Category: Sketch Comedy

Chronicling “Chronicles”

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Meeting of the Minds: Ricky Gervais and Larry DavidThough I know it’s not true, I still wonder if Lorne Michaels didn’t know the popularity of the Chronicles of Narnia rap until he read about it in the New York Times story today. The Times story covers the video’s viral success, along with mentioning how the Lonely Island dudes have used the Internet from the beginning to build their careers. (Particularly in building other rap parodies - see Just2Guyz, My Pants, Kablamo and The Bing Bong Brothers on their site.) The account of its production also makes it sound a bit like it was outside the usual gut-wrenching process SNL goes through - did it even have to be table read? Is that what it takes?

I take a different tack than the New York Times story, which makes it sound like the short was written to be aggressively nerdy. Like rappers who’ve write about the dangerous experiences they’ve had, I get the feeling that the Lonely Island guys spend their Sundays refueling for SNL by going to a movie and indulging their sweet tooth. They keep true to who to they are, which makes the bit all the funnier, rather than any exaggerated dorkiness. They just contrast their lives against a hardcore music style. (Similar thoughts play out in this Village Voice article, which talks about the merits of Chronicles as rap.)

I think a lot of the passion and excitement for the video comes from the goodwill people still have for SNL. They want it to be good. When they get something that inarguably funny, it brings all the feelings of the first time they discovered the show. I doubt SNL will ever be cancelled, with its history, it’s only a few sketches away from turning from an institution into a “beloved” institution. Chronicles is one. Now, what else you got?

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:19 AM | Send to Friend | Comments (3)

More Revealed about The Chappelle Theory

Filed Under Comedy Writers, Sketch Comedy

What is the Chappelle Theory? According to the site, It’s a film with Charlie Murphy, written by Neal Brennan (though I suspect that might just be wrong). Just got dropped this in my mail box - uncertain of source yet. Visit http://www.chappelletheory.com/next. The video links are not working (possibly because they don’t exist)

.

(Picture of Chappelle Theory movie page removed because the site is complete bullshit)

More to come. Considering I’ve heard Neal Brennan was bothered by Chappelle believing the sketches for the third season were racist, perhaps this is a pointed satire of that.

It may instead

also seems to

be the coming out party for anti-social.com (another weblinc domain), which has added this disclaimer to the site (though not in an easy place to find), asking peeps, particularly Cosby, not to sue. See my earlier speculation. It may just also mean that it’s not a film and the whole site, including this update, is a hilarious parody. (Yes, I did just swallow the red pill.)

UPDATE: Site has been changed to show the link to the disclaimer and the logo updated with the addition of word “Bullshit.” I’m impressed - they didn’t get me with the first thing, but they did with the reveal of the fake film. I’ll have to check out anti-social whenever it launches.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:58 PM | Send to Friend | Comments (1)

Chappelle Theory: Conspiracy as Marketing?

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Jason Bateman and Jeffery TamborThe Chappelle Theory website has gotten a fair amount of pass along on the Internet since Friday.  With its mentions of “Dark Crusaders” ( a cabal of (among others) Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Sharpton, and, of course, Oprah) pursuing the end of Chappelle’s sketch show because they see it as a form of minstrelsy. The silliest part of Chappelle Theory comes when the group broadcasts a threatening message to Dave’s TV and Dave’s TV only:

On Tuesday, while watching an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show, Chappelle recalled being completely stunned when Winfrey turned to the camera in the middle of interviewing Tom Cruise and said “Dave Chappelle, you should be ashamed of yourself for airing that Niggars sketch on your show this week, I’m going to make sure you never work in Hollywood again.

It was obvious that this was either the work of a crackpot or someone who has comedy writing aspirations. But after being seeing the whois registrations for the URL at digg, which point to a webshop in Philly named Weblinc. I figured out the names of the heads, and found one of them - Jason Hill - had not only posted on it once, but twice, but also posted an original digg posting on Chappelle Theory that was removed. It was also blogged early on by another Weblinc employee, Anthony Bucci .

Now I’m certain that this is a viral marketing campaign for Chappelle’s Third Season. (According to my quick e-mail correspondence with Weblinc’s Jason Hill, he claims Comedy Central didn’t hire them.)  It’s impressive to see the effort put into to push the new season, although if I was one of the viral marketers, I’d be a little uneasy about adding Bill Cosby’s name into this. He’s been known to sue. See the House of Cosbys.

Still, nice work. Rising black comics, you may continue your “negative stereotypes” without fear of “Dark Crusaders.”

