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10 types of comedy specials we saw in 2018

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 13:27

I’ve said it once and I will say it again: 2018 was an insane year for stand-up comedy. We saw dozens and dozens of hourlong specials, and even a ton of shorter specials, non-stand-up live performances, and more. Netflix is partially to blame for what some mistakenly see as an oversaturation of the market. They’ve dumped an impressive amount of money into stand-up that has made them the de facto king of comedy, leapfrogging over Comedy Central and HBO. It’s not just that they’re giving us a lot of comedy—they’re giving us a lot of types of comedy.

This year-end list is about the different kinds of comedy specials we saw this year. The boundaries that define stand-up are fading away as artists mix and alter and omit some of the traditional tenets of the medium. Hannah Gadsby ditched the idea of a closer on purpose. Drew Michael ditched the entire audience. Jeff Ross has launched careers through roasting. Networks and streaming services are granting specials of various lengths, allowing more opportunities for rising comics to get that first credit.

From set-up/punchlines to jokes you’ll need subtitles for, here are the 10 types of comedy specials we saw in 2018.

Traditional Stand-up

Comedy purists complain that the PC Police is ruining comedy and tend to poo-poo anyone who brings a guitar on stage or cuts away to puppets. Despite their concerns, traditional jokes and original points of view are still going strong in the comedy ecosphere. People like W. Kamau Bell, John Mulaney, and Iliza Shlesinger focused on killer jokes in 2018. Old favorites made comebacks and didn’t pick up props during their absence from your Netflix watch list. If anything, the overwhelming amount of stand-up available is raising the bar on those who focus on a set-up and a punchline.

Musical Comedy

Once considered the easiest applause break hack, musical comedy appeared many of the past year’s specials. Demetri Martin has yet to ditch the acoustic guitar for his string of one-liners. Other comics incorporated music in less-than-traditional ways, too. Tig Notaro incorporates an epic mini-concert at the end of Happy To Be Here. Fred Armisen leaned heavily into music in Stand-up For Drummers by doing stand-up for an audience of actual drummers and doing drummer-specific material. Adam Sandler and Todd Glass found the need to have background music and instrumental assistance from a permanent onstage pianist or band. 2018 showed comedians somehow experiment with an already-alternative comedy form and it was pretty awesome.

Roasts

Roast battles have become all the rage this decade and have solidified themselves as more than ‘just a fad.’ Before there were roast battles, however, there were roasts. Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher incorporated roasting into their Honeymoon Standup Special on Netflix by spending a half-hour on stage inviting couples from the audience to join them and receive ‘relationship advice.’ Things take a shocking turn when one married pair reveal that a break-up might be their best course of action (before Leggero nervously reminds them that their dysfunctional love is valid).

Also from Netflix, Bumping Mics with Jeff Ross and Dave Attell show the two friends roast each other and their drop-in guests. Comedy Central, who introduced a younger generation to the concept of loving insults, released the third season of Roast Battle as well as the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis. It seems that being mean isn’t going anywhere as we head into the new year.

Not Just Stand-up Stand-up

Many comedians are including pre-special sketches these days. They’re a fun way to introduce the viewer to the performer or to the type of stand-up they’re about to watch. In 2018, we saw quite a few specials that included cutaways to short sketches or comedic pieces that added to the overall experience. These, sometimes coming in the form of brief documentary-style segments a la concert films, are what make a special special. Ali Siddiq, who performed in the prison that incarcerated him for six years in the ’90s, included frequent cutaways to conversations with employees of the prison and groups of current prisoners. This included a piece during his big closer that cuts between Siddiq on stage and Siddiq in a prison cell acting out parts of the story to the camera. This enhanced the bit for the at-home viewer.

We also saw this in Drew Michael’s eponymous HBO special and briefly in Adam Sandler’s 100% Fresh. Though not an hourlong special, Netflix recently released Brian Regan’s Stand-up and Away!, a series which incorporates sketches that stand-in for act-outs. Good or bad, these experiments continue to let artists explore what they are capable of.

Comedy Duos

Whether you’re Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher sharing the stage as newlyweds or Jeffrey Ross and Dave Attell bumping mics, 2018 showed us that some comics are willing to share the spotlight. These aren’t longstanding duos like the Lucas Brothers or the Sklar Brothers or another pair of twins. Solo comics teamed up for one-offs or short tours as they explored where stand-up ends and two-person improv begins. Steve Martin and Martin Short teamed up for their Netflix special An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Lives. Adam Sandler and Todd Glass had onstage musical talent while Fred Armisen and Tig Notaro allow on-stage celebrity cameos.

One-Person Shows

Some of the strongest specials of 2018 were one-person shows. Part-stand-up, part-storytelling, comedians like John Leguizamo and James Acaster have built careers with these particular performance styles. The one-person show is hardly a new format, but we saw a wave of them hit our screens on Netflix. 2019 looks promising as Mike Birbiglia currently performs his new one-man show The New One and Colin Quinn’s Red State Blue State will begin live performances in January. Hopefully, both shows find streaming homes for those of us who can’t see it live.

Comedy Collections

Many were likely confused when Dave Chappelle first showed up on their Netflix screen last year and they saw the word ‘episodes,’ but we soon caught on. This year James Acaster dropped an astonishing four-episode special Repertoire comprised of his four one-man shows that thematically tie into each other. Daniel Sloss, a Scot who wants you all to know that jokes are ‘just jokes,’ also released a two-episode special—with hours titled DARK and Jigsaw—that caught Netflix’s attention. Bumping Mics and The Honeymoon Standup Special were also multi-episode engagements one can choose to binge or spread out over several days.

Is it a way to show off how much material you have or innovation of the artform? That’s still to be determined, but it appears that Chappelle has given people permission to drop what could be multiple hours of mediocre material all at once instead of honing in a tight hour of jokes. We hope this trend will stay reserved to those who can carry multiple hours.

Non-English Language Stand-up

This may come as a surprise to many Americans, but stand-up comedy exists in non-white countries in a plethora of languages. Netflix led the way in non-English stand-up specials, releasing hours from Malaysian, French, Spanish, and Swedish comedians. Even HBO Latino dropped a half-hour from Orlando Leyba this year. Netflix certainly has no plans to slow down! On January 1, they will drop a global comedy event, Comedians of the World, which will showcase 47 comedians from 13 regions in 8 languages. America will be represented by Neal Brennan, Chris D’Elia, Nicole Byer, and Nick Swardson, but comedy nerds can watch stand-up from Australia, South Africa, Canada, the Middle East, India, Brazil, Mexico, and more!

The Comeback Special

This year a slew of comedians put out new material after a prolonged absence—including an epic 25-year hiatus from Adam Sandler. Ellen DeGeneres and Kevin James returned with their first specials in over a decade. Chris Rock, who ranked number 5 on the Laughspin Top 20 list, delivered his most vulnerable hour of material to date. This year showed us what many big-time comedy stars have said on countless podcasts: I can always come back to stand-up.

The Half-Hour Special

The calling card of many rising comedians used to be the Comedy Central Presents half-hour special. Comedy Central continues to put these out, but Netflix joined the game with another season of The Standups and their ‘dirty comic’ series The Degenerates. The streaming giant also released The Line-up this year, which showcased shorter 15-minute sets from stand-ups, though how they drew the distinction of who gets which length seems to remain opaque. It appears the half-hour special may become a dumping ground for strong comics who want to build a new hour for their first big special, but don’t want to completely ditch the old material that got them recognized in the first place.

Every 2018 stand-up comedy special: annotated

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 11:40

Last week, Laughspin released our end-of-year list of 2018’s best hourlong stand-up specials (didn’t see who made the list? Go read that first!). Many likely disagreed with parts or all of my assessment. Many also didn’t watch every comedy special of 2018 like I did. To show my work, I am sharing the Google Spreadsheet containing all of my semi-arbitrary ‘scores’ and comments. Yes, you can read what I had to say about every comedy special of 2018. Mad Tom Segura didn’t make the top 20? Read why!

I’ll explain what my score categories mean below, but you can impatiently skip ahead to the spreadsheet by clicking here. Please remember this is a list of the best specials, not the best comedians.

