Day: May 5, 2009

IFC launches a sketch comedy blog

The IFC cable network launched its own sketch comedy blog this week, called Details are Sketchy. It's written by NYC-based stand-up Jeff Kreisler. Why sketch comedy in particular? IFC already has renewed The Whitest Kids U' Know, and season two of Z Rock (which includes several roles for comedians) premieres in June. And the network is getting behind several other comedy hybrids this summer, including BBC sketch show Wrong Door, Canadian import The Jon Dore Television Show, a cooking show with puppets and special effects called Food Party, and BBC sitcom Moz. IFC also plans a six-part interview show with the surviving members of Monty Python to air in October. Kreisler said details about his new IFC blog are, well, sketchy. But you can get to know more about him and the blog here. Go say hello when you get a...

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Jokespirations for Christian Finnegan’s “Au Contraire”

Christian Finnegan's latest stand-up comedy special, Au Contraire, is available now on iTunes, though you won't be able to see it on TV until May 8 (Comedy Central) or hold it in your hands as a CD/DVD until May 12 (Warner Bros.). Finnegan put together a fun set of videos to promote the special, Jokespirations, in which alter-ego Rolly Chedwick interviews people and dogs who can relate directly to the stand-up material. There are four episodes in all. Enjoy: Watch the rest, including an interview with his wife's dog, after the jump! Where do you stand on high-fives? What about trying to buy sex toys? And then there is his...

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Inside the mysterious world of freelance TV show joke writers

Years ago, I remember the first time I ever heard someone randomly say that they wrote jokes for The Tonight Show, and thought, really? You can do that? You can sit at home and stick a piece of paper with your funny one-liner into a fax machine, and somewhere in Hollywood, this magic fax goes directly to people in television who can then tell your joke?! This is a thing that existed. And still does. Even if kids today have no idea what a fax machine is. The Los Angeles Times wrote about the practice of freelance joke writing, pegging it to the Tonight Show transition from Leno to Conan and raising eyebrows over the whole legitimacy of letting non-union staff take part in writing for unionized shows. Of course, that's not how the industry views it. Show business has a tradition of letting new talent into the room via writing spec scripts, and inviting aspiring comedians to join their "fax lists" to submit potential jokes for Leno, Letterman, Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, and other shows. I know plenty of people now who belong to this club. So I asked a couple of them what they thought of the LAT story, and about the freelance joke business. One writer told me that everyone knows the rules of this game, including the show's full-time writing staff, who sign off...

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