Matt and Oz shot this spec ad for Zwack liquor, "the national shot of Hungary," with Brett Gelman. I don't know if I'm buying it, but I'm most definitely buying it. Hungarians be crazy!
Watch and learn.
At last night's Whiplash show at New York's UCB Theatre, director Jason Woliner (Human Giant) previewed an episode of the new Adult Swim series he worked on, Eagleheart, which stars Chris Elliott as an over-the-top U.S. Marshal and debuts Feb. 3.
Check out a clip!
More? Alrighty then. Eagleheart is produced by Conan O'Brien's Conaco, with a cast that also features Brett Gelman and Maria Thayer as his sidekicks and Michael Gladis as Chief. In the episode Woliner screened for the NYC audience, which he said was the "original first episode" but will air sometime later on, Elliott's "Chris Monsanto" reveals a special fighting move: The Death Punch. It's absurd and holds no punches. Obviously. It stars Chris Elliott. Anyhow. After utilizing "The Death Punch," Monsanto feels massive guilt upon learning his criminal victim left behind a wife and kids, and then absurdity ensues.
Other episodes are just as violent and silly.
A press release suggests "Monsanto may battle a pair of evil twin gubernatorial candidates, surgically alter his appearance to investigate a string of elderly kidnappings, track missing mountain lions to the center of the earth, or punch people so hard they explode."
Related: Team Coco talks to Eagleheart creators (and former Late Night with Conan writers Michael Koman and Andrew Weinberg) about the series. You'll learn that a certain former "Late Night" feature helped inspire the pilot. If you're thinking Walker, Texas Ranger, then, yes. Also how the initial pilot pitch was different from what eventually became Eagleheart. Listen here!
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."
And now, a brief message from comedian Matt Besser:
My name is Matt Besser, one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and one of the creators of This Show Will Get You High. A year ago I approached the leaders of Comedy Central with the idea to create a sketch show so funny that it had the power to get the viewer high. I theorized that if we can get the kids high on sketch comedy, then they won't have to be in the empty lots and the abandoned malls looking for real drugs like heroin, crack, and worst of all, marijuana. To accomplish this dream I recruited some of the best sketch comedians from the UCB Theatre including Brett Gelman, John Gemberling, Paul Rust, Betsy Sodaro, combined with the directing genius of Eric Appel, plus Nathan Barnatt, Sergio Cilli, Allan McLeod, and Jessica Williams. Upon completion of the experiment, Comedy Central showed it to focus groups where it was determined that it got them way too high. It has since been decided that the safest time to exhibit the special are the hours when only those who are used to being way too high are still awake. On November 2, citizens in communities across America will vote on various marijuana legalization propositions. Before that date, America needs to wake up and realize that you don't need to get high on the weed, when you can get high on This Show Will Get You High.
You likely won't see more than the pilot for This Show Will Get You High on your TV sets, and if you're not watching Comedy Central at 3 a.m. Oct. 27, 4:30 a.m. Oct. 28, or 4 a.m. Nov. 1, then probably not even the pilot.
Until then, however, you can view these two short scenes from the pilot. First, here's a glimpse at the cast and crew on the road, as Brett Gelman emerges from the bathroom after taking a pee break. Did I say after? What follows is Not Safe For Work. Roll it!
And in this bit, Gollum meets "Precious" meets Comic-Con. Lt. Uhura seemed to enjoy it!
"I thought the whole point of this was to get the small part in the big Hollywood comedy movie."
-- Tim Heidecker, questioning Brett Gelman about why he was still hosting "shit shows" such as Comedy Death-Ray, in a surprise walk-on appearance as Gelman's "comedy coach" at Comedy Death-Ray on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, at the UCB Theatre in Hollywood.
Related: You also can hear Gelman talk about comedy and hip-hop on the podcast Hype Men.
We're just a few days away from the start of the 12th annual Del Close Marathon -- that's DCM12 for short (and for Twitter hashtag purposes) -- and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre has released the footage from the show that's always a DCM showstopper: That late-late-night Saturday all-star showcase parody of "Match Game '76," where in recent years, the only things you can count on are Paul Scheer doing his own version of the late Gene Rayburn, contestant Jack McBrayer playing himself and seemingly more frightened every year because he doesn't know how or what the dozens of UCB players (in celebrity characters) will do to taunt him. It's at 2 a.m. Sunday this weekend.
