Here Are Some Wonderful Comedy Specials to Watch This Summer

Comedy SpecialsAt this point, you’ve likely heard about Hannah Gadbsy’s special Nanette.
If you haven’t, allow us to enlighten you with an entire post on it, and to encourage you with a…

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Here Are Some Wonderful Comedy Specials to Watch This Summer

Comedy SpecialsAt this point, you’ve likely heard about Hannah Gadbsy’s special Nanette.
If you haven’t, allow us to enlighten you with an entire post on it, and to encourage you with a…

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On Comedy: A Netflix Experiment Gives Deserving Comics Their 15 Minutes

Instead of hourlong specials, these bite-sized sets let you in on one of comedy’s biggest secrets: the funniest stand-ups are the ones you’ve never heard of.
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9 Eurovision moments to inspire Will Ferrell’s new Netflix comedy

The Anchorman star will find plenty of comic potential in the spectacular song contest.
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Andy Fickman Boards Comedy ‘Tension Ring’ for Robbins Lane Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

Andy Fickman will direct the romantic comedy “Tension Ring,” the debut feature of the newly formed Robbins Lane Entertainment, Variety has learned exclusively. “Tension Ring” marks the launch of Robbins Lane Entertainment, from Seth B. Fass and Scott Prisand. The shingle is named after the pair’s elementary school in Syosset, Long Island. Fickman will direct […]

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‘Aggretsuko’ Is A Workplace Comedy Where Rage Is Front And Center

Netflix’s new animated series adds a heavy metal soundtrack to the injustices of office life.
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‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Team Talks Bringing a Modern Sensibility to a Period Comedy

The trickiest thing about making “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was not writing stand-up sets for characters like the titular Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), her estranged husband Joel (Michael Zegen) or guest stars like Luke Kirby as the famed Lenny Bruce — nor was it casting those parts. Instead, the biggest challenge might just have […]

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Comedy Central Imagines The Sound Engineer For ‘A Quiet Place’

“The most challenging sound to make? Silence.”
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On Comedy: Introducing a Major New Voice in Comedy (Who Also Attacks Comedy)

The Australian stand-up Hannah Gadsby examines a culture that excuses abuse and takes on comedy’s pieties. Laughter is not good medicine, in her view.
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Sir Ken Dodd and the end of a comedy era

The days when Ken Dodd delighted millions in Blackpool and Scarborough now seem like a different age.
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Judd Apatow: The King of Comedy Mentors

The producer explains how he uses Garry Shandling’s generosity as a model in advising younger entertainers.
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Comedy legend Sir Ken Dodd dies aged 90

Sir Ken Dodd – master of tickling sticks, Diddy Men and tattifilarious comedy – has died, his publicist has said.
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Comedy actress Bella Emberg dies

Comedian Russ Abbot has paid tribute to Bella Emberg, who has died aged 80.
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Aziz Ansari Makes History at 2018 Golden Globes After Winning Best Actor in a Comedy for Master of None

Aziz Ansari, 2018 Golden Globes, Red Carpet FashionsImagine winning an award for eating all the pasta? Aziz Ansari can!
The creator and star of Netflix’s hit comedy Master of None took home the award for Best Actor in a Comedy or…

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Peter Kay cancels comeback comedy tour for family reasons

The comedian axes “all upcoming work projects” due to “unforeseen family circumstances”.
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On Comedy: Comedy Is Booming. I Can’t Wait for the Bust.

Our critic says comedy feels stagnant right now, dominated by the same stars. It’s time to make room for up-and-comers.
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Did You Hear the One About the Housewife Who Walks Into a Comedy Club?

In the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” the creator of “Gilmore Girls” introduces another brainy, mouthy heroine, this time in the male-dominated comedy world of the 1950s.
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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Game Changer: How TV’s Madcap Musical Comedy Delivered a Sobering Examination of Suicide & Mental Health

Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 3Since its premiere in 2015, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has never shied away from a willingness to go there. After all, when your central conceit hinges on a character struggling with mental illness who…

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On Comedy: Watch the Evolution of Cringe Comedy in 9 Clips

Here’s how a grimace-filled genre, exemplified by “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” grew into a television comedy staple.
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The Married Couple Behind Summer’s Darkest And Weirdest Comedy

Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman’s “Lemon” explores white male mediocrity in a truly unsettling indie.
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Q. and A.: Tell Us 5 Things About Your Book: Patricia Williams Goes From Crime to Comedy

In her new memoir, “Rabbit,” the standup comedian tells how she overcame a young life of poverty and drug dealing to become a performer.
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On Comedy: Dropping In at the Comedy Cellar With Amy Schumer and Leslie Jones

Late shows at the Greenwich Village club are known as raucous and experimental. But is the reputation deserved? Our critic stayed up to find out.
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Table for Three: Bill Maher and Fran Lebowitz: When Comedy Cuts Deep

The TV talk show host and the author of “Metropolitan Life” discuss political correctness, the presidency of Donald Trump and when a joke goes awry.
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Netflix To Bow First Spanish Comedy Show, Joaquin Reyes’ ‘ Una y No Más’

MADRID — Netflix will make available on Sept. 8 its first Spanish comedy show, “Una y no más,” a stand-up set featuring one of Spain’s leading comedians, Joaquin Reyes. Produced by Globomedia, part of the Mediapro Group, and shot this January at Madrid’s La Latina theater, the 70-minute “Una y no más” marks the third… Read more »

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A Brother And Sister Fall For The Same Guy In This New Indie Comedy

A brother and a sister fall for the same guy in the heartfelt new comedy, “I Love You Both,” and HuffPost has an exclusive clip from the film. 

Released on iTunes, Amazon and other streaming services June 9, “I Love You Both” follows Krystal (played by Kristin Archibald) and Donny (Doug Archibald, who is Kristin’s real-life brother), who are forced to confront a lifetime of codependency when they start dating Andy (Lucas Neff), who identifies as bisexual. The millennial siblings remain in denial about the fact that they’re both seeing Andy until he picks one of them ― a decision that could have a disastrous impact on their relationship.

In the clip above, Andy and Krystal enjoy a game of Heads Up while Donny looks on disapprovingly as he observes the obvious chemistry between his twin sister and his lover.

The Archibalds began developing “I Love You Both” when they recalled a time when they both liked the same guy, Doug Archibald told HuffPost. Their relationship is considerably more functional than Krystal and Donny’s, however. “As a director it was nice because we have many shared memories that helped me direct her and also I know what makes her feel certain ways,” he said. “But also it was amazing because she did things I never expected, too, even though I know her as well as anyone can know someone.” 

The writer-director shrugged off the suggestion that the depiction of a bisexual man falling for two opposite sex siblings was in any way stereotypical or problematic. “The movie is just a very realistic scenario where a bisexual person meets two people who are just alike ― because they are twins and codependent ― so he naturally likes both of them,” he said. “He doesn’t lead on both of them. He does his best to take cues from them. And we can’t expect him to be perfect.”

