Thursday, May 24, 2012

Comedy Bang Bang: Full Episode!

Comedy Bang Bang premieres on IFC June 8th at 10pm/9pm CT.

More info over at Comedy Bang Bang on IFC 

Bonus Video: Draper be drapin'.


Monday, May 21, 2012

'Mad Men: The Christmas Waltz'

In last night's Mad Men, we were reintroduced to a lost, old friend. Paul Kinsey was a former member of the boys club of Sterling Cooper's hey day.  A struggling writer, eager to be the next Hemingway, Kinsey often found disillusionment when others who worked less hard excelled beyond him. When Don, Roger, Bert and Lane held a mutiny by unhinging themselves from the old agency to build their own brand new one, Paul wasn't even asked to join. Instead, he was left in the dust with the other drones Erickson would devour. As seasons marched on, the question hung in the air: Whatever happened to Kinsey? Did he fade off into the dust bin of the supply closet of life? While he was there, did he find Sal, hiding from his true self?

Then came last night. Harry answered a call to meet Paul at a gathering of the Hare Krishnas, and much to his and our surprise, Paul Kinsey appeared, head shaven and chanting his little heart out, while pledging his love for a Krishna patron known as Lakshmi. We thought he'd given it all up for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra all day, until he showed Harry his Star Trek spec script.

Poor Paul, even when he thinks he's found himself, he's still forever lost and yearning for someone to acknowledge his talents. But Lakshmi, a leader in Krishna consciousness,  a controlling fuck up who wanted to keep Paul in the Krishna group for her own means, had her talons lodged in his back. Her desire to control Paul was cloaked in a spiritual identity that must have been false. How can one be a devotee of pure God consciousness and want to control someone for their own gain?  George Harrison, a famous follower of the Krishna movement even called out this universal behavior in mankind in his song Beware of Darkness : "Watch out now. Take care, beware of greedy leaders. They take you where you should not go."

And Harry knew this. After his sexual encounter with the bargaining Lakshmi, he knew she was a fake.  Harry understood this female she-devil would ruin his lost friend forever. $500 and a ticket to Los Angeles while feeding Paul a big fat lie was better than watching his fading friend leave the secular world for Lakshmi's fake spirituality.  Now I wonder, how did Paul make it in the 70's? Did he continue, lost in the world, like some of my older brother's friends who hitched rides into the sunset?

This is the aspect of last night's episode that grabbed me. Yes, the moments between Don and Joan were incredible, showing how much they are alike spiritually, and how much they respect each other without having to grab a room and do the deed.  It was also maddening to find Lane Pryce struggle to pay the UK taxman by committing fraud. What repercussions will Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce face as a result of this?

But what grabbed me the most was seeing our lost friend Paul find the road to redemption through the hands of Harry, rather than by a false follower leading him to where he should not go.

Anchorman Teaser: They're Back for More

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

'SNL' Says Goodbye to the Season and an Old Friend

Last night's season finale of Saturday Night Live not only marked the end of the season, it was Kristen Wiig's last show as a cast member. Mick Jagger, Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire sang 'Ruby Tuesday' to the departing fledgling movie star, and many old friends like Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Steve Martin and Jon Hamm joined in for the farewell.

One of my favorite human beings in the universe joined Lawrence Welk, the ladies from the Finger Lakes and their mutant sister:

And - one of the best SNL Digital Shorts ever -Part 2:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Woke Up This Morning...

...heard this theme song in my head, one of the best theme songs and opening graphics in the television sitcom universe.

Cubs Vs. White Sox

What would Nick Offerman do for a Cubs World Series win? Craig Robinson gives him some options.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dan Harmon Out as Showrunner of 'Community'

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America
There is sadness in television's land of the funny.  Dan Harmon will be stepping down as Showrunner on Community. 