Last year, for DCM11, the cast of characters were played by the likes of Rob Huebel, Brett Gelman, Nick Kroll, Doug Benson, Horatio Sanz, Anthony Atamanuik, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, Chris Gethard, Rob Lathan, Jon Daly, Katie Dippold, Seth Morris, Sean Conroy, Owen Burke, James Adomian and yes, that is Sarah Silverman in disguise as Carl Weathers. Oh, and people also did the show completely disguised as Flipper and Dr. Zaius.
Let's just say it's Not Safe For Work, because it most definitely is. See you this weekend. Roll it!
Take that, Avatar. Stop feeling so Precious and keep an eye out before you get attacked from The Blind Side and end up feeling all Hurt Locker. Or something like that. Here are film critics "Ryan O'Neal" and "Tatum O'Neal" (comedians Brett Gelman and Paul Scheer) laying down the smack on this year's Oscar hopefuls in advance of Sunday's Academy Awards. Roll this clip.
Meanwhile, critics Stinson (Rob Lathan) and Ms. Marjory Maycomb (Lennon Parham, as seen currently on Accidentally on Purpose) had some awesome and wholesome things to say about several of these same movies. Hey, that's awesome!
HBO has a new look online, and that includes a home page for the upcoming series of sketches from Funny or Die called Funny or Die Presents, and along with it, a fresh "Buzz" video that offers insider looks at FoD Presents (Brett Gelman dancing in 1,000 Cats! Leo Allen with a snake! Will Ferrell in disguise!). That's not all, though. You also get behind-the-scenes with Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington on animated their popular podcasts, a look at the second season of animated series The Life & Times of Tim (with Nick Kroll talking improv!), and previews of Bill Maher's latest stand-up special and season of Real Time. It all debuts Feb. 19.
Hey, look at this new thing from the folks at 92YTribeca. If you enjoyed their parody of the New York Times ads for the Weekender edition, then perhaps you may also enjoy this thing, in which the locals tell you how to best enjoy your visit to this city. Featuring Janeane Garofalo, David Cross, Kumail Nanjiani, the Sklar Brothers, Dave Hill, Brett Gelman, Paul Dinello, Julie Klausner and Nick Kroll. Roll it!
MTV asked British comedian Russell Brand to host the channel's Video Music Awards for a second straight year, but watching the show broadcast last night from NYC's Radio City Music Hall, you may have wondered why. Seriously. Why? Brand caused enough of a stir in 2008, I suppose, to earn his return. But his monologue and later quips this time around sounded more like the ramblings of a scatterbrained pervert (which, well, he has acknowledged his sex addiction publicly, again and again and again) than anything resembling a punchline. When he lovingly introduced Jimmy Fallon (with Andy Samberg), I thought about how Fallon had hosted an MTV shindig before and might have been a better choice for all parties concerned. Fallon and Samberg covering Boyz II Men was amusing, yes; Beyonce singing along, even more so. (And yes, we noticed how the Internets quickly mashed up Kanye West's VMA heckler routine with Obama's speech)
But this ad for this week's upcoming VH1 Divas, featuring comedian Brett Gelman as an agent for Paula Abdul, was funnier than anything that aired during the actual VMAs. Seacrest, out?
So we're a day into the 11th Del Close Marathon (aka on Twitter as #dcm11), and well, lots of highlights and crazy things to talk about already. I have been and will continue to share newsy tidbits throughout the weekend on my Twitter feed @thecomicscomic, but I also have my handy Flip cam with me, just for moments like this one, which happened shortly before 3 a.m. today -- when Brett Gelman got into character as Star Wars Jedi master Yoda for "Yoda Hot Tub" to be interviewed by comedians Paul Rust and Neil Campbell in their underwears. (Photo courtesy of the official DCM11 Tumblr)
Even getting into character, it turns out, includes a lot of improvisation, as I learned watching Gelman at work. With cameos by comedian/actor Nick Kroll, Funny or Die's resident comedy expert Seth Morris, and Whitest Kids U Know's Sam Brown. This is a rough video montage. It could be cut tighter, I know, but did you know that Flip cameras also include a variety of music scores you could lay down underneath the "movie" and that the first one I tried sounded a little bit like the Star Wars Cantina theme?! Anyhow. Watch and learn, people. Watch and learn.
