In the mid-1990s, Sam Seder starred, directed and co-wrote the mocumentary Who's The Caboose?, which had a group of New York film students follow comedian/actors Max (Seder) and Susan (Sarah Silverman) out to Los Angeles, where they both get caught up in the madness that is Hollywood's TV pilot season.
The cast is full of comedians you may know a bit better in 2011 than you did in 1997: Andy Dick plays Silverman's manager, while H. Jon Benjamin is an entertainment lawyer who becomes fond of Seder. Kathy Griffin looks like a completely different person, because she was back then. David Cross, Andy Kindler, Laura Kightlinger, Laura Silverman, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Marc Maron, Todd Barry, Slovin and Allen, Mark Cohen, the late Lauren Dombrowski all had roles in the film, which is only out on DVD today.
Here's a brand-new trailer for it, with new footage of Seder spliced with clips from the movie. Roll it.
It's funny. It's satirical. It's cutting. And yes, it's dated. You can tell it's the mid-1990s, because people smoked in restaurants, and nobody was ever looking at a cell phone, nevermind talking on one -- well, Benjamin's character does use a car phone in one scene. Oh, memories.
The film spawned a TV mini-series sequel in 2004 called Pilot Season, which reunited the cast, and added Isla Fisher. You can watch the episodes of Pilot Season online via My Damn Channel.
Seder, who himself acted in 10 different network TV sitcom pilots, told The Comic's Comic that he's not that involved in the sitcom game in 2011. His focus, if you follow The Sam Seder Show or The Majority Report, is squarely on politics these days -- although you can hear his voice in a few episodes of the new FOX animated series, Bob's Burgers.
I asked Seder how he feels Who's The Caboose? holds up when compared to the current TV climate, as Hollywood's studios are just now finishing up casting for the 2011 pilots. Seder's reply:
I haven’t watched the film in a while and haven’t engaged in Pilot Season in quite a while. With that said... I think the mechanics of the business, development season, pilot season have changed quite a bit -- the rise of cable which develops on a different schedule and the rise of reality shows has contributed to making pilot season more diffuse. The essence of the business and the people who populate it I imagine is the same. There’s the same delusion, the same fictions, the same mental problems which drive people to seek fame... I used to describe the exchanges in the film and the ones I experienced in L.A. as ones where two people’s lies and false projections meet somewhere in between them -- they tell each other lies which satisfy each other’s delusions and then they go on their way. I suspect that dynamic is the same. I’m also quite sure the notion of “who’s hot” in the industry remains the same. I actually think that the numbers game which agents and managers play as we depict in the movie has gotten worse for actors/comedians... I’d wager that if an agent repped 25 actors 15 years ago they rep 50 today -- same with managers.
Would you like to relive Who's The Caboose? on DVD? Buy it via Amazon.com or iTunes:
Quick roundabout from the trades...
It was much to be expected, but IFC officially has renewed The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret for a second season. Six new episodes starring David Cross will debut in October.
TBS, on the other hand, has decided not to give Glory Daze a second chance. The comedy followed college frat boys in the 1980s, and also featured Tim Meadows as a professor and Chris D'Elia as an older stoner student.
D'Elia, however, just booked himself a part as half of a couple with Whitney Cummings in the NBC sitcom pilot that she's starring in (as well as writing/executive-producing). Should be interesting to see how they play together on camera!
Looks like David Cross is enjoying his time in jolly ol' England. Here's a video short he did while making his new sitcom across the pond. It's about a man and his chopsticks. Roll the clip!
Sub Pop announced yesterday it was releasing the first new stand-up comedy special from David Cross in seven years, with the upcoming "Bigger and Blackerer" CD and DVD coming out on May 25.
As Sub Pop explained (see the track listing here):
The new David Cross album and DVD Bigger and Blackerer was taped during two shows, back-to-back on the same evening at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. As will be obvious by the packaging (and maybe some of the words here), this title applies to both a CD and a DVD; separate releases in separate formats with the same name. Though both media are housed on a shiny, silver five-inch disc, each is an entity unto itself. And while there is some overlap, each is full of material that appears solely on one or the other. Only by watching the DVD will you learn of Cross’ unique relationship with the deaf community, share his canny insights into the editorial machinations behind the Bible, and marvel at how well a bald, middle-aged white guy can fill out a pair of jeans. Yet one must listen to the CD in order to hear about gastro-intestinal misadventures with his dog Ollie Red Sox, or sing along with “The Sultan’s Revenge,” the swinging, Vegas-style opening number composed by Cross and his good friend Mark Rivers (author of the theme to Mr. Show).
