If you click on Super Deluxe today, you'll notice that the site and most of its videos are now gone, dead and buried, save for five franchises that get forwarded along to a page within the Turner Broadcasting's Adult Swim universe. We knew this was coming for months, certainly, but it's still a hard fact to acknowledge not only for the many comedians who got paid to produce original online videos, but also for anyone who wonders about the future success of online comedy sites. Funny or Die continues to exist based upon the largess of its celebrity owners and cameos, as well as its partnership with HBO, while CollegeHumor can rest slightly easier knowing it'll have its own MTV show in 2009. But Super Deluxe, which only came into existence nearly two years ago, arrived with such promise that its failure (did it really fail, though? discuss) is troubling for anyone hoping to shine a light on deserving up-and-coming comedic talent. Unless those talents appeal specfically to teen boys, in which case, they shall carry on with Adult Swim. Where does that leave us grown-ups?
Some performing duos have odder interpersonal dynamics than others. Take The White Stripes. Great band, but they wanted us to think they were brother and sister, when really, they used to be married...to each other. OK. Perhaps you've also wondered how Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler get along offstage, too. Are they lover lovers in addition to comedy lovers? They revealed Saturday at the inaugural Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival that they are, indeed, twins! "Not identical," they added. As part of the fest's "best TV supporting cast members ever" showcase at The Bell House, a great new venue in the otherwise kinda quiet warehousey Gowanus Canal neighborhood of Brooklyn, Schaal and Braunohler talked about how they have used their twin status to work on gigs, and showed a clip of their appearance on Law & Order: SVU. It really was a family affair, as two of Schaal's nephews hung out backstage, which means one of them may or may not be Braunohler's son! Blogging promise kept. In related news, ahem, Super Deluxe has released three Penelope: Princess of Pets videos from their online exile in the past week. Let's see what we have been missing...drunk birds and dirt bike turtles and killers, oh my! NSFW action ahead:
After that, a new intro and a community play that gets into your head:
So I'm in Boston all week, which means I missed the grand meeting of the minds when Steve Guttenberg appeared live last night on The Dave Hill Explosion (Best Week Ever documented it for posterity). Hill also likes to produce short videos, and here is a new one that has appeared on Super Deluxe. Yes, Super Deluxe. In this episode, Dave signs up to become a Big Brother. Sounds nice. Except when Stone and Stone show up.
It appears Super Deluxe wants us to see what happens to Todd Barry's prostitute character in the cliff-hanger comedy series that is Sexus. In addition to this week's new episode, the site implores us to come back Sept. 3 for the next NSFW episode. Such range, Mr. Barry. Such range! So you can watch this installment knowing the storyline will not die just yet. Is it Sex Sigma, or Sex Stigma, though? Hmmm...ma Cache amour, indeed:
It only seems like we have had to wait eight months for this video to land on the Internet because it has taken eight months for this video to resurface online. So, with that, enjoy Dave Hill and his friend, Little Michael Jackson, in their most absurd fracas yet. For the complete series, Little Michael Jackson and Me, go to Super Deluxe. Today's very NSFW episode, "We Can Work It Out," featuring roles for David Rakoff and Carl Arnheiter:
Why is Todd Barry prowling around in a towel in a hotel room as a prostitute? Why are you asking me these questions? You should ask the folks at Super Deluxe why we had to wait until now to enjoy this NSFW new classic. This is the third episode in the Sexus series. UPDATED: Probably, as Todd himself noted, best to start from the beginning. So. Here we go!
To be continued???
Julie Klausner and Michael Kupperman produced three shorty shorts on video for Super Deluxe, and right about now, you're thinking, oh, I probably never saw them because I've stopped clicking to Super Deluxe, and even when I did, I probably missed it because it never showed up on the home page. Well, sorta kinda. All three episodes of "What's What" dropped online a couple of weeks ago. My pick of the three is "Fear," because, well, Teddy Roosevelt? Math? Although Klausner does show off her, um, holes in "Holes," and the third episode is all about "Garbage" and how one person's trash is another person's treasure. Anyhow. You can watch. See!
This year, to entice the industry who no longer can hobnob on the ski slopes of Aspen each February, the folks at Montreal's Just For Laughs created a spinoff two-day confab called Just Comedy, which formally kicked off this morning with a keynote address from Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks/TBS. The schedule billed it as a chance for Koonin to talk about the state of comedy and reaching the youth market. What it really turned out to be was a chance for Koonin to trumpet the rebranding of TBS from Ted Turner's UHF "SuperStation" into the "Very Funny" channel and take a few shots across the bow of Comedy Central.
And don't forget a stereotypical laugher. Koonin opened his address by talking about the health benefits of laughter, including stress reduction. "Obviously, those doctors never a met a Jew," Koonin said. HEY-O! Koonin also publicly called out the Variety reporter in the room to beg her not to write about something painfully silly he said about the fact that TBS bought the 1-800 VERY FUNNY number from a porn company (that's not the silly part from his story) and someone being uptight or something, yawn yawn yawn.
