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Jen Kirkman: The Laughspin Interview (or Proof of why Jen Kirkman is the Shit)

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 22:16

Chatting one-on-one with Jen Kirkman is a little bit like breaking into the Museum of Natural History after hours. It’s an act that manages to be both nerdy and rebellious, where one could simply wander unsupervised through the halls, soaking up every ounce of information while giggling openly over the placard that says “homo erectus.” That’s because Kirkman – author, podcaster, and most importantly, comedian – seems to always be the smartest, most astute kid in the class. It doesn’t hurt that she’s funny as hell.

Perhaps best known as a writer and round table panelist on the now defunct Chelsea Lately, Kirkman has been busy authoring a bestseller (2013’s I Can Barely Take Care of Myself), touring relentlessly as a stand-up, and, perhaps most stimulating of all, providing commentary on her podcast, I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman, that is so utterly sharp and on-point, you’d almost swear her words were made of arrowheads. Now poised to become one of the most relevant voices in modern comedy, Kirkman is about to achieve a major milestone: her first filmed hour-long stand-up special, which she films Jan. 31 in Austin. Taking a break between gigs in what must be a very full appointment book, Kirkman caught up with Laughspin to ruminate on the contrasting nature of geographically differing stand-up crowds, the new book at which she’s plugging away and all those cavemen Cosby apologists.

Let’s dive right in and talk about your special. Specifically, why did you pick Austin as the filming location?
I picked Austin – and no offense to Austin – but I don’t really have a relationship with this city, insofar as a favorite restaurant or family or friends here, but I really love that venue. I performed at the North Door back in 2013 on my book tour, and I came back there to do a podcast taping. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of podcast listeners in Austin, and that’s usually a sign to me that there are a lot of comedy fans here. It’s really all about the North Door: I just really love the way it’s set up, and the people that work there. They do really thoughtful things when someone comes in [to perform] from out of town: they make posters, they make drink specials with your name in them, they put flowers and candles in the green room which, to me, goes a long way.

But then the other thing about Austin and the North Door is that the audiences are just so good. They make noise for you, but they’re not rowdy drunk. (And I’m sure they’re drinking). They’re just really respectful comedy fans, and I feel like I just knew this was the place. During my podcast taping I even announced onstage that, hey, if I ever do a comedy special, I’m gonna do it here. The North Door kept following up, like, when’s that special?

Do you expect the, let’s say, ambiance you just described to come forth in this special? Was that another reason you picked the location, because you wanted to set that tone in this special individually?
No, but I do think the acoustics will be good, and the look of it will have an intimate feel. You know how you sometimes see those specials where it looks like a comedian is suddenly playing Carnegie Hall? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but for my special, I wanted it to look like it was the kind of place I’d normally play. I’m sure the intimacy in terms of the space and audience-performer relationship will be there, but viewers might not get to see all the little touches I get to see. One thing I think is really cool, is that with the North Door, the backstage is actually upstairs, so when you come to get onstage, you have to walk down this set of stairs. So, whether the audience likes it or not, you’re taking your time with your introduction, and it makes for, well, not a dramatic entrance, but a nice entrance, certainly. It’s kind of my favorite part, and I made sure to let everyone at the North Door know how much I loved it and wanted to include it in the special.

Are you planning to walk in singing, like you do on your podcast?
[Laughs] Oh god, no. That’s definitely specific to the podcast. What a treat that must be, for everyone. I’m mostly planning to walk in as though I’m not embarrassed to be getting applause.

Do you think of your podcast persona and your stand-up persona as two different Jens, in a way?
Yeah, absolutely, because my podcast is literally me. And, well, my stand-up persona is me, but it’s crafted with punch lines, and I also talk about things that I have worked through. Sometimes, on my podcast, I might mention something that I have not worked through yet, emotionally. That aspect is different. A lot different. The podcast isn’t always funny, either. Just like in real life. My stand-up persona is, I would think, that I’m funny and I say everything in a certain way, and it gets laughs. Much different from the podcast.

What would you say is the theme of this special? How long have you been putting the material together? What does it cover?
I’ve been doing stand-up 17 years, so this will cover 17 years. I mean, there are two jokes I wrote when I first started that are funny, and I don’t know where they came from, but they’re pretty good, and sometimes I think they’re funnier than stuff I can write right now. So you’re going to see stuff from the beginning. There are a few things even from my albums, like my bit on masturbation, that have become longer, five-minute things, so that will be in it. And of course, there will be new stuff that has to do with, well, the fact that I just turned 40; being divorced; marriage (both other people’s and my own). I know the exact hour I’m going to do – it’s what I’ve been doing on the road the past two years. I’ve added a few jokes that have had tuneups recently. I think everyone’s first special is kind of their best, because it’s taken organically from over so many years. If I were to do another next year, I don’t think I could have the same… well, who knows, but it might feel less worked on.

Have you gone back and listened to your albums to prepare?
No, I don’t like having to listen to my past self. I don’t want to know anything about that performer. I don’t want to look, because there’s nothing I can learn except ‘don’t do that.’ [Laughs] I guess I just wasn’t myself yet, and I’m sure I’ll keep changing all the time, but I really wasn’t myself on those last two albums. I’m not saying that I was lying or anything; I just wasn’t the person I’ve become over the years. I’m not really a scholarly stand-up, per se: I just do what feels right.

What do you think Joan Rivers would think of your special?
Oh, she wouldn’t care.

C’mon!
Okay, okay! I think Joan Rivers would love it! She’s watching down from heaven! That kind of thing, there you go. No, I’m sure she would love it – I have it on good authority that she did think I was funny. I would hope that she would appreciate that the stuff I talk about is not that taboo anymore, thanks to her. Which she would never say, thanks to me. Oh wait, maybe she would actually. So yeah, I hope she would like it, but I refuse to speak for her.

I hesitate to use the phrase ‘carrying the torch,’ but do you feel a certain amount of responsibility, as an admittedly huge fan, to maintain the boundaries that she broke and the artistry that she represented?
No! No, no. Because honestly, the people that actually ARE carrying her torch are people like Kathy Griffin. I’m millions of miles away from [Joan]. I don’t feel a responsibility; I just do what I feel is funny, but that’s really any comedian’s responsibility. And I feel like that’s all she ever did, too. She just did what she thought was funny, and people would put it on her that what she was doing was controversial. Just like any comedian, she fought for what she thought was funny. I remember when Mike Myers was on Marc Maron’s podcast, and he said that it had to be “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World. He said, I just know that’s what’s funny. It’s going to be the funniest song for them to head-bang to; I’m telling you, it’s the right song. And after all this fighting, he turns out to be absolutely right.

So every comic is constantly fighting for what’s funny. Sometimes, you end up fighting for something that ends up being a cool story on a podcast later. It’s like, oh, I never would’ve thought the suits didn’t like “Bohemian Rhapsody”! Sometimes what you’re fighting for ends up being this bigger thing, that makes people say, oh, she broke down boundaries by talking about abortion, or whatever she talked about that seemed controversial back then. Nobody is ever consciously thinking that you’re doing anything of that sort. Most of the time, we’re always surprised, by either audiences or television executives or whoever, when they say ooh, you can’t do that, or you shouldn’t do that. I’m not looking to think of material that breaks any boundaries – I’m just looking to do what’s funny. I might just end up thinking farts are funny, and I might just end up talking about that for the rest of my life. No, actually: I promise I probably won’t do the fart thing.

But! It’s not just Joan. I can think of so many comics and so many examples, where the comic is right, and they know in their gut, but people push back on certain things, and you always have to push back further. I think of people like her, and I think, this happens to even the best people. But I never sit down and think, oh, I’m going to be the next Lenny Bruce with this.

