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Amanda Seales HBO special I Be Knowin’ gets January release date

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 17:54

Insecure fans: rejoice! Amanda Seales makes her HBO stand-up debut on January 26 with her hourlong special I Be Knowin’. Seales showcases her high-energy, sharp wit, and cultural commentary in a trailer released by HBO this week.

Seales is a series regular on HBO’s Insecure, a show about navigating life in Los Angeles. She also hosts a weekly self-help podcast titled Small Doses and created a traveling game show called Smart, Funny & Black. The latter celebrates the historical and cultural contributions of Black Americans.

The new special taped in November at the historic Edison Ballroom in New York City. I Be Knowin’ is directed by stand-up special veteran Stan Lathan, the director of multiple Dave Chappelle specials. HBO seems to want only the best for their new comedy star.

HBO has not kept pace with the number of stand-up special releases from other major content providers. HBO was an early leader in bringing stand-up comedy to people’s homes for decades. Hopefully, I Be Knowin’ will lead a resurgence of comedy to the premium cable network.

I Be Knowin’ drops on HBO on January 26 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Promo

9 hilarious queer podcasts to try this year

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 14:41

The LGBTQ community has come out of the shadows when it comes to entertainment. Many queer people are starting to tell their own stories through web series, blogs, and Instagram hashtags. And podcasts. Queer-led podcasts have been popping up in spades over the years and they’ve been absolutely fabulous. While many podcasts can be sad or inspirational, LGBTQ comedy podcasts have gained devoted followings from both queer and straight podcast lovers. Laughspin has our picks for the queer podcasts that need to be your next audio obsession in 2019.

The Read

Hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle West, the Read is a must-listen. It peaked on the iTunes comedy podcast chart at number one and has been drawing a huge number of listeners since 2013. The name comes from the Black gay slang term,’Reading,’ which is the act of calling out a flaw or insulting someone usually in a public space. In The Read, the hosts surprisingly don’t read everything they bring up. Most of their segments are uplifting or joyous especially when it comes to black culture.

Throwing Shade

Throwing Shade is more than a podcast: It is also a TV show on TVLand. The podcast dates back to 2011 while the TV show has only been around since 2017, but both feature the hilarious Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi. While the podcast is about women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, progressive politics, and pop culture, it isn’t always safe for work between the hosts’ less-than-PC comedy style and frequent adult topics.

Las  Culturistas

Bowen Yang and Matt Rogers are obsessed with culture and they want to get you in the loop. This podcast is a critical darling being named one of Esquire’s Best Podcasts of 2017 and the #1 Comedy Podcast in NYC by TimeOut New York.

Straight Talk with Ross Mathews

While Ross Mathews started on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, most members of the LGBTQ community will recognize him from his recurring role as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. While the two other judges, Michelle Visage and RuPaul himself, have their own podcast What’s the Tee?, Straight Talk with Ross Mathews is much funnier. Highly recommend if you ever wished it was Ross Mathews’s Drag Race.

Transgeneral

While this Australian podcast ended in 2017, if you haven’t listened to it yet, it’s worth it. Charlotte Tortorella and Chelsey Sanderson, along with a large cast of guests, talk about the issues facing them as transwomen, but in an often hilariously honest way.

Dyking Out

Carolyn Bergier and Sarah York invite comedians, musicians, and other special guests to ‘dyke out’ with them on this weekly podcast. In each episode, they cover a specific topic that is important in the queer community.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Before Jonathan Van Ness became a human meme on Queer Eye, he started his podcast Getting Curious back in 2015. Each episode consists of a guest educating the Gay of Thrones star on a topic he is interested in. Some of the newer episodes are less informative and more just an excuse to have a celebrity like Reese Witherspoon or Justin Theroux on the podcast, but the majority of episodes have professors and experts, especially in politics and science.

Here for It

While often not safe for work, Here for It covers a wide range of health and wellness topics that matter to the LGBTQ community. Blogger Ronald Matters and sex specialist Supaman, keep talking about wellness upbeat and fun. While it might be billed as a health podcast, the hosts stretch that to talk about celebrity news, TV, and anything else that is on their minds.

Dumb, Gay Politics

Comedian Julie Goldman and model/actress Brandy Howard want to help you understand politics. On their show Dumb, Gay Politics, they make politics funny and easily digestible from a queer perspective. The two have worked together on TV and in writers’ rooms for years and their amazing chemistry on the podcast shows it.

Kevin Hart apologizes (again) on SiriusXM show (Videos)

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 23:30

Kevin Hart makes what will hopefully be the final commentary we hear about what…well, you all know. The comedian made another apology Monday night on his SiriusXM radio show Straight from The Hart following his appearance on Ellen. The show aired on Kevin Hart’s Laugh Out Loud Radio channel 96.

“I will say this, and I want to make this very clear. And I’m going to say it just in case you guys try to take this sh*t and chop it up, I will rebuttal with this f*cking piece right here,” said Hart. “Once again, Kevin Hart apologizes for his remarks that hurt members of the LGBTQ community. I apologize.”

The stand-up superstar, who has been in the doghouse (which he could probably physically fit in quite neatly) for homophobic tweets from 2009-10. All those who want him to roll over, however, will have to wait a little longer. He continued his show by addressing how previous apologies have been received, or, not received.

“But then they go, ‘But you didn’t say it right,'” Hart said. “Saying ‘I’m sorry,’ you didn’t say, ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry.’ But no, wait, guys, I just said ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘Not the way you should have!’ What does that mean?”

The controversy began on December 5, when Benjamin Lee, an editor for The Guardian, tweeted screenshots of old tweets. It led to Hart stepping down from his gig of hosting next month’s Academy Awards, after he initially refused their insistence that he apologize for the comments.

