"One day I was hanging out with some SNL writers and cast members in the 17th-floor conference room.
It was shortly after the writers had won an Emmy Award for the 1988-89 season. Phil Hartman, who had been a writer as well as a cast member for the winning season, marched in with an 8-by-10 photo of himself. It showed him cradling his Emmy Award in one arm and his newborn child in the other. He tossed the photo down in front of his good friend Jon Lovitz and said, "Check it out, Lovitz—two things you’ll never have." (SLSlate)
is a children's BBC show for pre-schoolers. Completely wordless, it's a fairly delightful and surprisingly funny mixture of shape recognition, music and discovery (and lots of visual comedy), where "the line" draws a series of challenges and problems for Dipdap to solve. Here's every single episode of it
Grantland writer Rembert Browne journeys into the "dark heart" of 90s nostalgia via Central Perk
, the museum / tourist trap / coffee dispensary dedicated to the popular television show Friends. The modestly popular show premiered 20 years ago today
, and had a number of memorable moments
which are fondly remembered by its small, but dedicated group of fans. Friends previously
BoJack Horseman Is the Funniest Show About Depression Ever
BoJack Horseman is a weird cartoon about a washed-up sitcom star (who's a horse), a snappy social criticism of the entertainment industry, and the kind of in-jokey cartoon designed to tickle the internet. It's also one of the most aggressive portraits of depression I think I've ever seen. Look past the anthropomorphic animal characters and the satire of toxic celebrity culture: This show is radically sad. I love it.
Netflix Original's animated series BoJack Horseman
stars Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, and Alison Brie. It co-stars Aaron Paul and Paul F. Tompkins and has a long and impressive
list of guest stars. [more inside]
The Fast Show
summary from Wikipedia:
The Fast Show, known as Brilliant in the US, was a BBC comedy sketch show programme that ran from 1994 to 1997, with a special in 2000 and 2014. It was one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s in the UK. The show's central performers were Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne. Other significant cast members included Paul Shearer, Rhys Thomas, Jeff Harding, Maria McErlane, Eryl Maynard, Colin McFarlane and Donna Ewin. [more inside]
It was loosely structured and relied on character sketches, recurring running gags, and many catchphrases. Its fast-paced "blackout" style set it apart from traditional sketch series because of the number and relative brevity of its sketches; a typical half-hour TV sketch comedy of the period might have consisted of nine or ten major items, with contrived situations and extended setups, whereas the premiere episode of The Fast Show featured twenty-seven sketches in thirty minutes, with some items lasting less than ten seconds and none running longer than three minutes. Its innovative style and presentation influenced many later series such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show.
With a combination of humor and fearlessness, Last Week Tonight
has done an unlikely thing: spurred action. John Oliver’s segment on net neutrality this past June perfectly summed up what his HBO show Last Week Tonight
is so good at: transcending apathy. It’s an ingenious formula that’s making a difference in the real world. “Making a difference” isn’t hyperbole. The FCC’s website actually crashed from overwhelming web traffic the day after Oliver’s segment originally aired. The Atlantic
looks at How John Oliver Beats Apathy
A Soviet take on Rambo
) is "unique in its violence and anti-Americanism." A Russian point of view on James Bond
remarks that "so widespread was the interest in Bond that an official Soviet spy serial ... was released." But the spy novel
/ miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring
(somewhat digestible in 17 highlights with commentary: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
) is for interesting reasons not a Soviet counterpart to James Bond or Rambo
. See also Seventeen Moments fanfic
, two pages
about its hero, and how he figures in the present
. [more inside]
"Surprisingly, Black Books has no affliction with the BBC whatsoever; created by Dylan Moran
(who also plays the lead) and Graham Linehan, the show was filmed at Teddington Studios and broadcast on Channel 4. It centers around Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), the careless, grumpy, wine-inhaling owner of Black Books, his friend Fran (Tamsin Greig) and his assistant shop keeper Manny (Bill Bailey). Specked with a few fun cameos by people not yet famous at the time, this show is a hilarious roller coaster ride that will make you laugh until you cry." Black Books: 4 Reasons the British Sitcom Remains a Classic [more inside]
Imogene Coca was the hilarious counterpart to Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, the ground-breaking 1950s sketch comedy show. (Here they are in the classic Auto Smashup
.) She won an Emmy and a Peabody for her work on the show, had a long career in television, and later made an impact as Aunt Edna in National Lampoon's Vacation, as Ms. Dipesto's mother in Moonlighting, and on the stage. [more inside]
Doctors can't change rule number one.