What if Brett Gelman's character, Sam, aka "Mr. Celebrity," went from telling you how to make friends with celebrities, to actually showing you how his techniques work successfully in real life? That's what you get in this short film on Funny or Die. Features appearances by Jon Hamm, Janeane Garofalo and Michael Cera. (Video includes a few profanities) Enjoy!
Last summer, the Funny or Die team (Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy and Judd Apatow) received a big vote of confidence in the forms of capital investment and broadcasting agreements from HBO. They had just worked together on the production of Eastbound & Down -- and if you have not watched this surprisingly magnificent miniseries starring Danny McBride as washed-up pitcher Kenny Powers (the sixth and final episode aired this past Sunday), then you should find yourself a TV with HBO and watch it right this very moment and it will make your weekend that much more enjoyable. Anyhow. So, yes, of course, seeing how well that went, HBO agreed to invest in the FOD guys and commission 10 original half-hours of programming from them.
We're starting to see this come to fruition this week.
Paul Scheer (MTV's Human Giant) announced he'd begun production on "a MINI mini series" with Rob Riggle (Comedy Central's The Daily Show) called Designated Driver.
And fans of Brett Gelman will be heartily pleased to know that his catstravaganza, "1,000 Cats," will be filmed on Saturday afternoon for FOD/HBO. At The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. (Fun fact: The same stage to be used in May for NBC's America's Got Talent) As Gelman says in his Facebook event invite for the event: "Pleases come. And if you can, please come dressed in some sort of formal wear. For we will be getting some shots of you, and plus how else would you come dressed for 1000 Cats." How else, indeed. Seriously, though: Read my review of Brett Gelman's 1,000 Cats if you need further proof. So that's at least another of the 10 half-hours.
Sounds like the FOD guys already are living up to the promises they made back in June 2008 when they first announced the deal with HBO. Here's what Ferrell told Variety then: "We do know we want it to be in the same family of the comedy that we're doing on the website -- just a wide range of anything from a funny offbeat talkshow to a maybe more-traditional-type sitcom to a show with puppets," he said. "We don't want to limit ourselves in any way, which is what we love about the stuff that we do for Funny or Die. The spitballing on these ideas is going to be the fun part of all this." And this is what McKay said: "Our idea in going into Funny or Die was that it would be a kind of clubhouse for us and friends of ours who could come and try stuff that they couldn't do as easily in movies or TV. And it was also about us getting to find new talent." If this is how they're starting, then I cannot wait to see what else makes the slate of HBO/FOD programming to come in 2009-2010.
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
Just because I won't be there doesn't mean you cannot decide to take in the special wonderment that is Brett Gelman's "1,000 Cats," which he restages tonight at his weekly Gelmania showcase at Rififi in New York City's East Village.
For proof of the ridiculousness of Gelmania, Brett Gelman's Wednesday night showcase that replaced Invite Them Up at Rififi, please allow me to enter this video clip as evidence...Gelman leads Dave Hill, Eric Drysdale and Neil Casey as SMOOCH, the KISS tribute band that unfortunately had their instruments and costumes stolen an hour before the show. They did manage to get their makeup right, though! So the show must go on, and onward they go with this little rendition of the KISS song, "Deuce." Enjoy.
If you're reading this, it's a Sunday morning, and probably not the time you're thinking about seeing a comedy show. Unless you have kids. And then you may want to hear about a limited-time production called The Wizard's Lounge, which offers performances today and next Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the UCB Theatre in New York.
