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Artist Lisa Hanawalt (@Lisadraws) on Sharing Her Sketchbook and Adopting a Different Persona on Twitter

Lisa Hanawalt (@lisadraws) is an artist based in Los Angeles. Hanawalt is a coproducer and production designer on the Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman, whose second season comes out this summer. She also co-hosts the podcast Baby Geniuses with Emily Heller on the Maximum Fun network, wrote and illustrated the book My Dirty Dumb Eyes published by Drawn & Quarterly, and contributes to Lucky Peach magazine. On Twitter, Hanawalt gives followers an inside look at her sketchbook as well as [a slightly altered version of] her personality. This week Hanawalt talked to me about three of her favorite tweets, plus butts, Friends, and anxiety.

Hanawalt: Sometimes I like to troll brands with dumb slogans! They fill up valuable brain space with their ad campaigns, so this is my revenge. READ MORE

Michael Keaton Reunites Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke

The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 150,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)

A few years ago, who would have expected that Michael Keaton would be a Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee? After a few years of dormancy, Keaton has emerged from the ashes in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s dark comedy Birdman, surprising many with his nuanced, emotionally charged, and funny performance. Best known as both Batman and Beetlejuice, Keaton has always been able to play dramatic characters that have that comedic energy bubbling just beneath the surface, and the reason he’s able to do that so effortlessly is because he started out as a stand-up. Longtime readers of From the Archives (they refer to themselves with the unwieldy moniker “From the Archivists”) remember that we previously saw Keaton on Mary Tyler Moore’s follow-up to her famous sitcom, Mary, along with fellow cast member and then-standup, David Letterman. That particular show was cancelled after three episodes. So, then came the follow-up, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, which blended Mary with The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Letterman was gone, doing his tour of game shows and talk shows that would lead to his own morning show on NBC, but his co-worker Michael Keaton, stuck around. READ MORE

David Cross on Kickstarter, Millennials, and His Directorial Debut 'Hits'

2015 is off to a great start for David Cross. Not long after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund distribution costs for his new film Hits, the project met its $100,000 goal with eight days to spare, ensuring that the film will premiere in at least 35 markets across the US next month. Written and directed by Cross, Hits debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year and marks a big push for Cross not just into filmmaking but finding new ways to get low-budget indie films into actual theaters in small towns across the country, rather than just a VOD and limited theatrical release. While Hits has plenty of funny moments and a fantastic cast (Matt Walsh, Meredith Hagner, James Adomian, David Koechner, Amy Sedaris, Michael Cera, Derek Waters, and Wyatt Cenac, to name a few), at its heart it's a darkly caustic journey into the pathetic depths of viral videos, internet fame, and the insatiable vacuum of lowest-common-denominator post-reality culture. I recently spoke with Cross about making Hits, why he turned to Kickstarter, and when we can expect the next big Mr. Show reunion update. READ MORE

This Russian Filmmaker Invented Response Memes 100 Years Ago

Ah, internet memes. Depending who you are, they’re what you make online and talk about with your buddies at school, what your goddamn kid won’t stop looking at at the dinner table, or the things you mock when you’re being an ironic piece of shit online. But we can all agree: memes are the best! Or the absolute most awful worst! In any case, memes work because of a particular weird psychological effect filmmakers have been consciously manipulating since the late 1910s.

A “meme,” properly speaking, is “a gene in the realm of the idea,” which is a complicated definition you can look up if you want. But language is a living thing, so much like “ironic” now means “sort of sarcastic,” the common usage “internet meme” refers to “a picture that everyone recognizes with some impact-font text on it.”

We all know what these are, and you can find them in every corner of the internet. I want to talk about a particular strain of meme, the Response Meme. The most popular of these is maybe Kermit drinking tea, the picture that started out explicitly accompanied with the phrase “but that’s none of my business” and eventually just took on that meaning implicitly without the meme-er having to write it. Or that picture of T.I. smiling kind of expectantly that evokes the phrase “Where dey at doe?” These and tons of others are popular on Twitter and message boards, where users can simply post the picture as a playful shorthand for a larger sentiment.

There’s also an even simpler type of these don’t even need explanation, they’re just particularly expressive pictures, like Kevin Hart looking really confused, or Joe Pesci toasting a drink and smiling or a stoned guy with his hoodie hood pulled really tight, or Captain Picard being like “C’mon!” These don’t even need any context, their meaning is self evident. READ MORE

Fred Armisen on the Evolution of 'Portlandia,' 'SNL,' and American Accents

Portlandia's fifth season premiered on IFC earlier this month, and for longtime fans of the show, the newest crop of episodes have been the perfect culmination of four years' worth of exploring the many characters, small businesses, and human idiosyncracies in the magical world of Portland. But Portlandia isn't the only thing that's evolved and changed over the past few years — co-creator and star Fred Armisen has moved from his SNL roots to be the new Late Night band leader and has a brand new IFC show set to debut later this year, so it looks like 2015 will be another busy year for one of TV's favorite punk rock/comedian hybrids. I recently spoke with Armisen about how he approached the new season of Portlandia, NBC's upcoming SNL 40th anniversary special, and his hopes to one day master every American accent since 1930. READ MORE

