Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Person 1: "God is dead." —Nietzsche
Person 2: "Nietzsche is dead." —God
I thought that was the most hilarious thing I'd ever read at or on a library desk. A few years ago I saw where someone had written in a toilet, "Free Mumia" and someone else had modified it to read "Free Mumias to the first 100 customers!"
I just saw this photo of a piece of public art by British artist Banksy and it made me smile. Who doesn't want a complimentary wine of their choice? Such smart and funny political humor! Banksy does a lot of prints and paintings as well as public art, see below.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I guess it's probably just today I'll be featured on the home page. The permanent link is here:
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I'm excited for Match Game Live tomorrow. We've got Christian Finnegan, Chris March, Jessica Delfino, Becky Donohue, Robbyne Kaamil, and Eric Kirchberger on the panel. And I'm going to wear a leisure suit that I found at Goodwill in South Bend, Indiana, for $1.87. It's hunter green with white stitching, a real beaut. I wish I had white leather shoes and white leather cap. Maybe I'll find a white turtleneck somewhere today. I think Brandon and Jillian are joining the theme to do some sort of Mod Squad trio... we'll see. Meanwhile, I haven't written a single question for the show yet. Whoops. S'ok. I work best under pressure. It'll happen.
I was just on the Keith and the Girl show on Monday and you can listen to it here. We talked about the Balloon Boy a lot and I sang "Eating Love." They are super awesome. I fucked up and overbooked the Match Game show. They were really nice about it, and offered to bow out so that I wouldn't have conflict with the other comics. That's class, my friends.
Marga Gomez has been visiting New York and she's getting an award on Monday. I think it's some recognition of her being a cool Latina over a certain period of time. I will get to the bottom of it and find out exactly what the award is for. I'm very excited to fly out to San Francisco and play her big New Year's Eve show at the Victoria Theater. It's gonna rock.
I've finalized my plans to play in Austin, Houston, and New Orleans in late December so that's going to be awesome. Really great venues, especially "Le Chat Noir" in New Orleans.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
TOMORROW! - SUNDAY, SEPT. 27 - Match Game Live is back! We've got some of New Yorks funniest writers, comedians, and improvisers, coming down to the Bowery Poetry Club. Plus there will be $2 PBRs to knock back. Come on down and match the stars!
Facebook Event Page - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=139664334428
Match Game Live has had a refreshing summer break full of Quaaludes and disco music. All summer we remained perched precariously near the edge of a pool of our own vomit. And we are relieved to be going back to work for you, our lovely audience and contestants. Village Voice big shot Michael Musto returns to the fold along with Sara Benincasa, Jessica Delfino, and hilarious newcomers Joe Garden, John DeVore, and Claudia Cogan.
We ask contestants to match the panel by supplying the missing word from an innuendo-loaded sentence. Contestants will be selected from the audience to compete for fabulous prizes. Come play a game of wordplay and humor while laughing your blank off.
Your hilarious celebutard panelists for September:
Michael Musto (Village Voice)
Sara Benincasa (Sirius Radio, 236.com, MTV)
John Devore (Playboy.com, Cracked.com)
Claudia Cogan (HereTV, Logo, AfterEllen.com)
Joe Garden (The Onion, The New Vampire's Handbook)
Jessica Delfino (Good Morning America, Fox News)
hosted by Ben Lerman (Sirius Radio, HereTV)
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Reviewed by Craig Thomson
Ben Lerman, a New York-based musical comedian, tells an illuminating story. Invited by Cosmopolitan magazine to perform on their digital radio station, Lerman was also hit with a list of restrictions, because "they were familiar with my body of work." With no swearing or mocking of the magazine allowed, he turned to the pages of Cosmo for inspiration, and came up with a lovely number called 'Multiple Orgasm Pam'.
Lerman's body of work, you see, is filthy: hilariously filthy, raucously bawdy, and, er... funnily dirty. It's also most often based on his experiences as a young gay man in New York city. After 'Pam', he announces "that ends the straight sex portion of tonight's show", to the obvious discomfort of some of the young guys sitting by the stage. He does get smuttier and gayer, but he also gets funnier and funnier, and he takes the audience with him. It's a pleasing thought that, every night, the people crammed into the basement of Cafe Renroc take part in a singalong about oral sex.
