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Emma Arnold: Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. does nothing new with old topics

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 10:22

There’s a peculiar feeling that comes with listening to the latest Emma Arnold stand-up album, Abortion. Abortion. Abortion., and it has little to do with her triumvirate use of the titular medical procedure.

When someone tells a story in a distinctive and enthralling way, they will captivate an audience no matter how familiar the tale or how much they expect the endgame.

With Arnold’s latest offering, it seems she prepares to do just so: she steps to the plate with all the strength and pomp befitting a comic of her talent. She grabs the microphone with all the swagger and confidence of a veteran stand-up. She then commands the audience’s attention and immediately starts telling the tale of her sexual explorations as a thirty-something mother of three.

But, much like the poem Casey At The Bat, Arnold, unfortunately, strikes out with Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. despite being perfectly poised to step up and smash a home run out the park.

Much of the misfires found in Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. revolve around the material covered in the album. By the end of her set, Arnold details the ups and downs of breaking up with a boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit, the struggles of looking for love in your late 30s with children, and discovering the power of her inner cougar by dating much younger men and exploring her bisexuality.

Yes, Arnold explores avenues that are new to her and it is a praiseworthy adventure. But, in the realm of comedy, these are trails already blazed many times over by Arnold’s predecessors. Comics like Elayne Boosler tackled the notion of being “The Whore of Babylon,” Margaret Cho went to great lengths to hide her “Beaver Fever” and Iliza Shlesinger explained away a woman’s desire to eat like a madman on a first date. All of these comics, and many more, have tackled these topics presented by Arnold and have done so with a flair and gusto that isn’t found throughout this sophomore album.

That’s not to say that audiences on the road don’t eat up her stories of dating frustrations and sexual exploits and childcare—after all, she tours regularly around the country and there’s a reason for that. With her talent and ingenuity, Arnold has the potential to be a household name in comedy if she charts a new course through both explored and (hopefully) unexplored waters.

Ultimately, Abortion. Abortion. Abortion., much like mighty Casey, fails to hit the game-winning grand slam when it needed to the most.

Emma Arnold’s Abortion. Abortion. Abortion. is available now in stores and digital marketplaces via Blonde Medicine Records.

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Top 20 Family Guy episodes according to Seth MacFarlane

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 23:06

Family Guy is turning 20 and TBS is celebrating with a marathon. On April 15, the network will play Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane’s 20 most favorite episodes. The marathon is set to start at 10:30 a.m. and will run until 10:00 p.m.

The Family Guy marathon starts with the Season 2 episode Road to Rhode Island and will finish with Season 10’s Back to the Pilot. After the marathon, TBS will air a new episode of American Dad, also from MacFarlane.

TBS celebrates Family Guy 20th anniversary

In the past 20 years, Family Guy has had many fan-favorite episodes. Many of these episodes are included in the marathon including Road to Multiverse as well as And Then There Were Fewer. MacFarlane has also given some commentary on the episodes that are being played. Regarding And Then There Were Fewer, he said, “I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending.” He also shared that that was the first episode to air in HD. “It was really cool to finally see Lois’s pores.”

The TBS marathon also features several episodes that feature iconic jokes. Marathon watchers will see Patriot Games, the episode that brought us Shipoopi, and I Dream of Jesus, which has the classic ‘bird is the word’ scene. We’ll also see Brian Wallows and Peter Griffin’s Swallows, which won Family Guy an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2002.

Below are MacFarlane’s favorite Family Guy episodes and what he has to say about them. Tune in to 10 hours of gear grinding on April 15.

Road to Rhode Island

Brian goes to California to escort Stewie home from his visit with his grandparents.

“This was the first Stewie/Brian roadshow we ever did, and it’s the first episode that firmly established their unique relationship. It was our fresh take on that classic old trope of a dog and a baby hitting the road together.” Airs at 10:30 a.m.

Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows

Brian is sentenced to care for a crabby old woman; Peter’s beard becomes a home for birds.

“This episode won us an Emmy for its musical number. Before that, none of us had never seen an Emmy before.” Airs at 11:00 a.m.

North by North Quahog

During their second honeymoon, Peter and Lois stumble upon a horror too great to bear: Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ 2.

“Our first episode back from cancellation. It was a comedic riff on a Hitchcock classic, complete with a Bernard Herrmann score. This is the type of whip-smart, nuanced writing I was capable of 10,000 drinks ago.” Airs at 11:30 a.m.


After winning at Trivial Pursuit, Peter claims to be a genius, so Brian asks him to take an IQ test to prove it.

“This is a brilliant episode and just so Twitter knows, I was out with the flu the day they came up with the title.” Airs at 12:00 p.m.


Peter broadcasts a television station out of the Griffin home.

“This episode was the culmination of our completely wholesome, non-sexual relationship with the FCC.” Airs at 12:30 p.m.

Brian Sings and Swings

A near-death experience lands Brian in the hospital but infuses him with a new passion for life.

“This episode featured our dear friend, the wonderful Frank Sinatra Jr. It’s also when I realized that if you have songs in an episode, you have to write way less.” Airs at 1:00 p.m.

Patriot Games

At his high school reunion, Peter pretends to be a millionaire, but the truth comes out when he meets Tom Brady and loses all self-control.

“One word: Shipoopi.” Airs at 1:30 p.m.

The Griffin Family History

The Griffins get robbed; Peter narrates a chain of events in world history that explains the Griffin name.

“A fun premise and a great-looking episode. This was our first real foray into a non-traditional format.” Airs at 2:00 p.m.

Road to Rupert

Brian accidentally sells Stewie’s beloved teddy bear, Rupert; Meg must drive Peter around after he loses his license.

“Stewie dances with Gene Kelly. Enough said.” Airs at 2:30 p.m.

Blue Harvest Pt. 1 & Blue Harvest Pt. 2

With the Griffins stuck at home during a blackout, Peter begins to tell a story, which leads to a Star Wars flashback. Acting out scenes from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Peter plays Han Solo, Lois is Princess Leia, Stewie becomes Darth Vader, Brian plays Chewbacca, and Chris is Luke Skywalker. Cleveland and Quagmire will play the parts of R2-D2 and C-3PO, while Herbert is the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“This episode is what finally put Star Wars on the map.” Airs at 3:00 p.m.

I Dream of Jesus

Peter rediscovers his love for the painfully annoying song, “Surfin’ Bird” which drives people around him crazy; and when Peter finds Jesus in a record store, he’s determined to be his new best friend.

“The bird is still the word.” Airs at 4:00 p.m.

Road to Germany

Mort Goldman accidentally steps into a time machine and winds up in 1939 Poland in the middle of the Nazi invasion. Brian and Stewie follow him to Nazi Germany in an attempt to save him and bring him back to the present safely.

“This was our homage to Herman Wouk’s ‘The Winds Of War.’ And sadly, if you’re an American male under age 35, studies show this episode is all you know about World War II.” Airs at 4:30 p.m.

Road to Multiverse

Stewie and Brian visit alternate universes and become stuck in one ruled by dogs.

“Back before Walt Disney’s Family Guy was a real thing, it was a fake thing.” Airs at 5:00 p.m.

Extra Large Medium

Peter believes he possesses psychic powers; Chris falls for a classmate with Down Syndrome.

“Psychics are frauds. You’re welcome.” Airs at 5:30 p.m.

Brian Griffin’s House of Payne

Brian’s television pilot script gets picked up by a network, but he’s horrified when changes are made to his concept; Chris and Meg accidentally knock Stewie unconscious.

“An amazing opening sequence with great visual effects scored by a 75-piece orchestra. Fun trivia: Family Guy employs more full-time tuba players than the rest of Hollywood combined.” Airs at 6:00 p.m.

Brian and Stewie

Brian and Stewie are locked up inside a bank vault for an entire episode.

“We wanted to see if our characters were interesting enough to sustain a full episode in one room, without gags or cutaways. In Hollywood, this is called a “bottle episode,” because it only utilizes one set, and also because the writers were drunk.” Airs at 6:30 p.m.

And Then There Were Fewer Pt. 1 & And Then There Were Fewer Pt. 2

People throughout Quahog are summoned to a mysterious mansion, where actor James Woods hosts a dinner party to atone for his misdeeds and guests begin dying, one by one. After more of James Woods’ dinner party guests meet grisly fates, the identity of the mysterious killer is revealed.

“I think this is my favorite episode of the series. A classic format, great-looking direction, and, I hope, a genuinely surprising ending. It was also the first episode to air in HD. It was really cool to finally see Lois’s pores.” Airs at 7:00 p.m.

Road to the North Pole Pt. 1 & Road to the North Pole Pt. 2

Brian and Stewie take their adventures to the North Pole to seek out Santa Claus.

“My dad’s in this one.” Airs at 8:00 p.m.

The Big Bang Theory

Using the time machine, Stewie and Brian accidentally travel outside the space-time continuum, where Stewie causes an explosion that creates the universe; Bertram travels back in time to kill one of Stewie’s ancestors: Leonardo da Vinci.

“This was based on a story I wrote in college. The A.V. Club gave this episode a B, which is their highest rating I think.” Airs at 9:00 p.m.

