Month: October 2009

What I’ve learned about Wanda Sykes’ new talk show on FOX, based on her promotional tour

In the past week, Wanda Sykes has appeared on Oprah, The View, Today and The Daily Show as part of her promotional push for her weekly late-night talk show, which debuts a week from Saturday on Nov. 7. A lot of the interviews ask Sykes about her recent HBO special, I'ma Be Me, or about her personal life. But we have learned a few things about The Wanda Sykes Show. Such as? Though John Ridley is the head writer (and Greg Fitzsimmons also is writing for Sykes), Sykes said her writing staff includes "three, four, maybe five" women. "We're not going to reinvent the late-night wheel," Sykes said. Although… There will be a bar with alcohol on the set. "This is my second job. You're damned right I'm going to have a drink!" Stand-up comedian Keith Robinson, who often works in NYC at the Comedy Cellar and opens for Sykes on the road, "will be like my sidekick." And the show will keep Sykes close to her family and away from the road. As she joked to Jon Stewart, himself a TV host, "It's where we all go to die." Why don't we watch some highlights? And here she was on The Daily Show: Sykes continues her promotional push tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She has taped a couple of test shows; things kick off for real...

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Can WitStream outwit Twitter? Lisa Cohen and Michael Ian Black hope so, for comedy’s sake

When Miley Cyrus quit Twitter, it made news, but we're not sure why, since her claims of privacy were trumped by her YouTube video rap, which wasn't very private at all. When Michael Ian Black quits Twitter, it's strictly business. Funny business. Black has joined Lisa Cohen in creating a comedian version of Twitter called WitStream. The site is up and running in beta already, but informally launches with a live stand-up comedy show on Monday, Nov. 2, at Comix in NYC, with performances by Black, Michael Showalter, Pete Holmes, Josh Fadem, Morgan Murphy at Baron Vaughn. One way WitStream hopes to stand out vs. Twitter is how it makes running conversations easier to follow than @replies, such as this example (see inset at left) following one woman's query about fart etiquette. They're all representative of the kinds of funny people WitStream wants to be in business with, sharing short bits of comedy and starting dialogues. The launch press release noted that "founding contributors" also included Rainn Wilson, Al Yankovic, Mike Birbiglia and Rob Corddry, and mentioned that Black would be leaving behind his 1.36 million Twitter followers @michaelianblack, hopefully bringing them with him over to the new site. "WitStream is like going to a party with the funniest people you know without leaving your house or dealing with their annoying problems," Black said. I InterSpoke with WitStream founder Lisa Cohen...

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Jim Norton uses Twitter, yet mocks it as “Uninvited Guest” on The Jay Leno Show

I'm on Twitter. You may be on Twitter. Jim Norton uses the micro-blogging social network, too, but the comedian also has some issues with it, as he explained last night on The Jay Leno Show during his "Uninvited Guest" segment. It's a tricky rant to pull off, since Norton is trying to make us laugh by explaining how often people aren't funny on Twitter, and also because he doesn't always the service to deliver jokes (on Oct. 27 he wrote from his perch inside Opie & Anthony's radio studio: "Paranormal Activity stars in studio. I'm scared." With a link to a photo. Of them. In the studio. Not looking scary). Norton also uses Twitter to relay short audio messages from him to his fans and followers. Here's another short burst from Norton about going on FOX News: And here is Norton's "Uninvited Guest" rant about Twitter. What do you kids think? I think this segment could have been funnier, but in a longer-term sense (if Leno's primetime show can be talked about in longer terms), it appears as though Norton is using this platform to show us how a younger, shaved-head, raunchier version of Andy Rooney would approach five minutes of primetime. If you play the "Andy Rooney game," you get this: "I want to talk this week about Twitter, because like most 14-year-old girls, I have a Twitter...

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Nick Kroll talks sitcoms, Jon Lajoie sings his “Birthday Song” as FX debuts “The League”

FX debuted a new comedy on Thursday night called The League that's about a group of guys who take their fantasy football league much too seriously. Although if the premiere is any indication, it's also a semi-improvised romp that dives headlong into a pit of profanity and sex, and sometimes sexual profanities. In fact, most of the early reviews go out of their way to mention how they cannot mention what's said and implied in the sitcom. You cannot really judge a sitcom by its pilot (although that's exactly what network executives do), so for now, let's focus on the fact that The League stars at least three comedians in Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer and Jon Lajoie. Expect other cameos, too (Matt Walsh and Rob Huebel appear in the premiere). Lajoie plays Taco, the stoner brother of one of the league's commissioner. He's a musical comedian in real life, and in the debut, he performs a special "birthday song" for his niece, and awkwardness ensues. You can watch the FX version of his song on YouTube (no embed). Here's the uncensored complete version of the song, as Lajoie performed it earlier this year for Sirius XM radio (if you're at work, cover your NSFW speakers!): And here's a short promo for the series… Kroll, meanwhile, offered his perspective on The League, the sitcom game and his own comedy in multiple...

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Parks and Recreation’s special Halloween PSA, for the kids

Did you catch last night's episode of Parks and Recreation on NBC? Twas their Halloween-themed show, although, really, it seemed to be just as much about "Cabbage Night" (at least that's what we called the night before Halloween in our sleepy little town in Connecticut), in which kids go out and prank their neighbors with toilet paper and eggs and such. Another nicely understated job by Louis CK as the Pawnee, Ind., policeman who's dating Amy Poehler's parks department character. But what you didn't see on TV was this very special PSA, featuring Poehler, Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza, telling kids to watch out for metaphorical bad apples when they're trick-or-treating! In our town, we had a guy who actually did hand out apples, and not only did he not decorate his house, but he also did, in fact, answer the door in a bathrobe. No. I did not eat the apple. I'm not that crazy! Roll the...

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