But if your cable/satellite TV provider has EpixHD, you'll only have to wait until April 9 to see an hour-long version of the show taped at the Wilbur Theater in Boston. EpixHD has a countdown clock, plus a couple of teaser videos -- one is a straight promo of Cross' Bigger and Blackerer, while the other shows Cross mocking drinkers of Coors Light for not only needing wide-mouth cans, but also blue coloring to let them know if the can is cold. Neither video appears to be embeddable just yet, though. Hmmm.
To everyone who thought the latest Kids in the Hall miniseries would make its American debut on HBO...surprise!
IFC announced today (as relayed by friend of the blog, Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times) that it had picked up the U.S. TV rights to Death Comes to Town, the KITH 8-episode miniseries, which will air this August. Previously: See the trailer.
But that's not all! IFC also will be taking everyone's favorite fake Internet news parody, Onion News Network, and turning it into an actual fake half-hour TV news program.
This is in addition to the previously known news that IFC had acquired the U.S. rights to David Cross' upcoming series, “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.” I had showed you the pilot. But don't feel like it's a spoiler, because I've learned that it's being reshot due to a cast change (Cross is still starring, so chill). It'll air here in October.
Here's the most recent Onion News Network segment to hit the Internets, focusing on the "new" "book," "Wake Up! He's a Shapeshifter!" Roll it.
And here's another for good March Madness measure, since Kentucky hasn't busted your brackets. Yet.
If you attended last night's packed taping of Comedy Death-Ray Radio inside New York's UCB Theatre, you were treated to the mostly improvised antics of Todd Barry, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis and Winny the whiny baby (John Gemberling) with host Scott Aukerman.
David Cross, sporting a red, knee-length sweatshirt, joked when Aukerman asked him about a potential third squeakquel to Alvin and the Chipmunks. "I'm so at piece with it," Cross said, adding later: "There's no accounting for the taste of 5-year-olds." He then said that within 12 hours, he'd be flying off to London where he'd be working until August. He didn't elaborate. But he doesn't have to.
Cross is starring in a new sitcom for Britain's Channel 4 called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, in which he plays an American beverage salesman who gets promoted above his skill level to become the boss of the London office. The pilot's cast included brief appearances by Will Arnett and Cross' girlfriend, Amber Tamblyn, and Cross wrote it with British comedian Shaun Pye. Channel 4 has ordered six episodes, so off to the UK for Mr. Cross and company. Great news for the Brits! Don't worry, though, Yanks...
The Comic's Comic has learned that IFC has a deal in the works to rebroadcast the first seven-episode season here in the United States. Don't have a date certain just yet. But still. Hoorays all around!
Want to watch the pilot? Here you go. It's NSFW, but it'll give you something to look forward to later in 2010. Did I say hooray yet? Where can I get some Thunder Muscle? "It's like drinking ten lightnings!" The title is self-explanatory, methinks. Poor Todd Margaret, what with his increasingly poor decisions. See how it all started to go wrong. Roll it!
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!
Sorry, comedy fans. The Comic's Comic did not don something scary or silly this Halloween, but that didn't stop plenty of our favorite comedians from celebrating (and sometimes even performing) in costume on Saturday night. And in the age of the Internets (the age...of the...INTERNETS) that also means going online to share our Halloween disguises with our friends and followers. Here are some of my favorites that I spotted over the weekend. Who were yours? Did I miss it? If so, please share!
To kick things off, though, how about a "doodle" from Michael Showalter about Halloween parties:
So. This weekend. Let's talk about it. Cold and rainy. Warm and sunny. Professional baseball players could not field bunts properly. Men with dark secrets got outed in a fictional version of the 1960s, where someone could die of lung cancer and the director says, "Cut to the guy smoking a cigarette!" Things happened, people. Jimmy Carr even told an offensive one-liner. It was that kind of weekend. Oh, wait. Some of those things happen every weekend? Well, maybe. But it seemed as though society was trying to make us feel sorry, sad or otherwise not very happy about comedy and comedians this weekend, and we had three major examples of such bouncing around the national conversation.
1) Let's start with the most visible transgression. Yes, we're looking at you, David Spade. Spade went on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show on Oct. 22 to make funny and help promote a show he's doing on Oct. 28 to help out the firefighters of Ventura County who have battled massive wildfires in Southern California. We even have the footage right here to show you:
What do you mean you haven't heard of this effort? Is it because of THIS?!
Yes. Spade cashed in on his dead friend's legacy by appearing in this DirecTV ad with the late Chris Farley, which has been airing quite a bit in the past few days during baseball and football games. I have yet to see any official statement from the Farleys (his brothers are in comedy, too, and wrote the book on his life) that said they thought this was a grand idea.
