Every year, Comedy Central, like all of the other networks, announces a new slate of shows it’s developing, and it’s always an impressive collection of some of the funniest people going. Comedy fans who have been around long enough know not to get too excited though because there’s only so much room in the Comedy Central schedule (and budget), so most of the shows the network develops each year don’t end up getting made. Comedy Central just announced the shows that ARE getting made this year – new projects from funny people like Anthony Jeselnik, Amy Schumer, and Ben Hoffman. It’s great to see these comedians bringing their voices to Comedy Central, but let’s take a look at some of the comedies that slipped through the cracks, including projects from Bob Odenkirk, Tom Scharpling, and Rob Delaney.
@RobDelaney – Last year, Comedy Central began developing a show based on the wildly-popular Twitter feed of Rob Delaney, the reigning King of Twitter, himself. The show was hosted by Delaney in a TV studio with a live audience, presenting Twitter-based comedy in the form of videos, guest interviews, and in-studio segments. The intersection of TV and Twitter may conjure up bad memories of CBS’s $#^! My Dad Says, but I was at a taping of the @RobDelaney pilot last year and can assure you that this show was legitimately funny and leagues ahead of that William Shatner thing. The pilot taping I saw seemed like a natural extension of Delaney’s Twitter persona and a fitting companion show for Tosh.0, but Comedy Central execs didn’t end up ordering this one to series.
Untitled Wyatt Cenac Project – A show created and hosted by The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac that was a takeoff on 1980s public affairs shows. While this show hasn’t been picked up by Comedy Central this year, Wyatt Cenac still has plenty on his plate with his stand-up career, Daily Show gig, and a regular voice role on the Nickelodeon series Fanboy and Chum Chum, which I’m guessing is just about as creatively satisfying for Cenac as having his own show would be.
Gregory Brothers – The musical comedy entity known as the Gregory Brothers – best known for viral megahits like “Auto-Tune the News” and “The Bed Intruder Song” – filmed a pilot for Comedy Central this past fall, with The Best Show’s Tom Scharpling producing and big-time Hollywood director Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Yes Man) helming the pilot. In the series, the Gregory Brothers would have played a burgeoning music group striving to make hit viral videos. When I interviewed Tom Scharpling earlier this year, he had this to say about the Gregory Brothers pilot:
I'm really proud of it. It kind of takes what the Gregory Brothers do and turns it into a narrative show. It's not just a clip show or crazy web stuff. It'll have stories and character stuff, in addition to those things. It's been so much fun. They're so talented in a very traditional way where they can sing and they can be funny and they can do all these different things. They have such a range, so it's been really exciting working with people when you keep learning new things about them through the process… I did the best job I could on the pilot, and I'm super proud of it. If it doesn't go forward, people who don't make it go forward are wrong because it's truly great. But I'm proud of what we made, whether it goes forward or not. I couldn't be more proud.
Time Trumpet – Anglophiles are no doubt familiar with the UK series Time Trumpet, a faux-documentary looking back at modern times from 30 years in the future from European comedic genius Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, Veep, 50 other amazing things). Comedy Central bought the rights to the show a couple years ago and began developing an American version of it, but the project doesn’t look to be moving forward. It’s always a risk translating a UK show for American audiences, but a cult hit like this is the perfect kind of show to adapt. If it were placed in the right hands, a US Time Trumpet could have carved out its own funny identity and lived up to the standard set by the original.
My Mans – Written, performed, and directed by Second City Chicago-ers Mark Raterman, Tim Robinson, and Andy Miara, My Mans was a 10-minute pilot presentation that Comedy Central ordered last year. Second City Chicago alum Bob Odenkirk was onboard as a creative consultant. The entire short pilot has been posted online and can be viewed below:
Eugene! – Eugene Mirman (Delocated, Bob’s Burgers) created this sketch show as a starring vehicle for himself. It would have followed a fictional television network, with all of the sketches being fake TV shows. A similar format proved very successful for SCTV way back when, and it’s about time somebody else made a sketch show about a TV network. The premise lends itself to sketch comedy naturally, and Eugene Mirman is one of the funniest guys going, so it’s kind of a bummer that this project hasn’t moved forward.
Robots – Not to be confused with the computer-animated kids movie from seven years ago of the same name, Robots was an animated project about a group of electronic appliances plotting against their slacker owner. The show was written by stand-up comedy sensation Kumail Nanjiani, along with Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who scripted several episodes of The Office (US), Year One, and Bad Teacher.
Braunger – Matt Braunger and Kyle Kinane are two amazing stand-ups (and real-life best friends!) who have risen to prominence over the last few years – and rightfully so. That’s why comedy fans should have been jazzed when Comedy Central booked the duo to star in a a single-camera pilot called Braunger last year. Based loosely on Braunger’s life, the show would have starred Braunger as a guy who works as a closed-captioner by day and hangs out with “his gnome-like roommate” (Kinane) by night. Matt Braunger created the show with Brent Forrester, one of the unsung heroes of modern comedy who’s worked on every other funny show over the past two decades (The Ben Stiller Show, The Simpsons, Mr. Show, King of the Hill, Undeclared, and The Office). Braunger, Kinane, and Forrester are all super talented guys, and I’m sure they’ll all be doing cool stuff on TV real soon.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.