The Paley Center for Media, which has locations in both New York and LA, dedicates itself to the preservation of television and radio history. Inside their vast archives of more than 150,000 television shows, commercials, and radio programs, there are thousands of important and funny programs waiting to be rediscovered by comedy nerds like you and me. Each week, this column will highlight a new gem waiting for you at the Paley Library to quietly laugh at. (Seriously, it’s a library, so keep it down.)
For a long period in America, if you looked up the word “comedy” in the collective cultural dictionary there’d be a picture of Bob Hope [...]
Comedians think often about how their identity relates to the world around them. They spent much of their time reflecting on who they are, where they come from, what they've done, and what they've seen. Usually these reflections are form-fitted and presented to us as comedy for entertainment, and it's through this process that we may come to know more about the comedian and the world we live in.
Imagine if you gave comedians free-range to tell us about themselves and what they think about their world without having to mold it to fit a comic form. Mike Sacks has been doing that for us since 2009 when he [...]
Saturday Night Live has employed hundreds of comedy writers in its four decades on the air, but no writer has been associated with the show longer — or had more of a lasting impact — than James Woodward Downey. If Lorne Michaels is the face of Saturday Night Live, Downey is its behind-the-scenes creative force.
Called by Lorne Michaels the best political humorist alive, Downey has been responsible for most of the political-centered pieces during Saturday Night Live’s run (many of which he co-wrote with now Senator Al Franken), starting with Jimmy Carter in the mid-’70s and ending, six administrations later, with Barack Obama. The power of Downey’s political comedy extends [...]
I remember picking up Mike Sacks's book And Here's the Kicker, a collection of interviews with some of the greatest comedy writers ever, when it was released back in 2009, and instantly devouring it. I couldn't cram the words into my brain fast enough. While my peers' childhood heroes were pro skateboarders and wrestlers, I instead worshiped comedy writers, and in Sacks's book, here they all were – Letterman head writer Merrill Markoe, original Simpsons scribe George Meyer, and '80s comedy king Harold Ramis – talking at length on the subject of humor writing. I recall this distinct feeling that there had never been anything more perfectly suited [...]
Two weeks ago, we named And Here's The Kicker as the first book of the Splitsider Comedy Book Club. The plan is to give everyone a month to obtain and read the book but I wanted to check in as we're halfway through. So far, I've read the wonderful interviews with Buck Henry, Stephen Merchant, Harold Ramis, Dan Mazer, Merrill Markoe, Paul Feig, Bob Odenkirk, Todd Hanson, Marshall Brickman, and Mitch Hurwitz. Though the hope is to have a longer discussion at the end of the book, below are a few questions to be discussed in the comments section of this post to get the ball rolling [...]