This is why we cannot have Twitter interviews.
Although Ben Schwartz sure made it funny when he tried to interview Garry Shandling over Twitter overnight as part of the annual CollegeHumor all-nighter. Enjoy!
Showtime has picked up two more original series, and one of them is a comedy, House of Lies, that stars Kristen Bell and co-stars comedian Ben Schwartz!
Production on the first 12-episode season will begin this summer.
Here's a quote from Schwartz via his Rejected Jokes Tumblr, which you should be reading, liking and reblogging: "In unbelievably exciting news, House of Lies -- the comedy pilot I’m in alongside Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Josh Lawson and a slew of other amazing actors, has been picked up for a full season on Showtime! Everyone involved in this show -- the cast, producers, director, writer and executives are so incredibly talented and so much fun to be around, I cannot wait to get started on the series! I truly believe this show is going to be special, can’t wait for everyone to see it."
From the cable network's press release:
HOUSE OF LIES is a half-hour comedy created, written and executive produced by Matthew Carnahan from the hit tell-all book "House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn." The new comedy is a scathing look at a self-loathing management consultant from a top-tier firm. Don Cheadle stars as Marty, a highly-successful and cutthroat consultant who is never above using any means (or anyone) necessary to get his way with and for his clients. Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) will play Jeannie Van Der Hooven, a razor-sharp, Ivy-League graduate who works at Marty’s firm. Co-stars include noted comedian Ben Schwartz (Undercovers) and Josh Lawson (Romantically Challenged) as Marty’s corporate team members; Dawn Olivieri (Heroes) as Marty’s acerbic ex-wife; the legendary Glynn Turman (In Treatment) as his psychoanalyst father; and Donis Leonard Jr. (The Fresh Beat Band) as Marty’s young son. Jessika Borsiczky (Flash Forward) will serve as executive producer, and Emmy winner Stephen Hopkins (Californication, 24) directs and executive produces.
HBO and Funny or Die released two more sketches into the wild ahead of FoD's second-season premiere this Friday.
In this sketch, "Sticky Minds," two young guys in a restaurant fall in love and then some with their waitress, played by SNL star Kristen Wiig. Not sure which episode it'll air during, but you can watch it all right now. Roll it!
Ben Schwartz's recurring feature, "Terrible Decisions," debuts in the premiere with this sketch, "The Drop Off," co-starring Gary Cole. Fair to say this sketch is bananas. Roll it!
However you may have felt about the first season of Funny or Die Presents on HBO, well, get ready to remember and relive those feelings later this month, because the second season is a lot more of the same. And then some.
Getting an early look at the first three episodes of season two (debuting Jan. 14, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28, respectively), I can assure you that the one major problem from season one has been dispensed with -- there does not appear to be any idea that has been cut up and diluted into serial episodes. The recurring ideas all can stand on their own. Not that they all should, mind you.
For instance, starting off the season with Deepak Chopra as Rob Huebel's guest in the first installment of his series, "Do You Want To See A Dead Body?", isn't exactly an inspired decision. Remember how much you laughed along with Chopra in The Love Guru? Exactly. Huebel fares better later in the season when he gets Ben Stiller to tag along. And here Huebel is with former NFL player Warren Sapp.
The second-season premiere hits the mark much better with Ben Schwartz's "Terrible Decisions," as well as the sublime and ridiculously NSFW turns by Seth Morris and June Diane Raphael as Lt. Ducca and Det. Phuk in "United States Police Department" (who appear again in the second episode). The recurring "Re-enactments of Actual Conversations from the Ladies Rooms of Hollywood" featuring Andrea Savage are predictably insufferable, while the voice-over action figure sketch, "Brick Novax's Diary," is, well, what is it?
But that's what you get with Funny or Die Presents. Just as in its first season, each episode includes something that'll make you laugh out loud, something that makes you want to flip the channel, and something else that makes you wonder what in the world is happening.
Episode two (aka Episode #14) pairs Brett Gelman with a parrot in the over-the-top Funny or Die Movie of the Week: "Paco Dances," and ends with Mitch Magee getting his old video series, "Welcome To My Study," on the TV with the first of four new installments.
Tim & Eric fans will delight in knowing the duo makes a cameo in their own short directing Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as wild animals in episode three (aka Episode #15) with "John and Will's Animal Choices."
David and Jennie return, too, with more of their "amazing adventures." And Adam West proves he never was Leslie Nielsen as he gets a short recurring bit reciting classic pick-up lines to the camera.
Oh, and get ready to welcome back Ed Halligan to your TV as the channel's fictional VP of marketing and sales is back as the host, appearing in between the multiple previews and introductory pieces for each episode. But if you were expecting something else, then you were expecting too much. As they have Halligan say at the end of this season's debut: "Well, from Funny or Die, that's all we have tonight. I think you got your money's worth. On the off chance, though, that you think you didn't, well, there's not much you can do about it. That boat sailed a long time ago. And I own that boat. I got it with the money you just wasted."
