If you think it's tough being a comedian, then try being an agent for a comic actor who only seems to cause trouble. You know, like Charlie Sheen? Well he's nothing compared to being Mel Gibson's agent, as Livia Scott imagines herself in that situation, playing the role of agent Jessica Warner in this online mockumentary, "Adventures in Babysitting Mel Gibson."
Episode 1 is online for your viewing pleasure. Roll it!
From the mind of Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, and her friends, comes this parody of America's first and only six-hour morning "news" show, Wake Up World. They had been doing this as a live show regularly in NYC since 2007 under the umbrella title of Shoot The Messenger. As a television pilot, however, we go behind-the-scenes of the fictional news network, with hosts Hope Jean Paul (Winstead) and Davis Miles (Baron Vaughn), and featuring, among others: Livia Scott, Sean Crespo, Carol Hartsell and Jeff Kreisler. Welcome to America's worst news network. No, it's not the one you're thinking of. This one is fictional. Maybe. Roll the clips (in four parts)!
If I were to tell you that an upcoming episode of Law & Order (any edition) would feature a comedian in a bit part, then you would say, sure, why not. It has happened before plenty of times. In fact, enough times that the second annual Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival has a themed show called The Comedians of Law & Order, happening Saturday at the Bell House in Brooklyn.
Now in it's what got to be a whopper of a coincidence, the original Law & Order just wrapped its fourth episode of the upcoming 20th season, and that episode, called "Reality Bites" and tentatively slated to air Oct. 16, features five -- count 'em, FIVE -- comedians: Jim Gaffigan, Michael Showalter, Livia Scott, Baron Vaughn and Cole Escola. And there's nothing funny about the episode.
As Vaughn relayed to me -- no spoilers, promise! -- the plot revolves around a family of special-needs kids who were going to be portrayed in a reality TV show. "It's the opposite of funny," he said. "Just tragic."
Vaughn has two lines as a medical examiner. Scott plays the foreperson on the jury, and said being in the custom-built L&O courtroom was something else. "It's so impressive," she told me. She's also thrilled to become part of the L&O fabric. Showalter plays the reality-TV producer, so obviously, he gets to have some villainous lines, even if he may or may not be a villain. But we know in our hearts he's a hero, because he provided us with these lovely photos from the set via Twitter (@mshowalter)! Escola (Logo's new Jeffery and Cole Casserole) plays an autistic son of Gaffigan's character, and Escola wrote on his blog, "I have dialogue and a couple of scenes and that's all I should say because I don't want to give away any of the plot. I'm all wet 'n' sticky with excitement!!"
For Gaffigan, this Law & Order stuff must be old hat, right? He has been on regular L&O, SVU and Criminal Intent. He told me that walking onto the set and seeing so many familiar faces from comedy was a treat, but it wasn't intentional by any means. "We all got the jobs. It wasn't like, wouldn't it be cool if we had five comedians in one Law & Order episode," he said.
How did this episode differ from your past L&Os? "I play a guy who is somehow associated with possibly being a participant in a reality show," he said. "Considering that one of those (previous) times, I played a pedophile clown, and one time I played a plumber with an incredibly Greek name. And then the other ones I play a character where I was just the dim-witted guy...for New York actors, it's just so exciting to do that show, because it's been a staple for so long. It's also fun to do."
"When you're guest-starring on Law & Order, you get to play someone who, very close to you someone has just died, and then they say, 'Do that scene.' Or you've been accused of murdering someone. 'Do that.'" You'll have to tune in Oct. 16 to see if Gaffigan did either of those things.
This weekend marks the fourth annual SketchfestNYC. Plenty of videos and interviews on the festival's online home page this week to get you excited about the shows, happening June 12-14 at the UCB Theatre. Tickets: $10 show/$40 night/$100 full pass. Here's a video to pump you up...thanks Dirty Jean & Thunderchief!
The full SketchfestNYC schedule:
Saturday, June 14
2:30pm: The Onion News Network Panel Discussion
4pm: The Sound of Young America Live
6pm: Team Submarine + Hey You Millionaires
7pm: Becky & Noelle + Blitzkrieg
8pm: Summer of Tears
9pm: Elephant Larry
12am: Closing Night Craptacular
Anya Garrett shot and edited this offstage look at Livia Scott's one-woman show, Goodnight, OJ, adapted from actual letters people wrote to OJ Simpson while he was in jail awaiting prosecution for double homicide in 1994. Scott's stage show returns to the UCB Theatre tonight at 9:30 p.m. (also May 7).
After the jump, an earlier onstage video version of the same letter adapted above, from a 2007 performance at the PIT.