UPDATE: Asylum got quotes from Spade, through a spokesperson, followed by one from DirecTV: "When DIRECT TV came to me and the Farley family with this idea about 'Tommy Boy,' we talked and thought it would be a cool way to remind people just how funny Chris was. It is a clever homage to my friend and a movie that we loved doing, " he says. And from the company: "We should look to Chris' family and friends for the ultimate opinion on this subject. They were involved from the beginning of this project and felt that the spot was a great to tribute to Chris."
2) David Cross joked about doing cocaine, in public, at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner with President Barack Obama, the Secret Service, and various political heavyweights nearby. I don't know if this is a big ol balloon-boy hoax or not -- and the fact that Cross' instigator, Gavin McInnes, took down his post that claimed he instigated the matter by first doing cocaine in front of Cross at the DEA museum isn't helping matters. What we do know is that Cross joked about doing this. Politico filed a report after Cross' performance last week in D.C.
Want my take on it? Pretend you're playing Mad Libs, and just change up the scenario with this sentence: YOUR FAVORITE COMEDIAN did SOMETHING HIGHLY ILLEGAL AND MORALLY QUESTIONABLE in front of THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU LIKE SAID PERSON OR NOT.
3) For all of the people who think Tracy Morgan's character on 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan, is really the same person, well, Morgan's promotional appearances for his memoir really is putting the kibosh on that. Gawker's tipsters said his book reading and appearance in NYC the other night was too much sad and not enough happy. And then there was Morgan's recent appearance on NPR's Fresh Air. There are plenty of people who love Terry Gross, but has she always said "um" that many times in 40 minutes? Or was she merely uncomfortable interviewing Morgan? Either way, this was an awkward session, and it all went out over the public radio airwaves. Enjoy?
It's fairly well accepted that to be a great comedian, you need to get onstage as much as possible. Perform every night, multiple times if you can, to as many kinds of audiences. Learn what works, what's funny, how to adapt to situations. I bring all of this up today because last night's edition of Nightline on ABC opened with a feature on talented people and why they're talented. They talk about singers, musicians and athletes. It's something worth watching for comedians and bloggers alike. Which reminds me. Time to get us all back in the loop with the latest headlines and subplots in the comedy world:
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:
On Monday night in New York City, you could have seen two very different ways that David Cross is promoting his new book, I Drink For A Reason.
For a couple of hundred young fans crammed into the basement of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, they got to see Cross work out premises on the spot as he tries to establish a new headlining set for his upcoming tour to support the book. In fact, they almost heard none of it, as Cross almost bailed when he had difficulties getting his iPod working to record the set. "Now it's pointless for me to do a set!" Cross said in frustration, thinking he wouldn't have a recording to play back later. But Whiplash host Leo Allen stepped in to help, lending his own iPod to Cross. (You can see Cross explaining his dilemma in this photo by Mindy Tucker, along with others at her site, With Reservation)
"I could not look more informal," Cross said before launching into about 20 minutes of ideas, a lot of which I won't get into, except to say that hypocrites of all stripes will get their comeuppances. He did look pretty informal, though, didn't he? But hey, it's been a hot and humid few days in New York City!
See David Cross on TV, read part of his new book and even buy it...after the jump...
They obliged with their thoughts about reuniting onstage, their own instant-review of their show, working with Chicago improvisers, how they're like the new Carol Burnett Show, what they learned from the David's Situation pilot they shot for HBO, what they have tried to pitch to HBO and Showtime, and Bob's sitcom script for NBC. "David and I continue to write so well, and enjoy working and writing together, that it's definitely a possibility," Bob told me, then turning to David: "In fact, I told you I wrote a part for you in the NBC thing." His idea at the Peacock network would have Bob & David working with Jeff Garlin and Andy Richter, at least in Bob's mind. Just in case NBC needs some primetime programming for midseason, maybe? Just maybe??? Watch the video and let Bob & David explain themselves:
So here it is, my friends. Pilot Season is back where audiences can actually relive the magic of the mockumentary that looked at how various relationships unfolded in show business during the actual "pilot season," starring Sam Seder, Sarah Silverman, H. Jon Benjamin, Isla Fisher, David Cross and Andy Dick, among others. New episodes will appear on Mondays via My Damn Channel. Enjoy it all over again, or for the first time:
Episode two is after the jump...
