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10 tips on taping your stand-up set from the bookers who watch them

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 13:11

A constant plague upon my existence as a comedian is getting that elusive tape to send to bookers. For a comic, having a great video of your stand-up set is vital. You need it to get booked on just about everything from comedy clubs to Conan. However, many comedians of every experience level don’t understand what a good tape looks like.

I had the pleasure of chatting with a few industry insiders about what makes or breaks a good tape. Whether you’ve been doing stand-up for 10 months or 10 years, it’s important to have a good and recent tape at the ready to send to bookers. Here’s a list of tips to help you when submitting for big comedy festivals or that cool indie bar show everyone’s talking about!

1. Get into your material right away!

By the time a festival or show booker looks at your tape, they have watched countless sets. So you need to hook them right away. The best way to do that is by going straight into your jokes at the beginning of the set. Cole Stratton, co-founder of SF Sketchfest warns, “Sometimes sets are submitted where [comics] don’t get to their material until nearly three minutes in. Don’t make us fast forward through your intro.”

Remember that you have a limited amount of time to wow bookers. Jeff Singer, TV Producer and Executive Talent Scout for Just For Laughs, suggests that you make the most of your time. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a one-liner comic or a storyteller,” Singer advises. “Don’t meander with long set-ups and wait for laughs to come every 90 seconds. You have six minutes to make a strong impression.”

2. Avoid crowd work and local references.

Your tape should not include much crowd work “unless you are a crowd work comic submitting for a crowd work show,” says Luisa Diez, an independent comedy booker/consultant. “The tape should feature your jokes, on-stage persona, and your intentional comedy, not accidental comedy that is dependent on the specific room or audience in the tape.” She goes on, “Crowd work, especially at the start of your set, can tend to be unoriginal (there are only so many jokes to be made about couples in the front row), and you risk having the booker shut off the tape in the first minute just because you started in a way that didn’t make you stand apart.”

When submitting for a show or festival that is not in your hometown, Singer suggests that comics avoid making too many local references. “Jokes about a specific neighborhood in Denver may get big laughs at a venue there,” Singer says. “But they will fall flat in front of a national audience or in another city or country.”

3. It’s okay to film your set with your smartphone.

“Nobody expects a fledgling comic to hire a professional videographer every time they make a tape,” Singer says. “There are smartphones now with high quality cameras that can do a really good job. Ensure audio is crisp and bold. Make sure the stage is well-lit.”

4. Buy a tripod to stabilize the shot.

Stand-up comedian Tom Thakkar (seen on Conan and Comedy Central) recommends that comics buy a tripod for their phones. “I bought a phone tripod on Amazon for like $15 that is sturdy and easy enough to transport. Find a decent place in the venue to set up your tripod where you’re close enough to the audience so it doesn’t sound like you’re bombing, but ideally in a spot where people aren’t walking into the frame every 10 seconds.” It’s way more professional than balancing your phone atop a notebook on two empty glasses on a wobbly comedy club table.

5. Film every set.

“Make taping yourself a habit,” Diez advises. “If you bring your camera and tripod and set it up at every show you can, you will produce a lot of tapes for process (to check your performance, adjust punchline and set order, etc) but will also end up sometimes hitting on a tape that is good enough to share with bookers.” The curse of taping a specific set is real, she acknowledges. “I’ve seen comics stress out for a week straight trying to get a particular set on tape and they end up not getting it, partially because you never know how a particular set or show will go, but partially because they are so in their heads about having to perform perfectly to capture it on tape, that they end up stiff in their performance or veering off the set they intended to do.”

Thakkar filmed every set when he was preparing for late night. “I wanted to get comfortable with [being on camera],” he said. “All comics think we’re cursed the second we turn on a camera before our set, and just like anything else, that goes away a little if you record them all. Your odds of getting a tape go way up, rather than backing yourself into a corner of, ‘Oh shit, I need to get this tape on this show or I’m fucked!'”

6. For festival submissions, your tape should be of your full performance.

“Don’t send excerpts from a longer tape,” Diez suggests. “When you do that, the booker can’t see how you start and finish a set, and it gives the impression that you are not good at starting and ending your set strongly, so instead you cut out what you considered to be the best chunk from the middle. “

Singer agrees. “I personally prefer sets that are unedited,” he says. “I want to see on that tape what I would see at a live audition: the full set top to bottom. I don’t want to see a ‘best of’ highlights reel. Anyone can piece that together and make themselves appear as if they’re killing the whole time.  We want to see a real representation of your set. Editing hides consistency, audience reaction, room energy, and other factors that allow us to assess your performance.”

As for the host introduction, Singer says to leave it in. “I actually like seeing the intro and walk-on because the entrance is part of the package. However, if the host launches into a one minute diatribe before bringing up the comic, edit that down. We want to see the comic’s performance, not the host’s.”

7. Follow the directions if there are submission guidelines.

“You should be aware of what the requirements are for what you’re submitting to,” Diez implores. “Do you need to do clean material? Did they specify the length of the tape they want? Is the show about a particular topic? Follow instructions! You’d be surprised to know how often not following instructions loses you an opportunity.”

8. Make sure your tape is online and accessible with a viewable link.

“We still use the word ‘tapes,’ as in the days when physical tapes or DVDs were sent, but today we’re really talking about video links,” Singer clarifies. “When sending a link, make sure the link isn’t broken.  I’ve seen that ‘Ooops we can’t find your link’ message too many times.” You want to make the booker’s job as easy as possible. Don’t let technical difficulties be the reason you’re not selected for a gig. “Please don’t send a Zip file or downloadable file that takes time to open and view. Platforms like YouTube, Google Drive, and Vimeo allow you to stream videos immediately with one click. Use them to your advantage.”

9. Choose material that represents who you are best.

Singer recommends that “material should represent what [the comic] does best in terms of [their] writing, voice, and point of view.” He says, “The guiding force around material is really all about how original, clever, and funny you are. If 10 of your comic friends have bits about using dating apps, for example, you may want to go in another direction.”

Diez advises that you only use material that you love. “Don’t send tapes that have jokes you’re not proud of,” she says. “Not even one joke you do not love! If you don’t love it, what makes you think a booker will?”

10. Keep at it.

The biggest offense Singer has noticed during his time as Executive Talent Scout at Just For Laughs is that some comics don’t know when to scrap an inferior tape. “I understand how much time and effort it takes to line up a spot at a good venue on a good night and make sure everything goes right,” he says. Singer recommends that if you find yourself with a tape that doesn’t have clear audio, great energy, and quality video of your live performance, “it is better to let go and start over rather than push forward a flawed representation of your work.”

