Robert Schimmel Rest In Peace

BTB says goodbye to one of the most underrated comics ever.

Topics on the day include a visit by editor in chief Dylan Gadino who discusses the loss of Robert Schimmel, punchline’s big 5 year anniversary show, the mystery behind Last Comic Standing, and we try to get him to share the world’s next comedy star. We’ll miss you Bob.

Comedian of the week – Robert Schimmel: Life Since Then


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18 Responses to Robert Schimmel Rest In Peace
  1. Pray4Snow
    September 19, 2010 | 8:56 pm

    Observations of a Comedy Fan at a ‘Non-traditional’ Comedy Show.

    First off, my apologies for this being so f-ing long. (I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if BtB had a proper forum, instead of a ‘blog-style comment thread’ (a nod and a wink to Tony!), but in this format it kind of dominates the page). Also, I may or may not have over-indulged prior to the show, and I didn’t take any notes, so some of the details of the show are a bit sketchy … live and learn. Most of this entry is a description of the event. If that doesn’t float your boat, please scroll to the bottom … I have a couple of questions/observations that I’d appreciate some feedback on.

    The History:
    My brother and a buddy of his do a 7-10 day motorcycle trip every summer … generally in the BC/Alberta/Montana/Washington area. In 2009, they just happened to be in the Kootenay Valley in south-eastern BC, and pulled into the Toad Rock Campground north of Creston, BC (home of the Kokanee Brewery, for those who know). Toad Rock is a bit of a mecca for riders in western Canada and the pacific northwest of the US … very laid back, and catering to riders of all sorts. Low-and-behold, when they went to check in for the night, Mary, the owner, seemed almost apologetic that the price for all camping that night was going to be $20 more than usual as it included a ticket to a comedy show called the Kootenay Gut Buster (KGB) 2009. Always game for something new, our two intrepid travelers paid their fees, set up camp, and had a hell of a good time. (They document all their trips … photos and video … see … the Toad Rock experience is in ‘Day 9, Part 2’ ). Once I saw the footage and heard the stories, I knew I wanted to check out KGB 2010, and spent the winter of 2009/2010 planning a bike trip around hitting the comedy show.

    Kootenay Gut Buster 2010. (
    For those that are interested, there’s a bit of a travelogue and pics of the bike trip posted at . For this forum, I’ll try to focus on the show itself.
    KGB is organized by a comedian based out of Calgary, Alberta, by the name of Daryl Makk. I think 2010 was the fourth or so year that they’d held KGB. Daryl’s a rider himself, and does a video blog of his travels across Canada, riding from booking to booking ( For 2010 they pulled in a number of comics, mostly from Canada, but a couple from the US. I think the previous events were only one night, but 2010 was booked over two nights. When my brother and I were planning the trip, we assumed that it would be the same comics both nights, so had only planned to be there for the second night. As it turned out, the line-ups were different, with only a couple of guys performing both shows. I guess we’ll know better for next year.

    We pulled into Toad Rock early in the afternoon. After checking in, scoping out the campground, and looking for a couple of friends expected to be there, it was still too early to start with the merriment, so we went for a quick ride up the valley. We got back just before dinner, and fired up the campstove and poured a few drinks. I should point out that Toad Rock is smack-dab in the middle of a part of BC that contributes heavily to “BC’s most famous export cash-crop”, so the ‘cabana sessions’ (TAI reference … sorry if you don’t get it) were happening all over the place (in the campsites, in the common areas, in the middle of the road) and the smell permeated the campground … making Toad Rock the second happiest place on earth for the next few hours.

    As we were cooking dinner, a couple of guys wandered over from the campsite next to ours, and we all started chatting about bikes, and riding, and other assorted shit. It turns out that these were two of the comics from the show. One, James Uloth (from somewhere in the US) had performed the previous night (so we never did get a chance to see his act), but the other (Cory Harding) was slated for that night.

    Sidenote: I should point out here that when we pulled into our campsite, we noticed that the site next to ours contained a number of almost-matching tents. It turns-out that this was the KGB equivalent of the comedy-condo … where the comedians live while they’re at Toad Rock. As bad as Brian’s (and others on BtB) descriptions of various comedy-condos are, I’m willing to bet the ‘comedy-campsite’ was worse. Tents of questionable vintage and history, empty liquor bottles and beer cans everwhere, and a general scattering of assorted crap all over hell’s half-acre. But I digress …

    James and Cory were cool guys. They asked about the bikes, and we asked them about being comics. After bullshitting for a little while, they wandered off, and we had a few more drinks. A little after dark, around 8:30 I think, we could hear music coming from the PA down at the common area. We assumed this was the ‘call to action’ so we refreshed our drinks and wandered down.

