Mere weeks after saying goodbye to both of its new sports-themed comedy series, Comedy Central has ordered series pickups for two sketch-comedy ideas: One starring Nick Kroll and all of his characters, The Nick Show Kroll; and the other, an untitled project reuniting MADtv alums Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key.
Interestingly enough, the press release from Comedy Central seems to indicate that Kent Alterman ordered both pilots to series without even seeing them. In fact, his quote says just that!
"I haven't seen either pilot yet, but I think so highly of the talent involved, I can't imagine the shows won't be great," said Alterman.
Nick Kroll proudly announced his show to friends, fans and followers on Twitter...
Comedy Central has gone through so many phases for how it goes about showcasing young comedic talent, that every so often, an idea becomes reality and years later, you wonder how, exactly.
Such was Comic Cabana, the 1997 summer series on Comedy Central that may have been the first real TV credit for the Upright Citizens Brigade quartet of Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser and Ian Roberts. It came a year before they'd get their own Comedy Central series and two before they could open up their own theater in New York City.
A comedy fan named Danielle who goes by schwaggology on Tumblr was up late the other night watching the first season of the Upright Citizens Brigade's Comedy Central series from way back in 1998 when something caught her eye.
Sitting alongside UCB members Amy Poehler and Matt Besser were mostly college-aged fresh-faced kids (just as you'd see in many UCB show audiences today in NYC or Hollywood). But in the third episode of season one, "Saigon Suicide Squad," check out a few faces in particular. As Danielle points out with arrows, you can see what Paul Scheer, Rob Corddry, Nick Kroll and Rob Riggle looked like many years before they were TV famous themselves.
I wanted to find out more about how this episode could attract so much future talent, so I asked Paul Scheer how he got this very early TV credit. Scheer told The Comic's Comic:
"As far as Saigon -- I was in every episode of UCB season 1 sometimes twice an episode (as an extra -- I think I eventually got one line). They used all their students as extras, none of us got paid but they had great snacks. Saigon was a taping of their amazing stage show, so that was an easy one but that was a super fun night up in Harlem.
I think Nick was a freshman in Georgetown. I was still in NYU. But if you watch the 1st season everyone is there. It's fun looking back."
This photo also works as a great advertisement for taking classes at the UCB's Theatres: From students to stars!
The Upright Citizens Brigade recently celebrated its fifth anniversary of going Hollywood with a big night of comedy at its Los Angeles theater in September.
Three of the UCB founders have moved from NYC to LA, and over the years, many popular Harold and Maude players and groups have followed suit. LA Weekly caught up with Messrs. Besser, Roberts and Walsh for an interview, and here's how they explained their motives upon making the big move West:
Matt Besser: The Tamarind Theatre here on Franklin happen to open up and it was during the same time that many of the performers from UCB New York were moving out here, so it was good timing that way. We started with more of a focus on improv in New York. In L.A. there was already improv, so we wanted it to start off with more of a balance between sketch and stand-up for the L.A. branch. That's one of the main differences between the two theaters. Immediately, we had Comedy Death Ray, which in my opinion, is the best stand-up show in town. We also have many shows that combine performers whether it be a game show or a story-type of show. That was always the aim of this theater.
Ian Roberts: Another goal is to have a place that we wish existed when we first started. A place that is friendly to performers and doesn't charge people to do their shows.
Matt Walsh: Even Luna in New York was a great comedy show but it was only on Monday nights, so if you went there on Wednesdays there would be a jam band playing. This is a theater that's known for doing one thing, which is good comedy.
While I was in Los Angeles last month, I caught up with the UCB Theatre's L.A. artistic director, Neil Campbell -- whom you can also see onstage in groups doing sketch in A Kiss From Daddy and improv with Last Day of School. Here's what Campbell had to tell me when we sat down in his office before a full night of shows in the theatre:
If you'd like even more out of your TBS promos of Conan O'Brien's upcoming talk show, Conan, and you'd also like to see something from behind the scenes, then you are doubly in luck! Because this clip shows you some fun improvised moments in the "blimp" between Conan and his pilot, UCB co-founder Ian Roberts, who is willing to go along with whatever suggestion Conan has. Improv!
