November 25th, 2014

How 'The Bernie Mac Show' Changed the Future of the Sitcom

bernie-mac-show“You know I ain’t lyin!”
“America, I tell the truth you can’t say!”
“Bust his head til the white meat shows!”

Bernie Mac was already an up-and-coming comedian when he starred in Spike Lee’s Original Kings of Comedy in 2000. Having risen through the ranks by way of Chicago, Mac made a name for himself during the Def Jam comedy years, as one of the funniest and most unflappable comedians on the tour. So by the time he was introduced in Spike Lee’s film, his confidence and persona was on full display.

From word one, he owns the crowd, making light of everything from his sex drive to the disappearance of grandmother figures to why he has no problem telling the truth about children. It’s in this last bit that a new avenue really opened up. Mac talks of how his sister has recently been arrested and imprisoned for drug use and how he has become the legal guardian of her three children. He then begins to go down a path which in today’s culture might be deemed offensive but in his hands is mined for humor: Children are evil and in need of a heavy hand with discipline, heavy enough to show the white meat. Within this routine, the seeds were planted for The Bernie Mac Show.

As told to The Champs podcast, series creator Larry Wilmore, himself a TV veteran, had the idea for the show from watching the movie and thought Mac’s story on raising his sister’s children was fascinating. At the same time, he had been mulling the idea of spoofing the still young but soon to be omnipresent reality-TV craze. By marrying the two ideas together, the general framework for The Bernie Mac Show was born. Mac would star and it would depict him struggling to raise children while at various times breaking the fourth wall and directly addressing the camera in a sort of tell-all confessional. This framework in part laid the groundwork for what would eventually become an en vogue comedy style: the TV mockumentary.

The show, which debuted in 2001, came during a dry period for the single camera style in comedy. The top comedies of that time were all multi-cams, Friends, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will and Grace. All extremely well done, funny shows but all still playing more or less within the common framework of the multi-camera setup. The lone exceptions were Fox’s Malcolm In The Middle, itself breaking new ground with it’s own 4th wall breaking and shows from other countries, chiefly, the UK’s The Office which would rapidly become the template for future shows. READ MORE


Freshman Sitcom 'Cristela' Gets a Full Season Order from ABC

It's not all bad news for new television comedies this year. Deadline reports that new multi-cam comedy and surprise hit Cristela starring standup Cristela Alonzo has been given a nine-episode pickup by ABC, bringing its debut season order from 13 episodes to a full 22-episode season. Cristela joins Black-ish as the only ABC comedy to earn a full order this season. Over at NBC, David Caspe's new comedy Marry Me also got an additional five-episode order from the network, but it's uncertain yet whether the series will eventually expand from 18 to 22 episodes.

Bob Odenkirk on Being an Amateur Standup and the Inevitable Decline of Improv

bob-odenkirkBob Odenkirk may be busier than ever, starring in the upcoming Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul, but that doesn't mean he's put comedy on the back burner. If anything, he's amped up his comedic output as of late. Odenkirk released his first book A Load of Hooey last month, he's producing and writing for the IFC sketch show The Birthday Boys (currently in its second season), he just got back from a book reading/live comedy tour, and his debut standup album, Amateur Hour, comes out today. Recorded this summer at LA's Nerdist Theater and released by A Special Thing Records, Amateur Hour consists of a standup performance by Odenkirk, as well as a set from his opening act Brandon Wardell and a handful of tracks of Odenkirk as his character Lev Gravier, a vaudeville era talent manager dispensing his advice on comedy.

I recently chatted with Odenkirk over the phone about how Amateur Hour came together, how he got his first-ever comedy job as a Saturday Night Live writer, and a potential Mr. Show 20th anniversary reunion special on HBO next year. READ MORE

Here's the Final Trailer for Seth Rogen and James Franco's 'The Interview'

After angering North Korea, making some big edits, and getting a later premiere date, Seth Rogen and James Franco's latest film The Interview now has a final trailer. Unlike the previous sneak peeks, this time around there seems to be a lot less anti-Kim Jong-un sentiment and a lot more — direct quote — "I think he's not a bad guy!" Hopefully the real Kim Jong-un keeps his promise and watches the movie when it's out — not for the catchy Katy Perry songs but to watch "the desperation of the US government and American society" play out onscreen.

Amy Sedaris Updates David Letterman on Her Pet Rabbit Tina

Here's a clip from Late Show regular Amy Sedaris's visit with Letterman last night, in which she grills the late night host about his recent decision to get a second dog and updates him on her destructive rabbit Tina, who is apparently about the size of "an Italian meatloaf or maybe a small roasting chicken."

