Here's something for fans of Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared to freak out and geek out about while they're waiting for the reunion panel in March at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills.
For the next three weeks, Paul Feig and Judd Apatow will appear on IFC for exclusive sit-down interviews with Comedy Death-Ray's Scott Aukerman during the cable network's Monday-Wednesday comedy block from 10-11:30 p.m.. IFC airs rebroadcasts of both Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.
Feig and Apatow will chat with Aukerman individually and together as follows:
Jan. 31-Feb. 1: Feig and Apatow, Feb. 2: Apatow
Feb. 7: Feig, Feb. 8: Feig and Apatow, Feb. 9: Apatow
Feb. 14: Feig, Feb. 15: Feig and Apatow, Feb. 16: Apatow
The interviews appear in minute-long interstitials throughout the night. Extended portions not seen on TV will appear later online at IFC's Comedy Death-Ray site. Like this one!
Slightly related: If you're in Austin, Texas, in March for SXSW, you'll be able to check out IFC and Comedy Death-Ray together in a live comedy showcase at the IFC Crossroads House. So mark your calendar accordingly, people of SXSW.
Pee-wee Herman (aka Paul Reubens) announced last night that Judd Apatow would be producing his first new movie in decades, with comedian/actor Paul Rust (a UCB mainstay who in some ways embodies a younger next-generation version of Pee-wee) on board to co-write the screenplay with Reubens. No director is attached yet.
Reubens made a big comeback over the winter with a restaging of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" in Los Angeles -- a Broadway run is set to start in October -- and he'll also be bringing Pee-Wee to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, in August for what's billed as the "world's largest 'Tequila' dance."
Reubens told the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff in an interview today that Apatow wants him and Rust to write a movie that puts Pee-wee in "a reality-based world and a liner road movie," much like his first "Big Adventure" film in 1985. “That appears to be what we’re doing,” Mr. Reubens said, “although it’s at such an early stage right now that there still exists the possibility that this could turn into the ‘Playhouse’ movie. I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.”
Funny or Die hosted a live chatty session with one of its masterminds, Judd Apatow, last week. Did you take part in it? Did you get Apatow to read your question out loud? Hooray. Even if you didn't, or if you just want to relive it all again, but this time in under five minutes, then you, my friend, are in luck. Because FoD just produced an edited version of Apatow's chat session. Among the highlights, yes, of course you'll get the soft sell on the Funny People DVD release, but also you'll learn: Is Bill Hader working on a horror movie with Apatow? Will Aziz Ansari star in a Funny People spin-off focusing on his alter-ego stand-up character, Raaaaaaaandy? SPOILER ALERT! Click and find out.
Did you see Judd Apatow last night on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien? If so, then good, because maybe then you won't have a silly question to ask him if you take part in his "live interactive interview" with you and everyone else over the Internets on Wednesday afternoon. It's all happening courtesy of Funny or Die (Apatow is a co-conspirator for the site). You can submit your own questions in advance for Apatow via this Facebook page. Apatow himself will appear on your screens at 3:30 p.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. Pacific) Wednesday, Nov. 18. And if you need brushing up on your Apatow with Conan, roll on over this clip and get your brain a-storming:
In an almost last-minute decision, strings were pulled, favors were called in, nouns were verbed, and I found my passport, which means it's time to head across the border for the 2009 Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Sure, talk to any member of the show business industry who has been around since Just For Laughs first took over this French-speaking Canadian city more than a quarter-century ago, and they'll be quick to tell you that the festival isn't what it once was. It's bigger, and yet not so big that comedians can return to the States with their dreams and pockets filled with six-figure development deals from the TV networks. No, times are different. We have the Internets now!
As I get ready to make the journey north once more, here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to seeing, following and preparing for over the next four days and nights.
1. Learning what the heck Zoofest is, once and for all. It's not part of Just For Laughs, but then again, it is. It's just the edgier shows? The shows with animals? I really don't know.
