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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.

The post 8 Canadian comedians you didn’t know you need to watch appeared first on Laughspin.

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.

The post Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter to reprise Bill and Ted roles in 2020 appeared first on Laughspin.

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.

The post Woe, Canada: the plight of the Canadian comedian appeared first on Laughspin.

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

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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.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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.

The post Ryan Cownie a future superstar in debut comedy album appeared first on Laughspin.

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.

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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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6 WTF facts from Marc Maron’s 1,000th podcast episode

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:49

WTF with Marc Maron put out its 1,000th episode this week. To celebrate, Maron and producer Brendan McDonald talked for over two-and-a-half hours about the origins of WTF, their podcasting processes, and, of course, President Barack Obama. They also answered a good amount of fan mail.

There is no guest and, while Maron mentions that they tried to get a guest and the three people they asked said no, there is something special about hearing just McDonald and Maron reminisce on nearly a decade of making podcasts together. It is so special, partially, because McDonald is rarely heard on the podcast at length.

It is seriously worth a listen, but if you don’t have over two hours, Laughspin is bringing you the best things we learned from this very special 1,000th episode.

Maron and McDonald knew each other long before starting WTF.

Maron and McDonald take about the first hour of the episode to talk about the origin of WTF and a lot of that time is dedicated to how they met. The two first connected while working at Air America Radio. They met in 2004 working on Morning Sedition, a morning show hosted by the GLOW star. McDonald remembers coming in as “a novice” (he was only 24) and recalls Maron making a…memorable impression immediately. “I knew you as a comic, I thought, ‘He’s doing a show. That’s weird.’” McDonald says, “You were immediately in my face: What do you do? What are you going to be doing?”

After Morning Sedition, they both stayed at Air America to work on The Marc Maron Show. The two worked well together at Air America. Maron liked McDonald’s efficiency and McDonald describes himself as a comedy fan who’d long known the comic’s work. He saw the opportunity as “my chance to work with a comedian. You were in your 40s and doing this for years, but you seemed unmodeled….You seemed new.”

The first five WTF episodes were very different from the podcast.

The first episodes of the podcast were made at the Air America studios after a night technician secretly let them in. Those first shows were recorded in one long recording session. Maron remembers, “It was a nerve-racking experience for me.” Over the phone, they recorded interviews with Jeff Ross, David Feldman, Jim Earl, Patton Oswalt, and John Oliver. They originally wanted to do segments and didn’t tailor the episode around these interviews—they just did them. McDonald saw the 4-hour chunk of recording as a proof of concept.

There was no business model before Stamps.com.

When they started in 2009, podcasting was still very new. Apple had only added podcasts to its iTunes platform in 2005. In the beginning, they didn’t know how this would make money, but they started by asking for donations. “I was doing the bank role and I didn’t know how to do it,” Maron recalls. After they started, podcasts by Joe Rogan and Chris Hardwick hit the scene in a big way and ads changed how podcasts made money. While it was originally against Maron’s punk rock sensibilities to have ads on the podcast, he eventually realized they should do it and their first sponsor was Stamps.com.

Nick Kroll, not Horatio Sanz, was El Chupacabra.

WTF did not shy away from experimenting in those early episodes. Maron would interview people in cars or on sets of movies. But longtime listeners will remember they used to do comedy segments when people would play strange comedy characters. Maron wanted people to question if the segments were real or not. Many listeners think one of those characters, El Chupacabra, was voiced by Horatio Sanz, but it was actually voiced by Nick Kroll. The Big Mouth creator later took that character to his Comedy Central sketch series, Kroll Show.

McDonald reveals other voices behind those early segments. The night club comedian was Jon Daly; the libertarian firefighter was Troy Conrad; Matt Walsh played the homebound caretaker for the elderly.

McDonald almost shut down the podcast because of Louis CK.

McDonald never told his business partner but in 2017, he was ready to stop the podcast because of the confirmed sexual harassment allegations against Louis CK. McDonald felt they were so closely associated with CK after his epic two-part WTF episode. He was ready to walk into the studio the next day and tell Maron they needed to stop. His wife told him to sleep on it and after he did, he decided to keep barreling towards 1,000 episodes.

Maron has a special place in his heart for two interviews.

When answering fan mail about episodes that increased listenership, Maron says, “Two names that jumped [the downloads]: Robin Williams and Obama.” He continues, “Obama’s was a 3 million download episode. It changed our business overnight.” Later in the podcast, he reveals that at one time there was a photo of himself and Obama hanging in the West Wing. The Williams episode is also important for both of them, McDonald says. “He made my life better for doing the show” and McDonald regrets not being able to tell him that personally before the legendary comedian died.