“Festival bookers are pulling for you and want you to be good!” Stratton encourages. “We have the really hard job of watching an incredibly large number of submissions for a limited number of spots. Just because you don’t get accepted, doesn’t mean that we didn’t like your set.” Don’t take rejection one year as a rejection forever. “Continue to work at it and submit again,” Stratton shares. “Many people have made it in [to SF Sketchfest] after submitting a second or third or even fourth time. No one likes to hear, ‘No,’ and we get that, but take it as a challenge to continue to improve. Your hard work will most likely be rewarded at some point.”

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Bill Maher: Live From Oklahoma makes even right-wingers laugh

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:03

To call Bill Maher “politically incorrect” would be an understatement. In fact, the Real Time with Bill Maher host wears the title like a badge of honor. In his 11th HBO stand-up special, Live From Oklahoma, Maher pushes boundaries to new limits, exploring a few “new rules” and some familiar ones tackled on his long running HBO talk show.

He targets the hot button issues found in current events, including the Trump administration, the legalization of marijuana, and the MeToo movement. Even though he attacks these topics with his usual feral fervor to a receptive Tulsa audience, he delivers an engaging performance that would also leave his political opposition laughing hysterically in the aisles.

Maher, a self-professed atheist, is at his best when tackling the touchy topic of religion. He destroys what he considers the absurdity of tolerance for intolerance found in Islam, the stupidity of the left’s need for political correctness in support of the religion, and the supposed piousness of Christian politicians. And he does so in a way that leaves even the most faithful religiosos nodding in agreement.

In fact, it’s almost impossible not to gravitate towards Maher’s unabashed honesty, his proclivity for inducing independent thought in his audience, and his penchant for leaving people more informed by the end of his show than they were at its start.

That is probably the most charming aspect of Maher’s comedy. He speaks and acts like a college lecturer that his fellow faculty despises because he goes against the grain. He doesn’t tow any lines and would rather give his students a curriculum that makes them better members of society than just graduate them unprepared for the lives ahead.

The one huge strike against Live From Oklahoma is the same criticsm he regularly receives from the right. While it’s the stalwart nature of his political beliefs that drives him to success, the unwavering tone of his observations leaves little room to include those on the opposite side of the aisle. Yes, he mentions during his performance that there are “Trump supporters” in attendance, which shows that there are many reasonable right-wingers who would laugh and cheer Maher’s left-leaning arguments.

However, his unrelenting assault of the right wing and those Maher sees as the enemy can leave many who would naturally agree with his ideas—political party affiliation be damned—in a defensive mode. And when you are trying to win over those who don’t agree with you, vilifying them in the eyes of those who support you makes for an overall hard sell for bi-partisan harmony.

Yet, one can conclude that is what Maher does: he electrifies issues into a kinetic ball of fury and then hurls it at the audience to get their reaction, which then recharges his next polarizing projectile of intellectual energy.

Ultimately, though, Maher wants you to not only agree with him but to convert to his own cult of political personality. With an offering like Live In Oklahoma, he makes a compelling argument for those on the other side of the fence to hop over and join the party.

Bill Maher’s Live In Oklahoma is available now in stores via Comedy Dynamics.

No guests. No desk. Just Bill. @BillMaher: Live from Oklahoma premieres 7/7. pic.twitter.com/ilOPEuQTNM

— HBO (@HBO) June 15, 2018

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Kevin Hart is fine; announces Netflix stand-up special

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 15:10

Kevin Hart will release his first Netflix original stand-up special on Tuesday, April 2. On Instagram, Hart told his followers, “Mark your calendars damn it.”

Fresh off of not-hosting this year’s Oscars, titled Kevin Hart: Irresponsible, will feature the comic joking about his “friends, family, travel…and a year filled with irresponsible behavior.” The hour-long special was taped during the Irresponsible Tour’s sold-out stop in London.

As we all know by now, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences tapped Hart to host this year’s Oscars back in December. Days later, people dug up controversial tweets and the Night School star stepped down despite an apology made on Ellen. The hostless Oscars did…what it did.

Kevin Hart keeps on Kevin Hart-ing with new projects

Hart toured extensively throughout the United States for his 2017-2018 Irresponsible Tour. He also made stops in Australia and a few other international locations, including three nights at London’s O2 Arena.

Irresponsible is Hart’s first special since his stand-up concert film What Now? debuted in movie theaters in 2016. The corresponding comedy album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.

After multiple scandals, some of Hart’s recent projects have taken a more family-friendly tone. During Black History Month, Hart released Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History on Netflix. That hour-long special included reenactments aimed at kids and families. Hart will star in the upcoming kids flick The Secret Life of Pets 2, the new Jumanji sequel, and even a live-action Monopoly movie. However, the new show he is executive producing for FX based on the life of rapper and comic Lil Dicky will probably be decidedly un-family friendly. However, his new show at FX—based on the life of rapper-comedian Lil Dicky—will be decidedly less family-friendly.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Mark your calendars damn it. My Comedy special will be dropping on April 2nd on Netflix. I can’t wait….Let’s gooooooo #Irresponsible #ComedicRockStarShit #Netflix

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on Mar 11, 2019 at 7:29am PDT

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Santa Clarita Diet family faces new challenges in Season Three trailer

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 14:23

Santa Clarita Diet returns to Netflix for Season Three and the new official trailer hints at some juicy plot twists to sink your teeth into.

In the trailer, realtor-turned zombie Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and her still-human husband Joel (Timothy Olyphant) face a whole new set of questions surrounding their new lives together. Will daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) get fed up living with her blood-hungry mom? Is the ‘Bewarew The Knights Are Coming’ sign on the door a warning from the Knights of Serbia? And how soon after you kill someone is appropriate to have sex? With a theme of True Love Never Dies, the San Fernando Valley couple-next-door may be in it for the long haul.

Santa Clarita Diet ended its 10-episode Season Two with a cliffhanger, as the police close in on the couple for the murder of their neighbor, Gary. However, Gary is not actually dead. He is undead—or at least his severed head is.

Unfortunately, in Season Two, Sheila also ate some clams from Serbia that exacerbated her condition. Mystery couple Paul and Marsha destroy the clams. Showrunner Victor Fresco previously mentioned that Season Three will delve more into this mysterious couple. Do they have their eyes out on the Hammonds and not just the clams?

While critics generally praise the show, some critics and viewers have commented on its excessive gore. The show, featuring mounds of flesh, is definitely not for the faint-hearted. However, it is for the light-hearted with its jaunty take on…cannibalism.

Santa Clarita Diet Season Three debuts all 10 half-hour episodes on Netflix on Friday, March 29.

