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Crowdsourced Edits to Various DIY Home Improvement Instructions to Account For My Incompetence, by Roger Taylor

• Before starting the job, put on shoes and pants.

• You’ve heard the phrase, “Measure twice and cut once”? Please measure three times. And then have someone else measure, because you aren’t doing it right.

• The only acceptable object with which to hammer is a hammer.

• If you don’t have a ladder, borrow one from a neighbor. Stacking a stool on top of a coffee table seems like a bad idea now, so think of how bad it’ll seem once you’re up there.

• I know that the four-year-old, unsealed tube of caulk is appealing because it’s already in the house and doesn’t cost any additional money, but it’s been 20 minutes and you can probably stop squeezing the caulk gun now.

• One door hinge is not enough. No, not even if you “put it in the exact middle of the door.”


'SNL' Review: Dwayne Johnson, Man for the Job

Here's a question I never thought I'd ask: does SNL need more men?

Of course not, right? Only recently has SNL begun to shake off its "boys club" reputation, with a cast of seven men and six women (not counting the two male Weekend Update hosts), and a writers room still predominantly male. The current female lineup is more stacked and well-rounded than ever — there are few roles that Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant, Leslie Jones, Sasheer Zamata, or Vanessa Bayer can't handle, and I hope that deep field of female talent is here to stay. Considering how pathetic the gender ratio is throughout the late night landscape, and the way Hollywood reacted to a Ghostbusters reboot starring SNL ladies, true gender equality in the comedy world is still a long way off.

However, a new development has emerged in SNL's gender balance, in that many of this season's stronger episodes have featured a "guy's guy" host (Chris Pratt, Woody Harrelson, Chris Hemsworth, and now, Dwayne Johnson), while suitably funny female hosts (Sarah Silverman, Amy Adams, and Dakota Johnson) have struggled to stand out. While it's easy — and usually correct — to accuse viewers and critics of holding women to a tougher standard, in this case I wonder if the cast's masculinity shortage may help set the table for traditional alpha-males to steal the show. Of the men in the cast, only Taran Killam seems capable of playing the leading man, but even he tends to subvert that stereotype by going low status (see: "Brother 2 Brother," "Big Joe"). Kenan Thompson, Bobby Moynihan, and Jay Pharoah stick mostly to oddball roles and impressions, while Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, and Pete Davidson skew toward high-school and college-aged boys. The current guys all play to their strengths effectively, but SNL seemed less reliant on musclebound heroes like Starlord, Thor, and The Rock when it possessed everymen like Jason Sudeikis, Jimmy Fallon, or Will Ferrell.

Whatever the reason, Dwayne Johnson became the latest action star this season to hoist the show on his freakish shoulders and carry it across the finish line. In his fourth time hosting the show, Johnson once again leaned on his macho toughness, showing off a trademark bravado that kept the laughs coming with few lulls. While it rarely packed the satirical punch some of this season's finer hours have, this episode gave us the kind of raw, fast, and physical entertainment we love to see from the pro-wrestling and Furious 7 superstar. READ MORE

Talking to Gary Richardson (@garyyesgary) About Writing Jokes and Twitter's Power to Make Something Huge

Gary Richardson is a writer and performer having the time of his life in Brooklyn. He performs live around the city and encourages you to see him do live stuff if you can, but to find his internet stuff if you can't. This week I talked with Richardson about three of his favorite tweets, how Twitter has changed for him over time, and trying to hide the excitement that comes from favs and RTs. He also told me his mom is retiring from the military this year, and to give it up for that.

Richardson: I truly love how so many tough-ass dudes are also dumb-ass dudes. I feel like the Internet is one of the only places I get to stick it to em, this was an attempt at that. READ MORE

A Guide to the Hard-to-Find Comedy Albums of Albert Brooks

A few years ago in From the Archives, we did a deep dive and examined Albert Brooks’s early short films, and reminded ourselves at how creative and unique a talent the man is. Throughout these shorts we were shown a laundry list of creative ideas, jokes that still hold up today, and satire that is just as sharp now as it was in the seventies. Today we’re going to examine Albert’s two incredibly innovative albums and we'll find that even with the video component removed, these qualities still apply. Each album features a uniquely audio premise, and one was nominated for a Grammy and hasn’t been reissued since it’s initial vinyl release. Buckle up and prepare yourselves for 1973’s Comedy Minus One, and 1975’s A Star is Bought. READ MORE