With the controversy surrounding the outing of an angry Chevy Chase voicemail Harmon gleefully revealed to friends at a party,  it comes as no surprise. However, fans of Harmon can take solace. He will stay on as Consulting Producer for the series. David Guarascio and Moses Port, both previous consultants on the ABC hit Happy Endings,  join as co-Showrunners. 

Source:  The Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adult Swim's Upfront Explosion

Adult Swim has the type of comedy programming I can get behind. Weird, disturbing, hilarious, and dare I say it - groundbreaking. Here are some new shows (mostly live action) we fans of top notch strange, fun and icky comedy can believe in for the upcoming season.

Robot Chicken's sixth season begins this Fall. This well written, star studded show is stop motion action at it's best. Silly, stupid, absurd - it sends up pop culture and wins all kinds of Emmy awards for the taking. Some of the guests stars voicing the weird and wonderfulness will be Elizabeth Banks, Gillian Jacobs, Stanley Tucci, Olivia Wilde, and Jon Stewart.

NTSF:SD:SUV is back this August for a second season of insane cop procedural parody. Special Agent Trent Hauser, (Paul Scheer) and his elite team of counter-terrorist specialists return for more explosions and blood. This year we'll be see time travel, robot murders and talking dogs. Have you ever wanted to see a killer Santa Claus? Done. NTSF:SD:SUV premieres this August.

The Heart She Holler is returning for a second season. I don't know how to write about it than this: This show is a live action horror soap opera with whole lot of holy crap and a big dose of what the fuck. Patton Oswalt is a mutant man-child who inherits the town of Heart She Holler from his late wealthy insane father who communicates to him via video tape from the dead. Kristen Schaal and Heather Lawless are his horrifying sisters. You'll laugh hysterically and then take 10 hot showers. It's bizarro.

Childrens' Hospital. What can I say? This show rules the Adult Swim airwaves. Back for its fourth season, the medical "drama" will go further than it has ever gone before - to jolly England with a British version of the legendary show!  Also, the search for the mysterious PA announcer Sal Viscuso unveils an evil so fierce it takes over the hospital. They'll be deadly airborne viruses, a beloved doctor will die over and over again, and Sy adopts a dog! Season four of Childrens' Hospital will premiere in August.

'Childrens' Hospital' Spinoff

 Newsreaders, that quirky 60 Minutes parody on Childrens' Hospital, has been granted its own spinoff! Adult Swim has ordered the show straight to series, and will continue to star Mather Zickel as host Louis La Fonda.  The showrunner will be Jim Margolis,  and Childrens' Executive Producers Rob Cordry, David Wain and Jonathan Stern will continue in those roles.

Here's an episode of Children's Hospital featuring Newreaders, "The End of the Middle".

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

'American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night'

A few nights ago, PBS American Masters premiered an in depth profile on television's most revered and beloved personality of the 20th Century, Johnny Carson.  

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night was fraught with challenges while in the making. Filmmaker Peter Jones was determined to produce an in depth biographic film on Carson, and sent the former late night host a letter every year for 15 years with new angles on how he would document his unprecedented reign as King of Late Night. They went unanswered for years until 2003 when Carson finally called him and said, "You write a fine letter, but I'm not doing anything because I don't give a shit."

Although other bios had been written on Carson, his life was a closed book. However, five years after Johnny's death, his family decided it was time to open up the vaults and allow the public to delve into his personal and professional life so his legacy would not be forgotten.  Thanks to this new wealth of information, Jones received the okay to proceed with the film, and set about in creating a profile on Carson as a beloved, yet complicated man whose solitary life was a stark contrast from the ebullient entertainer on camera.


