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Roundup: Letterman News

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: May 18, 2015
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When I won an Emmy writing for David Letterman in the early years, I didn’t know then that he would become such an iconic staple of American television. For 30+ years, Americans have turned on their TV and bid their day adieu with the Canadian, gap-toothed funnyman. Whether it was his Top 10 or Stupid Animal Tricks or the bits with his mother, he’s made us guffaw for decades. It’s hard to believe it all comes to an end later this week. We will be a country adrift without his supreme talents.
 
As such, here are some of the best comedy articles and insights about David Letterman and how he changed the landscape of late night television.
 
Everybody was touched by Norm Macdonald’s touching tribute to his comedy hero.
 

 
This Newsweek profile of the early years of David Letterman’s career is simply sublime.
 
The Mercury News lists 10 reasons to miss the show. All good ones.
 
For the geeks among us, this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel look at the numbers/stats of the show is quite intriguing.
 
I will watch every episode of Dave’s final week and reminisce about those early years. Happy Viewing.



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Saying Good-Bye to Letterman

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: May 7, 2015
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As many of you know, I won an Emmy for my writing. For David Letterman in the early days of the show. It was a dream job in many ways–creating conceptual comedy sketches and being part of late night TV history.
 
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As Letterman prepares to sign off air after three decades entertaining the masses, there are many retrospectives on his illustrious career. Here’s Vulture’s look back at the world of Dave. Former writers–including my writing partner David Yazbek–talk about the sketches that didn’t make it on air.
 
It’s fun to reminisce about those early days, and hear what excited the show’s writers over the years.
 
Thanks Dave.



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This Week in Chris Rock

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: December 1, 2014
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This week in New York, Chris Rock’s film Top Five will receive its premiere. The film is in theaters on Friday, December 5th. As such, Chris Rock has been everywhere promoting the film, which has garnered outstanding notices.
 
There’s the must read New York magazine interview conducted by Frank Rich. Rock waxes poetic about a number of issues from Ferguson to President Obama to comedy tours on college campuses. He also discusses his upcoming film and how hard it is to direct a comedy.
 
The New York Daily News interviewed him as well. As it turns out, Rock’s father drove a Daily News delivery truck, and as a teen, Rock even punched the clock at the daily newspaper.
 
Watch the Top Five trailer below:
 



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Ladies & Comedy

Categories: Comedians
Posted: October 16, 2014
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Lucille Ball was an icon. A powerful woman in a man’s world. A comedian. A charmer. The creator of hit TV shows and a beloved performer. Life magazine just released a series of photos from her illustrious career in the 1940s and 1950s. You can see the photos here.
 
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Speaking of talented women, Elizabeth Peña passed away earlier this week. I was fond of her performances in dramas Lone Star and Jacob’s Ladder, but she did appear on Modern Family. And had a light comic touch. RIP Ms. Peña. Your luminous presence will be missed on screen and off.
 
And in other comedy news, there is a protest and storm brewing in Portland over a women’s comedy festival. Here are two different takes on the issue from Mic.com and Death and Taxes. They are really of the same mind. One is serious and the other a humorous take on the issue.
 
Have a great weekend.



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Obvious Child Opens on Friday

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: June 2, 2014
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This Friday, June 6th, Obvious ChildGillian Robespierre‘s indie comedy–opens at the movie theater. If you’re not spending the weekend binge-watching Orange is the New Black or if you blow through the 13 eps of the Netflix series in no time, perhaps Obvious Child is the film to see.
 
Jenny Slate stars as Donna Stern, a 20-something who has the worst Valentine’s Day ever. She loses her job, gets dumped and finds out she’s pregnant. The trifecta of unexpected news causes her to re-evaluate her life. Slate, whom I adored in Bored to Death, is joined by Gaby Hoffman, whose career is having a renaissance this year and my friend Richard Kind, who wished me well on my show’s anniversary a few years ago.
 
Here’s the films trailer plus a couple of review snippets.
 

 
“It really is a classic summer movie…Jenny Slate gives a singularly hilarious yet incredibly vulnerable performance” — Vulture
 
“Obvious Child is funnier, and more honest, than any female-centric cinema produced in Hollywood today.” –Indiewire



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Writing About Comedy To Check Out

Categories: Comedians,Latest News
Posted: May 22, 2014
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As an Emmy Award-winning comedy writer, I am intrigued by Mike Sacks’ book Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers, which features interviews with the best in the biz. He spoke with Glen Charles (Cheers, Taxi) and Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Step Brothers). Sounds like a great insider baseball read.
 
