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Kate McKinnon tests drama in new Hulu miniseries

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 16:06

Kate McKinnon is coming to Hulu. The SNL actress has been cast in an upcoming Hulu show called The Dropout which is based on the ABC News/ABC Radio podcast of the same name about Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. McKinnon will play Holmes, the tech prodigy-turned-notorious fraudster. The Ghostbusters star will also serve as executive producer.

Producers of The Dropout podcast, Taylor Dunn and Victoria Thompson, will also serve as producers. ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis, has also signed on to produce.

The fascination with Holmes has been explosive since John Carreyrou’s 2018 book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup outed her and Theranos as a fraud. Holmes claimed to revolutionize the healthcare-tech industry with a product that would revolutionize blood testing by using surprisingly small volumes of blood. While Theranos was valued at $9 billion, the product did not work. Since her fall from grace, Holmes has been the subject of several documentaries including  HBO’s The Inventor.

Kate McKinnon turns to drama

McKinnon’s career is on the rise as it branches out into feature films in addition to her work on Saturday Night Live, for which she earned five consecutive Emmy nominations. But she hasn’t had much opportunity to prove herself as a dramatic actress. The Dropout seems like it will be just that, even in a miniseries that may have a sprinkle of comedy.

The Dropout will be the third original miniseries from Hulu after 2016’s 11.22.63 and The Looming Tower in 2018. McKinnon worked with Hulu before on the original TV show The Awesomes in which she voiced Lola Gold. Late this year, she’ll star in Yesterday and the Fox News film Fair and Balanced.

McKinnon isn’t the first SNL star to find a home on the streaming service. Aidy Bryant stars in the smash hit Shrill which came out last month.

While not much is yet known about the miniseries, Deadline reports that it will likely be between six and ten episodes.

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Who’s the funniest Game of Thrones character?

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 14:38

With the final season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones coming up on April 14, fans will finally find out the ultimate fates of some of their favorite characters from Jon Snow to Daenerys Targaryen. But Game of Thrones isn’t just about the drama. There is a lot of comedy in the fantasy land of Westeros. From endless imp jokes to countless double entendres, you’ll laugh as much as you’ll cry or wince. We’re interested in the lighter side of George R.R. Martin’s world, so here are our top nine picks for the funniest Game Of Thrones characters!

Funniest Game of Thrones Characters Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)

Tyrion is our GoT go-to for hilarious one-liners and boozy mischief. As he puts it: “I am the god of tits and wine.” There are his fan wish fulfillment moments like when he gave the tyrant Joffrey the slape he deserves in Season One for some much-needed comic relief.

He’s also the master of humorously noting what everyone watching the show is thinking, like the time he pointed out the fact that Jon Snow is endlessly pouting: “You look a lot better brooding than I do. You make it look like I’m failing at brooding.”

Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen)

We’re offering Varys and Littlefinger as a combo package because their comedic brilliance resides in their whip-smart banter. Don’t blink or you might miss one of their burns. They’re like the Smothers Brothers of the realm. Take their most famous interaction before the iron throne:

Varys: “I must be one of the few men in the city who does not want to be king.”

Littlefinger: “You must be one of the few men in this city who isn’t a man.”

Varys: “You can do better than that.”

Bronn (Jerome Flynn)

If you’re looking for savage insults and blistering one-liners, look no further than Bronn, Jamie Lannister’s sellsword. There are so many characters on Game of Thrones who wax poetic, and then there’s Bronn’s brutally efficient life advice: “There’s no cure for being a cunt.” Ain’t it the truth?

And don’t even think of paying him a compliment, as Jaime Lannister made the mistake of doing.

Jaime Lannister: “You have better instincts than any officer in the Lannister army.”

Bronn: “That’s like saying I have a bigger cock than anyone in the Unsullied army.”

Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju)

Tormund is a Wildling leader from the fictional continent of Westeros, best known for his bawdy humor, wild red hair and beard, and his unrequited love for Brienne of Tarth. His lusty staring quickly went viral as a meme.

The Free Folk leader also has a novel take on staying warm in the cold: “You have to keep moving, that’s the secret. Walking’s good, fighting’s better, fucking’s best.”

Sandor Clegane AKA The Hound (Rory McCann)

The Hound is probably the closest thing to a roastmaster that we have in Game of Thrones. Maybe getting half his face melted off imbued him with some perspective. Whatever the case, we are now blessed with The Hound’s wickedly blunt observations, like his summary of the entire monarchical system: “Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the King.” Well said!

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

Arya Stark is definitely one of the most badass characters on the show, but she also injects a dark whit into a lot of her scenes. Maybe we’re nervously laughing, but Arya definitely cracked us up more than once during the series, whether she’s undercutting her sister Sansa by asking, “Do I have to call you Lady Stark now?” or methodically listing aloud the names of her enemies she intends to kill in revenge.

Are we laughing because it’s funny or scary? Maybe both!

Memorable moment: “My father is Hand of the King. I am not a boy, I am Arya Stark of Winterfell and if you lay a hand on me my father will have both of your heads on spikes. Now, are you going to let me by, or do I have to smack you on the ear to help you with your hearing?”

Samwell Tarly (John Bradley)

Of all the characters in George R.R. Martin’s world, Sam is probably the most relatable because he’s such a trainwreck. When he isn’t messing up, he’s utterly flustered by the prospect of fighting and manual labor. All he wants to do is read his books and maybe have sex one day and yet he ends up having to scrub shit-stained toilets instead. For a time, he lives vicariously through Jon Snow, believing second-hand gossip is the closest he’ll ever get to fornication. Sam asks Jon atop the Wall about Ygritte: “How big were her feet?” At Jon’s annoyance, Sam clarifies: “We’re all going to die a lot sooner than I’d planned. You’re the closest I’ll ever get to knowing.”

Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg)

We were first introduced to Lady Olenna in Season Five when she opened the window of her carriage and got a whiff of King’s Landing. Her thoughts were not kind: “You can smell the shit from five miles away.” And her assessment of the Lannisters did not improve from there. She may not have always been kind, but she was always funny. When dragging Cersei for her, err, interesting family dynamic, she says, “Margaery is the Queen. You are not the Queen because you are not married to the King. I do appreciate these things can get a bit confusing in your family.”

The final season of Game of Thrones is no doubt going to be an emotional rollercoaster, but shout-out to the characters who have given us a little break from all the drama and killing, however brief, to laugh. Game of Thrones Season Eight debuts April 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.

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HBO wants more Barry; renews dark comedy for third season

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:55

HBO decided they want more Barry and more NoHo Hank and, of course, more Henry Winkler as charismatic acting coach Gene Cousineau. Bill Hader’s creation got the renewal just days after Season Two’s second episode aired Sunday night.

Critics are loving Barry, with various guilds nominating the show for a slew of awards. Last year, Barry earned three Emmys for Hader, Winkler, and sound mixing. Hader earned directing accolades for the pilot episode, Chapter One: Make Your Mark, from the DGA and the series was considered one of the best new comedies by multiple organizations. The Peabody Awards even included the dark comedy in their list of nominees announced earlier this week.

Audiences are loving the series as well, with the first season holding a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hader created the dark comedy with Alec Berg and has received praise for his efforts. The show follows United States Marine veteran Barry Berkman who works as a hitman after serving in combat. He travels from the Midwest to Los Angeles for a job only to discover a new love: acting.

Barry Season Two explores a killer’s psyche

In Barry’s second season, Hader’s contract killer tries to untangle himself from the world of murdering people for money so he can pursue his new dream after much encouragement from his acting coach, Gene. However, gangster NoHo Hank, played by Anthony Carrigan, tries to keep Barry as his hired hand. Meanwhile, Gene contemplates if he still wants to teach acting as he mourns a great loss.

The second season is still underway, so there’s no telling where a Season Three will go. For now, we will continue to follow Barry down a path of introspection to figure out why he kills—even when there is no paycheck involved.

Barry follows the new season of Game of Thrones on Sundays at 10:00 p.m. EST.

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Chris Lilley Netflix character causes controversy over potential blackface

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 10:42

Chris Lilley is coming to Netflix, but one of his characters is stirring up controversy online. Netflix released a trailer introducing the characters Lilley will portray on the new series, Lunatics.

Lunatics will premiere on April 19 and feature Lilley playing six different characters in first season’s 10 episodes. Lilley rose to prominence when his show Summer Heights High became a cult hit. He later made Ja’mie: Private School Girl based on the break out character of Ja’mie in Summer Heights High.

While many of Lilley’s characters in Lunatics seem fun and silly, the character of Jana is causing heads to turn online.

While the teaser doesn’t disclose much about the character, she is supposedly a South African lesbian pet psychic. While portraying the character, Lilley seems to wear blackface. While it is not confirmed that Jana is supposed to be black, it seems very likely given the press photos of the character.

Chris Lilley’s controversial history

This is not the first time Lilley has controversially worn blackface. He caused an incident with an Instagram video in 2017. The video showed the Big Bite star in blackface singing a song called Squashed N**ga while in character for his series Angry Boys. Lilley’s account posted the video days after the death of a young indigenous boy was hit by a car.

Some said the video mocked the young boy’s death, but Lilley denied that the two incidents were related and said that he did not run his own social media.

His show Jonah from Tonga and the character of Jonah himself has also caused controversy with many saying the character is racist.

Lunatics character may not be what she seems

Lunatics promises to explore characters that are not what they seem at first sight, which might mean Jana comes off better than she does in the trailer, but more likely this character will cause more controversy when the show premieres. Of course, there is a difference between being a racist and portraying a racist. Time will tell if viewers should be upset with Lilley himself or with Jana the pet psychic. Or both.

You can watch the full trailer below.

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Wanda Sykes: Not Normal first hourlong Netflix special from a Black woman

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 14:00

Wanda Sykes has a new special coming out on Netflix. The veteran stand-up’s special, Wanda Sykes: Not Normal, will launch globally on May 21.

While not much is known about the content of the special, Netflix said in a release that the hour-long comedy special will feature a healthy serving of political critique. Sykes isn’t shy to say that the current political climate is “not normal.”

