December 18th, 2014

"Comedians shouldn't be held accountable for acts of violence – and those we satirize shouldn't be silenced. Sarah Palin is hilarious, and I would never want her silenced. It informs the debate. The problem is the people who make the threats. If Iran made a comedy titled Eat Shit and Die, America, I’d be the first guy in line – but then again I have a Pollyanna view. If all countries made satirical movies about each other, and that was the only way we all fought – what a great world we'd live in."

- Former Daily Show co-executive producer and The Interview screenwriter Dan Sterling comments on the recent events surrounding Sony's decision to cancel the film's theatrical release in an interview with Creative Screenwriting.

This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Jenny Slate Delights On 'WTF'

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.

WTF with Marc Maron - Jenny Slate
WTF_with_Marc_MaronLeigh: This week's episode of WTF with Marc Maron is so good, I'm still coming down from a contact high, which can only be attributed to Jenny Slate's incredibly delightful energy. On top of that she's got the most hilarious and refreshing perspective on things. Take aging, for instance. I don't think you'll hear too many people talk about how they look forward to the day their hair is 100 feet long and their skin is like bark. If you've ever read or heard any interview with Slate, it seems like it's not only mandatory for the interviewer to bring up her departure from SNL, but also make a joke about how she must get asked about it all the time. And, you can usually see the question coming from a mile away. This time, however, when the topic of her time at SNL comes up so naturally it's the story of how she got hired that she shares. It's a very moving story and Slate even gets a little emotional. As a listener, I dare you to not get overwhelmed with feelings. It's great to hear Maron and Slate talk about people she admired growing up, like Ruth Gordon, Madeline Kahn, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman, who she describes as "women that have a cool style and can't be replaced." After her success with Obvious Child, Marcel the Shell, and the fact that she's on just about every TV show right now, it's safe to say Slate herself is most definitely a woman with a cool style who can't be replaced. Maron sums it up best at the end of the episode: "How can you not love her?" READ MORE

The Lonely Island Takes Turns on the Mic with Reggie Watts

Here's the latest installment of Comedy Bang! Bang!'s web series Reggie Makes Music featuring Friday's guests The Lonely Island, who all seem a little reluctant to take their turn on the mic but make the best of their very awkward situation. Bonus points to Reggie Watts for wearing the most adorable Christmas sweater of all time.

Oreo Cookie Balls Song feat. JINX

One Colbert Nation, Under God: Stephen Colbert Is America’s Cool Pastor

colbertIt started out as a joke. It ends as a near institution to the point that this guy guest hosted it earlier in the month.

In the coming days and weeks, much will be written about the cultural impact of The Colbert Report. From tapping into the meta world we live in, to the awe we all share that one performer could pull off the same character nightly for almost a decade without it getting stale. Needless to say, what Colbert and his team have achieved is beyond reproach. Yet in my opinion, the single greatest achievement of his show was bringing religion and faith in to comedy in such a fun, sincere way. Instead of tearing it down, he celebrated it and wore his own beliefs on his sleeve, even under the guise of his character. His absence from late night for the next few months leaves us missing not just great comic genius but a much needed discussion about the power of faith in our media landscape. READ MORE

HBO Orders a Comedy Pilot Starring Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman might be HBO's next big comedy star. THR reports that the pay network has ordered an untitled pilot starring Silverman described as "a comedic look at a pathologically honest woman having a modern midlife crisis." Silverman will co-write the script and serve as a co-executive producer alongside Secret Diary of a Call Girl creator Lucy Prebble. Silverman previously developed a Lorne Michaels-produced pilot for HBO last year called People in New Jersey, which was ultimately not picked up by the network. Silverman hasn't starred in her own comedy series since The Sarah Silverman Program ended its run in 2010, so hopefully this pilot has better luck.

'The Chris Gethard Show' Is Headed to Cable

Comedy Central might have passed on The Chris Gethard Show pilot earlier this year, but hope is never lost for the TCGS gang. During last night's show, Gethard announced that his longtime public access show has now found a home on cable, though the network has yet to be revealed. Here's a statement from Gethard on the news:

I'm super excited to say that it looks like TCGS has found a home on cable. Nothing is 100% set in stone just yet, but things are close enough to being finalized that people on all sides were down with letting me give a goodbye to our public access supporters in case we go into production in January and don't get to come back and have a farewell episode on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. On my end I can say that I am so beyond excited about our future home – I walked away from my meeting with them feeling like they were progressive, looking to innovate, and down to help us really rattle the chains and see what we can do with this thing we've built. They really feel like kindred spirits in so many ways, and if you know anything about our show you know that to say that about development executives is kind of a miracle, because our show is bonkers magoo. My plan is to make these people look like geniuses for taking a chance on us and to turn many heads. For a few years all I've been saying is that I can't give up on TCGS, because we've managed to do something that feels unique with tons of limitations. I always felt like if I gave up before finding someone who could give us a small budget and a real chance at doing it right, I'd kick myself forever. We finally get a chance to do it right, so now we just have to put up or shut up. We plan on bringing you the same balls out idiotic comedy with real honesty and emo heart and dedication to its fans we've always brought, just now we can do it with a set that doesn't have to fit in the trunk of my car and also I assume the lights won't turn off halfway through an episode and we won't have to deal with a situation where we show up and someone has stolen all the microphones. It's going to be so rad.

