The Year in News
From the world of television to movies, podcasts, web series, humor writing, and beyond, 2015 was another big year for comedy news. Whether you’d like to make sure you’re up to speed with all of 2015’s significant comedy happenings or just want to revisit some of the year’s biggest stories, we’ve compiled a comprehensive month-by-month collection of some of the most popular, noteworthy, and interesting news, video clips, and features from 2015, from January to December:
At the beginning of the year we found out that two beloved comedies were coming back: Mr. Show and Wet Hot American Summer. We gave you a sneak peek of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore set right before it made its big debut on Comedy Central. Mike Myers signed a two-year deal with HBO, Victoria Jackson played six roles in a movie called Campin’ Buddies, The Chris Gethard Show got a premiere date on Fusion, the new Ghostbusters were revealed, and Trevor Potter looked back on Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC. We broke down how to tell a gay joke, the problem with the Fey/Poehler Cosby joke, why you should rewatch Daria, where response memes come from, and what a Zoidberg is. Abbi Jacobson empowered us, “Edge of Glory” style. Hannibal Buress had some fun on a boat. Also, some family at Disneyland thought Fred Armisen was Rick Moranis.
SNL’s 40th anniversary special happened! Eddie Murphy was there, Jean Doumanian was there, Sarah Palin was there, and Norm Macdonald wrote a great recap of the “Celebrity Jeopardy” sketch. We looked back at our favorite less-iconic SNL sketches, watched a 20-year-old Amy Poehler pilot, broke down how Parks and Rec transcended its mockumentary roots, and reflected on the show’s idealistic legacy (and here’s how they got that Bill Murray cameo). Jeff Bridges aligned our chakras, Eugene Mirman reviewed a bunch of farts, and we reviewed the greatest prank call of all time, the Wompler universe, the year’s Sundance comedies, the latest late night news and satire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s portrayal of the NYPD, why Maria Bamford is the best, why King of the Hill is the best, and the makings of one of Broad City’s wildest episodes yet. Jason Jones got a show at TBS, Stephen Colbert debuted The Colbeard, the Emmy Awards finally listened to Scott Aukerman, and Conan O’Brien had a great chat with Howard Stern. Mel Brooks said he still wants to make Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money, Kristen Wiig stole the show at The Grammys, Chris Elliott made his final Late Show appearance, and Comedians in Cars with Coffee kept on being a great web series despite how much we wanted to hate it. The Icelandic Ultra-Blue saga started, then continued, then escalated, then ended…for now? News broke that Jon Stewart was leaving The Daily Show, and he talked about it. News broke that Harris Wittels died, and his collaborators and friends remembered him online. Not long after listening to Wittels’s final Comedy Bang! Bang! appearance, we rounded up some of our favorite Harris podcast appearances.
Remembrances for Harris Wittels poured in from those who knew him personally and professionally, and the comedy world lost another one of its own when Sam Simon passed away at 59. Samantha Bee got a show, Jerrod Carmichael got a show, Hannibal Buress got a show, Broken Lizard met their $2 million Kickstarter goal, Jason Jones left The Daily Show, and Trevor Noah was named the next Daily Show host. The Late Late Show with James Corden premiered, Comedy Central roasted Justin Bieber for some reason, Conan O’Brien went to Cuba, and China got its very own SNL. We investigated offensive humor, SNL’s online critics, Bob Odenkirk’s approach to ideas, why no one cares about joke stealing, Egypt’s Jon Stewart, the best comedy movies of all time, the secret technology that makes shows like The Daily Show work, and what the deal is with clowns. Zoolander 2 got a premiere date, Charlie Rose talked with Larry David, Stephen Colbert talked with a priest, Ted Turner visited Conan O’Brien, Hasan Minhaj met a stoned deer, and Jon Stewart kicked Seth Rollins in the balls. We remembered Michael “Mr. Mike” O’Donoghue, and these two insane guys watched Grown Ups 2 every week for a year. Oh, and you’re not celebrating St. Patrick’s Day right unless you’re doing it with Conan O’Brien.
We named 2015’s top up-and-coming comics in New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere else, made the case for TV revivals and debuts, and broke down how James Corden’s Late Late Show started killing it right out of the gate. Netflix ordered a sketch show from Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, and we got a sneak peek of the rehearsals. Brian Grazer said more Arrested Development is on the way, and news broke that Celebrity Deathmatch, Full House, and Punk’d are coming back to TV, while Groundhog Day is headed to Broadway in 2017. Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell made a Lifetime movie together, and Brian Stack left Conan to join The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. A dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s Netflix movie, and after checking out an early draft of the script, it was easy to see why. Jenny Slate, Max Silvestri, and Gabe Liedman’s Big Terrific ended its seven-year run, and comedy legend Stan Freberg died at the age of 88. We looked at the most plagiarized joke of all time, why boxing rants make great comedy, Denver’s local comedy scene, and George Carlin’s first HBO standup special.
