Paul Provenza’s Green Room show has always been an intriguing one for any comedy fan. While the show had a very short life on Showtime television, however it’s found new life, showing up at various festivals since then and it’s been just as compelling ever since.
At Salle Claude Leveillee, Provenza hosted a panel of comedians to discuss comedians that left us too soon. Provenza hosted Bill Burr, Dom Irrera, Dave Attell, Robert Kelly, and Darrin Rose and led a roundtable discussion about comedians we lost a bit too soon. Every comedian on the panel had a touch point about the comedians we lost and the conversation was riveting. While it was abundantly obvious all comedians had great respect for the comics they discussed, it didn’t stop them from cracking jokes at them and making fun of them.
Provenza would play a clip of the comedian they lost and then the panel crew shared stories about them. First was John Pinette, Rose who was Pinette’s opener for some time, delivered a story about the rare time he saw Pinette get angry as Attell and Irrera talked about how he would just crush rooms when he took the stage.
They discussed Mitch Hedberg, who was not only a terrific joke writer, but his death from addiction brought up some stories about demons all of the comedians on the panel faced. No discussion about Hedberg can happen without the comedians sharing their favorite Mitch jokes.
The topic then came to Richard Jeni, who was one of the more tragic stories. Jeni was haunted by his quest to be the best comic and to get mainstream recognition for it. The panel discussed at length his incredible ability to tell a joke and mine material for every last drop. Even Robert Wuhl, who was in the crowd chimed in with some insight.
Provenza then introduced Robert Schimmel clips, as the panel relayed terrifically interesting stories about how bad timing always seemed to plague the comedian. From how he started by rolling up to a burning comedy club, getting cancer, marriage predicaments, to his fatal car accident. Nobody had raw material better than Schimmel.
The last two comedians discussed in the panel had the tightest connection to the panelist, Patrice O’Neal and Greg Giraldo. The panelists all praised Giraldo’s intelligence and comedy ability, but once again, discussed his struggle with substance abuse that ultimately ended his life. The Giraldo discussion ended with the urging for the entire audience to listen to Giraldo’s specials because of how terrific they were.
When the topic turned to Patrice O’Neal, some really great stories came together as Kelly, Burr, and Attell were all good friends with the late comedian. Provenza stated that the loss of Patrice was one of the biggest blows to the comedy community and played a clip from Patrice’s appearance on the Showtime Green Room show he felt summed up Patrice’s personality. Kelly discussed his friendship with Patrice and his desire to achieve on his own terms and joked about his different dress phases (basketball shirts, shiny suits, and hats). Burr relayed how he genuinely feared hearing Patrice was putting out a stand-up special, because he knew the late comedian would destroy any special Burr had in his arsenal. Burr then called him peerless as he got choked up over his late friend, making it obvious that though it’s been a few years since his death, Patrice O’Neal is still very much missed.
As the panel ended, we overheard many people relay that this specific Green Room show was the best of the fest. We had someone even state to us that it was, “worth the flight to Montreal.” We have to agree, The Green Room with Paul Provenza offers up the best in comedy – funny people, great topics, and better stories. The next time The Green Room comes to your town, get yourself there.