We learned, too, all about TBS, and how just as Turner did in ye olden times, Koonin's channel is rebuilding itself upon the backs of successful syndicated programs, using Family Guy, The Office, Seinfeld and Friends to launch new original comedies such as The Bill Engvall Show, My Boys, Frank TV and 10 Items or Less. "We're not edgy, we're not snarky," Koonin said, but the network is family-friendly and with broad strokes, getting 75 percent more viewers than Comedy Central in primetime. Note to selves: Comedy Central's "primetime" consists of reruns until 10 p.m. Koonin also gave a compliment (?) to Comedy Central earlier in his address by saying that network does very well in speaking to "young men." Whereas at TBS, he said, "we in cable look for underserved audiences," and pointed to Engvall for family-friendly sitcoms and Tyler Perry and his House of Payne for black audiences. TBS also has lowered its average-aged viewer from 40 to 33. And don't you worry, advertisers, because TBS is helping you escape the threat from DVRs and TiVos by introducing "bitcoms" in which comedians deliver 30-second routines based on actual commercial products, "microseries" of two minutes that feature advertisers, and even creating a series such as 10 Items, which, since it's based in a supermarket, can use food and household products at will in any plotline. We got to see one example of this. If I name the product in the example, do I get paid, too? Oh, and Koonin closed by talking about how TBS has gotten into the comedy festival business, both in Las Vegas but more importantly working with Just For Laughs to introduce a new fest in Chicago in summer 2009.
Hope you all took good notes and now know the present and future state of comedy.
My favorite part was when he talked about Super Deluxe.*
For fun, I clicked on Super Deluxe to see if they're still around. Guess what? They are! And they just today finally got around to uploading Dave Hill's dance video, co-starring David Rakoff and featuring Martha Plimpton. Love the Band-Aid!
Dave Hill took his fuzzy microphone and his endearing demeanor to the New York Comic Con, and Super Deluxe got around to uploading the video today. So here it is. Enjoy! The strong language on the warning label? It's for one profanity at the very end.
A new video from Olde English pooped up today on the Internet site you forgot about until it was too late, otherwise known as Super Deluxe. They envision a foody future that does the digesting for ya! Title spoiler alert: It's the machine that turns food into poop. No, really.
Turns out Super Deluxe does still introduce new videos every now and then, if you know where to look (or even if you just stumble upon it), and today introduced the rap on O'Doul's by NYC sketch group Olde English, which shows they've at least continued to embrace the voice effect technology they used on their highly popular Akon calling T-Pain sketch from earlier this year. Language is NSFW. Enjoy.
Tim and Eric just posted a lengthy recap of their live spring Awesome Tour that's full of photos, insight and sincere thoughts from the road. Example: They didn't know what to expect in Asheville but loved it! "Possibly the greatest show we've ever done." For more NSFW photos, food-tossing, special guests and insanity captured by still photography, click here. They also apologize to all of the club janitorial staffs that had to clean up after them. If you prefer your tour recaps in video form, here is the final installment of their "Not Live" documentary, although this is really just the guys acting up for the cameras. It's another NSFW example of how a video labeled for mature audiences redefines mature. To recap: If you really want to know how they felt about the tour, read the regular blog.
Hey, know how that presidential campaign between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nod is so fierce? Hey, know how those NBA Playoffs commercials splitting face time and voice time for competing players looks and sounds so neat? Wouldn't it be nice if someone had the idea to make a video like that about Obama and Clinton? Would it be nicer if two someones had that idea?
Here is the video from Team Tiger Awesome that went up on Super Deluxe on May 14:
Here is the video that appeared on Saturday Night Live on May 17:
Of course, you haven't heard or read much about these two videos being similar because, well, it's so parallel thinking I'm surprised I haven't seen it everywhere (and if it was on MADtv last weekend, that wouldn't shock me, either, except I keep forgetting about MADtv, which is another issue, entirely). Not another issue, entirely: Everyone already has seemed to have forgotten about Super Deluxe. Including Super Deluxe.
By the way, the entire episode of last weekend's MADtv appears after the jump. In case you'd forgotten, too.
Brad Neely, a mainstay of Super Deluxe since the site went live, debuts a new miniseries today that brings all of his animated characters together in one virtual community. He'll air a new animated episode every Monday in May, culminating in an actual TV appearance on Adult Swim. Enjoy.
Tuesdays typically are Tim and Eric Nite Live days and nights on Super Deluxe, but the boys are on tour, so here they give us their first behind-the-scenes installment of Tim and Eric Not Live. It's exactly as groundbreaking as you might expect. And not suitable for work.
Oh, Super Deluxe. I love how you pay comedians for content. But sometimes, you keep their videos locked away for months and I forget to look for them. Other times, you end up with the most awkwardly appropriate video descriptions, such as Jonah Ray's "Master The Internet," which says: "Everybody's doing it! Why not you, also?" Yes. Everybody is doing this. Jonah Ray does it here, with points for achieving the throwback video look, negative bonus points for unnecessary World Trade Center joke.
This video sure reminds me of something. What could it possibly be? Oh. Right. Gabe & Max's Internet Thing plowed this territory last year, with more than 542,000 viewers on the YouTube since October. A few months later, Tim & Eric did pretty much the same thing with their "The Innernette" sketch on the TV.
Taken individually, each of these videos has its own charms. But three makes a trend, as the mainstream media loves to observe, and this trend reminds me of your basic nostalgia humor trap that stand-up comedians have used over the years for easy laughs. Nostalgia humor traps often include cartoons, commercials and games you remember from childhood. Remember that show? (This is the part where audiences instinctively laugh, even before there is a punchline.) Technology also has fallen prey to nostalgia humor traps as our gadgets get better and make older tech outdated, and therefore inherently funny. The most common one I hear refers to anyone still carrying a pager or beeper. So I'm onto you, Internet videos about the Internet that look like they're from the 1990s. But if I want to really laugh about how far the Internet has come since then, I'll just watch a real-life video about the Internet in 1995. Like this one.
Growing up with the Harlem Globetrotters, you sometimes wondered what it must be like being a member of the opposition team, the Washington Generals. What does that have to do with anything? Well, comedian Ben Schwartz finally (after seven months) unveils episode four of his Webby-nominated (for best writing, individual short) series, Bronx World Travelers. In today's episode, Schwartz gets life and basketball lessons from a street legend, played by Bobby Moynihan. Enjoy!
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: