Amy Schumer is the Ryan Seacrest of young female comedians. She is a stand up comedian, the host of a music show of FuseTV, a writer, an actress. She’s had her own Comedy Central Presents, has opened for some of the biggest names in stand up, will be seen in the upcoming seasons of Delocated and Curb Your Enthusiasm and is co-starring in Price Check opposite Parker Posey. She is a very busy lady.
I talked with Amy about her start in stand up, body image, bloggers, hecklers, college tours and her new comedy album, Cutting, which comes out this week. READ MORE
Stoner comedy on television is a different breed than stoner films. Sure, there are the occasional five minutes of screen time on a comedy series where one or more characters get stoned, get the munchies and then freak out. But usually the mixture of television and marijuana is limited to various cop shows and episodes of Intervention. But in 2005, Showtime premiered a show entirely about weed: dealing, growing, baking, consuming, everything. And the biggest shocker is that the main characters were not your typical gangbangers or drug dealers. Instead, the dealer in question is a suburban mother and widow, trying to keep her family afloat. Weeds remains one of the most honest and funny shows about pot. In honor of stoner comedy week, I sat with Stephen Falk and Victoria Morrow, writers and Supervising Producers of the show, to talk about what it’s like to write about weed. READ MORE
Do you laugh when a kid falls down? Does Law & Order SVU make you snicker? Do you find it funny when a UCLA student goes on an anti-Asian rant the week of the Japanese earthquake? Then you should probably be watching Showtime. Black comedy is a fine art, and few people are willing to take the risks to make it. Most people equate laughter with comedy, so it makes sense to look for jokes and funny situations in comedy shows. Shows like Community, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live are hilarious, and filled with laugh-out-loud moments. And they do well. But somehow, Showtime has risen above the odds and created the perfect lineup for those of us who find comedy in the bleak. With shows about serial killers, cancer patients, drug addicts, dealers and thieves, Showtime has embraced the darker side of comedy. And it’s succeeding.
Mel Brooks is famously quoted as saying “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” For those who agree with this statement, you can rejoice that there is now an entire network seemingly designated to that simple concept. Showtime’s shows are a perfect hybrid of drama and comedy, finding humor in serious situations. Subscribers to Showtime have reached 19 million viewers — a new record for the network. So why are so many people tuning in? Are we looking for more relatable people to watch on television; people who are not good or bad, but the perfect in-between? Showtime’s lineup consists of Dexter, Weeds, Californication and newcomers Shameless and Episodes. So what do all of these shows have in common? They all center around what should be an unlikable protagonist. And none of these shows would ever be picked up by network. READ MORE
Good news comedy nerds (and just nerds): Paul is funny! Don’t be fooled by the marketing campaign and weak trailers; this is not simply a buddy comedy with wacky CGI’d aliens and weed jokes. It’s a Simon Pegg and Nick Frost movie through and through. Like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Frost co-wrote a script that embraces, not mocks, the genre film.
Parody movies rarely work, and thanks to the sometimes alarming rate in which they’re churned out (Scary Movie, Epic Movie, Date Movie, etc.), quality seems to suffer. But there are a few very noteworth exceptions. Christopher Guest has mastered the mockumentary, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have taken on horror films and gun-weilding action movies. After waiting patiently for four long years, the new masters of Parody have returned, this time taking on Science Fiction. What Shaun did for horror, and Hot Fuzz did for action films, Paul accomplishes for the sci-fi genre. The result is a funny twist on very popular movies like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is what Pegg and Frost do best. But be careful; if you go in expecting another Shaun of the Dead, you may be disappointed. READ MORE
“My ears have been overworked. Drums, singing, whistles, chanting, dogs, helicopters, gays.” Karl was in Brazil when he made this list, but it’s clear throughout the final episode of An Idiot Abroad that Karl felt this way about everywhere he went.
In the eighth episode, Karl comes home to have a chat with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Most recap episodes show footage from the show that you’ve already seen, with clever little montages about certain charactes or events; or worse, outtakes and wacky behind the scenes footage. Fortunately, An Idiot Abroad’s finale played more like an episode of The Ricky Gervais Show. A conversation that centers around Gervais and Merchant provoking Karl into somehow topping himself with stupid comments. READ MORE
“I know I’m not that old, but I reckon this is my lowest point.” – Karl Pilkington in Peru.
In the final trip of the series before the recap episode, Karl has most definitely hit a low point. Peru is the most annoyed Karl has ever been, from beginning to end. Literally nothing interests him; not a trip down the famous Amazon river, not interacting with an ancient tribe, and certainly not Machu Picchu, the wonder that he’s there to see. He is unequivocally uninterested and very annoyed throughout the whole trip.
For those that are unfamiliar with Machu Picchu, it’s a fifteenth-century Inca site frozen in time by its remote location, making it one of the most important archaeological locations in all of South America. For those unfamiliar with Karl Pilkington, he hates traveling, especially to remote locations. Pilkington was annoyed by a 2 hour drive to get to the statue of Christ The Redeemer in Brazil, so you can imagine how thrilled he was by the three day trek through the Amazon forest and the twelve hour climb to get to the famed Machu Picchu. READ MORE
You know that cousin you have who's from a really small town, isn’t a bigot but just doesn’t quite know how to act around people who are different than he is? New things make him uncomfortable and though he tries to hide it, he’s a little bothered by new people. That’s Karl Pilkington. And much like your small town relative, the most uncomfortable place for Karl to go would be Brazil. Compared to Egypt, India and China, Brazil seems really similar to England. It’s not a third world country by any means, and most people speak English and love the same kinds of food. So how do Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant insure that Karl steps out of his comfort zone in Brazil? They send him to places where Karl is sure to feel out of place; a nude beach, a gay beach and a female impersonators’ home.