This year, Sykes has been busy appearing on black-ish and The Other Two as well as serving as an executive producer on EPIX’s Unprotected Sets. She’s also got a hand in the upcoming animated Netflix stand-up showcase Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready.

With this special, Sykes will become the first African-American woman to have her own full-length comedy special on Netflix (a little late on that, Netflix, but fine). Tiffany Haddish will join the Chris Rock Show writer later this year with her own special from Netflix Is A Joke—which on Wednesday announced a partnership with SiriusXM for its own radio channel.

Netflix responds to lack of Black female comedians

Last year, Netflix was met with controversy for allegedly low balling black female comedians when it came to deals for their specials. While Mo’Nique was the first to talk about the issue, Sykes joined in to publicly support the Precious star and divulge via her Twitter that Netflix also tried low ball her.

.@moworldwide, thank you for speaking out. @netflix offered me less than half of your $500k. I was offended but found another home. #EPIX

— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) January 21, 2018

While how much Netflix is paying Sykes for Not Normal isn’t public knowledge, they have come to an agreement and the Pootie Tang star is excited for the upcoming special. Sykes took to Instagram to make the announcement. The caption reads, “Y’all…I’m so excited about this. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas. I can’t wait for you to see it! May 21st!”

In the announcement video, Sykes hilariously tries to do everything herself before her big special, including selling tickets and sweeping up.

You can watch the full video here.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Y’all…I’m so excited about this. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas. I can’t wait for you to see it! May 21st! #NotNormal #TreatYourself @netflixisajoke

A post shared by WS (@iamwandasykes) on Apr 10, 2019 at 8:31am PDT

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Netflix Is A Joke now has its own SiriusXM channel as Netflix slowly consumes your entire life

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 12:33

Netflix is coming t radio with a new SiriusXM channel, Netflix Is A Joke Radio. Starting April 15, the new channel will feature the streaming service’s stand-up library in audio form, comedic talk shows, and original radio programming. The channel is the first audio venture for Netflix’s comedy content and will be a full-time comedy channel to air exclusively on SiriusXM ch. 93.

Over the past few years, Netflix has distinguished itself as being one of the major players in producing comedy specials, especially stand-up comedy specials. Content on the channel will pull from their large comedy library and feature segments from comedians like Adam Sandler, Bill BurrDave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman, and more.

The deal for this channel is unique given that it is the first time Netflix has worked with another subscription service to release their content. While they have made deals for shows like BoJack Horseman to re-run on cable, this is by far their most collaborative deal with another distributor.

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos described the partnership by saying, “Netflix Is A Joke Radio on SiriusXM will be an audio extension of our award-winning stand-up comedy on Netflix.” His enthusiasm is shared by Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM, who said, “Netflix has established itself as the unrivaled video source for stand-up, attracting the biggest names in the industry as well as break-out newcomers, and we’re eager to deliver SiriusXM subscribers access to their star-studded library, new specials, and original live shows.”

Netflix radio station will feature talk shows, too

Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco will host a show on SiriusXM. He said of the deal, “This opens up a whole new audience and it’s a great way to digest comedy on the run.”

Netflix Is A Joke Radio will also feature clips from future stand-up specials before they appear on the platform. There are also plans to introduce an original daily show to the channel as well as other talk shows which will record at SiriusXM’s new studios in Los Angeles.

Netflix released a promo for the channel on their YouTube featuring clips from some of your favorite comedy specials. You can watch the teaser below.

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Hasan Minhaj, Hannah Gadsby earn Peabody Award nominations

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 17:35

The Peabody Award nominations are out and many comedies have made the cut this year. The Peabody Award jurors announced 60 nominees on Tuesday that are described as representing “the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2018.”

Named for George Foster Peabody, the awards started in the 1940s as an award to honor excellence in storytelling for radio. This year, 19 jurors selected the nominees from over 1,200 entries from television, podcasts, radio, and the web. The organization will announce the 30 winners beginning next week. Winners will then enjoy a red carpet event hosted by Ronan Farrow on May 18 in New York City.

The awards are broken into seven categories: Children’s & Youth, Documentaries, Entertainment, News, Public Service, Web, and Radio/Podcasts. The Entertainment category boasts a wide selection of comedy TV. Out of the 14 entertainment nominees, eight are comedies. The entertainment nominees this year include Atypical, Barry, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Random Acts of Flyness, The End of the F***ing World, The Good Place, This Close, and the stand-up special Hannah Gadsby: Nanette. It’s worth noting that four of those nominees are Netflix productions. The streaming giant boasts three other nominees in other categories.

Comedies are welcome at the Peabody Awards

The Good Place won a Peabody Award last year, but the rest of the nominees are first-timers. However, Hasan Minhaj won last year, not for his topical weekly Patriot Act, but for his comedy special Homecoming King, also produced by Netflix.

Out of the eight entertainment nominees last year, only one, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, was not a comedy. Notable honorees from last year include Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Saturday Night Live, Insecure, American Vandal, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Comedies are often represented among the award winners.

Children’s animated comedy Steven Universe also earned a nomination in its category.

Other entertainment nominees for the Peabody include Killing Eve (which was just renewed by BBC), My Brilliant Friend, Homecoming, Pose, and The Americans.

You can see the full list of this year’s nominees here.

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Dane Cook: Fewer dropkicks, more transparency (Interview)

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 15:21

The 1980s—when most millennials are said to be born—is commonly referred to as ‘the comedy boom.’ Following that era was ‘the bust’ of the 1990s when many comedy clubs nationwide shut down and big money gigs began to dry up. With the rise of the internet and Comedy Central at the turn of the century, the rumblings of a Comedy Boom 2.0 could be felt. One of those indicators was the rising popularity of a young, attractive, internet savvy stand-up out of Boston: Dane Cook.

I’ve always been a fan of the energetic stand-up since grade school when I discovered his bits on Napster—which I’d later learn he uploaded to the pirating site himself. I was at the HBO taping of his Vicious Circle tour and was one of his millions of Myspace ‘friends.’ Fellow comics teased him for his use of what would be called social media and other comedians mocked him for his athletic act outs. Despite all of that, the self-promotional tactics and fan engagement worked. By 2004, he had the most successful comedy album release since Steve Martin in 1978. Forbes called him “the first internet-made stand-up comedy star.” And TIME named him one of the 100 most influential people in 2006.

Cook made comedy cool again at just the right time, going viral before going viral was a thing.

When I started doing stand-up 10 years ago, I was shocked to learn that a prerequisite to being a comedian was hating Dane Cook. For some reason, people comics just did not like him. For some, it was his energy. For others, it was potential impropriety around a few jokes. Some comics find him abrasive. Though the conversation of what’s funny is always open to debate, the laughter of thousands of people show after show cannot be ignored. The insistence of many to shout how unfunny he is seems unfair. Some people don’t think Brad Pitt is a good actor, but there aren’t coalitions of actors telling anyone who will listen that Pitt’s massive success is unwarranted.

The Good Luck Chuck star insists there is no chip on his shoulder and says journalists bring it up more often than he does. But if he were to have resentment towards the comedy community for trying to drag him down as his rocket rose, that would be understandable. There is a lot to be proud of in his nearly 30-year career as new projects seem to have the man energized as he creeps into middle age. Many have held grudges for far less.

I sat down with the very charismatic arena-filler hours before his show at The Met opera house in Philadelphia for his Tell It Like It Is tour. It’s Cook’s first domestic tour since 2013. His last special, Troublemaker, quietly came out the following year on Showtime, though you wouldn’t be able to watch it now on any official platform.

We discussed his evolution on stage and off, the power of transparency, and what happened (and might happen) to his ‘lost hour’ of material.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

The Dane Cook interview

Dane Cook: I feel like every time I’ve chatted with you guys, it’s been on the cusp of interesting times. A lot has changed. Some things haven’t and some things have really progressed.

Laughspin: So what hasn’t changed?

Somebody wrote me today on DM who said they’d been to some of my other tours in the past. They said, “I saw you last night in New Jersey and it’s my favorite of the three shows. You’ve still got the antics, the energy, but now you have a new kind of introspection.” And that’s what I always wanted to get to in my comedy. Stuff that guys like Chappelle and Patrice [O’Neal] were doing really early, which was not just observational how they see things, but how they feel in conjunction to those things happening.

But in the last 10 years, it started to become much more personal. Then in the last three years preparing for this tour, a lot had changed in terms of what I had wanted to get to in 29 years [doing stand-up], what I finally accomplished that took me a lot longer than some of those guys that I mentioned. I always wanted to be a certain pedigree. A certain pedigree was important to me.

Of comic.

Of comic. And seasoned. Two words that I felt like I was ahead of, to be honest. I broke; I made it; but I still knew I was learning. I’m doing arenas, but I’m thinking, 15, 20 years in, “I’m still kind of a baby.” People say, “You were at the helm of—,” yea, but I was also starting to look at comedy very differently as I was evolving and realizing I want to continue to grow up with this audience that I discovered when they were in college. If I’m more introspective, I can reach newer fans that were behind those people. And hopefully those [new] people will be on the ride for the long haul.

So it was everything kind of smashed into one, like three or four years ago. It took me a little longer before this tour because what I didn’t want to lose was the LPMs—the laughs per minute. I wanted to be able to tell stories, but not in a one-man show style—not in a downshift. I wanted to still tell things that were stark and caustic and interesting about things that have happened to me in my life without giving up the level that I have come to expect—and my fans have come to expect—of laughs in there.

So it took a little bit longer because I was turning a corner in my life as a comedian. 29 years in now, it was like all starting to congeal.

I started seeing that turn at ISolated INcident as you got a lot more personal. You were in a more intimate setting instead of the massive arenas.

For me, a lot had happened in and around that time. Obviously, my parents and my brother and everything was shifting. When I filmed that special, I remember feeling this might be a quick downshift for my fans who saw me coming off 10 years of being bombastic.

Fewer kicks in ISolated INcident.

Fewer kicks today! I’m 47, man. I’m not going to be doing any dropkicks.

