Month: January 2010

RIP: Jean Carroll, pioneer for women in stand-up comedy, dead at 98

Jean Carroll, who along with Moms Mabley blazed the trail for pretty much every woman who decided to get into the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy, died on New Year's Day, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. Carroll became famous in the 1940s, as her New York Times obituary noted, when the other half of her duo act — her husband, Buddy Howe — went off to fight in World War II. If the guys could tell jokes about their wives, she could tell jokes about her husband and her "rotten child." She was spotlighted briefly in last year's PBS mini-series documentary, Make Em Laugh, but the Make Em Laugh site didn't put her video online. Here's an older radio segment on Jean Carroll, and here is a clip from her 1959 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. As you watch the routine, just think about how far we've come, or haven't come, in talking about gender and comedy. There Jean Carroll was, at 48, on the TV, in a nice dress, looking pretty, telling one joke after another, after another. So many punchlines per minute packed in there. Now think about how many women do that today. Not the joke-telling part (because there are many now), but about the looking pretty part. You could argue that male comedians have gotten all-too casual over the...

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Artie Lange hospitalized; Howard Stern addresses the rumors on the radio (with audio statement)

Over the weekend,'s network of gossip spies broke the news that comedian Artie Lange checked into a New Jersey hospital for undisclosed reasons, with a representative confirming that news but refusing to comment further, declaring it a personal matter. The Internet being the Internet, rumors circulated unabated, and it didn't help that Lange hadn't been on the radio for about a month, and that Lange's tour dates had been cancelled. This morning was Howard Stern's first day back on Sirius XM with a live show since the holiday break, and Stern addressed the rumors. He opened with an unintentionally amusing misspeak, calling Artie "Jackie" as in Jackie the Joke Man Martling, the guy Lange replaced as Stern's comic relief sidekick. Here is the audio statement from Stern, saying he would honor the family's decision to keep this private, and also addressing haters on the Internet — while also somehow managing to talk about Lange's greatest moments on the show, as if he wasn't coming back, and then shooting down the false speculation that Lange was being replaced. File under: Timing! Comedy Central announced today that it would be airing the premiere of Lange's hourlong stand-up special, Jack and Coke, at 11 p.m. on Jan....

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Interview: What’s the deal with F*cking Book Deal?

The past year, nay, past decade — don't start with me, number nerds, because the 00s were the uh-ohs, and now it's the '10s, so get with the program — seemed like everyone who started a blog did done got them a book deal out of it. Good thing I started a blog writing about comedians, right? Right! But in the last month of the last year, the Internet gave birth to the mother of all blog-to-book deals, a little Tumblr called Look At This Fucking Idea For A Blog-To-Book Deal, or for short, Fucking Book Deal. Turns out it's brought to you by two of the minds who, a decade earlier, gave birth to Television Without Pity, Tara Ariano and her husband, David T. Cole (aka Glark). I talked to Tara about this earth-shattering development. Was there one particular book deal that inspired you and Glark to launch the Tumblr? Not really; this just seemed to be a year where there were so many — plus the ShitMyDadSays TV deal. It does seem like there should have been one where we were like, "Now that is TOO MUCH," but there wasn't. I know as I've watched watched one person after another get book deals for insanely easy and manipulative ideas, I often have wondered two things: 1) Why haven't I thought of that, and 2) How can I...

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Interview: Todd Phillips on “The Hangover” and the importance of casting actual comedians in movies

Hey, readers! Look what I found. My old digital audio recorder turned up, and when I replaced the batteries, I discovered audio clips of all sorts of funny people talking in my proximity from years gone by (still have audio from George Carlin, Ricky Gervais, Dane Cook, and some young ladies that I must have chatted up in a blaze of glory at an Aspen afterparty!). Which, speaking of yesterday was supposedly National Hangover Day, and I don't know if you "celebrated" it appropriately or not, but it reminded me that I had met The Hangover's director, Todd Phillips, on a hotel rooftop for a one-on-one chat in Montreal last summer during the 2009 Just For Laughs fest. I had talked to him a few years ago when I was a newspaper reporter in Boston and he was helming School for Scoundrels. He casted several up-and-coming comedians in that film, and also put a bunch of stand-up and improv guys in The Hangover, too. Let's talk about it. Oh, we did! You're able to get a lot of true comedians in your movies. I'd like to get more credit for that (laughs). No. I'm teasing. I think if you look at all of my movies. This is my fifth movie. And you really break down how many actual stand-up comics that I've employed, because I support so much stand-up...

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January 2010
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