The hardest thing about this year’s Comedy Awards to me is that at least two separate things loom so high over everything else that happened that I have a hard time seeing why others with win.
First, for movies… Bridesmaids. Which was not just funny but also an impressive portrait of a character who is profoundly sad because of the loss of her business and her romantic relationship. It’s got fantastic gross out scenes but is actually wildly funny at the same time that the characters have grounded and real feelings. I didn’t see everything nominated this year, but Bridesmaids was able to balance such hard comedy with a character’s emotional life is enough for me to suggest a sweep of most of the movie categories (save for Performance by Actor, heh).
The second, in TV and Stand-Up… Louis C.K. With “Louie”, C.K. always surprises. I never know what I’m going to see from week to week but I’m always delighted as it unfolds. And as a stand-up, C.K. has very few challengers… particularly with how he changed the game with his own self-released special on the web. Almost everything he was nominated for, save Comedy Actor, he feels like a lock to me. With him calling his win last year “the greatest moment of the shittiest night of my life”, I’m looking forward to seeing the visible discomfort at the adulation (as a comic should be).
I voted in this year’s Comedy Awards and though it might be obvious how I voted after what I said above, I’m not sure if I can tell you all my picks. But I’ll tell you my right/wrong ratio for the official categories at the end of the night.
6:46 OK, we’re starting soon… I did a little tweeting before it. Might do a little more when I got some acidic, non-pertinent snark. Read my tweets here.
6:52 Doug Herzog, Comedy Central President, is bravely doing warm-up… promising it all gets funnier afterwards. Doug is also detailing the The Comedy Fund, which is the foundation that helps comedians who are having major life transitions… (i.e. no health insurance and very sick among other bad things.) Perhaps a Sarah McLachlan-esque poignant montage of the faces of sad and confused comedians will come during the show? Fingers crossed!
7:16 And we’ve started… Andy Richter welcoming us “From the Comedy Award capital of the world!”
7:18 And we start with the award that will have the most obvious winner. Chris Rock on nominees for Stand-Up Specials: Three are funny. One used to be funny. One never was funny. Does he mean it? He does. Anyone care to guess which ones? Nominees: Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater, Norm Macdonald: Me Doing Standup, Patton Oswalt Finest Hour, Colin Quinn Long Story Short, Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts.
Winner: Louis C.K.... wearing a tie this year! He’s changed! Apologize to all the girls who cheered Daniel Tosh, says he wants to fuck him too. I’m 1 for 1 so far.
7:25 Will Arnett presenting the award for TV Writing. But first, let’s look at the schwag bag… which comes with a live turtle. Aww. Nominees: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live
Winner: 30 Rock. Yeah, it’s still pretty amazing. But as good as the always surprising Louie? Not to me. 1 for 2.
7:31 Maya Rudolph talks about online shopping addiction, perhaps her online shopping addiction before introducing Best TV Performance by an Actor. Nominees: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock; Ty Burrell; Modern Family; Louis C.K., Louie; Steve Carell, The Office; Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Winner: Ty Burrell. With a very heartfelt speech. Definitely deserves it. And if I had any brains while filling out my form, I’d be 2 for 3. But I’m actually 1 for 3. Yikes…
7:37 Now, Best Film Performances by an Actress. Chris Parnell hasn’t seen any of these nominees, because he watches porn parodies exclusively. Nominees: Jennifer Aniston, Horrible Bosses; Cameron Diaz, Bad Teacher; Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids; Emma Stone, Crazy, Stupid, Love; Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
The clips of the actress will need to be bleeped. Them some filthy laddies.
Winner: Melissa McCarthy. I picked Kristen Wiig… I’m afraid I judged this beyond the comedic appeal, basing it on the big arc of the movie rather than the explosive appearance… So I’m 1 for 4. Maybe this comedy thing isn’t for me…
Melissa McCarthy wasn’t there to accept. But Norm McDonald did, or rather didn’t, bringing on a Native American in full headdress who, in a wonderful cringe-worthy way, spoke to the rape of the land and how they can’t join in the laughing. It’s a very dark bit and I was laughing hard… but it’s not for everybody. Plus: super old reference.
7:46 Tracy Morgan is giving up show business and joining the Secret Service. But first, the nominees for best Sketch Alternative series: Childrens Hospital; Louie; Portlandia; Saturday Night Live; Tosh.0
Winner: Louie....who points out he won an award from another black guy. Maybe I should have looked at who would give the awards before I picked. I’m 2 for 5. Also, wonders, like a lot in the press room, why Louie is considered a sketch show.