Now, the scores in this spreadsheet are loose guidelines, not how I ranked everything. Scores pointed me in the direction of contenders. From there, I took all specials with a 9.5 or higher (which turned out to be 19 specials, then I added Tex Alexandro’s Senior Class of Eearth), and instinctually categorized them as Top 5, 6-10, 11-15, and Last 5. From there, I did the difficult task of trying to figure out which special ranked where. It was actually a lot harder to rank 8-14 than it was to rank the top five.

As for the scoring categories: I scored specials on laughter, freshness, innovation, and a pre-special sketch if it had one. The laughter was based on my own laughter, the involuntary reaction caused by the release of tension through jokes. I paid attention to how often I laughed out loud and how often I smiled while thinking, “That’s funny.”

Freshness refers to the actual material. The strongest specials consisted of truly original material that no one else has done or they took stale topics, like the supposed differences between men and women, and made the jokes fresh. Low-scoring specials relied on played out concepts, unfunny jokes, or outdated points of view that made me look at my calendar to confirm the year.

Laughter and freshness were scored 1-5. Innovation was weighted at half of that value. Innovation, I believe, strengthens a special and furthers the art form of comedy. In 2018, many comics played with the medium. We saw music, celebrity cameos, visual aids, and unusual locations. Some were innovative by doing straight stand-up on the most generic of topics and making the jokes both personal and brilliant. I didn’t punish a comic for lacking innovation, but it certainly worked as a tiebreaker in certain situations.

Finally, I judged the pre-special sketches on a scale of 1-5 but weighted at quarter value. If someone had a sketch, they got at least an extra half-point for the effort—unless it’s just unfunny, in which case they lost a half-point. Some, like Paul Virzi, used that time to let fans see him and BIll Burr and Pete Davidson mess around backstage. Some like Sam Morril used the sketch as an opportunity to execute a funny joke. Others, like Kevin Smith, humorously gave context for the material. The pre-special sketch can be another chance at a laugh or a way to set the tone for the hour we’re about to watch. Again, no one was punished for not having one but it could have made the difference between top 20 and out of the pack.

Go ahead and see what I thought of your favorite stand-up special by reading through my notes here. Add your comments about my comments in the comments below. Yay comments!

7 comedy concepts that died in 2018

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 16:00

Comedy thrived in 2018. A seemingly endless number of stand-up specials came out from Kid Gorgeous to Nanette. New sitcoms like Barry and The Conners made us laugh and comedy films like Crazy Rich Asians and Sorry to Bother You brought diversity to the forefront. However, as the year closes, it is also important to look back on the things we lost in comedy this year—a memorium of sorts for all the things that will not travel with us into 2019. From canceled shows to jokes we aren’t making any more, let us take a moment of silence for these retired past times.

Portlandia
We lost several outstanding shows this year: Casual, The Middle, Love, Nathan For You, New Girl, but Portlandia maybe hit the hardest. After eight seasons, the show ended in March. Fred Armisen started his new series Forever with Maya Rudolph and Carrie Brownstein was busy in films this year. She appeared in Tag, the Oath, and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Maybe after eight seasons of vegans and feminist bookstores, it was time to say goodbye. All us hipsters are sad to see them go.

Comedy Couples That Called it Quits
Break-ups are always hard. We lost some iconic relationships between comedians and their less-funny celebrity counterparts this year. Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff broke up as well as Jenny Slate and Chris Evans, but no story was more watched than Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson’s engagement being surprisingly announced and then suddenly called off. Arite Grandson, we hardly knew ye.

James Franco’s Hope for Winning an Oscar
For a fleeting moment, we truly believed that James Franco had a chance at winning an Oscar for his performance in The Disaster Artist. We thought that the best actor of the year could come from a comedy performance—and then it all fell apart. Having a #MeToo-era scandal right before the ceremony certainly didn’t help him, but going on to direct Future World may have hurt his chances for years to come. Haven’t heard of Future World? It is arguably the worst movie of the year with a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. One reviewer said of the film, “There’s not much of a resolution for Future World, but at least it ends.” Rough.

Comedy at the White House Correspondents Dinner
The White House Correspondents’ Association announced that it would not be hosted by a comedian in 2019. The dinner has been traditionally hosted by comedians, but after the backlash towards Michelle Wolf’s brilliant set this year, the WHCA chose to go in a different direction. Instead, the dinner will be hosted by historian and author Ron Chernow. Hopefully he’ll hire some comedy writers to liven up his address.

Comedians Being Able to Make 50 Shades Jokes
For the last seven years, the go-to hack joke for many comedians was about 50 Shades of Grey. But this year, the final movie of the trilogy came out. It’s been a stale joke since 2015, but now it is finally dead. We hope.

HBO as the Home of Comedy Specials
HBO used to be where you would go to watch the best stand-up comedy specials. HBO and Comedy Central were at one point the only places you could easily watch stand-up comedy (technically you could go to Showtime, but we never seem to talk about that). But now, Netflix is pumping out specials at a staggering rate and some comedians are self-releasing their specials. HBO only produced two hourlong stand-up comedy specials this year: Pete Holmes: Dirty Clean and Drew Micheal. In 2018, Netflix solidified itself as the king of comedy.

Roseanne Barr
It was time.

 

You can binge the entire new season of Angie Tribeca this weekend during TBS marathon (Video)

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 14:16

Angie Tribeca is back! The screwball comedy series starring Rashida Jones is returning to TBS this weekend with a bingeable marathon.

Angie Tribeca, created by Steve Carell, first debuted back in 2016. Season 3 concluded in June 2017, and while TBS had previously renewed the series for a fourth season, it was unclear when that season would air. Until now.

The first five episodes of Angie Tribeca will air Saturday night starting at 8:00 p.m. The remaining five episodes will then air Sunday, also starting at 8:00 p.m. You can also watch all 10 episodes on TBS.com or the TBS app.

TBS announced the news in a press release while also revealing new details about the upcoming season. According to the release, the series will pick up 20 years after Angie’s arrest:

“In season four, it’s been 20 years since the law wrongfully turned on Detective Angie Tribeca (Jones) and tossed her in jail. Now, Tribeca is out, reunited with her team, Lt. Atkins (Jere Burns), Dr. Scholls (Andrée Vermeulen), estranged son, Angie Jr. (Bobby Cannavale) and the young and brilliant Maria Charo (Kiersey Clemons) fighting for the good guys. Or so they think. No, they are. Or, are they? They are. Just kidding. Or are we?”

Cannavale and Clemons are newcomers to the cast for Season 4. Clemons’s character Maria is a tech genius who speaks 50 languages. However, she doesn’t understand computers, and she only speaks the aforementioned languages at a tourist level.

TBS also released a trailer for the new season. The footage shows plenty of the usual hijinks while promising that “this Angie Tribeca is not the Angie Tribeca you initially thought you forgot to know in the first place.”

 

Angie Tribeca has had plenty of famous guest stars over its first three seasons, including Rob Riggle, Niecy Nash, and Ed Helms. The new season continues that tradition with Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam, Cannavale’s partner Rose Byrne, and legends Carol Burnett and Carl Reiner set to make guest appearances.

This is actually not the first time TBS has used a Netflix-esque strategy with Angie Tribeca. The first season of the satire series also debuted with a 25-hour marathon back in 2016. The strategy paid off, as the next two seasons saw a bump in ratings among adults ages 18-49. The third season was among the top 10 primetime cable comedies in 2017.

Comedy Boom 2.0: Have we reached peak comedy?

Fri, 12/28/2018 - 12:26

2018 was an incredible year for stand-up comedy. Thanks to Netflix’s continued persistence to flood your recommendations with new hourlong specials from a diverse array of comedians, it was impossible to be starved for laughter. Not only did we see dozens of specials this year, but we saw a surprising number of stand-up showcase series on various platforms and networks, an amount we haven’t seen since the original comedy boom. There’s never been more stand-up available from the comfort of your own home than now!

We saw the resurgence of big names we hadn’t seen on stage in a long time this year. Adam Sandler, Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin James, and Ron White made their triumphant (or lackluster) returns. Prolific favorites continued to put out new hours: John Mulaney, Jim Gaffigan, Katt Williams, Jim Jefferies. Chris Rock put out his fifth stand-up special, his first since 2008’s experimental Kill The Messenger. Meanwhile, comedians I’d never heard of dropped multiple hours of material via a newly-formed category: the multi-episode stand-up special (thanks for that, Dave Chappelle).

