Splitsider

 

Comedy and Comic Books with Andrés du Bouchet

If you listen closely to the lead track of Andrés du Bouchet’s new album, 20-Sided Guy, you’ll likely pick out my obnoxious cackle. I was lucky enough to be present at the RIOT LA comedy fest this past January where du Bouchet recorded the track “To Victory!” which is a monologue delivered in character as a medieval general and which my friends have nearly gotten sick of hearing me talk about. Du Bouchet recorded all 16 tracks on the new album at different venues, adding yet another layer to the multi-faceted nature of his work, his high-concept, one-man-show-esque character pieces. This approach to comedy has also served du Bouchet [...]

Stephen Merchant\'s Undying Love for the Romantic Comedy

Despite all of its cringe-worthy moments, the original version of The Office was at its core a love story between the characters Tim and Dawn. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that series co-creator Stephen Merchant has a bit of a soft spot for romantic comedies.

That affinity is on display in Merchant’s latest project, Hello Ladies: The Movie, which premieres Sunday on HBO. Merchant stars in, co-wrote, and directed the TV movie, which concludes the series of the same name that aired for one season on HBO.

I recently had the chance to chat with Merchant about Hello Ladies, his first major project without long-time [...]

Blazing the Internet TV Show Trail with 'High Maintenance's Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair

It's been nearly two years since we first featured High Maintenance, the stoner-friendly web series from husband/wife duo Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld that follows an unnamed weed dealer (Sinclair) as as he makes deliveries to a diverse and never-ending assortment of NYC residents. Since its 2012 debut, High Maintenance has grown from a scrappy DIY web series to getting picked up as Vimeo's very first funded original show, and today marks the premiere of its brand new season online. Ahead of High Maintenance's return, I talked to Blichfeld and Sinclair about why they opted out of the traditional television pilot route, what we can expect [...]

Standup, Storytelling and Radio Hosting with Ophira Eisenberg

Ophira Eisenberg is a standup comic, the host of NPR’s live quiz show Ask Me Another, and a regular host and contributor to the popular live storytelling series The Moth. Somehow, she also managed write a memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, which was published last year and was quickly optioned for a feature film (the script is being written as we speak). Her new comedy album, Bangs!, is available on iTunes starting today. I spoke to the Canadian-born, New York-based comedian about giving accidental advice, storytelling versus joke telling, and living happily ever after.

Tell me about your new comedy album.

Well, [...]

The Weird and Wonderful World of Maria Bamford

Back in August, the web series Modern Comedian debuted an episode featuring standup Maria Bamford wherein she candidly breaks down her struggles with bipolar disorder and delivers a hilarious walkthrough of her favorite website Crazymeds.us. Lit by nothing but the glow of her computer screen, Bamford reads a panic attack-inducing list of side effects for one of her meds — including "instant old age," inability to drink alcohol, tooth loss, confusion, baldness, and dry skin — before bursting into laughter then telling the camera: "I don't mind losing a little hair. And, again, the tradeoff is pretty awesome."

In this little moment lies the true magic of [...]

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

Bob 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 [...]

Turning the Show Around with Big Jay Oakerson

Every time I’ve seen Big Jay Oakerson, I’ve seen a different (but always hilarious) act. He’s certainly not alone in the growing genre of comedy based almost entirely on crowd work, but he does particularly define why it has become so popular.

We listen to comedians like Mike Birbiglia to hear a funny, intricate story, comedians like Louis CK to hear brilliant takes on simple opinions, and comedians like Steven Wright to hear how absurd our world can be when jumbled up and rearranged. We listen to comedians like Big Jay Oakerson to remember that humor isn’t always something rehearsed: at its core, humor is just part of [...]

