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@MeganMaileGreen on Hummingbirds and if People Like Her Tweets for the Same Reasons She Does

Megan Maile Green is a contributing writer for The Onion and ClickHole, and a cast member on The Wheel Show, a sketch comedy show at the NerdMelt in LA. She and her friends made a TV pilot called Cowards, which won "Best Comedy" at the 2014 New York Television Festival, and they'll send you a VHS copy of it for only five dollars. She used to write for The Late Live Show in Chicago and used to co-write the Twitter account @PinterestFake until she forgot to keep doing it. This week I spoke with Green about three of her favorite tweets, her expectations when it comes to Twitter, and some of her favorite topics to write about.

Green: I am not a chill girlfriend at all. My needs are impossible to meet and I have to be reminded that I'm a special angel every day. So this just came out of my frustration with how women have to try so hard to appear accommodating and carefree in relationships. I think women who brag about being the chill girlfriend are the same ones who brag about not having any female friends and they make me very sad. That's the beginning of the tweet, and then, obviously, at the end of it I lost my mind. I really didn't think anyone would like this when I wrote it and I'm still kind of curious if people like it for the same reason I do. READ MORE

Breaking Down Each Cast Member's Contribution to 'SNL' Season 40

With SNL's 40th season wrapped up, we're taking a look back at the past year to recall the highs, lows, and other memorable moments as the show ended its fourth decade on the air. In this final post, we discuss the cast members on the show.

Being in the cast of SNL for season 40 was a blessing and a curse. More of a blessing, obviously. For comedians Leslie Jones and Pete Davidson, it was a dream come true: they began 2014 as relative unknowns and ended it with reserved seats in history, joining the ranks of a legendary comedy institution right as it celebrated a significant milestone. The two of them even received a special distinction during the anniversary special, introducing the best part of the night: archive footage of cast members' audition tapes. But in many ways, this heightened nostalgia has made their task even more difficult — this season's cast had to overcome four decades' worth of expectations and impress viewers that are increasingly quick to judge. Arguably no cast member in the show's history had to endure the level of harassment Leslie Jones sees on Twitter every Sunday morning.

A judgmental viewership wasn't the only struggle for the season 40 cast. Despite having slimmed down to a more manageable size from last season, the current lineup still lacks the star power the show needs to command the respect of viewers and critics. Historically, that X-factor has taken the form of a single cast member — Chevy Chase, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell — or an endearing chemistry between team players — Bill Murray and Gilda Radner, Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, the Lonely Island. There have been flashes of greatness within the 2014-2015 crew — Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, and Kate McKinnon often rise to the occasion, and the bromance between Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney has tightened since their Good Neighbor days — but many viewers continue to shrug off this cast as still in transition.

However, if we could stop comparing them to past generations and appreciate them solely for their work, suddenly this cast looks like one we shouldn't shrug off. Taran, Cecily, Kate, Kenan, and Bobby have become some of the most dynamic sketch comedians the show has ever seen, and Vanessa and Aidy have continued to be indispensable in sketches. Beck and Kyle have transitioned from rookies who only shined in their own off-beat shorts to dominant actors in live sketches. Jay and Sasheer remain expert impersonators that the show doesn't use often enough. And Leslie and Pete provided SNL with a breath of fresh air that the show seemed unable to locate last season.

Of course, it's hard to use words to accurately depict the state of affairs in the SNL cast, which is why we also use numbers. Creating a pie chart to depict SNL cast member screen time (which we did in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and below) is a huge, nerdy waste of time, but it also gives us a reasonable quantification of how much value the show's writers and producers place on each actor. Sure, it may seem cruel to reduce a comedian's hard work over nine months to a percentage and a tiny sliver of a pie chart, but this is the internet, and geeking out over TV shows is how we enjoy them. Also, we have way too much time on our hands. READ MORE

This Week in Web Videos: 'The Very Real Dangers of Doing Drugs'

Didn't think you'd see a a D.A.R.E. sketch after 1999, did ya? Same. Also, same. Here's the thing: I clicked this one, sent to me by the fine folks at Stevedore Comedy and, holy hell, it's  quite good. It's also eye opening as a reminder that no premise is inherently hackneyed. If placed in the hands of capable and brave comedians, even the thing you thought you'd seen a million times could take on entirely new life.

Luke is a writer/director for CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.

The 'Cut for Time' Sketches of 'SNL' Season 40

With SNL's 40th season wrapped up, we're taking a look back at the past year to recall the highs, lows, and other memorable moments as the show ended its fourth decade on the air. Here, we discuss a collection of some of the best sketches SNL made this season — the ones that were cut.