This year may have brought about the most diverse cast of comics. Comedy fans were able to watch industry darlings and virtual unknowns; English-speakers as well as Spanish-, French-, Malaysian-, and Swedish-speaking comedians; performers of every shade and sexual orientation; men and women; alt comics and comedy purists. Comedians played with the form in a way I have never seen before—usually, we just get a Bo Burnham special once in a while that makes us go, “What?” But this year we saw PowerPoints, music, dancing, one-person shows, pre-special sketches, on-stage duos, roast battles, heartfelt moments that make you feel instead of laugh, and specials that made you question what counts as comedy. One guy did his special with no audience, somehow one-upping Maria Bamford performing for her parents in her living room.

Comedians like Jerrod Carmichael and Bo Burnham moved from in front of the camera to behind it. Stars like Bill Burr and Amy Schumer used their celebrity to promote up-and-coming powerhouses like Paul Virzi and Sam Morril. Netflix dominated by releasing dozens of stand-up specials—of varying lengths—while HBO, once the king of comedy, released just two hourlong specials: Drew Michael and Pete Holmes’s Dirty Clean.

I hope most people will agree that having more diverse comedians available is good for comedy. It can attract those who never took an interest in the very white, very male artform to try someone who looks or sounds more like them. Sadly, there are some who will claim ‘diversity hiring’ is giving away opportunities to those who aren’t funny or haven’t ‘earned it.’ Which is so strange, because you’ll hear those guys—usually guys—get super quiet when one of our own puts out an hour of meh.

What many comedians and comedy nerds didn’t agree on was what counts as stand-up or even comedy. The lines between in which stand-up comedy live are becoming thinner and thinner, and 2018 may have been the sledgehammer smashing through that brick wall many of the late greats stood in front of because one comedy club owner in the ’60s was too cheap to cover it up. This change can be scary to those comfortable living in the box of one person, one mic, one stage, one audience, one hour. That will always count as comedy, and there’s no sign of that going away with strong traditional sets from W. Kamau Bell, Iliza Shlesinger, Dave Smith, Chris Rock, and Ted Alexandro this year. The walls coming down instead allow more Bo Burnhams, more Demetri Martins, and more Hannah Gadsbys to try something a little different while also being funny.

It’s an exciting time for comedy and there’s no doubt that we are presently in a Comedy Boom 2.0.

Laughspin Presents: The 20 Best Stand-up Specials of 2018

Thu, 12/27/2018 - 17:48

None of you are going to agree with me on this list. And that’s okay.

It’s not easy to do a year-in-review Top 10 List (or whatever arbitrary number Buzzfeed picks that day). The sheer volume of stand-up produced this year made things even more difficult. I watched every qualifying stand-up special that came out in 2018. Every. Single. One. I don’t like Top Anything lists because, it’s like, you didn’t try to watch everything. So I did. And it was brutal. All in all, I watched 60 specials. Don’t worry—I didn’t finish all of them, but I gave every special a fair shot.

I did this because I didn’t want someone who released a quality special not on HBO or Netflix to be overlooked. I didn’t want to skip over someone I personally hadn’t heard of. I didn’t want to give you a Top 10 list you could have made without watching anything based on name recognition and how much people are tweeting about it.

Of course, I had to narrow down what we’re talking about. First, we’re dealing with stand-up. That threw out things like Steve Martin and Martin Short’s An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Lives, which was more of a two-man performance than stand-up, and Trevor Moore’s Story of Our Times, which was a compilation of music videos rather than him performing on a stage. Adam Sandler’s 100% Fresh has plenty of classic stand-up in Sandler’s unique voice around his funny songs, so he’s in. So is The Honeymoon Special from Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher. They each do a half-hour of stand-up and then spend an additional half-hour inviting couples on stage for a good ol’ fashioned roast. Crowd work in a comedy special is far from unusual. These were all at one recording and they each spend an hour on stage, so I’ll allow it.

Next was time. We’re talking here about ‘hourlong’ stand-up specials. Technically, I wanted to see at least 42 minutes. That’s the length of a standard Comedy Central ‘one-hour’ special. Those comedians are typically submitting more than 42 minutes to the network, but that’s what it gets edited down to for commercials. We’re also tossing out the half-hour specials, the 15-minute showcase sets, and, sadly, Drew Michael’s eponymous HBO special (he only does 35 minutes of actual comedy—the rest being scripted cutaway video chats with a significant other). Someone like Ali Siddiq also has cutaways throughout talking to inmates and prison employees, but his actual stand-up time is about 45 minutes. I want to note that Drew Michael would have been in our top 10 had he done seven more minutes of material.

We’re also only going to look at English-speaking specials. My roommate likes to watch everything with subtitles, but I’m not a fan. It’s awesome that Netflix has committed to putting out so much stand-up in other languages for the world to enjoy and to expose to Americans. Next year a separate list for the subtitle-reading crowd is definitely due!

I judged these specials on how much I laughed and how fresh the material is. I gave bonus points for innovation or a really solid pre-special sketch. The thing that separates a special from an album, in my opinion, is the visual component. As such, I think these are noteworthy factors. It’s what makes a special…special. I didn’t penalize anything that was traditionally shot or lacked visual aids, but it certainly acted as a tiebreaker for several situations.

Below you’ll see what I think are the 20 best specials of the year, specials you should certainly check out. I don’t expect you to watch all 60—or even all 20—but hopefully this list assists you through decision paralysis when you’re laying around at home on a Friday night. Feel free to yell at me why I’m wrong in the comments.

20. Ali Siddiq: It’s Bigger Than These Bars (Comedy Central)

19. Gad Elmaleh: American Dream (Netflix)

18. Kevin Smith: Silent But Deadly (Showtime)

17. Ted Alexandro: Senior Class of Earth (All Things Comedy)

16. Tig Notaro: Happy To Be Here

15. The Honeymoon Stand Up Special – Natasha Leggero & Moshe Kasher (Netflix)

14. Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (Netflix)

13. Russell Brand: Re:Birth (Netflix)

12. Iliza Shlesinger: Elder Millennial (Netflix)

11. Sam Morril: Positive Influence (Comedy Central)

10. Demetri Martin: The Overthinker (Netflix)

This is one of those specials I put on late at night to get out of the way because I didn’t think it was going to make the top 10. For me, his specials tend to fall in the category of “Oh, I should watch that, but not right now.” Demetri Martin comes in with a masterful hour of tight jokes and original thoughts in The Overthinker. Martin is one of those names that brings consistent A-material that we sometimes forget to talk about. One of the original alt scene guys who broke mainstream, he leaves the dry erase board at home and instead utilizes an overhead TV screen to show his punchline illustrations.

I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to laugh at something so PG-13, but Martin made me laugh loudly and consistently, even if I wasn’t expecting it. Heightening the at-home comedy special experience, the New York native adds voice-over commentary to portions of the show, delivering jokes to Netflix subscribers that his in-person audience never got to hear. If you also tend to pass over Martin’s specials, this one will be your favorite surprise of the year.

9. James Acaster: Repertoire (Netflix)

Like any snot-nosed American, I thought to myself, “Who is James Acaster and how is he dropping four hourlong sets all at once?” Repertoire is one of these new multi-episode comedy specials. Acaster’s shows are a culmination of his work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe over the last several years. The first three shows—Recognize, Represent, Reset—are tied together thematically with a final show Recap that calls back to the other shows. These specials look amazing. His outfit matches the backdrop and, at times, the microphone and mic stand in each special in such a purposeful fashion. He makes the British stage tradition proud with his use of space, props, and setting.

For comedy purists, don’t worry: The material is brilliant. It’s silly and fun and builds up to big laughs. Recap is a bit difficult to watch, as you have to remember the other three shows well enough to understand the callbacks. However, I won’t penalize someone for having an okay hour after a jaw-dropping three. Any of the first three would be worthy of this list. Though they are the culmination of years of work, each show is written in about a year for Edinburgh. I find myself captivated by his goofy performances, defying my desire to include a more comfortable name in the rankings. What makes this guy stand out? You know he’s funny but you can’t pinpoint why, which is the sign of a truly unique POV stand-up.

