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Talking to Max Silvestri About Brooklyn, Twitter, and Big Terrific

Brooklyn-based comic Max Silvestri has been in the business for a decade now. His free weekly standup show Big Terrific, a New York comedy scene staple that he started with friends Gabe Liedman and Jenny Slate, celebrated its fifth anniversary this past March. Since Liedman and Slate moved to LA, Silvestri's been running Big Terrific on his own, and in addition to his weekly hosting gig, he's writing reality cooking show recaps for Grantland and Eater, appearing in web videos all over the place, and keeping busy as a standup, all the while maintaining a consistently very funny Twitter presence.

On August 2nd, Silvestri recorded his debut standup album for AST Records at NerdMelt in Los Angeles. The week before, I got the chance to sit down with him and talk about writing vs. performing, New York vs. LA, and other things, all before he went to learn archery on camera for a web video. READ MORE

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Talking to Derek Waters About 'Drunk History,' Comedy Central, And Humanizing Abraham Lincoln

In 2007, Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner created the first video in the web series Drunk History, in which wasted comedians retell stories of figures such as Thomas Edison, Aaron Burr, or Abraham Lincoln, and familiar actors reenact the sloppy histories. The video gained the attention of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who made it into a Funny or Die exclusive series, as well as a heaping handful of comedians and actors who later starred in the reenactments, including Jack Black, Don Cheadle, Zooey Deschanel, Ryan Gosling, and more.

On July 9th, Drunk History makes its television debut launching an eight-episode season on Comedy Central. Waters acts as host of the new series, which has him travelling across the US to hear comedians and locals drunkenly share the hometown histories they are most passionate about. I recently got the chance to talk with Waters about converting web shorts into a TV show, never exploiting his intoxicated storytellers, and some of his favorite bizarre moments in history. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy: 'Arrested Development' Returns and Another Twitter Prank from Nathan Fielder

-Arrested Development's long-awaited fourth season debuted on Netflix. We reviewed the first two episodes in-depth, reviewed the season as a whole, and created an encyclopedic guide to the new season's best gags, callbacks, and running jokes.

-Nathan for You's Nathan Fielder pulled another Twitter prank, this time devastating romantic relationships.

-A report says that Dan Harmon confirmed he's been asked back to be Community's showrunner.

-Vince Gilligan addressed the possibility of a Saul Goodman spin-off to Breaking Bad.

-We talked to Mike Birbiglia about the impending final performance of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend and to stand-ups Jared Logan and Mike Lawrence about their Comedy Central Half Hour specials. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Christopher Guest, Cake Boss, and 'The Fast and the Furious 6'

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy. 

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn - Christopher Guest

JAY: About once in a generation, a true comedy pioneer graces our presence. In 1984, with This Is Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest (and his all-star crew of collaborators) created a completely original genre of comedy: the mockumentary. On this week's Bullseye, Guest reflects on his career and discusses his new HBO show Family Tree with Jesse Thorn. From Tap to Guffman to A Mighty Wind, Guest has displayed his skill in both comedy and musical satire. He explains his process during this interview without creeping into the Jerry Lewis "serious business of comedy" realm. Perhaps the greatest insight into why Guest's films succeed is that his characters are really trying their hardest, but ultimately look ridiculous because of their limitations. It also helps that he uses the talent of some of our greatest comedic actors such as Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O'Hara. Thorn is the perfect host here because he is clearly a student of Guest's work. This podcast is essential listening for any fan of the Christopher Guest cannon. As far as great comedy podcast interviews go, this one is an 11. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy: 'Arrested Development,' 'Arrested Development,' 'Arrested Development'

-To prepare for this Sunday's Netflix debut of the new Arrested Development season, we contributed to the internet's Arrested Development overload with a list of 12 more shows Netflix should resurrect a review of the AD documentaryanother giant list of the show's hidden jokes, a ranking of our favorite side characters, and a reminder of where the show left off in 2006.

-Universal Orlando is building a mini-version of The Simpsons' Springfield.

-SNL wrapped up its 38th season over the weekend, which saw the departures of Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, and we gave you a guide to Stefon's eclectic wedding guests. We also reminisced about the season's best moments and broke it down by cast member

-Carol Burnett will receive the Mark Twain humor prize this year.

-We talked to Mike Schur about Parks and Recreation and his new show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Todd Barry about his new podcast and stand-up tourJonah Ray and Gabe Liedman about their respective careers and experiences on Comedy Central's The Half Hour, and Sammy Obeid about his 1001-night standup streak. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts: Amy Poehler's 'Improv4Humans' Debut and Sam Simon on 'WTF'

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy. 