In an Instagram post, Hart cited the fact that he had dealt with the controversy in the past and felt as if he had adequately addressed it.

However his most recent comments are received, Hart seems confident in his growth. “You’re now trying to change me into becoming what version of me you want me to be,” he said. “I don’t think it’s wrong for people to have their own personal beliefs. I think that in the times that we’re living in, we have to be understanding and accepting of people and change. Bottom line.”

It will be interesting to see how this latest apology is received, and whether or not people ‘chop it up.’

100 sets in 100 days: Stand-up comedian invites peers for public challenge

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 13:35

New Year’s resolutions amongst comedians are coming with some public accountability. A bunch of stand-up comedians are challenging themselves to do 100 sets in 100 days—and no, improv doesn’t count. Chicago-based stand-up Brianna Murphy shared a public Google Doc on her Facebook profile January 1 challenging comedians to track their sets for the next 100 days—open mics, club spots, bar shows, and that fabled laundromat gig.

New Year’s resolutions are all the rage and many of us never complete them after collecting 127 likes on a grandiose Facebook announcement. Public accountability is a great motivator to keep going. “I figured after the holidays, what better way to start the new year off!” said Murphy. The doc already has 57 comedians signed up as of this writing.

 “I didn’t come up with the challenge. I actually am just piggybacking off of a challenge that Emily Winter did last summer,” Murphy explains. “She did a 50 sets in 50 days challenge and, at the end of it, a lot of us joked about extending it 50 more days…I wouldn’t have done it without her lead. I think she also did it in conjunction with another challenge she had last year to get 100 rejections. She’s amazing and we are all just following in her footsteps!”

Winter explained that the impetus for the challenge was a conversation between her and fellow comedian Patrick Hastie, who started the challenge with her. “Patrick Hastie came up with [the idea]…Patrick and I are good friends and we talk a lot about how to stay motivated in comedy,” Winter told Laughspin.

The challenge started as a small private group of about 20 comedians close to Winter and Hastie. In the private group, about half of the comedians finished the challenge. Last summer, Winter organized a public challenge. This time they opened it to the public and over 60 comedians rose to the challenge with 13 finishing. LA-based comedian Ian Russo clocked in with the most sets with 152.

Hastie himself started it as a competition between him and friend Gideon Hambright. “[We] started the current rash of these back in 2014,” Hastie says. “We’d do them, just the two of us. And then I did a 50 in 50 in 2015 and 2016. Then 2017 we opened it up to close friends.”

Murphy wants to make this year’s challenge even bigger. “[There’s] more people every day. I tried to share it with a lot of different comedy scene Facebook groups, even one in London, to get as many people all over involved,” she says.

The challenge can seem daunting but Murphy wants to make sure it is fun and a way for comedians to grow and stay accountable to their goals more than anything else. “My tip for comics trying to hit 100 is to do your best. It’s just a fun challenge. Try not to go nuts. We are all going to die one day and this challenge is not what you will remember when your life flashes before your eyes,” she jokes.

She continues, “The hardest part of this challenge is nothing because it’s easy and we should all be getting 100 sets in every day! Ha! Truly it can just be scheduling or pushing for that extra set even though you know you open at your day job the next day. I think having an end date helps you push harder. Truly this is just a fun tool for motivation and will maybe ignite the feeling of competition within some of us that helps us overcome the winter depression that’s squeezing us around the neck.”

Are you a comedian who wants to challenge themselves? It’s not too late to start! You can sign up here.

Golden Globes: Andy Samberg, Sandra Oh toast instead of roast during opening monologue

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 11:14

This year’s Golden Globes monologue by hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh tried it’s best to be woke. Between niceties and socially aware jokes, the monologue seemed made to accompany the diversity of the nominees later in the night.

The monologue started with a bevy of roast jokes reminiscent of previous hosts like Ricky Gervais, but Oh and Samberg decided to only do nice roasts like, “Michael B. Jordan? More like Michael be buff AF — you a snack, Michael!” or, “Hey, Bradley Cooper — you’re hot.” But the hosts then went on to more conventional monologue jokes.

Later in the monologue, Bay Area Native Samberg turned his attention to Oakland-born director Ryan Coogler to say, “If you told me as a kid growing up in the Bay that there was a movie called ‘Black Panther’ that starts off in Oakland, this is not what I would have imagined,” Samberg went on. “Ryan, were there a bunch of old members of the actual Black Panther Party saying, ‘I can’t even get an audition?’ Just kidding they were all framed and murdered for wanting justice and equality. The world is and always has been a nightmare. It just seems worse now because of our phones.”

Oh later joked about Crazy Rich Asians saying, “the first studio film with an Asian-American lead since Ghost In the Shell and Aloha.” A voice from the audience interrupted this joke to say, “I’m sorry.” While the video doesn’t pan to the voice, it is possibly Emma Stone who played a part-Asian character in the box office dud Aloha. Oh wasn’t done talking about Crazy Rich Asians. She sent over Saturday Night Live writer Bowen Yang with a giant pillbox of antacid to protect the table from “Asian glow.”

After a bit with Jim Carrey, the monologue ended on a serious note on the importance of inclusion.

Watch the full video below.

Golden Globes: Jeff Bridges confused everyone with that acceptance speech, right?

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 10:44

At Sunday night’s Golden Globes, Jeff Bridges accepted the prestigious Cecile B. Demille Award. While speeches for lifetime achievement awards are usually fairly planned out in advance, Bridges seemed to go a different route with his. After an inspirational montage of his decades-long career—narrated by Sam Elliot reprising his role as the Stanger from The Big Lebowski—the True Grit star took the stage to deliver one of the most confusing speeches of the night.

