I certainly wouldn't consider myself a successful alcoholic. But who could, really? And yet, that's the title of the 25-minute short film written by TJ Miller and directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2010. It's finally online in its entirety for you to enjoy. Certainly Not Safe For Work. Miller and Lizzy Caplan star in Successful Alcoholics, with featured roles for Nick Thune, Matt Braunger, Nick Kroll and Whitney Cummings.
A few years ago, beast.Films made a short film starring TJ Miller as a guy named Charlie trying to make a life for himself after spending 10 years in prison. Their 22-minute short, Charlie On Parole, also stars Joe Wengert, Molly Ryman, Mitch Wissick, and Bobby Moynihan.
Darren Miller, one of the film's writers/producers along with Kevin Mead and Paul Briganti, told me: "We decided that instead of releasing it through traditional distribution channels (trying to get it into festivals, sending it to studios, etc.) we wanted to see if we could make it successful just by putting it online and getting as many people as possible to see it."
I saw it. I enjoyed it. Now you see it! Roll it!
During yesterday's Super Bowl snarkathon, more than a few comedians I know expressed their displeasure through sarcasm or sincere dislike for the E*Trade talking baby ads. They're fully within their rights to do so, except that some of these people, I'm fairly certain, are fans of Pete Holmes. And Holmes is the voice of the E*Trade baby. Has been for a full year now. Do they not know that?
Here's the latest E*Trade ads that aired during the Super Bowl.
On a slightly related tip, comedian/actor TJ Miller also got to provide lead voiceover for a Super Bowl ad. His was for Cars.com. Let's talk a look and listen!
Comedy Central has set a date for the debut of Mash Up, the post-Blerds experimental comedy show, hitting the airwaves at midnight Friday, March 11, 2011.
TJ Miller hosts, with featured performances by Matt Braunger, Hannibal Buress, Kyle Kinane and Kumail Nanjiani, acted-out stand-up in sketches, and other weirdly addictive visuals. It's directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and we already can see how he's setting the tone with this intro video.
How do I know it's JoVo Robo underneath that TV helmet? Because he also captured behind-the-scenes footage of this shoot. Any director willing to get pelted with paintballs is OK in my book.
On last night's episode of Conan, comedian/actor T.J. Miller performed stand-up and also did panel chat with Conan O'Brien (you don't need to wait for Johnny Carson's wave in Y2K10, because that's something only old people even remember).
For his stand-up, Miller readily acknowledged his love of drinking (and the consequences thereof) before going on to explain how he managed to deliberately get a funny face photographed for his California driver's license. Then he proved it wasn't just a bit by showing off the license to O'Brien, Andy Richter and the TV audience. Also: Don't dare Miller to prove how much he knows about giraffes. Because he knows. Oh, he knows.
Roll the clip!
Related: You can see TJ this month in the big-screen live/animated adaptation of Yogi Bear. Back in 2009, he landed his role in the movie by filming a screen test of himself with a live bear. You can see TJ Miller interact with a live bear here.
Comedian/actor T.J. Miller came back to Chicago this week and brought some of his Windy City comedy friends back with him for a stand-up show billed as "Drinking Buddies," and the buddies certainly believed the drinking part was mandatory for the evening, in back-to-back shows that went well into Wednesday night at the Lincoln Lodge.
Host James Fritz complained early on that the Lincoln Lodge and JFL hadn't gotten with the program. "All they have for us backstage is water!" Fritz made do with the cash bar.
Mike Bridenstine (pictured) opened by commenting on Fritz and the fellow Chicago comedy scene and how gross they are. As for his drinking story, Brido shared that he had gotten drunk as a sixth-grader when his eighth-grade sister held a houseparty when their parents were away. "Aw, hell, no!" On a more sobering note, he also has written a great TV ad for a karate place that could join the pantheon of infamous local TV ads, whether in Chicago or anywhere.
Kyle Kinane was ready for "Showtime!" "I buy my beer in 12-packs so I'm not such a boozebag," Kinane claimed. "I like to get my exercise, so when I'm done, I can walk back and get more." He joked with the crowd about being so drunk, that he has pretended to take a cell phone call to mask his puking. But he's not built for drinking, apparently. "I'm not good at it," he joked. "But I keep coming back, because I think one of these nights, I'm going to figure it out. I'm like Rudy!"