From Screen to Stage: The Rise of the Parody Musical

At a small midtown studio, the producers and cast of UNAUTHORIZED! met to rehearse That 80’s Time Travel Movie, a musical based on the 1985 Robert Zemeckis classic Back to the Future. I arrived around hour four as the group workshopped a number called “Forgetting You.” It’s a realization duet that follows the second act’s opener and hits like an upbeat male version of “For Good” from Wicked, heartfelt but comedic. Chris Barnes, who wrote the book and lyrics, directed actors Matt Rogers and Pat Swearingen, Marty McFly and Doc Brown respectively. The show’s composer, Ryan Mercy, provided an accompaniment as Barnes fine tuned movement and performance.

“This would be a good time for you to move to the ladder,” Barnes said, referring to a chair at the end of the room that represents the watchtower and Marty’s way back to the future. The UNAUTHORIZED! crew were in good spirits and for good reason: unlike their opening, they’ve had more than five weeks to concoct, write, rehearse, and stage this musical. Their previous two September performances played to raucous at-capacity crowds. After that, they repeated the process and result with Steel Petunias, based on the 1989 hair-salon centered film Steel Magnolias, and once more in December with Ghostcatchers, based on a movie about a group of men who bust ghosts. For their February revival, now backed by the Peoples Improv Theater, the company is focused on making the show as tight and professional as possible. “It sounds cliché,” Mercy notes, “but we take our comedy very seriously.” READ MORE

The Post-'SNL' Life of Brooks Wheelan

Look at it this way: if Brooks Wheelan didn’t get fired from SNL, he might not have recorded his hilarious new debut standup album.

Not many comedians have parlayed a TV show dismissal into standup success as quickly as Wheelan, an accomplished standup comic who was let go last year after one season as a featured player on SNL. But rather than sulk over his disappointment, Wheelan owned it and soon commenced the “Brooks Wheelan Falls Back on Stand Up Comedy (sorta) Tour.” Much of that material, including his SNL experience, is on his new album, This is Cool, Right?, which was released yesterday.

I recently had the chance to chat with Wheelan during his last week in New York about his start in comedy, his takeaways from SNL, and why he needs to start taking acting classes. READ MORE

Watch Stephen Colbert Sing a Medley of His Second City Hits

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.

If you're struggling with Stephen Colbert withdrawal, this week's Second City clip might help ease your pain. From his final Second City show in 1994, this clip features Colbert and friends performing a medley of songs they wrote over the years including an excerpt of "The Obvious Song" from Take Me Out to the Balkans. Before the medley starts, Colbert gets a warm introduction from his friend Steve Carell: "He's an exceptional improviser, he has an exceptional reference level, and he's a great actor, so we're really going to miss him." You can hear Amy Sedaris chime in from the audience: "And he has funny ears!" Colbert, Sedaris, and Paul Dinello would go on to star in their Comedy Central sketch show Exit 57 the following year.

Jen Kirkman on Accepting Career Opportunities and Life's Changes

You may know Jen Kirkman as a standup comedian, as a writer and panelist on Chelsea Lately or from drinking wine and retelling historical events on Drunk History.

Her acts are personal, and don't contain pop culture references that could date the material. Her book, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself was about her decision to not have children and the repercussions of those who oppose it. As she prepares to film her newest standup special while touring and writing a new book, she's juggling the various facets of her job, but not always by choice. Her work ethic mantra is, "I have to or I won't be able to", and she doesn't take for granted any opportunity that comes her way. This is a woman with a career mission.

I spoke with Kirkman about her problem with being called a role model and the career aspirations she still has. We discussed accepting your past self and acknowledging change while writing her next book and a mutual love of fashion. READ MORE

11 Fun and Easy Cleanses That You Need to Try Today, by Alyssa Wolff and Alison Leiby

New year, nude you, right? What is it again? Regardless, you’ve got to lose weight. Even if you haven’t stuck to your new year’s resolution so far this year, these surefire cleanses will get you back on track to becoming the next Ariana Grande. Give ‘em a try, and remember: Failure is not an option.

Text Message Cleanse: This year is your year to put communication with actual words behind you. Embrace emoji in a real way, and finally gain the ability to send clear messages that actually mean something. When it comes to reaching out to the ones closest to you, a simple knife emoji typically says it all.

Gluten-Free Cleanse: Note: this does not mean you should adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. This year, in order to keep both your taste buds and the alien god Xenu happy, you must immediately clear everyone from your life who claims they can no longer “tolerate” gluten. Set up an elaborate but romantic ceremony to renew your vows with a loaf of bread. Invite butter to the reception only.

Condiment Cleanse: Mustard, like your fertility, doesn’t last forever. Take those jars out of your fridge, dress them up in hats, and now you have a party.


