Two young men are planning their band’s first show. After their first song, they’ll shout to the audience: “We haven’t even started yet! That stuff is bullshit! You guys are idiots for even liking that! I can’t believe you guys clapped for that, you’re idiots! Here’s the real song! Faggots!”
“Nirvana the Band” follows a band called Nirvana the Band (no relation), made of piano genius Jay McCarrol and musically untalented Matt Johnson. The band has never played a show, they’ve never really rehearsed, and when they get turned down by the first venue they call, they spend the rest of the ten-episode show trying to trick the place into letting them play. In between they fight, try to pick up girls, and commit arson. The wackiness of the plot is tempered by naturalistic performances and a unique production style that helps even the silliest parts feel real.
It’s not a very accessible web show. It’s not on YouTube. Episodes can run almost twenty minutes. The lighting’s bad. And the first episode starts with the joke above. Of course the joke is at the expense of the speaker, Matt. Jay gives him a blank, shocked look. And the look is the real punchline — because it’s unacted. It’s cut from some other moment. So are all the reaction shots, and it makes a surprising difference. READ MORE
Here's the latest episode of Amy Poehler's web series Smart Girls at the Party, in which she interviews Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, stars and creators of the web series Broad City and the upcoming Comedy Central show of the same name. Don't listen to the graphics, Ilana is the one on the left and Abbi on the right, not the other way around.
After over two decades on The Tonight Show (and off and back on again), Jay Leno is stepping away from the late night franchise for a second time in February of next year, and his guest last night suggested to Leno on air that he moved to Fox. Sandler, who himself was let go from NBC's late night department in 1995, asked Leno, "So, Jay, retiring buddy?" Leno responded, "Well, we’re stepping aside" to which Sandler suggested, "You’re thinking about relaxing and I have a good idea for what Jay should do. Don’t you think he should just take it easy, enjoy, breathe, maybe go to Fox, do a show at 11pm, maybe that kind of thing?" The Leno audience applauded and Leno thanked Sandler for "stirring the pot." Moving to Fox would be super complicated for Leno as he'd have to push all the Fox affiliates' late night local news broadcasts out of the way and lose the stations a bunch of money in the process, but it's still a thing that could totally happen someday and make at least Adam Sandler happy.
Amazon is deciding which of its eight comedy pilots are getting picked up this week, and it looks like Zombieland won't be one of them. "Our Zombieland series will not be moving forward on Amazon," the show/movie's co-creator Rhett Rheese tweeted yesterday. He added, "Sad for everyone involved. I'll never understand the vehement hate the pilot received from die-hard Zombieland fans. You guys successfully hated it out of existence. Anyway, we did our best, and we're very proud of our team." Zombieland was the only existing franchise, besides The Onion, that Amazon made into a pilot, but being compared to the movie it's based on didn't win the pilot any favors. The potential show took a lot of heat for recasting all of its lead roles with unknown actors rather than following different characters in the same universe and reviews from critics and fans were mixed. We'll keep you posted on which of Amazon's seven other comedy pilots get loved into/hated out of existence as Amazon continues to make these big decisions over the next week or so.
Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District" segment has been back with a vengeance the past few weeks after a little bit of a hiatus. Last night's installment (embedded above), with openly black Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore, was an especially good one.
Last month, online retailer Amazon released its first batch of original TV pilots online, allowing viewers to have a hand in deciding which ones get picked up to full series. With the broadcast networks announcing which pilots they're picking up this week, Deadline reports that Amazon will be announcing their new shows too. The company has started notifying the shows that are getting series orders, and Deadline writes that things are looking good for Alpha House and Betas, with Onion News Empire and Zombieland having solid chances as well. The report doesn't mention Those Who Can't, the schoolteacher comedy from Denver group The Grawlix that topped our list of the best Amazon pilots, and it'll be a real shame if that one doesn't make it.
