Anthony Jeselnik felt like the Mayor of Applause Break City during this performance on Conan. Good to see his ego hasn't slipped a bit since he left his writing gig at Fallon.
Roll the clip!
When Comedy Central announced its special "Hot List" showcase of new talented comedians, I could not say the list surprised me. Many of these people got multiple mentions here at The Comic's Comic in the past year, and when I thought about Kumail Nanjiani's achievements in the past year, even I was duly impressed with what he's been able to accomplish since moving to New York City from Chicago. So I talked to him briefly outside of Comix during the club's holiday party this week (holiday parties already!) and asked him to put it into some perspective -- Letterman, Kimmel, Live at Gotham, Michael and Michael Have Issues, The Colbert Report, and a development deal with NBC. Where does he go from here? Roll the clip! (Warning: Includes improvised absurdity from Eugene Mirman, who actually fits into Kumail's NYC story, as well as a joke at John Mayer's expense, and a cameo by Nanjiani's newlywed wife, Emily) Roll it!
Of course, Nanjiani isn't the only one on Comedy Central's Hot List special, which airs on Sunday, Dec. 6. Here's a clip featuring all nine -- Anthony Jeselnik, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, Matt Braunger, Jon Lajoie, Whitney Cummings, TJ Miller, Donald Glover and Nanjiani -- describing why they made the cut. Roll it!
Ready for the weekend? Me, too. But first, a few things to mention and link to that people are reading and talking about in comedy circles...
When I heard that Pete Holmes wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having his friends and fellow stand-up comedians roast him, my first thought was that he had lost his mind. And then I attended the roast last night at the UCB, and was quickly reminded that this is a rare opportunity for comedians to unleash not only their mocking jabs at one another, but also some heartfelt tender moments. But you didn't click here looking for heartfelt or tender, did you? As Holmes himself said during the show: "I want it to be meaner!"
Leo Allen, the regular host of Monday night's Whiplash, served as the roastmaster (pictured here by Mindy Tucker) -- and despite allegedly forgetting that the roast was happening, managed to find several zingers up his sleeves. The dais was a regular who's who of New York City's current crop of up-and-coming comedians, with John Mulaney, Anthony Jeselnik and Kumail Nanjiani represented. Also on board: TJ Miller, who flew in for the event, Jared Logan, David Angelo, Nate Fernald, Seth Herzog, a tardy Julian McCullough and Holmes' girlfriend, Jamie Lee. Here are a few of the many zingers I managed to jot down for posterity:
I wondered how many of the audience members knew what they were in for (there were a dozen or two other comics scattered in the seats, too), and I knew it'd be something when one young woman, when asked by Allen if she knew who Holmes was, shouted: "Security in the basement!" Yeah, that's a Greg Johnson bit. ROASTED!
Anthony Jeselnik was a last-minute addition to last night's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and in doing so, became the first stand-up to perform on the show. Comedy trivia! Of course, Fallon's people knew Jeselnik was available, since he's a writer on the show, and he already has performed in front of the camera in a couple of sketches in the first month. If you've seen Jeselnik's half-hour Comedy Central Presents or his appearance on HBO's Down and Dirty with Jim Norton, you know what you're in for. Jeselnik said that three of his jokes got cut for time. What impressed me the most, however, was his opening line. Such a bold thing to say and yet it fits right in with his stand-up persona.
Related: Other Late Night sketches with Fallon and Jeselnik, after the jump!
Settle down, everybody. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon debuted on NBC overnight, and we already knew that the show's debut would bring in higher ratings (2.3 rating, 8 share in metered markets, compared to Conan's final season average of 1.7, according to the network -- full ratings info available Thursday), that Jimmy Fallon would be nervous, that the crowd would be excited, and that all late-night shows will evolve into something else over time (see: Conan, Kimmel, Ferguson). So, again I type, settle down, everybody. Your reviews are not helping anyone really. Although, in the name of truth-telling, it should be acknowledged that some casual viewers tune in to the debut of any show and make snap judgments about whether to become regular viewers. For them, and for you, some thoughts.
Cold Open: Perfect. Just perfect. Opening cold (just like SNL), viewers still expecting to see Conan O'Brien indeed saw Conan O'Brien, packing up his things in what is now Fallon's dressing room, to literally hand the show off to him. And they get to make a jab about the fact that Jay Leno is not leaving.
