Louie Anderson hosts Stand Up Boot Camp

You might be able to convince aspiring stand-up comics to lay down $400, but you can't teach someone to be funny. Stand Up Boot Camp was after something more, however, and its organizers convinced 58 hopeful comedians to take the gamble last weekend. At this three-day boot camp, the line between psychotherapy and humor was razor-thin. But what do you expect when Louie Anderson is in charge?

Inside Acme Comedy Club, the comedians were asked to share some of their darkest experiences. A former pizza delivery man told his fellow comics about surviving an alcohol addiction. A middle-age guy talked quietly but with conviction about his fight with diabetes. On stage, a young woman revealed the source of her humor: a father who parented by angry diatribe.

The touring workshop arrived in Minneapolis on the back of a hometown comedy legend. Anderson, who grew up poor in St. Paul, has spent 31 years deconstructing his inner demons. Over three eight-hour days, the group got a crash course in marketing, heard from guest speakers (including Pat Proft, writer of the "Naked Gun" movies) and learned about "the psychology of success." Anderson began with a simple question: "How many people have stage fright?"

Almost everyone raised a hand. Soon, individual campers were brought onstage. "Everybody has died up here," Anderson told them. "But nobody has physically died, that I know of."

One student didn't fare so well. The man, a lanky IT consultant, had never been onstage. He was sweating, his mouth was dry. Co-host Kyle Cease tried to get him to open up, but he kept stalling. Anderson was visibly annoyed. "Get someone else up here, he doesn't want it," he said before leaving the stage himself. Cease kept going with the man. "There are no rules here," Cease said. "End your rules. Do you think Richard Pryor had rules?"

Later backstage, Anderson said: "Some people don't want to go as deep as I want to go. I want them to get the idea that they can be OK with who they are, that if they're damaged, they can make a life out of it."

For Anderson, the boot camp seems to have affected him just as much as it did his students.

"I'm at the end of the first important part of my life," he said. "I think I'll have a different kind of career now. I think I've been preparing myself for this. You don't become an artist unless you're trying to say something. Comics are trying to get somewhere. And that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to help them get there. That's exactly it."

  • Tom Horgen

McClellan's new palace

Former First Ave manager, DEMO nonprofit founder and McNally Smith College of Music instructor Steve McClellan has been trying to bring more live music to downtown St. Paul for several years, but his dreams of doing it in a refurbished Palace Theatre have been stalled by the economy. He's going ahead and using the theater's name anyway at a downtown sports bar, creating a venue-within-a-venue that he's calling the Palace Theatre at Wild Times Bar, 33 W. 7th St. Shows are all free and start around 8 p.m. Friday features the Beggars and Gary Pruitt & 2 1/2 Brains, while next Friday (April 9) will bring the Mad Ripple and St. Dominic's Trio. Saturdays will feature the super-fresh-blood acts DEMO supports.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Preview of 'Heaven'

With the release of its fifth album, "Heaven Is Whenever," now almost a month off (May 4 on Vagrant Records), the Hold Steady has sent out two of the new tracks to strategic hype-igniting locations. The nearly all-metallic "Rock Problems" -- another tale of late-night partying gone awry -- is now streaming at NYMag.com. And the more anthemic and vaguely gospel-ish "Hurricane J" can be heard over at Pitchfork. Sounds like the band hasn't mellowed with age, and it will definitely have to replace keyboardist Franz Nicolay, who announced he will be touring as a member of Against Me! as well as doing solo dates this year.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Robinson to design for Beyoncé

Last weekend, Robyne Robinson made a big announcement via her Facebook page: "Guess who's now designing jewelry for Beyoncé????" Yep, the Fox 9 news anchor -- who moonlights as a jewelry designer for her Rox line -- will create custom gems for the pop star. Robinson apparently met Scott Nylund -- design director for House of Deréon, the fashion line started by Beyoncé and her mother, Tina Knowles -- through a mutual friend a few months back. Robinson played phone tag with Nylund (an Owatonna native) and sent him some samples. Nylund reportedly told Robinson, "Miss Tina loves your jewelry," and sent the biggest pieces to Beyoncé on the road. They arranged a meeting last week, and Robinson came loaded with her latest designs. Though the plan was for Robinson to collaborate on a jewelry line for House of Deréon, talk of Beyoncé's upcoming appearances in April took over. "All of a sudden dude is like, we want you to design for Beyoncé on the red carpet," Robinson gushed.

Robinson left armed with swatches, photos and sketches of Beyoncé's upcoming award show dresses for inspiration. It should make for a busy spring for the designer, who's also creating a custom line for the Voltage show at First Avenue on April 16.

  • Jahna Peloquin

Soundset '10 lineup set

As expected, Rhymesayers revealed the lineup and other info for its third annual Soundset festival, happening May 30 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. Atmosphere, Brother Ali, P.O.S. and most of the rest of the hometown crew will be at the fest, and so will Method Man & Redman, Hieroglyphics featuring Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischief, Casual and Pep Love, Freeway with Jake One, Wiz Khalifa, Cage and DJ Rob Swift, among many others. Tickets go on sale Friday morning through Ticketmaster for $35. The concert site is moving from the Canterbury parking lot to a grassy field that was used in previous years as a parking lot (no kidding), which will also be the location for the local stops by the Lilith Fair (July 18) and Warped Tour (Aug. 1).

  • Chris Riemenschneider

'Real World' auditions

The 25th season of "The Real World" is coming ... and you might be a part of it. An open casting call will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Sneaky Pete's. Applicants are asked to bring a recent picture (you won't get it back) and a photo ID. You must be between the ages of 18 and 24 when you apply. Those selected will be roommates for five months in a location that has yet to be revealed. Executive producer Jonathan Murray says they're looking for "characters from real life; people with strong personalities who are unafraid to speak their minds."

  • Neal Justin