Joe Bartnick and Greg Warren have both come out with specials recently. Two journeymen comics, long haulers, who’ve paid their dues, each wildly unique American stand ups from different angles, both on separate major comedians labels as it were, Nate Bargatze’s Nateland, and Burr’s All Things Comedy. It’s as if, going back a beat, Mitch Ryder and Steve Forbert had breakout albums out back to back produced by Bob Seger and Morgan Waller. Either way, no matter who’s behind these hours, they’re both excellent. Each of them underlining and spotlighting two distinct voices and styles. Two perfect examples of what everyone means when we constantly throw out that tired but true line about it taking twenty years to become great as a stand up.
Bartnick is wrapped around an opening and closing credit sequence positing Joe as the star of a 70’s or 80’s style network television series ala Mannix or Magnum PI. It’s pretty great and Ben Tishler, the director of the special, wisely just teases the send up with a small taste at the open. The majority of what you see of it is in the closing credits which is smart, because one, it gets the train out of the station, and two, Burr flat out steals the thing with his bartender bit the way Tom Cruise stole Tropic Thunder with very little screen time, which would not be a good way to open the special. That being said, it’s all gold, Joe is fantastic, and after the hour of stand up he’s just laid out he’s not in any danger of letting someone else shine. (By the way, someone needs to give Bartnick the show, ‘Bartnick’.)
A KILLING IN CHICAGO
Not sure why Joe shot this in Chicago? I think he just likes the Dean theatre. It looks great on film though. Everything about this one came together. Bartnick’s stand up is so tight here. It’s very hard not to watch it all in one sitting. This is just Joe in his zone. A Pittsburgh bred Cicalone, as we used to call them in Detroit. Non-stop comedy, telling you his side of the story of the world as he sees it. He doesn’t really care if it’s polite or not, it was when he grew up, and it is when he’s with his compagno’s which he assumes we all are.
‘First time my wife me made me lasagna it had orange chunks in it. I was oh this fucking broad put American cheese in my Lasagna. I got to call my Nonna and get an annulment.
She was like ‘no, you moron that’s squash’
I’m like, ‘gay Raquetball?’
My wife uses chopsticks at home. Who are you impressing? When you’re home alone do you do the taxes with an abacus?
He’s truly himself onstage too. I have to say this. I know Joe. I’ve hung with him and smoked cigars and had a lot of laughs and there’s no difference between Joe onstage and Joe just hanging out. He’s just I-talian and a guy, and a jock, and funny as hell. The stuff he does about his daughter playing basketball is great, but the stuff about her taking ballet is pure Joe.
She does ballet. It’s awful. All the mothers hate me because I call the bar a pole.
To me, he’s Sebastian’s brother in law that’s not allowed over to the house anymore and Sebastian isn’t allowed to tell the reason why he’s been banned, but Sebastian texts you later that he’ll call you on the drive home and tell you and you’ll bust a gut.
Watch the special. It’s up on You Tube on Burr’s All Things Comedy channel. It’s already killing it and it’s only out a few days. I promise you you’ll laugh. Hard. If you don’t, you just had a shitty childhood or something.
Also, check out his podcast with the legendary Frazier Smith
GREG WARREN – THE SALESMAN
‘The Salesman’ is a one of a kind, and so special. It’s been put out by Nateland and 800 Pound Gorilla Media and directed by Nate Bargatze. There’s so much about this hour that begs you to watch it. Greg, like Joe Bartnick, is honed and seasoned and so wizened to the ways of the stand up stage that you feel it in the very first seconds of the show. He and Nate smartly give this no opening, maybe for that reason, maybe not, but it does help underline his sense of belonging onstage, as if he was the veteran salesman who’s just rang your bell. You’ve opened the door to find a simple smirk and a surety in his stance that says he’s got the goods in his briefcase and there’s no chance he won’t close the sale he’s come to make.
Greg, a St. Louis raised guy, has been doing stand up for a couple decades for sure. He’s definitely paid his dues. This may be his third special, something like that, but it’s his best, like Joe’s, his bell ringer. Yet unlike Joe’s, which is Joe being Joe, and non-stop funny, an hour or so of classic stand up comedy, this is a concept piece. It’s a masterpiece. It’s a thesis. A lecture. A Ted Talk. It’s a drilled down, dynamite discourse, on the nature of Peanut Butter in America. How it’s sold, marketed, and consumed, by a man that was, before he was a comedian, a peanut butter salesman. For Procter and Gamble.
It’s hysterical. You can not believe how funny it is as you’re learning one scoop after the next about peanut butter. It’s a magic trick is what it is. It just keeps going too. It’s not completely the entire hour, there are some other aspects to his routine here, but the lion share of this is about peanut butter. It’s hard to believe a man can be this funny for this long on the subject of peanut butter, but Greg Warren pulls it off. That’s what twenty years gets you up there in the midwest. Up there in St. Louis. That kind of comic precision. This guy has it. He works the crowd, giving them all kinds of grief about their peanut butter choices. He gives us inside baseball business stories about peanut butter that we never even knew we wanted to know. (The special was shot in Lexington Kentucky the home of Proctor and Gamble.)
‘Now, the company I worked for Procter and Gamble sold the peanut butter that I used to sell, Jiff, to a company called Smuckers, which as you probably know, owns Jelly. So now Smuckers owns peanut butter and jelly. If these guys ever get ahold of bread, that’s a real monopoly. I think Washington may have to step in in that case.’
And stories about the launch of new kinds of peanut butter.
‘I was there when the company wanted to launch a new version of Jiff. Low salt peanut butter, targeted towards diabetics. I wanted to call it ‘Type 2 peanut goo”
It really goes on and on, and I don’t do it any justice quoting it. It’s all in his delivery which is wonderful. He’s clean as can be, calm, steady, in control at all times. He reminds me of a modern day Bob Newhart. He really is something to see. I love this special so much. Check it out.
By the way, he’s the guest next week on my podcast. Standupworld. Give it a watch/listen if you can.
Also watch him on Nateland where he’s a regular.
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