As we become more and more interconnected by the series of tubes that contains the wires that shuttles the data that makes up the World Wide Web, it must be that much more difficult to come up with an idea that somebody else hasn't already thought up and posted up on the Internet already.
Throughout this season of SNL, we've comedians and comedy fans cry foul on several sketches and videos, claiming they'd been there, done that.
This week? It's The Lonely Island's new SNL Digital Short, "The Creep," that's in question. Because four years ago, comedian Owen Benjamin wrote and performed a song called, "I'm Creepy," that includes the requisite mustache, as well as a specific dance move. It went up on MySpace in January 2007, and later was featured both by the site and by AdamSandler.com. A couple of friends of the site wanted me to put this out there to see what you think. Roll the clip:
So what do you think? Are there any original ideas that haven't yet hit the Internet? Am I going to follow up that question with another question? Something something yellow. There. That settles that. But what about these creepy videos?
So you're an aspiring stand-up comedian. Perhaps you're thinking you could further your career by getting a company to fund an online series for you. Or maybe you could hook up with a celebrity. Or, wait, what if a celebrity went on tour with you? All of those would work, and being on two network TV shows in one week would give you exposure, too. Owen Benjamin didn't plan any of those things, but all of those things have happened to him in the past couple of years. I know. Crazy. But true. He's in New York City this weekend (co-headlining with Matt Braunger at Comix), and I caught up with him for some brief Q-and-A action.
But first. Here's a clip of him from Monday's segment on The Jay Leno Show:
I loved your custom jingle sketch on Leno -- thought it was one of the best of the correspondent pieces so far. Will that be a recurring sketch for you, or will you be mixing it up with different types of musical comedy?
"We've shot two of those. The next one is Oct. 12. I'm really pumped about the second one. We change it up and write jingles to random people."
How hands-on were Leno and the producers in terms of content, production and editing?
"They guide everything but they give us a lot of freedom. That's Leno's thing is he wants to let good young comics do what they want. Luckily the Leno crew's experience and knowledge comes in handy when it comes to editing, writing, and production. They're really good at what they do. They help write but give us a lot of room. Especially my bit, because by definition it all has to be improv."
And how much did your previous experience in short videos help you with your first Leno bit? (From my viewpoint, it seems as though the quality of the taped pieces has been all over the map from great to not-so)
"The stuff I did for Crackle.com is so valuable to me experience-wise. I've shot, directed, edited, and scored so many shorts that when I'm working with other people I understand their job and I can help make it easier for them."
Related: Here's some more background from Owen Benjamin on working with Leno. You've also had various experiences in comedy that not many other comedians can boast of doing (or surviving), so I'd like to find out what you've learned from them.
"Oh man, I've opened for Julio Iglesias, worked as a heckler at a Renaissance Faire, sung in operas as a kid, played the piano since I was 2, starred in a movie, done open mics to theatres, you name it. It all comes in handy from time to time."
Hey there, comedy fans! Would you like to see Owen Benjamin and Matt Braunger perform for free this weekend (Oct. 2-3, 2009) at Comix comedy club in New York City? Well, then, have I got a deal for you. The first four people to email me at thecomicscomic AT gmail DOT com will get four FREE tickets to see one of their shows on Friday or Saturday night. Don't worry, though. The rest of you can still see them perform this weekend and get a $5 discount on tickets if you enter the code TCC (for The Comic's Comic) when you buy your tickets online. Note: You'll still need to buy two items in the showroom, either way. But you like to eat and drink, right? Right. Alrighty then! Watch this video, and know that in a matter of minutes, I'll have an exclusive interview to share with you with Mr. Owen Benjamin...roll it!
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.
CBS has debuted its online series, Heckle U, as the first night of March Madness opens. The series stars stand-ups Owen Benjamin and Kirk Fox as the kings of heckling. Benjamin's character, Chance, acknowledges that he "was raised by a dive bar." He met Darrell (Fox) in basketball tryouts in the seventh grade. Purple Nurples! Follow this documentary look at the fellas throughout the tournament.
