Comedy Central must have a ton of confidence in Anthony Jeselnik, because the network has given him a new show with a premiere date and everything without even knowing what it’s going to be. Jeselnik and his creative time are still trying to figure that out.
But the confidence Comedy Central has in him doesn’t come close to matching the confidence the 33-year-old comic has in himself. He just exudes it on stage. A lot of it is couched behind the asshole character he performs as who thrives on the audience’s uneasiness with his abortion jokes, basically daring them not to laugh. But he possesses a genuine self-assurance as well. It’s almost like he was expecting to be given a series and wondered why it took so long. That’s not say he’s arrogant — he’s gracious and easy to talk to — he’s just well-aware of his abilities.
I recently sat down with Jeselnik to talk about his new album, Caligula, his frustrations as a writer at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and his role as go-to guy for the Comedy Central Roasts. READ MORE
The thing about the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, or any comedy festival for that matter, is the number of times you have to make a Sophie’s Choice prioritizing which acts you’d like to see.
It’s especially difficult at JFL, the influential festival that celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, as at any given time festival goers had approximately 15 shows to choose from. Do you go see a one of the New Faces shows, or check out Aziz doing his new special, or maybe watch Anthony Jeselnik or Amy Schumer test run jokes for next week’s taping of the Roseanne Barr Roast? Lots of tough calls.
And to top it off, the final weekend also features a comedy conference and a series of discussions, panels and lectures catering to the omnipresent, back-of-the-room industry people. I made it to a bunch of shows, and they were all really funny. Hard to single out any performances, though keep an eye out for Denver-based comic Ben Roy, who everyone seemed to be talking about all weekend. He’s sort of like Henry Rollins, but with killer jokes, and will probably be on your TV sometime soon.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of some of the conference highlights. READ MORE
The Montreal Just For Laughs Festival has been around for 30 years, or, one year longer than this year’s Rising Comedy Star of the Year recipient, Hannibal Buress, has been alive.
Gives you a little perspective about the festival that's considered one of the industry’s most prestigious.
Buress was one of seven comedians honored at the 2012 Festival’s Awards Luncheon, generally one of the festival’s premiere events.
Coming in at just under 40 minutes, this year’s awards ceremony was light on time, and, it should be noted, light on laughs. Perhaps we were spoiled last year when recipients including Louis C.K., Garry Shandling and Paul Feig brought the house down during their acceptance speeches.
Veteran comic Alonzo Bodden served as MC. He had one of event’s best lines when he offered some unsolicited advice to Buress about the fleeting nature of fame, noting that it’s strange to call Buress a rising star when he’s already been on every talk show imaginable and has had writing stints on Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.
“Hannibal, pay close attention. You are looking at the Ghost of Christmas Future my friend,” he said. “This is how this shit ends, buddy.” READ MORE
Though I can’t say this for certain, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s never been an another television announcer in broadcast history who appeared in an on-camera sketch sitting shirtless in a kiddie pool with a cabana boy on each arm.
But that was Joel Godard, and he did it with style.
Godard was the announcer for all 17 seasons of Late Night with Conan O’Brien on NBC. He wasn’t the first late night talk show announcer to step out from his offstage booth and appear on-camera, but he was the funniest. His willingness to do anything for a laugh, including going along with a running storyline that he was a nihilist with a fondness for Asian street hustlers (Godard’s been happily married to his wife Tedi Dreiser Godard since 1983), earned him a well-deserved cult following.
It’s even funnier when you know his background. Sure, his résumé includes traditional experiences like brief stints as a small-market TV news anchor and weatherman, but it also contains, let’s see: a double major in chemistry and pre-med from Emory University (he was accepted to medical school, but turned it down); fluency in Spanish/competency in Japanese and a bunch of other languages; four years active duty as a U.S. Naval Officer; commercial pilot’s license; and experience teaching business math, international Morse code, and several other courses at a college in Georgia. He’s also a member of Mensa. READ MORE
If there’s such thing as a record for most meta jokes ever constructed in one television episode, Delocated’s Season 3 finale, “Reunion Show,” might have shattered it last night.
It was an impressive display.
The apex of the journey down the rabbit hole was the final scene featuring Mirminsky toady Mishka describing his new life in the witness protection program. Mishka is played by the same actor who plays “Jon”— that would be Delocated star and creator Jon Glaser. So we’ve gone from a show about a suburban asshole who enters the witness protection program because the Russian mob wants to kill him, to a show about a Russian mob lackey, once intent on killing the suburban asshole, entering the witness protection program himself. And, it’s worth noting again, the same person plays both roles. READ MORE
No matter how bumbling, irresponsible and susceptible to graft he is with his money, he always seems to acquire more. First he becomes the custodian of his late ex-wife’s $5 million life insurance policy, only to end up forking most of it over to the Wang Chos, who bleed him for almost every penny in exchange for protection. Then there was the time he inherited $3 million from a guy he met on a park bench, even though he pissed away a good chunk giving it to a meth head posing as the mother of his fake illegitimate child. READ MORE
Wow, it’s mentally exhausting just trying to remember everything that went down in last night’s Delocated.
“Friend” packed more plot and story into one 22-minute episode than most hour-long shows do over the course of three episodes. It began with “Jon” experiencing an existential crisis upon the realization that he doesn’t have any friends. TB, The Glaze, and David don’t count. What “Jon” does have, though, is cash — thanks to his late ex-wife’s life insurance money. Seizing on this, “Jon” decides to throw together a $1 million “Best Friend Challenge,” and invites New Yorkers to compete to be his best friend.