2. Seeing the industry hype machine in full effect, in both its most artificial and organic ways. Last year, I saw firsthand as NYC-based stand-up Sean Patton emerged from the "New Faces" showcase specifically because to the industry, he was a new face that they hadn't seen or heard from before, and they liked what they saw and heard. I've also read some silly things in the trades about certain comedians each year who got "buzz" and, having seen those comics, firmly believe that the trades sometimes get hoodwinked by the "buzz" comedians and their managers and agents who manufacture said buzz.
3. Speaking of which, that "buzz" machine also serves as a sad reminder of Michael Roof, aka "Chicken," the comedian who became infamous for scoring the last big TV development deal out of Montreal (the WB built a sketch show around him), only to find his career and life unravel. He took his own life last month.
4. What is Broken Lizard up to now? The sketch group made a big splash with their first independent film at Sundance, and followed up Super Troopers with a few more films, including Club Dread and Beerfest. They'll be performing new live sketches, taking questions and showing off their new movie, The Slammin' Salmon.
If the initial trailers for Funny People, the third film written and directed by Judd Apatow, looked a little bit too melodramatic to be a comedy, then, well, that's because it is just that. As Apatow explains in the hourlong documentary, Inside Funny People (which debuted at midnight on Comedy Central, with repeats planned for noon Tuesday and 3 a.m. Thursday): “It's hard to make a comedy that’s really more a drama than a comedy. I don’t know if I can do it.” But do it he did.
The wealth of background material on the "funny people" who inhabit the film already has proven to be quite remarkable in promoting the movie and showing that it is about comedians. Apatow's documentary featurettes also reveal just how much of himself he poured into the film, as well as how much of a comedy nerd he was and still is. Case in point: Apatow says the following early in his Comedy Central documentary about the need to get all of his actors back onstage in comedy clubs...
“There’s a feeling you get when you do stand-up, that you just need to experience to know what it’s about. It’s the terror of revealing yourself, and the feeling that if I don’t get a laugh this time, I must get it next time or I will not be able to sleep at night.”
In the special (sure to be on the DVD, which at this point may have to be a box set!), Apatow shows us how he incorporated video he shot of Sandler back when the two shared an apartment in Los Angeles right after both had left college, and used it as a plot device in the film (with Sandler's character making actual prank phone calls, just as he had as a 21-year-old). It's a meta move, but seeing it documented on film is also very endearing. Apatow also shows clips of Sandler performing at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif., 18 years ago, and then again last year as Sandler shook off the stand-up rust to get into character. You see clips of both Sandler and Apatow on A&E's at the Improv with Budd Friedman, then also Sandler at a lunch roundtable in the Improv last year with Friedman, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Carol Leifer, Monty Hoffman and Mark Schiff (comics Apatow said he and Sandler looked up to when they were trying to get stage time). There's footage of Seth Rogen performing stand-up at the tender age of 13 (different from the clip of 13-year-old Seth Rogen I posted back in April), as well as joke-writing sessions that included help from Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn and Allen Covert, and footage from several of the stand-up performances -- much of which I'm sure will also pop up in a separate Comedy Central special this Friday, Funny People: Live.
Performing jokes for strangers is a feat in itself. Doing it after a long time away from it, combined with the massive expectations that audiences normally heap upon their stars, can even keep some greats from making a so-called "comeback" to his or her roots. (Remind me sometime to share my thoughts on Eddie Murphy's absence from the stage and his brother, Charlie Murphy, who has filled that stand-up void in recent years) Anyhow.
In this clip, we not only get to see Sandler return to stand-up stages and comedy clubs to rehearse his routines for Funny People (they're self-aware enough to focus in on the fact that Sandler was so rusty he hit himself in the lip with the microphone trying to work the mic stand!), but we also get to see footage of him performing in his basement as a 15-year-old. Great stuff!Funny People - Featurette - Adam Sandler Returns to Stand Up
You already knew that Funny People would become the most depressing movie ever made about stand-up comedians since Punchline, and perhaps even more so!Would you like to know how it feels to visit the movie set, then? Of course you would. Thanks, Moviefone.
