Day: October 16, 2009

Monty Python’s Terry Jones talks sketch comedy

So maybe you've heard that the boys from Monty Python have reunited for their 40th anniversary for a new documentary? Yes, yes, Monty Python: Almost The Truth airs over six hours on IFC beginning Oct. 18, and the 90-minute theatrical version that screened last night at the Zeigfeld Theatre was sincerely funny. I laughed out loud several times at scenes I had seen many, many times before. All five surviving members of Monty Python made it to the screening, along with a cardboard cutout of Graham Chapman, female supporting player Carol Cleveland, and many other longtime friends of the group. It was a chilly, rainy windy night in the city, however, which presented its own challenges on the red carpet. I did get the chance to talk briefly with Python's Terry Jones. Jones will be talking to small groups on Saturday, Oct. 17, in seminars at The PIT. There may still be tickets for the morning session at The PIT? Here's what Jones had to tell me, and in turn, you, about writing good comedy sketches: Mr. Creosote, you say? I dare say! This is one of their grossest sketches, certainly, but also certainly funny. From Monty Python's Meaning of Life. Roll it! And if you missed watching Monty Python enjoy answering (or not answering) questions after last night's screening, well, you can watch this half-hour or so...

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“Believe” in Eddie Izzard: Film reflects on the comedian’s life and career ambitions

Jerry Seinfeld famously stopped telling the same jokes he had told for several years, and started from scratch, documenting his efforts in the stand-up documentary, Comedian. Across the pond, meanwhile, Eddie Izzard had a completely different experience, as a TV show accused him in 2000 of fraud for "recycling material" in his stand-up act. Clearly hurt by this, Izzard stopped performing. When Izzard started up again in 2003, writing material for his "SEXIE" tour, his ex Sarah Townsend began documenting his return, and Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story, follows him on that tour and also reflects upon his life story, which is one of relentless determination and believe in his ability to be a comedian and an actor (related: Watch the trailer for Believe here). The "fraud" accusations are something Americans might not comprehend in terms of their stand-up comedians — there are plenty of acts, from headliners on down, who have been doing the same routines for what seems like forever. And as Izzard points out in his documentary, "It's like going to a rock 'n' roll concert and saying, 'We've heard the Stones. We've heard these f*cking numbers before. You're on Watchdog. For fraud. The Stones. On Watchdog. For fraud. Because we've heard all this stuff before." So now, instead of working in new material and improvising within the previous set, gradually building an entirely new show,...

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Is Boston ready for another comedy club? Cheers!

Boston's comedy scene has a rich tradition for producing great talent, and it continues to do so. The scene began undergoing a transition when the Comedy Connection moved from Faneuil Hall Marketplace to the Wilbur Theatre, leaving the city proper without a full-time major club that booked national headliners on the weekends and supported local comedians throughout the week. Smaller clubs have sprouted up since then. First came Mottley's; then came Tommy's Comedy Lounge; and now, there's Cheers. Yes. That Cheers. Well, not the original bar that inspired TV's Cheers, but the tourist bar that the TV show later inspired in Faneuil Hall. You dig? Dug. The Comedy Club at Cheers will have room for about 120 customers when it starts hosting shows this weekend, courtesy of Jim McCue (who's also the debut headliner!). McCue also is responsible for the annual Boston Comedy Festival comedy competition — he has held that the past couple of years at the nearby Hard Rock Cafe, and he told me this morning that he'll still be producing comedy shows there, just not on a weekly basis as he will at Cheers. As for competition with the other smaller Boston clubs, both new and old? McCue told me he hopes another venue offering stage time for Boston comedians is good for the entire scene. Let's hope he's right about...

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Evan Shapiro, IFC/Sundance Channel president, talks about taking risks on new sitcoms

We've got a big Friday of comedy news to share with you, and I thought we'd start it off with a quick chat I had with Evan Shapiro, the president of IFC TV and the Sundance Channel, on the red carpet for the Monty Python reunion in New York City last night. IFC will air a new six-part documentary about Monty Python to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their launch on the BBC, which begins on Oct. 18. In addition, IFC will be rebroadcasting all of the original Monty Python's Flying Circus episodes and the Python films. Since Shapiro was the executive producer on Chris Kattan's musical comedy series, Bollywood Hero, and his IFC channel has hosted the likes of The Whitest Kids U Know and Z Rock, I thought it'd be good to ask him for some perspective on how much of a risk network execs and programmers should take on new and alternative comedies. After all, the BBC took a big risk with Monty Python, and it wasn't until American TV stations on PBS latched onto it years later that Python really found its audience. In our brief talk, Shapiro noted one of IFC's recent acquisitions, Arrested Development, as well as the infamous rebirth of Family Guy. Here's what he told...

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