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Transforming trouble and pain into laughs is the alchemy of Comedy. Maria Bamford is one of the best at this in stand-up and now, in the forthcoming "Lady Dynamite" from Netflix, we'll see her do it in a more narrative form. The trailer above just dropped yesterday.
It's "Semi-Autobiographical" (her Target spokesperson campaign looks to be suggested around :39) but also takes to flights of fancy (getting slapped by a hampster!). She's partnered in this with Mitch Hurwitz of Arrested Development which is exciting because he already played with the streaming form with that sitcom's last season. The trailer also gives us glimpses at a deep bench of guest stars and cameos like Sarah Silverman, Bridget Everett, Ana Gasteyer, The Lucas Brothers and Jason Mantzoukas.
"Lady Dynamite" begins streaming on Netflix May 20th.
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.
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)
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.
Filed Under Sitcom
OK. Now we know the consequences if we don’t watch this show. So we all know where we need to be in March of next year, right?
Filed Under Sitcom
Starz new comedy “Party Down” has been a lot of fun, despite my initial worries about it being yet another show about show business. But the show, which revolves around a crew of a catering company who all have other aspirations (or once had them, in one case), nicely reflects the outer edges of the Hollywood dream. Meaning: you might as well not be having one. There’s a little talk about audtions and scripts but very little about showbiz egos, power or anything of that sort.
The amazing cast helps a lot here to including the State’s Ken Marino as Ron, a former druggie now cleaned-up and responsible for managing the employees. Even his aspiration to be a franchise owner of a all-you-can-eat soup and salad restaurant seems as far away as selling a script or getting a role. Also a part of the crew is Jane Lynch who has pretty much stolen scene from every great comedy from the past five years.
Plus, being on the premium cable channel Starz, they can get away with a bit more than your network sitcoms. But there’s a slight test of that tonight as the show tilts into risky territory with the grew catering the after party for a porn industry award show. A real danger for cheap gags ahead there.
Despite advertising they can’t show you much of this episode in their own promos, Starz seems to have no problem throwing a lot of it up on the old YouTube. This clip below made me think they might avoid those traps. It’s the aforementioned Ron getting asked about becoming a porn star because of his large penis, but the producer is played as more of an investor than a sleazeball.
We’ll see tonight when Party Down airs on Starz at 10:30 PM.
You can find the find the full first episode of the show after the jump.
Filed Under Sitcom
HBO’s given the second season premiere to Funny or Die to share for free a month early. I had actually forgotten where we had left the boys, so I was glad for the reminder at the beginning. Murray’s a successful manager of the The Crazy Dogggz and the Conchords are his second most important clients - i.e. not important at all.
I know the show is meant to be a bit more episodic, but I was actually a little bummed to see everything returned back the way it was. Not that there isn’t a lot to do with the regular situation of Bret and Jermaine being managed by an equally unsuccessful Murray, but having a successful music group to pay against might have made for some fun storylines. Particularly with Mel, who changed her allegiances (right? the burning of the merchandise played to me like jilted Dogggz fan rather than loyal Conchord booster). It probably be a little difficult to have Todd and Demetri for those episodes anyway.
But that’s the balance of something like this - the fun isn’t necessary in plotlines - it’s in letting the little world get broken and fixing it again every week. It even become part of the joke, with references to Bret leaving the band every week. You have to pick your playground.
Filed Under Sitcom
A good way for two comedy nerds to kill an hour is to argue if the American or British version of The Office are better. Though most of my love is for the American version, one of the few flaws in it I think are the result of how prime time is divided. For something like the Office, a 30-minute block just won’t do and the hour is just too much (mainly because it has to be structures to split in half for syndication).
I think many could argue that the British version has more depth and more pain, but from what I’ve seen of the deleted scenes from the American Office, they got it. They essentially are writing the British version and then having to slice it out.
What’s brought this to my mind isn’t newly-posted producer’s cut of last week’s “Frame Toby” episode. Though it definitely demonstrates some of the flaws of trying to keep the show contained to thirty minutes with commercials time. At a little over 14 minutes in, having Toby siting at his desk, wishing that he had punched Michael is a wonderful little joke fully within the character’s pathetic sadness and instantly relateable. Just these brilliant little moments - which to me are what The Office is all about. They give me that recognition laugh that’s kind of rare in TV where I go, “Yep, I’ve been there.”
What brought this to my mind mostly was this cut scene from the previous episode where Pam shows Jim her design class work from New York. Here it is:
Now so much with the jokes in here, other than anybody-could-make-it joke that Jim does about sleeping with the professor. What I love about is how the little scene highlights that talent is really hard to direct, to put in the right place. That being good at something doesn’t mean you know exactly what to do with it.
But even more frustrating to me is how, as it stands with the just TV watchers, Pam isn’t good at art. They didn’t catch this little moment which tells you that Pam is talented and makes her decision to stay in Scranton and not explore more questionable. (Sure her art school buddy said she was good, but that scene could just as easily read that he’s trying to get with her).
It’s something that I’m sure they’ll address in a later episode, but I’d rather have it now in all its complexities.