Live From Aspen… It’s Ben Bass!

US-Comedy-Arts-Fest.jpg

We asked good friend Ben Bass – who happens to be at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen (henceforth referred to as “USCAF”) to occasionally write back and let us know how things are going. Here’s a snippet of his first report:

You’d think that after catching a cab to O’Hare at 4 a.m., you’d get to Aspen in time to catch your friends’ stage performance at 8 p.m. Chicago time. You’d be wrong. Because Aspen’s local airport has a short runway in a narrow valley, larger jets can’t land there and most travelers fly through Denver. This week a heavy snowstorm is hammering western Colorado, canceling most Aspen flights and wreaking havoc with travel and festival plans. With the easy 45-minute flight not an option, the only recourse was a six-hour bus ride, which was pleasant enough except that the riders were missing rehearsals, shows, meetings and review deadlines.

More after the jump!

US-Comedy-Arts-Fest.jpg

We asked good friend Ben Bass – who happens to be at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen (henceforth referred to as “USCAF”) to occasionally write back and let us know how things are going. Here’s a snippet of his first report:

You’d think that after catching a cab to O’Hare at 4 a.m., you’d get to Aspen in time to catch your friends’ stage performance at 8 p.m. Chicago time. You’d be wrong. Because Aspen’s local airport has a short runway in a narrow valley, larger jets can’t land there and most travelers fly through Denver. This week a heavy snowstorm is hammering western Colorado, canceling most Aspen flights and wreaking havoc with travel and festival plans. With the easy 45-minute flight not an option, the only recourse was a six-hour bus ride, which was pleasant enough except that the riders were missing rehearsals, shows, meetings and review deadlines.

More after the jump!

Getting There is 12% of the Fun!

Ben Bass here, writing from Aspen, Colorado. In a momentary lapse of their usual good judgment, my friends in Schadenfreude have generously invited me to share my impressions of the 2007 HBO US Comedy Arts Festival. As the old adage says, no good deed goes unpunished, and I’m happy to chip in a few thoughts.

This is my fourth time attending the USCAF, the nation’s largest (probably) and glossiest (definitely) annual comedy festival. Founded in 1995, it celebrates comedy in all its forms, whether sketch, improv, film, television, blog-based, or otherwise, and presents everyone from young upstart sketch groups to established industry icons, plus a wide range of new comedic films. This year, for example, you can check out an event featuring the entire cast of Entourage; the Person of the Year Award given to, who else, Stephen Colbert; the premiere of John Landis’ new Don Rickles movie, with both in attendance; and shows by George Carlin, Steven Wright, and racial provocateur Katt Williams.

As is the case every year, some Chicago talent also broke through the national audition process to score coveted gigs here, including sketch duo and Schadenfreude regulars KevINda (Kevin Douglas and Inda Craig-Galvan); Brendan Hunt’s autobiographical show, “Five Years in Amsterdam”; the T.J. Jagodowski-directed “Misled,” with filmdom’s Peter Grosz, all-improv shortstop Jake Schneider, and Second City Tourco director and Jumping Miles alum Pat O’Brien; “Moist” featuring Megan Grano, Colleen Murray, Emily WIlson and Meagan Flanigan; and standup comic T.J. Miller.

Beyond the Chicago comedians, you’ll see nationally known comedy people walking around Aspen this week. It’s the kind of place where you don’t just see Michael Ian Black at the airport, but then again at his show, and his other show, and in the audience at other shows, and toasting a bagel next to you the next morning because you’re staying at the same hotel. If you don’t appreciate the gratuitous dropping of comedians’ names, read someone else’s Aspen writeup, because it’s not likely to stop. In fact:

The week of the festival, the Denver airport is the kind of place where you’ll grab a seat at your gate, look up and see a half-asleep Matt Besser waiting for the same Aspen flight. This year was more of the same, with the likes of Stella’s Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black; and borowitzreport.com and The Moth’s Andy Borowitz; and the obligatory mob of North Face-sporting, Blackberry-toting industry regulars. (Square glasses? Leather Uggs? New York accent despite California driver’s license? Either you work in development at a movie studio or cable network, or your next soy chai latte is on me.)

You’d think that after catching a cab to O’Hare at 4 a.m., you’d get to Aspen in time to catch your friends’ stage performance at 8 p.m. Chicago time. You’d be wrong. Because Aspen’s local airport has a short runway in a narrow valley, larger jets can’t land there and most travelers fly through Denver. This week a heavy snowstorm is hammering western Colorado, canceling most Aspen flights and wreaking havoc with travel and festival plans. With the easy 45-minute flight not an option, the only recourse was a six-hour bus ride, which was pleasant enough except that the riders were missing rehearsals, shows, meetings and review deadlines.

Speaking of deadlines, the short films I’m seeing this morning started five minute ago, but my Schadenloyalty (I can’t create new Schadenwords as easily as a Justin Kaufmann) is such that I just kept typing. More later.

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