Aasif Mandvi Tells Seth Meyers How He Got Hired on 'The Daily Show'

Aasif Mandvi was a guest on last night's Late Night, where he told Seth Meyers about some of the more stereotypically Indian roles he's auditioned for (a bunch of doctors and a snake charmer) as well as what his parents thought when he was hired as Daily Show's "Senior Muslim Correspondent." Watch more from the interview below: READ MORE

Today's Funniest Tweets


What's on TV This Week: The All-Star Non-Denominational Christmas Special

broadcity-xmasForget Thanksgiving, it’s already Christmas time at Comedy Central — and of course, there’s something for everyone. Thanksgiving night the network premieres its first ever All-Star Non-Denominational Christmas Special that runs through Sunday. The all-encompassing show will feature Stephen Colbert, Nick Kroll, Nathan Fielder, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson as well as Key and Peele who in the promo, broke down the meaning of Kwanzaa (it’s worth watching). Also, Tuesday night the network is giving a sneak peek of the new show Big Time in Hollywood, FL. The series is executively produced by Ben Stiller and is about brothers and self-proclaimed filmmakers who are kicked out of their parents’ home and forced to face reality. And if you’re looking for more new shows, be sure to catch Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Birthday Boys, New Girl, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

In late night, Seth Meyers is getting into the holiday spirit–members of his family will be guests on his show, along with Aasif Mandvi, Jason Sudeikis, and Aubrey Plaza. Seth Rogen and Adam Resnick will be on Letterman and Erin Foley, Wayne Brady, and Jermaine Fowler stop by Ferguson. Kimmel has guest Mindy Kaling and Fallon has Tim Allen.

Check out this week's full comedy listings below: READ MORE

Paul F. Tompkins and Marc Evan Jackson Talk Future Tripping, Improv, and More on 'Speakeasy'

Here's the latest episode of Paul F. Tompkins's web series Speakeasy with Thrilling Adventure Hour, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Parks and Recreation's Marc Evan Jackson, who chats with Tompkins at length about how he got his start in improv, how he approaches auditions, and how he learned to "lose the embarrassment of failure." It's a great episode full of solid advice for aspiring improvisers and actors alike, especially coming from a guy who grew up with no aspirations to be a TV star.

Sarah Silverman Teaches Kids Some Comedy Basics

Sarah Silverman was recently a guest on the Kevin Nealon-hosted web series Laugh Lessons, where she sits down with impressionable children to answer some of comedy's most important questions: How should a comedian shake hands with people? Is poop or pee funnier? What are some solid comedian names? What is courtesy laughter? Thanks to her years of experience, Silverman leaves no question unanswered. (via The Huffington Post)

Comedy Central Is Developing a 'TripTank' Spin-Off 'Jeff & Some Aliens'

Comedy Central's animated show TripTank might get its own spin-off series. THR reports that the network is currently developing a spin-off from duo Sean Donnelly and Alessandro Minoli that will be an animated series based on their TripTank series Jeff & Some Aliens, which follows Jeff (Brett Gelman) and "three extraterrestrials who are sent to Earth to study the world's most average guy to evaluate whether humanity and the planet should be destroyed." TripTank executive producers Alex Bulkey and Corey Campondonico will also serve as EPs on the spin-off. Additionally, Donnelly and Minoli have a second animated/live-action hybrid in development at CC called The Amazing Danny, which "puts viewers inside the mind of a lovable schlub in his mid-20s." The duo will serve as writers, directors, and executive producers on both projects.

Check out a few clips from Jeff & Some Aliens below: READ MORE

Nick Offerman\'s One-Man Show \'American Ham\' Premieres on Netflix December 12th

Nick Offerman's one-man show is coming to Netflix next month. According to a Twitter update by Offerman, the film — titled American Ham — is set to premiere on Netflix Friday, December 12th. The show was filmed at Town Hall in New York City and "features music and anecdotes on oral sex techniques." Click through to watch Offerman sing a song on Conan about everything he learned at Sundance this year. READ MORE

The Family's New Coat of Arms, by Jake Tuck

Thanks for coming to the unveiling of the new Pepperton family coat of arms, the updated representation of our clan’s history and values. I have personally designed it to both carry on the ancient tradition of our name and account for our place in the modern world.

Back in the old country, heraldic devices helped us promote our family’s brand. The area peasants needed to be able to easily tell who was winning the jousts or commandeering their stocks of grain. Now we can use it for things like family reunion T-shirts, or as a logo for Pepperton Appliances, once a regional retail giant, now a front for Uncle Barry’s adopted son’s sweepstakes scams.

So now I will take off this sheet and reveal the coat of arms. There it is! I know, it’s so beautiful that applause or even recognition of its existence seems pointless.

Now, since most of you are probably a bit rusty with heraldic symbols, I’ll explain the elements that make up a coat of arms. First, there is the shield, which of course was used in battle by the Peppertons of old, such as during the great Catapult Wars of the 16th century, when we fought several neighboring families over whether or not catapults should be used in wars. We were against them, so you can guess how those wars went. Hence the “no catapults” sign on the shield. Oh and I also included an anthropomorphic dishwasher for you, Uncle Barry.

Nana, you’re leaving already. You were told there would an open bar. I guess you don’t remember the scene at your granddaughter’s wedding. I wonder why that is. READ MORE

Here's a Sneak Peek of Friday's 'The Birthday Boys' Featuring Tim and Eric

The Birthday Boys is back with a brand new episode this Friday at 11:30pm, and IFC just released a sneak peek from the episode starring Mike Hanford as a man who discovers he's really good at playing piano with some jazzy saxophone backup from equally lucky talents Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.