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Brody Stevens tattoos honor late comedian’s positive energy

Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:05

The comedy world lost beloved comedian Brody Stevens last month. The cut-out-of-Funny People star inspired many with his unique blend of weirdness on stage and his sincerity off of it.

People close to Stevens got some permanent ink to keep his memory visibly alive each day. Comedian Eric Oligny, fan Janet Owen, Laughspin intern Mary Stevens, and fan Monica got Brody Stevens tattoos at the Shamrock Social Club in West Hollywood last week. Mary Stevens is not related to the comic’s comic but became a close friend over the years through the LA comedy scene.

Brody Stevens tattoos pay tribute to fallen star

Mary Stevens got an 818 tattoo. Brody Stevens was very vocal about his 818 area code pride. The 1 is a drumstick, for his love of drumming, and the 8s are infinity symbols. “Brody is one of the most influential people in my life,” she told Laughspin. “I will always remember his silliness, kindness, love of the Valley, and of course, his amazing drumming skills.”

Janet Owens’s tattoo alludes to a classic Brody Stevens joke. “I’m intense! I get B.O. in the shower!” To her, the tattoo symbolizes that “connections matter” and she “was happy to have felt that.”

Monica, a big fan of the comic, put “#Coach” on her wrist. Stevens loved his hashtags and was “like a life coach” to many. Oligny, who also produced the Steven Brody Stevens Festival of Friendship podcast, chose to immortalize a comment Stevens made to him once. His chest now sports, “‘You’re in the big leagues now’ -SBS.”

Comedy community continues to mourn Brody Stevens death

Stevens hanged himself in his home on February 22. He was 48. The stand-up openly discussed his struggles with mental health and bipolar disorder. The comedy community quickly swarmed to honor Stevens’s memory and remember the countless good times they shared with him.

Since the comedian-actor’s death, several memorial stand-up shows and services have taken place in Los Angeles. The comedian-owned-and-operated All Things Comedy network gave his podcast a proper send off by live streaming a final episode of Festival of Friendship “pushing positivity.” A GoFundMe page was started for the Brody Stevens’ “Believe It” Fund and has raised over $15,000 as of this writing. The fund is meant to “honor” his memory and raise money “to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention.” All proceeds will go to The National Alliance of Mental Illness.

The Brody tributes reached national levels, too. Leslie Jones wore a Brody Stevens t-shirt during the curtain call on Saturday’s SNL. His smiling face covered the front of the shirt. The back simply read, “Push & Believe.”

I was glad to give my boy @BrodyismeFriend some love!! Will miss you buddy!! #pushandbelieve pic.twitter.com/GTNaMsgNVz

— Leslie Jones

SNL recap: Watch Idris Elba crush it on Saturday Night Live

Sun, 03/10/2019 - 12:43

Thes new Idris Elba Netflix comedy, Turn Up Charlie, debuts March 15. This week, the Wire star hosted Saturday Night Live to show off his comedic chops. It was Elba’s first time hosting the Saturday Night sketch show and he threw himself into it, doing a variety of characters and accents. The show had a lot of sketches that featured social commentary and current events this week—with a few twists. Some made great points; others felt messy and convoluted. While Elba always seemed to have a lot of fun with what he was doing, other parts of the episode didn’t work as well as he did. Laughspin is breaking down this week’s SNL using our totally official star scale.

SNL Cold Open

SNL often has a problem ending sketches, but the best part of this sketch is the end. This non-political cold open mocks the R. Kelly-Gayle King interview. There are two recurring jokes throughout the sketch: Kelly is dumb and Kelly keeps doing Trapped in The Closet. The joke about Kelly being dumb is funny but feels juvenile at moments. The Trapped in The Closet joke would be great if it was done a little better. There is so much to make fun of and so many ways to play with the form if they wanted to commit to a Trapped in The Closet bit, but the lack of execution is why this only gets three Eddie Murphys.

Idris Elba SNL Monologue

Elba was not only personable and funny in his monologue, but he told the perfect set of stories for SNL. He talked about being a bouncer at Carolines—which is perfect for diehard comedy lovers—and a laughworthy tale about his family. It’s wonderful when SNL lets the monologue be a true monologue without bringing out cast members to interrupt or interact.

The Impossible Hulk

This week’s SNL was full of sketches that had twists. The twist in this sketch works particularly well since you would never be able to guess what this is about before it starts. The sketch is funny and works, but it might have missed a chance for social commentary that the writers seemed to sets up.

Can I Play That?

The end line of this sketch is five Gildas-worthy, but the lead up to it is such a mess. The issue of the sketch is it doesn’t take a clear stance. The sketch is about if actors can play disabled people or people of other races, but the sketch flip flops on if they should be or not. It starts making fun of people caring about colorism on Twitter, suggesting actors should ignore outrage culture and play whatever roles they want—but that message gets muddled quickly. By the end, it isn’t clear what this sketch is saying, which is hard for a sketch based around social commentary. It has its funny moments, but the confusing structure ruins it for me.

PowerPoint

This sketch is pure goofy fun. Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant are perfect as behind-the-times secretaries who are trying to learn PowerPoint. The visual gags in this sketch are particularly good as Elba tries to get through their nonsensical slides.

Bok Bok

If you haven’t heard of Mo Mo, you must not be a parent or work with tweens. The YouTube horror phenom is certainly in the zeitgeist at the moment. This sketch is funny, but in the end, simple. It really all relies on McKinnon’s scary face.

Gold Diggers of the WNBA

This sketch already feels dated. The concept of gold diggers going after players who are underpaid is funny, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and the sketch ends with a lesbian joke that feels straight out of the late ’90s. There is nothing wrong with this sketch, but nothing feels fresh or new (or that funny), and the writers could have pushed the idea a lot farther.

Weekend Update

Weekend Update is always a mixed bag and this one was a long one. The segments that everyone will be talking about are Goop and Pete Davidson. The recurring segment where a Goop employee breaks under pressure was taken to the next level when the real-life Gwyneth Paltrow comes by to make fun of herself and her company while playing a Goop manager who breaks under pressure. While Paltrow seems nervous to do the bit, the fact that it is really her makes it funny and shocking.

Davidson comes on to talk about how he won’t stop listening to R. Kelly. It is okay, but a little all over the place. The end where he talks about his new relationship with Kate Beckinsale is perfect. He shuts down all the critics of their age difference in a perfect way which will have you laughing and snapping in approval.

Soccer Broadcast

Elba got to do his best character work in this sketch. He showcases his comedic timing and really commits to the character in his body language. For soccer fans, this sketch is nothing short of spot-on. The broadcasters have that perfectly British sense of dad humor and nervous energy that brings realism to the sketch. While a couple of sketches in the show relied on dumb jokes, this one is done the smartest.

