Janeane Garofalo on Her Influence, Bombing, and Having No Web Presence

In comedy, Janeane Garofalo is a living legend. One of the breakout stars of the alt comedy of the 1990s, she went on to an eclectic entertainment career, appearing in movies like Reality Bites and The Truth About Cats & Dogs and TV shows from The Larry Sanders Show to 24, while also becoming one of the most prominent liberal voices with a stint on radio station Air America. But she's remained devoted stand-up and New York's alt scene, which is why she was perfect inclusion for A Night at Whiplash. I got the chance to talk to her about UCB, working out material on stage, and why she's doubtful about making any more specials.

It was so interesting to see you at the Whiplash tapings last year – I'm sure that everyone else on that show was influenced at least somewhat by your style of comedy. Do you see it? I think many people know that you were very influential in the way people started doing comedy.

I actually don't think so. You're giving me far too much credit. That's very kind that you say that, and I have heard that before, but I can't imagine how or why, since I can bomb as easily as I can do well. It's never changed over the years, it's hit or miss with me. And also, I think it's a style that chooses you rather than you choosing it. I see more people influenced by, in certain ways, Sarah Silverman, Todd Barry, Brian Regan. If there are people influenced by me, I don't see it when I see them. And I don't mean that as criticism, I'm giving them all the credit in the world of being who they are. Maybe if anything, people felt that it was okay to bring a notebook and try new stuff more often and not be afraid of tanking, which you will if you do it that [laughs] a lot, but I prefer to do it that way. It keeps it interesting. But I don't know. I would have to ask you, you're more objective than me, do you see it?

I think so. Like you say, whether it's bringing a notebook on stage or just people being more free to take something in a direction they weren't expecting to – my impression is that, if you traced the root of where that came from, a lot of people give you the credit for making that popular.

Yeah, I don't know why. I mean, that's really nice. It's nice to be known for something. I feel like there was a number of comedians around the time I started who were interested in doing standup that way. This type of thing was going on. And I think I was just in the right place at the right time to be noticed for it at that time. It was just pure timing, but there were other people doing it and doing it much better than me. I think I just got lucky for a brief amount of time in the 90s. READ MORE


The Inside Story of Whiplash, One of New York's Best and Most Influential Standup Shows

"Whiplash is like a magical kingdom where laughs run free and jelly beans are the main form of currency," says comedian Aparna Nancherla, of UCB's late night standup show. For half a decade, Whiplash has consistently proven itself as an exciting and eclectic show that stands out even in the city's buzzing comedy scene, a favorite of megastar names like Louis C.K. and Chris Rock as well as a reliable well-spring for the next big stars — the likes of Pete Holmes and Kumail Nanjiani were once regulars. It's the reason that Splitsider turned to Whiplash for our first concert film, where host Leo Allen welcomed Jared Logan, Sheng Weng, Eugene Mirman, Carmen Lynch, Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman, Michael Che, and Sean Patton. So how did it come to be that one of the best standup shows in New York City takes place beneath a grocery store for free at 11 p.m. every Monday night?

While UCB’s primary purpose was furthering the reach of sketch and improv, standup has always been an integral part of the theater. “The goal of UCB has always been to have the best of all things comedy,” says UCB co-founder Matt Walsh. “I think especially in New York, we need to have good standup shows, because it is a standup town.”

“It's part of the fundamental fabric of the UCB Theatre to have cheap and free shows,” says former artistic director Anthony King. “So a free weekly standup show has to be a bedrock of the theatre.” Several shows have occupied the 11 p.m. spot, but it was Aziz Ansari’s Crash Test that became a breakout hit; beginning in 2005, Ansari soon brought Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel on board, and the show served as a springboard for their group, Human Giant.

“When those guys got too busy to do Crash Test (and moved to LA), we needed a new show,” says King. “I figured…what naturally follows a Crash? Whiplash.” READ MORE


Inside SXSW's "Inside 'Late Night with Seth Meyers'" Panel

It’s only been on the air for two weeks, but Late Night with Seth Meyers already has a best-of reel and its own dedicated (sometimes intense) fans. A sizzle reel of interviews and clips of the new show kicked of the “Inside Late Night” panel at South by Southwest on Saturday afternoon, and the packed auditorium was filled with long-time fans of the former "Weekend Update" host, including one who told Meyers, “I wish I had your face so I had a girlfriend.” Meyers was joined by Late Night producer (and longtime SNL writer) Mike Shoemaker and moderator Olivia Munn to discuss the new show, which Meyers called a work-in-progress, as well as Fred Armisen, and what he plans to steal from Saturday Night Live.