It started like most speeches, thanking his family and colleagues. Bridges said, “If I’m lucky, I’ll be associated with The Dude for the rest of my life, and I feel so honored to be a part of that movie.” But his speech quickly took a turn when he started telling an anecdote about the game tag (“We are all ‘it,’ man.”) and Buckminster Fuller, an architect and inventor of the geodesic dome.

“I like to think of myself as a trim tab and all of us are trim tabs. It may seem that we’re not up to the take, but we are, man.” he said during the speech. “We’re alive. We can make a difference. We can turn this ship in the way we want to go, man! Towards love, to creating a healthy planet for all of us.”

He ended the speech by saying, “You’re all trim tabs! Tag, you’re it!”

Pans to the audience showed several reactions to the speech. By the end, even presenter and Hell or High Water co-star Chris Pine couldn’t keep it together and had to crack a smile and even maybe a laugh.

Find someone who looks at you the way Chris Pine is looking at Jeff Bridges doing his Golden Globes speech. pic.twitter.com/2yRrxIY3Bd

— Frank Pallotta (@frankpallotta) January 7, 2019

Bridges joins an esteemed group of DeMille honorees including Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington and more.

You can watch the full speech below.

Deadline: Kevin Hart will not host the Oscars; Academy secretly tapping multiple pseudo-hosts

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 20:36

Kevin Hart will not host the Oscars this year—that’s the final answer according to a Saturday night Deadline report. Speculation swirled that Hart would reclaim the prestigious hosting gig following a surprise appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Friday.

Ellen DeGeneres revealed during the interview that she spoke to the Academy and that they would love for him to still host. It’s worth noting that the ceremony’s producers have yet to find a replacement emcee since Hart stepped down last month. The Jumanji star appeared to consider the possibility saying, “Let me assess—just to sit in the space and really think.”

It appears the thinking is over according to multiple sources at Deadline. Writer Mike Fleming Jr. acknowledges Hart could possibly change his mind, however it appears unlikely. According to the report, the stand-up mogul felt he would be a distraction from the celebratory affair and take the spotlight off of the nominees. He’s also concerned at how little time he would have to prepare a quality show.

Though Hart seemed sincere discussing his personal growth and maturity, the interview garnered mixed reviews. Since his appearance on Ellen, media outlets have been ripe with opinion pieces attacking DeGeneres, attacking Hart, praising her intervention, or claiming satisfaction with his change of heart. One of the most notable reactions came from CNN’s Don Lemon who made his opinion on allyship well known.

What’s notable about the Deadline report is their claim about the producers’ back-up plan. Apparently “the Academy has been quietly lining up stars to help out and will continue on that route.” The annual awards show has not been without a host since the 61st Academy Awards in 1989. A cluster of pseudo-hosts will surely have a different feel than the consistent vibe of one (or two) emcees. Whatever is to be done, the Oscars are on February 24. Whoever the host(s) may be, he or she needs to get the gig and get moving. And get some Kevin Hart jokes.

Matt Braunger is Finally Live in Portland in new stand-up special

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 12:45

Matt Braunger wants you to wonder: Can an idiot also be a comic genius? Braunger’s new hour-long stand-up special Finally Live in Portland will hopefully answer the question for you on February 5.

The MADtv star puts out his third comedy special, recorded in a former porno theatre called The Paris. It’s the Portland thing to do. Finally Live in Portland is talking about naked old men, drunk Nazis, anal surgery, and the Girl Scouts. It’s exactly what you want to talk about in front of everyone you grew up with.

“This is my best special yet, and I got to shoot it in my hometown in front of my parents and embarrass them as a bonus,” Braunger said in a press release. The special “basically represents two things, 1) 18 years of me doing comedy, and 2) How much I haven’t grown in that time.”

Finally Live in Portland is being released by Comedy Dynamics, a major player in the stand-up special scene. You’ll recognize the name on all of those old-school comedy specials popping up on major streaming services. Recently, they brought throwback specials from Bill Hicks and Sam Kinison to Netflix.

Braunger’s newest special comes out on February 5 on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Microsoft, Steam, and Vimeo.

Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State will tackle liberals and conservatives in New York debut

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 18:40

Colin Quinn is going to solve the political divide in this country in his new one-man show Red State Blue State. Well, he’s going to try.

The Tough Crowd comedian will expose “the absurdities, hypocrisies, and calamities on both sides of the political divide,” according to a press release. This is no ‘witch hunt’ =cough, Donald=. Quinn “is here to own the libs, the conservs, and all of you in between.”

The son of two teachers, Quinn is used to schooling audiences ever since his hit Broadway show Long Story Short gave a comedic history lesson of the world to HBO audiences nationwide. In Unconstitutional, he focused on the Founding Father’s and the four-page document on which this country was created. Jerry Seinfeld directed the Brooklyn native’s more recent show The New York Story, teaching audiences about the 400-plus-year history of his home city. Both Unconstitutional and The New York Story are available to stream on Netflix.

Previews begin at the Minetta Lane Theater on January 5 and the official opening is scheduled for January 22. Quinn is offering a 30 Under 30 deal: $30 tickets for select performances for people 30-years-old or younger. The deal is available in person at the box office with valid ID.

Older or younger than 30, fans can get tickets for Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State online at www.ColinQuinnShow.com or by calling TicketMaster at 1-800-745-3000.

Friends From College gets awkward in Season 2 trailer (Video)

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 14:27

Friends from College is coming back for its second season January 11 and Netflix has released a new trailer for the show.

