If you watched the series debut last night of TV Land's Harry Loves Lisa -- and why would you have, really? Really. This show is merely the latest in a continuing trend of celebrities letting TV crews into their homes and lives, all in the hopes of rejuvenating their celebrity. Which normally takes hold in something like another reality competition, a celebrity tabloid correspondent gig, or even actual roles in which the actors act. Except in this case, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna already have cashed in their reality competition cards, both having been there and done that on Dancing with the Stars.
So we are left with other plot contrivances in Harry Loves Lisa, and the first one cuts close to the comedy bone, as Harry Hamlin's acting coach and manager sign him up for a Friday-night slot at the Hollywood Improv. Hamlin had never attempted stand-up before. Note to aspiring comedians: You cannot just have someone call up the Improv and get you on the 8:30 p.m. Friday show. But if you were People mag's "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1987, you just may be in luck!
OK. Here's what else we learned in the episode.
1) Hamlin's wife and supposed managers remind him constantly of his bad acting audition, reinforcing the notion that he "freaks everyone out" with his line readings. This was, for all intents and purposes, the plot point by which the suggestion came forth for him to let loose and try to be fun for a change.
2) Hamlin is poker buddies with Robert Wuhl. Wuhl tells him he will bomb: "This will be the longest four minutes of your life."
3) Hamlin only knows dirty jokes. Bad, hack, dirty jokes. Hamlin's manager called up Earthquake to swing by the home and listen to Hamlin crack about "super maximus" condoms and the difficulty of having sex on a waterbed. Earthquake suggested he joke about the difficulty of being married, but Hamlin said he's happily married. Earthquake said "you'll have to take that ass-whipping" when he bombs.
4) Jeffrey Ross asks Hamlin backstage what his opener and closer are, and ribs him gently by saying his wardrobe looks like it came from Forever 41. And still, Hamlin wears a giant scarf around his neck.
5) Mike Bridenstine, as the show's MC, is not billed.
6) Instead of telling dirty jokes about condoms, Hamlin's entire set seems built around gay sex. The part we see on TV is about Hamlin showing his privates to get a part in a play. The part we didn't see on TV, well, is right here. Roll the clip!
Throughout, however, Hamlin says the right things when he's just talking solo to the camera. "I think the funniest thing about my going onstage is that I'm going onstage at all. But I'm not sure that's how stand-up comedy works. I think you actually have to be funny." Afterward, he tells the camera from his home: "Doing stand-up comedy was one of the most fearful things I could have done in my life, and I did it anyway, and I'm never doing stand-up comedy again."
Well, it's the little victories. You can watch the full episode, called "Comedy Club," here.
I first saw Mike Bridenstine before I met him officially -- we were both in Las Vegas for the HBO/TBS comedy festival in 2008, waiting to interview Kids in the Hall; me for this here online operation; him as a special correspondent for Comedy.com. I met him last year when he was a New Face at Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival. And now I'm seeing him frequently this week in Los Angeles, where he has a sofa and a mattress that only another comedian (or comedy blogger) could love. Bridenstine, aka Brido, has been seen in national TV ads for Carfax, Heineken and Dunkin' Donuts, and performed on Last Call with Carson Daly. This weekend he'll appear in an episode of iCarly on Nickelodeon.
He makes me laugh, whether he's saying "bang, you're pregnant," "aw, hell no," or joking about the weirdest karate place he has seen in Chicago.
You can see and meet him right now.
Name: Mike Bridenstine
Arrival date: September 2007
Arrived from: Chicago
When and where did you start performing comedy? July 31, 2002, in Iowa City, Iowa. I hosted a weekly show with road comics at a bar called the Summit and I had several hilarious takes on "Joe Millionaire" and local Cambus drivers. Two other L.A. comics (Mike Holmes and Brooks Wheelan, who are both very funny) basically got their starts in that room too.
What was your best credit before moving here? I was in a group called Blerds, which was a thing on the Internet back when people used to care about that. Actually, all the comics and the director in that group are all very good and the people who read your blog are probably familiar with most of them.
Why did you pick L.A. over NYC or anywhere else? Blerds was getting more attention in L.A. than New York. We had an L.A. manager and a monthly show at UCB. And I was dating a girl who lived out here. All of the above have mysteriously died since.
How long did it take to get your first paid gig in L.A. after moving here? I got hosting slots at the Melrose Improv pretty soon after I moved here. I've confused it in my own memory about who vouched for me or booked me. But thank you to whomever it was. You know who you are.
How is this scene better/same/worse than the scene you moved from? Chicago is a great place to do comedy when you're starting off. And that scene seems to keep getting better. But the payoff is bigger here. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn't say that the L.A. scene is necessarily better. It's just more professional and less drunk, for better or worse.
Do you feel you've already "gone Hollywood" yet? What would it take to do that for you? There are Chicago comics who have teased me for going Hollywood, I suppose. But I don't really know what that means. Anyway, check out my iCarly episode on Sept 25th at 8/7 Central on Nickelodeon.
What tip would you give to any comedian who moves here? Go be funny. Don't be a piece of shit. Good things will happen.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? Five years, huh? That's enough time to have everything I want, right?
You can see a recent longer set from Brido here. Or watch his performance from Carson Daly below.
Comedian/actor T.J. Miller came back to Chicago this week and brought some of his Windy City comedy friends back with him for a stand-up show billed as "Drinking Buddies," and the buddies certainly believed the drinking part was mandatory for the evening, in back-to-back shows that went well into Wednesday night at the Lincoln Lodge.
Host James Fritz complained early on that the Lincoln Lodge and JFL hadn't gotten with the program. "All they have for us backstage is water!" Fritz made do with the cash bar.
Mike Bridenstine (pictured) opened by commenting on Fritz and the fellow Chicago comedy scene and how gross they are. As for his drinking story, Brido shared that he had gotten drunk as a sixth-grader when his eighth-grade sister held a houseparty when their parents were away. "Aw, hell, no!" On a more sobering note, he also has written a great TV ad for a karate place that could join the pantheon of infamous local TV ads, whether in Chicago or anywhere.
Kyle Kinane was ready for "Showtime!" "I buy my beer in 12-packs so I'm not such a boozebag," Kinane claimed. "I like to get my exercise, so when I'm done, I can walk back and get more." He joked with the crowd about being so drunk, that he has pretended to take a cell phone call to mask his puking. But he's not built for drinking, apparently. "I'm not good at it," he joked. "But I keep coming back, because I think one of these nights, I'm going to figure it out. I'm like Rudy!"
Headliner Miller joked that his buddies may have taken the show's title a bit too literally by getting drunk before the show, although as he noted, with beer mugs as large as the ones the Lincoln Lodge sells, it's not that difficult. He said those mugs are big enough to expose your loneliness to the world. "Do you have another one that I can get into?" he asked. Miller also shared stories about filming the upcoming Yogi Bear movie, which he said is coming out in 3-D and features a song by Justin Timberlake. That prompted a reply from a female audience member in the back of the room. Only the Lincoln Lodge isn't that large. "Yes, ma'am, I am serious, and I can hear you when you say, 'Are you serious?'" Miller responded.
Are these the names you were looking for? The 2009 Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival presents the "New Faces" for the industry to discover, fawn over and scrutinize. It looks to be a very strong class, just from the faces and names I already have come to discover, fawn over and scrutinize right here on The Comic's Comic.
So here they are! The New Faces perform in two groups tonight, Wednesday and Thursday -- this year at the Cabaret Juste Pour Rire (much closer to the rest of the action than the far-out Kola Note). Send your wishes of well to the following comedians...photos and links after the jump!