Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Sound of Young America: Podcast: Ten West: "Jimmy & Jeb"

The Sound of Young America: Podcast: Ten West: "Jimmy & Jeb": "
The Sound of Young America: Ten West

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ten West blog now on The MySpace

Dear friends of Ten West,
We are on The MySpace now and are using that for blogs.
Here's the link to the latest:
Thanks for checking in!
Jon & Stephen

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sketchfest NYC 2006

Ten West performed Friday June 9th at the Soho Playhouse as part of the 2006 Sketchfest NYC June 8-10.
We would like to thank everyone involved with putting on the festival. Your exhaustive efforts are very much appreciated by Stephen, Bryan & Jon (me!).
The crowds were large and supportive. Thanks for the standing ovation people!!!
Before the show Jon had a temperature over 100 but the reception we got once we took stage put any concerns over illness out of mind.
There were so many talented and amazing performances over the three days and we feel very lucky to have beena part of it all and to be able to call these fellow performers friends!
Our only regret was not being able to be in the audience for each and every show.
We holwed with laughter during the shows we did see!
Bravo SketchfestNYC!!!
PS Even though we call LA our home we openly admit that NYC has a lot more character. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that you can more readily see a city's character when you're not stuck behind the wheel of an automobile. Hey Los Angeles - ever hear of MASS TRANSPORTATION?!

Sketchingham 2006

In April Ten West traveled - separately of course, because Jon is perpetually late and missed his flight...again! - to Bellingham, WA in order to perform for three nights at the beautiful iDiom Theater in beautiful downtown Bellingham. We were the guests of Michael Mathieu and Andrew Connor, literally. They housed and fed us and chauffeured us and overall treated us with more generosity than we've experienced in quite some time. In fact, everyone we met in Bellingham was as warm and generous as the two gentlemen - in every sense of the word - of the The Cody Rivers Show. Their housemates welcomed us. The audiences were sold-out to the point of having an extra show added to the schedule!
We were fortunate to have been invited to perform the same weekend as Hypnagogia - an amazing and inventive sketch comedy troupe from Seattle. The three groups combined creative forces for a SketchingJam extravaganza Saturday evening that left all of us at once exhilarated and saddened by the ending of an incredible weekend of performances.
Ten West was humbled by the Cody Rivers Show's Sketchingham. We are eternally grateful for the opportunity to experience Bellingham and encourage everyone to check out Mike and Andrew in action. They are AMAZING!!! Go to: www.codyrivers.com We recommend seeing them before you have to pay a LOT of $$$.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Article about Ten West!

This article can also be viewed at: http://www.sketchcenter.com/20qish/20qish_tenwest.html

Introducing 20Q(-ish). A new feature in which Sketchcenter, and it’s intrepid Staff, interview the best and the brightest in the sketch comedy community.

Sketchcenter Staff member Kevin Chesley sits down to sip soda and get schooled on sketch with Los Angeles superteam Ten West.