Headliner Miller joked that his buddies may have taken the show's title a bit too literally by getting drunk before the show, although as he noted, with beer mugs as large as the ones the Lincoln Lodge sells, it's not that difficult. He said those mugs are big enough to expose your loneliness to the world. "Do you have another one that I can get into?" he asked. Miller also shared stories about filming the upcoming Yogi Bear movie, which he said is coming out in 3-D and features a song by Justin Timberlake. That prompted a reply from a female audience member in the back of the room. Only the Lincoln Lodge isn't that large. "Yes, ma'am, I am serious, and I can hear you when you say, 'Are you serious?'" Miller responded.
When Comedy Central announced its special "Hot List" showcase of new talented comedians, I could not say the list surprised me. Many of these people got multiple mentions here at The Comic's Comic in the past year, and when I thought about Kumail Nanjiani's achievements in the past year, even I was duly impressed with what he's been able to accomplish since moving to New York City from Chicago. So I talked to him briefly outside of Comix during the club's holiday party this week (holiday parties already!) and asked him to put it into some perspective -- Letterman, Kimmel, Live at Gotham, Michael and Michael Have Issues, The Colbert Report, and a development deal with NBC. Where does he go from here? Roll the clip! (Warning: Includes improvised absurdity from Eugene Mirman, who actually fits into Kumail's NYC story, as well as a joke at John Mayer's expense, and a cameo by Nanjiani's newlywed wife, Emily) Roll it!
Of course, Nanjiani isn't the only one on Comedy Central's Hot List special, which airs on Sunday, Dec. 6. Here's a clip featuring all nine -- Anthony Jeselnik, Aziz Ansari, Nick Kroll, Matt Braunger, Jon Lajoie, Whitney Cummings, TJ Miller, Donald Glover and Nanjiani -- describing why they made the cut. Roll it!
Did you know that Warner Bros. is developing a live-action/animated movie version of beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Yogi the Bear? That's the word on the street, as well as on the Internets (IMDB profile for "Yogi Bear" (2010)).
So comedian/actor T.J. Miller ventured over to Hollywood Animal Ranch for a screen test with Bam Bam, the grizzly bear. When I first clicked, I expected CGI. Nope. This is real. Watch as Miller improvises with Bam Bam. Will they survive? SPOILER ALERT!
Hey, Boo Boo! Do you need a refresher on who/what Yogi the Bear was? Here is a 1968 episode of Yogi's Big Break:
And to complete the circle (or triangle!), here is a clip of Will Ferrell wrestling "Dewie the Bear" from the 2008 movie, Semi-Pro. Of course, that bear actually later went on to kill an animal trainer last year. The things we do for comedy sometimes, people!
When I heard that Pete Holmes wanted to celebrate his 30th birthday by having his friends and fellow stand-up comedians roast him, my first thought was that he had lost his mind. And then I attended the roast last night at the UCB, and was quickly reminded that this is a rare opportunity for comedians to unleash not only their mocking jabs at one another, but also some heartfelt tender moments. But you didn't click here looking for heartfelt or tender, did you? As Holmes himself said during the show: "I want it to be meaner!"
Leo Allen, the regular host of Monday night's Whiplash, served as the roastmaster (pictured here by Mindy Tucker) -- and despite allegedly forgetting that the roast was happening, managed to find several zingers up his sleeves. The dais was a regular who's who of New York City's current crop of up-and-coming comedians, with John Mulaney, Anthony Jeselnik and Kumail Nanjiani represented. Also on board: TJ Miller, who flew in for the event, Jared Logan, David Angelo, Nate Fernald, Seth Herzog, a tardy Julian McCullough and Holmes' girlfriend, Jamie Lee. Here are a few of the many zingers I managed to jot down for posterity:
I wondered how many of the audience members knew what they were in for (there were a dozen or two other comics scattered in the seats, too), and I knew it'd be something when one young woman, when asked by Allen if she knew who Holmes was, shouted: "Security in the basement!" Yeah, that's a Greg Johnson bit. ROASTED!