Monologue: Fallon managed to handle the hyper teen audience with some ad-libs, proving Lorne Michaels right for telling Fallon to spend much of 2008 on the road in comedy clubs to prepare for heckling and all sorts of nonsense like this. The jokes themselves had some moments, too (Disclosure: I know of and am a fan of some of Fallon's writers, and could pick out a couple of their selections), but things really got interesting when the monologue segued into...
I don't think I have seen Anthony Jeselnik as much as I did during the 32 minutes he spent onstage last summer taping his Comedy Central Presents, which debuts tonight. In the preview clip below, they kept in two off-hand remarks Jeselnik made dealing with all of the adoration from the audience. When they applaud a little too enthusiastically for the mere mention of Christmas, he quips: "No Jews here, huh?" And then, when plenty of female voices start "WOO"ing when he says he used to be a teacher, he retorts: "Shut up! I don't need teachers hogging my spotlight!"
The rest of his special includes some dark, brutal stuff, but that is his wont. Other things I noticed during the taping: When he had to take another try on a joke, he yelled at the crowd in jest: "Go f@$& yourselves!" There was a woman with a walkie-talkie from the crew that got a little loud 19 minutes into his set. Also, there's a bit of lighting magic for his joke about "you don't know pain." Get ready to see more of Anthony Jeselnik in the years to come.
So I take one day off, and what happens? The Tribune Co. declares bankruptcy, NBC gives away the 10 p.m. weeknight primetime slot to Jay Leno in a desperation move, and oh, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon debuts online. In just a couple of minutes, we see Fallon is moving into Studio 6B at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, that he'll debut on TV in late-night on March 2, 2009, and that indeed, the house band is The Roots, as we suggested here earlier. I'm also hearing that young joke-writer Anthony Jeselnik is on board helping Fallon, so that's promising news (and seeing Jeselnik around NYC more often gives credence to that talk). So. Here's the debut video:
Did you miss last week's Time Out New York approved comedy showcase at the UCB that was part of the New York Comedy Festival? Would you like to see some highlights from the sets of Anthony Jeselnik, Max Silvestri, Reggie Watts, Sean Patton, Seth Herzog, The Hazzards and host/TONY Comedy Editor Jane Borden? Of course, you would. So here that is. Note: Language is NSFW!
In the theater, you could barely hear Lemmy from Motorhead, and not a lick of his theme song, but everything comes through a-OK on TV, including some fun banter between Norton and Lemmy. Also, making this episode his debut is quite a statement, whether Norton intended it that way or not, as he booked both Jim Florentine, a comic Norton introduced as getting him his first gig in 1990 (which makes it odd that it's now Norton giving Florentine a break), as well as Artie Lange, who as they used to say in the biz, works for a competing morning radio program. Lange's stand-up, which hadn't impressed me as much as his personal health deteriorated, sounded different on TV. His jokes about drug use sounded more like a plea for help from the audience. I know he since went into rehab, and hope he's doing better. The other two performers on the debut episode were relative youngsters Anthony Jeselnik and Whitney Cummings. They both did well, as they usually do. As I wrote after watching two of the other episode tapings, it really does come across as a white, suburban, rock version of Def Comedy Jam. Not that that's a bad thing. It will be interesting to see what Norton does next with the series.
The next new episode airs between 11:59 p.m. Friday and 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Free tickets are available to this year's Comedy Central Presents tapings in New York City, taping shows in pairs from Aug. 24-29, 2008 at the Hudson Theater. I believe Bo Burnham is setting a land-speed record by getting a half-hour TV special before he enrolls in college at NYU and just days after turning 18! Here are your pairings, with links for tickets to each:
6 p.m. Aug. 24: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry
8 p.m. Aug. 24: Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro
6 p.m. Aug. 25: Dan Levy, Bo Burnham
8 p.m. Aug. 25: Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft
6 p.m. Aug. 26: Greg Warren, Josh Blue
8 p.m. Aug. 26: Erin Foley, Chris Porter
6 p.m. Aug. 27: Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson
8 p.m. Aug. 27: Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes
6 p.m. Aug. 28: Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes
8 p.m. Aug. 28: Tommy Johnigan, Jimmy Carr
6 p.m. Aug. 29: John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal
8 p.m. Aug. 29: Red Grant, Rob Stapleton
Even though they're taping from Aug. 25-29, the next round of Comedy Central Presents half-hour stand-up specials likely won't air until 2009, if past precedents hold. That said, you can sign up now for info on free tickets to the tapings at the Hudson Theater just off Times Square in NYC.