7:51 Tracy Morgan takes back quitting. Not interested in taking bullets, even for a black president apparently. Now, Club Comic. Nominees: Ted Alexandro; Hannibal Buress; Pete Holmes; Anthony Jeselnik; Moshe Kasher; John Mulaney; Kumail Nanjiani; Chelsea Peretti; Amy Schumer; Rory Scovel
Winner: Hannibal Buress Great choice. The one I should have picked. 2 for 6. Hannibal points out that none of the other nominees showed up, but he still deserves it because he’s the “dopest” out of all of ‘em. Also, the caucasians split the white vote. Then plugs his tour dates. (Which you can see here: Hannibal Buress Tour Dates)
7:57 Adam Scott with the nominees for Best Director of a Comedy Film: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; James Bobin, The Muppets; Paul Feig, Bridesmaids; Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, Crazy, Stupid, Love; Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Winner: Paul Feig... Paul decides to direct someone else to do his acceptance speech. He brings up Will Arnett rather than using Adam Scott, who’s on stage. “Just went a different way.” Arnett reads the speech, including a brilliant advance of Feig’s wife (with suggestive statuette gestures from Feig in the background). Feig’s wife can’t hold it together… a highlight of the show.
Oh, I’m 3 for 7. Woo!
8:06 A tribute to SNL’s Weekend Update… with Colin Quinn, Chevy Chase and Norm MacDonald all at the desk. Chevy Chase kind of rants about how it all begin and pretends(?) that he doesn’t know the current host of the segment. “Oh yes, Seth Myers… with the big smile.” Colin reads his speech he would have read if he won for stand-up special. Norm mentions that he was told not to prepare anything. Little Feather shows up talking about Wounded Knee again. There’s an attempt by Chase to get Jon Stewart on stage to arm wrestle. Norm points out that without Chase, nobody else would have got to do it. And then, mentions how the segment was good at taking down those full of themselves… sort of sounding like a slam on Chase…
It’s a bizarre, surreal segment, almost trainwrecky… They cut to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at one point pretending to sleep. It’ll be interesting to see what of the intro makes it to air. Then clip package… of all the moments you love. No musical guest this year. So this instead…
8:34 After a lull, Key and Peele bring us back with Obama and his anger translator. Anger translator making a big deal about how he needs million cause he running against a millionaire. Plus, where’s all the black people at?
8:38 Between Two Ferns segment with Zach Galifianakis previewing the special that will air before the Comedy Awards. Galifianakis asks Richard Branson about working with “Hot AIr Baboons.”
8:41 Key and Peele in the press room are planning a web series to be responsive during the election with a prepared set for Obama and Luther. They can shoot and get it up hopefully same day. Almost like a war room, but funny.
Also, the cast of Happy Endings giving award for best viral original… which I didn’t vote on.
8:46 Rob Riggle claims he’s totally prepared. And will stop anybody who rushing the stage. Looking at you, Wiig. Nominees for Comedy Series: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Happy Endings, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation
Winner: Parks & Recreations That makes me 4 for 8. So deserved… “Excited to join the ranks of the one show that has won this award.” Then they thank all the husband and wives and “everyone who is a nice person.”
8:52 Rob Riggle introduces nominees for Animated Comedy Series: Archer; Family Guy; The Life & Times of Tim; The Simpsons; South Park
Winner: Archer 5 for 9! One of the co-creators slipped while getting the award… ouch. (in the Press room he joked that Riggle tazed him, but he apparently to have enjoyed the drink) “Jessica Walter couldn’t be here. H Jon Benjamin simply won’t be here.”
8:58 Patton Oswalt introduces Robin Williams winning the Stand-Up Icon Award. Williams riffs off the awards shape… and mentions that he never worked previous winner Eddie Murphy. Points out he started with only getting three minutes at an open mic and then. Lucky… just like a leprechaun… save he snorted his pot of gold. Praise for current comedy: Patton Oswalt, Louis C.K., Chris Rock and shouts out to: Jonathan Winters (“the Buddha of Santa Barbara”), Mort Sahl and Sid Ceasar.
9:10 Ed Helms introduces nominees for Late Night: The Colbert Report; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Late Show with David Letterman; Real Time with Bill Maher
Winner: The Daily Show Richter says it all “What a shocker. It’s the god damn Daily Show again.” Why didn’t I pick it? 5 for 10. All the correspondents accept while mentioning their crazy agendas…
9:16 Robin Williams in the press room, mentions that doing the Comedy Cellar is like playing “Lenny Bruce, the home game.”
Ed Helms presents Directing for Comedy Series. Nominees: The Colbert Report; The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; Late Show with David Letterman; Real Time with Bill Maher
Winner: Louie. 6 for 11. Louie thanks his kids. Not by name. “because of the Internet.” And his kid’s mom. Which is classy and nice of him.
9:20 Comedy Screenplay. Nominees: 50/50; Bridesmaids; Crazy, Stupid, Love; Horrible Bosses; Midnight in Paris
Winner: Bridesmaids A great speech about friendship from Kristen Wiig and Mumolo which degenerates into a physical fight over who gets to take the award… I’m 7 for 12 now!
