By Mike The Knife – MOG.Com – March 20th, 2009

      One of the most gratifying things about my multi-tracked career is the ongoing opportunity to develop relationships – and, in some cases, enduring friendships – with some of the most talented people on the planet. You may not immediately know their names, and they may not be A-list celebs, but I assure you that they are prodigiously gifted in their respective fields – and I’m always confident that they’re going to delight or surprise me when they put their skills on display.

      For instance, I was ready for a fine time on Wednesday night when I attended the live chat show hosted by mercurially-witted comedian, actor, TV host, and all-around pundit Greg Proops. Greg and I have been pals for a couple of decades now, and I knew that his semi-monthly production at the Largo theater space on La Cienega Boulevard in Hollywood attracted some seriously hip guests and an equally cool audience.

      Despite minimal advertising, the place filled up for a bill that featured Greg talking with comic actor David Cross of “Arrested Development” and “Mr. Show” fame; musician Jon Brion, who has produced recordings by Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, and Rufus Wainwright; and, last but not least, singer/songwriter/guitarist/drummer Dave Grohl of the wildly popular rock bands Foo Fighters and Nirvana. Yes, that Dave Grohl. And this is a typical roster for one of Greg’s Largo affairs. Previous guests have included Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Flight of the Conchords, Jason Schwartzman, Russell Brand, Joe Walsh, Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Joan Rivers, Jeff Goldblum, Kathy Griffin, Lewis Black, Patton Oswalt and John C. Reilly. Not too shabby.

      Raised in the Bay Area, Greg initially found success in the San Francisco comedy scene, and, as a corollary, he appeared scores of times on the same radio program that foolishly gave me a regular forum to air my thoughts on film, music, comedy, and nightlife. I shared a common (sarcastic) sensibility, a love of arcane trivia and pop-culture references, and a healthy disdain for convention with Greg, so we got along. I was rooting for him when he flew off to the U.K. to appear at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in Scotland. The acclaim he earned there led to a series of guest shots on British television, and eventually a regular slot on both the U.K. and U.S. versions of the long-running improv-comedy vehicle “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” He’s hosted a couple of American TV shows, albeit merrily exploitive ones: “VS.” and “Rendez-View.” He currently plays the role of publisher Max Madigan on the Nickelodeon series “True Jackson, VP.” And so on.

      His numerous credits aside, stand-up comedy is Greg’s true forte. He still tours the club circuit when he has the opportunity and the mood strikes him – and his chops are deadly. Following Jon Brion’s amazing, spontaneous one-man guitar-and-piano rendition of “Free Bird” (inspired by an audience member’s shouted request) which served as an overture, Greg hit the stage for a lightning-quick 20-minute monologue that bounced from contemporary politics and the crippled economy to his recent adventures performing in Sasketchewan, Canada and interacting with the local rubes.

      Greg’s subsequent conversation with David Cross was a pleasingly wry chunk of banter that culminated in Cross confirming the plans for an “Arrested Development” feature film. Then, Grohl came out, and the excitement ratcheted up even more.

      If you’ve seen him in concert as frontman of Foo Fighters and listened to his between-song patter, you know that Grohl is a clever, funny guy. None of that could prepare you for the sheer entertainment of his interview with Greg. Simply put, Grohl is a fabulous raconteur.

      Among the tales told was one about two loony encounters with prole-rocker Eddie Money (at the Grammys, then on a plane). Another concerned a literally shocking meeting with Gene Simmons of KISS. The show-stopper was a story about an unexpected meeting with U2 drummer Larry Mullen, back when U2 was on their “Zoo TV” stadium tour and Grohl was on drums with the groundbreaking grunge-rock trio Nirvana. The yarn climaxed with Mullen entering U2’s dressing room and discovering Grohl there with his pants down around his ankles and a gigantic wheel of cheese in his arms. Ridiculous. Hilarious.

      Speaking of climaxes, Grohl ended his segment with an off-the-cuff musical collaboration. First, he read the addled, self-aggrandizing lyrics to two songs by the lumpen heavy-metal band Manowar as Brion tickled the piano keys. Then, the duo – Grohl on drums and Brion on guitar – brought down the house with a bombastic, impromptu cover of Eddie Money’s best-known single “Two Tickets to Paradise” that had bits of Rush, Foghat and Edgar Winter chestnuts tossed in for good measure. (All of the bands had been referenced in Grohl’s segment with Greg.) Spectacular.

      Greg said his thanks and good nights, and the crowd dispersed, except for a large contingent that waited in the lobby area to meet and greet the performers. After a short catch-up with Greg, I decided to head out rather than hang out and speak with Grohl. As I made my way to the exit (past a group of young actors from a current network TV procedural drama, some fledgling comedians, and a wizened session musician I recognized), I was stopped in my tracks by the beaming visage of a chic-looking young woman. Could it be? Was it really her – my biggest musical crush of the past few years?

      I went up to her and asked if she was that singer I like so well. “It depends,” responded the quite-lovely-in-person Inara George of The Bird and The Bee, tacking on a smile. “Oh, you’re definitely her,” I said, then revealed how sorry I was that I missed the duo’s most recent gigs on the West Coast. “That’s too bad,” she told me. “We had a wonderful time.” “Next tour,” I promised.

      I added that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the YouTube clips of her and her partner Greg Kurstin performing the Hall & Oates hit “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” in concert, and she confided that an entire TBATB album of Hall & Oates covers might be in the works. I endorsed the idea, and threw in a little comment about her popularity at MOG.com. She expressed her gratitude and suggested that she might surf on over and take a peek at the site.

      We ended with what would usually be the introductory handshake. She was as cordial and gracious as could be. And I departed the venue, as if on a cloud.

      All things considered, I’d call that a decent night out.

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