Getting their own half-hours this year: Pete Lee, Rebecca Corry, Joe DeRosa, Brian Scolaro, Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson, Kurt Metzger, Tom Rhodes, Dan Levy, Jasper Redd, Eddie Ifft, Jamie Lissow, Greer Barnes, Tommy Johnagin, Jimmy Carr, Greg Warren, Josh Blue, Erin Foley, Chris Porter, John Mulaney, Kristen Schaal, Rob Stapleton, and Red Grant.
Congrats to all. Much, much more to come next month!
Variety magazine named its "10 Comics to Watch" for 2008 and wrote up profiles on each of them this week. Their choices? Read what they have to say about Russell Brand, Brandon T. Jackson, Anthony Jeselnik, Jon LaJoie, Ralphie May, TJ Miller, Jay Phillips, John Mulaney, Paul Rust, Casey Wilson.
Let's assess. John Mulaney, I've had the privilege to see him several times since moving to New York City, and every time, he slays. This kid, and really, he's still only four years out of college (the same time I finally dipped my toes into professional stand-up comedy) and already so masterful and such a stage presence, it's amazing. He's a writer for Demetri Martin's upcoming Comedy Central sketch show, and he'll tape his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents at the end of the summer. Big fan of Mulaney, I am. Not that I'm a comedy Yoda just yet.
Anthony Jeselnik is a great joke writer. Sometimes a bit dark (a bit?). But yes, keep an eye on this fella. Also getting his Comedy Central Presents this year.
Time Out London named Russell Brand U.K. Comedian of the Year, and he chewed up the scenery in his movie debut this year in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I'll have much more to say about Brand next week when we meet up in Montreal.
Casey Wilson, well, already has a big "watch me" sign on her as the newest member of Saturday Night Live, joining the cast after the Writers Guild strike this spring. It'll be more than interesting to see what role she gets to play this fall.
When I saw T.J. Miller last year in Aspen, I knew he'd be on TV very soon, and he was the best thing about the short-lived ABC sitcom Carpoolers. But I don't care how much he jokes about it, the caps of the ketchup bottles are the feet. They just are.
Paul Rust works in the Los Angeles, and I saw him last fall doing sketch work in Vegas at The Comedy Festival. I can see how you'd want to keep an eye on him.
Ralphie May: Shouldn't he have been the one to watch in 2003 when he was working on TV projects with Jay Mohr and getting submarined by Dat Phan on the original Last Comic Standing? Curious.
I'm not that familiar with Brandon T. Jackson, because he's a kid and I'm not, but he'll be in the cast of Tropic Thunder, so, OK. Jon LaJoie? Huh? Don't know what to say about Jay Phillips, but I need to get out more (no, I don't). Fine. I'll see you all in Montreal!
This is an early review! HBO just taped four episodes of a new stand-up showcase, Down and Dirty with Jim Norton. It'll air this fall (update! debut is midnight Oct. 4, with other episodes premiering Oct. 11, 18, and 25) They taped two episodes last night and two tonight at the BergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey. At last night's tapings, things got, well, down and dirty.
Al Jackson, who I'm watching on Last Comic Standing as I type this, deserves special honors for his work warming up these rowdy crowds. He got some serious laughs and comedy points during the intermission between shows (an intermission that didn't allow the crowd to move) with material about being a teacher and a story involving his first trip to Starbucks.
Fans literally lined up around the block in this suburban Jersey town for the shows, which Norton promoted on his MySpace and via the Opie & Anthony show. Did I mention the crowds were rowdy? Alrighty then. I still haven't gotten full confirmation from HBO on this, but the first night's shows sure seemed like a suburban, white, rock version of Def Comedy Jam. Norton hosts all four shows and does about five to six minutes upfront, and there's a special podium set up for Lemmy from the band Motorhead, who introduces Norton and contributed the theme song. The fans clearly were on board with Norton from the get-go, welcoming him with a standing ovation.
