Perhaps you've noticed the new 3 Minute Talk Show that popped up this year online?
It's from L Studio, the original online webseries arm of Lexus that also distributes Lisa Kudrow's Web Therapy. What makes 3 Minute Talk Show different, aside from the obvious time-limit inherent in its name, is the talent behind it: veteran stand-up Barry Sobel hosts, with Fred Willard as his sidekick, Ben Lee providing the house band, and production coming from Tom Hanks' Playtone house. Hanks even served as the first guest to kick off the online talk show last month. Other guests so far have included Bryan Cranston and Cedric the Entertainer.
Today's guest is The Jonas Brothers, or at least Joe Jonas. Is he the cute one? Roll the clip to get yourself caught up, and then on the flip side, The Comic's Comic has the first interview with Barry Sobel to explain himself!
Here's what Barry Sobel had to tell me about this week's episode: "My favorite episode is the one you are breaking… our guests are “The Jonas Brothers”… Well that’s what I thought ‘til Fred breaks the news that because of budget reasons, we could only afford one Jonas. The joy of the entire show is to sit next to Fred Willard and “play comedy.” I leaned in a second before Joe Jonas walked out and said, “I am going to say you were in a band with Ringo, and I want you to say, yeah but not THAT Ringo..” Take a look at the master Fred Willard at work. This was the very first thing we taped in the entire project. The Joe Jonas interview."
Barry, are you trying to lampoon the idea of a talk show? "Lampoon? More like Spinal Tap it.. I wanted to get the sights, the sounds, and smell of a real Late Night Talk Show, and we got that... But we got a little bit more.
"Tom (Hanks) really wanted to make sure every element was completely original, like nothing else on any talk show. He told me that on day one, about five minutes before we started shooting. I told him we have a Top Ten-like "Number One Reason,” A tribute to Johnny’s “Carnac” called, “The Great Lanzini,” “Funny News,” Tom’s counter: no pre-interviews with the guests. It was wild. Me and Fred (Willard), making it all up on the spot, with A-list celebrities in the middle of us. They didn't stand a chance. But, every star was there to play, so each interview is its own little gem. Completely no pressure on anyone... ‘cept me.
In the debut episode, Tom Hanks acknowledges that you and he go all the way back to the movie Punchline. How have you guys managed to stay friends this long? "Tom has taken me to hockey games for years. On his 50th birthday he took me, along with Ron Howard and Dennis Miller, on a rock 'n roll tour bus across the country, on a seven-day, seven-city tour of the greatest baseball stadiums. It was the funnest time of my life. Then when it was over, he invited me to go back with him on his plane, to NYC to see yet another game at Yankee Stadium. I can't take ME that much... But I think Tom sees something in me, I don't see in myself. He is the producer of this show and on the first day of production one of my spies overheard some guy ask him why he is making this show, he was behind the monitor and he yelled, "I always thought this guy was ‘effing funny." Tom is the greatest friend I have ever had."
So Hanks wants you to live out your talk-show dreams now, too? "While in development of my cartoon at Playtone called “Cartoon03,” Gary Goetzman, Tom’s partner and a genius, remembered my love for talk shows. I had also just had another talk show pilot over at VH1, that I hosted called “Old School.” We bring back everyone in the history of entertainment and treat them with the respect and reverence they deserve. Wrong Network. So Tom and Gary, created with an environment where stars can drop by, eat great food, hang out, promote their projects, and have a blast, all in a few minutes… literally. LStudio.com, who is in the business of only groundbreaking content became our perfect home. This is an original world, a real talk show, we created completely for the a.d.d generation of the Web."
Ben Lee provides your band and performs the theme song as well as walk-on music. How did you hook up with him, and how much input did you have in the songs?
All of the talk overnight of the shortest ever talk-show got people reminding me that someone already has been there and done that, and his name is Barry Sobel.
Don't let the long hair fool you. This fresh-faced kid was turning 22 in 1996 when he appeared on the very first episode of Barry Sobel's three-minute talk show on Comedy Central.
Did we say three minutes? Yes. Three minutes. Take that, Conan's "Show Zero."
You can watch the entire debut episode here. Kevin Meaney plays the fictitious head of the network who informs Sobel in his monologue that he'll only be getting three minutes. Fred Willard plays Sobel's sidekick, and Rita Wilson gets honors as his first guest.
In a twist in which everything old is new again, Sobel is developing a new Internet iteration of his three-minute show, with help from Rita Wilson's husband, Tom Hanks! Of course, the relationship between Sobel and Hanks goes all the way back to the 1980s movie about comedians that comedians love to trash talk about, Punchline. Hanks had Sobel write for him and tutor him in the "comedy stylings" of stand-up, as it were.