8. Dave Smith: Libertas (GaS Digital)

Original jokes. Unique point of view. A comfort on stage that doesn’t care whether or not you approve of him. Dave Smith possesses these core characteristics of a strong stand-up comedian. Stand-up relies on independent thinkers to deliver us truly original material that makes us think, like a modern-day philosopher. I think Smith is one of those low-key killer comics who, if he had different politics, could be all over the place (though I’m sure he’s doing quite well co-hosting with Legion of Skanks, appearing frequently on Fox News, and touring regularly).

Some would call the proud Libertarian an edgelord—someone being edgy for the sake of being edgy. There’s too much craft and purpose and contempt for mob mentalities to simplify Smith’s act in that way. Though he has ample privilege that allows him to look past certain tenets of feminism (the part of about the ‘feminization’ of our culture reeks of toxicity), you know what this man thinks when he’s on stage. His refusal to pander to the left or the right displays an integrity that is sometimes lost in this industry. Comedy purists will appreciate this special. You’re welcome to disagree, but you’d have to watch Libertas first to make that informed opinion.

7. Jim Jefferies: This Is Me Now (Netflix)

Jim Jefferies is starting to become famous enough that he can talk about his own fame. He opens the special describing the difference between “rich and famous” and “poor and famous.” Turns out that ignoring the business in show business can make you a late night talk show host who shops at the dollar store (or in London, ‘pound shop’). The storyteller continues his crusade against guns through humor as people continue to request encores of his infamous gun control routine from 2014’s Bare. If that’s what the people want, that’s what they continue to get with Jefferies. “How about we propose a law where you’re allowed seven?”

The bits are nothing but original thought from an overactive comedic brain and This Is Me Now offers absurd stories of marginal celebrity. The audience gets to enjoy Jefferies’s flagrant disregard for nondisclosure agreements, allowing us to hear about an epic dinner party gig at Mariah Carey. We even get some celebrity impressions out of him! Fans of the Australian will enjoy knowing he is capable of pumping out quality specials at a consistent rate. If you’re unfamiliar with this guy, start with This Is Us. It’ll certainly ease you into him before you watch him do seven minutes of Bill Cosby rape jokes in Freedumb.

6. John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous (Netflix)

John Mulaney delivers the fantastic laugh-out-loud comedy special we’ve come to expect from the seasoned stand-up. The former Saturday Night Live head writer comes back in Kid Gorgeous from, in my opinion, a slight dip with his previous Netflix special The Comeback Kid. His childlike “Uh, oh!” cadence never feels too childish for the 36-year-old man as he shares quirky stories of his father’s psychological warfare and how old emails could come back to get you. Whether comparing Making a Murderer’s Brendan Dassey to spending $120,000 on an English degree or being in Connecticut “doing white people stuff,” you can expect Mulaney’s usual high laughs-per-minute stories with well-executed side tangents.

5. Chris Rock: Tamborine (Netflix)

This is by far Chris Rock’s best-looking special thanks to director Bo Burnham—but that’s not what lands the living legend in our top five. Rock has always talked about the same things: race, politics, parenting, and how men and women are =gasp= different. He somehow keeps stale topics fresh in Tamborine, with his point of view evolving from a freshly married 34-year-old man in Bigger and Blacker to a newly divorced father in his early 50s.

As a lifelong Chris Rock fan, I found Tamborine to be a more vulnerable version of the Grown Ups star. An intense revelation about his marriage is paired with an intimate zoom-in that captures your attention as he dives into his shortcomings as a husband. It’s difficult to publicly say, “I messed up.” For once, Rock finds the humor in personal suffering instead of broader cultural tragedies. For that reason and more, the Top 5 director cracks our top five.

4. Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (Netflix)

It’s the special that launched a million-and-one angry male opinions. It doesn’t matter where I rank it; I’m going to get flak for putting Nanette on this list. You can’t ignore what may be the most talked about comedy special of 2018. “There aren’t any jokes!” one might complain. If you didn’t identify jokes in the first 45 minutes, then that says way more about your gender politics (or stance on Pablo Picasso) than Hannah Gadsby’s comedic abilities. The Australian comedian’s one-woman show challenged what a comedy special is ‘supposed’ to be. Never have I heard more conversations debating if a comedy special is until this past summer when Nanette hit Netflix.

Few comedians command such mastery of tension than Gadsby. When you laugh, she meant for you to laugh. When you’re not laughing, she meant for you to be silent. When you want to cry, you were supposed to empathize with her. As she explains and demonstrates the purpose of comedy—building and releasing tension—she is finally able to release her own tension of sexual assault and internalized homophobia. Her final punchline is that there is no punchline. At the end, she forces you to hold the tension she’s held onto for decades in the name of making you laugh. In a way, it’s her break-up letter to comedy.

Many formed an opinion about Nanette without finishing Nanette. Of course, I didn’t finish all of the specials I watched to make this list. Then again, I don’t remember a bunch of people talking about how hilarious Woke-ish is, so I think I’m safe. A brilliant comedian makes you laugh and think and feel. It’s not the funniest comedy special of the year, but it is one of the best.

3. John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons (Netflix)

John Leguizamo’s Tony-nominated show is a love letter to his bullied son and to his heritage. Masked as a hilarious history lesson, Leguizamo mixes historical observations with personal stories. The ‘ghetto klown’ showcases a passion for where he came from and a commitment to exposing the erasure of Latinx contributions to this not-yet-great-again nation. Leguizamo has always produced epic one-man shows. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone—his career and position in the comedy world has hardened like the cement around his future handprints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I saw Latin History for Morons in 2015 when he was workshopping the show at The Creek and the Cave in New York City. At the time, it was just a string of historical act-outs and humorous revelations about his people. Since then, it has gained a heart—a throughline of a parent trying to connect with his children. This show has all the classic Leguizamo hallmarks: ample characters, lighting cues, jokes, a slight contempt for white people, and a brief dance solo. His lessons on Latino generals in the Civil War and Cortez’s genocide of indigenous Latinx people will leave you laughing and fascinated by all the history you didn’t know you didn’t know.

2. W. Kamau Bell: Private School Negro (Netflix)

It’s amazing what happens when you work on your material instead of farting out an hour every 10 months. Private School Negro makes you forget that this guy is best known for a show on CNN. W. Kamau Bell continues to tackle racism and privilege in a Netflix special that will please the comedy purists. Sometimes I’m not sure if he’s the smartest comedian or the funniest college professor. He’ll hit you with an act-out about an app that reminds him to, as a black man, run (“It doesn’t even say why!”) and then calmly lecture viewers that “you have the freedom of speech. What you don’t have are the freedom of consequences from that speech.”

His jokes are so unique from such a specifically him point off view that I find it innovative without any bells and whistles, although I do enjoy a central stage encircled by audience members. Black men talking about racism is nothing new. Creating such fresh and original material about the topic is less common. There’s a bit halfway through the special that caused me to pause writing this very sentence just so I could stop chuckling in a coffee shop. Without giving it away too much, be ready for him to make you excitedly wonder, “Does he have another tag?” When Bell begins to look like one of those car dealership Wacky Wavers, you’re in for a goddamn delight.

Every joke is solid. Every joke will make you laugh out loud. After watching it three times this year, the staying power of this special proves its superiority to nearly every stand-up special of 2018. I’d rank this as the best special of the year if it were not for…

1. Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh (Netflix)

I’ll be perfectly honest: When it was announced that Adam Sandler would release his first stand-up special in 25 years, I was massively underwhelmed. I almost didn’t watch it. Based on the hit or miss quality of his recent string of movies, I didn’t think a guy out of stand-up for a couple of decades who is best known for making silly faces and funny sounds would produce such an epic hour of material. I was blown away by a bit about his father interrupting a test at school and I bounced up and down while laughing at the lyrics to a song about the daily essentials of life. His tribute to the late, great Chris Farley continues to bring me to tears.

Much of the first third feels like Sandler talking to himself in the shower. The Sandman does not utilize segueways between short spurts of song, stand-up jokes, and goofy cutaways. This is one of those specials you want to watch as if you were in a movie theater: one sitting, no phone, a snack so large you’d be ashamed to eat it in the light. Shot in a wide variety of locations, from the cozy Comic Strip Live—the comedy club where Sandler got his start—to massive outdoor concert venues, his team pulls off the multi-venue editing that Chris Rock’s Kill The Messenger could not quite nail. It’s almost a shame this was not released as a stand-up concert film a la Kevin Hart.