You’re in the middle of writing a new book. Is this going to be a follow up to I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, or are you switching tracks entirely?
I actually don’t have a title yet; I have a working title, but it’ll probably change. When I was writing I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, my life was exploding and going crazy. I had quit a job, and I was going back to work at Chelsea Lately; I was starting to tour; I was getting a divorce, and my friendships were changing; I was dating again. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting here writing this book, that I’d already sold, about not wanting to have kids, when so many other things were going on. But that book had to be about that. So I kept notes, you know, while I was writing the first book, thinking on a second book deal. I was like, I want this book to do well so I can write this other book. [Laughs] I got the book deal about a year and a half ago, and I asked for a couple [deadline] extensions. I was like, I just need a few more things to happen and be experienced. This book is about getting married, and being at the altar and just knowing that it was so wrong; it’ll be about getting divorced, and turning 40; it’ll be about friendships changing, and choosing to rent instead of own, and how to just be a conventional adult. There will be some nods to the fact that I don’t have kids, but I don’t harp on it. I’m a little more vulnerable in this book, I feel like.

I don’t really care about the reception, but I do want people to relate. I get letters from people about things I’ve discussed on my podcast, where they say they can really relate to what I’m going through, so I hope it elicits that kind of response. Look, I’m not like Ernest Hemingway – I’m just a comedian who writes. I want it to sound like the voice of someone who is relatable and not boring.

Was there anything you learned in the process of writing the first book that you then applied to the process of writing this one?
Yeah, I did this cool thing – well, cool to me – where I took the chapter I was most excited to write, I wrote it first, and then I didn’t look at it again for a year. It’s the chapter I’m revising right now, and as it turns out, it’s broken down into six shorter chapters, so that’s what I’m working on for the next couple weeks. When you start out writing, and I’ve heard this from other writers, too, you start out in this “writerly” voice and it doesn’t necessarily feel like you. When I went back and looked at what I’d written, there were so many things that didn’t need to be there, it was like, just, no, get to the point. So I thought that was kind of cool; I accidentally did that last time, so I purposely did it again when I wrote this one. I’m also pacing myself a little better; I just took a two-month sabbatical to New York where I vowed to work on nothing but this, though I did work on stand-up, too. I also found that I was cutting a lot, that didn’t seem to have to do with anything.

Since you bring up New York, you’d mentioned on your podcast a few episodes ago that you were thinking of moving back. Is there something about the New York comedy scene that nourishes you as a comedian, apart from the LA scene?
If I do move it’ll take a year, because I have so much to do. So much traveling, and so much to figure out. I know I can’t move like when I was younger, where you just hop on a train or plane and say goodbye. Here’s what I know from having been there two months: I want to be really financially and in other ways assured before I move, because it’s not the kind of city to be comfy in. I’m way too comfy in LA. For me, I think a big part of feeling creative and stimulated is, you know, getting annoyed at the subway because you smell urine. And I don’t mean I would talk about that in my act – I just mean that things pop into my head easier when I’m in New York. You’re walking around, there’s real life happening, you might see something that reminds you of something; in LA, it’s like, I get in my car, I go to the parking garage, I drive around the Valley a bit. So yes, moving to New York is certainly a consideration, or at least maybe somewhere I’d like to end up. I’d love to be bicoastal, if I could swing it. And yes, I certainly think the comedy scene is way different in New York, because the crowds are like road crowds. I was performing at this one venue, three times a night, and throughout the course of the night, three different types of audiences would come in. People come out more in New York. New York also seems like it has more older comedians working a lot; in LA it seems like they’re younger. In New York, I think there’s just more grownups there.



Would you consider taking a day job, like you had with Chelsea Lately again, or do you plan to just be Jen Kirkman Enterprises, from here on out?

Well, my goal and my dream is just to be a stand-up, and to be an author, maybe with some TV work as a performer. My goal would be to doing clubs on the weekend, but also touring to 1,000-seat theaters and then having two months off. That’s the goal I’m working towards – it’ll happen in the next few years, I just know it. It can’t not happen; it has to, correct? The alternative is to move home to my parents’ basement, and it’s not even a finished basement. They just have a cellar.

But anyway, that’s the goal. I would take a writing job on TV, but I do not desire one. I’m really good at it, I know I can do it, and it’s great money. I’ll probably have to, but it’s not like ugh, woe is me. I’m just not someone who likes to sit at a desk all day; that’s kind of what I’ve realized. I like performing and being my own boss, and these writing jobs are so not about being your own boss.

Would you say that’s the biggest take away you’ve gotten from Chelsea Lately? That it wasn’t the lifestyle for you?
Hmm, no. That show was the lifestyle for me in one way, because I got to be on the show, too. But, you still had to be there writing five days a week. And, because Chelsea is a comedian, it means you’re constantly affiliated with another comedian. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it takes some time to disentangle. As a writing job, though, it really doesn’t get any better than it was on Chelsea. You get time off to tour, you’re on the show constantly promoting you’re own shit. That would be ideal, but because I was touring a lot, doing a full time job on top of it, it was a little much. But if we had to say I could only do one writing job for the rest of my life, it would definitely be that show, or that type of show.

At the height of her success, there was much made of the fact that Chelsea Handler was the only female host on late night television. Do you see yourself stepping in to fill those shoes? Or do you think you’re more of an acting type comic – movies, TV guest spots, that sort of thing?
I would love my own show, and I have had meetings and pitched ideas, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. I get questions like “what’s your angle?” I’m like, why do I have to have an angle? There are seven white guys with the same show on TV right now!

Yeah, what’s their angle?
My angle is that my name isn’t ‘Jimmy.’ I don’t have a mind for production. Though honestly, I think at this point, if another guy were to try and have a show, they’d say the same thing to him: ‘What’s your angle?’ You need to pair up with a good producer, who says, ‘this is the angle, Jen,’ and then go into the meeting with them. I was just so fucking busy when Chelsea ended, with the book and the tour, that I couldn’t really sit down to think about that. If it’s something I pursue, I’d do it after I get all this other stuff off my plate right now. I did film a pilot this year that would be a show with me and Michael Ian Black; we don’t know what’s happening with that yet, but it would ostensibly be a talk show.

I really love that stuff, though. I love talking to people; I love interviewing people. I just don’t know if the world wants the kind of show I would want to do. I’m not really sure I’d like the environment that much – you get to work, and the network isn’t happy because the ratings aren’t good, and they want you to go viral. Like, okay, we’ve gotta have Drew Barrymore spin on her head while you’re hosing her down with water. But I’d be like, um, can I just interview her? I need a time machine. I really loved the way Joan Rivers did The Tonight Show; not only was she the first female host, but she did the show differently. She came out, in her Bob Mackey designed clothes, and came right up to the audience. So many talk show hosts aren’t actually stand-ups, but she sat on a stool, like Lenny Bruce would do, and she’d just talk to the crowd. The camera would go into the crowd, and she’d talk to the mother of six in the front row. I watched a clip the other day where she went, ‘six kids? I can’t take it!’ Then she went to Johnny’s desk and pulled a bouquet of flowers off it, and gave it to the mom. You never see that on late night shows now. Maybe on Ferguson.

I’d love to do something like that, but who wants to hear a pitch that’s like ‘I want to do something similar to what someone did in the ‘80s?’” But I would much rather do something like that than act in something. It would be great, but I don’t really foresee it happening. Everyone you see with their own show has been trying forever.

I feel like that’s something almost unique to comedy, in a way. Bands seem to spring up overnight, but almost every comedian I can think of who’s made it was at it for 20, 30 years before breaking.
Yeah, I feel like most of my friends have been at it 20 years or more. I have some friends that are a little older than me, and I wouldn’t exactly call them my generation, and they give me hope. Something is going to happen. If you’re not shitty, you’ll get some kind of job. It is one of those weird things – you can break really soon with music, but I almost feel like you have to get to know yourself a little more to do comedy.

I have this theory that comedians are largely considered to be at the lowest rung of the entertainment field, just in terms of how society sees them. It’s kind of always been that way, hasn’t it?
That’s not even a theory – I think it’s a fact! Just hit the nail on the head, right there.