The two hour documentary is a fascinating look at the son who never had his mother's approval, at the husband whose wives could no longer handle his cheating and drunken bad behavior, at the host who was easily bruised by the betrayal of Joan Rivers, at the friend whose relationship with sidekick Ed McMahon was complicated, and at the father - who remained distant from his boys, but was forever damaged by the death of his middle son Richard in 1991.
Interviews with Jimmy Fallon, Steve Martin, Doc Severenson, Ray Ramono and many, many more who've been touched and influenced by Carson's magic are present. Drew Carey provides a very moving interview, tearfully describing how his first appearance on The Tonight Show changed his life.  David Letterman's interview, to me, is the most important.  Carson was charmed by Dave's mid-western humor and snarky delivery, and probably recognized the same naughty spark, the similar mid-western calm, the smooth timing and intelligence in Dave that he saw in himself. Nevertheless, Carson took Letterman under his wing. Their mutual respect and friendship lasted years until Johnny's death in 2004.

After a living an incredible life in the limelight, the only thing Johnny wanted to be was alone. But he still had the itch. During his retirement, he'd fax monologue jokes to Dave, and would be over the moon when Dave would use them. The King of Late Night had come full circle, a legend with a classic legacy, living life happily in obscurity while getting a kick out of Dave telling his jokes. It doesn't get better than that.

Here's and interesting tidbit:  David Letterman on The Tonight Show after it was announced that Jay Leno was Johnny's successor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This ESPN Sports Event Brought to You By...

"The Disappearing Salami"

How I Met Your Mother's season finale happened last night. Lily and Marshall had the baby. Barney and Quinn are in love. Ted and Victoria find each other in the nick of time. There are weddings, but we still don't know who is marrying whom.

Then this happened.

Thank you, Mr. Flanagan, for allowing Barney to believe that making a salami disappear was the best magic trick of all.

Upfronts Week

New York is abuzz with Upfronts, the fabulous time of year when television networks invade theaters, conference space and hotel ballrooms all across town to introduce their new Fall schedules to advertisers and the rest of the world. There are shows-a-plenty being unwrapped and presented, but here are a few that I'm really interested in tracking.

 The Office's very own Mindy Kaling is the latest lady on the scene with another grrrl-centric multi-camera sitcom currently called The Mindy Project that joins Fox's Tuesday comedy line up alongside Raising Hope and New Girl. I have a lot of personal jealousy over Kaling's success, but I have to admit, she's earned her due after so many years at Dunder Mifflin.  In the pilot (and presumably the series), Kaling plays a New York City doctor with a really dysfunctional personal life. She can't find or keep a boyfriend, and appears to do some demeaning things to herself as a result. The trailer below didn't wow me, but seeing it's the pilot - the show might need time to evolve as the episodes go by.

Over at NBC, there's some new shows that will join the multi-comedy line up.
Animal Practice, starring Justin Kirk as an ornery veterinarian who loves his animals and hates the humans who own them. The old Hollywood adage, first uttered by WC Fields is "Never work with children or animals." Screw that. This looks hilarious.  Kirk is ripe for comedy after being naughty and funny on Weeds. I'm rooting for this one to make it.

The New Normal is about a gay couple who bring on a surrogate mom to have their kid, and the surrogate mom who is looking for a new life. The show really looks funny and sweet; however, the political aspect of conservative versus liberal in terms of gay rights seems a little heavy handed. It is a reality in today's world, and probably needed as a basis for conflict. Perhaps temper down and weave itself more cleanly as the show grows.

Matthew Perry's back in a new series with a less than stellar title called Go On where he portrays a recently widowed newscaster who has to now...Go on...with his life. All bets are on that he'll get it on with the counselor he's arguing with in the car.

 Book of Mormon's Josh Gad stars in 1600 Penn as a college student whose act of anarchy on campus gets him into the White House where we meet President Gilcrist and his not-so-perfect family. I don't know if this show has legs, but the trailer is hilarious.

Returning to the Peacock network are Parks and Recreation, The Office, Whitney, Up All Night, and 30 Rock, which returns for it's final season with a 13 episode order. Sadly, with the exception of the very funny live episode a few weeks back, 30 Rock has been losing steam - and prime writers have moved on to great beyond - i.e. development deals in Hollywood. (Goodbye Kay Cannon, John Riggi and anyone else I don't know about.)

