So news is being spread today about the deal Zach Galifanakis made with HBO for a pilot presentation starring his friend Brody Stevens.
About that: Steven Brody Stevens and his TV crew were filming in New York City a couple of weeks ago as Galifianakis was hosting SNL. They also followed Brody over to the Tell Your Friends! show, where he launched into his traditionally meta stand-up. Brody told me that the presentation episode takes us through a day in his life, from his chance encounters with Major League Baseball players and celebrities to stand-up showcases, with a plot revolving around a relative's birthday.
Think of it as a Curb Your Enthusiasm with a twist.
If you read The Comic's Comic, then you get it. If you need help, then watch this video interview Galifanakis did with Stevens in his movie trailer during the filming of Due Date. Consider this the prelude to the pilot presentation. Roll it!
Surprise! Zach Galifianakis and his Hangover sequel hairdo have re-emerged with a brand-new episode of Between Two Ferns, his hysterically popular Funny or Die series produced by Scott Aukerman and friends. In today's episode Galifianakis welcomes two guests. The first is Tila Tequlia. I know, right? The second is Jennifer Aniston, who had hoped to promote her new film with Adam Sandler, Just Go With It, but she didn't seem to want to go with it as Galifianakis focused on Tequila instead.
Also, say hi to Brody Stevens as a larger-than-life Speed Stick.
A year ago, I had the privilege of visiting the set of the upcoming movie, Due Date, starring Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr.
I watched as director Todd Phillips shot the "meet-cute" scene early in the film -- with the airport in Ontario, Calif., subbing for the airport in Atlanta -- as Zach and RDJ get into a fender-bender outside the terminal. They're both passengers, and their drivers are played by comedians Bobby Tisdale and Brody Stevens. After the scene played out over several takes to allow Zach and RDJ to improvise some introductory zingers toward one another, they took a break for lunch.
Inside Zach's trailer, he kindly offered to interview Brody on my behalf. Brody talks about how he started in comedy, as well as his secrets to warming up a studio audience at a TV taping. This is the full uncut footage I shot of that. Roll it!
I feel cheated and used after clicking on the multiple pages for Vanity Fair's slideshow this afternoon that accompanied the headline "The Zach Galifianakis Swimsuit Calendar."
For a second thing: All of the pics in the slideshow are in the same one-piece bathing suit. Where are the other 11 months for this calendar that does not actually exist, so how dare you magazine, how, dare, you?
Here's a snapshot my friend in comedy Brody Stevens took last night at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, after he got bumped so Chris Rock could test out some new jokes on an unsuspecting audience. And a small crowd at that. As Stevens wrote to accompany his Twitpic: "Chris on stage, less than 10 people in crowd, working out fresh material. Just like me!"
Just like us.
Quite a difference from when Chris Rock performed to an estimated 65,000 people in Bonnaroo.
When I visited Los Angeles last month, I had the unique opportunity to visit the set of the upcoming movie, Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. During the lunch break, Galifianakis invited me back to his trailer, where I'd get an exclusive interview with him as comedians Bobby Tisdale and Brody Stevens (both of whom also have small roles in the film) watched. And then Galifianakis took over The Comic's Comic, and decided instead to interview Tisdale and Stevens. This is some of the edited footage. Now even more timely, since the previous Phillips film starring Galifianakis, The Hangover, is out today on DVD and just got nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Comedy! Congrats! Roll the clip!
Fun fact? A reporter from Entertainment Weekly also had a "date" to speak with Galifianakis. So if you're wondering where this photo and information below came from, know that the EW reporter had to pick up the pieces after our silliness.
I don't know if "Ed Hardy" shirts have become the go-to joke in comedy clubs across the land just yet, but it's certainly become an accepted target for mockery in New York City and Los Angeles. Nick Kroll and Jon Daly have taken this product punchline and tagged it up supremely in this sketch called "The Ed Hardy Boyz," where one of Kroll's characters, Bobby Bottleservice, joins up with Daly's Peter Paparazzo to solve crimes. In this instance, crimes mean things like someone stealing a "sick belt buckle." Of course the suspect was wearing an "Affliction" T-shirt. Of course. Also featuring Alison Becker and Brody Stevens. Roll it!
