Category: Sitcom

Preview: Flight of the Conchords CD

Filed Under Records, Sitcom

Flight of the Conchords CDEven before winning a comedy Grammy for their EP “The Distant Future”, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords were at work on their self-titled debut album. If they can wake up not-with-it Grammy voters to award them for an EP, what will they get for a full length CD? Here’s a preview track which might be familiar to those who watch their HBO sitcom, as it was featured in Episode 10. It’s called “Ladies of the World.”

“Flight of the Conchords” will “drop” in stores on April 22. More info available at the SubPop site.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 06:13 PM | Comments (1)

Bob and David Back on HBO

Filed Under Sitcom

HBO has picked up Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’s comedy pilot with shooting to start in March. (Apparently, the pair were so excited by the concept - they cranked out two scripts, allowing HBO a chance to pick out the one they thought would be the best pilot.)

This is possibly the best news for comedy geeks Seeing the two creators of the brilliant sketch comedy program “Mr. Show” back together for a regular TV series has pretty much been a fevered dream since the aforementioned “Mr. Show” ended it’s run nearly 10 years ago.

The upcoming series’ name and concept is yet to be revealed. David previously described it as a “non-traditional, yet traditional, yet not really, sit-com.” But they did give out a small preview with the following telling script except:

DAVID: “He burps the Star Spangled Banner. You people love that shit.”

It’s gonna be good to have them back.

Update: Here’s the series concept and working title, via an interview with David on MTV Movies Blog.

It’s currently called “David’s Situation” with Cross playing himself. In the show, the comic has quit show biz and is working for inflight magazines. He lives with two roommates in a gated community, each the polar opposite on the political scale - one left and one right. David: “And I’m right in the middle.” (You can probably tell now which roommate he was talking to in the quote above.)

The show will make fun of sitcom conventions. I’m less certain that, making fun of sitcoms is almost as well-trod territory as the original clichés, but if anyone can find a fresh take on them it’ll be Odenkirk and Cross. More promising to me is that the pair intend to keep the sitcom act break structure and break them up with fake commercials, which will allow the pair to exercise their considerable sketch comedy chops directly. Looking forward to embedding those.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 09:33 AM | Comments (2)

An Office - Writers Strike Substitute for “The Office”

Filed Under Comedy Writers, Sitcom

As a show of solidarity with the Writers Guild of America, Improv Everywhere’s Charlie Todd has remade The Office as if it was a real documentary. Without writers, the house of cards (held up by the suspension of disbelief) doesn’t last very long.

Dig the Dwight-like character’‘s reaction to his own behavior. The great irony: an improviser making a video about how important writers are.

You can see a second episode of “An Office” here.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

“30 Rock” Urban Legend Simply Untrue

Filed Under Sitcom

The Original Cast of 30 Rock including Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch
Jesse Thorn, America’s Radio Sweetheart, makes a great point today when he talks about Urban Legends of “30 Rock”. In particular, he mentions how the party line of the show was that it struggled at first, that it simply wasn’t funny. He rightfully insists that’s simply not true, that TV critics and others say that to cover their own asses for not getting into the rhythms of the show at first. The American version of “The Office” received similar treatment after its successful first season. Neither had perfect first episodes but all of the elements were there to make something great. You just had to be open enough to recognize it.

It’s really a common problem with comedians and comedians. Because eliciting laughter from someone requires trust. It’s something that Comedy Death Ray’s Scott Aukerman and BJ Porter talk about in my interview with them, saying:

“So much of comedy is feeling comfortable with the point of view coming at you. So I understand it. There’s people who I find hilarious now, but the first couple of times I saw ‘em, I was like “What is this? I don’t get it at all.”

It’s true of stand-up performers and it’s true of sitcoms. We have to know them a little bit and develop a sense of who these people are and what they’re about. The intersections of stuff we all think is funny is far less that the stuff we all find dramatic or sad. To bring people to your particular mindslice takes time, time for bringing the audience to the specific way you’re going to be funny. It’s why almost every situation comedy really needs a few episodes on it’s feet. Not just for ratings but for audience to gain a connection with it.

I have a perfect example from my own life. The first time I saw “Strangers with Candy”, I didn’t get it. I was repulsed by some of the intentional ugliness in the world and the surreal nature of many of the jokes. It felt completely unfamiliar to me and I dismissed it with a “that’s stupid.” A couple of years later, after hearing a new friend bemoan its cancellation, I got my hands on tapes of the first season and wondered what was wrong with my younger self. “Strangers” was a real discovery - something totally different than what I was used to. And I simply wasn’t open minded enough to get it then.