In the first season of the Netflix original series, a group of friends from Harvard now in their early 40s must navigate the difficulties of adult life. When an affair between two members of the clique is exposed, it throws the friend group into chaos.

While the first season garnered a slew of less-than-favorable reviews, the show features an impressive cast including Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Billy Eichner, Nat Faxon, and Fred Savage. The trailer features more from Eichner who was a recurring guest in the first season and whose performance was a bright spot for many critics of the show.

The second season will jump forward one year after the events of the first season and will revolve around the friend group being forced to spend time together in the lead up to Max (Savage) and Felix’s (Eichner) wedding. From the trailer, the new season starts with no one hearing from Key’s estranged wife Lisa (Smulders) until she reappears at an engagement party.

The show is based on the events from the real lives of showrunners Nicholas Stoller and his wife Francesca Delbanco. Stoller had a successful 2018 after selling four different new comedy TV shows to CBS, ABC, and Fox.

The trailer also teases the addition of Sarah Chalke who will be joining the cast as a recurring guest star.

You can watch the full trailer below.

CBS announces Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase participants

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 13:18

CBS announced the 21 participants they have selected for their annual CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase. The performers will appear in six shows beginning January 15 at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles.

The showcase has been a way for emerging talent to be seen by executives, showrunners and casting directors from CBS and other networks for over a decade. While the showcase has strived to highlight underrepresented groups, it has been called out for having issues of racism and sexism in the past. The former director, Rick Najera, also had to step down over harassment allegations in 2017.

This year the showcase will be directed by Stephen Guarino with assistant director Tess Paras. Sheila Carrasco will act as head writer with a first writers’ room of 11 former showcase participants.

Participants in last year’s showcase went on to roles on shows like Criminal Minds, NCIS, Life in Pieces, Hawaii 5-0, American Vandal, Charmed and Jane the Virgin. To date, 397 actors have appeared in the showcase, including notable alums like Kate McKinnon and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Eugene Codero.

This year’s 21 participants are Alex Ellis, Andy Bustillos, Anna Rajo, Carolina Montenegro, Chris Renfro, Dan Lee, DJ Pryor, Emily Fightmaster, Filip Jeremic, Fray Forde, Katy Fullan, Lou Gonzalez, Marc-Sully Saint-Fleur, Mike Millan, Nikki Mckenzie, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Rasheda S. Crockett, Shukri R. Abdi, Tien Tran, Waleed Mansour, and Yasmin Kassim.

Ellen DeGeneres: Kevin Hart should host the Oscars (Video)

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 12:22

Kevin Hart will appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday and it seems he has the endorsement of the daytime talk show host. This will be his first major TV appearance since his withdrawal last month from hosting the Oscars.

The Night School comedian was pushed to give up the hosting dream job after old homophobic tweets resurfaced hours after the Academy tapped their new emcee. The producers of the award ceremony wanted him to apologize or give up the gig. Hart opted to let the job go before curiously apologizing just as he was asked.

Ellen DeGeneres, who has hosted the Oscars twice, appears to be on Team Kevin. “I called the Academy today because I really want you to host the Oscars,” she said on the segment. Having one of the biggest openly gay comedians behind you will surely be a boost to the comedy mogul who recently completed a successful international stand-up tour.

Hart appears to still want the job and to have sincerely owned up to his growth. “I’ve yet to go back to that version of the immature comedian I once was,” he said. “I’ve moved on. I’m a grown man. I’m cultured. I’m a guy who understands now.”

It was previously reported that the interview would air on Monday, but DeGeneres tweeted today confirming it would air sooner than that. She also said, “I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4Real.”

I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. And I believe in @KevinHart4real. pic.twitter.com/oJxfGXhU4P

— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) January 4, 2019

The interview comes as his drama The Upside hits theaters nationwide January 11. It’s worth noting that the Ellen crew blocked out the entire hour for Hart.

The Academy has yet to find a replacement to host the ceremony and rumors have swirled that they may consider multiple hosts or no host at all. Many, including us here at Laughspin, have suggested list after list of qualified candidates. Though speculating, it’s possible they’ve intended to invite him back all along once the initial outrage subsided.

DeGeneres claimed that the Academy is hoping the debacle was all just a misunderstanding. “We want him to host. Whatever we can do, we would be thrilled.” We will wait and see if the Oscars producers invite him back for what could be an acknowledgment that humans err and people can change and that 10-year-old tweets don’t always represent a person today.

However, after all of the drama and pain, would he even take the job if offered again? “I promise you I’m evaluating this conversation. It’s a conversation I needed to have,” Hart said. “Let me asses—just to sit in the space and really think. You and I will talk before anything else.”

Comedians of the World: Navigating each region of Netflix’s global stand-up event

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 11:19

Netflix just dropped over 20 hours of stand-up with their new global comedy event Comedians of the World. The event may be some Americans’ first experience of stand-up comedy from other countries but in different languages. The series showcases half-hour sets from 47 different comedians in 13 different regions in 8 different languages. With almost a full day’s worth of content, Comedians of the World can feel daunting, but Laughspin is here to break it down to find the right region for you.

The U.S.

The US section of the program is similar to any other American-produced series of half-hour specials, though it features veteran headliner comedians. Neal Brennan, Chris D’Elia, Nick Swardson, and Nicole Byer all perform new material you should not miss! No subtitles needed for these acts.

Canada

The interesting thing about the Canadian section of the show is that Netflix breaks it into two sections: an English collection and a French collection. No comedians overlap between the two sections and the stages show that the shows happened at two different locations.

The U.K.

