With a pit-bull-like hold on their branding, TBS is adding a late night stand-up show entitled “The Very Funny Show”, all of which will be filmed at Zanies Chicago during the upcoming Just For Laughs Chicago. Tim Meadows, not typically known as a stand-up, will host the ten episode series, each episode featuring three comedians. Names include John Mulaney, Steve Byrne, Nick Thune, T.J. Miller and Matt Braunger. From the press release and Zanies website I’ve only been able to compile about 22 of the 30 comics that’ll appear (that list after the jump).
It’s been pretty obvious for a while that TBS won’t let Comedy Central own the stand-up game anymore. The question I’ve always been concerned about is that have network execs learned anything from the ridiculous ubiquity of stand-up on TV in the late 80s / early 90s, which pretty much killed the form for a while.
I think the performers are definitely sharper now, more seeing this as an art in itself rather than the sitcom stepping stone. And there’s a lot more diverse voices in that community, so there’s far less likelihood that every performers going to be seen as interchangeable. Plus content restrictions are far looser, leading to a lot more territory for a comic to cover. Although, that does suggest to me the airline food joke of this generation could end up being comics using the word “rape” in a bit.
But this is a little bit out of the hands of the comics themselves. Presentation is going to be a big part of whether stand-up on TV can avoid that again. As someone who looks as thumbnail of stand-up comedy videos every day, I can tell you that a lot of stand-up looks the same. That’s the beauty of it in many ways - one person and one mic. But there’s a lot that go inside that - audience reaction shots, close-ups, editing, angles, focus, etc. None of this should just be monkeyed with for the sake of making something look different. But I fear in a visual culture, that audience will judge stand-up harshly simply because it looks the same. Execs should look at how to present a comedic voice, not just throw a few performers on a stage and call it a day.
Zanies, the club where they’re shooting “The Very Funny Show”, doesn’t look too glitzed up judging from the web videos I’ve seen (never been myself, so I could be wrong). It seems like a nice departure, particularly if the lights can stay a little low. But a more interesting difference about “The Very Funny Show” that may create a break from the way stand-up is seen on Comedy Central is the fact that they’re charging for tickets. Comedy Central doesn’t do for that for either their Comedy Central Presents series or Live at Gotham. I think it always creates a different vibe when an audience pays money for a ticket – perhaps they’ll be more demanding, perhaps they’ll see the comics as more experienced hands. It’ll change the feel of the room a little, maybe enough that folks might notice at home. Let’s hope that’s a good change.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Every month Los Angeles’s Candor Entertainment holds a stand-up comedy event that’s “invite only.” I’ve been asked to come, but as I’m in New York, it’s a little difficult to check out.
Fortunately for me and the invite-less, clips from their shows have gone up on Hulu. Here’s an exclusive clip from the next set of stuff that’s to go live on Hulu on Tuesday, but is of course live now. It’s from Adam Ray. who I’ll forgive for the backwards baseball cap since he has a nicely tragic response for those who demand a joke from him upon discovering he’s a comic.
Just For Laughs is making its big U.S.A. invasion in just a month, putting down a flag in Chicago and establishing what’ll probably become America’s premiere comedy fest almost by default.
I’m planning on going next month and these are some of the shows I’m looking forward to checking out:
- The local Chicago comics who I don’t see. Living in New York, I’m blessed that big names end up doing a lot of spots around me. So traveling to see a comic who I could probably see do a similar show down the block for me is a little ridiculous. So I intend to explore Chicago-style comedy, simply because it’s a vital community that I never get to regularly experience. This includes stuff like Don’t Spit the Water, Schadenfreude Rent Party and Alone: Chicago’s Best Solo Acts. If you’re in the area and don’t get to see some of these big comics, definitely go. But keep an eye on the great stuff in front of you after they leave. I can’t.
- I hope I can balance out the time to catch both showings of Green Room with Paul Provenza, where he talks to comedians about comedy in a funny, engaging way that reveals a lot about the art of being funny. This manner marked his directorial debut “The Aristocrats” and will probably be a big component of his upcoming book Satiristas. It didn’t get too comedy-wonky, just comics talking like comics to each other.
- Alright, here’s one I’ve checked out last year in Just For Laugh’s Montreal counterpart, but Patrice O’Neal’s Positivity is worth more than a second watch. He’s an incredibly conflicted and complex comedian who tells incredibly blunt jokes. Here’s my review from last year. (Buy Tickets for this show)
- I’m, of course, a terrible comedy nerds if I didn’t check out Bob Odenkirk’s Best of Sketchfest and then Odenkirk reunited with Mr. Show partner David Cross for Bob, David and Friends (Buy Tickets for this show).
After the jump, you’ll find my map of the comedy fest…
Australian comic Jim Jefferies comes via the U.K. to deliver his first HBO special tomorrow, May 16 at 10 PM.
Here are audio clips from my interview with him, which will be updated as I edit them.
British Comedy Clubs vs. American Comedy Clubs
Spoiled Big City Audiences
His Problem with Overly Intellectual Comedy
This short vid from Casey Wilson makes a point about modern criticism in the internet age better than that entire two-hour movie “Heckler’” from that no-talent ass clown mind Jamie K… oh, crap.
Part of me wishes they’d used the actual stupid comments from people, but really, why do you want to give them any satisfaction? Even when you’re making fun of ‘em. Let them stay as anonymous as their screen names.
The aptly-named Comedy Nerds have made a discovery that’s quite welcome. The State’s “Comedy for Gracious Living” - the lost album recorded by the group for Warner Brothers records. It’s apparently been available via torrent files, but the slightly-less-aptly-titled blog Unheard Music (only less aptly-titled since “The State” album isn’t entirely music) has posted it in a place that the far less web-savvy can get to it. If you’re a State completest or curious, visit Unheard Music for that link right now.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Someone has put up some video from MTV"s Half Hour Comedy Hour, circa 1989, back when we first peddled the nonsense that comedy is the new rock & roll. The best stuff from it is Tom Kenny, pre-Mr. Show and pre-Spongebob. You can see the fit for both in this clip: