Category: Sketch Comedy
Entertainment Weekly asked Aristocrats producer Penn Jillette his top 12 comedy albums in their recent “Listen To This” supplement for subscribers. I can’t find the link anywhere on their site, so I thought I’d list them here, as I think they’d be quite educational to any comedian or comedy writer.
The interesting thing about Penn’s descriptions of the albums (which I won’t type) is that he mentions memorizing almost half of them. Though obviously doing someone else’s material is wrong, memorizing a comedy album is learning by doing, imitating. Here’s the list:
- Smothers Brothers - Sibling Rivalry: The Best of the Smothers Brothers
- Albert Brooks - Comedy Minus 1
- Firesign Theatre - Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers!
- Stan Freberg - Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
- Team America: World Police
- Phyllis Diller - The Best of Phyllis Diller
- Gilbert Gottfried - Dirty Jokes
- Martin Mull - Martin Mull & His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room
- National Lampoon Radio Hour: Best Moments
- Lenny Bruce - The Lenny Bruce Originals Volume 1
- George Carlin - FM & AM
- Marshall Dodge and Robert Bryan - Bert and I & More Bert and I
UPDATE: Entertainment Weekly finally put Penn’s Choices up on their website.
According to the paper of record, Dave Chappelle is just grand, thank you. Although from the sound of things, you leave one TV show and suddenly you have a reputation for not showing up to anything ever. There’s also a suggestion that the old canard that comics are less happy the more they get laughs might apply here. Obviously I can’t examine Chappelle’s head, but I’ve never seen him anything less than joyful on stage. The man often cracks up at his own material (in a charming way, mind you).
What follows is an account of his recent show at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, cocluding it’s less brave than the sketch show he left. The author also seems to expect that Dave would reveal on stage exactly what went on that made him want to leave something that sounds so ideal on paper (or pixels). I really don’t think this is something you can explain to people who aren’t in the situation - the biases people have about money and fame are just too great. Some have their suspicions, I have my own, but I don’t imagine this is a personal experience that’s ripe for stand-up like Richard Pryor’s freebasing or even Margaret Cho’s struggle with her identity after her failed sitcom. It’s either too involved to be funny or too much like an instinct to be defined. As long as we got Chappelle’s stand-up, I don’t miss Chappelle’s Show.
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
From Mike Gerber and Jon Schwarz, a link to a video of the eulogy for Graham Chapman as delivered by John Cleese.Years ago I remember all of Monty Python acting similarly at a retrospective at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. It’s nice to see that they maintained the same complete lack of decorum at the actual funeral. Good stuff.
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
Former SNL cast member Charles Rocket committed suicide on October 7th. Though I don’t really have much awareness of his work, I feel sorry if only because I was one of many people who made fun of his bad SNL experience (albeit in a silly headline on a semi-obscure blog). I doubt his time at SNL contributed to his decision to take his own life… he had years to get over not being the next Chevy (as he and SNL Producer-at-the-time Jean Doumanian fully expected to). But it had to suck that no matter what you did, obituaries everywhere would lead with you being the guy who got fired for saying the word “fuck” on live TV. A far more generous and deserving obituary appeared in the Providence Phoenix. (As an aside, death by cutting your own throat is horrific enough that I shiver just thinking of it.)
Of course for the curious, here’s video of Rocket saying the word “fuck” on air (Windows Media), ultimately leading to the demise of the Jean Doumanian era of SNL.
Comedy Central announced what they’re working on for 2006 (or rather, in some ways, who they’re working with). Some of the ideas sound like they’ll fall with a resounding thud (I liked Jackass, but I got all I need of “Wee-Man”), but overall there’s a lot of great potential in here. With network comedy only starting to rally back with “My Name is Earl” and “Everybody Hates Chris” and other basic cable nets failing to launch anything else comparable (or even attempting to), Comedy Central has a near monopoly on funny (save for HBO). It’s nice to see that it’s not making them lazy. Even better is they’re braving into more and more narrative comedy, a territory the networks seem to have surrendered until recently.
Highlights for me, are, of course, David Cross and Jon Benjamin teaming up for an animated series called “Freak Show” who the freaks double as superheroes. The superhero parody bit would seem mined thoroughly (in both senses), but when one of the Freaks is a Log Cabin Republican and the talent is this good, I can’t wait.
Lewis Black‘s “Red State Diaries” is a fantastic idea - him exploring the realities of what supposedly is homogenous ultra-religious territory. It’s almost Insomniac sober and with a social conscience (well maybe not too sober). I imagine Lewis is far less explosive in real life, so it should be interesting to see another dimension to the comic. I wonder if, much like the soon to premiere Colbert Report, this will keep his rants from appearing on the Daily Show.
Mike Birbiglia has a script deal for a show based on his life, including his “jealous brother.” Mike’s insanely funny with this bizarre sense of innocence that can’t be entirely true. I actually used to work with his brother Joe, so I know there’s a lot to draw from here (but knowing Joe, any jealousy is very good natured). The show’s title is “My Secret Public Journal”, based on a radio feature that you can listen to here. The first one dated 9/13 talks about the aforementioned brother.
Another script deal is with Stella’s David Wain for “Teacher’s Lounge,” a show about alcoholic, sex addict school teachers that sounded a bit like the lost and lamented Strangers with Candy. (There’s plenty of people still angry about that cancellation.) That gut reaction is assuaged by the video the idea might be based on (which can be viewed right here). The tone is definitely distinct and far more real, staying away from the surreal tone Strangers often took.
There’s alot more there including the anime parody “Ghost Foot”, Nick Di Paolo mea-culpaish “Culture Clash” and Nick Swardson in the Adam Sandler produced “Gay Robot.” Full press release after the jump.
Filed Under Sketch Comedy
Interesting articles on comedy is this week’s New York magazine. I’ll have many more comments tomorrow, but one quote from Lorne Michaels caught my eye (possibly because it indirectly crucifies my blog, as if the quote top right isn’t enough of a warning that I’m wasting my time). He says:
“I don’t want to get into any theoretical ideas about comedy. Anybody who talks about comedy for more than two minutes is not funny.”
Of course, I remembered the seminal book on SNL, the far too long out of print Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, where authors describe Lorne Michaels as:
He analyzed comedy endlessly, theorizing, with an acid head’s attention to the underlying dynamics of it all, about what worked, what didn’t, and why. One of his favorite themes was the expressionistic barrnness of the old Honeymooners set; later he would become an advocate of realism, saying that humor derived from the one off-center element in a setting of absolute normality.”
Guess you weren’t too funny in ‘75 huh, Lorne?
The 2005 Emerging Comic of New York Award nominations have been set and are now open for voting. If you lust after a particular downtown comic, this is the best way to get their attention, outside of a balloon bouquet sent to their temp job. Vote now!