I’m deeply proud of that special. Every once in a while, my own clips will come up in a Spotify or shuffle. When I hear routines from that moment, I’m like, “Oh wow.” I dug in. I was doing that thing about the hater—the @anonymous.com—that fucked up letter that I got. I was listening to it a few years ago when it popped up and was like, I was ahead of myself.

I did want to be more introspective and talk about the animosity towards me or even the successes. I wanted to be able to do it without being braggadocious but still take the piss out of myself. How can I do both? How can I brag a little about what I’ve done—because what I’ve done is fucking amazing and very rare—but also a lot comes with it that’s pretty brutal and baggage in isolation. So in that special, I was starting to spin those plates. But I think, in some ways, my fans weren’t at that point quite ready for that. So the reaction was definitely varied. I had people who didn’t like it that have now watched me and say, “I hear bits on Isolated now that I really love.” I don’t think they were looking for that introspection 10 years ago or whenever that was.

Whether you’re five, 10, or 20 years in, a lot of comics look back at old material and cringe. But you are in a unique situation because you’ve had to so staunchly defend almost all of your material—either because of the joke stealing allegations or people going, “Those aren’t jokes; they’re sound effects!” or just general hate. Whatever the attack, you’ve spent so much emotional energy defending it all. So now, what do you think when you look back at your old stuff?

I had to look at a lot of stuff for a documentary that I’ve been putting together with a buddy of mine. The first thing that I cringed at more than anything was just the look: the styles and the hair. I’m finally at that place in my life where I’m looking back going, “Why did I wear that?” Or I’m wearing this oversized leather jacket. I loved guys that were larger-than-life in terms of their stand-up like Eddie Murphy, so I felt uncool in my life.

I wasn’t a cool kid. I wasn’t popular. I was the quiet kid in school. So this character, so to speak, was the guy I wanted to be. But I didn’t feel, for me, that I was the hot comic. I thought, “I’m ‘the now comic.’” I’m speaking to a generation right now that knows the lingo and knows how to relate to me on it.

It’s interesting to look back, but everything we’ve been talking about has been, “Here’s a piece of the puzzle I learned over here,” and I learned how to promote myself over here, and how to become a business person over here, and then funnier…I just wanted to have more tools to be able to tell more stories, to be able to make people laugh for an hour and a half and being able to hit every button. And also to be able to do it in a real organic way that doesn’t just feel like a routine. If you watch me five nights in a row, it’s going to be different.

It’s the most present that I’ve ever felt. I can explain it simply like this: When I was back breaking through, I was thinking of the future constantly. “I got to get there. I got to do Saturday Night Live. I got to do Madison Square Garden.” So I was always racing towards something and really not reveling in what was happening at the moment. And then I had all the things with my family and my brother and Louis [C.K.] and all that stuff. So it was a lot of hindsight looking back at my life and trying to figure out why. I wasn’t being healthy to myself. I was beating myself up. I still had low self-esteem even though I was this big important—quote, unquote—comedian.

The last five or six years, when I’m on stage, I’m so present. I’m in the room. I’m not thinking about the next—I’m just thinking about right now, this show. Now I have the tools and I’m not searching for something else.

I’m still trying to learn. I watched Carlin shift so many times in his career. But the thing I loved the most about Carlin is, for as many times as he maneuvered—and he really changed and he really challenged his fans—the LPMs were always there. He was always silly.

Of course, I had a lot of mentors [like] Buddy Hackett and Jerry Lewis and guys that I knew—Rodney [Dangerfield] I used to host for back in LA when I first got there—so I [realized], “Wow. The key to longevity is to be so knowledgable about who you are—your flaws and your strengths—when you share those with people, you’re more transparent. When you’re more transparent, more people are interested. And not in the flotsam and jetsam of, “Did he do this?” or “I used to not like him, so should I like him now?” It’s like, all that stuff goes away when people are sitting in the room and seeing you as a person who is wide open as opposed to like, “I’m going to fight to make you love me and you’re not going to really see where I’m in pain.” Now I’m coming out literally like this [Dane extends his arms wide open.]

But do you still care if people like you?

No, no. My point of action when I wake up every single day is to entertain myself, to build my brand up in a way that I’m proud of. So I always want to keep the integrity. For that, you can’t look outward to what you’re doing wrong in some people’s eyes. It’s an impossible puzzle. I probably have thought about that in years past. I didn’t expect animosity in comedy. I never dreamed in my wildest dreams—as a person who just wanted to bring laughter and lightness—that there would be any kind of backlash. It was impossible. When that started to happen, it was almost like, “Is this a joke on me?” I didn’t understand it.

I could understand generationally why some people were like, “Oh, the next cool thing? Now we have to hate that. It’s just because he’s popular.” I do the same thing. I was like that, too. I focus very, very little on people who are not on my ride because what I’ve learned is some people just aren’t on your ride. I DM with people every day. I talk to my fans like in the MySpace days.

You still do?

I still do. Even today. [He pulls out his phone and scrolls through a seemingly endless list of surprisingly current Instagram conversations.] I respond to young comics looking for advice. I send people voice texts. I’m like in constant connection with people. To be able to get on there on the daily and read from somebody who has nothing to lose say, “I didn’t like you. I wasn’t a fan. I jumped on the Hate Dane bandwagon. I got to tell you: I saw your show. Fucking love you, man. Thanks for sticking in there.”

I get a lot of people who tell me they heard me on Theo Von’s podcast or Bert Kreischer. People have never seen this side of me. It’s always been about just the funny element of it. We’re in a totally different time now in comedy and society. People want more transparency in all of their entertainers. That’s happening as I’m happening to do that.

People want to like you, not just the act. People go, “I can’t like that show if I don’t like them when they’re off that show.”

People are also more open to the idea that a comedian doesn’t have to be on all the time. I’m literally doing these podcasts this year realizing, “Oh my god.” This stuff I was doing with my fans on just a one-on-one level on my social media—being really transparent and as honest as I could be—now it’s in vogue. That plays right into where I’m stronger. I can share even more because I can handle the funny over here, but we can have a deep conversation over here. We can get into some nitty gritty and I’m not going to shy away from anything. I think that’s interesting to people.

This current version of you may be less concerned with the haters, but you can’t say you were never concerned with it. I’ve always felt a defensive energy from you in press or on podcasts that seemed to shout, “Why can’t I be at the cool kid table?” It’s always felt like Dane’s got a chip on his shoulder.

Maybe that’s what you wanted to see. Some people would see that and say that. Other people hit me up after the WTF episode: “I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t like how Marc treated you. I’m a fan now.”

I’ve just thought, “He’s Dane-fucking-Cook. Why does he care what other comics think?”

When I’m asked the question, I have to answer it. When I’m in an interview and someone asks me, “What do you think of haters that are outside saying you suck?” well now I’m going to talk about it. But the truth is, I didn’t investigate it. It’s not like I was sitting there doing a deep dive on this.

You weren’t searching for Dane Cook on Twitter or looking for the negativity?

No. I grew up loving certain comics and having conversations with my pals who loved comedy as well—before I even did stand-up—and, you know, this guy hated Cosby and this guy hated Carlin or somebody didn’t like Pryor but they liked Steve Martin. It was like, these were already conversations for me coming up where I was like, “Yea, I don’t subscribe to that.” It took a lot of years before I could finally look at any comic and go, “I may not like that person as a person, but that’s a talented individual. I might not like that person’s routine, but I love them. They’re a great person.”

I think that, as people have come around to the idea of whatever you thought about me or something specific that was white hot at a moment in time, it’s always interesting to take another look at that and go, “Was that me projecting something onto that person? Maybe I didn’t feel valuable? Maybe I didn’t feel like I was achieving my dreams?” And seeing this young punk with nice hair getting his, maybe pissed people off. I can’t answer every angle, but I do know that there was only one perspective that mattered to me outside the conversations like this, and that was: How can I continue to make people laugh? Because I need to focus on them and not the ancillary people on the side.

The easy answer is: We’re spending, of my full year, this conversation will be one of the biggest chunks of time that I would even talk about this.

Again, I bring it up out of a place of concern as a fan. I think you’ve been in my life longer than you haven’t been. Somewhere at my mom’s house is a burned CD of Dane Cook clips from Napster with those intense ‘www dot Dane Cook dot com’ bumpers added to the end—which I didn’t realize you made and uploaded until I was doing some extra research for this interview.

I recorded those in my apartment. I just figured out how to slice [the website name in] and put them up on Napster and Limewire—whatever I could use at that point. It wasn’t about financial gain. It was literally about word-of-mouth and just trying to get my stuff out there. To be honest with you, what people don’t realize is: I wasn’t making it on my own. I wasn’t getting help from the industry in terms of, “Let’s put him on Saturday Night Live.” The momentum that I got in ’96 doing Letterman kind of dissipated. I was doing colleges and I was making some decent money, but it didn’t parlay into anything until I took the reins and was like, “I’m just going to use this internet thing as a billboard.” Then when I saw people could actually chat with me—that’s why I still do it today. It’s very valuable.

I remember years and years ago David Cross giving me shit because he said I was pandering by answering people and talking to people. I remember thinking, “No. If you saw the conversations, I’m not bullshitting [people] going, ‘Hey, everything’s great! Come love me!’” It was literally me going, “Hey, I have rough days, too. Come to my show tonight. Maybe we’ll both feel better.”

You’ve brought up this onstage evolution a lot. What has been your growth offstage?

Aw, man. Incredible. First of all, feeling safe again in terms of—I went through that horrible time with my brother. I thought I had a life savings. I thought I was set. I really did. I thought, you know what? I’ve worked hard for a lot of years. I built my nest egg up. That was gone, essentially. I couldn’t afford a home. I couldn’t afford some of the luxuries I had come to appreciate. It was like somebody hit the reset button and I was back at square one. I was also at square one at a time when I had already come off a huge wave. And a career is going to be all kinds of highs and lows.

As Patrice would say, your first ride on the roller coaster.