The televisions series, M*A*S*H
, developed by Larry Gelbart
and Gene Reynolds
, was broadcast on CBS for over a decade, from the pilot
on September 17, 1972, to the highly-rated final episode
on February 28, 1983. Yet reports of its demise are fictional, M*A*S*H
is alive and well. [SPOILERS within if you haven't seen the series.] [more inside]
Nathan Fielder's Ingenious Dumb Humor
- "How the star of Comedy Central's 'Nathan for You' makes the most of uncomfortable moments." (via
; previously 1
[SLYT] is the original pilot episode of the animated tv show, Bob's Burger's
).The theme remains the same, although the art style is a bit rough. The plot is exactly the same as the first episode, "Human Flesh", with minor differences in animation and timing. Oh, and Tina was originally a Daniel! [more inside]
was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002, first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as “The McLaughlin Group on acid.” Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube. [more inside]
"Looking back on it, one of the things that's crazy is I don't think I even realized that first of all, Joe Flaherty is supposed to be a vampire but he's howling like a werewolf. [laughs] I just took that for granted, and it must've been years until I saw it and was like "Wait a minute, that's a joke!" Furthermore, Count Floyd's always wearing a turtleneck which is the least vampire thing ever."
"Splitsider kicks off its new column, Sketch Anatomy, with television writer Bill Oakley breaking down SCTV’s "Dr. Tongue’s Evil House of Pancakes"
). Oww owww oowoooooo!!!
In 2000, Conan O'Brien taped a comedy segment at the NYC offices of Foote, Cone & Belding
. The premise: take a chainsaw-wielding furniture huckster from Texas, and try to turn him into a star using a top-tier ad campaign. In the segment, Conan is introduced to a team of FCB copywriters, who dutifully come up with an appropriately ridiculous TV ad.
The segment went as planned; Just another remote for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Little did he know where it would lead. Conan and one of the on-camera copywriters took a shine to each other, and stayed in touch. Two years later, Conan O'Brien and Liza Powel were married. Today they live in Hollywood with their two kids.
In a 2012 interview, Conan told CNN's Piers Morgan
: "Somewhere, in the vault at NBC, there's footage of me literally falling for my wife on camera."
Roll the tape.
Are you a fan of inventive, black-humored sci-fi/fantasy animation? Desperate to fill the Futurama-shaped hole in your heart? Look no further than Rick and Morty
, the superb new Adult Swim series from animator Justin "Lemongrab" Roiland and Community darling Dan Harmon
. Inspired by a (terrible and very NSFW) Back To The Future knock-off
, the show pairs a naïve young teen (Morty) with his cynical, alcoholic, mad scientist grandfather (Rick), each episode exploring a trope -- dreams, aliens, innerspace, parallel universes, virtual reality -- and turning it inside-out with intricate plotting
, eye-catching art
, and dark, whipsmart humor
(with plenty of improvisation
along the way). A ratings hit
already secured for a second season
, the show returns from an Olympics-induced hiatus tomorrow -- in the meantime, why not sample the six episodes aired so far: Pilot
- Lawnmower Dog
- Anatomy Park
- M. Night Shaym-Aliens!
- Meeseeks and Destroy
- Rick Potion #9
. Want more? Promo/highlight reel
- AV Club reviews
- Rick & Morty ComicCon panel
- Storyboard Test
- Soundtrack samples
- Play the "Rushed Licensed Adventure" point-and-click game
: "I remember at a party I met these chaps from Viacom, who said they were working on a new Fawlty Towers
. My ears pricked up at the sound of cash registers and said, 'That's wonderful, are you going to change anything?'. They said, 'Well we have changed one thing, we've written Basil out'. And that's absolutely true, they took Basil and Sybil's lines and gave them all to Bea Arthur." The resulting effort was a 1983 ABC series called Amanda’s By the Sea
which could charitably be described as a fiasco. [more inside]
♪ "Believe it or not, I'm walkin on air.
I never thought I could feel so free....
Flying away on a wing and a prayer,
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me." ♫ [more inside]
In this series of ISIS orientation films, Dr. Krieger will be answering frequently asked questions from new team members. Season five of Archer
premieres Monday, January 13th on FX. [more inside]
"Basically what Dan is doing is re-grounding the characters, who last year kind of got out of hand. I've said this about the series, that it's like an Edgar Wright movie in a way. All the characters in Shaun of the Dead were very grounded and normal, no one was a caricature of anything. But there's a zombie apocalypse happening outside. That's how I see Community — we have to deal with real stuff, like the loss of Pierce, in a bizarre world." Joel McHale discusses the fifth season of Community
, which premieres tonight with creator and once-fired show runner Dan Harmon
back in control
. [more inside]
With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
Accidental Death of An Anarchist
is a 1983 television version of Belt & Braces Theatre Company's adaptation of Dario Fo
's Morte accidentale di un anarchico
, a satirical farce based on the real death in police custody of an Italian railway worker and and anarchist
; featuring an entirely fictional Maniac invading a police station to expose police corruption and brutality. It contains more than traces of slapstick, Thatcher-era left-wing agitprop
, terrible jokes, swearing, vigorous fourth-wall obliteration, great jokes, a fully-functional mock-up of a bomb (that is to say, a bomb), a musical number, a coffee break and a multiple-choice ending. Among other things.