With some furore recently around the proliferation of offensive comedy, it's important to note that this doesn't really fall into that category. Some people may, understandably, be a little uncomfortable with such frank discussion of sexual matters, but this isn't a show that sets out to offend - it's actually quite tender at points, and is, in a sense, good clean fun. Well, perhaps there's just a smattering of bondage, crystal meth and 'chubby chasers'.
You could also, charitably, assume that the Size Matters title is about the two ukuleles Lerman alternates between. Most often associated on these shores with George Fornby (although he, research shows, actually played a banjolele), Lerman makes excellent use of the "guitar's two-year old baby". Lerman is an extremely talented singer-songwriter, and while some of the numbers are pushing at an open door (I could tell where the American Idol-inspired 'There's an Idol in Me' was headed before the first twang on the uke), he still goes for it at full speed, with nary an anal sex metaphor left unturned.
I kinda feel this is the sort of show about which many people would say "well, it isn't for everyone." Well, dammit, I think this is for everyone - who doesn't want to see this kind of charming, amiable comedian close up? Who doesn't want to take advantage of the best of the Free Fringe? Who doesn't want to laugh along with the story of an internet romance with someone whose online name suggests an "unconventional" relationship with a pig? On the Free Fringe point, be prepared with a sizeable donation: this is better than a lot of stuff you would pay upfront for.
Now, can I get a cookie for not saying "His name is Ben Lerman and he plays the ukulele?" Go see the show, you'll understand.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Then after the show, I went to perform at a burlesque variety show. The show had been cancelled, but I'd been out all day unable to check email. I arrived with a couple of friends, and there was a small crowd of people who also had not been aware that the show was canceled. Tanya convinced me and the small crowd that I should put on a spontaneous show for them. It was a nice little spirit-of-the-Fringe moment, where a fun little show popped up where there wasn't supposed to be one. The audience was appreciative and generous, and we went out and immediately blew the wad that I made from that second show on sandwiches, cigarettes, and pints of Grolsch.
Four more shows to go. Doing a variety show in just a couple of hours at the City Cafe. Then Tanya is insisting that the two of us get haggis somewhere. I don't know about that. I'm adventurous, but I don't think I can put that in my mouth. At the same time, I'm thinking about opening a chain called Fag Haggis. Could be a real money maker.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Jessica Delfino wants to be famous. There's no question about that. But does she want to be my roommate? I don't know. But she is. Until Wednesday. Then she's taking her lovely ass to the Reading and Leeds festival. Am I jealous? You betcha. Saw her show again this weekend. I love it every time. Don't know all of her songs by heart yet, but I'm getting there. (Judges: 10!)
Tanya O'Debra, formerly of the O'Debra Twins, strikes out on her own here in Edinburgh with an original 40s-era radio whodunnit called "Radio Star." I was worried that I wasn't going to like Tanya's theater piece for a couple of reasons: 1. Cafe Renroc (we're at the same venue) doesn't lend itself well to a theatrical production and 2. I had never seen Tanya perform by herself for such a long time. My fears were totally unfounded. Miss O'Debra's "Radio Star" is fantastic. She performs no less than six distinct voices, controls the sound effects with her laptop as well as a couple of live sound effects (a mini-door that she opens and shuts, and shoes for audible footsteps walking to and away from the action). In the end you remember more the strength of her performance than the plot, but the script is loaded with laugh lines. (Judges: 10!)
Marga Gomez in "All that Gomez" is performing nightly to sold-out crowds. I was lucky to get a seat at her show last night where she races between stand-up bits, storytelling, and one-woman show theatrical bits... all hilarious. She riffs about being in Edinburgh, unafraid to not know where it's going for a bit, sure she'll find her comic footing. Marga is a great performer, and it's easy to watch someone so comfortable on the stage. She tells the story of auditioning for a part as a maid in a Kathleen Turner–directed made for TV movie. Though, Marga never wanted play a made, she did want to meet Kathleen Turner, so she took the audition. Fortunately for us, her Kathleen Turner impression is spot-on. So funny. But my favorite character sketch was her Ti-ti (tia, aunt) who tells little girl Marga that she is a dirty little piggie girl (cochina! cochina! cochina), and when her mother dies, little Marga will be all Ti-ti's. Disturbing, hilrious, honest. (Judges: 10!)