Living comedy legend Martin Short is set to star in his first movie in several years, and it's a pretty prestigious one. The Wrap reports that Short has been cast in Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie Inherent Vice, an adaptation of the 2009 Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as pothead private eye Doc Sportello, who's investigating the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend. Short joins a supporting cast that also includes Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, and Reese Witherspoon. Short's small role in the movie is being kept under wraps. He recently starred in Mulaney, SNL writer/stand-up John Mulaney's Lorne Michaels-produced sitcom that didn't get picked up for some reason. Inherent Vice will mark Martin Short's first onscreen movie role since 2006's Santa Clause 3. This should be a much bigger deal and will probably get nominated for more Oscars.
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. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy.
JOSH: The Nerdist Writers Panel has become appointment listening for aspiring television writers, and this week's episode is no exception as host Ben Blacker welcomes the creative team behind the popular program New Girl. Meriwether, Baer and Finkel examine the challenges of producing such an ambitious network sitcom with a delightful brand of insightful self-deprecation that perfectly encapsulates the charming, offbeat voice the series has developed. Meriwether and company discuss their attempts to find the perfect balance between humor and emotional storytelling, their late season success in implementing a group writing strategy and of course, the evolution of everybody's favorite douchebag, Schmidt. Part of the insecure, "what the hell am I doing with my life" tone that makes New Girl such a genuinely relatable program are on full display as Meriwether candidly discusses dealing with the difficult production schedule. "For people like us who are perfectionists, there are moments where it's just not gonna be exactly what you wanted," Meriwether said. "Okay, it's not exactly what I had in my mind, but then there is this other thing that might work." Added Meriwether, "It ain't HBO. It's fucking TV." READ MORE
Saturday Night Live's resident Obama impressionist Jay Pharoah got to impersonate the President to his face this week. A source tells The NY Post that Pharoah performed the impression as a surprise at a fundraiser at movie producer Harvey Weinstein's house. "Steve Martin, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel did a skit pretending they worked at the White House, and started questioning if they were getting a directive from the real president," the source says. "Then Jay came in and imitated Obama right in front of him. The president was surprised, then started laughing." What's the point of even imitating a public figure if it's not in a comedy sketch that the actual public figure interrupts midway through to raucous audience applause and the person doing the impression acts scared and then they do the impression together?
The Mindy Project was one of the most exciting shows to watch this TV season, in an odd way. Each week, it seemed like you never knew what show you would get. Would it be the madcap meta-rom-com of the pilot, that leaned heavily on creator and star Mindy Kaling's persona? Would it be the more ensemble-driven, group outing episodes of the early season? Would it go for something heartfelt? Also, who would be in the cast?
Not that I know how producing a TV show works, but it was at least exciting to puzzle through The Mindy Project's weird revolving-door supporting cast this year. MADtv's Ike Barinholtz was introduced as a recurring character in the second episode, eventually joining the main cast. Stephen Tobolowsky (Ned Rierson from Groundhog Day) was seemingly perfectly cast as Mindy's boss, but disappeared after 2 episodes, abruptly written out. Amanda Setton's receptionist character disappeared when the show retooled halfway through, Anna Camp played Mindy's best friend until she didn't anymore, and Xosha Roquemore joined the show with four episodes left in the season. Finally, veteran comic actress Beth Grant's character was fired in the second episode, randomly reappeared later in the year, and THEN got re-hired in a subsequent episode (owing to FOX airing the episodes out of order). READ MORE
HBO has ordered a new show from King of the Hill and Office Space mastermind Mike Judge. Deadline reports that the pay cable network has given a series order to a comedy Judge co-created with John Altschuler and Dave Krisnky (King of the Hill, The Goode Family) that was previously titled Silicon Valley. The show follows a bunch of people working in the tech industry and stars an impressive ensemble of up-and-comers including T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Lindsey Broad,Christopher Evan Welch, Amanda Crew, Angela Trimbur, Zach Woods, and Kumail Nanjiani. It's been a good day for The Office alum Zach Woods, who also has a supporting role in USA's Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair show Playing House, which was picked up today too.
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