Yea. I was coming down the big peak on the first ride, which was still fun. It was a lot of years of going up. So to come down that other side, to have lost security, that almost broke me. That, more than anything that had happened in comedy, that moment almost broke me because I felt like people were rooting for me to lose. At that point, there was a lot of backlash and I was not used to that. I did not anticipate that in comedy. And so, backlash coupled with, “Now I’m broke,” I kind of felt like this might be the end of my ride. It was my darkest time.

Why today is great is because after a while of marinating in that unfortunate sadness that came with it—the betrayal of love from a family member that I trusted—once I got past that, and I started to rebuild, I was now a businessman who was very much at the center of my business. That meant I’m not going to be at a stand-up comedy club every night like I had been for 15 years. I needed to live some more life. I needed to meet people who were away from the comedy circle. So where I’m at now is I’m safe again. I’m in a great place where everything’s flourishing—a new lease, so to speak. When I go home, I’m very comfortable with just relaxing and not just thinking about what’s the next thing I have to do.

You have time for game nights, apparently.

I do have time for game nights. [Cook met his current girlfriend, Kelsi Taylor, at a game night he hosts at his home.] You know what’s actually so funny about that? I started having this game night and it was a lot of Hollywood people coming out.

Did people have to audition to get invited?

No, no. Just friends of friends and basically people that, on a Friday night were like, “Hey, we don’t want to go out and get fucked up and party.” It was people who were maybe also feeling a little bit more introspective in their own lives. So what’s interesting is, for those two years where I took Friday nights off, the relationships with producers and financiers and actors have led to work that were very unexpected because now I’d ingratiated myself with a whole new cast of people that weren’t just comedians in comedy.

See, I want to grow my company and my production business. I’m directing now. I’m writing. I’ve got a feature that I’m going to direct and star in next year. I’ve got another series that I’m going to produce for a Middle Eastern comedian friend of mine who has some amazing stories. Comedy is still my passion—it’s my first love—but I’ve accomplished so much in it that it’s really just the enjoyment of doing shows for my fans. I’ve done it all in that arena. And literally—the arenas.

So now it’s about how can I, for the next phase of my career, tell more stories in new ways. How can I tell more stories in unique ways, behind the camera, just financing something for somebody else—

Books?

The book’s been the hardest. I want the book to be—I’ve read a lot of comedy books because I wanted to see how I would approach it. I just want it to be funny as it is transparent and impactful. The first version of my book I wrote a couple of years ago was dark because I’ve had a lot of dark stuff [happen.] I’ve had a lot of things happen even before stand-up that was—I grew up in an alcoholic family. I went through a lot of ordeals, trauma, anxiety, phobias. It’s hard to sit and write all of that as a comedian, identifying myself as a funny person. So I want to have both sides in equal distribution. So it’s been a longer process to write the book because I still want all the humor and the highwater marks in there. What I found was, when I finished the first one, man, this is really the dark side of a comedian’s life.

So your last tour, the Under Oath tour, what happened with that material? Is that what ended up being the Showtime special Troublemaker?

That’s funny. Just a few days ago, I found these recordings—I always record my sets. I found audio recordings of that full year of the Under Oath tour, which came on the heels of ISolated INcident. But what I had forgotten was, I dumped that material the night I recorded it. The Under Oath tour was a new hour of material. What happened was, I got to the end of that year and I had felt like maybe I was afraid to commit to recording because it was another special that was a little bit more caustic. Now when I listen to it, I’m like, holy shit, I’m going to bring like 45 minutes of this back.

So you’re the only person who’s ever realized that and asked me that. And I think that’s really fascinating and it really shows that you’re on the pulse of what I have done. Because that material I’m going to bring back. Now I’ve got this hour and a half [for Tell It Like It Is,] and then I’ve got that hour—

Maybe another double album?

That’s what I’m looking at. Because it’s very different material. Some of the stuff on the Under Oath tour was really dirty and sexual humor, but then there was stuff that was really about me. Really about not just the comedy I see, but this is what’s happened to me in my life. I’m glad I found those because now I want to bring some of that stuff back and put it in the new material.

Honestly, what an awesome question. I was so enthused to listen to it again and go, “My god, why am I not doing this?” I might even start throwing some of it into the routine this year if I can figure out where it’s going to go.

Another question like that: I was listening to ISolated INcident last night. I was at Rough Around the Edges at Madison Square Garden in 2007 and I wondered, was some of the material from Rough Around The Edges in the ISolated INcident album?

Probably. Everything was so kind of fast-tracked at that time. Here’s what’s funny about Rough Around The Edges: People go, “Wait, when did you work on that material?” Rough Around The Edges was called Rough Around The Edges because I improvised like 60% of the show at Madison Square Garden that night. Here’s what happened. I got the movie Dan In Real Life and I ended up in a production schedule that was much more work in rehearsal time than I anticipated. So I set Madison Square Garden as a show—I couldn’t cancel. And then the two months leading up to it, there was only one club near where we were [shooting] in Rhode Island and that was the Providence Comedy Connection. I got there once to run my hour. I got there one night. My manager came with me. I wrote everything down and said, “I think this is it.” He says, “All right, maybe we shouldn’t record at Madison Square Garden.” I said, “Well, could we do it low budget? Fuck hair. Fuck make-up. Fuck lighting. Can we do it super low budget?” So I rented cameras, essentially. It was not a big film crew. When I got on stage, I just started freeforming within the concepts I had worked on very marginally. So, the Civil War stuff and the flute and—

—Skiddle-ee-doo!

All that was made up.

I still say that with the people I went with.

A lot of people skiddle-ee-doo me!

That Civil War piece just came from doing a gig in the Berkshires and I saw a picture of Civil War soldiers. They were all doing that stoic thing where nobody smiles. I’m standing in a hallway of this middle-of-nowhere Berkshires hotel thinking, “That’s a bit.” That’s about as far as I had ever worked on the idea of that picture. Then I had gone to high school before I went to Arlington High School at a place called Minuteman Tech. And at Minuteman Tech, there was a cafeteria in it called the Fife and Drum Grill. So I was like, “What’a a fife?” and a guy told me, “It’s a flute.” So these were kernals of things I had seen in my life, and then I got up on stage and—I don’t even know how I seguewayed into it. I just started feeding off the crowd.

So it was Rough Around the Edges because it’s not worked out material.

Also, I looked rough around the edges. I watched the edit and thought, “Oh, this looks like shit. This looks terrible.” I should have done a little make-up and hair because I looked rough. I looked tired from the work on the movie. I was burning the candle at both ends.

What I learned on that night is something I bring to the show now which is: I’m better under pressure. I’m better when it’s not glossy. I’m better when it’s not so riveted tight. I’m better when I do comedy less during the week and have a few things that I really focus on instead of, maybe when I was a younger man, a lot of it is ego. I wasn’t on stage every night learning. Sometimes I was on stage because I wanted to make chicks laugh.

So now when I go into a club, I’m there to work. I don’t put the rivets in. I keep it a little loose. I keep it Johnny Carson. I learned from growing up listening to him in interviews. Stand-up comedy is best served when they know ya, they dig ya, and then you don’t have to feel like you’re selling. I don’t want to feel like I have to sell. I want to feel like I can just hang out and make it a moment.

Tickets for Tell It Like It Is are available at www.DaneCook.com. You can see him in star in American Exit available on DVD, OnDemand, and major digital retailers on May 14.

The post Dane Cook: Fewer dropkicks, more transparency (Interview) appeared first on Laughspin.

Maz Jobrani, All Things Comedy team up for new podcast

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 15:00

Maz Jobrani has a new podcast on the All Things Comedy Network that might actually teach you something. In Back To School with Maz Jobrani, the American-Iranian comedian will sit down with professors, experts, and smart successful people in hopes of learning more about topics he and his co-hosts Tehran and Kaitlin might not know about.

The All Things Comedy Network, founded by Bill Burr and Al Madrigal, has made a name for itself sporting content from Tom Segura, Christina Pazsitzky, Bert Kreischer, and more. The network has worked with Jobrani before hosting his podcast about parenting with Chris Spencer and Madrigal, Minivan Men.

Jobrani is best known for his jokes about being Middle Eastern and examining race relations in America. He’s put out five stand-up specials, including his most recent Netflix special, 2017’s Maz Jobrani: Immigrant. Jobrani also authored the book I’m Not a Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV: Memoirs of a Middle Eastern Funny Man.

Maz Jobrani podcast merges comedy and education

Back To School was inspired by Jobrani’s 10-year-old son asking a question that Jobrani did not know the answer to. The first episode features a discussion about The History of God and Spirituality with the American-Iranian author and religious studies professor Reza Aslan.

Upcoming guests and topics include entrepreneurship with sneaker designer Jon Buscemi, the Nuclear Deal with historian Abbas Milani, and education with politician and teacher Jackie Goldberg.

The title Back to School hints at Jobrani’s own experience with higher education. He dropped out of a Ph.D. program in political science at UCLA to follow his dream of being a stand-up comedian. The podcast promises to explore interesting and complex topics while still supplying laughs.

All Things Comedy adds to comedy empire

All Things Comedy continues to grow its empire. Last year, Burr and Madrigal signed a deal with Comedy Central to produce three hour-long specials and a stand-up showcase series hosted by Burr. Meanwhile, several of their podcasts continue to rank in the top 100 comedy podcasts on iTunes.

You can watch a video stream of the first episode here.

The post Maz Jobrani, All Things Comedy team up for new podcast appeared first on Laughspin.

Chris Redd: But Here We Are is sharp and hilarious, but brief

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 11:09

Comedian Chris Redd begins his debut album But Here We Are with a thunderous rebel yell and a warm greeting to those who were in attendance at Comedy on State comedy club in Madison, WI. “Hello white people,” he says. “I see you are still doing well.”

After laughing, he adds, “That is not how I thought I was going to start this but here we are.” It is an introduction that is befitting of the brash and brazen Chicago-born stand-up who has come a long way since his early beginnings in the Windy City. Redd has already made a name for himself on the small screen, starring in shows like Disjointed and Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later before becoming a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live.

But it seems that when it comes to his comedy, he is most comfortable performing live—alone—on stage. But Here We Are serves as a solid example of Redd’s high-quality comedic insight that comes while he occasionally spits the proverbial ‘hot fire.’

