Jesse Thorn sits down with writer and director Paul Feig. Feig discusses his new TV show Other Space and explains why he was drawn to reboot Ghostbusters with an all-female squad. Jesse also talks to Reggie Osse, AKA Combat Jack. For years, Osse worked as a music industry lawyer, he now hosts the Combat Jack Show - one of the biggest podcasts in the Hip Hop world. Plus Jesse describes the menace and irresistible abandon of Rick James in his OutShot. Show notes
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Taika Waititi is the writer, director and star of "Boy," which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. James Rolleston is his pre-teen co-star. The film, based on Waititi's Oscar-nominated short, is a funny and affecting coming-of-age story set in a rural New Zealand village.
Rolleston plays "Boy," a young Maori boy who lives with his grandmother. When she heads off to a funeral in the city, he's put in charge of the house, and is shocked when his father, played by Waititi, comes home from jail. Boy and his father struggle to connect, as the father struggles with the responsibilities of adulthood. Rolleston and Waititi both offer vibrant and hilarious performances.
Waititi previously directed "Eagle vs. Shark," which starred his former comedy partner Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. "Boy" is based upon his Oscar-nominated short "Two Cars, One Night." Waititi famously feigned sleep when his nomination was read at the Academy Awards.
I don't think there's any reason to waste your time on OK television when you could be watching great television. Spend a little time searching out some of this amazing non-US English-language comedy, and you can reward yourself with laughs beyond your wildest dreams. All of these shows are hobby-horses of mine, so apologies if you've heard this one before. (By the way: a good place to find torrents of UK tv that isn't available in the States: the Box. Google it.)
The Day Today
These days, this show is remembered by comedy fans, if at all, as the show that launched the career of Steve Coogan, and birthed his most famous character, Alan Partridge. It's so much more than that. It's a brilliant deconstruction of the inanity of television news which takes the form of a television news show. Amazing character work, spectacular writing and almost no topical humor. An amazing show. If you live in the US, you'll have to downloadthis one.
This was a sequel of sorts to The Day Today. What The Day Today did for TV news, Brass Eye did for TV newsmagazines, only moreso. Maybe the most elegantly (and somehow most brutally) written television show I've ever watched. Sound and fury signifying nothing, taken to the 9th degree. Anchored, as in The Day Today, by the sneering, fearless Chris Morris, doing a spectacularly harsh and hilarious take down of the TV news anchor. Some amazing put-ons, as well. In one episode, they manage to convince a real Minister of Parliament to introduce a bill condemning the fictional drug they've created for purposes of satire. This one's available for about $10 from Amazon.co.uk, and the DVD is region-free, so you don't have to worry about whether it'll play in your DVD player.
The Thick of It
If you saw my favorite movie of last year, In the Loop, you have some idea of the hapless world of government bureaucracy created for The Thick of It. The show was conceived by Armando Iannucci, who directed the film based on his previous work. It takes place in a made-up government agency, but the tone is all about verisimilitude: shaky cameras and overlapping dialogue. The show's about how the shaky relationship between rhetoric, policy and the media. Peter Capaldi plays a super-feared uber-spinmeister for the New Labour government, who rips into some of the most insanely profane tirades I've ever seen on any screen. Another show that is, in my opinion, about as well-written as television gets. Insightful and hilarious.
This small Canadian show was a brilliant precedent to The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Ken Finkleman, whose second-best credit is writing and directing Airplane 2 (to say nothing of Grease 2 and Who's That Girl?), created and starred in this show, another news satire. This one's a lot quieter - a dry sitcom in the mold of Larry Sanders, set in a local CBC television news operation. All the characters are fantastic, but Finkleman's selfish, arrogant, foolish lead is one of the best TV characters I've ever seen. The show gets crazy in the later episodes (though still enjoyable), but the earlier shows are some of the funniest TV around. Seasons of the show are available on DVD in the US.
You may remember David Mitchell's appearance on The Sound of Young America a year or so ago. He's half of the comedy team Mitchell & Webb, who also created several very funny sketch series for UK TV. Their best work, though, is as actors on the sitcom Peep Show. The conceit of the show is that it's all shot in POV - which quickly gets old, but then fades into the background. Really, it's an odd-couple comedy with an extra dose of awkward situations. The characters are finely rendered and lovable, and the writing is fantastic. You can watch the series on Hulu, free.
Loudon Wainwright's career began in the 1960s, and he's earned a passionately devoted following over the past 40 years. Among those fans is Judd Apatow, who's cast Wainwright in several projects, including Undeclared and Knocked Up (for which he also wrote the soundtrack). His new album, High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, is a tribute to early country music legend Charlie Poole, featuring both covers of songs Poole made famous and original music inspired by Poole.
Jesse and Jordan discuss the Sundance Film Festival, play Would You Rather with Jim Real, "The Master of Would You Rather," and decide what can Hang It Up and what can Keep It Up with outgoing intern Mariel Reyes.