Say the word "Trio" and you'll think of many things (but probably not about the short-lived cable network), which is why when I tell you about "Pilot Season," you'll maybe think of a real thing that happens in Hollywood each winter/spring, but you're not likely to think of the documentary that Trio did about that real-life thing, and definitely not going to say, hey, wasn't there an improvised comedy about that real thing? (Unless you are a comedy nerd to the nerd power, or knew these people personally) Before NBC Universal acquired and terminated the Trio network, the channel was perhaps best known for celebrating TV pilots and programs that didn't get their due in Brilliant But Cancelled. In 2004, Sam Seder (who now co-hosts a daily online show with Marc Maron) wrote, directed and starred in Pilot Season, a six-episode mockumentary about actors and actresses going through the TV pilot process. The cast included -- are you ready for this -- Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Jon Benjamin, Isla Fisher, Andy Dick, Matt Besser, Ross Brockley, Laura Krafft, Marc Maron, Matt Price, Laura Silverman, Brendon Small and David Waterman. And now,
"8 years later," My Damn Channel is giving us another look at Pilot Season. More coming in April. Here's a teaser voiced by Janeane Garofalo, who famously does not have an email or use computers, and yet voices an Internet comedy spectacle. UPDATE: Sam Seder wisely reminded me that Pilot Season was, as explained in this clip, the sequel to a 1997 project Seder and company did called Who's The Caboose? If only that was available on Netflix! Enjoy:
Society often tells us that women love a sense of humor in a man, and yet to hear many stand-up comedians onstage, all we ever hear about is how that's not exactly so in real-life. Rock stars, models, actors, directors, producers, even the key grip and just about anyone else with money beats out the comic, it would seem. And yet. Sometimes it is true: The comedian can get the girl! Christina Ricci's reps confirmed yesterday that she had gotten engaged to stand-up comic Owen Benjamin (who himself will be seen this week online in a new CBS online comedy, Heckle U). Congrats to them both!
As Owen Benjamin announced on Facebook overnight: Thanks for all the best wishes everyone. our goal is to one day have normal sized children. 6'7 plus 5'0 = normal kids. psyched
The couple met on the set of their upcoming romantic comedy, All's Faire in Love.
But Benjamin's not the only comedian to land a famous actress as a real-life love interest. Check out these other couples...
If Eugene Mirman could pull off his own comedy festival, then what would he have in store for the release of his first book, The Will to Whatevs? We had to take the first B75 or F train we could get to the Bell House in Gowanus Brooklyn to find out last night for ourselves (why do I refer to myself in the first-person plural? not relevant). A sold-out crowd watched what turned out to be two hours of comedy and a full set by GnR tribute band Mr. Brownstone, and before you ask, why Mr. Brownstone, note that Eugene's brother joined them on guitar for "Knocking on Heaven's Door," with Eugene and David Cross taking over one of the microphones, and Todd Barry and Cross' girlfriend Amber Tamblyn joining them all onstage.
Of course, it wasn't all rock and roll. After all of that, Sarah Vowell took over the turntable with a more leisurely mix of tunes.
But first, Mirman welcomed the crowd with a multimedia presentation about his new book (related: read my interview with Mirman about The Will to Whatevs). John Hodgman took the stage and immediately apologized for being sick with the cold/flu bug that has circled New York City. Although that's not how Hodgman caught it, as he claimed instead: "I got sick hugging Al Gore last week at the TED conference." If that wasn't odd enough for you, Hodgman talked a bit more about the personalities who show up to talk hot topics at TED each year, and revealed that he once tried stand-up comedy at one of Mirman's shows. "Eugene was nice enought to let me come up and insult his profession, and now he has insulted mine," he said. And now that they're competitors in the book world, Hodgman decided to plug his own book and read from it.
A couple of quick things to note on this first day of November:
1) If you missed last week's episode of Saturday Night Live with Jon Hamm as the host (and Coldplay doing four songs), NBC is replaying it tonight, in primetime, starting at 9:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. That means you'll get to see Jon Hamm's John Ham again, as well as Will Forte's creepy Halloween trick-or-treater, only this time in primetime! Yay. A new SNL follows the late local news at its regular time, with Ben Affleck and David Cook.
2) If you missed yesterday's second-season finale of the Webby-winning series, You Suck at Photoshop, you may want to watch it on My Damn Channel, if only for the subtle celebrity comedian cameos. Try saying that three times fast, why don't you.
Bob Odenkirk talks about a newly released clip from the HBO sitcom David's Situation, which he and comedy collaborator David Cross self-aborted before it could ever debut. The clip features Zach Galifianakis visiting Cross, only to find he's the subject of a TV experiment called "Good Morning, Predator." That's OK by Zach, so long as he can sing for his supper. Or something like that. It's amusing and slightly NSFW, but I can see why Bob and David probably looked at it and said, let's go back to the anti-sitcom sitcom drawing board. As Odenkirk writes on Bob and David: "We all had such a good time that David and I are working on a new show that will let us kick ass. I put this video up because I think it kicks ass." So here it is. Do you think they made the right call?