Tonight is the last night of Don Fanelli and my show Sketches from an Italian Restaurant: A Billy Joel Sketch Show, at the UCB Theatre. I’ve had such an amazing time running this show the past six months and am so proud and so thankful that we got to share this stupid little show with the people of New York.
Last March me and Don were on a tour up at UMass. And like every tour ever we listened to some Billy Joel on the drive back home and all sang along. I think it was Captain Jack, but it honestly could have been Pianoman, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Allentown… any of his songs. God he is so good.
When we got back Don and I took the subway home. We were lamenting the fact that we were feeling complacent, that all too common feeling that you’re doing too much to get any sleep but you always should be doing more. Writing a one man show is what we should both be doing, but it just wasn’t as fun… and we both wanted to work on something that both made us remember what we love about comedy in the first place and also pushed us.
The next day I texted him what you see above. Sketches From An Italian Restaurant was a joke title for a show that I was telling people about for a year. “What are you working on Dru?” “Oh Sketches from an Italian Restaurant. It’s my one man show about Billy Joel.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think that show would see the light of day. Don even admits to getting my text and thinking it was a joke. I suspected as much and sent the follow up text: “I’m very serious about this.”
From there we started getting to work. And we really dove into this show the exact way we wanted. We’d meet for hours listening to Billy Joel songs and pitching the sketch ideas that they inspired (two favorite really dumb ones: You May Be Right I May be Crazy, but it just may be a lunatic your looking for. But the guy saying it is ACTUALLY a crazy person AND We watch the music video for Keeping the Faith and then just look at the audience and say WHAT?!). We’d write shitty first drafts and then just improvise off of them. We’d send sketches back and forth, constantly rewriting them… One of our sketches in the current show is on draft 30-something… we stopped keeping track.
We then went through seven months of rigorously writing and rehearsing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting with the help of our directors Dan Klein and Will Hines. We moved sketches around. We added animations to a powerpoint. We wrote a dance number. We cut a dance number. We sat in a room with Will for four hours pitching black out after black out after black out. We came up with over 20, we cut that down to 9. We cut that down to eight. If it didn’t remain funny after an hour it was out.
It was a brutal machine of Sketch Darwinism at it’s finest. The only thing that stayed constant throughout were three videos about Captain Jack and masturbating. Even after we got the run we spent two more months rewriting. Our current pianoman sketch has maybe one line from our third spank… and that line is “Sing us a song you’re the pianoman”. My favorite thing about working with Don is that he’s never satisfied. It can always be funnier. And working on this show brought that out in me. If you’re bored of the show the common idea is to say let’s fuck around on stage. No. Make it tighter. If we had the balls to title a show Sketches From An Italian Restaurant, we better make it undeniably funny and tight.
We went through one workout and three spanks, not to mention many sketch open mics and variety shows. We had an amazing run of six months. We got to take this show out to Los Angeles. And it’s still so fucking fun to do. I’m genuinely sad that the show is ending… but So It Goes. Let’s end this show with a fucking bang, the way Billy Joel would. Let’s celebrate this god of a man through the long night.
Thank you to everyone who’s come out to see it. Thanks to everyone who’s told us you enjoyed it and who supported it. It truly means the world to me to hear that people like it. It was just a silly joke title over a year ago, and now it’s the thing I’m the most proud of in my seven years of being here in New York.
And special thanks to Dan Klein and Will Hines, without who’s guidance and advice this project would never come to light. They pushed Don and I to reach a standard we never dreamed possible but something we should all be striving for. I could write for hours on how amazing they both are. And also special thanks to Alex Adan… who for six months has pitched great jokes for us and has NAILED this tech heavy show every single night without fail.
One last show. Tonight. If you have a girlfriend, tell her about it.
This is a truly awesome show. I know you’re mildly sick of comedy. I know the weather’s weird. But if you haven’t seen this show yet, you really, really should.
