comedy

Breaking: Bob & David's pilot picked up!

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David Cross is reporting that HBO has picked up the pilot he and Bob Odenkirk wrote for HBO. Of course, this doesn't mean it'll end up as a series, but it's a very big step in that direction. These are two of the smartest, funniest guys in the world, and HBO is a network that is dedicated to quality more than any other on television. There's reason for hope, people.

Podcast: Ben Karlin of The Onion, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report

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Show: 
Bullseye

Ben Karlin was an early editor of The Onion before heading to Hollywood to work on film and television projects. He eventually helped create the Jon Stewart version of The Daily Show as it's head writer and eventually Executive Producer. He was lead writer on the Daily Show's enormously succesful book, "America: The Book." He co-created The Colbert Report, then quit, in part to edit the new book "Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me." The book is a collection of essays on, well, the subject in the title.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Patton Oswalt
Power of Love with Dan Savage (MP3)
Neal Pollack

The Dana Carvey Show on Hulu

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The Dana Carvey Show aired on ABC when I was a teenager. You know how people are always talking about the huge impact The Ben Stiller Show had on them? That's how I felt about The Dana Carvey Show.

At the time, I didn't know who Robert Smigel, Steve Carrel, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, Dino Stamatopoulos, Spike Feresten, Dave Chappelle, Jon Glaser or Charlie Kaufman were, but each of them were contributors to the show. What I did know was that Skinheads From Maine was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen. In fact, when I had a brief opportunity to gush to Stephen Colbert last year, that was what I gushed about.

Dana Carvey is an interesting performer. He can be fantastically funny, but like another Bay Area legend, Robin Williams, sometimes that humor can be overwhelmed by... I dunno... broadness and a whiff of desperation. Here, he's surrounded by a spectacularly capable crew of writers and performers, and while he's occaisionally a bit over-indulgent (do we need interstitials from the Church Lady?), he's generally superb. The rest of cast, including the lesser-known figures like Bill Schott is uniformly excellent, as well.

The show has been astonishingly difficult to find for many years. Relatively recently it's shown up in digital form (I spent college scouring the interwebs looking for it), and now, it's in convenient digital form on the new multi-giant-conglomerate media site Hulu. I urge you to check it out.

One odd side note: for some reason, episode one, which featured the "controversial" opening sketch with Bill Clinton feeding a broad variety of barnyard animals at his teat, is not featured in the lineup.

Below, Skinheads From Maine, touchstone for 15-year-old Jesse.

"Nice sunset, there."
"Yeeeauhh. Weathah's the only thing the Jews don't control."

Don't forget: Human Giant tonight!

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Season two of The Human Giant premiers tonight on MTV, and if you miss it, YOU'RE PROBABLY AN ASSHOLE!

Over on their blog, the HG boys are hilighting their season premier posters, seen on walls around NY and LA, and encouraging you to "deface the shit out of them," then take a picture and send it in.

Right here on this blog, I'm encouraging you to "listen to the interview I did with them last year."

Listen to The Human Giant


The State of Never Not Funny

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Our friends at Never Not Funny have made some big changes lately, and everyone and their uncle has asking me what I think.

For those who don't know, NNF is a comedy-talk podcast hosted by MaxFunPals Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap. Jimmy has been one of my favorite comics for years, and has hosted several TV shows on cable. Matt is the founder of ASpecialThing.com, which is a great website that I've been visiting since I was in college, when it was part of a comedy news site called Fugitive Alien. My nerd-roots with these guys are deep. I feel very lucky to know them in real life these days, and they're awesome guys who I respect and admire. The show is really wonderful, maybe my favorite podcast. I'm not alone, either, they have a very strong listenership.

Here's what they've been up to:

* They've just completed their 100th episode, which was taped live in LA.

* Jimmy's brother-in-law, Andrew Koenig, videotaped the show and is producing clips for his new site, MonkeyGoLucky.com like the one above.

* They're going pay. They'll be charging $20 for their next six months of weekly episodes -- about 75 cents apiece. There will also be 20 minutes of each episode offered free to non-paying customers.

It's the lattermost thing that's been most controversial. It remains very unusual in the world of podcasting to charge for your work. This is in part because the technology has been difficult to implement. It's also in part because it is difficult to build an audience when you're charging. Mostly, it's because everyone else's shit is free.

So there are a couple of questions this suggests, the first of which is: should podcast creators be able to charge for their content? My answer to that is an emphatic yes. I think talented people working hard to create great content should be rewarded for doing so, and I think that the price these guys are asking is very, very modest. I know I will be paying the money gladly.

Another question is: is this the best way for them to monetize this content? I think in Jimmy and Matt's case, yes. Both have real lives and families, and neither is a salesman. They tried an advertising model with a failed comedy portal early on, and later reached out to advertisers without much success. I know from my own experience that this is a very, very tough row to hoe.

Should they take donations? I know from my own experience that Jimmy in particular finds asking for donations distasteful, and I certainly understand where he's coming from. I also know from experience that this, too, is a tough row to hoe. Even producing a public radio show, something people are used to donating for, I get donations from less than one percent of my listeners. Donations are a part of what lets me eat, but even if NNF was getting the kind of support I'm getting from their audience, split between two guys... it wouldn't be much.

