If you're watching AMC's Breaking Bad, or just catching up to this Emmy-winning drama, then you're well-aware of Bob Odenkirk's rascally role as attorney Saul Goodman. In season four (which premiered last night), Saul has hired himself a bodyguard, Huell, who is played by none other than stand-up comedian Lavell Crawford.
Here's a clip of their first scenes together in Breaking Bad. Not spoilery!
Crawford has been a touring stand-up for years, and finished runner-up to Jon Reep in the 2007 season of NBC's Last Comic Standing. He has a new comedy CD out this month called Can A Brother Get Some Love?, which also will debut on Comedy Central on Aug. 12, 2011.
It's always interesting to see popular comedians cast in TV dramas. Enough stand-ups have done the trick on Law & Order that you could host a full night's show and then some with them.
But how many comedians have made the successful transition from stand-up stage to small screen drama, particularly when it's a critical and commercial TV hit?
Let's take a look back...
Before Fred Armisen was a star on Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, he was filming shorts for HBO as "Fred." Before that, he played drums in a Chicago band called Trenchmouth.
And in between? Step back into your hot tub time machines to 1998, when Armisen visited Austin for the SXSW festival to produce his own guide to music, performing and conducting interviews in several fake accents to unsuspecting musicians, panelists and even comedians. Take Janeane Garofalo, for example. She was at SXSW in 1998 to file reports for MTV. Let's see what happens when Armisen asks her silly questions.
Thanks to Stereogum for saving these videos from the dustbins of electronic history.
Such a beautiful day here in New York City. Snow fell overnight. Everything looks pretty. Maybe you'd like to pay us a visit? If you do, you'll need tips. The 92YTribeca assembled a bunch of comedians to offer their best advice already, and now they've done it again.
Remember to carry your walkie-talkies when you visit the Eiffel Tower on 34th Street.
Featuring: Paul Scheer, Eliza Skinner, Todd Barry, Fred Armisen, Julie Klausner, Jenny Slate & Gabe Liedman, Rob Huebel, Janeane Garofalo. Thanks, 92YTribeca!
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!
We're about to see a bunch of new live stand-up comedy on our basic cable TV sets thanks to Comedy Central. The fourth season of Live at Gotham debuts this weekend, and in the first week of November, 24 stand-ups get to tape their very own half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials to air in early 2010. In between those two things, the network has given the go-ahead to John Oliver to present his very own stand-up showcase. If John Oliver & Friends sounds like something as fun and magical as the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, well, then you can pretty well guess the lineup. It's going to be good.
There will be three tapings (Oct. 23-25) at NYU's Skirball Center, which will produce six half-hours of stand-up comedy, featuring Oliver and his friends. A few names appear multiple times, which is curious and suggests the format could spin a bit. We'll just have to wait and see, won't we!
SHOW 1 ~ Friday - Oct. 23 - 6:45 p.m., with Marc Maron, Janeane Garofalo, Maria Bamford, Hannibal Buress, Wyatt Cenac and Pete Holmes
SHOW 2 ~ Saturday - Oct. 24 - 7:45 p.m., with Paul F. Tompkins, Maria Bamford, Greg Fitzsimmons, Nick Kroll and Eugene Mirman
SHOW 3 ~ Sunday - Oct. 25 - 5:45 p.m., with Brian Posehn, Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Greg Fitzsimmons, Eugene Mirman, Pete Holmes and Mary Lynn Rajskub
If you're going to be in NYC and are at least 18 years old, go to The Black List's John Oliver page and follow the instructions to request tickets.
What if Brett Gelman's character, Sam, aka "Mr. Celebrity," went from telling you how to make friends with celebrities, to actually showing you how his techniques work successfully in real life? That's what you get in this short film on Funny or Die. Features appearances by Jon Hamm, Janeane Garofalo and Michael Cera. (Video includes a few profanities) Enjoy!
If you want to attain a more natural high, just go back in time and remember when you and your favorite comedians were younger, back before they were famous. First up, Sarah Silverman shares with us this photo that shows her and her pals, circa 1993: Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo, Dave Attell, and Dave Juskow.
And if you think that's something, then please check out this rare footage of a young Jim Carrey, circa mid-1980s (Brezhney, My Three Sons and E.T.?), performing five minutes of facial impersonations for a crowd at The Comedy Store that had no idea what they were seeing.