I see so many people on Twitter – liberal, progressive people – eager to shut down comedians immediately for saying the ‘wrong’ thing, while movies and music could say something very similar and get an artistic license pass. Comedy almost seems like an art form that breeds feedback and invites commentary.
Yeah, because I think so many comedians make it look easy. I look at a musician, and I know I can’t shred the guitar, or sing as well as someone with a beautiful voice. But with comedy, everyone can be funny in their own right: at work, at home. People don’t often realize how much work it took to put a seemingly effortless stand-up set together. It’s not easy, so your feedback isn’t necessary, and your chiming in isn’t necessary. Whether it’s a heckler or an online person. No one asked you! And I think that’s why they’re upset, because nobody asked them.

I feel the need to ruin this otherwise pleasant conversation by bringing up Bill Cosby now.
Sure! Let’s talk about Bill Cosby. Why let Hannibal Buress have all the fun?

Let me put it this way: as a comedian and a feminist, what was your initial impression when you first became aware of the reports?
I was embarrassed as a feminist, because they’d been around for so long. On my podcast once, I talked about how when his special came out last year, I loved it. I was saying on my podcast that I really like when grownups talk about grownup things, like married life. I knew that he had been accused of infidelity, and I was like, grow-up everybody, people cheat, sorry he’s not a saint. But I didn’t know he’d raped anybody! I just thought he’d had consensual affairs. I was thinking, the guy’s in show business and he’s been married to the same woman for years – of course he’s cheated! I didn’t really look into it further, until Hannibal’s thing came out. And that’s when I remembered there had been some rumblings about all this. I was embarrassed because I forgot about it. As a feminist, I’m fascinated by all this – and I love Hannibal, he’s a great guy – but what if a female comic had said this? Would it have been taken as seriously?

I know it’s heartbreaking, and it feels like Cosby was part of the civil rights movement in our culture, but we have to have better role models than him now. I know it’s heartbreaking to have that all taken away, but I don’t think it takes away The Cosby Show. I do, however, think that he’s a sociopath. It’s not even the amount of women that convinces me – it’s that he had to drug them. I hate when dumb people say, ‘He could’ve slept with anyone he wanted, why did he need to drug them?’ Because that’s what a sociopath does. That’s what he wanted: the drugging, the control. And now he’s going around the country, telling people not to get upset – that’s what a crazy person does.

It’s similar to OJ golfing, and writing a book called If I Did It. And I don’t mean to use another black man as an example, it’s just sociopathic behavior. Part of me was like, god, I loved his comedy so much, and I wonder if that’s why I loved it. A sociopath can tell a goddamn good story, and they can be really charming. Everyone says to separate the art from the artist, but I cannot with him. I think part of his charm is because he’s a sociopath. [Laughs]

The other thing about sociopaths is that they have no empathy; they can’t understand human suffering at all. But they’re very good at miming emotions they don’t really feel.
Yeah. I mean, you’d see him onstage, wearing a sweater-shirt that has to do with a charity related to the death of his son, and that seems like a very sympathetic thing. He’s an old man and he lost one of his kids. So, it’s hard to see someone like that and say, ‘You’re a rapist!’ It’s tragic all around. And the other thing I hate is when people say, ‘Oh, what if he just did one of them?’ Why do we even have to say that? Let’s just say he did all of them, because that’s where the accusations stand. I don’t want to hear some guy trying to justify it somehow.

Janice Dickinson is a perfect example of this: she was a party girl back in the day, a model, she was abused as a kid. So he went after her. I myself have probably avoided a few situations where I could’ve been lured into something dark. And I don’t mean that it’s her fault – that’s not what I mean at all. It’s just that, when people say that she’s lying, I’m like, no no, that’s exactly the two types of people that would find each other: she was in trouble and needed help, and he knew she wasn’t going to say anything about it, because she had this reputation.

The whole thing just makes me really sad. I had a club owner say to me recently, ‘I think maybe one of them is telling the truth, but the rest of them are in it for the money.’ And I replied that, as a woman on the road, in your care, would you believe me if something like that happened to me? He said, ‘of course I’d believe you,’ but I really hate that we as women now have to sit around listening to men debating when and where we are to not be believed. Those are the conversations that disturb me the most. When people are like, ‘why didn’t they come forward?’ well, that says it all. I’ve been in situations where a man has tried to take advantage of me in a vulnerable spot, and it’s always super scary, and I didn’t tell anyone. If I told anyone now, I’d get accused of trying to take him down, so I would probably never fucking do it.

And that’s why these women haven’t said anything, until now. We don’t say anything, because we always look bad when we do – the perpetrator never does. This has really dredged up some old hurts for me, and I really want to see the conversation change from being about Bill Cosby to being about, you know, why is it okay to ask the same stupid questions over and over again? Why does it only have to be two women to absolve him? That’s the very definition of a sociopath, or serial predator – if he got away with two, why not two more? And so on. So yeah, that’s my rant on Bill Cosby.

What do you think of him making jokes about the allegations onstage?
It’s sociopath shit. It’s not about him being a perv or a creep – it’s purely sociopathic. He’s not feeling any empathy, and I swear to god, I wonder if he even thinks he actually did it.

I think 2014 was kind of a rough year for comedy, between the deaths of Robin Williams and Joan Rivers, and then all the Cosby allegations that started coming out.
Yeah, let’s hope for no more disappointments. Usually the comedians help us through the bad stuff. This last year, it’s more like they were causing it. Of course it wasn’t Robin and Joan’s fault, but you know what I mean.

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Watch: Ted 2 trailer; Amanda Seyfried is Sam L. Jackson (Video)

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:06

Seth MacFarlane’s foul-mouthed teddy bear is back in the first trailer for Ted 2. The sequel to his 2012 blockbuster comedy stars Mark Wahlberg again with his best friend teddy bear. This time Ted is getting married to Tammy Lynn, fulfilling what was literally every conservative person’s argument against gay marriage. Ted 2 follows the newlyweds’ battle with the legal system to adopt a child. Ted needs to prove to the courts, and Liam Neeson, that he is a human. Expect the usual fast-paced dialogue that made the first film a box office smash. Ted grossed over $218 million dollars, and over half a billion dollars worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing R-rated comedies of all-time.

Mila Kunis and Giovanni Ribisi will not return in Ted 2. However, Patrick Warburton returns as the sexually-fluid Guy and Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Amanda Seyfried will also star in the sequel. Ted 2 hits theaters this summer on June 26. The trailer was posted to Universal’s YouTube page only yesterday and already has over 3.2 million views at this writing. Become one of them and check out the trailer below!

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Amy Schumer, Anna Kendrick bond over MTV Movie Awards (Video)

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 17:34

Though we must wait until spring to peep the 2015 MTV Movie Awards, the comedy world was just gifted two minutes of joy featuring Amy Schumer (the host of said awards show) and famous movie-type Anna Kendrick. Sure the two fan faves are there to promote the fact the MTV Movie Awards – the 24th annual! – will air live on Sunday, April 12 at 8 pm ET. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not also witnessing the birth of an amazing real-life friendship. Check out the video below to see what we mean.

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2015 MTV Movie Awards, Amy Schumer, Anna Kendrick, Latest Movie News


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Comedy Central, CC:Studios enlist Idiotsitter, Roustabout, Matt Braunger, more (Video)

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 16:59

Comedy Central announced its latest development slate for its Internet incubator CC:Studios. CC:Studios has given the green light to five new series to go into development to be released exclusively on Comedy Central’s website. After the department’s successes with This is Not Happening (Ari Shaffir’s stand-up show) and Idiotsitter, (pictured above) which will make their television debuts this year, the network appears invested in testing a show’s popularity online before granting it one of its more financially risky TV time slots.

