HT and I had the pleasure of sitting down with producer and comic legend Budd Friedman. As comics, the experience opened up fantasies about the New York comedy “scene” of the 60’s to 70’s compared to Atlanta now. Budd asked us if he could lean on the desk (making the vibe very relaxed). I started off with a pressing question about the audition process at the new Atlanta Improv. WHAT, specifically, are the club and Mr. Friedman looking for? Personally going through the audition process a few weeks ago… as a comic, what is the expectation?
Budd Friedman was quick to respond with “universality,” meaning,“people who can relate to an audience and the audience relates to them.” Well, this is a common ground that comedians can grasp, right? We then asked Budd why it seemed the comics who advanced in the auditions used more “blue material” and swore. Friedman said he paid no attention to that and hadn’t noticed the difference. He also went on to say that he “was impressed by Atlanta’s local talent.”
Headliner Owen Benjamin (from TBS Sullivan & Son) entered the office and the conversation turned to how working the various improvs has been “exciting and different”. He beamed with pride about his traveling companion “a rescue guy”: a mutt who Owen clearly adored by the smile on his face. Owen had just left the Tahoe Improv and was very excited that the 16th floor of his hotel was designed for traveling pets. He smiled when talking about being able to take a few pictures of his “guy” at the craps table. Mr. Friedman chimed in: “Do you get to expense the dog?” (OR rather is Budd paying the travel allotment?). Budd went on to boast of his pet Maltese.
Owen, when asked about TBS (home of Sullivan & Sons), described a place where comedians are able to be themselves. “They trust their quarterback,” he said about TBS president Steve Koonin and producer Vince Vaughn. He finisheed by saying ‘TBS is awesome” and that he is “excited about the second season.”
Naturally, the conversation HAD to turn to HT (from A Jew and A Black Guy), adorned in his Peyas and suit. Budd refered to HT as “the black guy” and we all burst in to laughter. HT asked Mr. Friedman his opinion about comedy duos and their “place and relevance’ in modern stand up. Budd replied, “Once you get over the alpha dog decision you can work together and grow as comics… funny is funny.”
We took pictures and said our goodbyes as NOW it was time to eat, drink, and get our laugh on! Budd Friedman opened up the show and announceed my favorite local Atlanta comedian Jamie Ward would be hosting! After a fantastic set by Ward, comedy great Gene Pompa did his magic! At first I wasn’t very impressed…about 5 minutes into his set, however, that changed. It was at that moment I decided I no longer wanted to be referred to as an entertainer… I wanted to be a comedian!
Enter stage right… Owen Benjamin! He had me at hello! The banter with the crowd was amazing! I almost peed myself when he told a lady in the audience “I’m gonna f$%# you tonight you know that right? I will 50 shades of grey your ass”… HA!
The night was amazing! I settled for a bacon cheeseburger, tater tots, and a “few” double shots of whiskey. Honestly, I didn’t expect the food to be as great as it did. The dessert was TO DIE FOR! The chocolate cake was THE BUSINESS, ya dig! My waiter was fantastic! If you are looking for a great date night or just something fun to do in Atlanta, the new Atlanta Improv in Buckhead is the place to go! I haven’t been able to say that about a comedy club in a long time.
If you are a comedian… The sound from the audience can not be compared!
(Written by Angela Miller and Ht Rosen)
If you can’t be good… be good at it!