The Emmy Award-winner is energetic in his delivery throughout this album and on point with his timing. The stories found on the album detail his interactions with the “crackhead magicians” of Los Angeles, his desire to be a Chicago “gangsta” while growing up, and the importance of knowing the psychological profile of the person who shares your bed at night.

There is also a level of comfort and ease that comes with listening to the lively Redd, a condition that occurs due to his steady and solid delivery of specific social messages. In fact, there are moments when you feel like as if you can tell the story along with him, filling in the blanks as you both go.

There’s a familiar sentiment in Redd’s performance due to his incredibly relatable stories. While the setting and the characters vary, the final conclusion—how one reacts to the absurdities life presents on a daily basis—rings all too familiar in the end.

While the audience reaches this conclusion early on, they stick with Redd throughout his performance because the journey taken with him is just as satisfying as arriving at his creative destination. That’s the tell-tale sign of a superb storyteller, a trait which Redd has developed and is on the road to mastering.

The only true drawback that comes with But Here We Are revolves around its length, which is something that seems to be a developing pattern amongst contemporary comedy albums. While its run time is over 40 minutes, the grand total comes via only seven tracks. And each track itself comprises of one of Redd’s fully told episodes, with the exception of the aforementioned short introduction.

It’s a shame that there isn’t more of Redd here because if there was, the album could reach even greater heights. Perhaps the days of the hour-plus albums are growing short, or maybe it’s just a trend with younger comics (Dave Chappelle certainly isn’t holding back, dropping hours of brilliant material in a year). New comics should develop the comedic muscle memory of writing longer sets for live performances.

Ultimately, though, Redd’s But Here We Are is an excellent jaunt through the life and times of a budding stand-up comic who is only limited by the breadth of his own imagination.

Chris Redd’s But Here We Are is available now via Comedy Central Records.

The post Chris Redd: But Here We Are is sharp and hilarious, but brief appeared first on Laughspin.

Jim Gaffigan is now inspiring dancers because he’s just that good

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 15:30

Different forms of art intersect often in the creative world but one choreographer in Orange County found a rather unique take on a Jim Gaffigan comedy routine. Choreographer Joshua King coaches a lot of young dancers in California and one of his young students, Liesl, performed a routine on Gaffigan’s bit about apples.

Liesl performed an interpretive dance piece with Gaffigan’s voice in the background. Gaffigan fans will recognize his popular take on healthy food, wondering why anyone would pick fruit over chocolate or apple pie. “No one really wants fruit…It’s too much work with fruit. Has peeling an orange ever really been worth it?” he asks, as Liesl dances to the confusion.

The comedian, who is a father of five himself, reposted a video of the performance on Instagram with the caption, “This might be coolest thing ever.”

Comments poured in praising the performance mash-up. “This takes your comedy to another level,” said one commenter.

“Heck of an interpretation of your comedy. Well done,” said another.

King was also quick to comment on the post, thanking Gaffigan for the love.

Gaffigan gears up for Amazon comedy special

The Jim Gaffigan Show star isn’t new to finding new stages for his work. Earlier this year, Amazon tapped him as their first original stand-up special for Amazon Prime Video. The Dad is Fat author’s next special, Quality Time, comes out later this year.

Gaffigan also voices Van Helsing in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation and can be seen in multiple feature films in 2019 including Light from Light, Troop Zero, and Shadow Girl.

And to think the veteran stand-up almost retired after doctors discovered his wife’s brain tumor! He described the ordeal in his most recent special, Noble Ape. Not only are we thrilled that Jeannie is healthy after a successful surgery, but that one of comedy’s greats will still spread laughter and joy. That special will get a theatrical run in select theatres on July 13.

Gaffigan starts a new tour this week, performing in cities across the country as well as Canada and Europe.

Watch a clip from the interpretive dance below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

This might be coolest thing ever. Sound on #Repost @joshkingdancehype with @get_repost ・・・ “FRUITS & VEGETABLES” -Liesl- You’re amazing. @jimgaffigan Thank you for the inspirational, intellectual thoughts to choreograph to

Gary Gulman shares 100th comedy tips on Twitter

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 12:50

If you’ve ever dreamt of Gary Gulman coaching you on your stand-up routine, you’re in luck! The veteran comedian has been sharing his secrets and posting comedy tips on Twitter every day this year. The nuggets of wisdom include advice on how to combat stage fright, the importance of leaving your house when working on a set, and how using “bitch” may guarantee a laugh—but doesn’t help you stand out. On Monday, he tweeted his 100th stand-up comedy tip.

Gulman first posted about his plan on December 30. “Starting January 1 I am going to give one joke writing tip each day. I can’t promise they will be effective but they will have worked for me,” he wrote.

10)Get on stage! Writing a joke down is less than 50% of the process. You need to get on stage a ridiculous amount before you figure out how to write for Standup audiences. I chose 5/week (arbitrarily) as my MINIMUM when I began. #GulManTip #WriteNow

— (((GARY GULMAN))) (@GaryGulman) January 10, 2019

“Most of the tips will be for people who have been doing Standup for a month or more. Also, feel free to ask questions about writing jokes and I will do my best to answer them.”

The tweets have gained a following of their own and sparked conversations around best practices for writing good jokes and succeeding at stand-up. They have also earned Gulman a lot of praise. “I thoroughly enjoy your tips. Better than paying $300 to go to a “comedy class” at a club, hosted by the club manager, who doesn’t actually do stand up, but promises to put ya up and never does,” said comedian and radio host Robb Show.

Other comedians chimed in to share their own stories and mishaps, hoping others can avoid the same mistakes. “Never write your set list in red ink! Most clubs have red lights. You’ll never see it. Learned that the hard way the first time I ever headlined. Trial by fire,” said comedian Felicia Michaels.

The Boston-bred stand-up knows how to make an audience laugh, and is now using his experience to nurture upcoming comedians in the field. His advice has become a source of study and guidance for many and he published tip number 100 on Monday. There’s no telling how many he will do, but aspiring comedians will be hungry to read them all.

Go follow Gulman on Twitter and check out the whole thread!

The post Gary Gulman shares 100th comedy tips on Twitter appeared first on Laughspin.

Every Will Ferrell-Adam McKay collaboration while we mourn their break-up

Mon, 04/08/2019 - 10:00

Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are dissolving their creative partnership. The two have made millions laugh with an empire of classic films, TV shows, and their viral comedy website Funny or Die. While they will complete their remaining active projects and plan to remain friends, Ferrell and McKay have mutually decided to go on their separate ways creatively. As co-creators of Gary Sanchez Productions, the two have been closely linked for a sizeable part of their careers.

The two told Deadline, “The last 13 years could not have been more enjoyable and satisfying for the two of us at Gary Sanchez Productions. We give massive thanks to our incredible staff and executives and all the writers, directors and actors we worked with through the years. The two of us will always work together creatively and always be friends. And we recognize we are lucky as hell to end this venture as such.”

The two have worked on seemingly countless projects together (especially if you count their work as producers). Many of their joint ventures feature McKay as writer or director and Ferrell as the star, but others break that mold. To celebrate over a decade of friendship and creativity, let’s look back at the creative collaborations between this amazing duo.

Get Hard

McKay worked as a story writer on Get Hard while Ferrel starred opposite Kevin Hart. McKay also has a producer’s credit on the film. This goofy 2015 comedy was written by Etan Cohen, Jay Martel, and Ian Roberts. Unfortunately, Get Hard was pretty universally panned. This film came out the same year as The Big Short, for which McKay earned an Oscar. Sadly, Get Hard didn’t receive the same accolades.

Funny or Die Presents


Funny or Die Presents was a sketch show created by Judd Apatow, Ferrell, and McKay. In three seasons of the HBO show, numerous celebrities performed in silly sketches similar to the content on their popular website, Funny or Die. Ferrell appeared in four episodes himself.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the 2013 follow up to the 2004 comedy classic, had Ferrell resume the titular role. McKay wrote and directed the long-awaited sequel. The cast for the film was packed with stars and endless cameos, but McKay revealed after the movie came out, they even tried to get Barack Obama to be in it.

The Campaign

The Campaign was written primarily by Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell, but McKay has a story writing credit on this film. This 2012 satire film garnered mixed reviews but had some surprisingly intelligent things to say about politics which is often the case in McKay’s work.

The Other Guys

McKay wrote this 2010 buddy cop film with another frequent collaborator Henchy. Ferrell stars with Mark Wallberg who he would go on to collaborate with for the Daddy’s Home flicks—on which McKay served as a producer. It’s not unusual for McKay to make cameos in his movies. In The Other Guys, he plays the character of Dirty Mike.

Step Brothers

Step Brothers is endlessly quoted in an under-the-radar comedy classic. Ferrel and co-star John C. Reilly have amazing chemistry. McKay directed the 2008 comedy and he co-wrote it with Ferrell. However, the SNL star wouldn’t write another theatrical film for many years until he wrote part of Anchorman 2.

Funny or Die

In 2007, Ferrell and McKay started a little website called Funny or Die. As the website grew its brand with funny people everywhere uploading videos, the two wrote, directed and often starred in many sketches for the site. While McKay didn’t appear in many of the movies that the two worked on together, he acts in many of these shorts. In one of their iconic sketches, The Landlord, a two-year-old landlord is played by McKay’s daughter Pearl. Pearl also plays the baby in the sketch Good Cop Baby Cop. Many of these shorts have become classic internet videos and represent a time when the internet was still becoming what it is today. While many of the sketches were uploaded only to Funny or Die, last year many of them made it onto YouTube for even more exposure.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights is a classic 2006 comedy starring Ferrell. The Peabody Award winner wrote it with McKay who also directed the film. The popular Nascar parody was the duo’s follow-up to the smash hit Anchorman—and it still holds up on ita own. Tallageda Nights also featured Sacha Baron Cohen who become a star with his mockumentary Borat which came out the same year. Talladega Nights started a professional relationship with Reilly who would go on to appear in many films where Ferrell and McKay were involved.