How The West Has Won

Chateau Marmont had been brought up somewhat as a joke, but everyone involved was wicked glad to call the bluff. We got a relieved smile from our waiter (who probably goes by something French-er than that) when he came by our table for the fourth time and we were finally ready to order – having comes to terms with the fact that what we really wanted from the famous bar of this revered Hollywood landmark was an order of coffees, Cokes, and iced teas.
I had brought my cousin’s Flat Stanley to lounge there with Jon Monastero and Stephen Simon, the two better halves of Ten West – one of my favorite sketch duos. Also presiding was Bryan Coffee, Ten West’s director and not-too-secret secret weapon. The Chateau, steeped in celebrity history both glamorous and dark, was the perfect place to interview these three. Their work is admiringly classic in feel, fun yet sinister, always intimidatingly hilarious, and held in the highest of regard by anyone with a sharp wit and the luck to have seen them live. Even those with a dull wit tend to dig it, too.
The group’s pedigree is multi-dimensional and this is a major part of their appeal. Jon’s resume contains as much Shakespeare as it does sketch. Stephen’s work with Ringling Bros. is a colorful, physical add to an already-impressive focus on theatrical training. Their partnership with Bryan Coffee is, perhaps, the most successful actor/director relationship in underground sketch. When they met, taking classes together at IO, Coffee was a part of The Class Project, a brilliant trio whose work still informs much of the current scene. Coffee has worked with groups across the country like MEAT and TROOP!, but Ten West is his first work with a group that has two words in its name. His vision has honed the duo immensely. Their character shines brighter because of his work at editing them down to core-funny. You can tell he doesn’t go easy on them and the audience reaps the reward. Tight and snappy pacing, Clown work - with a capital ‘C’, and a focus on creating timeless well-performed theatre keep Ten West consistently ahead of the pack and always steeped in variety.
An average Ten West soundtrack is equal parts Perry Como, Trent Reznor, Puccini, and Tom Waits. That range is mirrored in the comedy as well. Their material mines the goofy as cleverly as it does the painful. This is a show you can bring home to Mom but then take out for drinks with your edgiest of pessimistic friends. It’s smart, sure, but with room for slapstick. This universality is why their show plays gangbusters to children and dancers of the Velvet Hammer burlesque alike (a tested fact). Everybody gets it when a clown punches a kid. Backflips and knifefights over sandwiches know no critic.
And it should come as no surprise that a group this unique has an origin all its own – so don’t be surprised. Jon and Stephen met because they were a teacher / substitute team for what I can only imagine was the luckiest middle school class of all time. That experience prepared them well for a meeting with my visiting Flat Stanley – a school project where kids send a cut-out version of themselves around the world to take pictures with landmarks and, in this case, comedy teams. They posed with the thing while musing about the first sketch work they ever performed together - a Faculty Follies show at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica. It was a lip-synching bit.
“I must have written 27 lip-synching sketches,” remembers Monestero. And whereas usually such an idea would make me cringe, from the West it just makes me wish I could watch them all in a row. Okay…maybe, like 18 of them. Either way, this particular lip-synch would lay the foundation for a long-lasting theme in Ten West’s Modus Comerandi - the relationship between comedy, movement, and music. Two watershed pieces in the Ten West repertoire use music as their focus:
The Coatrack Has Been Drinking leaves me slack-jawed every time. Using precise physical skill, Stephen communes with his wise longcoat about a lost lover and the result is a far more truthful relationship than many you’ll see between two live non-garment performers. It’s an amazing scene: poignant, soaked in pathos, and funny throughout. It plays like brand new to me every time.
And from the “new school” of Ten West’s sketches, Jon’s rendition of Johnny Cash’s Hurt – a dramatic soap opera of suicidal Barbie dolls – is a fresh gem. Monastero milks the melodrama here. It’s a blissfully wicked piece of work. When I saw it performed, a little girl left right in the middle. “Too disturbing” the snickering Nine Inch Nails fan in me wondered? But no, she came back minutes later. She just needed to pee.
It’s a common mistake, however, to consider Ten West to be all physical. Whereas a majority of their work is – by choice – sans their own voices, when the two choose to dialogue the writing is sharp, original, and thick with meaty character. Jimmy & Jeb, two loyal fishing compatriots with a flair for philosophical discourse, is perhaps their best pair of “talkers” to date. Snakebites, oppressive heat, and Homeric Similes abound in a typical Jimmy & Jeb sketch. The original has made a very successful round of the Festivals, but a series of scenes in which the two travel throughout time has been running repeat performances at The Sacred Fools Theatre in Los Angeles over the last few months. Be good and they may tour the newer installments near you real soon.
The road, lately, has been a jolly gauntlet for Ten West. They’ve hit the Fests in Seattle, Portland, San Fran, LA, and Toronto; but their performance at last year’s Sketchfest NYC is still one of the best I’ve ever seen. Especially to someone who has been watching them a while, 2005 was a galvanizing year for the duo. And so far Ten West is looking to tour ‘06 just as hard, with a return slot at this year’s Sketchfest NYC and appearances this very month at Benefest in Seattle and Sketchingham! in Bellingham, WA. (a first-ever event that will feature the West alongside The Cody Rivers Show…a pairing that this writer thinks is sexy sexy gold).
But sketch alone may not be able to hold Ten West forever. As they formulate new material, the idea of long-form work is peeking out of their prop trunk more and more, a shift that many great groups are considering as of late. Coffee’s work with The Class Project laid plenty of the groundwork for today’s bevy of seamless blackout-free sketch shows (yeah, transitional work has been around forever, but TCP made it punk and live and fiendishly smart). Whatever form he and the West come up with in their next incarnation, it will certainly be a major part of the future of comedy, from the grass roots right on up.
As we all took final sips at the Chateau, we realized that the place was far too dimly lit for a decent Flat Stanley picture – especially with my sub-par digital camera. To add insult to inadequacy, a tarted-up concierge lady rushed over at the first sign of a camera to tell us that pictures aren’t even allowed on the premises. We pretended to be outraged and immediately left in a fervent huff…after paying and tipping generously.
Kevin Chesley uses dashes too much and is a founding member of TROOP! - where all members are “founding” ones. He apologizes that the above article is not very funny, though he does not apologize very hard. For funny, go to www.tenwest.net and find out when you can see them live.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival 2006