Everyone who plays curling in the Olympics has heard your stupid curling jokes before, and they heard them all four years ago, too. Here's something neither they nor you have seen, though. It's a mixed-doubles curling squad (played by Kurt Braunohler and Kate McKinnon -- Kate's one of the ECNY's Emerging Comic nominees, btw) that decided to kidnap ESPN's Kenny Mayne. Or did they? You'll just have to watch and find out what happens. Roll the clip!
It's always amusing to see comedians get a chance to show us the inner workings of show business. How do you get a TV show on the air, anyhow? What's a pitch meeting like?
In this clip from The Sarah Silverman Program, Silverman herself depicts an executive. I believe the title is Commissioner of All Television, and her office is located in the Department of Censorship. Paul Scheer and Ben Schwartz, the Commissioner will see you now. Watch and learn, people. Watch and learn. Roll it!
Here's a funny video that has an accidentally funny timeliness to it, as Ben Schwartz improvised this bit about trying to nail down the "perfect audition" with Upright Citizen Brigade's Los Angeles artistic director Neil Campbell as his foil. This is all filmed at the UCB's LA theater. Roll the clip!
Of course, as it turns out, Schwartz already got the part! In a J.J. Abrams TV pilot, called Undercovers. And who wouldn't greenlight a J.J. Abrams TV pilot for production as a full-time primetime series? Only an idiot. And this pilot isn't for NBC, so congrats!
ESPN has had a rough week, PR-wise, what with the guy having sex with the young woman who's not his wife, and the other guy making a woefully unfunny joke about a race-car driver based loosely on his ethnic heritage, so they're really due for something to remind us that they're great at delivering us sports information and also quite funny in doing so. Cue Kenny Mayne! Mayne has always been one of my favorite ESPN guys (and the fact that I used to write for the newspaper in Federal Way, Wash., from whence he came, has nothing to do with it). Today marked the debut of season three of Mayne Street, the anchor/reporter's online series. You can watch season one of Mayne Street here; or season two here.
Comedians Alison Becker, Aubrey Plaza and Ben Schwartz have been part of Mayne's crew, though none of them are in the debut, which finds Mayne paying a visit to another guy with sports/media things in common with the blog, Bill Simmons. I've read The Sports Guy's columns for years, but this probably isn't the best time to depict yourself as a faker who has bikini-clad women gratuitously make out and wrestle at your fake mansion, is it? Anyhow. Timing! Who's with me? Roll the clip!
I noted that legendary comedy producer Lorne Michaels had plenty to smile about last weekend during the Creative Arts Emmy awards ceremony, and during Sunday night, multiple Primetime Emmy winners showed Michaels love on the live TV.
Two of those winners, in fact, were brought back from last weekend's ceremony to deliver additional acceptance speeches. But when those people are Tina Fey and Justin Timberlake, I suppose that's a nod to TV viewers? Fey and Timberlake had won the guest actress and actor awards in a comedy series for their turns on last season's Saturday Night Live. Timberlake pulled the predictable parody of Kanye West (twas ok), whereas Fey trumped him with this thanks to Michaels: "I wouldn't be here tonight if it wasn't for Lorne Michaels. Justin still would be very famous and very rich. But I would not be here. So thank you, Lorne Michaels." Timberlake followed up, saying: "You guys at SNL are the best. Thank you for letting me come and make a fool of myself as much as I am willing to do. So thank you for this. This was a huge surprise." Fey later got in a dig at her network's decision to put Jay Leno in primetime; while accepting another trophy for 30 Rock as repeat winner of best comedy series, she said NBC was kind enough to keep 30 Rock on even though it costs more to produce than a talk show.
Alec Baldwin, in his repeat win for best actor for 30 Rock, made a joke about wanting to trade his Emmy to look like presenter Rob Lowe, then decidated his trophy "Lorne Michaels, who is the greatest boss you could ever have, and who has believed in me for all these years, and I love you, Lorne."
In the supporting categories for comedy acting, wins went to Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men) and Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies). Cryer got ribbed about his win during the broadcast by host Neil Patrick Harris, who also was nominated in the category. NPH, for his part, did a bang-up job as host, as multiple others (Jon Stewart among them) stopped to point out in their acceptance speeches. Not everything worked (we're looking at you, best seat in the house recurring bit). The opening number was bright and punchy. Here's the official video of it!TwitPic here).
We've got ourselves a big Monday here, which means it's time to catch up on what's been happening in comedy and see if we missed anything. First up, what funny things from comedians have I posted recently over on The Laugh Track?
But that's not all. There was also some comedy in the news. Such as, for instance, this, that and the other thing:
Now that I'm showcasing funny videos and pictures and such over at The Laugh Track, you'd think I'd go ahead and find some way to tell you about them over here. Without further hesitation...
