Robert Buscemi
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Robert Buscemi

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The best kept secret in music


"Robert Buscemi's (t)wit!, Now Available for Your Viewing Pleasure"

Robert Buscemi's much-anticipated stand-up DVD, filmed in September 2006 by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, was released a few weeks ago to two sold-out shows at the Annoyance Theater. We finally got a chance to screen it and get a few words from the star and what he thinks of final product:

I think the best thing about Jordan's film is that it never shows reaction shots of the audience. And the laughter is actually fairly distant and low-volume.

But you can tell the laughter's for real and there the whole time.

But not having the laughs super-loud and not showing the audience ever gives the whole thing a sort of lunar, remote feel that I LOVE.

I really am kind of off in my own planet on the thing, which totally works for my character and material.

And the encore character appearance as Mrs. Garrett is just surreal and hilarious, I think.

I mean Jordan totally captured my brain floating around in space, I feel like. It's quite mad.

It was Jordan's idea to open with the words "One night in September...," which I LOVE, since it's so nonspecific but specific at the same time.

He really outdid himself, and once it was in my hands he made me watch it over with a fine-tooth comb and tell him if I found any glitches. He really was an absolute champ.

And I paid his sorry ass too.

I'm just really proud of the thing. I honestly do feel like we really, actually made a film. It's weird, but people could watch this thing for years to come, you know?

BUSCEMI - The Bastion

"Stand up and deliver"

Thriving underground scene puts the edge back in comedy
By Allan Johnson Tribune staff reporter
Chicago Tribune
April 8, 2005

Your typical comedy club consists of a stage, microphone and curtain or brick wall as a backdrop.

But there's another comedy club in Chicagoland where there might not be a stage at all or even a microphone--an underground spot where the club might be in the back of a restaurant or bar.

This comedy scene gives emerging talent and more daring stand-ups a chance to try out a twisted punch line, or even get booed off the stage, at shows such as "The Elevated" at Cherry Red on North Sheffield Avenue or "Da Comedy Corner" at Amelia's on West Grand Avenue.

"Pretty much every single night of the week there's some kind of show going on somewhere in the city," says comic and producer Dave Odd.

The underground scene may not be as prosperous as the so-called comedy boom of the late 1980s and early '90s, when national chains such as Catch a Rising Star and the Improv brought the Jerry Seinfelds and Ellen DeGenereses to the area. But this new scene may be more vital, as it is developing the next Seinfeld and DeGeneres . . . if not the next Maron and Garofalo--Marc and Janeane, respectively, two players in the so-called "alternative" style, a quirky, non-traditional, sometimes bizarre comedy that turns stand-up on its ear.

And that "alternative" style is what's on view at many underground venues.

"What is successful with underground comedy is it pushes the form," says Cayne Collier, who runs The Elevated, a weekly showcase that has been running for more than eight years.

More than 10 years after the alternative scene was launched at New York's Luna Lounge and Los Angeles Un-Cabaret by Maron, Garofalo, Dave Attell, Kathy Griffin and others, the off-kilter comedy offshoot has found a niche in Chicago's underground community. It is thriving here because the alternative form is more acceptable in these venues than in mainstream clubs looking to entertain more general audiences.

"I've had performers who were very much set-up/punch [line] as far as the structure," says Collier, 32, "but what they chose to do [with the material] and the way they chose to do it was not mainstream."

The comedy is unconventional. It sometimes uses long stories with odd punch lines, jokes where the endings are unexpected, premises that are either aggressively social or political, or pushes the boundaries of taste and decorum.

Robert Buscemi, a comedian in Chicago who works underground rooms, feels a freedom in Chicago underground spots. "I don't feel stagnant artistically, either," says Buscemi, 35. "I feel more and more on my game. I feel that my writing gets tighter and tighter."

Amy Danzer, 30, of Rogers Park has seen Buscemi at various haunts around the city, and finds him "bizarro and disturbingly gritty at times, but it's good stuff."

Yet as much as Buscemi's career is blossoming, the underground scene will never replace Chicago stand-up institution Zanies on Wells Street. But while Zanies, which also has rooms in St. Charles and Vernon Hills (and a location in Nashville), is the most popular comedy club in the area, many of the comedians playing the underground rooms can't get work there. Because many of them lack the experience to handle crowds expecting a higher, more polished caliber of comedy. There are so few full time comedy clubs, and so many acts needing stage time to work out their material, that the underground scene blossomed.

