Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Last Comic Standing 2 is all over. But some comics still have axes to grind about it. Over at cringehumor.net you can watch Fahrenheit LCS2 (third item down), where comic Sharon Houston overlays comments that slam reality TV editing onto show footage. Also included are some unnecessary barbs at two other female comics. What does someone else’s age or accent have to do with your act. Particularly when, by your own admission during the show, your set bombed. All of the protesting functions on the conceit that people actually believe LCS is the absolute authority on who’s funny or not, when everyone really knows it just a gussied-up game show.
With all the griping about featuring midgets and strippers instead of her, Sharon Houston still does have one good point. She claims the producers’ editing took out all the punchlines from her act, which if true, might make her look less funny than she was and, I suppose, affect her career. A far better video would have been to show her act as shown on LCS2 and then show the same set intact from another performance so audiences can judge for themselves about reality TV editing. All the rest of the sniping makes this legitimate complaint sound like sour grapes.
Filed Under Late Night
Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert reinforces the stereotype of comedians as popular, bullying jocks in high school… in an alternate universe! Gamespy reminisces about 30 years of Dungeons and Dragons and guess who’s a fan! (Confession: so were we.)
Filed Under Sitcom
NPR has an interview with Carl Reiner where he talks about his long career. Check it out, if you got the time.
Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy
Todd Glass has begun to sell out comedy clubs as a result of the appearances on Last Comic Standing. The Los Angeles Times article refers to how Todd tweaks the stand-up profession too. His act was my favorite in the LCS Wild Card shows with his magician-secret-revealing set-ups. “You know what guys do that’s a little cartoonish? Or maybe guys don’t do this. I think I might have made it up for my act…” It’s a strange kind of meta-comedy that works for me.
Filed Under Late Night
A University of Michigan study has linked voter apathy to late night TV. The report links lack of voting with viewership of Letterman, Leno, etc. There’s also the corollary that watching programs like Oprah makes young adults more politically optimistic as well as more likely to vote.
I have to say I can see why this would be true. Seeing things like a crowd of country music fans willingly join in a chorus of the anti-Semitic “Throw the Jew Down the Well” on Da Ali G Show doesn’t make me excited for America’s future. But I don’t think watching Oprah would make me any more excited about the political process. I had a pessimistic viewpoint on politics beforehand and don’t really believe in easy, weepy solutions. With satire at least I know what’s wrong with the country. And I can choose my candidates accordingly.
One of the things I wonder is what results you would get if you fragmented the survey out further, dividing it between shows like Letterman and Leno and shows like The Daily Show and Real Time with Bill Maher. I imagine that the former set, where comedy that addresses politics rarely dives into specifics of policies, gives the impression “they’re all crooks!” Whereas comedic shows like The Daily Show and others, which focus a bit more on politics, actually motivate voting.
Syracuse professor of being quoted in magazines and newspapers about TV Robert Thompson described comedy in a recent article as the “fifth estate.” I definitely see these shows in that light, where they keep our journalists and politicians honest. If some voters get disillusioned… well, maybe if we could have kept our estates to four in the first place, maybe we wouldn’t need satire as much as we do.
Filed Under Late Night
Late night underwent a sudden shift last week when Craig Kilborn announced he was leaving The Late Late Show. I’ve never been a big fan of the man… the smugness always wore on me. He did seem perfect for the first incarnation of the Daily Show which was more news parody than news satire. He was a modern Ron Burgundy, your local news anchor transported to basic cable.
But I never really saw the point of having him host The Late Late Show. Talk shows at their core are about the person behnd the desk. There never seemed to be much to Kilborn other than some good hair and a desire for a good time. He just never did much for me (or anybody else, if ratings are to be believed). I never really saw him moving on to 11:30 and I imagine CBS didn’t either.
Of course now there’s lots o’ handicapping about who’s taking the spot. The Post puts forth the inspired notion of Amy Sedaris. As a huge fan of Strangers With Candy, I can’t even fathom what an Amy Sedaris talk show would be. She’s an incredible interesting person, but her appearances on Letterman, though charming, play so wacky I have a hard time seeing CBS brass embracing the idea. I’d love to see it if they did.
The Daily News throws out five contenders... some more crazy than the next. Chris Rock? Please. The guy’s been there and done that with talk shows. And he’s bigger than 12:30 AM. If he wanted to do it, he would have gone to Fox a long time ago. Vince Vaughn is a very interesting idea. But I most like the suggestion of Sarah Silverman. She’s incredibly engaging and funny and deserves a bigger forum. I don’t know if her style of comedy would play anywhere but HBO. But again, I’d love to see CBS give it a shot.
With Conan’s contract up at the end of the year, there seems like there could be room for a lot of new late night chatfests. Whoever’s the number two choice for The Late Late Show will likely get Conan’s spot if he bolts for someplace like Fox (or rather bolts for an earlier time, like 11PM). The whole field is completely unpredictable, particularly when you remember that despite all these mechanations, Jay Leno will still probably have the highest late night ratings. Kinda sad, huh?
UPDATE: The headline above is a reference to this infamous Esquire article. (Sorry to overexplain, just want everyone in on the joke.)
Filed Under Movies
You know how people complain when comedians try serious roles? All kinds of bitchin’ and moanin’ that demands comics to “just be funny.” Well, there one guy who never waivered from the comedy path. Chevy Chase. Sorta proof you can’t win with audiences, huh? Granted, calling most of Chevy’s movies from ‘85 on comedies is being charitable to the order of Mother Teresa.
Entertainment Weekly profiles Chase, alternatively claiming that he’s loved and hated every paragraph or so. The article concludes that the man is just one good hit from a comeback. (Hmmm, maybe he should try, I don’t know, a drama?) Scanning his imdb entry, I was surprised to see he recently did a film directed by former Onion Editor-in-Chief Scott Dikkers called Bad Meat. I don’t think that’ll be his comeback hit, but I enjoyed Dikkers’ Spaceman and like the idea of Chase doing a black comedy featuring people who live out their days in dangerous, finger-severing meat-packing plants. Check the trailer.
Though the EW article focuses on Chase’s movie career, the two moments that appear to be most embarrassing to Chase were on TV. The first being his quickly-cancelled talk show, which was apparently meant to be a sketch show in the tradition of Ernie Kovacs with “spitting nastiness.” Never seen the actual program, but Chase was completely lost inside the talk-show format. Venomous former SNL Head Writer Michael O’Donoghue, in wicked glee, kept a tape of it by his bedsite. Trio, you have your first program if you want to do another failures month. (BTW could someone start a Classic Comedy Channel, where we’d see Kovacs, Sid Caesar, You Bet Your Life, Flip Wilson, old Carson eps… well, that’d just be swell.)
The second was Comedy Central’s 2002 Roast where none of Chase’s friends showed up and he had to hear cruel slams from relative unknowns who had grown up laughing at the holy trinity of Caddyshack, Vacation and Fletch. Apparently, Chevy turned to the camera and stated “That hurt.” Too bad that roast wasn’t broadcast live, huh?
Considering we got few original SNLers left, I’d love to see Chevy do a role that wasn’t Chuck Griswold or Fletch that reclaimed his comedy legacy.
And then, it might be fun to see if he could fuck it up again, like Travolta did.