If you speak Italian, here
is a presentation of an elderly Fo himself as the Maniac, for comparative purposes. If you don't speak Italian, you can still make the comparison, though somewhat less precisely. [more inside]
The God of ‘SNL’ Will See You Now. "How do you please Lorne Michaels? Twenty-two ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast members – and one who came close – share tales of the audition that can make or break a career."
Also, extended interviews with Kristin Wiig
, Will Ferrel
, Chevy Chase
, Dana Carvey
, Jimmy Fallon
and Molly Shannon
, on what it took to get hired for 'SNL.' Check out audition tapes from: Phil Hartman
, Andy Kaufman
, John Belushi
, Jimmy Fallon
, Dana Carvey: 1
, and Dan Aykroyd
. [more inside]
There was no wink and they never sold it out for these half-hour, densely, beautifully produced pieces, which is, for all possibilities, obscuring that this doesn’t at all sound like a comedy show. It is all the production elements you would use in a full-scale news production. All the gravitas, but just inflated to a point that it has no gravitas whatsoever. And I think that is where it became this excitingly subversive thing because it just showed that BBC Radio 4 and everything it stood for was just a big bag of shit.
John Oliver on why he's a fan of On the Hour. On the Hour
, of course, is the legendary BBC news radio program created by, among other people, Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It
, In The Loop
), Christopher Morris (Jam
, Brass Eye
, Four Lions
, Why Bother?
), Stewart Lee (41st best stand-up comic ever
), and Steve Coogan (Knowing Me Knowing You With Alan Partridge
, I'm Alan Partridge
). Short-lived but influential, On the Hour
mimicked the tone and production of other radio news shows but replaced the content with what Oliver describes as "unremitting bullshit". On the Hour
was aired in two six-episode series (S1E1 S1E2 S1E3 S1E4 S1E5 S1E6
; S2E1 S2E2 S2E3 S2E4 S2E5 S2E6
), and begat a television series called The Day Today
. That show in turn added Graham Linehan (Black Books
, Father Ted
, The IT Crowd
) to On the Hour
's already all-star lineup, upped the already-insane levels of overproduction, and ran for six short-but-glorious episodes (one two three four five (WAR!) six
), as well as a special 9/11 radio report
. [more inside]
Somewhere between Buggin' Out
and Gus Fring
, Metafilter favorite Giancarlo Esposito
starred as Paul Gigante, a city cop transplanted by family circumstances
into a dysfunctional small town police department and frustrating partnership with the imbecillic Wade Preston, in Bakersfield P.D.
, a short-lived comedy gem
from Fox Network.
Partially available for your viewing pleasure in grainy video on a YouTube playlist
, with German subtitles and no laugh track. [more inside]
, the historical sketch show on the BBC inspired by the books of the same name
, has been featured previously
on Metafilter. Not mentioned, however, were the real gems of the show, Historical Desktops [MLYT]
: [more inside]
From the comedic duo Key & Peele, mentioned twice before
on MetaFilter, comes Pizza Order
, the funniest sketch I've seen in years. Their new season has had some terrific moments – Dubstep
, I said "Bitch"
, Slow Brotion
, and School Bully
, amongst others – but Pizza Order is something special.
"Everybody Knows Their Names: The GQ Oral History of Cheers." (Single page version.)
On the thirtieth anniversary of the premiere of Cheers
, GQ "sat down with just about everyone who made it." Also, Christopher Lloyd
, Amy Poehler
and Shawn Ryan
talk about what they learned from the show. [more inside]
John Daker is going to sing a song that's very popular nowadays, it's Christ The Lord Is Risen Today
, and he's going to do Amore too, okay? There is a subtitled and animated
Louis C.K. on eating pressure and providing an alternative to The Man
- "I ask him to think about what he really needs; when he tells me, I give him a little more. It buys me goodwill with this person; I feel good about what I'm paying them. I like to give people a little more than they want, and I like to ask people for a little less than they're willing to give." [more inside]
A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder
is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
A brief history of Nickelodeon's Roundhouse
, that glorious early 90's sketch show with the guys doing backflips and the Dad in the motorized armchair.
I walk up to "2 Broke Girls" co-creator Michael Patrick King, offer my hand and say, "Mr. King, I'm sorry things got so ugly there, but I wanted to say that it came from a place where a lot of us in the room like the parts of your show involving Kat and Beth, and want the rest of the show to live up to that."
