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A comic affair

Erin Crowell - February 15th, 2010
A Comic Affair:Gettin’ crazy with TJ &Dave and Whitney Cummings
By Erin Crowell
Laughter. The best way to unfreeze your face – and TJ Jagodowski and
Dave Pasquesi are a couple of guys that will help you do it. The
Second City veterans are among several comedians scheduled to perform
at the first-ever Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival, Feb. 19-21.
The two have been performing together in the Chicago area for eight
years. It will be Jagodowski’s first time to Traverse City, and a
return visit for Pasquesi, who says it’s been awhile.
“About a thousand years,” he says. ‘Well. Really, about 35 years.”
TJ and Dave will perform on Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Old Town Playhouse.
Pasquesi says they got the invite from fellow comedian and co-founder
of the festival Jeff Garlin, who is also a long-time friend.
“I figured he wouldn’t ask us to do something that wasn’t a blast,”
says Pasquesi. “It’s a nice lineup, I’m looking forward to seeing all
this stuff.”

INSTAPLAYS
The duo, who simply go by “TJ and Dave,” will give audiences a taste
of improv comedy, where the material is fabricated on-stage.
“Basically, the lights come up and we start. It’s been called
instaplays – that’s not too far off, I think. It may be more towards
theater than sketch comedy. There aren’t separate scenes where we jump
around, although we do some of that.”
TJ and Dave’s improv comedy involves zero audience participation.
“Except, their interest is required,” says Pasquesi. “We’re always
aware of what they’re responding to, but our job is to find out what
is already going on rather than to make something up. Improv can be
scary, but it’s part of the fun.”
So, what is like being part of a two-man team?
“From the first time we ever were on stage, it’s been easy. Do I want
to slap him? Usually no,” Pasquesi laughs.
“The more people in the audience the better time everyone has. It’s
usually pretty funny. Sometimes it gets weird. (The audience) can
expect to have a good time. Either that, or if it doesn’t go well, and
they enjoy watching people go down in flames, then they’ll enjoy
themselves, too.“

WHITNEY CUMMINGS
While TJ and Dave are making a quick jaunt across the pond,
comedienne, writer and actress Whitney Cummings will leave the sunny
shores of the West Coast.
We talked with her while she was working out at a gym in Los Angeles.
“I’m walking on the treadmill. I’ve got like nine pieces of paper,
waters, wheat grass shots… I’m like that lady at the gym where you’re
like ‘aww, geez.’ I’m a multi-tasker. Otherwise, I would get no sleep.
I’m shooting an hour special in May so I’m pretty much on the road
every weekend.”
This weekend, Cummings will perform Friday, Feb. 19, at the State
Theatre; along with a duo performance with Jeff Garlin on Saturday,
Feb. 20, at the State.
“It’s a three-day festival so it’s kind of a vacation for me. Being on
the road is good because I get so much more work done on planes and in
hotel rooms…even though the cable’s bad.”
Cummings also got the invite from Garlin, whom she worked with several
times at the Comedy Store in Hollywood.
“He asked me about doing this and it was kind of a no-brainer,” says
Cummings. “I am so excited because pretty much everyone who is doing
this festival is like, one of my heroes, for real. I remember when I
was in college, in like 2002, I was so obsessed with Michael Moore. I
wrote him a five-page letter that was like, ‘I’ll work for you, I’ll
intern for free, I’ll bring you coffee!’ So this is kind of surreal.”
Cummings is the producer of the hit Showtime comedy series “Live!
Nude! Comedy!” a show, that she says, was “specifically designed to
let edgy comedians do their thing without being censored.”
Cummings says her comedy has taken on that same edgy persona.
“My emphasis used to be on jokes, and the biggest compliment I could
receive is ‘Oh my God, your jokes are so funny.’ But now, I think I’ve
broken open and I want it to be less confined about jokes, which is
basically just a lot of math – and to be more of what I feel and what
my opinions are. And now the biggest compliment I can get is, ‘Oh my
God, what you say is so true’ or ‘I totally relate to that.’ I’ve
definitely gotten angrier and crazier for sure.”

RELATIONSHIPS
Like the rest of the Comedy Arts Festival lineup, Cummings will offer
the Northern Michigan audience her own unique style.
“I think Jeff and Michael have programmed a really interesting
festival. It’s such a diverse array of different comedians of
different generations and ages. I’m coming from the point of view of
younger, edgy—you know—girl who is fiercely attacking modern love and
sex dynamic. That’s kind of what I do. I pretty much stay in the realm
of love and sex and body image, so that’s definitely what to expect
from me. Every show is going to be something new. For me, yeah,
relationships, sex and balls. That’s my selling point.”
There is, however, one thing Cummings says she’s not looking forward to.
“The weather. I don’t want to get started on it. I don’t know why we
couldn’t do this thing in August, but okay.”

For more information on TJ and Dave and Whitney Cummings, visit the
Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival website at comedyartsfest.org. For
ticket information, call 947-3446.

 
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