Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mr. Show: Glory Be the Hole

I've been bidding my time until Michael and Michael Have Issues starts airing on Comedy Central July 15th (10:30pm ET/9:30pm CT). Summer reruns and original programming on cable haven't been floating my boat lately, so I've been turning to comedy that has long since left the TV airwaves and made its way onto DVD (or YouTube). This week I've been dabbling in the brilliance of Mr. Show, Bob Odenkirk's and David Cross's insanely funny HBO sketch series that ran from 1995 - 1998. Absurd, outrageous, surreal and imaginative, Bob and David wrote and performed bits with an intelligent flair, lending itself to Python, yet forging new directions. It's cool to see Brian Posehn, Jay Johnston, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Paul F. Thomkins, Tom Kenny and Jack Black providing some funny way back then.

Here's "The Farm House Musical", a heartfelt romp about a leather pants salesman who is led to glory hole temptation by satan. Seriously, it's so well done and absolutely hilarious. Listen to the golden rocking chops of Jack Black. When Odenkirk comes out as the milk pump, it brings it to a whole other level - which very sadly, gets cut off in this video. Damn. Still the five minutes on there are pretty good.

Rent Mr. Show: The Complete First and Second (Third and Fourth season too) on Netflix, or buy it at Amazon to watch all their work. It's worth it.

Another favorite:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson Tribute on BET

Janet Jackson pays tribute to her brother. Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx sing a beautiful rendition of "I'll Be There". Very moving.

Sid and Marty Krofft: My 1970's Childhood in LSD Color

The death of Michael Jackson got me all teary eyed for the Jackson Five. Then, it made me think of their 1970's animated Saturday morning kids show, which in turn got me all nostalgic for the television of my kiddie-hood.There was no Nickelodeon and Disney Channel back then. My generation was raised on good, wholesome drug induced dreams, peyote visions born out of a VW bus, and images inspired by living on the bong. No producer captured this state of mind better than Sid and Marty Krofft, who turned it over for the kids to enjoy. Thank you!

Time to cruise YouTube.

The Banana Splits.
There was a lot of psychedelia leaking over from the 60's. It must have taken a pound of cocaine just to muster the will to get into those costumes. Sid and Marty gave us an explosion of every drug dream they've ever had...although they've denied ever being on drugs.

Sigmund and the Sea Monster. The Krofft brothers were on a roll. I mean, what the hell was this? A sea monster with actor Billy Barty sweating it up in that costume, and the kid from Family Affair? This clip shows the opening and closing credits, noting that Rip Taylor was a guest star. My quest is to find this episode in its entirety because Rip Taylor in a green fairy suit + throwing green sparkly confetti on a weird children's show = MUST SEE THIS NOW.

Land of the Lost: The REAL one. Just look at those effects. That earthquake is so realistic, and you can feel the anger of the dinosaurs and the weight of those Styrofoam rocks falling on the Marshall family as the wall to the past sucks them in. Yeah, the effects were crap. The Sleestaks were my favorite though. I love Will Farrell, but TV wins out here.

I was going to post a clip from HR Puffnstuff, another show from the Krofft brothers, but it's so horribly bad...I'd rather show this parody from Mr. Show. Now when I close my eyes, I can see Bob Odenkirk's yellow body suit behind of my eye lids. Freaking hilarious.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

They do come in threes.

I love Off the Wall and Thriller, but I like to remember the Michael Jackson of my early childhood.

Here's a clip from an old Jackson Five special (Going Back to Indiana) with Bill Cosby in the intro (and there's Tommy Smothers again looking as confused as he did last week at LAX.):

In my PJ's, in front of our old color TV set with bowl of Apple Jacks on my lap: Saturday morning kiddie memories. And they were much more cooler and awesome than the boring Osmonds.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ghost Hunters: Like Ghostbusters Without the Marshmellow Guy

You know what would make the viewing public collectively poop their pants? If producers of Ghost Hunters kill the music and sound effects while the team from TAPS do their investigations. Silence, pure ear sucking silence, is more chilling than the "ker-chung" sound drops and weird musical ambient flow you hear while ghost detectives Jason Hawkes, Grant Wilson and their crack team of investigators tip toe their way through creepy light houses, abandoned hospitals and closed down prisons. Walking through darkness, as their faces glow under the night camera lenses, suddenly one will ask "Did you hear that?" "Yeah! I did!" Umm, well I didn't. I heard a musical sting, then you guys, then a sound that resembled the opening one second theme from Law and Order, not a ghost looking for the light.

