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Adventures In Comedy

By Gary Wien

originally published: 03/19/2015

Adventures In Comedy

“Spinal Tap showed every horrible thing that an aging rock band would run into,” said stand-up comedian Tom McCaffrey.  “I wanted to do that for comedy.  Every nightmare experience that comedians could relate to, but not only comedians — I wanted it to be relatable to anyone who’s ever been in show business in general.”

 The result is a film called, Adventures In Comedy — a mockumentary that mirrors Spinal Tap by following McCaffrey around as he attempts to get back into stand-up and record a new album with a clueless manager “helping” him.  The movie basically recreates every awful situation he’s found himself in or has heard about from fellow comics.  There are scenes in which he plays a gig in someone’s apartment in New York City;  where his manager says his career is “so cold it’s hot”; and where he’s asked “Do you want to be paid or do you want to do comedy? You can’t do both.”

What separates his film from a straight comedy club version of Spinal Tap are real-life interviews with comedians like Janeane Garofalo, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho, and Michael Che.  McCaffrey uses the experiences revealed in the real-life interviews to parallel those of his own life.  He quickly learns that his experiences and problems are often shared among the industry, even when someone had appeared to have made it.

It’s never easy making a living as a comedian, but as one gets older and is no longer seen as the young, hip comic they once were, jobs become harder and harder to find.  One of the main inspirations for the film was McCaffrey staring at turning 40 in the eye and feeling all of the pressure of that personal milestone.  It turns out he isn’t alone and actually has good reason to worry about turning older.

“Janeane Garofolo talked very frankly about how her career wasn’t what it was at one point,” recalled McCaffrey.  “Even she was grappling with getting older in the industry of comedy and not having the same opportunities as before.  She talked about how it was hard for her to adjust when the huge success and opportunities went away.  I’m going through it on a much smaller scale, but it seems like it never ends.  You would think certain people had made it and were happy but even people like Gaffigan talked about struggling and not feeling secure in many aspects.”

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Getting older isn’t the only struggle comedians have in the industry.  They often run into problems auditioning for the top clubs.  Take Michael Che who McCaffrey interviewed shortly before he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”  

“I interviewed him right when he was sort of blowing up,” recalled McCaffrey.  “He told the story of how he auditioned for a club and they were like, ‘Oh, you’re not ready’ and then auditioned for the same club six months later with the exact same set but because he had more heat on him at the time they said, ‘Oh, you’re great!’”

Meanwhile, Garofalo spoke of having a hard time even getting auditions now because casting people had a preconceived notion of her.  “The idea that even she struggles in the industry proved to me that there’s never a making it point,” said McCaffrey.  “You can have success, but it very easily can go away.  She sort of alluded that she might have taken it for granted when she was so successful, but also seemed to be surprised at her success.  All of a sudden she was starring in movies and she didn’t expect it so when it went away she felt normal.  It was as if she was lucky for a decade and now that it’s over it made sense.”

Comedians often run into managers and agents who claim to help them but only want to work with them after they’ve reached a point in which jobs are handed to them anyway.  McCaffrey includes many of his own personal experiences in the film.  Experiences such as meetings in which he was told he was funny and should come back to them if he did anything big.  “It was basically like if I become famous, then you’ll represent me?” he recalled.  “I had one meeting in which I was like ‘Can you get me a half-hour special?’ and told ‘If you get a half-hour special come back to us.’  So, why would I need them?”

Everything but the interviews are completely scripted and often very funny scenes.  The combination of mockumentary and documentary makes for a very interesting look at the industry. McCaffrey was originally planning on going the indie film festival route in order to get a distribution deal for the film, but plans changed when Comedy Dynamics approached about about distributing the film online.  If you’re interested in seeing what happens behind the curtain and the harsh realities of the comedy industry check it out on Hulu, Roku, iOS, Amazon, or Android.

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NJPAC Presents Maria Bamford
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents stand-up Comedian Maria Bamford on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 8:00pm. The stand-up sensation starred in the semi-autobiographical Netflix comedy series Lady Dynamite, lauded as “revelatory” by Entertainment Weekly and one of 2016’s must-see shows by Variety and Rolling Stone.
Newton Theatre Presents Big Apple Comedy Club On January 18th
(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Big Apple Comedy Club returns with four of New York City's freshest comedians for a show on Friday, January 18, 2019 at 8:00pm. The lineup includes Matthew Broussard, Chris Coccia, Drew Fraser, and Mike Speirs.  Don’t miss the chance to see these hilarious, high energy comics in action! Tickets start at just $19.
Patton Oswalt To Perform At Beacon Theatre
(NEW YORK, NY) --  Patton Oswalt will take the Beacon Theatre stage on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 7:30pm. A comedian, actor and writer, Patton Oswalt continues to find success in all areas of entertainment. From his award-winning comedy specials to his many memorable film roles and guest appearances on his favorite TV shows, Oswalt continues to choose work that inspires him and entertains audiences.
Craig Ferguson To Bring His Hobo Fabulous Tour To Mayo Performing Arts Center
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Craig Ferguson's Hobo Fabulous Tour comes to Mayo Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, December 4 at 7:30pm. The show, which will be 100% new material, will never be recorded for any form of broadcast or streaming outlet given Mr. Ferguson's new (ironically) Luddite mistrust of digital technology. Tickets range from $49-$79.
NJPAC Presents Candice Guardino: Italian Bred
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) Presents Candice Guardino: Italian Bred on Saturday January 26 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm. Created, written by and starring Candice Guardino, Italian Bred is based on true-life events seen through the eyes of a little girl.

A Look At 2 Guys From Jersey
In issue 50, New Jersey Stage gave readers the opportunity to learn more about the writers who contribute to the magazine and the daily site. We’d like to give you the opportunity to learn more about the two shows that are featured in our magazine each month.  One is a podcast called 2 Guys From Jersey that runs a new episode every Wednesday. It involves Dr. D, Rocky, and Erin (a recent addition to the team) trying to settle trivial bar arguments that have plagued mankind for centuries.
"Legal Immigrant" Alan Cumming Brings His Cabaret To State Theatre New Jersey
It was the fall of 2008. Barack Obama had just been elected president. And Scottish-born actor Alan Cumming was sworn in as a citizen of the United States.
“Hysterical!” Gallagher LIVE! at The Strand Lakewood
Gallagher is joking with patrons in the lobby of Lakewood, NJ’s historic Strand Theater this Thursday, May 24, 2018 evening. In his audacious style, he’s grabbing cameras out of the hands of patrons who want to take great selfies with him, while also taking the time to sign T-shirts for stand-up comedy fans waiting for him at the merch table.
So You Want To Be A Comedian?
“I feel I have the kind of life where people think I’m making things up all of the time, but weirdness is kind of attracted to me,” said Jess Alaimo, a comedian from Monmouth County.  “So, I just go with whatever happens to me.”
The United States of Russia
Rutgers alum, Ben Rosenfeld released his third comedy album in January.  Entitled, The United States of Russia, the album was released by Comedy Dynamics and continues the Russia born, American raised comedian’s style of mixing tales of his immigrant parents and outsider childhood with topics ranging from millennials, terrorism, politics, and adjusting to life as a newlywed.  We caught up with Ben to talk about the album.

Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm

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