Oh, to be a young comedian again. Happy days.
Mary Hicks, mother of the late Bill Hicks, is taping an appearance this afternoon on Late Show with David Letterman that will air Friday and include the twelfth and final performance by Hicks that the show had censored back in 1993. Why the change of heart now? We'll find out soon enough. Next month is the 15th anniversary of his early death, with events planned in England (the Brits always loved Hicks) and in Portland, Ore. (where childhood friend/comedian Dwight Slade lives). And later this year, the British-produced documentary American: The Bill Hicks Story should make it to the big screen.
In this segment from an earlier documentary about "Outlaw Comic" Hicks that I recall seeing at the HBO Aspen festival in 2002, Janeane Garofalo says in a voiceover how Mary Hicks received the only existing tape of the set from CBS and the show, but they couldn't use it at the time. Instead, they show part of the final performance ever from Hicks in 1994. Were he alive today, you can imagine how he'd feel about Miley Cyrus...
And in this public access TV appearance, Bill Hicks himself talks at length about his disputed appearance on Letterman:
Related: This is the 1993 New Yorker profile of Bill Hicks that he mentions in the above video.
The UCB Theatre in New York City has a tradition of offering great stand-up comedy showcases for free late-night Mondays. For a while, Aziz Ansari hosted the showcase under the name Crash Test. Then Ansari got all Human Giant, and the showcases took a break. Leo Allen has taken over hosting duties in the 11 p.m. Monday timeslot, now known as Whiplash. This week, audiences got treated to Allen, Sean Patton, Eugene Mirman, Janeane Garofalo, John Mulaney and Hannibal Buress. For free! (Well, there is the "Bucket of Truth" to accept your comedy donations afterward, but still...) So imagine my surprise this week to see the house only half full?! You're missing out, people!
Janeane Garofalo, pictured here resting her bad back. "Mama's got a bum stem!" she told the crowd. Photo by Mindy Tucker. More photos at With Reservation.
Eugene Mirman has announced the planned lineups for his crazy-yet-true-because-it-is-Eugene-after-all comedy festival named for him, taking place Sept. 25-28 in Brooklyn. Mirman pretty much has it covered -- most of his usual and unusual suspects will appear over those four days and nights at two venues, Union Hall (where Mirman already hosts the popular Tearing the Veil of Maya showcase on Sundays with Michael Showalter in Park Slope) and The Bell House (a new joint the Union Hall folks are opening nearby).
Time Out NY playfully hinted at what a Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival might look like, with hints from Mirman himself.
Want to see who's scheduled to perform?
Labor Day weekend in Seattle means the biggest music and arts fest of the year there, aka Bumbershoot. A decade ago, the weekend attracted names both big and small in music to come together in celebration of culture and all things good and fun, with one show or maybe two devoted on the side to comedy. Well, one look at the 2008 Bumbershoot comedy schedule shows how far we've come, with three full days and nights of funny in multiple venues this weekend. Human Giant will be there. So, too, will Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron, Tom Rhodes, Doug Benson, Hannibal Buress, Jessi Klein, TJ Miller, Nick Thune, Michelle Buteau, the People's Republic of Komedy, Vince Averill, Tig Notaro, Greg Behrendt, The Sound of Young America Live!, UCB-LA's MySpace show, and many more.
It's also a time for sad and glad news. Sad? Final weekend for the Mainstage Comedy crew on Queen Anne (as reported by the Seattle Comedy Blog). Waiting for the full story on that development. On the other hand: Glad?
The Comedy Underground finally gets to reopen in its new location a couple of blocks over in Pioneer Square at 109 S. Washington St., with a grand reopening debut UPDATED: The Comedy Underground's people report they're moving the Sept. 9 for the Mitch Hedberg CD release/tribute show over to Laughs in Kirkland because it's possible the new Underground won't be ready in time and they don't want to miss the chance to celebrate the CD release in "Mitch's comedy home."
I didn't make it Bonnaroo this weekend, but thousands of other music and comedy fans did. And more than a few of them already have weighed in with their opinions of the massive Tennessee festival.