David Letterman said farewell to his longtime post at Late Show, and he was showered with special guest appearances and tributes from Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Bill Murray, Todd Barry, Norm Macdonald, Conan O’Brien, James Corden, and more – all before the Late Show set got thrown in the dumpster. SNL’s 40th season wrapped up, and we ranked the year’s best episodes, sketches, cut-for-time sketches, and cast member contributions. Samantha Bee said goodbye to The Daily Show, Fox canceled The Mindy Project and Mulaney, then The Mindy Project got a second chance at Hulu. We learned that Stephen Colbert likes to help South Carolina teachers, Jon Stewart likes to help veterans, and Bob’s Burgers writer Wendy Molyneux is willing to watch a terrible movie for a good cause. We explored how The Nightly Show found its voice in its Baltimore coverage, Opie and Anthony’s Jocktober, the dark humor of Harry Nilsson, the ’90s sketch show The Edge, and when that clever hook can kill your sitcom. We assembled a beginner’s guide to FishCenter, the ultimate collection of airline-related tweets by comedians, and a look back on the career of the late Anne Meara, who passed away at the age of 85.
Every episode of Seinfeld made its Hulu debut, and Jerry Seinfeld said that PC-obsessed kids are ruining comedy. Marc Maron interviewed President Obama on WTF, Netflix ordered a comedy from Maria Bamford, The Lonely Island’s movie got a premiere date, and Paul F. Tompkins announced the end of his web series Speakeasy. Reggie Watts left Comedy Bang! Bang!, Emerson College added a comedy-related BFA, Conner O’Malley proved that McDonald’s is better than Burger King, and Bill Hader teamed up with a high school student for the ultimate senior prank. Blake Anderson got kicked off a morning news show, Paul Rudd and Adam Scott got kicked out of a wedding, T.J. Miller explained why awards are for children, and we remembered Alan Shain, one of NYC’s preeminent open mic characters. We took a closer look at Bill Burr’s many interests, Patrice O’Neal and the fast-track to comedy sainthood, Community’s increasingly crazy end tags, and the rise of consumer comedy. We reviewed Judd Apatow’s book Sick in the Head, and James Adomian proved that Bernie Sanders isn’t always boring.
Variety named its 10 Comics to Watch for 2015, and Just For Laughs named its 2015 New Faces. Workaholics got a double-season renewal, South Park got a triple-season renewal, Neil Casey joined the Ghostbusters reboot, and Wyatt Cenac opened up about his rocky relationship with Jon Stewart. Stephen Colbert hosted a public access show in Michigan, Amy Poehler curated an outdoor summer film series, Eugene Mirman took out a full-page ad over a $15 parking ticket, and a Washington Post writer claimed Amy Schumer was racist…despite never seeing any of her work. We broke down dream jobs in the new comedy boom, said goodbye to Professor Blastoff, went inside the minds of internet comedy video executives, and took a look back on NewsRadio’s perfect pilot, Milton Berle’s early years, Jon Stewart and Marc Maron’s long feud, and what makes M*A*S*H one of the best sitcoms of all time. We recommended Kyle Mooney and Dave McCary’s non-existent podcast, handed out tips for aspiring TV writers and actors, and revisited Harris Wittels’s final You Made It Weird appearance.
After 16 years, a great late night era came to an end when Jon Stewart said farewell to The Daily Show, and we broke down why it’s okay that he’ll forever be irreplaceable. Jon Rudnitsky joined the SNL cast, Headgum launched, The Onion launched its Vice parody series, Jerry Lewis gave The Day the Clown Cried to the Library of Congress, and Stephen Colbert vowed to “celebrate women’s voices” on The Late Show. New movies from Christopher Guest, Mike Birbiglia, Flight of the Conchords, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer were announced, and Jeff Garlin said there’s a 51% chance of more Curb Your Enthusiasm. Paula Pell announced her “Hey Young Girls” book, Seth Meyers debuted the Late Night deskalogue, and we reviewed the Wet Hot American Summer prequel series as well as Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner’s Difficult People. We checked out the Mr. Show DVD commentaries, Funny or Die’s bizarrely wonderful weatherman show, Live on Broadgay, America’s first comedy magazine, James Adomian’s Comedy Bang! Bang! appearance as Tom Leykis, and Donald Trump’s afterlife-themed sex comedy Ghosts Can’t Do It. We broke down the difference between an agent and a manager, whether or not film grads have an advantage entering the industry, and whether or not Borat still holds up as a groundbreaking comedy. Oh, and karma tasted tweet for comedians everywhere when Josh Ostrovsky, AKA “The Fat Jew,” finally got his day of reckoning for being a shameless joke thief.
