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Where is Saturday Night Live headed?

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For a while, it looked like Tina Fey's promising SNL-behind-the-scenes sitcom, 30 Rock, was going to be a midseason replacement, to avoid conflict with Aaron Sorkin's SNL-behind-the-scenes dramedy Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. When NBC announced their lineup, though, both 30 Rock and Studio 60 were slated for Fall premieres -- most likely because they both had exceptionally strong early buzz. One has to presume that that early buzz is also the reason she's made final and public her decision to leave the late-night show, after hinting at it late last season. Here at TSOYA, we're simultaneously hoping that her sitcom delivers on it's promise, and that fresh blood in the drivers' seat at SNL will right that listing ship.

What hasn't been discussed as much is the other changes that are coming to SNL. Lorne Michaels has announced significant cast cuts at the venerable program, which he blamed on budget cuts by NBC. Not only is Fey leaving (and taking Rachel Dratch, who co-stars on 30 Rock, with her), but so will several other castmembers. Rumor has it that Maya Rudolph, Finesse Mitchell, Horatio Sanz, and Chris Parnell will leave as well. Some might disagree, but that of that list, only Parnell will really hurt the program in his absence. That said, Fey, Dratch and Parnell are three of the program's strongest performers. The Apiary is reporting that the scouts are out looking for featured players in NYC, but who will fill the shoes of these three talents?

Here are a few more questions for next season:

Will Fred Armisen ever find an organic place in the cast, outside of his generally stellar recurring characters?

Will Kirsten Wiig fulfill the promise she flashed in her first season?

Why is Darrel Hammond still on this show?

Is Andy Samberg a real star, or is he the next Jimmy Fallon -- charming and innofensive, but ultimately a cypher?

Are Will Forte and Seth Meyers funny? (Seriously... you tell me.)

Is that the guy from Keenan and Kell? If so: how come he hasn't gotten any better since he was like 13?

Is Amy Poehler ever gonna do the weird, crazy shit that made her so funny on The Upright Citizens Brigade, or is she gonna continue to be cute or whatever?

What is your answer to these pressing questions, dear reader? Do you have questions of your own?

Today's Contest: Paul Mooney's Analyzing White America

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All you have to do to enter today's Sound of Young America contest is email contest at maximumfun dot org, and tell us the two sketch comedy programs Mooney is most famous for working with, and the comedy legend who gave him his start.

As usual, be sure to include your name and address in the email, and let us know if you don't want to be on the email list.

** CONTEST CLOSED! **

Congrats to Paul from Philadelphia who correctly answered In Living Color & Chappelle's Show and Richard Pryor.

What's wrong with these people?

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I am sick and tired of people telling me they don't ever pay attention to the critics, and then turning around and telling me they're going to watch some movie the first day because they liked the TRAILER.

These people trust their ability to interpret a two-minute advertisement over their ability to interpret a relatively in-depth consideration of the film by a professional. It's thinking like this that is WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA.

Here are some BS excuses for this dumbass behavior:

"What am I going to trust, my own eyes or some writer?"

They saw the movie, you saw a commercial for the movie.

"Critics are biased against XXXX."

So take that bias into account. Or find a critic whose perspective you agree with. Or just discard the notion that you have to agree with the critic -- the critic's job isn't just to grade a film. A good critic gives you the information you need to make your own judgement. And the information you want to think more deeply about the film afterwards.

"But Critic X said XXX movie was good and I hated it!"

Well, the trailer for Kangaroo Jack made it look like a madcap romp starring a talking Kangaroo, and it was actually just Anthony Anderson in a desert.

Don't rely on one critic, get a sense of critical consensus and its basis. Find critics you trust, and think of them the way you would a friend -- if your friend reccomended a movie, you'd consider the source and their taste, and even if your tastes didn't match, you'd get a good idea of whether you'd like it.

A trailer is just some s**t that might not even actually be in th movie.

"I am a dumbass."

Yeah, you are, rhetorical device, yes you are.