I love this show nonetheless. Both Jason and Grant are extremely likable every day guys from Rhode Island who work for Roter-Rooters by day, and kick ghost butt by night. Taken by their own life changing experiences with ghosts, and so fascinated by the paranormal, they established The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) as a hobby, and set out to not only find ghostly beings, but to debunk any false rumors about haunted locations. Whether TAPS is actually truthful in their findings is anyone's guess. The ghost lovers on the web have debated their veracity, and sometimes I wonder what the team is truly seeing since the TLC cameras never happen to capture what the ghost hunters are reacting to, and the aforementioned M&E track drowns out the noises they hear. Yet, the last several minutes of audio and visual findings turn up interesting images and floating voices proving a haunt, or nothing at all.

My favorite moments are when the TAPS crew get the crap scared out of them. Watching these these guys get mowed down by a heat sinking orb, or freaked by a cob web touching their neck, causing them to flee, screaming like girls running from a co-ed pantie raid - well, it's pretty priceless. On the sister show Ghost Hunters International, a TAPS affiliated team from Florida went to the Philippines to investigate an old air base hospital that had some ghostly activity, and discovered the voices and movements people reported was just a homeless guy living in the basement. This turn up is sublime in its debunkery. Hope the creepy music didn't wake him up.

Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International air on the SciFi Channel (Soon to be known as SyFy).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ed McMahon 1923-2009

When Johnny Carson said goodnight for the last time on The Tonight Show in 1993, it was the end of an era. When he passed away in 2005, it was the end of a life well lived, a class act shuffling off the old mortal coil. Ed McMahon passed away today at the age of 86. He was a fine pitchman and well suited second banana to the king of late night. May he find a comfy spot on Johnny's couch upstairs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Triumph at Bonnaroo

I don't think The Decemberists suck, but this is HI-larious.

Funny or Die and HBO Spawn New Content

In June of 2008, Funny or Die and HBO entered into a multi-million dollar deal commissioning the website to produce ten original half hour programs for the cable network. HBO also claimed a small stake in ownership of the comedy site. Production has been underway for some notable comedians involved in the project. (Notable for me, because I am obsessed with Human Giant and the comedians therein).

Paul Scheer (Human Giant) began production last March on Designated Driver. It also stars Rob Riggle (The Daily Show). It promises to be hilarious because Scheer is amazing and Riggle defines awesome.

Brett Gelman, otherwise known as the little bit of luck dude in those Lottery ads (which I'm sure he's tired of being defined by...sorry), taped his UCB show 1,000 Cats for HBO last March as well. Yeah, I know it's summer. All those episodes of 30 Rock and The Office back then made me a little late on this.

Rob Huebel 's Holdup was filmed several weeks ago, and stars himself, Reno 911's Thomas Lennon, The Office's Creed Bratton and Ed Helms (who is now super famous for The Hangover), Malin Akerman (27 Dresses), Rachael Harris (also The Hangover), and Weird Al Yankovic (every geek song parody known to mankind).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Funny Girls

Dare I say, comedy has its boy's club? Well, it kind of does. I love the boys, but the girls have some funny chops as well.

One of my favorite female comedy mavens is French and Saunders, a comedy duo that has been producing a sketch/movie parody show of the same name on the BBC for over twenty years now. It can run the gamut of film spoofs, celebrity imitations and random skits that satirize everyday life, or even themselves. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are also the creators (and in Saunders' case, star) of the BBC hit Absolutely Fabulous. I worship them.

Here's a bit - which of course, doesn't fit in this blog. Thanks for widening the video, YouTube.

Liz Cackowski stars in The Jeannie Tate Show, available online. Not sure if she's doing more, but this series of a obnoxious Soccer Mom who conducts a talk show from her van, with her boys and pissy teenage step daughter in the back seat, is really funny. She's had guests such as Bill Hader and Rashida Jones. Here's the incredible Rob Riggle.

Also from the UK, here's Catherine Tate who stars in The Catherine Tate Show. She's truly an amazing performer who loses herself with each character. You can watch an array of her characters on YouTube, but this is my favorite. Here's Nan.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Paging Tommy Smothers...Perfectly Strange

LAX. PA announcement. "Paging passenger Tommy Smothers. Tommy Smothers, please come to security to collect your lost baggage. Paging passenger Tommy Smothers." Could it be THAT Tommy Smothers? Comedian, musician, political satirist with brother Dick? Before I could ponder the question further, THAT Tommy Smothers came walking by, white haired, handsome, looking around as confused to hear his name as I was. "Hello! Nice to meet you" he said kindly to the man a few folks before me. Yes. THAT Tommy Smothers.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
aired from 1967 through 1969. It was infused with folk songs and funny social commentary that stimulated controversy and bent boundaries of television entertainment. The show would feature comedians such as George Carlin, bands such as The Doors. The writing team included a very young Steve Martin, Don Novello and Rob Reiner, to name a few - talent that would soar in their own careers.

Tommy did find his baggage, and walked happily away. Nice soul he seemed to be.

I don't remember the show itself, since it goes way beyond my memory bank, but it's pretty cool to see how the cultural revolution of the hippy sixties was reflected in the satire of two straight laced white guys who could visually be mistaken for the establishment of the day.