What I love about 100% Fresh is how much fun the Saturday Night Live alum is having. Known for his epic breaks on SNL, he does not reign it in for his super important Netflix special. He laughs at his own jokes as if he wrote them for the first time in front of us, even though he’s performed the bits now countless times. When thought of in the context of his career—a career predicated on making funny shit with his friends for decades—it is difficult to not feel like his final song is a culmination of everything. Though we all know Sandler’s career is far from over. 100% Fresh is a fun special by a massive comedy star who didn’t need the money. Maybe starring as a former stand-up-turned-blockbuster movie star in Funny People gave him the itch again. Watching this confirms what we’ve heard many big-time comedians who transition to film and TV say on so many podcasts: I can always go back to stand-up.

100% Fresh is pure joy. In such divisive times, a weird, heartfelt, silly-as-fuck Netflix special has to be the best one of the year because it might be the one special we can all watch and, for one hour, forget that we hate each other.

New Year’s Resolutions: Stand-up comedians share their plans for 2019

Wed, 12/26/2018 - 15:01

We’re so sorry to remind you, but it’s New Year’s Resolution time! Yep, it’s that terrible time of year when one must consider the sad Venn diagram of who they are and who they want to be and then bring those circles a little closer together. It’s empowering, depressing, and scary. So for inspiration, we asked some of the world’s funniest people to divulge their 2019 New Year’s Resolutions. Here’s what our favorite comedians had to say:  

JO FIRESTONE

(Writer for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, host of Dr. Gameshow podcast)

My resolution is to exercise so hard I get a black eye from one of my breasts hitting me in the face. I’d also love to read some Dostoyevsky.

ROY WOOD JR.

(Correspondent for The Daily Show, one-hour Comedy Central Special No One Loves You premieres Jan. 25.)

New Year’s resolutions are for people who still believe in giving up on themselves in March. I made the decision to give up on myself years ago and have been free of this madness ever since.

OPHIRA EISENBERG

(Host of NPR’s Ask Me Another)

1. Ask myself “Why the hell did I agree to this?” only five times this year.    
NOTE: This was also my resolution last year, and I only made ‘til February 3. It’s a variation on the whole concept of learning to say no to things to make space for other things, but I prefer a resolution where you can really give yourself a hard time.
2.  Go to the gym two times this year. Do arms in January, legs in December. Save abs for 2020. 
3. Remember: first you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you to shop online. Best to keep drinking (except during end of season sales).

JOSH GONDELMAN

(Conan, Late Night with Seth Meyers, senior writer for Desus and Mero)

My resolution is to stop congratulating myself every time I eat salad.

MYQ KAPLAN

(Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central, Netflix)

It used to be that when asked, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” I would say something like, “Why wait until New Year’s to make a positive change? Why not strive to better oneself in all ways possible all year round?” But now when asked, I’ll say, “My New Year’s resolution is to better myself in all ways possible all year round.” Also, to keep flossing. I started this year!

LAURIE KILMARTIN

(writer for Conan, author of Dead People Suck)

My New Year’s resolution is to “fix that one joke.”

PETE LEE

(The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, host of Snugglestorm podcast)

My New Year’s resolution is to get off my phone and be in the moment more often. I plan to hold myself accountable by documenting this process with hourly Instagram stories. Sounds like a winning strategy!

MARY MACK

(Conan, Last Comic Standing)

My resolution this year is to buy (and wear) a shawl in public. It’s the same resolution I had in 2018, because I never did it. I was too scared last year. Wearing a shawl is a bold statement. It’s like you’re proclaiming, “Hey world! Look at me reinventing myself with this little piece of blanket.” I don’t have that type of confidence. I’m not very voluptuous. Plus, I have short hair, so if I wore a shawl, I’m afraid people would stare at me and worry, “That poor little boy can’t afford a coat.” The goal is to get over that feeling. Maybe 2019 is my year.

KERRY CODDETT

(Writer for Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas)

I think resolutions are silly. Anyone who waits for January 1 to be a better version of their shitty selves should just quit now. If you’re going to make a resolution, at least do it on your birthday. At least then the gym won’t be so crowded.

MIKE DRUCKER

(Writer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Adam Ruins Everything)

I want to make fun of New Year’s resolutions because I’m afraid of joy and fear that the moment I allow happiness into my life, I’ll suddenly disappear into a cloud of smoke. But I also love the appeal of a chance to start over and “do it right this time.” Being childless at 34, both of these feelings seem equally wrong, question mark? Anyway, my resolution is to try to do more road work, bring my video game live show to more festivals, and maybe take a voice acting lesson because I’d love to be in a cartoon someday, the only true way one can become immortal. Also, disappear into a cloud of smoke.

ANTHONY DEVITO

(Comedy Central Presents, co-host of The Rad Dudecast)

I’m going to be more realistic this year. My resolutions for 2019 are to gain 5 pounds, spend lots of time on Instagram, and cut my showering to twice a week. I think I can do it.

NORE DAVIS

(Conan, Comedy Central)

My New Year Resolution is to make a better album than my current stand-up comedy album Too Woke (now available on iTunes & Spotify). Oh, you thought I had an actual New Year’s Resolution?! They’re a marketing scam. Just trust the universe and you can make that change whatever you want. Wish you love and strength in 2019!

 

Roseanne Barr will speak to Israeli Parliament

Wed, 12/26/2018 - 12:42

Roseanne Barr appears to have a new gig: foreign diplomat? Barr announced that she will travel to Israel next month to speak to the country’s parliament.

“While I intend to further my own knowledge of Jewish and Israeli history, I have important work to do as a voice against the insidious and anti-Semitic BDS movement,” the comedian said in a statement. BDS stands for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that calls for various demands from the Israeli government.

Barr has more free time on her hands since her revived sitcom Roseanne was canceled by ABC earlier this year after an incendiary tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. Since then, ABC created a spin-off The Conners, which follows the rest of the family absent their outspoken matriarch.

Barr’s Twitter account frequently comments on Israeli relations and the Middle East conflict between the U.S. ally and Palestine. “We are in an age where Israeli innovation is ascendant and changing the world in areas of medicine, technology, media, and the arts,” she said. “Israel is an oasis of openness, freedom, democracy, and tolerance amidst a desert of brutality from an age gone by. I want to shout this from the heights of the Galilee to the halls of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city—and from the cafes and art galleries of Tel-Aviv to the beaches of Eilat.”

Barr will speak at the Israeli Knesset on January 30.

Us trailer scares the internet on Christmas Day

Wed, 12/26/2018 - 12:18

Jordan Peele is at it again! On Christmas Day, the Key and Peele star dropped the trailer for his upcoming horror film Us. The trailer, showcasing Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong’o, Black Panther’s Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker, was received with rave reactions. Us has multiple keywords trending all day on various social media platforms.

Us is about a husband and wife, played by Nyong’o and Duke, who take their children to their beach house. When a group of “visitors” arrive uninvited, things take a turn for the chaotic. As with Get Out, an unexpected twist will shock and surprise viewers.

Peele calls Us a psychological horror and appears to carry the same racial overtones as his 2017 box office hit Get Out. Get Out won the comedian an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as well as nominations for Best Director and Best Picture.

Christmas Day brought about one confusing trending topic: I Got 5 On It. The hit song by Luniz was trending on Twitter for a large portion of the day. Anyone who was too busy opening presents and managing Grandma may have missed the trailer, not knowing that the classic hip hop song plays prominently. The song may very well become the horror anthem of 2019.

Us hits theaters nationwide on March 15, 2019.

Lewis Black, Jim Gaffigan push voting for National Comedy Center to win USA Today poll

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 18:50

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York (the hometown of Lucille Ball!) is one of 20 attractions vying for the Best New Attraction honor in USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. A panel of travel experts narrowed down the list of finalists. It is now up to the public to vote and decide a winner.

Plenty of comedians, including Lewis Black and Jim Gaffigan, are joining the cause. And it appears their efforts are paying off. As of the afternoon of December 21, the National Comedy Center is in first place, just ahead of Gathering Place in Tulsa.