Most Americans will have seen stand-up from the U.K. before. From Eddie Izzard to Ricky Gervais, stand-up from across the pond has made it to American audiences for decades. Strangely enough, one of the U.K. comics is Mae Martin, a Canadian actor and comedian living in Europe. The choice to include a Canadian in the U.K. section and not the Canadian section shows that Netflix wants to show the comedy scene in the regions rather than the nationality of the comedians.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia has been a hot spot for comedy since the 1980s with the rise of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Melbourne is now the third largest international comedy festival in the world. The section features the Melbourne-based  Joel Creasey and Nazeem Hussain, New Zealander Cal Wilson, and the Auckland-based Urzila Carlson. Carlson shows that Netflix is interested in showcasing comedy scenes rather than repping nationalities. The comic is originally from South Africa.

South Africa

The last of the English-speaking sections of the show, most of the comedians talk about the racial makeup of South Africa through jokes about race, white privilege, and regional dialects. Oddly enough, the sets were filmed in North America. While Netflix doesn’t disclose where the majority of the sets were filmed, they note that this is Tumi Morake’s “first North American performance.”

India

While two of the three comedians tell jokes in English, Amit Tandon is the first comic in the series to do a complete set in another language. Even though his special is in Hindi, it is not difficult to watch if you do not speak it. His cadence, if nothing else, punctuates where his jokes end especially because most of his comedy is very relatable and about being a dad.

Mexico

Spanish comedy is nothing new. There is a long history of groundbreaking comedy programming in Spanish. Comedy Central Latinoamérica has been presenting Comedy Central Stand-Up Mexico for five seasons, a show where Franco Escamilla, Gaby Llanas, and Hugo El Cojo Feliz have already been featured on before their Comedians of the World sets.

Germany

Germany and comedy are not words that Americans often use together, but the Germany section of the series will convince you otherwise. The first set from Iranian-German comedian Enissa Amani has a meta moment about her nervousness representing German comedy and her past Netflix special being watched in other countries, which feels exactly right in a series that props up three to four comedians to represent whole regions.

Brazil

In 2011, The Guardian published an article with the headline, “Brazil’s stand-up comics lead social revolution against powerful elites.” Eight years later, the comedians in this section have brought a far more relatable set of jokes. From jokes about Uber to pharmacy shopping, Americans will relate to much of the humor. The only difficult thing to understand in this section is how fast one comic, Alfonso Padhila, talks. Don’t worry: that’s what subtitles are for.

France

Filmed in Canada, the France section is notable for picking very diverse comedians to represent the region. Muslim comic Jason Brokerrs and Shirley Souagnon, whose family is originally from the Ivory Coast, as well as the rest of the France region, show an amazing cross-section of the different ethnicities that make up the country. The comedians shine even though they must deal with the slight divide between the audience’s Canadian French and their native French for France.

The Middle East

This is the first section that represents a full region rather than one or two nations. Two of the comedians are from Saudi Arabia—Ibraheem Alkhairallah and Moayad Alnefaie—while Adi Khalefa is from Palestine and Rawsan Hallak is from Jordan. The multiple countries represented gives a larger view of the region than some of the more country-specific sections. With Netflix recently pulling an episode for their show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government, if a similar request will come for Alkhairallah and Alnefaie’s sets.

The Netherlands

Having four European regions covered (while, for example, not showcasing a single East Asian comedy scene) might feel like overkill, but the Netherlands proves to have its own unique voice. The comedians from this scene showcase an amazing amount of energy. Soundos El Ahmadi, Martijn Koning, and Rayen Panday serve as a nice introduction to the region.

Emily Heller, NBC team up to form Secret Society

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 11:21

NBC is developing a secret society—and comedian Emily Heller is its leader. NBC called dibs on Secret Society from Heller, as well as fellow executive producers Kay Cannon and Laverne McKinnon.

Written by Heller, Secret Society centers on Beth, a struggling reporter who is tired of feeling invisible in her small town and recruits other women to help take over a dying branch of an all-male secret society.

Heller, whose stand-up album Pasta dropped last year, is currently a producer on HBO’s surprise hit Barry. She’s also written on People of Earth and Crowded.

Cannon is the creator of Girlboss and made her directorial debut with Blockers last year. McKinnon, a Girlboss executive producer, is one half of K&L Productions with Cannon.

Sober January motivation: 9 comedians who got clean

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 14:04

It’s Sober January for many people as the calendar turned to 2019. Many out there take the month off drinking for Sober January, while others may have made their New Year’s resolution to get clean. Kicking an addiction is always a popular New Year’s resolution and drinking less is reportedly in the top ten reported popular resolutions for 2019. Getting sober is hard, but many accomplish it. With help from meetings, rehab, and friends and family, many comedians who have struggled with addiction have gotten clean and are now living sober. Laughspin is here to motivate you with nine comedians who are living sober.

Russell Brand

Russell Brand has been living drug and alcohol-free for over 15 years. The Get Him to the Greek star even published Recovery: Freedom From Our Addiction in 2017. The book is half-memoir, half-a guide to the 12-step program. Brand has been very open about his struggles with addiction whether in his comedy or his books. Back in 2017, he announced on Twitter that he was 15 years sober and encouraged others to do the same. He also discusses it in his 2018 special Re:birth.

Fifteen years without drugs and alcohol TODAY. Thanks to everyone that’s helped me on The Path. Proof that Recovery can work for everyone.

— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) December 13, 2017


Dax Shepard

Dax Shepard has been clean for over 14 years. In an interview with Playboy back in 2012, the Parenthood actor described his “party years” by saying, “I just loved to get fucked-up—drinking, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, diet pills, pain pills, everything. Mostly my love was Jack Daniel’s and cocaine. I was famous for going out on Thursday night to have a couple of beers, and that just led all the way to Saturday night.” He went on to say, “I got lucky in that I didn’t go to jail.” Shepard is now happily married to Good Place star Kristen Bell. On his 14 year sober-versary she posted on Instagram about how much his sobriety has meant to her.

