Cast and Crew Make National Lampoon Movie Anything But “A Futile & Stupid Gesture”

Filed Under Humor Magazine, Movies

One of my first tasks when I realized my Comedy Nerdom was hunting down as many issues I could of the National Lampoon on eBay. But I was more than a little sketical about the appeal of a movie about the founding of the National Lampoon. And I have a comedy blog.

But every bit of casting I've heard about the upcoming Netflix film "A Futile & Stupid Gesture" — based on the Josh Karp book of the same name — gives me hope. Let's run through them:

  • Will Forte will play National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney
  • Domnhall Gleeson (of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will be co-founder Henry Beard.
  • Joel McHale will play Chevy Chase (1 of the 2 people who could possibly play that role... the other being Will Arnett)
  • John Gemberling of Broad City will be John Belushi (I'm hard pressed to think of an alternative for that role) (the Wrap)
  • And finally today it was annouced that Thomas Lennon will play comedy writer Michael O'Donohue. (Hollywood Reporter)

Most of these people are professional funny people... so they don't have to be looped in on what it is to be a funny person for a biopic. But more important is that the film will be directed by David Wain from a script by Michael Coltion and John Aboud. 

That's a big deal because Wain, as a founding member of the State, knows what it's like to create a humor instituion right out of college. And as Harvard Lampoon alums, Colton and About know more a little of how rare and hard it is to create a humor institution with their attempt at creating Modern Humorist in their post graduate years. Everyone is close enough to the material to get who Doug Kenney was because they've lived a bit of it themselves, albeit at a smaller scale.

So at the very least we won't be getting someone treating comedy like Aaron Sorkin did in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Perhaps they might be too close to the experiences of the material to do it justice, but my National Lampoon-collecting cynical Comedy Nerd heart is starting to believe. 

A Futile & Stupid Gesture starts production later this month.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

More Than a Mouthful of Shame: Jim Norton

Filed Under Stand-Up Comedy

Esquire has a great story about Jim Norton which explores some of the contradiction that makes him such a brilliant stand-up:

Norton's early stint in rehab was the turning point when he first got sober and learned the power of self-discipline. Which, frankly, sounds like the a boring Faustian bargain, but is one all the same: He will have a career pushing the envelope in standup and calling out society on every little hypocrisy he notices, and in exchange he will give up any possible fun. No boozing or drugs, of course. But also no cake or rich food, and yes to gallons of green juice. No to smoking, yes to seeing a personal trainer daily. 

The amount of self-knowledge and self-awareness that Norton has for handling addictive qualities is incredible considering so much of his early material is based in self loathing. A comedic persona sure, but it can't be far from the man himself. Self loathing can lead people to indulge. It can also drive success. Somehow Norton has manage to keep the disgust without it swallowing him up. 

<a href="/comedians/tour_dates/jim_norton">See all of Jim Norton's upcoming dates for Mouthful of Shame here.</a>

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

Now that Comedy Central is 25, Time to Look Back at Its Care Free Youth

Filed Under Animation, Other

My only complaint about Julie Seabaugh's Oral's History of Comedy Central is that, by nature, you have to have cursory looks over some of the defining shows. The Daily Show or South Park are particularly ripe for Oral Histories themselves. But this is a quibble on a good read. And it's only part one. Still more to come.

Amazingly, there's still parts of Comedy Central's back library that still resonate and that they're willing to potentially resurrect... an intriguing tidbit from the article:

Katz: Dr. Katz has such a loyal fan base, even now. At one point not so long ago Comedy Central approached Tom Snyder and myself to make webisodes of the series. The idea was they would introduce all the [young] comedians in Comedy Central’s stable. They backed out at the last minute. But I expect it will be back somewhere in some form.

I love this, not only for the possibility of more Dr. Katz, but just the optimism of that last sentence. Streaming + Content Demands + Nostalgia has turned the "goobyes" for a lot of belowed shows into "see you laters."

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

April Fools, the Day Comedians Stay Home (Save for One)

Filed Under Funny 2.0, Sitcom

I've increasing come to view April Fool's day as heavy drinkers view New Year's Eve... it's amateur night. Today is Corporate America's Open Mic Night.