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...
We always frown upon heckling in live comedy, but when it comes to college basketball? Just keep it clean. And also, know your target -- you don't want to give the opposition the inspiration it needs (not that we have learned that from personal trash-talking experience, mind you, ahem). CBS is your TV home for the NCAA March Madness college basketball tournaments, and this year, in addition to wall-to-wall coverage on TV and online (and naturally, a big ol' Facebook bracket contest), they also have turned to stand-up comedians Owen Benjamin and Kirk Fox for a Web series called Heckle U. Benjamin stars as Chance, a professional heckler. Fox is his sidekick. Chris Wylde and Bil Dwyer also appear in this teaser, which also asks you to enter a contest to win a trip to Vegas or a 42" LCD TV.
The first full episodes should debut in concert with the tourney itself on Thursday, March 19.
Timed to the March Madness of the NCAA basketball tournament, CBS plans a new 10-episode scripted Web series called "Heckle-U" starring stand-up comedian Owen Benjamin and Tom Arnold. Benjamin plays a slacker kid who, with the help of his bartender uncle (Arnold), becomes a star heckler at college hoops games. So if you see a 30-second clip promoting this on your TV in the coming month or two, but cannot seem to find it on your TV, this is why. It debuts online in February. (THR)
Here is another outtake from last week's Live at Gotham, it's Owen Benjamin!
Hey comedy fans, before you start weekends, know that Comedy Central has a new Live at Gotham to share with you tonight at 10 p.m. (also 3 a.m.), with host Daniel Tosh, Matt Braunger, Hannibal Buress, Owen Benjamin, Mary Mack, Nigel Lawrence and Adam Devine. The network also replays Tosh's one-hour special beforehand at 9 p.m. This taping was the spring finale, and all of the lighting equipment was so fried that it forced Braunger to have to retell his opening bit several times. Here is a preview clip from him, with more videos to come from everyone after the show airs. Enjoy!
If you had bet me a nickel that Crackle would be around longer than Super Deluxe, well, then, you would have yourself one of my nickels, and it still wouldn't make any cents to me (homonym alert!) that Turner would drop the ball on SD. At least Sony keeps on plugging away with Crackle and its original programming channel, C-Spot. A second 10-week "season" of shows began rolling out this week.
Owen Benjamin returns, but this time he's not stuck in Gaytown. The Roadents also return with new improvised animated shorts. The full lineup: The Rascal (Mondays), That Guy (Tuesdays), Owen Benjamin Presents (Wednesdays), The Roadents (Thursdays), Comedy Gumbo (Fridays), and Mr. Justice and the Powerful Girl (weekends). From what I've already seen so far, Mr. Justice and the Powerful Girl show us what superheroes would be like if they weren't quite super but wore their costumes all the time and lived among us. Comedy Gumbo prefers quick hits and ad parodies (how'd you like to see a 2-second impersonation of Dane Cook? you gets one here). Jay Rondot is The Rascal in a thriller of sorts (hint: not the Michael Jackson version). That Guy...I'm reminded that John Heffron and his buddy once sold a card game called That Guy...this is not that. This is some other guy. Moving on. Let's get back to Mr. Benjamin, who provides us with a little ditty about online chat etiquette, or chatiquette. Enjoy.
From Crackle: Owen Benjamin Presents: Episode 1
Crackle arrived on the scene during the great online comedy video gold rush of 2007 in which many sites appeared but few managed to grab permanent hold on our collective consciousness. Remember This Just In (HBO/AOL) and Dot Comedy (NBC)? Of course you don't, unless you worked for those sites or knew someone who did. Not your fault. A flood of online comedy videos have arrived, all vying for your short attention spans. When you're looking for a funny video, or merely a distraction from work or study, where do you go? And if you're hoping to attract those viewers, how do you go about it and whom do you have on your team to represent you? The calculated and sometimes mad dash to scoop up talent was on. (CollegeHumor and The Onion already had built-in readerships they could turn into viewerships.)
