How committed are your favorite TV networks to making you laugh? While some networks are happy to stick with a tried and true formula, others are being forced to experiment this season. What’s going on with the rise of the romantic sitcom? Who’s doubling down on family fare? Where should you look for your favorite canceled shows? We’ve examined the comedies the networks and cable have to offer this 2014-2015 TV season to see which network offers the most in quantity, which offers the most in quality, and who’s taking the biggest risks.
Saturday Night Live has been home to over a hundred cast members throughout the past 39 years. In our column Saturday Night’s Children, we present the history, talent, and best sketches of one SNL cast member every other week for your viewing, learning, and laughing pleasure.
SNL's first party monster legend was a Chicago boy born to Albanian immigrants — a short, squat, blue-collar popular kid whose fierce presence dominated everything from the high school football field to the improv theater stage and, during his final years, the silver screen. Many of the late John Belushi's friends and former collaborators have attempted to describe the man behind the SNL icon [...]
SNL shifts into a different gear when a comedian hosts the show. In the early days, comic-hosts like George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Steve Martin were every bit as much a part of the show's countercultural brand as the cast members were. 40 years later, SNL has become part of the mainstream, with a product so formulaic that today's most innovative comics define themselves by how different they are from the comedy institution and the network TV legacy it represents. Popular comedians often struggle to bridge the gap between their delivery and the SNL machine, where the multicam format and demand for immediate laughs often leave little room for nuance. Sometimes the two are incompatible, like when [...]
The following excerpt reprinted with permission from Brian Abrams's new book AND NOW…An Oral History of "Late Night with David Letterman," 1982-1983, which is currently available to purchase at Amazon Kindle Singles.
By the summer of 1985, head writer Steve O’Donnell was no longer scouring for new personnel to come up with remote concepts and “Viewer Mail” pieces. (Monologue material stayed plentiful, as staffer Gerry Mulligan continued to oversee that part of the show.) Including co-creators Merrill Markoe and David Letterman, 13 individuals populated the writers’ room, and submissions from prospective writers continued to stack high on O’Donnell’s desk. An unassuming 23-year-old Tufts University grad named Rob Burnett [...]
Funny videos on the internet come from a plethora of sources, from established internet studios to TV networks to independent comedians. But how do comedy production studios fund their internet comedy videos? There’s no simple answer. In fact, one of the first answers I heard was “Our funding comes from everywhere.”
However, as I talked to representatives from CollegeHumor, Funny or Die, Jash, Above Average, UCB Comedy, and Comedy Central, a lot of common themes came forward. Branded content funds more than you think. YouTube revenue funds less than you think. Comedy studios, like everyone else, earn money so they can fund passion projects. Incubating new talent is also a [...]
As much as Phil Hartman's work and influence lives on, the Ontario native has so far escaped the kind of mainstream legacy re-appraisal that so many other late standups and sketch players have enjoyed.
You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman, which takes its name from the catchphrase of The Simpsons mainstay Troy McClure (voiced by Hartman), aims to right that. The long-overdue appreciation of Hartman's genius, which will be published tomorrow by St. Martin's Press, looks at the arc of his career — from his little-known stints as a rock 'n' roll roadie and album-cover designer to his comedy work with the Groundlings and beyond — as well as [...]