As a journalist, reaching the final page of the notebook always prompts mixed emotions. First, excitement at the prospect of starting anew with a clean, fresh pad of paper. Then, a touch of sadness, because you've held this pad literally close to the vest for months, and inside it are memories, written down and kept with you, but nevermore. And you know that even though you keep your notes around for years to come, the odds remind you that you'll likely not open this pad again, leaving it with the other memories of shows and interviews and news gone by. Was there something you'd written that shouldn't be left behind, you wonder? If you're lucky to remember, you flip back through the pages looking for important phone numbers, names and notes to self that actually became notes to self.
I found a few shows I'd seen that made my notepad but hadn't been shared yet. So let's get to it.
Goodnight, OJ: This one-woman show by Livia Scott (directed by Baron Vaughn) has its final performance tonight (Jan. 30) at the UCB Theatre in NYC. In it, Scott re-examines and performs actual letters written to OJ Simpson when he was in jail back in 1994 charged with double murder. I saw this show Nov. 29, 2007, when Simpson had just come back into the news -- and jail -- for his Vegas shenanigans. Scott and Vaughn made a conscious decision to include not only letters of dark humor but also darkly depressing notes. Wasn't expecting that. Scott told me they've shuffled the order of the letters from show to show, and believes the Simpson trial was one of the last things (9/11 notwithstanding) that brought everyone together to watch in shock and awe. I found the Colette letters as well as the notes from children to be quite funny and touching. Still not sure about including some of the darker stuff (one letter is addressed, "Hey, Sambo"), but I suppose that's what makes this more of a theatrical piece than a straight comedy.
We Kate Shelly: Sketch comedy from Kate Hess and Shelly Stover. Stover has such an expressive face and uses it to great effect. The duo has a big musical number finale. At the show I saw, their impact was lessened a bit because, without microphones, some of their scenes were more difficult to follow. They're at the UCB in NYC on Jan. 31, Feb. 4, and Feb. 18.
The Collective: There is a management firm known as The Collective. This is a diferent collective of New York City actors and comedians, and they invited me to see a comedy show they held after a play at Centerstage on West 21st Street. Fourth-floor venue. Very theatrical crowd, obviously most watched the company's play and stayed afterward, and quite welcoming to all the comedians. Amy Schumer hosted, talking to the audience as if she were friends with all of them (which heck, she may have been!). Comedians on the lineup included Mike DeStefano, Jackie Monahan, Demetri Martin, Mara Herron, Maggie Champagne and Jesse Joyce. Schumer told me later that night that they hope to produce more plays and comedy shows, just looking for the right venue.
Ritalin Readings: The Slipper Room had the feeling of a cozy living room before December's showcase of writers and comedians reading, with hosts Lindsay Robertson and Gabriel Delahaye. Delahaye opened with a bang by reading from "The Y2K Personal Survival Guide," with the helpful tips such as stocking up on two-liter soft drink bottles. Didn't hear much from Robertson but hope to next time. The show did throw me for a bit of a loop, though, when the first two performers didn't read at all. Sean O'Connor did stand-up. Elna Baker presented a story she was rehearsing for radio's This American Life about working in toy demonstration at FAO Schwartz. Both funny, but wasn't this about reading? Lang Fisher did have a letter she'd written to a potential employer in becoming an assistant farmer, while Will Leitch read from his upcoming book (now out) based on his Deadspin experiences, and show producer Jon Friedman shared an email he sent to all of his coworkers on his last day as an NBC intern. Patrick Borelli closed the show with crazy, true and quick stories.
I think that gets us almost caught up.
Today is the final day for open voting for the ECNY Awards, which used to stand for Emerging Comics of New York, but now just is ECNY to honor other kinds of comedians, sort of how KFC decided it was much more than merely Kentucky Fried. The awards ceremony is Jan. 28 at Comix. And the show promises to be a hoot. Jon Friedman hosts. Look for live performances and pre-taped magic, and for a sneak peek, I caught up with ECNY's producers as they got some of the nominees on camera. So I got them getting them on camera. Here's a fun snippet with The Apple Sisters...
Who will be getting your votes? Perhaps more importantly, who'll get my votes? I'm on the "Industry Committee," which means not only do I get until Jan. 20 to place my votes, but also that the Industry Committee's votes count for half of the total -- perhaps they got that concept from Dancing With The Stars, in which the judges get 50% of the say, the audience the other 50% through call-in votes. Since I still have some time before I fill out my ballot, perhaps you can help make the case for your favorites or get me to take a second look at someone I may have overlooked.
As it stands, my thoughts are...