Category: Sketch Comedy
When I first saw the Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav, Katt Williams impressed me in how he handled a barb targeted at him, often responding with what I read as the response of a comedy nerd – an appreciative nod.
After seeing the video below, I wonder if I misread him. He might have just been stewing and containing himself. Katt Williams, though very funny here, describes his disappointment that the Flavor Flav Roast was the “crispity crackity coon hour.”
His specific problem seems to be that much of the jokes were about Flav being black (whereas there with no jokes about William Shatner or Pamela Anderson being white). He specifically takes issue with a line Comedy Central wrote for him (which despite his dislike for, he still ended up delivering.)
It’s amazing, because I actually forgot the “flying monkey” line and thought it must have been cut from the Roast. It sounds so incendiary here. But I found the Roast open and the flying monkeys comment is at 7:10.
I’m more than a little surprised that I haven’t heard about this earlier, considering Katt’s been doing this routine since at least March. And without much notice (at least none that I can find), which is odd for a society that loves racial controversy. The Friar’s had there own bump with charges of racism during their roast of Whoopi Goldberg when her then boyfriend Ted Danson came out and roasted her in blackface. That was a huge media storm. Why isn’t the host disavowing his own involvement not one?
And stranger still, Katt Williams is reportedly close to a deal with Comedy Central, which would include a new special and perhaps a sketch comedy series, a show mentioned as a true replacement for “Chappelle’s Show.” It’s not something you’d think Williams would consider after a negative experience - an experience he’s still mining for material this past weekend.
But Williams’ final insight into Flavor Flav’s reaction to the Roast makes this deal a little more clear. If they’re going to believe these things anyway, you might as well take them for “everything”, a word that implies not just money but all the trappings around it, including power. A marked difference from Dave Chappelle.
Something that probably made Chappelle unable to see it that way was the fact that his audience, while big before, definitely broadened among white people while on the network. At that point, from how Chappelle described it, he had the ear the country for a time, and he felt some responsibility for what he was going to put into it. No amount of money was going to be worth it if it wasn’t right. If a deal is made and Katt’s show is an equal success, who’s to say he wouldn’t feel the same?
What do you think? Is Katt on target here or is he being oversensitive about the Roast? Do you see echos of Chappelle’s own discomforts with Comedy Central here?
What I love about this Olde English video satirizing Pixar films is that it makes fun of the animators for both who they are (super-enthusiastic nerdy guys who dress “fun”) and who they aren’t (people who cut corners).
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
The folks at Late Night Underground apply the scientific method to the comedy constant - Pie. Specifically, pie throwing.
Here’s a pie fight from the masters - The Three Stooges.
And that fight used to be what people thought of as fast…
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
My first thought when I saw the cold open from this weekend’s SNL: “Steve Carell’s the host. So they’re downplaying the high expectations. Everything else will look better by default.”
The opening sketch consists of Carell reciting silly dirty names in a serious Dean’s voice. That’s it. There’s really no twist to it - it leans more to the Mike Myers idea of repeating something times until it becomes unfunny and keep going until it become funny again. (You can sort of hear that ebb and flow in the laughs here.)
I don’t want to be too hard on it, but it was a sketch that made me feel like the writers already had their foot out the door for the summer. It felt like a sketch that you didn’t need comedy writers to create.
But here’s something interesting. A comment from this TV Squad review pointed to this similar Rowan Atkinson sketch compete with a snarky “I liked it better when it was…”
It is a better sketch, simply by including a twist or two, one of which is combining names to make new jokes. Also helpful, at least to me, is that a few of the names are just straight forward dirty word, without any pretentions about making them sound like names.
I think the austerity of the production helps too. If there were a bunch of actual students he was admonishing, it would get a little distracting. I remember looking to see if they used Asian or Black people for some of names recited in the SNL bit - something I probably shouldn’t be focusing on.
(Even weirder, the two sketches are almost exactly the same length. There’s only a second’s difference.)
But what do you think? Which is the better sketch? And why?
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
This Saturday, SNL did a pretty good little sketch where they parodied the 70s Game Show “The Match Game.” Except they changed the name of the show to “It’s a Match.” And they changed the names of all the celebrities who appeared on it. So you know Amy Poehler was supposed to be Brett Somers and Fred Armisen was playing Paul Lynde. Except they weren’t. Here’s the sketch:
The sketch works pretty well, but of course my nitpicky mind is wondering - why did they change all the names? I can’t really think of any other cases where SNL has changed the names of real life people to do a parody. I don’t have encyclopedic knowledge of the show, but every impersonation, even obscure ones, are usually done by name. Impersonations are one of the things they look for from new cast members. Changing names is more Mad Magazine territory.
The Match Game is a very old show that you’re parodying for a fairly young audience who are there to see Shia LaBeouf. You might need the slight name recognition to make some of the jokes land, just in case they saw a rerun on the Game Show Network.
My first thought was that maybe it was something legal. But that doesn’t really make much sense. There’s nothing defamatory here. Most of the jokes about characters are ones that the celebs did themselves - that’s part of the point of the Match Game.
So I’m leaning to it being an artistic choice. But I don’t think it really enhances the sketch. Do you? What does changing the names add to the sketch?
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
I put this is the news feed before, but I’m a little disappointed with Nerve’s list of 50 Greatest Commercial Parodies. Nerve’s a sex site, they’re not claiming to be experts on comedy. But still, it’s glaring that nothing from Mr. Show or Tim & Eric didn’t make it on there. Saturday Night Live has done some brilliant commercial parodies, but they don’t own the form as much as the list suggests.
Any future list writers should pick up the first season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, which just came to DVD last month. Here’s a brilliant ad from their first episode called B’Owl, a Cinco toy. It’s #40 on that list at least.
Bob Odenkirk is a comedy writer I admire not only for his work, but for his unflinching words about his work. It’s in evidence in this recent interview with Bob (with David Cross) on Vanity Fair on their upcoming HBO sitcom David’s Situation. The interviewer brings up The Ben Stiller Show as a show – like Arrested Development or Mr. Show – that was canceled too early by the network. Odenkirk instantly objects, stating:
The Ben Stiller Show was a complete fucking mess. Watch that show. Just watch that show. Please!
It was not a cohesive show. The voice of one scene was completely different from the voice of another.
Look, I think the show was not completely realized, and we were all very young and we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. None of it held together. I mean, c’mon, what was your favorite moment of Ben hanging out with celebrities between scenes? Was that non-stop hilarity for you? People talk about that show like it was comedy genius, but in my opinion it never even came close. It had some high points and sometimes it could be offbeat, but it was mostly a lot of comedy sludge.
And generally you can trust his own self assessments. This weekend I caught part of the Odenkirk directed “Let’s Go to Prison.” I watched the first half hour and was pleasantly surprised how much I was enjoying it. I had remembered Odenkirk admitting some troubles with the film in an AV Club Interview. I had some run and ended up recording the rest on the DVR while I was out. Picking up where I left off, the prison setting started swallowing the humor, black comedy turning into bleak comedy. I had to go find what Odenkirk said in that AV Club interview. Sure enough, he described the film as lacking a target and ending up as “darkness to no end.”
There’s a reason why people think of Odenkirk as a premiere comedy mind. He doesn’t romanticize his own writing. He’s able to be unsparing critical and at the same time incredibly productive. So much of comedy - or any bit of creativity - requires some tunnel vision and denial just to get it done. How Odenkirk can create with such a powerful critic inside is remarkable. (Not that it saved Let’s Go to Prison, but you can be sure that he won’t make the same mistake next time.)