On Five Seasons of Buttholes with the 'Workaholics' Guys

Five seasons in, and there’s still no shortage of butthole jokes on Workaholics. You have to respect that commitment.

Whereas some comedies will shift gears over time and bring on new characters or other developments, Workaholics keeps it real. Week after week viewers are treated to the drunken antics of three slacker morons. They only thing that changes is the mischief they get into. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it?

I caught up with Workaholics stars Adam Devine, Anders Holm, and Blake Anderson prior to their Season Five premiere. We talked about buttholes (of course), A-list guest stars, and their various solo projects. READ MORE

'SNL' Review: Blake Shelton Ain't From 'Round Here

One thing that's forgotten about the early years of SNL was how much it was a show that anyone could host. While hosts from the old days were more often handpicked from Lorne Michaels' rolodex of awesome comics, like Steve Martin or Buck Henry, the show also took risks with host bookings that it never would these days. An 80-year-old German immigrant woman who won an "Anyone Can Host" contest in 1977. An 8-year-old Drew Barrymore in 1982. Ron Reagan, son of the president, in 1986. SNL even dared to allow directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Quentin Tarantino to host once, even though they led to catastrophically bad episodes (Coppola "hosted" by directing the episode from the tech booth — an experiment that didn't really work).

Given this eclectic history, it's a little sad to think that hosting SNL has become a sacred privilege reserved for A-list movie stars and superstar alums of the show. The only bookings to make us do double-takes in recent memory have been famous athletes who can barely read cue cards and Betty White, a beloved sitcom veteran who got the gig by being old, apparently. More recently, the show has fallen into a frustrating pattern of musician-hosts pulling double duty and people NBC really wants us to pay attention to. Considering how crucial The Voice is to the network right now, Blake Shelton hosting SNL isn't any more surprising than Adam Levine doing it two years ago. Not much better, either.

Of course, my pet peeves over SNL's safe host bookings shouldn't take anything away from last weekend's admittedly satisfying and often surprising episode. Despite being a bit of a stranger in a strange land, Shelton was effectively cast in roles that exploited fans' perceptions of the country singer, as if producers followed to the tee the playbook for a successful show that they used for Woody Harrelson last fall. Compared to last week's uneven outing with Kevin Hart — who, to be fair, possesses far more nerve and comedic ability than Shelton does – the show seemed more comfortable allowing experienced cast members (specifically Bobby Moynihan) to carry the weight when needed, resulting in a showcase of this cast's talent in the middle of a season that will hopefully see more of it. READ MORE

@NickCiarelli on Twitter's Uselessness and Its Effect on His Sense of Humor

Nick Ciarelli is a writer living in Los Angeles. He writes and performs at the UCB Theatre in LA, where he's a writer for the Maude team Nephew and co-creator of the currently running sketch show "Death Valley Tween Fest." Ciarelli is also a contributor to ClickHole, and together with Bradford Evans (formerly of Splitsider) he “found” the pilot script to Denis Leary’s upcoming FX show Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, which he swears "is real and not a thing we wrote ourselves." Recently, I asked Ciarelli to share three of his favorite tweets and he talked to me about Elvis Presley, Wario, and penne pasta.

Ciarelli: This display I saw inside a Rite Aid just perfectly sums up what makes my generation the best. We won’t follow in anyone's footsteps but our own, tradition and family be damned. We just want to be DJs and drink brown water. #JackLive READ MORE

David Steinberg Introduces the World to the Cast of 'SCTV'

The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 150,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)

Canada’s David Steinberg is probably best known today as the host of Showtime’s Inside Comedy. As you no doubt gathered from the title, in it Steinberg sits down with a number of popular comedians and speaks to them about their craft. However, if that’s the only place you know Steinberg from, you may not realize that he was once one of those popular comedians. Over the years, David has been the host of two comedy shows bearing the name The David Steinberg Show, released a number of comedy albums, and his satirical sermons that he delivered on The Smothers Brothers Show has been cited as one of the contributing controversial elements that led to CBS’ eventual cancellation of the program (Steinberg’s father was a rabbi, so religion was never too far away). Today we examine the second show called The David Steinberg Show, which aired on CTV in 1976 and gave birth to a number of comedy’s brightest stars.

The first David Steinberg Show was an hour-long sketch show that aired on CBS for five weeks in 1972. Steinberg himself was the only constant, and featured guest actors who would jump into the fray. But let’s jump forward four years, and across the America/Canada border to examine the second David Steinberg Show. This iteration followed the model of The Jack Benny Program or The Muppet Show, in which the show mostly followed the behind-the-scenes adventures of David as he prepared to make “The David Steinberg Show.” For example, in the episode I viewed, the majority of the program, David is attempting to woo Robert Vaughn (he played one of The Magnificent Seven) to be on his show but makes some promises that he’s unable to keep. While we do see some of the show-within-the-show, the majority of the episode is focused on the backstage shenanigans that occur while trying to keep his guest happy. READ MORE