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
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
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
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
Add comedian Nick Thune to the endless list of comedians with their own sitcoms.
Deadline reports that Thune has just been cast in the pilot for Old Soul, co-created by Amy Poehler for NBC. The show stars Natasha Lyonne as a former party girl who takes a job caring for the elderly. Thune will play her roommate on the sitcom. The Old Soul pilot is being directed by David Wain.
This will be at least Thune's third go-round with an NBC sitcom. In 2010, he was hired to replace Patton Oswalt on the pilot for Beach Lane, a sitcom starring Matthew Broderick was was ultimately never picked up. In 2012, NBC bought Untitled Hipster Project starring Thune and produced by Jimmy Fallon. It's obvious that the network is interested in making Thune a star, so maybe Old Soul will be the project on which everything finally falls into place.
Thune's latest stand-up special Folk Hero made its debut on Netflix earlier this year.
Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images
Jimmy Pardo, host of the hugely popular Never Not Funny podcast, could be making the move from podcasting to television. TBS has ordered a pilot for a new talk show, The Weekly Awards with Jimmy Pardo, to be produced by Conan O'Brien, the guy it seems is developing the entire late night slate at the network.
The weekly show would be a roundup of all the top stories and popular clips, personalities and oddities being talked about. Also, Pardo will wear a tux. So it sounds a lot like The Soup or the Paul F. Tompkins-hosted incarnation of Best Week Ever
TBS already has The Pete Holmes Show, hosted by comedian Pete Holmes and also produced by Conan O'Brien. Holmes has his own popular podcast, You Made It Weird, which just makes me think that TBS is getting all of their talk show ideas from listening to comedy podcasts. That's not such a bad thing.
The Weekly Awards will shoot its pilot on Conan O'Brien's Burbank stage on March 7. We should hear whether or not TBS is picking it up shortly after that.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
With a worldwide box office take of $169 million, it would difficult to call Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues anything but a big success. When you consider that the first film maxed out at around $90 million worldwide in 2004 -- and then went on to become one of the most popular and beloved comedies of the 2000s -- everyone involved has got to be pretty happy with the way the sequel has performed.
So I don't believe it's greed when I learn that Paramount is re-releasing Anchorman 2 into theaters on February 28th in an alternate R-rated cut that promises 763 new jokes (I do not know who sat and counted the jokes). That they have enough material to create an almost entirely new movie should come as no surprise; everyone in the cast likes to improvise and McKay shoots a whole lot of film (especially now that it's all digital and you don't have to worry about how many feet or stock are being shot). In fact, the DVD release of the original Anchorman cam packaged with a second movie, Wake Up Ron Burgundy, stitched together wholly out of deleted scenes and subplots that were never used. The movie is a big mess and not very funny, but it demonstrates just how much everyone has to work with.
Will an R-rated cut of Anchorman 2 be a success? I know a lot of people saw the movie, but I didn't hear from many people who liked it. Will the promise of that much new material draw people back to theaters, even those (like myself) who were left cold by the sequel the first time around? My problems with the sequel weren't that the jokes weren't dirty enough. It's that they failed to make me laugh. I guess what I'm saying is that it's great there are 763 new jokes, but are any of them going to be funny this time?
It's an interesting experiment Paramount is trying out. Once upon a time, this sort of thing would be a DVD bonus feature (and actually was when the first film hit home video), but with the DVD market drying up pretty quickly, maybe we'll see studios trying to earn back some extra money with non-traditional release models like this.
Anchorman 2: The Super-Sized R-Rated Version arrives in theaters this Friday, February 28th. Stay f#@*ing classy, San Diego.
Comedy Central has announced the new lineup of comics who will tape their own 30-minute stand-up specials for the third season of The Half Hour (formerly Comedy Central Presents). It's a good mix of comics you hopefully already know that might not be huge yet and comics you'll probably be discovering for the first time.
The comics set to appear on the new season of The Half Hour are:
- Kurt Braunohler
- Michael Che
- Chris Distefano
- Rachel Feinstein
- Fortune Feimster
- Ron Funches
- Tommy Johnagin
- Damien Lemon
- Adam Newman
- Mark Normand
- Yanis Pappas
- Barry Rothbart
- Joe Wengart
- Joe Zimmerman
The new season of specials is expected to be taped in Boston at the end of March. No premiere date has been set yet.
Tommy Johnagin courtesy The Syndicate
Joel McHale has come a long way in just a couple of years.
When he started hosting The Soup on E! 10 years ago, he was just an actor taking a gig. It wasn't until a few years in that he began working on a stand-up act and performing shows, eventually honing his act to become a fairly accomplished stand-up who can sell out clubs and colleges. And though he's only been doing stand-up a handful of years, he's been tapped as the host of this year's White House Correspondents Dinner.
Seeing as being snarky and commenting on things is exactly what McHale does on The Soup (only there it's terrible television and not world affairs), I can see why someone would think he's a good fit for the Correspondents Dinner. McHale has promised to be "equally offensive to everyone," which is one of the pitfalls of taking such a gig -- there is tremendous pressure not to play favorites. The politicians and officials who attend the event don't always appear to have the best senses of humor when it comes to themselves.
In addition to his continued hosting duties on The Soup, McHale is currently starring on the NBC sitcom Community, now in its fifth season on the air. No word yet on whether or not the show will be renewed for a sixth; it's the kind of show that has been getting half-season orders and last-minute stays of execution pretty much since Season Two.
Past hosts of the event have included Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O'Brien and Stephen Colbert, who famously tore apart the Bush administration while performing during the Bush administration.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Former Saturday Night Live cast member and head writer Seth Meyers is gearing up to take over NBC's Late Night while Jimmy Fallon moves over to The Tonight Show, and it was announced this week that one of Meyers' SNL buddies is going to be coming along with him.
Fred Armisen, who left Saturday Night Live at the end of last season after 10 years with the show, will take over as bandleader for the newly-named 8G band when Late Night premieres later this month. Armisen occasionally had the opportunity to show off his musical chops during his tenure at the sketch show (including his send-off sketch last season, in which he played recurring character Ian Rubbish and jammed with Carrie Brownstein, J. Mascis, Kim Gordon and Aimee Mann), but casual viewers might not realize just how accomplished a musician he is. In the '90s, Armisen was the drummer for the punk band Trenchmouth, then spent time playing percussion as part of Blue Man Group in Chicago. He still does guest spots on several indie rock albums.
It's a fascinating career move for Armisen, who seems to only do the kinds of projects that truly interest him and doesn't follow the path traditionally taken by some Saturday Night Live alum. I'm sure the Late Night gig will give him a chance to hang out with his friends and play music while still affording him enough time to pursue other projects. Plus, with a bandleader who has such an impressive comedic background, you know that Meyers is going to be calling on Armisen to do sketches and bits on the show. If Max Weinberg could do it, so can one half of Garth and Kat.
Armisen will continue to star on his IFC sketch series Portlandia, which is scheduled to begin airing its fourth season at the end of February. If you're not already watching it, you're missing out on a truly original, absurdist sketch show that feels much more in Armisen's voice than almost anything he did during his decade with Saturday Night Live.
Late Night with Seth Meyers makes its premiere on February 24th. We'll see what it all looks like then.
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