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The Unceasing Honesty of Dan Harmon

harmontownFew people would relish the opportunity to have their lives documented in the midst of a low point peppered with job loss, substance abuse, self-doubt, and relationship woes, but in talking to Dan Harmon, it seems that he would have it no other way. In the recently released documentary Harmontown, director Neil Berkeley takes us along on a 20-date live podcast tour with Harmon and his cohorts after Harmon's dismissal from Community and during a somewhat uncertain time in his career and personal life. It's an entertaining and often uncomfortable look not only at Harmon, but also at the people who surround him in the personal and public worlds. I talked to Dan Harmon about the documentary, his relationship and (very briefly) the next season of Community.

How did you get hooked up with Neil Berkeley?

Neil was a mutual friend through Rob Schrab. I saw Beauty Is Embarrassing and I was quite taken with the cinematography and almost perversive intimacy. When I decided to go on this podcast tour I thought that we should make a movie about doing it so we could recoup the bus costs and Neil popped into my head.

I was reading a quote from Neil where he says, “Spend a minute with Dan and you'll realize that honesty is what he values most and any documentary about him or his work must be completely transparent.” That was pretty evident in the film but I was wondering, is there ever a point for you where you feel you can't be honest?

Yeah, I feel that way all the time. That's one of the most stressful things about achieving your dreams and having a TV show is that you also become kind of an elected figure in a sense. People can hold you to these standards and to me, in my mind, it runs purposefully contrary to the mind of a writer who, at their best, is supposed to be a rare conduit for honesty. I don't know. You shouldn't be a writer and feel like you need to be careful. It's not a smart thing to do. It's like asking a loading dock employee to have no arms. READ MORE

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Taking Standup to Netflix with Jim Jefferies

jimjefferies"There's a formula in stand-up comedy: The more offensive the joke, the funnier it has to be. It's simple math." This is a formula that Jim Jefferies knows by heart. He has built his comedy career on straddling the fine line between offensive and insightful. His brand new stand-up special, Bare, just released on Netflix, shows the math at work. "The new special is probably the most confrontational special that I've ever brought out," says Jefferies, who phoned us from Los Angeles to discuss Bare, his creative process and which part of the world has best mastered the use of the "c-word."

Here we are at 1pm on a Wednesday. What does a typical day in the life of Jim Jefferies look like?

At the moment I'm trying to tweet and talk about my new special coming out and take a few interviews. The reality is, my kid's about to go down for a nap and I've got to go to a doctor about my hemorrhoid. I could give you the fancy answer that I'm sitting down and trying to write myself a sitcom, or trying to think of some standup comedy over coffee but no, the reality is at two o'clock I have an appointment for a hemorrhoid.

I'll leave the hemorrhoid alone. Lets talk about fatherhood.  Do you feel that hitting a milestone like becoming a father is changing your comedy?  

Of course. Now I'm talking about having a kid. That wasn't a topic in my wheelhouse before. But like, has it changed my attitude towards comedy or whether I believe I should be so offensive? No, not at all. I've probably mellowed a little bit as I've gotten older but that's not had anything to do with having a kid. You can only be the angry young man for so long before it gets a little bit childish. But in saying that, the new special is probably the most confrontational special that I've ever brought out. READ MORE

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Joe Zimmerman on His Comedy Central 'Half Hour' and Staying in NYC

joe zimmermanSelf-proclaimed "ambassador of joy" Joe Zimmerman is in a New York state of mind. The comedian is putting down serious roots in what he callsthe place to go if you want to be a standup comic.” And who can blame him? The city is treating him and his career quite well. After making his Comedy Central debut last year on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show, Zimmerman is now preparing for the release of his Comedy Central Half Hour special this Friday. I talked to him about his comedy roots, the NYC scene and how West Virgina is kind of like Ireland. READ MORE

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Finding Controversy by Accident with Kurt Metzger

kurt-metzger-white-preciousAfter 15 years of performing standup, New York comic Kurt Metzger's career is gaining momentum, all without the help of business cards and t-shirts. But hey, it's never too late to try something new. "My income’s been getting kind of better, so it’s just a matter of if I have the extra money to spend on something like that."

His new one hour special, White Precious, premieres tonight on Comedy Central at 11pm. I talked to Metzger about leaving behind the religion of his youth, his family, his love/hate relationship with social media, and his penchant for controversy.

From what I’ve read you’re not much of a marketer or a self promoter-type, so thanks for doing the interview. 

Oh I’ll do interviews and shit, that’s not hard. I just don’t make t-shirts and all that shit.

Are you opposed to it, or are you just not interested in general?

Well, I guess I should do more shit like that. But I’m opposed to new guys who have a nicer website than their actual act. I probably should do a lot more than I do now at this point because I’m like 15 years in. I like doing the comedy part. I don’t like doing all the other shit. I’m not opposed to it. Whatever gets asses in seats, really.  READ MORE

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Derek Waters on How 'Drunk History' Is Made

derek watersTonight sees the return of Drunk History, comedian Derek Waters's Funny Or Die web series-turned-Comedy Central show that sees comedians getting intoxicating and recounting famous historical events. Season two of Drunk History finds the show expanding and taking on new challenges, with a full 10-episode order (two more than last year) and a handful of episodes structured on certain themes (like "American music," for example). I recently had the chance to talk to Waters about the elaborate safety precautions Drunk History for its historians, his dreams of having Pearl Jam do the show as themselves, and allude to a secret Comedy Central project he can't talk about yet.