King, stone-faced, silently turns and walks off the stage.
Battlestar Galactica RPG
contains spoilers for Battlestar Galactica (the good one).
Game of Thrones RPG
contains spoilers for Game of Thrones (season one).
Man vs Wild RPG
contains spoiled meats.
Jersey Shore RPG
spoils our cultural legacy.
Previously, RPG Heroes are Jerks
One of the most radically original TV shows in recent memory is Louie
. It's written, directed, edited, and produced by comedian Louis C.K.
, who stars as a (thinly) fictionalized version of himself. The A.V. Club
recently sat down with Louis C.K. to talk through the show's second season, episode by episode. He sheds light on many aspects of the show, including the much-discussed Dane Cook episode
. (Louis C.K. previously: 1 2 3 4
GQ: Teats Out: An Oral History of the Rise and Fall (and Rise) of "The Dana Carvey Show." "Steve Carell. Stephen Colbert. Louis C.K. Charlie Kaufman. Robert Smigel. Some of comedy's greatest minds got one of their biggest breaks on the short-lived but much-loved "The Dana Carvey Show." Fifteen years later, in this exclusive oral history, the players recount the brief but fertile life of a truly unusual show"
, all eight episodes of which are available on Hulu
. (Previously) [more inside]
Two and a half years ago, we explored the early history of Cartoon Network
... but it wasn't the only player in the youth television game.
As a matter of fact, Fred Seibert
-- the man responsible for the most inventive projects discussed in that post -- first stretched his creative legs at the network's truly
venerable forerunner: Nickelodeon
Founded as Pinwheel, a six-hour block on Warner Cable's innovative QUBE
system, this humble channel struggled for years before Seibert's innovative branding work transformed it into a national icon and capstone of a media empire.
Much has changed since then, from the mascots and game shows to the versatile orange "splat."
But starting tonight in response to popular demand, the network is looking back
with a summer programming block dedicated to the greatest hits of the 1990s
, including Hey Arnold!, Rocko's Modern Life, The Adventures of Pete & Pete, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Double Dare, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Legends of the Hidden Temple
, and All That
To celebrate, look inside for the complete story of the early days of the network that incensed the religious right, brought doo-wop to television, and slimed a million fans -- the golden age of Nickelodeon. (warning: monster post inside) [more inside]
After Kad & Olivier sign off and the Satisfaction production logo fades, viewing audiences are oftentimes treated to a cold open of an empty talk show set... one that quickly becomes the impromptu dance floor for a shameless Frenchman making an absolute giddy fool of himself while lip-syncing pop songs alongside a menagerie of... wait, *what*?!
That's right. The Late Late Show
's Craig Ferguson appears to have a not-so-secret French admirer
-- one who's not above ripping off both his opening titles and his signature dance sequences
(including the iconic animal puppets
by The Jackson 5, "Flashdance"
by Irene Cara, "On the Floor"
by Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull, "Waka Waka"
by Shakira, "Men in Black"
by Will Smith, "Let's All Chant"
by the Michael Zager Band, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"
by Wham!, "It's Raining Men"
by The Weather Girls, and "Vive Le Vent (Jingle Bells)"
by Tino Rossi.
Luckily, Ferguson's sense of showmanship is more prodigious than litigious
-- he responded to Arthur's "homáge
" by booking a pair of translatlantic crossover shows, with Arthur visiting LA that week and Ferguson flying out to Paris just last month. Video of both shows (plus lots more) inside! [more inside]
The much-beloved Arrested Development
was characterized by its complex, multilayered narrative jokes; here
the A. V. Club analyzed a 50-second-long clip and tried to map out all its references (including one very subtle three-part joke about eggs). Luckily for you, there’s a very exhaustive web site, The Balboa Observer-Picayune
, which documents the show’s obscurest jokes (H. Maddas
, GOB’s ice obsession
), its cleverest callbacks (Hello’s revenge
, ”Mom says”
), its visual gags (yearbooks
), and its longest-running gags (I’ve made a huge mistake”
, Cloud Mir
, ”Hey, brother!”
, and the chicken dance
). Complete index of references at the Bluthcyclopedia
. Complete transcripts of every episode.
Bonus songs! All You Need Is Smiles
. Yellow Boat
. Big Yellow Joint
. Hot Cops
. It Ain’t Easy Being White
. Discipline Daddy
. Balls in the Air
. You Here With Me
. I Get Up
. Finally, Fonzie jumps the shark again
. [more inside]
"You didn’t put a bullet through Bin Laden but I’m proud of you. You’re a bust-ass kid." Justin Halpern
's dad reacts to the cancellation
of $#*! My Dad Says
Louis C.K. has what most artists dream of: total creative control over his show