Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Get Up, Stand Up

From culture vulture Darren Hill, dyed-in-the-wool New Englander (despite his Missouri/Louisiana roots), ex-Red Rocker, ex-Raindog, current kingpin behind Tenpin Management, the home of Paul Westerberg, the New York Dolls, and Roky Erikson.

When my band moved to Boston in 1985, we rented a house in Brookline, MA that was across Comm. Ave. from The Paradise Rock Club. Inevitably, our house became the official after-show party spot - for not only the musicians that played the 'Dise, but also the comedians that performed next door at it's sister comedy club Stitches. At the time, Boston arguably had the richest and most original local scene in the history of stand up comedy and I was lucky enough to witness first hand what would later be known as the "Boston Gold Rush." The film When Standups Stood Out; Directed by Fran Solomita and currently running on Showtime, documents the rise and ultimate demise of this tight knit, no rules, raucous yet smart, blue collar comedy scene centered mostly on Ding Ho (a comedy club in a Cambridge Chinese restaurant) during the late 70's and 80's. This was a magical time and place as Steven Wright, Dennis Leary, Bobcat Goldwait, Paula Poundstone, Lenny Clark, Kevin Meaney, Janine Garofalo (just to name a few) were developing their own unique comedy styles, free from the LA/NY spotlight and it's rules. The film follows these comedians and their camaraderie - from humble beginnings, through the birth and subsequent popularity of comedy-only night clubs, the out of control parties and fraternity-like atmosphere, the advent of heckling, the anointment of Steven Wright as "the chosen one" and his benchmark appearance on The Tonight Show - to the feeding frenzy and competitive jealousy that would follow as these Boston comedians were suddenly catapulted into the national spotlight. "Excess, success, and clashing egos" would eventually bring the brotherhood to it's knees.
(Those of you in the Raindogs "circle" will recognize two of the stars - Mike McDonald and Lauren Dombrowski (now producer of Mad TV).)

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