How To Be Friends with Everyone on Earth (working title) from Sean O’Connor leads the pack of green lit shows. The show is about a Vine celebrity who runs into awkward real life situations as he tries to shift from creating six-second videos to writing a book. Broken People follows Jared and Taylor who just want to chase the happiness everyone else seems to have. Several untitled projects titles got the thumbs up from Comedy Central. A series from comedian Matt Braunger (pictured) takes place in the year 2042, when all white people have been transported to The New United States (née Canada). By some chance, struggling actor Gary is the last white guy left in Los Angeles. An untitled Rich Fulcher project plays like a faux science or history show as Fulcher discusses absurd hypotheticals with his under-the-influence students. The Untitled David Angelo Project is about one man’s epic struggle to overcome minor inconveniences. Think Seinfeld with way less energy.

CC:Studios was pleased to announce that a new series is now available on CC.com. Roustabout with Kurt Braunohler stars comedian Kurt Braunohler on his seven-city jet ski tour/mission. He rides around from Chicago to New Orleans to raise money for Heifer International. The charity sends goats and chickens and other livestock to people in Africa so they can make a living by working the animals. When he’s not doing sets, Braunohler gets into all sorts of hijinks with his friends Wyatt Cenac, Jon Daly, Kyle Kinane and Kristen Schaal. Two web series were renewed for second seasons. Six Guys One Car and New Timers will both return to Comedy Central’s digital platform with new content.

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Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp trailer reveals cast (Video)

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 17:04

Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer limited series has a trailer and thanks to the video, we also know the cast. Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Ian Black, Oscar-nominated Bradley Cooper, Judah Friedlander, Janeane Garofalo, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Christopher Meloni, Marguerite Moreau, Zak Orth, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon and Michael Showalter will all return to Camp Firewood for the eight-episode series. How such large names were able to keep their involvement and filming under wraps for so long is astounding. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp will be a prequel to the original 2001 comedy. If you remember, the movie took place on the last day of camp. David Wain’s Netflix project will surely be popular with fans of the cult comedy and probably attract new fans who discover the series while finding something new to binge watch. The trailer was placed on the series’s new Twitter account: @WetHot. Check it out below!

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Ghostbusters Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones Proton Pack ready

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 15:44

Paul Feig announced on Tuesday the cast of the new Ghostbusters reboot. Bridesmaids alums Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig will suit up with Saturday Night Live cast members Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones to catch some ghosts in 2016. Deadline reports that the contracts are still in negotiations for the actresses but Feig seems fairly confident that he’s found his leads.

The original 1984 Ghostbusters team was comprised of Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis. Late last year after Feig announced he wanted to reboot the franchise with all-female ghostbusters, Murray suggested Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini and Emma Stone. Not a bad guess!

Parks and Recreation writer Katie Dippold wrote the script for the flick. Paul Feig has already said that the movie’s villain is a convicted murderer who turns into a ghost during a botched execution. Also, instead of being a strange independent business, Feig’s Ghostbusters will work for the government on the down low (why would our government actually fund Ghostbusters?).

The casting choices show the right amount of bankability and exciting risk (from a box office perspective; all of the comedians are insanely talented and funny). Wiig and McCarthy starred in Feig’s 2011 comedy blockbuster Bridesmaids. McCarthy worked with him and Dippold on The Heat. The Mike & Molly actress has been pushed hard by Hollywood with solo movies ever since her Oscar-nominated breakout role in Bridesmaids. Since then she has starred in Identity Thief (2013), The Heat (2013), Tammy (2014) and St. Vincent (2014). We will see her again later this year in Spy and B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations.

Since leaving Saturday Night Live in 2012, Wiig has been all over the big screen in a string of independent films like The Skeleton Twins, Hateship, Loveship and Girl Most Likely. She’s lent her voice to a slew of big-budget animated features like How to Train Your Dragon 2, Despicable Me 2 and the upcoming Masterminds. We even saw her play female lead roles in Anchorman 2 and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are the two exciting new names that America is continuing to get to know. Jones has stood out at the Weekend Update desk after working at Saturday Night Live as a writer. Despite being the oldest cast member, getting hired at 47, Jones has impressed through her stand-up comedy and cameo role in Chris Rock’s Top Five. The only regret here is that her mainstream break is happening so deep into her career. McKinnon is the NBC sketch show’s best bet for a breakout star. The Columbia University-bred comedian has gained notoriety and Emmy Award nominations for her work on Saturday nights. America will certainly learn her name when they realize that the funnier version of Justin Bieber is taking down evil ghosts.

Filming will hopefully begin later this year. The new Ghostbusters will be introduced to the public on July 22, 2016.

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David Letterman tells Regis Philbin about post Late Show plans

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 14:00

David Letterman and Paul Shaffer visited The Late Late Show last night, as Regis Philbin manned the guest hosting chair in already-departed Craig Ferguson’s place. A long list of guest hosts – Jim Gaffigan, Judd Apatow, Whitney Cummings, etc. – are filling in before James Corden officially takes over in March. During Letterman’s appearance, Philbin asks Letterman what he’ll do once he leaves hosting duties at Late Show on May 20 after 22 years at Late Show and 33 years of total time hosting on the smallscreen.

“I can’t wait for it to happen because I’m sick and tired of people saying, ‘Well, what are you going to do?’ I have no idea what I’m going to do,” Letterman tells Philbin in a clip captured by Mediaite.

Letterman goes on to cite late actor Paul Newman as a the perfect template for living life inside the Hollywood bubble, citing the Newman’s Own Foundation and explaining that Newman claims he never seriously planned anything. To further drive that point, Letterman, seated next to longtime Late Show bandleader Paul Shaffer, explained, “There’s a guy up in Westchester who says they need a guy to drive a van from Kennedy [Airport] to Rhode Island once a month and I’m going to do that.”

Former Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert will take over Late Show hosting duties on Sept. 8. “I have nine months to make a show, just like a baby. So first, I should find out how you make a baby,” Colbert said earlier this month about moving from Comedy Central to CBS.

During the interview Letterman also expresses how much he’s going to miss Shaffer’s genius and discovering new music. Check out the clip below.

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Louis C.K. Live at the Comedy Store now available!

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 14:38

Louis C.K.’s latest stand-up special Louis C.K. Live at the Comedy Store is available on his website for the now-customary $5. Earlier this week, FX secured the television broadcast rights to the special. He sent an email notifying his fans on Tuesday the day after canceling his record-setting fourth Madison Square Garden show due to the underwhelming “Snowpocalypse” (Louis! There’s still time to call it back on!). So for those who were disappointed by the cancellation, they now have a new hour of material from the Louie comedian.

Louis C.K. sent a separate email full of verbiage and alliterative language that beautifully expressed his love and admiration for the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. In the email, he explains why he shot his sixth stand-up special there. It includes his history of cutting his teeth on the road and the various types of comedy clubs that are out there: big clubs, nightclubs, chain clubs, hell clubs. It wouldn’t be a C.K. email without some sort of random surprise at the end, so check this out to see which movies he thinks you need to go see in theaters. In case you’re not on his email blast, here’s what he calls the “very long email from Louis C.K.” Read it while you’re waiting for Louis C.K. Live at the Comedy Store to finish downloading. You’ll fall back in love with stand-up in case your forgot why you dig it.

Hello. So below are my messy thoughts about my new special “Louis CK live at the Comedy Store” available here https://louisck.net/purchase/live-at-the-comedy-store for 5 dollars, all over the world…

So this is my sixth hour-long standup special. The truth is, I really love making these. I skipped doing one last year and I missed it. This one is different from the recent others. For one thing, it was shot in a nightclub instead of a theater. I love doing the theater shows. When I was a kid, my favorite thing in the world was Richard Pryor’s concert films. The idea of being a comedian and doing a “concert” was a real goal for me. Performing in a theater expands your material and opens you up as a performer. The pressure of playing to thousands of people, I found, always makes you better. And every concert hall I’ve played has made me feel like I’m getting a whiff of that city or town’s history. The whole thing can be very exhilarating.