Talking with '@midnight's First #PointsMe Winner Chris Cubas

Back in January, Comedy Central's @midnight launched a new contest called #PointsMe, in which fans and aspriring @midnight contestants took to Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr to try out for an appearance on the show. "I think in the ideal scenario, we'd like to find someone who hasn't quite achieved mass exposure," @midnight co-creator, executive producer, and head writer Alex Blagg told us. "If we could break new talent who just organically come out of social media and we put them on and they do well, that would just be really exciting and fun for us as a way to play off what I consider to be the interactivity we try to weave throughout @midnight." The show reached that goal during Wednesday night's episode, which revealed Austin-based standup Chris Cubas as the very first #PointsMe winner. I recently talked with Cubas about what it was like to be on TV for the first time, what he learned from the experience, and what advice he has to offer for the next @midnight fan-turned-#PointsMe winner. READ MORE

Using Shock and Violence for Comedy's Sake in 'Wild Tales'

Oscar Best Foreign Language film nominee Wild Tales, directed by Argentine filmmaker Damián Szifron, is an anthology of six short films tackling the topic of revenge. The shorts, beginning with a short pre-credit sequence that sets the tone of sadistic retribution that carries throughout the film, each follow a structure of a seemingly normal situation going as far awry as you could possibly imagine. The craziness is triggered by violence, anger, retaliation, and personal slights big and small that turn situations on their heads and drive them to the most absurd realistic conclusion. The pieces end up bloody, gory, tragic, explosive, but always in the service of a laugh. It is a fantastically unique way to go about creating a comedy and a way that goes often unseen in American filmmaking.

Dark comedies use sadness to make mundane light moments in life have extra comedic value and campy horror films use comedy only for shock value. Wild Tales certainly has its share of shocks, but in addition to be visually shocking (at certain points), they are also dramatically shocking. We are surprised at the narrative turn the stories take and how quickly the devolve into total madness. Because of the layout of the project — six shorts each with the same structure — after the first two establish that structure the response becomes a question of how Szifron will pull off the big shock-laugh this time around and the tension that builds knowing that it will all be going to hell makes for little moments that can play to big laughs. READ MORE

What the Hell Is the Deal with Clowns?

“All the world loves a clown,” Cole Porter once wrote. Turns out, not so much. Today, people’s perceptions of clowns are largely negative: clowns are weird, clowns are scary, clowns are incomprehensible. One thing clowns are not is funny. As Louis C.K. has said, “Clowns aren’t funny. There’s nothing worse than somebody who is not funny trying to be funny. That’s what a clown is.”

However, clowns remain intrinsically linked to comedy. The jokester in the back row is called the class clown. Chris Farley carried “The Clown’s Prayer” in his pocket at all times. There are a whole bunch of terrible articles referring to Robin Williams as a sad clown. For most purposes, “clown” and “comedian” are synonyms. Clowns are comedy, even if clowns aren’t comedic. Where does this disconnect spring from? Why do we hate clowns now? READ MORE

This Week in Web Videos: 'Happy Town'

Happy Town could've been dead on arrival. Had creator/director/DP/editor/producer/Vitruvian film dude Jon Mayer not turned his passion papers into a passion project, this would've read like just another tale of Millennial ennui in the big city. "Great," every agent would've said. "Do you have anything a little more 'mainstreamy?'" Instead, Mayer worked to bring it off the page and onto MacBook screens the City over. It hasn't achieved tremendous view success and it likely won't. What it has done is demonstrate Mayer's ability to breathe life in to a beautiful tapestry of true, acutely relatable moments, as series star Anu Valia turns the banal into the essential with a poise that makes me wonder why she's not on HBO a whole lot more. Happy Town is the perfect justification for web series. More than a path to virality, the digital arena allows motivated, talented creators to prove themselves, potentially redefining genres and winning worth for undertakings that Courier New just can't justify. READ MORE

Bill Murray Finally Comes Home in This Rare Second City Clip from 1980

Welcome to The Second City Archives, in which we post an exclusive clip each week of some of comedy's biggest superstars performing early in their careers on the legendary Chicago stage. Second City has generously given us a glimpse into their extensive archive of live performances, and over the coming weeks we'll be sharing some rare and retro comedy never before seen on the web.

Now that there's officially a Bill Murray Christmas TV special in the works featuring stars like Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and George Clooney, here's a look back at a rare Murray special from 1980 called Bill Murray Live from the Second City. In this clip from the special, Murray finally returns home to his parents after six months in Denver only to be overwhelmed with questions by his father (played by Bruce Jarchow). Check out another clip from Bill Murray Live here.

Inside the Secret Technology that Makes 'The Daily Show' and 'Last Week Tonight' Work

When you’re watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you often see these comedians contextualize their commentary with short, specific news clips, like John Oliver’s use of a 5-second clip from a Bloomberg TV news show — just long enough to catch a newscaster saying “March Madness now brings in over a billion dollars in TV ad revenue” — in his recent NCAA segment.

