weeks off, the comedy journalists at Chicken Scratch are back with a group piece about what we'd like to see in 2014. Hint: Chris Gethard, Tig Notaro, podcasts and comedy festivals are among the topics bandied about like fancy, artisinal shuttlecocks.

We here at Chicken Scratch have had a gangbusters 2014 so far. Steve Heisler took over as co-anchor on Weekend Update, Julie Seabaugh has been writing articles for the Illuminati, Matthew Love earned...

Best? Favorite? What's the difference when it comes to lists?? John Wenzel runs down his favorite comedy of 2013, then m...
12/19/2013
My favorite comedy of 2013 | John Wenzel

Best? Favorite? What's the difference when it comes to lists?? John Wenzel runs down his favorite comedy of 2013, then mounts it to the hood of his cherry-red Cadillac.

A sold-out crowd greeted Reggie Watts’ headlining performance on the final night Denver’s inaugural High Plains Comedy Festival. Photo by Evan Semon, heyreverb.com. As our Steve Heisler pointed out...

Ever read "Bored of the Rings?" If so, you know nerd humor is either great or terrible, and most of the time it's both. ...
12/13/2013
With Apologies to The Hobbit: The Highs and Lows of Nerd Humor | John Wenzel

Ever read "Bored of the Rings?" If so, you know nerd humor is either great or terrible, and most of the time it's both. John Wenzel uses the opening of the new Hobbit movie to sniff out some examples.

The multi-million dollar media blitz heralding the new Hobbit movie has likely made you unbelievably sick of hearing about it, so allow me to take a different path. Namely, one that deflates the...

Do the best comics listen to and respond to the room as a natural extension of what they do? Matthew Love thinks so. And...
12/12/2013
The Rolling Beer Bottle: A Comic's Material and the Immaterial | Matthew Love

Do the best comics listen to and respond to the room as a natural extension of what they do? Matthew Love thinks so. And here's why.

My laminate blinds Tig Notaro. From the spiral staircase at the back of the Théatre Sainte-Catherine, a guy calmly, repeatedly says something incomprehensible about feces. A water bottle rolls across...

Taylor Ketchum went from college football star to homeless heroin addict. After that, lying his way onto his first stand...
12/10/2013
Taylor Ketchum: The Highest Highs and the Lowest Lows | Julie Seabaugh

Taylor Ketchum went from college football star to homeless heroin addict. After that, lying his way onto his first stand-up stage was a piece of cake.

Taylor Ketchum co-hosts new biweekly show Hot Crowd, along with Joe Zimmerman and Jono Zalay, Wednesday at Over the Eight in Williamsburg. From college football star to homeless heroin addict to New...

Improv founder Budd Friedman on Epix's new anniversary documentary, the chain’s legacy and just who the hell The Nerdi...
12/06/2013
Q&A with The Improv's Budd Friedman | Julie Seabaugh

Improv founder Budd Friedman on Epix's new anniversary documentary, the chain’s legacy and just who the hell The Nerdist is again.

Epix documentary The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall — featuring Jerry Seinfeld, Jimmy Fallon, Sarah Silverman and more — debuts tonight at 8 Eastern. Founder Budd Friedman was kind enough to...

Few people would call Doug Benson "visionary," at least outside of a dorm room or Widespread Panic show, but here he is:...
12/03/2013
Am I Stoned, or Is Doug Benson the Future of Comedy? | John Wenzel

Few people would call Doug Benson "visionary," at least outside of a dorm room or Widespread Panic show, but here he is: an aging stoner comedian at the burning center of the next big social and cultural trend. John Wenzel (from the weed capitol of Denver, Colorado) makes the case.

Watching Doug Benson smoke pot on his video-podcast Getting Doug With High makes my lungs hurt. Dude barely takes a breath between joints, bowls, and bong rips, encouraging his comedian-actor buddies...

If you thought salsa sensation Kyle Kinane had nothing in common with fart machines and Cyber Monday, you've been barkin...
12/02/2013
The Fart Machines in Purgatory Are More Realistic | Steve Heisler

If you thought salsa sensation Kyle Kinane had nothing in common with fart machines and Cyber Monday, you've been barking up the wrong something or other. Steve Heisler explains.

“My friends are getting book deals from Twitter and I’m slow dancing with a robot for a case of free salsa. Everything’s just f**king grand.” — Kyle Kinane, a great Twitter warrior The future has...

The cold, dead heart of John Wenzel always warms a bit when he watches "Mr. Show," "Seinfeld" or "Tim and Eric" -- shows...
11/21/2013
Mr. Show, Seinfeld and the comfort of misanthropy | John Wenzel

The cold, dead heart of John Wenzel always warms a bit when he watches "Mr. Show," "Seinfeld" or "Tim and Eric" -- shows that aren't exactly know for their magnanimous perspectives on humanity. Our final, least optimistic installment in the Comedy Comfort Food series is here!