 

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To the man mocked me in our wedding photos because I cried too many tears of joy, Who wore a baby Bjorn for 2 straight years to show his girls how to be as adventurous as possible, Who held our dear little shakey mann pup for 8 hrs straight on the day we had to put him down, I know how much you loved using. I know how much it got in your way. And I know, because I saw, how hard you worked to live without it. I will forever be in awe of your dedication, and the level of fierce moral inventory you perform on yourself, like an emotional surgery, every single night. You never fail to make amends, or say sorry when its needed. You are always available to guide me, and all of our friends, with open ears and tough love when its needed most. You have become the fertilizer in the garden of our life, encouraging everyone to grow. I’m so proud that you have never been ashamed of your story, but instead shared it widely, with the hope it might inspire someone else to become the best version of themselves. You have certainly inspired me to do so. I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and I want you to know, I see you. I see how hard you work. You set an excellent example of being human. Happy 14th year sobriety birthday, @daxshepard. Xoxo

A post shared by kristen bell (@kristenanniebell) on Sep 1, 2018 at 6:20pm PDT

Jane Lynch

Jane Lynch opened up in her memoir Happy Accidents about her struggles with alcoholism. She has been sober since she was 30 years old. Now at 58, she has spoken about the importance of sobriety to her. The Best in Show actress said in an interview for NBC that her biggest obstacle has always been, in her words, “my own self.”

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson has been sober for over 25 years. He posted a heartfelt tweet last year marking his quarter century of sobriety. In the tweet, the late-night host called his sobriety a “miracle.”

I’m 25 years sober today and anyone who knew me back then would tell you how impossible that is. Thanks for the miracle.

— Craig Ferguson (@CraigyFerg) February 18, 2017

Marc Maron

Marc Maron struggled with getting clean and staying clean. The podcaster told NPR  about his experience getting sober saying, “It took me like 24, 25 years to get the 16 [years of sobriety] in a row.”  He went on to talk about his low point (which either happened in 1998 or 1999), “ I had surrendered to the idea that I was not going to be a big comic, I was not going to have a TV career. I was doing segments for a regional show in New York on something called the Metro Channel, and I really had resigned myself to failure and to hopelessness.”

Jessica Kirson

Podcaster and standup comedian Jessica Kirson has been sober since her twenties. In an interview with The Fix, she opened up about sobriety in the entertainment business saying,

“I have been sober for many years and sent myself to rehab at age 24. Being sober is really hard in this business. When people’s careers take off, they think they’re OK and don’t have to stay sober.”

Chris Gethard

In 2017, Chris Gethard released his special for HBO Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. The special examines his struggles with suicide, depression, and alcoholism. The comedian has written about his struggles with alcoholism long before the special. He wrote a piece for Vice in 2012 about how and why he stopped drinking in 2002 in his last semester of college. In the article, he recounts a long list of terrible stories of his drinking years.

Steve-O

Steve-O might be most remembered for stunts like snorting wasabi with the Jackass gang. Since then, Steve-O has turned in doing stunts for doing stand-up. Wasabi wasn’t the only thing he was snorting on the set of Jackass. The actor fought multiple addictions including cocaine, alcohol, ketamine, PCP and nitrous oxide. After stays in psychiatric institutions, a brief stint in jail (for protesting against SeaWorld), and an intervention from castmate Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O has been living sober for ten years.

Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney has been sober since he was 25. For his 16th sober birthday, he tweeted about a heartfelt tweet about the drunk driving accident that made him go to rehab.

He elaborated on the story in an interview with the Short List. In it, he says, “I asked the police from my hospital bed if I’d killed anyone. They said no, but when I realized I could kill other people with my drinking, that paradigm shifted. I was cool if I died, but I just wanted to hurt myself, not other people. And I was already hurting people in relationships, and hotel staff whose beds I’d soaked like a sponge with piss. But when I realized I could end people’s lives, I could kill a family in a minivan, I thought, ‘Oh, OK, time to flip the coin. I don’t want to be that.’”

As of today I’ve been sober years. 16 yrs ago I was in jail in a wheelchair, covered in blood, both arms broken, after driving blackout drunk into a building. Today, I’m home with my wife & kids & I’m healthy. Thank you to all who’ve helped me.

— rob delaney (@robdelaney) February 4, 2018

Tiffany Haddish to PETA: I’ll stop wearing fur when cops stop killing black people

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 13:06

Tiffany Haddish is wearing fur until cops stop killing unarmed black men, and she doesn’t care what PETA has to say about it. In a recent Instagram video post, the Nobody’s Fool actress described that after a show at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, a fan gave her the fur jacket that she is wearing in the video. She then describes what would usually be an outlandish gifting experience by saying, “Now she wasn’t planning on it, but she said she loved me and I was like, ‘If you really love me, let me have your jacket.’ And she did. So thank you so much boo.”

After telling her 4 million-plus Instagram followers about the gift, she goes on about how the fur coat will fit into her new protest. Haddish says in the post, “I’ma wear it as much as possible because I don’t know if you guys know this about me but I’m about to start protesting… I’ma wear fur every day until they stop killing black people,” she went on to say. “When the police stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur. It’s my new protest.‘ So sorry, PETA! Don’t be mad at me! Be mad at the police. When they stop killing black people, I’ll stop wearing fur.”