Back to the Pilot

Brian and Stewie travel back in time to January 31, 1999, and witness the events that took place in the very first episode of Family Guy, “Death Has a Shadow”.

“It was fun to re-visit an era before I hired people who could draw better than me.” Airs at 9:30 p.m.

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Apple TV Plus: Will comedy get a big cut of the $1 billion pie?

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 17:33

Apple TV Plus is now official! Apple already has plans to spend a reported $1 billion in original content from Kumail Nanjiani, Steve Carell, James Corden, and other celebrities. Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new streaming content service at the company’s It’s Show Time keynote address on Monday. The company does not seem like it will ease slowly into the streaming game. Apple TV Plus will launch this fall.

While $1 billion is just a fraction of Netflix’s reported $15 billion original content budget for 2019, it is also a huge amount of money being made available to original storytellers. If the service is to compete directly with Netflix, stand-up specials and comedy series are a natural route for Apple to eventually pursue. After all, one of Apple’s initial dabbles into original programming was comedian James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke: The Series.

Tim Cook announces big plans for Apple TV Plus

Some of the biggest names in entertainment are working with Apple to develop content that will surely compete with Netflix’s stranglehold on the industry. Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, and more appeared at the event to add prestige to the venture and announce their own projects with Apple.

In addition to talent, Apple is investing heavily in entertainment executives. Apple poached Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television to lead the streaming project. The two veterans apparently gave Apple “overnight status” for its content and have been working relentlessly with Hollywood agents and studio executives. Now comics will have another huge platform to turn to as they pitch their projects.

Many of comedy’s favorites are also working with the multi-billion dollar company.

Apple TV snags Steve Carell, Kumail Nanjiani

Carell, with Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, appeared in front of the audience to announce their new drama, The Morning Show. The show is about the men and women on morning television.

The Big Sick’s Nanjiani presented his show, Little America. The series will tell the true stories of immigrants in the United States. The show is a collaboration between Nanjiani, his wife Emily V. Gordon, Epic Magazine, and Lee Eisenberg.

Filmmaker J.J. Abrams and singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles also appeared to announce their “funny” and “romantic” show Little Voice. Their comedy/drama series will explore the world of struggling musicians in New York City.

While not specifically announced at the event, several other original comedy series are apparently in the works that range from time travel to an animated Josh Gad series.

Rob McElhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will star in a yet-to-be-titled comedy series about a video game development studio. Charlie Day, also from It’s Always Sunny, will executive produce the show with McElhenney.

30 Rock’s Jane Krakowski will star in a comedic coming-of-age series about Emily Dickinson as she struggles to fit in with the 1800s. Young upstart Hailee Steinfeld will play the lead role in the eponymous Dickinson.

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Ram Dass: Why are comedians following this spiritual leader?

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 16:05

Ram Dass—you’ve heard his name on podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, You Made it Weird, and the Duncan Trussell Family Hour. Thanks to the enthusiasm of quite a few popular comedians, Ram Dass is enjoying a surge in popularity among a millennial audience.  What is it that so many comedians see in the octogenarian spiritual leader?

Richard Alpert started his spiritual journey to stay high on LSD 24/7

Ram Dass has his fair share of crazy stories — even more than your favorite comedian on Netflix. Before he adopted the moniker Ram Dass, Richard Alpert lived a very different life. He started teaching at Harvard in the 1950s, where he met famed LSD evangelist Timothy Leary. Leary introduced Alpert to psychedelics, but he felt dissatisfied with the effects and went to India as part of a quest to attain the feeling of connectedness without the help of a drug. In his first book, Be Here Now, he recounts giving a guru known as Maharajji an enormous dose of LSD, which appeared to have no effect. Finally, Alpert had found his guru—someone so enlightened that they never experienced a “come down.”

Ram Dass is funny…

Ram Dass’s sense of humor is a part of what makes him such a compelling speaker. There’s something delightfully unserious about his outlook on spirituality. He describes Maharajji, still a guiding light many years after his death, as the “cosmic giggle.” The former Harvard professor peppers his talks with asides like, “I have a lot of chutzpah, which is Sanskrit for…” He never finishes the sentence but holds for a laugh. When Holmes once found himself seated across the table from Ram Dass at a dinner party, he took the chance to tell Ram Dass that he is his favorite comedian.

Listening to Experiments in Truth, lectures by the wonderful @BabaRamDass, and it’s incredible! Thank you @duncantrussell for the rec!!

— Pete Holmes (@peteholmes) April 18, 2015

…but he isn’t too funny

Despite his vibrant sense of humor, Ram Dass isn’t always on the same page with big names in the comedy world. Markus expressed some chagrin when he found out Ram Dass didn’t find Larry David funny, but maybe that’s for the best — as Natasha Leggero has pointed out, “We don’t want [Ram Dass] to have a wicked sense of humor.” On an episode of Mindrolling, Leggero mentioned that she and Trussell had Skyped with Ram Dass, saying,  “We were really interested in what Ram Dass would think of comedy, and making fun of things.” He told them it was okay, but that they shouldn’t be mean.

Even Ram Dass has a podcast

Even more recently, Ram Dass has thrown his hat into the podcasting ring. Raghu Markus, the Canadian-born executive director of Ram Dass’s Love Serve Remember foundation, credits Trussell with introducing Ram Dass and fellow spiritual teachers to the podcast world. He regularly refers to Trussell as his “podcast guru.” The Love Serve Remember Foundation has its own podcast network, called the Be Here Now, which hosts Markus’s own podcast, Mindrolling. Thanks to the Trussell connection, Markus has snagged comedy guests like Pete Holmes, Dan Harmon, and Leggero.

Garry Shandling, Ram Dass had chemistry

If biting humor and Curb Your Enthusiasm are off the table, then what makes Ram Dass laugh? Garry Shandling gave us some insight during Judd Apatow’s two-part series, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, which examines The Larry Sandler Show star’s relationship with Zen Buddhism. During a Skype call featured in the Apatow documentary, Shandling says, “I’ve been meditating for 35 years, so I can meditate until my mind is pretty empty, pretty blank, but then there’s no one to blame.” Ram Dass bursts into laughter and Shandling quips, “Now I have an audience for my meditation material.”

Ram Dass responded, “Humor is great in spiritual work. It gets you in here,” he says, pointing to his heart. “Not here,” he continues, gesturing at his head. “Here is serious, here is the judge.”

My favorite moment in The Zen. Diaries of Garry Shandling is when Ram Dass speaks with Garry about the meaning of life and spiritual work. It is the point of the film. @BabaRamDass — Loving Awareness. https://t.co/QSLdBdeRWq

— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) March 24, 2018

He offers unconditional love

That wasn’t the only time Ram Dass offered that insight. Shortly after Trussell’s mother died, Markus brought Trussell to Ram Dass’s house in Maui. Trussell said of the experience, “Those of you who know me know that this is identical to a teenage girl going to Justin Bieber’s house.”

When Trussell first met him, it wasn’t his words, but his look of unconditional love that stirred him the most. He mentioned that he wished his mother could have been there, to which Ram Dass responded, “She is here,” before echoing what he said to Shandling: “You have to move from here,” he said, pointing at his head, “to here,” he said, pointing at his heart.

Comedians are taking a spiritual route towards comedy

There’s a common creative thread connecting many of the comedians who openly discuss their spiritual side. They feel the most productive when they can get themselves to stop thinking. Garry Shandling described preparing for his 1981 stand-up performance on The Tonight Show as mostly metaphysical, telling himself, “The only way for you to do this is to become one with the Tonight Show.” He used meditation to reach the point where “there’s no room in the mind…to start judging.” According to Holmes, Judd Apatow has described writing a successful script as channeling something that exists outside of his conscious mind.

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7 All That sketches millennials still love

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 12:31

All That is coming back; ’90s kids rejoice! Last month, Nickelodeon announced the iconic sketch show for kids will return. Former All That cast member, and current SNL star, Kenan Thompson will executive produce and have a hand in the reboot’s direction.

The original All That ran from 1994 to 2005 and gave kids their own sketch comedy show a la Saturday Night Live. While it’s been over a decade since the show went off the air, many of the sketches are still as funny today as they were when you were a kid. To celebrate the reboot, Laughspin is bringing you seven All That sketches that are just as funny as you remember them.

Kel Mitchell as Repairman

One of the break-out-stars of All That was Kel Mitchell and his Repairman character shows why he was a fan favorite. Repairman is a superhero character who’s power is being a (bad) handyman. The absurdist sketch features a truly impressive performance from Mitchell who really commits to the character. Many sketches on All That featured wacky characters, but the Repairman was perhaps the wackiest of them all.

Chris Farley swings by All That

While the recurring sketch, Cooking with Randy!, was always a favorite, the episode where Thompson’s Randy brings on Chris Farley is maybe the best. Farley, supposedly, was not supposed to destroy the cake in the sketch but did it anyway because he thought it would be funnier. Farley’s larger-than-life comedy style fit in perfectly with All That and it’s a shame a show like this wasn’t around when he was younger. The physical comedy in this sketch is unparalleled and the joy the actors bring to this sketch makes it a classic.