Earth to America

While this two-hour TBS special isn’t brought up in typical Ferrell/McKay conversations, both have their fingerprints on it. McKay was a segment writer and Ferrell starred as his classic George W. Bush character. The 2005 special tried to raise awareness of the dangers of global climate change. Tom Hanks hosted the special. Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and Larry David also made appearances.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Anchorman was the movie that started their Gary Sanchez comedy empire. The cult classic proved Ferrell could be a true movie star. The random cameos delivered shockingly strong laughs from Ben Stiller to Jack Black to perennial scary guy Danny Trejo. The movie also features a cameo by McKay’s wife, director Shira Piven. Anchorman was only the second movie Ferrell had written after Night at the Roxbury. It was McKay’s first writing credit on a film.

Saturday Night LIve

SNL is where the relationship between these two brilliant minds started. Both Mckay and Ferrell worked at SNL for many years after being hired on the same day in 1995. Ferrell was a cast member for seven seasons. McKay worked as a writer from 1995 to 2001 and was the head writer for 38 episodes from 1997 to 1999. Over the years, he has come back to write sketches and additional content here and there. Ferrell has hosted SNL four times since he left. While SNL often doesn’t disclose which writers worked on particular sketches, McKay has shared some of the sketches he wrote on Twitter.

People posting old SNL sketches I haven’t thought of in years. This was always a favorite. Wrote it with Tom Gianas.https://t.co/hitdoxkzpv

— Adam McKay (@GhostPanther) November 15, 2018

We look forward to seeing what’s left in the tank before the partnership completely dissolves. We at Laughspin wish them similar success in their individual endeavors.

The post Every Will Ferrell-Adam McKay collaboration while we mourn their break-up appeared first on Laughspin.

SNL recap: Kit Harington let loose hosting Saturday Night Live

Sun, 04/07/2019 - 12:46

Kit Harington took a break from promoting the final season of Game of Thrones to host SNL. The ‘King of the North’ was almost unrecognizable on Saturday Night Live without his trademark beard and hair. Harington overall did a good job as a host. He somehow blended into many of the sketches and, in some, you forget that he was just a special guest. This episode will have you laughing, but at times it was fairly uneven. Some of the sketches felt played out, which is surprising in an episode that had no reoccurring sketches in it. While some concepts flopped, several absurdist ideas won the night. This episode is, in a word, wacky. Laughspin is here to help you navigate Saturday night’s wackiness.

SNL Cold Open

The cold open is all about Jason Sudeikis’s Joe Biden impression. It makes the whole sketch work. He delivers a larger-than-life performance which at the same time feels perfectly accurate and grounded. The topic of the recent Biden scandal could have been a real minefield to cover, but this sketch handles it well and doesn’t punch down.

Kit Harington Monologue

In the monologue, Harington took questions from the audience. It’s nothing new, but it works so well. He starts by telling a few jokes and while he, unfortunately, bails on one, he has good comic timing on the others. The bulk of the monologue goes to taking questions from members of the Game of Thrones cast. This type of bit happens often on the show, but works well with a mega-hit like Game of Thrones because you can tell the studio audience loves it and so will the fans.

Nephew Pageant

Nephew Pageant is just pure absurdist fun. Aidy Bryant really sells this sketch as the host of a pageant to crown the best nephew. This sketch could have really gone in some gross and uncomfortable directions, but it doesn’t. It keeps itself firmly zany without going too far. All the performances in this sketch are really good, but you will be thinking about Bryant as this character for some time to come.

New HBO Shows

This sketch is very hard to enjoy if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan. The jokes are very specific, but fans will enjoy the attention to detail. This sketch is made up of several very quick segments. Some work better than others, but they go so fast that the audience doesn’t have time to get bored or to judge the jokes. Highlights are the Daria and SVU parodies. This won’t feel like four Andy Sandbergs if you’re not a GoT fan, but if you’re not watching the greatest show on television, maybe you don’t deserve this sketch.

New Video Game

The concept of this sketch is good, but something doesn’t quite work. Part of the issue is that it feels long. There is only one joke and while constantly coming back to it works at times, getting to the same punchline over and over starts to feel monotonous. The concept is very fun. It just can’t carry the whole sketch on its own.

Theresa May

This sketch might not teach you about British politics. Having sympathy for Theresa May might be a bad thing politically, but this sketch is just so fun and weird. The use of musical guest Sara Bareilles and her song She Used To Be Mine from Waitress is simply perfect. Kate McKinnon always really commits to her impressions and it is so necessary for a sketch like this. Even when she breaks the characterization to do her hilarious interpretive dance, the impression still works.

Exam

This sketch has a good twist to it, but unfortunately, they squander that twist without building it out at all. The sketch relies mostly on gross-out humor, which can be funny. However, it feels juvenile in this sketch. There is something funny about the idea of a doctor with long nails, it is not funny enough to carry other parts of the sketch which take up a good amount of time.

Weekend Update

While the majority of this week’s Weekend Update was fairly average, it was elevated by Alex Moffat’s new character Terry Fink, a film reviewer who only watches films on LSD. The character steals the segment and is laugh out loud funny. While the character hinges on saying nonsense, it is very well written and, in parts, there are layers upon layers of jokes. It is impossible not to laugh along with this character who may start making Weekend Update a more consistent part of the show.

Graphics Department

There is nothing outright wrong with this sketch. It just isn’t that funny. The structure works and it seems like an SNL sketch you would have seen before, but the jokes just aren’t there. It is good to see a host getting to play a wacky character and not a straight man, but Harington has already shown he can do characters earlier in the night. Things seem to just happen in this sketch, but it isn’t absurd enough especially in an episode with some far out there sketches.

Bachelorette Party

Often when there is an attractive male host, there will be a sketch where he takes his clothes off. It’s just what happens. These sketches sometimes feel like a flimsy excuse for a host to show off. They did this most recently with fellow Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa. While one of SNL’s best sketches of all time has a strip scene, it is not as easy to pull off these sketches as you’d think. While this one is fun at times, it feels long. McKinnon’s brief appearance in this sketch is amazing, but it is too short to save this sketch.

The post SNL recap: Kit Harington let loose hosting Saturday Night Live appeared first on Laughspin.

Bill Cosby accusers settle defamation suit with insurer; imprisoned star maintains his innocence

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 20:37

Bill Cosby is at the center of a confusing civil suit. A civil defamation lawsuit filed by seven women against Cosby has been settled according to the plantiffs’ lawyer and court documents. However, both Cosby and his lawyer deny the comedian’s involvement in the settlement.

Cosby is currently serving a three- to 10-year prison sentence on three counts of aggravated indecent assault. While his sentence is tied to the 2004 sexual assault of Andrea Constead, over 50 women have come forward since 2014 alleging abuse that spanned several decades. The Cosby Show star still maintains his innocence and is appealing the decision from prison (where he is also, apparently, developing TV shows ideas).

Bill Cosby accusers ‘satisfied’ with settlement

The suit accused Cosby of defamation when he said that the women coming forward about alleged sexual assault were lying. The original suit came from alleged victim Tamara Green in 2014. Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, Louisa Moritz, and Angela Leslie later joined on. In February, the Supreme Court struck down a similar suit brought by Kathrine Mae McKee against Cosby’s lawyer.

Cosby’s lawyers filed a defamation countersuit against the women in 2015.

While the settled lawsuit is over Cosby’s actions, his spokesperson, Andrew Wyatt, asserts that the disgraced comedian has nothing to do with the settlement and does not acknowledge it.

“Mr. Cosby did not settle any cases with anyone,” Wyatt emailed USA TODAY. “He is not paying anything to anyone, and he is still pursuing his counterclaims. AIG (Cosby’s insurance carrier) decided to settle these cases, without the knowledge, permission and/or consent of Mr. Cosby. Mr. Cosby vehemently denies the allegations brought against him in these defamation suits and he maintains his innocence.”

While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Joseph Cammarata, who is representing the plaintiffs confirmed, “The plaintiffs’ claims against Mr. Cosby have settled and each is satisfied with the settlement.” However, Moritz, an actress known for her role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, died in January.

Cosby’s defamation countersuit still in play

Cosby has not only denied participation in the deal, but he will potentially move forward with the ongoing countersuit. The countersuit claims that the women defamed him and their suit torpedoed deals he had with Netflix and NBC. Netflix did, in fact, pull his one-hour stand-up special Bill Cosby: 77 hours after a Janice Dickinson interview on Entertainment Tonight. Hulu also chose not to renew its license for The Cosby Show in 2016, though executives claimed it had nothing to do with the accusations.

According to Cammarata, the settlement does not address the counterclaims, but if that case moves forward he has several motions planned. He has stated, “The anticipated motions include, but are not limited to: (1) a motion for summary judgment as to all Counterclaims against Counterdefendant Therese Serignese on the ground that Mr. Cosby cannot establish that Ms. Serignese made a false statement with actual malice.”

Cosby is still at the center of other cases, including one criminal case. The criminal case will go to trial this October over a 1947 alleged sexual assault of then-15-year old Judy Huth.

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Adam Sandler will host SNL for the first time despite previous reluctance

Fri, 04/05/2019 - 11:32

Adam Sandler will come home to 30 Rock on May 4 to host SNL for the first time. Sandler was a Saturday Night Live cast member for five years after coming on board as a writer in 1990. Though the Grown Ups star has made multiple appearances on the show since Lorne Michaels fired him (and Chris Farley) in 1995, he has never done a classic SNL monologue.

Sandler previously expressed reluctance about hosting SNL. On Norm Macdonald’s podcast in 2016, Sandler’s fellow Saturday Night Live alum asked why he hadn’t returned to host. He responded, “Why should I? I don’t know how good it would be. I’m slow now…I did what I could do on that show.”

Many would likely disagree, as evidenced by the excitement Friday morning at the news.

It’s happening. After decades of saying he’d never do it, Adam Sandler is coming home.