But Nightclubs, comedy clubs, is where comedy is born and where comedy, standup comedy, truly lives. Going back to Abraham Lincoln, who was probably America’s first comedian, Americans have enjoyed gathering at night in small packed (and once smokey) rooms, drinking themselves a bit numb and listening to each other say wicked, crazy, silly, wrongful, delightful, upside-down, careless, offensive, disgusting, whimsical things. Sometimes in long-winded, red faced hyperbole, sometimes in carefully crafted circular, intentionally false and misleading argument. Sometimes in well-chiseled perfectly timed trickery of verbiage. Pun-poetry. One line, one off, half thoughts. Half truths. Non-truths. Broad and hilariously wrongful generalizations, exaggerated prejudices and criticism of nothing and everything while a couple over here shares a pitcher of sangria, this table of guys order round after round of beers. These women over here are having vodka and cranberry. This guy drinks club soda and sits alone. He actually came for the comedy. It’s a club. It’s a bar. It’s late at night. No one here is being responsible. These are the things we do when we are DONE working and being citizens. We go to a comedy club and pay a bit of money to laugh harder than we ever do anywhere else.

That is the standup comedy that I’ve been doing for almost thirty years. I have been working theater (and now arena) stages for the last nine of those thirty years but the amount of hours I’ve spent on a club stage outnumber the theater stage hours by more than I can figure.

I’ve been on comedy club stages probably more than I’ve stood on any other kind of spot in my entire life. I started in the Boston comedy scene, on ground that had been laid by great comedians like Steve Sweeney, Steven Wright, Barry Crimmins, Ron Lynch, Kevin Meany, Don Gavin, back in 1985 when I was 18 years old. I skipped college (still regret it), worked shitty jobs (will never regret that) and spent every single night at any comedy club in Boston I could finagle my way into. I would watch every single comedian and I would BEG to get on stage.

In 1989 I moved to New York. I discovered a bursting comedy club scene, where you could literally do 8 shows on a saturday night. (I remember Ray Romano held the record at 9 shows).

It was a glorious time for standup comedy clubs. Great comics everywhere. Colin Quinn. Mike Sweeney. Joy Behar. John Stewart. Charlie Barnett. Ray Romano. Dave Chapelle. Chris Rock. Brett Butler. Brian Regan.

All working out every night in clubs all over the city. There was the Improv on 44th street. On 1st Avenue, Catch a Rising Star and around the corner on 2nd ave, the Comic Strip (still there). Carolines was on the Seaport then. And in the Village we had the Comedy Cellar (still there), the Boston Comedy Club and the Village Gate.

I spent my early twenties bouncing from one stage to the other, from 8pm till about 4am, when Dave Attell, Kevin Brennan, Nick DiPaolo and I would head to a diner and eat breakfast.

The money was terrible. About ten dollars per show on the weeknights, fifty a show on the weekends. So every other week you had to leave town and work in another city. You’d go live in Atlanta, Columbus, Phoenix, Tampa, for a week. Most clubs would put you up in a condo behind the club and you’d work the whole week. Tuesday thru Sunday, two shows Friday, three shows Saturday. You could make about 700 a week as an opening act. A good headliner might make 2500 or 3,000 but that was rare. I worked in comedy clubs all over the country and I think I actually remember every single club. My favorite clubs were the smelly little beer soaked places with dim lighting and low ceilings. Go Bananas in Cincinnati. The Brokerage in Long Island (still there) Penguins in Cedar Rapids. The Comedy Underground in Seattle.

Then there were chain comedy clubs that were always too antiseptic and suburban. Some of them were literally inside of a mall next to a sunglass hut. The Improvs, the Funny Bones.

There were some comedy clubs around the country that were legendary. That lasted out the death of comedy in the 90s. The independent and truly great rooms where you can still smell the cigarette smoke exhaled by Bill Hicks. The Acme in Minneapolis. The Punchline in Atlanta. The Punchline (not related) in San Francisco. Cobbs in San Fran. The Laff Stop in Houston. Zanies in Chicago. Charlie Goodnights in Raleigh. The Comedy Works in Denver. These were the Meccas. When you could get a week at Acme, you know you could continue having the will to do this shit for another few months. A week at the Punchline in San Fran could get you through the next week at Harvey’s in Portland.
There were club owners that were part of Comedy History. Who knew how to shape comedy. Mark Babbit, Lewis Lee, Manny Dworman, Lucien Hold, Silver Friedman, Bud Friedman, Ron Osborne, others.

I spent all of my mid to late 20s and thirties working out in places like these.

Later when I moved to Los Angeles, I discovered a scene out there that was creative and fun and also steeped in show business history. You could see Norm Macdonald. Charles Fleicher. Robert Schimmel.

In LA they have coffee houses and very cool rooms like Largo, where you can bring your notebook on stage and try just about anything.

People like Andy Kindler, Kathy Griffin, Patton Oswalt, Blaine Capatch, Craig Anton, Laura Kightlinger did outrageous stuff in those rooms.

I would sometimes go on stage at places like Mbar or Largo and come out with twenty minutes of new material, cheered on by the young, open and adaptive crowds of the “alternative” scene. But I never believed those jokes until I took them to the Improv, where the more average and basic character of the audience would cut the new material down to about three jokes.

And then there was the Comedy Store. I would take the last three remaining jokes to the store on Sunset. Maybe ONE of those would get a chuckle. And that joke, I knew, was the true treasure of the night.

I have always found the Comedy Store to be the most intimidating club of my life. It is what I thought comedy clubs to be when I listened to Lenny Bruce records as a kid. The black vinyl couches and chairs, the red formica stage. Andrew Dice Clay on stage playing to fifteen people in open defiance of their hatred and funny as hell. The Comedy Store is really show biz. As in Milton Berle with his bow tie undone around his neck show business. Mop your brow and say “tough crowd” show business. A guy being beaten up in the parking lot show business. The Comedy Store is where Pryor cut his teeth. Letterman fought to get spots there. George Carlin. Eddie Murphy. Marc Maron told me stories about living in the apartment behind the Store and how Sam Kinison pissed on his bed one night. This is the Comedy Store. The wonderful dark side of comedy.

The Comedy Store is the only club in the country that NEVER passed me when I auditioned. I auditioned at many clubs where I didn’t pass but I always went back and finally did pass. The Comedy Store NEVER passed me. I just wasn’t right for them. I didn’t start working there until I became well known enough to circumvent the audition process. Until I became one of those guys who can just walk into a nightclub and go on stage.

So why did I shoot my new special in this place? I don’t know. Maybe because, after thirty years of doing comedy, the most exciting feeling for me is going on stage, not entirely sure it’s going to go well. To this day, when I work at the Store, I feel there’s a one in three chance I might bomb. Like bomb hard. To a guy my age who has been doing it this long, that is exciting. So over the last tour I did this year, I started doing shows at the Comedy Store “Main room” to feel it out. The staff of the club is excellent and they really know how to run a traditional room. I loved working with them. Pauly Shore and his family were very gracious when we approached them about shooting my special there.

I really feel truly privileged to have shot this special on that stage.

Okay I didn’t mean to write such a long thing about comedy clubs. The point is I prepared the material for this special on club stages. I went to the Cellar here in New York, and their new club, The Village Underground, about ten times a week with the occasional trip uptown to Gotham Comedy Club and “The Stand” on third avenue. I went out to LA to put that spin on it, working Largo, the Improv and finally the Comedy Store, hammering this stuff together in front of late night comedy club audiences. So it only seemed right to shoot it that way.

That’s all. I hope you enjoy the special. Please see the movie “Boyhood”. It’s a great piece of filmmmaking and even literature. And take your kids to see “Into The Woods” It teaches the greatest lesson you could teach a kid: If you are paying attention, life is very confusing.

Thanks.

Louis CK

ps. I guess I didn’t have to cancel the show at MSG tonight. I don’t blame the mayor. That storm was a monster. We got lucky. When you consider the action taken by the government of entire north east, they got it right. To expect accuracy from each individual mayor is just too much.
For us in New York and us in my house and us at MSG it was overblown. But if you expand that “us” to everyone in the path is the storm, they were spot on. My family in Boston is part of us for me. So that’s how I look at it.