Society often tells us that women love a sense of humor in a man, and yet to hear many stand-up comedians onstage, all we ever hear about is how that's not exactly so in real-life. Rock stars, models, actors, directors, producers, even the key grip and just about anyone else with money beats out the comic, it would seem. And yet. Sometimes it is true: The comedian can get the girl! Christina Ricci's reps confirmed yesterday that she had gotten engaged to stand-up comic Owen Benjamin (who himself will be seen this week online in a new CBS online comedy, Heckle U). Congrats to them both!
As Owen Benjamin announced on Facebook overnight: Thanks for all the best wishes everyone. our goal is to one day have normal sized children. 6'7 plus 5'0 = normal kids. psyched
The couple met on the set of their upcoming romantic comedy, All's Faire in Love.
But Benjamin's not the only comedian to land a famous actress as a real-life love interest. Check out these other couples...
I would tell you what to expect in Judd Apatow's summer 2009 dramedy, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Jonah Hill as stand-up comedians, but from the looks of this trailer released today, Apatow's crew did done gone and done it themselves. So if you want the whole plot explained in 210 seconds, here it is! (Not pictured: Aziz Ansari) The movie hits the big screens on July 31, 2009.
Any great documentary leaves you feeling a greater knowledge and fulfillment about the subject matter, and wanting to further share your newfound knowledge with even more people. Any good documentary gives you insight into a subject and leaves you wanting more. Judging from the first two hours of the six-hour PBS treatment from WNET, Make 'Em Laugh, which debuts tonight (and I just finished watching via screener), you'll get a good, almost-great examination of the past century of comedy performances.
Billy Crystal opens the series with a NSFW Civil War joke, letting audiences know that this is not going to be that kind of PBS documentary project. Crystal nominally hosts each hour with a comedy segment introducing that hour's topic, while Amy Sedaris provides voiceover narration. Another common thematic device for the narrative -- arrange comedians by an archetype, open with the most contemporary and popular example, then flashback a century and work your way chronologically back to the future, so to speak. "Hopefully, it's not hamfisted," Michael Kantor said at a preview panel at the 92Y last month. Kantor, the series producer, director and writer, said there's some rare footage of Woody Allen, and some early Paul Lynde that we'll get to see. "By and large, we tried to air footage that you couldn't find at the rental store," Kantor said. Rental store? Who goes to those anymore? Anyhow. This doc is must viewing for comedy fans to know that their generation wasn't the first or the funniest to get a joke. "I think Americans need to be reminded of our own history sometimes," Kantor said. That's as true about comedy, it turns out, as it is about politics.
The first hour, "Nerds, Jerks and Oddballs," examines the role of outsiders in comedy. So we start with the man who everyone in Hollywood was bowing to in the past year, Judd Apatow, who tells us: "I'm just trying to reflect the attitudes of me and my friends." To those who criticize Apatow for bringing immaturity to the forefront, he reminds us: "Really, there's no comedy that isn't about immaturity."
Just after we had to say goodbye to Super Deluxe, fellow online purveyor of comedy videos Funny or Die announced it had raised $3 million from, as Reuters reported late Monday, "a single, undisclosed investor" (plus an additional $3 million for "in-kind contributions for marketing, publicity and promotional support for programing," according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). Is this money part of HBO's 10 percent stake in the company, as Reuters suggests, or is this a situation reminiscent of political campaigns, in which the candidate taps into his or her own personal pocketbook to fund the operation (does Will Ferrell have $3 million to keep his side project going? or perhaps their partner Judd Apatow could spare a dime?). Either way, Happy Holidays, Funny or Die! And if you're in a giving mood, "single, undisclosed investor," The Comic's Comic gladly would accept even one percent of that investment as a charitable contribution that you can write off on your 2008 taxes. Just a thought.
Various sources are getting their hands on what appears to be the script for Judd Apatow's upcoming film about stand-up comedy, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, among many others. Here's an odd find from said sources: Apparently, Apatow has written in a cameo for Bruce Springsteen to be a fantasy mentor to Sandler's comedian character (The Playlist, via NY Mag's Vulture). And yet, Springsteen already has fulfilled this mission in a film that centered around music, or have we forgotten High Fidelity? I know Jack Black never will...
