All Drama Lineup Eludes Comedy Central Once Again in ‘06

Filed Under Sitcom, Sketch Comedy

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.

NEW YORK, October 12, 2005—COMEDY CENTRAL has an eye on the future of comedy with the network’s largest development slate to date for 2006, it was announced today by Lauren Corrao, executive vice president, original programming and development, COMEDY CENTRAL.

Projects in consideration to join a roster already boasting some of television’s most popular comedies include, among others (descriptions of all pilot pick-ups, animatic orders and script deals are listed below and on the following pages): “Freak Show,” an animated show from the minds of David Cross (“Arrested Development,” “Mr. Show”) and Jon Benjamin (“Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,” “Home Movies”) about a band of freak show performers who also happen to be second-rate superheroes; “Red State Diaries,” in which Lewis Black’s rants face reality when he takes to the road to find out what is really going on in the so called red states; “Wee on America,” starring Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna (“Jackass”) who travels to a different city or town each week to take on a lucky/unlucky challenger in a series of physical and mental challenges; and, “Legends,” a series of specials celebrating the careers and lives of comedy’s pioneers, juggernauts and biggest successes.

These new projects, along with others detailed on the following pages, join previously announced pilots from Happy Madison (“Gay Robot”), Morgan Spurlock (“Public Nuisance”), Parallel Entertainment (“Naked Trucker”) and the untitled Sarah Silverman project.

“The 2006 development slate is our largest yet and represents our determination to broaden our programming scope both in genre and talent, while continuing to appeal to our core viewers, those elusive young men,” said Corrao. “The emphasis during this development season was a real focus on creating great characters and distinct stories that will hook viewers and bring them back to the network day after day.”

PILOT PICK-UPS

Gay Robot - “Gay Robot” is a fully scripted, live-action adaptation of a character featured on Adam Sandler’s comedy album “Shhh… Don’t Tell.” Nick Swardson, who first brought the character to life on “Shhh… Don’t Tell,” reprises his role as the voice of Gay Robot, a robot created by a university professor that, after an unfortunate incident involving a wine cooler and his circuit boards, discovers he is gay. The pilot focuses on his fraternity brothers learning that robots do, in fact, have emotions which leads to a failed attempt to build Gay Robot a “date” for the homecoming dance and his subsequent turn to online dating to fill the void. Gay Robot is produced by Sony Pictures Television in conjunction with Happy Madison. The show will be written by Nick Swardson and Tom Gianas and star Swardson as the voice of Gay Robot. Executive producers for the pilot are Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo, Doug Robinson, Swardson and Gianas.

Sarah Silverman project (untitled) - Created and executive produced by Sarah Silverman, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (“Heat Vision & Jack”), the Sarah Silverman pilot is a half-hour single camera narrative starring Silverman, who will portray a detached and eccentric woman with no discernible goals and whose tale will be told through an array of comedic scenes and songs that compose a single day of her life. The show will be based on Silverman’s unique socio-sexual stand-up comedy. Heidi Herzon (“Jesus is Magic”) will also executive produce.

“Public Nuisance” - Morgan Spurlock, star and creator of the hit documentary “Super Size Me,” is bringing his irreverent tone and band of activist pranksters to COMEDY CENTRAL. Each week viewers will follow him as he selects another hot social topic to explore with animations, sketches, pranks and fun events. Some of the topics include sex in America, celebrity culture and the separation of church and state. Created by and starring Spurlock, “Public Nuisance” is produced by Warrior Poets and co-produced by Sony Pictures Television. Spurlock will also serve as executive producer.

“Wee on America” - It’s time for the little man to finally strike back. The very little man. “Wee on America” is a half-hour of comedy and stunts that plays out across the country as viewers hit the road with “Jackass” star and little person Jason “Wee-Man” Acuna as he takes on “full size” America. It’s the classic battle of big versus small as Wee-Man and a co-star show up on the doorsteps of overconfident challengers all around the land, ready to man-handle them all in a series of physical and mental challenges and prove that size really doesn’t matter. Produced by Three Ball Productions.

“Naked Trucker” - “Naked Trucker” is a variety talk show pilot based on the long-running Los Angeles-based stage show “The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show,” featuring Dave “Gruber” Allen (“Freaks and Geeks”) and David Koechner (“Anchorman,” “Saturday Night Live”). It will be developed at the COMEDY CENTRAL Stage in Los Angeles. Naked Trucker has a country/rock art-house feel, featuring, obviously, a naked trucker and his ne’er-do-well sidekick, Gerald “T-Bones” Tibbons, backed by a hell-raising band. They sing songs and weave tales of being on the road in pursuit of the American dream. J.P. Williams and Norm Hiscock are the executive producers.