The proliferation of ads featuring cars wrapped in giant red bows means the holiday season is upon us, and what better way to simulate the warm familiarity of a yule log DVD than by listing our...

On the heels of Bill Burr's latest Philadelphia show, Matthew Love can't help but think of the comic's infamous 2006 set...
11/18/2013
The Broken Mic Stand: Bill Burr in Philly | Matthew Love

On the heels of Bill Burr's latest Philadelphia show, Matthew Love can't help but think of the comic's infamous 2006 set there -- and why it was an example of Burr at his vitriolic best.

This past weekend, stand-up Bill Burr made a tour stop at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia; if comedy connoisseurs, or even fans of heckling videos, felt their Spidey-Sense tingling on Saturday, this...

John Wenzel can't help but wonder if comedians and video games are like peanut butter and jelly -- in which the jelly fi...
11/11/2013
Video Games Are Occupational Hazards for Comedians | John Wenzel

John Wenzel can't help but wonder if comedians and video games are like peanut butter and jelly -- in which the jelly fills all the stoned, lonely hours of the peanut butter's vagabond life.

Most of us have fantasized about the stereotypical dream job where we slack off for a few hours each day, eat junk food, smoke pot, masturbate, play video games, and otherwise indulge in the sort of...

How is Chris Hardwick's new Comedy Central show @midnight doing well so fast? Matthew Love has some ideas.
11/06/2013
@midnight Is Doing Something Right | Matthew Love

How is Chris Hardwick's new Comedy Central show @midnight doing well so fast? Matthew Love has some ideas.

Photo: Mark Davis It’s only been a little more than a week since the premiere of the internet-obsessed, late night game show @midnight, and I’ve already received an e-mail from Comedy Central about...

Think it's easy to run a successful bar show? As RG Daniels reveals to Julie Seabaugh on the fifth anniversary of his Su...
11/05/2013
RG Daniels's Secrets to Bar Show Success | Julie Seabaugh

Think it's easy to run a successful bar show? As RG Daniels reveals to Julie Seabaugh on the fifth anniversary of his Sunday Night Stand-Up, it takes much more than a desire to get drunk with your friends...

Poster by Bryan Brinkman and Ashley Culver New York bar shows are a dime a dozen. From debut to demise, few last even a year. Yet RG Daniels—despite not being a prominent name and facing timeslot...

As Rodney Dangerfield might say, comedy awards are few and far between in this world since dramatic entertainment tends ...
11/01/2013
Lauding Laughter: With Great Power Comes Small Plaques | John Wenzel

As Rodney Dangerfield might say, comedy awards are few and far between in this world since dramatic entertainment tends to be far more respected among the establishment. (That's how he'd put it, right?) John Wenzel investigates.

Awards ceremonies are great excuses to catch up with comedy legends. Carl Reiner, the 91-year-old writer, director, actor, and surprisingly active Tweeter, will receive the Starz Denver Film...

In the conclusion of Julie Seabaugh's 2004 interview, Mitch Hedberg discusses meeting and traveling with his wife Lynn S...
10/29/2013
2004 Q&A with Mitch Hedberg: Part 2 of 2 | Julie Seabaugh

In the conclusion of Julie Seabaugh's 2004 interview, Mitch Hedberg discusses meeting and traveling with his wife Lynn Shawcroft, performing at Just For Laughs Montreal, backstage preparations, drug use, his possession arrest, Comedy Central releases, gambling, hotels, his beloved log cabin and RV, his relationship with his parents, and more.

Picking up where last week’s full transcript of an interview I conducted in October 2004 for Las Vegas Weekly left off, Mitch Hedberg discusses meeting and traveling with his wife Lynn Shawcroft,...

There are many, many reasons to love Kumail Nanjiani, but Steve Heisler hones in on his supernatural riffing abilities f...
10/28/2013
Kumail Nanjiani on Riffing and Knowing Exactly When to Speak | Steve Heisler

There are many, many reasons to love Kumail Nanjiani, but Steve Heisler hones in on his supernatural riffing abilities for today's Q&A.

Kumail Nanjiani has made himself a staple of the Los Angeles podcast scene, appearing on multiple episodes of You Made It Weird, Doug Loves Movies and his own Indoor Kids, cohosted with wife Emily...

