Two of the more surprising Super Bowl commercials this year involved comedians. Make that comediennes, as in Joan Rivers and Roseanne.
Yes, Richard Lewis also was in that Snickers commercial, but he didn't have do any of the heavy lifting, or in this case, pratfalling. And I'm sure plenty of people were rubbing their eyes trying to make that image of Joan Rivers as Go Daddy girl disappear. But there are some things you cannot unsee.
Which one of these surprises, though, surprised you more?
Joan Rivers unveils her Go Daddy knock-out body:
Or Snickers knocking out Roseanne:
Can we talk? Because kudos are in order for comedian Joan Rivers and the documentary team that followed her for the past year and debuted the finished film, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, at the just-finished 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film got overwhelmingly positive reviews from fans and critics alike, and took home a documentary editing prize.
You can see all sorts of reviews and interview links from the film's Twitter page @JoanRiversMovie. I cannot wait to see it.
In the meantime, here are some of the several videos to get a look behind the scenes. If you need to look back to the beginnings, here is Joan Rivers performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967. Caught up? First up, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg:
And here are a selection of videos with Rivers herself at Sundance.
Sundance Institute has announced its full slate of programming for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and while it's not quite the bumper crop that comedians earned last year, there are a couple of big highlights.
Louis C.K.'s latest stand-up effort, Hilarious, will make its world premiere at the festival -- reportedly the first stand-up concert film to make the trek to Sundance.
In compeition, the festival will feature Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (Directors: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg) -- described in the program as "A rare, brutally honest glimpse into the comedic process and private dramas of legendary comedian and pop icon Joan Rivers as she fights tooth and nail to keep her American dream alive."
Also of potential interest: The Runaways, the film about Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) in which Tig Notaro plays Jett's mother; Bill Murray co-stars with Robert Duvall in Get Low, about a 1930s Tennessee hermit who plans a rocking funeral party for himself while he's still alive; The Freebie, with Dax Shepard and Katie Aselton (who also wrote and directed) as a married couple who gives each other one free pass. I'm also curious to see Adrian Grenier's Teenage Paparazzo, which is the "Entourage" star's look inside the world of celebrity tabloid gossip and the impact celebrity has on our culture (it's one of two such docs on the festival docket, btw).
Compare that to 2009's Sundance comedies. Sketch group Derrick has been making the rounds, one city at a time, with its romp of a debut feature, Mystery Team -- it opened officially in New York City last night and enjoys a weeklong run at the Quad Cinema. Black Dynamite, meanwhile, has taken midnight screening slots in several cities this fall. Comedians Mo'Nique and Patton Oswalt garnered praise for their dramatic turns in Precious and Big Fan, respectively -- with the former also generating Oscar buzz. Chris Rock got lots of attention, most of it positive, for his documentary Good Hair. And Bobcat Goldthwait captured a darkly funny performance out of Robin Williams and other comedians for World's Greatest Dad. All of those films found their ways into cinemas this year.
Dog days, am I right? While I cozy up to the air conditioner, please allow me to share with you a few things I have posted recently to the recently redesigned Comedy.com site for funny things by and about comedians, aka The Laugh Track:
Joan Rivers got roasted on Sunday night in Los Angeles, and Comedy Central will broadcast an edited version of The Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers on Aug. 9, 2009. You'll see some of the usual suspects on the dais (Jeffrey Ross, Greg Giraldo, Gilbert Gottfried), but no Lisa Lampanelli, and the early reports from the scene all seemed to agree that Whitney Cummings made the most of her onscreen debut as a roaster. Let's roll a clip, and then we'll talk with Cummings all about it.
Hey Whitney! This was your first big roast, correct? If not, then please correct me! "I've been a writer on the roast for the past couple years so I'm very familiar with them and roast jokewriting but yes, this is my first big Comedy Central roast as a roaster. I had done a charity roast for a producer in LA named Steve Tisch. Tom Arnold was there, Pete Berg, a bunch of athletes. It was taped and Comedy Central saw it so I'm sure that played a big part in me getting a spot as a roaster."
How did you go about writing your roast jokes? What kind of tone were you going for? Were you trying to balance out the barbs among everyone on the dais? Did you write them all yourself? (I know some stand-ups who help write for others) "When I was a writer on the roast in previous years, we would start about two weeks out, but sometimes the best jokes are written the day of or the day before. The roasters are always dropping out and being added. For example two weeks prior we had Lily Tomlin, then it was Suzanne Somers, then Tom Arnold was added two days before this year. So you overwrite a ton. Last year Artie Lange dropped out the morning and Garlin was added, etc. So you're writing until the last minute. it's just crazy because when you're in roast writing mode, jokes hit you all the time. You'll be walking by Subway and you'll be like "Tom Arnold is like a Meatball Sandwich...blah blah blah joke" or I'll wake up in the middle of the night and be scribbling in a notebook and the next day I'll be trying to make it out and its just like, the words "balls" and "obama." And you're like "what was the balls obama joke?" Any L.A. comic can tell you that a week leading up to the roast I was running around to clubs and trying jokes out onstage. Everyone who ran rooms were supportive, letting me pop up in the middle of shows. When I'd come off stage comics were so supportive and throwing out tags. So, I would say I got a lot of help and support in that regard. Even comics saying "that's going to kill" is really helpful. If a comedian thinks it's funny, it's probably funny."
Today we have multiple tidings of joy to relay your way...
HBO has heard us and listened, granting us with a second season of Eastbound & Down. What will Kenny Powers do next? We'll find out in 2010.
Comedy Central has announced that it's next roast "victim" will be Joan Rivers, taping in Los Angeles on July 26, and airing on Aug. 9, 2009.
Comedy Central also has announced a deal with Levity Entertainment to release 12 stand-up specials over the next two years. The deal includes orders for Christopher Titus, Gabriel Iglesias, Pablo Francisco, Jim Breuer, Mitch Fatel, Pete Correale airing this year, and six more to shoot this year and air in 2010, including ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. It's all business. Longtime Levity client Dunham recorded the highest ratings ever for Comedy Central with last year's "Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special." A couple of weeks ago, the network inked Dunham individually to a deal that included not just another special and DVD, but also consumer products (his fans love to buy his puppets) and a new series(?). All of this also means the network is moving ahead with Levity on a fourth season of Live at Gotham, the showcase for up-and-coming stand-ups (also read as comedians who have yet to appear on Comedy Central in a half-hour or hour). Casting is happening now for the new Gotham lineups.
And Netflix announced it has lined up the first nine seasons of South Park for immediate streaming by its subscribers. Which sounded great until I remembered that you can watch any past episode of South Park already via the show's South Park Studios site.