Michael J. Nelson's RiffTraxxx

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Mike Nelson's been on The Sound of Young America a few times, mostly talking about his books. I've never had the personal attachment to Mystery Science Theater 3000 that some have (coughJordancough), but I will say that he's pretty much the nicest funniest guy ever. Or at least, in my experience on The Sound of Young America he's pretty much the nicest funniest guy ever. (Here's one of the interviews, by the way.)

In the years since MST3K, he's kept himself busy authoring three funny books and most recently recording a few commentaries for campy DVDs like the original Little Shop of Horrors. Now, he's taken the latter occupation one step further with something called RiffTrax.

Despite its awful name, it's a fun idea. Nelson records commentaries for movies, and sells them as MP3s. You download them, put them on your MP3 player, rent the movie, and watch it while listening to your MP3 player. Then Nelson makes some funny jokes.

The first film in their soft, beta launch is Nelson's all-time favorite, "Roadhouse." The Patrick Swayze vehicle is certainly ripe for mockery. Check out rifftrax.com and enjoy!

Neil & Paul

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Neil & Paul are bringing their sketch show, "Growing Up is Tough" to the UCBT in New York. Their enthusiastic silliness reminds me of Pee-Wee Herman, which one of my top ten favorite things, so that's high praise. The Apiary went inside with them, talking about their program. I love them so much that I wouldn't be surprised if I accidentally made out with them once I moved to LA. New York TSOYA-ers, get your butts to this show.

That's it... I'm calling a ROBOT-OFF!

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Yesterday, I challenged Sound of Young America listners to design and name their own amazing robots, and wow! What a haul of great robot designs!

Like check out this one, from Ameen in Los Angeles:
Looks pretty tough to me! Too strong!

Here's one from Carol in Connecticut, but it doesn't have a name. Any ideas?
And here's one from Michelle, who says, "His name is Kruegal, and his lower torso is a minimicrowave. He's sad all the time." A mini-microwave? I could use this one around the HOUSE!
Neal in Somerville, MA offered up this robot called Oafbot, but it seems like he didn't understand the contest... because SOMEONE NAMED LEONARD designed it!

Andy, one of our FOREIGN FRIENDS from the United Kingdom, submitted this robot, who looks like HE OR SHE could use some EXERCISE!
Lenny in Oceanside, New York made Maximillian Fun -- specifically to help out YOURS TRULY!
Mike found out what happens when you mix BOTS and DINOS. You get Gibbons the Tyranobaut Extraordinaire! Bad news for CIVILIZATION.


Looks like Ryan's robot might be useful in a boudoir! His name is DIDDLE BOT.
Holy cow! Half ROBOT half HEART half HORSE? Great work, Jill!

And by random selection, the winner of the Iron Giant DVD is LENNY! Congratulations! And of course, everyone wins by sharing their great ideas and art with the world.

The Del Close & Charna Halpern Roundup

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The Apiary's new Chicago branch office, The Bastion has a fascinating interview today with Charna Halpern, improv guru and founder of the Improv Olympic. She helped keep improv super guru Del Close on track in his later years, and helped train artists like Vince Vaughn, Mike Myers, Amy Poehler, and Rachel Dratch. The IO's name recognition can't match that of its Chicago forebearer, The Second City, but it's impact on comedy rivals its more well-known counterpart. Halpern also recently launched a blog of her own, with stories from the early days of Chicago improv and much more.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater is gearing up for the Del Close Marathon, a tribute to Halpern's partner-in-art. Close was the Big Idea Man of improv, and his legacy is celebrated with a weekend of 24-hour-a-day improv. Last year at this time, we talked with Anthony King, the theater's artistic director, and Ian Roberts of the UCB about the festival, and with Jeff Griggs about his fascinating book on Close, "Guru." Here's the MP3 of that show.

Cheers to Jerry Minor!

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Jerry Minor has always had more talent than success, but it looks like with his great work on Lucky Louie, the latter is catching up with the former. From TV Guide.

Podcast: The College Years: The Boys are Back

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After a long summer hiatus, Gene, Jordan and Jesse return with a vengeance. The first ever appearance of "Hang It Up" (before "Keep It Up" was even a glimmer in Jesse's eye). The XXXTreme Weatherman. Traffic from the Foppish Dandy. Also: a quiz bowl between Dan and the head of the UCSC Cheer Squad.

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