Ultimately, Archibald sees “I Love You Both” as “a comedy about siblings” as opposed to a queer-specific narrative. “It would be nice to reach that person who wouldn’t normally watch a movie with a gay or bisexual main character, but takes a chance on ours and is maybe changed in a small way,” he said. “Maybe that’s our film’s place in the world.” 

Catch the latest in LGBTQ culture by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.     

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So Chris Rock Is Your Big Brother? Try Comedy

Tony and Jordan Rock, both younger brothers of the comedian Chris Rock, are trying to set a path for themselves in comedy.
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Charlie Murphy: Seven things about the comedy star’s life

The US comedian, who found fame two decades after his brother Eddie, has died at the age of 57.
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On Comedy: Louis C.K.’s New Special Mines Comedy From the Middle Ground

In his Netflix special “2017,” Louis C.K. examines the extremes before unexpectedly landing somewhere in between, whether the subject is abortion or sexual attraction.
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Dax Shepard Wants To Be ‘Progressive’ While Writing Comedy In This Day And Age

Critics have said “CHIPS” the movie, written and directed by star Dax Shepard, is a buddy-cop comedy featuring “frat-house goofiness,” “exhibitionism” and “homosexual panic.” But Shepard, along with his wife and co-star, Kristen Bell, don’t see it that way. 

When asked earlier this week by The Associated Press if she thought the film was sexist, Bell said, “There are certain things at face value you could say, because we’re exploring the topic, ‘Oh, that seems homophobic or that seems sexist,’ but it’s not. It’s the exploration of the topic and the exploration of the different points of view involved in the topic to open up the conversation to cure the disease that we’re riddled with.”

Shepard sat down with The Huffington Post during a Build Series interview on Thursday and added his own take to the discussion, saying he doesn’t think “sexuality is sexist.”

“I don’t think it’s sexist to like women in yoga pants,” Shepard said of the many references to women’s figures in the film. “My wife is more likely to point that out to me than I am to her. She’s got laser-beam focus ― if someone’s got great cupcakes in some yoga pants, she will see it from 100 yards out [and] draw my attention to it, which I appreciate. But I don’t think sexuality is sexist.”

His co-star Michael Peña agreed before Shepard discussed writing comedy in the current social climate we’re living in. 

“First and foremost, sex is always going to be in comedies. Race is always going to be in comedies. Sexual jokes, those things aren’t going anywhere, but how you deal with them is going to evolve and change,” he said. “So, I do think it’s fun and challenging to have a topic like homophobia be in this movie and to do it correctly. That’s a very fun challenge. The intent isn’t homophobic, the intent is actually to be progressive and still deal with that issue because that issue is always going to be funny ― all those issues are going to be funny.” 

Like Bell said of her husband, “If you really look at it and you hear Dax’s arguments about why he wrote it, he’s a feminist, for sure, and he’s also about the most un-homophobic person you could ever find ― I mean, we waited until everyone could get married before we got married, based on principle.” 

All in all, “CHIPS” is a good time, especially if you’re into motorcycles. The film hits theaters Friday. 

Watch the full Build Series interview with Dax Shepard and Michael Peña below. 

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Inside the Brutal World of Comedy Open Mikes

Basements. Back rooms. Awkward silences and occasionally, a laugh. The lengths to which stand-up comedians must go to test material in New York City.
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On Comedy: Meet Julio Torres, the New ‘S.N.L.’ Star No One Sees

He has never appeared on the show. But if you’ve been surprised by incongruously dreamy comedy this season, chances are he had something to do with it.
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Cry Baby Johnny Depp Romantic Musical Comedy Movie Drapes Adult Tank Top Shirt

Cry Baby Johnny Depp Romantic Musical Comedy Movie Drapes Adult Tank Top Shirt


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PSA: This Hilarious Netflix Comedy Changed Its Name & Now You Can Watch Season 2

Lovesick, Scrotal RecallLet’s get this out of the way first: Scrotal Recall is an absolutely TERRIBLE name for a TV show, so we do not blame you whatsoever for either completely ignoring its arrival on Netflix last…

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We Need The Unifying Power Of Comedy Now More Than Ever

Not a lot of unity in Mudville today ― at least not for the half-plus percentage of Americans who voted for the second-place candidate in this year’s Presidential election. We’ve seen how comedy can be used as a weapon. It can be used to create an “other” or a “less than.” Comedy can be used to create distances between people.

But honestly, that’s not what good comedy does.

Comedy provides groups of people with a collective and resounding sense of shared community. We laugh together because we are connected by a truth much greater than ourselves. We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

So what’s true now?

Half the country feels one way that seems radically different than the way the other half feels. Two very different world views, and comedy ― really funny and true comedy ― can find the thing that connect those two different views. Comedy can find ways to bring those two worlds into a single, shared space. Because we are all human beings, and there are things we share… no matter how vast the chasm may seem.

But comedy isn’t enough. Once the door is ajar, we must become improvisers.

We need to listen.

We need to remain judgement-free (of ourselves and of others).

We need to eradicate fear.

Improvisation teaches us that the very things that make us so different, when united, create something wonderful right away (to borrow a phrase).

So there will be a time to laugh and there will be a time to act. Laughter creates a moment when we see things as one, and improv allows us to take that moment and turn it into a thing to be used, to be wrestled with, to be collectively created. Because we can’t do it alone.

Despite our many differences, we are an ensemble. And in a true ensemble, all of us are always better than one of us.

Despite our many differences, we are an ensemble. And in a true ensemble, all of us are always better than one of us.

Kelly Leonard (@KLsecondcity) is the President and CEO of Kelly Leonard Productions and Creative Adviser for The Second City. This post originally appeared at secondcity.com.

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Cry Baby Romantic Musical Comedy Movie Drapes & Squares Adult Pull-Over Hoodie

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Jennifer Lawrence Plays The ‘Trainwreck’ In Her Upcoming Comedy With Amy Schumer

After seeing this summer’s “Trainwreck,” Jennifer Lawrence knew that she and Schumer were meant to be friends forever. So she sent off a quick email, one thing led to another, and now they’re writing a movie together. But this time, Amy Schumer is the normal one.

Lawrence revealed some more details about the plot of the film — in which she and the comedian play sisters – to Entertainment Tonight, confirming the script is ”dirty” and “real.”

“Amy, in this movie, she has it very together,” Lawrence said. “It’s her lifelong dream to be a flight attendant. She works at the airport. And I’m a mess.

The project came together so quickly, the Oscar winner explained, because both women feel comfortable sharing their blunt, honest opinions with each other. “We both have very similar senses of humor, obviously, and aren’t afraid,” she said. “Which is a good and bad thing, because I don’t know what our movie will be rated.”

Whatever the case, Lawrence put off any idea that she might involve any of her “Hunger Games” co-stars (and friends!) Liam Hemsworth or Josh Hutcherson in the project.

“No, no, no, no, no. There’s not really boys in it,” she said. 

Bechdel test, check.