Friday, August 21, 2009
From Scotsgay Magazine
Ben Lerman’s Size Matters
Laughing Horse @ Café Renroc
Ben Lerman plays the ukulele. Oh yes, he does indeed. Passing well, too. He is also a truly sick and perverted individual performing songs that I feel sure he neither learned nor sang at mother's knee (unless he had an extremely tolerant mother). His pleasant singing voice combines with the product of considerable manual dexterity on his small but perfectly formed instruments to fill the converted subterranean bakery that adjoins Renroc's famed Rusty Water
Department. The cubby New Yorker sings of things he knows: love, loss, pirates, chubby chasers, online dating and much more... And has the intimate space rocking with not inconsiderable mirth. It's the intimacy which makes it work. And why he should be confined to the small stage - if not a padded cell. Contains strong language: not suitable for trendy bisexuals, vegetarians or the politically correct. Enter this open sewer with an open mind! As Edinburghers oft say of the last omnibus of the evening: not to be missed! —John Hein
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Twentysomething (Judges: 10!)
Yesterday, Delfino and I saw a play written, produced, marketed, and performed by six young British actors. It's called Twentysomething and it's a story of old high school friends reconvening after a year or so apart, reconciling that friendships that once seemed so solid are actually fluid and fragile. It had some big laughs and at its best, it was like The Big Chill meets Skins. At it's worst, it was a bad episode of Dawson's Creek. But there were more highs than lows. More levity than gravity. For a group of such young writer/performers it was truly impressive. And their marketing is unmistakeably brilliant. They look like American Apparel models and they are pulling large audiences every day. Bravo!
Titty Shake with Hettie Heartache
I've been performing on a variety show regularly called Kleine Komedie Kabaret. It's a mix of burlesque, music, comedy and drinking heavily. Like the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. Last night a young lady who goes by the name of Hettie Heartache performed a dance called the Wings of Isis, and I caught a cool shot of it.
Debaucherous 2 AM Podcast
After doing three shows (my own then two variety shows) I met Delfino for a drink where I met the hilarious Phil Kay. He seems like a delightful lunatic and I'm looking forward to going to his show. Delfino and I proceded to our friend Stacy Mayer's house where her boyfriend (husband?) Anwar cooked up a mean feast and then we all continued drinking heavily and performed on Stacy's live video blog... It was loud. And fun.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here's a nice photo of me that Carolyn Castiglia took. Her show is at the same time as mine so we'll never see each other's shows. Boo.
Meet Pony Boy, my bicycle. I bought Pony Boy on day two off of Gumtree (the UK's craigslist) from a Polish Rastafarian and his wife and baby. They were very sweet and the dude offered to buy it back from me at the end of the festival. The chain keeps coming off, but for the most part, Pony Boy is getting me around this hilly city all right. I hear that bikes get stolen a lot. But I don't think anybody's gonna "nick" him, because he is a piece of shit that I bought off a Polish Rastafarian. Every time I park him, I say, "Stay gold, Pony Boy."
Here are a couple of pictures of my venue, featuring the outside patio, barman/waiter Nick, and the cozy performance space downstairs.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Ladybug Warrior (Judges: 10!)
This is Vicki Ferrentinos' one-woman show. She explains how she ended up with a philosophy of living the life she chooses through playing a variety of characters from her life experiences, her dad, her mom, her early childhood crush. I laughed a lot, loved the show. There is something so immediately likeable about Vicki, self-aware of her Oprah-losphophizing and giggling at her own superpowers.
The Funeralogues (Judges: 10!)
Stacy Mayer plays many characters at a funeral, her 10-year old self, a southern storefront funeral director, an elderly civil rights movemnet era old man. Are they all dead? Are we all dead? The show is theatrical and open. Stacy's performance includes a lot of improv with audience members and their reactions to being at a funeral, wondering who's funeral it is that we're at... What would you want your funeral to be like? Really enjoyed the show.
