The highly-anticipated Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber has cast its roasters. Comedians Hannibal Buress, Chris D’Elia, Natasha Leggero and Jeffrey Ross will join celebrities ex-felon Martha Stewart, rapper Ludacris, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and veteran roaster Snoop Dogg in ripping apart faux bad boy tween heartthrob Justin Bieber. Kevin Hart will take on the duties of Roast Master.
Justin Bieber is the butt of many jokes whether by late night talk show hosts, comedians on Twitter or that annoying woman in your office. Bieber seems excited to be roasted by popular stand-up comedians and overall funny people. He’s even been petitioning Seth Rogen to do the Roast. Rogen has very publicly expressed his hatred for the Grammy-nominated star, calling him a “piece of shit” in social media. Biber hopes to get Rogen to come on and give it to him starting the hashtag trend #WeWantSeth with Comedy Central’s #BieberRoast.
The Neighbors star has not responded to the young star’s pleas, probably because he actually dislikes Justin Bieber. Normally, roasts are filled with light-hearted humor and playful jabs from the celebrity’s close friends and likable comedians. Hatred is usually not the source of a roaster’s jokes. But who knows, Comedy Central knows what they’re doing and perhaps we’ll see a surprise Seth Rogen drop-in.
Bieber has been making the rounds on talk shows attempting to show the public that even he knows it’s time for him to grow up. It’s almost as if this masochistic event will serve as a final penance before the newly 21-year-old begins a new chapter in his life. Or he’s like the scumbag in a comedy club who is so self-centered that he or she heckles the comics just to be made fun of. Will this roast be a gesture of good will to the world or is it just another way for Justin to be the center of attention? Only time will tell.
Watch the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber on Monday March 30 at 10pm EST. Until then, check out Jeffrey Ross invade the kid’s personal space.
Samantha Bee is officially leaving Comedy Central for TBS with her husband, fellow Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones. TBS is giving the veteran comedian her own comedy series to host where she will apply “her smart and satirical point of view to current and relevant issues,” according to TBS. Hmm…sounds familiar. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart loses yet another valued team member in Bee.
Last month, we learned that Jason Jones would be leaving The Daily Show later this year to star in a family comedy sitcom for TBS, which he created and will co-executive produce with his wife. Comedy Central announced that Jones would depart but that Samantha Bee would stay at the network as a correspondent. “We’re thrilled to have Sam join Jason at TBS and really make this a family affair,” said Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for TBS. “We actually have their kids coming in next week to pitch us animation.”
Comedy Central says it has a “short list” of potential replacement hosts for Jon Stewart, who is stepping down from the host chair at an undetermined time later this year. Bee is the most senior correspondent at the show, out-tenured only by Lewis Black who, at this point, is only an occasional contributor. She joined the team in 2003. Her husband was the second-most veteran cast member, having reported on fake news since 2005.
Not giving her (or Jones) the position as Daily Show host outright has cost the network another valuable talent. Speculation continues over who is capable of replacing the Emmy Award-winning Stewart as host of the long-running late night franchise. Other networks seems to be ensuring that the most viable candidates closest to the series are taken out of the game. HBO locked up John Oliver for two more years by renewing Last Week Tonight With John Oliver last month. Jason Jones was taken out of the game with the aforementioned TBS sitcom. Even 25-year-old Jessica Williams humbly addressed suggestions she should take over, to the dismay of those who see in terms of gender and race instead of experience and readiness.
If Sam Bee was on that short list, Comedy Central execs will be shattered if her show becomes a hit. “We absolutely adore everything about Sam, from her straight-faced sarcasm and ruthless wit to her uncanny ability to min comedy gold from just about any awkward situation,” Weitz continued. “After watching Sam’s work for years, we knew that her distinctive humor and talent belong at the front of her own show.” Fans of The Daily Show, and probably a few folks over at the Viacom building, have known that for a very long time.
Lord thundering Jesus this day is about to get exciting.
— Samantha Bee (@iamsambee) March 5, 2015
Aziz Ansari’s newest stand-up special Live At Madison Square Garden debuts at midnight tonight exclusively on Netflix. The Parks and Recreation star surprised fans on Twitter this morning when he tweeted the trailer to the special. Ansari recently sold out Madison Square Garden on back-to-back nights last fall. In his second hourlong stand-up special with Netflix, the comedian discusses the plight of American immigrants and gender inequality. His last release with Netflix was his 2013 hour Buried Alive.
Check out the trailer for Aziz Ansari: Live At Madison Square Garden below as well as an additional clip from the special!
TruTV continues to step up its slate of comedy series with its first scripted show. Those Who Can’t is a Denver-based sitcom starring Grawlix troupe comedians Ben Roy, Adam Cayton-Holland and Andrew Orvedahl. The trio play immature teachers at Denver’s fictional Buchanan High School.