9:22 Chevy Chase gives a Best Friend Award to Joel McHale, which is a hug. Nominees for Stand-Up Tour: Dave Attell; Lewis Black; Louis C.K.; Kevin Hart; Jerry Seinfeld
Winner: Louis C.K. “This is stupid now. I hate this. Everything if you keep doing it starts to suck.” Then he walks off the stage. Brilliant. 8 for 13.
9:28 Louis C.K. in the press room on why he went to the web: Cites the small market for ‘em. “Nobody cares if you do a stand-up special. They say, yeah we’ll take it.”
9:30 Nominees for TV Comedy Actress: Zooey Deschanel, New Girl; Tina Fey, 30 Rock; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live; Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Winner: Amy Poehler First thing she’s ever won besides Stoner of the Year. Then very sincere that the job is her award and about her love for the comedy community, especially the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Poehler doesn’t seem to far from Leslie Knope
And oh, 9 for 14… not too bad.
9:36 Jim Carrey says “Hello, room full of people with sick moms.” A little upset that he’s not nominated for Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Not personal. Here’s all the animal-hating nominees for Best Comedy Movie.
Winner: Bridesmaids Feig is accepting. Feig says one thing he wanted to ask the women, “Can I see your boobs?” Ugh. Sort of a false note.
9:45 Robert DeNiro honoring Don Rickles for the Johnny Carson Award… Mentions that after he worked with Don, Scorcese has worked with Leonardo DiCaprio for five films and DeNiro zip. Introduces Jon Stewart… mentions seeing RIckles in 1982 at Carnegie Hall. Stewart went backstage at the show. RIckles said to Jon, “Stewart, smart? Now they won’t know you’re a Jew.”
Jon reveres Rickles for turning the equation around on the audience, essentially asking what’s so special about you that I have to please you. Stewart points out it’s appropriate for Rickles to get Carson award since nobody made Johnny laugh harder.
Rickles is like Louis C.K. at first. “I wanna go home.” Rickles praises Carson, saying he had a magic to make you look good. Praise for all the late night hosts, especially Stewart for his grace… Very heartfelt speech. You’ll see a lot of the “Mr. Warmth” tonight… but ... “I see a lot of people in the audience and I realize I’m the biggest name here.”
As always, that last moment in front of the Johnny Carson’s Curtain make the night for me… validating why there’s a Comedy Awards.
I’ve been more than a little curious to see what the results would be for “Funny People”, the Judd Apatow film which explores the life of a stand-up comedian (Adam Sandler) after he has a near death experience. Apatow’s been pretty straight forward that this is a “serious movie”, even though it’s exploring stand-up to some degree. The first trailer just went up today and it definitely tips to the serious side. Look:
That didn’t have a ton of laughs, huh? There’s some good stuff in there - the bit with his creepy doctor plays quite well. But the balance is in telling the dramatic story here (possibly pretty much all of it, as trailer are wont to do these days).
One of the things often said about comedians doing dramatic work is the danger that the audience will expect something with a larger laugh-per-minute scale than they’re going to get. If that’s what this trailer is trying to circumvent, it’s a success. The only question is Apatow’s desire to make it “twice as funny” as his previous works, which I imagine is something we’ll see as more of the stand-up shows up (particularly the contempt for Aziz Ansarai “Raaaandy”).
My favorite part about the trailer is that, at least for now, there’s no suggestion that there’s going to be any sort of easy lessons about life and stand-up (a la some folks much-hated film “Punchline”). There’s definitely a chance that sort of facile parallel will be there - almost dying in life and dying on stage. But my read suggests that this is a story that could happen to a lot of people, it just so happens since these people are actually professional funny, it allows jokes to fall in there naturally, cause that’s what these people do. It’s something that Robert Schimmel, who’s actually dodged the cancer bullet, does pretty well.
Hopefully we’ll see more of the funny side of things soon. “Funny People” opens July 31st.
A while back I wondered how Adam Sandler would be constructing an act for “Funny People”, Judd Apatow’s upcoming film about stand-ups. Specifically, I wondered if his stand-up would be based in a character different from himself and how he could workshop that material. This quick summation in Entertainment Weekly gives an answer:
Adam Sandler’s ran longest and came with a disclaimer: Jokes about being single were based on his character and not Sandler’s real life (though the distinction was less clear with later rants about fame, the paparazzi, and living large).
So it was: Just tell people. Of course, this is at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Los Angeles - a venue full of comedy nerds, making is pretty performer friendly. You can say to folks like that: “Hey, I’m not me, I’m somebody else and the jokes are from that vantage point.” And they’ll follow that flow. I’m a little curious if Sandler did (or would do) this if/when he did a drop by at the Improv or the Laugh Factory.