You can check out The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour here.

In other news, Mark Linn Baker is on my plane . The last time I saw him he was being tackled by Jason O'Mara, also on an airplane, in Life on Mars. He's behind me. Hope he doesn't see me post this, but hello Perfect Strangers opening theme.

Monday, June 15, 2009

British TV Redux: Ripping Yarns

This past weekend, the NY Mets got shattered by the NY Yankees 15-0. A Mets fan friend of mine decided to take out his frustration by watching an episode of Ripping Yarns, a BBC comedy series written by Monty Python's Michael Palin and Terry Jones back in 1976. It was a funny take off of old schoolboy "Boys Life" stories. During my Monty Python obsessed days, I coveted old VHS tapes (yes, tapes!) of this series, and relished every episode. Here's one of my favorites entitled "Golden Gordon" (Part I.) Gordon is a Barnstoneworth United football fan, who takes losing to a whole new level.

Bottle Blondes Take Over Manhattan

While the Lakers championship riots are dieing down here in L.A., back home in New York, another form of asshat has overtaken my fair city: The Hills' Heidi and Spencer, now failed stars of I Think I'm a Celebrity, But I'm Not. Now Get Me Out Of Here have been cab hopping from The Today Show (where Al Roker pissed them off) to The View (and God knows where else) to promote the fact they are sell outs who have no talent. Or maybe it's damage control for having quit the reality show that proves End of Days are near. What further damage can two fame whores quell? Their so-called careers are based on selfish, petty horribleness that's damaging to human intelligence.

I'm back home in New York tomorrow. Those two better be gone-zo.

Lakers Win and Los Angeles Under Lock Down..Sort of..

Los Angeles. City of Angels. Home of the stars. Town of the Lakers, now champions in some big, fancy basketball competition my baseball brain can't absorb. I've been spending an extended weekend in West Hollywood, a trip that seems to have coincided with a massive Laker win that has set the town on its side. Screams and honking horns from Sunset leaked through my windows. My television set to non-stop television reporters going nuts with delight over being in the midst of a possible war zone in east L.A and the Staples Center. Funny how snagging a championship seems to flip the asshole switch in rabid fans from 0 to 20. Not all fans. Most celebrated like adults happy to see their team win it all, but some other factions of fandom have gone nuts, where celebration spiraled into inexplicable, vicious tribal anger. Is it bravado? Maybe it's the bad economy. What else do people have to cling to these days? Besides, those buses and cars aren't going to get turned over and set fire to themselves.

Here's a clip from KTLA.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And Conan Hits Him Right Back...

After surging in the ratings the past few days, Late Show with David Letterman was usurped in the ratings department by The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, who regained his treasured demographic. Source: THR

Yes, I am still too lazy and too busy to write this myself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dave Beats Conan in Overnights

As per THR's Live Feed blog: "Letterman earned a 3.4 metered-market household rating to O'Brien's 2.9. The CBS show was up 13% from last week and 17% from last year."

Yes, I am too lazy to write this myself.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colbert Goes Commando

Stephen Colbert kicked off his USO tour of duty last night with the first Colbert Report taped live for the American troops in Iraq. It's sobering to see the men and women of our country pay service and sacrifice their lives for freedom in a hot, dry desert so far from home. They needed some laughs, and Colbert provided. Beside the hilarious opening monologue, where Stephen donned a camouflage suit and sported a swinging golf club a-la-Bob Hope, the following segment with Commanding General Ray Odierno was a major highlight. It also included special guest Commander in Chief Barack Obama giving orders. This was undoubtedly the best Report ever.

As for General Odierno, it's awesome to have a guy who looks like Klaatu's giant robot friend from The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008) leading our troops. He's so awesome, I bet he shoots ray beams from his eyes. Go troops!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Obama Orders Stephen's Haircut - Ray Odierno
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

Monday, June 8, 2009

Eugene Mirman Rocks the Commencement Address

This is a really sweet speech given by comedian Eugene Mirman (Flight of the Conchords) at his old high school.

The Hangover, Nurse Jackie and Weeds

Crossing over into theatrical territory, The Hangover, starring The Office's Ed Helms, comedian Zach Galifianakis, and actor Bradley Cooper, had a great weekend at the box office, pulling in $43.4 million, coming in second to the huge hit Up.* (Source: Variety) This flick is definitely on my "to do" list. Also, check out Galifianakis' live performance at San Francisco's Purple Onion on DVD. It's also streaming on Netflix. Zach is insanely unique and oozes comedy brilliance. (Maybe "ooze" isn't the right word.)

