Welcome to our column Sketch Anatomy, where we ask some of our favorite comedy writers to choose any sketch — one they personally wrote or one from history they find particularly hilarious, notable, or underappreciated — to learn from a writer's perspective what separates a successful sketch from the rest.
For this week's installment of Sketch Anatomy we spoke with Jake Fogelnest, who has written for Funny or Die, Billy on the Street, Hulu's Difficult People, and Netflix's upcoming and warmly anticipated Wet Hot American Summer prequel series. On top of all that, Fogelnest also has a new Ben Stiller-produced show in the works at IFC tentatively titled Start Making Sense, but he still found some time to talk with us about a classic sketch from MTV's The State that we featured in 2013 as one of the show's best forgotten sketches ever. Starring Michael Ian Black and Kevin Allison, season 4 sketch "Taco Man" is a deceivingly simple, three-minute chat between a mailman and a frustrated suburban homeowner who, understandably, prefers getting his mail over delicious tacos. READ MORE
Nebraska writer Bob Nelson has a new coming-of-age comedy in the works at Amazon. According to Deadline, the streaming network has ordered a single-cam half-hour comedy called Highston from Nelson and produced by Sacha Baron Cohen, with Little Miss Sunshine duo Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris onboard to direct. The series follows Highston Liggetts, "a kind 19-year-old and perched on the edge of adulthood. When he encounters a world he doesn’t understand, like Elwood P. Dowd, he retreats into his vast imagination, where famous 'friends' are his companions and mentors." The cast has not yet been announced.
Jim Gaffigan made his final appearance on Late Show with David Letterman last night, where he and Dave chatted about why no one should live in the Midwest, what it's like to work on his upcoming TV Land series, and why it's impressive that Jesus was in such good shape, which involves the constant temptation of pretzel bread.
Here's a clip from last night's Late Night, in which Seth Meyers heads to Yankee Stadium for a day: "It's April in New York City, it's fucking freezing, which means it's time for some baseball!" Meyers meets a Yankees bat boy, locker room attendant, organist, beer vendor, and radio announcer Michael Kay and also gets some good practice hitting Late Night writer Seth Reiss with bags of peanuts.
Here's a new clip from HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel featuring comedian and longtime baseball fan Chris Rock, who takes on baseball's growing diversity issues, explains why most black people just don't love the sport anymore, and breaks down why this should be extremely troubling for those in the industry: "You lose black America, you lose young America," Rock warns. "And make no mistake: Baseball is losing."
Get ready for a lot more celebrity lip syncing. Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Merchant, and John Krasinski's new Spike series Lip Sync Battle has broken ratings records for the network, so today's news is not too much of a surprise: According to Variety, it's officially landed a 20-episode second season renewal to debut sometime next year. Guest stars on the LL Cool J-hosted series so far this season include Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Anne Hathaway. "Lip Sync Battle is a television and viral rock star for Spike," said Spike president Kevin Kay. "We are thrilled to be renewing Lip Sync Battle whose success is a direct result of the brilliance and creativity of our producers, the brave performers, and of course the coolest new duo on television, LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen."
SNL alum and Man Seeking Woman creator Simon Rich is sticking with FX for the next two years. The Wrap reports that Rich has signed a two-year overall deal with the network less than two months after his FXX series landed a second season renewal. "They've given us more creative freedom than I ever dreamed was possible," Rich said on FX in a statement. "I'm determined to develop shows with them that are honest, original and gross. I can't wait to get started." For more on Rich's work, check out our interview with him from January.
Welcome to The Second City Archives, in which we post an exclusive clip each week of some of comedy's biggest superstars performing early in their careers on the legendary Chicago stage. Second City has generously given us a glimpse into their extensive archive of live performances, and over the coming weeks we'll be sharing some rare and retro comedy never before seen on the web.
This week's unearthed clip is a vintage look at '60s Second City Chicago featuring Alex Canaan, Robert Klein, David Steinberg, and Fred Willard as host and guests on a late night talk show. After the Library of Congress enacts a bizarre new rule that all nightly talk show episodes must include five minutes of folk singing, their show has no choice but to comply, and after a round of traditional Eskimo folk music and fascinating bird facts from Willard's bird veterinarian character, the panel of guests starts getting a little hectic. Check out another classic Second City clip featuring Willard here.
ABC is currently developing a Muppet Show reboot with Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady and Anger Management writer/producer Bob Kushell, and according to Entertainment Weekly the series will be aimed more at adults than kids, take on an Office/Arrested Development-style mockumentary format, and have a tone similar to 30 Rock. The plot will follow the Muppets behind the scenes as they launch a brand new television series, and the mockumentary format will delve "deeper into the Muppets' personal lives" for the first time. Here's ABC's official description of the series:
The Muppets return to prime time with a contemporary, documentary-style show that—for the first time ever—will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires; a more adult Muppet show, for kids of all ages.
Entertainment Weekly also revealed that the producers behind the project want the series to "go deeper into the soap-territory that is the trademark of ABC's biggest hits like Grey's Anatomy and Scandal," so as long as Miss Piggy's onboard, we can all count on plenty of backstage drama from the Muppet gang.
Season 3 of Inside Amy Schumer premiered on Comedy Central last night, and if the above Friday Night Lights parody is any indication, we can expect another fantastic season from Schumer and crew. In the sketch, guest star Josh Charles — who appeared last season in the Sorkin parody "The Foodroom" — joins Schumer for some spot-on small town football drama, and the rest is better seen than explained. Like "A Very Realistic Military Game," "Football Town Nights" is proof that, in the hands of talented writers and performers, serious issues like sexism and rape culture can turn into comedy gold.
Paul Rudd took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity during his visit to last night's Late Show. Considering it was his final Late Show interview with Dave, Rudd figured it was the perfect time to whip out all the goodies he got as a member of the unauthorized David Letterman Fan Club including a very special sponge he's waited thirty years to soak in water. It was a long time coming, but it looks like the wait was worth it.
Here's a clip from Kumail Nanjiani's visit to last night's Late Night, where he looks back at some Silicon Valley scenes that have led to some very strange fan encounters. Nanjiani also has a message for anyone debating the accuracy of the math used in the show: If you think it's wrong, take it up with the Stanford professor who wrote it. Watch another clip from Nanjiani's interview below: READ MORE
Aziz Ansari is headed to Netflix with his very own show. According to THR, the streaming network has ordered a 10-episode half-hour comedy series starring Ansari, co-created by former Parks and Recreation Alan Yang, and executive produced by Parks and Rec co-creator Mike Schur. No plot details have been revealed, but the untitled series is reportedly based on Ansari's life, and H. Jon Benjamin, Lena Waithe, Eric Wareheim, Noël Wells, and Bob's Burgers writer Kelvin Yu will round out the supporting cast. Production on the show has already kicked off in New York.
Here's the latest episode of Kate McKinnon and her sister Emily Lynne's Above Average web series Notary Publix featuring Beck Bennett, who plays a handsome notary sent to seduce Gina with some not very romantic motives. As usual, the episode includes an exclusive behind-the-scenes look with master actors Ashlaheigh Braun-Samuels and Kulie Bishop.
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