Friday, July 24, 2009

Hijacked Panel

At this morning's panel in the Just For Laughs Montreal Comedy Conference, on "Adult Animation Grows Up," Dino Stamatopoulos, creator and writer of the obscure show "Moral Orel," deftly hijacked the entire panel from the start (which included Dave Willis, co-creator of 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force'), snoring audibly into his microphone as the helpless moderator, Athena Gerogaklis, a Canadian TV animation production manager posed her first question on how all the animation show creators first pitched their ideas.

Stamatopoulos then proceeded to stroll off into the audience with his mike, rambling about a car accident and some other oddities, before getting around to his answer, without failing to note that before pitching, he had been drunk around the pool of the trendy L.A. hotel, the Standard. For all his unkempt appearance, Stamatopoulos did grasp inherently how panel discussions can get dull and sought to shake this one up. He didn't always quite succeed but at least got one laugh with the comment, "That's how DaVinci sold his 'Mona Lisa' show."

Montreal Comedy Festival report

I thought at first I would break these all up into separate blog entries, but it may just end up being multiple stream-of-consciousness entries -- when it comes to covering the non-public business-side events and panels billed as the Just For Laughs Comedy Conference here in Montreal this week, that complement all the evening performances for the industry's participants.

In the first panel today, concerning comedy writing and how changing economics and distribution, especially through the Internet, are affecting how comedy writers do their work, I heard a word used I normally only hear in my other life as a financial industry trade publication journalist, and that is "fragmentation." The industry professionals on this panel, including the writer of "Tropic Thunder" and "Madagascar 2," a producer for the "Sarah Silverman Program," and Tami Sahger, a writer for "30 Rock" and respected improv performer, expressed and explored concerns about "audience fragmentation," as a result of the seemingly infinite choices of cable channels and the Web for comedic entertaiment.

The panelists debated the depth of comedy on video as a result of having to capture and cater to ever shorter attention spans. But they did have kind words for the technological advances' affect on comedy for making it easier for performers to gain exposure by shooting material on their own and on the cheap, just to get it out there.

Running out of steam a little right now, but will likely follow up on this entry with a look at the second panel heard today, which delved further into the Internet's potential as a new frontier for comedy.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Occasionally, passing by all the bills posted on scaffolding around the city, something sinks in as worth checking out. In the past couple weeks, I saw all these intriguing posters touting "" Thinking this was a new comedy site, along the lines of Funny or Die, or SuperDeluxe, I finally got around to checking it out, and was disappointed. is just a collection of clips from various HBO comedy series, grouped by themes such as "Huge Misunderstandings," "Tantalizing Truths" and "Foreign Exposure." The whole thing is basically just one big promo for HBO series on DVDs, done under the very dishonest bait-and-switch of setting the whole thing up to look like it's new original content. Thumbs down, or 'boo,' or nominate them for Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" award, or however you want to pan the site.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whatever Works

I can't really put this up as a full review because it's already been out a couple weeks, but I do want to give a quick take on "Whatever Works," the Woody Allen movie starring Larry David, momentous for being a meeting of comedic minds.

I enjoyed a lot of the film, but I have to say, that especially for those who are more fans of David, it really loses steam after the first half, when David's character gets sidelined for awhile as Allen's script gets more into the machinations involving the other characters. This is after David, with his trademark dark comic bile, has thoroughly energized and sparked the movie, especially with a few long rants delivered directly into the camera, speaking purposefully to the audience with a knowing wink.

What could have been a four or five-star movie starts to fall a bit short of that, and closer to the category of being a more minor Woody Allen work, as the focus strays away from David. It turns out to be more of an entertaining experiment and less momentous as a movie than "Vicky Christina Barcelona" or "Match Point," out of Allen's recent films.