Despite the agenda we assume drives Saturday Night Live, its creative process is actually more chaotic than we realize. An episode really is created from scratch in six days: pitch meeting with the host on Monday; all-night writing sessions on Tuesday; table-read on Wednesday; rewrites, rehearsals, and shoots on Thursday and Friday; dress rehearsal and live show on Saturday. At no point in the process does Lorne Michaels declare: "There will be exactly three video sketches, one talk show sketch, one sketch that will offend people, and one dumb song about apples." (Legend has it that late head writer Michael O'Donoghue did at one point spray paint the word "danger" on the wall, but that's pretty vague as far as directives go.) We can watch an episode and infer that the writers wanted to push the envelope or pull punches, but they would claim no agenda other than to throw shit against the wall, see what sticks, and start over again on Monday.

Proof of this chaos are the "cut for time" sketches. These are the sketches that survive the Thunderdome of cuts to the 12-or-so finalists that run during the dress rehearsal, just to be mercilessly dropped last minute. Perhaps they didn't get as big laughs as they did at table read, or they would create too complicated of a wardrobe transition, or the host didn't feel comfortable in them, or "Peripheral Vision Man" ran too long and Lorne made the call halfway through the live broadcast. In the past, these comedy corpses could only reach the light of day via the tales of nostalgic staffers, bonus features on Best-Of DVDs, re-animation in the future by late night hosts, or adaptation into the best sitcom of all time. But now, thanks to the internet, SNL will routinely post online the cut sketches alongside the others (under the less victimizing header "digital exclusive"), immortalizing them for comedy nerds and sites like this one.

The cut sketches from season 40 are a mixed bag — some are brilliant videos that were too long for the lineup, while others are silly character sketches that their episodes were probably better off without. Taken together, these rejects make for an amazing fantasy episode of SNL, like a night of leftovers that tastes even better the second time around. READ MORE

Joe DeRosa and the Importance of Setting Goals

You may know Joe DeRosa from his standup career, appearances on The Opie & Anthony Show, acting on Better Call Saul and Louie, or as a writer on The Pete Holmes Show. His own podcast Down With Joe DeRosa explores broad topics with comedian guests. His recent episodes with fellow podcaster Kurt Braunohler are entitled "Emotional Hangs" where the two men speak about the feelings surrounding their growing friendship.

His comedic personality translates into material that is darkly honest and introduces the audience to everything he hates. Nevertheless he is kind and professional to every fan, fellow performer and worker at the club.

I spoke with Joe between shows at The Comedy Bar in Toronto about using podcasting for friendship, missing out on acting in college, and working with a surprisingly funny musician. READ MORE

A Short History of Opie & Anthony's Jocktober

Each day in Jocktober, which takes place in October, Opie & Anthony producer Sam Roberts picks a different radio show from around the country and then the show spends an hour diagnosing exactly what makes that oh-so-zany "morning zoo"-style show so shitty. Jocktober is like if Warner Herzog or the Coen Brothers spent a month each year just attacking movies like Paul Blart and Mortdecai — but also explaining the conventions of why they are so bad. Wouldn’t that make the film industry better? Wouldn’t it at least be entertaining? At least one of those things, yes.

Exaggerating the characteristics of drive-time radio, interrogating the conventions of the radio industry, is a way to ask: Why do people act this way? If this sounds familiar to improv people, it should: the goals are exactly the same, they just go about it in different ways. The work of improv is to excavate some truth of a situation and then heighten it to show why it’s funny, like some kind of fiendish archeological dig. Opie and Anthony, on the other hand, prefer to throw the entire situation into a giant rock tumbler to shake the dirt off of it and leave the fossils of truth at the end. Sure, some delicate things might get broken, but if they were that delicate, then how valuable were they in the first place? READ MORE

The Episodes of 'SNL' Season 40, Ranked

With SNL's 40th season wrapped up, we're taking a look back at the past year to recall the highs, lows, and other memorable moments as the show ended its fourth decade on the air. Below, we reexamine the 21 episodes of Season 40.

Like any lineup in showbusiness — whether it's a summer movie schedule or a season of Saturday Night Live — tentpoles are crucial. An SNL season may feature a plethora of first-time hosts enjoying their moment in the sun, but it never goes too long before bringing in a seasoned veteran host who can guarantee a win. Recent seasons have been tentpoled by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, and Will Ferrell — tried-and-true SNL hall-of-famers who know how to deliver the goods. That left room for a few duds, as well as wild cards like Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, and Melissa McCarthy to sneak in without expectations and join the ranks of all-time great hosts.