(Shudders)

There's going to be a few laughs today, but there's a lot of misses. And at least one disaster - see <a href="https://gmail.googleblog.com/2016/03/introducing-gmail-mic-drop.html">Google Mic Drop.</a>

After that debacle, Google might want to follow their X group for future Coporate Open Mic Nights. Get a professional in there to make the jokes. Hence Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch in the video below. (Helps that Silicon Valley comes back to HBO for a third season on April 24th)

Posted by Todd Jackson at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

Wanna Play? Welcome to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Filed Under Late Night

The question of what Stephen Colbert is without the pundit character of "Stephen Colbert" was asked a lot in the run up to the new Late Show. One essential element of The Colbert Report was play. Viewers were invited to play along, to "Yes And" the character of "Stephen Colbert." Become one of the "heroes", to join the Colbert Nation and celebrate Truthiness.  To watch the show was to play a character too. The Colbert Report audience was a part of the character.

The audience for Late Show will be different. The Colbert Nation throws open its doors to a broader group of entertainment-seeking immigrants. The invitation to play with Stephen is extended to more folks. Folks who might be very different from those who played with "Stephen Colbert." 

There was no clear thesis statement like "Truthiness" in the first episode of this new show to unite the new audience. But there was lot of individual elements that I felt added up to more than themselves to reflect a new viewpoint that celebrates differences.

The show was book ended by two songs. The first being pure patriotism - Colbert singing the Star Spangled location with other Americans in locations across the country. The second, "Everyday People" with a variety of musicians, underlining the lyrics of "different Strokes for different folks" and "we've got to live together." Beyond these two songs however, are Jon Batiste and Stay Human as the house band. The group regularly created what they called "Love Riots" - spontaneous musical parties on street corners and other unlikely locations. Musically the thesis is clear. A Late Show should bring people together.

Loving one another despite out differences is something that came through in one key moment last night. During Colbert's interview with Republican candidate for President Jeb Bush. Colbert refererences his own brother Jay, who was attending in the audience. Colbert mentions he and Jay do not see eye-to-eye politically. Jay shakes his head in agreement. Colbert follows that with "But we love each other", causing Jay reach out his arms in expression of that love.

Lest anyone thinks this neuters Colbert, the host used this moment to ask Bush to detail how he different from his own brother George politically. It's probably the critical question that Jeb needs to answer to reach that moderate middle of the country that isn't reflexively one party or another. It was a brilliant bit of verbal judo.

Even with his competition, Colbert's Late Show is going to be about love. While checking out the new TVs on set, Colbert set his own DVR to record Jimmy Fallon's show for the night. In a short coda for the first episode, Colbert and Fallon get dressed post show in the same locker room. Just two guys who happen to work the same shift. 

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:40 PM | Comments (0)

Hypothesis: Rick and Morty Season Two Trailer

Filed Under Animation

I'm constantly behind on my comedy viewing. My TiVo, even with a external hard drive expander, groans at 90+% continuously. I watch very few things at the moment unless it's extremely timely. 

Rick and Morty is one of those rare shows. Endlessly inventive with ideas casually tossed out that could be the entire basis of other shows. But the events, no matter how crazy, have weight and consequences... we're technically in our second Rick and Morty-verse (the first is a post apocolyptic mutant hellscape after a pheromone experiment gone awry).

So I'm very much looking forward to seeing how many "Verses" we'll go through for Season 2... we got at least one episode that looks to be a split screen showing the events in two verses simultaneously. Who knows? Maybe they'll both go up in horrible, hilarious fashion.

Rick and Morty returns to Adult Swim July 26th at 11:30pm

Posted by Todd Jackson at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

See Eric Andre Live. Take Part in (and Win some of) the Madness.

Filed Under Live Events

If you've seen Adult Swim's The Eric Andre Show, you might - just might - be prepared for what will happen on Eric Andre's live tour.

Even if you're not prepared, you can still win something for each of the 11 dates. Each of the prize packs include a Poncho, T-Shirt and Mask. And the final grand prize is an iPad preloaded with a special message from Eric Andre. Enter using the handy widget below. For more on the tour check out the dates below or visit ericandretour.com.

The Eric Andre Show Live Tour Dates

Posted by Todd Jackson at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)
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