Lori Beth Denberg doing Vital Information

Vital Information was All That’s longest-running sketch. While Lori Beth Denberg originated the Weekend Update-esque segment, Danny Tamberelli and Lil’ JJ both went on to host after her departure. Denberg’s segment served as a centerpiece of the early years of the show. Most of All That features over-the-top slapstick, but many of the Vital Information sketches featured more deadpan humor. The dip in the usually extremely high energy comedy made these sketches stand out. The sketch was so popular, they even made a behind-the-scenes segment about it!

Kenan Thompson’s Everyday French

Thompson’s Pierre Escargot has gotten a second life thanks to gifs. A Frenchman in a raincoat in a bathtub is amongst the most memorable characters that ever appeared in the show. The nonsensical nature of the sketch was perfect for kids and the translations will still get adults laughing. It was Thompson’s favorite sketch to do and, for the reunion, Thompson talked about the character and how they wanted him to learn French—he didn’t.

Amanda Bynes doing Ask Ashley

Ask Ashley was a break out character for Amanda Bynes. It was characters like Ask Ashley and Whateverr! that would earn Bynes her own spin-off, The Amanda Show. Ask Ashley is an amazingly simple sketch, but it remains a fan favorite. A lot of that has to do with Bynes’s performance. Her quick change from sweet to angry is funny every time. Bynes was only 11-years-old when she introduced the character but packed a powerhouse performance.

When Britney Spears did Know Your Stars

The segment Know Your Stars was usually confined to telling lies about the cast members, but every once and a while they would have a non-cast member in the segment. The Know Your Stars featuring Britney Spears sparks a special nostalgic cord. Her little sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, was a cast member at the time, who later went on to do the segment herself. How Britney reacts to the lies told about her is an amazing comedic performance from the pop star.

Every Good Burger sketch ever

Good Burger became much more than an All That sketch. It is the only recurring sketch from the show that got its own movie with Thompson and Mitchell starring as a couple of clumsy fast food employees. The movie is a cult classic in its own right and the sketches feel unforgettable as well. Even after Mitchell left the show, All That didn’t want to retire this long-running sketch. Cast member Ryan Coleman took over the Good Burger character after Mitchell moved on, but the sketches featuring Mitchell in the lead are so much more iconic.

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Late night round-up: Mark Normand, Aparna Nancherla

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 11:50

Late night was light with their stand-up offerings this week. But if you’re only going to have two comedians do sets, Aparna Nancherla and Mark Normand are fantastic choices. The two are favorites amongst true comedy nerds and both popped by the late night shows with strong punchlines and overall funny sets. It’s worth noticing that Late Night with Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel Live! continue their blackout on stand-up acts. What’s going on?!

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Late Night with Seth Meyers Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Aparna Nancherla is a favorite amongst comedy nerds who don’t complain about PC culture. The Corporate star continues to rise with her Comedy Central acting role and her nationwide Super Bowl commercial last month. Nancherla pops by The Late Show with her usual topics of therapy and anxiety.

Late Late Show with James Corden Jimmy Kimmel Live! Conan

Who doesn’t love Mark Normand? The Tuesdays with Stories co-host continues to tackle heavy topics in a fun, likable way. Despite a couple of low hanging fruit jokes—I think someone last week also did a ‘This is the guy’s contribution to making babes—squirt!’ bit—you never want to miss a Normand set. Listen closely at the end to hear the comedian’s attempt

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Rachel Bloom at PaleyFest teases Crazy Ex-Girlfriend reboot, stage show

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:26

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans, rejoice! The creators of the musical comedy recently revealed on-stage at PaleyFest that there could very well be a musical stage show in the works. Co-creator and star Rachel Bloom was joined on stage by co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna as well as actors Scott Michael Foster, Donna Lynne Champlin, Pete Gardner, Vella Lovell, Gabrielle Ruiz, and songwriter Jack Dolgen, as well as choreographer Kathryn Burns.

Bloom revealed that their touring live stage shows have become so popular that the cast is set to perform live at Radio City Musical Hall in May. And beyond that, there may be a full-length stage musical at some point. “Aline and I just starting to talk about that,” said Bloom.

That wasn’t the only treat Bloom offered Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fans. She also teased the possibility of a future reboot maybe 10, 15 years in the future. “I have a pitch—I won’t say because you have to watch the finale to understand,” said Bloom, adding that it won’t necessarily be a reboot, but a TV movie on the Hallmark Channel.

Rachel Bloom: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend tour a “labor of love”

The CW series will end on April 5 with a two-hour block that consists of its finale episode followed by a concert special that was taped live from Los Angeles earlier this month. The special was inspired by the successful live stage shows.

“That tour was a labor of love,” said series star Donna Lynne Champlin. “It showed us how much the fans loved what we do and how much fun we could have with each other. And at one point I think it was Rachel who said, ‘What if we got someone with a camera in here to film this?’”

The result will have the shows’ fans giddy: a 42-minute variety show-style piece that incorporates the show’s most recognizable musical numbers. Shot on stage at the Orpheum Theatre with nine cameras, the original giant pretzel from the pilot episode, an orchestra, and multiple backdrop changes, Bloom says the experience of this version of the show taught her “there is something to be said for spectacle.”

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs on Fridays at 9:00 p.m. ET on The CW.

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Funny Women of a Certain Age creator fought against ageism and sexism…and won

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 14:30

Carole Montgomery is a funny woman of a certain age, which is why her new Showtime stand-up showcase is so important to her. At age 47, comedian Montgomery moved back home to New York City in 2006 with high hopes of a third act for her stand-up career. She had almost three decades of experience under her belt. From the smoky Brooklyn rooms of the early 1980s with Andrew Dice Clay to years of working the road, she climbed the ranks during comedy’s big boom.

Coming off an enviable decade-long stint in Las Vegas, Montgomery’s plans were slowed down by a world she barely recognized. The profitable heyday was no more.

In its place were bringer shows, YouTube stars, and an industry that favored youth. Those sweet, lucrative gigs were a thing of the past. For the next decade, she searched for her place and tried to stay relevant in this new, oversaturated market.

Carole talked to Laughspin’s Vicky Kuperman about how she overcame ageism and sexism to come out on top. Her brainchild, Funny Women of a Certain Age, premieres Saturday, March 23. It will be the first time six female comedians over 50 performed on a TV stand-up special together. The taping, done in January at The Bell House in the comedian’s native Brooklyn, represented a personal victory for a woman who simply refused to give up. When Montgomery, at the age of 60, stepped on stage to the sound of thunderous applause of a sold-out house, in the borough where she was born and raised, she did more than just come home. She arrived.

We had lunch at this diner almost exactly two years ago, almost exactly to the date, before you even thought of this idea.

Probably. And we were both talking about how we were not ever going to be doing stand-up because we both hated it so much.

What would you have told someone then about stand-up versus now?

I’d still tell them not to be a comedian. I’d still tell them not to. A lot of people have asked me why I brought it to Showtime—because there was a lot of interest in the show. Showtime gave me my break 27 years ago. So if you stay, and you work really hard, maybe you’ll get another break in 27 years from the first time you got one.

And what did it mean for you to shoot the special at The Bell House?

I wanted to go back to Brooklyn because I wanted to honor my parents. I wanted to go back to Brooklyn because that’s where I’m from. I was born in King’s Highway Hospital—or Coney Island Hospital. It was really important. Even though The Bell House isn’t where I grew up, I know that my parents would have been very proud that I brought it back there.

What is Funny Women of a Certain Age?

It’s a show about funny women who happen to be over the age of 50. Some of them you’ll know, you will have heard their name. But it’s also about women you’ve never heard of. Because there’s so many women in this business who are these great comics who work cruise ships, corporate gigs. They do theaters, who, nobody knows who they are because for whatever reason they never got a TV special or TV spot. When I came up with the idea I originally wanted it to just be 50 and over, and I had about 100 women. Then I decided, I have friends in their 40s, and I said, you know, I want to open it up to my friends. Once I opened it up to over 40, it became 250 people. There’s a lot of women. There’s a lot of content for a series.

There is. Do you think that women over 40, 50, 60 have way funnier things to say about their life experience and pain?

Oh, absolutely. But that’s what comedy’s about anyway. Comedy’s always about pain. It’s always about your experience. Richard Pryor—his first concert film where he talks about his heart attack, and he acts out his heart attack, is some of the most funny, brutal comedy you’re ever going to see. That’s what comedy is. You have to live your life. Not that young comics aren’t funny. There’s a lot of young comics who are funny. And it’s not just women—men, too—there’s something about living a life. I remember when I got passed at Catch A Rising Star, and I had just met my husband, who was my boyfriend. I’d do my late night spot and I’d run home to be with my boyfriend. And all the guys were like, “You know, you gotta hang out, you gotta hang out.” I thought, you know what, I want to live a life so I actually have something to talk about.

Speaking of living a life, you’ve lived a lifetime in comedy. 40 years now you’ve been hitting the stage?