Afterward I hung out with a cute boy and his merry band of 20-something thespians. They are a cast of 7 or 8 all living some sort of Big Brother scenario in a house somewhere round these parts. Tomorrow I'm doing two variety shows before my solo show, then going to try to see a show called "Misery Eats Company" by Skinny Bitch Jesus Meeting, Kate and Leah.
I'm going to try to catch shows by Matt Kirschen, Carolyn Castiglia, Desiree Burch, Kurt and Kristen, and some other funny people. Also this week is Annabel Cooper's birthday party and some other fun things to do...
Get an agent? Let the agents come to me.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
My first Edinburgh review has been published and it's a rave! Four of five stars from ThreeWeeks. Here's the review:
Ben Lerman’s Size Matters
“My name is Ben Lerman and I play
the ukulele.” It’s an introduction that
does not instantly cause alarm. Beware
though, as this façade of innocence is
happily deconstructed through myriad
self-composed songs centring on
Lerman’s own uncouth experiences. A
hilarious cover of Natasha Beddingfield’s
‘Unwritten’ emerges as a call for
mankind to be ‘Unshaven’. Next up is
a witty critique of Manhunt, a men’s
dating site, portrayed through ‘This
Little Piggy Went To Market’. ‘Multiple
Orgasm Pam’ extols the virtues of
female satisfaction, whilst Karl Lagerfield
is deemed, “crazier than hell” owing to
his Amish-esque catwalk collections.
Ultimately, Lerman’s musings are always
unforgiving, never modest and usually
with a sexual undertone. Wordplay at its
ThreeWeeks RATING: 4/5
Laughing Horse @ Café Renroc, 6 - 30 Aug (not
17, 24), 7.30pm (8.30pm), free, fpp28.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Back in it to win it
Since the family debacle on Monday, my shows have been back to being full, with warm, receptive, age-appropriate crowds. I have to figure out how to shake a few more shekels out of these people for tips and merch, but the Scots are renowned for their cheapness, only following my people, the Jews, on the cheap fucker hierarchy. Still, they have been fairly generous, I just need a way to communicate to them what is a reasonable amount to tip. I'll let you know how that goes...
Warren & Hannery
I saw an amazingly cuckoo girl duo's show, Jennifer Warren and Charlotte Hannery. Both very talented at singing and clowning, comic dancing, and vagina jokes. What more can you want in a show? I'll tell you. Their show starts at 12:15 AM, and I suspect they regularly collect a fair amount of drunks at each performance. When I saw it, there was a crazy Asian-Scottish lady sitting next to me in the front row. She laughed so hard that she litterally fell over onto the floor. She then proceded to steal the show for a few minutes while Jennifer Warren had to try to go on with the show. It's the mark of seasoned performer who can incorporate those kind of shennanigans into a show and keep on trucking. Well played.
From the window of our apartment, we have been looking at a mountain (ok, a large cliff or hill) every day and night. And last night, at 3 AM, we set out to climb it, armed with a bottle of cheap wine, a few beers, and a small makeshift candle lantern. We made to the top for sunrise and no one died. The end. Epilogue: no one ever found out why Jessica Delfino chose to dress like a refugee.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The flyer for my show features a picture of me naked with a ukulele in front of my genitals and the quote "Tiny instrument, big balls... So damn funny!" Does this seem like the kind of show you want to attend with the whole family?
Last night a family (parents, teens, cousins, grandma) came to my show and sat right up front. They had no idea what lay in store and it was pretty clear from the beginning that this was going to be horrible. I tried to save it. I talked to them and confronted the elephant in the parlor head on. The elephant squashed me with one good step. I am no match for the power of family discomfort during songs about sex. Ugh. I powered through my set, talking a lot more than usual and performing about half of my set list. The best thing I can say about my show last night is that it ended.
I should say that for me it was terrible. And for the family it was terrible. But the other people who atteneded, the whole thing was amusing. And they dug a little deeper into their pockets when they saw how hard I was working to please the impossible customer. The tips were bigger from a smaller crowd than I've had the last several nights. Anyway, onward ho!
The streets in the non-touristy parts of the city (where my venue is) were dead, so I felt lucky to have an audience at all (about 20 people came) on a cold Monday after the first busy weekend of the Festival. In fact Jessica Delfino saw I was a little low and invited me to open her show. She also had a smaller audience than usual, and I realize that it makes me a bad person... but it made me feel a little better about myself. I did a couple of songs at the top and introduced Jessica and then watched her show, fell in love with her all over again. She's just such a charming motherfucker.