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John Oliver In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’? Watch Video As ‘Last Week Tonight’ Host Auditions For Role Of Christian Grey, Apologizes To Jamie Dornan For #NotMyChristian

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 18:27

Last Week Tonight may not return to HBO until February 8, but John Oliver is still making us laugh with his hilarious web videos. In his latest clip, he auditioned for the upcoming film Fifty Shades Of Grey while “apologizing” to the movie’s star, Jamie Dornan, for the #NotMyChristian hashtag.

“In the grand tradition of television personalities who’ve made mistakes, I would like to offer a condescending, half-hearted apology that I don’t really mean,” John Oliver began in this Fifty Shades Of Grey video. “ …I’m sorry if anyone was offended by my incredibly accurate evaluation of the casting choice for a movie whose target audience, going by the trailer, seems to be suburban mothers of three who’ve somehow never had sex before.”

John Oliver first started this #NotMyChristian movement back in September during a brief aside while discussing, of all things, America’s relationship with Cuba.

“The Cuban embargo dates back to the Kennedy era and at the time, it probably made some sense,” Oliver said at the time. “We’d just been through the Cuba Missile Crisis, which was the closest we’d ever been to Armageddon until the explosive reaction to the Fifty Shades of Grey casting announcement. I’m sorry, but Jamie Dornan has all the charisma of a sandwich bag filled with iceberg lettuce. He is not my Christian, hashtag notmychristian.”

But in Monday’s video, John Oliver admitted the real reason he was so upset at Dornan. Naturally the host was angry that Fifty Shades Of Grey producers passed him over for the lead role of Christian Grey, who was been described as the “epitome of male beauty.”

“It hurts not to have even been asked [to play Christian Grey],” John Oliver said. “Sure, you passed me over for the ‘epitome of male beauty,’ but whenever you need a Caucasian foreigner or a cheerful weakling, suddenly my phone’s blowing up.”

So John Oliver decided to show exactly why he would have been the perfect choice to star in Fifty Shades Of Grey. The rest of his video featured his audition for the role of Christian Grey, even though a) he hasn’t read the book and b) the movie has already been made. Naturally, this audition included Oliver’s sexy voice, a She’s All That reference, and even handcuffs.

Watch John Oliver audition for Fifty Shades Of Grey below.

‘Full House’ Reunion Video: Cast Forgets Lyrics To Theme Song While Performing ‘Everywhere You Look’ At Creator Jeff Franklin’s Birthday Party

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 17:30

It seems that everywhere you look nowadays, there is a new Full House reunion. The latest one took place this weekend, at creator Jeff Franklin’s birthday party. Even better, the evening culminated in several of the original cast members singing the show’s theme song.

While sadly we did not get an invite to this Full House reunion, several of the stars have posted photos and videos of the event online. It seems the entire Tanner clan was present, save for Joey (Dave Coulier) and Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen).

But the best part of this Full House reunion took place when the attending cast took the stage to sing “Everywhere You Look.” Well, more accurately they tried to sing along with the chorus while the theme’s original performer, Jesse Frederick, tackled the lesser-known lyrics.

Thankfully, Andrea Barber, who played annoying neighbor Kimmy Gibbler, posted video of the Full House reunion performance on Instagram. She captioned the clip, “Only for you, Jeff Franklin. Only for you. Happy Birthday. #everywhereyoulook #whatsmyline? #onlyknewthechorus #cantgetthisdamnsongouttamyhead.”

Watch the Full House cast sing the show’s theme song.

Only for you, Jeff Franklin. Only for you. Happy Birthday. #everywhereyoulook #whatsmyline? #onlyknewthechorus #cantgetthisdamnsongouttamyhead @candacecbure @loriloughlin @bobsaget @johnstamos *Edited: Who has a better, full version of this?? I saw all those iPhones out there pointed at us!!

A video posted by Andrea Barber (@andreabarber) on Jan 25, 2015 at 9:21am PST

It wasn’t long before a full version of the theme song performance at the Full House reunion surfaced online. While this video is further away than Barber’s, you do get a full view of Candace Cameron-Bure (DJ Tanner) and Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner), whose faces are blocked in the Instagram clip.

Watch the longer version of the Full House cast’s performance of “Everywhere You Look.”

And for those you can’t get enough of this ‘90s nostalgia, you may be in luck. A Full House revival is reportedly in the early stages of development. The reunion show would and feature some (though not all) of the original cast members.

Veep star Matt Walsh premieres A Better You at Santa Barbara Film Festival … watch the trailer!

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 12:42

One of America’s favorite improviser, guest star and stand-out character actor Matt Walsh has added ‘director’ to his impressive list of credentials. The Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder’s second feature film A Better You is about to make its debut at the Santa Barbara Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 30. In the film, Hypno-therapist Dr. Ron Knight (Brian Huskey) is that guy you recognize from the bus stop bench ad. He has cheesy late-night TV commercials and a (self-published) self-help book.

A Better You follows Dr. Knight as he attempts to treat patients in his professional life and keep up appearances with his kids in his home life. What happens when the self-help guru finally seeks out someone else for advice? A Better You, like Walsh’s first film High Road, was shot off an improvised outline, meaning that there was no actual script with specific lines. A similar shooting style is used for the hit FX comedy series The League. The form makes sense for Matt Walsh hand his stellar cast who have top-notch improv skills. Nick Kroll, Riki Lindhome (of Garfunkel and Oates), Andy Daly (Eastbound & Down), Natasha Leggero and more appear in A Better You, which you’ll see in the awesome trailer below. If you live in the area, you can see A Better You at the Santa Barbara Film Festival next Friday at 4:40 pm at the Metro 4.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ Mocks Deflategate! ‘SNL’ Parodies Tom Brady And Bill Belichick In Skit About New England Patriots Deflated Footballs Scandal (VIDEO)

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 14:17

The Deflategate scandal has been one of the biggest national news of the year so far. So it’s no surprise that Saturday Night Live chose to mock the New England Patriots after they were accused of deflating footballs during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The SNL sketch couldn’t have come at a better time. Saturday’s episode aired just hours after Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s bizarre press conference, where he indirectly blamed the referees and the weather conditions for deflating 11 of the 12 footballs his team used in the AFC Championship. (He failed to mention why none of the Colts balls were deflated in that same game). This took the Deflategate controversy to a whole different level.

So naturally, Saturday Night Live mocked Deflategate with a fake press conference of its own. The sketch began with Beck Bennett taking the podium as Coach Belichick, complete with his signature short-sleeved shirt. ““As you can tell, I’m taking this very seriously, which is why I got dressed up,” “Belichick” began.

After insisting he had nothing to do with Deflategate, “Belichick” completely threw Patriots quarterback Tom Brady under the bus. This came after many accused the real Belichick of doing the same during a Thursday press conference.

“I’m just going to say, I never really trusted the guy,” fake Belichick said of Brady in this SNL Deflategate sketch. “Someone that good-looking and rich, I mean, you’ve seen American Psycho. Anyway, I love him like a son, just more of an estranged son I wouldn’t trust around footballs.”

And instead of taking questions, “Belichick” turned things over to “the person who did it, Tom Brady,” played by Taran Killam. At first all “Brady” wanted to do in this Saturday Night Live Deflategate sketch was discuss his (admittedly awesome) vintage hat, but “Belichick” pushed him back onto the podium. Fake Brady then also denied deflating the footballs in question.

“Honestly I wasn’t even aware that footballs couldn’t be inflated or deflated,” “Brady” said in this SNL Deflategate skit.  “All I know is that a football is a pigskin, so I just assumed that the air in the football is how much air is inside the pig when it died.”

The “media” was understandably not convinced, so “Brady” tried to turn the conversation to former Patriot Aaron Hernandez, who is currently in jail on murder charges. “Brady” then turned the press conference over to an assistant equipment manager, played by Bobby Moynihan. Moynihan completely stole the show, channeling Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men while admitting responsibility for Deflategate.