Posted by Todd Jackson at 10:17 AM | Send to Friend | Comments (4)

Off Your Feet for Sit Down Comedy

Filed Under Sketch Comedy, Stand-Up Comedy

Inspired by his talk with Bob Newhart at the Aspen Comedy Festival, comedian and director David Steinberg is repeating the experience with Newhart and five others in Sit Down Comedy, a talk show about comedians and comedy premiering tonight on TV Land at 10 PM. All of the episodes can be previewed with podcasts available through iTunes, with full episodes available later as streaming video. The comics to be featured along with Newhart are Mike Meyers, Larry David, George Lopez, Martin Short and Jon Lovitz.

From my viewing of the podcast clips, you can see how Steinberg likes to keep things loose, even admiting he hasn’t done any research. So insights into the craft of comedy are more like discoveries within a mass of pretty enjoyable banter. (In other words, this isn’t Inside Joke.) Still, hearing Larry David giving his first hand account of how he famously abandoned a stand-up set before he said the first joke is pretty priceless. (it’s also kinda fun for Meyers admit, though it is practically common knowledge by now, that Monty Python is an anti-aphrodisiac.)

At times, it’s seems Steinberg isn’t interested in the details of how his guests became and learned to be comics, but rather in them performing their greatest hits (or in the case of Jon Lovitz, encouraging him to perform one of Woody Allen’s bits). But the forum is so relaxed and friendly, the subjects are comfortable enough to talk about whatever. With someone who’s an interview shy as Larry David, it’s a real opportunity. If you’re interested in the comic Steinberg’s talking to, it’s worth watching.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:35 PM | Send to Friend | Comments (0)

Kazakhstan Shuts Down borat.kz. (No, they’re not backwards at all!)

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Apparently, Kazakhstan authorities want to prove how progressive and forward thinking they are by shutting down comeidan Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat website. The site, which had a .kz domain name, is gone.  (See for yourself) I’m unfamiliar with the free speech rights in this former Soviet republic, but it’s obvious that they’ve allowed the silly jokes of one comedian to demonstrate how far they have to go as a country.

I imagine it is frustrating that Borat is the only representation of Kazakhstan life in Western media, but anybody watching Borat knows that the character isn’t real. Though like all good comedy it plays the pranks straight, the exaggerations tip it too far for anyone watching the final result to take it seriously. But the leaders of Kazakhstan have played completely into the joke. The foreign ministry of Kazakhstan even believes that Cohen/Borat is under “politcal orders” to demean the country.

Getting into fights with comedians is the worst thing the humorless can do. You’ll just look more foolish or worse, exactly like the caricature you were fighting against. Kazakhstan, stop playing Borat’s game, and move on.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 06:20 PM | Send to Friend | Comments (5)

Still Not Coming Back - Chappelle

Filed Under Sketch Comedy

Yesterday, I wondered how Chappelle would take Comedy Central running episodes of his show from sketches he abandoned. Well, according to his rep interviewed by the Washington Post:

“Comedy Central is not going to obtain Dave’s return by releasing material that he has not approved or that doesn’t meet his standards.”

So I suppose it’s not the best negotiating posture.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 04:21 PM | Send to Friend | Comments (1)

Interview with Tanner Colby, Co-Author of “Belushi”

Filed Under Improv, Interview, Print, Sketch Comedy

Belushi BookJohn Belushi, more than twenty years after his death, has finally received the biography he deserves.  Belushi assembles anecdotes and stories from John’s family, friends and collaborators in the oral history style of “Live from New York”. The form befits “Belushi” more than “Live,” fitting the form of a scrapbook where the phrase “Eat a Bowl of Fuck” is the norm. I talked with Tanner Colby, co-author of the book with Judy Belushi Pisano, via e-mail about the book and the man. You can meet Tanner, Judy Belushi Pisano and the webbed wonder Dan Aykroyd at
the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble (66th & Broadway) tonight at 7 PM for a signing/discussion.

As a comedy writer who didn’t have the chance to work with John Belushi, did collecting these interviews ever make you feel like the guy who arrived late to the party (i.e. “You shoulda seen this guy…”)?

Quite the contrary. I was six years old when John died, so the chances of my making it to that party were fairly slim. Collecting the interviews, and helping Judy set down the definitive portrait of John and his era, let me be a small part of what went on in those days, which was pretty damn great.

Obviously this book will be contrasted against “Wired,” which could have been about Len Bias or anyone else who died of an overdose. It’s not about Belushi the man or the artist. Yet, the book doesn’t shy away from John’s dark side. It’s a complicated portrait. Was there any temptation to remove the warts to balance out Wired’s portrayal?

We never wanted to remove the warts. We just made the editorial decision not to put them under a laser microscope. Everyone knows how John died. It’s old news. We chose to focus on the good things, and, given the inevitable ending, that made the story all the more tragic.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 01:45 PM | Send to Friend | Comments (0)
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