We have Rob Blatt aka Bobby Phobia, amateur wrestler, comedian entertainer extraordinaire on the latest episode of “Worst Gig Ever”. He has some great terrible wrestling stories, terrible sideshow stories. Great terribleness all around. Listen up!
EPISODE 95: ROB BLATT
It’s a belly to belly suplex of bone-crushingly brutal baddies when Rob Blatt (aka “Bobby Phobia”) joins us in the squared circle for a no-holds barred talk about pro wrestling, music, and sideshow performing. From a makeshift, disastrous tour with his college band, to wrestling in a dog-collar match, to the ins and outs of transporting a homemade bed of nails, Rob covers a lot of interdisciplinary crummy gigs with the bravura of a seasoned color commentator. Gaggles of grappling on this week’s WORST GIG EVER!
ITUNES USERS: GO HERE
NON-ITUNES (LO)USERS: GO HERE TO DOWNLOAD MP3s!
Sketchy Advice: A comedy writing column from UCB Comedy. Established sketch writers from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre offer sketch students advice on being creative, the writing process, and adding to a writer’s room.
This week’s featured writer is Eric Cunningham, a former writer…
Eric Cunningham is a solid writer and an even more solid guy. Listen to this shit and welcome him back to NY with open arms.
When I was a kid my parents went on a trip to Hawaii and left me home with my aunt. When my mom came back the first thing she said to me was “you’ll never guess who was on our plane. That Warrior wrestler”. I immediately perked up from whatever malaise I’m sure I was in at the time. She would definitely know. We watched every wrestling event at my dad’s old army buddy’s house. “The Ultimate Warrior? The Ultimate Warrior was on your plane? Did you get an autograph?” My heart sank when I found out she didn’t. But I did get the information that he was eating Cheerio’s by hand out of a Fun Size Cheerios pack. The Ultimate Warrior was my favorite wrestler when I was a kid. R.I.P.
Our friend Jiwon Lee is missing. She is 5’2 and 120 pounds and, though this is not in the police notice, you should know also that she is smart and beautiful and great. We are all hoping for her safe return.
As a stand-up comic and producer, she was an integral part of…
Great episode of Worst Gig Ever today. We had Matt Rubano and get into some great terrible shows, touch a little bit on comedy and I’m pretty sure I badmouth 30 Seconds To Mars. Sounds great right? Get on it!
EPISODE 94: MATT RUBANO
Get a glimpse into the “Brotherhood of Session Bassists" when ace-rhythm man Matt Rubano pops ‘n slaps his way through a bushel of blatant bad ones, from performing with children on The View, to performing for children at Tommy Hilfiger’s son’s birthday party, to a very bizarre audition for 30 Seconds to Mars. Matt also divulges his love for improv and stretches his comedic chops like a new pair of heavy gauge D’addarios on this week’s WORST GIG EVER!
ITUNES USERS: GO HERE
NON-ITUNES (LO)USERS: GO HERE TO DOWNLOAD MP3s!
3 Short Films about Billy Joel’s Captain Jack
Billy Joel’s lyrics tell a beautiful story of a man and what he does in his free time.
Written by and starring Dru Johnston and Don Fanelli
Shot by Keith Haskel, Edited by Dru Johnston
With special guest LAURA WILLCOX!
Come see these videos in context in Sketches From An Italian Restaurant: A Billy Joel Sketch Show at the UCB Theatre. We have two upcoming dates in New York (April 2nd and 16th) and one in Los Angeles (April 9th)!
I laughed real hard at these when I saw this show and they’re still great.
Go see this show if you haven’t already, nothing lasts forever!
The final lines from the last episode of "How I Met Your Mother" as told by a man who has never seen an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" and is terrible at piecing together what it is about from the little bits of knowledge he knows
I wrote this in 2012. I have never seen an episode of How I Met Your Mother and this continues. But today seems apropos for a reblog..of myself..and my genius
…and then all of my friends that I have been telling you about all this time died in a freak accident that I don’t want to get into. I went to get some gum on the way to their funeral and met your mother. Long story short, that’s how I met your mother. You know on second thought, you…