Remembering Robin Williams. Here’s the 2010 @WTFpod interview. Beautiful, funny, sad. RIP http://t.co/8jUdIzqgqM pic.twitter.com/lWJUOPTfbx

— marc maron (@marcmaron) August 12, 2014

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Who is Lilly Singh? 7 of her funniest YouTube moments

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 10:32

With the news that Lilly Singh will replace Carson Daly on NBC’s late night line-up, many may be wondering, “Who is Lilly Singh?” We compiled your essential guide to the Indian-Canadian comedian who has been called the “Beyoncé of YouTube.” As well as being one of the platform’s highest-paid stars, IISuperwomanII, as she’s known online, is known for her signature mix of comedy that blends pop culture, stereotypes, and positivity into side-splitting sketches. A Little Late with Lilly Singh will feature celebrity interviews as well as pre-taped comedy sketches and other “signature elements.”

Singh is a master of the short format and a prolific creator, both ideal ingredients for a late night TV host. Networks have taken a variety of adjustments to the digital age, from premium subscription offshoots a la CBS All Access to an increased output of comedy shorts like Conan O’Brien’s deal with TBS. Singh will join Trevor Noah as the only millennial in late night, shifting the content to younger audiences with shorter attention spans.

If you’re unfamiliar with the YouTube phenomenon, here are some of Singh’s finest moments ahead of her late night hosting debut.

1. How Girls Get Ready

Singh demystifies just why it takes women so long to get ready for a night out and showcases the relatable comedy her fans have grown to love.

2. How to Make a Migos Song

Knowing your audience are either watching rap videos or filming their own versions in their bedroom is central to Singh’s popularity. Here she breaks down how to write a hit song complete with high-end props for an authentic baller video. Plus, who doesn’t like to see someone lounge on a Ferrari eating a banana whilst rapping about snot?

3. 5 Ways Parents Drive you Insane!

Jokes about parents are nothing new, but there’s something about the way Singh mines her family’s Indian culture for in-jokes and then reframes them in an endearing way that makes this aspect of her comedy so appealing.

4. How to Make a Sandwich

We all know how-to videos are the bread and butter of YouTube (pun intended), but Singh serves hers with a side of sass and some social commentary in How to Make a Sandwich. Watch below and delight in her sharp takedown of some trolls.

5. Comedy Skit With Dr. Phil Gone Wrong

Singh’s ability to satirize will make her a great addition to the late night landscape. Below, she collaborates with Dr. Phil to explore what happens when things go wrong. Who doesn’t want advice from America’s favorite fake doctor?

6. The Time My Real Parents React To My Instagram Pictures

Whilst her audience typically spends a lot of time hiding their Instagram antics from their parents, Singh often mines her mother and father for material. Opening herself up to ridicule by her folks but also sharing the warmth of their reactions makes for innocent comedy which has a broad appeal.

7. Newly Friend Game Ft. Selena Gomez

You only have to look at the success of The Late Late Show’s Carpool Karaoke to know the appeal of a host that can gel with talent. Singh knows how to handle celebrities and can bring out their softer and sillier side. Here she plays the Newly Friend Game with the one and only Selena Gomez.

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Lilly Singh: NBC’s new late night host is brown, queer, and a millennial

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 23:14

There’s finally a lady in late night and her name is Lilly Singh. NBC tapped Singh to replace Carson Daly in the 1:35 a.m. timeslot. A Little Late with Lilly Singh will debut this September. She will be the first woman in late night on broadcast television since Joan Rivers in 1987.

Singh is of Indian heritage, making her one of two people of color in the space. DL Hughley will host his own show starting next week on TV One.

Oh, and she’s also bisexual. And a millennial.

Lilly Singh announces news on The Tonight Show.

The soon-to-be historical late night queen was quick to acknowledge the women who came before her when she announced the news to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. “A huge shout out to all the women who have been before me and are currently in the space because I couldn’t have done it without them paving the path.”

As the audience cheered with excitement for a female late night host (finally), Jimmy Fallon surprised his guest with a glass of champagne. That glass also happened to be carried by Late Night host Seth Meyers. The two veteran hosts toasted the newest addition to the NBC late night family.

“Lilly is truly a star and we’re thrilled to welcome her to our NBC family,” said Doug Vaughan, who is NBC Entertainment’s Executive Vice President of Special Programs and Late Night. “She is a multi-talented performer who will surely have a great rapport with not only all her guests but also with our devoted late night audience. We can’t wait to get started.”