“Not Another High School Show” - The writing, producing and directing team behind “Not Another Teen Movie” (Mike Bender, Neal Moritz and Joel Gallen) will reunite to produce a small screen version that will spoof all those teen TV dramas from “Dawson’s Creek” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “The OC.” Produced by Sony Pictures Television.

“Red State Diaries” - Lewis Black’s rants face reality when he takes to the road to find out what is really going on in the so-called red states. Produced by Apostle, Sony Pictures Television, Jeff Stilson and Lewis Black.

“Half Way Home” - “Half Way Home” is a half hour narrative following the lives of a dysfunctional group of misfits who have been released back into society and who currently live in a halfway home. The pilot will be executive produced by Damon Jones, Oscar Nunez, Kevin Ruf and will star talent including Nunez, Ruf, Jessica Makinson and Regan Burns.

“Culture Clash” - Nick DiPaolo is coming out from behind the standup mic to put his comedy and attitude to the test. Each week he will immerse himself in one of the cultures and/or stereotypes he has made fun of throughout his career.

“Legends” - COMEDY CENTRAL presents a series of specials celebrating the careers and lives of comedy’s pioneers, juggernauts, and biggest successes. “Legends” will explore one comic per special, the first of which will focus on Rodney Dangerfield. Produced by Sue Wolf.

“Case Closed” - A scripted parody of the true-crime documentaries that litter the cable landscape. Created by Brian Silbert and Sandy Silverman of Attention Deficit Productions (HBO’s “Sketch Pad”) and Jeremy Rowley. Silbert and Silverman will also serve as executive producers.

ANIMATICS

“Freak Show” – David Cross (“Arrested Development,” “Mr. Show”) and Jon Benjamin (“Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,” “Home Movies”) bring viewers this animated show about a band of freak show performers who also happen to be second-rate superheroes. When the world-famous justice squad rejects a mission from the government, the freak squad is on the case. Siamese twins Tuck and Benny, The World’s Tallest Nebraskan, Primi the Premature Baby, The Bearded Clam and The Log Cabin Republican face off against some of the world’s most notorious second-rate villains. “Freak Show” is being produced by Radical Axis (“Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Squidbillies”).

“Ghost Foot” - In a violent, futuristic world, a magical hero will arise to fight evil wherever it is found. And we would love to bring you that story. But because of budgetary restraints and a bitter legal dispute, we cannot. So instead, COMEDY CENTRAL is bringing you the much more reasonably-priced “Ghost Foot” and his “Way of the Anime.” Written and created by Steve Kerper (HBO’s “Hard Core TV”), this parody of Japanese action cartoons (or “anime”) promises convoluted storylines, hyper-violent battle scenes and, of course, a magic foot. “Ghost Foot” is being produced by Kerper and Asterisk (“Saturday Night Live,” COMEDY CENTRAL’s “TV Funhouse”).

SCRIPT DEALS

Teacher’s Lounge- From the writing team of Matt Ballard and Chris Crockett along with David Wain (“Stella,” “Wet Hot American Summer”) comes this scripted show about the hilariously awkward lives of public junior high school teachers in suburban Kentucky. The principal’s an incompetent drunk, the science teacher is a closeted lesbian, the coach is a pervert and the art teacher is banging the English teacher. For once, the adults make the students look well-adjusted. Produced by Principato Young Entertainment.

“Doc & Chains” - Written by John Gemberling and Curtis Gwinn (“The Man Show”), “Doc & Chains” brings to the small screen television’s first “zombie-com”—a farcical comedy about a scientist and a biker who are forced to live in the same house after zombies overtake the planet. When this “odd couple” isn’t trying to repel the zombie siege, they are trying to learn how to live together. Who will they brain first—the zombies or each other?

“Used” – Inspired by the John Landis-directed documentary “Slasher,” “Used” immerses the audiences in the cutthroat world of used car sales, focusing on a motley group of salesmen, most of whom, despite their faults, we come to love. Viewers will see America’s competitive, dog-eat-dog free market capitalism at work in a microcosm. The production of “Used,” which is a half-hour semi-scripted show written by Ron Zimmerman, will take over an actual, struggling used car lot somewhere in the heartland. The cast of actors will become licensed to sell cars and the cameramen will disguise themselves as a documentary film crew.  Produced by Landis, Zimmerman and Mark Wolper.

“My Secret Public Journal” – Based on stand-up comic Mike Birbiglia’s popular syndicated radio feature, “My Secret Public Journal” stars the popular comedian as himself, in stories based on his own life experience. Whether he’s dealing with his unsupportive parents (who think comedy will provide a good foundation for a career in advertising), his jealous brother (who secretly believes himself funnier), or his girlfriend (who thinks a romantic weekend getaway is best spent at an ultra-religious Bed & Breakfast), Mike always proves that nice guys don’t necessarily finish last… they just finish third or fourth. Written and created by Birbiglia and produced by Rick Dorfman of Relevant Entertainment.

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