She ended the video saying, “See how that go? ‘Cos people are important. And so are the animals. To keep me warm. Thank you, boo. I love you for loving me. This lil raccoon is so cute. I look good in this raccoon.”

PETA is one of largest animal rights organizations in America and has been known for calling on celebrities to help them further their message against aminal cruelty from veganism to not wearing fur. Comedians such as Bill Maher, Jane Lynch, Carol Leifer, Jeffrey Ross, Marc Maron, and Fred Willard have all helped raise money for the organization.

You can watch the full video here:

 

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A post shared by Tiffany Haddish (@tiffanyhaddish) on Dec 29, 2018 at 9:32pm PST

Netflix pulls Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj episode after Saudi Arabia complained

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 12:03

UPDATE: Hasan Minhaj commented on his pulled Patriot Act episode via Twitter Wednesday. “Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.” Clearly, he’s not pleased with Netflix’s decision.

Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube.

Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now. Please donate: https://t.co/znMP8vyJma https://t.co/t2VUDhhIdB

— Hasan Minhaj (@hasanminhaj) January 2, 2019

Netflix surprised everyone on New Year’s Day by pulling an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. After the Saudi Arabian government complained how a particular episode cast the kingdom in a negative light, the streaming giant blocked access to the episode within Saudi Arabia’s borders.

The episode in question focused on the controversial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” said host Hasan Minhaj in the episode. “And I mean that as a Muslim, and as an American.”

“We strongly support artistic freedom worldwide and only removed this episode in Saudi Arabia after we had received a valid legal request—and to comply with local law,” Netflix announced in a statement. The entertainment platform defended its action by citing a Saudi law that states “production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers” is a crime. The statue punishes the offense with a maximum of five years in prison and fines up to $800,000.

The vague law is an obvious way for the government to limit free speech, according to critics. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of ordering the murder of Khashoggi because of his writing critical of the Crown Prince. The murder made news as many took it as a sign that journalists’ lives are in danger in the Middle Eastern country.

We reached out to Hasan Minhaj for comment and have yet to hear back.

Opinion: Comedians should be able to test bad jokes…even Louis C.K.

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 16:00

The most recent Louis C.K. controversy brings up the conversation about whether or not a stand-up stage is a sacred place. Comedy clubs have policies barring recordings of their comics and bigger names like Dave Chappelle have utilized special services to ensure their material is not leaked ahead of a big Netflix release. Laughspin has asked two stand-up comics to examine each side of the privacy of the comedy club. Vicky Kuperman is a 12-year comedy veteran with three stand-up albums, recently Three’s Comedy, frequently heard on SiriusXM.

America woke up this morning to yet another outraged social media firestorm targeting a comedian’s jokes, a happening that’s become almost as ubiquitous as a white woman bringing her dog into Starbucks. But don’t worry, because the media is being super fair about it. The headlines weren’t at all biased….NOT!

USA Today: Twitter furious as Louis C.K. reportedly heard mocking Parkland survivors, non-binary youth

NBC News: Louis C.K. appears to mock Parkland survivors in stand-up routine

TMZ: Louis C.K. Goes After Parkland Victims in Leaked Audio of New Stand-Up

Last week it was Chris Rock A few weeks before that, it was Kevin Hart. Today, it’s Louis C.K. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m on his side here. Well, maybe not his side, but on the side of comedians trying out new material. Like many people in the comedy world, I knew about his harassment of women for years. When a civilian (what we call non-comics) would rave about him to me, I didn’t have the heart to ruin their comedy idol for them. The few times I did spill the beans, I was met with resistance and questions like, “I don’t believe it. Where’s your proof?”

C.K. did a long set on Long Island at Governor’s Comedy Club a couple of weeks ago which was secretly recorded by an audience member and uploaded to YouTube. The audio recording has since been ripped and re-uploaded multiple times. In the recording, he made jokes about the school shooting victims from Parkland, Florida. He did not “go after” the Parkland victims as the media headlines suggest. That’s just inflammatory clickbait.

To say he went after them implies he did something. He didn’t do anything. He made jokes. Were they funny? No. Jokes are not usually funny when you’re working it out. That’s why comedians practice their routines at open mics for months or years before they even think about recording it. C.K. is famous, therefore he gets to test his material at comedy clubs, a privilege most comedians would die for.

Though I am appalled by what he did to multiple female comedians, this is bigger than the once-beloved stand-up. It’s really fucked up to leak that audio and it’s ridiculous to hold it to politically correct and high artistic standards. Leaking videos like this has become a pattern that is threatening creative expression.

In one of his last specials, the Louie star joked we should round up all the kids with peanut allergies and kill them. It was hilarious. It probably didn’t sound funny when he was working it out. It also probably offended some people who watched the special. Those people have every right to be offended and say something. They have freedom of speech, too, just like he does. My problem is not with audiences hating his jokes. Audiences are a comedian’s barometer to what’s working and what’s not working. We don’t have the luxury of practicing at home or in a studio like musicians or actors. The audience is our instrument. We have to fail in public every night. The audience decides for us what stays and what goes; the live audience, in the room.

This Court of Public Opinion is very scary, very powerful, and at times, it’s unreasonable. Throwing audio of unfinished jokes onto the stand is a disservice to the artist and the art. Comedy is meant to be an experience, a connection and a place to push boundaries. Some people might agree here, except in this particular case, as they don’t think C.K. deserves to be on stage at all. Okay. We all have exceptions to our rules. I don’t really care about him either. In fact, I care about his career as much as he cares about mine, and that puts us at around 0%. However, I think it sets a dangerous precedent to pick and choose who has the freedom to test material and who doesn’t based on whether we like the comedian or not.  