Those Who Can’t began as an Amazon Studios pilot before TruTV bought the rights and reordered a new pilot. The network has since ordered 10 episodes of the comedy series to be shot in Los Angeles. The move is a big jump for the Grawlix troupe who were paid just $50,000 to shoot the first pilot by Amazon. Turner Broadcasting’s TruTV channel arguably has a bigger development purse than Amazon’s Instant Video streaming service. “Those Who Can’t has exactly the kind of fresh, slightly off-kilter humor we’re looking for as we venture into the world of scripted comedy,” said TruTV head of programming Chris Linn.
The show also stars Maria Thayer (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as a librarian and stand-ups Rory Scovel and Kyle Kinane will play smaller roles. At least in the new pilot, Cayton-Holland played a haughty Spanish teacher; Orvedahl played a clueless gym teacher; and Roy is a punk-rock history teacher.
TruTV has slowly added more and more comedy series as its shies away from general reality television. The network began as Court TV before being relaunched as TruTV, expanding its programming beyond trial coverage into reality television not related to law enforcement. Since then, Linn has added reality-based comedies, mostly hidden camera and practical joke shows, like Impractical Jokers, Friends of the People, Joker’s Wild and The Carbonaro Effect.
Bringing in a scripted comedy hit tends to be the cornerstone of a network. Roy, Cayton-Holland and Orvedahl hope they are TruTV’s. “The best part is that we haven’t had a ton of national exposure,” said Roy. “We’ll get a chance to show a whole new audience the tricks we’ve been honing on our own.”
Trevor Moore of Whitest Kids U’ Know’s video for Ballad of Billy John is deft commentary of Internet and how horrible we’ve all become. And it’s perfect.
Trevor Moore has been in important player in the world of comedy since the early 2000s thanks to his co-founder status of sketch group The Whitest Kids U’ Know. But since he dropped his first album Drunk Texts To Myself in 2013, the Virginia native has proven himself a skilled songwriter, solo comedian and social satirist. With his latest hour High in Church set to premiere on Comedy Central this Friday, March 6 at 12 am ET and the full-length album version hitting online retailers March 10, Moore is ready to gift comedy nerds with a heavy dose of intelligent laughs steeped in well-founded frustration with society. Also, there’s plenty of laughs for laugh’s sake (see the title track “High in Church” as evidence).
But for now, I want you to check out this uncensored video for “The Ballad of Billy John,” an amazingly satisfying and hilarious commentary on how the Internet has completely destroyed our humanity. The ditty tells the story of an aging man who finds joy writing songs, a former pastime of his that disappeared from his life. But when Billy John, with encouragement from his loving wife, decides to share his passion with the world, things go quickly awry. Check it out.
One of the many things I love about this song and video is that there’s no holier-than-thou attitude. He doesn’t explicitly say it, but you get the sense that Moore doesn’t see himself any better than the song’s protagonist. And the call to action is implied. Should we change our ways? Is it even possible at this point– or are we too far gone? Moore doesn’t claim to know the answers. Instead, he tells a story that is, on the surface, simply funny. And if you’re willing to poke around its contents even a little — and why wouldn’t you? — the song is downright chilling.
Trevor Moore has also released High in Church videos for the title track and “Gays Got Married,” yet another deft commentary– but this time about the absurdity of gay marriage protestors. In case you haven’t noticed, religion is a topic Moore often addresses– and for good reason. Moore was raised in a strict religious home by Christian folk singers Mickey and Becki Moore.
NBC is jumping into the video streaming game later this year. The home of Saturday Night Live plans to launch a subscription-video service just for comedies. SNL recently launched its own app offering more than 300 hours of sketches from the show’s 40 years. NBC has a wealth of content from both past and present to choose from, including parent company NBC Universal’s catalogue of comedy movies.
NBC currently hosts some of the most treasured comedy franchises in existence such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, 30 Rock, The Office and recently-concluded Parks and Recreation. If it chooses to offer classic content, we could be seeing Seinfeld and Friends as a part of the service.
NBCU is reportedly thinking of pricing the subscription at $2.50 to $3.50 per month. They join other networks debating digital subscription services for the cord cutters who would rather choose their networks than pay for hundreds of channels they never watch. CBS recently introduced their own monthly version for $5.99 granting access to current and past seasons of their shows plus the ability to stream the channel live. HBO and Showtime have also announced streaming video services for those without cable.
Hello, Camp Firewood! Everything sure is coming up WHAS these days, isn’t it? First, they announced the prequel mini series, to be released on Netflix. Then we found out that the ENTIRE CAST would be returning. (Yup, even the Oscar nominees). Oh yeah, there was also Wet Hot American Summer: The Play.
