This clip from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is cut weirdly for time, so if you didn't watch the entire episode last night, you're not entirely sure why Jon Benjamin's shirt is wet, nor do you ever really get to learn that much about his Comedy Central series, Jon Benjamin Has a Van.
You do learn, however, what happened years ago when Jon Benjamin went to Paris and had a drunk guy confuse him for Bruce Willis. Because, obviously. I bet you cannot guess how this story ends. Roll the clip!
Forget everything you thought you knew about the new Comedy Central series, Jon Benjamin Has A Van. Oh, wait. You didn't know much of anything? Well, good.
Because the series that Benjamin and Leo Allen have co-created -- with Funny or Die, Andrew Steele and Abso Lutely's Dave Kneebone also executive producing -- is the funniest thing I've seen on Comedy Central in years.
It's so funny, in fact, that I'm not sure how it'll play with the network's target demographic of young man-boys aged 18-24. The network does have enough faith and trust in the show that it's launching JBHV tonight after an all-new episode of Tosh.0, with a second episode to air the following evening.
You should place your faith and trust in JBHV, too. Because if you do, you will be duly rewarded for it. Absurdist. Silly. Ridiculous.
It can be high-brow, but also very low-brow -- one real-life bit is called "Ca$h Stall," a parody of Cash Cab that Benjamin tries to pull off in a public men's room. It's also very meta at times (see: "You Can't Shoot Here"). In "Project Poor Farm," there's a long stretch that will test your willingness to buy into a joke that also challenges the very conventions of television. And all the while, it's spot-on funny. I just hope the audience is smart enough to get it and hang on for the ride.
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:
The second season of Archer, the animated spy spoof with an attitude, premieres tonight on FX. The series takes the idea of James Bond and takes it to a darker, bawdier place, with more than a healthy dose of snark.
The voice cast is headed up by Jon Benjamin as Archer, and surrounded by talent with Jessica Walter as his boss and mother, plus Aisha Tyler, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer, Amber Nash and George Coe. If you need catching up, as well as an idea of what you're in for, here's a PSA the show put together using clips from the first season.
To prepare for tonight's debut, FX also has a few things to help get you in the mood.
For a soundtrack, you can listen to the "Archer Horizontal Mambo Mix" on the show's own Pandora channel. When I looked it up online, these were the first dirty dozen tracks to shuffle onto my laptop...
FOX has announced it will roll out an extended sneak preview of its upcoming animated series, Bob's Burgers, on Thanksgiving night during its two-hour broadcast of The Simpsons Movie.
It's another early sign of support for Bob's Burgers, which is good news for comedy fans, since the series is voiced by comedians: Jon Benjamin, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal, Eugene Mirman and Dan Mintz. The series officially debuts in January 2011. Last month, the network ordered six additional scripts for the series.
Here's a clip of the cast and creators discussing the show during Comic-Con in San Diego. Roll it!
There are lots of panels going on in San Diego this weekend as part of Comic-Con International 2010. Here is a group photo taken from one such panel, for FOX's upcoming midseason animated series, Bob's Burgers. I feature it here because all of the main characters are voiced by actual comedians. Happy happy joy joy. The show debuts in January 2011.
Related: Bob's Burgers on Facebook.
It's been a very good few days for comedian H. Jon Benjamin. Last week he earned an Emmy nomination for his voice-over work as Sterling Archer in FX's Archer, which already has been renewed for a second season.
Today, Comedy Central announced that Benjamin would be appearing as himself (or at least in real life) in a 10-episode sketch showcase called Jon Benjamin Has A Van.
This series will begin production in the fall and debut on TV sets and Internets in summer 2011, executive produced by Benjamin, Andrew Steele and Funny or Die, and produced by Absolutely Productions. In it, Benjamin will star as an investigative reporter who puts his own twist on human interest stories, all while traveling in a custom van. Sounds a little bit like a mix of The Daily Show and Dog Bites Man.
"Not since de Tocqueville has there been a more insightful look into the fabric of America and the people who live in it and I'm not just saying that because I read that book and you didn't. Anyway, if you hate everything French, there's a shot you will love this show," said Benjamin.
"We see this opportunity as one more step in our long march to take over the entertainment industry," added Funny or Die.
Benjamin had appeared in sketches of Important Things with Demetri Martin, and his resume also includes voicing Carl in Family Guy, voices on Assy McGee, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Freak Show, Home Movies, and Dr. Katz.
He also stars as the lead voice in FOX's upcoming midseason animated comedy, Bob's Burgers. Congrats, kudos and great news!
Good news for fans of the risque animated spy agency comedy caper, Archer, as FX announced it has ordered a 13-episode second season for its 2011 schedules.
H. Jon Benjamin voices the lead role of spy Sterling Archer, with the rest of the voice cast filled out by Jessica Walter as his mother, Aisha Tyler as his ex-girlfriend and colleague, George Coe as his butler, Chris Parnell as an agency administrator, Judy Greer as a lovesick secretary, and Amber Nash as the human resources director. Through seven of its initial 10 episodes, Archer has averaged 1.2 million total viewers (853K in the 18-49 demo, 573K in adults 18-34). If you're curious, the other new FX comedy to launch over the winter, The League, is doing even better, with 1.3 million total viewers (and 1.076 million 18-49, 829K 18-34).
"Executive Producers Adam Reed and Matt Thompson are delivering a hilarious series and it truly earned a second season," said FX exec Nick Grad. "H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell and Judy Greer comprise one of the best voice casts of any animated series on TV. We're very happy with the audience response and critical acclaim for Archer and are excited to move forward with it."
FX plans to air four episodes of Archer back-to-back from 10 p.m. to midnight this Thursday, Feb. 25, before the final three episodes pick back up beginning 10 p.m. March 4.