 

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I can’t even believe I am writing this caption. This is so surreal. What is happening? I NEED TO SIT DOWN. Okay. *breathe* I’m THRILLED (and crying) to announce that ya girl is getting her own @nbc late night show! AHHHHHHH!! And not only did I get to announce this dream come true on @fallontonight but @sethmeyers came out and surprised me as well! I’m so grateful and overwhelmed to be joining this incredible family. I’m numb. I can’t even process. This has been SO long in the making and I’m so happy I can finally share this with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! There’s so many people to thank and I will do so over the next few (or hundred) posts. Watch the segment live at 11:30pm est! And now… it’s time to work. It’s time to make magic. It’s time to hustle harder than ever before. Blessings

Tiffany Haddish lets Ali Wong read her DMs in Netflix behind-the-scenes video

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 16:20

Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong are getting the cartoon treatment for their new Netflix show, Tuca & Bertie. The two stand-ups continue to soar to stardom as animators turn them into hilarious…birds.

Tuca & Bertie centers around the friendship of two 30-year-old bird women who live in the same apartment building. Haddish stars as Tuca, a cocky, care-free toucan. Wong will voice Bertie, an anxious, daydreaming songbird.

Tuca & Bertie has BoJack Horseman vibe

Netflix released a short behind-the-scenes video introducing both the series and the two stars. In the video, Wong and Haddish share the excitement for the series and the similarities with their characters. “And I love my character got ass,” the Night School star laughs as we see her toucan’s emphasized backside sashay through a park.

The onscreen friends appear to have a lot of fun with each other when the mics are off. At one point, the two go through Haddish’s scandalous DMs. Wong points to one guy and suggests he could be “a 15-minute something-something.” Her unmarried co-star did not seem equally enthused.

If the snippets in this video make you think Broad City meets Bojack Horseman, it’s because Bojack supervising producer Lisa Hanawalt is the brainchild behind Tuca & Bertie. “I watched this nature documentary, and I watched these toucans who were digging into other birds nests and eating their egg and gobbling them up. That’s kind of what this show is based on,” Hanawalt says in the video. “This is about a friendship between 30-year-old bird women. I want women in the real world to relate to it even though they’re not bird people.”

Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong continue to soar

Both comedians are fast-rising to stardom. Haddish broke out in 2017’s Girls Trip and since then keeps popping up in movies. This year alone she voices roles in sequels for both The Lego Movie and The Secret Life of Pets. She’ll also appear in Limited Partners and The Kitchen. She also stars on TBS’s The Last O.G. opposite Tracy Morgan.

Wong rocked two incredibly Netflix stand-up specials before Amy Schumer conceived her first baby. Ali Wong: Baby Cobra made waves with her candid material about marriage and pregnancy in a signature leopard print dress and bulging belly. In addition to Tuca & Bertie, Wong will star in another Netflix original, a film titled Always Be My Maybe. Next year, fans can see her in the Margot Robbie-led Harley Quinn movie Birds of Prey.

Tuca & Bertie also stars Walking Dead star Steven Yeun and features guest performances from Nicole Byer, Reggie Watts, Tig Notaro, Jermaine Fowler, and Tessa Thompson. The adult animated series comes to Netflix May 3.

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Jamestown’s National Comedy Center made official with Trump signature

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 10:40

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY is now the official U.S. cultural institution celebrating and preserving the art of comedy. President Donald Trump signed legislation on Tuesday to recognize that the state-of-the-art museum complex “exists for the exclusive purpose of celebrating comedy in all of its forms.”

The legislation that Trump signed was part of a larger bill on natural resources management policy. Congress passed that bill two weeks ago in a bipartisan vote. Senator Chuck Schumer remarked, “Comedy is an art form, and it’s a part of America’s rich cultural history…The Comedy Center is a tourism magnet and now, finally, it has the national designation it so clearly deserves.”

With visitors from all 50 states and 6 countries, @NtlComedyCenter has established itself as a world-class destination. I’m so glad I got to stop by on Friday for some laughs myself before the Senate voted today to name them THE National Comedy Center. The House vote is next! pic.twitter.com/Mt4wz4w5CQ

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 13, 2019

National Comedy Center becomes comedy’s Cooperstown

The $50 million National Comedy Center opened in August 2018 and has become a major tourist attraction, with a mix of private, federal, and state support. Earlier this year, the USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest named the museum the 2nd Best New Attraction in the country. In September, Condé Nast Traveler called it “one of the best museums in the country.”

While it is not technically a “hall of fame,” the museum is a destination-type experience such as Cooperstown’s National Baseball Hall of Fame or Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The museum goes beyond a focus on comedy icons and also explores the influence of humor on how we live. The museum is family-friendly except for The Blue Room in the basement.