The residents of Seattle got to know the madness that comes from the mind of comedian Brody Stevens in the 1990s when he co-hosted a cable access show and made fellow stand-ups laugh with his regular outbursts at the Comedy Underground. A decade later, he's living larger in Los Angeles, where he has contributed to the Best Damn Sports Show Period and now also warms up the audiences for Chelsea Handler's late-night E! talker, Chelsea Lately. And he also plays a cop in The Hangover. Perhaps you've seen that movie? You can follow Brody on Twitter @BrodyismeFriend.
Meanwhile, Handler's show has launched a series of videos featuring Stevens, hard at work. Let's begin at the beginning:
More with Brody after the jump...
Just finished watching my advance copy of Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, which debuts tonight at 8 p.m. on HBO (re-airing several Tuesday, Friday and several other times this month), and I've got to say, it's great that director John Landis took the time to get this documentary done while we can still enjoy Rickles live on the road or in Vegas. If only every comedian who has lasted as long as Rickles -- he's 81 and still touring -- got their proper due. They should. Thank goodness we get this look back at Rickles and his career.
Landis notes up front that he first encountered Rickles when Landis was a gofer on the set of Kelly's Heroes in the former Yugoslavia in 1969. Many people weigh in with thoughts and comments in the doc, including Clint Eastwood, Robert De Niro, Richard Lewis, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, longtime friend Bob Newhart (and you see footage of the Newharts and Rickles vacationing together over decades), Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Lawrence, Roseanne Barr, Dave Attell, Christopher Guest, Billy Crystal, Regis Philbin, Sidney Poitier, Penn Jillette, Bobby Slayton, Mario Cantone, Kathy Griffin, Ed McMahon, Jeffrey Ross, Geroge Wallace, Martin Scorsese, George Lopez, Jay Leno, Larry King, Ernest Borgnine, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Jack Carter, Roger Corman, his wife Barbara Rickles, Joan Rivers, James Caan, Jimmy Kimmel, Keely Smith, Harry Shearer, the Smothers Brothers, John Stamos and Bob Saget.
HBO provided a preview clip here:
Here is an incident involving Rickles and Johnny Carson that's referenced also in the doc:
It'd be easy to call Don Rickles the original insult comic. But he's more than that. Just look at how many comedians he has influenced, how many celebrities who have befriended him over the decades. He revolutionized how comedians work a crowd (for better, and in some cases, for worse, as you've seen some comedians who lack material rely on crowd work to pad their sets). And Rickles even now remains decidedly old-school, and by old-school I mean a guy in his 80s who'll still talk about "colored" people, "chinks" and "queers" and the Nazis and his WWII experiences with the Japanese. Richard Lewis says in the doc that Rickles "is fearlessly honest." I like how Chris Rock described Rickles and his offensive humor, how he gets away with it as if he's "a pretty girl."
Who comes close to Rickles among my contemporaries? I cannot think of many who do, although Andy Kindler (whose State of the Industry speeches at Montreal have become the most-anticipated performance of Just For Laughs) and Brody Stevens come to mind first.
Now that I've had a chance to rest and gather my thoughts, a few things still left to be said about The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas.
For one thing, I'm still not really sure what Ellen DeGeneres was trying to accomplish with "Ellen's Really Big Show" at Caesars Palace. They say you shouldn't critique a TV taping, because it all looks much better once it's edited for broadcast, but really...this show was a really big dud. DeGeneres had talked up this special as an attempt to rejuvenate the variety show. Only the variety show doesn't need rejuvenating. Her guests included jugglers, acrobats, and the quick-change artists who had already made a splash on America's Got Talent. And that show isn't going anywhere, considering its relatively high TV ratings and the ongoing Writers Guild strike. DeGeneres also included a nod to Ed Sullivan. But isn't David Letterman doing something similar with his odd assortment of guests with their stupid human tricks every night (when not on strike)?
Frank Caliendo impresses you much more in person doing stand-up than on his fledgling TV show, which only makes me question Barry Katz (his show's executive producer) that much more.
One thing you often hear about The Comedy Festival is how it's built for headlining acts and not for showcasing up-and-coming talent. But I saw plenty of industry people and tourists checking out the so-called smaller shows such as "Unprotected Sketch!" and Broadband Theatre. And any chance for Kurt Braunohler, Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts to perform before new audiences is a good thing. The Broadband show, which included performances by Pete & Brian, the folks from Blerds.com, Chelsea Peretti, GarageComedy.com -- featuring the talents of Brody Stevens (whom I still fondly remember from his days in Seattle when Jews and Samoans would take over the world, or at least your cable access TV), and a new Funny or Die video (see below).