The Punk Rock Comedy of Eric Andre

Both professionally and physically, Eric Andre has paid his dues. From boring commercial work, to thankless standup gigs, to working as a Geico Caveman at live events, Andre has done what it takes to make his dream of a twisted, absurdist, ferocious talk show a reality. The Eric Andre Show brings celebrity guests from all across the entertainment spectrum into a DIY, punk rock interview format that flips the traditional ways of late night talk shows on their heads. The path to success has been paved with constant damage, both to the frequently abused set of the show and Andre's body itself. This willful self-destruction, while incredibly entertaining, serves to [...]

Embracing Terror with Kate Berlant

Aside from being tremendously funny, Kate Berlant has an almost authoritative stage presence and style, one that encourages the audience to “Embrace Terror,” as is emblazoned on the rubber bracelets she sells after her set. It’s not that Berlant seeks to horrify, but her loose style of comedy coupled with her sassy old-showbiz demeanor guides the audience through a roller-coaster set.

I was lucky enough to see her perform recently, on my home turf at The American Comedy Company in San Diego, and not for the first time, I was taken aback by how seamlessly Berlant is able to weave her character into the set and vice versa. The audience [...]

Wyatt Cenac: Standup, Writer, Puppet Aficionado

Wyatt Cenac is best known as being a correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, as well as writing for King of The Hill. He’s also been in films such as Sleepwalk With Me and Darren Grodsky’s independent film Growing Up (and Other Lies). Working more on his own projects these days, the New York comic wrote and directed his new one-hour standup special on Netflix, Wyatt Cenac: Brooklyn. He’s currently traveling for his tour "Wyatt Cenac Live in Brooklyn in ___(insert city name here)___", and I caught up with him to talk to him about his plans for doing more of his own projects. Hint: they involve puppets.

I [...]

Inside A Special Thing and 'Never Not Funny' with Matt Belknap

Matt Belknap has had many aspirations. As a teenager he hoped to make it in Hollywood after reading a Spike Lee book on screenwriting. After attempting to make films, he carved his own path by starting A Special Thing message board, originally designed as a place where Tenacious D fans could congregate. But AST morphed into an alternative comedy hub where fans and comedians alike could post and discuss comedy. Belknap soon started A Special Thing Podcast and since 2006, Belknap has been cohosting the weekly podcast, Never Not Funny, with one of his favorite comedians, Jimmy Pardo.

Along with his cohosting duties, Belknap cofounded A Special Thing Records, which [...]

Thomas Lennon, Ben Garant, and the Lasting Legacy of 'Reno 911!'

The team of Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant are a match made in comedy entertainment heaven. As members of the comedy troupe and MTV television show The State, these two created (along with Kerri Kenney-Silver) and starred in the ever popular, Reno 911! After six seasons and the Reno 911!: Miami film, the duo has written blockbuster films, a book about writing said blockbuster films and yet still finds time to appear on television and in film.

Five years after the show concluded, the complete series is now available on DVD. I spoke to the pair about the series' character and sketch inspirations and shared experiences with police [...]

Talking with Megan Amram About Her New Book 'Science…For Her!'

I don’t want to start this by talking about Twitter and how it’s now used for more than sharing up to the second news, opinions on that news, and jokes on that news, because we already know this. Also, because Megan Amram deserves more than this. But you can’t talk about Amram and her career without talking about Twitter. Before she was a comedy writer on Parks and Recreation and the Oscars, she was just known for her tweets. And by “just,” I mean her over four hundred thousand followers “just” knew this woman for her weird, often dark, hilarious tweets. It was this simple act of writing jokes on [...]

Finding Joy in the Saddest Depths of Capitalism with Kasper Hauser

The San Francisco comedy group Kasper Hauser has a knack for the absurd. For instance, their name is derived from that of a mysterious 19th century feral child from Germany. But beyond the far flung fringes of the unusual exists a sharp grasp of the delicate balance between comedy and tragedy. Since 2000, Kasper Hauser's four members — Dan Klein, James Reichmuth, John Reichmuth and Rob Baedeker — have been writing and performing comedy that adequately represents where they are existentially, both as a group and as individuals. They have just released SkyMaul2: Where America Buys His Stuff, their second parody of the popular SkyMall airline catalog. I talked [...]