So there you have it. Comedies I'm hitching a comedy ride on. Bring it, new Fall season.

Network graphic courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. I can't do this stuff on Photoshop.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rob Riggle Developing New HBO Series

When I was studying and struggling through second level Improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York a few years ago, I stumbled upon an article about Rob Riggle and his time studying at the same theater. It turns out that this hilarious, talented man, a career Marine who served in Afghanistan and Africa, and who probably saw things that would make a strong man poop his shorts, had trouble in Improv level 201 like I did. In fact, he had to take it over again. Not only did that encourage me, it calmed me down. I passed, and I quietly thanked Mr. Riggle for the courage (in my own head, of course). No, it wasn't like flying a plane over Iraq, but it was a personal battle - a battle involving a lack of confidence and an abundance of shyness - in which I overcame to pass on to level 301.

When Rob emerged into our vision as a cast member on SNL and The Daily Show, he was already on his way to tremendous Hollywood projects. He has been in a truck load of comedies, Talladega Nights, The Other Guys,  Childrens Hospital NTSF: SD:SUV, and Human Giant. He had a development deal at CBS that sort of faded away;  yet, he guest starred in Gary Unmarried and practically stole the show.

A recent development with Riggle and  HBO has bubbled into something exciting, and I believe we are all going to be lucky for it. Rob, in conjunction with comedy partners, Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg and Adam McKay are signed on to develop a new single camera comedy, yet to be titled, starring Riggle. The series will revolve around the world of 1980's Wall Street, where Riggle's character will be a hard living trader who lives a selfish and dark life.  This is going to be a fascinating vehicle for Rob, and I cannot wait to see it on screen.

He's a universal shout of to Rob Riggle. Congratulations on what looks to be a potential success. And thanks for the courage.

More information on Deadline.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Parks and Recreation: The Votes Are In?

In last night's season finale of Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope won the vote for City Council over daddy's boy, Bobby Newport. In a lovely turn of events for our hard working heroine, Leslie almost faced defeat until a recount confirmed she was the winner. The episode a rubber band of emotion, snapping back and forth as Knope's political fate hung in the balance, and her love life threatened when Ben was offered a sweet deal to work on a campaign in Washington DC. 

In the study of dramas and comedies,  there is a mythological structure of storytelling, the hero (or in the this case, heroine) must get through the ring of fire to test his/her mettle. With Leslie, a Pawnee born and bred woman of integrity,  and stoic lover of civic duty, in seasons past we've seen her deal with irate parents,  falling into the hands of "gotcha journalism" and rectifying minor scandals that rocked her campaign. But her faith and integrity prevailed every step of the way with humor, grace and a crack team of supportive friends.  And of course - Ben.

Yet, the final test after coming through the ring of fire is her love life. With Ben suddenly offered a job of a lifetime in Washington DC, Leslie was initially unable to let him go. When the dust settled and victory was hers, she relented and realized he had stopped everything for her, now it was her turn to return the favor. As he embarks on six months in DC hobnobbing with the big guns of politics,  Leslie's faith and patience will be further tested with the end result, hopefully, being a lovely reward of marriage and kids and possibly the Mayor's seat.

It feels like Pam Beesly going to New York while Jim stayed in Scranton all over again. Perhaps it's a Greg Daniels/Michael Schur device to inflict turbulence into what should be smooth sailing, especially after Leslie went through a major test. Yet, as in the Beesly/Halpert case, patience was indeed a virtue, and the reward satisfying.

As we leave the fictional Pawnee and its pretend residents who represent who we are in our own communities around the country, the question still hangs in the air: Will NBC renew Parks and Recreation for a season five? The answer my friend will be blowing at the Upfronts next week in New York.

It is my feeling that we'll be seeing more of Leslie, Ben and their wonderful friends; however, with NBC cutting back on episodes for returning shows, there's a chance we'll only see about 13 episodes of their story.

