Everybody fancies themselves as some sort of wizard that can conjure up laughter by a few strokes of a keyboard, but only a few tweeters are truly worthy enough to have all of their witticisms transmitted to you, the ever busy comedy fan trying to navigate through an increasingly congested internet. Every Friday we'll make your life a little bit easier by introducing you to an individual that you might not know about who consistently makes us laugh and momentarily forget that the other days of the week exist.
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2012 was such a big year for comedy on television that it deserves more than a measly run down of the best episodes of the year. That is why you will find a whole bunch of awards below…as well as a top five list of the best episodes of the year. (Splitsider isn't behind in the episode ranking game; Splitsider is ahead of awards season.)
Not Elliott's first autobiography, and not Elliot's first fake nonfiction book written in his unctuous, smarmy, faux-snobbish persona. But there’s lots of self-analyzation from the point of view of the laudatory, starstruck biographer (Elliott himself, of course, but timely shades of Petraeus) about the slow acceptance of Elliott’s brand of challenging, meta, and highly influential anti-comedy. While the reader gets some sense of Elliott’s rise (the situations and life events are real, if not quite the execution), this book is more another fine Elliott product than it is an Elliott inventory.
The appeal of comedy documentaries, for me, has always been the opportunity to see a subject I love addressed seriously. I find it valuable to get an outsider's perspective on comedy, an industry that loves to look at itself but can be resistant to external scrutiny. And no matter how much comedy I see, I never tire of watching the change between a comedian on stage and off, to see what elements of themselves each performer brings onstage. Because humor requires the element of surprise, comedy is constantly evolving and changing.
There's so much to learn, and documentaries are a fantastic resource. Though great documentaries vary in style and [...]
It will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am a writer. (I sort of spoiled the surprise for you when I wrote a sentence down and then you read it.) More specifically, I am a comedy writer. When I started going to the Paley Center several years ago it was for entertainment, but it was also for my own education: to observe the comedians and performers of the past and to fill in the gaps of my own comedy history. However, when I came across what would become the subject of my first article for Splitsider, a short film made by Woody Allen [...]
Comedy has thankfully evolved from its universally beloved origins as Milton Berle one-liners and saucy harlequins. Broadly put, comedy at its best is a patient, pointed examination and calling out of the absurdity of human existence. Narrative comedy, from Shakespeare to M*A*S*H, takes that conceit and adds “making the best of it” to the mix.
As our social mores and collective existential despair change, so does the style of comedy we produce and consume. In the ‘80s, the Reagan-fronted superficiality and “America is perfect” attitude meant the dominant comedy of the day was gentle, listless sitcoms about upper class families. The Nietzschean depair of post-9/11 gave way to a [...]
While binging on Netflix and OnDemand over the holidays, Season Three of Louie and Season One of Girls deserve back-to-back viewing.
It’s not only the best way to get a picture of what counted as avant-garde television (I’m cringing as I write that phrase) in 2012, but also helps us see how these very different shows deal with similar themes of loneliness, generational anxiety, failed aspirations, and familial love — often simply from opposite approaches. By watching each series in the context of the other’s perspective, we learn more about both.
To argue this, it’s best to look at two of their respective season’s highlights: two episodes that seem [...]
What happened in the last year of my life. I can't tell. Laughing at myself all I want in the middle of the night. Oh well.
- Mean Jeans, "Tears in My Beers" 2011
Before going on to lament about how good some BBQ sauce would be right about now, Mean Jeans' lead singer and guitarist, Billy Jeans, makes a pretty apt statement for how his band views themselves. Even the most sensitive and self-deprecating forms of rock music don't leave much room for self-parody. The undying need for musicians to make themselves look cool and/or sincere outweighs any semblance of laughter towards themselves. Turning yourself into the [...]
It seems like just a year ago that I was writing to all of you recapping 2011's web series, because it was a year…almost exactly.
Now, here we are in the home stretch of 2012, and it's time to think about all the things that the Internet has given us lo these many months — the stars it's birthed, the jokes it's broadcast, the dreams it's made come true. Most of all, it's time for a little holiday relaxation time during which you'd be remiss if you didn't go back and take a second look at the all the funny things so many talented people poured their hearts [...]
It's been the year of looking back to, of all places, the 1980s — of this year's 46 Saturday Night's Children entries, half joined the show between 1980 and 1989. I'm an admirer of all things underdog, so while revisiting heavyweights like Joe Piscopo, Billy Crystal, and Dana Carvey as well as post-SNL superstars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Robert Downey Jr., and Ben Stiller was fun, it was the more obscure players like Denny Dillon, Pamela Stephenson, and Robin Duke whose more untold stories (and in Tony Rosato's case, inspiring tale of comedy commitment) I found the most rewarding. I also made sure to include more recent stars like Amy [...]
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