That's the premise of Nick Thune's five-episode online series for Comedy Central's Atom.com, which means you better be buckling up for a bumpy ride, because Nick's Big Show is an anti-comedy comedy show. Nick Thune plays himself as a comedian who gets his hands on $10,000 and pays a camera crew to follow him around as he makes the leap from comedian to performance artist, putting on a show to beat all shows. Kate Micucci plays Thune's biggest fan, hired to be his personal assistant. Nick Kroll, as Thune's manager, has no idea what to make of all of this. Will you be able to see the big picture? New episodes are released on Fridays.
In episode two, out today, we see Thune go to a costume shop for design tips from "Markie" (TJ Miller) and seek out a choreographer.
The series runs through April 17.
Oh, Hello! Paramount Pictures announced today it'll make Freshman Roommates, a comedy movie starring Tracy Morgan and TJ Miller, and written by comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll -- based on the premise that one of the many scam e-mails from an African prince looking to inherit his wealth is, in fact, not a scam at all. Morgan will star as the son of a deposed African dictator, while Miller presumably plays the young man who answers the e-mail. (Variety)
Mulaney and Kroll, who met at Georgetown University and improvised together there, later established their comedy credentials together here in New York City with their UCB hit, "Oh, Hello!" and as panelists on VH1's Best Week Ever, as well as separately -- Mulaney as an impressive stand-up comedian (his first Comedy Central Presents debuts in the first weeks of 2009) and writer for Saturday Night Live; Kroll as an actor in sitcoms such as Worst Week and Cavemen, online in Rob Corddry's new Childrens' Hospital, voice work in Life & Times of Tim and the upcoming Sit Down, Shut Up, as well as the 2009 movie, I Love You Man.
The Comic's Comic contacted Mulaney and Kroll today and asked them very briefly to state why they pitched and sold Freshman Roommates before exploring an Oh, Hello! feature. They politely replied:
Hey comedy fans, perhaps you remember reading or hearing a rumor about comedian TJ Miller and his audition this summer for SNL. Or the "baloney and fibs," as Miller tells me. When I saw him a day or two after his audition, he said he would be more than OK getting over a rejection because he had plenty of projects in his comedy pipeline. Miller tells me today: "I just got a part in the next Mike Judge film, EXTRACT, with Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristin Wiig and Gene Simmons. Word up." Indeed. Judge has made comedy classics already out of Office Space and Idiocracy.
The Chicago comedian who helped frame the madness of Cloverfield as Hud and stole scenes in TV's Carpoolers as Marmaduke also has parts in two other films coming up. He'll play Stainer in the upcoming comedy, She's Out of My League, and also has a part in next spring's The Goods: The Don Ready Story, directed by Neal Brennan and starring Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, David Koechner, Ed Helms, Rob Riggle and more. And he'll be on tour doing stand-up in November.
Labor Day weekend in Seattle means the biggest music and arts fest of the year there, aka Bumbershoot. A decade ago, the weekend attracted names both big and small in music to come together in celebration of culture and all things good and fun, with one show or maybe two devoted on the side to comedy. Well, one look at the 2008 Bumbershoot comedy schedule shows how far we've come, with three full days and nights of funny in multiple venues this weekend. Human Giant will be there. So, too, will Janeane Garofalo, Marc Maron, Tom Rhodes, Doug Benson, Hannibal Buress, Jessi Klein, TJ Miller, Nick Thune, Michelle Buteau, the People's Republic of Komedy, Vince Averill, Tig Notaro, Greg Behrendt, The Sound of Young America Live!, UCB-LA's MySpace show, and many more.
It's also a time for sad and glad news. Sad? Final weekend for the Mainstage Comedy crew on Queen Anne (as reported by the Seattle Comedy Blog). Waiting for the full story on that development. On the other hand: Glad?
The Comedy Underground finally gets to reopen in its new location a couple of blocks over in Pioneer Square at 109 S. Washington St., with a grand reopening debut UPDATED: The Comedy Underground's people report they're moving the Sept. 9 for the Mitch Hedberg CD release/tribute show over to Laughs in Kirkland because it's possible the new Underground won't be ready in time and they don't want to miss the chance to celebrate the CD release in "Mitch's comedy home."
