Sunday March 9, 2014
Indie darling Lena Dunham made her Saturday Night Live debut this week on an episode that wasn't the season's best, but garnered enough good will to be a much more enjoyable outing than last week's Jim Parsons-hosted show. Dunham felt a little out of her element and relied heavily on the cue cards (though the same could be said of the regular cast this week), but she was clearly happy to be there and having a good time flexing some new comedy muscles. Many of the sketches sidelined her in favor of bigger characters played by the cast (though not many repeats, unless you count Vanessa Bayer and returning Fred Armisen's segment during "Weekend Update"), but Dunham always tried to make the best of her time on the show.
This was also Colin Jost's second week as new anchor of "Weekend Update," and while he seemed a little more relaxed it still feels a lot like a couple of kids playing news anchor (though I did like Cecily Strong's joke about his focus on his hair, because it does look pretty time-intensive). I didn't expect I would already miss Seth Meyers' ability to make a joke land, but here we are. (Read the full Lena Dunham SNL recap)
Photo courtesy NBC
Sunday March 9, 2014
Actor Vince Vaughn is growing his Wild West Productions with a the new Wild West Comedy Festival set to launch in Nashville, Tennessee this May.
Already booked to performing during the first-ever four day festival are Aziz Ansari, Bill Burr, Rob Schneider, Steve Byrne, Owen Benjamin, Dennis Miller, Demetri Martin, Aisha Tyler, Ralphie May, Billy Gardell, Nick Swardson and the legendary Dick Gregory, among others. Additionally, Marc Maron will record a live episode of his WTF podcast live from the fest (with Vince Vaughn as his guest) and Chris Hardwick will tape an episode of his late night Comedy Central series @Midnight.
It's a pretty incredible lineup for a first-time festival, and I have to assume some of that has to do with Vaughn's name being attached.
The actor has been a friend to stand-up comedy in recent years; in addition to being a producer on Steve Byrne's TBS series Sullivan & Son, Vaughn who produced the stand-up concert film Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy: 30 Days and 30 Nights in 2006.
The Wild West Comedy Fest runs May 15th-18th in Nashville. For more information or to order tickets, check out the festival's official site.
Aziz Ansari photo courtesy Netflix
Sunday March 2, 2014
After a month long break so that NBC could air the Winter Olympic Games, Saturday Night Live returned this week with The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons acting as host for the first time. Though he has well-proven comic chops, Parsons was a generic host overall; except for one serial killer sketch (the best of the night), there wasn't anything he did that couldn't have been done by anyone else. That's not totally on him, though; he was a game host and just didn't have the kind of material that distinguished him from a lot of other guest hosts. If it was announced he was coming back to host next season, I wouldn't be angry but I wouldn't be all that excited, either. It was that kind of show.
The big story this week was the debut of head writer Colin Jost joining Cecily Strong behind the "Weekend Update" desk for the first time. It's impossible to know what kind of job Jost will do; the only observations I had were that he seems very young and that he wears a smug smile not unlike the ones made famous by past "Update" anchors Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller. Maybe he'll be great after all...(Read the full SNL Jim Parsons recap)
Photo courtesy NBC
Saturday March 1, 2014
It's that time again. The 86th annual Academy Awards are taking place this weekend with Ellen DeGeneres returning as host.
Good thing DeGeneres will be on stage, as it's pretty much the closest any comedian will come to any gold statues Sunday night. Former stand-up Woody Allen is the only comedian nominated this year for his Blue Jasmine screenplay, but he has bigger things to worry about these days than whether or not he wins another Oscar. Besides, even if he did win he most likely won't be in attendance. Woody never goes. When he won Best Director and Best Picture for Annie Hall in 1977, he was famously playing with his jazz band instead of attending the ceremony.
Sure, some comedians will be on stage as presenters -- including Bill Murray, who is scheduled to present for the first time ever -- but the Oscars rarely recognize the contributions of comedians. And when they do, it's usually for dramatic performances like Jamie Foxx's turn in Ray or Mo'nique (pictured) in Precious.
With that in mind, take a look back at all the comedians who have been nominated or won Academy Awards in the last 85 years. Don't worry; it's a pretty short list.
The 86th annual Academy Awards air Sunday, March 2nd at 6 p.m. CST.
Mo'Nique photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images