My friends at Gawker today created a graphic to explain the inner comedy circle of Judd Apatow, who seems to have a hand in almost every major comedy movie production in the past two years. Gawker presents Apatown:
Where would The Comic's Comic be in Montreal without an interview with one of the comic's comics, Andy Kindler? A meeting of the minds was in order after Kindler delivered his annual State of the Industry address on Friday afternoon at the Just For Laughs fest, which this year moved downstairs to the Grand Salon and even with the larger space, still saw an even larger audience that overflowed into the foyer. What does it say about the state of the comedy industry that Kindler more than packed the room, while Judd Apatow, awarded "Comedy Person of the Year" afterward, got his honors to an audience half that size? So I asked Kindler about that. Hilarity ensues.
"I think this speech peaked five years ago," Kindler said.
Here are some other choice nuggets from this year's speech, which tackled familiar targets Jay Leno and Scrubs, but also the Writers Guild strike, the possible SAG strike, the Golden Globes, Cavemen and Carpoolers, Evan Almighty, Vegas shows, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, George Lucas, and the industry itself, starting off by mocking the new Just Comedy confab.
"Who got to take a decision-maker to lunch? And what did they decide on, the chicken or the salmon?"
"When the writers went on strike and Jay Leno went off the air, I thought, that's a good start. Can't we just declare victory and move on?"
On the Independent Spirit Awards, "a chance for the small guy," you know, Paramount Vantage and Fox Searchlight.
On Scrubs: "That's a show that really should have a laugh track..Is it a comment on comedy? Please, tell me!"
On the shortened Golden Globes: "I still feel it went a little long."
His pitch for Cavemen: "Watch the Cavemen...it's pre-hysterical!"
On how no one seems to put sitcoms on TV any more. "CBS. Wow. A second night of comedy. Don't you people go dark Tuesdays to Sundays now?"
"Did you know you can't contact anyone at 3 Arts directly, even when you're on the phone with 3 Arts...directly?"
Whoopi Goldberg defended Robin Williams and joke theft on The View. "You'd think he'd do something with it if he took it!"
On networks looking for younger viewers. "I heard the History Channel wants to go younger." And later: "This isn't your father's Game Show Network! Actually, it is my father's Game Show Network."
This year, Montreal's Just For Laughs festival has expanded to include a two-day Just Comedy industry confab to discuss the state of comedy and network and do all of those things that someone interested in taking their comedy career to the next step should be doing.
Over the next two days (July 17-18), there will be keynote addresses, panels, workshops, pitch meetings, the customary Andy Kindler State of the Industry speech, celebrity discussions and a special fete for Judd Apatow, since the mainstream median and the comedy business clearly have anointed him as the guy who knows how to sell big-screen movies to the masses these days. Which makes it that much more worth noting, or, rather, looking back on the year so far in movies showcasing comedians. By the numbers. Because that's how these industry types roll the dice, so to speak. The figures come courtesy of Box Office Mojo.
The highest-grossing live-action comedy film of 2008 so far is...did you guess it yet? Get Smart. Oh, you probably missed it by that much, didn't you? $112.6 million and still counting. Steve Carell, take a bow. Though it's only the 11th most popular movie at the box office this year overall, and we still have some big flicks on the way.
Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With The Zohan didn't exactly make Hollywood yearn for more Israeli spy hairdressing heroes, although his movie has earned $97 million.
Apatow had a hand in the next comedy on our list, with a producer credit on Forgetting Sarah Marshall (breakout supporting star Russell Brand is here in Montreal), and with just under $63 million, that's good enough to put it a slot above Baby Mama, ($60 million) the movie that would prove that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler can make and sell a female buddy comedy.