Magic Show

There is a twist in this sketch that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s good to see sketch writers really focusing on the endings and making sure the sketches don’t just kind of trail off (which unfortunately happens too much in the medium as a whole.) The sketch relies a little too heavily on ‘Leslie Jones is big,’ but Jones saves it from being incredibly stale with her physical humor.

Supportive Friend

This sketch just kind of ends. It almost feels like there was more, but they ran out of time. This ‘supportive friend’ bit has its moments but doesn’t really feel like a fully realized bit. The sketch revolves around a friend that wants to be supportive but is really jealous. The premise feels like it has been done and the ending doesn’t work in SNL’s final piece of the night.

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SMILF canceled at Showtime; Frankie Shaw loses overall deal with ABC

Sat, 03/09/2019 - 17:49

SMILF is canceled after two seasons on Showtime amidst allegations against star and creator Frankie Shaw. Back in December, Shaw was accused of several disturbing rumors about sexual misconduct on set including not closing the set for a sex scene and yanking actress Samara Weaving’s shirt down after she refused to do a nude scene.

The remainder of the second season will come out as scheduled, but Shaw’s overall deal with ABC Studios, who produced the series, has been suspended.

A prepared statement from Showtime stated,  “After weighing a variety of factors, Showtime has decided that SMILF will not move forward for a third season. The remainder of the second season will continue to air as scheduled on Showtime through its series finale on March 31. We remain extremely proud of the two seasons of SMILF, and thank Frankie Shaw for her singular voice and unique creation, as well as the dozens of writers, producers, actors, directors and crew members both in Los Angeles and on location in Boston, who contributed to this exceptional series.”

While Shaw’s deal has been suspended, the studio seems hesitant to fully cut ties. ABC Studios released a statement, “Frankie Shaw’s overall deal with ABC Studios has been suspended without pay while we review our options.”

SMILF gets premature end despite critical praise

SMILF’s second season premiered in January starring Shaw as a struggling young mother and Rosie O’Donnell as her aging mother in working-class Boston. Shaw and SMILF received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for Shaw herself.

Shaw released a statement saying, “I can’t express how much I’ve loved making this show, how much I love the cast and crew and appreciate Showtime and ABC as creative partners.”

 

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sad to say #SMILF will not get a season three … i love n support @frankieshawisag – i’m simply heartbroken

Judd Apatow on Crashing cancelation: HBO told us to stop making it.

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 17:15

Crashing crashed its last crash at HBO. The Pete Holmes sitcom about an aspiring stand-up comedian will end after the Season 3 finale this Sunday.

HBO confirmed the news after Judd Apatow appeared on Conan Thursday night. On the late night show, he was very explicit that Crashing is not canceled. “We’re just going to stop making it.”

Conan O’Brien asked, “What stopped you from making more?” The famed filmmaker comically replied, “They told us we should never make any more [episodes.]”

Crashing was a hit comedy series with stand-ups due to its realistic portrayal of up-and-coming stand-ups in present-day New York City. Regular comedy pains like barking, bringer shows, and miscast auditions on the series showed the world that stand-up comedy is fucking hard. Previous sitcoms like Seinfeld, Maron, and Maria Bamford’s quirky Netflix series Lady Dynamite showed the lives of working comedians. At least for this writer, open mic-level stand-up comedy is depicted no more honestly than on Crashing.

Hey everyone, I just wanted to let you know that Crashing has not been picked up for a fourth season. I feel so grateful and so much joy that I got to make this wonderful show with my comedy hero @JuddApatow and the amazing cast, crew and writers. Gratitude and love. Heart emoji!

— Pete Holmes (@peteholmes) March 8, 2019

Crashing showed the gritty New York stand-up scene

Many New York City stand-up staples were featured on the series. Because Crashing was about up-and-coming comedians, they didn’t just shoot at the infamous Comedy Cellar. The Grisly Pear, a Greenwich Village bar with a comedian-ran room in the back, gained name recognition with interior and exterior scenes shot in the same place countless unknown comics cut their teeth.

Apatow and Holmes made three seasons of the HBO show. Many big-name comedians made appearances as themselves including John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross, and Amy Schumer. Critics enjoyed Artie Lange’s moving role as himself, a ‘big brother’ figure to the fictional Pete.

Even fictional roles relied heavily on stand-up talent. Aparna Nancherla, Jamie Lee, Jermaine Fowler, and more regularly starred on the series.

Crashing became that TV show that friends and family would see, then ask the comedian in their life, “You watch Crashing? Is that real?” The audience for the show actually grew this season, or at least according to Nielsen. Crashing averaged 369,000 live viewers, up about 4.5% from Season 2. That doesn’t count what is likely an even bigger audience watching on other platforms.

Pete Holmes faces second cancelation

Holmes always seemed nervous about getting picked up for another season, as he would frantically remind listeners of his podcast, You Made It Weird, to watch it and to watch it live on HBO. He’d frequently make mention that the “numbers matter” and that live viewers help determine if they’ll get picked up again.

This is not Holmes’s first time losing a series to network executives. The Pete Holmes Show, his late night talk show, ran for 80 episodes on TBS before getting canceled due to insufficient audience numbers.

Will there be a Crashing movie at HBO?

There still a potential we’ll do a movie, and no lie, if you watch the finale you’ll see it wraps up VERY nicely. Sort of eerie, actually. We kept accidentally calling it the “series finale” on set while we were shooting. Please watch! Sunday at 10.

— Pete Holmes (@peteholmes) March 8, 2019

Despite not getting picked up for a fourth season, Apatow floated the possibility of a Crashing movie. HBO has gone this route with beloved shows they “did not pick up but also did not cancel” in the past. LGBTQ favorite Looking enjoyed two seasons on the premium cable channel before concluding with a longer “special” (read: movie).

It’s a sad day for fans of the show and the New York-based comedians who will go back to living the lives they depicted on screen.

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Whoopi Goldberg on The View: Pneumonia almost killed me.

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 14:21

Whoopi Goldberg is recovering after a serious case of pneumonia that almost killed the Sister Act star. The star had missed episodes of The View, but on Friday’s show, she sent in a video message to explain her absence.

In the video, Golberg reveals that she had pneumonia in both lungs and was septic. The condition was life-threatening but the Ghost star assures viewers she is on the mend.

Before playing the video, co-host Joy Behar seemed frazzled to talk about Goldberg’s sickness. She said, “First, I have been starting every show since Whoopi has been out of the show, home sick, telling you that she is getting better, which she is, and will be back soon. But today I am going to let her give you the update herself. Take it away, Whoopi!”