Have you ever wondered where these clips come from? Does one Last Week Tonight employee watch hours of TV in the hopes that someone will drop a reference to the annual March Madness ad revenue to fit in with what they're writing? What about the recent Daily Show Vine featuring “50 Fox News Lies in 60 seconds:” did somebody watch Fox News for days to get all of these clips?

The way these shows compile montages and search through the vast wastelands of cable news every day has changed over the years, with a new technology making the process exponentially easier and more streamlined. It's a tool that neither HBO nor Comedy Central were willing to talk about, not wanting to pull the curtain back on the magic behind what they do. It allows comedy shows to pull out the tastiest, most hilarious news and political clips for their nightly or weekly broadcasts like they never were able to before, and we’ve got an inside look at exactly how it works. READ MORE

'Sealab 2021's Super Stripped-Down Bottle Episode Is a Masterclass in Minimalist TV

‘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

“The power’s out, Debbie.”
“I know!”

Adam Reed is a very talented comedy writer. He’s currently doing standout work on Archer, but before that, he was slowly refining his voice and building a style on cruder programs, like his first effort, Sealab 2021.The series was basically a re-appropriation of the outlandish series from the ‘70s with a crew stationed underwater.

The episode features the simplest of plots: the power has gone out and the fusebox must be found. This is the sort of thing that works perfectly in a ten-minute slot and almost can’t be done with a full 22-minute show. It’d be too much. It’d start to anger you, even, and this is the perfect in between.

“Fusebox” is absolutely an instance where the bottle episode was being used out of necessity and time crunch limitations. The conceit of this episode wasn’t some brilliant inspiration that Adam Reed and Matt Thompson had wanted to do for years, but merely a quick way to burn out an episode. The fact that it is an impressive achievement is a testament to their ability and evidence of how they could move on to something like Archer down the road. READ MORE

Inside the Big-Time Ambitions of 'Big Time in Hollywood, FL'

At first blush, Comedy Central's newest scripted series, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, may seem like another entry into the category of Young Slackers Getting into Wacky Daily Misadventures. But the show's creators, Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, have a much grander scheme in play. With the successful web series Next Time on Lonny under their collective belt, Anfanger and Schimpf set out to finally create a show six years in the making. Big Time is a serialized comedy about two wannabe filmmaker brothers who get caught up in multi-layered plot that forces them into adulthood for the first time in their lives. The show boasts a heavy dose of action and drama, backed by a season full of notable actors including Ben Stiller, Michael Madsen, Cuba Gooding Jr., Kathy Baker and Steven Tobolowsky. I talked to the series' creators about the new show, their writing process and how comedy is finally catching up to drama on television. READ MORE

Do You Like Sports? Because I Do Not Like Sports, by Pablo Goldstein

Touchdown! Oh, was that not the correct term to celebrate the tall man putting the ball through the hoop? My mistake. It's just that I don't watch sports and I want you to know that.

You're probably wondering why I'm at this Buffalo Wild Wings on the night of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game if I don't care for sports. Well, Maria's husband, I am joining the wing-gorging plebes who masquerade by day as my co-workers in order to celebrate my inevitable victory in our office tournament pool. With the help of statistician Nate Silver, I was able to construct a nearly perfect bracket by combining his empirical data and my sophisticated intellect that has been unsullied by geographic and paternally-influenced biases. Let me be clear: I calculated said bracket with independent data not found on his ESPN-affiliated website, Five Thirty Eight. My correct choosing of every #12 upset of a #5 was in no way affected by the long corporate arms of The Walt Disney Company.

Despite my confidence, I still have one obstacle standing in my way of bracketorial conquest: Gary from HR. He is the balding ape-like cretin in the matching powder blue polo and hat. Have you figured out where Gary's loyalties lay? It's not too hard to determine as he's turned himself into a walking billboard for a state-school education. Maria's husband, would you mind moving your pint away from my side of the table? I didn't donate $100 to This American Life for a Serial tote bag with the faint smell of Bud Light.


Talking to Clickhole's Cullen Crawford (@hellocullen) about Twitter, Brands, and More

Cullen Crawford lives in Chicago. He is a staff writer at Clickhole.com and was previously a staff writer at the Onion News Network. Crawford has a pit bull named Gristle that he loves very much and is very proud of and has the Twitter accounts @dougepisodes, @pinterestfake, and @lazybanksy which he says he is less proud of. This week Crawford talked to me about three of his favorite tweets as well as some other subjects like brands, heroes, and garbage. Keep reading and you'll see!

Crawford: I can imagine nothing classier than picking something out of a tank and then consuming it. I wish I could pick video games, muffins in waterproof wrapping, or college acceptance letters out of a saltwater tank and then a man dressed better than I am would take me to a table and ask me if I need anything else. READ MORE