The National Comedy Center complex boasts 37,000-square-feet and over 50 immersive and interactive exhibits, with collections ranging from early vaudeville days to today’s social media era. Collections and exhibits include Charlie Chaplin’s cane, handwritten Saturday Night Live notes, and a hologram theater to experience acts of deceased talents. Exhibit partners include Jerry Seinfeld, The Garry Shandling Estate, Dan Aykroyd, and major studios. The Jamestown museum also hosts live stand-up performances.

Lucille Ball’s hometown becomes comedy capital

The non-profit institution includes the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. Jamestown is the former home of comedic actress Lucille Ball, who envisioned her small hometown becoming a destination for comedy. Jamestown is located approximately 90 minutes south of Buffalo.

The annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is a newer tradition in the upstate city. Sebastian Maniscalco and John Mulaney will headline the 28th annual festival this August.

For more information, visit comedycenter.org.

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DL Hughley enters late night landscape next week with The DL Hughley Show

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 13:15

DL Hughley is coming to late night next week. Starting on Monday, March 18, the outspoken comic is bringing his brash style to TV One with The DL Hughley Show. The talk show will combine the usual elements of late night variety shows: news, entertainment, social media, comedy bits, guest interviews, and roundtable discussions.

Co-host Jasmine Sanders will join the always-opinionated Hughley on the hour-long show. The show seems like it will be loosely patterned after his radio program, also called The DL Hughley Show, but adapted for television. Hughley and Sanders currently co-host their syndicated radio program for Reach Media. Both Reach Media and TV One are connected to the Urban One media conglomerate. TV One is a cable network “representing the best of the past, present, and future of black entertainment TV.”

Late night TV is DL Hughley’s newest frontier

The comedy vet joins the late night landscape and if the teaser video is any indication, he won’t shy away from big topics. In the video, the Original King of Comedy asks, “How come they let a football player with a concussion on the field, but not one with a conscience?” This is bread and butter for Hughley. He won a Peabody Award for his documentary Endangered List where he tried to get black men placed on the endangered species list.

Since then, the comedian has bounced around as a panelist and host of a variety of shows including Match Game and Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host. He even competed on Dancing With The Stars in 2013 when Kellie Pickler took home the top prize. His latest stand-up special, D.L. Hughley: Contrarian, came out on Netflix in 2018.

Will Terry Crews be first DL Hughley Show guest?

Last month, Hughley stated that he would like his first guest to be actor and former professional football player Terry Crews. Last year when Crews joined the #MeToo movement with his own experience of sexual assault, Hughley and Crews got involved in a Twitter beef. We will have to wait until Monday to see if he was actually able to book his dream guest.

Watch the DL Hughley show starting Monday, March 18 on TV One. The show airs Monday through Thursday at 11:00 p.m ET/PT and 10:00 p.m. CT.

 

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What’s worse for a black man…a Kardashian or high blood pressure? #DLHughleyShow premieres MONDAY night at 11/10C @realdlhughley

A post shared by TV One (@tvonetv) on Mar 12, 2019 at 8:16am PDT

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Dave Chappelle gives Will Smith stand-up lessons on Bucket List episode

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 12:04

Will Smith received a lesson in stand-up comedy from Dave Chappelle for his new Facebook Watch show, Will Smith’s Bucket List. But Smith’s stand-up experience is a life lesson for us all. When Smith celebrated his 50th birthday, he decided to tackle his bucket list in a series of episodes on Facebook Watch. His first episodes follow the Aladdin star as he skydives and swims with sharks—it has the potential to be just fluff.

However, in this new episode, Smith has just one week to prepare a stand-up routine with Chappelle’s help. Confronting fears and finding meaningful connections could prepare one for their first open mic or the struggles of day-to-day life.

As Smith mentally prepares, he admits that performing stand-up is even more intimidating than his upcoming bucket list item of bungee jumping from a helicopter over the Grand Canyon. “There’s nothing in entertainment that is more terrifying to me than standing up in front of an audience with just a microphone with the anticipation that you will make people laugh. Yet when you connect to people, there’s nothing like that.”

Will Smith tries stand-up comedy on Bucket List

The former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air seems to realize the true skill required to perform stand-up well and does not assume that his fame and acting chops will get him by—unlike other comedic actors flippantly tossing their hats into the stand-up game. While some comics would complain that the last thing LA needs is yet another actor trying to perform stand-up, Chappelle sees Smith as someone people can root for. Chappelle admits that “being a good dude in comedy, that’s rare. Comics are assholes.”

Chappelle offers three pieces of advice for Smith, but the lessons go beyond the stage. 1. Confidence is key. 2. Pick the right shit to talk about. 3. Be interesting all the time.