In the first show, Norton opened with a funny bit about our past and present New York governors and their sexual tendencies. Russ Meneve came out first, and when some guy in the audience shouted out during Meneve's first bit, I got more than a bit worried that this crowd wouldn't know how to behave at a TV taping. They settled down, though. And they laughed and laughed. They gave Meneve an applause break when he joked that his last four girlfriends had died in sailing accidents. They continued laughing throughout the night. Joe DeRosa, whom I first encountered opening for a rowdy audience waiting for Dave Chappelle, certainly held his own with an opening bit about what life really is like for comedians on the road. Ari Shaffir went next, though, and attempted to steal the show when he ended his set with a joke about being ready for a blowjob anytime, demonstrating such by dropping his pants and his underpants for a full frontal moment. A moment that continued when he stood like that, then walked away with his pants still down. Hours later, Shaffir told me he didn't warn the HBO folks about his Full Monty moment, because he figured a warning might only result in HBO telling him not to do it. Then again, it is HBO. Moreover, he didn't really give them any chance to edit around his penis. So to speak. Let's see Carlos Mencia try to steal that bit. Norton's retort? "He looks like me, if I was taller and had a clit." Jim Jeffries got introduced as a special guest and had a funny opener about getting a ride home from an audition, followed by his story about coming down with a case of penis cancer. Audience naturally loved him. But they gave a standing ovation welcome to the first show's headliner, Andrew Dice Clay. Yep. He had his leather jacket, giant belt buckle, sunglasses and cigarette. No nursery rhymes. Instead, some different ancient premises that boiled down to dick jokes, black dick jokes (Siegfried and LeRoy???) that resulted in his philosophical outlook on how black men are ruining us. Or something like that.
The second show last night couldn't help but seem tamer. Norton opened that show with a few quick jokes about breaking up with his girlfriend (somehow Facebook alerted this to me first?!) before launching into his extensive breakdown of a video that I have seen (thank you, Joe Rogan?) of a man dying in Washington state a few years ago after allowing a horse to have sex with him. Indeed. I did say this show seemed tamer, though, and that was because the first few acts weren't quite as aggressive, even if they were still raunchy. Louis Katz introduced his own sex move, the Vengeful Louis, and closed with reasons why premature ejaculation is not necessarily a bad thing. Kevin Shea, introduced as Korean-born, also informed the crowd that he was college roommates with one of the YouTube founders-turned-billionaires. Jason Rouse, Canadian, living in England, started with a topic DeRosa had covered earlier but took it in a different direction. Rouse's jokes weren't just filthy but also somewhat misguided. After one joke, Rouse even said, "I know I'm going to Hell for that joke. But f#@k it, it's warm, and I'll know people there." Patrice Oneal closed out the second show with 15 minutes about how he's gotten creepy as he's gotten older. It's funny because it's true. But also because he's really not that creepy.
They filmed two more episodes tonight, with headliners Bill Burr and Artie Lange, and a lineup that looks more subversive (wish I'd seen that!) and includes Anthony Jeselnik, Whitney Cummings, Andy Andrist, Sean Rouse, Geoff Keith, Jacob Sirof and Jim Florentine.
And you thought Rififi was done when Invite Them Up left the building? No. Instead, Brett Gelman has taken over Wednesdays and assumed the title of President of Comedy. His "inauguration" took place last night. In a cockroach outfit.
Let me try to explain.
Perhaps Gelman himself said it best in his opening remarks. "This is not just a celebration of me. It's a celebration of all of us celebrating me as the new president of comedy," he said. "This is a show people are going to be lying about -- saying they were at it."
As First Lady, Jackie Clarke. In dog ears. Putting down Gelman at every opportunity.
The first show included Anthony Jeselnik. A very strong joke writer, except for that one joke about jail rape, which is far too cheap and easy. Jon Daly appeared as Shirtless White Bill Cosby, with a voice that wavered between spot-on Cosby (circa 1982) and British. Here is a short clip.
I have a theory that Gelman and Daly have a standing bet to see who can be the most ridiculous figure in the comedy world, and that they're both winning, which makes me hope and pray that their Comedy Central pilot, "The Scariest Thing on Television," gets picked up for a full season. The network announced it yesterday as part of its development slate. Gelman said last night that they just finished work on the pilot yesterday, coincidentally, and are hopeful about its prospects. In it, Paul F. Tompkins stars as anthology series host Julius Darkshaft, taking us "through his vault of hilarious morality tales and gorefests."
But back to last night's show.
Larry Murphy made a guest appearance as working-class man Gene Shirley. Andrea Rosen was funny and more than slightly raunchy (ask her about her eye). MC Chris rapped! About Boba Fett! There was a final three-way scene so perverse that even Clarke had to describe it as: "This is just like a Troma film." And, lest I forget, Bobby Tisdale came onstage to pass the torch of Wednesday nights, and with it, perform the comedy presidential inauguration.
Wait. You wanted to know how it ended? I guess you really did have to be there.