But today came the best news of all: Netflix officially announced the official premiere date of Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp. “Our new series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp has a release date: all eight episodes will be available on Netflix on July 17!” David Wain wrote on his blog. Eight episodes? Wow. Can that really be enough to hold this unbelievable cast and concept? Yeah, on second thought, Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter are well adept at packing as much hilarity punch into what limited time is available. (We have to say ‘limited time’ because if it were up to us, Showalter and Wain would basically be doing comedy 24/7, even behind our eyelids through a computer chip while we sleep).
In addition to announcing the premiere date of WHAS, Netflix also announced that Orange is the New Black would return for its third season on June 12, so it’s safe to say we’re all in for one wet, hot, American… yeah, you get it. Our money’s on Michael Ian Black and Bradley Cooper to out-steam the Litchfield ladies, though. Can it be summer already?
In honor of Comedy Central’s every-two-year tradition, the Night of Too Many Stars extravaganza, the cable juggernaut decided to pull out all the stops this time around and give fans what they’ve really been itching for: that is, a boozy shoplifting spree with John Oliver, and one lucky audience member’s glimpse of Paul Rudd’s, um, own member. (Almost sounds like one star too many…?)
Hosted by our favorite soon-to-be-ex-fake newsman, Jon Stewart (sob), the annual charity telethon combines two things we really love: fundraising for autism research, and thousands of LPH (that’s Laughs Per Hour). At the show’s taping over the weekend, it was revealed that the prize stakes are higher than ever this year. Namely, donors competed to watch some of their favorite high profile comedians sacrifice dignity for charity. Big names like Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman, and Steve Buscemi all auctioned off strange and hilarious opportunities for the highest bidders, but it was the antics of Rudd that perhaps stole the show. Standing next to a spinning “Wheel of Rudd” (think Wheel of Fortune but more doggishly cute), the actor let donors spin the wheel for a chance to slap him, or touch his face, Travolta-style, or to feed him as though he were a baby bird. And finally, after some wheel manipulation from Stewart, “See Penis” was selected, and the rest is Hollywood wang history.
Check out all the fun of Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars, airing March 8 at 8/7c.
[Warning: season 3 spoilers ahead]
With the premiere of its third season on February 27, Netflix’s uber-popular original series House of Cards has likely been responsible for more than a few sleepless weekends. To all you blurry-eyed binge-watchers out there, we feel compelled to let you know that, no, you weren’t hallucinating: that really was Stephen Colbert grilling President Underwood in the first episode, and yes, he was doing the now-retired ‘Stephen Colbert’ character. Blessed be!
In a tantalizingly short clip, we get to see Frank Underwood – Kevin Spacey’s deliciously maniacal protagonist/super-villain – butting heads with the king of pomposity himself over, among other things, a proposed jobs bill, and the new president’s disastrous approval ratings. In the narrative of the show, Underwood has been president for just six months now, after bribing, blackmailing, and even murdering his way into the Oval Office. Given the supreme shiftiness of his character, it’s not hard to picture Colbert skewering a real-life President Underwood with as much venom as we see on House of Cards. Observe, if you will, a sampling of that acerbic wit that is missed so much from TV: “Eradicate unemployment the same way you’ve eradicated your approval polls?”
If you haven’t already, get ye to the nearest Netflix transmitter machine and dive headfirst into the Underwood underworld, immediately.
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone – pop icon, mediocre actress, BSDM queen, and… stand-up comedian? Well, after you’ve intentionally published a book that shows you and Vanilla Ice doing the nasty, where else is there to go but onstage in front of a microphone to tell jokes about it?
As reported by The Daily Mail, the legendary singer confessed in a recent British talk show appearance that she’s given stand-up some consideration, if her lucrative music career were to unexpectedly dry up for any reason. “I like the idea of me coming out, sitting on a chair and a table with maybe a drink or two and just talk, talk about my life and say funny things and tell funny stories,” she told host Jonathan Ross, describing herself as more of a “sit-down” comedian.
While the full interview won’t air until March 14, it’s pretty safe to say that this teaser has got us thinking. Could Madonna really perform well on the comedy circuit? She certainly seems to possess a sense of self-awareness and personal irony critical to any successful standup performance. Not to mention, homegirl has definitely seen some shit. If anybody were to be sitting on a land-mine of bizarre, uproarious material, it’s probably the Material Girl herself. Needless to say, we’ll be watching to see how this all pans out. Maybe Madge should give her old gal-pal Sandra Bernhard a ring for some tips.
America is still debating whether Saturday Night Live’s recent ISIS parody went too far. Now one of the stars of the SNL sketch, Taran Killam, has weighed in. And unsurprisingly, he is defending his employer’s skit.
This past week’s SNL featured a mock commercial with Killam and guest host Dakota Johnson. The video started out just like the recent Toyota ad that showed a father dropping off his daughter with the Army. But in this Saturday Night Live sketch, the daughter (played by Johnson) left her dad (Killam) to join ISIS. The parody mocked the real phenomenon of American and British teenagers and young adults leaving their homes for the terrorist organization.
