Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting the Golden Globes this Sunday, and if their performance last year is any indication, we can count on it being the year's only awards show worth watching. Tina and Amy's comedic chemistry goes back almost 15 years to their time together on Saturday Night Live, where they appeared in numerous memorable sketches together and served as the first and only two-woman Weekend Update anchor team in the show's history. To get excited for what's sure to be another delightful Fey/Poehler Golden Globes hosting gig this weekend, here's a look at all the times these two comedy queens have appeared together, from their [...]
It was reported earlier today that Sasheer Zamata has been added to Saturday Night Live, joining the cast as a featured player at midseason. Zamata, a standup, improviser, actress, and writer out of New York's UCB Theatre, was one of two dozen SNL hopefuls who tried out for the show last month in a series of showcase auditions the show held in response to criticism over the lack of diversity in its cast. Zamata began studying at UCB in 2009 and is currently a member of the Harold team Bucky and the black female improv trio Doppelganger. She has appeared in web videos [...]
In October, Tom Scharpling announced that his long-running comedy/music radio show, The Best Show on WFMU, would be ending its run tonight after 13 years on the air. Since it began, two presidential administrations ago as Scharpling often reminds listeners, The Best Show has become a staple of the comedy world with people like Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Tim & Eric, and tons more having become regular guests and fans of the program, which was doing what podcasts do but better years before podcasts were even a thing. On top of the show being a nonstop parade of some of the biggest names in comedy, Scharpling taking calls from [...]
Saturday Night Live is searching for a new black female cast member. The show's producers held a showcase audition at LA's Groundlings Theater last Sunday during SNL's week off, with all black female performers auditioning. Bresha Webb, Nicole Byer, Amber Ruffin, Simone Shepherd, Tiffany Haddish, LaKendra Tookes, Damirra Brunson, Azie Dungey, Beth Payne, Misty Monroe, and Gabrielle Dennis all tried out. Webb posted a photo of the group of auditioners on Instagram last week. "They used our space but ran everything internally," said a rep from Groundlings. SNL brought in its own list of performers to try out; this was not a showcase of Groundlings performers.
Brunson was [...]
Christmas Comes to Pac-Land generally finds itself atop lists of weirdest and worst holiday specials. Ignoring most of the tropes associated with seasonal programming, Pac-Land is pretty upfront with its intentions. Essentially a 22-minute commercial for the Pac-Man video game series, Hannah-Barbara must have felt beholden to the game’s central plot, offering Pac-Man little or nothing to do outside of collecting power-pellets, fending off ghosts, and locating Christmas presents. Without any interest in contributing to the tradition of holiday television, Christmas Comes to Pac-Land teaches children to consume as quickly and gluttonously as possible.
In the 1980s, anything from cat-eating Aliens to Adolf Hitler could be turned into a [...]
Just prior to Judd Apatow rising to power as one of the most successful writer/director/producers in comedy, he was working with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to write a movie called The Long D, an unproduced screenplay that I'll be look at this week.
Written in the summer of 2005, in between The 40 Year-Old Virgin's production and release, The Long D is based on an idea by Rogen and childhood friend/writing partner Evan Goldberg, who were just coming off of writing on the HBO version of Da Ali G Show together. Rogen, Goldberg, and Apatow share credit on the screenplay, which is a romantic comedy about a pair [...]
Sarah Silverman has been doing standup for over 20 years, but she's never released a televised standup special until now. She's done dozens of late night spots and a theatrically-released concert film (Jesus Is Magic), but Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles, which just premiered on HBO, is her first ever hour special.
In addition to filming We Are Miracles, Silverman has recently been keeping busy with a whole slew of different projects. She's playing a supporting role in Seth MacFarlane's next live action movie, starring in an HBO pilot called People of New Jersey for producer Lorne Michaels, and releasing videos via JASH, the YouTube channel she's [...]
At some point in the last two years it became a legal requirement in the United States to have an opinion about Lena Dunham. So, here is mine: Lena Dunham, the ultimate multi-hyphenate, is a tremendously skilled filmmaker. She also fits perfectly in the original mission of this column, in that while she is often more lauded, or at least more recognized, for her writing and acting work, her skills and choices as a director actually allow her to perfectly convey what she tries to do in Girls and her earlier work. Just as in her writing, her filmmaking choices are pitch-perfect in portraying perfectly timed humor, sadness, vulnerability, and [...]
The 2002 MTV Video Music Awards were a pivotal moment for both Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. Timberlake was there to debut himself as a solo performer with his soon-to-be-hit song "Like I Love You," and Fallon was there as host in the heat of his SNL fame. The two met backstage and sparked a friendship, and the rest is history. From Timberlake's 2003 SNL hosting gig to his honorary spot on the first episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to his weeklong Late Night "Timberweek" stay, this musical/comedy duo has been producing tons of catchy, absurd, and hilarious sketches together over the past ten years. To celebrate [...]
Back in a time when our primary source of film-watching outside the movie theatre involved a trip to a video store, it was much harder to be a young boy curious about what might exist beyond the G-rated family comedies we would watch on Sunday nights (my family would do this “picnic style” which meant putting down a dirty blanket in our suburban finished basement, ordering chinese food, and eating on the floor while we watched). One day my parents allowed me to attend a friend’s birthday party where we would be watching Mel Brooks’ R-rated film, Blazing Saddles, perhaps just pleased that we weren’t going to watch one [...]