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Seattle Shakespeare Company’s The Comedy of Errors; A Fun Filled, Slapstick Vision That Entertains From Start to Finish

Seattle Shakespeare Company recently premiered The Comedy of Errors at the Leo K Theatre, and the show kept the audience in stitches from beginning to end. I am not much of a Shakespeare fan, and I usually study the plot beforehand just so I can follow what’s going on.
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I do enjoy the poetry of the verse, but without doing any pre-play study, I generally find the plots confusing. Not so with this production of The Comedy of Errors. It was brilliantly done in a way even I could understand what was happening without any knowledge beforehand.

And I now have some sense of what my father must have seen when he was a young boy and had the opportunity to watch the Marx Brothers trying out their movies in live theater before they were actually filmed. This version of The Comedy of Errors was like a Marx Brothers show, filled with physical comedy and so much slapstick that I almost expected someone to get a pie in the face. That didn’t happen, but characters were constantly barging in and out doors, running around every inch of the stage and bouncing off each other like ping pong balls.

All of this was occurring while the actors articulated every word of the play with eloquence and bravado. The only issue (for diehard Shakespeare fans) was that the audience’s laughing often went on for so long that it drowned out parts of the actors’ dialogue.

All in all, this production of The Comedy of Errors is a truly entertaining adaptation well worth seeing at least once. The Comedy of Errors continues through October 11 at the Leo K. Theatre at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

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Mud Blue Sky at Aurora: High-Flying Comedy, Delivered With Compassion

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All they need is a bucket of ice: From left, Jamie Jones, Rebecca Dines, Devin O’Brien and Laura Jane Bailey

Photos by David Allen

Generalizing from isolated anecdotes is risky, even when the anecdotes are particularly compelling. I found that especially true after seeing Aurora Theatre’s knockout production of Mud Blue Sky, a hilarious yet compassionate comedy that revolves around the travails and frustrations of three current and former flight attendants.

Coming away from the show, which opened the Berkeley company’s 24th season, I concurred with viewers who have said that the play amounted to a bleak portrait of an occupation that once brimmed with glamour. The play’s anecdotes, adeptly drawn by Chicago playwright Marisa Wegryzn and dispatched by strong performances, made me wonder why anyone would consider working in the not-so-friendly skies these days.

If anything is enviable about the lives of the play’s three women, all middle-aged veterans of airline life, it escaped me. They’re engrossing and very funny, but I had to wonder whether they really represent the folks who dispense peanuts and Cokes in jets that have only grown more crowded and spartan over the decades.

So I turned to Google, entered a search for “flight attendants,” and came up with a few hits that made the premise seem questionable.

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of a site called PayScale.com, but its respondents seemed as if they were not about to quit flying, even if they could find a parachute. A query about job satisfaction brought a rating of five stars out of a possible five; pay scales varied hugely among airlines but weren’t bad for a job that demands only a high school education; and benefits — not counting free flights to faraway places — were probably comparable to most other fields.

What’s that mean where Mud Blue Sky is concerned? Not a thing. It’s a terrific play, not a treatise on airline labor.

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She’s mature, he’s young and both face puzzles about the future: Jones as Beth, O’Brien as Jonathan

As entertainment and as an examination of character, it deserves at least four stars out of that possible five. Wegryzn understands people and she understands theatrical dynamics, and crafted those understandings into a 95-minute delight.

The action takes place in and near a travelers’ hotel at the edge of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Entering first is Beth (Jamie Jones), who stretches her aching back and struggles out of her high-heeled shoes before even turning on the lights.

She’s joined a bit later by Sam (Rebecca Dines), an effervescent sort who’s primed to rush out in pursuit of booze and whatever other diversions she can corral before duty calls once more, before sunrise.

Completing the threesome is Angie (Laura Jane Bailey), whose flying days ended when her hipline expanded.

They’re not alone, however. Beth connects with unlikely friend, a male high school senior whom she met on an earlier flight, and brings him to the room for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. His name is Jonathan and he sells pot, which the three eagerly buy even though they have to struggle to pay for it. The role is played with cheerfully hapless awkwardness by Devin O’Brien.

Although the women have undoubtedly logged hundreds of thousands of miles, they are going nowhere, and they know it. Beth and Sam worry about teen-aged sons at home; Angie passes her time caring for elderly parents. None can look ahead to a secure or fulfilling future.

And Jonathan struggles with a teen’s woes: a hot date who has ditched him on prom night, uncertainty about college, turmoil at home.

The undercurrents may be dark but the presentation is for the most part wildly funny, with just one sustained exception. That comes in a long monologue by Angie, recounting an agonizing experience with a passenger who paid her handsomely for a short spell of emotional support. On opening night, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop as the story unfolded.

Aurora’s artistic director, Tom Ross, provided the expert direction and Kate Boyd designed the set, which transformed smoothly between the hotel and a nearby parking lot, with jets screaming overhead (sound by Chris Houston).

Mud Blue Sky runs through Sept. 27 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley. Tickets are $ 32-$ 50 from 510-843-4822 or auroratheatre.org

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Taylor Schilling’s ‘The Overnight’ Is The Refreshing Sex Comedy We Need

Take an anxious Seattle couple, drop them in a hipster-centric Los Angeles neighborhood for a night of alcohol, weed and some possible swinging, and you’re left with one bizarre, yet charming hangover. That’s essentially what “The Overnight” is, the new sex comedy from writer-director Patrick Brice that finds Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott’s married couple caught up in a night of absurd, hilarious and revealing situations.

While taking their son to play in a local park, Schilling’s Emily and Scott’s Alex meet Jason Schwartzman’s Kurt, your typical Silver Lake hipster artist. After inviting the couple over to his and his wife’s (Judith Godrèche) swanky home for their kids’ playdate, Emily and Alex are sucked into an all-night escapade that features everything from homemade porn videos to butthole paintings to full-frontal male nudity (yes, Scott and Schwartzman both flaunt prosthetic penises in the film). What could easily succumb to a cliché raunchy sex comedy dependent on puerile jokes soon flourishes into one of the most refreshing adult comedies in recent memory. 

After “The Overnight” screened at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, The Huffington Post sat down with stars Schilling and Godrèche to talk about filming the movie in less than two weeks and getting very up close and personal with each other.

There’s a really refreshing sense of humor to this film that makes it so charming. Was that something that drew both of you to the project?

Judith Godrèche: I read it and it was the funniest thing I ever read. I did a lot of comedies in France and thought, “Wow, if everything was as funny and well written as that, I’d be working nonstop.”

Taylor Schilling: Mark Duplass brought the movie to me. I read the script and it was a nutty script. […] The raunchiness and rawness in the script, sort of taking that to a really honest and gritty sensibility and seeing how to braid those two things together. There’s also a real kindness to the film that makes it funnier. I think in a lot of comedies, like situational comedies, the humor is very reactionary, and this is more based in emotional situations that I think make it so funny. 

How did you avoid playing into the usual tropes of the sex-comedy genre?

Schilling: For me that was so much in the direction. That wasn’t the culture on the set.

Godrèche: There was an ambiance. We all signed to do this indie film which was almost like a first film. So there was something special going on already, no rehearsal, no fittings.  […] I think [Brice] likes actors who are funny, but in a subtle way. As far as Adam [Scott] can go, he’s a super funny actor, he’s a very internal actor too. It’s almost contemplative in a way. There are super funny lines, but they are delicate at the same time. It’s so well written, it’s hard to make it goofy. It’s the awkwardness that is so well done. It’s not vulgar. It’s sexy, but it’s awkward.