Although Karl was originally there to see the Christ the Redeemer (which he exclusively refers to as “the jesus thing”), but during the prep with Gervais and Merchant Karl seems more focused on how many "gays" will be in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival. He doesn’t seem in any way bothered by gay men as a whole, but more unwilling to participate in whatever sure-to-be distressing gay events Gervais will make him attempt. And sure enough, after a day at the carnivale where he learns to dance and marches in the parade, Karl meets his guide for the rest of the trip: Celso. READ MORE
The seven wonders of the world have never appeared so un-wonderful. This week, Karl Pilkington goes to Egypt to see the Great Pyramids. And, as per usual, Karl finds the actual wonder to be the least exciting part of his visit. “Exciting” may not be the right word, as Karl is almost never excited about anything, but like every other episode, the visit to the wonder seems to be Karl’s least favorite part. “The idea is that I would see these places and get blown away. I am getting blow away, just by the wind,” mumbles Karl. What was prominent in this episode, however, was Ricky Gervais’ role in making Karl miserable. Unlike other episodes where Karl is miserable just because that’s the way he is, the Egypt episode seems to highlight Gervais’ evil plans behind the scene. Starting with Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s role in choosing the hotel room. READ MORE
It marked the end of the season for Episodes last night. It also marked the first episode where I actually liked the main character. Like a movie that doesn’t make sense till the last five minutes, it took seven episodes of this show for me to finally like Sean and Beverly. And, like the hypothetical movie, I found myself thinking “Oh no, why is it over?” It’s as though the first six episodes of this show were all practice rounds for what was a very good episode. And now it’s over.
Without a second season pick up yet for Episodes, it’s hard to gauge what the season finale means for the show as a whole. With dramas, especially those on Showtime, fans can spend serious time fixating on what a season finale means (Dexter was all I thought about for at least a month after one finale). Comedies rarely have the fanfare of last minute twists or the moment of discovery right before the final credits, save for some sort of romantic story line either ending or beginning. But the finale of Episodes really was a cliffhanger. Not with plot points, but with the idea of where the show could possibly go from here. READ MORE
Infidelity! Car Wrecks! Break-Ups! Deception! All seen in last nights episode of Episodes. Combining genres is a tricky business. And it’s particularly difficult with comedies. Shameless, Parenthood and Nurse Jackie combine comedy and drama with ease. Shaun of the Dead and True Blood combine comedy and horror. And last night, Episodes created a new cross-genre for comedies; Melo-comedy. Sure, comedies usually go over the top with plot points and secondary characters for the sake of a laugh, but the latest episode of Episodes was more of a telenovela than a normal show. READ MORE
“The death thing’s good.”
At the beginning of Saturday’s episode of An Idiot Abroad, Karl mutters this in reference to the difference between Egypt’s famed pyramids and Mexico’s Chichen Itza; a structure that, while similar to pyramids, according to Karl at least has to do with death. For once, Karl’s bizarre outlook sets a different tone for the whole trip. And the impossible happens. Karl seems to, for once, try to enjoy a trip. Perhaps it’s that Karl didn’t find Mexico as much of a culture shock as China or India. Or maybe it’s that everyone he meets seems to have no problem with their English. Whatever the reason, this is the first time I’ve ever seen or heard of Karl having an “allright” time anywhere other than his apartment. Karl actually seems to feel at home in Mexico. READ MORE
"Nothing is funnier than Karl in a corner, being poked by a stick. I am that stick."
Every episode of An Idiot Abroad opens with this quote from Ricky Gervais. And that’s exactly what happens. For one hour, every Saturday night at 10pm on the Discovery Science channel, Gervais and his producing partner Stephen Merchant metaphorically poke a man with a stick.
Gervais and Merchant have made a career out of awkward, uncomfortable, often mean-spirited (not in a bad way!) humor with The Office and Extras. But with An Idiot Abroad, they’ve managed to pull off the impossible: reality television filled with laugh-out-loud moments. Travel shows are all over cable these days, and it is certainly not a new form of television. People around the world take comfort in watching travel shows, seeing all of the beautiful places they may one day go. Everyone wants to explore the world. That is, everyone except Karl Pilkington. And that’s what makes An Idiot Abroad the best comedy on television. READ MORE
It’s hard to make rape, ocular blindness and infidelity particularly funny, but the most recent episode of Episodes proved to be the funniest yet. Perhaps it’s because audiences have come to accept the more uncomfortable brand of humor, like The Office and Louie. The thing that all these shows have in common is the idea that you don’t have to have a punch line to be funny. While this episode wasn’t a laugh riot, per say, it was still the most absurd and amusing episode to date. READ MORE
“I’m fucking full of whimsy.” Matt LeBlanc utters this line in defense of a Peter Pan reference he makes while drunk. What’s ironic about this dialogue is that Matt LeBlanc in Episodes really is whimsical. It’s his playful character choices that sell every episode. Matt LeBlanc carries this show. And not just with the comedic beats. LeBlanc brings a level of realism to a somewhat unrealistic cast of characters. Surprising when you remember that he’s playing the actor in a behind the scenes show, a character that is usually the most outrageous and narcissistic. Not to say that LeBlanc doesn’t embody some of the stereotypes of actors; he’s rich, difficult to control and he’s a whore. But it’s the toned down version of an actor that makes LeBlanc’s role different from so many before him. READ MORE