The Saturday Night Live ISIS sketch quickly faced backlash on social media, with some calling it “vile” or “depraved.” But Taran Killam took to Twitter to defend the skit’s writers, without actually naming them. Killam agreed with those who felt ISIS’ actions deserved to be mocked, and he retweeted a follower who felt similarly.
Proud of this. Freedom to mock is our greatest weapon. Thanks to the writers who asked not to be mentioned by name. https://t.co/FjdX9xGewX
— taran killam (@TaranKillam) March 1, 2015
And Taran Killam wasn’t the only celebrity to come to SNL’s defense after this ISIS skit. The ladies of The View amazingly agreed on the matter, concluding that this type of comedy was needed in society today.
Added Nicolle Wallace: “Leave SNL out of it. If comedy is supposed to make us laugh at some of the bleakest things happening in our times, I think they nailed it.”
Craig Ferguson is very busy despite his CBS departure two months ago. The former Late Late Show host will star in an ABC comedy pilot The King Of 7B. Ferguson plays Prentiss Porter, an agoraphobe who takes his first steps into the outside world in 11 years. Of course, as soon as he finds himself amongst people he appears to see his potential soul mate living across the street.
The Scottish comedian already hosts Celebrity Name Game on CBS. There were reports that he may host another (earlier) talk show. A starring role on a network sitcom will probably take precedence over a smaller evening talk show if picked up to series, but it only shows that the former late night host is not planning on slowing down. He even signed a TV deal with Lionsgate to develop and produce scripted and unscripted programming through his Green Mountain West production company. Last year he was even nominated for a Grammy Award. It doesn’t seem like Ferguson will be disappearing for awhile.
An Irish thief dubbed the “Thick With The Brick” has set a new bar for dumb criminals. The unidentified man was knocked out by a brick he threw while trying to smash a car window. And the video is quickly going viral.
The “Thick With The Brick” video starts with the criminal throwing rocks at the window of a white Mercedes in an attempt to break in. When that didn’t work, he resorted to throwing a giant brick. But the brick then bounced off the window and hit the thief in the face, knocking him out cold.
The owner of the car, Gerry Brady, returned to find the “Thick With The Brick” still unconscious At first, the pub owner thought the thief had been the victim of an attack and tried to help him.
“At first I didn’t know what had happened, this was about 1am and we were just finishing up and heading home,” Brady said. “I seen this guy lying flat on his back with blood pouring from him, so naturally enough my partner and I went over to help him. Initially I thought the poor bloke had been knocked down by a car, he was in such a bad way And then when I asked him what had happened he told me his mate had attacked him. He tried to explain that he had been drinking with a friend and a row started and he was battered.”
But Brady got suspicious when the thief refused to seek medical attention. It was then that his partner realized that her car was damaged. Apparently the “Thick With A Brick” had managed to break into her vehicle and steal items from the glove compartment. But the criminal was not satisfied and tried to break into the Mercedes, as well.
And this criminal was persistent. Not only did he attempt to break into the Mercedes several times after getting knocked out, but he even tried to bribe Brady once he came to. The “Thick With The Brick” threatened to tell authorities Brady beat him up unless the pub owner gave him money for a cab. Brady (unsurprisingly) did not relent, especially once he discovered the security camera from his pub had caught the whole incident on video.
“When the Gardaí [Ireland police] picked him up, he started claiming that I attacked him,” Brady continued. “He was still telling them that in the station when I came in with the footage of him getting knocked out by his own brick. You should have heard the garda laughing when they saw the video. They were in stitches. Credit to them, they were straight out when we called and found the guy within minutes.”
Saturday Night Live may have gone too far with an ISIS parody sketch. SNL producers are facing heavy Twitter backlash after a skit that featured a young woman (played by host Dakota Johnson) leaving home to join the terrorist organization.
This SNL ISIS skit was a parody of the recent Toyota ad that aired during the Super Bowl. The commercial concluded with a father dropping off his daughter at an Army bus terminal.
But the Saturday Night Live sketch ended much differently. The father, played by Taran Killam, warned his daughter, “You be careful out there.” Dakota Johnson’s character then replied, “Dad, it’s just ISIS.” And when the father told one of the ISIS members (played by Kyle Mooney) to take care of his daughter, he just responded, “Death to America.”
“ISIS – We’ll take it from here, Dad,” the voiceover concluded at the end of this SNL sketch.
This SNL parody came in response to the very real phenomenon of young adults leaving their home countries to ISIS. Last week, authorities revealed that Jihadi John, the ISIS member featured in several brutal execution videos, was actually a former British resident lured into joining the terrorist group. And police believe three teenaged girls who recently left their London homes went to Syria to join ISIS.