Jessica's playing at a venue called Jeckyll & Hyde, and they have a weird Victorian dungeon/crypt theme. Last night there was a sign on the bathroom door, redirecting gents to use the toilets upstairs in the bookshelves. What? Yep that's what it said. So I went upstairs to find a bookshelf, but the only bookshelf I saw was a solid floor to ceiling shelf of books. I pushed a little on the bookshelf and it moved a little. I kept waiting for Teri Garr's voice to tell me to "Put zee kendle beck!" But therein were the toilets, and all was well...
Tonight I'm playing two shows. One at Renroc, and one at the other establishment the Ross family owns, The Earl of Marchmont, in the cool Marchmont neighborhood.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Last night I had another full house. I think there was a reviewer there, too, so I'll be keeping me eyes posted for a review. She was taking notes. And laughing a lot. I'm still not taking anything for granted. I'll be flyering every day. Rhiannon came back for a third show. (That's 3 of 4.) And this time I got photographic evidence of how cute she is.
There is a curry house called "The Chili Connection" that has a giant chili on their window. But this chili is inexplicably ringed in red dots and it appears to be vagina. If someone told you, "Take this chili, and make it look as much like a vagina as possible!" this is what you would do with it. It is striking and disturbing, and I am going to have to eat there eventually as I pass it every single day.
I'm not much of a political comedy fan (apart from the Stewart/Colbert hour), but I caught Jamie Kilstein's show (Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 9 PM, through 30 August) to watch this guy do his thing. The Brits love him. He's as left wing and liberal as possible. He might have tried homosexuality at some point in his life, only to more authentically champion the gay rights movement. It's rare that I find myself to the right of a poitical discourse, but if you are to the left of Jamie Kilstein, you probably have fallen off the political spectrum entirely, into a bronze foundry, and are now a statue in a "Worker's Square" somewhere. Jamie is a great performer, engaging and exciting to watch. Oh, and funny. My favorite bits though were not the "important" political stuff. I loved the family bits, how his brother tricks him into looking at old man porn, how he accused his father of being a terrible, unloving father and then being shocked to realize that he was a terrible teen.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I started the day by making a beautiful fritata for Mike and Jess. Leek, mushroom, and cheddar with whole grain toast, strawberries, and yogurt. Then we all split up and went our separate ways, only to see each other again at the Meet the Media Event. The Fringe organizers set up 12 tables where representatives from various news agencies came and sat down. One at a time, they interviewed Fringe participants about their shows. The queues were long. The interviews were quick. I only made it through 3 lines in 2 hours before I got the hell out of there. Ate dinner at the Mosque Kitchen. Delish.
Then my show. Another one down. I don't know where the people are coming from, but the shows have been full every night. Last night at the show, there was a nice lady who thanked me and told me that she put a little gift in the tip bucket for me. Later I pulled out a little tiny stone wrapped in paper that said "Labradorite." According to disreputable sources, "Labradorite is a stone of transformation, a useful companion through change, imparting strength and perseverance. It balances and protects the aura, raises consciousness and banishes fears and insecurities... strengthens faith in the self and trust in the universe. It stimulates the imagination and calms an overactive mind, developing enthusiasm and new ideas..." Whether or not any of that is true doesn't really matter because Labrodorite is pretty. Delfino offered to make a necklace out of it for me, so I said sure.
Speaking of that Delfino broad, her shows (and Mike's) are also going swimmingly. I decided to check out a bear party last night that a cute boy invited me to. On my way there, I passed by Delfino's venue, just as her show was getting out. Surrounded by cute Scottish 20-something boys, Delfino leapt into their arms to be photographed. The good times rolled on to the bear bar where there were a lot of fat hairy guys in kilts. But there were also some cute guys, and the boy that invited me was there. We had some drinks and some laughs and I came home.
Really the best thing I could do for myself here would be to put myself in position to drink and schmooze with people who can help my career. It's kind of gross. But it's the way things are done. And the truth is that I have a lot to offer a producer. I wouldn't be using them any more than they'd be using me... Trying to build up the nerve, I guess...