Ten West recently performed as part of the fifth annual San Francisco Sketch Comedy Festival. This festival draws some pretty big names in the comedy world including; Mr. Show's David Cross & Bob Oedenkirk, Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Will Franken, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz & Fred Armisen of past & current SNL casts and many more! We performed Tuesday, Jan. 24 in Mill Valley at the 142 Throckmorton Theater as part of the Tuesday night Mark Pitta & Friends Show. Dana Carvey & other celebs are regular drop-ins for this show and it draws huge crowds. We were told there were over 300 people in attendance! We had a great time and would return any time! Mill Valley is beautiful, the theater was beautiful and it was a sort of homecoming for Stephen as he is from nearby Novato, CA.

We also visited Stephen's alma mater, San Marin High School for a Wed. morning show & Q/A with the kids. It was a great experience. Stephen's teacher & mentor, Emily, is such a sweetheart & we hope to visit Novato and San Marin HS again soon!

Wed. night, Jan. 25, we performed at the Eureka Theater with the Cody Rivers Show (Bellingham, WA) and Kaspar Hauser (SF - big bonus points if you know who or what the origins of the name Kasper Hauser is!). It was another sold out show and we had a great time. The COdy Rivers Show has invited us up to Bellingham in April & we look forward to performing with these two incredibly talented gentlemen!

Thanks to Cole Stratton, Janet Varney & David Owen - the producers of the festival and to the rest of their amazing crew!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

2006 Chicago Sketchfest

Ten West just returned to LA after performing two shows at the 2006 Chicago Sketchfest.
It was our third time performing at the festival and, though I'm sure one exists in German, there is not a word to best describe our experience at this years event. I'll try to bullet format some things that come to mind for easy note taking.

  • The talent just keeps getting better and better - we saw & loved Meat (we always love Meat. We are in love with Meat, Meat is love to us, Love Meat is what we are do...). Last Call Cleveland - a very fun & funny show. I laughed out loud...a lot & that's not easy to make me do b/c I'm very depressed. Commedia della Principessa - these three girls are flat out FUNNY! PS Jon has a crush on Liz. Cupid Players - a brand new show that appeared to have been performed for years. Set in a bar and all about the relationships between the bar regulars and so real and so funny and all done in musical format. There were approximately 478 other groups that we REALLY wanted to see but it is virtually impossible to make that happen. I cannot see any show immediately prior to mine b/c I have to pee a lot before I go on stage. We do know that we heard only amazing things from people about all the other groups that performed the weekend we were there and there is still a whole other weekend of great funny coming to Theater Building Chicago!
  • That bullet was entirely too long for effective note taking.
  • Brian Peterlin is a technical GOD. Thank you for the amazing work you did on our show.
  • Tim Soszko, what the heck kind of last name is that, Tim?! How do you even pronounce that?! SOSSZEEKO? SOSHZECKOO? I though my last name was hard to pronounce but geez! Thank you Tim for so efficiently managing the theater we performed in both nights. Thanks to your crew (we apologize for not naming names. We're dummyheads) which was so amazingly on top of things that we only noticed the blur of black T-Shirts and weird stocking caps much like magic elves saving the shoemaker from ruin. What? Shut up!
  • Brandon Campbell is a very special man and deserves a balloon bouquet or 20 million dollars.
  • Ten West received two standing ovations. Thank you audiences for sharing your love with us!
  • We are very grateful for the chance to spend time with so many of our friends from the sketch comedy world. We LOVE everybody from Chicago's The Animal Club, the aforementioned Meat & Elephant Larry from NYC, Competitive Awesome (welcome to LA gentlemen!), Noelle Romano of Becky & Noelle (Jon has another crush), The Waitstaff from Philly (Jon may be in love with Sara), Boiled Weiners from Toronto, As always it was a pleasure to see Triplette & there are many more who will be showing up next weekend.
  • We saw & chatted with (not met for the first time as was erroneously pointed out to us by Karla!) the girls from Karla , & Sam from The Defiant Thomas Bros. (we haven't met Seth in person, yet, but these guys are amazing performers), and Superpunk - we spent an hour in the green room talkin' bout nothin' with these gents. We only hope that the things we said don't end up as a joke in one of their shows!
  • Every year we meet & make great new friends. We also meet and make great new friends. That's really cool.