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Ron Funches on Fighting His "Adorable" Image

ron-funchesSure, Ron Funches is an undeniably likable comedy teddy bear. But don’t get it twisted. “Oh, I’m sweet and nice. But don’t fuck with me.” Funches is having a great summer as his name is taking small strides toward household status, with his role on NBC’s new sitcom Undateable, the premiere of his Comedy Central Half Hour special, and being booked alongside a bunch of big names on Funny Or Die's upcoming Oddball Fest tour. I talked with Funches about TV, balancing standup with acting, and how fatherhood fosters toughness. READ MORE

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David Wain Talks 'They Came Together,' 'Superjail,' and The State Reuniting

david wain headshot
Voicing the lead character on a returning animated series, preparing for the theatrical release of a new romantic comedy spoof, announcing the reunion of a groundbreaking comedy group, and keeping very hush-hush about a long-awaited project. These are just a few of the things that writer, director, actor, and comedian David Wain has been up to. I chatted with Wain about Superjail! (Season 4 premieres June 15th at 11:45 p.m.), his next movie They Came Together, The State reuniting for Tenacious D's comedy festival, and how to talk to your children about your dirty sense of humor. READ MORE

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The Bonnaroo 2014 Comedy Preview

bonnarooNow in it’s 13th year, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival continues to draw big crowds to a 700 acre plot of farmland in Manchester, Tennessee, about one hour outside of Nashville. While music is the driving force behind the festival, live comedy has become a staple since its introduction in 2005. In addition to scheduled sets, it’s not uncommon to see comics making surprise appearances all over the festival, both on-stage and off. This year’s comedy lineup, which kicks off tomorrow, boasts an eclectic blend of heavy hitters, rising young comics, current SNL cast members and the chance to interact with some of comedy’s best filmmakers.

Some of the weekend’s most anticipated shows include Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious, TJ Miller and Hannibal Buress. Robinson, on keyboard and lead vocals, will be delivering his trademark dirty R&B jams. Miller, along with opener Rory Scovel, will have no problem fitting in with — and maybe one-upping — the hedonistic festival crowd. Buress will keep it cool as always with help from opening acts Emily Heller and SNL freshman Sasheer Zamata.

Along with Zamata, Saturday Night Live will be well represented at Bonnaroo. Taran Killam is performing two shows, enlisting the help of current cast member Brooks Wheelan, former SNL featured player/current writer Tim Robinson, along with sketch group Good Neighbor (Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Dave McCary and non-SNL member Nick Rutherford). Audiences can expect a variety show combination of sketch, standup and a few of Killam’s celebrity impressions thrown in for good measure.

Comedy Central will be on site with special interactive panels for Drunk History and Brickleberry, along with Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer hosting the Down ‘n Dirty Show with special guests Bridget Everett & The Tender Moments and Brad Williams.

Movie fans will have the unique opportunity to talk with the Farrelly Brothers and David Wain, as the writers and directors host Q&A sessions and special film screenings.

If that’s not enough to get you pumped, the Bonnaroo Comedy and Cinema Tents are fully air-conditioned and make for a great escapes from the Tennessee heat. Check out the full Bonnaroo comedy schedule below. READ MORE

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Talking to Hilary Winston About Writing for 'Community' and 'Happy Endings' and Adapting 'Bad Teacher' to TV

Comedy writer and producer Hilary Winston has been building quite the impressive resume these last few years, jumping from critically-acclaimed show to critically-acclaimed show. After spending four years on staff for My Name Is Earl's entire original run, she did two seasons at Community and then two seasons at Happy Endings. Now, after years of writing on other people's shows, Winston has one of her own with Bad Teacher, a half-hour sitcom based on the film of the same name that premiered on CBS last week. Winston adapted the Bad Teacher to TV, serving as the show's creator and showrunner.

Starring Ari Graynor, Sara Gilbert, Ryan Hansen, Sara Rodler, Kristin Davis, and David Alan Grier, Bad Teacher has been picked up by CBS for 13 episodes, which will be airing on Thursday nights over the next several weeks.

I recently caught up with Hilary Winston to discuss her beginnings in television, what she learned from writing for My Name Is Earl and Community, and adapting Bad Teacher.

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Talking to Billy Eichner About the New Season of 'Billy on the Street'


The groundbreaking comedy game show, Funny or Die's Billy on the Street, recently made its bombastic return to Fuse TV and Season 3 is set to be the most memorable yet. The show's growing popularity has allowed its host, Billy Eichner, to recruit celebrity guests like Lena Dunham, Seth Meyers and Lindsay Lohan as participants in his frantic pop-culture challenges, like "Cash Cow," where the loser has to milk a live cow in the middle of downtown New York City. I recently talked to Billy about his Billy on the Street persona, the return of Elena, and, of course, Meryl Streep and Madonna. READ MORE