comedy

Behind the Scenes with Diablo Cody

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From Jackie Clarke and Olde English. Look: I liked Juno. But this is fucking hilarious.

John Mulaney in San Francisco

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I don't usually plug local comedy shows on the blog, at least ones in which I'm not involved as a sponsor, but I thought I'd make an exception. New York comic John Mulaney will be co-headlining San Francisco's Punchline tonight through Saturday, and he's dynamite. He's the best kind of alternative comic -- the kind that takes the craft seriously and has lots and lots of great, suprising jokes. I'd compare him maybe to Dana Gould, another comic who blends the worlds of traditional club comedy and alternative stuff. John takes well-grounded premises and spins them out until they're surprisingly silly, but never self-indulgent. He's a very young guy, younger maybe than me I think, and he's still polishing his performance style, but he'll be a big name in comedy if he doesn't quit to be a big-money writer. I've heard good things about his co-headliner Amy Schumer as well. The Punchline is a great club in which to see a show, and if you're lucky, you might run into MaxFunster/sometime doorman Bucky Sinister.

Tickets available online here.

Photo by Anya Garrett

Podcast: JJGo Ep 51: Balls & Calls

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This week on the show Jesse and Jordan discuss Jordan's kidney stones, which includes laughing a lot at the word "balls." Plus: the winner of the showdown is announced!

ACTION ITEMS:

* What should Jesse and Jordan do with the $20?
* Got a creative interpretation of JJGo? Call it in and we'll greenlight it or... whatever the opposite of greenlighting is!
* What should be the new showdown topic? Discuss here.

CONTINUING ACTION ITEMS:

* Review the show on iTunes.
* Do you have a dispute Judge John Hodgman can solve on a future broadcast? Email it to us! Put Judge John in the subject line.
* Have personal questions for Jesse and Jordan? Call 206-984-4FUN and tell us what they are!
* Would you like to play Would You Rather with us on a future episode? Email us or give us a call at 206-984-4FUN.

Call 206-984-4FUN to share your thoughts on these ACTION ITEMS.

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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

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The Sound of Young America on Current: Patton Oswalt

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You may or may not be familiar with Current. It's a news-and-information cable channel, started by Al Gore & Friends a few years ago to cater to younger audiences. The channel broadcasts what they call "pods," which are essentiall 3-5 minute news stories, often contributed by viewers, which are bracketed by VJ-like hosts. Current approached me a few months ago about putting together a pilot for a TV version of The Sound of Young America, and what you see above is the result.

We tried to keep it very simple and true to the spirit of the radio show and podcast. It's shot in my apartment, and they're actually shooting a radio interview. As you can see, they work in a lot of other visuals and so forth, as well. I was really impressed by the excitement producer Mark Reinhardt and his team managed to introduce into what's essentially a pair of talking heads.

What do you think? Current are as happy with the product as I am, and it looks like we'll be doing more of these in the future.

(In case anyone's worried, while Current will probably end up owning the TV productions, they won't get any control or rights to anything other than that, including any future TSOYA video projects. They've been really good about understanding my desire to control my work, and I feel very good about the partnership.)

Improv Everywhere on Nightline

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Can you spot the Sound of Young America t-shirt?

Podcast: Seven Second Delay with Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman

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Show: 
Bullseye


Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman are the hosts of Seven Second Delay on WFMU, the legendary freeform radio station in Jersey City, New Jersey. For the past fifteen years, they've picked a "radio stunt" each week, then tried to execute it in just one hour of live airtime. They've chain-translated a Village Voice S&M personal add through 15 languages, then back into English, written the ultimate New York Times "Metropolitan Diary" column entry, then gotten it published, and failed more times than they can count.

When they're not on-air, Freedman serves as the station's manager. Breckman is a noted comedy writer, having written for David Letterman and Saturday Night Live (he penned the classic "White Like Me" sketch), and he is creator and showrunner of USA network's Monk.

The folks behind the Seven Second Delay blog have put together this guide to the show for listeners of TSOYA, including links to the various programs referenced during our interview. Thanks!

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster
Ira Glass
Paul F. Tompkins

Dave Hill is Looking for Love

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The always-awesome Dave Hill is looking for love in all the wrong places this Valentine's day.

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Life Changes

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Show: 
Bullseye


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

On this week’s show, Matt Besser of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade stops by to talk about the troupe’s new series on Bravo, Rodney Rothman discusses his new memoir, “Early Bird,” and we feature music from some New Orleans legends.

Matt Besser is a founding member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade comedy group. He was part of the cast of the group’s Comedy Central show, which ran from 1998 to 2001. He also created Stung, an MTV hidden camera show, and starred in Crossballs, another Comedy Central series. He has appeared in films such as Junebug, and performs several times a week at the UCB Theatre in Los Angeles.