Goldberg begins the video, “I am here. I am up and moving around, not as fast as I’d like to be, but I am okay. I’m not dead.” She continues, “Yes, I came very close to leaving the earth. Good news: I didn’t.”

She also says in the video that she will be returning to The View soon and added, “Ladies, I cannot wait to see y’all.”

Pneumonia, not the Oscars, kept Whoopi out

Last month, rumors circulated that Goldberg’s absence from The View was due to her preparing to host the Oscars after Kevin Hart stepped down amidst controversy. The EGOT-winner hosted the event four times since 1994, but Behar addressed those rumors on the program.

Behar said in late February, “Whoopi’s still out. She’s not feeling well, and there are all these conspiracy theories on the internet that she’s not really sick. She’s secretly preparing to host the Oscars.” Behar then set the record straight, saying, “She’s actual recovering from pneumonia. That’s what she had. It’s a serious thing.”

We’re setting the record straight: @WhoopiGoldberg is not preparing to host the #Oscars.

She’s on the mend recovering from pneumonia and we look forward to her returning to @TheView soon! https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/UmNzDOuemi

— The View (@TheView) February 20, 2019


We are happy to see Goldberg is on the mends and wish her a speedy recovery. You can watch the whole video from Goldberg below.

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Simpsons pull Michael Jackson episode; eery similarities to Leaving Neverland accusations

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 13:54

The Simpsons episode featuring guest star Michael Jackson is getting pulled from circulation. The news comes after the explosive HBO documentary Leaving Neverland alleged Jackson sexually abused two young boys in the 1990s.

In the 1991 Simpsons episode, Stark Raving Dad, the singer voiced Leon Kompowsky, a patient Homer meets in a mental institution. Leon says he is a singer, but no one believes him at first, not able to see past his history of institutionalization and his claims that he is Michael Jackson. The episode ends with Leon singing a song for Lisa’s birthday.

The song Happy Birthday, Lisa, if not the whole episode, has become a Simpsons classic, but executive producer James L. Brooks told the Wall Street Journal that pulling the episode “feels clearly the only choice to make.” He continued, “The guys I work with—where we spend our lives arguing over jokes—were of one mind on this.”

Michael Jackson subplot eerily reflects alleged behavior

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, this is the first episode that the show is publically pulling. The long-running animated series has had other guest stars who have been outed by the movement including Neil deGrasse Tyson (The Caper Chase), Dustin Hoffman (Lisa’s Substitute,) and Mario Batali (Treehouse of Horror XXVIII and The Food Wife.) However, Stark Raving Dad seems especially problematic in hindsight given the crux of the episode is Jackson’s character befriending a little boy and writing a birthday song, especially after one of the boys in Leaving Neverland recalls Jackson singing him a special song on his birthday.

It also doesn’t help that one subplot to the episode is Bart trying to convince people that Leon is Michael Jackson. When the entire town of Springfield shows up outside the Simpsons’ house, they realize the man is an imposter. So a keen eye will notice a newspaper headline that reads, “Michael Jackson hoax: Everyone mad at local boy.” Considering many, still, believe that these alleged victims are liars, it’s not a great look. ‘Everyone’ being mad at a young boy is, sadly, one of the many events the Simpsons predicted.

Simpsons Producer: We’re allowed to take out a chapter.

“This was a treasured episode,” Brooks said. “I’m against book burning of any kind,” he went on, “but this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.” The producer revealed that they are trying to get the episode removed from all platforms including TV, streaming, and even Blu-ray or DVD box sets.

Jackson died in 2009 and maintained his innocence up until his death. In 1993, he was accused of molestation and settled out of court.  In 2003, he was charged with seven counts of child molestation from another boy and was ultimately acquitted of those charges.

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Late night round-up: Rachel Feinstein, Dwayne Perkins

Fri, 03/08/2019 - 12:18

The late night landscape featured a couple of strong stand-up performances this week. Dwayne Perkins and Rache Feinstein delivered funny sets with tight jokes about family. Neither comedian is new to TV or should be new to you. Enjoy some more stand-up from these two comedy vets in this week’s late night round-up.

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

Dwayne Perkins thinks a bad baby name proves the parent does not care about that baby. However, the baby in question in this joke is his neice. Yes, Perkins makes his Late Show debut with a set about how we can save children from the terrible decisions of their mothers. (But also, don’t actually steal anyone’s baby.)

Late Late Show with James Corden Jimmy Kimmel Live! Conan

Rachel Feinstein is no stranger to the Conan stage. The Last Comic Standing alum shares her new life as a married woman. Feinstein wasn’t a fan of wedding planning and wishes her mother was more helpful when it came to floral arrangements.

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How High 2 comes out on 420 Day; Mike Epps returns as Baby Powder

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 14:59

How High 2, a sequel to the classic 2001 stoner comedy, will appropriately premiere on April 20, 2019—and Mike Epps will return as the pimp-slapping Baby Powder. How High starred rappers Method Man and Redman as two underachievers who smoke their dead friend’s ashes and get into Harvard University when their friend’s ghost gives them the answers to an SAT-like test. The two will not return for the sequel.

Epps’s character Baby Powder is a cartoonish pimp who slaps people with a handful of, well, baby powder. The character proudly asserts his long pimp lineage in the film and claims he has been “pimpin’ since been pimpin’ since been pimpin.’”

A How High sequel has been in the works as far back as 2008 when Redman, whose real name is Reginald Noble, began hyping a follow-up. For years, the two stars blamed Universal Pictures, which owned the rights to the movie, for any delays. Universal’s production arm 1440 Entertainment, in partnership with MTV, officially greenlit How High 2 last June. A first pass of the script was done by the original’s screenwriter Dustin Lee Abraham, though the final script was written by Shawn Ries, Artie Johann, Alex Blagg, and Neel Shah.

Method Man, Redman will not return for How High 2

Method Man and Redman were eager to do How High 2, but confirmed they would not be involved claiming “the business wasn’t right.” Instead, Lil Yachty and D.C. Young Fly play two young “potrepreneurs” on a magical hash-fueled journey to fund their on-demand munchies delivery start-up. High Maintenance meets Silicon Valley?

 

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The How High 2 cast is rounded out by Alyssa Goss, DeRay Davis, and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Epps is the only original cast member returning for the sequel.

MTV released the opening credits sequence, which you can watch below. You’ll have to wait until the (unofficial) National Weed Smoking Holiday to see what pimpin’ Epps gets up to in How High 2.

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Comedy Central prioritizes original web series with new YouTube channel

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 13:57

Comedy Central expanded its commitment to original digital programming this week. The network dropped a teaser video on Wednesday to announce the new Comedy Central Originals YouTube channel.