Buckle up for the “Sandler-aissance”https://t.co/RcOZpgAiDO

— Josh Hill (@jdavhill) April 5, 2019

Adam Sandler preps for 100% Fresher tour

The blockbuster comedy star is, of course, promoting his 100% Fresher tour—where he’ll tour 18 cities in just one month’s time. The tour comes off the response to his first stand-up special in decades. Laughspin named 100% Fresh the best stand-up special of 2018. Audiences agree that Sandler’s return to the stage was brilliant, with the special getting a 91% ‘liked it’ score on Rotten Tomatoes.

One of the moments that made 100% Fresh truly special was Sandler’s touching tribute song to his fallen friend, Farley. The Tommy Boy star died of a drug overdose in 1997. Though Shawn Mendes is the announced musical guest, fans would be overwhelmed with tears and joy if the SNL host gives that song and video montage an encore on the NBC late night sketch show.

If he does the Farley song, we’re all gonna lose it.

— chris hauselt (@movingsideways) April 5, 2019

SNL welcomes back Sandler to host

Sandler had many notable characters during his time at Saturday Night Live that boasted a range of accents and wigs. Many loved Opera Man and Hank Gelfand. Others will never forget Good Morning Brooklyn or Lunch Lady Land. Sandman fans will have to wait a whole month to find out which classic sketches get brought back for the Prodigal Star.

We last saw the New York native on SNL in 2015 during the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. He reprised his Opera Man character and performed a fun song about breaking character with fellow frequent breaker Andy Sandberg.

Since leaving NBC’s Studio 8H, Sandler has enjoyed a prosperous career in hit comedies and animated children’s films that have grossed billions of dollars. He’s also been in his fair share of flops—and won some Razzies for it—but the star will be welcomed with wide open arms by fans in May.

To quote the Laughspin SNL recapper, Rosa Escandón: I might cry.

Comedy Central is all-in on Roy Wood Jr.; orders new comedy special, TV show, web series

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 16:19

Comedy Central wants a whole lot more of Roy Wood Jr. The network announced Thursday a comprehensive “first look” development deal with the comedian. The deal includes plans for a pilot, a new one-hour stand-up special, and an original digital series.

The veteran stand-up and former Daily Show correspondent’s deal includes production on Wood’s new pilot, Jefferson County: Probation, which shoots in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama this May. Wood wrote the pilot with Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder. Based on Wood’s early life, the pilot stars him as a probation officer willing to bend the rules to help those he monitors much to the chagrin of his partner and everyone else in his life.

Comedy Central will also produce and air his third one-hour stand-up special. His second special, Roy Wood Jr.: No One Loves You premiered as part of Comedy Central’s Stand-Up Month in January and became the network’s highest-rated original stand-up premiere since his February 2017 one-hour, Roy Wood Jr.: Father Figure. Basically, viewers at home love seeing Wood on Comedy Central.

Wood will also write and star in an original digital series for Comedy Central titled The Night Pigeon, the story of a black superhero with minimal powers fighting the biggest villains in his community, The Gentrifiers.

Roy Wood Jr. gets long overdue payday

“Roy is the ultimate multi-hyphenate. His top-notch skills as a stand-up comic, performer, writer, and producer continue to amaze us—and he does it all while being one of the kindest humans in the business,” said Sarah Babineau and Jonas Larsen, Executive Vice Presidents and Co-Heads of Talent and Development, Comedy Central. “His wry, observational humor speaks to social and political change and we’re so excited to have Roy join an incredible roster of talent who have chosen to make Comedy Central their home.”

Wood has been tirelessly working as a comic for decades since his days in radio as a prank caller and his breakthrough appearance on the seventh season of Last Comic Standing. This latest announcement from Comedy Central is a culmination of hard work and talent from one of the best working stand-up comics.

“Humor that also explores the human condition is the most meaningful, but can sometimes be the most challenging,” said Wood. “The Daily Show has answered that call numerous times, and I am excited to tell new stories with Mr. McGruder who is no stranger to these waters. Excited to tell these stories in a new place (Birmingham) and even more excited to go on this journey with an African-American woman director at the helm. Comedy Central has proven to me to be the right place to take on this challenge. Also, my mom has a long list of chores for me to do. So it’ll be kinda cool to shoot at home.”

The post Comedy Central is all-in on Roy Wood Jr.; orders new comedy special, TV show, web series appeared first on Laughspin.

Jim Breuer talks touring with Metallica and why he stopped swearing on stage

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 11:45

Jim Breuer is definitely on a high—though he’d probably prefer not to put it that way.

After beginning a stand-up career in 1988, Breuer first appeared in the mainstream in 1995 on Saturday Night Live, where he became known for a spot-on Joe Pesci impersonation and his Goat Boy character. A year later, after appearing with Dave Chappelle on Home Improvement, he was briefly cast alongside Chappelle in an ABC sitcom, Buddies, but was fired before the first episode aired. SNL let him go in 1998. Breuer believes the show’s then-head writer, Adam McKay, politicked to get him fired according to his appearance on WTF with Marc Maron.

That same year he starred as Chappelle’s friend in the breakout stoner classic Half Baked. The film was a success; however, Breuer has since shied away from the stoner persona thrust upon him. Over the past two decades, he’s continued working as a stand-up while showing up in a potpourri of media. He popped back into the mainstream in 2015 as his Mets fandom took center stage in a series of social media videos he posted after the teams’ games, where he’d passionately rant or rave—or both—about the baseball club’s performance.

After opening for Metallica during a recent tour, Breuer’s got a new stand-up album out April 5. He recorded Jim Breuer: Live from Portland during a Metallica tour at Helium Comedy Club in Portland, and it’s the first offering from the Virtual Comedy Network, a label founded by Jim Serpico, the executive behind shows like Rescue Me, Maron, Benders, and SEX&DRUGS&ROCK&ROLL.

Ahead of the album’s release, Laughspin caught up with Breuer, now 51, during his busy press schedule to talk about the new album (a review for which you can read here), his career lows, and the aforementioned current high.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and space considerations.

Congrats on the new album! Where are you, career-wise, that made you think this was the right time to put out a new album?

I’d love to say this is a well-planned album, but almost like all the things that have really taken off in my life, this came out of left field. I’m on tour with Metallica, and we had two days off in Portland. I booked Helium to make a little extra cash and work out some stuff, and I went in there and, honestly, I was just having fun. I had no intention whatsoever to record it for an album. When the set was done—I’ve got a guy on the Metallica tour who records everything—he said, “I recorded the set. I professionally did the audio track.” I went, “Oh! Okay,” and I didn’t think anything of it.

About a month and a half later, my manager and my team are going, “Have you listened to this? This is really good.” I went, “Well, I was just kind of messing around; it was the first time I talked about Metallica,” and the next thing I know they say, “This is a killer album.” I’m like, “Really?” Because I can honestly say, since then, I have a completely different hour-plus of, what I think, is bone-crushing, A-plus material. Some of the material on the album I think I only did that night.

The last time this happened to me was when I filmed me and my father on tour. When it was over, the guy who was filming everything said, “I think I have an amazing documentary film.” It was meant to just be web material, and I knew it would be my father’s last tour. I said, “No you don’t. You don’t have a film.” But he showed me what he had and it blew my mind.

This record is sort of the same thing. I went, “Wow, I did not see that coming.”

How important is it to you that this album is launching a new label?

It’s not that it’s important. I’m honored, and I feel that the trust—because Serpico has been around a long time—and his excitement and trust that this is his first one, I don’t take that for granted. It’s almost like I’m coming in to pinch hit with the bases loaded. I want to drive these runs in.

I know it’s out of my hands, as far as people who’ll like it. But for him, I would like this to do very well, and for people to like it and talk about their favorite bits, because it just makes Serpico look like he made a great decision. That’s where my head’s at right now.

He’s been extremely positive for me, since day one. I can’t stand Hollywood, and I never could. I’m a Long Island, family, moral guy. I’m all for one, one for all. I’m all about doing the right thing, as much as you can, and Jim Serpico is that guy, too.

You’ve gone out of your way to rebrand yourself from the Half Baked, Saturday Night Live days. You make very public that you haven’t used the f-word in over a decade, for example. Why did you decide to go that route?

2008 is when it started. My first concern was my kids started looking on the internet, and I had all this material where it ended on, “It’s effin’ s-,” or “crazy s-,” and “f- this.” And, it’s like, “You sound like a dope. You sound like everyone else.” And I don’t want to sound like everyone else.

If you listen to radio—like Howard Stern before he went to SiriusXM, and, at that time, Opie and Anthony—although you knew what they were talking about, they couldn’t say it. And to me, that was so much funnier, because it left the illusion in your head. I took that method and thought, “How do I create certain words and scenarios without saying [something profane]?”

The other thing was, I was in my town, and a woman approached me and said, “You’re the famous guy in town.” I tried to downplay it and said, “I’m not famous,” and she said, “No, you’re the comedian, but you’re really blue, and dirty and, like, the drug guy.”

I said, “Have you ever seen me?” She went, “No, but everyone knows you’re dirty. You’re like a frat boy.”

And I was so mad, but right at that moment I thought, “If she thinks that, other people think that, and why do they think that?”

I vowed, “I’m going to create my own destiny from now on.” I’m a family, moral guy, and the world needs to know that. They were introduced to me through Saturday Night Life and Half Baked, which I adored; however, [I thought at the time,] “They don’t know me; they still don’t know me.”

The first special [after that] was called Let’s Clear the Air. Some people took it as a pot reference.

You can’t win!

No! You’re right. I basically said, “Look: Here’s my SNL stories, here’s my Half Baked stories. We’re moving on. This is who I am; this is what I’m going to be every time you see me now. Those of you who want to take the journey, come along; those who can’t handle it, it was nice knowing you.”

With all that said, how do you feel this change has affected your career overall?

It’s the greatest thing in my life. Forget the career—my life. Where I’m at, and what’s important in my life, that has just brought a calm and a bliss. It’s just, “Hey, here’s what I’m going through. How can I help other people go through this, and find the funny to help them?”

Has it forged a new connection with your fans?

It’s basically this: I’ve invited everyone that wants to be around me. I can probably say, I haven’t met all my fans, but I can honestly say I’d probably have most of my fans over my house to hang out. That is huge. They know everything about me now, and I think there’s people that love the comedy, but there’s people that go, “I love who you are. I love Jim, the person.” And that has turned into a more important thing than anything else.

