April 17th, 2015

This Week in Comedy: Live Shows for the 'Mr. Show' Reunion Bring It Ever Closer

BOB&DAVID-at-trepany-house_rebecca-aranda-10-We got exclusive photos from the secret rehearsal show of With Bob and David, the Mr. Show reunion coming to Netflix.

-With Denver's thriving comedy scene currently experiencing an exodus to LA, we investigated how mid-sized cities handle the inevitable move west.

-It was announced that on May 2, Scarlett Johansson will be hosting SNL.

-We reviewed the SNL where Taraji P. Henson saved the day, almost.

-Matt Walsh gave us an inside look at the humanity of Veep.

-It was announced that Letterman’s final Late Show guests will include Bill Murray, Tina Fey, and Steve Martin.

-Paul F. Tompkins talked to us about being the king of podcasts. READ MORE

Critics Are Having a Lot of Fun Destroying 'Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2'

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 hits theaters today, and as you might've guessed, it's not getting the warmest reception from critics. Currently holding strong at an impressive 0% on Rotten Tomatoes, the Kevin James-starring sequel to the 2009 box office hit has received a lukewarm critical response at best, but most online reviewers haven't held back from panning the film for its lack of laughs (save for some silly slapstick and CG jokes), director Andy Fickman, and setting at a Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas (New York Daily News calls the movie "basically an hour-and-a-half commercial for Wynn"). Here's a roundup of what critics are saying:

Variety: "Nothing aired by WikiLeaks could possibly be more destructive to Sony’s reputation than the release of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, the sort of movie that goes beyond mere mediocrity to offer possible evidence of a civilization in decline."

Time Out: "Cinema lovers, you should thank God for Kevin James. This oft-ridiculed screen giant is here to answer a question that has plagued mankind for decades now: what would a film be like if every single person involved made as little effort as humanly possible?"

The Dissolve: "With Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, James has made the same joyless, laugh-free comedy twice, albeit this time in a more fun location. Perhaps he’ll finally sort it out by the time he shoots the final entry in the Paul Blart: Mall Cop trilogy, 2021’s Paul Blart: Mall Cop 3."

Vulture: "In the first film, a group of hooligans out for a Black Friday heist at the local mall took Maya and Blart’s then-object-of-affection hostage; this time, it’s a group of tech-savvy art thieves who take Maya and a boy she’s interested in hostage. Before, Blart was looked down upon by the New Jersey State Police, who didn’t think of him as a real security pro; this time, it’s a sneering Vegas security team led by Eduardo Verástegui. Time is a flat circle, and so is this fucking movie." READ MORE

Check Out 'The A.V. Club's Oral History of 'Airplane!'

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Airplane! this year, The A.V. Club has a new oral history out today on the film's origins, casting, production, and impact with writers/directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker as well as a bunch of the cast. Here's what Jerry Zucker had to say on the film's unexpected cult popularity:

I think we’d spent so much time—years—convincing other people that it was going to be a hit that we started to believe it. [Laughs.] But we had our ups and downs, and we had moments of “Oh, my God, it’s never going to work.” We were certainly bullish on the movie when it came out, but, you know, this was in the days before VHS, really, or DVD or anything else, let alone hundreds and hundreds of cable channels. After movies came out, they didn’t mean much. They just sort of died. And I don’t think we thought, “Okay, this is our first real film, it did well, we’re on our way, that’s great, we can now have a career.” But it really is amazing that it’s lasted all these years. That was definitely a surprise.

Read the rest over at The A.V. Club.

Shane Murphy (@Shanehasabeard) on Relatable Comedy and His Stupidest Inspiration For a Tweet

shanemurphyShane Murphy is originally from Albuquerque, NM, and now lives in Austin, Texas, where he stays at home with his four kids, ages 3-8, while he works on his degree to become a teacher. You can find Murphy on Twitter, where he writes about his real life and more under the handle @Shanehasabeard. This week Murphy talked to me about three of his favorite tweets, how momentary confidence can affect his writing, and the silliest source that’s inspired tweets from him.