The new sites that remain all rely on the comedic weight of their talent rosters.
My Damn Channel found crossover success in Harry Shearer's Found Objects series that shows how big shots can seem rather small when the cameras continue to roll, and carved out a niche with series from David Wain and A.D. Miles. Wainy Days is up for a Webby Award, too.
Funny or Die went the celebrity route and made a big splash with Will Ferrell. Their continued use of celebrities keeps it in daily contention.
Super Deluxe (TBS) hoped that dedicating money and long-term series commitments to up-and-coming comedians would pay off. That big score hasn't quite happened yet, though you can find many performers on the site who certainly deserve the exposure.
What was supposed to make Crackle stand out amid the competition was the backing of Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as "the hottest emerging talent on the web and beyond" (Where is this beyond? Is it the near the bed and the bath? Oh nose.) Except Crackle didn't quite, well, pop. Snap? The Minisode Network did and does have its merits. Anyhow. Crackle went back to the online drawing board and returned in the past month with a slate of new series and a new channel to showcase them: CSpot. Mondays see Hot Hot Los Angeles (a Southern Californian soap spoof); Tuesdays, The Writers Room (featuring actual TV writers and a weekly conference call from Kevin Pollak discussing his not-so-actual show); Wednesdays, Gaytown (Owen Benjamin's travails in a town ruled by gay people); Thursdays, the animated Roadents; Fridays, Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show (spoofing Asian stereotypes). The Los Angeles Times liked what it saw, and reports that the series get to work with a $10,000 budget per episode. The series all have small viewerships so far, though they're finding more success over on YouTube. There's also channels for Penn Jillette and The Purple Onion. I'm not sure the CSpot is quite as unique as the LAT reporter found it to be, but there are jewels to be found in this rough.
Here is the most recent episode of Owen Benjamin's Gaytown:
Friday in Aspen: The 2007 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival
Stand Up D
Hosted by Hyla Matthews, who had a recurring bit pretending to go through all of the relationship steps with a guy in the front row. And now for your comedians.
Kyle Kinane. I met this guy the first night I got into Aspen and he wore a bizarre beret that he even said was not a beret. That’s the bizarre part. But when he grabbed the mic and said, “What’s happening, snowflakes and fingerprints?!” I knew to expect some comedy gold. And Kinane delivered, with a sharp self-deprecating style. He might have thought his volcano barbecue bit didn’t go so well, but he shouldn’t worry so much. Good job.
Hari Kondabolu came next, and (full disclosure: condo roommate) he impressed me with his social commentary on the diversity of white people, selling people to India, and immigration.
Then Dan Boulger came up. So rewarding to see him just slay an audience of complete strangers (and important industry types). The audience slowly rose to a boil, and as soon as Boulger’s Bush/Hitler joke landed, they were roaring til the end. Nicely played. Boulger told me the audience reacted similarly the previous time, and he wondered if he should move the Hitler bit up. I said no no. You’ve got it timed just right. Let ‘em warm up to you. By the way, I love Boulger, and I hate him, because he made me stay up way too late Thursday night (so if you were lacking for blog posts, now you know). And now for your next comedian.
Michelle Buteau. Heyhey! What? Hello! The Jamaican/Haitian lady says, “You know how I got so light? It’s called colonialism.” Heyyy!
Owen Benjamin. Opened with a joke about how silly it is that people couldn’t distinguish between Superman and Clark Kent. Followed that with a joke about how he’s tall, so people think he plays basketball. Um, yeah. He did rebound (ahem) with material about his gay and gayer parents. And a good diamond joke. And I found some funny videos of him. So that makes up for his opener.
Lavell Crawford delivered some spot-on jokes about Aspen. “Heated sidewalks?” he said. “I’m telling all the homeless people I know about this!” His closing bit about Subway dragged on a bit, though. Just saying.