Both of your characters get progressively drunker and more stoned throughout the movie. What was it like to act out those different stages of being increasingly intoxicated? 

Schilling: I think because we were doing it in order, it was kind of brilliant. Our call time was like 6:00 p.m. and the wrap would be around 7:00 a.m.

Godrèche: We would get stoned just by being tired. 

The chemistry between all four of you is so magnetic. Did you spend a lot of time together before shooting?

Schilling: I had lunch with Adam and we had a group dinner. I think sometimes chemistry just appears. It’s something really wonderful in a cast. It either kind of emerges or it doesn’t.

Godrèche: I remember it as a dream honestly. I was so tired. Everything is like that to me, including the last scene which was really like — I was like, “I don’t know who I am anymore and I don’t care!” I was really taken by the moment in a very interesting way. I think this movie is so open-minded. It doesn’t tell exactly who you are at this moment in your life and maybe you don’t know either, and I kind of felt this.

Without spoiling anything, the last major scene with all four of you features some very bold sexual innuendos. By the time you filmed it were you all very comfortable together?

Schilling: We shot the whole thing in 11 days. That last scene — Patrick [Brice] and I talked [about how] that scene might not even exist. We shot sequentially then we’d watch and see if that actually existed in the dynamic of the characters.

That’s interesting because while watching it, it doesn’t feel like that scene will actually happen, but it plays very organically.

Godrèche: And it’s not like it’s announced, like “Here’s the big scene!” It comes so subtly and I think it’s charming, because the way it happens is pretty magical. I think [Patrick] is amazing and he has a way of capturing — he’s always dancing with us, the camera’s movement was always moving with us. It’s romantic, actually. When I see that scene, I feel like I’m watching a romantic movie.

“The Overnight” is now playing.

Also on HuffPost: 

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You Can’t Miss These Laugh-Out-Loud Moments From Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck Comedy Tour

Amy Schumer need not do much to convince us to want to see her upcoming movie Trainwreck—she had us at "written by and starring Amy Schumer." And then she sealed the deal with this hilarious…




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Comedy Legend Carl Reiner On The New Guard Of Late Night: James Corden Is ‘Unbelievable’

Comedy legend Carl Reiner knows a thing or two about late night: he’s the only man on the planet to have appeared on every incarnation of the “Tonight Show,” from Steve Allen to Jimmy Fallon.

And with all the changes going on in late night TV, Reiner is very optimistic. While he calls Fallon an “amazing talent,” Reiner especially likes the newest name in late night, James Corden, host of the “Late Late Show” on CBS.

“He’s unbelievable,” said Reiner. “He sings, he dances… he is very graceful and he sings beautifully.”

Check out part two of Carl Reiner’s memoir I Just Remembered here.

For more from Carl Reiner on Letterman and Colbert, watch the video above, and for more videos from “The HuffPost Show,” click here.

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Comedy – The Huffington Post
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NBC’s Fall Schedule Lacks Comedy, But Has A Neil Patrick Harris Variety Show

Brace yourself for a whole lot of drama on NBC this fall.

The network announced its fall 2015-2016 lineup Sunday. The new slate includes variety show “Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris,” “Heroes” revival “Heroes Reborn,” crime thriller “Blindspot,” Wesley Snipes’ thriller “The Player,” couples comedy “People Are Talking” and medical drama “Heartbreaker.”

The most surprising feature of the schedule is its drastic lack of comedies. Besides “Undateable,” which was renewed for a third season of all-live episodes, NBC’s only other half-hour comedy is newcomer “People Are Talking.” Both shows will air back-to-back on Friday night, meaning that NBC will have only one hour of comedy programming per week this fall. That’s the lowest number of comedies the network has had since the fall of 1978, according to Vulture, revealing that comedies clearly aren’t a priority for the peacock network.

NBC’s fall schedule is rounded out with renewed shows “The Blacklist,” “Grimm,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Mysteries of Laura,” “Undateable,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Hollywood Game Night.”

Check out trailers for four of NBC’s new shows below:

“People Are Talking”

“Blindspot”

“Heartbreaker”

“The Player”

See the full list of NBC’s new fall and mid-season shows at NBC.com.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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Barnacle Brat (a dark comedy for grown-ups)

Barnacle Brat (a dark comedy for grown-ups)


Losing your grip on reality is a real bummer. Just ask Leon Blank. Not that he’d know. Seems those losing their marbles are always the last to find out. Until recently, Leon would have argued that having a tendency to become easily sidetracked on a regular basis wasn’t that odd. And what’s so unusual about hearing a voice inside your head? Doesn’t everyone? Isn’t that just thinking? But his recent visions are not so freely dismissed; especially the angry-looking clown who’s started following him around with a baseball bat. Time to act, Leon decides: perhaps keeping a log would shed light on the mystery. Then again, could ‘seeing-things’ just be sexual frustration? It’s been a while! If only he had a girlfriend to take his mind off stuff. Prepare to enter the normally hidden world of delusions, paranoia, and. ahem. sexual fetish: Voyeurism; Feederism; Shoes – that kind of thing.’Thanks a lot, Adrian! This seriously messed with my head.’ – My sister.’Absurd, zany, funny, dark, outrageous, perverse, melon-twisting, unpredictable. That enough? Nice one. Can I ‘ave me fiver now, mate?’ – A homeless Manc’It’s like Christopher Moore and Robert Rankin had a love child, raised it on LSD then made it write a novel.’ – Anonymous reviewer (No, really; we wouldn’t make that up)’What’s your name? My name’s Wayne. Do you like a book? I like a book. If I wrote a book, I’d call it: Billy Liar meets Donnie Darko.’ – Some nutter on the tram

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How Girls Took Over Comedy Central: A Timeline

People tend to think of Comedy Central as a male-skewing network. The legacy of The Man Show's beers and bouncing babes—not to mention the '90s heyday of Girls Gone Wild infomercials—looms large in our collective…




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Adult Beginners TV SPOT – Let’s Go Crazy (2015) – Nick Kroll, Joel McHale Comedy HD

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Adult Beginners TV SPOT – Let’s Go Crazy (2015) – Nick Kroll, Joel McHale Comedy HD

A young, narcissistic entrepreneur crashes and burns on the eve of his company’s big launch. With his entire life in total disarray, he leaves Manhattan to move in with his estranged pregnant sister, brother-in-law and 3-year-old nephew in the suburbs – only to become their nanny.
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Zombeavers Featurette – Behind the Cameos (2015) – Beaver Horror Comedy HD

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Zombeavers Featurette – Behind the Cameos (2015) – Beaver Horror Comedy HD

A fun weekend turns into madness and horror for a bunch of groupies looking for fun in a beaver infested swamp.