The new YouTube channel is a “one-stop shop” for Comedy Central’s original digital content. It also aims to showcase emerging talent that has not yet made it onto the network. Comedy Central Originals will offer fans new and returning digital series, social content, and more. Comedy Central will debut five new series on the channel over the next few weeks.

Comedy Central Originals New Series wellRED Comedy

Millennials from the South perform sketches on Southern life and parodies of small-town USA. (debuts March 1)

Comedians Solve World Problems

Comics get together to try to solve major global issues. The show was originally created by Comedy Central UK. New versions will be created for the US as well as nine additional versions on international Comedy Central digital platforms. (debuts March 11)

Shane Torres Conquers Your Fears

Comic Shane Torres helps his comic friends deal with their fears through immersion-therapy. Season One includes Molly Austin meeting a python, Petey DeAbreu handling a baby hedgehog, and Casey James Salengo facing the Gauntlet of Rejection. (debuts March 15)

UNSEND

Comics Joel Kim Booster and Patti Harrison host this series about the best and worst of the internet. Paul Scheer produces. (debuts March 19)

My Least Favorite Thing

Comic Zack Bornstein travels to meet a celebrity as they prepare to do the one thing they that hate doing more than all other things. (debuts April 5)

Comedy Central Originals will also help consolidate returning digital series in a central place. Eight Comedy Centrals web series will return and four new series are currently in development.

Comedy Central Originals Returning Series After Hours w/ Josh Horowitz

Josh Horowitz takes celebrities “to places you never dreamed of.” Previous episodes include Liam Hemsworth, Tiffany Haddish, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Anna Kendrick.

As Seen on CC

A first-look glimpse into consumer goods of the future, including the ones you did not know you needed and the ones you may want to avoid.

Dollar Store Therapist

Connor Ratliff is a low-budget therapist who serves up useless advice from the back of a discount store.

Mini-Mocks

Ultra-short length rockumentaries cover topics such as Gummy Animal Breeder and BDSM Food Porn.

Thank You, Goodnight

A camera crew follows comics hustling around New York City to perform at multiple shows. Comics featured on the upcoming second season—debuting March 11—include Emmy Blotnick, Tim Dillon, and Nore Davis.

That’s An App?

Parody ads for first-world, technological solutions. Previous episodes include OkOedipus and SinMo.

The Foley Artist

Everyday guy Tim Duffy is featured in this mockumentary series about creating television sound effects—from sexy kisses on The Bachelor to sneaker squeaks during basketball games.

You Didn’t Wanna Know

Public Service Announcement parody series with comics explaining things you didn’t want to know. Previous episodes include Bugs In Your Food with Jim Gaffigan and Turtles Have Salmonella with Ben Schwartz.

Comedy Central Originals In Development Agree to Disagree

Comics debate hot topics such as, “Are tater tots or onion rings better?”

Mad Memes

Millennials need to invest in memes because Social Security is bankrupt. This show guides viewers through which memes are excellent investment opportunities and which ones are worthless.

Sex Fails

Comics reveal how low they have gone sexually, while animators show us the gory details.

Tales From the Trip

Comics reveal their wildest psychedelic drug stories in this animated series.

Comedy Central is serious about YouTube

The new YouTube channel will complement the Comedy Central Stand-Up channel, which launched last year. A new stand-up special called Emily Heller: Ice Thickeners will premiere on that channel on March 8. The Emily Heller special will be the channel’s first online-only, original one-hour special.

The new Originals channel adds to Comedy Central’s YouTube page with 7.5 million subscribers and over 3 billion views as of this writing. The Comedy Central Stand-Up YouTube channel currently has 218,000 subscribers and 381 videos. Comedy Central’s previous digital venture CC:Studios launched in 2013 as an incubator to develop web series in-house. That venture led to several TV series, including This Is Not Happening and Idiotsitter.

Many TV networks begin shift to streaming

Comedy Central deepens its roots in digital content as new providers enter the competitive field. In addition to competition from streaming giants Hulu and Netflix, Comedy Central faces impending competition from new platforms such as Snapchat’s Snap Original shows and AT&T’s upcoming streaming service.

Other networks are rushing to create paid-for subscription services with exclusive digital content. CBS All Access launched in 2014 and is the home of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot. Disney is also prepping the launch of its own premium content service. With more and more people ditching traditional TV subscriptions, Comedy Central Originals gets proactive about the shift to streaming.

Additional reporting by Billy Procida.

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Barstool Sports slammed by YouTube star for stealing video

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 12:52

Barstool Sports is in hot water after YouTube star Miel Bredouw posted a thread about her alleged experiences with the media outlet. The Los Angeles-based writer and comedian states in the thread that Barstool Sports posted a video she made without crediting her or asking her permission. After Bredouw reported the video, Barstool Sports tried to give her money to remove the DMCA report she had filed against them before starting their own counteraction.

DMCA or The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a 1998 copyright law that protects intellectual property online. Twitter’s copyright policy notes multiple copyright infringement claims can result in the suspension of one’s account. For the media giant, Barstool, having their Twitter account suspended could result in the loss of their 1.47 million followers.

Barstool Sports started off as a sports blog in 2007. While the blog is popular, it has been frequently criticized for its rampant sexism and frat-bro vibe. While it started as a sports specific publication, Barstool Sports often posts comedic content on social media.

Miel Bredouw takes to Twitter for legal help

Bredouw started a long thread on Twitter asking for legal help.

WOW. OK. THREAD ALERT.

I wasn’t going to say anything because I am *above* drama but actually completely 10000% fuck Barstool Sports. if any legal ppl/twitter ppl want to help me out here, please hit me up. EITHER WAY, I HAVE A STORY FOR YOU

— miel (@miel) March 4, 2019

She claims in the thread, “In December, they reuploaded one of my videos without credit. I asked for credit, was ignored, and filed a DMCA takedown. Twitter quickly took it down and IMMEDIATELY Barstool’s social guy sends me an email. I don’t respond. He emails again in early February. I don’t respond.”

Bredouw says they offered her credit, at first, then a gift card and then ultimately $2,000 in cash. The comedian says she did not respond to any of the offers and even attached screenshots of the various offers and direct messages she claims to have received.

Then the full on harassment begins. I didn’t screenshot all the messages before deleting but across my IG, my twitter, my email, my PODCAST’S INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, AND EMAIL they send me these messages. Hundreds. I block them. They find me again. Still, I don’t respond. pic.twitter.com/bpPEtNupBJ

— miel (@miel) March 4, 2019

After not taking the deals from Barstool, Bredouw received an email from Twitter saying that the video would be reposted in 10 days if she did not file a court order. She states after receiving this information, “They win. That’s it.”

Then within hours, I get this from Twitter (first pic).