This definitely got my vote as “Best New Attraction”. If you love Comedy, you’re going to want to spend time there. You will not only laugh, you will be astonished.https://t.co/Gu6jZaln4d pic.twitter.com/Y5c5PnWrbC

— Lewis Black (@TheLewisBlack) December 14, 2018

Have you voted for @USATODAY’s Best New Attraction?! Make @NtlComedyCenter #1 and vote today & everyday thru Jan 7! The first & ONLY national scale cultural attraction celebrating the art form of comedy deserves this award! VOTE! https://t.co/FXIIUi98gi

— Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) December 21, 2018

The National Comedy Center is the first national-scale cultural attraction dedicated specifically to comedy. The museum tells history of comedy in America, from the early days of silent movies to current viral stars. The museum includes more than 50 exhibits that can be catered to each visitor’s comedy tastes. There are also plenty of interactive activities that let guests draw cartoons, perform stand-up, and more!

Click here to vote for the National Comedy Center as the Best New Attraction of 2018. You can vote once each day. Voting is open through 12:00 p.m. EST on January 7, and the winner will be announced at noon EST on January 18. So do your part to get this institution the recognition it deserves!

All 7 Who Is America? episodes ranked

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 15:34

Infamous comedian ambusher Sacha Baron Cohen recently revealed that there will not be an encore season to his scathing Showtime satire Who Is America? Conservatives everywhere—from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney—can breathe a sigh of relief.

The reason for the truncated show? Cohen says people are wise to the act and he would need to create new characters; no small feat given that those characters require him to spend five hours in makeup every day.

“It is grueling,” he told The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast host Scott Feinberg. “I’m too lazy to do this.”

We’ll have to quench our desire for blistering satirical comedy by revisiting the maiden voyage. So here is every Who Is America? episode, ranked!

#7 – Episode 6: Food critic reviews the flesh of a Chinese dissident

Towards the end of season one, Who Is America? had definitely run out of steam. After all, it’s virtually impossible to book A-list interviews for every episode, but there were still some humorous moments. Notably, food critic Bill Jilla shined while eating what he believes to be the flesh of a Chinese dissident before looking straight at the camera and telling the deceased man’s parents just how delicious their son tastes. “It’s just simply melting on my palate,” he sais Seriously, how does Cohen get people to say this stuff?

#6 – Episode 5: DJ Solitary

Cohen’s ex-convict convict character Rick Sherman, who up until this moment seemed borderline pointless, got a moment to shine when he DJed at a nightclub and shouted to the cheering crowd, “Let’s hear it for all those murderers who is locked up because of crimes they committed! If you believe we should stop shaming murderers, say ‘Yeah!’”

In the same episode, character Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., PhD, a quintessential Trump supporter infected with blind loyalty, interviewed Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager, about fascists.

“[One] can’t be attacking honest fascist people who just want to express their right to start a genocide?” Lewandowski’s weak reply, “Look, I don’t know about that.”

#5 – Episode 4: Fighting terrorism with pork and anal sex

This was the one where Cohen’s Finnish presenter called OMGWhizzBoyOMG somehow managed to get Joe Arpaio to say he would accept a blow job from Trump, and none of us will ever be able to wipe that fact from our memories. OMG asked if Trump called Arpaio up and offered him an “amazing blow job,” would he accept. “I may have to say yes,” responded Sheriff Joe. Okay, then!

Cohen’s Israeli anti-terror expert Erran Morad, meanwhile, dealt with how you should react if Islamic terrorists ever storm your office, recruiting conservative activist Shaun McCutcheon to the cause. Strategies of defense include using pork and a picture of two men apparently having anal sex.

#4 – Episode 3: Accusing Roy Moore of being a pedophile

Disgraced former Senate candidate Roy Moore had a memorable cameo in this episode when Morad attempted to test his “pedophile-detecting” equipment on him. Moore was not amused and wasn’t having it.

#3 – Episode 7: Antifa and pussy hats

The finale of season one was a doozy. In this episode, Cohen attempted to get O.J. Simpson to admit that he had killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson when creepy guru character Gio Monaldo said, “Me and you we got something in common, we both–how you say–ladykillers.” Simpson was quick to declare, “What? No, I didn’t kill nobody!”

In the same episode, an Antifa-despising Republican named Glenn sat on a bed wearing a dress and pink pussy hat, clutching a tote bag with Morad’s arm around him as they watched Girls together. It was…a lot.

#2 – Episode 1: Conservatives support arming children

Who is America? opened strong with its first and second episodes. In the premiere, Cohen successfully got multiple prominent Conservative politicians to support an initiative to arm children ages 3 to 16.

The current House Representative from South Carolina’s 2nd District Joe Wilson—the guy who infamously yelled, “You lie!” during one of Obama’s State of the Union addresses—expressed his support by stating, “A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it. Our Founding Fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment.”

#1 – Episode 2: Dick Cheney autographs a waterboarding kit

This was the one where Jason Spencer ran around bare-assed in an effort to thwart terrorism and Dick Cheney autographed a waterboarding kit.

Then-Congressman Spencer (he has since resigned his position following the backlash from this episode) received anti-terrorism training from—who else?—Morad, and did about a million problematic things in the process. Variety recaps: He pretended to be a Chinese tourist (which he does by yelling gibberish); screams the N-word; rams his bare butt into Moran in an attempt to thwart a kidnapping (because he thinks it will threaten to make his kidnapper gay); warns people about “sand N-words”; and cuts off the prop penis of a terrorist mannequin and bites into it.

And as if that wasn’t enough, this was also the episode where Cohen got former Vice President Dick Cheney to sign a waterboarding kit. You know, because he loves torture so much! Wwwwow.

Season 1 of Who is America? was a wild ride, and while we may never get a season two, at least we’ll have a series of very intense, confusing memories.

Drunk History teases Little Rock Nine, women’s baseball in season 6 trailer (Video)

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 18:08

Drunk History has released a trailer for its upcoming sixth season on Comedy Central. The show, which features comedians getting hammered and recounting historical events while an all-star revolving cast reenacts them, returns on January 15 with a parody of the popular Nickelodeon show Are You Afraid Of The Dark? and dealing with the story of the creation of Frankenstein.

The first episode will feature Evan Rachel Wood, Elijah Wood, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, and Jack McBrayer. The trailer also gives us a sneak peek at some future episodes in the season, such as the story of the Little Rock Nine and school integration, the creation of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, an escape from West Germany, the creation of Ethnic Studies, and early LGTBQ activists.

Created by Derek Waters, Drunk History premiered on Comedy Central in 2013 after starting as a Funny Or Die web series in 2007. Drunk History has been a ratings winner for Comedy Central and has eleven Emmy nominations (with one win). Comedy Central had one of its strongest years in recent memory in 2018 and Drunk History is one of four major season launches in January, the others being Corporate, Broad City’s final season, and The Other Two’s first season. Comedy Central hopes to start the year off with a bang and ride 2018’s strong ratings into an even better 2019.

The first episode of Drunk History Season 6 will air on Tuesday, January 15 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Comedy Central.

Parks and Recreation moving to Comedy Central, cast to reunite in 2019

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 16:30

Comedy Central has obtained the rights to the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation and is celebrating with an all-day marathon on Martin Luther king Jr. Day. Select episodes will also be available to stream on the Comedy Central App and cc.com. The news comes on the heels of a Parks and Rec cast reunion for 2019.

Parks and Rec ran for seven seasons before ending its run on NBC in 2015. The show followed a small town parks department and featured an ensemble cast that featured Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, and Rob Lowe. Currently, FXX is showing re-runs of the series.

The news comes after a cast reunion was announced for next year. For the 10th anniversary of the show, the cast will reunite at PaleyFest LA. “We’re thrilled to be reuniting at PaleyFest. And truth be told, we were all hanging out already anyway, so carpooling will be easy,” Poehler and creator co-Michael Schur said in a statement.

PaleyFest is an annual TV festival running out of the Paley Center for Media featuring panels and screenings each spring. Poehler said earlier this month that she is ready for a reunion. Hopefully, the live appearance could be the first of many.

Comedy Central has been obtaining the distribution rights for several shows, most notably Bojack Horseman back in September. The deal was a rare off-network syndication for a Netflix series. Comedy Central also acquired the rights to the Family Guy spin-off The Cleveland Show and King of the Hill to round out their animated programming.

An all-day marathon of Parks and Rec will air January 21, 2019.

