If you’re in New York, you should by all means check out Sketchfest NYC. But if you can’t, here’s a clip from most of the groups so you can experience it virtually or interwebby or whatever adjective you’d like to use. If you are going to be there, here’s what you’re in for tonight.
Super Deluxe debuts the first installment of “Derek and Simon” - the Bob Odenkirk directed and produced series. “Derek and Simon” started off as a TV Show for HBO, turned into a pair of shorts for Sundance after the network failed to pick it up. I like how “Derek and Simon” has a Maxim-ish bros-before-hos feel and then turns into something far more nuanced and uncomfortable. The silent movie style titles are also right—for a reason I can’t put a finger on.
I love how the buddy “forgot” that little detail about his girlfriend - it looks like a regular world, but logic doesn’t get in the way of a good joke (and even becomes the foundation for another).
Despite my own disinterest in its frequent high vote getter Mr. Sprinkles, this first season of Acceptable TV has been a great joy to watch. There’s been some great premises that have been left on the floor - I’d love to see them them do a small little “save our show” campaign over the break between episodes. Take all the first season videos that didn’t make it past one episode and do some March Madness tourney-style voting. Which ever gets voted at the top gets another episode on the first season of the show. Personally, I’d love to see more Shady Acres or The High Fiver.
My favorite from this weekend’s episode was Sin Trek, a Star Trek parody that only uses the form to get some good jokes in at the expense of some of the ridiculous rapture fiction that seems to mark fundamentalist’s fantasies these days.
Sadly, I’ve “time-shifted” my viewing of the episode, so I can’t encourage you to vote for it. But I can tell you to watch their season finale because they teased an animated segment called Cosbees, a flagrant tweaking of House of Cosbys. That show was part of the birthplace of Acceptable TV—Channel 101. Or it was until Bill Cosby‘s lawyers threatened to sue. Nice to see Dan Harmon and the other creators have good memories and aren’t letting this silly threat go unchallenged.
Tonight the Whitest Kids You Know sketch comedy show makes its premiere on Fuse at 11 PM. Besides the original material they’ve made for the show, the troupe has a huge inventory of sketches. And it’s been interesting to me to see how little the changes are between the original made for web versions to the Fuse versions. It might be a factor of budget, but I think that many of the bits were so well executed and on target before, why mess with them?
For example, here’s two variations on their Hitler Rap. The first is the original and then we have the Fuse version, which clocks in roughly 30 seconds shorter. The main difference being the loss of a throw to Goering - it’s still referenced but the section is gone.
Of course, a lot of their sketches haven’t been put to film yet, so they benefit from a bigger treatment like this one featuring Abraham Lincoln. I believe this sketch used the whole theater when performed live (you’ll see what I mean when you watch it - it’s not about what’s on stage), so it’s fun to see how they made it work for TV.
The sketch comedy is being pinned as the show that makes Fuse break out. I’m not so sure with YouTube, Daily Motion, iFilm, etc. etc. etc. that we’ll have people clamoring to get their cable operators to add Fuse to see the WKYK. But maybe no longer will people have to say, “Fuse. You know, it’s that channel where have that show where people strip to music.”
Another couple of comparisons between original and Fuse versions after the jump.
Today I was on the phone with a friend raving about the brilliance of the lost Bob Odenkirk sketch comedy pilot “Next!” I’d seen it once or twice at Other Network shows and loved it. Since everything is on YouTube (at least for now), I did a search and voila, three of the sketches from the two episodes made popped up. Here’s a look at what might have been:
First Jerry Minor as an R & B singer who pledges his allegiance to the American flag and its budonkadonk.
The next is a song that cleverly reverses “rebellious” rock into strict parental discipline. It parodies a Limp Biskit song, but it avoids being dated because its so apt - Odenkirk’s dad character is probably what rap-metal listeners will turn into one day.
Jay Johnston plays one dumb, dumb brother in a commercial for a family car dealership.
Every title that appears on screen of that one kills me - it’s this epic attention of detail that was a hallmark of Mr. Show as well. It’s that discipline to eek out the logical extremes of a joke that makes it so lamentable that it didn’t get picked up. Sigh.
Dennis Perrin, who keeps the blog Red State Son, has a great interview with Tom Kramer, a filmmaker who worked on the sketch show Fridays. Fridays has become somewhat lost to TV Past save for the legendary staged meltdown by Andy Kaufman on the show. Dennis knows something about comedy, as he penned the wonderful (but perhaps too detailed) biography Mr. Mike about SNL and National Lampoon writer Michael O’Donoghue. Fridays spawned a lot of talent including Larry David, “Borat” director Larry Charles and (must I dismiss him for recent events?) Michael Richards.
Though Tom fully admits that Fridays was a knockoff of Saturday Night Live, he still describes a great gig - an opportunity to work with very smart people doing whatever they wanted. One of the things that’s a bit fascinating about Fridays is how much drug humor played a part in the show. Tom says:
“Fridays” aired during possibly the last time in America that drugs were at all acceptable. It was the early-80s, and drugs were open and everywhere in Hollywood. Some of the writers were veterans of the 60s drug culture, so drug humor, like that of Cheech and Chong, was popular. I personally had very little experience with drugs at the time and didn’t seem to get the humor like most others.
Which explains a sketch like this, where The Three Stooges are played as drug-addled morons (with Larry David sporting very real, very appropriate Larry hair):
Dennis mentions in the interview’s introduction that he’d like to do a larger project on Fridays, either in print or on video. As someone who was too young to catch it, I’m hoping he can get it off the ground. The show does seem uneven - check out the horrible puns in this sketch “Diner of the Living Dead” . (Tom mentions that the live audience was so loud it drowned out the actual sketches - which is quite apparent after some of the groaners like “Hand Sandwich” are delivered here.) Still, Fridays was the start for a few great current comedians and probably where they learned a lot of lessons they apply today.