Update: Parks and Recreation was picked up for 22 episodes for season 5!  Source: DeadlineHollywoodDaily.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Comedy Renewals, Comedy Finales, Comedies on the Bubble

Upfront season is a mixed bag of emotions for a comedy follower such as moi. On one hand, pilots are being staffed,  and the impending Upfronts are bringing in news about sitcom pick ups, whether  returning or brand spanking new. On the other hand, it's the end of another television season.  Story lines are drawing to their final conclusions, and cliff hangers are hatched to torture you during summer barbeques as you argue with your Glee obsessed cousin about who'll develop herpes, which teenager really looks 30 years old and whether or not they'll get into the Nationals.

Tonight, Parks and Recreation will have its season finale. Leslie Knope has been campaigning for City Council of Pawnee, up against a spoiled millionaire's son played to perfection by Paul Rudd. In tonight's episode, the election comes to its conclusion, and we will find out who the victor is - Bobby Newport or Leslie. Two endings were shot - one of Leslie winning, and the other of her losing - so all bets are on. No official renewal has been made for Parks and Rec, but I'm betting we'll see its return in 2012-2013 season.

After a rocky season of hiatus and the faux pas of Dan Harmon's outing of his hatred for Chevy Chase, Community has been renewed for season four with a short order of 13 episodes. 30 Rock has also been given a pick up; however, next year will be its last, with another abbreviated run of 13 - 14 episodes.  Parenthood has also been given a nod to return, with a short season as well.

The Office continues to cough and wheeze its way  into another year, with Jenna Fischer, John Krasinski and Ed Helms being good sports and ready to sign on for another round. There has been no word on whether this old horse of a show will be taken out back and shot, but I think the humane thing to do would be to euthanize this poor animal before it really begins to suffer. It's already limping along on Thursday nights, a shadow of it's former self. Tonight is the season finale.

Whitney and Up All Night are balancing ever so delicately on the soapy bubble of NBC. Their fate will be announced soon.

So, as we wind down into the mad frenzy of 2012-2013 season chatter, we say goodbye to the 2011-2012 season, you old chestnut of a year.

Source: DeadlineHollywoodDaily. 

Reggie Watts in the Park

Reggie Watts is the king of electronic layering, the master of improvisational music, and the genius behind the theme music of the podcast Comedy Bang Bang. He went on tour with Conan in 2010 as his opening act and mesmerized the audience with off the wall electronica and hilarious musings. Reggie will soon to be seen as the strange and hilarious musical sidekick to host/creator Scott Auckerman in the television version of CBB on IFC, due to premiere June 8th.

Reggie is going to take over Central Park in NYC tomorrow night in Reggie Watts: A Live At Central Park.  It will air on Comedy Central at 1am ET/PT.  His beat box and looping machine will be on hand to help him create a cacophony of gorgeous funk, sweet soul and funny lyrics that contemplate women, cell phone companies, and sex, while weaving his weirdness into every crevice in between.

Comedy Central's world premiere of Reggie Watts: A Live At Central Park airs Friday night, May 11th at 1am ET/PT. A Live At Central Park CD/DVD will be released by Comedy Central Records on May 15th.

Also, check out Reggie in person! He's currently on tour! Follow through this link for details.

Here's a favorite Watts moment: A tribute to ladies and their big ass purses.

Aziz Ansari is Dangerous and Delicious

Photo credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Aziz Ansari is back with a new stand up special!  Aziz Ansari: Dangerous and Delicious airs on Comedy Central on May 20th at 10:00pm ET/PT with an extended uncensored version available for streaming on May 22nd.  Filmed at the Warner Theater in Washington DC, the Parks and Recreation co-star talks about his frustration with women, 50 Cent's lack of grapefruit knowledge and stories about his strange and beautiful cousin Harris.

Get your DVR fired up, or do Comedy Central a solid and watch Dangerous and Delicious live and  laugh your ass off.  Also, if you need to see Ansari up close and in the same airspace immediately, Aziz's Buried Alive tour is currently underway. So, gas up your '83 Honda and prepare your stoner friends for a road trip as you hit the highway to see Aziz at a city near you.