That's what made Season 40 such an odd case. Rather than structuring the season with several tentpoles, we were given one big one: the 40th Anniversary Special in February, which showcased all of the aforementioned regulars, and then some. The anniversary was a thrilling and emotional climax for the show, but its magnitude cast an inevitable shadow on the season that contained it. SNL watchers always let our nostalgia for past generations blind us from the present, but here was a three-and-a-half hour highlight reel of everything we once loved about the show, with hardly any of those highlights coming from the recent era. There was plenty of retrospect, but little prospect. For example, it's hard to credit Colin Jost and Michael Che with the undeniable progress they've made behind the Weekend Update desk after a parade of greats like Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Norm Macdonald, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers. It's like college basketball player having a solid opening game, with Jordan dunking at halftime.

The star-studded anniversary also dried up the pool of tentpole hosts (with no Five-Timers Club members this year), leaving well-liked but less-proven regulars Bill Hader, Jim Carrey, Dwayne Johnson, and Louis CK to prop up the season. They did… mostly. Between a few pleasant surprises from first-timers (Martin Freeman) and old-timers (Woody Harrelson), the episodes this season rarely left people buzzing in the days that followed.

Below is a ranking of the episodes this season (not including the 40th Anniversary Special, which was less an episode of SNL than an extended circle-jerk). As with last year's ranking, we measured episode quality by asking ourselves a few questions: What, if anything, was memorable about this episode? Were the sketches clear, funny, unique concepts, or were they the same predictable bits we're tired of seeing? Did the host complement the cast, with sketches that made good use of his/her skills? And finally, did the episode contain any awful sketches about a bickering old couple waiting for an Uber? READ MORE

On the Rise with Lauren Lapkus

A force in the Chicago improv community, Lauren Lapkus moved to Los Angeles a little over five years ago to make a name for herself. And boy has she. From sitcoms, to guest appearances on some of the funniest comedy shows, to her own popular podcast and role in the upcoming Jurassic World, this woman knows how to work it. A fantastic improviser, her characters and dedication to the craft have proven to be the right recipe to make it in this town. I talked to Lapkus about her upcoming projects, what she’s learned along the way, and how she’s juggling it all.

Your podcast With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus is so funny. Tell me about it. How did it come about?

Well, I’d been doing guest spots on a bunch of different podcasts on Earwolf for a while. Mostly Comedy Bang Bang which is how I first got started over there, improv4humans, and pretty much most of the other shows over there I feel like I’ve been on at one point or another. Eventually they came to me and said, “Do you want to do a podcast and what would you do?” I think it was just part of becoming a part of the family slowly over time.

Was the concept an idea you already had?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do and my husband and I were talking and basically I was like, “Well, I don’t really like hosting stuff” and he was the one that helped me come up with the concept of me always being the guest and never having to host. (laughing) So it worked out perfectly.

That’s a smart way to do it.

Yeah, it’s really fun getting to do that and be in control and also be out of control at the same time. Because my host is the one who gets to decide what’s going to happen or what the show is. They decide my character as well. I really don’t know anything going in, but that’s how I like it. READ MORE

The Dark Humor of Harry Nilsson

The cover of Harry Nilsson’s most critically acclaimed album, 1971’s Nilsson Schmilsson, shows a disheveled Nilsson wearing a robe, one hand in his pocket and the other holding a hash pipe. The album title and cover are perfect illustrations of the humor and apathy that encompassed Nilsson's musical career. Noel Murray of the A.V. Club wrote of Nilsson: "Nilsson became the musician’s musician, admired for his wild arrangements, his insistence on satisfying his own muse before making his record label happy, and his willingness to mock himself, the culture, and every notion of showbiz propriety."

Harry Nilsson liked nonsense. Though two of his most famous tracks, "Everybody's Talkin" and "Without You," are somber in tone, they aren’t emblematic of his career nor are they songs he wrote. It's not that Nilsson didn’t compose heartfelt songs, but so much of what actually represents Harry Nilsson is the nonsense, the humor, the randomness in his writing and performing.

Nilsson was famously close with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, The Monkees, and various other mainstream musicians of the '60s and '70s. But he never became the household name his contemporaries did—likely because of his erratic lifestyle (see his Lost Weekend with John Lennon) and increasing refusal to do something simply for commercial accessibility.