Jon Stewart, Patton Oswalt, Olivia Munn, and more celebrate Christmas on I.C.E. Full Frontal holiday special (Videos)

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 13:53

Samantha Bee pulled out all the stops for her holiday special Full Frontal Presents Christmas on I.C.E., which aired Wednesday night on TBS. The special weaved together Full Frontal’s trademark political satire with silly holiday bits and jokes.

The special raised funds for KIND’s Family Separation Response Team. The team seeks to reunite children that were separated from their parents during the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance Policy.”

In the episode, a physical ice rink is used as a centerpiece and an excuse to talk about I.C.E as in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Bee might not be the strongest skater, but she is joined by Olympic Bronze Medalist Adam Rippon, Bee’s husband and former Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, and “the abolish I.C.E skaters” to put on an ice show.

Bee is joined by many celebrity guests for the holiday episode. Bumpers for the show include appearances by Brooke Shields and Jeff Goldblum. In the special, there is also a “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” parody featuring Jon Stewart, Jon Cryer, Bellamy Young, Eric Andre, Nico Santos, Molly Ringwald, Olivia Munn, Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Van Ness, and Patton Oswalt. While it is the least political segment of the night, it is certainly worth a watch for Stewart’s Bob Dylan impression alone.

If you are looking for a more informational clip, the Full Frontal team amazingly buys a house in the small town of Lumpkin, Georgia to help house lawyers and families stay while fighting to get people out of the biggest I.C.E detention center in America.

The full show has been uploaded as segments to YouTube.

New York comedian receives AVN Award nomination for Hamilton porn parody

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 11:04

Hamilton was everywhere last year—including our porn. Eitan Levine was not a seasoned porn writer when he came up with the Hamiltoe porn parody. He was a comedian, writer, and journalist from a sheltered sexual upbringing—and now he is nominated for a porn Oscar. Against all odds, Levine received an AVN Award nomination for Clever Title of the Year (that is an actual AVN category).

The idea started as a gag pitch to an editor at Elite Daily. “Two years ago I literally asked my bosses if I could do a story where I get staffed as a porn writer,” the New York comedian, who was raised Orthodox Jewish, explains. “They said yes and then WoodRocket said yes and then a million other people said yes to this project—all of whom I assumed were going to say, ‘Absolutely not.’”

Hamiltoe, the porn parody version of Hamilton, is up for four AVN awards: Clever Title of the Year, Best Marketing Campaign—Individual Project, Best Soundtrack, and Best Featurette.

Levine isn’t stopping at just being nominated. He’s trying to win. He is even making a documentary short about his journey to the awards ceremony in Las Vegas called Hamiltoe: For Your Consideration. “Hamilton was such a cultural touchstone that when Hamiltoe was announced, it was the biggest news story that week. SNL even made a joke about it on Weekend Update,” Levine stated, “We’ve got an opportunity here to end the Hamiltoe journey in such a bizarrely fitting way. What Hamilton did at the Tonys, I want Hamiltoe to do at the AVNs.” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton won 11 Tonys.

WoodRocket is a production house known for its porn parodies including Strokémon, Assventure Time, and Fap To The Future. Hamiltoe was produced, filmed, and released as part of a joint project between Pornhub and WoodRocket. The AVN—or Adult Video News—Awards have been celebrating the best porn has to offer since 1984. With over 100 categories, there are awards for both technical filmmaking and porn specific qualifiers. An edited version of the gala has aired on Showtime since 2008. The awards ceremony will take place week on January 26, 2019.

Not everyone is excited as Levine. “My parents are not happy about this whole thing,” Levine describes. “My mom said that she would rather I ‘join ISIS than do this to our family.’’ But Hamiltoe isn’t going anywhere. The trailer on Youtube has over 100,000 views between YouTube and Pornhub, and the parody itself boasts over 190,000 views on Pornhub. Levine hopes even more people will see it as part of a viral marketing campaign to create buzz before the awards show.

Levine and his crew are raising money through a GoFundMe for Hamiltoe: For Your Consideration. With enough money, they may even get a billboard to encourage voting for the less-than-likely porn award nominee.

And if you’re wondering if Miranda knows about Hamiltoe, the answer is yes. And a source tells us he’s a fan.

You can watch the Safe For Work trailer for Hamiltoe below.

Dan Crenshaw called Pete Davidson after ‘devastating’ Instagram post

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 14:29

Many celebrities have reached out to Pete Davidson in the aftermath of his troubling Instagram post last week. The most unlikely good Samaritan was Texas Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw. You may recognize Crenshaw as the eyepatch-wielding veteran Davidson made a joke about on Saturday Night Live. Crenshaw appeared on the show the following week to make amends.

Crenshaw spoke with Houston’s NBC affiliate station KPRC about the “devastating” post his newest funny friend made. “You don’t want to see somebody in that kind of position…to the point where they’re actually putting out a cry for help on social media,” he said. “That’s not a good place to be in.”

Davidson deleted his Instagram after posting, “I really don’t want to be on this earth anymore. I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last. All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.”

The soon-to-be-sworn-in Congressman shared that he spoke with Davidson, even though their history doesn’t go back very far. He told the SNL star that he has a purpose on this earth. “Especially a guy like that. He makes people laugh,” said Crenshaw. “Sometimes he makes people mad. But he makes people laugh a lot. It was a good conversation.”

From Jon Cryer to Nicki Minaj to Meghan McCain, celebrities sent their support both privately and publicly, some even sharing about their own struggles with mental illness. Davidson’s post caused many to send emergency calls to 30 Rock to check in on him as he should have been there getting ready for the night’s show. Davidson ended up being okay—even after a wellness check by the NYPD—and appeared briefly on Saturday night’s show. Later reports revealed he had allegedly missed rehearsals that week and was therefore cut from most sketches.

Responding to what appeared to be a call for help from comedian Pete Davidson, @DanCrenshawTX with me for #HouNewsmakers EXTRA talks about his response and phone call. https://t.co/BRiFwhBjD8 pic.twitter.com/GpqlUCPXpw

— Khambrel Marshall (@KPRC2Khambrel) December 17, 2018

Adam Sandler’s touching Chris Farley tribute on the 21st anniversary of his death (Video)

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 17:13

Adam Sandler put out one of the freshest comedy specials of 2018 with 100% Fresh, now available on Netflix. Spoiler alert: the multimedia show, filmed at various venues as small as the subway and as massive as an arena, ends with a touching tribute to Sandler’s friend Chris Farley. Today marks 21 years since the death of the iconic Saturday Night Live star.

Farley overdosed on cocaine and morphine on December 18, 1997 at the age of 33. Often compared to fellow SNL alum John Belushi, many worried the Tommy Boy actor would go the same way as Belushi or John Candy, who died of a heart attack. “Those guys are my idols. It’s all fine and dandy,” Sandler quotes in the song.

Paired with a slideshow of friend photos, nostalgic SNL clips, and ‘home footage’ videos, the song has a notable difference from everything else in 100% Fresh. Throughout the special, Sandler ‘breaks.’ He’s laughing in the middle of songs and has a smile on his face the entire time. During this song, however, he is solemn. He looks down during his guitar solo, knowing all eyes are on the images playing behind him. That solo—and the entire song—is the most vulnerable we may ever see the You Don’t Mess With The Zohan star on stage.

Those born after his 1995 departure from Saturday Night Live may not have much of a connection to Farley. But anyone who has lost a friend way too soon will recognize the tone of the tribute and empathize with the comedian frequently mocked for boom-or-bust comedy films. Not having released a stand-up special in 25 years, one can feel the weight of Sandler’s career—the Happy Gilmores, the Jack and Jills, the awards, the Razzies, making blockbuster movies with his friends where he requires the production build a temporary basketball court on set, his loving family. With a decades-long legendary comedy career, Sandler gets to sing the one song you feel is the only song he needs to sing us…in front of dozens, hundreds, thousands, and by way of Netflix, millions of people. His face holds steady like a man who has already cried many times just writing the words.

Watch the tribute song below and check out 100% Fresh in its entirety on Netflix. It’s okay if you squirt a tear or two.

Conan O’Brien shares new talk show format in TBS teaser (Video)

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 16:15

Conan O’Brien will debut his new much-talked-about 30-minute Conan format. The show also put out a teaser showcasing what Team Coco has been up to in between seasons.