And for goodness sake, at least wait to judge the comedy until the special comes out. Or leave the house, pay admission, and judge the comic in person. Comedy, after all, is a dish best served live.

See what the other side thinks in this counterpoint.

Opinion: Louis C.K. should not expect a safe space on stage

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 16:00

The most recent Louis C.K. controversy brings up the conversation about whether or not a stand-up stage is a sacred place. Comedy clubs have policies barring recordings of their comics and bigger names like Dave Chappelle have utilized special services to ensure their material is not leaked ahead of a big Netflix release. Laughspin has asked two stand-up comics to examine each side of the privacy of the comedy club. Rosa Escandon is a New York City-based comedian and frequent contributor to Forbes writing about comedy.

Over the weekend, a set Louis C.K. did at Governor’s Comedy Club on Long Island leaked to YouTube. Reactions have mostly centered on C.K. himself and the gross nature of the jokes in the set. With material complaining about his public fall from grace and jokes about the Parkland school shooting, they are right: The set is gross. Some in the comedy community, however, have rallied around C.K. because the audio was secretly recorded in a comedy club and they see it as an invasion of privacy. But is a comedy club stage really a private place? And moreover, should it be?

Bigger-name comedians often use clubs to test out new material or work on new stuff. You will never see Chris Rock at an open mic, but he still needs to test out new jokes somewhere away from Netflix’s cameras and arena-sized crowds. Jokes are often rough at first, and by putting these jokes online, not only can they misrepresent a comic, but it can also make the final form of the joke feel less fresh. Most comedy clubs have a clearly posted sign with the rule “no audio or video recording” and some even announce from an intimidating God mic. It is a rule that you shouldn’t break as an audience member. However, just because you shouldn’t be recording doesn’t mean a comedy club is ever a private space.

An audience spends money to come in. In essence, this transaction makes it a public platform. It is not a safe space for a comedian to say whatever they want—it is a performance. The audience has paid for comedy and owns the memory of that set. Even if they don’t record the set, audiences will talk about it. They will tweet about it. The information will get out there. The internet might have changed how easy it is to show and talk about what happens behind the doors of a comedy club, but the idea that the stage is not private has been around for a long time. Before easy-to-conceal recording devices, there were obscenity laws. Comedians used to get arrested for what they said on stage. Today’s standards are much easier. No one is getting arrested for saying cunt the way Lenny Bruce did in 1961 for saying cocksucker.

Comedians don’t get a safe space to work on jokes. Anything a comedian says on stage in front of an audience is a public thought. Usually, this system works. When leaks happen, they don’t make mainstream news. When a comedian says something too controversial on stage, the fragile unspoken guise of privacy between audience and artist is easily broken. If there is a crowd there, the crowd or even just a couple members of a crowd gets to decide if that thought is too offensive and, if it is, they will bring it out into the light of day. While leaked sets can be annoying or damaging for comics, the only ones that create headline news and reach an audience outside comedy happen when a big name starts talking about something controversial.

From Michael Richards using the N-word to Daniel Tosh saying a heckler should be raped, the version of a leaked set that makes the news shows us something important. Privacy can’t truly exist on a stage. Comedy, by design, needs an audience, which means it can never be truly private. The unfortunate byproduct of that is that comedians risk their practice sets being misrepresented as their final product.

C.K. should know at this point what he says on stage is not private. His return to comedy has been a hot topic in the press ever since his first “comeback show” back in October. He knows his edgy new material will make the news, just like Aziz Ansari’s did. Of all people, C.K. knows that there is no such thing as a safe space.

See what the other side thinks in this counterpoint.

Louis C.K. leaked stand-up on Parkland shooting, pronouns enrages Twitter

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 14:50

Louis C.K. is back in the news as a leaked stand-up set from a December 16 performance at Governor’s Comedy Club got passed around Twitter over the weekend. In the leaked audio recording, which has been ripped and re-uploaded multiple times, C.K. does material about gender non-binary people, school shootings, eating ice cream, and losing $35 million in a day.

As just about everyone knows, the once-beloved comedian has been performing somewhat regularly over the last four months, mostly dropping in unannounced at comedy clubs in New York City (as is custom by big name comedians). His appearances drew ire from many people who believe his return to stand-up is too soon since his 2017 admittance of workplace sexual harassment. Though the internet, and much of the comedy community, have been enraged by his repeated performances, audiences appear to have welcomed the disgraced comedian (although he has drawn a couple of protesters, a couple of walkouts, and a heckler).

The set runs just shy of 50 minutes and is mostly met with laughter from the live audience. As usual, he goes after sensitive subjects like he has for years. Though a few bits harken back to a more brilliant comic, much of the material is stale and disappointing, including frivolous use of a homophobic slur he once wielded with purpose. At times, it feels like he’s trying to poke the bear rather than point out that the bear is wearing a ridiculous hat.

Many took to Twitter to express their disdain for the jokes, which are technically unfinished. Comedy clubs are like open mics to stand-up comedians of C.K.’s stature. We at Laughspin will not be sharing a link to or embedding the audio, though it can be easily found online. We have no way to know if these jokes are a finished product, a riff that he’ll never say again, or a premise he’s exploring. Though C.K. has admitted to disgusting acts against female comedians, we believe that not sharing leaked stand-up is in line with our ethics. Audiences should not secretly record performances on their phones to upload to YouTube. Full stop.

Due to the nature of how jokes are written and crafted, it is not fair for us to judge comedy based on unfinished material. However, if this disgruntled old man routine is the direction he’s going, prepare to be underwhelmed should he release a special one day. There used to be a point to his edge, and now his edge just seems dull and sad.

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