Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scenes from the Woodstock Comedy Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 2:00 AM

Bobcat
  • Bobcat
Dick Cavett and Bobcat Goldthwait discussing their therapists:

"My psychiatrist once told me that I was most defended person he had ever met," Dick said, wonderingly.

"I told my therapist that basically I hate myself, and he started to laugh hysterically," Bobcat recalled. "I said, 'At least one of us is getting better!'"

I was sure no one would attend this festival — because Woodstock is a town without a sense of humor — but I was absolutely wrong. The Playhouse was almost filled the first night, and the Bearsville Theatre was standing room only the second. And the audience actually laughed, especially when the comedians insulted Woodstock!

Bobcat: "You know, I've been on in movies, on television. I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to play a barn..." [He meant the Bearsville Theatre.]

Scott Rogowsky: "If you can make it in Woodstock, you can make it in Saugerties!"

Bobcat: "What kind of name is Pegasus Shoes? That doesn't even make sense! Unless they sell horseshoes..."

Mario Cantone performs a style of humor that is almost extinct: "singing comedy." He does a wonderful impression of the Bob Dylan Christmas album. "There's beautiful music, flutes, harps, angels singing — and then Dylan comes on," Mario explains, perfectly evoking the aged rasp of the cigarette-smoking Bard croaking:

"Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus Lane.."

In Woodstock, this is the ultimate taboo — to criticize Bob Dylan. For this reason, it was extraordinarily funny. Also notable was Mario's re-creation of a TV special featuring Tina Turner, Cher, and Kate Smith. He stood stock still, as the Teutonic Smith, intoning: "We're Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band..."

Dick Cavett: "Everybody loved Jack Benny. He was the kindest, most patient man, and certainly a genius. Once I was in an elevator with him after a show — it was supposed to be a celebrities-only elevator — but two of the audience members somehow stumbled on. They recognized Benny and asked him, 'Do you really play the violin?' 'Are you really cheap?' The comedian nodded and smiled. After the fans left, I remarked: 'Mr. Benny, that must get tiresome after a while?' Jack smiled and said, 'Sometimes you just want to tell them to go fuck themselves.'"

As I was leaving on Saturday night, I ran into a young, curly-haired fellow in a plaid suit jacket. "How did you like the show?" I asked.

"It was quite good," he replied.

"Have you seen Mario Cantone before?" I persisted.

"No, not really," he answered.

"You're English!" I realized, from his accent.

"Yes, yes, I live in London."

"Do you have a house around here?"

"No, I don't."

"You came all the way from England for the Woodstock Comedy Festival?"

"Why not?" the youth replied.

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