Splitsider

March 4th, 2015

Read a Beautiful Eulogy for Harris Wittels by His Sister Stephanie

It's been nearly two weeks since writer and comedian Harris Wittels tragically died at the age of 30, and since then there's been an outpouring of remembrance from fans and fellow comics who loved Harris for his many comedy contributions. Yesterday, Harris' sister Stephanie Wittels Wachs wrote a beautiful eulogy for him on Medium, and it's a wonderful but heartbreaking look into who Harris was on a personal level with family, friends, and what he was like growing up. Here's an excerpt:

I want to say that we will never get over this loss, that it has ruined our family, torn us apart, and left us all bloody and begging for mercy — that our hearts have left our bodies and will be buried in the ground today right along with him. That there will always be a gaping, painful hole in our family and a feeling that something isn’t right, that no holiday, vacation, meal, or conversation will ever be the same. Harris was my parents’ second child and their only son — my mom’s favorite horror movie watch partner and my dad’s own personal studio executive to whom he would pitch a bottomless pit of show ideas. He was my only brother, my original best friend, and my most trusted confidant. With each other, we always had the freedom to just come as we were when no one was watching — neurotic, obsessive, messy, anxious, sad. There was never any judgment on either side — just unbridled honesty, even when it was hard to stomach.

Read the rest here.

Josh Reads Some Girlfriend Rejection Letters on 'Man Seeking Woman'

The recently renewed Man Seeking Woman returns to FXX night, and this time Josh (Jay Baruchel) has a pile of rejection letters to open from all the girls around the country he "applied" to recently. Watch the rest of the episode on FXX tonight at 10:30pm.

Jim Gaffigan Plays a Congolese Warlord in the Latest Episode of Colin Quinn's 'Cop Show'

Here's the latest episode of Colin Quinn's web series Cop Show with special guest Jim Gaffigan, who is about as reluctant to perform his Cop Show role as a Congolese drug warlord (tasked with a bunch of product integration, no less) as hipster drug ring leader Amy Schumer was last week.

Here's the Writing Staff of 'The Late Late Show with James Corden'

The Late Late Show with James Corden makes its CBS debut on Monday, March 23rd, and Corden and his staff are hard at work prepping the show for its big premiere. Tosh.0 co-creator Mike Gibbons will serve as co-executive producer as well as head writer, and the writing staff currently includes Sean O'Connor (Lucas Bros. Moving Co), former Chelsea Lately writers Ian Karmel and James Davis, Lauren Greenberg (Love You, Mean It with Whitney Cummings), Nedaa Sweiss, Ben Hoffman, David Dineen-Porter, and former Daily Show writer DJ Javerbaum, who's also the mastermind behind @TheTweetOfGod. Read more on the format and premiere week guests of The Late Late Show here.

This Week in Web Videos: 'Self Conscious Workout'

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 11.21.43 PM"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." For some, it's an adage to live by. For Self Conscious Workout creators Rachel Laforest and Greg Stees, it's anathema — a creative roadblock that they're dedicated to rising above on their almost masochistic quest to challenge and reinvent themselves. In a digital landscape where truly funny original ideas are difficult to come by–and even harder to manufacture — the prolific team is turning a blind eye to the comfort of sticking with a sure thing, all in service of an art they're quickly mastering. READ MORE

Vanessa Bayer Barely Survives a Post Office Visit on 'Portlandia'

Here's a sneak peek of tomorrow night's Portlandia featuring SNL's Vanessa Bayer, whose trip to the post office transforms from a casual package pickup to a horrific descent into the dark, secret place where packages are held hostage. Catch the rest of the episode on IFC tomorrow night at 10:00pm.

SNL

'SNL's Uneasy Relationship with Twitter and Online Critics

thedudleysLast November, SNL aired a mock promo for a hacky, whitewashed family sitcom called "The Dudleys." In the sketch, a voiceover explains the various lengths the show has gone to satisfy complaints on Twitter — "You tweeted, 'It's 2014, why can't any of The Dudleys be gay?' Well, we heard you loud and clear!" — with Woody Harrelson playing at various degrees of homosexuality before dialing it back up to a "gay 5." "The Dudleys" was a clever piece of satire in a great episode, but it also reflected a truth SNL's current cast and writers have been coming to terms with: they can't win on Twitter.

In some ways, social media has been more blessing than curse for SNL, allowing for instant mass sharing of episode highlights, with clips like "The Dudleys" potentially reaching millions more viewers the following day. Even the finger-wagging online campaigns have resulted in net gains for show. In 2009, Betty White was asked to host an episode after a Facebook group called "Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!" reached nearly 500,000 members. Four years later, the show's "diversity crisis" eventually led to the show hiring three black women and — indirectly, perhaps — its promotion of writer Michael Che to Weekend Update host. READ MORE

James Corden Reveals Some Details on the Format of 'Late Late Show'

Ahead of James Corden's Late Late Show debut on March 23rd, Variety sat down with the British actor for an interview about his hopes for the show and what format it will take later this month. Corden is, understandably, super nervous about the gig: "I don't know if I'm making a huge mistake," he told Variety. "But I'd rather regret doing something than not doing something. I think we have a real shot at enjoying ourselves for a bit, which is ultimately all you ever really want, isn't it?"

