Continuing today's theme of ladies who are comedians and underwear, here's a short video featuring Amy Schumer, Rachel Feinstein, Nikki Glaser and Marina Franklin in nighties. Why? I'm guessing it's because they filmed a stand-up comedy special together. But if you want to guess it's because this is what ladies who are comedians do for fun together, then that's on you.
Roll the clip!
Perhaps you have seen the incessant NBC promotions for The Jay Leno Show, promising unprecedented comedy in the 10 o'clock hour for American TV viewers? (If you have a TV, then of course you have, and I wonder if the people in the Central and Mountain time zones get their own ads that say 9 p.m., or if they're just confused? That last part may be rhetorical) Leno has done a lot of press to promote it this summer, from the official TCA "tour," to traveling to various NBC affiliates for promos and interviews, to a conference call earlier this week. We've gotten the message. And the conventional wisdom has been NBC is willing to bet on five hours of comedy as a cheaper option without the promise of big ratings. But. Wait. Just. One. Second.
Five hours of comedy. Much of it stand-up, or taped segments produced and starring stand-up comedians. In primetime! This is a much bigger deal. Jerry Seinfeld, tapped to be Leno's first guest on Monday's debut, has been taking it seriously enough that he has rehearsed his stand-up material several times this week in New York City comedy clubs.
After all, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late 1960s only aired once a week. So was Sid Caesar's Caesar's Hour; Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In; The Milton Berle Show; even The Jack Paar Program that some have compared Leno's move most closely to, only aired one night a week. Which means Leno will need to fill a lot of airtime, and he has enlisted a cadre of comedians to help him do so. NBC so far has announced that Leno will be airing contributions from D.L. Hughley, Jim Norton, Rachael Harris, Mikey Day, Dan Finnerty and the Dan Band, Liz Feldman, Brian Unger, Nick Thune, Owen Benjamin, Marina Franklin, Sebastian Maniscalco and former Leno intern Ross Matthews. UPDATED: Also Dwayne Perkins, who wasn't listed on the NBC press release, but was showing up on the TV ads for Leno during Thursday night's NFL coverage. And here is video of Time magazine photographing Leno on the new set.
In some interviews, Leno has said he's not looking to do what The Daily Show does, (except for the fact that he'll have NBC's own news anchor, Brian Williams presenting funny news) which is true only in that he already had been sending out comedians into the world to file their own takes on the news -- as this NBC clip package shows:
From what I have learned talking to the comedians who are participating on the show, as well as looking at what these people were bringing to the table already, I think I'm safe in telling you what we can expect from the part of Leno's hour that does not include celebrity car races, Headlines, Jaywalking or Jay's monologue.
Some stand-up comedy specials try to overwhelm you with flashing spotlights, raucous applause and laughter in cutaway crowd shots, and rapid-fire editing. OR, you could go ahead and showcase some unique comedians and let the material and stage presence speak for itself. In The Awkward Kings of Comedy, director/executive producer Victor Varnado puts the camera directly on his performers -- Baron Vaughn, Eric Andre, Hannibal Buress, host Marina Franklin, and himself -- and gives them the 15-minute showcase sets they deserve to share with the world. Certainly, there are hip-hop beats (provided by King Supernuts the Second), animated sequences for each performer, as well as an opening animation with voiceover narration that suggests two warring African tribes stumbled upon the first "Yo Momma" jokes.
This film isn't about the leaders of the pack, as this intro itself reveals, but rather, about the awkward kid in the glasses standing near the leader, who someday would become "funny...and a little bit weird."
The title also, of course, references back to Spike Lee's 2000 stand-up concert documentary, The Original Kings of Comedy. Varnado's film is an "alternative" nerd response to this, demonstrating that black comedians do not have to do stereotypical black comedy. Whatever that means. During one conversational interlude in the documentary, the comedians discuss the differences between a "predominantly black" crowd and a "predominantly urban" one, and you'll see by watching these performances that they would kill just fine in the former room, but they'd have to work hard for their laughs in the latter. Franklin even acknowledges the difficulties once trying to win over the audience at Showtime's At the Apollo.
Here, though, over the course of two shows taped at 45 Bleecker, the comedians can be themselves and allow an audience to see a "super articulate" man who likes to sing (Vaughn), a multicultural tornado of a comedian (Andre), a laidback guy with punchlines that will floor you (Buress), a black albino with the superpower to make you laugh (Varnado) and a woman who was both the blackest girl in a white neighborhood and the whitest girl in a black neighborhood (Franklin). It's all quite enjoyable, and the kind of special that Comedy Central, HBO and anyone else looking to showcase stand-up comedy should be broadcasting and producing more often.
The Awkward Kings of Comedy has its world premiere screening May 30 at the 92Y Tribeca in NYC, with a post-screening Q&A with Varnado.
You can now enjoy watching the trailer for the documentary film, The Awkward Kings of Comedy, featuring Victor Varnado, Eric Andre, Baron Vaughn, Hannibal Buress and Marina Franklin. "Comedy plus blackness, to the nerd power." You're welcome.
UPDATED: Now with the actual trailer embedded after the jump.
The Original Kings of Comedy tour and Spike Lee documentary film helped spur a new wave of business for stand-up comedy and comedy films, including "Blue Collar," Latin and female versions, as well as the Comedians of Comedy. But what about the black nerd alternative comics? Yeah. What about...wait. What? That's the basis for the upcoming Awkward Kings of Comedy special, conceived by comedian/actor/don't-forget-black-albino Victor Varnado, and including Baron Vaughn, Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress.
As the film's site says: "These are nerds who don't need any revenge, just a mic and an audience who cares about smart comedy from a personal perspective. All together, the Awkward Kings will show the world doofy jokesters are to be laughed at on their own terms." In addition to live performance footage -- to be shot Sept. 23 at the Bleecker Street Theater (45 Bleecker St., New York, NY) -- there will be offstage profiles and interviews with each of the comics, conducted by stand-up Marina Franklin. Tickets to the Sept. 23 show are free, but you have to make a reservation in advance by calling 800-521-4205 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and letting them know how many tickets (limit: 4) and for which show (6 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) along with a number and email where you can be reached.
You didn't think I sat through more than 50 hours of stand-up comedy last week and forgot to get some video of it, did you? So here's a scattered selection of footage from the world record comedy show last week at Comic Strip Live. But first, let's reflect on what happened, and consult an expert on world records and champions who also happened to close the show, 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander!
After the jump, four other videos showing what a comedy club looks like on the inside at 7:30 a.m., the silliness of comedians Rory Albanese and Mike Birbiglia as they attempt to redo a funny riff, my own self-analysis after 27 hours of comedy (and 38 hours awake!), and the official recognition from the Guinness World Records people on Thursday night...
Within the past 15 minutes, seemingly half of the capacity crowd has made their moves for the exits, following Jeffrey Ross toward the door at the end of his 50-minute set. I happen to be in the lobby when this happens, having filmed a short improvised riff with Rory Albanese and Mike Birbiglia, followed by a two-camera interview with Marina Franklin. Franklin performed three sets here today, one in the early morning, another in the afternoon, then finally a sweet set in the 9 o'clock evening hour. But Franklin wanted to get me on camera to capture how I look and act after staying awake for the past 38 hours. I'm punch drunk on a combination of Red Bull, adrenaline and willpower. Sitting here at the computer is a lot easier to handle than walking and talking, it seems. No. It doesn't seem. It is that way. Is it Thursday yet? Almost. Almost.