And now, a brief message from comedian Matt Besser:
My name is Matt Besser, one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and one of the creators of This Show Will Get You High. A year ago I approached the leaders of Comedy Central with the idea to create a sketch show so funny that it had the power to get the viewer high. I theorized that if we can get the kids high on sketch comedy, then they won't have to be in the empty lots and the abandoned malls looking for real drugs like heroin, crack, and worst of all, marijuana. To accomplish this dream I recruited some of the best sketch comedians from the UCB Theatre including Brett Gelman, John Gemberling, Paul Rust, Betsy Sodaro, combined with the directing genius of Eric Appel, plus Nathan Barnatt, Sergio Cilli, Allan McLeod, and Jessica Williams. Upon completion of the experiment, Comedy Central showed it to focus groups where it was determined that it got them way too high. It has since been decided that the safest time to exhibit the special are the hours when only those who are used to being way too high are still awake. On November 2, citizens in communities across America will vote on various marijuana legalization propositions. Before that date, America needs to wake up and realize that you don't need to get high on the weed, when you can get high on This Show Will Get You High.
You likely won't see more than the pilot for This Show Will Get You High on your TV sets, and if you're not watching Comedy Central at 3 a.m. Oct. 27, 4:30 a.m. Oct. 28, or 4 a.m. Nov. 1, then probably not even the pilot.
Until then, however, you can view these two short scenes from the pilot. First, here's a glimpse at the cast and crew on the road, as Brett Gelman emerges from the bathroom after taking a pee break. Did I say after? What follows is Not Safe For Work. Roll it!
And in this bit, Gollum meets "Precious" meets Comic-Con. Lt. Uhura seemed to enjoy it!
When Paul Rust isn't writing a screenplay for Pee-wee Herman, Harris Wittels isn't writing an episode of Parks and Recreation, and Michael Cassady isn't appearing in TV episodes or the UCB-LA Harold Team Arts & Athletics and sketch team A Kiss From Daddy, the trio is making comedy music together in their self-described "piano-weirdo-pop" band, Don't Stop or We'll Die. Here is a video for their song, "I Got A Perm For Our Camping Trip." They're performing July 27 at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles with guests Garfunkel and Oates, Nick Offerman and Scott Aukerman. Bonus: For you Del Close Marathon fans, Rust and Cassady are both on the schedule this coming weekend for DCM12. What more do I need to say? Roll it.
Pee-wee Herman (aka Paul Reubens) announced last night that Judd Apatow would be producing his first new movie in decades, with comedian/actor Paul Rust (a UCB mainstay who in some ways embodies a younger next-generation version of Pee-wee) on board to co-write the screenplay with Reubens. No director is attached yet.
Reubens made a big comeback over the winter with a restaging of "Pee-wee's Playhouse" in Los Angeles -- a Broadway run is set to start in October -- and he'll also be bringing Pee-Wee to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, in August for what's billed as the "world's largest 'Tequila' dance."
Reubens told the New York Times' Dave Itzkoff in an interview today that Apatow wants him and Rust to write a movie that puts Pee-wee in "a reality-based world and a liner road movie," much like his first "Big Adventure" film in 1985. “That appears to be what we’re doing,” Mr. Reubens said, “although it’s at such an early stage right now that there still exists the possibility that this could turn into the ‘Playhouse’ movie. I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.”
We've got ourselves a big Monday here, which means it's time to catch up on what's been happening in comedy and see if we missed anything. First up, what funny things from comedians have I posted recently over on The Laugh Track?
But that's not all. There was also some comedy in the news. Such as, for instance, this, that and the other thing:
While everyone was talking about Sacha Baron Cohen and Eminem after the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, I wanted to make sure you didn't miss this other moment, which gave comedian Paul Rust one last chance to shine in semi-anonymity. Rust will star in this summer's romantic comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper (out July 10), and also plays one of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (out Aug. 21). But for one minute live on MTV Sunday night, Rust could portray winning sound editor Carl Berman, who was so happy to get his Golden Popcorn that he humped, in glorious triumph, as long as he could.
So, here's the official trailer for I Love You, Beth Cooper, which stars Rust as the nerdy high-school valedictorian who publicly professes his love for the popular girl (Hayden Panettiere) in his graduation speech:
A quick look at comedy and comedians making news in the past day:
It's Thursday afternoon and how busted are your March Madness brackets already? Pretty scary, huh? (Preceding sentences only applicable to people who care enough about men's college basketball to bet money on the season-ending tournament with friends and co-workers) You know what we all can agree was pretty scary and yet also brilliant? The 1971 movie Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. Go watch it again right now (if you don't enjoy college basketball, that is). It's next on TV on March 28, 2009 on ABC Family. In 2005, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp decided to remake the film in their odd way as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and if you hadn't seen the 1971 original adaptation, you may have been OK with it. Over the past few years, though, fans with access to the YouTubes have uploaded some inspired edits of the 1971 footage to play up the more thrilling aspects. But none of them have gone full tilt extravaganza and shot an entirely new horrifying version, which is what writer/director Eric Appel has done for Funny or Die in Gobstopper. The trailer features comedian Paul Rust and Friday Night Light's QB1 Zach Gilford with two lovely ladies (Martha MacIsaac from Superbad and the new The Last House on the Left, and Nicky Whelan)who get caught up in Willy Wonka's world, with Paul Scheer as Slugworth, Wee Man as an Oompa Loompa and Christopher Lloyd as a perfect pick for the dark candy overlord.