Of course, that doesn’t matter much now as they’re starting to shoot soon. In fact, they’ve begun looking for paid extras to be audience members. If you’re in Los Angeles and are curious, the info is after the jump.
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If there’s anybody who deserves a hit movie, it’s David Wain. His Wainy Days web shorts have been nothing short of genius and “Wet Hot American Summer” still holds up as probably how to extend and make a spoof of a movie genre a winning movie in its own right.
I’m hoping “Role Models” brings his sensibility to a larger audience. It’s got a pretty high concept premise - two guys become big brothers to kids to avoid going to jail. Though it’s perhaps framed like a conventional comedy, this red banned trailer shows how eccentrically dirty the film will be. Plus, Paul Rudd and Superbad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse!
After the jump, the poster for “Role Models” (courtesy of VideoGum), which while not funny, kinda shows that at least their marketing this in a way that might trick people into seeing something that looks good.
The project been out there before, but there’s been some buzz now that Russell Crowe himself said to an Australian paper than he’s working with a writer on a biopic about legendary outlaw comedian Bill Hicks.
My first thought, and perhaps yours as well, when I heard this was “Hmm. Can I think of a role where I thought Crowe was particularly funny?”
Nope. As always, I can see that as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Obviously we have no idea if portraying someone as darkly funny as Hicks is in Crowe’s wheelhouse but if it is, what an explosive and enjoyable surprise it’ll be. Another advantage, Hicks, though a funny man, wasn’t a clown. He’s a serious figure in comedy and probably the kind of comic who’d be a great fit for a more dramatic actor.
But what makes me optimistic is that Crowe and his screenwriters seem to want to work closely with those who knew Hicks best, specifically Hicks’ frequent collaborator Kevin Booth. Here’s a clip from a syndicated radio show hosted by Alex Jones where Kevin talks a bit about the film. The Hicks stuff starts at about two minutes in. (If you’re a Hicks diehard, the metaphorical “burning of Rome” talk that surrounds it may be something you’ll appreciate as well.)
That March of 09 date mentioned in the clip seems a little more unlikely, as Crowe’s next film Nottingham has been delayed in shooting. And of course, still no script.
Crowe must have felt pretty confident about his ability to portray Hicks to actually consider it being the equivalent to a concert film, but fictionalized. I assume that’s what is meant by “performance piece.” I’m glad that they are going a bit more traditional route however - seeing something like that would just make we wonder why they didn’t release an actual Bill Hicks concert film. It’s a approach that rings of (probably mistaken) hubris.
There are some pitfalls to a more traditional take of course… I fear the story would focus far too much on Hicks’ last year of life as he became sick and ultimately died from pancreatic cancer. It’s certainly a big element of his life, but Hicks was not a big walking statement on cancer. I’m not even sure if he ever did any stand-up material on it. (Anyone more versed in Hicks’ oeuvre want to enlighten me?) Any HIcks story should celebrate how he lived, not dwell on his death.
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After first reading about the movie project Religulous, I wondered how the “let people hang themselves” style of Borat director Larry Charles will work with Bill Maher, a much blunter comedian. We have some indication of that with the trailer, which doesn’t really have much in the way of the slow roll pranking, but leans far more to Maher interviewing religious figures.
For more detail on what the film might be, here’s the full story about Larry Charles from Esquire.
With the news that Judd Apatow is doing a movie about stand-up comedians and that it’s not necessarily a comedy, some naturally are wondering if we’re essentially going to get a remake of the 80s film Punchline.
I’m no so worried. If there’s anybody who I’d trust make a film about stand-up, it’s Judd Apatow. Apatow has been a passionate fan of the art form since he was a kid, interviewing stand-ups like Steven Wright and Jerry Seinfeld for a high school radio show, then taking those lessons himself to become a stand-up himself.
Besides regular Apatow repitore member Seth Rogen (who also took to stand-up from a young age), the film will star Adam Sandler. Though some might sneer at the casting, Sandler was a roommate of Apatow’s during his stand-up days and I’m sure the pair look back on the time fondly. It should make for a more personal, affecting film… which seems to me an important ingredient if you’re attempting your first drama, albeit a hilarious drama.
An interesting point from the video is Sandler talking about having to write an act again, as he hasn’t performed stand-up in 10 years. So they definitely want the stand-up to be as real as possible, with material that’s been tested with a live audience.
But obviously Sandler will be playing a character so he’ll have to be material that works for both Sandler’s character and Sandler the movie star who just dropped in to do a spot at the Improv.
Plus, I kind of wonder if Sandler’s previous stand-up style would work for him today. Here’s a sample of his stand-up before his SNL/movie days.
It’s very regular guy but refracted through someone who’s more than a little off. A lot of the jokes are universal, but Sandler (and likely, the character Sandler will play) is in a different place. An audience will know that Sandler lives a different life now than that guy who talks in an awkward monotone. It’ll be interesting to see what he’ll craft…