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Natasha Lyonne on How Women Are Taking Over Comedy

Natasha Lyonne, director Jamie Babbit, and writer Karey Dornetto sat down with the What’s Trending team at this year’s South by Southwest festival to talk about their new film, “Fresno.” The conversation covered both Fresno the movie and the city, as well as the state of women in comedy today.

The film is a dark comedy about two sisters who work as hotel maids in the California city. You don’t see a lot of films set in Fresno, and apparently the city has been touchy on the topic.

“A lot of people were like, ‘Don’t mess with Fresno!'” Lyonne told us.

“I grew up in a terrible town called Cleveland,” Babbit said. “I grew up in an underdog city so I really responded to living in an armpit and wanting to get out. So when we decided to make the movie in California rather than Clevend, I thought about, ‘what is the Cleveland of California?'”

But movie title aside, the film is more about complicated women and the relationship between them. It’s a roll that “most women don’t get to play” according to Dornetto.

Lyonne describes it as “not apologizing for being sort of not thrilled with being alive.”

“I think when I see funny movies about women I get really excited.” Babbit said. “‘Bridesmaids’ really blew me away.”

“I loved that it was a movie about female friendships, which is something you don’t really see.” Babbit said. “We wanted to tell a movie about sisters who want to kill each other.”

On the subject of women in comedy, Lyonne said, “I think it’s such a great time for women in comedy. Amy Poehler and Lena Duham… there’s just so many exciting things going on right now.”

“I don’t know how men got the upper hand way back when,” Lyonne said. “It’s going to end and die soon. Hopefully some of them will stick around so we can use them for what we need them for. Reproduction and such.”
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Justin Bieber Gets Burnt To A Crisp In First Clips From Comedy Central Roast

Beliebers might want to look away now.

News of the jokes from Justin Bieber’s Roast has been trickling across the Internet, but now Comedy Central finally released the first clips, and they’re brutal. In one video, Jeff Ross calls Bieber a “cocky little s–t” before comparing him to one of the most hated characters in television history:

In another clip, roast master Kevin Hart promises to give Biebs the “ass-whooping he deserves“:

Hart told Jimmy Kimmel on Monday that Bieber may have even cried during the show, so you better Belieb things are going to get even worse.

Justin Bieber’s roast airs Monday, March 30, on Comedy Central.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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While We’re Young Official Trailer #2 (2015) – Ben Stiller, Adam Driver Comedy HD

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While We’re Young Official Trailer #2 (2015) – Ben Stiller, Adam Driver Comedy HD

An uptight documentarian and his wife find their lives loosened up a bit after befriending a free-spirited younger couple.

The Movieclips Trailers channel is your destination for the hottest new trailers the second they drop. Whether it’s the latest studio release, an indie horror flick, an evocative documentary, or that new RomCom you’ve been waiting for, the Movieclips team is here day and night to make sure all the best new movie trailers are here for you the moment they’re released.

In addition to being the #1 Movie Trailers Channel on YouTube, we deliver amazing and engaging original videos each week. Watch our exclusive Ultimate Trailers, Showdowns, Instant Trailer Reviews, Monthly MashUps, Movie News, and so much more to keep you in the know.

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‘Til Somebody Loves You, Romantic Comedy Quick-Pick

‘Til Somebody Loves You, Romantic Comedy Quick-Pick


‘Til Somebody Loves YouWhen a copywriter for a Chicago ad agency has to promote a celebrity fragrance, she’s convinced its secret ingredient is the key to her happily-ever-after! MaryBeth Winters weaves advertising slogans with sweet dreams about her office crush, Dean Dineno. Adventures along the way help her discover how much fun it is to be a damsel in distress – who can also save the day.

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12 Golden Ducks Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Hong Kong Sex Comedy HD

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12 Golden Ducks Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Hong Kong Sex Comedy HD

Devastated by a love affair, former in-demand gigolo Future Chang (played by Sandra Ng) retreats to Thailand, leading the life a dissolute. Thanks to the intervention of his high school teacher, Mr. Lo, Future summons the courage to return to Hong Kong. With the help of his friend Ricky, a gym trainer, he works hard to get back into shape, determined to make a comeback in the “duck” (male escort) trade. Sequel to the # 1 hit of last year ‘Golden Chickens.’

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The Wedding Ringer – Audiences react to Kevin Hart’s new comedy!

Release Date: 16 January 2015 (United States)
Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is a loveable but socially awkward groom-to-be with a problem: he has no best man. With less than two weeks to go until he marries the girl of his dreams (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), Doug is referred to Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner and CEO of Best Man, Inc., a company that provides flattering best men for socially challenged guys in need. What ensues is a hilarious wedding charade as they try to pull off the big con, and an unexpected budding bromance between Doug and his fake best man Jimmy.

Genre: Comedy
Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Ken Howard,
Director: Jeremy Garelick
Writers: Jeremy Garelick & Jay Lavender

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A La Mala Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Aislinn Derbez Romantic Comedy HD

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A La Mala Official Trailer 1 (2014) – Aislinn Derbez Romantic Comedy HD

Plot

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Ana Maria in Novela Land Official Trailer 1 (2015) – Luis Guzmán Comedy HD

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Ana Maria in Novela Land Official Trailer 1 (2015) – Luis Guzmán Comedy HD

Ana Maria in Novela Land is the fun-filled story of how one super fan, Ana Maria, switches places with her favorite telenovela star, Ariana Tomosa.Starring EDY GANEM (Devious Maids), in a breakout, dual role as both Ana Maria and Ariana Tomosa, the film centers around Ana Maria, a typical 20-something who is living life on her own terms but frustrating her family and friends all the while doing so. As she journeys inside a world of seemingly limitless opportunities in “Novela Land,” things get heated during a love affair with a wealthy businessman and his younger, sexy son. Meanwhile, Ariana is forced to deal with the harsh realities of living in Los Angeles with an over-protective but loving family. As each of these women navigate their new lives, they come to the realization that love and true faith in themselves is all they really needed to have the life they dreamed of.

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Get a First Look at Lily Collins and Sam Claflin’s Can’t-Miss Romantic Comedy, Love, Rosie

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Love, Rosie, a new romantic comedy that we can't wait to see, starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, is hitting theaters: Based on P.S. I Love You author Cecelia…




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Suburban Gothic Official Trailer 1 (2014) – John Waters, Kat Dennings Horror Comedy HD

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Suburban Gothic Official Trailer 1 (2014) – John Waters, Kat Dennings Horror Comedy HD

Raymond has a prestigious MBA, but he can’t find work. He can also channel the paranormal, but chatting with a cute girl still mystifies him. Kicked out of his apartment, Raymond returns home to his overbearing mother, his ex-jock father, and some beer-bellied former classmates. When a vengeful ghost starts terrorizing his small town home, Raymond the city-boy has to recruit Becca, the badass local bartender, to solve the mystery of the spirit threatening their lives. This quirky paranormal comedy stars Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) and Kat Dennings (2 Broke Girls).
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Free The Nipple Movie CLIP – Joins the Movement (2014) – Comedy Movie HD

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Free The Nipple Movie CLIP – Joins the Movement (2014) – Comedy Movie HD

Opening in theaters and VOD December 12th

Starring: Casey LaBow, Lola Kirke, Zach Grenier, Monique Coleman and Griffin Newman

A group of fearless women fight for their right to go topless in public, as they smash societal taboos one bare breast at a time. Based on a true story, this spirited satire follows New York City activists Liv and With, who take their crusade for gender equality from the streets of the urban jungle to the courts. More than just a movie, Free the Nipple has launched an empowering real-life movement, inspiring women across the globe to take back their bodies.
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Netflix Postpones Launch Of Bill Cosby Comedy Special

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix says it is postponing Bill Cosby’s upcoming standup comedy special.