Murphy: My mom would actually wake up early to exercise with a ridiculous 80's workout show called 'The Body Electric' while I made my own sandwiches for lunch. So that's the truth behind this one, in case you were wondering if anything could be more sad and abusive than the original tweet. READ MORE

Steve Martin Tries Prime-Time Variety with '3 Girls 3'

142 - 3girls3The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 150,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)

Like westerns before it, the variety show is a TV genre that has gone the way of the dodo in America. Every once in a while it tries to sneak back on to a schedule, or someone like Viva Variety will try to subvert the genre, but they never seem to last too long. But in the sixties and seventies, TV was lousy with them. Most featured some kind of celebrity to anchor the show and introduce the sketches, or the musical guest, or the dancing dog act, or whatever was on tap that evening. Some were political, like Rowin and Martin, some were more musical like Sonny and Cher, and some were awful, like Pinky Lady and Jeff. One show that doesn’t exactly fit into any of those categories was 3 Girls 3.

You’ve probably never heard of 3 Girls 3, and that’s because it only lasted four weeks, but it started with something that was a bit unusual for a variety show: it cast three unknowns. Debbie Allen, Ellen Foley, and Mimi Kennedy were thrust together to host a primetime TV show. Sure, that happens every so often today, but this is back when there were only three networks. This was a real gimmick. What’s even more surprising is that even though this show only lasted a month, each of these women have continued working consistently in Hollywood. You might know Mimi Kennedy as the mom from Midnight in Paris, or Dharma’s mom on Dharma and Greg, Ellen Foley was on the first season of Night Court, and did a ton of Broadway stuff, and Debbie Allen has played a recurring urologist (my new favorite term) on Grey’s Anatomy, and seems to appear in any project on television that involves dancing. The reason that none of these women disappeared after this show is because they’re all very talented, and that was clear even from this one hour’s worth of content from June of 1977 that I watched.

The show opens with our hosts driving to the studio (all in the front seat, of course) while singing the theme song. They take the stage, perform a medley of show tunes and then a short monologue in which they talk a little bit about the audition process and establish their characters as the silly one, the dry one, and the tough one. The audience is very responsive, although I’m not sure that there actually was an audience there since there are zero crowd shots and every TV show during this time sounds like a laugh track machine anyway. They then bring out their guest for the night, Mr. Steve Martin! (I buried the lede!) READ MORE

Yannis Pappas Couldn't Be a Professional Athlete, So He's Making Comedy About Them Instead

yannispappasWhen describing a move from New York to Miami, comedian Yannis Pappas said, “I had a New York body. I was thirty pounds heavier. My body looked like yogurt with hair on it. I looked like a middle relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals.” Sports references like these come easy for Pappas, a former wannabe pro athlete turned standup, who has been honing his specific brand of humor for some 15 years. Pappas' current role as the host of AOL's new sports-centric daily comedy series 2 Point Lead is a perfect marriage of his rabid love of sports and his razor sharp wit. I talked to Pappas about the new show, his long love affair with sports, and what's it like to let go of your childhood career dream to find joy in your second choice.

2 Point Lead is not the traditional clips and commentary formula. There's definitely a lot more going on. How would you describe the show?

The show goes beyond news and offers a humorous take on the world of sports. We've constructed the show around the internet and modern times. We release a video every day at 2 PM. It's usually a two-to-four minute video. It's comedy, straight comedy. It's sports fan comedy. We do sketches and interviews with athletes. It really runs the gamut of satire and sports.

Who are you hoping to attract to this show, audience-wise?

Younger sports fans and people who are watching stuff on their phones, which is pretty much everybody, except for my grandparents, who are dead, so they can't. READ MORE

Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee Hand Out the 2015 'Mercun Award on 'The Daily Show'

A lot of dumb news stories have happened so far in 2015, so during last night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart welcomed correspondents Jessica Williams and Samantha Bee to hand out the 2015 'Mercun Award, which The Daily Show bestows upon one US news story that best encompasses the "true essence" of America. Spoiler alert: the winner involves Applebee's, which is about as 'Mercun as you can get.

Conan O'Brien Gets Trapped with Jordan Schlansky in Escape Room LA

Here's the latest Conan remote segment featuring Conan O'Brien and his no-nonsense producer Jordan Schlansky, who take a trip to Escape Room LA and get trapped together in the 1940s-set "Detective" room. O'Brien might not be the best at solving all the intricate puzzles and clues inside, but he's definitely good at getting into his '40s jewel thief detective character. Jordan, as usual, is having none of Conan's nonsense.