(News release via The Futon Critic)
FOX has ordered 13 episodes of the animated half-hour sitcom, Bob's Burgers, but with a long lead-time in production meaning the series may not air until early 2011, according to Variety and other trades. But what about that cast??? The show, which centers around a family-run burger joint and is co-created and executive-produced by Loren Bouchard (Dr. Katz) and Jim Dauterive (King of the Hill), featured a voice cast in the pilot presentation of H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Eugene Mirman and Dan Mintz. The trades, however, said that 20th Century Fox was still working out contract details with the cast -- Bouchard told The Hollywood Reporter he hoped to have them all on board. Wish them all luck and congrats!
But that's not all. FX also is continuing to order up additional half-hour comedy projects. So there's still a chance for either and/or both Louis and Norm to get their shots. The latest to hit the net's pilot pipeline: The League, a semi-scripted comedy (a la Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which plot outlines include room for improv) about a group of guys in a fantasy football league, starring Mark Duplass with a cast that includes Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer and Jon Lajoie. The Archer pilot reportedly showed up for FX to watch a month ago, so it looks as though they move pretty quick over there. We could know a lot more about the net's fall/winter primetime comedy outlook before long.
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:
If you live near New York City, or even in New England, you see the TV ad for the New York Times Weekender subscription a lot. A lot, a lot. Perhaps this ad even runs nationally? Regardless, the new 92YTribeca facility, which has been booking lots of great comedy shows (thank you, Bart Coleman), just released this new advertisement written and directed by Michael Showalter and featuring Paul Rudd and many funny stand-up comedians. How many do you recognize? If you need a hint, just look at my category tags below. Related: The 92YTribeca's comedy schedule. Enjoy!
To Do Thursday: See Wayne Federman host Todd Barry, Dave Hill, Jessi Klein and others in 92YTribeca's weekly Comedy Below Canal series (tickets and info).
One more thing from the Super Bowl I want to point out for you before we move on to other funny business. Yes, you probably saw and chuckled at Conan O'Brien's attempt to sell Bud Light to Sweden. But I also want you to keep an eye on the guy who convinces O'Brien to do the ad. That's H. Jon Benjamin, who not only has worked for O'Brien as a "Late Night" writer, but also was a voice for Dr. Katz and is a major player for the new Comedy Central show, Important Things with Demetri Martin. So here's to seeing more of Benjamin on your TV. Enjoy:
For the next 24 hours, Christians will likely not find an excuse to laugh unless they're watching the TV marathon of A Christmas Story, while Jews will likely think about how Jesus is the funniest Jew of all. Is that how religion works? I don't know. I'm stuck in rainy, dreary traffic on a bus. All I know is that if you want some comedy tonight, then you'll be getting it from my chosen people (which makes me the comedy God? maybe in my sugar-plum dancing dreams...and why are the sugar-plums dancing again?). And my Jewish friends, on this night of Hanukkah, have their hopes placed in Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff for President-elect Barack Obama. Featuring Jon Benjamin and Anya Garrett. Enjoy:
And here comes another surviving new player on the online comedy video front, The Huffington Post's financed humor arm, 236.com, with a new video looking back on the lewd conduct arrest of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who, you may not recall, never did resign his office after getting caught trying to hook up with another guy in an airport bathroom in Minnesota. Nope. Craig is still in the Senate. So here's a reason to toast the forgotten heroes of anonymous airport bathroom sex, with featured starring roles by Jon Benjamin, Tom Shillue, Todd Barry and Aimee Mann. Surprisingly almost safe for work!
Mulaney spent more than a bit of his summer writing for the upcoming Comedy Central sketch and variety show, Important Things with Demetri Martin, still tentatively slated for an October debut. The writing staff there included head writer Michael Koman (previously on staff at Conan), Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, and of course, Martin himself. "It was great. I was working with some of the funniest people I've ever met," Mulaney said of that experience. "The bar was set high. It was challenging. You wanted to make people like Jon Benjamin laugh. It feels good when you do."
That wasn't Mulaney's first TV writing credit, either. "I had done a couple of small projects, and I'd written a pilot for Comedy Central with Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter before." No, not the show the network greenlighted this summer, but a previous pilot project from last year.
Though still relatively young as both a stand-up and a writer, Mulaney offered this perspective on his recent experience with Martin's show versus writing for himself. "It wasn't easy or hard. You could be more comfortable because you're working with other people, sitting around with people you trust," he said. "That was great to be writing for someone like Demetri who is really open to a lot of different ideas...and is extremely hilarious."
Now Mulaney has an even bigger pool of talent to work with at NBC's legendary Saturday Night Live.
Jon Benjamin showed this video at last Friday's last "Greg Johnson & Larry Murphy" show at Rififi, and it debuted online overnight. Too soon? Regardless, just watching Todd Barry and Larry Murphy in this shirt is humor enough...but is that stunt hair? Enjoy!
Dan Mintz is the new guy at the Comedy Cellar, and he couldn't be happier about it. At least that's what Mintz told me last weekend before going up for another spot. He's on the schedule this Saturday, and again on Tuesday-Wednesday. If you cannot imagine Mintz playing to a Cellar crowd on a Saturday night, then you don't have an imagination -- because throwing Mintz and his one-liners in between crowd-working New York comics is such a jolt to the system that audiences love him even more. So much, at points, that they even have gotten Mintz to crack up and break his vocal rhythm. Good times.
Mintz has been in New York City the past few months working on Demetri Martin's upcoming Comedy Central show (Important Things with Demetri Martin), which should follow the Chappelle's Show format: Martin hosting and talking/joking with the crowd between taped sketches. Mintz said he only has been in one sketch so far. But look for Jon Benjamin to show up in a lot of the bits. Debut: 2009?