A spokesperson for the company says it is postponing the launch of “Bill Cosby 77.” This follows accusations that Cosby has sexually assaulted several women.

Cosby has remained silent, and his attorney, John P. Schmitt, issued a statement Sunday saying his client would not dignify “decade-old, discredited” claims of sexual abuse with a response.

The 77-year-old Cosby was never criminally charged in any case.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Hulu Picks Up Amy Poehler’s New Comedy Starring Billy Eichner & Julie Klausner

“Parks And Recreation” may be ending next year, but a little piece of Pawnee will stay on Hulu.

The site announced Tuesday that it had given a straight-to-series order for Poehler-produced show “Difficult People” — a half hour comedy starring “Billy on the Street” host (and the inimitable “Craig” on “Parks & Rec”) Billy Eichner and master podcaster/”Billy on the Street” scribe Julie Klausner.

The show will follow the two real-life best friends as they get themselves up to some awkward antics in New York City, not unlike the premise of Comedy Central’s “Broad City,” which Poehler also produces.

“I tend to enjoy funny people creating and starring in comedy programs, and Julie and Billy are the funniest around,” Poehler said of the pair.

Um, we’re sold.

Comedy – The Huffington Post
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‘Women In Comedy’ Director Heidi Ewing Discusses The ‘Pretty Isn’t Funny’ Stereotype

Women have always been funny, but it wasn’t until recently that society allowed them to look beautiful and make us laugh.

Filmmaker Heidi Ewing, who directed the documentary “MAKERS: Women in Comedy,” dropped by HuffPost Live on Tuesday to discuss her work on the history of funny females, and she spoke with host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani about the long-held concern among women comics that an attractive appearance would make it harder to win over an audience.

Lucky for comedy lovers, that stereotype is quickly dissipating thanks to hilarious women like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and many more who aren’t afraid to rock a glamorous gown while they rattle off punchlines.

Watch Ewing discuss the “pretty isn’t funny” stereotype in the video above, and see the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Women in Comedy Spotlight: My Hilarious Coworker Trish!

This post originally appeared on Reductress.com.

2014-07-28-trishwoman.jpg

It seems like almost every stand-up show features at least one female comedian these days. Now that Tina Fey stars in movies, it’s just a matter of time before women are being funny all over this great nation! It’s important that we support lesser-known “comediennes” before they explode into the humor scene, which is why I’d like to introduce you to the ridiculously hysterical Trish Jenkins, my fellow billing specialist at Content Innovations Inc. You’re gonna get a kick out of her!

Trish is outrageous! She will say anything, to anyone — she doesn’t even care! Her first week at CII, this hot UPS driver comes into the lobby, like, “I’ve got a package for Trish Jenkins?” And Trish looks him up and down and says — I SWEAR TO GOD THIS IS TRUE — she says, “Ooh, I hope it’s the one I’m thinking of!”

I’m like “Trish, oh my God! Are you insane? That is a uniformed official, Trish! You can’t say that!”

But she DID! She did say that! I was dying laughing, obviously, we all were. I was like, “You need to be doing this professionally!” Trish is edgy without being trashy, and I think we can agree that’s something we could all use more of in comedy.

Plus, she appeals to all types of audiences! Last May, we get out early for Memorial Day weekend and go get pedicures at this Korean salon. Can I say it’s Korean? Anyway, we sit down and Trish, FOR REAL, she goes, “So you’ll paint all my toes? Even my … CAMEL TOE?” I’m serious! I’m serious! She said that!

The lady didn’t understand our American slang, so Trish — hold on, I can’t even remember it without dying laughing — Trish hikes up her leggings and actually indicates the outline of her labia! Cross my heart! Now the lady is laughing, I’m freaking ROLLING on the floor like “Trish, you have no filter! You’re too much, and it’s amazing. Why aren’t you putting this in a comedy skit?”

Another reason Trish NEEDS to be out there, sharing her comedy with the world? She brings the realness. Like, BRINGS it! Last week, it’s Joel’s going away party, we all go out for Korean barbecue. Can I say it’s Korean? Anyway, Trish gets hilariously drunk, like that super-edgy, raw blackout drunk that most of us wouldn’t dare to try. Then she starts going around the table doing “insult comedy” and I’m like, wha-oh! Hide your kids and make peace with your God — Trish is on the warpath!

First she does this whole routine demanding to know why RJ never called her after they hooked up in the supply closet, then she tells Joel “BAD luck at your new job, you fat shit,” and THEN she does this pratfall into her short ribs and stays there for two hours! I’m screaming laughing, like, “Oh my God, Trish, what are you doing? You’re gonna get fired, oh my God!”

And she DID! She did get fired! But everything happens for a reason, and the world hasn’t seen the last of the insanely amazeballs Trish Jenkins. Are you listening, Lorne Michaels and Nick Cannon? Don’t let this raw female talent go to waste!

To read more, click here or visit Reductress.com.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Comedy, Tonight!

A popular show business axiom insists that “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” While any performer who has bombed onstage will quickly acknowledge this bitter truth, the bottom line is that comedy depends on good ideas and solid execution. Mary Elizabeth Williams makes this point brilliantly in her article for Salon.com entitled Stephen Colbert is Dead, Long Live Stephen Colbert!

During one recent week I attended performances of three very different comedies.

  • One was a world premiere, the other two were Bay area premieres.
  • All three shows were solidly cast with tightly-knit ensembles that employed strongly talented performers.
  • Two productions sizzled, challenging their audiences with issues critical to their lives while causing them to repeatedly laugh out loud (proving beyond any doubt that just a spoonful of sarcasm helps the medicine go down). Curiously, these two plays delivered a wealth of information to their audiences which reflected each creative team’s personal passions.
  • The third, quite surprisingly, fizzled out. Audience response was polite, but noticeably tepid.
  • What could have caused such a difference in response? Was it just a sober audience on a weekday night? Or were other, more subtle factors at play?

* * * * * * * * * *

Suppose you want to write a play that tackles a difficult and extremely newsworthy issue. How can you position it dramatically in an easily understandable setting for a contemporary audience? In the following video, Tony Taccone explains how he and Dan Hoyle teamed up to write Game On for the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Written for a cast of five (who perform on a unit set), the protagonists of Game On are two impassioned losers whose fanatic devotion to fantasy baseball helps to distract them from the sadder and more distressing realities of their lives.