On having SNL friends on the show:

Seth: We're trying to be careful not to, because we could obviously have an SNL person on every night.

Mike: We're right next door, so they're all around all the time, and the temptation is crazy. You just want to drag them in, but we're trying to temper it a bit.

On Stefon:

Seth: Well, on the desk, I have a Stefon nesting doll that was given to me as a gift. So Stefon is on camera every night, which makes me very happy [...] We've been very clear with Lorne that we don't have any intention to poach SNL characters, and if you want to see an SNL character, you still have to find it on SNL… except for Stefon. So, at some point, he will show up on the show.



Talking to 'Daily Show' Correspondent Jessica Williams

In only a couple of years, Jessica Williams has become a vital member of one the most influential comedy shows on television. She joined The Daily Show in 2012 at the age of 22, making her the show's youngest correspondent ever. Since then, she's become an integral part of the Daily Show team, often reporting as the show's "Senior Youth Correspondent." I got the chance to talk to her about leaving college to join the show and the scariest part of her job.

You were so young when you started at The Daily Show. Did you have any background in political comedy or satire?

I didn’t have a lot of background in political comedy or satire. I did my improv team and musical theater in high school and I did Comedy Sportz and Upright Citizens Brigade in college. That was my background, not specifically satire. Before I left college to come work on the show, we had just been learning about what satire was. They had been showing clips from The Daily Show in class.

That’s awesome.

Yeah, it was really to have to go up to my professor and be like, “Hey, so I need to reschedule midterms because I’m going to go audition for The Daily Show, which you were showing in class earlier.”

Was it a big adjustment to start paying that much attention to politics and the news? 

Yeah, absolutely. Because typically, I’m really, really good at downloading information garbage. Things that are really irrelevant, like what did Selena Gomez do today? I’m very good at remembering what that is, but it’s a little bit harder for me to download political information. My brain takes a little while to catch up. So that definitely took a little bit more time, as opposed to what what Rihanna tweeted. I find that very easy to remember. [Laughs.] READ MORE


11 Uniquely Brilliant Standup Specials of 2013

As with most years, 2013 saw an overwhelming amount of excellent standup, far too much to ever catalogue. But the greatest specials of the year were unique and inventive; many played with the very idea of a special itself, while others featured profoundly personal stories spun into brilliant standup. What they share is their distinctness — each of these comics has made a special that captures their own undeniable form of genius. Here are the most distinctive, memorable standup specials of 2013. READ MORE


Neal Brennan Doesn't Care for Pete Holmes's Dave Chappelle Impression

Neal Brennan stopped by The Pete Holmes Show, and Pete took the opportunity to do his best David Chappelle/Aziz Ansari impression for the Chappelle Show co-creator, just because he knows he hates it. The rest of the interviews, the guys discussed the stresses of running a television show, what it takes to make it in Hollywood, and did some gossiping about Jerry O'Connell and Ryan Gosling. READ MORE


Monty Python Adds Another Five Reunion Shows

Monty Python's reunion next year has already been expanded from one to five shows, and now the group has announced they'll be doing an additional five shows at London's O2 Arena next summer. The five living members of the group –  John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Terry Jones – will now be performing on July 15, 16, 18, 19, and 20 of next year, as well as July 1-5.

Tickets to the first show reportedly sold out in 43.5 seconds, and the next four shows at the 20,000-seat venue went quickly as well. Ticket prices for ranged from £26.50 ($43) to £95 ($154). The show is entitled "Monty Python Live (mostly): One down, five to go," a reference to the group's deceased member Graham Chapman, who passed away in 1989. Tickets to the shows are on sale here.


Chris Lilley's Character Jonah Takalua Is Getting His Own Show

Summer Heights High creator and star Chris Lilley's spinoff Ja'mie: Private School Girl has only just premiered in the US, but he's already announced that another character from Summer Heights will front a new show. Lilley tweeted a confirmation of a BBC story that Lilley character Jonah Takalua will be getting his own show.

Takalua, a rowdy 14-year-old schoolboy, was expelled from Summer Heights High at the end of that series, and sent to live with his extended family in Tonga. The new series will find "Jonah in the midst of island life and experiencing the familiar frustrations of a bored teenage delinquent." The series is due to air in Australia and the UK in 2014. In the US, HBO has aired Lilley's three most recent series, though they haven't announced if when they'll be airing the Takalua spinoff.


