Off the List 19

SNL was sooo good last night.  I loved the cold open (Les Mis themed) and Rihanna was great.  Although the green screen for Diamonds was super weird/not cute.

I can’t wait to buy the original, which will be release Nov 19! It is actually a duet with Mikky Ekko, who is a man. Not a woman. Just in case you hear the snippet and get confused.

He is pretty cool too.

I heard this song at work, unfortunately they have transitioned to Christmas music now (Are you kidding me, it’s not even freaking Thanksgiving yet! And there is a Santa photo booth set up too. I work at the mall. It is terrible).

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Bill Hader on Fresh Air

Bill Hader On Sketch Comedy, His Love Of Old Films

Terry Gross has the best job in the world. Just in the past couple of weeks she has interviewed Bill Hader, Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia, and Chris Rock. Jealous! How do I get that gig?

Hader is up for an Emmy, for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.  He is also about to begin his seventh season on SNL. I’m glad someone is sticking around!

The interview is great and I really liked hearing about his childhood:

We were a big movie family — even more so than television and books. My grandparents lived next door to us when we were growing up — my mom’s parents — and they were the reading house, and our house was the movie house. And pretty much every night we would watch a movie, especially during the summer, and it was our way of relaxing.

I will keep my fingers crossed since Hader is in a tough category.  He’s up against Ed O’Neill, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, and Max Greenfield (Schmidt from New Girl).

And Here’s the Kicker

Eventually comedy fandom evolves from mere appreciation into the search for every behind the scenes detail, including what is inside the minds of the writers.

And Here’s the Kicker is a compilation of 21 interviews with comedy writers.  The interviews were conducted and edited by Mike Sacks.

Here is what I learned from my favorite interviewees:

Stephen Merchant: Ricky Gervais and he wrote the dialogue by improvising into a tape recording and then editing it down to be typed; M*A*S*H was shown without a laugh track in England; “…there’s always the danger that we as comedy fans are writing comedy for other comedy fans [as opposed to writing for an audience]; [on the differences between American and British humor] “American humor—they’re not ashamed to use slang and vernacular…Whereas in England, there’s a need to display one’s intelligence”

Larry Wilmore: decided to devote his life to comedy after his family’s roof caved in, “I already had nothing—it’s not like I could achieve that twice;” he does a “writer’s stand-up act” (meaning it isn’t personality-driven, jokes are somewhat disconnected); worked on a canceled pilot for Fox about a white writer who joins the writing staff of a black sitcom (it was canceled because the lead wasn’t attractive enough—the actor? Paul Giamatti); “There should be no racial loyalty so much as comedy loyalty”

Bob Odenkirk: reputation as a perfectionist; considers the Mr. Show sketches “Clumsy Waiter” and “Philouza” to be the worst; “honesty is everything;” was unhappy with SNL’s writing process (if something didn’t go over well at the pitch meeting it was permanently rejected)

Paul Feig: “I’m very much a purist about memories and the truth in stories…I can think of a lot of funnier endings for everything that’s ever happened to me in my life, but that’s not the point;” while working as a script reader he realized that 99.9% of script are terrible; “the cruel side of me likes creating situations where people get buried deeper and deeper [thus raising the stakes for humiliation]

Mitch Hurwitz: earned theology and English degrees from Georgetown; [on being reluctant to encourage people to go into entertainment] “It can make a lot of people very, very unhappy;” “In retrospect, perhaps a majority of people didn’t want to see such a detailed show [Arrested Dev] and didn’t want complexity with their humor;” writers need to have compassion for their characters/stories; there was a hug in almost every episode of Arrested Dev

David Sedaris: if you want to be a good writer, you need to read; rejects exaggerating in his earlier stories (he was ‘trying too hard’ and that embellishing made it hard for audiences to believe him); edits his pieces while reading to an audience; “My main concern is to not be too corny;” he gets out of bed at 10:26 am every morning

Each interview is 10-15 pages, and covers what the writers think of their previous work, how they write, what motivates them, and their advice for aspiring comedy writers.

There’s also advice about getting hired as a sitcom or late-night writer or acquiring a literary or screenplay agent and a list of recommended reading.

The Mindy Project

YAY! Mindy Kaling’s new show (formerly “It’s Messy”) has received a “series order” from FOX.  I’m sad that she is leaving The Office, but I think she is getting off the Titanic and onto a 5 Star Cruiseliner. If you only know Mindy from The Office, you have to read her book! If you read her book, you will learn that her mother was an OBGYN. Inspiration for her character? I think so!

Also, Bill Hader! And Richard Schiff! And Ed Helms! I think they are only guesting for the pilot though. It was definitely a little weird to see Kelly and Andy on a date.

Premiering in the fall (set to air on Tuesdays at 9:30 PM ET/PT), the show features Kaling as an obsessed-with-but-still-unlucky-in-love doctor, with some apparently self-destructive habits and pervasive insecurities. While the trailer does fly high on the powers of femininity, it’s not something that men won’t find entertaining. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, there’s nothing unfunny about Mindy Kaling backpedaling after inviting Ed Helms to sleep with her on the first date.

                             – Hollywood.com

30Rock is going off the air, but I think The Mindy Project will be able to pick up slack in the laughs department (not the most attractive metaphor, oh well).

Hannibal Buress

Yes. Yes, that is his real name. No. No, he is not named after Hannibal Lecter.

Hannibal Buress is a former writer for SNL and 30Rock.  He has played a bum on 30Rock seven times (the picture above was taken during filming).  UPDATE: He was on last night’s (5/3) episode as Rus/Gus, the man in the tin-foil hat. Buress’ first comedy album, My Name is Hannibal, released in 2010, is available on itunes.

I recently listened to the WTF with Marc Maron with Hannibal. He talked about how when he first moved to NYC, his sister kicked him out, so he had to live in hostels, and when he couldn’t afford that, he slept on the F train.  Dang, that is a level of commitment I have never reached.

My favorite part starts at 5:00:

Key and Peele

Key and Peele is fantastic.  Both Portlandia and Key and Peele are more consistently funny than SNL is or MadTV was. It may be a “cooks in the kitchen thing,” where you get more quality sketches out of a comedy duo (Fry and Laurie, Armisen and Brownstein, Key and Peele) because of the closer rapport. Idk, just a guess.

Show description:

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are the stars of “Key & Peele,” an original new sketch-comedy show that examines life in a provocative and irreverent way, through a combination of filmed sketches and live stage segments. Whether it’s satirizing the President, spoofing Nazis, or ordering up some soul food, Key & Peele showcases their chemistry, camaraderie and unique point of view, born from their shared background and experiences growing up biracial in a not quite post-racial world.

Anyway, Key and Peele, both former MadTV cast members, are great.  You can watch full-length episodes on Hulu Plus, clips on Hulu, and clips on Comedy Central. And of course there’s the Comedy Central channel on youtube.

Here are some of my favorite sketches. IT WAS TOO HARD TO CHOSE SO I JUST KEPT ADDING MORE AND MORE:

 

The show airs Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30 c on Comedy Central and it has already been renewed for a second season that will air in the fall.

“The Talk” Goes Terribly Wrong

When I say “The Talk,” I don’t mean that other version of the The View with Sharon Osbourne, I mean “The [SEX] Talk.”

While surfing old articles on The Hairpin, I found this hilarious video in which Julia Sweeney (from SNL and NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!) describes having “The Talk” with her 8 year old daughter.  It seems to take every possible wrong turn.  Stick around for the ending, the best moment is about 10 minutes in.