    Let me describe the ‘performance area. Toad Rock has a large common area, with an open grass area and a ‘gazebo’ (a large (approx. 30’x 100’) permanent structure, roofed, wall on one side, open on the other three sides). Under the roof is a small bar, lots of soft chairs, a few tables, a pool-table, and a couple of refrigerators available for use by any of the guests. The side of the gazebo that faces the grassed area has 4 or 5 steps leading down to the grass. The organizers had set up a number of open-sided ‘festival tents’ (kind of like what you would see at an outdoor wedding) on the grassed area. Under the tents were assorted picnic tables, banquet tables, lawn chairs, and plastic stacking chairs all facing the gazebo for the audience. For a stage, they had hung ‘curtains’ around the edge of the gazebo, approximately 4 or 5 feet back from the edge. The whole place was well lit (looked like rental gear, maybe construction lights) and the sound system was really good. They had a small soundboard in the middle of the audience, but I’m not sure who was running it, or if they were making a recording. The place was set up for (I’m guessing) 100 to 150 people. The attendance was only 70 or so … the weather had been the shits all week, and it rained on and off during the show.

    (Author’s note … this is about when I should have been taking notes. The rum, combined with the copious amounts of ‘cabana blow-back’ in the audience were starting to kick in. My apologies to any comics that I missed, who I’ve placed out of order, or who’s names I can’t remember)

    The show started by about 9. It was MC’d by one of the comedians from the previous night, James Moore, who may have also been helping Daryl with organizing the show. James was good, but not terribly edgy. His material was well honed (there was a couple of comments made throughout the night about James running a regular comedy show in Calgary, Alberta), likely very marketable, but not really my taste. The first act was a local … the owner of a hotel from across the lake, I think. He started out pretty rough, but his material got better and he seemed to hit his stride. Definitely not a professional, but you can’t blame a guy for wrangling some stage time (how many open-mics have 70-ish people at them?!).

    The second comic was a guy in his mid-20’s, dressed like somebody you’d see loitering in the mall. He was good, and definitely more polished than the first guy. The audience, while sympathetic to the opener, had been a bit uncomfortable during the opening guy’s act. This second guy was good in his own right, but the audience was so grateful to have a ‘pro’ that he got a fantastic response.

    The third guy was Cory Harding, one of the visitors from the comedy-campsite earlier in the evening. This guy was funny. I’d characterize his material as PG … not R and not G. I actually had to put down my drink I was laughing so hard. I don’t recall how long Cory’s set was, but I think it’s a good sign that I was sorry to see him leave the stage. (Another observation about Cory’s set at the end of this entry).

    Next, was a guy by the name of Dan Guiry. A very funny set. A bit more animated (think Dane-Cook-ish exaggerated movements and facial ‘aping’) in his movement than was necessary, but not to the point of being distracting. Half-way through his act, he reached behind the curtain for a guitar, and I thought ‘Great … here comes the hacky shit’. But it wasn’t bad. He was a talented musician, and the guitar didn’t become the focus of the set … only another way to deliver jokes. Reminded me of early Tenacious D material.

    Daryl Makk closed. For me it was a bit anti-climatic. Not because the material was sub-par … Daryl’s stuff was pretty good. But I didn’t seem to get as much out of it as the rest of the crowd, for a couple of reasons. One, even though Daryl’s act contains a lot of ‘biker material’, and I knew this going in to the show, it came across as an over-the-top attempt to endear himself to the crows. Not the case, I’m sure … as I mentioned, this is his act no matter where he plays. It just struck me as the wrong way. Second, and no fault of Daryl’s, is that I had looked him up on YouTube and his website when I was planning the trip, so I had heard a few of his best bits already, hence they were a bit fucked-out by the time I saw him at KGB.

    The show wrapped up around 11 (I think). I remember looking at my watch after the show and thinking “Jeez … it didn’t seem like that long’ … a good sign, I suppose.

    The reason I wanted to post something here, and see what others thought:

    1) After I got home from this trip, I looked up Cory Harding online. One of the lines in his ‘bio’ is “Cory uses no profanity but still manages to delve into the dark and dirty whenever he finds a receptive audience.” This blew my mind. I distinctly recall him discussing sex, STDs, jerking-off, and several other R-rated topics, but when I read that line in his bio and thought back to the show, I couldn’t recall him cursing once. I know this isn’t unique, and that there are many other comics out there who do this (or who have to tone-down their material for some audiences), but what caught me of guard is that it was un-noticeable. However, most of the comics I’ve seen either have to water down their material that the jokes don’t really work, or they seem to emphasize the word they’re substituting for a curse-word, drawing unnecessary attention to it. This wasn’t the case with Cory. This may not be all that rare (if any of the readers know of comics who do this particularly well, please pass along their names so I can check them out), but it was the first time I’d noticed (or, more accurately, NOT noticed) this skill.

    2) If I’ve learned anything from listening to Behind the Bricks for the past couple of years, it’s a) dick jokes are ALWAYS funny; and b) sometimes, in order to get stage time (and perhaps a paycheck), comics have to create their own shows. I think the majority of the BtB references have related to open-mic shows, but I guess concept translates to full-on performances too. I suspect most cases result in a local ‘comedy festival’ sort of event, but in this case, the organizers have found a niche crowd that not only keeps coming back, but bring a few more friends with them every year … despite the fact that everyone has to travel to get there, and find local accommodation. Has anyone else here on BtB ever heard of shows like this?

