Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hearing the Bugle's call

A quick and brief entry tonight. Just belatedly discovered yet another comedy podcast to add to my list -- the Bugle, a weekly affair that has been around awhile, but only recently debuted on iTunes. It features the Daily Show's John Oliver with partner Andy Zaltzman, riffing on politics and the news. On a recent episode titled "Playas gon play," listeners can see why Oliver's segments on the Daily Show often have the most fire and life to them of anything on that program -- because he exhibits the same cutting attitude here at much greater length.

Monday, January 23, 2012

NBC Must See TV column

In this column, and a lengthier podcast that expands on the column, Grantland's entertainment writers Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan deliver a spot-on critique of NBC's Thursday night comedies, as well as other current TV series. In particular, they identify and explain in detail some of the issues "The Office" seems to be having since Steve Carell's departure. These are worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Letterman fallout/Another recommendation

To follow up on a previous blog post here, according to Mirth, Eddie Brill is now out as booker of comedians at the "Late Show With David Letterman," mainly because of one small remark quoted in the New York Times story about him. Mirth's editor wrote an insightful column probing that remark that may have called attention to a problem with Brill's comments and the attitude they represent, perhaps leading to his departure from the booking role. I would recommend Mirth as a source of interesting news and features to comedy fans.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Letterman, Steven Wright tips

Read with interest this story on Eddie Brill, the veteran stand-up and longtime booker for the Late Show With David Letterman. I thought it was interesting because it tapped into some dissent among comedians about Brill's booking practices -- notably that he books mostly only friends, and that the show has only had 22 stand-ups over the course of the past year. Anthony Jeselnik was sharply critical, saying Brill trades on Letterman's name for his own comedy classes and hints that studying with him will give a performer a shot at getting on.

Speaking of Letterman, also out there, on Twitter, is @BernhardOnDave, an unofficial campaign to get Sandra Bernhard back on Letterman's show. She had several memorable appearances, but at some point got blackballed from the show and hasn't been on in years.

Overall, what both these items make me think about is that -- and this is probably stating the obvious -- Letterman hasn't been a place to actually catch creative comic talent in a long time. That's long been ceded to Conan, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon -- the next generation.

Lastly, had to devour Marc Maron's latest WTF podcast while riding the trains today -- an interview with Steven Wright. It struck me that in Maron's interview with Wright, you actually get to hear Maron draw Wright almost all the way out of his sleepy comic persona. Together, the two comedians connect and riff so well in the conversation that Wright's voice actually becomes fast and animated. It's fascinating for Steven Wright fans -- a must-listen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Louis C.K.'s B.S. Report appearance

In the spirit of the last post, and re-purposing this blog, I will try to give more regular recommendations of various bits of coverage of comedy in the media. For this one, I'd like to point people to Bill Simmons "B.S. Report," previously cited as a Jester favorite among podcasts. It's a few weeks old, but the Dec. 15 two-part interview with Louis C.K. is a must for comedy fans and media aficionados. In the interview, Simmons goes in-depth into the comedy and entertainment business with Louis C.K., following his successful and groundbreaking marketing of his latest one-hour special indepedently online. Together, they get into the economics of both the special and producing his "Louie" series, as well as touring as opposed to looking for a movie career. It's interesting and also inspiring as an example of how there is a path to do creative work if one creates it for oneself.

P.S. Thanks to Anthony Malakian of "Good Shot At Losing" for reminding me about this one.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blog shift

I'm going to set out to repurpose this blog. I used to, less frequently, post short observations on comedy, which I may still do, but I'd like to add a bit of "comedy media critic" aspect to it. That will start as pointing out other coverage about comedy from other outlets that I've found insightful and interesting. They have the time and focus to do the kind of reporting and coverage that I may not, so the least I can do is recommend it.

To that end, a first stop: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/stephen-colbert.html?ref=television. Already posted online three days ago, this is the cover story of tomorrow's New York Times Sunday magazine. In short, it looks at how Stephen Colbert is expanding his comedic persona by applying it to the US political fundraising system by starting his own Super PAC (political action committee). By actually using the Super PAC system in wacky ways -- to fund nonsensical ads, get referenda on ballots and support the owners' side in the recent NBA lockout -- Colbert is showing what a farce the rules and regulations are.

But I'll leave it to you to read more there. I give this teaser about the story to get you interested, as I'll do in future posts.