Not very funny #SNL with the ISIS skit. “Take care of my daughter” referring to a group that gruesomely kills.
— Randy Galloway (@Randy_Galloway) March 1, 2015
— Deb (@WoodfordDeb) March 1, 2015
— Ed Tate (@edwardtate) March 1, 2015
— Mel (@mell_zimmerman) March 1, 2015
— Sue (@manxie809) March 1, 2015
Others, however, defended the SNL ISIS commercial sketch as “hilarious.” Some argued that ISIS, and the teenagers who leave home to join the organization, deserve to be made fun of.
Do people have zero sense of humor? #snl skit on ISIS is hilarious. No one is condoning ISIS and their actions OMG try laughing for once
— Kerry Bradford (@kebradford) March 1, 2015
They weren’t disrespecting the people who ISIS captured, they were making fun of the stupid teenage girls who join them. Hilarious. #SNL
— Taylor Leigh (@Tayskiii711) March 1, 2015
The SNL Isis sketch (where the dad drops his daughter off at the airport to join) was hilarious last night, people get offended too easily.
— JOHN ALOSZKA (@DoeofJohn) March 1, 2015
#SNL ISIS skit was hilarious!! They deserve to be ridiculed!
— Alex Smith (@AlexandraJane24) March 1, 2015
This is actually not the first time Saturday Night Live has come under fire for an ISIS sketch. Last fall, the show featured a similar sketch where ISIS members (including guest star Chris Rock) pitched their organization on Shark Tank. Unlike this week’s sketch, the Shark Tank bit ended with the terrorists getting arrested. But Daymond John, one of the actual sharks on the hit ABC series, called the bit “a little insensitive.”
Chris Elliott has had a long, storied career in film and television playing oddballs, jerks, and weirdos. There’s Chris Peterson, the 30-year-old paperboy in the cult favorite television series Get A Life. Larry, the awkward and aloof cameraman in Groundhog Day. There’s Woogie, the creepy and increasingly disgusting suitor in There’s Something About Mary. There’s Nathaniel Mayweather, the emotionally stunted seaman in Cabin Boy. And there’s Chris Monsanto, the eccentric U.S. Marshal in Adult Swim’s Eagleheart. But Elliott’s most recent role as an English professor in Marc Lawrence’s The Rewrite, starring Hugh Grant, Marisa Tomei, J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney, displays an actor who can deftly pull back from a goofier reputation to perform with subtlety and quiet confidence. I spoke with the actor and comedian about his new movie role, his dream job working with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara on Schitt’s Creek, the nature of mentorship, David Letterman, and how television has changed over the past three decades.
What drew you to The Rewrite and specifically to this role?
The writer and director, Marc Lawrence, I had worked with previously many years ago. We had struck up a friendship and always wanted to work together again, and never did. Although I auditioned for this role, I think he initially wrote it with me in mind, And in this romantic comedy with Hugh Grant, I seemed to speak to it right away. It’s definitely something I had not done until this moment in my history and career. The role was basically, because Marc wrote it, an easy fit for me.
I think you played it beautifully. This character comes across as very earnest and very kind.
Oh, thank you!
Thinking about some of the roles that you’re mostly known for, it seems like a small departure from this series of smug jerks you’ve played in the past: like Larry in Groundhog Day or Woogie in There’s Something About Mary. How was that process of preparing different this time?
I think I spent the last five years of my career trying to tone down what it is I do, because I’m 54 now, and I made my bones really in television doing this kind of man-child character. The older I get, the less palatable that persona is, even though it’s still very comfortable for me to do. This was nice just to not have that pressure on, to try to be that guy. I could just sit into this role and act. I’ve never really considered myself an actor before; I’ve always considered myself just this goofy personality that some people enjoy. It’s fun to actually start to act now, the older I get.
It totally comes across. Your performance is quite understated, and works within the ensemble.
I love the movie. I actually did a couple of interviews, which was stupid on my part, before I had actually seen the movie. And then I saw the movie, and, I mean, the only reason it was unfortunate is because my memory isn’t all that it was, and I couldn’t remember everything I did in the movie. But watching it—not me, I hate watching myself—but the movie, I think, is a great movie. It’s really character-driven, and I think Hugh Grant is great, and Marisa Tomei is great, and J.K. Simmons is amazing to watch.
Absolutely, the ensemble is incredible.
And all the kids are great. It’s just one of those movies that you’re watching actors actually act and listening to the writing. And it’s a movie about writing, so I guess that’s a success that you come away feeling that way. It’s rare, I think, it’s a throwback to a 70s movie or a foreign film to me. It’s about real people and you’re just watching them go through these moments during the day. It’s very close to reality, almost like a documentary in a way.