For O’Brien’s ninth season on TBS, the series will get a new format but will still appear at the top of its regular time slot. Conan will now run four nights a week starting on January 22. While the show will be transitioning from one hour to a half hour, Conan will still showcase celebrity guests and comedy bits as usual.

From the Emmy-winning travel series, CONAN: Without Borders, to O’Brien’s new podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (which debuted on the top of the podcast charts earlier this year), Team Coco has been busy. O’Brien also embarked on a stand-up tour called Conan & Friends: An Evening of Stand-Up and Investment Tips, which sold out 18 cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. On top of all of this, Team Coco introduced their new comedy pop-up, Team Coco House, as part of the New York Comedy Festival.

Possibly reducing the show’s nightly run time may be an attempt to make time for other creative ventures from the late night host. A statement from Conan hinted that the new format will come with new online content saying, the “fan experience will define a new era in multi-platform comedy.” As digital content becomes more and more valuable in entertainment, TBS recognizes O’Brien’s strength in creating viral video content.

In a teaser for the new format, the narrative lists off many of O’Brien’s impressive new achievements and new content from Team Coco.

O’Brien downplayed his busy schedule by joking, “My three-month absence can only mean one thing: radical cosmetic surgery. Tune in January 22nd for a true freak show.”

You can watch the full teaser here. Conan returns to TBS January 22nd at 11:00 p.m. ET.

Amy Sedaris brings humor to DIY crafts (Interview)

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 15:08

Seated at a long table of judges Amy Sedaris eats cookie after cookie and writes down her thoughts on a sheet attached to the clipboard. She is the special guest judge of an annual cookie bake-off at the Lower East Side Girls Club, a community center that operates full-service arts, science, and civic engagement programs in lower Manhattan.

This is not the first time female comedians have come out to help the Girls Club. Just earlier this month, the team behind The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel donated the funds from their Carnegie Deli themed popup to the program. But Sedaris seems to seamlessly blend into the brightly colored walls of the clubhouse. Interviewing her in the sewing room on an upper floor of the spacious facility, Sedaris plays with a ribbon attached to a pot holder she bought as part of a fundraiser happening downstairs. She affixes the gift ribbon to her keys as she speaks.

Photo courtesy of the Lower East Side Girls Club

Sedaris looks perfectly at home surrounded by half-made dresses and scraps of fabric. Sedaris hosts her own show, At Home with Amy Sedaris on TruTV. Its second season premieres February 19 next year. The show is reminiscent of her two books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People! Both her books and show take a comical—and at times absurdist—approach to crafting, entertaining, and homemaking. At Home features a who’s who of comedian cameos, notably Stephen Colbert and co-creator Paul Dinello, both of whom worked on Sedaris’s first two forays into TV: Exit 57 and cult hit Strangers with Candy.

Since 2000, Sedaris has been in everything from a Dolly Parton music video to narrating the PBS special Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, a six-hour documentary on the history of comedy. On top of hosting her own show, she currently portrays Mimi Kanasis on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, voices Princess Carolyn on BoJack Horseman, and is set to play a new character in the upcoming Lion King live-action reboot.

Photo taken by Rosa Escandon

Sedaris takes her multiple jobs in stride. “I am better busy. Most people are. What else would you do if you weren’t busy?” she asks confidently. While she jokes that she is most looking forward to “eating, sleeping, watching TV,” she continues, “I like a variety of things. It’s nice having different jobs and different things to do. So I guess my favorite thing is to have variety.”

“I don’t get to do things like this very often and I just loved this place,” the busy Sedaris says of volunteering for the Girls Club event. The comedian’s brand is tied up in making things, which is also at the heart Girls Club. “It’s good for [young people’s] minds, especially in a digital age,” she says of the programs at the clubhouse, “It’s always good to make things with your hands, use your imagination, be creative.”

Her TV show grew out of a childhood love of making things. “I grew up in a very creative house, a crafty house. I did Girl Scouts and learned to make all the stuff I still I make today,” she explains, “It just kind of made sense to do a TV show. I grew up with those kinds of shows, not DIY type shows, but just homemaking shows… I know enough about it to pull it off.”

At Home with Amy Sedaris is a bit of an outlier in the genre of shows about homemaking for two reasons: the genre peaked in popularity in the 1970s and it is a comedy. “It’s fun to make anything you do funny,” Sedaris, who started her career at Second City in Chicago, says. “It makes our show different than what you see during the day or these other types of shows. But we didn’t have any references. There weren’t any funny homemaking shows out there so it was kind of challenging.”

Sedaris used her books to pitch the show. The look of the show mirrors the visuals from the full-color books. “I did the books first on purpose,” she explains, “It was easy when we went out and pitched it. I could slide two books across the table and say, ‘This is what the show looks like.’” After the show was greenlit, she used her books onset. “You can give someone [at the] arts and props department an idea about what I want the look to be. It’s easier for me to do it that way,” she says. The show’s first season was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.

Sedaris’s whole aesthetic is eccentric. From her speaking pattern to her outfit of overlapping prints. Creativity seems to seep out of her small frame. “Everything is inspiration to me. I always pick up something when I am out and about. Otherwise, you stay home and don’t get inspired.” As she talks, she brings out her bag to show her recent purchase. “I bought a potholder. I love this potholder.”

SMILF star Frankie Shaw accused of sexual misconduct; Showtime finds no wrongdoing

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:15

Frankie Shaw, the creator of the Showtime hit SMILF, is being investigated for sexual misconduct claims on set. The show returns to Showtime on January 20, but the production of the second season has been rife with onset controversy.

The Hollywood Reporter published an exclusive Monday that included claims of onset racism and claims of inappropriately handled sex scenes. While the claims of racism stemming from a segregated writers room are disturbing, misconduct during sex scenes has led to an internal investigation.

The report includes that Rosie O’Donnell, who plays Shaw’s mom on the show, contacted Showtime executive Amy Israel as well as executive producer Scott King back in August over concerns about a generally chaotic and troubled set. Sources say that while O’Donnell did not leave set or clash with Shaw, she was concerned about Shaw’s treatment of Samara Weaving.

Weaving, who plays Shaw’s baby-daddy’s love interest, claims that a sex scene was handled inappropriately and breached her contract. The actress made a complaint to both Disney and SAG-AFTRA when a sex scene that was supposed to be on a closed set with limited crew members was mishandled. Shaw allegedly turned on the monitors, effectively opening the set. This came after an incident in the first season where Weaving was asked to do a nude scene with 40 minutes notice even though there was a no-nudity clause in her contract. Following her refusal to do the scene, Shaw spoke to her in private and yanked her shirt down. Shaw’s lawyer does no deny the encounter happened but noted that Weaving’s breasts were not exposed when the shirt was yanked.

While O’Donnell originally refused to comment, she later stated, “I have worked with Frankie Shaw for two and a half years. She is an immensely gifted young talent. I love acting on SMILF, a show that I am extremely proud of.”

SMILF is set for a third season with Shaw still at the helm, and the creator is also talking to the premium cable channel about adapting The Bell Jar for the network.

Shaw has been vocal about the importance of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, but her alleged behavior on set shows a different story. One anonymous staffer said, “She uses this idea of being feminist and a progressive as camouflage.” Another remarked on the overall feeling on set saying, “A lot of shows are generally unpleasant. Production is stressful. There are a lot of shows where people are angry at each other and then it’s over and then you celebrate the work. This was not like that. People were really traumatized. It was pretty upsetting.”

The accusations against Shaw join a growing list of Me Too era scandals at Showtimes’ parent company CBS. Earlier this year, CBS’s longtime chairmen and CEO Leslie Moonves left the company after accusations of sexual assault and abusive behavior came out. Jeff Fager, a longtime executive producer of 60 Minutes, also had to leave CBS over claims of harassment, and earlier on in the movement, Charlie Rose was shockingly accused of sexual harassment by eight different women. CBS announced on Monday that Moonves would not be getting a reported $120 million severance.

Women in Hollywood have not been immune to harassment scandals in the wake of the Me Too movement. Asia Argento, Melanie Martinez, and Kimberly Guilfoyle have all been the subject of sexual misconduct allegations.

Weaving has not publically commented on the report from THR, but Variety reported that she has been released from her contract even though an internal investigation through ABC’s HR concluded that there had been no wrongdoing on Shaw’s part. There are conflicting reports about the status of the investigation. Shaw has still not commented on the matter.

 

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