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Sacks has also contributed to Esquire magazine. This month’s issue is about fatherhood, and features a great interview with Jerry Seinfeld about the ‘burden’ of celebrity (or lack thereof) and Patton Oswald in a cheeky article called Fatherhood for Men. Both are worth checking out.
 
Have a great Memorial Day weekend.



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Must Read: Insights into Comedy

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows,Latest News
Posted: March 27, 2014
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Jason Zinoman writes about comedy for The New York Times. He’s had a recent run of excellent articles in The Grey Lady about the ins and outs of the business and what makes certain comics tick.
 
Earlier this month, he profiled Sean Patton and Ted Alexandro and what makes their live sets work so well. His assessment of why some comedians work well on TV and why others don’t is brilliant:
 
“As happens with many comics, some of his peculiar gifts don’t translate to the rigid constraints of late-night television talk shows. Mr. Patton is a kinetic, physical comedian who favors large, dramatic gestures. Standing still and staring into a camera puts him in a straitjacket.
 
He also specializes in coherent personal stories that dart across time and involve several characters, an approach that is riskier than a collection of disconnected jokes, since if one doesn’t work, the next offers the possibility of a fresh start.”
 
Check out his profile of comic Billy Eichner searching for comedy on the streets of New York.
 
And his assessment of the brilliant T.J. and Dave is a must read as well.



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RIP David Brenner

Categories: Comedians
Posted: March 20, 2014
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Earlier this week, I wrote about Jimmy Fallon’s first month hosting The Tonight Show. Each late night talk host has had favorite guests. Jimmy Kimmel loves Matt Damon. David Letterman has a fondness for Drew Barrymore. Back in the day, President Bill Clinton left a mark on the original Arsenio Hall Show. Chelsea Handler is a big fan of friend Jennifer Aniston.
 
Word broke earlier this week that one of Johnny Carson’s favorite guests — David Brenner — had passed away. He made 158 appearances on the show — more than any other person. Brenner, who was 78, performed as recently as two months ago. He had a long, storied stand-up career that included specials on HBO and work around the country.
 
Here’s Brenner’s first appearance on The Tonight Show in 1971 when Johnny Carson called him “warped”.
 



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Tomorrow Night at The Improv

Categories: Comedians
Posted: December 5, 2013
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There is a new must-see documentary. EPIX will air The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall, a one-hour behind-the-scenes look at the famed club, Friday, December 6th. Some of the biggest names in comedy will appear in the film and share stories about their work at The Improv.
 
Adam Sandler hosts the documentary. The who’s who of comedians interviewed for the project include: udd Apatow, Lewis Black, Russell Brand, Larry David, Jimmy Fallon, Kathy Griffin, Jay Leno, Richard Lewis, Bill Maher, Ray Romano, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans.
 
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The Improv opened in New York City 50 years ago before opening a Los Angeles branch. The clubs are now throughout America.
 
The documentary airs at 8:00 pm. I’ve got my popcorn ready.



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Going to The Bell House

Categories: Comedians,Comedy Shows
Posted: December 2, 2013
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Looking for plans for tomorrow night, December 3rd? Look no further than the taping of NPR’s Ask Me Another, hosted by comedian extraordinaire Ophira Eisenberg. The live taping features trivia, music and much, much more. Plus this particular night it’s A Holiday Extravaganza with John Hodgman, Lizz Winstead, and AJ Jacobs. How could you go wrong with that pairing.
 
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Here’s a tidbit about the show from its website:
 

For an hour, listeners can play along as(Ophira) Eisenberg puts questions to a rotating band of puzzle gurus, audience members and special mystery guests, who then takes a turn in the contestant’s chair facing trivia games written especially for him or her. What you’ll hear resembles the casual intimacy of game night at a friend’s house: one where scores are forgotten in favor of hilarious gaffes.
 
Ask Me Another is recorded live at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
 
Ask Me Another is a co-production of NPR and WNYC.

 
If you don’t get into tomorrow night’s festivities, there will be another event next month. But, for goodness sake, check this amazing event out.



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