  • Vinnie (Marco Barricelli) is a middle-aged, Brooklyn-born Italian-American facing some steep medical expenses. When he is not driving a cab in and around San Francisco, the frequently depressed Vinnie is glued to his television, watching documentaries about endangered species on the Discovery Channel. A sensitive soul whose emotions are easily manipulated by mass media, the sentimental, anthropomorphically-vulnerable lug has taken to giving individual polar bears names like “Petie” because he feels so deeply about the perils they face as a result of climate change.
  • Alvin (Craig Marker) is a cold and clinical numbers man. In contrast to Vinnie (who always goes with his gut), Alvin has been using sabermetrics as a tool for building his fantasy baseball team (as well as building statistical arguments for the entrepreneurial dream he and Vinnie share to make insects a new and extremely profitable source of animal protein for the American diet). If all goes well, a culinary trend embracing entomophagy could make them incredibly wealthy.

2014-05-09-GameOn1.jpg

Craig Marker and Marco Barricelli in Game On
(Photo by: Kevin Berne)

In a way, Vinnie and Alvin are not that different from Max Bialystock and Leopold Bloom in The Producers . Both are small-time idealists who are completely out of their league trying to raise money to support their dreams. If only someone with megabucks to spare would taste some of Vinnie’s fresh, worm-laden spring rolls or fried crickets, Vinnie is sure that the dipping sauce alone could convince that person to write a check!

As the play opens, Alvin and Vinnie are in the television room of an upscale home in Los Altos, which is close to Silicon Valley’s deep pool of venture capital. As they eagerly await some precious face time with a Godot-like mogul (who has an expressed interest in “green” projects), they argue about baseball players and fundraising strategies. It soon becomes obvious that, while Vinnie is a man of deep passions, Alvin is a rabid control freak.

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Craig Marker and Marco Barricelli in Game On
(Photo by: Kevin Berne)

The hard truth is that neither Alvin nor Vinnie is equipped to go swimming with the venture capital sharks of Silicon Valley. Alvin, in particular, is so wrapped up in numbers and the “rules of the game” that he misses important body language cues and important “tells” dropped by those who step into the game room. They include:

  • Bob (Mike Ryan), a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose company has just been bought by the Godot-like mogul and who is now scouting potential business acquisitions for his new boss.
  • Glen (Cassidy Brown), Alvin’s former fraternity brother who, following his recent divorce has quietly “married up.” A bit of a doofus, Glen plans to don a cape and ski mask and use a bullhorn to intimidate the guests at his wife’s party into making larger donations to green causes. His attempt to create and perform a politically confrontational rap song (most probably written by Dan Hoyle) is hilariously misguided.
  • Beth (Nisi Sturgis) is Glen’s new wife, a diehard sports fan as well as a wealthy Silicon Valley player who is hosting the party and knows the revered billionaire on a first-name basis. She’s much better at getting people to write checks than Glen could ever hope to be.

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Craig Marker, Cassidy Brown, and Marco Barricelli in Game On
(Photo by: Kevin Berne)

Hoyle and Taccone have fashioned a script which covers a lot of topical issues while delivering a steady supply of laughs to the audience. Their play is nicely structured, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Working on John Iacovelli’s stylish unit set, Rick Lombardo has directed with a sure hand (San Jose Rep’s impressive study guide for students attending performances of Game On includes a wealth of material on such topics as global warming, food and sustainability, entomophagy, fantasy baseball, sabermetrics, how to fund a startup, and whether or not to seek venture capital).

While Craig Marker has developed a reputation for delivering solidly-crafted characterizations, Alvin’s spectacular emotional meltdown allows him to show audiences what an impressively layered artist he can be with the right material. Game On gives Marco Barricelli a much stronger opportunity to show his strengths than he received from A.C.T.’s recent production of Eduardo De Filippo’s Napoli.

In supporting roles, Mike Ryan offered an appropriately bland Bob while Cassidy Brown enjoyed some deliriously comic flame-outs as Glen. In her limited time onstage, Nisi Sturgis had no trouble communicating to the audience that Beth was much more shrewd and savvy than any of the men in Game On.

* * * * * * * * * *

As in Game On, the dialogue in Wittenberg (which recently received its Bay area premiere at the Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley) fairly crackles. That may well be because playwright David Davalos is also an actor. Davalos first got the idea for his play in 1991, while appearing as Rosenkrantz in a Utah Shakespeare Festival production of Hamlet. As the playwright notes:

“The theatre I enjoy best as an audience member (Shakespeare, Shaw, Stoppard) also challenges and provokes me, be it emotionally or intellectually. To an Elizabethan audience, a reference to Wittenberg both identified a person there as Protestant and as someone immersed in an academic environment of intellectual foment and questioning — as if an American Hamlet in the 1960s were identified as coming home from Berkeley or Kent State. In many respects, I reverse-engineered Hamlet’s psychology from the moment in Hamlet when he’s just about to stab a praying Claudius but second-guesses himself. I wanted to suggest that Hamlet’s internal moral conflict pre-dated Hamlet.”

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Jeremy Kahn as Hamlet in Wittenberg (Photo by: David Allen)

It’s an interesting dramatic trick, made all the more accessible by Tom Stoppard’s breakthrough success with 1966’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Billed as “A Tragical-Comical-Historical in Two Acts,” Davalos’s play (which premiered at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia in 2008) takes place in October 1517 as Hamlet (Jeremy Kahn) is still struggling to decide whether to major in philosophy or theology (like some of his classmates, he’s also been hanging out at the Bunghole Tavern).

Two of the university’s most noteworthy professors, Dr. Faustus (Michael Stevenson) and Martin Luther (Dan Hiatt) are vying for the attention of the Danish prince who, as a senior, is due to graduate as part of Wittenberg’s class of 1518. However, Hamlet recently spent a summer in Poland, where he was exposed to the dangerous astronomical theories of Nicolaus Kopernik claiming that the sun (rather than the earth) is the center of the universe.

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Dr. Faustus (Michael Stevenson) and Martin Luther (Dan Hiatt)
try to influence Prince Hamlet (Jeremy Kahn) in Wittenberg
(Photo by: David Allen)

Hamlet is under no great pressure to make up his mind. His ability to win at sports (due in large part to the referee’s deference) allows him to enjoy his royal status on the tennis court as well as in the classroom. Ironically, Hamlet is not the only one facing some difficult decisions.

  • Prone to scatological complaints, Martin Luther is battling a severe case of mental, physical and spiritual constipation that is miraculously eased by his colleague’s insistence on the ingestion of coffee. The play begins several days prior to October 31, 1517 when, outraged by the Dominican friar Johann Tetzel’s continued sales of indulgences as a fundraising tool, Luther launched the Protestant Reformation by nailing his revolutionary Ninety-Five Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s All Saints’ Church.
  • After many years of debauchery, Dr. Faustus is actually thinking of proposing to his steady paramour.
  • Helen (Elizabeth Carter) may have started off as a nun but, as one of Europe’s most valued courtesans, has no intention of giving up her independence to accommodate her lover’s neediness.