Another fun festival fact: Comedy industry lounges attract all sorts, and in Vegas, they bring out the other comedians performing on the Strip, including Carrot Top (cover of that week's Las Vegas Weekly) and George Wallace (performing across the street from Caesars), plus other comedians who may or may not have coincidentally scheduled gigs in Vegas that weekend. Oh, really? There are agents and casting directors in town? Who knew?
Jon Stewart and Katt Williams were down the Strip for the opening of Planet Hollywood Resort, but didn't make it over to Caesars.
And finally, kudos also should go to the HBO comedy festival staff, who managed to maintain solid morale under difficult working circumstances -- whomever thought it'd be a great idea to announce that HBO would be streamlining its comedy operations before the festival?! I wholly sympathize with their situation, particularly since the festival represented a turning point in my own career as well. Good luck to us all. May we meet again under happier conditions.
Jay Mohr is out and Anthony Clark is in. Ponder that for a moment. Now let's move on to a new season of Last Comic Standing.
The first two hours aired last Tuesday. There's an hourlong recap tonight at 8 p.m., but while you wait, here are some things you likely don't know but probably should.
Past winners John Heffron and Alonzo Bodden get updates, while original LCS weiner Dat Phan...um...where is he now? Buck Star gets invited back, but not Dat Phan. Ouch!
Many comics "auditioned" in the other cities (rather than NYC and LA) for an easier chance.
Bob and Ross act as if they don't know who Gabriel Iglesias is, which is odd, considering they've booked him before on The Tonight Show. Same with Bil Dwyer (I hung out with him at a Cubs-Brewers spring training game in 2003, when he was appearing at the Tempe Improv and hosting TV's Battlebots -- he more recently hosted The 70s House on MTV and Extreme Dodgeball).
Doug Benson, best known from VH1's Best Week Ever but also part of a long-running touring trio gig called The Marijuana-Logues, what is he doing on this show?
Only a brief shot of Kyle Cease onstage...wha? Kyle is huge on the college circuit and just got a Comedy Central half-hour special and CD package, so he's going to be OK. Another face in the L.A. comic crowd...was that Yoshi? I think it was. Matt Iseman, too. How'd you like to be the comedians who made the live face-off but got zero face time? Is that a bad thing? Perhaps not, if they bombed. You don't want THAT to be how America first sees you. Marc Price (Skippy from Family Ties) and Theo Von (from MTV) get extra screen time, credit for past TV experience. And Theo, because his experience is all "reality" challenge-based, gets a pass to Vegas.
But first, the show heads to Tempe. Ah, Tempe. So many memories on that Improv stage. No sign of Dan Mer, but I see other familiar faces here. First up is Josh McDermitt, who I put in a Tempe Improv showcase/contest a couple of summers ago (and who has been working with the Tim & Willy morning radio crew there in Phoenix for several years). Good for him. Ron and Ryan, though, come off as two-bit amateurs. Not good for them. Their shtick never quite worked at the Improv, jumping around after making the most basic jokes, especially when they were supposed to be hosting the big shows there. April Macie, not local -- from L.A., and girlfriend of Gary Gulman. Hmmm. I saw Mark Cordes standing in the background onstage, but no jokes from him. Too bad. Didn't recognize a single face in the audience, though, and no glimpses of the staff. Argh. Of others making it through, it should be noted that Ty Barnett was on Star Search only a couple of years ago.
Austin? Um, whatever. Next. New York City. Angel Salazar? He was in Punchline, for crying out loud! Brody Stevens?! Yeah. Former Mass. comic Jon Fisch got a callback. But he'll be at the Comedy Studio this Thursday instead as part of a sold-out benefit show. Kerri Louise got relegated to background duty. Moody McCarthy -- no relation. Chicago: What was Jimmy Pardo doing there? And Larry Reeb, he was on a Rodney Dangerfield special in 1989 with Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and Sam Kinison. Um, yeah. Gerry Dee has done both Star Search and a CBS golfing "reality" show. John Roy won Star Search, so, um, yeah. Then Miami, where Flip Schultz is a no-brainer selection: Another Star Search competitor (and I saw him in Aspen a few years back).