I’m getting my Ph.D. right now and the fact that this movie centers on mentorship, inspiration, and creativity taught through teaching and instruction—that resonated with me in this career path.
Yeah, I think it does with everybody. And the theme of “when can you start over?” or “when can you do what you thought you were going to be passionate about?” Those are questions I’m asking myself, and I think everyone goes through that. The ultimate question is also about talent, and where does that come from. Can it be taught? Or can it just be practiced into existence? I think it hits on all those questions that, no matter what career, what business, what you do for a living, everyone asks themselves.
This question of how some skills can be taught through inspiration and teaching, versus someone possessing raw talent, is so interesting. Have there been any specific individuals over the course of your career that have been particularly important teachers for you in learning how to express yourself?
David Letterman is the first person that comes to mind. I was hired by him when I was 21, and he was essentially— I didn’t go to college, and he was essentially my mentor and my teacher. Not that he ever acted that way, but looking back on it now, anything I learned in this business (or a lot of what I learned), came from him. It was basically because he opened me up to let myself be myself and be the goofy guy up in the office on television, instead of trying to fit in with what people expected from an actor or from a comic actor or a writer, which is what I was for him, he impressed—it sounds cliché—but he made me realize I could just be myself. That’s what I’ve tried to do for most of my career. I’ve certainly done things for money, but in general, I’ve tried to stay true to what I do.
Letterman has been such a fixture in the late night scene for the past several decades. Do any memories stick out from your early years there?
I just did my last appearance on his show, and it did get me thinking about all those years, and the fact that I met my wife at that show, I got my own TV show [Get A Life] because of that show—ultimately, because of Dave. Anything wonderful in my life, right now, in some way can be traced back to my association with him. It isn’t like one memory that jumps out at me. Those were my college years, those were my first job years. The time that I spent working for him influenced me so much, and it still does. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t remind myself that he essentially created me. It’s hard to pick out one moment. I had so much fun there. I was allowed to do anything I wanted, really, up in the offices and on television.
I look back on working for Dave, and I know it wasn’t something I took for granted at the time. I knew those were some of the best times of my life. Waking up with my wife who worked at Letterman also, walking through Central Park and going to 30 Rock, and getting to be on a really great, funny TV show once a week, going out to dinner in Manhattan and going home—those were just magical memories.
It sounds like such a meaningful experience.
It’s strange to think that he’s going to be off the air. The whole landscape, the whole culture is going to feel like there’s a void. I don’t know if people will be able to articulate it. I think people now just take for granted, “Dave Letterman’s there, he’s on the air.” Even just walking in New York, where I was raised, down the street, I would go recently months without doing a guest appearance on the show, but still I knew in the back of my mind that, “Oh, Dave’s there, the crew’s there rehearsing and getting ready for the show.” That was always there. But that’s not going to be there anymore in my head walking around New York City. That’s going to be an alien feeling. I guess it’ll feel like, when I was a kid, before he came on the air.
The late night comedy landscape is changing so drastically this year, between Letterman leaving, Craig Ferguson leaving, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart. This is a huge question, but what do you think will change about the late night comedy scene without these stalwarts of comedy?
I don’t know, I really don’t. The change, I think, has happened already—somewhat gradually with certain people taking over certain jobs. I don’t know how the comedy will change, or what the style will be. I do know that so much of what’s on right now, a lot is owed to Dave for what he created. I’m sure these guys will create their own voices and there will be another generation talking like I’m talking thirty years from now about working for Stephen Colbert. How it’s going to change, I couldn’t tell you.
You are a true veteran of the television comedy scene, between your work on Letterman, Get A Life, SNL, and Eagleheart and Schitt’s Creek. In your experience, do you have a broad view about how working in comedy on television has changed over the past thirty years? What was it like working in television in the 1980s that differs from today?
Well, the difference I think is the Internet and cable and the amount of venues that are out there, and forums for people to be funny on and to do shows on—and not just little monologues, to actually be on. Schitt’s Creek is on a network called Pop. There are so many places now to do things. When I was working for David Letterman and doing my once a week bit, nobody else was really doing that. It was very easy to stand out back then and to have people watch you. You didn’t have a lot of competition.
On the one hand, it’s really great that there are so many venues now for young comedians and actors to try their stuff. On the other hand, it’s harder to be noticed. Back in the 1980s, if something in the news happened and I wanted to do a parody of it on Letterman, I had a couple of days to think about it and write it up. Something happens now, and somebody’s created something brilliant about it on the Internet right away. The immediacy is different. Comedy is much more immediate now and you really have to jump on things now. You didn’t have to back then.
It seems like it could pose a challenge for anyone trying to create a really polished product. Do you find it’s also liberating to have all these channels and opportunities to do something a little weirder?