HBO Orders Sharon Horgan Comedy 'Divorce' Starring Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker is returning to HBO. Deadline reports that the pay network has given a series order to a new comedy by Pulling creator Sharon Horgan called Divorce with Parker attached to star. The single-cam comedy centers on Parker as Frances, "a woman who suddenly begins to reassess her life and her marriage, and finds that making a clean break and a fresh start is harder than she thought." Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon, and Talia Balsam are set to costar and Horgan will executive produce, making it her very first US comedy series. Horgan most recently starred opposite Rob Delaney in the Channel 4 comedy Catastrophe. Divorce will film in New York sometime this year.

Reggie Watts and Paul F. Tompkins Sing About Justice and Crime-Fighting on 'Reggie Makes Music'

Here's the latest installment of Reggie Makes Music with special guest Paul F. Tompkins, who is more than game to freestyle with Watts about doing crime, doing time, stealing pennies at 7-Eleven, suicidal thoughts, and a bunch of other stuff. Catch all the rest on Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC tomorrow night at 11:00pm.

This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Brody Stevens Returns to The Comedy Store

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.

The Steven Brody Stevens Festival of FriendshipBrody Does A Set At The Comedy Store

brody_festival_friendshipPablo: After an absence of six months, Brody Stevens has finally brought his manic #PositiveEnergy back to podcasting on a regular basis. On this week's Festival of Friendship, Stevens revisits the format of episode #61 by recording his night at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. Like pretty much any night at the Store, the stars are out in force as Stevens interviews Sarah Silverman and David Spade about their vastly different experiences on Saturday Night Live. But they're not the only Not Ready for Prime Time Players around, as Leslie Jones gets in a quick chat about her and Brody's early years in the New York comedy scene. Stevens also gets his balls busted by Tony Hinchcliffe and booker Adam Eget before talking to Pete Cornacchione about his victory in a Roast Battle that got another comedian banned for six months. To top it all off, the episode concludes with a solid 15 minute set by Stevens, showcasing his gifts for crowd work. READ MORE


Showtime's 'Inside Comedy' Returns on May 5th with Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart, and More

David Steinberg and Steve Carell's Showtime documentary series Inside Comedy just got a premiere date. The pay network announced today that Inside Comedy's six-episode fourth season is set to debut on Tuesday, May 5th at 11:00pm. In addition to previously announced guests Stephen Colbert, Michael Keaton, Bryan Cranston, Dan Aykroyd, Wanda Sykes, Ted Danson, and Carol Leifer, Steinberg will also interview comedy stars Conan O'Brien, Jeffrey Tambor, Jon Stewart, Dane Cook, and Cheech & Chong.


Understanding the Hushed Beauty of Ben Jones’ Duck Stoner Series, 'Stone Quackers'

stonequackers1Ben Jones has been quietly killing it under your noses all year. His animated series, Stone Quackers, was the newest program to hit FXX's ADHD animation block, paired up with the Lucas Bros Moving Co. to create a more than wonderful double dose of absurdity every week. Created alongside Whitmer Thomas and Clay Tatum (Power Violence), who also act as co-execs, writers, and voice the characters of “Whit” and “Clay,” the series is based on the their collective childhoods within the unusual and secluded city of Gulf Shores, Alabama. Stone Quackers (which is all available on Hulu, and should be viewed immediately if you’re unfamiliar) approximates this into the non-adventures of a number of adolescent ducks that are presumably high all the time.

The series opened with a slow start but has become a regular mainstay for bonkers television, containing ambitious installments like an homage to David Lynch's Blue Velvet. There’s also a top-notch voice cast that is more than familiar with the weird, featuring talents like Heather Lawless and John C. Reilly.

It's also goddamn gorgeous to look at.

As Jones' Quackers approaches the end of its freshman season, let's pull back the feathers on the show and examine just why this new comedy is so special. READ MORE

'Inside Amy Schumer,' 'Jane the Virgin,' and 'Last Week Tonight' Win Peabody Awards

The 74th annual Peabody Awards' entertainment category recipients were announced today, and among the winners are a few new and returning comedy series. Ahead of its season 3 debut next week, Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer earned an award while HBO's Last Week Tonight and CW's "immaculately conceived" breakout hit Jane the Virgin also won awards for their work this year. The Peabody Awards will be handed out in New York on Sunday, May 31st; check out the full rundown of the comedy-related winners below: READ MORE