  2. Kyle Betts
    September 22, 2010 | 5:24 pm

    I have a question about point of view.

    When I did my first open mic, the first half of my set was with one POV, and the other half had a little darker Point of View.
    This happened naturally for me, because I was talking about 2 different subjects that are very different, and of course I feel very different about
    . Also, it seemed like a good strategy, because if one thing didn’t work, maybe another thing would.
    My friend who came to the show, thought that I confused the audience because I switched so drastically.

    So anyways, here’s my question:

    Is it a good idea to have different points of view in one set?

  3. Joel Fry
    September 22, 2010 | 9:36 pm

    You’re right, Pray. That was very long. But appreciated!

  4. Pray4Snow
    September 24, 2010 | 2:13 am

    Thanks Joel.
    (I warned Brian that it was going to be lengthy … but he said ‘let her buck!!’).
    Have you ever run into a ‘niche’ show like the one at Toad Rock?

  5. brian
    September 24, 2010 | 11:25 pm

    Thanks P4S. Took me a few days to get through, but I really appreciate your post. To answer your questions…

    I’m not sure that doing “dirty” material without profanity is necessarily a specialized skill. I would put myself in the opposite category. I tend to curse quite a bit when I speak, but I rarely do sexually explicit material. I’ve found that people will often refer to me as a “clean” act, even though I may say fuck 10 times. It’s probably just a comfort level with him, because I can’t imagine a gig where you can talk about jerking off but can’t say shit. Usually an all or nothing kind of deal.

    I think a lot of comics make pretty decent money tailoring shows to niche markets. It’s like a watered down version of what Dane cook did. He created material that appealed to a certain generation, and didn’t really care what anyone else thought. Same deal with other niche markets. Some comics craft an act designed for, say, the corporate world or cruise ships, and are content to work those crowds exclusively. It’s actually a pretty good idea.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Joel Fry
    September 29, 2010 | 9:58 pm

    Greg Giraldo. Dead at 44. Incredibly sad. RIP Greg

  7. Gilley
    September 29, 2010 | 10:26 pm

    I just saw that Greg Giraldo died also. I can’t believe that. He was in my personal top 5. I still listen to Midlife Vices religiously. All the good ones go way to early.

  8. brian
    September 29, 2010 | 11:26 pm

    Another unbelievable talent. This sucks.

  9. Mike Not Really
    September 30, 2010 | 3:38 am

    Jesus Christ. I thought that was a joke. Fuck. Rip Greg.

  10. Darnell
    October 1, 2010 | 12:17 pm

    I’m saddened by the loss of Greg Giraldo, but even more saddened that his legacy of being a prolific stand-up was overshadowed by his involvement with LCS and CC Roasts. The mainstream did not understand the depth of his brilliance as a social commentator, political satirist, and philosopher. I just wish they could grasp what the world has truly lost.

  11. brian
    October 3, 2010 | 6:47 pm

    Totally agree Darnell. I can’t tell you how many comments I saw on facebook/twitter that referred to Giraldo as the “Last Comic Standing Guy.” Made me cringe.

  12. Joel Fry
    October 6, 2010 | 7:54 pm

    Paul Lane, owner of the Des Moines Funny Bone for over 20 years, died last Thursday at 46.

  13. bellysk8er2005
    October 14, 2010 | 7:15 pm

    hey guys just taught i pop in and say hi since it been awhile. just wondering did you guys ever finish the list of jokes and do you still have the hotline where we can call our jokes in.

  14. Joel Fry
    October 19, 2010 | 3:58 pm

    We finished them. It was crazy, we had cake and blow and everything!

  15. brian
    October 19, 2010 | 7:06 pm

    Hey all. Sorry I haven’t checked in in a while. As you all know, I’ve been working on a way to revamp the show, and I think I found it. Beginning this week I have partnered with the Vegas Video Network on a new show called “Awkward Silence.” It will be the same format as btb, only fatter and uglier. I hope you’ll check it out and participate as you always have. We will still release the podcast from time to time, but much more infrequently, as I am only allowed to neglect my family to a certain extent before there are legal implications. Thanks for all of your support over the years!

  16. brian
    October 22, 2010 | 11:18 pm

    First episode of Awkward Silence is up for anyone interested. I think anyone who watches it will understand why radio is where I belong. I hope you enjoy it!

  17. Scott at Vegas Video Network
    October 23, 2010 | 1:56 am

    Great job on your first “Awkward Silence” episode, Brian. Brandt crushed it as well!

  18. Joel Fry
    November 1, 2010 | 10:11 pm

    Dude, I love Awkward Silence.

    By the way, check out this new website that I have put together:

    It’s a lot of fun.

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