*Update: Late weekend numbers are officially in and The Hangover overtook Up in Box office intake with $45million +. (Source: Variety)

Season five of Weeds premieres tonight at 10pm ET/PT on Showtime. Nancy Botwin is knocked up with a drug lord's baby, Uncle Andy has warm and fuzzy feelings toward his sister-in-law, and Celia is such a bitch they practically thank her kidnappers for abducting her. Sadly, this show lost me a long time ago on account of Nancy becoming truly unlikable. However, it's worth watching for the ridiculously funny Kevin Nealon, who plays Doug Wilson, a man who loves his weed, and is happy to do anything to keep it in his life.

Nurse Jackie premieres tonight at 10:30pm ET/PT tonight, also on Showtime. I wasn't so sure I'd like this one, despite being a major Edie Falco fan. My quota of medical dramas dried up after St. Elsewhere went off the air. (True. I've hardly watched ER and will not watch Grey's or Private Practice). Having viewed the premiere, it looks unsettling and yet compelling. You can't take your eyes off Falco as she bulldozes her way through hospital corridors, hyped up on meds snorted straight from the pharmacy cabinet to stay on her feet. A nurse with a bad back is a nurse unemployed, after all.

You can view the first episode of Nurse Jackie on the Showtime website.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

DVD of the Night: Stella

I'm watching Stella on DVD for the first time in a while. David Wain, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black comprised this oddball conceptual bizarre comedy show back in 2005. These guys are nuts - a big bowl of mixed crunchy nuts you can't stop eating until you go into anaphylactic shock - if you are so allergically inclined. But it's worth it just to see Black get all weird. I mean crazy bat shit weird, but it's amazing. Wish I knew it was on Hulu before I waited days to get the DVD from Netflix. Watch it now. (http://www.hulu.com/stella)

More to come from Showalter and Black with Michael and Michael Have Issues, premiering on Comedy Central in July. Also check out David Wain's Wainy Days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Colbert Nation: Listen Up

Just doing my job as a citizen of the United States and TV blogger to inform.

After months of methodical logistics planning kept as confidential and mysterious as Dick Cheney's secret dungeon - it's now official. Stephen Colbert has been deployed to Iraq for a USO tour. Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando kicks off next week at an undisclosed locale and will air on Comedy Central. All shows will be available for download at iTunes, and proceeds will be donated to the USO. How cool is that?

A word from Colbert:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Exclusive - Where and When Is Stephen Going to the Persian Gulf - Iraq Announcement
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorKeyboard Cat

It's Friday Night!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Helloooooooo... I'm Eleanor...and I Need Love Squeezins'

Rich Fulcher from The Mighty Boosh.

The Mighty Boosh airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim on Sunday nights at 1:00am et.

Birthday Time...

Happy Birthday to Rob Huebel, comedian, actor, writer, co-star of MTV's Human Giant and premiere jester of the Twitter-verse.

This video is so packed with comedy, it doesn't even fit in my blog template. Now that's how much he kicks ass.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Conan Surrenders

Opening to Conan's first Tonight Show show. He's come a looooong way.

Here's the making of the cold open. Shot in one weekend.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good Luck Conan!

Conan premieres as new host of the Tonight Show tonight!

Breaking Bad: Season Finale

The season finale of season two's Breaking Bad ended in a shower of damnation upon the head of Walter White. His life defining decision in season one spiraled into a chain link of cause and effect, how one life's action can kick start the ruination of another - one by one. I won't deny that I felt a twinge of disappointment as I put two and two together: Jane's father's catatonic grief, his need to return to work to get his mind off his sorrow, the fact his line of work was in air traffic control - all season wide flash forwards suddenly came to light, and I knew what the horrific scene at the White house was - not a drug cartell destruction with his family members left dead and he on the lamb, but a mid-air collision.

The metaphorical implications did not escape me, and have resonated well enough to make me hungry for season three. The fall out will be beauteous. Skylar, not fully aware of his dealings, is now wise to her husband. Their estrangement will hopefully send brother-in-law DEA official Hank lose on his trail. As for Jesse, that beautiful fucked up warm hearted idiot kid - his soul must be gutted after losing Jane. Perhaps he's cleansed now. Perhaps there's some redemption for Jesse after his stay in rehab, with memories of heroine addicted beloved dead beside him. Either way, Jesse Pinkman is one of the most compelling characters on television. Aaron Paul spent a remarkable season two fleshing out his character's struggle, humanity and fear. You can't help but weep for this wayward soul. It's definite. Paul deserves an Emmy alongside Bryan Cranston.

Viewers are actually pissed at the outcome of last night's finale. I say, come on, it's not like they all woke up from suspended animation on a flight to Mars in 2035, and the protagonist you thought was part of your world in 2009, the guy you cheered to come back to us from 1973, was really just a future guy having a bad space flight dream due to a meteor shower. When Walter and Jesse wake up in a spacesuit on a mission to a inter galactic planet, then I'll be pissed. This outcome was fine.