Rodney Rothman was a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman and Undeclared. At the age of 28, he retired to a Florida senior’s community. His memoir, “Early Bird,” chronicles his time as a retired man. He is an executive producer on the upcoming film Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Interview: Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller of "What We're Not Writing" by Rob Baedeker

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Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller are Emmy-nominated writers whose credits include CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” Comedy Central’s “The Showbiz Show With David Spade,” and MTV’s “The Andy Dick Show.” When the Writers Guild went on strike in November, they launched a new website, “What We’re Not Writing." Rob Baedeker interviewed the pair this week.

Describe your site, “What We’re Not Writing,” and tell me how it got started.

GM: Every day we’ve been posting a description of the show or movie we’re not working on because we’re on strike. The idea was to bring the studios to their knees by letting them know the brilliance they’re missing out on.

JG: We know there are important issues at stake, but we felt like a lot of writers were starting to take themselves too seriously, as far as the contribution they’re making to society with “One Tree Hill” or whatever. So we decided to make fun of that a little.

These unwritten scripts are jokes, but have you come up with any that actually seem viable? For example, I would watch "Small Plates, Big Problems", a feature screenplay about a petty thief on the run from the mob who hides out by opening a tapas bar.

GM: Really? Do you want to buy it? 35 bucks.

JG: Most of the time, we try to play on some recognizable genre or premise or character, but we try to make the idea a little bit worse in some way. But it’s a fine line. We don’t want to get too wacky. We’d rather err on the side of “I could imagine them making that.”

GM: Sometimes we come up with the title first, usually a bad pun, and then figure out what the show or movie would be.

JG: In general, we’ve realized that it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas not to write than ideas to write.

Do you each have personal-favorite entries?

JG: Asking us to choose between these horrible ideas is like asking us to choose between our children. In that having children was also a horrible idea.

GM: I like anything where the story is set in motion by someone getting struck by lightning. So that’s been a recurring theme.

JG: But we do have a place on the site where other writers can post what they’re not writing, and some of those have been really funny. Like “Keepin’ It Zipped!”, a teen sex comedy about a bunch of guys trying not to lose their virginity.

GM: And I also liked the one-stop TV drama called “Detective Law, M.D.”

What’s the worst idea you’ve actually pitched (as non-striking writers)?

GM: We pitched a movie called “Mathletes,” which played all the conventions of a sports movie in the world of high school math. But we were told that for some reason audiences wouldn’t want to watch kids do math for an hour and a half.

JG: And we once put together a pitch for an idea a production company had, which was basically that a kid wakes up to find he has an alien penis. That was before we realized we were allowed to say no to things.

Is that true?

GM: Yes, unfortunately. The idea was something about how when you go through puberty, you feel like you’re an alien, and making that literal. But it pretty much boiled down to “alien penis.”

Has it been cathartic to step out of the industry and parody it?

JG: A lot of the writing we’ve done, especially on late-night shows, even though it’s done within the industry, has sort of a critical point of view, making fun of all the crap that’s out there. So it’s not new to us, but it’s definitely fun.

GM: Also, since back on The Andy Dick Show, we’ve loved writing characters who are overly confident idiots, and in a way, we get to be those guys on the blog.

JG: So, yes, it’s been nice to “step out of the industry” for a while, but we can’t wait to step in it again. We want to step in it so good that we can’t wipe it off, and it starts stinking up the place, and you try to take an old toothbrush to it, but at some point you realize you’re just going to have to throw out the shoes. Wait, what are we talking about?

There are rumors that the strike may be ending soon. Are you going to continue to do the blog? Has it been fun enough to keep it going, or was it just a way to kill time? Have you been getting a lot of good response to it?

JG: We’d like to keep some kind of Miller & Green website going. We don’t know exactly what it’ll be, but this has been fun to do, and a good way to make sure we write at least one joke every day. And it seems to be getting a good response, and even some press. Which is fun, too.

GM: I guess the first thing we’ll do on the blog is take a lot of credit for ending the strike. It took over 60 unwritten projects, but it worked. You’re welcome, America.

You can find What We're Not Writing online here. Rob Baedeker is a member of the comedy group Kasper Hauser and freelance writer.

Podcast: Merlin Mann Live in San Francisco

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Show: 
Bullseye

The first in our series of podcasts from our January live show at SF Sketchfest.

Merlin Mann is an internet guru. He's best known for his wildly popular lifehacking site 43folders, which offers simple solutions to make work and home life less complicated and stressful. He's also a new media personality, with his own series (That Phone Guy, The Merlin Show) and a regular co-host slot on the Mac Break Weekly podcast.

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Comedian and Wired Science host Chris Hardwick
Analog and Digital with John Vanderslice and Mark Frauenfelder and Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing.net
Chris Elliott

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