Modern standup has been around in one form or another since vaudeville, but it’s only been since the late ‘70s that the standup special has gained traction as the crowning achievement of a successful comic. Fortunately, the beginnings of the standup special were as fertile as rock ‘n’ roll’s birth 25 years prior, with many of the all-time greats setting templates right from the start.
The material always comes first, of course, but as a video document of a honed act it’s also important to appreciate the visual elements — the framing, editing, and backdrop — and how they enhance or detract from the pacing and quality of the jokes. [...]
It's been a while since there were any updates on the in-the-works Bill Cosby NBC show, but at TCA over the weekend, the network announced that the multi-cam project will be co-created by Mike Sikowitz (CBS's The McCarthys) and Mike O'Malley (Showtime's Shameless), who is also being considered to play a lead role in the show. As for the plot, NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke said that Cosby "plays the patriarch of the family, dispensing his classic wisdom on relationships and parenthood, with three daughters, husbands and grandchildren. It's a classic big extended family sitcom." NBC is hoping to launch the show in summer or fall 2015.
Austin-based giant arts festival South by Southwest (SXSW) just announced the comedy portion of its 2014 lineup. Here's a rundown of what the festival will feature:
- An evening with Bill Cosby, presented by Funny Or Die
- Above Average, Lorne Michaels's company Broadway Video's YouTube channel, holding a showcase of past and present SNL performers that features performances by Fred Armisen, Good Neighbor (Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Nick Rutherford, and Dave McCary), standup from Sasheer Zamata, Chris Gethard, and host Tim Robinson
- A live installment of The Chris Gethard Show
- James Adomian's character show Conspiracy Theory Live with Jesse Ventura
- Showcases from local standup juggernauts The Meltdown with [...]
As with most years, 2013 saw an overwhelming amount of excellent standup, far too much to ever catalogue. But the greatest specials of the year were unique and inventive; many played with the very idea of a special itself, while others featured profoundly personal stories spun into brilliant standup. What they share is their distinctness — each of these comics has made a special that captures their own undeniable form of genius. Here are the most distinctive, memorable standup specials of 2013.