Unless I want to get a COURT ORDER, my video will go back up on their channel. They win. That’s it.

Read their full response below and tell me how this isn’t blatant perjury allowed by @TwitterSupport ‘s lack of support. pic.twitter.com/JDwMNEiJth

— miel (@miel) March 4, 2019

Barstool Sports joins content stealing conversation

Barstool Sports is one of several popular accounts that have recently been called out for stealing comedians content. The hashtag #FuckFuckJerry made news last month after Vulture Comedy editor Megh Wright started tweeting about the companies widespread stealing of comedians’ jokes for content. With support from comedians like John Mulaney, the account lost over 500,000 followers and Comedy Central pulled ads from the media group.

The internet has made it easier than ever to steal jokes, but comedians are exposing this practice. Bredouw says, “Thank you for assuming I must have ONE HELL OF A video.” The video that exposed all of this is a parody version of Carol of the Bells which has over 1 million views on Bredouw’s YouTube channel.

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Idris Elba celebrates SNL hosting gig with Aidy Bryant in promo video

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 10:00

Idris Elba got the call almost every actor wants to receive: He’s hosting Saturday Night Live.

In the teaser video for this week’s show, Elba walks down the street in Manhattan wearing a cardigan and beanie hat when he receives the news. That magical call instantly transports him from the sidewalk straight to the SNL sound stage in Rockefeller Center. Elba strolls straight past the bumbling intern into Studio 8H.

A normal-sized bottle of champagne is no good for People magazine’s 2018 Sexiest Man Alive. SNL cast member Aidy Bryant pops open a bottle almost as tall as she is to celebrate the moment. Khalid’s Talk plays suggestively in the background. Recording artist Khalid is the musical guest for Saturday’s show. Both Elba and Khalid are first-time performers on the famed late night sketch show.

Everyone wants Idris Elba right now

Elba’s performance comes right before the premiere of his new Netflix comedy series, Turn Up Charlie. In that show, Elba plays a musician who has seen better days and becomes a nanny. Elba created the show with Gary Reich. The versatile former actor from Luther and The Wire also stars in the upcoming film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats.

People seem to want Elba in, well, everything. For years, fans have requested he be cast as Daniel Craig’s replacement in the James Bond series. Not only is he a talented actor, but many think he’s a great choice to diversify the perennial spy franchise. Though outlets erroneously reported that Don Cheadle may replace Will Smith in the Suicide Squad sequel, it’s also reported that studio heads are eyeing Elba to put on the Deadshot suit.

Watch Elba host Saturday Night Live on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET on March 9. For now, watch the Turn Up Charlie star turn up the charm in the promo video below.

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Former Daily Show correspondent to lead ‘evil’ CBS drama

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 20:27

Aasif Mandvi is evil. Well, he may not actually be evil, but he is co-starring in the new CBS drama called Evil. The former Daily Show correspondent is excited to”play a guy named Ben” in the upcoming supernatural pilot.

Mandvi plays deeply skeptical, blue-collar carpenter Ben. He is recruited to join a priest-in-training named David to investigate mysterious situations with a clinical psychologist named Kristen.

The British comedian stars with Dutch actress Katja Herbers as Kristen and Mike Colter as David. Herbers is mostly known in the U.S. for her role on the second season of Westworld. She also had a recurring role on the WGN series Manhattan. Colter starred in Marvel’s Luke Cage Netflix series. Emmy-winner Michael Emerson will also co-star as an expert witness in a mass-murder case.

Aasif Mandvi enjoys acting career post-Daily Show stint

Mandvi started at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart back in 2006. He appeared in 188 episodes until his departure in 2015. One of his most notable moments was an interview with Republican official Don Yelton regarding voter ID laws. The interview was so controversial, it later led to his resignation.

Since his Daily Show departure, Mandvi has pursued many acting opportunities. Immediately after leaving Comedy Central, he starred in 10 episodes of The Brink on HBO. His talents have lent well to both comedy and drama. He landed humorous roles on shows like Another Period and A Series of Unfortunate Events as well as serious turns on Blue Bloods and Younger.

In addition to Evil, Mandvi has several other projects in the works. The actor will appear in the upcoming dramatic film Human Capital with Marisa Tomei and Liev Schreiber. He will also lend his vocal talents to the upcoming animated film Blazing Samurai and the all-Indian Disney cartoon called Mira, Royal Detective. Last week, Mandvi released an album of his award-winning solo show called Sakina’s Restaurant.

Excited to work with this great group of actors and creators… and also play a guy named Ben. https://t.co/1qiWPqyzWA

— aasif mandvi (@aasif) March 5, 2019

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Ali Wong ramps up acting resume with virtual reality project

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 14:47

Ali Wong has crossed over into artificial intelligence. The Baby Cobra comedian is lending her voice for the upcoming virtual reality project called Bonfire from Baobab Studios. The interactive, alien-themed adventure allows the comic and writer to continue her voiceover work. Just last year, Wong lent her vocal talents to Ralph Breaks the Internet and to the children’s animated series OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes.

Bonfire is an interactive story with the user in the starring role of Space Scout 817. Humans need to find a new home after they have left planet Earth in a mess. Unfortunately, the space scout has poor space piloting skills and crashes onto a mysterious planet, 300 light years away from home. Luckily, a bonfire provides a source of light in the strange and noisy darkness of the alien jungle. Instead of the user simply playing an observer, the immersive virtual reality experience allows the user to control the direction of the story based on his or her choices.

Wong is set to play the space scout’s robot companion Debbie in the absurdist tale of outer-space adventure. Wong described the VR experience as surprisingly “touching” and “fun.” The VR experience is written and directed by Eric Darnell, the co-founder of Baobab and the co-writer and co-director of the animated Madagascar film franchise.

Ali Wong also set for Birds of Prey movie, more

In addition to her new VR role, Wong is currently working on several other small screen and film projects. Her new animated Netflix series called Tuca & Bertie is in the pre-production phase. Wong will play an anxious songbird while her co-star Tiffany Haddish will play an easy-going toucan. Wong will also play hard-living detective Renee Montoya in the upcoming superhero movie Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Wong also co-stars in the upcoming Netflix film Always Be My Maybe.

Amidst all of that work, Wong continues to tour her unapologetic stand-up all over North America. The Milk & Honey Tour kicks off in May and runs through 13 cities by the end of the year.

Baobab Studios has not yet announced a release date for Bonfire.

The presale has begun! Go to https://t.co/baXKigYRkv and use password COBRA to get tix. pic.twitter.com/f6v4vwdcS7

— Ali Wong (@aliwong) February 27, 2019

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RuPaul’s Drag Race star Nina West: I’m the John Goodman of drag

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 14:08

Bob the Drag Queen, Bianca Del Rio, Katya Zamolodchikova. Many iconic comedy queens have become household names after performing on RuPaul’s Drag Race and this season Nina West is set to be the next big comedy icon in the world of drag.

