If you watched the series debut last night of TV Land's Harry Loves Lisa -- and why would you have, really? Really. This show is merely the latest in a continuing trend of celebrities letting TV crews into their homes and lives, all in the hopes of rejuvenating their celebrity. Which normally takes hold in something like another reality competition, a celebrity tabloid correspondent gig, or even actual roles in which the actors act. Except in this case, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna already have cashed in their reality competition cards, both having been there and done that on Dancing with the Stars.
So we are left with other plot contrivances in Harry Loves Lisa, and the first one cuts close to the comedy bone, as Harry Hamlin's acting coach and manager sign him up for a Friday-night slot at the Hollywood Improv. Hamlin had never attempted stand-up before. Note to aspiring comedians: You cannot just have someone call up the Improv and get you on the 8:30 p.m. Friday show. But if you were People mag's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1987, you just may be in luck!
OK. Here's what else we learned in the episode.
1) Hamlin's wife and supposed managers remind him constantly of his bad acting audition, reinforcing the notion that he "freaks everyone out" with his line readings. This was, for all intents and purposes, the plot point by which the suggestion came forth for him to let loose and try to be fun for a change.
2) Hamlin is poker buddies with Robert Wuhl. Wuhl tells him he will bomb: "This will be the longest four minutes of your life."
3) Hamlin only knows dirty jokes. Bad, hack, dirty jokes. Hamlin's manager called up Earthquake to swing by the home and listen to Hamlin crack about "super maximus" condoms and the difficulty of having sex on a waterbed. Earthquake suggested he joke about the difficulty of being married, but Hamlin said he's happily married. Earthquake said "you'll have to take that ass-whipping" when he bombs.
4) Jeffrey Ross asks Hamlin backstage what his opener and closer are, and ribs him gently by saying his wardrobe looks like it came from Forever 41. And still, Hamlin wears a giant scarf around his neck.
5) Mike Bridenstine, as the show's MC, is not billed.
6) Instead of telling dirty jokes about condoms, Hamlin's entire set seems built around gay sex. The part we see on TV is about Hamlin showing his privates to get a part in a play. The part we didn't see on TV, well, is right here. Roll the clip!
Throughout, however, Hamlin says the right things when he's just talking solo to the camera. "I think the funniest thing about my going onstage is that I'm going onstage at all. But I'm not sure that's how stand-up comedy works. I think you actually have to be funny." Afterward, he tells the camera from his home: "Doing stand-up comedy was one of the most fearful things I could have done in my life, and I did it anyway, and I'm never doing stand-up comedy again."
Well, it's the little victories. You can watch the full episode, called "Comedy Club," here.
The Friars Club and Comedy Central aren't the only roast games in town. The TV One network (check your local listings) has taped an upcoming "Roast & Toast of John Witherspoon," and during the roast, Earthquake compared Paul Mooney to everyone's "gay uncle." Apparently, that hit a bit close to home for Mooney, who snapped back at Earthquake with a series of NSFW profanities that sounds like it wasn't all in the name of good, clean fun.
The roast airs May 25 (and was filmed at the Friars Club in Beverly Hills).
Tracy Morgan hosted Laffapalooza 2008, which airs tonight on TBS, but taped last weekend at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, with Sheryl Underwood, Earthquake, Corey Holcomb, Mark Curry and Lavell Crawford performing. They sat me in the front row, which made it difficult to take notes, though on the bright side, there's a fair chance you'll see me during the telecast. Here's what I can tell you:
Jamie Foxx started Laffapalooza in Atlanta a few years back, but he managed to show up in the audience at Caesars Palace for the taping (sadly, he did not perform). Foxx literally stopped the show when he and his entourage entered the ballroom. Audience members as well as Morgan shouted their approval for the Oscar-winning man behind the plans. Later during taping, Foxx's sister arrived from the other side with our own group of friends in tow.
Before taping even began, Morgan showed he was ready to go off the script (literally, as he had a teleprompter that beckoned him throughout to get back on message), but all in good fun. He welcomed Eva, third-season winner of America's Next Top Model, who sat up front with her boyfriend, Lance Gross from Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Morgan also had fun with the Vegas audience. "We're in a financial crisis, you're at the casino...trying to win your house back!" Morgan also had a Michelle Obama moment while the cameras presumably were not rolling, when he said that at 40 years old, "For the first time in my life, I'm proud to be an American." Morgan was talking not only about the fact that America had elected Barack Obama president, but also referenced how much the world has turned on America during the Bush Administration. Heady stuff for a guy who has a public image of being crazy and/or aloof.