None of the Best Comedies on TV Would Exist Without 'King of the Hill'

With Parks and Recreation gracefully leaving our television screens this year, showrunner Mike Schur has been getting a lot of attention. Not only for his series coming to a close, but for the sort of careful, respectful character-driven approach that Parks is not only heralding through these final thirteen episodes, but that has strongly been a part of it from the start. Parks and Recreation isn’t the only program with this approach to comedy, however, and with a rather impressive, unifying force of series now out there, it’s worth examining why this breed of comedy is currently in control. It might surprise you that the answer goes all the way [...]

The Anarchic Comedy of Joe Dante's 'Gremlins'

As a filmmaker, there is much more to Joe Dante than Gremlins, but there's a reason the 1984 film has been his most successful. Coupled with its screwball sequel, Gremlins represents Dante's sensibility, a self-aware and sometimes postmodern mixture of horror and comedy, at its most accessible and fully-realized. Joe Dante is a filmmaker in love with junk cinema: low budget sci-fi, classic monster movies, gag-a-minute vintage cartoons. Media that, to quote Tony Randall's Brain Gremlin from Gremlines 2, is “fun, but in no sense civilized.” Dante's films bring these disparate influences together and, like a Mogwai transforming into a Gremlin, makes them into something new, exciting and, above [...]

The Complete 'Get a Life' Is Coming on 9/18

Good news! Chris Elliot's cult classic Get a Life is finally coming to DVD, and it now has a release date and you can pre-order it. It's coming on September 18 as a five-disc set that includes both seasons. Go ahead and pre-order it right here.

Michael Schur Gives Cheers the Respect it Deserves

Parks and Rec showrunner Michael Schur really loves Cheers. So much so that he did an entire interview with Vulture about the show and what made it so great. It's essential reading for fans of Cheers and fans of great TV comedy in general. Aspiring comedy writers should especially take note: "It wasn’t fancy or tricky, they didn’t have crazy plot moves. You just watched these amazing characters slowly change and evolve over eleven years. You watch these episodes and there are like four scenes sometimes in an entire episode. They’re in the bar and this happens and that happens and you go to commercial, then you come back [...]

Watch Andy Kaufman Be Alive: 175 Andy Kaufman Videos Running in Chronological Order

Watch Andy Kaufman Be Alive is a new blog by comedian Scott Moran, one that promises to post every available Andy Kaufman video in chronological order. With 175 videos lined up, he's starting with his college acting auditions and leading up to his final TV appearance 9 years later. It's a pretty awesome undertaking, and a great way to get introduced to Kaufman over time. Above is Kaufman's first ever TV appearance on Kennedy at Night from 1972.

The 20 Best Forgotten Sketches from 'The State'

Anyone who grew up on MTV in the 90s can quote lines from the short-lived cult sketch comedy show, The State. Even casual fans are familiar with the classics like Michael Showalter’s rebel-without-a-cause character, Doug, and his famous line, “I’m outta heeeere.” Or Barry and Levon and their $240 worth of puddin’. And of course, Louie, the guy who comes in and says his catchphrase over and over again: “I wanna dip my balls in it!” But most of these popular recurring characters were actually written in at the suggestion of MTV. In fact, when the cast was pressured by the network to incorporate more catchphrases into the show, [...]

Jimmy Fallon, Billy Crystal, and Jerry Seinfeld Update "Who's On First?"

Super special guests Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld helped Jimmy Fallon to do an updated version of  Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First?" bit last night on Late Night, with a couple of awesome performances from less-famous people Steve Higgins and A.D. Miles. Sorry, Steve Higgins and A.D. Miles for not including your names in the headline of this post! You don't quite have the name recognition of Jerry Seinfeld or Billy Crystal and you appearing on Late Night is far less of a big deal.

'Friends': the Oral History

Vanity Fair has an extensive oral history of Friends, in which they talk to the folks responsible for the show about its entire life. They didn't talk to the whole case — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Matthew Perry are absent — but it's a pretty fascinating look at one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Here's Matt LeBlanc on developing Joey as a character: There was a conversation I had early on, when the show was just starting to take shape, and I remember standing back and being as objective as I could about Joey and thinking, This thing could go a long time. Does [...]

20 Years Later, Looking Back at the Twisted Genius of Ren and Stimpy

Ren and Stimpy turns 20 years old this summer, and I kicked off celebrations by watching one of my favorite episodes, Space Madness.

It opens in Ren and Stimpy’s trailer, where the duo is getting ready to watch Stimpy’s “favorite live action drama,” Commander Höek and Stimpy. Stimpy grabs his anti-gravity chewing gum and his “genuine super elastic time shorts,” and we get a unique shot from behind as the pair tunes in to the beginning of the show. From the outset, the episode toys with our sense of the real and the fictional, conflating our world with the cartoon world. It’s a hallmark trick of creator John Kricfalusi, [...]

Does Good Comedy Have an Expiration Date?

Shakespeare might bore you to tears, but believe it or not, Puck from Midsummer Night’s Dream was one of the funniest characters of his time. Doozies like, “Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make poor females mad,” were as funny to them as Borat’s naked hotel chase is to us.

Good humor, like good produce, seems to have an expiration date. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t feel fresh. After all, who wants to bite into a plum that tastes like a tennis ball? It seems strange; isn’t funny always funny? Drama is pretty ageless, but jokes about knickers are not. Why doesn’t comedy last forever?

'Trading Places' Was Originally Written for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and 4 Other Facts About the Movie

Business Insider has a great oral history of Trading Places today, and it's filled with awesome tidbits about the classic film. Tidbits such as:

1. The movie was originally written for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor

LANDIS: The script was developed for Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. And when I was sent the script, Richard Pryor, unfortunately, had his accident where he burnt himself rather badly, and they sent it to me and said, 'What do you think?

Turner Classic Movies Will Reair Old Johnny Carson Interviews

Turner Classic Movies just signed a deal to repackage some classic Johnny Carson Tonight Show interviews into a series of hour-long specials. The LA Times reports that TCM will create 10 one-hour specials under the name "Carson on TCM" and begin airing them in the summer of 2013. TCM will also be running Carson interviews individually in between its programs, pairing the interviews with movies that feature the actor or actress interviewed. Classic Carson interviews that will be packaged into these specials include ones with Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Drew Barrymore, Steve Martin and Elizabeth Taylor, and it'll be the first time many of these clips have aired [...]

Paul Feig Breaks Down Freaks and Geeks

Well, this is great: all week, Paul Feig is giving a detailed, episode-by-episode breakdown of the entire short run of Freaks and Geeks over at the AV Club. Part one is up now, which covers the first two episodes of the series. If you're a fan of the cult series (and I assume you are), it's well worth checking out.

Your Favorite Comedy Exists Because of The Larry Sanders Show

This year the IFC channel started showing reruns of The Larry Sanders Show, which will hopefully introduce one of the best, most influential sitcoms of all time to a new generation of bored stoners, Greg the Bunny fans, agoraphobic movie snobs, and whoever else is watching IFC at 11 pm on a Monday. It’s a strange show to watch in syndication, however, and I can picture someone — even a comedy geek who peppers conversations with Mr. Show and Spaced quotes — finishing an episode of Larry Sanders and wondering what the big deal is. So: this is why Larry Sanders is a big deal.

We should start [...]