The competition consists of an American Idol-style talent show, and “Jon” eventually declares freestyle break dancer Ronnie to be the winner. But “Jon” sniffs out that Ronnie, like the other contestants, was only in it for the money and reneges. “Jon,” friendless again, is distraught.
Usually, a joke as solid as an absurd send-up of American Idol is enough to carry an entire episode of Delocated. But in this case, that entire story arc concludes within the show’s first five minutes. READ MORE
For any non-comedy nerds out there who might be reading this, standup comedian Pete Holmes is the voice of the E-Trade Baby.
OK, got your cultural touchstone? Good. Because you should check out more of his work.
Holmes is kind of a comedy renaissance man, dabbling in cartoons (The New Yorker), sketches (CollegeHumor, etc.), sitcom writing (Outsourced), acting (Ugly Americans) and podcasting (“You Made it Weird”) to supplement his work as headlining comic. He’s become a major draw on the standup scene, and recently received a Best Club Comic nomination for Comedy Central’s upcoming Comedy Awards.
Fans of “You Made it Weird” know that Holmes loves to talk comedy, and I got a chance to experience this firsthand last week while he had some downtime. We talked about his start in comedy, why he decided to get rid of his notebook, and his fondness for being ridiculed. READ MORE
We must be returning to a Golden Age of silent performances in film and television because the guy from The Artist won Best Actor at this year’s Oscars, and “Jon” delivered an Emmy-deserving silent performance in last night’s Delocated.
But only one of those productions included a scene with a silent marriage proposal and a surrogate reading a love letter that includes the line “led me to your vagina.” I’ll let you guess which one.
“Sample” was perhaps the strongest Delocated episode to date this season. It had everything a fan could ask for: sex, violence, inspired sight gags, “Jon” inventing an incredibly dumb but hilarious contraption, and Todd Barry humiliation. READ MORE
Other than the occasional murder, this season of Delocated has been relatively PG thus far.
Previous episodes about potato skins bars and cooking shows featuring sleepwalking chefs, though absurd, would be suitable to air in primetime under the TV Parental Guidelines. But Delocated airs at midnight, when the kid gloves can come off. And last night’s episode, “Camping,” truly earned its “Mature Audience Only” rating.
We can thank the hilarious Todd Barry for that. READ MORE
The thing about Delocated is that even when it’s not firing on all cylinders, it’s still one of the funniest shows on television. Last night’s episode, “Midnight Munchingtons,” was a prime example.
In terms of story arc, not a whole lot happens. No appearances by the Mirminskys, no David, and no murders. Sigh. The episode opens with “Jon” waking up to find a half-eaten sandwich in his bed. Fearing the worst, “Jon” and TB assume one of the Mirminskys dropped into “Jon’s” loft by helicopter and left behind the evidence as a scare tactic.
“Jon’s” life coach The Glaze, who gets considerable screen time this episode, suspects “Jon” is suffering from stress-induced Nocturnal Eating Syndrome (NES) and made the food himself. Panicked, “Jon” once again enlists the help of the Wang Cho street gang and upgrades his level of protection from “goldfish” to “dragon,” which costs an extra $100K and gives “Jon” access to Wang Cho’s day spa. READ MORE
No other show on television is as committed to ridiculous jokes and gags as Delocated.
Whereas most shows would bail after a passing reference to something as absurd as a potato-skins bar, Delocated centers an entire episode around “Jon’s” obsession with it. The show gets so much mileage out of the idea — “Jon” customizes his potato-skin bar with flame decals, “Jon” makes a six-foot party “skin” for a house-warming party, “Jon” tries to bribe a judge with a “skin,” numerous foreskin puns — that it takes viewer reactions from “Silly,” to “Ok, I get it,” to “Really, another one?” to “You know what, I respect their commitment here,” to “Oh my God this is brilliant.” READ MORE
It’s fitting that Delocated has a new opening for Season 3. The opening, which features “Jon” cruising in a cigarette boat scarfing a hoagie with a bikini-clad babe, represents a shift in the story continuity we became accustomed to in Seasons 1 and 2.
Plot-wise, the one constant remains in the Season 3 premiere — the Mirminsky Crime Family still wants “Jon” dead, which is why he was put in the witness protection program in the first place. But little else has carried over from the first two seasons. Gone are Jon’s girlfriend Kim, his bodyguard and friend Rob, and his manipulative reality show producer, Mighty Joe Jon the Black Blond, a Mirminsky casualty. READ MORE
It’s hard to find someone who’s seen Delocated who doesn’t think it’s hilarious.
Oddly enough, Adult Swim’s show about a Russian mob target in the witness protection who stars in his own reality show is the network’s most accessible program. And despite the fact that it airs at midnight on Thursdays, the show seems to be catching on. Season 2 of Delocated was one of the Top 20 programs for Adults 18-24, Men 18-24, Adults 18-34 and Men 18-34 in a rank of late-night programs on both cable and broadcast networks, according to Nielsen Media Research.
That’s all a testament to the show’s star and creator, Jon Glaser, who came up with the character while he was a writer for Late Night With Conan O’Brien.
Delocated’s “Jon” is self-absorbed, inconsiderate and desperate for approval, but he’s so damn funny that it’s hard to not like him. The show avoids the snappy dialogue and witty rejoinders abundant in most sitcoms that sometimes can come off as too “writerly.” Delocated’s humor all stems from the ridiculous premise that a guy who’s forced to wear a ski mask at all times and modulate his voice to protect his identity would want his own reality show. It never seems to fail.
I recently had the chance to talk to Glaser while he was in New York working on post-production for Season 3. We talked about the new season, “Jon’s” wardrobe, and a new character he’ll be playing. READ MORE
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