In case you missed it, sometime before the holiday weekend, NBC decided to recast three of its supporting roles on the 2012 midseason sitcom, Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea, based on one of Chelsea Handler's best-selling books. One of the people losing out was stand-up comedian Jo Koy, a regular member of Handler's late-night roundtable on her E! series, Chelsea Lately.
A spokesperson told Michael Ausiello the cast changes had been made for "creative reasons." But a few comedians (you know how comics talk) already had put out word that for Koy, the creative reason allegedly was the network's response to Koy calling an audience member a "fucking faggot" during his June 15 show at Just For Laughs Chicago. Neither NBC nor Koy has said there was a direct link. (Updated!) In fact, I have it on good authority that NBC already was looking to recast Koy's bartender role with someone who could develop more potential sexual tension with Laura Prepon's lead character as a younger Chelsea, and they had until June 30 to make that decision. And Koy apologized the following day for his brief outburst via Twitter, saying: "Homophobia is not funny."
Did Handler get that memo?
On Monday night's episode of Chelsea Lately, neither Handler nor Koy brought up their NBC split. Handler did return to her long-running roast of Koy by joking that he's gay. Because being gay would be funny? Or because accusing Koy of being funny and having him react negatively is funny?
Chelsea Handler's long-term relationship with E! has not only been good for her own career, but also has provided a boon to many aspiring stand-up comedians who live in Los Angeles. Handler's Chelsea Lately includes a nightly roundtable panel in which she dishes about the celebrinews of the day with three of her friends in comedy. She has given them an additional TV credit boost with this summer's Friday-night series, Comedians of Chelsea Lately, which she hosts with her sidekick Chuy.
Tonight is the second week, featuring stand-up sets from Heather McDonald, John Caparulo and Whitney Cummings. Not that you would know that by going to, say, the E! network website. I tried looking for episode breakdowns and whatnot last week for the debut and came up empty. Certainly by now, they'd have something something, right? Here's what came up today when I entered "comedians of chelsea lately" in E!'s search bar:
To be fair, to the far far right of this screengrab, you can see that they did have a video clip from last week's debut to view. And if you root around on the Chelsea Lately pages, you can find some additional short clips (also on Hulu). But this show is not considered an actual show, according to E! Which is saying something, considering this is E! Is that what that "Awful Truth" button is for? I know that's not what that button is for, unfortunately, because I have been to this website before, and if I left my TV on E! around-the-clock, I may come across an ad for the show, but by then, I would have lost all sense of humanity.
But I won't leave you completely empty-handed...
This is pretty much for my American readers (and those of you outside the States who have figured out how to watch clips on Hulu.com). My Hulu visits tend to be more targeted -- I know what's on there and what I want to catch up on -- rather than exploratory missions of curious wonder. That said, one of my friends tipped me off to this new addition to Hulu's online archives: Full seasons of Comedy Central's Premium Blend. Premium Blend was the bigger, louder, hyperactive precursor to Live At Gotham. Look at how the audience and claps as if they're in a Benny Hill sketch. So far, just seasons five, seven and nine are up, for 36 episodes spotlighting 144 up-and-coming stand-up comedians, some of whom have since made leaps and strides, while others have yet to become household names. It's fun to see some of the pairings here, find glimpses of people I know now but didn't back then, as well as comics I was friends with years ago.
Season 5 also is intriguing because it filmed pre-Sept. 11 but began airing Oct. 5, 2001. Remember that weird time for comedy, when society and the mainstream media asked if it was OK to be ironic and sarcastic? It's also a time that gave us early looks at Judah Friedlander, Laurie Kilmartin, Eugene Mirman and Patrice Oneal, all in one half-hour!
From Season 9, here is another lineup that's notable for putting Aziz Ansari (NBC's new Parks and Recreation) together with Boston stand-up vet Frank Santorelli, Austin's Brendon Walsh (who now sports wilder hair and stand-up), and Jo Koy. This aired in February 2006.
The first new stand-up comedy special of 2009 debuts tonight, as Comedy Central presents Jo Koy: Don't Make Him Angry. Taped in November in New York City, this special was the network's main addition to the New York Comedy Festival lineup (related review here). Here is a preview clip, in which Jo Koy tries and fails to ignore his son. It's not quite safe for work, even though it's bleeped.