Yes, I have. 40 years. I didn’t know what a comedian was then. The only person I knew was Johnny Carson. Sometime in the Fall of ‘79, I started going to Pips in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Joan Rivers used to go there, and David Brenner. I started with Richard Jeni and Andrew Silverstein—who became Andrew Dice Clay. But he started as Andrew Silverstein. Andrew Silverstein is one of the best impressionists you’ll ever see. His Jerry Lewis—he does an amazing Jerry Lewis. He was doing a take-off on Fonzi, and he became Dice. And Richard Jeni was one of the worst comics I’d ever seen. He was horrible, just horrible. Years later I walk into Catch A Rising Star, and I was one of the new comics there, and I heard someone killing in the room. I peak in and it was Richard Jeni. Which is something I always talk about: stage time, stage time, stage time. He was determined to be good because he knew he was shitty.

Your career over 40 years has an interesting trajectory with twists and turns. You became a club comic and then moved to Los Angeles. It seems like, for even women back in the day, you could live off this. Did being a woman really hinder you back then?


You were one of how many?

Maybe 10, maybe 15. They had audition nights. You would wait on line. I would sit there since 8:00 a.m. at Catch A Rising Star and wait until they gave you a number. I was on line with Margaret Smith, Rita Rudner. We would sit there and wait all day to get our ticket to go on stage.

So then you started working the road all over the country. You worked every week?

I was working at least two or three weeks per month. Good money. The going rate for headlining a Tuesday-Saturday was anywhere from $1,750 to $2,000 to $2,500—plus airfare, plus hotel. None of this, “We’ll give you $500 and you have to turn off the lights when you’re done.” You made good money.

And then Las Vegas happened.

This is the only time that The Secret has ever worked for me. I had been on the road and Layne (my son) was three- or four-years-old. Every time I had to go, I would wake him up to kiss him goodbye and he’d cry, “Mommy don’t leave me. Don’t leave me.” I’d go to The Riviera in Vegas, at the comedy club. I’d carry pictures and whatever hotel I was working, I’d make it like my home, with pictures of my family. And whatever hotel I was working, I was putting away my shit and said, “I would love a gig where I could be home and didn’t have to worry about leaving.” And the next fucking day I get a phone call, “Hey listen, the girl in the burlesque show, she had a heart attack and they need a replacement. I told her you would do it.” That week I did 27 shows. This was Crazy Girls. They would do their first dance number. I’d come in and say, “Hey everyone. Welcome to Crazy Girls,” and I’d do a couple of jokes. Then midway, I’d do a 10-minute spot. And that’s it.

And on this 10-minute spot, you were able to buy a house and support a family?

Yes. That happened. They offered me the gig. The girl was recuperating and they said, “Will you stay for the summer?” I said, “Absolutely, but my son has to live with me.” So I lived in The Riviera for two months. At the end of the summer, they decided they wanted me to stay on. They gave me a three-year contract. That turned into five years at Crazy Girls. Our son was about to go to junior high. We did not end well, and they didn’t want to pay me my contract.  They wanted me to leave. I ended up leaving. I said let’s stay until June when he graduates elementary school. Somewhere in those few months, I got offered Midnight Fantasy. I said, if we stay, we’re staying for three years. I wanted him to have his friends. Once I took that contract, we were going to stay until the end of middle school.

Did you ever miss doing long headlining sets?

No. They were paying me a lot of money for 10 minutes. I would probably still be there working those shows if I didn’t have Layne. The money was great for doing 10 minutes.

When you moved back to New York, what kind of industry did you come back to? How did it change?

13 years ago, I came back to New York. So I was 47. I was shocked at the fact that there was still only one woman on a show. It was the same. How did we not move forward? I was shocked. I had had a feeling. I was putting out feelers. All the clubs I ever did were either closed or taken over. I remember going back to the Pittsburgh Funny Bone, which is no longer there. I used to make $2,000. By the time I came back, it was a $1,000. It’s the only industry I’ve ever seen where you don’t get a raise.

What do you think of bringers?

I think they’re horrible. Horrible. Nobody makes money except the people running the bringer shows. You’re taking advantage of young people. [Producers] say, “I’m doing a service.” The service is, you’re servicing yourself and you’re making money. Go to bar shows. Go to open mics. Make your own stuff. If you sit around waiting for the phone to ring—this business is brutal. I remember when I did the Oprah Winfrey show, Layne was three-years-old. So this was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me since Showtime All-Stars. I’m at the gym and all of a sudden, there’s me and Oprah ‘coming up tomorrow.’ Next day, I watch it. It’s great. I go over to the phone, pick it up, look at my husband, and I said, “It’s still working.” That was ‘95. She was at the height of her career. Didn’t change a thing for me.

You’re a producer now. How did you come up with Funny Women of a Certain Age? This was two years ago, right? Summer of 2017?

I was doing a podcast with three other female comics who are older. It was so fun. And I thought: I want to do a show with my friends. I started thinking of everybody I knew. I thought, Oh my god, there are so many great women and we never get to be with each other. When we did the interviews and interstitials with the women for the Showtime special, we’re all asked, “How many times are you the only woman on the show?” Everyone answers, “Always. I’m always the only woman on the show.” And there’s a different dynamic when women work together. If you play it right, the way I did, it’s a feeling of love and support. There’s no bullshit backstage at all. 10 minutes before I’m supposed to go on, I look in the mirror and say, “I really don’t like my hair.” Vanessa [Hollingshead] and Kerri [Louise], out of nowhere, started hairspraying me. A guy wouldn’t do that. They wanted me to do well. We had a monitor in the back. Everyone was watching each other’s sets. Everyone was happy that everyone else was doing well.

The media makes it seem like women are always against each other—and we are competitive. This business is competitive to begin with. It has nothing to do with being a woman. It has to do with being a comic. Every comic, whether a guy or girl, will be at an open mic at the beginning of their career, will see someone and go, “I’m better than that.” That’s how comics think. It has nothing to do with being a woman. I’ve always wanted to help someone else. Why wouldn’t I?

How did this go from an idea to a Showtime special in a year-and-a-half?

We premiered at The Cinder Block Comedy Festival. The Kraine Theater offered me a residency. We did a show in December 2017. My production partner, Dave Goldberg, came to see it and said, “This is a show.” We did a showcase for TV producers in February 2018. Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, TruTV. Everyone was there. We did the show. It was an amazing show. Veronica Mosey, Leighann Lord, and Vanessa Hollingshead. She destroyed. I didn’t tell the girls the industry was there. Everyone was interested. We went with Showtime because of my history with them.

We did a road gig together once, and you gave me some great advice about what not to do in a comedy condo.

When Vicky and I were in a comedy condo—and by the way, it was one of the best comedy condos I’ve ever been in—

The best.

So you open the fridge in a comedy condo. You open up the fridge door. They have the row of condiments. Three or four jars of ketchup, three or four jars of mustard, and three or four jars of mayonnaise. You are not to eat the mayonnaise.


Because comics put their dicks in it.

Funny Women of a Certain Age, starring Carole Montgomery, Fran Drescher, Luenell, Lynne Koplitz, Kerrie Louise, and Vanessa Hollingshead, premieres on Showtime this Saturday, March 23rd at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

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8 Canadian comedians you didn’t know you need to watch

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 13:02

As we explained this week, the Canadian Dream means making it in America. Some of today’s leading comedy voices are from the Great White North—something that couldn’t have happened if they stuck around home. Jim Carrey, Seth Rogen, Samantha Bee, and others have found huge success in the American entertainment industry.

While many Canadian comedians come to the states seeking success, some are making Canada laugh. Americans are generally not very aware of our neighbors to the North unless they end up on Netflix, but there is a lot of great comedy happening just across the border. Laughspin brings you eight Canadian comedians who are all ‘aboot’ the laughs.

K. Trevor Wilson

This Toronto native is a stand-up and actor. While K. Trevor Wilson might be known best for his role on the CraveTV show Letterkenny, he started as a child actor on the series Goosebumps. As a stand-up in 2012, he won the Irwin Barker Home Grown Award at Just For Laughs. His first album, SexCop Fire Penis, won Best Taped Live Performance at the 2015 Canadian Comedy Awards. His second album, Sorry! (A Canadian Album), was nominated for a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammys). While he has worked in America and appeared on American TV like Comedy Central’s Roast Battle, he remains based out of Toronto and is a Canadian favorite.

Rebecca Kohler

Rebecca Kohler is a stand-up and writer. In 2018, she won the Juno Award for Comedy Album of the Year for her album In Living Kohler. Kohler has also worked on shows like Schitt’s Creek, Kim’s Convenience, and This Hour Has 22 Minutes. She both wrote and appeared on episodes of Workin’ Moms, a Canadian show that is distributed by Netflix in the US.

Andrew Phung

Andrew Phung is a Calgary native, actor, and improviser. He started with the sketch group Sciencebear, but went on to perform with several sketch and improv groups. He now appears on Kim’s Convenience as Kimchee, a role that has earned him two Canadian Screen Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Featured Supporting Role or Guest Role in a Comedic Series.

DeAnne Smith

American audiences might recognize DeAnne Smith from her set on Netflix’s Comedians of the World. You may also know her from her viral joke-turned-viral meme about straight men. Back in Canada, she has often been ranked amongst Montreal’s Top 10 Comedians by the Montreal Mirror, ranking #3 in 2010-2012. She has gone to JFL, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe multiple times. In 2011, she was nominated for Best Female Stand-Up at the Canadian Comedy Awards. We weren’t sure if we should include Smith because, while she lives and is based in Montreal, the stand-up is originally from upstate New York! But she’s just so funny, we’d be remiss to not include her.