Derrick comedy has a laugh-out-loud hilarious, dark comedy movie on their hands, and if all things go well, soon enough, there will be a distribution deal for Mystery Team. How do I know this? I managed to get in on one of the intimate free screenings in New York City earlier this week, and talked to four-fifths of the team behind Mystery Team afterward (Dan Eckman, Meggie McFadden, DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes -- Donald Glover was over in Long Island City being executive story editor on 30 Rock). Roll the clip!
As mentioned in the clip, Mystery Team debuted in January at the Sundance Film Festival to mostly positive reviews and buzz. Director/co-writer/editor Eckman said he managed to cut more than six minutes from the version Sundance audiences saw, getting the running time down to a leaner 98 minutes. "Watching it with an audience six times at Sundance really opened the whole thing up," Eckman told me.
If you haven't heard the buzz yet, let me fill you in. Donald Glover, DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes play three high-schoolers who are still living off of their childhood "fame" as boy detectives who solved neighborhood mysteries a la Encyclopedia Brown. Glover's Jason is as animated as a Looney Tunes character with a propensity for disguises that rely on fake mustaches. Pierson's Duncan has memorized trivial trivia and thinks that makes him a boy genius when it just makes him a nerd. Dierkes' Charlie is a dumb jock without being a jock. They're 17, but still living as if they were 7. "No case too hard, no case too tough," reads the hand-painted sign outside Jason's house. And their mysteries are as tough as figuring out who stuck their fingers in an old lady's pie. Until a girl rings Jason's bell and asks him to solve the murder of her parents. The boys take the case and quickly find themselves in over their heads, literally and figuratively. Will they grow up and/or solve the case? Aubrey Plaza (NBC's Parks & Recreation) plays the other orphaned sister. Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live) shows up every so often as a grocery store cashier who still idolizes the Mystery Team. And there are plenty of other great comedian cameos and supporting roles with an emphasis on the UCB: Tom Shillue, Matt Walsh, Kay Cannon, Neil Casey, Jon Daly, Will Hines, Ellie Kemper, Anthony King, John Lutz, Ben Schwartz, Kevin Brown and Robbie Sublett among them.
Only now unwinding from my second tour through the Upright Citizen Brigade's Del Close Marathon, which ended Sunday night (though starting the tour after an all-nighter to Washington, D.C., and back probably contributed to the fatigue on my end), and wished, as I did last summer, that I had gotten to see more of the 150+ improv and variety shows that happened during DCM10. At least two video cameras captured some of the highlights, which I expect to see online one of these days at UCBComedy.
The Marathon is crazy for improvisers and comedy fans alike, with shows running almost continuously (save for a couple of breaks to clean the theaters) at the UCB home in Chelsea and three nearby theaters from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. Comedians come from all over the country to participate, and even then, to fill all of those hours, the Marathon's programmers schedule some completely off-the-wall shows. I cannot speak for the daytime shows from last weekend, but during the primetime and late-night hours, the atmosphere -- hot, sweaty and reeking of alcoholic sweat -- really favors the louder, crazier uptempo shows over the improv groups that actually try best to honor Del Close and his Harold long-form. It's not a fault of the performers. But after you've seen "Gary Busey" prove he's the smartest expert in the universe, it's hard to pay close attention to all that's going on in the Scramble. And the Marathon peaks at 2:30 a.m. Sunday during the half-hour lunacy that is Match Game 76, and when Horatio Sanz as Heath Ledger's Joker launches a smoke bomb, well, even a troupe hoping to parody Close has no chance. I spent my entire DCM10 at the UCB (sorry, big-time shows at the FIT, but maybe we'll meet again in 2009), and the best shows I saw over the weekend were strong in concept, structure and execution.
James Adomian as "Gary Busey" during The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever.
Photo by Keith Huang
Growing up with the Harlem Globetrotters, you sometimes wondered what it must be like being a member of the opposition team, the Washington Generals. What does that have to do with anything? Well, comedian Ben Schwartz finally (after seven months) unveils episode four of his Webby-nominated (for best writing, individual short) series, Bronx World Travelers. In today's episode, Schwartz gets life and basketball lessons from a street legend, played by Bobby Moynihan. Enjoy!
Watching the March Madness today on the TV and seeing if my Final Four brackets hold up, and thinking about these ESPN Bracketologists videos that feature my friends, comedians Dave Hill and Ben Schwartz. Enjoy!
Other videos, from future friends(?) Bobby Moynihan and Eugene Cordero, after the jump.
Valentine's Day is today, and in the grand tradition of parallel thinking in comedy, several videos are ready for your viewing pleasure to get through this "holiday," no matter your relationship status. Let's take a look.
The Onion News Network might be thought as callous for going after lonely women, but they always manage to turn a topic on its head. And quite professionally, too. It's almost like a real local TV news report. Which is the point of this parody production.
Funny or Die devotes the top half of its main page to Valentine's Day vids. Of course, this site's niche is the roster of celebrity cohorts, so they invariably go to that well again today.