We all know how important it's become for comedians to connect with their audience via Facebook and Twitter and blogs and the AST message board and all of that. Nearly every one of my comedy nerd friends and I boast at least a few direct brushes with comedy greatness (Andy Kindler once retweeted me, Hannibal Buress direct messaged me once — I’m a pretty big deal).
Former SNL'er Chris Kattan, however, may be taking fan connection attempts to a bit of an extreme with the wealth of information he shares on his personal website. Either that or he’s completely mocking the idea of celebrity oversharing. I have no idea which it is. READ MORE
If you enjoyed Norm MacDonald’s perpetually-grinning, surprisingly-understated stint on SNL’s Weekend Update in the mid-90’s, it's a safe bet that you’ll love Sports Show with Norm MacDonald. In his recent interview with A.V. Club, MacDonald commented on his time in that anchor chair this way:
So on Update, the only real original thing was trying to take away the cleverness of the punchline and make it as blunt as possible. And then I tried to make the punchline as close to the setup as I could. And I thought that was the perfect thing. If I could make the setup and the punchline identical to each other, I would create a different kind of joke.
MacDonald’s jarringly-straight-forward comedic style — accompanied by flawless delivery — has a way of driving home the absurdity of his subject matter in an entirely unique way. MacDonald’s comedy is often a slow burn, moving from humorous to hilarious the further from the joke you get and the longer he holds the trademark grin that punctuates a majority of his jokes. READ MORE
I can distinctly remember watching Batman Returns as an 11-year old kid and being confused by the fact that Pee-wee Herman was throwing a baby into the Gotham City sewage system. The brief role of the Penguin’s father at the beginning of the film was played by Paul Reubens and not his grey suit-wearing alter ego. But, for my money, there was no difference. I was aware of the fact that Pee-wee wasn’t a real person. But it still didn’t make sense to see Reubens as anything other than the eternal man-child that made him famous.
After springing into worldwide fame in 1981 with the premier of HBO’s The Pee-wee Herman Show, Pee-wee set off on two cinematic adventures and stared in five iconic seasons of the Saturday morning staple Pee-wee’s Playhouse.
But after that, the world didn’t hear much of Pee-wee for most of the next twenty-plus years. Had he grown up? Matured? Traded in his bicycle for a mini-van and a quiet adult life in the suburbs?
Thankfully, the answers to these horrifying questions — as well as a giant dose of nostalgia — came last year with Reubens returning Pee-wee to the stage in an updated revival of The Pee-wee Herman Show. After wildly-successful runs in LA and on Broadway, the brand new show made its television premiere last Saturday on HBO. And it did not disappoint. READ MORE
I've always rejected the idea that standup comedy is useful as merely a stepping stone to other things (movies, a sitcom, writing gigs). In my opinion, it’s as noble a final destination as any other. That’s what made Seinfeld documentary Comedian so refreshing to watch — a legendary, insanely-wealthy comic heading enthusiastically back into the standup fray, while a virtual no-name claws and screams as he tries to escape it.
That’s not to say that a successful standup shouldn’t venture out into other areas. Obviously, comedians should explore the creative impulse in any direction they feel drawn. But while doing this, many comedians lose their way. And, when that happens, standup seems to be exactly what’s needed to help them escape a growing catalog of mediocre work and reconnect with what made them funny in the first place.
Here are a few comedians that are overdue for a return to the stage: READ MORE
In a particularly enlightening anecdote during his July 2010 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Louis CK shares his experiences training in the Lowell, Massachusetts gym of Micky Ward – the world champion boxer made famous by Mark Wahlberg in the critically-acclaimed new film The Fighter:
Micky will tell you, it's just training. You just got to train. You just got to be in shape. That's all it is. It's just getting in the gym and being dedicated enough to do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you'll be fit enough to take the beating. He didn't go to the North Pole and have an ice forest like Superman. He just worked out. So that's why I asked him to train, and he travelled with me a little bit. He came on the road with me, and we trained together, and I tried to draw from him and learn how to do that.
It was, it would seem, a lesson well-learned. After all, Louis CK is among the most greatly-admired comics of his generation, in part, because of his tenacious determination. His material will drive home the point that he doesn’t focus that determination on his physical body. Rather he aims it at his body of work –- grabbing stage time at the Comedy Cellar like a pugilist putting in an extra 20-minutes on a speed bag. READ MORE
In Sketch Artists, Colin Perkins profiles the many sketch comedy groups who produce videos for the internet. Up first: Good Neighbor.
After forming sketch troupe Good Neighbor in college, the members – writer/performers Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, and Nick Rutherford, and director/editor Dave McCary – embarked on an ambitious journey.
"When we graduated, we had the idea of going on a cross country grassroots road tour, complete with a Bio-diesel converted bus/camper,” says Rutherford.
“Most of our shows were completely empty,” recalls Mooney. “In Bridgeport, Connecticut our only audience members were this racist liquor store owner we’d met the night prior, and his son. I think they liked us.”
Their journey into the internet, on the other hand, has been much more well received. Today they have a well-established presence online and a loyal audience of fans that eagerly await each of the group’s unpredictably surreal video offerings. READ MORE