David Koechner has, by our rough estimate, starred in approximately a bazillion different television shows and movies. The versatile comedic actor who got his start in the Chicago improv scene is best known for his roles as Todd Packer in The Office and Champ Kind in Anchorman – two hilarious, yet very distinct types of chauvinistic jerks – but you’re just as likely to recognize him from any number of sketch shows, sitcoms, cartoons, and 3D killer piranha films from the mid-‘90s on.
This year has proved as busy as ever for Koechner. In addition to once again donning Champ’s cowboy hat for the much-anticipated Anchorman sequel, he’s also [...]
Key & Peele wraps up its third season next week, and the dynamic sketch show continues to work like a well-oiled machine, delivering an impressive and idiosyncratic mix of sketches with strong performances from creator-stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele and pitch-perfect cinematic aesthetics from director Peter Atencio. Comedy Central has renewed the show for a fourth season, and credit must also go to executive producers Jay Martel and Ian Roberts. As showrunners, Martel — a television, film, and theater writer known for Strangers with Candy — and Roberts — writer, producer, UCB founder who executive produced Players on Spike TV with Martel — unite the disparate players around a common vision, oversee the writing staff, [...]
Few would disagree that we're in living in a golden age of political comedy — or at least that politics are more important to comedy today than ever before. When historians write about humor in the early twenty-first century, the names of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher will definitely be key players. And just as noteworthy will be the fact that a large majority of this humor has come at the expense of conservatives, and often to the benefit of liberals.
No matter if you’re on the left or right, pretty much everyone agrees that liberals dominate political satire and humorous commentary (at least in popularity), but [...]
Working as an editor for my college’s satirical newspaper, I learned one unassailable fact: we would never be as funny as The Onion. As proud as I was of the work we produced at that publication – the Kenyon Collegiate, for those Ohio liberal arts college comedy aficionados among you – it never came close to the consistency, scope or focus of America’s Finest News Source. Part of this, of course, is due to a limited talent pool and zero resources. Part of it is due to a blatant aping of their style (a working title for the newspaper was The Kenyon Carrot). Mostly, though, it’s because good satire [...]
Last month, Tom Scharpling ended his comedy radio program The Best Show on WFMU after 13 years, and comedian/musician/author Dave Hill was given his timeslot on listener-supported New Jersey station WFMU. Dave Hill's new show, aptly titled The Goddamn Dave Hill Show, is set to premiere tonight at 9pm EST. Hill has a lot planned for the new three-hour program, which will be a mix of comedy, music, listener calls, and guests.
I recently had the chance to chat with Hill about The Goddamn Dave Hill Show, trying to escape The Best Show's shadow, and writing his second book.
Bo Burnham has been busy, and he’s ready for a break. The 23-year-old may have entered the comedy scene in an unconventional way through his YouTube videos, but 2013 has proved that he is a force to be reckoned with. He released his third comedy special, what., yesterday on YouTube and Netflix for free and digitally as an album on iTunes for money. And on top of that, this year also saw the release of Burnham’s book of poems, Egghead, and his own MTV show, Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous.
Burnham took the time to talk with me about his decision to release the special [...]
Will Forte is a busy man. Upon leaving SNL in 2010, he starred in MacGruber, a film that received mixed reviews but is nonetheless considered a cult classic in many circles. He has also played recurring roles in numerous shows, among them the buffalo-straddling Ted Turner on Conan, the cross-dressing Paul L'Astnamé on 30 Rock (for which he was nominated for an Emmy), and voicing various characters on The Cleveland Show. His most recent project has been Nebraska, a celebrated indie comedy directed by Alexander Payne, in which he plays David Grant, a man who escorts his elderly father (played by Bruce Dern) on a road trip to claim [...]
I just released an e-book called Conversations with Carlin: An In-Depth Discussion with George Carlin about Life, Sex, Death, Drugs, Comedy, Words, and so much more, a novella-length transcript of a five-hour interview I conducted with comedy legend George Carlin in 2001. As the title indicates, I spoke to Carlin about not just expected topics such as comedy and words – two topics covered at length in the book – but also about more personal and philosophical subjects including religion, war, morality, and the importance of romantic love. Here’s an exclusive excerpt.
In his new biography—called simply Johnny Carson—the titular talk show host's long-time lawyer, Henry Bushkin, describes the ins and outs of Johnny's life: from the sordid personal stuff to the show business drama. You'll read about Johnny packing heat while looking for evidence of his wife's infidelities with Frank Gifford and you'll read about Frank Sinatra strong-arming Carson into performing at the Reagan Inauguration. Unfortunately, what you won't read about is anything that took place outside of 1970-1988, the years in which Bushkin was brought in to work from Carson to the time at which he was abruptly dismissed. For those of us looking for information about Carson's rise [...]
During Dan Harmon's Community exodus last year, he went and created another TV show, this one for Adult Swim. Called Rick and Morty, the new animated series was co-created by Harmon and Justin Roiland, and it premieres tonight at 10:30.
Based on a rejected pilot Roiland made for Harmon's monthly video competition Channel 101 in 2006 called "The Real Adventures of Doc and Mharti," Rick and Morty is a Back to the Future-inspired sci-fi comedy about a sociopathic scientist and his grandson going on wild adventures. I recently had the chance to talk to Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland about how the new show came to be, how they [...]