Absolutely. Eagleheart would never have survived on network television, and Schitt’s Creek wouldn’t either, and not just because of its name, but because of the style of show that it is. The constraints of what network television is aren’t there when you’re working in cable. Like anywhere, there are certain creative restrictions, but in general, it’s much more open to experimental stuff, or stuff that would be experimental when there were only three networks.
I’d like to ask a bit about Schitt’s Creek. It’s a great name, first of all.
It’s cathartic to say the name, really.
Absolutely. How’s the show been going in its beginning stages?
I’ve been having a great time doing it. I’m going up to Canada to shoot another season. I’m working with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. I’m still starstruck in this business, and they were always heroes of mine. SCTV was a big influence on me when I was a kid. It’s really fun to be working with these guys. It’s really fun to, in between takes, to joke around with them. I have to pinch myself that Eugene Levy’s coming up to me and joking with me, Catherine O’Hara wants to play with me between takes and improvise with me. I’m still in shock about working with these people.
It sounds incredible.
They’re brilliant. Eugene’s son, Dan Levy, is really, really funny. He co-created the show with Eugene. This was one of those things where over a year ago, I got a call out of the blue from Eugene asking if I wanted to do a presentation that they were doing for a small pilot that they had an idea for. Of course I said yes to it. That’s the thing about this business, and I’m going to sound like an old man now, but you can go for a long time with nothing happening or nothing really good happening, and then out of the blue something great happens. That’s the only advice I ever gave my kids. That’s the good side of this business: something great is around the corner and you don’t know about it until you wake up and somebody calls. It’s not a business where you necessarily climb a ladder of success. You climb, and then you go back down, and you start climbing again. It is a business where really cool things happen out of the blue.
What’s next for you? Are there any new projects that you’re aching to get involved in?
I’m going to do this other season on Schitt’s Creek and then see what’s next for me. I do like transitioning into acting a little bit more. It’s not like I want to do anything heavy. But it’s so good to hear you say I’m somewhat believable in The Rewrite, because I did go through a period in my career where I was so known for being so goofy that people didn’t necessarily want me popping up in their movies because it sucked people out of the reality of it. If I move into a stage now where a younger audience isn’t as familiar with me or doesn’t have an association with me as totally off-the-wall and crazy, and they can, like yourself, buy me in a serious role, those are the things I’ll probably pursue more.
With the Richard Pryor biopic in the works, and comedian Mike Epps chosen for the titular role, it’s a bit too late to recast. But, with newly released footage of Marlon Wayans’ audition tape from when Chris Rock was attached to work on the project, it’s not too late to have some second thoughts and mull over the possibilities and the could-have-beens.
The footage, originally leaked by filmmaker Tambay Obenson on Vimeo, showcases Wayans’ intense and, frankly, pretty damn good rendition of the comedy legend in two powerful scenes. The first is a therapy session with Wayans playing off Omar Epps, with Pryor discussing his oft-talked about self-hate and his tumultuous relationships with the women that tried to curb it. The second, finds Pryor in his element, breaking down on the mic, where he would find the most comfort and acceptance.
Overall, Wayans knocks it out of the park. His performance brings a desperate depth to the complex nature of a man with unfathomable natural talent that could only really be matched by his own troubled past and coping mechanisms that would often lead to his worst lows. Wayans plays Pryor with the wild-eyed sadness clashing with the lightning quick masterfully irreverent humor that typified the legend brushing off his very real hurt. It’s a hard persona to portray, but Wayans manages it.
Generally, I’ve been of the same opinion as Rain Pryor, Richard Pryor’s daughter, in regards to the casting of Epps. Kind of whatever. Epps certainly has the comedy chops, with a career spanning the better part of two decades, and has been in movies, albeit primarily strict comedies. It is easy to confuse reverence with readiness, though one can’t fault a comedian for trying his best to do justice to the role of a lifetime.
That being said, Wayans can play troubled. He can play drug-addled. He can play downright depressing. It seems a lot of people forget his excellent turn in Requiem For A Dream, an underrated role to say the least. And it goes without saying his comedy pedigree is just as valid (or more) than Epps’. For now, we’ll have to hold judgment for Epps’ performance and stare wistfully at this video of Marlon having a stellar run at playing the legend.
It’s good to be a Wet Hot American Summer fan right about now. Well, it’s good to be that most of the time, since telling a group of people that you have to go hump the fridge is probably the best way to single out new friends from the herd, based on reaction. But now, more than ever, WHAS is experiencing something of a popular renaissance: we’ve already heard about the star-studded prequel that’s coming to Netflix, but did you know that WHAS: the play is making its debut this year, too?