Baroness Von Sketch—the whole gang

Shown on IFC in America, Baroness Von Sketch is a CBC show. The all-female sketch program stars and is executive produced by Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne, and Jennifer Whalen. The fourth season is set to come out in later this year.

Louis-José Houde

While comedy coming out of the French part of Canada might be less accessible to American audiences, Louis-José Houde isn’t to be missed. The French-Canadian comedian hails from Quebec. He is also an actor and set to appear in the upcoming comedy film Menteur and appeared on the show Les beaux malaises.

Mark Little

Mark Little is best known from his work on the CBC sitcom Mr. D, but he currently works on the shows Gary and His Demons and Cavendish. Little started comedy in his native Halifax. Little was one of the members of the sketch group called Picnicface which produced viral videos as well as a 13-episode sketch TV series which aired on The Comedy Network.

Trent McClellan

Trent McClellan started as a stand-up but is now also on the long-running Canadian comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes. When he’s not on the show or touring as a headliner he also has his own podcast called The Generators.

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Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter to reprise Bill and Ted roles in 2020

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 15:43

Party on dudes! Bill and Ted are hitting the theaters again. The third installment of the stoner franchise will open August 21, 2020. Bill and Ted Face the Music will begin filming this summer in New Orleans. Original leads Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter will reprise their roles as Theodore “Ted” Logan and William “Bill” S. Preston Esq, respectively.

The two ‘Wyld Stallyns’ announced the upcoming film in a short video released on Wednesday. The actors thanked their supportive fans and reminded them to ‘Be Excellent!’ Die-hard fans of the cult films have been clamoring for a new installment for decades and the actors have teased the possibility of a third film for years.

The now middle-aged best friends will set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it and bring harmony to the universe. Along the way, they will be helped by their families, old friends and a few music legends.

The upcoming film is written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, the same writers from the previous two installments. Dean Parisot from Galaxy Quest will direct the threequel slacker comedy. Steven Soderbergh will be an executive producer on the film.

Bill and Ted franchise revisits decades-old characters

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out in 1989 and the sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, rocked theaters in 1991. The previous films followed the time-traveling duo through adventures with historical figures, the Grim Reaper, and robot doubles.

The two dudes have been busy since 1989. Just last year, Winter directed two documentaries: The Panama Papers and Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain. Reeves is working on a slate of acting projects including the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 3 and Toy Story 4. Since the original, Reeves also starred in a small sci-fi thriller trilogy, The Matrix.

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Bob Newhart to headline first Minneapolis Comedy Festival

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:16

Bob Newhart will perform at the newly-announced Minneapolis Comedy Festival this June. The 89-year old comedy icon has his own theater show in a festival line-up that includes Seth Meyers, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and more.

The weeklong, inaugural festival will be held at venues throughout Minneapolis. The Midwestern city has a vibrant stand-up scene with multiple clubs, theaters, and newer venues featuring comedy. In 2016, Thrillist called Minnesota and the Twin Cities the “comedy capital of the Midwest” and “one of the country’s best places to see comedy for quite some time.”

Newhart also plans to perform at the upcoming Nashville Comedy Festival in April, along with Jay Leno, Sebastian Maniscalco, and Ali Wong. Opportunities to see the aging comic are fairly rare. While Newhart did announce a small handful of appearances on his Twitter account last year, he had to postpone his November appearance at The Grammy Museum due to some “back issues.” Newhart is the only comedian to have won Grammy Awards for both Album of the Year and Best New Artist.

Despite his age, Newhart continues to release new content. Last year, the deadpan comic released an audio series (=cough= podcast) on Audible called Hi Bob!—a phrase from The Bob Newhart Show. That series captured the comedy veteran in conversation with comics such as Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel, Judd Apatow, Sarah Silverman, and Will Ferrell. It has been over 40 years since The Bob Newhart Show concluded but its influence over the modern-day sitcom remains. The actor also appeared on The Big Bang Theory from 2013 through last year, for which he won an Emmy.

Little is known about the newest of what seems like an onslaught of comedy festivals. Unlike others that can rely on new talent ‘contests’ and submission fees to pay for bigger talent, the Minneapolis Comedy Festival plans to do what many should—throw a great festival with excellent talent.

The Minneapolis Comedy Festival will be held June 24-30, 2019. Tickets are available here: https://minneapoliscomedyfestival.com

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Woe, Canada: the plight of the Canadian comedian

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:45

Canadian comedians were not happy last month. It leaked that a SiriusXM station, Canada Laughs, would be acquired by Just For Laughs.

Online chatter about the deal picked up steam after the Canadian Association of Comedians posted to their Facebook page. “Earlier this week CASC learned that SiriusXM Canada and Just for Laughs have agreed to a corporate partnership to allow Just For Laughs (#JFL) to brand and curate the Canada Laughs channel going forward. From what we have heard, it will become “Just for Laughs Radio” with a majority of the programming coming from JFL’s company catalog.” That catalog includes many non-Canadians who have simply recorded sets in Canada at the Just For Laughs Montreal comedy festival.

SiriusXM pays residuals on track plays to comics whose material airs on the station. A major shift in programming meant less income for many local comics, many of whom say those checks can typically cover their rent. Within days, comedians from all over were standing in solidarity with their Canadian colleagues and pressured JFL to keep playing Canadian content.

This is good news, right? #justformoney pic.twitter.com/vCQV6S2cm7

— Norm Wilner (@normwilner) February 28, 2019

After the huge backlash caused part-owner Howie Mandel to do some damage control on Facebook Live, it was announced that, while Just For Laughs will still take over the channel, it will feature 100% Canadian content.

For Americans, all this might seem odd. The notion that the disappearance of a single radio channel could lead to a national crisis for comedians seems inherently foreign to us. A station like Canada Laughs is so important because of the very few opportunities that comedians up north have for both exposure and income.

“Nobody feels appreciated here,” Mike Carrozza tells Laughspin. Carrozza is a Toronto-based comedian who has been doing stand-up for about nine years. He continues, “It’s difficult for me to get actual work.”

In entertainment, Canada is the Land of Limited Opportunity

Almost any Canadian comedian I spoke to brought up a lack of opportunities. Sandra Battaglini, who started the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians in 2017, echoed Carrozza saying, “We don’t have a real film and TV industry, so it is hard to get recognition.” She says even iconic Canadian brands like Just For Laughs are “dominated by American talent.” Most of the country’s comics will point out that Canada has no late night shows that showcase stand-up—there’s no Conan or Tonight Show to make your big break up there. Most of its TV programming is made in the United States.

To combat how much US content is in Canada, the government supports Canadian artists through grants. In these grants, they recognize 11 fields of practice. However, stand-up is not one of those fields.

Much of Battaglini’s work is trying to change that. She created the CASC after writing a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the hardships of being a professional comedian in Canada. With help from Member of Parliament Julie Dabrusin and, eventually, Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, the organization is lobbying to have stand-up comedy recognized as a distinct art form by the Canadian government which would make comedy eligible for government funding at all levels.

Despite government regulations, American content is king

The problem that Battaglini sees is two-fold. While the government has a role to play, the issue is larger than Canada itself. “The sheer monopoly American media has over Canada, that is our biggest challenge,” she explains.

Canada has regulations that mandate broadcasters devote a portion of air time to Canadian content. While broadcast stations are required to have 60% of programs be of Canadian origin, most of those programs are often low-cost news shows, current affairs programming, and even re-runs. As of 2011, 50% of primetime content has to be of Canadian origin, but networks can game the system by, say, re-airing a news broadcast later the same night. Much of the country’s big media companies seem to spend as little of their budgets as legally possible to put out just enough qualifying material.

For Canada’s four broadcast networks, there’s little incentive to produce original series at home. “We pitch our TV ideas here and they tell us to pitch it in the US because it’s cheaper for them to buy American content,” Battaglini describes.

But pitching an idea, or even performing, in America is no easy feat. While American comedians can easily obtain a Canadian work visa for a mere $40, it is prohibitively difficult for Canadian comedians to work in the states.

Pricey visas provide catch-22 for Canadian comedians

To work in the United States, immigrants need to obtain either an O1 visa or a green card. An O1 is a visa that allows someone to work for up to three years in the USA, but to get that visa, an applicant has to demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field—usually the arts, sports, education, business, or the sciences. It is similar to the EB1-1 Green Card which stipulates that the applicant has extraordinary ability in their field, but also grants the holder permanent residence. While it is slightly easier to get an O1 than an EB1-1, both processes take months (if not years) and are extremely costly.

“I’m almost 9 years in and I can’t get on TV because I’m not in the right country.” – Mike Carrozza

To get a visa or green card you need a lawyer and their fees for this type of work range from about $5,000 to $10,000. Even after paying, applicants are not guaranteed that their application will be approved.

Carrozza is in the process of applying for the O1. “You have to be the best in your field. You have to be a sensation. But there is no opportunity for us to be that sensation here in Canada,” he explains. “We are not allowed to book dates in the states without a visa, but to get the visa, you have to show you have bookings for the next three years. It’s paradoxical and meant to keep us out.”