We could go on & on...Thanks, Chicago for an amazing sketch comedy festival!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ten West has fallen in love with the Sacred Fools Theater

Recently Ten West began a passionate love affair with the Sacred Fools Theater www.sacredfools.org
Sacred Fools is...
"One of the city’s most provocative and whimsical theater troupes!" -L.A. Weekly

Suffice to say that it's quite an impressive theater and theater company and Ten West is honored to have been a part of some of the amazing theatrical productions one can experience at Sacred Fools.

We've taken part in Ten Tops, 360 and have recently been voted back for our third Serial Killers episode. Check out the website www.sacredfools.org or ours www.tenwest.net for more info.

And we are pleased to announce that you will now be able to...
Find your inner child at Sacred Fools with two great shows in one evening!

A caged baby. Dangerous scientific experiments. A greedy Queen. A difficult pregnancy.
Moral outrage. And more. Kids notice more than you think.
Directed by Corey Klemow & Ruth Silveira

Followed by...

Vaudevillian comedy to make yoursides split and your heart hurt.
written & performed by TEN WEST(Jon Monastero & Stephen Simon)
directed by Bryan Coffee
more details at www.TenWest.net

Opening Thursday, Jan. 19 @ 8pm then running Fri-Sat @ 8pm / Sun @ 7pm
Special Matinee of I WROTE THIS!Sunday, Jan. 29 @ 2pmfollowed by Q&A with cast & crewand reception w/cookies & milk!
Adults: $15 (Matinee - $10)Kids 12 and under: Always $5
Reservations: (310) 281-8337or Purchase Tickets Online!
Come out to Sacred Fools and experience the transformative power of theater!

Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival

In November of 2005, we traveled to Toronto, Canada for the first ever Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. Our travel date coincided with Thanksgiving (the US version of the holiday) but the absence of turkey was made bearable by the warm greeting we received by some very friendly Canadians. Special thanks to Sasha Wentges & her roomate Shelley Simmons who graciously opened thier home to two strangers from LA. True to form we were very superficial with them and tried to take advantage of their warmth and hospitality at every opportunity. We broke some of their possessions, stole others and left empty bottles of botox scattered on their floors. We also left the seat up. We made LA proud!
More special thanks to Paul Snepsts and Julianne Baragar who produced the festival and Jay Morneau who ran our tech flawlessly. BIG Thanks to the rest of the staff and volunteers, too.
Our show on Sat. night, Nov. 26th was well received by the audience at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen St. Stephen spent the night there Sat. night and slept safely and soundly in a room decorated with GINORMOUS photo collages of C. Thomas Hall, Shawn Cassidy, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon etc... hanging on the walls. There was also a painting of a large naked man carrying another large naked man with a fig leaf covering his privates. Suffice to say that Jon returned to Sasha & Shelley's house for the evening.
Ten West had a great time up North and we are all the more sad that America's attempt to make Canada our 14th Colony in 1775 failed. Damn that Benedict Arnold!