Billed as "part PeeWee's Playhouse and part Harry Potter," the hourlong show built for small children is the work of comedians/animators Matt Hall and Patrick Borelli, with wizards, knights, odd guests, riddles, magic orbs and more. They're helped by a cast of comedians that you'd normally see producing comedy for adults and adults who feel more like kids on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning, including Brett Gelman, Jenny Slate, Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser, Larry Murphy and Leo Allen. But there they were last Sunday, performing for an audience at the UCB that consisted almost entirely of small children (ages ranged from toddlers to around 8) and their parents. Last week, Gelman helped open the show and warm up the kids as Samuel Squire. Hall hosted as Dr. Carl Manteesean, Wizard's Order 3rd Class. His sidekicks included Prince Mando, who, turned into a raven, was played by the voice of Glaser, and Wrangleswift the Sleepy Knight, played by Borelli. The knight is on hand to protect the show from getting taken over by the bad, evil wizard (played last week by Allen), except his sleeping fits meant he'd need the kids to wake him up early and often. Over the course of the show, Hall used animated displays to lead the children through a series of riddles and games that alternated between silly and slightly educational. The show also would see several drop-in guests, including Lady Flufferton (Slate) to play a version of the memory game, and the Rollin' Yogi (Benjamin) to display his "magic" talents of perception.
With kids in the audience, you always/never know quite what to expect (and I know this all too well from a year I spent working as a professional clown at birthday parties and company picnics in Seattle back in 1997). Last week, the performers realized they had to watch their language even more than simply avoiding profanity when one of the children in the audience blurted out in reply: "Stupid is a bad word!" There were giggles all around. Also the kids really latched onto Glaser's raven and his sales pitch for his potential nightclub, "The Bird's Nest," and somehow picked up on it themselves as a natural callback throughout last week's show. The kids loved Buzz the bee's song last week, yet hated it the week before. And the kids did manage to hold off throwing their magic orbs until properly cued, at which point Allen's evil wizard hat made for a surprisingly easy target. All in all, the show did offer laughs for both children and adults alike. It still felt like a work in progress, though, as I mentioned earlier, most of these performers are probably more used to dealing with subversive college-age crowds than innocent and attention-starved children. They told me afterward that if all goes well this week and next, they may decide to mount the show again later this year. It'll be interesting to see how it develops as both the performers and the audience get more and more accustomed to the framework of the show.
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.
The following comedy lesson is brought to you by Michael Showalter, The Slipper Room, the F train and Road Runner Internet service...
Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedian poking fun and the target of the poking are good friends and all is friendly. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Such was the case Tuesday night at Seth Herzog's Sweet showcase at The Slipper Room. Everything was going along smoothly and long as usual during the two-hour affair, with Herzog dancing like a fool, Brett Gelman presenting the angry insult comic Jimmy New York, and Showalter describing the first time he and childhood friend Herzog visited Hoagie Haven in the sixth grade. "He is like a cat rolled up in catnip, because I'm telling a story about him, instead of doing my material," Showalter said. He then followed up with an essay about dating girls with boyfriends, which if I didn't know better, sounds like it could've been the inspiration for his charming comedy, The Baxter. So far, so good. Right?
After some more silliness, including a discussion between Herzog and his mom about her affinity for gay men, TJ Miller (co-star in ABC's new sitcom, Carpoolers, as well as the cameraman in Cloverfield) came on to close out the show. In his opening remarks, he referred to "Michael Showalter and his one-man, four-act play." Gets a quick laugh from the audience. But that perked up Showalter's ears, while the rest of his face and body evoked more of a WTF reaction. In fact, he said something along those lines, and in reality told his friends, "This guy doesn't know me."
The word "douche" also may have been muttered/uttered. From the back of the room, Showalter muttered the words "what a douche." Clearly affected by this onstage diss, Showalter even texted a message to Herzog about it. Herzog, though, made the situation more awkward by having Showalter approach the stage (unmiked) to say something to Miller about his diss. Miller didn't know what to say except to apologize. Minutes later, Showalter confronted Miller again offstage to let him know it's not OK to diss comedians you don't know. A few minutes of verbal volleying followed before Miller said "this is over" and left the building.
To repeat this evening's morning lesson: Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedians in question are good friends all is good. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Because that's often perceived as disrespect.