"When I came back to comedy, I saw myself and a lot of other comics that were very promising and smart and funny not getting stage time, and not having a place where they could go do their act other than open mics," says Odd (a stage name), 28, a comic off and on since 1997. To give comics such as himself a voice, Odd devised the Edge, a comedy and variety showcase he's been producing for four years at several bars and clubs in the city and suburbs.

"I think there's such a lack of opportunities for guys to work in Chicago," the Skokie native says. "There's not that many clubs around, and it's hard to get into clubs that do exist."

One such outlet, the Red Lion Pub at Lincoln and Fullerton Avenues, provided open-mic comedy in a smoky, cramped room. In 2000, promoter Thomas Lawler, wanting to expand the Lion's scope, approached comic Mark Geary. The Lincoln Lodge was born that September in a back room of the Lincoln Restaurant on North Lincoln Avenue. It evolved into a mix of mainstream and alternative comedy, sketch and improv, live video bits, audience participation, and variety and music acts.

"Part of our business imperative was to add that little bit of structure to their [comedians'] proceedings," says Geary, 36. "Create more like an improv/sketch structure to a show where people are really invested in it and committed to it."

"It's a great time," Danzer says of the Lodge's loose ambience, willingness to embrace more adventur - Chicago Tribune


Still working on that hot first release.



Award-winning, critically drooled-over comedian Robert Buscemi is also an accomplished stage and screen actor. A SAG member and voice-over ace, he's starred in over a dozen TV commercials, most famously as a talking cigarette in a series of HILARIOUS, award-winning TV commercials. Buscemi also recently booked a VERY juicy supporting role as a sales guru in the forthcoming feature film Driving a Bargain, by acclaimed director Scott Dumler and Luminair.

As a standup, Buscemi won Chicago Snubfest's "Best Comic" honors twice and was named one of three "Best Comedian" finalists by the 2007 Chicago Comedy Awards. He's regularly lauded in the press as one of the most innovative, talented comics around.

In addition to writing and starring in two highly acclaimed hour-long one-man stage comedies, Buscemi is a serious theater guy, has done loads of improv, and acted in umpteen-jillion plays, including with award-winning Chicago theater companies. He's a proud School at Steppenwolf alumnus as well.

* Pennsylvania Dept of Health Principal
(4 spots as "Vince") Two Popes Productions
* Skip Dr CD Cleaner Principal Chicago Film and Tapeworks
* American Mattress Principal Feldman Flicks
* Cheez-It Principal Brigandi & Associates
* Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Principal Luminair Films
* Armed Forces Television Principal Filmhouse, Inc
* Merant Collage Software Principal William Esiner &Associates
* Vinyasa (short SAG film) Eddie Michael Cohen Productions
* Joseph & Mary (short SAG film) King Keith Estrada Productions
* Driving a Bargain Dan Hanson, motivational speaker Luminair Films

*BS (long-running ER spoof) George Clooney Free Associates, Chicago
*Cast on a Hot Tin Roof Guest Artist Free Associates
*Back in the Shadows Again Guest Artist Free Associates
*Us V Them Company Member Broken Pilgrims, Chicago
*Disco Fridays Featured Dancer Polly Esther's '70's Club, Chicago

Over 500 performances in the last 4 years! Including shows at...

* Caroline's on Broadway, NYC
* Zanies, Chicago and Vernon Hills, IL
* The Lincoln Lodge, Chicago
* The Elevated, Chicago
* Eclipse, Chicago
* Chemically Imbalanced Comedy, Chicago (Featured Artist, June '04)
* Many, MANY more!

CHICAGO THEATRE (very partial listing)
Curse of the Starving Class Taylor The Hypocrites
Marat / Sade* Patient / Voltaire The Hypocrites
Signal to Noise* Televangelist NOWtheatre
Desire Under the Elms Peter Cabot Orchid Theatre Group
* (Jeff-recommended)


* Upright Citizens Brigade
* ImprovOlympic
* Second City Conservatory
* Annoyance Theater
* Steppenwolf Theatre Summer Institute
(Instructors included Lori Metcalf, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, and others.)