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Dr. Faustus (Michael Stevenson) and Helen (Elizabeth Carter)
congratulate Hamlet (Jeremy Kahn) on winning a tennis match
in Wittenberg (Photo by: David Allen)

There was so much to admire in the Aurora Theatre Company’s production of Wittenberg. From Eric Sinkkonen’s intriguing unit set to Maggi Yule’s handsome period costumes; from Josh Costello’s clever stage direction to the work of his finely-tuned four-actor ensemble, this play glows with the kind of intelligence, wit, precognition, and mischievous cross-referencing that could give a puzzle fanatic like Stephen Sondheim an erection.

It’s rare to leave a theatre thinking how much you’d like to get your hands on a copy of the script so that you could slowly savor all the puns, comedic setups, and insider jokes that Davalos has so intricately woven into Wittenberg. While one doesn’t need a thorough knowledge of Hamlet, Dr. Faustus, or Martin Luther’s life to enjoy this play, the stronger one’s sense of history and literature, the more fun a person will have at any performance of Wittenberg.

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Martin Luther (Dan Hiatt), Dr. Faustus (Michael Stevenson), and
Hamlet (Jeremy Kahn) are all severely conflicted in Wittenberg
(Photo by: David Allen)

* * * * * * * * * *

In 1981, Joe Sears and Jaston Williams introduced audiences in Austin, Texas to the citizens of Greater Tuna. The Greater Tuna franchise grew over the years because of the small-town charm of its characters and the dexterity with which Sears and Williams handled quick costume changes as they jumped from one character to another. Unfortunately, the last time I saw them perform one of their plays the thrill was gone, the script was weak, and the performers seemed to be navigating on autopilot.

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Jaston Williams and Joe Sears in Greater Tuna

In 1982, Michael Frayn’s backstage farce about everything that could possibly go wrong in a stage production (Noises Off) premiered in London and became a popular hit. Although the show has enjoyed numerous revivals, it failed to make a successful transition to the silver screen in 1992 when Peter Bogdonavich directed a cast that included Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, and Marilu Henner. The verdict was that Noises Off was too much of a live theatre experience to work as a film.

In September 1984, the Ridiculous Theatrical Company presented the world premiere of Charles Ludlam’s deliciously zany spoof, The Mystery of Irma Vep, with Ludlam and his partner (Everett Quinton) entertaining their audience with wacky costume/character changes and a surprise ending. According to Wikipedia, in 1991 Irma Vep was the most produced play in the United States.

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Everett Quinton and Charles Ludlam in
1984’s The Mystery of Irma Vep

In June of 2005, Patrick Barlow’s hilarious adaptation of a popular 1935 film premiered at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Its director, Fiona Buffini, had four actors recreating Alfred Hitchcock’s screen adventure, The 39 Steps, as they jumped through lighting-fast costume changes and a dizzying array of characters in a highly-stylized and monstrously inventive stage production.

Some comedic tricks hit their mark and never fail to please. Others lose their sting after their first time up at bat. The urge to cherry pick the best qualities of past comedic successes and merge them into a new (yet old-fashioned) mashup can be irresistible. But there are times when resistance is definitely called for.

It’s understandable that a creative team might hope to merge the best elements of shows like Noises Off and The 39 Steps in order to capture the kind of comic gold and commercial success that each of those stage comedies achieved on its own. But lightning doesn’t always strike in the same place, in the same way, and with the same force, as Steven Suskin admirably explains in his Huffington Post review of Bullets Over Broadway (Aisle View: Don’t Speak! Don’t Sing!) while meticulously describing how a structural quirk in the new musical continually sabotages the show’s comedic momentum.

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Darren Bridgett and Michael Gene Sullivan in
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Photo by: Tracy Martin)

Created in 2007 by Steve Canny and John Nicholson for a small British theatrical company named Peepolykus, a comic adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1901 Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, became a sizable hit in Great Britain. It has since delighted audiences in numerous cities.

What happens when the intended comedic magic fails to materialize onstage? When a fierce farce feels forced, fertile fun flees a futile fantasy. Instead of the audience feeling like they’re feasting on fresh fruit, its faith flutters in fear of failure as it feeds on a fallen souffle filled with flaccid shtick.

Get it? Got it? Good!

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Darren Bridgett and Michael Gene Sullivan as two country yokels
in The Hound of the Baskervilles (Photo by: Tracy Martin)

That pretty much sums up the energetic (but lame) performance of The Hound of the Baskervilles that I saw down at TheatreWorks (which fully deserved to be subtitled “This Turd Won’t Hunt”). Darren Bridgett, Michael Gene Sullivan, and Ron Campbell (who spent several years as one of Cirque du Soleil’s leading clowns) are all accomplished performers who were working hard onstage.

What could possibly have gone wrong? Several hunches pin the blame in surprising places:

  • Because I was unable to attend the production’s opening night (where members of the audience are frequently welcomed with a free glass of wine), I caught up with The Hound of the Baskervilles at a midweek performance which draws a more sedate audience less driven by the thrill of attending an “event.”
  • As a critic, I’ve already sat through several performances of The 39 Steps (including a January 2011 TheatreWorks production directed by Robert Kelley). It could very well be that the novelty of this particular production style has worn thin, causing me to feel as if The Hound of the Baskervilles was a similar product that was simply late to market.
  • Whereas the characters in Game On and Wittenberg were motivated by their passions and/or obsessions, none of the characters in The Hound of the Baskervilles exhibited any sense of personal need. At numerous times during the evening, it seemed as if the performers were on a treadmill, trying to keep up with the demands of their rapid costume changes. I never felt any sense of dramatic urgency that could heighten the fun.
  • Because of the way the comedy has been structured, the actors occasionally step out of character to address the audience — even bitching about written complaints (fictional) that were submitted by members of the audience at intermission. At the beginning of Act II, one actor insists on starting all over again and performing a compressed, hyperactive version of Act I to prove to those who complained just how wrong they were. Sometimes a gimmick doesn’t work. This one landed with a resounding thud.
  • It’s quite possible that, despite the current fascination with television and film treatments of Sherlock Holmes, the TheatreWorks audience was not especially familiar with Arthur Conan Doyle’s story of The Hound of the Baskervilles. As a result, some of the jokes which might titillate Sherlock Holmes fans may have completely lost their punch.

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Darren Bridgett and Ron Campbell in a scene from
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Photo by: Mark Kitaoka)

Ironically, the experience awakened long-buried memories of a dreary Broadway musical entitled Baker Street, which opened on Broadway in February 1965 and whose exquisite sets (designed by Oliver Smith) were far more impressive than the show’s book, score, or Hal Prince’s stage direction. Although the cast was headed by such theatrical stalwarts as Fritz Weaver (Sherlock Holmes), Martin Gabel (Professor Moriarty), and Inga Swenson (playing a stage actress named Irene Adler), Baker Street is rarely, if ever performed. Consigned to oblivion, it offers a tiny footnote to the history of the Great White Way as the show that marked the Broadway debuts (in small supporting roles) of Tommy Tune and Christopher Walken.

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Martin Gabel, Fritz Weaver, and Inga Swenson in 1965’s Baker Street

To read more of George Heymont go to My Cultural Landscape
Arts – The Huffington Post
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