Did you live that stoner life or was that kind of an act from the get-go?

No, I never lived the stoner life. Did I get high? Yeah, hell yeah, I’d get stoned. And I really enjoyed it.

But after Half Baked came out—and I swear on my life this is a true story—it was 2001, I get a call from the head of Cannabis Cup. He says, “We’d really like for you to be a part of Cannabis Cup this year.” I went, “Um, I don’t know anything about race cars.” And the guy belly laughed—belly laughed. He says, “You’re so funny. We’re gonna fly you out here—”

And you don’t even know what it is.

No clue! Zero clue! And I went, “No, I’m being serious. People ask me to golf, I don’t golf. I don’t know anything about race car driving.” And then he went silent. He finally goes, “Do you know what cannabis is?” I said, “No.” He said, “It’s marijuana. Do you want to do a marijuana tasting?”

I said, “Marijuana tasting? What are you talking about?”

So now he’s trying to explain it to me, and I said, “I got a two-year-old kid here. My wife’s pregnant. That ain’t my thing. But thank you.”

Your career is kind of a case study of the ups and downs of show business—there was the SNL departure controversy, the near miss with the show Buddies. How have you been able to power through it all?

My best friends and my family. I’m not even kidding you.

When Buddies [wasn’t going to happen], that moment, my best friend brought it right back to blue collar. Right in the doorway of the hotel room, he’s holding a beer in his hand at like noon, and he says, “I guess we’re going out tonight because you don’t have to get up in the morning, cuz you ain’t got a job!”

It took two seconds and I belly laughed so hard. I said, “You’re right. Let’s go.”

They’ve always kept me on the ground, and I can honestly say that’s what’s pulled me through, forever and ever.

You had a really interesting arrangement with Metallica on their recent tour. What was that like for you? What were the challenges opening a show for a heavy metal band?

They wanted me to emcee host for the crowd. They said bring a DJ, do whatever. The frustrating part was people were like, “You’re opening! You’re opening!” And I said, “I’m not opening. I’m emcee hosting what goes on before their show.” Even though it said that in the press, people just thought, “Oh, Jim Breuer’s opening,” and people were like, “Oh, he wasn’t that funny.”

Because you weren’t doing joke jokes.

No. And do you know how hard it is to do in the round, in front of 15,000 people waiting for Metallica?

So when they asked me to do it, the best conversation I had was with Lars [Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer]. He said, “Look, every time we bring a band nobody shows up. It’s a bummer for the band, it’s a bummer for us. So what we’re looking for from you: You know how to read a crowd; you are our fan base; you know the band very well; you know our audience well. Tell them why you’re here. Tell them stories, play music, whatever it is. We trust you. You’re able to pull off anything. And most important: you don’t have to be funny.” And that lifted up all this weight off my shoulders.

The first thing I did was, when you walked in the arena, the first half hour, music was playing throughout the house, but on the big screen I showed obscure Metallica photos, from throughout the years. Then my DJ goes up and tells the crowd he’s taking requests. I also told him that most of the people in the crowd are going to be like me: maybe in their 40s with kids, their wives. I wanna hear Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, maybe work in a Pantera here, a Slayer there, but not [overly intense metal], you’re gonna make them nuts.

My job was to get people inside. Lars told me early on, “Don’t be disappointed. You’re lucky sometimes if there’s like a thousand people in there.” Well, I can tell you, by show three, there was an average of about 7,000 people; by show 10, it was three-quarters packed.

If I have the opportunity to do it again, I’m gonna crush it to a whole new level, because this was a learning experience. Sometimes the crowd was in the mood for stand-up comedy, so I’d give them a little stand-up comedy. Sometimes they were very rowdy, so I would then go in the audience: I’d pick people out and start talking with them. I’d find the oldest person in the crowd. I had game shows, I’d bring people on stage and if you won I’d bring you backstage.

And then when I left, the show kept going. I had a camera follow me backstage. I’m giving away [seat upgrade] tickets to people in the upper tier. I’m looking for the band. One of the most successful things I created was the sing-along. I took metal anthems, and when I knew Metallica was ready to go, I’d go back into the arena and lead a sing-along to them. This just murdered every night and people had such a good time. They were standing, and it was time to bring Metallica out. It was the greatest gig I ever had in my life.

You do an amazing impression of James Hetfield, Metallica’s frontman, on the album. I assume you have done it for the band, so what’s their response?

James laughs, but he laughs harder when I do Lars.

Yeah, I’ll bet.

He thinks that’s the funniest thing in the world.

Does Lars laugh when you do James?

He does. Lars, I think, is a little like, “Oh God, here we go with the impression again. I’ve heard this so many times.”

How did your Mets post-game social media reports get started and why do you think they’ve become so popular?

It was lighting in a bottle that started out of a real-life situation. My wife was going through chemotherapy, during her second time getting hit with cancer. People on my team were constantly telling me, “You need to make videos [for social media]”, and I can’t stand making videos. I’m a very terrible self-promoter. I don’t like it. I feel like I’m whoring myself. I tried a couple videos, and they were so forced and I hated it. And then I’m watching game one of the Mets 2015 season. It was a very intense game against the Nationals. I’m watching it like it’s Game Seven of the World Series, and just hating the Nationals. My wife, with no energy whatsoever, was giggling. I said, “What’s so funny?” and she said, “This is what you should be making videos of, you being a Mets fan. It’s real. Do this. Just do it as a fan, off-the-cuff, not as Jim Breuer the comedian.” And I just went, “Oh my God, that’s freakin’ brilliant.”

I did it. It was so much fun, so I did every single game. The next thing you know, the Mets win 11 games in a row, and then they make the playoffs and the World Series. Major League Baseball was talking about it. Radio stations were talking about it. By the end of the year, it’s getting 2 million hits.

I honestly feel why it did so well was the timing. I don’t think anyone ever did it before, and it was the honest passion. It wasn’t staged, and that is what people are driven to.

So there’s the story of the Mets videos: a dark place, and that year brought our whole family together, for something to cheer about, to lift my wife up, to lift my family up. It was pretty amazing.

The Amazin’ Mets!

There you go. I am the Forrest Gump of entertainment. I mean, I grew up with Metallica—How did this happen? I grew up a die-hard Mets fan—I’m in the Mets world. I really sit back and look at my life, and I am so blessed for everything that comes my way.

Jim Breuer’s Live From Portland is available April 5 via Virtual Comedy Network Records.

The post Jim Breuer talks touring with Metallica and why he stopped swearing on stage appeared first on Laughspin.

The Joker trailer has comedians relating so hard

Thu, 04/04/2019 - 10:00

The new Joker trailer ends with Joaquin Phoenix’s character stating, “I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize it’s a comedy.” The film revolves around the origin story of the famed comic book villain as a failed stand-up comedian. Now (actual) comedians are taking to Twitter to share their opinion on the trailer, which comes just after Fox revealed their Joker character for the season finale of Gotham.

Comedians feel react to Joker trailer

Relating to the plight of the aspiring comedian struck a cord with many funny people on Wednesday. Mindy Kaling revealed her frustration with the origin story. “Oh great, so now I’m empathizing with the Joker.”

Oh great, so now I’m empathizing with the Joker

— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) April 3, 2019

Patton Oswalt retweeted Louis Virtel’s mini review. “Just watched The Joker trailer. I hate origin stories but ‘Mediocre man wants to be funny’ is the realest villain explanation I’ve heard yet.”

Just watched The Joker trailer. I hate origin stories but “Mediocre man wants to be funny” is the realest villain explanation I’ve heard yet.

— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) April 3, 2019

Patrick Monahan simply exclaimed, “JOAQUIN PHOENIX IS NOT MY JOKER.”

JOAQUIN

Comedy Central adds Chris Distefano, Julian McCullough to podcast roster

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 16:12

Comedy Central is pulling from its talent base to expand its reach in podcasting. On Wednesday, the network announced two new podcasts: Stand-Up w/ Chris Distefano and Your 2 Dads w/ Sean and Julian. DiStefano previously signed an overall deal with the comedy cable channel.

The two shows will add to CC’s global podcast network. That platform originally launched in 2017 with The Jim Jefferies Show Podcast. Despite a wealth of proprietary content to work with, to-date the network only includes a small slate of podcasts from The Daily Show, Roast Battle, Nikki Glaser, Big Jay Oakerson, and Anthony Jeselnik.

According to a poll released earlier this year, two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts “at least once in a while,” while last year, a majority of Americans did not listen to any. For 18-34 year-olds, almost 30% now listen to podcasts “a few times a week.”

Considering the vast potential audience, it is no surprise that Comedy Central is devoting more resources to the medium. Some of the largest players in podcasting are other huge media companies such as NPR. Everyone is hoping to capture another success similar to Serial. The medium is also much cheaper to produce than, say, video content which every media company seems to be pouring money into.

Comedy Central compete in crowded podcast field

As Comedy Central expands its content, it will compete in the already-crowded field of comedy podcasts. Conan O’Brien recently launched a podcast with Earwolf and already scored huge guests such as Michelle Obama. Will Ferrell is doing a podcast with iHeartRadio as his infamous character Ron Burgundy. New comedy podcasts are competing with preexisting powerhouses such as The Joe Rogan Experience and WTF with Marc Maron.

Distefano’s podcast, which dissects classic stand-up bits, launches April 18. Sean O’Connor and Julian McCullough’s weekly podcast, which focuses on parenting from the dad’s perspective, launches May 20.

Hello!
Julian McCullough (⁦@julezmac⁩) and I have a podcast called YOUR 2 DADS that’s launching on May 20th with ⁦@ComedyCentral⁩’s podcast thingy. We put up a trailer. Will you please listen and subscribe? Don’t worry, I hate my voice too. https://t.co/lyNQzsk4MA

— Sean O’Connor (@seanoconnz) April 3, 2019

The post Comedy Central adds Chris Distefano, Julian McCullough to podcast roster appeared first on Laughspin.

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