Also check out Aziz's previous comedy special Sensual Moments for an Intimate Evening on Amazon or iTunes. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

'Lady Lazarus'

"Dying...Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well. " Sylvia Plath 

Don Pushes an elevator button. The bell rings. He goes to the sliding doors to step inside, but the car is not there. Instead, he sees the deep, steep elevator shaft of the Time Life Building as the cables rattle down into the abyss. Could this be Don's downfall? A foreshadowing of a possible suicide? The tumbling silouette of Draper falling, falling, falling in the now iconic show opening? Don was letting go of Megan, and letting her go after a dream as he looked down into the void.

And then there's Pete Campbell. He's been a little jerk with a sex drive like a rapist, and the heart of a wounded child brat all wrapped up in a grown up suit. He's trapped. Coddled in wealth, molded to be the suited, Metro North riding ad executive with a house in the suburbs - just like Don, the man he strives to be. But Pete never had dirt under his nails, never drove a car, nor did he have to stumble to an outhouse in the freezing night like Dick Whitman. Nor did he have to hustle to get a job with Roger Sterling. Nope. Pete had uncle Roger and Bertie cut him out like a cookie to be an ad man. Then he wanted to be Don Draper. But Don Draper isn't even Don Draper anymore. He's moved on from the fucking, the blonde wife, the Ossining House to a young brunette and a lush life in his apartment on 72nd and Park, trying, at the age of 40, to hang on to what is real, what is hip, what makes humanity key in.

There's Peggy. She's a trailblazer whose succeeding in becoming Draper. Tirelessly working herself into a nub to achieve her status, she has to deal with Megan throwing away the same opportunity that was so easily handed to her. Joan has it right. These are the girls who marry the wealth, who become the ex-actress and never has to work again.

Alone in his swanky upper east side apartment, Don mulls over The Beatles Revolver album. He takes it out of its prestine cover and skips to side 2 - last song, "Tomorrow Never Knows". "Lay Down all thoughts, surrender to the void." Hmmm...could we connect the elevator shaft to this?  "It is is dying."  He lays back in his designer chair, still in dress shirt and loosened tie. Weird sounds and off beat drums fill the room. Revolver, being the transitional album that was on the precipice of the Beatles breakthrough before Sgt. Pepper, the album that turned the 60's from black and white into color. Just like the Chevalier cologne ad pitch.

Don should take a word from a scene from a Hard Days Night, when George Harrison stumbled into the office of a smarmy image maker who jabbered fashion talk to the clueless quiet one. As George leaves, fashion man said to his bored assistant, "Could he be it?" Assistant, "You mean an early clue to a new direction?"

Don listens to the tape loops and the tabula and Ringo's drums. The turns it off.

How did Matthew Weiner get a master recording of The Beatles on television? has the answer. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

30 Rock Girl Makes Good

If you know about The Human Table, an enigmatic character that showed up during the episode "Ludachristmas", the holiday episode of 30 Rock, Season 2, or know the Jane Krakowski Tropicana 50 commercials or have attended a UCBNYC performance of the now sadly defunct show Let's Have A Ball, you might be a fan of Kay Cannon. Funny lady that she is, she's earned her comedy badge treading the floor boards of Improv comedy and in Tina Fey's writers room as a key writer for 30 Rock for six years.

The lady done good. As per DeadlineDaily, Ms. Cannon has signed a deal with 20th Century Fox Television where she will develop shows for FOX. In addition to that, she'll be tweeking her adorkability factor by joining the writing staff of New Girl for their sophomore season.

As her furniture heads across the country from New York to Los Angeles for her big move, I tip my hat to Kay Cannon, the lady I used to laugh my lungs out during those Saturday nights at UCB in Chelsea where she once improv'd getting punched in the vagina. Congratulations!

The Human Table "Ludachristmas" 2007