Month: September 2009

A word or two or more about SNL’s Weekend Update Thursday #2.2

Everyone is gearing up for the official 35th season of Saturday Night Live, so let's use last night's Weekend Update Thursday as a chance to warm-up with a mini-recap. Instead of a full-bore critique, just some initial thoughts. It's still beyond weird to hear anyone say "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!" when it's clearly Thursday. This must be so they can use the cold opens in repeats? Or merely stuck on tradition? Regardless, Fred Armisen's Barack Obama is starting to slip into original SNL territory, you know, back when Chevy Chase played Gerald Ford as someone who looked remarkably like Chevy Chase, or Dan Aykroyd's mustachioed Jimmy Carter. Their take on Obama's Sunday press run was funny enough, heightening the scene by expanding out to a full press junket for cable channels — Kenan Thompson as ESPN's Stuart Scott (got the inane product-placement and patter down pat), newcomer Nasim Pedrad checked in as Kathy Griffin (kudos on nailing her debut, although odd that the hair people didn't go for a bolder red?), Jason Sudeikis as Glenn Beck was devastatingly hilarious, Kristin Cavallari is probably thrilled to be portrayed by Abby Elliott, as is Guy Fieri by Bobby Moynihan. Andy Samberg still plays young enough to be a teen-aged vampire. And Bill Hader's Keith Morrison makes me laugh every time. As for the Update desk, Seth Meyers tripped...

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Aziz Ansari on Kanye West and a post-Raaaaaaaandy world

Aziz Ansari returned to New York City this week to promote the second season of NBC's Parks and Recreation, and also dropped back into the comedy scene for a few shows. One of his stops was "Whiplash," the Monday late-night stand-up showcase that replaced Ansari's "Crash Test" at the UCB Theatre when he moved out to Los Angeles. This is a funny moment that photographer Mindy Tucker captured when Ansari invited four guys from the front row onstage to try to recreate their synchronized fist/clap reaction to one of his punchlines. See more of Tucker's work at With Reservation. Ansari was working on new material, but he also asked the UCB audience (and did this elsewhere) for requests. Turns out they wanted to hear a bit from his Funny People alter-ego, Randy. He skipped over that, but did indulge fans at multiple shows with stories about Kanye West. Ansari already has told one story in his headlining act about going to West's home for an afterparty, catching West rock out to his own music and perform an impromptu stand-up set for West and his friends. More timely, however, was Ansari's revelation that he tried to reach out to West twice after his talked-about MTV Video Music Awards incident. Ansari said he emailed West and "didn't hear anything back." Then, when Ansari watched the mash-up video of West with Congressman Joe...

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Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” kicks off inaugural Friars Club Film Festival

The inaugural Friars Club Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with the U.S. premiere of the latest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man. Friars Club Dean Freddie Roman introduced the Coens at the red-carpet screening inside the Ziegfield, calling them "two Jewish boys who grew up in a hotbed of Judaism" in Minnesota. "In their synagogue, the cantor was Norwegian." Zing. And, well, A Serious Man is a seriously Jewish dark comedy. Seriously. Michael Stuhlbarg plays Larry Gopnik, a college professor who finds his life unravel around him and turns to his rabbis for answers. His son attends a Hebrew school and has to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah. One of his neighbors may be a rabid anti-Semite; another is very hot and tempting. I neither grew up Jewish nor in the 1960s nor in Minnesota (wherein this film is set), but I still laughed out loud several times. Richard Kind plays Gopnik's brother, who has a problematic cyst, as well as other more pressing problems that are played for comic relief. Oh, and there's an opening sequence involving ancient Polish Jews and a guy who may be a ghost? It may not all make sense, but I suspect that's part of the point. Aaron Wolf, the boy who plays young Danny Gopnik, told me he wasn't exactly sure what to make of it, either. Roll...

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Comedy at the 2009 New York Television Festival

The New York Television Festival has been holding court at New World Stages and The Paley Center this week, offering sneak preview screenings of new fall TV shows, panel talks and competitions for new pilots. It's pretty much all free, but because of that, you'll have to make sure you get a ticket in advance for something you really want to see. On Saturday, you'll be able to watch from home or wherever online the Livestream panel with Emmy-winning 30 Rock writer Matt Hubbard and Kay Cannon talk about writing Emmy-winning episodes for 30 Rock. Inside the 30 Rock Writers Room will begin at noon. A panel earlier in the week had Jason Sudeikis talking to the writers for Late Show with David Letterman about working for Letterman. I missed that panel, but two "panel nerds" for Mediaite were there. The independent comedy pilots screen Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. You can watch trailers for all of the pilots in competition on the NYTVF YouTube channel. One of the groups is UCB-based Chubby Skinny Kids (Dan Gregor, Doug Mand and Adam Pally). Their pilot is called Idiots, Dating. Here is one of their videos called Craigslist Missed Connection, featuring Ellie Kemper, who you can see on your TV as the adorable new secretary on NBC's The Office. Roll the clip! Craigslist Missed Connection – watch more funny...

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Michael Ian Black reads, reads, reads some more

Do you feel like you're already in withdrawal from Michael & Michael Have Issues? Well, if you can hold on a few weeks, you may get to see Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter perform live in your city. Or you can sit right down (are you sitting down yet?) and watch/listen as Mr. Black reads from his own literature for you right now. Or as soon as you click on one of these videos. Black's book of essays, My Custom Van, is now out in paperback, and the author sits down to read one of said essays for you. It's called "Taco Party." This is going to be some f-ing taco party. Did I mention it contains profanities? Roll the NSFW clip. Elegant Readings With Michael Ian Black: TACO PARTY – watch more funny videos Wow. That had a lot of f-ing swearing, didn't it? Let's cleanse ourselves with a completely different MIB reading, this time from his children's book, Chicken Cheeks. In a chicken suit. Obviously. But that's not all! Michael Ian Black gets "Inside the Author," himself: OK. Cleansed yet? How about one last video with Honest Abe to bring it full...

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