“You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at Super Bowl parties, you WANT me on that ball,” Moynihan’s character concluded in the SNL Deflategate sketch. “You NEED me on that ball!”

Watch Saturday Night Live tackle Deflategate below.

Dane Cook’s Troublemaker evolution and how the Brady Bunch changed his life (Exclusive)

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 13:30

The premiere of Dane Cook’s newest comedy special Troublemaker on Comedy Central this Sunday at 10 pm ET isn’t just a representation of the veteran comedian’s evolution. It’s a homecoming of sorts. Comedy Central, after all, gave Dane his first few high-profile breaks. There was Premium Blend in 1998, his own half-hour special in 2000 and, most crucial, the release of his first album Harmful If Swallowed three years later.

That Comedy Central Records release, arguably, re-ignited the general populace’s interest in buying comedy albums. It was no longer just comedy nerds laying down cash for tangible funny. Harmful If Swallowed eventually sold more than a million copies and helped launch Cook’s career, now in its 25th year.

Troublemaker, which made its television debut on Showtime last fall, finds Cook embracing the high-energy, whimsy-filled shenanigans he’s known for. But there’s now also a mature observer of life inside of Cook, one that’s not afraid to delve deeper into the human psyche– especially as it relates to romantic relationships. And to hear Cook tell it, this gradual transition wasn’t exactly subconscious for him.

“In my 20s I was playing colleges and I was catering to that,” Cook tells Laughspin. “I was certainly reveling in it and having a blast. I was surrounded by people like Robert Kelly, Bill Burr, Gary Gulman and Patrice O’Neal. These were guys I wanted to impress and we were having these little found moments in advancing our careers. So, it was always apparent to me that I’m going to be a guy in my 20s and I was going to do things that are indicative of that— but at the same time I always knew I never really never want to stay like that. I wanted to change every decade. And I knew when that happens it would be a metamorphosis— and some people will tune out and hopefully some people will tune in.”

And while segments of the fanbase he earned in those early years may have tuned out and while an army of Dane Cook haters became caricatures of themselves, it seems Cook, in the last few years, has found a new and, perhaps, more meaningful following. The evidence of that, in part, is found in the audience reactions to Troublemaker, which gets its name from the comedian’s penchant for exposing the oft-avoided truth about dating and sex. Cook’s fans and friends – one unnamed famous action movie star – have thanked him for starting much needed conversations about their own doomed love stories. And now instead of reveling in the comparatively superficial college comedy experiences of yore, the 42-year-old appreciates being a dude who can inject some wisdom into otherwise light fare. He points to a 1973 Brady Bunch episode as part of what inspired him to never remain a static stand-up comedian.

Dane Cook: Troublemaker
Get More: Watch More Stand-Up.

 

“I was terrified of becoming Johnny Bravo,” Cook says of the episode wherein a talent agent signs Greg (Barry Williams) to become a rock star, eventually suffering an identity crisis. “I used to watch that episode and remember feeling stress as a teenager because Greg had to become Johnny Bravo.” But it didn’t end there for the young Boston suburbanite. “As I started watching character comics – Emo Philips, Judy Tenuta, Dice – I felt that Johnny Bravo thing kick in where I would say to myself, ‘How do they get away from that? And do they?’ I was truly concerned about them. I was hoping they were happy.”

“And not just stand-ups,” Cook continues. “I was concerned about actors like Paul Reubens, who I adored, and Gene Wilder— guys who were pigeonholed but you knew their brilliance. I would worry about these people. I was burdened with the idea of, ‘Are they capable of singing if they want to sing and not act?’ This shit used to be on my mind way too much as a kid.”

For now, Cook continues to evolve. He’s already deep into developing his next hour. “I’m continuing to dig down deeper and trust that I can travel into harder spots inside yet also still be in orbit and be as wild and out there in my randomness as always,” Cook tells Laughspin. He’s writing a book, was recently heard in Disney’s Planes and its sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue and will be seen in sci-fi flick 400 Days with Brandon Routh later this year.

“When I started stand-up,” Cook says, “it was always about, ‘How can I change and how can I make that lane as wide as I can to facilitate my emotions?’”

Troublemaker airs Sunday, Jan. 25 at 10 pm ET on Comedy Central.

Dane Cook: Troublemaker
Get More: Watch More Stand-Up.



Troublemaker photo: Nick Spanos

Dane seated: Greg Pallante for Laughspin

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Watch Ted Alexandro’s police brutality bit from Comedy Cellar

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 22:30

Despite our culture of pundit-flooded 24-hour cable news networks, it sometimes often times takes a skilled comedian to effectively broach a sensitive societal issue (See: Jon Stewart, Russell Brand, Larry Wilmore, Stephen Colbert…you get the point). Enter: Ted Alexandro– activist, lifelong New York resident and darn fine comic. On stage at the Comedy Cellar in New York the other night, Alexandro worked out a three-minute bit about police brutality. It has become one of the most divisive issues in our nation due, in no small part, to last year’s deaths of Michael Brown Jr., Tamir Rice and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Check out how Alexandro, deliberate and even, finds a few laughs inside a deadly serious topic.

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Louis C.K. Madison Square Garden shows making history, also he’s doing 1 million other things

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 21:36

The Louis C.K. train does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. FX CEO John Landgraf announced on Sunday that FX bought the television rights to the comedian’s new stand-up special Louis C.K. Live From the Comedy Store. However, in perfect Louis C.K. style, the special will first be available on his website for the usual $5. This is the second time that C.K.’s partners in crime at FX have aired his stand-up special after the digital release, the first time being back in 2012 when the network aired Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater. Since then and now? Oh, just an HBO one-hour comedy special and another Emmy Award-winning season of Louie.

Louis C.K.’s relationship with Landgraf and FX began back when the network picked up his dark comedy series. Now in the midst of a sick multi-year development deal, C.K. is getting ready for the fifth (albeit, shorter) season of Louie premiering on April 9. “This season is more laugh-centric funny than season four,” he said recently. “I had a very playful and goofy feeling going into this season.”

He has plenty of reasons to be in a good mood. FX ordered his pilot Baskets starring Zach Galifianakis to series and recently ordered another pilot from his production company, this time starring Pamela Adlon. Better Things will focus on a woman raising three daughters on her own, as Adlon has done in real life. Many of you may remember her as C.K.’s wife in the one-season HBO wonder Lucky Louie. Louis C.K. will co-write and direct the pilot.

Possibly through the use of some sort of creativity steroids, Louis C.K. continues to tour around the country selling out arenas. Yes, not just 2,000-seat theaters. Try Madison Square Garden. Few stand-up comedians perform in the basketball arena and even fewer sell it out. Andrew Dice Clay is one of the elite comics to sell out back-to-back shows at the Garden. Now Louis C.K. has entered a class of his own. He is the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden three times in a month for the same tour. Now he’s on track to do the unthinkable and sell out a fourth show. “What fourth show? I thought there were only three dates.” Yea, well, as the sweaty man in the black t-shirt said in a recent email to his fans, “If you keep buying the tickets, I have to keep doing the shows.” So he added a fourth show for Tuesday, Jan. 27 at 8 pm.

At this point, it may be plausible for him to just run for President of the United States of America in 2016 as an Independent. If elected, he’d probably change the country while still creating new series for FX. He could be like Ronald Reagan without the racist economic policies. Louis would still write a solid new hour of stand-up every year and instead of negotiating a deal with HBO, it would just be broadcast as the State of the Union Address each January. If he can get Ticketmaster to drop their service charges, what can’t he do?

Tickets for the fourth show at Madison Square Garden are available here for $25, $45 and $65 (without extra fees) as of this writing. It’s possible he’ll break the Internet and sell out by the time you read this.