The last question is: will it work? I don't know. I know the show has lots of fans, about as many as my show, and lots of them love the show plenty. Many of those folks will pay. Even if they lost 75% or 85% of their audience, they's still be pulling in one full-time income between the two of them. I think they'll make money.

The question for me is how this will affect their growth. It's my guess that at the minimum 65% of their listeners won't pay. Probably more like 90%. How many will continue to listen to the free short podcasts? How many will tell their friends? How many will sample when sampling costs $1.99? All of that remains to be seen. The worst case scenario is that 1,000 people pay for these 26 episodes... then 500 for the next 26... and so on. That's not my prediction, but it's certainly possible.

What do you think of the move? What do you think will happen? There's been an excited discussion of issue in the forum.... join in!

Podcast: Comedy: Morgan Murphy and Andy Kindler Live

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Show: 
Bullseye

Andy Kindler (above) is a legend in the world of alternative comedy. Since bursting onto the comedy scene in the early 1990s, he's appeared on innumberable television programs performing standup, including several appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, for which he is now a field correspondent. Within the comedy world, he's best known for openly mocking the standup world in his annual "State of the Industry Address" at the Aspen Comedy Festival. Andy's set was recorded live at the Westside Eclectic in Santa Monica, California.

Morgan Murphy is one of the fast-rising stars of the comedy world. She wrote for and appeared several times on Jimmy Kimmel Live, before quitting to pursue standup full-time. She's toured nationally with The Comedians of Comedy and Neil Hamburger, among others. Morgan performed as part of TSOYA Live at the SF Sketchfest.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
New York Stories with Cartoonist Roz Chast
Tim & Eric
Joke Warfare with Terry Jones and Dino Stamatopolous

Improv Everywhere: Food Court Musical

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A kindly homosexual tries to teach Jesse to dance in one ill-fated night

Improv Everywhere (previously on TSOYA), if you don't already know, are an organization of fun-loving people whose goal is to "cause scenes." I'd call their works pranks, but their goal is not to dupe people, but rather to create moments of wonder and amazement in ordinary places. They call them Missions.

IE is based in New York City, where founder (and committed MaxFunster) Charlie Todd is based. Last year, they were taping a pilot and shot a few missions here in LA. Charlie was kind enough to invite me to participate, and one of the missions he created out here has finally been posted on the IE website: The Food Court Musical. Essentially, a group of ten or fifteen people, seated in various spots in a mall food court, stood up and played parts in a complicated musical number called "Can I Get A Napkin Please?"

I can't say enough about how enjoyable the whole process was, from soup to nuts. Everyone involved was super-awesome, from Charlie to the IE regulars to the UCB folks to the random people who came in from craigslist. The song is wonderful, and I realized about halfway through that the star was also Jordan, Jesse Go!'s cheap video game reviewer.

The mall chosen to be the site of the mission is in south LA -- you might know it as the place Chris Rock interviewed people coming out of a Magic Johnson theater one time for the Oscars. We actually performed the song a few times during the course of a day, and the reactions on the patrons ranged from, "white people are crazy! I find that amusing." to "white people are crazy! I find that confounding." The editors chose to highlight the former, but watch for a lot of the latter on the edges of the frame.

Fortunately for you, my brief solo (as "Man in Suit") was cut, as was all of my (extensive) dancing, but I think the finished product is a lot of fun, and you can still spot me reacting to a thrown broom and in the closing tableau. Check it out for yourself below.

This is fucking hilarious.

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Probably the only thing funnier than this video of John Legend and Stephen Colbert dueting on the song "The Girl is Mine," is the original video, with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney on that fucking hayride.

Edit: a bigger Paul McCartney/MJ duet fan than I has pointed out that the hayride was in the video for the OTHER hit MJ/PM duet, Say Say Say.

Podcast: TSOYA: Patton Oswalt

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Show: 
Bullseye

Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt makes his record-setting twelve-kwajillionth visit to The Sound of Young America. He's now a movie star -- voicing the rat Remy in the new Pixar Animation film Ratatouille. He's also got a brand new comedy CD, called "Werewolves and Lollipops," out on the Sub Pop label. It's always a pleasure to talk to one of the masters of comedy.

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Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

You might also enjoy these past programs:
Patton Oswalt on KZSC's "The Collector's Item," talking about his favorite songs
"The Symphony" with Patton Oswalt and Masta Ace
Another old interview with Patton Oswalt (MP3)

Elsewhere:
Patton in the AV Club
Patton in Modest Proposal Magazine
Patton on Death Valley Driver.com

Podcast: Tony Millionaire, creator of Maakies and The Drinky Crow Show

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Show: 
Bullseye

Tony Millionaire is the creator of the comic strip Maakies, which runs in alternative newspapers around the country. The strip has also birthed two television adaptations: a series of shorts that ran on Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, and now a new longer-form series which premiers later this year on Cartoon Network [adult swim]. The strips are known for their combination of distinctive and often complex line art and typically profane humor. The newest collection of Maakies strips is "The Maakies with the Wrinkled Knees."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
New York Stories with Cartoonist Roz Chast
Tim & Eric
Joke Warfare with Terry Jones and Dino Stamatopolous

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