Also, I am someone who always works best while chasing an unrealistic dream. Now that it looks like we're going to accomplish the unrealistic dream of leaping from public access over to cable, I'm calling it now – TCGS will win an Emmy within two years. Quote me on that.

Let this be a lesson to aspiring comedy performers everywhere: Never, ever give up on your dreams, people! And look out Emmys, because TCGS is headed your way.

Hope-Less: How Different Would Standup Be Without Bob Hope?

bobhopeThe truth is, Bob Hope actually dug Lenny Bruce, he really did — even considered him “brilliant,” according to Richard Zoglin in his new biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century. Zoglin tells the story of Hope dropping in on a Florida nightclub to check out Bruce’s act. “Bruce introduced Hope in the audience and after the show,” writes Zoglin, “ran into the parking lot to flag him down, asking Hope if he would give Bruce a guest spot on one of his TV shows. Hope laughed him off: ‘Lenny, you’re for educational TV.’”

Whether there was more sharpness or self-deprecation in Hope’s remark, it’s a tender moment between two comedians who couldn’t possibly have been more different. In Hope, however, Zoglin is determined to make the case that there’s less difference than we perceive between Bob Hope and those comedians of Bruce’s generation and later — and, what’s more, that without Bob Hope, none of those comedians would have been possible.

Zoglin claims, very bluntly, that “Hope was the first to combine topical subject matter with the rapid-fire gag rhythms of the vaudeville quipster. His monologues became the template for Johnny Carson and nearly every late-night TV host who followed him, and the foundation stone for all standup comics, even those who rebelled against him.”

That’s a strong claim, and it’s one that Zoglin grounds firmly in history. Hope’s radio manager, Jimmy Saphier, has said that in the 1930s he “felt it was a shame the home listeners weren’t getting the best of him. Radio simply wasn’t using his talents properly. I knew this, and I sensed Bob knew it but didn’t yet know how to overcome it. His work with [his radio foils] was funny, but his strength seemed to me and also to him — eventually — to be centered in what he did best, the monologue.” READ MORE

Jessica Williams Gives Fox News Contributors the Jay-Z Treatment on 'Daily Show'

Correspondent Jessica Williams appeared on The Daily Show last night to set the record straight after Sean Hannity referred to Jay-Z as a "former crack dealer" on Fox News, prompting her to turn the tables on the "news" network that's constantly telling the black community to "stay out of trouble" and "pull up their pants" by labeling them the same way they label Jay-Z — through the worst thing they've ever done. Turns out crack dealing isn't so awful when compared with the rap sheets of some of Fox News' finest.

'Conan' Prop Master Bill Tull Is Back with Some Cheap Holiday Tips

If you're out of money, time, or creativity for holiday ideas, don't worry: Conan's no-nonsense prop master Bill Tull returned last night with a brand new collection of frugal tips that are guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit without breaking the bank.

Stephen Colbert Hosts a 'Colbert Report' Memorabilia Yard Sale

Last night was the second-to-last episode of The Colbert Report, so Stephen decided to get rid of nine years' worth of Colbert Report memorabilia crowding up the offices by putting on his very own yard sale. You know the end is near when even Michael Stipe is for sale for 25 cents.

Today's Funniest Tweets

"The Americans are more enthusiastic and more likely to engage in hyperbole. The British fans are liable to suddenly be talking to you about something that you don't know how you got into the conversation. I think it's something to do with the fact that they've been watching you for so many years, sort of you telling your story; they want to tell you their story … So the Americans I'd say are much more positive, they're much more in love with success. In Britain they're a fairly envious bunch and they love it if you fail."

- John Cleese talks American vs. British comedy fans, Fawlty Towers, and working as a comedy writer in an interview with NPR.


'MythBusters' Will Air a 'Simpsons'-Themed Episode Next Month

The Discovery Channel's hit series MythBusters returns for a 13th season next month, and hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the premiere will be dedicated to busting some myths from the world of Springfield. "Several people were like, 'This is a cartoon! What can you do with this?'" Savage said. "We looked through many, many, many different bits on The Simpsons, but I think that we found stuff that really is entertaining and not totally outside the realm of physics — unlike, say, Wile E Coyote stuff might be. We reached out [to The Simpsons producers], and they were totally into it."

So which Simpsons myths will the guys tackle? One comes from the 1990 episode "The Crepes of Wrath," according to Savage: "We set out to test Bart throwing a cherry bomb into the toilet that makes all toilets in the school act like geysers. And then there’s one [from season 5’s "Sideshow Bob Roberts"] in which Homer’s house is about to be destroyed by a wrecking ball and Homer places his body between the wrecking ball and the house to keep it from being destroyed." The second stunt involved the team creating two Simpsons house replicas as well as a life-size Homer:

This was the first time we made a non-human crash-test dummy because Homer is human, but he’s also a cartoon character, which means his proportions are totally not human. It’s a very elaborate process that we went through using three or four different technologies that we’ve used over the years in special effects. But there’s a weirdness to standing next to a 5’11” tall Homer Simpson proportioned correctly to the cartoon in real life, it’s really peculiar. I can’t describe it any other way than that.