Martin Lawrence? Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins earned $42 million, but that looks like a lot of money to Will Ferrell and Mike Myers, who saw their big promotional efforts in Semi-Pro ($33 million) and The Love Guru ($31 million), respectively, go for naught. Myers even took his Guru to the #1 TV show in America, American Idol, and still couldn't get anyone to pay to see his epic fail of a film. Myers would wish that his stinker had taken a cue from the much more relatively successful film, What Happens in Vegas, which earned $79 million despite horrid reviews and Ashton Kutcher in the lead role. As for Ferrell, hopefully all of those recycled TV ads he did during the NBA playoffs helped move some DVDs, at least. And certainly it means everyone is wondering how his upcoming comedy, Step Brothers, with John C. Reilly will fare next weekend...funny? Or die? In between those two disappointments was Drillbit Taylor, Apatow's other early 2008 comedy ($32.8 millon) that had the misfortune of marketing Owen Wilson to an audience that knew he wasn't exactly spreading good cheer at the time.
Do we count Run Fat Boy Run? Best not to.
But we do have to acknowledge that $5 million is not a good opening weekend for an Eddie Murphy multiple-role comedy in Meet Dave. It's not a complete failure, as some reviewers have suggested it as good family fare. So chalk it up to, what then? Bad timing? A ill-conceived pitch? Either way, it still already ranks as a more popular film than Murphy's epic epic fail, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, which only earned $4.4 million in its here-and-gone release in 2002.
And Larry the Cable Guy better stick to animated films for the time being. His Witless Protection earned $4.1 million and sent anyone who saw the movie into, well, witless protection. It couldn't scrape up half the money that his woeful Delta Farce earned, which in turn was only half the movie at the box office that Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector was.
While Ferrell and Adam McKay also get lauded along with their Funny or Die cohort Apatow, it would appear that their golden touch could not help The Foot Fist Way. They pushed it into theaters and promoted it heavily via appearances on Conan and Funny or Die (and even MySpace messages from Patton Oswalt). All of that has helped bring it $227,458 in box-office receipts.
So, industry, what did we learn from all of this? Anything? Nothing? Maybe I'll be able to tell you more in two days.
The folks at Just For Laughs announced part of its 2008 slate for Montreal yesterday (proving once again, that a blogger cannot take a day off!)...
This year, Montreal introduces its first "industry conference" -- Just Comedy -- with Ivan and Jason Reitman talking father-son comedy shop on July 17, and Judd Apatow getting honored as "comedy person of the year" (year unspecified) on July 18.
The Galas (the biggest shows in size and scope) include hosts Craig Ferguson (July 18), Jimmy Fallon (July 19) and an "all-star" gala with Ron White, Paula Poundstone and Larry Miller (July 20).
Special events listed include: Stiles & Proops: Unplanned (July 15) featuring, well, whatever Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops feel like doing that night; South Park Live (July 16) with Matt Stone and Trey Parker; Omid Djalili (July 17); and Apatow For Destruction (July 18) featuring the aforementioned Apatow with cohorts Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, Russell Brand and others.
Club shows, which often get grouped into themes, include The Nasty Show with hosts Nick DiPaolo and Patrice Oneal; The Ethnic Heroes of Comedy hosted by Frank Spadone with Steve Byrne, Gabriel Iglesias, Maz Jobrani and others; AMP'd, the Music Comedy Show with host Craig Robinson; Laugh-rodisiacs, the Relationship Show hosted by Greg Behrendt; the midnight Alternative Comedy Show hosted once again by Andy Kindler; the Best of the Uptown Comics which in Canadian means "urban" which means "black," hosted by Bruce Bruce with JB Smoove, Craig Robinson and others.
Tom Papa gets promoted from New Faces host in 2007 to the "Richard Jeni One-Person Show Series" with his show, "Only Human" (July 14-20).
Of course, the real treats for fans and the industry come in the New Faces showcases (to be hosted by Greg Giraldo and Dana Gould), and we won't know who makes it to Montreal until this weekend's final New York City auditions: May 1 at Comic Strip Live, May 2 at Stand-Up NY and May 3 at Broadway Comedy Club.
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."