Coming to the US is important for Carrozza. ”I’m almost 9 years in and I can’t get on TV because I’m not in the right country,” he says. He has been offered headlining spots in the US and hasn’t been able to take them without a visa. After doing sets at Just For Laughs Montreal, he was approached by agents and managers. “They seem to be interested, but it changes the moment they find out I’m based in Canada. They are like, ‘If you are ever out in the states, we would love to work with you.’”

Canadians can crush all they want—nobody can hear them.

Jess Salomon came to America with her partner, and fellow stand-up, Eman El-Husseini from her native Montreal. “If I was serious about doing stand-up, I had to come to New York,” she tells Laughspin. “There is this feeling of opportunity and possibility here. It might not happen for you, but the potential is there.” Back home, she describes, “You could be killing on stage in, let’s say, Toronto all year round and it would make no difference.”

Just like a comic who crushes in Cleveland, there’s no ‘industry’ watching you in Toronto. But that first comic can always leave Ohio and move to New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago without filling out a single form. After confirming they liked the US by visiting on a tourist visa, the couple decided to get their green card. “It took a year to put all the paperwork together,” Salomon says.

The lawyer told Salomon that El-Husseini had a more established career and that she should be the one to apply for the green card. Furthermore, the lawyer advised the two to get married and have Salomon immigrate as a dependent. Salomon recalls of the marriage suggestion, “I already had the ring…I was practically in tears because she was ruining my plan to propose on the end of the trip.”

Scarce opportunities are no laughing matter for Canada’s comics

Even when entertainment is being made in Canada, there aren’t always opportunities for the nation’s own talent. While Tessa Skara now has a green card after going to college in the US, she originally hails from Vancouver. “The film industry is really big in Vancouver but there isn’t a huge performance scene there,” she explains. “A lot of the things that are being filmed there are international. It’s content for the United States that they are using Vancouver for as a set.”

The actress doesn’t see moving back to Vancouver as an option. “I know this from other friends who work in the film industry: A lot of the casting that happens in Vancouver is for small parts that they really don’t want to fly someone out from LA for.” She explains, “There is a wall you hit as an actor in Vancouver. Most of the people that I know who are making a living, even partially, off of acting are actively trying to move to the United States because there isn’t enough work.”

“Montreal itself isn’t enough for you to build a career,” El-Husseini agrees. She describes the ceiling for success as “very low” due to limited opportunities. “The reason why many of us feel like we need to leave Canada is that they don’t give us opportunities. [Canadians] don’t elevate homegrown comics.”

Salomon repeats a similar sentiment. “You can ask any Canadian on the street who their favorite Canadian comedian is—not famous for their work in the US—and they won’t be able to name any.”

Orli Matlow began performing comedy while at Columbia University on a student visa before obtaining an O1 after college. “It’s different now in Trump’s America,” Matlow shares with Laughspin. “Moving to Canada seems like a utopian alternative but, growing up, we always felt so jealous of the United States…It’s right there and it feels like it is the center of the whole entertainment industry.”

The O1 only lasts for three years. Comedians living in America on one have to renew it often which costs at least a couple thousand dollars in legal fees. Debra DiGiovanni first got her visa when she landed Last Comic Standing. While she has been renewing her visa for over 10 years, the peppy stand-up is currently trying to get a green card.

Canadian comedians start all over once they get to the states

Getting in the country is hard, but so is doing comedy in America after relocation. Canadian comedians talk about it as having to start over. Even with long careers north of the border, many who move here have to restart at open mics and bar shows. DiGiovanni, who did stand-up for 14 years before moving to Los Angeles, says, “Moving here was very humbling. The credits didn’t transfer.”

That was something Adam Christie felt when he tried to relocate to LA to live with his now ex-wife. “When I moved away from Canada, I had all these contacts and had worked my way up, and when you move to LA you have to start again…Starting over, I was doing open mics. At 32, I’m less excited to do that all over again.”

You could be killing on stage in, let’s say, Toronto all year round and it would make no difference. – Jess Salomon

Starting over professionally isn’t the only challenge comedians face. “Emigration to another country is hard.” Christie, who after trying to make it in America decided to spend some time back home, continues, “You don’t have [financial] credit. No one will give you anything: credit cards, apartments. It’s super hard and so expensive—and our dollar is so bad.” Moving back home hasn’t been all bad for Christie. He’s currently a writer on the CBC show Baroness Von Sketch (which also airs on IFC) and recently filmed a role on Pop TV’s Schitt’s Creek. However, those jobs are very few and far between for our neighbors to the north.

For comics like Matlow who started comedy in New York City, Canada seems like a foreign scene. “If I move home, I have to start fresh…It would be a reverse exodus.” While she currently works as a comedy blogger, her job doesn’t sponsor her visa. “Having things tied to a job is risky. If a visa is tied to a job, you can’t change jobs or make money outside. And it is a lot to ask of an employer. Lot of paperwork, so they might think it’s not worth it. Bloggers are a dime a dozen.”

For comics, moving to America is the Canadian Dream

Even with all the hardships, Canadians still want in on America. Many comics come into this country to do unpaid gigs or festivals lying to Customs that they are visiting friends or going on vacations. It’s a risky move, given a border agent can have them turn back or even ban them for a period of years for coming into the United States on false pretenses.

Salomon is releasing an album next month and is working hard to self-promote, something she couldn’t have done easily back home. She points out, on top of all the barriers for Canadian comics, there is a larger cultural issue. “There is this idea of the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It’s the idea that nobody should rise too high. If at any point a poppy rises too high, it should be cut down.”

She continues, “[Canadians] have these ideas around humility and ambition. Some of the cultural ideals that make Canada a good country make it a not great country for succeeding in show business. Whereas in America, ambition is something that is rewarded…It’s the American Dream.”

For comedians, there isn’t a clear Canadian Dream. Unless there are big changes to the entertainment industry in Canada, migrating south is the only way many will make it in comedy. People like Battaglini are trying to make more opportunities available at home. However, it’s clear that for most, the Canadian Dream is being able to make it in America.

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Kevin Hart, Anthony Jeselnik, and more coming to Netflix in April

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 10:39

Netflix just released a trailer for half of the new content coming to the streaming service in April. Unlike in past months, the trailer is not only subdivided by category but it also only covers what is coming to the platform from April 1 to 15. Don’t worry! If you can’t wait to learn about what awesome comedies are coming in the second half of April we have you covered. We won’t hide the new Kevin Hart or Anthony Jeselnik comedy specials from you. Laughspin brings you all the comedies coming to Netflix.

New Netflix Original Movies Unicorn Store coming April 5

Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson star in this film not titled Captain Marvel. Unicorn Store follows a twenty-something-year-old dreamer as she receives an invitation to fulfill her childhood wishes. While the film was made in 2017, it seems it has finally found a distributor thanks to Netflix.

The Perfect Date coming April 12

This romcom follows a young hunk who makes a dating app where you can pay him to be a stand-in boyfriend. The film stars Noah Centineo who made a splash in To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, also Netflix Originals.

Someone Great coming April 12

Gina Rodriguez and Lakeith Stanfield star in this comedy about an aspiring music journalist’s last days in New York. From writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, Someone Great is a comedy about friendship, love, and being an adult. The trailer is out and teases performances by Jaboukie Young-White, RuPaul, and Michelle Buteau.

Netflix Original Series Cuckoo: Season 5 coming April 19

Cuckoo is coming back for its fifth season next month. The British series stars Greg Davies of Inbetweeners fame and Taylor Lautner with appearances by Andy Samberg who plays the titular Cuckoo.

Huge in France coming April 12

Huge in France follows French comedian Gad Elmaleh as he moves to Los Angeles to reconnect with his teenage son. The scripted series focuses on Elmaleh learning to live without the perks of celebrity that he enjoyed back home—mimicking his move to the states from France as a comedian when he had to start over professionally.

Special coming April 12

Based on the memoir I’m Special: and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, Special follows a young gay man with cerebral palsy as he tries to get what he really wants. Ryan O’Connell, the author of I’m Special, stars.

Samantha!: Season 2 coming April 19

This Brazilian series is back for a second season. The first season follows the story of a former child star who clings to celebrity. Starring Emanuelle Araújo, Samantha! is a zany show about the spotlight and family.

Pinky Malinky: Part 2 coming April 22

Pinky Malinky is one of those children’s shows that adults might enjoy. The goofy comedy follows a hot dog named Pinky and his best friends.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson coming April 23

Andy Samberg produces this new sketch show starring Tim Robinson. Every episode, Robinson tries to push a guest to want to leave. Directed by Akiva Schaffer, the show promises to be a new take on sketch comedy.

Bonding coming April 24

Loosely based on the real-life experiences of You’re the Worst’s Rightor Doyle, Bonding follows an NYC dominatrix and her high school BFF as they navigate the world of BDSM. This dark comedy stars Brendan Scannell and Zoe Levin. The series was originally made by blackpills, but now Bonding is being distributed as a Netflix ‘original.’

Netflix Stand-up Specials Kevin Hart: Irresponsible coming April 2

For Kevin Hart’s first Netflix stand-up special, the comedian filmed Irresponsible in front of a sold-out live audience of over 15,000 people at the O2 Arena in London. Hart premiered a Black History Month special in February, but this will be a return to stand-up.

Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward coming April 30

It’s official.
Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward.
4/30/19 only on ⁦@NetflixIsAJokepic.twitter.com/Ob8fmZqwkj

— Anthony Jeselnik (@anthonyjeselnik) March 18, 2019

Anthony Jeselnik: Fire in the Maternity Ward will feature Anthony Jeselnik’s trademark taboo and critical comedy style. This is Jeselnik’s second Netflix comedy special after 2015’s Thoughts and Prayers.

Binge it again

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood coming April 1
Penelope coming April 1
Pineapple Express coming April 1
P.S. I Love You coming April 1
Spy Kids coming April 1
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants coming April 1
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 coming April 1
New Girl: Season 7 coming April 10
The Ugly Truth coming April 25
The Sapphires coming April 26

The post Kevin Hart, Anthony Jeselnik, and more coming to Netflix in April appeared first on Laughspin.

High Maintenance gets fourth season delivery order at HBO

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 19:46

High Maintenance is coming back for a fourth season. Only days after the third season finale aired on Sunday, HBO announced that they are renewing the stoner series.

High Maintenance follows Ben Sinclair’s The Guy, a chill weed dealer as he interacts with various customers across Brooklyn. The show has generally been a critical darling and season three received high praise. While new characters are introduced in almost every episode, season three pays special attention to The Guy and his journey through love and loss.

Created by Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the show started as a web series before making the jump to HBO.

The Season Three finale was an emotional powerhouse. The episode centered around a child receiving treatment for cancer. Sinclair wrote and directed the finale. Before the episode aired, Sinclair posted a kaleidoscopic teaser video to Instagram. He then wrote in the comments. “We live in a post-facts society. What one believes has trumped the truth of what is. But here’s the only thing that is for certain: If you’re reading this, you’re alive. Hey. You’re alive. Tonight’s season finale episode … is about just that. Trigger warning: It’s very emotional!

While not much is known about the fourth season yet, it will still most likely bring the tragedy, comedy, and introspection that the other seasons became known for. On a recent Movie Crush podcast episode before the Season 4 order, Sinclair said, “I feel like the show is not over yet. Even though we haven’t had an order yet, I have a feeling it’s not over so there’s stuff to look forward to.”


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We live in a post-facts society. What one believes has trumped the truth of what is. But here’s the only thing that is for certain: if you’re reading this, you’re alive. Hey. You’re alive. Tonight’s season finale episode of @helpingyoumaintain is about just that. Trigger warning: it’s very emotional! Written and directed by me AD’d by @mrspetrooch Shot by @dagmarwm

Ryan Cownie a future superstar in debut comedy album

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 10:00

When first looking at the tracklist for Ryan Cownie’s debut album I Can’t Die, one could easily say, “What am I getting into here?”

After all, the digital set starts with a track titled Titties, an enthusiastic rally cry by Cownie for the audience to audibly confirm their overwhelming love for women’s breasts followed by his condemnation of their overtly sexist reactions.

Yet, as you dive deeper into the despondent world of the Nebraska-born comic, you begin to see the method to his melancholy madness.

The album shows a subdued soul who developed a dependency on marijuana and Mountain Dew. It tells of a husband going through “a fourth divorce” and fighting for custody of his children, Brandon and Bruce Lee. It spotlights the lowest point a person can reach: having to get “spotted” $1.99 from a six-year old child in order to buy a silly smartphone game.

And it delves into the psyche of a man who pranked his estranged “ex-wife” during sex by only thrusting his neck and head, and keeping rest of his body completely still—an act he admits is probably why he is in getting divorced.

By its completion, however, I Can’t Die showcases Cownie’s masterful ability to command a crowd with a perfect mix of midwest charm and big city bravado befitting of an experienced stand-up.

There is much to love about I Can’t Die. There’s an energy in the room with the live audience that matches the charge a crowd receives when discovering a future superstar in the making. There’s an inherent sense of respect for Cownie’s natural ability to almost instantaneously win a crowd over with his tickling tom-foolery.

In fact, the level of absurdity that Cownie climbs to in order to entertain is quite admirable. His material is farcical for sure. It is very tongue-in-cheek in its content, so much so that you honestly don’t know what statements are fact and what is exaggerated fiction. Despite the continuity cloud enveloping the comedy, the stories are crafted in a creative and engaging way that you really don’t care.

His deadpan delivery yields to powerful punchlines throughout, which matches his introspective look at the nonsensical aspects of life. It’s obvious he is immensely comfortable in the spotlight and in front of a crowd, as throughout his set he seamlessly weaves his prepared material and crowd work in a professional-looking comedic tapestry.

With I Can’t Die, or any comedy album for that matter, you expect to laugh and be entertained for an extended period of time. Cownie’s debut effort accomplishes that mission wholeheartedly.

What makes this listening experience memorable is that it also comes with a welcome surprise: witnessing the nascent stage of a future comedy superstar.

Ryan Cownie’s I Can’t Die is available on March 15 via Stand Up! Records.

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10 Crashing moments that prove Pete Holmes has one facial expression

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 16:00

After three full seasons, the Pete Holmes HBO show Crashing has officially come to an end. Judd Apatow confirmed the news during a recent appearance on Conan, where he lamented the end of the series and teased the possibility of an upcoming full-length Crashing movie.

Regardless of whether a full-length Crashing movie happens or not, it’s safe to say that people have a lot of opinions about the HBO series, ranging from dedicated fandom to straight up distaste for Holmes and his narrative. I have one running theory that I will stand by until the end of days: Holmes relies on just one facial expression throughout the entire series.

Whether a scene is full of levity or pain, Holmes always has his eyebrows furrowed in smiling confusion while his mouth sits slightly agape. In order to make sure this isn’t an unfairly leveled critique, I have screenshotted his facial expressions from different crucial emotional moments in the show. Truly, when laid out in succession, these photos prove the Unified Theory of Pete Holmes’s Face. Please take notes and enjoy my collection of times Holmes made the same exact face.

1. When Holmes finds out his wife is cheating on him.

This is a shot taken the very moment Holmes finds out his wife (played by the fabulous Lauren Lapkus) has been cheating on him with a teacher with a ponytail named Leif. His marriage was broken by a man named Leif and this is his face. Where is the anger? The pathos? The moment of recognition where Holmes realizes his years of self-centered behavior pushed his wife away?! There is none of that emotion in this facial expression. He looks like he’s disappointed he just saw someone ate the last slice of pizza.

2. When Holmes is invited onto a podcast with Artie Lange and Sarah Silverman.

At this point in the show, we the audience are led to believe that Holmes is an open mic-level comic. He rarely, if ever, gets booked. When he does, it’s largely because he barks and persistently asks. So, the likelihood of him getting asked onto a podcast with famous comedy veterans Artie Lange and Sarah Silverman is absolutely slim. This is an incredible opportunity, and yet he somehow has the same open mouth confused face. Maybe his inner thought process is a legitimate, “Why am I here?” We’ll never know since this is literally the same face he makes in every scene.

3. When Holmes questions his life-long faith

Faith is a huge part of the narrative arc in Crashing. Holmes and his wife originally got married as young Christians trying to abide by the rules, and his struggle with his upbringing is a constant plot point. In this scene, Holmes’s chat with a famous magician causes him to question the validity of his faith in a very serious way. For most people, this would come across through feelings of existential depression or possible relief, but with Holmes, it is the same face as ever. Always.

4. When Holmes gets a lucrative gig as a warm-up comic.

Working as a warm-up comic for a television show is one of the few lucrative gigs available to stand-ups. While it doesn’t allow you to use all of your own material due to censorship and the need for crowd work, it’s still an immense opportunity. In this shot, Holmes works the crowd with the same facial expression he always wears. Although I’ll cut him some slack here since this feels like a fairly par-for-the-course joke-telling face. But still.

5. When he becomes pals with Bill Burr.

After getting temporarily ditched by Lange, Holmes gets magically swooped up by Bill Burr, who lets him crash in the guest room and takes him on some bro dates to chat about comedy and life. Again, at this point in the show, Holmes is a fairly green comic. Befriending and crashing with someone as famous and busy as Burr is an ultimate win. And yet, you would never know that based on his same-as-always face.

6. When he gets roasted in front of his ex-wife.

This example is dramatically different than the others. His mouth is still agape, and his brow is uniformly furrowed, but his eyes have a lot of darkness in them. He looks genuinely distressed. This makes sense given the fact that he’s getting brutally roasted by his current girlfriend Ali, while his ex-wife Jess sits in the crowd with her lover Leif. Still, even in this slight deviation, his general expression nearly mirrors every other on-screen moment.

7. When he breaks up with Ali.

Ali was not only Holmes’s first girlfriend after his divorce, but she was also one of his first good friends in the stand-up scene who really showed him the ropes. Their sudden break-up came right after he the brutal roast, and he felt too hurt to handle it. This is a pretty heavy emotional moment for both of them. Why won’t his face change?!