Stereogum took plenty of pics, loved Chris Rock, thought Reggie Watts was "custom built for a music festival setting." Entertainment Weekly also thought Rock fared well on the main stage "opening" for Metallica on Friday night. The AP provides a more basic overview from Friday day and night, but followed up with a more thorough account and a quote from Louis CK: "60,000 people is too many for stand-up...even if 40,000 people love you, you're still bombing really hard." David Carr of the New York Times was among those who felt Chris Rock had a more difficult time getting his jokes across to the hipster rock kids and Southerners. A reporter from Atlanta's Creative Loafing laughed a lot and enjoyed the A/C in the comedy tent, but laughed hardest at an audience member who started peeing everywhere during the show.
If you're in Tennessee for Bonnaroo, please say hi to Janeane Garofalo for me. She doesn't have an email or use the Internet, so she likely won't be reading this. That's one of many things you might learn about Garofalo in her interview for Unmasked on XM satellite radio, which premieres Saturday.
Early in her career, Garofalo says she worried about actual typecasting, as she kept hearing industry people talk about "looking for a Janeane Garofalo type," as in dark and sarcastically deadpan. "Looking back, that was a mistake," she says. "They asked me to always play that one note."
"I think The Aristocrats was a social experiment, because I have never heard of that joke," she says. I hadn't heard of the joke before the movie, either, but I think if you were in the Friar's Club or played the Catskills, perhaps that demographic had a better chance of circulating jokes like that one.
Garofalo started comedy while still a junior in college, in Rhode Island, in 1985. She'd take the bus from Providence College to Boston. And even early on, she was "more of a rambler or a storyteller, and I don't mean that in a good way." Her third comedy home is Houston and rural Texas, where she grew up in the same neighborhood as Bill Hicks (her brother was in his grade in school).
She's always had that notebook onstage with her, filled with chicken scratch, news clippings, whatever was on her mind. She aims to be current, and say things differently enough so that every show is new to an audience. Naturally, then, she doesn't take well to comedians who always repeat themselves.
Her time on Saturday Night Live "was like Lord of the Flies," she says. "If you can't showcase Michael McKean, Chris Elliot and Mark McKinney, there's something wrong with the system." Instead, she recounted great table reads on Wednesdays that devolved into infighting and the selection of the least funny sketches for Saturdays. Garofalo first auditioned for SNL at 25, failed, got offered a writing gig, then NBC called again at 30.
The presidential recount in 2000 got her actively involved in politics, but she said she was naive at first to the cruelty from fans and media criticism of her for speaking out. But she's not running for office anytime soon. "I don't want to be in politics," she said. "I'd like to open a bookstore."
After an opening bit from Dave Hill about Osama bin Laden and an elephant of the same name, it was time for the show, and your host Carl Arnheiter. The title, Inside Joke, may clue you in to the interview format, but when you add a live audience and a lively comedian, who knows exactly how much interview and how much showcase you'll get. Galifianakis said the recently finished Funny or Die tour with Will Ferrell, Demetri Martin and Nick Swardson was good, and joked that "the tour was going to be called two Greeks, a fag and a successful guy."
Then we went inside. His first paid gig was in a strip mall in Maysville, Kentucky and he talked about starting in the back of Hamburger Harry's in Times Square. He talked about his short-lived late-night talk show on VH1 -- nine weeks! -- and how he turned down an 11-day gig worth $700,000 to be the spokesman for Time Warner Cable.
And then he showed his new Absolut ad with Tim and Eric. He has been showing this video for weeks now at various shows, but it finally went online over the weekend.
Galifianakis told me a few weeks ago how he admired Tim and Eric, and he said it again on this night. "I really do think it's the funniest, most creative thing on television...It reminds you of when you were a kid. You'd laugh at a stupid fart joke. They're two big farts!"
On another short-lived TV show, Dog Bites Man: "I got to talk to the Grand Wizard (of the KKK) if he's ever seen Big Momma's House 2."
On being an SNL writer for two weeks, in which he tried pitching a sketch to guest host Britney Spears. Galifianakis thought he'd been hired to be on the show, and instead, he was hired to write for Molly Shannon.
He talked about smoking so much pot in Vancouver, B.C., that he couldn't remember his lines for Tru Calling. The secret to getting that TV gig? "Don't care." He reportedly got the job not because of how well he read his lines, but because in the audition, he wrote a joke on the back of his script pages. Arnheiter closed this show with a surprise for the audience, introducing Janeane Garofalo to hand out his Rice Krispie Treats and then help read an unaired scene from Tru Calling with Galifianakis.