As for the format of the show, Corden and Late Late Show executive producer Rob Crabbe revealed that the show is taking an experimental approach between the hiring of band leader Reggie Watts ("He was on a list of one," Corden said) and the decision to skip an opening monologue and get to the guests faster, and all at once:

Yes, Corden will greet the audience and say something funny — but producers aren’t planning a lineup of 20 jokes in classic latenight fashion.

“James is not going to be able to go out and do six minutes on Isis,” Crabbe says. “I just don’t think that’s going to be his style.”

There’s a debate with CBS over how long the first act will be. If the producers get their way, the guests will be coming out in the initial part of the program — all at once. They’re modeling the show on Graham Norton’s U.K. series, in which all the stars come out at the same time and chat together on the couch.

While Corden and Crabbe admitted that booking guests has been a challenge, they have a pretty impressive lineup for premiere week: Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, Will Ferrell, and Kevin Hart. In any case, Corden is trying not to let his nerves get to him: "I just know that this is a moment in my life. Good or bad, it is a moment. 'Do you remember that time we moved to Los Angeles and I tried to host a latenight talkshow?' 'Oh yeah, that was ropy, but it was a fun ride.'"

Derrick Beckles and the Art of Weirdness

derickbecklesDerrick Beckles has made his career out of pursuing the subversive and strange. Growing up in Canada, Beckles was inspired by the absurdity of infomercials and paid programming, eventually creating TV Carnage, a compilation of bad clips from public access shows and infomercials. In addition to creating these compilations, Beckles has directed several music videos, helped shape the humor in VICE, and is currently working on a sitcom called The Hopes in which Courtney Love plays his wife. I spoke with Beckles about his eclectic jobs, being accessible to mainstream audiences, and his current stint as host of Hot Package. The second season of the show airs every Friday at 12:30 a.m. on Adult Swim.

It’s becoming more common to make comedy shows that are intentionally poor in quality, but you've been interested this type of programming for a while. What got you into this?

I was in my parent's basement in Canada and Canadian TV is especially interesting, in many cases mind-blowingly shitty, in ways that are magnificent. So I would start taping stuff with friends, putting them together on tapes when I was a kid. It just kind of blew up. I was doing them on my own and then I was making them for friends and they started trading them. I was doing it anonymously for years and then I started developing this editing style. These Canadian TV shows and public access shows were really weird or wrong, but they were so differently weird or wrong that I really became attracted to a specific kind of wrong that people were achieving. There’s the standard shit on TV, that popular bad TV. I completely stayed away from that stuff and sought out really weird specific stuff. I used to do it with a good friend of mine in Toronto. We would constantly search for specifically bad TV. And the more earnest the performances were, the more we were attracted to it. READ MORE

SNL

Kate McKinnon and Chris Hemsworth Attempt the 'Dirty Dancing' Lift in These 'SNL' Promos

Chris Hemsworth makes his SNL hosting debut this weekend, and NBC released the first round of promos featuring Hemsworth and Kate McKinnon, who thinks Hemsworth is the perfect host to attempt the Dirty Dancing lift with…but it probably would've turned out better if Hemsworth had seen the movie first.

H. Jon Benjamin Shows Off His British Accent on 'Conan'

Here's a clip from H. Jon Benjamin's visit to last night's Conan, where he looks back on the day he landed the role of Sterling Archer and panicked because he thought he'd have to do a British accent. Watch more from the interview below: READ MORE

Paul Simon Answers Some Snobby Fan Questions on This Week's 'Portlandia'

Here's a sneak peek of this week's Portlandia featuring special guest Paul Simon, who fields some fan questions at a Q&A only to get bombarded by the folk music snobbery of Kath and Dave. By the way, Simon is there to promote his new book, the perfectly titled You Can Call Me Paul.

SNL

China Is Getting Its Own 'Saturday Night Live'

Saturday Night Live is heading to China. Bloomberg reports that Broadway Video has closed a deal with Sohu.com to launch a Chinese version of SNL. "China’s Communist Party has been looking for new ways to engage with an audience because past forms of preaching are no longer suitable for today," said Wang Sixin, a professor at the Communication University of China, on the news. "What Sohu needs to be careful about, though, is finding the right balance when doing satire about social and political issues." China isn't the first country to get its own version of SNL; Horatio Sanz worked as a consultant on SNL Mexico in 2013, and Spain, Italy, Japan, and South Korea have been airing their own versions as well.

Mike Epps to Star in ABC's 'Uncle Buck' Pilot

ABC is moving forward with Will Packer's TV adaptation of John Hughes's 1989 film Uncle Buck, and according to Deadline, the multi-cam comedy just cast Mike Epps in the lead role. The series will follow Epps as Buck Russell, "a childish man who learns how to be an adult by taking care of his brother Will’s kids in a very childish way." Nia Long (The Cleveland Show, House of Lies) will play Will's wife. The project is moving forward despite the protests of John Hughes and John Candy's family members, who released a statement last year voicing their disapproval: "Recalling that the director was displeased with first Uncle Buck TV show effort which failed on CBS in 1990, it is well expected that he would not be supportive of this current attempt."