Can you judge instantly? I still do - I watched only about half of “Carpoolers” this week and decided it wasn’t for me. Maybe there will be more to it, but I felt like I had seen quite a few of the jokes coming from a mile away.

(Example: The son doing an interview over the web while not wearing pants. Can you fill in the blank of what happens?)

So my rule is: If it’s not surprising me, either good or bad, it’s not worth watching.

Do you have any sitcom or show or comic that you thought was not funny and then years later, discovered you were wrong? Who or what were they?

Update: Apparently, I’m entirely wrong about the consequences in the scene from Carpoolers. The son gets the job anyway. Shows that maybe I might need to take the lesson from the post. (Or at least watch a whole fucking episode before I decide.)

Posted by Todd Jackson at 05:48 PM | Comments (7)

The Sarah Silverman Program: An Organic Sitcom?

Filed Under Sitcom

Though Sarah Silverman is willing to go pretty much anywhere for her comedy, it’s not what I love about her program. What made the first season charming is the authentic eccentricity of it - the way it’s set at her own apartment (recreated on a set after her landlord kicked the production out), her dog is her dog, her sister Laura is her sister. Though it’s not really revealing about the comedian - she’s not one to really let me talk about her or her comedy too seriously - the closeness to her own life make the show feels like its own world, with its own twisted logic. That’s hard to do in six episodes.

That’s a little bit why, though it’s premiering tonight, I’m not as excited this episode as I am the second. The premiere revolves around abortion - Silverman having multiple ones and getting involved in an anti-abortion organization. Though it’s definitely territory not touched in TV, but the second episode involves Silverman being a sex offender. To dogs. All prompted by some curiosity of what her dog Doug could find so interesting about his own ass:

It’s the kind of situation that only an insensitive innocent like the Silverman character can fall into. I immediately feel how it fits into the world created last season. I hope the first episode is equally organic in how she falls in with an anti-abortion group. The Sarah Silverman Program premieres tonight on Comedy Central at 10:30PM.

After the jump, a clip from tonight premiere…

Read More »

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

New York Television Festival: Family Values

Filed Under Sitcom

Among the pilots in competition in 2007’s New York Television Festival is a potential gem from a couple of Robs from the Daily Show. Rob Riggle stars in the pilot for a sitcom called “Family Values” about a man who serves as the custodian of the family for America but can’t keep together his own clan. Daily Show writer Rob Kutner penned it. Here’s the trailer:

You can see the full show tonight at 7PM or tomorrow at 3:15pm at New World Stages. There’s a lot of other great shows too. Check the full schedule here.

Full disclosure: Kutner’s a good friend of mine. But I don’t know Riggle.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)

Garth Marengi’s Darkplace

Filed Under Sitcom

A friend of mine today passed this along in the email today and it’s already become my new favorite obsession. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was ostensibly independently created by Stephen King-esque horror author Garth Marenghi (Matthew Holness) and his publisher Dean Learner during the 80s but never saw the light of day until television faced a severe creative drought. This fictional set-up leads to a couple of wonderful conceits about the show :

  • Plotting, direction and tone that matches and mocks the tone of many a disposable 80s adventure show. Anyone who wishes they made more of Ben Stiller’s lost pilot “Heat Vision and Jack” will appreciate this instantly
  • Intentional incompetence littering the entire production including some pitch-perfect good bad acting - particularly on the part of Richard Ayoade as the character Dean Learner who is playing the character of Thornton Reed, the hospital administrator. Not only does he have to keep that house of cards together - he does to make it look like they’ll fall at any moment.

The fake amateurism lingers into the direction as well—in the first episode there’s a shot where the main character walks into a graveyard that takes 20 seconds longer than it should. Those twenty seconds absolutely killed me. I can see why this might not be for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to see if you’re one of those who will dig it. First episode below:

Darkplace did have a US run last year on the Sci Fi channel, but - alas - I never heard of it ‘til now. If nothing else, Darkplace redeems the last name Holness in the eyes of any comedy fan. Holness family - consider the scales balanced for the crimes of Carlos Mencia.

Posted by Todd Jackson at 07:32 PM | Comments (3)