It’s kind of good and fun, or at least strangely comforting, to have this positivist attitude about comedy and comedy writing, that if you just apply the magical alchemy you can turn any subject matter into a clever, witty bon mot. This idea that, like, “Hey, sometimes it’s tough, but if you you’re good enough, you can make smart jokes about any topic. That’s what makes comedy so great!” It always kind of reminds me of that thing in sales culture, where they’re like, “Hey buddy, if you’re a good enough salesman, you can sell anything to anyone.”
Well I’m here to tell you that you can’t sell anything to [...]
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.)
When I write an article that reaches pretty deep into the archives, I might spend a lot of time giving some context: talking about how [...]
There's a famous story about The Richard Pryor Show — as Richard Pryor's star was rising in Hollywood in the 1970s, NBC commissioned the man to make a 10-episode sketch program to be broadcast in prime time. Family-friendly viewing not being Pryor's first priority, he clashed with the censors again and again until finally they let him off with only four episodes. These four episodes are still credited with an enormous influence over the genre of TV sketch comedy — directly cited by future blockbusters such as In Living Color and Chapelle's Show — and launching the careers of several performers, including the late Robin Williams in one of his [...]
Last year, in his third time hosting SNL, Zach Galifianakis gave us a wonderful sketch called "Darrell's House." The sketch came in two parts. The first part was an odd piece that aired live early in the episode, with Galifianakis playing a public access TV show host who barked at an off-screen director to make various specific edits in post: remove a fight with his wife, insert a shot of a laughing crowd at the Apollo, etc. But it was the second part that was the true marvel. At the end of the night, SNL aired a recut version of the sketch with exactly all of the edits Galifianakis [...]
Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich, premieres tomorrow night at 9pm on Showtime. Considering its sold out premiere at Tribeca Festival prompted one scalper to sell tickets for a 100% mark-up on Craigslist, Showtime subscribers may want to see what their passwords are worth.
This latest documentary about the iconic standup will air during a boon of excellent new documentaries about trail blazing comic geniuses, including Elaine Stritch (Sundance Selects), Mel Brooks (PBS), and Moms Mabley (HBO). It certainly holds its own as biographical TV specials go. The result is a fine primer for the uninitiated and a Valentine for prior (pun intended) [...]