Matt Belknap has had many aspirations. As a teenager he hoped to make it in Hollywood after reading a Spike Lee book on screenwriting. After attempting to make films, he carved his own path by starting A Special Thing message board, originally designed as a place where Tenacious D fans could congregate. But AST morphed into an alternative comedy hub where fans and comedians alike could post and discuss comedy. Belknap soon started A Special Thing Podcast and since 2006, Belknap has been cohosting the weekly podcast, Never Not Funny, with one of his favorite comedians, Jimmy Pardo.
Along with his cohosting duties, Belknap cofounded A Special Thing Records, which produces artists including Marc Maron, Scott Aukerman, Paul F. Tompkins, and Jonah Ray. Belknap also began running See You Next Tuesday at UCB in 2005.
On Friday, Belknap and Pardo will be hosting Pardcast-a-thon '14, a podcast/telethon that runs from noon-midnight and has previously welcomed guests including Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Sarah Silverman, and Andy Richter.
I spoke with Belknap about trying standup, meeting Conan O’ Brien, and the benefits of procrastination. READ MORE
Alan Tudyk is one of the more recognizable faces acting today, even if his name and voice hide behind his characters. Tudyk has been on Broadway, starred in a beloved TV show, and has done voice-over work for animated hits including Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, and Disney’supcoming feature Big Hero 6. He was also Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Tudyk once attempted standup, but after facing a threatening heckler, he joined an improv troupe, learning a skill that has aided his acting career.
He most recently signed on as the new host of Newsreaders as it begins its second season Thursday night at midnight on Adult Swim. He plays Regan Biscayne, a character Tudyk calls “an idiot.” READ MORE
Throwing out material is a frightening prospect for any entertainer. For some performers it can take years to compile a half-hour show. Especially in comedy, recycled material can feel reheated quickly; it ends careers of comedians who refuse to change their once popular, soon hackneyed material.
Today with successes like Louis C.K. and John Mulaney, it’s hard for comedians not to feel pressure to accumulate new material annually.
Some comedians could ride on catchphrases for a few years, but the idea of starting fresh and reinventing oneself has existed in comedy for half a century. Throwing out material is daunting, but it’s a technique to get better and learn about what you want as a performer. Here are four comedians who realized they needed to start from zero, from nothing, in order to improve. READ MORE
For 30 years Howard Stern has been a guest on Letterman's late night show. Whether it was on Late Night or Late Show, Stern’s common topics generally include therapy, sex, Paul Shaffer, and Jay Leno. Stern has been one of Letterman’s most engaging guests; he’s one of the few that overpowers Letterman and becomes the interviewer, usually making the host grimace. Stern is part of the elite group of guests that Letterman clearly likes having on — even if the conversation isn’t always to Letterman’s fondness. Letterman is like Stern's older brother who's disappointed yet always entertained. Stern has made over 20 appearances on Letterman’s shows and continues to be a regular on the Late Show — here are some of his most memorable appearances: READ MORE
In 1995 David Letterman was the king of late night. Johnny Carson had retired three years earlier, and while Jay Leno had higher ratings, Letterman won the Emmys and the respect of critics and viewers. Wearing a blazer and holding a lit cigar, Letterman sat next to Jon Stewart on the final episode of his cancelled MTV program: The Jon Stewart Show. They discussed Letterman’s career, Stewart’s future, and cancellation. Letterman told Stewart, “Cancellation should not be confused with failure.”
In the last 50 years, three of the most popular talk show hosts have had shows that were cancelled before they hit their stride. Carson, Letterman, and Stewart were given their own shows by networks who hoped viewers would see the talent these entertainers contained. But all three of them did not realize success until their first shows were taken off the air. READ MORE