Last Night, Arsenio Hall Met ArScheerio Paul

Arsenio Hall did a little time traveling last night when Paul Scheer's ArScheerio Paul stopped by to sit on the back of chairs, talk to the dog pound, and discuss their respective interviews with Tupac. The entire thing takes place somewhere in the early 90s.


Amazon's 'Betas' Could Be Great, But Isn't Quite There Yet

The pilot of the new Amazon Studios comedy series Betas showed a lot of promise. Though it was only in the middle of our rankings last spring, the first episode had an energy and pace that promised strong things from the show, which follows a young crew attempting to launch a new social media app. But based on the next two episodes currently up on Amazon Prime, it’s unclear yet whether the show can keep up that quality over the long run.

It’s not an uncommon tale in television – a pilot filled with vibrant characters and a cleverly designed plot struggles when the show’s becomes a series. In the first episode of Betas, charming ideas man Trey and high-strung programmer Nash end up wooing a major Silicon Valley investor with a fancy if illegal demo of their clever matchmaking app. In the meantime, Trey hits it off with his new boss’s associate, while fellow team members Hobbes and Mitchell get involved with cute market researcher Mikki and drug dealer/designer Dane. With fast-moving tech talk and a string of clever “aha” moments, it forces the already too-easy comparison to The Social Network. (It is, after all, about two college dropouts trying to launch a social network.) But overall, it works. READ MORE


NBC Adapting British Comedy '30 and Counting'

NBC has bought a pilot for a remake of British single camera sitcom 30 And Counting, Deadline reports. The pilot will be written by Better Off Ted writer Justin Adler and directed by Meet The Parents director John Hamburg. The original show, written by Chris Little and Tom Vinnicombe, was part of a series of romantic comedy specials on Sky Living the UK. 30 and Counting focused on three men seeking partners online who are convinced that "their 30s is the decade that will define them. That leaves them 3,652 days to set the course for the rest of their lives."


Tracy Morgan Has Some Things to Say About Thanksgiving

More specifically, Tracy Morgan has 28 Thanksgiving-y things to say, and he said them all on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night while wearing a Cosby sweater. Of course, he mixed in a few colorful stories as well.


Brian Griffin's Probably Not Really Dead

Could Stewie's time machine save Brian?On Sunday night's episode of Family Guy, it appeared that the Griffins' dog Brian had bitten the dust after being hit by a car. But unsurprisingly for a show not bound by any laws of nature, it might not be the end of the beloved pet. An animated clock has appeared online, promising a "special announcement" from Brian on Friday, December 6 at 1 PM ET/10 AM PT. There are no clues about Brian's upcoming message, other than a decree to "spread the word" about the announcement.

Some fans of Family Guy were extremely upset by Brian's death; some even started a petition to bring him back that currently boasts over 35,000 signatures. Some have even argued that the death was just a ploy to sell more Brian merchandise for the holidays and boost the show's flagging ratings, making it the talking cartoon dog version of faking your own death for the insurance money.

Update: A Fox rep insists to TVLine: “The producers have confirmed that the ‘special announcement from Brian’ website is a hoax and was not created by anyone connected to the show, studio or network.” A likely story.


Adam McKay Says 'Anchorman' Is the Type of Thing He Would Have Gotten In Trouble For Writing at 'SNL'

Will Ferrell has certainly been making the rounds as Ron Burgundy to promote the upcoming Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,  and now director Adam McKay is talking more about the long awaited sequel. In an extended editing room interview on Collider, McKay and his editor Brent White talked about making their longest film ever (the first cut was 4.5 hours), why Seth Rogen is useless in a test audience, and not over-using Steve Carrell's Brick character:

He’s definitely the Harpo Marx of the team in the sense that he has no rules whatsoever to him.  He can step out of scenes.  He can comment on scenes.  He can look at the camera.  SO he’s got this magical power.  And then rhythm-wise, he can just get laughs.  He has one line in the movie that’s not even a joke and it gets a huge laugh.  He just says something and the crowd goes crazy.  We actually did a pass where we would go through and look at Brick and take out anything that’s mediocre [...] sweaty, and we’re like, it should only be high quality when it’s Brick.

McKay also talked about what a surprise hit the original film was back in 2004, and the extra pressure it put on the sequel.

It made it harder to do the second one because a lot of the comedy has been co-opted in commercials and kind of other styles in other comedies.  We really had to write this script over and over again to make sure we had original things.  It made it a little harder, but at the same time without a doubt, it was great to know your 2 AM flights of fancy other people think are funny.  Things I used to get in trouble for writing at SNL, suddenly other people like it.  It was nice.

Check out the rest of the interview on Collider here.