Before competing on Drag Race, West won Entertainer of the Year in 2008. She also started the Nina West Fund which raises money for charities through drag performances. The foundation has contributed to the Ronald McDonald House, Equitas Health, Planned Parenthood, Family Pride Network, the ACLU, and the Columbus-based Kaleidoscope Youth Center.

West uses drag to make audiences laugh, talk politics, and support her local LGBTQ community in Columbus, OH. Laughspin’s Rosa Escandon talked with West about her newfound celebrity, the comedy in drag, and how local queens are the real heroes.

You just appeared on the premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11. How has the response been?

Excellent. I’ve seen a lot of really ridiculously funny memes. I thought, “Oh well, I’ll never be a meme,” but oh my god. They have just gone crazy. The response has been great and for the most part, I think you get out of it what you want to and so I’m living my best life. I auditioned nine times and I’m finally here, so I’m not looking for the bad. I’m really celebrating the opportunity and celebrating all the good that people seem to be giving me.

Nine times. You mentioned that on the episode, too. How was it to audition that many times? Was it hard to deal with the rejection?

I will be honest with you: I remember around the fifth audition getting the email that I that didn’t get cast. I was like, “I’m done. I don’t know what they’re looking for. I don’t know what I can give them that I haven’t done already in the first five auditions.” And then I talked with Detox [Drag Race alum from Season 5 and All Stars Season 2] and she said, “Girl, let me see your tapes.” And she goes, “Who the fuck is this person?” She’s like, “That is not you. That’s not who you are. Why are you submitting these tapes? They’re terrible. And they’re overproduced and they don’t feel authentic.” You just gotta be yourself. The next several audition tapes, I really honed in and tried to figure out what that meant. How do I just be myself on camera? Which is a trick, right? It finally worked out.

 

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7 indie web series that outperform their budgets

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 18:08

We all know someone who “has” a web series (and has likely asked us to contribute to their Indiegogo to fund it). While companies like YouTube and Comedy Central are committing big money producing their own digital content, there is something very special about independent web series. The lighting might be all wrong and the sound might be awkward, but the jokes and performances are there. The struggle to present a professional product can harm a great show’s potential. Laughspin has seven hilarious web series you can quickly binge that totally outperform their budgets.

A Gay Victorian Affair

A Gay Victorian Affair is like Oscar Wilde’s wet dream. It is perfect for any lover of classic literature and laugh out loud comedy. Their first season, which came out in 2018, and they are planning on making a second season. The Candian web series was self-funded by Toronto based comedian Robert Watson and the first episode amassed over 20,000 views on YouTube within a week of its launch!

Bumble Fuck

There are a lot of web series about dating based in New York City, but Bumble Fuck is really well done. Not only is the production value really high, but the performances are fun and memorable. At the end of the seven-episode season, the series will make any 20-something say, “I’ve been on a bad date like that.” Based on the dating experiences of creator Amanda Bear, the series was called by Marie Claire “a web series to ditch Netflix for.”

Distance

Distance is just really smart. Within 10 minutes, each episode is full of so much heart that it will have you laughing and crying. The series follows Emily and Sam as they struggle with a long distance relationship. The perspective of the episodes switches between the members of the couple. Each Emily-centric episode is directed by a female director, while every Sam-centric episode is directed by a man. The series was nominated for awards at SeriesFest and the Gotham Independent Film Awards. It even went to SXSW!

Blacker

After the white Addison Lovingwood is enchanted by a witch, everyone in his rapidly gentrifying New York neighborhood sees him as a black man. Addison is played by both series creators Rhett Owen and Eric Lockley. Through his newfound blackness, Blacker explores racism and privilege. Addison sees his relationship with his girlfriend, his job prospects, and his life change each episode as he searches for the witch to reverse the spell. The series is a strong commentary on race while still showcasing a lot of slapstick and absurdist humor.

Resting Pitch Face

Resting Pitch Face is a must watch for any woman in a male-dominated industry. Following a group of women working in STEM, the series highlights the everyday sexism in the industry in both real and hysterical ways. Production company Grumpy Sailor interviewed real women in STEM to get stories of workplace harassment for the series and found even more than they were originally expecting.

Diagnosis: Boring

Diagnosis: Boring walks the line between surrealism and relatability. The series follows Jess Lowry after her doctor tells her that she has a fatal case of being boring. She then tries to become more interesting. The series is a smart commentary about how millennials praise individuality and have created a need to feel unique and interesting.

Pink Slipped

Pink Slipped is a web series with a message. It takes a hard look at being Latinx in media and community organizing while also talking about the hardships of job insecurity. Pink Slipped does all that while still being funny. A lot of that has to do with a highly likable cast. The series follows three friends and is full of subplots about friendship, dating, and life in Chicago.

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Nathan Macintosh: To The Point has “infectious” energy in album we wish was longer

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 10:00

Nathan Macintosh’s To The Point rapidly explores the crazy, off-the-cuff, and always eventful life of the Nova Scotian-born comedian. The near 22-minute performance by the Positive Anger podcast host delves into lessons learned on his journey from the Great White North to our nation’s comedy clubs stages and late night talk shows.

Throughout the album, Macintosh is manic, frantic and overwhelming in his live performance. To The Point feels like drinking a half-dozen double espresso shots dunked in an extra large highly caffeinated dark roast. There are no breaks throughout this set; it’s as if he never stops to take a breath.

Overall, while the bombastic energy found within To The Point is infectious, it eventually becomes a daunting distraction and turns what would be an otherwise enjoyable experience into an exhausting labor of love.

That’s not to say that Macintosh’s efforts here are not praiseworthy. Throughout the set, in which he covers homeless drug use, Starbucks baristas, and the absurdity of the term “plus-sized,” Macintosh shoots out comedic sparks of ingenuity and intelligence befitting of a polished industry veteran. The overcharged delivery choice totally works for him.

No matter how much you love the material, To The Point’s major drawback is its length. It is way too short for a standard comedy EP. Understandable: it must be difficult maintaining such a high-octane pace in front of a live audience. Still, you’d expect to find more meat on the bones, and it’s unfortunate to find a less-than-satisfying portion on your plate for the price tag. You leave wanting more!

To The Point serves a massive shot of adrenaline that, if the body is not ready for the comedic catalyst, it may be overwhelmed from the high intensity of the moment.

Nathan Macintosh’s To The Point hits stores on March 29 via Comedy Records, available wherever comedy albums are sold.

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