However you may have felt about the first season of Funny or Die Presents on HBO, well, get ready to remember and relive those feelings later this month, because the second season is a lot more of the same. And then some.
Getting an early look at the first three episodes of season two (debuting Jan. 14, Jan. 21 and Jan. 28, respectively), I can assure you that the one major problem from season one has been dispensed with -- there does not appear to be any idea that has been cut up and diluted into serial episodes. The recurring ideas all can stand on their own. Not that they all should, mind you.
For instance, starting off the season with Deepak Chopra as Rob Huebel's guest in the first installment of his series, "Do You Want To See A Dead Body?", isn't exactly an inspired decision. Remember how much you laughed along with Chopra in The Love Guru? Exactly. Huebel fares better later in the season when he gets Ben Stiller to tag along. And here Huebel is with former NFL player Warren Sapp.
The second-season premiere hits the mark much better with Ben Schwartz's "Terrible Decisions," as well as the sublime and ridiculously NSFW turns by Seth Morris and June Diane Raphael as Lt. Ducca and Det. Phuk in "United States Police Department" (who appear again in the second episode). The recurring "Re-enactments of Actual Conversations from the Ladies Rooms of Hollywood" featuring Andrea Savage are predictably insufferable, while the voice-over action figure sketch, "Brick Novax's Diary," is, well, what is it?
But that's what you get with Funny or Die Presents. Just as in its first season, each episode includes something that'll make you laugh out loud, something that makes you want to flip the channel, and something else that makes you wonder what in the world is happening.
Episode two (aka Episode #14) pairs Brett Gelman with a parrot in the over-the-top Funny or Die Movie of the Week: "Paco Dances," and ends with Mitch Magee getting his old video series, "Welcome To My Study," on the TV with the first of four new installments.
Tim & Eric fans will delight in knowing the duo makes a cameo in their own short directing Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as wild animals in episode three (aka Episode #15) with "John and Will's Animal Choices."
David and Jennie return, too, with more of their "amazing adventures." And Adam West proves he never was Leslie Nielsen as he gets a short recurring bit reciting classic pick-up lines to the camera.
Oh, and get ready to welcome back Ed Halligan to your TV as the channel's fictional VP of marketing and sales is back as the host, appearing in between the multiple previews and introductory pieces for each episode. But if you were expecting something else, then you were expecting too much. As they have Halligan say at the end of this season's debut: "Well, from Funny or Die, that's all we have tonight. I think you got your money's worth. On the off chance, though, that you think you didn't, well, there's not much you can do about it. That boat sailed a long time ago. And I own that boat. I got it with the money you just wasted."
The Jews seem to have a knack for this comedy thing, don't you know (you knew), and in this new promo video for the upcoming Purim, "The Shushan Channel," previously responsible for "Jewno," goes after the critical and cult favorite AMC drama, Mad Men, with "Meshugene Men." You will recognize Amy Sedaris in the role of Netty Draperberg. Roll it!
Purim Party '09 happens March 9 at the 92YTribeca. Mark your calendars accordingly: Jews who support the ECNY Awards will kindly go to the ECNYs first, then to Tribeca for the late show at 10:30 p.m. Just a gentle gentile reminder.
Directed by Mitch Magee. Written by Sheryl Zohn and Rob Kutner.
Dan Draperberg - Matthew Walton
Peggy Olstein - Megan Neuringer
Sol Romandel - Jeff Kreisler
Pete Cohen - DC Pierson
Roger Sterning - Eric Slovin
Joan Holowitz - Ellie Kemper
Pavel Kinstein - Shek Baker
Christina - Andree Vermeulen
Netty Draperberg - Amy Sedaris
Client - Doug Nervik
Through methods not entirely spelled out -- although, really, anything associated with the late Andy Kaufman should go without any easy explanations -- eight comedians from across America got invites to Las Vegas to perform in front of Kaufman's dad, Stanley, and his manager, George Shapiro, for the coveted award named for the eccentric performer. This was the contest's first visit to Vegas, having been conducted the first three years in New York City. How would it play in a ballroom of Caesars Palace during The Comedy Festival?
Well...you can watch the video submissions of all eight finalists here...
Past winners Kristen Schaal and Reggie Watts co-hosted the affair with their usual pluck and delight.
Chad Fogland chose a clowning mime striptease for his act, disrobing 12 pairs of pants, three pairs of boxers and a pair of briefs to reveal...another pair of briefs. Impressive enough, but far from extraordinary.
Mary Mack made her case with a washboard that she plays in her day job as a one-woman Eagles cover band. "This is where the show really amps up," she said. Certainly off the beaten path.
Nick Gibbons used a lie detector during his act that prompted him to change his answers repeatedly, almost exactly like an improv game my old troupe used to perform with bells and buzzers. Even Gibbons said on his blog later that the bit was "pretty tame," so I'm wondering if he could've chosen something different for the finals?
Brent Weinbach (spoiler alert: he won!) talked about being a substitute teacher in Oakland, Calif., then offered interpretations of "gay" and "psychotic" eyes, then ripped on the idea of "being natural" onstage by calling back to Gibbons' bit, then ripped on those who'd talk of him "being too creepy onstage" by being creepier, then offered three dance moves. Here was his contest submission:
Kate Micucci had a drum and cymbals to sing about being a librarian, put on a puppet love triangle show in a cardboard box, then sang a sexy song about sleeping. Adorably odd and funny.
Mitch Magee operated a slideshow of fruit photos with a low-key understated delivery, with commentary and music cutting in to enforce the idea that it's all an ode to his late grandmother.
Paul Rust, seen earlier in the weekend as part of the Unprotected Sketch! show, had a tech mishap (or did he? in an Andy Kaufman show, it's often difficult to know what's true onstage) and said, "Mistakes are God's way of telling you, 'Just quit the business!'" So instead, he played an anti-drugs song on the keyboard that just so happened to also be onstage.
Will Franken told me beforehand that he had something different planned for this show. He walked onstage as a waiter in a play with an unsuspecting audience memner who, of course, didn't know any of his lines, which only made Franken angrier and angrier. Decidedly risky, so kudos for that, even if he didn't win.