Everyone likes to laugh. N’es pas?
We were invited to four days of laughter at the third annual L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival, headquartered at the Downtown Independent Theater. Comedians, filmmakers, actors and industry types participated in the brainchild of Creative Director Gary Anthony Williams and Executive Director Jeannie Roshar.
What a surprise to see Survivor’s Jeff Probst with a cameo in Withstand One Night. Entourage’s Rex Lee, (Lloyd) works against type in The Adoption Agency as Kim Jong II. We even caught a short with Dharma & Greg’s Jenna Elfman and a comedic spoof with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.
The expo opened with Celebrity Karaoke at the J lounge — a very cool downtown club. Reno’s 911’s Cedric Yarbrough and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Mary Elizabeth Ellis co-hosted.
Although most of the unpretentious attendees aren’t known for their elegance, glamour could not be avoided at an open-air party at the Kyoto Hotel. But you can’t stop the goofiness at a comedy festival. The popular vote cuisine-wise was a starch — three different types of mashed potatoes.
An awards evening prevailed at the Elevate Lounge with guests Aisha Tyler, Judy Tenuta, Mindy Sterling, Dave Foley and Laraine Newman. Reno’s 911’s Wendi McLendon-Covey won the coveted Commie Award.
The festival was non-traditional in every way.
Wayne Brady and Jeff Garlin consumed popcorn on stage during a panel, along with Stephanie Courtney, Joe Campbell and Scott Thompson, moderated by Williams.
The topic: fame.
Brady said, “In the early days of my career, a few people recognized me form VH1’s Vinyl Justice. But then, Whose Line Is It Anyway? came along. For a year and a half, I’d then be known as the black guy from that show. There were a million words they could use, like, ‘That’s the guy who made me laugh who’s wearing jeans.’ No: I was the African American who had a show.” Brady’s humor trumped all, as he aptly named his corporation, “That One Black Guy.”
According to Jim’s Campbell joked, “I’d kind of get stares across the rack at T.J. Maxx; I thought I had some people angry in the parking lot.”
When he visited Detroit, which he considers his hometown, a fan interrupted his dinner to take photos. “I was called Andy — my character name. Turns out they thought I was Andy Richter!” (Conan O’Brien’s co-host).
Added Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm), “You want to be successful; you don’t want to be famous — but, being rich is pretty good!”
Brady, who appears on the Vegas circuit and hosts Let’s Make a Deal, said, “Anyone can be famous; it takes no skill. You can go on YouTube and get 14 million hits. People can be very fickle. They can love you, but turn on you when your show gets cancelled. The one thing they can’t take from you is your talent.”
Courtney plays Flo in the Progressive commercials. “”It’s a character that’s famous. I don’t have the tranny makeup and the crazy hair; I can pretty much slip by unnoticed.”
Filmmakers traveled as far as Great Britain with the film Conversation on a Bench, directed by Ross Howieson. The popular Funny or Die screened selected shorts; Atom.com made quite a presence; and someone who makes his living unseen, Chelsea Lately’s warm-up personality Jesse Shapiro, screened his film, Practical.
The next time you attend a TV taping, remember one thing: Like many Hollywood types, the warm-up guy probably wants to direct!
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in all things A-list, including entertainment, travel and beauty. Her credits have been in USA Today and she consults for TV shows such as “Inside Edition.” Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.