While the project isn’t directly affiliated with WHAS creators David Wain and Michael Showalter, Wain gave his blessing to The Garage Theatre in Long Beach to “go nuts” with the adaptation. The show is also partially derived from Ben Acker and Ben Blacker version of WHAS (which was staged as a live radio play with most of the original cast at San Francisco’s Sketchfest in 2012), but this unique alt-theater spin on the cult classic is the Garage Theatre’s own: The Garage Theatre Attempts Wet Hot American Summer….the Play? And the hesitancy is intentional because, as writer Ryan Clancy told LA Weekly, “I have no idea if this is going to work.” It certainly is an ambitious project, but WHAS is just colorful and energetic enough to probably work well with a theater audience.
If you’re in the LA area, go find out for yourself. The play runs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Garage Theatre until March 21.
The new Pee-wee Herman movie has a title and it has a plot. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday will see Paul Reubens return as the titular character in a film produced by Judd Apatow. Reubens confirmed the sequel plans in October when he appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Reubens co-wrote the script with Paul Rust and the feature will be directed by John Lee (Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer).
It’s been 29 years since Paul Reubens appeared on the big screen in his goofy bow tie, but with the help of Judd Apatow he will get back on the big screen in a feature length film…kind of. As previously reported, the Pee-wee Herman sequel will premiere and stream exclusively on Netflix. Reubens gets back into the grey suit when production begins this March. “As a fan of Pee-wee Herman since he first appeared on The Dating Game, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the brilliant Paul Reubens on this films,” said producer Judd Apatow. “It is a dream come true.”
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday will follow our oddball hero into a fateful meeting with a mysterious stranger that inspires him to take his first-ever holiday. Of the plot, Reubens shared, “Judd and I dreamt up this movie four years ago. The world was much different back then—Netflix was waiting by the mailbox for red envelopes to arrive. The future is here. Get used to it. Bowtie is the new black!”
The Daily Show departures continue to roll in. Jason Jones will leave the Comedy Central fake news show to star in a TBS sitcom. TBS has ordered 10 episodes of a family comedy series from Daily Show correspondents and awesomely-married couple Jason Jones and Samantha Bee.
The untitled show stars Jason Jones as the father who goes on darkly comedic family road trips. What begin as trips of a lifetime quickly turn into disasters. Justified’s Natalie Zea co-stars as Jones’s wife. Louie daughter Ashley Gerasimovich plays Jones’s rebellious youngster and Liam Carroll plays the simpleton son. ” Jones and Samantha Bee created the series and sold a pilot to TBS back on October. Both will serve as executive producers. They also wrote the pilot.
“This show delivers on exactly the direction we are taking our TBS comedies– honest, smart and provocative,” said “Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for the network. “We couldn’t be happier to be in business with Sam and Jason on what we hope will be the first of many more projects together.” The first season will debut in late 2015. Subsequent seasons of the show would hopefully chronicle a new family trip. “We can’t wait to see where they take this mildly dysfunctional family!”
Many speculated (and hoped!) that either Jason Jones or Samantha Bee or both may take over as host of The Daily Show when Jon Stewart steps down from the Emmy Award-winning series later this year. We caught a taste of their co-hosting abilities in the fall when they filled in for a sick Jon Stewart. As star of the show, Jones has already confirmed via Twitter that he will be leaving Comedy Central, although an official statement from the network has not yet been made. No word yet on whether Bee will stay at The Daily Show in a similar or reduced capacity or if she will exit with her husband. Bee has been a correspondent since 2003; Jones joined the show in 2005.
For 9 & 1/2 years, I have worked at one of the greatest TV shows of all time. But… It is time for me to go. 1/2
— Jason Jones (@jonesinforjason) February 24, 2015
That said, I am ecstatic to announce that I’m about to make another great show over @tbsveryfunny 2/2
— Jason Jones (@jonesinforjason) February 24, 2015
The mass exodus of Daily Show correspondents and contributors began a little more than a year ago when John Oliver announced he would leave Comedy Central to host his own political satire series Last Week Tonight on HBO. Last year comedian Michael Che began his short run when only months later Saturday Night Live recruited him to co-host Weekend Update. Larry Wilmore ended his 8-year tenure to host a new program, The Nightly Show, to fill the 11:30 time slot left vacant by the end of Colbert Report. Now with the Jon Stewart himself leaving after 17 years and two of the most Senior of correspondents possibly gone, Aasif Mandvi and occasional contributor John Hodgman will be left as with the most seniority (along with Lewis Black, who’s been popping his head in to scream about something since 1996).
Bee could still stay, but she certainly will not have time to replace Stewart and executive produce the new TBS series. With more and more Daily Show alumni taking themselves out of the game, the question still remains: Who will fill the snarkiest seat in late night television?
Comedy Central’s Roast of Justin Bieber goes down March 30 with Kevin Hart selected as Roastmaster– and so far Bieber’s been an absolute sport about the planned verbal lynching. In the newest teaser, we find longtime Comedy Central roaster Jeff Ross getting artistic with Bieber. Check it out below.
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