From: "Stephen Montagne" []
Subject: your great comics album list rocks!
Date: Fri, September 30, 2005

Hi! I went online for a list of great comedy albums so I could stream them on Rhapsody.  I came across your list and web page and I loved it so much I thought I'd send you an email!  

I'm 34... But I'm probably what you'd call an "old soul" because when other kids collected baseball cards, I memorized obscure information about comics and performers from as far back as the 40s.  

I was introduced to improvisational acting at the age of 15 when I moved from Bergen County, NJ to St. Louis, MO and started taking acting classes at the Muny Student Theater Project (the epicenter of the St. Louis theater scene).  My improv writing teacher couldn't stop talking about this place called Second City, and I realized that most of my performance heroes, such as John Belushi, came out of Second City.  I had to go there.  

So, at 16, I spent a summer with some friends who lived in Chi-Town (I went to a boarding school, so kids from all over the country went to this school and my best friend Pete lived in Chicago).  I took classes at Second City around the time Bonnie Hunt, Richard Kind and sometimes Joel Murray were performing on the main stage.  I would stay late at the theater after class to watch these geniuses throw it down.  To this day, Bonnie Hunt is my favorite comedienne because of how amazing she was on that Second City stage.  

As the years went by, I studied improv at a performing arts high school in California, at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, at the Second City in Los Angeles, played games with some Groundlings performers, interviewed with Paul Sills to be a part of his Spolin workshop (but, unfortunately, never joined), hung out around countless comics and comedy venues in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and took classes and worked at Chicago City Limits in New York City.  

I´m a huge fan of comics and improvisers, but have never actually done stand-up myself.  I´m more of an actor/writer (screenplays and plays) and I guess I would consider myself a bit of an amateur comedy/performing artist historian.  Sometimes I don´t even listen to music on Rhapsody; I will just stream every one of Lewis Black´s albums (my current favorite) and laugh my ass off!  I watched "Black on Broadway" about 20 times when it was on HBO On Demand.

Needless to say, I loved your compilation.  It must have been hard because you couldn´t possibly put every album on there and there were plenty of omissions.  Two I wanted to write you about are Denis Leary´s “No Cure for Cancer’, which I think is missing from your soon to be a classic selection.

I recently had the rare pleasure of going to the set of Rescue Me while they were filming the last episode of the season up in the Bronx in the neighborhood where I was born (Columbia Presbyterian Hospital).  I was introduced to writer/director/producer Peter Tolan when I lived in Los Angeles and he was gracious enough to invite me to the set to watch Denis in action.  Because of that, I was acutely aware that “No Cure for Cancer’ was not on your list and that he was nowhere to be found in the Aristocrats.  But Lewis was… though only briefly.  (My personal fav was Sarah Silverman – “Al Franklin raped me’ -- whom I once met after a gig she did during Second City´s 40th anniversary celebration in Chicago and we realized we both worked for the Boston Comedy Club in New York in our early 20s handing out fliers around the same time since we´re contemporaries.  I also walked up to Robert Klein and shook his hand and said how fortunate I felt to meet one of my performance heroes, and he thought that was very kind… then we cried and hugged I think I peed a little; though my recollection of the incident is a bit fuzzy as the years go by.)    

Right now, I´m listening to the "Best of Redd Foxx" and realizing how much all the black comics of today owe to this amazing comic genius.  He really was ahead of his time.  Also, tt always saddens me to listen to Freddie Prinze.  I loved him when I was a kid, “Chico and the Man’ was one of my favorite shows.  I still remember the made for TV show they made about his life: “Can You Hear the Laughter" (1979).  Funny how some things stick in your mind.  

But my all time favorite is the maestro, Lenny (R.I.P sweet prince) and my artistic guru is the late, great Bill Hicks.  I consider myself a student of the Eric Bogosian School of Acting, and Hicks is definitely to comedians what Bogosian is to monologuists (is that a word?).  Lenny and Bill, "when will come another?"

Well Mr. Shlomoh, thanks for taking the time to read my incessant ramblings and I hope you consider slipping in Leary´s album on your list somewhere.  I think “No Cure for Cancer’ has become a comedic staple… more so than Andrew Dice Clay´s stadium style comedy album.  But that´s just me.

Steve Montagne

Kew Gardens, NY
(A sometime actor/writer; full-time jetBlue flight attendant!)

September, 2011
Mr Montagne has asked me to add the following recommendations:
Lewis Black, "Black on Broadway"
Patton Oswalt, "Feelin' Kinda Patton"
Anything by Jim Norton or Louis C.K.
The late, great Greg Giraldo

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