Roll the clip.
If you watch TBS, and especially if you watch during the baseball playoffs, then you know it's time for them to roll out all of the CONAN promos for Conan O'Brien. The biggest promo this fall is the big orange CONAN blimp that's flying above the ballparks.
It's sponsored by AT&T, which means double your ads. But since the ads feature Conan joking around with UCB co-founder Ian Roberts, then, well, we're more than OK with this.
Here are the ads we've seen so far:
The 2010 Major League Baseball playoffs have begun today, and with it, you had to know that TBS would begin ramping up what will become ubiquitous promotions for Conan O'Brien's upcoming late-night talker, Conan. Well, you're right about that.
It's currently flying over Philadelphia today and tonight.
According to the Team Coco Blimp page, it's scheduled to fly over New York City on Oct. 9, Atlanta on Oct. 16, Tampa on Oct. 19, and Boston on Oct. 26. And yes, I'm painfully well aware that Boston is not a participating baseball city this October. Just roll the clip.
You can also follow the Team Coco Blimp via Twitter and Foursquare.
Comedy nerds were abuzz today that the SPIKE cable network may have canceled Players, the inventive and delightful improvised comedy from the minds of the UCB's Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and friends.
Walsh himself went to Twitter tonight to say: Not exactly. He wrote: "to all Players fans, Spike is going to postpone remaining Players episodes til July for a summer season after "Joes vs Bros". keep u posted"
Which actually sounds more like good news to me. Instead of competing with network offerings in the spring, a summer reboot gives Players a chance to find its audience -- and maybe even market to it. Plus, as I noted in my review of Players, it doesn't have to be paired with Blue Mountain State. So, a yay from me. What say you?
Back before they were famous for being the Upright Citizens Brigade, the UCB players produced their first feature-length film that spoofed both Spring Break and Girls Gone Wild. Naturally, it's called Wild Girls Gone, and it's only now available for your digital download pleasure via iTunes.
That seemed so random, but then again, this isn't the only random comedy news for today.
I have to admit that part of me worried that Players, the new sitcom from Upright Citizens Brigade leaders Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts, might not be very good. All of that part of me, it turns out, was worried simply because their series is airing on SPIKE.
Let's just say some of SPIKE's original programming seems like it's leftovers that got passed over from other networks. The "sitcom" that airs before Players, called Blue Mountain State, didn't appear to have any actual jokes in it -- merely college football jock premises and the hilarity of compromising sexual positions with Cloris Leachman, in the episode broadcasted immediately prior to the debut of Players. The page for BMS calls it a "new original comedy," and yet the reality is the exact opposite. More BS than BMS, am I right? I bring all of that up because for all of the effort that seemingly goes into that series, knowing how Walsh, Roberts and their funny friends are able to take something as basic as an Arizona sports bar and a plot outline, then weave some inspired improvisational punchlines and moments out of it. It's really great. Don't want to take my word for it? You can watch the premiere episode, "Krista's Mom" (no, not "Grand Reopening," despite what The Onion seemed to think), again tonight on SPIKE. Or you can watch it right here, at your convenience. New episodes air at 10:30 p.m. Tuesdays.
You've heard of 2 Girls, 1 Cup, right? I'm not going to link to that viral video shocker that shocked millions with its NSFW depths. But the Upright Citizens Brigade's Ian Roberts, co-star of the upcoming Spike TV sitcom, Players, decided that without a proper marketing budget, he would re-create that video all by himself in "1 Guy, 1 Cup." As UCB co-founder Matt Walsh sat by and told him repeatedly not to do such a thing.
You know. These guys are such great improvisers that I fully laughed out loud and even gagged a bit as Roberts does his own very NSFW thing. That's a testament to how good Walsh and Roberts are. So I don't even have to question whether this is real or "real" or outright fake. Because it's just plain funny. Roll the clip! I warned you. This is Not Safe For Work.
Earlier: Watch actual previews of Players.