One constant in Nilsson's music was his humor — the subtle deadpan, blatant belligerence, and random wordplay in his records. His comedy may not have rivaled a Carlin or Pryor standup set, but for someone as proficient in music as Nilsson, it was a useful weapon in his arsenal. Musicians like Nilsson, Warren Zevon, and Randy Newman used satire and irony to assuage their somber side — like good comic relief in drama. READ MORE

'Frisky Dingo's Equalizing Bottle Episode Proves That Laughter is the Best Medicine

‘Genie in a Bottle’ is a recurring feature where each week a different bottle episode (an episode set entirely in one location, often designed to save money) from a comedy series is examined

"I know, I know. Nothing hurts like a scrape."

Frisky Dingo might have been Adult Swim’s craziest program that you never saw. Lasting a mere two seasons, the series was created by rapid dialogue extraordinaires Adam Reed and Matt Thompson, fresh off the heels of Sealab 2021’s cancelation. While a much broader program than Sealab, Frisky Dingo was also the stronger indication of the voice that Reed and Thompson would so strongly cultivate and would later be the backbone to FX’s more-successful Archer.

Frisky Dingo is a weird, wonderful animated series set in the hyperbolic world of superheroes and space aliens. Xander Crews and his Xtacles are a sublime takedown on the Bruce Wayne/Batman archetype, and the array of villains introduced in the series only get increasingly ridiculous. While Frisky Dingo was interested in a very particular niche, what’s even more amazing than the silly subject matter that they got into is watching Reed and Thompson’s ability as storytellers completely evolve into a new species.

Frisky Dingo is an incredibly funny show where nearly every line is a joke that’s being bazooka-ed in your face, but it’s also a deeply meticulously constructed series that at any moment feels like its camel’s back is going to shatter if another callback is placed on top of it. The show is seriously a feat in editing as almost every scene will connect into the next one with the following scene’s characters completing the first scene’s sentence. It’s a very hard feat to pull off, but one that becomes commonplace by the end of the series and would wind up deep into Archer’s DNA later down the road. This all culminates in Frisky Dingo feeling more like a hit of Adderall than an episodic television series. Every episode so seamlessly segues into the next one, overlapping and never relenting, that it’s surprisingly easy to watch entire seasons in one sitting. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a series that is so dense and callback-heavy, but it completely works. READ MORE

The 25 Best Sketches of 'SNL' Season 40

With SNL's 40th season wrapped up, we're taking a look back at the past year to recall the highs, lows, and other memorable moments as the show ended its fourth decade on the air. Here, we list some of our favorite sketches from this season — both videos and live sketches.

Though many still criticize SNL of being in a creative slump, with sagging ratings and various anniversary specials reminding viewers how great the show used to be, the sketches we've seen on the show recently tell a different story. Yes, there are fewer stock characters fans can immediately identify with the show — the familiar personas we've seen from Cecily Strong or Taran Killam aren't yet on par with the beloved icons created by Kristen Wiig or Bill Hader — and hardly any moments have possessed the viral potency of the Lonely Island. But the unspoken truth is that the film unit's production quality has actually upped its game, with directors Rhys Thomas, Matt & Oz, and Dave McCary doing amazing work. This season's live sketches have also seen improvement, with an increase in original material (recurring sketches are down to 20% from 25%), and at least a handful of truly inspired concepts routinely making their way into the lineup. And this season's biggest success story has been Weekend Update, with hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che making a night-to-day transition into a pairing we now look forward to seeing. Critics tend to praise newer "underdog" sketch shows like Inside Amy Schumer and Portlandia, ignoring a hit-to-miss ratio that's roughly equivalent to the easy-to-kick network TV goliath that's in no danger of cancellation. But as hip as it may be to claim otherwise, some of the sharpest, cleverest, gutsiest sketch comedy we've seen in the past year has come from the same place it has for the past 40 years.

So below are 25 sketches — 13 videos and 12 traditional live bits, in order of appearance — that suggest SNL in 2014-2015 could be as funny as it ever was. As has been the case in recent years, pre-taped segments appear to have the comedic edge over live bits. That seems to be an industry-wide trend: it has become more practical for writers aiming for a polished product that can translate to YouTube to edit it with the best takes and perfectly-timed cuts, rather than letting actors read it from cue cards in front of an audience of tourists. That said, there have also been plenty of raw, visceral performances that have continued to make Saturday Night Live a show best watched live. READ MORE

The Camel’s Dream, by Evan Waite and Frank Santopadre

“I may be 46 years old, but it is never too late to chase my rap dreams,” said the Camel to his wife. “I want to move the crowd!”