Improv4Humans #84 - Amy Poehler, Seth Morris, Joe Hartzler

JENNY: Amy Poehler and Matt Besser go way back, having founded the UCB Theatre together in the mid-'90s, but this is Poehler's first time ever on improv4humans, Besser's improv-centric show that takes the kind of thing that goes down onstage at UCB and puts it in podcast form. Needless to say, Poehler fits in very well performing alongside Besser and seasoned humans4improv Seth Morris (Funny Or Die, Max's weird friend Scotty on Happy Endings) and Joe Hartzler (UCB LA improviser). The group takes on the darkest of Twitter suggestions, trying out material on grotesque physical injury and what to do in case of the apocalypse but brings it all back to relationships in a number of the scenes as well as at the end as Amy tries to get Joe to share his feelings about a mysterious special someone. The episode moves along at a very steady pace, and it's a pleasure to hear a group of talented improvisers, especially ones so highly respected, churn out some good, funny stuff. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy: Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Maybe Jason Sudeikis Leaving 'SNL'

-Bill Hader is leaving SNL after eight years, and we made a videolist of his best sketchesFred Armisen is leaving, too (and Jason Sudeikis "probably") so we made a list for Armisen as well.

-Seth Meyers is officially taking over Late Night in 2014.

-USA ordered Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham's pilot to series.

-In honor of The Office ending, we remembered our favorite moments from the show.

-Netflix unveiled the first trailer for the new Arrested Development and a Tobias-themed website.

-Adam Scott's next Greatest Event in Television History will be Hart to Hart with Amy Poehler.

-ABC canceled Happy Endings, and USA is in negotiations to pick it up. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: Nerdist Writers Panel with the 'New Girl' Staff and 'Comedy Bang Bang's Third 'Parks and Rec' Spectacular

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy. 

Nerdist Writers Panel #86New Girl's Liz Meriwether, Brett Baer and Dave Finkel

JOSH: The Nerdist Writers Panel has become appointment listening for aspiring television writers, and this week's episode is no exception as host Ben Blacker welcomes the creative team behind the popular program New Girl. Meriwether, Baer and Finkel examine the challenges of producing such an ambitious network sitcom with a delightful brand of insightful self-deprecation that perfectly encapsulates the charming, offbeat voice the series has developed. Meriwether and company discuss their attempts to find the perfect balance between humor and emotional storytelling, their late season success in implementing a group writing strategy and of course, the evolution of everybody's favorite douchebag, Schmidt. Part of the insecure, "what the hell am I doing with my life" tone that makes New Girl such a genuinely relatable program are on full display as Meriwether candidly discusses dealing with the difficult production schedule. "For people like us who are perfectionists, there are moments where it's just not gonna be exactly what you wanted," Meriwether said. "Okay, it's not exactly what I had in my mind, but then there is this other thing that might work." Added Meriwether, "It ain't HBO. It's fucking TV." READ MORE

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The Annotated Wisdom of Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler has a pretty solid resume as both a comedian and a person. After spending time studying at Second City and iO in Chicago, Poehler moved to New York with friends Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts to found the Upright Citizens Brigade, which has since grown into the massive community of learners and performers of long-form improv and sketch that it is today. In more recent years, on her off time from her TV work on SNL and Parks and Recreation, Poehler and friends Meredith Walker and Amy Miles started Smart Girls at the Party, an online network to encourage and educate young women about being smart by being themselves. Along the way, Amy Poehler has proven in countless interviews, podcasts, and articles, that she is smart, kind, and funny, about every topic from feminism to Hell to old TV. Check it: READ MORE

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Talking to Broken Lizard's Jay Chandrasekhar about 'Freeloaders' and the Chevy Chase N-Word Thing

Jay Chandrasekhar made a name for himself acting in and directing movies like Super Troopers and Beerfest with his comedy team Broken Lizard, whose most recent produced project Freeloaders came out last week. In addition to his movie work and standup, though, Chandrasekhar has guest directed episodes for a handful of critically acclaimed fan-favorite TV series including Arrested Development, Undeclared, Happy Endings, and Community, where he's directed some of the series' best episodes ("Mixology Certification") and one of the most talked-about moments (Chevy Case emitting the N-word on set).

In light of Freeloaders' DVD and online release, I talked to Jay Chandrasekhar about ensemble comedies, the difference between directing film and directing TV, and what really happened with the whole Chevy Chase thing.

Your movie Freeloaders was finished in 2011. What's been going on with it since then?

