Name that talking head comedian

Years ago, living in Arizona, I turned on the TV screen and found one of them thar talking head funny funny har har shows on. You know the ones made popular by VH1 and then later on CMT, E! and elsewhere, wherein clips from the day or days gone by are rebroadcast, then commented upon and made fun of by quippy quippy people. Twas quite the novelty to love the 1970s or 1980s by mocking them. It’s become part of our societal fabric now.

Back then, though, what amazed me even more than this TV mockathon was the fact that several of the talking heads were labeled as comedians, even though I’d never seen them perform or even heard of them before. How’d they get on my TV, then? Well, since moving to New York City, I’ve begun to learn that some of these so-called comedians weren’t headlining club comics, or even regular stand-up comedians, but improv and sketch folk in NYC or LA. Still, though, some of the named comedians on your TV may throw even seasoned performers for a loop. That’s what happened the other night when a stand-up comedian at the Comedy Cellar asked me who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks some of these people were.

So I figured I’d help learn him and you on your TV talking head comedians.

In this installment, we discover who got listed as "comedian" on VH1’s Web Junk 40: Best of the New Crap. There’s 18 commenters in all…that’s a lot, don’t you think. The kids from the Best Week Ever blog get face time, which is a nice courtesy. There’s someone from and someone from gakcity.TV, which I’d never known existed and still don’t believe actually exists. Two guys show up without any ID other than their names, which I guess makes sense because even combined, they didn’t manage to say anything worthy enough to be interested in learning who they were. Ten get labeled as comedians. Who are they? In order of appearance and official identification…

Alison Becker: Actor/comedian? Yes. Hosted shows on VH1 and Fuse. She’d been a regular on MTV prank show Boiling Points. Guest appearances on several TV shows.

Andrea Rosen: Comedian? Yes. She’s part of NYC comedy troupe Variety Shac. She also can be seen in current TV ads for Yoplait.

Simmy Kay: Writer/comedian? Hadn’t heard of him. Google says…he was a narrator for MTV’s Room Raiders, and that his real last name is Kustanowitz and that he’s been in some commercials.

Seth Herzog: Comedian? Yep. He hosts a weekly Tuesday night comedy show called Sweet in NYC’s Lower East Side. I’ve seen it more than thrice. Fun fact: He has been friends since childhood with Michael Showalter.

Jenny Slate: Comedian? Very much so. I saw her Gabe & Jenny show last Thursday in a new venue, Hugs bar in Williamsburg, and found her dazzling with comic poise and pizazzmatazz. She’s also performing tonight at Rififi, according to what I know and believe to be true.

Dave Holmes: Writer/comedian? Wait. Wasn’t he the guy who finished runner-up to Jesse the phony street kid Camp in MTV’s first Wanna Be A VJ contest a decade ago? Yes. Yes he was. Holmes eventually did become an MTV VJ with all of his music knowledge. Sometime between then and now, he got into comedy and turned up on Reno 911! Blame/credit iO West.

Carter Roy: Comedian? Apparently. Though I’ve never seen him perform, he’s been on The Shark Show in NYC and also listed as a sketch trouper.

Megan Neuringer: Comedian? I guess so. She’s been on Channel 102 productions. She’s also done longform improv and write and performed in "Megan and Bridie: Friends W/O Benefits," with Bridie Harrington.

Pete Holmes: Comedian? Yes, indeedy. Stand-up raised near Boston, known in the Chicago comedy community, now residing and performing in NYC. Funny funny. Semi-finalist in this year’s Comedy Central Open Mic Fights, as well as in New York Comedy Festival’s funniest stand-up in New York contest.

Jake Fogelnest: Writer/comedian? Yes. Although you’re more likely these days to hear him on your satellite radio than see him perform live comedy in person.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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