For reference points, you can watch the trailer for the 1971 film's recent release on DVD, as well as a fan recut of the original, after the jump.
It might be easy to forget that B.J. Novak is a stand-up comedian, because he's still in his 20s and pretty much everyone knows him as the writer/producer/actor from NBC's The Office. At Sunday night's "B.J. Novak and friends" show at Town Hall to close out the 2008 New York Comedy Festival, the biggest applause from the audience came for mere mentions of the sitcom, Novak or his friend from the show, Mindy Kaling. When Paul Rust opened the show with his "solo performance piece," aka "Salvation Through the Ring," aka his mimed tribute to a popular morning children's television program, then promptly disappeared, the crowd didn't quite know what to expect on this night.
Not to worry, though, as Novak's friends also included college chum Dan Mintz, who seemed more at ease in his 15-minutes of absurd one-liners than I'd seen him in a while (perhaps New York City is growing on him), and John Mulaney, who hosted the show and provided more than a half-hour of funny at the start and also in between acts. This could have just as easily had been this year's "Young Comedians" special, if HBO still was in that business. I wish Rust had done more to showcase his talents, and wonder why Simon Rich only performed for a New York minute by reading a very short tale about firehouse dogs. Kaling entered to adoring approval from the crowd, who didn't seem to mind that she read from notes throughout her 13-minute set, even to note that Obama won the election. She recovered nicely with a quip: "I had to look at my cheat sheet to remember that, because I have Memento disease." Her best bit examined how and why people use the phrase "devil's advocate," although Perez Hilton will likely be more eager to learn that Kaling said she her fellow Office writers are regular readers of his gossip site.
As for Novak, a suspicious opening routine about a guy who posted a Craigslist ad looking for a date to that night's show revealed itself to be a true story and therefore more auspicious than suspicious, with the guy arriving to his loge seat solo. (Note: If a friend reads this review and says Novak did this bit elsewhere, revert back to suspiciousness) Novak used him to good comic effect and also displayed his stand-up know-how with a couple of callbacks later in his 45-minute set. His showcase set pieces included a reading from "Wikipedia Brown and The Case of the Missing Bicycle," an alt-ventriloquism routine with "Shy Puppet," which ends with Novak asking the audience to take pictures of him with the puppet to litter the online landscape, and ends with close to 15 minutes of jokes on index cards that he "tries out" on the audience, with keepers going back into his briefcase and losers going into the trash can next to him onstage.
You see what Novak looks like now. Here is what he looked like as an aspiring young stand-up comedian on Comedy Central's Premium Blend more than five years ago, with a version of a bit he told onstage Sunday:
Only now unwinding from my second tour through the Upright Citizen Brigade's Del Close Marathon, which ended Sunday night (though starting the tour after an all-nighter to Washington, D.C., and back probably contributed to the fatigue on my end), and wished, as I did last summer, that I had gotten to see more of the 150+ improv and variety shows that happened during DCM10. At least two video cameras captured some of the highlights, which I expect to see online one of these days at UCBComedy.
The Marathon is crazy for improvisers and comedy fans alike, with shows running almost continuously (save for a couple of breaks to clean the theaters) at the UCB home in Chelsea and three nearby theaters from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. Comedians come from all over the country to participate, and even then, to fill all of those hours, the Marathon's programmers schedule some completely off-the-wall shows. I cannot speak for the daytime shows from last weekend, but during the primetime and late-night hours, the atmosphere -- hot, sweaty and reeking of alcoholic sweat -- really favors the louder, crazier uptempo shows over the improv groups that actually try best to honor Del Close and his Harold long-form. It's not a fault of the performers. But after you've seen "Gary Busey" prove he's the smartest expert in the universe, it's hard to pay close attention to all that's going on in the Scramble. And the Marathon peaks at 2:30 a.m. Sunday during the half-hour lunacy that is Match Game 76, and when Horatio Sanz as Heath Ledger's Joker launches a smoke bomb, well, even a troupe hoping to parody Close has no chance. I spent my entire DCM10 at the UCB (sorry, big-time shows at the FIT, but maybe we'll meet again in 2009), and the best shows I saw over the weekend were strong in concept, structure and execution.
James Adomian as "Gary Busey" during The Smartest Panel of Experts in the Universe Ever.
Photo by Keith Huang
Variety magazine named its "10 Comics to Watch" for 2008 and wrote up profiles on each of them this week. Their choices? Read what they have to say about Russell Brand, Brandon T. Jackson, Anthony Jeselnik, Jon LaJoie, Ralphie May, TJ Miller, Jay Phillips, John Mulaney, Paul Rust, Casey Wilson.