The Comic's Comic believes in news and opinions, and yet, despite the lack of an official announcement from NBC, plenty of people and blogs are willing to take E! gossip king Ted Casablanca's report on the SNL auditions as the truth and report it as such. That said, my sources told me much the same thing about how Bobby Moynihan (pictured) and T.J. Miller fared in front of Lorne Michaels. The Huffington Post used a UCB source not named Moynihan to confirm the news. Meanwhile, everyone has been congratulating Moynihan on his Facebook page for the past week. I only bring this up because, well, 1) the show doesn't debut for three more weeks, and 2) lots of people thought this cast hiring had happened last season. So keep your congrats on the down and low for now. That is all. By the way, as I noted earlier this summer, and both E! and Huffington Post agree, Michaels also will need to hire a funny female to replace Amy Poehler when she leaves for motherhood and Sitcom Land. We'll need to stay tuned for the official word soon enough.
UPDATED! It's official. NBC confirmed Wednesday that Bobby Moynihan will join the cast of SNL when it returns Sept. 13. So, congrats, Bobby!
Big weekends don't begin on Fridays, but rather on Thursdays, so that's how I found myself on a bus to Washington, District of Columbia, last week to arrive just in time for the kickoff of last weekend's DC Comedyfest.
Someone joked that night that D.C. really was hosting the Chicago and New York fest, due to all of the comedic talent arriving from those two cities, but I know I wasn't the only person excited to see the all-local District of Comedy showcase, as a few other industry types joined me in the DC Improv's lounge on Thursday night to check out some comedians we hadn't seen before. How would we know at the time -- how could we know? -- that this show would prove more worthwhile than the official industry showcase that followed on the Improv's mainstage later that night? But we'll get to that soon enough.
Jason Weems, from Baltimore, appeared on both the D.C. and industry showcases that night, performing essentially the same set twice, although he had the misfortune early in having to compete with a noisy waiter and an awkward atmosphere later. And, um, "scrotum meat?" OK. That's a phrase that certainly sticks with you...hope you didn't order the nachos. Also noticed his vocal delivery seemed to be influenced by Chappelle. Not that that's a bad thing. He's also all over that McCain joke about how his being a POW doesn't make him good at winning wars.
Aparna Nancherla claims she is an introvert, which is an odd-but-true trait for a stand-up comedian, but is quick to point out, "I watch, TV, too!" so you can relate to her. She has a good, strong stage presence. If only she hadn't gotten the silent treatment from Last Comic Standing this year, perhaps she would have been the first female winner?
Kojo Mante sees why it'd be foolish to endorse a national gas holiday, but has more to say about the foolishness of building a statue of a homeless guy, which apparently they've done there. Hampton Yount is one shiny, happy, white boy, and the audience loved his boyish boyishness (that's a not-so-hifalutin way of describing his energy), all the way through his closing bit about the energy you need to sustain to write an angry letter. Jay Hastings went to the trouble of wearing the same outfit he had on in the Post's Express spread on him, but apparently, people don't even read free newspapers in D.C. any longer. "You think when you make the Express you'd be on the showcase," Hastings ranted. Although his bit on fingering probably would not have worked there...trust me on this one. Jon Mumma closed the local parade by imagining "swirlio" guys at the gym doing calf raises, poking fun at a Brad Paisley lyric, and noticing the things kids can get away with that adults simply cannot. He sounded like a guy you hear on the radio.