Dave Chappelle: “If they can feel you, they will never forget you.”

Chappelle adds, “If they can feel you, they will never forget you.” The two-time Grammy-winner comments on the fun and importance of being “self-aware in front of people.” The mentor and student connect with friends, such as Alfonso Ribeiro who co-starred with Smith on Fresh Prince and Neal Brennan who co-created Chappelle’s Show, to help structure a meaningful routine.

As Smith performs to a surprised crowd of friends and family at the Peppermint Room in LA, he truly starts to open up. He stops pacing and looking down and starts to calm down and embrace the crowd with typical first-timer material about his family.

At 50, Smith may or may not be experiencing a stunningly standard midlife crisis. The Bad Boys star says he wants to live life for himself. Admittedly addicted to adoration, Smith seems to have realized that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone even if it leads to embarrassment and failure.

On this new episode of Will Smith’s Bucket List, Chappelle helps the actor discover the magic of stand-up comedy: using negative emotions and turn them into laughter.

Watch the 22-minute long episode below and like Will Smith’s Bucket List on Facebook Watch.

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Pete Davidson, Catholic Church are feuding; Diocese of Brooklyn demands apology

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 11:29

Pete Davidson is in the news (again), this time for feuding with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church’s Diocese of Brooklyn released a lengthy statement calling for an “immediate public apology” from Davidson and SNL for a joke the comedian told on last Saturday’s Weekend Update.

Davidson was brought on for a segment about R. Kelly and his alleged abuse of young women. The SNL star then told a joke comparing him to Catholic priests. “This guy is a monster and he should go to jail forever,” Davidson said, “But if you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that like the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan? I don’t really see the difference, except for one’s music is significantly better.”

He continued to talk about not going to mass with his mother and, instead, listening to Kelly’s Remix to Ignition.

Diocese claims Catholic Church is leader against sexual abuse

The Diocese of Brooklyn said in their statement they support the victims of abuse by the hands of the clergy, but not before saying, “Apparently, the only acceptable bias these days is against the Catholic Church. The faithful of our Church are disgusted by the harassment by those in news and entertainment, and this sketch offends millions. The mockery of this difficult time in the Church’s history serves no purpose.”

The statement ends by calling out SNL for the joke, saying, “It is likely that no other institution has done more than the Catholic Church to combat and prevent sexual abuse. The insensitivity of the writers, producers, and the cast of SNL around this painful subject is alarming.”

Pete Davidson called to apologize for jokes…again

This is not the first time Davidson has been pressured to apologize recently. Back in November, he publically apologized to Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) after making fun of the combat veteran’s eye patch. There is no word yet about if Davidson or anyone at Saturday Night Live plans to apologize to the Catholic Diocese, but knowing Davidson, it will probably feed into a stand-up bit or SNL segment.

Diocese of Brooklyn’s Full Statement

The Diocese of Brooklyn is demanding an immediate public apology from “Saturday Night Live” and NBC after Saturday night’s disgraceful and offensive skit in which cast member Pete Davidson, during the Weekend Update segment, said: “If you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan?” The statement clearly shocked the studio audience as gasps could be heard off camera.

Apparently, the only acceptable bias these days is against the Catholic Church. The faithful of our Church are disgusted by the harassment by those in news and entertainment, and this sketch offends millions. The mockery of this difficult time in the Church’s history serves no purpose.

The clergy sex abuse crisis is shameful, and no one should ever get a laugh at the expense of the victims who have suffered irreparably. The Diocese of Brooklyn strives every day to ensure that sexual abuse by clergy never happens again.

For nearly two decades, the Diocese of Brooklyn has taken this crisis seriously and instituted widespread changes mandated by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

Those changes include a zero-tolerance policy in which any clergy member credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is permanently removed from ministry. Since 2002, the Diocese of Brooklyn has shared all of its files and allegations against clergy with the District Attorneys of Brooklyn and Queens. In 2004, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio instituted a reporting line that sends reports directly to law enforcement authorities.

The charter also mandates sexual abuse awareness training for all clergy members, teachers, parish/academy/school employees, catechists and volunteers who work directly with children. Employees and volunteers also must agree to initial and ongoing criminal background checks and must sign a code of conduct.

To help victims, the Office of Victim Assistance provides referrals for therapy, support groups for survivors and an annual Healing Mass to pray for all who have been impacted by sexual abuse.  The diocese also started the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program as another possible mechanism for healing that may help bring closure to victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

It is likely that no other institution has done more than the Catholic Church to combat and prevent sexual abuse. The insensitivity of the writers, producers, and the cast of SNL around this painful subject is alarming.

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