Let's assess. John Mulaney, I've had the privilege to see him several times since moving to New York City, and every time, he slays. This kid, and really, he's still only four years out of college (the same time I finally dipped my toes into professional stand-up comedy) and already so masterful and such a stage presence, it's amazing. He's a writer for Demetri Martin's upcoming Comedy Central sketch show, and he'll tape his own half-hour Comedy Central Presents at the end of the summer. Big fan of Mulaney, I am. Not that I'm a comedy Yoda just yet.
Anthony Jeselnik is a great joke writer. Sometimes a bit dark (a bit?). But yes, keep an eye on this fella. Also getting his Comedy Central Presents this year.
Time Out London named Russell Brand U.K. Comedian of the Year, and he chewed up the scenery in his movie debut this year in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I'll have much more to say about Brand next week when we meet up in Montreal.
Casey Wilson, well, already has a big "watch me" sign on her as the newest member of Saturday Night Live, joining the cast after the Writers Guild strike this spring. It'll be more than interesting to see what role she gets to play this fall.
When I saw T.J. Miller last year in Aspen, I knew he'd be on TV very soon, and he was the best thing about the short-lived ABC sitcom Carpoolers. But I don't care how much he jokes about it, the caps of the ketchup bottles are the feet. They just are.
Paul Rust works in the Los Angeles, and I saw him last fall doing sketch work in Vegas at The Comedy Festival. I can see how you'd want to keep an eye on him.
Ralphie May: Shouldn't he have been the one to watch in 2003 when he was working on TV projects with Jay Mohr and getting submarined by Dat Phan on the original Last Comic Standing? Curious.
I'm not that familiar with Brandon T. Jackson, because he's a kid and I'm not, but he'll be in the cast of Tropic Thunder, so, OK. Jon LaJoie? Huh? Don't know what to say about Jay Phillips, but I need to get out more (no, I don't). Fine. I'll see you all in Montreal!
Attempting to get you caught up on what everyone else is saying about comedy (you can catch up with them via the More On Comedy links on my page).
The Bastion interviews Kumail Nanjiani, who recently left Chicago for New York City.
The Coming is back in blogging business, apparently, and talks to Paul Rust about his comedy background and burgeoning movie career.
Punchline Magazine interviews the most recent winner of Last Comic Standing, Jon Reep.
The Apiary finds more examples of NYC-based comedians getting "commercial" success.
Shecky Magazine continues to get spies reporting in with results from the Last Comic Standing auditions, and by the way, the Male Half is auditioning for Montreal's Just For Laughs tonight at Helium in Philadelphia. Good luck, Brian!
Comic Vs. Audience caught Bill Cosby in action in New Jersey and filed this report.
SFstandup interviewed Al Madrigal, who appears in the new CBS midseason sitcom, Welcome to the Captain.
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.
Could relatively unknown sketch comedy groups compete with national headlining comics for eyeballs, attention and laughs at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas? That was the challenge for "Unprotected Sketch!" a series of sketches hosted by NYC's Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal. Kurt and Kristen, who host Hot Tub at Pianos in New York, already got industry approval in Montreal earlier this year (and Kristen is a past Andy Kaufman Award winner and Aspen winner, too), so they took the lead on this one, too.
"We're excited to be here in the city of broken dreams...and secrets!" Kurt said.
The duo introduced a new recurring sketch for Vegas called "Double Down Hearts" to show off their "dramatic" side, as well as their "dancing" side -- not only then but also in their proven glowstick body dance to promote polio awareness and the rousing crowd-pleaser, "Kristen Schaal is a horse!"
Gareth and Evan, or is it Evan and Gareth? Either way, this duo's entrance looked odd not because they were both wearing all white turtleneck-and-pants outfits, but because Kurt and Kristen also exited the stage in similar getups. Anyhow. On this night, Evan Mann and Gareth Reynolds weren't worried about Axe but about letting us in on their "final" performance together...all really to set up their series of flashbacks...to letter-writing to Jon Bon Jovi, to the first time they met at a support group for people without friends, to when they went on $25,000 Pyramid, and then to an audience-participation gag about their inability to read people's minds. For reasons unclear, they closed with a profanity-laced song about f---ing.
Nasim Pedrad showed off a selection of five characters (two on video) from her one-woman show to illustrate how funny Iranians can be, opening with her take on a rebel insurgent who's losing her terrorist edge due to her illict affair with a Texas soldier. A video spoof on MTV featuring a Persian mafia member and wannabe rapper was redeemed by its closing joke. Pedrad was just getting started, though, first with a 12-year-old girl at a science fair, then with a video about an ultra-aggressive Iranian bachelor, and finally with a Persian-American princess from Beverly Hills on a first date.
Neil Campbell and Paul Rust opened big, jumping onto tables in the audience for a bit on a homeless father and son who use their imagination to escape reality. Several short bits, including two videos, none quite matching the level of their opener, although their sketch on loud eaters at Baja Fresh came close.