Scratcher Julie Seabaugh has been thinking about the people in Mitch Hedberg's life recently. On the anniversary of an h...
10/22/2013
2004 Q&A with Mitch Hedberg: Part 1 of 2 | Julie Seabaugh

Scratcher Julie Seabaugh has been thinking about the people in Mitch Hedberg's life recently. On the anniversary of an hour interview she conducted with him six months before he died, she revisits part one of their full transcript, with part two concluding next week.

I’ve been emailing back and forth with Bonnie McFarlane since the LA Podcast Festival, where I also caught up with Lynn Shawcroft. Lynn and Bonnie are close friends, and I’ve been remembering how...

Chicken Scratch's Steve Heisler took a walk on the beach with comedy hero Garry Shandling -- and lived to tell about it.
10/21/2013
Garry Shandling Terrifies Me Into Productivity | Steve Heisler

Chicken Scratch's Steve Heisler took a walk on the beach with comedy hero Garry Shandling -- and lived to tell about it.

Welcome to Memorable Mondays, a feature I made up so I can resurface something I wrote a while ago for, um, your enjoyment (not at all because I procrastinated—JUST LIKE REAL WRITERS!). I’ve been...

The second annual All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival—running this Thursday through Sunday in Portland, Oregon—will fea...
10/16/2013
Bonnie McFarlane, Aparna Nancherla and Phoebe Robinson on All Jane No Dick | Julie Seabaugh

The second annual All Jane No Dick Comedy Festival—running this Thursday through Sunday in Portland, Oregon—will feature sketch and stand-up performed by women only. How do participants feel about the distinction? Bonnie McFarlane, Aparna Nancherla and Phoebe Robinson weigh in.

Despite its name, Boston’s annual Women in Comedy Festival books males. Similarly, the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition showcases comics of all ethnicities. In contrast, the second annual All Jane No...

Chicken Scratcher John Wenzel previews an upcoming feature in The Denver Post with some thoughts about learning and humo...
10/11/2013
To Learn Or Not To Learn? Comedy and Kids’ TV | John Wenzel

Chicken Scratcher John Wenzel previews an upcoming feature in The Denver Post with some thoughts about learning and humor in kid's TV -- mostly as an excuse to relive some memories of Nickelodeon in the '90s.

Last week I had a chance to indulge some of my adolescent TV love when I talked to the author of Slimed! An Oral History Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, which looks at Nick’s mostly live-action programming...

"Lessons learned" week continues at Chicken Scratch with Matthew Love's piece about constructing comedic sensibilities a...
10/10/2013
Lessons Learned from Dads and Charlie Manson | Matthew Love

"Lessons learned" week continues at Chicken Scratch with Matthew Love's piece about constructing comedic sensibilities around the examples the people around us set. Also, fart jokes.

“My dad is the funniest person I know.” This is what nearly every young celeb says when the talk show host asks about who makes them laugh. It’s sort of like hearing the wide receiver thank God upon...

If you're not sure what Jodie "Stephanie Tanner" Sweetin, "The X Files" and Never Not Funny have in common, you might wa...
10/08/2013
10 Things I Learned at the 2nd Annual LA Podcast Festival | Julie Seabaugh

If you're not sure what Jodie "Stephanie Tanner" Sweetin, "The X Files" and Never Not Funny have in common, you might want to check out the top ten lessons from the second annual L.A. Podcast Festival, courtesy of Julie Seabaugh.

Three days, a half-dozen panels, and 40-plus live podcasts hosted at Santa Monica’s Le Meridian hotel including WTF with Marc Maron, Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler, Welcome to Night Vale, Doug Loves...

Sometimes Steve Heisler just has to write about poop, blackout drinking and the podcasts that unite them. This is one of...
10/08/2013
Comedy Journalism/Writer Cabal Chicken Scratch

Sometimes Steve Heisler just has to write about poop, blackout drinking and the podcasts that unite them. This is one of those times.

Messy thoughts about comedy, scribbled from the collective minds of Steve Heisler, Julie Seabaugh,...

The 1980s "Carol Burnett Show" spin-off "Mama's Family" is considered by some to be the worst sitcom of all time. But wh...
10/03/2013
Vicki Lawrence on her love-it-or-hate-it sitcom Mama's Family | John Wenzel

The 1980s "Carol Burnett Show" spin-off "Mama's Family" is considered by some to be the worst sitcom of all time. But why? John Wenzel talks to creator/star Vicki Lawrence.

Comedian and actress Vicki Lawrence will forever be linked to her most enduring creation: the cranky, curly-haired, Southern senior citizen Thelma Harper, known to most of us simply as Mama. The...