So, yeah. About that "Fresh Voices Industry Stand-Up Audition Show." It'd be for the best if I left all of the names out to protect the innocent, but really, some things need to be said about this show, which went awry from the get-go and only barely got back on track for a moment or two. Comics were buzzing before the showcase about the fact that TJ Miller couldn't make it to D.C. to host because he was in New York City auditioning for Saturday Night Live (catching up with Miller later over the weekend, he said, well, perhaps I shouldn't say what he said because SNL is making final decisions this week on him and a few others as possible cast additions). But without Miller, the festival looked to Dave Hill to substitute as host. As much as I love Hill and his quirky sensibility, he's really more of an anti-host. It's more than fine when it's his own show, but he doesn't bring the kind of energy to the room that young comics looking for TV exposure are going to want or need. So that started the show on an odd foot. But Jared Logan, first up, made things terribly awkward by starting his showcase for the industry by verbally attacking Hill -- "Is that the host we're going with tonight?" -- and creating a mood where the audience was expecting a night of fights rather than laughs. Which leads me to another point of order. If you are performing for a panel of TV scouts (which this was, with people representing Letterman, Comedy Central, VH1 and E!'s Chelsea Lately), wouldn't you want to do material that you could imagine them delivering on the TV? As I texted someone later during the show: "Some odd choices to showcase yourselves to TV scouts. Crowd not great, but not their fault." Many in the lineup simply didn't bring the right stuff on this night. Kumail Nanjiani, or am I supposed to be calling him Ali now, went long but managed to engage the crowd and get everybody involved with the show again, leaving some scraps for the final two performers of the evening, Sean Patton and Brooke Van Poppelen. Patton got applause for his bit about calling in sick, and Poppelen found more than a few fans with her thoughts about brunch. You know what? It is for the best to leave out the other names from this showcase, because they'll have better opportunities to shine in the future.
On a brighter note, I managed to get some sleep on the Greyhound bus back to New York City on Friday morning without losing my head. So hooray for that.
You know Variety just named TJ Miller as one of its 10 comics to watch in 2008, and then I referenced a joke Miller has about ketchup bottles? Well, you are in luck, my fine readers, because Miller is featured on tonight's edition of Live at Gotham on Comedy Central. And here is the bit I'm talking about. Do you agree with me or with Miller? I won't be upset if you take his side. After all, "I live in a fanciful world where logic doesn't exist!" Also, this is a great time to remind you that I was at this very TV taping this spring and have exclusive behind-the-scenes video and info from this episode's comedians, including Matt McCarthy, Joe List, Na'im Lynn, Vince Averill and Lucas Molandes. More videos forthcoming later tonight. The show itself airs at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific.
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!
The following comedy lesson is brought to you by Michael Showalter, The Slipper Room, the F train and Road Runner Internet service...
Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedian poking fun and the target of the poking are good friends and all is friendly. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Such was the case Tuesday night at Seth Herzog's Sweet showcase at The Slipper Room. Everything was going along smoothly and long as usual during the two-hour affair, with Herzog dancing like a fool, Brett Gelman presenting the angry insult comic Jimmy New York, and Showalter describing the first time he and childhood friend Herzog visited Hoagie Haven in the sixth grade. "He is like a cat rolled up in catnip, because I'm telling a story about him, instead of doing my material," Showalter said. He then followed up with an essay about dating girls with boyfriends, which if I didn't know better, sounds like it could've been the inspiration for his charming comedy, The Baxter. So far, so good. Right?
After some more silliness, including a discussion between Herzog and his mom about her affinity for gay men, TJ Miller (co-star in ABC's new sitcom, Carpoolers, as well as the cameraman in Cloverfield) came on to close out the show. In his opening remarks, he referred to "Michael Showalter and his one-man, four-act play." Gets a quick laugh from the audience. But that perked up Showalter's ears, while the rest of his face and body evoked more of a WTF reaction. In fact, he said something along those lines, and in reality told his friends, "This guy doesn't know me."
The word "douche" also may have been muttered/uttered. From the back of the room, Showalter muttered the words "what a douche." Clearly affected by this onstage diss, Showalter even texted a message to Herzog about it. Herzog, though, made the situation more awkward by having Showalter approach the stage (unmiked) to say something to Miller about his diss. Miller didn't know what to say except to apologize. Minutes later, Showalter confronted Miller again offstage to let him know it's not OK to diss comedians you don't know. A few minutes of verbal volleying followed before Miller said "this is over" and left the building.
To repeat this evening's morning lesson: Comedians make fun of each other all the time. Most of the time, however, the comedians in question are good friends all is good. When the comedians don't know each other, look out. Because that's often perceived as disrespect.
If you were wondering how TJ Miller would fare as a club headliner this weekend at Comix (why do I always say you when really I mean me, which means I mean I), then you may wonder less knowing that Miller will have his fellow ex-Chicago comedy friends supporting him in Pete Holmes and Kumail Nanjiani. The three amigos perform at Comix tonight and Saturday.