They Might Be Giants
Maybe the “M” always stood for mindless, but at least (some) music videos have artistic value. MTV’s current lineup of “reality” programs inspire so many unintentional chuckles, it’s no wonder the network has turned to real comedy. The cable channel’s new Thursday offering, Human Giant, features skits from comedians Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer — talking heads from VH1’s Best Week Ever and the minds behind popular YouTube clips “Clell Tickle: Indie Marketing Guru” and “Shutterbugs.” Nightranger caught the trio’s celebratory preview gig two Tuesdays ago at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre (on the Franklin strip where Beachwood bourgeois flock), and it was a hoot and a half. The Giant boys screened skits from the TV show, including a hilarious parody of Dateline NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” and a bit about a fairy who draws penises on your face when you fall asleep. (Afterward, they revealed that they had to fax sample drawings to the network, which insisted the dick pics have “no heads and no hair.”) Comics as a group tend to be a nerdy, self-deprecating bunch, but Dungeons & Dragons references aside, the funny fellas who spoke in between the clips — Paul F. Tompkins, Jonah Ray and Patton Oswalt — definitely got cool crowd cred. Oswalt, who waxed witty on why “it’s hip to wear the lamest band T-shirt you can find,” has hosted Lucha VaVoom shows; Ray, the de rigueur “indie guy,” who brandished a beard — and a beer — while telling awkward tales of breakups and meeting babes in bars, is a DJ around town who’s even got Giant Drag’s Annie Hardy singing a song about him on his Web site. According to the lyrics, he let her live on his couch for a year and “didn’t try to bone” her. Aww . . .
Ship of Fools
We chatted with Chan a couple of nights later at a downtown warehouse party thrown by The New Ship (the party people behind Fuck Yeah Fest and the L.A. Scavenger Hunt), where he told us about his recent parties in Austin, one of which was shut down. SXSW officials have been pissed about all the sponsored soirees stealing their showcases’ thunder, and with so many bands skipping the fest’s official shows altogether this year in lieu of just playing shindigs, the organizers weren’t having it. Several big bashes were shut down, and while some alleged sabotage, Chan takes a bit more diplomatic view, which he presented on his IHeartComix e-mail blog this week. But back to L.A. and the New Ship bash: Bands set up on a skateboard ramp, which ya also had to walk over to get to the bathroom and the postapocalyptic-looking mess of dirt and concrete that was the smoking patio (of course, most just smoked inside — cough!). The Rolling Blackouts played a wonderfully schizo set of retro-poppish ditties, head-thrashin’ anthems and — yes, more irony, folks — a li’l tune called “The Mustache Song.” We missed the surprise act, singer David Vandervelde, who we hear is very Marc Bolan meets Bob Dylan, but the place was packed when we left — an impressive turnout considering the gathering was only announced that morning. The New Shippers (formerly known as the I Hate But Love L.A. guys) promise more shows with only 24 hours’ promotion this summer, all free and at random locales like warehouses, living rooms, rooftops and parks. Wonder where the next one will dock?