Homelessness, Def Comedy Jam, The Cosby Show, Letterman, The Daily Show, Louie, the new Chris Rock movie and more; celeb...
10/01/2013
Homeless to Elite Host: William Stephenson's 30 Years in Comedy | Julie Seabaugh

Homelessness, Def Comedy Jam, The Cosby Show, Letterman, The Daily Show, Louie, the new Chris Rock movie and more; celebrated NYC host William Stephenson opens up about 30 years in comedy.

Any comedy fan who frequents traditional NYC clubs has seen William Stephenson in action. Whether ringleading shows at the Comedy Cellar, Stand Up NY, Gotham, Comic Strip Live or beyond, he remains...

Chicken Scratch's cover photo
10/01/2013

Chicken Scratch's cover photo

It's always heartening to see comedians and people in the comedy community throw together benefits for various good caus...
09/26/2013
The (Real) Benefits Of Laughter | John Wenzel

It's always heartening to see comedians and people in the comedy community throw together benefits for various good causes. But is it all the more surprising because comedians are stereotypically thought of as bitter misanthropes? John Wenzel ponders.

Comedians are some of the most self-centered, needy people around. It’s a stereotype, I know, but damn if it ain’t reinforced nearly every time I interview or meet one after a show. The drive to climb...

The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival kicks off its pony riding, pig roasting, bouncy castle-ing sixth edition tomorrow.
09/25/2013
Eugene Mirman and the Return of Festival Fun

The Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival kicks off its pony riding, pig roasting, bouncy castle-ing sixth edition tomorrow.

The comedy festival: a booze-fueled, sleep-deprived, nutritionally dubious, business-card-swapping, marathon-schmoozing, corporate-shilling, oath-swearing, self-loathing, hookup-regretting,...

No comedy education is complete without knowing the neighborhood that launched Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, Joh...
09/17/2013
The 5 Most Historically Important Venues in NYC Comedy | Julie Seabaugh

No comedy education is complete without knowing the neighborhood that launched Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers, John Belushi and many more, plus witnessed the landmark obscenity trial of Lenny Bruce.

A celebrated neighborhood for folk musicians, Beat writers and civil rights/Vietnam protesters, New York City’s Greenwich Village also drew comedians disillusioned by the ideological confines of...

Plenty of comedians have hosted game shows, but which ones stand out as the best? Or, by the same token, make you want t...
09/12/2013
Comedians As Game Show Hosts: The Best, Worst, And Weirdest | John Wenzel

Plenty of comedians have hosted game shows, but which ones stand out as the best? Or, by the same token, make you want to throw your cat at the TV? John Wenzel has some thoughts.

I wasn’t alone in my disappointment when, in 2007, CBS announced Drew Carey would take over as host of its long-running weekday time-passer The Price Is Right. The grandfatherly Bob Barker was in many...

Wherein our Steve Heisler gets profiled for being the comedy and video game fool that he is, with a Chicken Scratch ment...
09/10/2013
Steve Heisler: Cobble Hill video game and comedy blogger [Geek This Week]

Wherein our Steve Heisler gets profiled for being the comedy and video game fool that he is, with a Chicken Scratch mention, of course.

If you want to write about pop culture, you ought to be closer to it. That’s why Steve Heisler, a 31 year old video game and comedy blogger, came to New York from Chicago, three years ago.

Is Julie Seabaugh the Martha Stewart to Netflix's ImClone? Or is she just putting her money where her mouth is and inves...
09/10/2013
My Netflix Stock = Conflict of Interest? | Julie Seabaugh

Is Julie Seabaugh the Martha Stewart to Netflix's ImClone? Or is she just putting her money where her mouth is and investing in something she loves?

On August 29, Netflix announced plans to debut Aziz Ansari’s third special, Buried Alive, on November 1. I was thrilled. Not that I find his stand-up particularly compelling. But after finally paying...

Here's the thing about feeling weird while laughing in public and listening to comedy on headphones: don't. Steve Heisle...
09/09/2013
I Feel No More Shame When I LOL IRL | Steve Heisler

Here's the thing about feeling weird while laughing in public and listening to comedy on headphones: don't. Steve Heisler weighs in.

Most people have a “crying in public” story. And since I live in New York, it’s more like a “Crying in VERY public” story. One second they’re innocently riding the subway, pondering a recent break-up;...

Our John Wenzel finds that for whatever randomly weird (or not so randomly weird?) reasons, the rediscovery of his child...
09/09/2013
Getting Mad, Over And Over Again | John Wenzel

Our John Wenzel finds that for whatever randomly weird (or not so randomly weird?) reasons, the rediscovery of his childhood love of Mad Magazine has coincided with the anniversary of his dad's passing. Because, uh, that's life!

On September 12th, a year will have passed since my father died with no warning or lingering illness, which was less than a month after the birth of my son and a few days after what would have been my...

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