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Bill Maher heads to Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara on March 14 (Sponsored)

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 13:28

Comedian and satirist Bill Maher has been in everyone’s Twitter feed recently with his many unapologetic remarks making media headlines. Instead of his usual bashing of Republicans, religious fanatics and Bill Cosby, the host this time called out fellow liberals. Well, not all liberals. On last week’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, the comedian took shots at some UC Berkley students who protested him giving a commencement speech last year. “Where do I go to protest you?” he asked on the show. “I am not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh,” Maher continued. “However, if you’re one of the people with a website devoted to making him go away, you are part of the problem….you don’t ‘get’ free speech. You’re just a baby who can’t stand to live in a world where you hear things that upset you.”

Even with the return of Real Time with Bill Maher on Friday nights, he continues to tour theaters across the country. Maher plays the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, CA on Mar. 14 at 8 pm. The lefty comedian always makes critical remarks about current events, from the Charlie Hebdo attack to The Interview. Those comments have now surely been refined and honed into solid stand-up bits which you’ll want to see at one of his Live Nation comedy concerts.

Bill Maher has always had an irreverent attitude in his stand-up comedy. His latest HBO special Bill Maher: Live From D.C. took on President Barack Obama, members of the shut-it-down Republican Party and, as usual, organized religion. Even with his frequent controversial statements about Islam or Catholicism, fans of the New York native continue to support. Live From D.C. was HBO’s most watched comedy special premiere with 1.6 million viewers since Robin Williams’s Weapons of Self Destruction in 2009.

Tickets for Bill Maher at the Arlington Theatre on March 14 are now on sale on Ticketmaster and can be purchased by clicking here. Check out Maher calling out the UC Berkley protesters below.

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VIDEO: Laughspin Podcast with Robert Kelly, Rachel Feinstein, Kurt Metzger, Andrew Schulz

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 14:14

Since I started covering comedy in 2005 – when Laughspin was called Punchline Magazine – the world of comedy has exponentially grown in popularity. Back then there was a handful of comedy festivals in the United States; now, there’s well over 50. More comedians are headlining theaters and comedy programming on television is everywhere. It used to be Comedy Central, along with HBO and Showtime to a much lesser degree, were the only smallscreen purveyors of comedy. Now, it seems every basic cable network is programming original comedy.

The rise in comedy’s popularity has, in large part, technology to thank. Comedians can now build their own audiences through social media and podcasts, can upload their own videos on YouTube, Vimeo and more. And even if comedians go through traditional channels to produce content (ie Comedy Central, HBO, Showtime) that same content can have second and third lives through streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle and others.

Talented comedians that would’ve remained underground in 2005 now have a relatively better chance of getting noticed. Of course, with the rise of easy technology comes a flood of less-than-talented comedians. So, yeah, there’s a lot more noise comedians need to compete against. It’s not all roses. And that concept – technology’s give and take for comedians – was the topic of conversation at our live Laughspin Podcast on Jan. 10 at Fontana’s during the New York Podfest.

I assembled a stellar panel of comedians, including Robert Kelly, Kurt Metzger, Rachel Feinstein and Andrew Schulz. Also on hand was Huffington Post Comedy editor Katla McGlynn, who hosts her own podcast Too Long; Didn’t Listen, which you should check out. During the 45 minute discussion we had some laughs, told some stories and gained some insight on the topic on hand.

Watch the entire episode of The Laughspin Podcast below. Filmed and edited by Derek Scancarelli.

Or, you can stream it. Or you can head over to iTunes to download. Enjoy!

photo by MINDY TUCKER

And…here’s that audio version I was telling you guys about. Amazing, yeah?

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Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore: the 103 retro media items on the show’s set (Photos)

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 22:53

If you missed the series premiere of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on Monday, you sure did miss a stellar start to what I firmly believe will be a long-lasting, much-needed and influential late night show. Of course you have tonight, Wednesday and Thursday to tune into Comedy Central to make up for it. If you did catch the premiere — featuring guests Corey Booker, Bill Burr and Talib Kweli – you may have noticed the slick, well-appointed set. Though it used to be the hole of the The Colbert Report, it’s clearly Larry Wilmore’s space now. I had the good fortune of visiting The Nightly Show set last Friday, two days before the show premiered. I couldn’t help but notice all the retro media devices displayed behind Wilmore’s panel-friendly desk. So, I thought it would be fun to document each and every item that you likely won’t notice while watching the show each night. Below you’ll see those items– all 103 items, by my count. Click on each image to see the larger version. Enjoy!

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Hannibal Buress’ Funkmaster Flex takedown over Jay Z beef is hilarious (Audio)

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 19:57

After boldly going where few comedians have gone before, stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress is a confirmed force to be reckoned with, on and off stage. As the guy who finally brought back attention to Bill Cosby’s (lleged?) awful past, Buress has put his guns away and stepped back from what he has set in motion. But, over the weekend, in light of another scandal, albeit a super petty and not really important one, Buress decided to attack another prominent figure– DJ Funkmaster Flex

Hannibal’s next target is none other than legendary radio DJ Funkmaster Flex. Hot 97’s veteran MC is prolifically annoying and will go down in history as the highest paid DJ who does little to no DJing. Flex is notorious for running his mouth, using copious amounts of sound effects, and not ever really paying music. But, most recently, he’s set off a pretty big hub-bub with his “beef” with Jay-Z. In a sad sign of our times, the beef is not over appropriated beats or rhymes. Nor is it about a blood feud between families. It is over…an app. Just sift through the half hour above and realize the inane nature of the feud. And then promptly realize the genius of Buress below as he clowns Funkmaster Flex so hard it becomes a fart-driven art form.

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‘American Sniper’ Propaganda? Seth Rogen Tweet Compares Bradley Cooper Film To Fake Nazi Movie Within ‘Inglourious Basterds’ (VIDEO)

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 19:09

American Sniper may be shattering box office records, but not everyone is a fan of the Oscar-nominated film. Seth Rogen is among those calling out the war drama, comparing it to Nazi propaganda.

The film stars Bradley Cooper as American war hero Chris Kyle, and it details the marksman’s time fighting overseas. It was directed by Clint Eastwood, who is known for his conservative views. So perhaps it’s no surprise that one of Hollywood’s more liberal stars is criticizing American Sniper for its supposedly pro-war sentiments.

Seth Rogen was one of the staunchest detractors, tweeting, “American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglourious Basterds.”  This was a reference to the fake Nazi propaganda film Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride) featured in Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning work. Nation’s Pride showed a German sniper killing hundreds of Allied soldiers.

Watch a clip from Nation’s Pride in Inglourious Basterds.

On Monday, Seth Rogen clarified his thoughts on American Sniper. The comedian noted that he did not mean to compare the film to Nazi propaganda and also called out the media for making his tweets into a big story.

I just said something “kinda reminded” me of something else. I actually liked American Sniper. It just reminded me of the Tarantino scene.

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015

I wasn’t comparing the two. Big difference between comparing and reminding. Apples remind me of oranges. Can’t compare them, though.

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015

But if you were having a slow news day, you’re welcome for me giving you the opportunity to blow something completely out of proportion.

— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) January 19, 2015

But Rogen was not the only celebrity to get in trouble for his Twitter comments on American Sniper. Director Michael Moore was also criticized over the weekend after he tweeted: “My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders r worse.”

Many saw this message as a direct attack on the Cooper film. But Moore later clarified that he did not mean to specifically criticize Chris Kyle or American Sniper. In fact, he actually had great praise for the film in a subsequent Facebook post.

“Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper,” Moore wrote in part of American Sniper. “One of the best of the year. Great editing. Costumes, hair, makeup superb! Oh… and too bad Clint gets Vietnam and Iraq confused in his storytelling. And that he has his characters calling Iraqis ‘savages’ throughout the film. But there is also anti-war sentiment expressed in the movie.”

But all of this drama likely won’t stop people from seeing the film in theaters. The movie earned $90 million in its first weekend, making it the highest-grossing January opening ever. Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor should only further increase the buzz.

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