Buzzine got behind the scenes during taping of season two of The Green Room with Paul Provenza, which just aired its premiere episode tonight on Showtime with Judd Apatow, Garry Shandling, Marc Maron, Ray Romano and Bo Burnham. Don't worry. If you missed it in the Eastern and Central time zones, it'll air again in an hour, and then again over the weekend.
And I'll have a full exclusive interview with Paul Provenza for you just as soon as I sit down and transcribe it.
Until then, enjoy this video which features many of the comedians who took part in season two. And I mean many. Plus several of the people who work on the show. Good times.
Roll the clip!
After a special sneak screening of the first two episodes of The Green Room with Paul Provenza, which returns to Showtime for its second season on July 14, 2011, Provenza convened a special live panel last night for The Creative Coalition with comedians Billy Connolly, Lisa Lampanelli, Rain Pryor and Jamie Kilstein inside The Core Club in Midtown Manhattan.
One of the first topics thrown at the panel was dealing with hecklers, and Lampanelli told the story of how one of her very first shows as an MC included a heckler who prompted her to change her entire act and become the insult comedian that made her a star and the self-described "Queen of Mean."
Lampanelli told the audience she was working a gig with her first husband:
"So I went up and I was emceeing, and everybody knows that the MC goes up and does five minutes, and then they bring up the next act. So I do my five minutes, and I did OK for like my fifth time onstage, and my poor husband, with his retarded jokes and horrible one-liners -- we were divorced, by the way, before he died, so it's OK, I felt really bad when he died, I'll mourn later. As I'm watching poor Jim struggle, I hear somebody yell, 'Bring back the fat chick!' So it's kind of a compliment! But it's like, oh my God, I'm fucking fat! They noticed I was fat. I thought I was hiding it, under layers. So I go, well, I took it so to heart, I was so upset, that the next day, I wrote all insults. I said, 'I was going to get those cocksuckers before they get me,' and I'm an insult comic now. So thank you guy who said, 'Bring back the fat chick.'"
Provenza: "Is that the truth?"
Lampanelli: "That's the absolute truth. Yeah, I was like, I am not letting them get a word in."
Have you picked up Paul Provenza's new book, "¡Satiristas!," his collection of interviews with comedians and satirists, accompanied by photos from Dan Dion? If not, then perhaps this trailer featuring an all-star collection of soundbites, led off by the late George Carlin, will help you decide.
You can also read my interview with Provenza about the book and his new TV series, The Green Room, with is running this summer on Showtime.
Roll the clip!
In recent years, Provenza also has hosted a live comedian talk show at Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival that has begat a TV series this summer on Showtime called The Green Room. He's also interviewed dozens of comedians for a book he collaborated on with photographer Dan Dion called ¡Satiristas!, which came out last week. You can open it up just about anywhere and find a lively discussion between Provenza and a famous (or should-be famous) comedian about what it's like to tell truth to power. The book tour has brought him to New York City today, with a show and book signing tonight at Gotham Comedy Club. He has more signings and performances later this month in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Let's watch a couple of previews of Provenza's TV show, then talk to him about both the show and the book!
First of all, let's get the meta weirdness out of the way up top. Because here I am, a former comedian who interviews comedians, interviewing a comedian who interviews comedians. "What happens now is we actually enter the world of quantum comedy where a comedian can be a comedian and an interviewer of comedians at the same time, depending upon who's reading it." What if a comedy nerd reads this? "That'll knock the world off its axis. But you can read about it all in my new book, Schrodinger's Cat in the Hat."
Let's talk about the TV show first. How much were you actively trying to re-create the vibe you've had with your live shows in Montreal, and how much were you just going with the flow? "Totally. The one thing we wanted was the feel. We didn't know the look, or the design or any of that...We wanted to capture that feeling of being in that kind of room. Spontaneous. Unpredictable and really energetic. We shot it in a very different kind of way. I've always been frustrated that comedy has always had to adapt to the medium of television. Nobody tried to adapt the medium of television to comedy. Nobody gave that a shot. It's all jazz, but it's shot like news and sports."
The show opens right in the middle of the conversation, instead of with a traditional introduction. That was all part of that plan? "We wanted to strip away all the trappings of conventional TV shows. We wanted it to feel like you're hanging out with these comedians. You're already there. It's about those people hanging out. They're not hanging out for your sake. That's the vibe we wanted to create. It's not being done to please you. So it's not trying to provide an answer to Comics Unleashed, or even Tough Crowd?"It is not like Comics Unleashed. For any number of reasons."
After we joke about several of those reasons, I decide to get us back on track.
Have you felt like you wanted to experience Paul Provenza's live late-night chat sessions with famous comedians at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival but never had the know-how to get a ticket for it? Well, starting this June, you'll be able to peek behind this proverbial curtain, as Showtime debuts a six-episode order of The Green Room with Paul Provenza.
The series will bow at 10:30 p.m. Thursdays (Eastern/Pacific), beginning June 10 in a block following the eighth season of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (Does anyone outside of Penn and Teller recognize that this show has been on the air this long? Should we all start paying attention now?)
Guests sitting down for roundtable discussions about all things funny will include: Roseanne Barr, Sandra Bernhard, Brendon Burns, Drew Carey, Andy Dick, Dana Gould, Reginald D. Hunter, Eddie Izzard, Jim Jefferies, Penn Jillette, Andy Kindler, Robert Klein, Larry Miller, Paul Mooney, Martin Mull, Patrice Oneal, Rick Overton, Rain Pryor, Bob Saget, Bobby Slayton, Tommy Smothers and Jonathan Winters.
Before we get into all of that, how about we see Provenza himself talk about comedy for an hour? He did just that in Chicago recently, and you can view that at your leisure, as he discusses crossing the line in comedy, whether it was his own documentary, The Aristocrats, the work of Sacha Baron Cohen, or others. Roll it!