You know, movies tend to come out whenever the best release window is, so, for example, Super Troopers was finished over a year before it came out. It's just that the distributor decides the best date. There's movies that are anywhere from three to four months finished to years … To be clear, it's not a Broken Lizard movie. It's a film we produced, so we're in one scene; we're not the stars of this film. Adam Duritz came to me with the script, the director who also wrote it named Dan Rosen, and the money to make it, so he asked if we'd help make it and we said yes. Then they asked us to be in one scene and we said yes, so we're in one scene, too. READ MORE

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Fun Thing to Buy of the Day: Pete Holmes's 'Nice Try, The Devil'

Nice Try, The Devil, the new Comedy Central standup special from the You Made it Weird and future TBS late night host (and also voice of that E-Trade baby from commercials) Pete Holmes premiered on Sunday, and now it's available on CD+DVD. The album is Holmes's second, a follow-up to his 2011 debut Impregnated With Wonder, and a lot has happened in Holmes's career since then, mostly the aforementioned You Made it Weird and late night things. Bonus material on the DVD includes two sets from Holmes on John Oliver's New York Stand-Up Show and his appearance on Comedy Central Presents. If you are a fan of Holmes's podcast work or his future late night show, this is something you should check out. READ MORE

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This Week in Comedy: Networks Announce Their New Sitcoms, and New Albums from Rick Moranis and Andy Kaufman

-NBC, CBS, and Fox announced their new fall sitcoms. Andy Samberg and Mike Schur's Fox cop show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is the most promising of the bunch. NBC unfortunately passed on SNL writer/stand-up John Mulaney's pilot.

- Parks and Recreation got renewed for a sixth season, and NBC officially canceled most of its comedies (Go On, Whitney, 1600 Penn, Up All Night, and Guys with Kids). Community's chances look good, much to the chagrin of Community fans.

-We previewed this summer's comedy movies and TV shows.

-Rick Moranis is coming out with a new album, his first comedic venture in eight years.

-We talked to stand-ups Chelsea PerettiErik GriffinJoe DeRosa, and the guys from Denver-based comedy group Grawlix.

-Phil Hartman's comedy album is being made into an animated movie. A new album of old Andy Kaufman recordings is being released too. READ MORE

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This Week in Podcasts: A 'Comedy Bang Bang' Anniversary, 'You Made it Weird,' and 'Wits'

The comedy podcast universe is ever expanding, not unlike the universe universe. We're here to make it a bit smaller, a bit more manageable. There are a lot of great shows and each has a lot of great episodes, so we want to highlight the exceptional, the noteworthy. Each week our crack team of podcast enthusiasts and specialists and especially enthusiastic people will pick their favorites. Also, we'll keep you posted on the offerings from our very own podcast network. We hope to have your ears permanently plugged with the best in aural comedy. 

Comedy Bang Bang #218 – The 4th Anniversary Extravaganza

JOSH: Womp it up! It's a comedy bonanza this week as Comedy Bang Bang celebrates its four year podcast-a-versary! Old favorites like Traci Rearden, Mike the Janitor and the pride of Marina del Rey, Marissa Wompler, join CBB stalwarts David Wain and Jason Mantzoukas for an all-star episode packed with forbidden sexual tension and terminally ill imaginary friends. Amid Mike the Janitor's personal rendition of the musical Cats, teenage frenemies Marissa Wompler and Traci Rearden compete in an old school dating game to procure a prom date. Who to choose? David Wain promises to buy his date a latex dress with an exposed midriff area to prominently display the belly button, while Mike the Janitor's guarantee of elephant transportation and an organic Whole Foods dress is also alluring. Who do the ladies choose? The answer is an unprecedented first in Comedy Bang Bang prom voting history! Later, the peculiarly intimate Bachelor Brothers drop by to promote their record label and make Scott an offer that could potentially change the future of Earwolf forever. All this and more on an extended episode of Comedy Bang Bang! READ MORE

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Fun Thing to Buy of the Day: '30 Rock' Season 7 on DVD

30 Rock ended earlier this year, and although it won’t return for an eighth season, its existing seven seasons are available from now until forever to watch on DVD, with season seven just coming out this week. 30 Rock is, of course, a show that packs enough jokes per second in an episode that it truly rewards rewatching. Season 7 saw Liz Lemon get married, Kenneth advance in the workplace, and Alec Baldwin live a life of single-fatherhood, with as-always stellar comic performances from Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, and more. This DVD box set is definitely worth a buy, especially if you already have seasons one through six and have just the right amount of room to add a seventh. READ MORE