I had never heard of the new Spike TV series Lip Sync Battle (airing Thursday nights) until I learned an event related to it was slated for an evening at Summerstage in New York City’s Central Park. Even then, I didn’t even realize that LL Cool J was part of the show till the day before Lip Sync Battle Live happened on Monday July 13th. But the loveable rapper makes for an excellent host with his sidekick Chrissy Teigen assisting by providing some oddball humor. As a intro Doug E. Fresh warmed up the Central Park crowd.
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On the last day of July, Stephen Colbert made an announcement on his show, The Colbert Report. In just over one week, Colbert would be revisiting his 2011 week-long music event “StePhest Colbchella ‘011: Rock You Like a Thirst-Icane” with a newer version, “StePhest Colbchella ‘012: RocktAugustFest”. Last year, Colbert’s musical guests included Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, Talib Kweli, and Jack White all with in-studio sessions and interviews broadcast on the television show. This year, Colbert decided to rock the boat a little and host Colbchella outdoors and on the USS Intrepid Museum in front of a larger audience.
Colbchella ‘012 featured four acts, one each to be broadcast nightly, including fun., Grizzly Bear, Santigold and the Flaming Lips. For the audience members lucky enough to get tickets (reportedly there was only a 1500 person capacity), they were treated to a couple of beers and a snack for their time plus a chance to see abbreviated sets from each of the acts. Unfortunately, as is the case with television recordings, some performances required multiple takes, including two from Grizzly Bear and Santigold, in order to be appropriately captured. To be sure, the three songs each artist performed would not all air on TV, some are internet exclusives. But the technical difficulties that may have marred the recordings did not necessarily ruin the song for those on the boat (excluding the moisture that got into one of effects pedals). It was to much annoyance that songs were redone and when the show finally ended around 12:30 am, people were deservedly tired. Even Grandmaster Flash, Colbert’s second in command, bailed from his decks on the deck before the night was through.
Hollywood invaded Comic-Con International (the official name of the San Diego Comic-Con) back around the turn of the 21st century, bringing in movie stars to promote upcoming genre films. But it wasn’t until the opening of the 6,500-seat Hall H in 2004 that the show truly arrived as the center of the pop culture universe. The convention was already in the middle of an attendance explosion, but Hall H and the major movie studios helped drive it to its current overstuffed situation, where 130,000-plus squeeze into the San Diego Convention Center every July.
Comic-Con’s status as the biggest pop culture gathering in North America brought with it a host of problems that it didn’t face when it was merely the biggest comic book show in North America. They’ve had to address things like how to deal with thousands of people trying to get hotel rooms at the same time, how to move tens of thousands of people through the registration process quickly, and where to situate the lines for the various panel rooms without blocking hallways or running into other lines. To the convention’s credit, they’ve worked hard to deal with these issues as they’ve arisen. Usually, they aren’t the sort of things that can be fixed on the fly, so longtime attendees eagerly look forward to the release of the Comic-Con schedule (around two weeks before the show) to see what’s changed for the upcoming convention. And yes, also to plan what awesome stuff we’re going to see at the show.
Actor and comedian Michael Showalter got his start on MTV’s cult favorite sketch show The State in the early ‘90s. A gifted writer, Showalter’s bizarre brand of humor and characters may seem like improv, but as I learned, almost everything he does is rigidly scripted. From the lovably off-the-wall skewering of 80s sex comedies in Wet Hot American Summer to the short-lived Comedy Central oddities Stella and Michael and Michael Have Issues, Showalter is always pushing the envelope: trying the patience of many and constantly questioning “What is funny?” His set at the Pitchfork Comedy Stage proved once again that Showalter might be the new incarnation of Andy Kaufman.