The San Francisco Chronicle headline today already has you groaning before you read the actual story: Yes, guys, they're funny and female.
I went to a comedy show last night that featured four very different female stand-ups: Whitney Cummings, with a comedic sensibility that's very Los Angeles; Laura Krafft, striking writer from The Colbert Report with a hilarious list of suggested laws for pedestrians; Chelsea Peretti, willing to break down all barriers to make you laugh; and Janeane Garofalo, godmother to the "alternative" scene who's unafraid to still bring that notebook onstage and talk about what politics or what she's watching on TV and let you know she's likely not going to read this site because she doesn't have a computer or an email address.
You could argue that the Chronicle was trying to help the cause of women in stand-up comedy. But, eh, not really. Some notes sound condescending. There's an odd need at the end of the article to mention that some of the comedians asked about which quotes be put off the record. Odd, because all sorts of people in all sorts of professions wonder how they'll be portrayed at the end of an on-the-record interview, so to point it out for female comedians just makes them look worse for no good reason. And for bonus points, in interviewing Rachel Dratch, the reporter (and in turn, the editor passing the story along) allow the actor to talk about the difficulties in getting good roles without asking her about getting forced out of 30 Rock, a decorated TV show created, written by and starring a woman who happened to work with Dratch on Saturday Night Live (that'd be Tina Fey for those of you who somehow clicked here with no previous knowledge of comedy).
That said, at least it's some extra publicity for SF Sketchfest, right?
Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, HBO produced and broadcast a special devoted to young comedians. Not all of them hold up quite so well. One year introduced Steven Wright, but the rest of the hour makes you wonder what happened to America's sense of humor. Then there was 1992, and the 15th annual special, taped at the Tempe Improv, hosted by Dana Carvey, introduced Judd Apatow, Bill Bellamy, Nick DiPaolo, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Kindler and Ray Romano.
Yeah. Quite a lineup there. I mention it because the special aired over the weekend and shows up on HBO Comedy again tonight, then again on Jan. 24 so you can take a look for yourself.
As host, Carvey managed to trot out most of his SNL character voices and impersonations for easy crowd pleasing. Bellamy is wearing a red suit, as if to make viewers think of Eddie Murphy. Apatow, whom you know now as a big-shot comedy producer and writer, wore a buttoned-up shirt without a tie. Romano noted up front that he was 34 at the time and asked if that still counted as young. Watching them all, you can see that Romano, Kindler and Garofalo had found their comedic voices that still make you laugh today. And if you think DiPaolo sounds bitter onstage today, just watch and hear his mood on the night of his big break! A few circumstantial pieces of evidence of HBO special bonding: A) Apatow and Garofalo immediately worked together on The Ben Stiller Show, B) they again worked on The Larry Sanders Show, with Apatow also writing an episode that had a part in it for Kindler, C) who also showed up a decade later as a recurring character on Everybody Loves Raymond.
Also filed under fun facts, the pre-show interviews with the comedians, which knowing where they all are 16 years later, is why these quotes should be filed under fun facts...
DiPaolo: "It means a lot. It means I'm going to be a big star someday. Either that, or I'm going to be next week working in St. Louis at Yuk Yuk's again. For minimum wage."
Garofalo: "I have no self-esteem left, and I hate to be the girl comic that talks about those types of things and I never thought I would be, but I'm a beaten man."
Kindler: "I'm going to do a new thing where I just sell my paintings after the show. Along with the T-shirts and the coffee cups and the Andy Kindler signature crock pots that are available, in the lobby, and the Andy Kindler comedy video, which is always available, in the lobby, after the show. And I'd leave the record tab in, so if you want tape Murder, She Wrote over it, who really cares."
An overflowing crowd -- 320 crammed in the main room, standing room only watching on closed circuit from the bar -- filled Comix last night to witness a touch of Saturday Night Live and raise money for the Writers Guild of America in their ongoing strike.
Host Jason Sudeikis (Strike Beard Color Code Brown!) amiably presided, reminding the crowd a few minutes into the proceedings, "I don't do stand-up...if that's not evident at this point!" The Sudeikis clan is doubly hit by the WGA strike: His wife, Kay Cannon, writes for 30 Rock. "Make sure you don't watch it on the Internet," Sudeikis implored. "At least for a little while." He also noted that during his extended free time, he has found that many people have offered sketch suggestions to him via his MySpace page. "They send in sketch ideas, which is great, because I don't get enough of them from my family," he said. Not in a good way. Obviously. Also obvious, these suggestions and characters will never make the air: presidential candidate Capt. Donkey Dick, an extended conversation about an incident at a lighting job, Dancing With Cripples, and Chief Blubber Lips, the fat gay Indian (for diversity).