The Camel’s wife did not wish to hear this. For almost 20 years she had endured her husband’s delusions of becoming a world-famous rapper. “But your rhymes are stale,” groaned the Camel’s wife.

The Camel would not listen. He was convinced that the next mixtape would be the one to take him to the top, despite the fact that the last 12 had not. Day after day, the Camel recorded songs filled with empty braggadocio and clichéd imagery. His wife simply closed the door and tried not to think about it.

One day the Camel came to his wife with a new plan. “I shall quit my job at the post office so that I may focus all my energy on my music,” he said. “We can live off your salary until I receive my recording contract. Then we will eat lobster every night and purchase matching Bentleys.” READ MORE

The In-Your-Face Friendship of "Power Violence"

We like watching friends be funny together.

We want to feel like we’re apart of that group of friends. That we’re in they’re clique, too, and by watching comedians with long histories together be insular and banter can be a surprisingly cathartic experience.

“Power Violence” is a group that specializes in such a dynamic. The comedy collective includes Whit Thomas, Clay Tatum, Budd Diaz, and you can watch their intimate, explosive performances every third Sunday at the Satelitte in Los Angeles. This monthly event also now happens to feature their pseudo house band, Snake Plisskin and the I Thought You Were Deads, featuring the musical talents of Whit along with Jonah Ray and Blink 182's Mark Hoppus. But whether you’re familiar with “Power Violence” or not, they’ve arguably experienced their biggest year yet and are heading towards important things. They will be on your radar if they aren’t already, and then they’ll be smashing said radar into a million pieces.

“Power Violence” assaults audiences with a mixed sensory experience, providing you with a truly unique show, but this year, they’ve also been apart of FXX’s bizarre animated series, Stone Quackers (along with Ben Jones), depicting duck-like approximates for the members of the group, as they get into similar hijinks.

Beyond the live comedy and the animated series, these guys are just friends and that’s more clear than anything in all the work that they do. Their chemistry is effortless and always feels genuine. I had a chance to talk to Whit and Clay of the group about the ins and outs of “extreme friendship” and just why they’ve made the path for themselves that they have. READ MORE

'SNL' Review: Louis C.K. Gets Ballsy for the Season 40 Finale

As we've seen throughout SNL's 40th season, standup comedian hosts bring with them strong points of view that dictate the temperament of their episodes. Sarah Silverman launched her night with her signature irreverence, followed by sketches that made light of Ebola, white privilege, and the late Joan Rivers. Chris Rock aimed to ease audiences' discomfort over topics like the Boston Marathon bombing and 9/11, with his sketches (including confusing twists on ISIS and old age) largely overthinking themselves. Kevin Hart was, as usual, a burst of energy, with his sketches trying to keep up with his manic speed. And last weekend, Louis C.K. opened the show with 8 minutes about how life was different in the 1970s — including casual takes on racism, the Middle East, and child molestation — just to follow it up with sketches about domination fetishes and workplace racism.

Although Louis C.K. didn't mention it, Saturday Night Live too has changed since the 1970s. In those early formative years, the show made its name with sketches that were way racier than what you'd see on the show today, from Michael O'Donoghue pretending to shove needles in his eyes as "Mr. Mike," to Chevy Chase shouting the N-word at Richard Pryor. It was a more extreme time with very different rules about what could be shown on television — while networks have eased back on profanity and sex, they are far more calculated with their shows' handling of offensive subject matter. Louis C.K. not only grew up in that decade, his comedic philosophy still embraces its devilish abandon. His sets have unapologetically used the N-word (more specifically, why he hates us using the term "the N-word") and described his daughters' genitalia with vivid detail. We allow Louis C.K. to joke about these things because he has proven himself as a master comic without coming off as too mean-spirited, and we trust that he's working towards a broader statement beyond the laugh. I'm not sure we'd be OK with any other SNL host this season talking like an angry black woman or shitting on elves for sexual pleasure.

As thrilling as it was to see Louis C.K. turn his third time hosting the show into a series of off-beat, "10-to-1" style sketches, as a season finale of a historic year, the episode fell a little short. The night's back stretch failed to pay off the promise of its exciting first half, with hardly any of the fireworks we've come to expect in season finales. (I'm less impressed by random star cameos, and I had my fill during the anniversary special, but I'm sure the show could've wrangled someone to drop in other than on-site announcer Darrell Hammond.) Still, despite not being much of a closer, the season finale gave us one of the stronger, edgier nights of comedy we've seen on SNL this year. READ MORE