8. When Holmes gets rejected from The Comedy Cellar.

Pursuing comedy involves a boatload of rejection and setbacks, and the people who reach recognizable success inevitably have to navigate that. Getting passed at clubs is a common and hard-fought goal. The infamous Comedy Cellar is one of the best clubs to get booked at in the country, let alone New York City. In this scene, Holmes gets off stage after a great set and gets rejected nonetheless. While his eyes look a bit sadder than usual, his overall facial expression still fits into the Unified Theory of Pete’s Face.

9. When he falls in love with Kat.

After a painful break up with Ali, which involved many run-ins and singular-facial expressions, Holmes finally settles into his life as a single and unmarried woman. That is, until he serendipitously meets Kat (played by the fantastic Madeline Wise) at a clothing store and they fall into a whirlwind romance. Despite being in the midst of a full-on rebound romance, Holmes’slovey-doveyy face appears roughly the same as his face when he’s not feeling feelings. She’s so cute and funny! Give her a look!

10. When Kat reams him out during their break up talk.

After an intense romance, Holmes all but ghosts Kat while traveling for a Christian comedy tour. The two of them fight after Holmes “shushed” Kat during Ali’s late night debut party, and they never truly recovered from the drunken words exchange. In this scene, Kat lays out Holmes’s immaturity and the ways he used her in the relationship. And yet, you guessed it, his facial expression just looks like a slightly more stoned version of his stand-up comedy face.

Now that I have laid out my proof, it’s up to you to decide for yourself whether you subscribe to the Unified Theory of Pete’s face. This is a personal belief that only you can decide upon.

The post 10 Crashing moments that prove Pete Holmes has one facial expression appeared first on Laughspin.

Roseanne Barr makes first stand-up appearance since Roseanne cancelation

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 15:21

Roseanne Barr is back on stage. The controversial comic performed stand-up on Saturday for the first time since ABC canceled her Roseanne remake series last spring. She joined a clearly surprised and delighted Andrew Dice Clay for an impromptu performance at the Laugh Factory at The Tropicana in Las Vegas. The two outspoken comics, who rose to fame in the 1980s, even danced together in front of a wildly cheering audience.

Earlier this month, Barr remarked in an interview with conservative commentator Candace Owens that she was planning on returning to stand-up. In that same interview, the two women discussed Barr’s controversial 2018 tweet about Democrat Valerie Jarrett that led ABC to cancel Roseanne. In the now-deleted tweet, Bar responded to a post about Jarrett with, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

Barr explained that the social media post was a “total impaired tweet” and that she never had an opportunity to explain what she meant by the “purposefully mischaracterized” post. Barr expressed that ABC called her racist and canceled the show so quickly because the media was out to get her. “They killed the #1 show before one sponsor pulled out.”

The ardent Trump supporter later offered an apology. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding that caused, my ill-worded tweet. And I’m sorry that you feel harmed and hurt. I never meant that, and for that, I apologize.” Barr added, “Plus, I’d tell her she’s got to get a new haircut.”

Andrew Dice Clay excited for Roseanne return.

At the show, Clay introduced Barr as “one of the biggest comedians ever. There haven’t been many as controversial, as outspoken, and as fucking funny. I can’t believe this!” He continued that, “Roseanne has not been on stage since…she said something.”

Over the weekend, Clay shared eight Instagram posts documenting the night. In one post, he commented that Barr was “nervous and afraid” but that she got back in “the groove and crushed!” The former ABC star also shared a photograph with Clay on her Instagram page and thanked the legendary comic.


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Angles !!!

A post shared by Andrew Dice Clay (@andrewdiceclay) on Mar 17, 2019 at 10:13pm PDT

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Stephen Colbert: Donald Trump’s doing my Colbert Report character

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 13:13

Stephen Colbert criticized his own performance during the early days of The Late Show and to also criticize President Donald Trump. He received a standing ovation for his appearance on Saturday at An Evening with Stephen Colbert at the PaleyFest in Los Angeles. The sold out event was moderated by Pete Holmes.

Despite his current ratings success, the late night host described the tumult during his first six months on set. After he transitioned from The Colbert Report to The Late Show, Colbert struggled to find the right tone for his new role. Taking over for David Letterman and finding the right balance of comedy and political commentary was no small feat.

Colbert shared, “Those first six months felt terrible because you’re having to reinvent a new way to do the show. I had never my entire life done anything as myself, I had always done something in character—I was an actor. It was the first time I had to be me. I didn’t know if I could do that. So I had to learn to do something I’d never done before with a camera in front of me, on live television, in front of a massive audience.”

Stephen Colbert agrees with Jay Leno: Everyone knows your politics.

Colbert also agreed, at least partially, with a recent quote from former Tonight Show host Jay Leno. Leno remarked last week that he does not miss late night hosting duties because, “everyone has to know your politics.” Colbert agreed with Leno that late night hosts need to be transparent about their politics, but Colbert does not mind the pressure. Colbert stated, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying what this person is doing to families and the nation is horrible.”

During his appearance, Colbert also called the President a “delicious idiot” while comparing him to his satirically conservative Comedy Central character. Colbert explained that Trump recently said, “I don’t use my brain. I use my gut,” which was “literally the opening of The Colbert Report.”

Colbert also recalled the first time he called the President an idiot on The Late Show. When the showrunner asked Colbert, “Are you sure you want to call the President of the United States an idiot?,” Colbert responded, “I’m pretty sure.” Over the weekend, Trump again criticized late night television with a tweet criticizing “not funny/no talent” late night shows.

It’s truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of “the other side.” Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows……

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019

PaleyFest is a prestigious week-long television festival by The Paley Center for Media held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

You can catch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert weekdays on CBS at 11:35 p.m EST.

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Late night round-up: Jay Leno, Jimmy Carr, Ryan Conner, Moses Storm

Sat, 03/16/2019 - 10:29

No, you’re not in a time warp. Jay Leno did stand-up on The Tonight Show this week. And don’t worry: It’s still Jimmy Fallon’s show. This week gave us some strong stand-up sets. Leno wasn’t the only stand-up star to pop by 30 Rock. Jimmy Carr also did a set this week. A couple of Last Comic Standing alumni also swung through late night to tell us what they think about marriage and Shark Tank.

We haven’t seen any stand-up from Late Night or Jimmy Kimmel Live! in awhile. Hopefully, those bookers will get their acts together to bring some stand-up back to their shows. For now, here is your late night stand-up round-up!

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Jay Leno just won’t stop working. The former Tonight Show host “interrupted” Jimmy Fallon’s monologue Wednesday night. Fallon introduced “the angry guy I saw on the street” before his predecessor received a standing ovation from the studio audience. Leno delivered his typically strong set of jokes that he probably writes in-between gazing at his old cars. Definitely worth a watch!

Jimmy Carr is a one-liner mad man. One-liners are such a difficult joke structure that to rely on them for an hourlong set is damn near heroic. Carr, who has a new special out on Netflix, pounded the audience with punchline after punchline with his steady cadence pregnant with pauses.

Late Night with Seth Meyers Late Show with Stephen Colbert Late Late Show with James Corden

Please tell Ryan Conner’s current wife that he was very funny on The Late Late Show with James Corden—just don’t call her “current wife.” Conner talks about his second marriage and having kids. It’s very accessible stand-up done through conversations with other characters.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! Conan

Moses Storm returned to Conan this week. His stand-up set is just as active as his haircut. Storm shares the frustrations of being dyslexic, which includes sitting through absurdly long YouTube tutorials. His act outs are well-worded and hilarious. I’m excited in the middle of a very long one to find out where it will end and how many more references he can toss in. This is a fun one to end the round-up with this week.

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Comedy Central, American University team up for Laughter Lab initiative

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 14:27

American University is partnering with Comedy Central to create Laughter Lab, and they want you to “yes and” social justice.

“Yes, And… Laughter Lab, a new initiative seeking to help build and support collaborations between comedy people and social justice people, invites you to apply to pitch your project at the inaugural convening in New York City on Tuesday, June 11, 2019,” says the Laughter Lab website. The submission deadline is Friday, April 5.

Some big names in comedy, including Roy Wood Jr., Abbi Jacobson from Broad City, and Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show, are also involved in the project, according to American University.

“We developed this initiative because we believe that comedy can help change the world,” said Caty Borum Chattoo, Director of the Center for Media and Social Impact at American University, through the university website.

According to Laughter Lab, five original projects will be selected to be pitched at the convening. In the audience will be grantmakers, investors, leading NGO’s and nonprofits, broadcasters, and other industry people. “The goal is to create a coalition around each comedy project to accelerate its impact and influence,” says Laughter Lab.

Submissions are open to all types of ideas. Examples include: concept papers, completed screenplays, and stage shows. The idea can be for any medium (print, live performance, television, and web video) as long as the idea is comedic (satire, parody, sketch, stand-up, or song), according to the Laughter Lab website. The idea can also be “in any stage of development,” says Laughter Lab.

Social justice has been quite in vogue in comedy, ever since Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s special Nanette revolutionized the medium, and Louis CK’s fall from the top of the comedy world made fans reconsider the artist behind their favorite jokes. There has been a boon of content from women and minorities in comedy over the past year, and the trend is showing no signs of slowing down.

Applicants are encouraged to submit on the Laughter Lab website.

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