Moving on...current and former SNL writers took the stage for some stand-up sets, including Bryan Tucker, Colin Jost, Leo Allen and Eric Slovin. Which reminds me, the bigger treats last night were the videos. Slovin and Allen presented a short film of theirs, "The Photo Session," which Allen told me afterward isn't available yet online, but you should keep your eyes out for it because it's a fun conceptual premise and well executed.
An SNL Digital Short that didn't make it past the dress rehearsal of the Hugh Laurie show in October 2006 featured Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen desperately trying to get noticed on Gawker's Gawker Stalker and US magazine's Just Like Us features, even going so far as to saunter about the offices of Gawker and US magazine, although they apparently didn't let on eggsactly what was up at the time. This vid climaxed with an assist from Matthew Broderick.
Two videos from SNL writer Akiva Schaffer showcased Kristen Wiig (who sat in the back of the room sporting some seriously blonde locks) in ads for "Virgania Horsen's Hot Air Balloon Rides." No idea if this is meant for SNL or The Lonely Island or something else altogether. Either way, funny stuff.
We also saw Episode 4 of The Jeannie Tate Show (see below)...
Anchoring the show were surprise guest Janeane Garofalo (subbing last-minute for Samberg and Armisen who were no-shows) and Darrell Hammond. Garofalo joked about how the strike has impacted her new TV gig: "I was on a show called 24. Now it's called 8. Jack Bauer's got his work cut out for him!" Garofalo acknowledged the irony in playing a character that out-Chloe's Chloe when she herself doesn't have a computer or e-mail, joking that the show's producers had to use a stunt double for her computer keyboard scenes. Also on Garofalo's mind last night: Natalie Portman is so angelic she probably never uses the bathroom; Dane Cook's "mass mob adulation" by his fans is what's responsible for us being in Iraq -- "his popularity to me is an X-File," she quipped; she got into beading whiling away the hours as a federal grand jury member recently; and she doesn't want to get married or have children. As for Hammond, introduced by Sudeikis as "a comedy ninja," he barreled through 25 minutes of material and impersonations and blamed it (or credited it) to being on Vicodin.
Comedy Central is promoting its new season of half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials by asking its participating comedians with whom they are feuding. Here, Michael Showalter playfully takes on Human Giant for not recognizing The State as their greatest comedic influence.
In jest, perhaps. But Showalter sure doesn't take all comparisons of comedy troupes quite as lightly. Back in July, Showalter hosted the first anniversary party for Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a bill that included Eugene Mirman, Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo and David Cross. Things were fun and dandy until Garofalo got sidetracked during her set (surprised?) and started talking about how she'd watched the movie Beerfest the night before and was laughing out loud (for real, an actual instance of LOL). "I didn't understand the Broken Lizard thing until Beerfest," Garofalo said. She then wondered if that's perhaps that's why Stella didn't succeed on Comedy Central. Perhaps you need to know the guys to laugh at their jokes. That was her premise. She moved on to Tony Snow's cancer, her best friend, her sleeping and TV viewing habits, touring with Henry Rollins, and other matters.
When Showalter returned to the stage, he called Garofalo out on comparing Stella to Broken Lizard. Garofalo reminded him that Wet Hot American Summer (very much a State/Stella production that also featured Garofalo) and Super Troopers (the first Broken Lizard comedy film) debuted together at Sundance. That didn't make Showalter feel any better about it. "I'm not angry. I'm hungry," Showalter said. Then he added: "To me, comparing Stella to Broken Lizard is like comparing The Police to White Tiger. But that's just me. So fuck Broken Lizard's butt." Garofalo insisted that perhaps Showalter wasn't giving them enough of a chance, saying that their comedy may be funnier for audiences who already know and understand what they're about.
David Cross, who went up afterward, began with an aside to Garofalo: "That went swimmingly. That could not have gone smoother." Laughs. "Well, that's what can happen from wearing your honest pants." Cross then proceeded with his set, deciding not to weigh in further on this particular feud.
Photographs from earlier that day/night after the jump...