Stephen Colbert made his Late Show debut, and after we checked out his writing staff, we learned that he broke a big promise he made in August. Elsewhere in late night, Trevor Noah’s Daily Show debuted on Comedy Central, and we checked out their writing staff, set, and newly hired correspondents. SNL hired six new writers, The Onion launched a celebrity gossip site, Eugene Mirman released a 7-LP comedy album, and The Nightly Show earned a season renewal at Comedy Central. Amy Schumer got a book deal, Jordan Peele started working on his horror film, and Jay Leno spent a day as an Uber driver. Oshkosh B’Gosh got really angry about a parody ad, Steve Rannazzisi came clean about his big 9/11 lie, and two writers accused MTV and CollegeHumor of stealing their idea. We gave you the inside story of Lucky Numbers, how Spalding Gray moved standup comedy beyond jokes, what comedy pays, what it’s like to hang out at the LA Podcast Festival, and the history of modern standup in 10 steps. We reviewed Documentary Now!, Comedy Bang! Bang!’s single-shot episode, why diversity is still a big issue at places like UCB, and the 20 best underrated standup specials that might have flown under your radar. We tried (and failed) to watch Bill Cosby’s Himself objectively, looked back at the time Andrew Dice Clay hosted SNL, explained how books get optioned and become movies, and explored The Big Lebowski, Wittgenstein, and the “garbage pile” that is online discourse.
Chris Rock was announced as next year’s Oscars host, Ricky Gervais was announced as next year’s Golden Globes host, and new shows were announced from Issa Rae, Donald Glover, Tim Robinson, and Sam Richardson. Colin Jost stepped down as SNL’s head writer, the enigmatic Rick Moranis turned down a Ghostbusters cameo, and NBC announced its new streaming comedy site Seeso. Hannibal Buress’s Unemployable pilot hit the internet, Conan O’Brien appeared on the Armenian equivalent of The Daily Show, Nathan Fielder launched Summit Ice, and Mike O’Brien released a sketch comedy album. We reviewed Undateable’s live season, Matt Walsh’s film A Better You, and the way You’re the Worst tackled mental illness during its most recent season. We went inside the comedy factory of UCB, looked back on Zach Galifianakis’s short-lived talk show, delved into the raunchy underground world of trucker tapes, paid respect to the surprisingly weighty songs of Weird Al, and revisited Sonheim’s horror-comedy-musical hybrid Evening Primrose. We learned how to network in the comedy world, why “Farts and Procreation” illustrates transcendent power of silliness, and how the diversity of late night guests these days isn’t much better than the diversity of its hosts.
Marc Maron finally landed a WTF interview with Lorne Michaels, and we broke down the two-decade saga leading up to the big episode. Over in late night land, Conan O’Brien visited Armenia, which made us want Conan to keep traveling the world forever. Joel Hodgson launched the MST3K Kickstarter campaign, Jon Stewart signed a production deal with HBO, Jon Benjamin released an intentionally bad jazz LP, and Paul F. Tompkins’s Speakeasy returned with new host Russell Peters. We revisited “The Great Philouza,” the dark father of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Gallagher’s infamous WTF interview, the night Siskel and Ebert took over SNL, and the unmade films of John Waters. We broke down what producers do for a living, New York’s musical comedy boom, and when and how to walk away from the comedy dream.
Nathan for You aired its fantastic season finale and got a season 4 renewal, and we broke down how Fielder brought Charlie Kaufman’s sensibility back to TV. Larry Wilmore was named host of the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Amazon ordered Tig Notaro’s show to series, Kid Cudi left Comedy Bang! Bang, The Soup aired its final episode, and both Best Time Ever and Mike & Molly got the axe. The CW announced next year’s MADtv anniversary special, both Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz tried to make parody videos, and Daran Norris signed in to star in an upcoming Phil Hartman biopic. New memoirs were announced from SNL alums Norm Macdonald and Al Franken, and we watched some great videos featuring a stoned Roseanne, gourmet chef Bill Burr, and Andy Daly’s Don DiMello. We remembered the late Andy Ritchie, dove deep into the story of Patrice O’Neal’s Elephant in the Room, attended the Oh, Hello press conference, and tracked the rise and fall of David Frye. We revisited the wonderful Look Around You, explored the history of comics in comic books, made a Liam Lynch primer, and explained how exactly one goes about pitching a TV show.