Archive for category comedy
It has been some 20 years since Gene Wilder has made a film. So to stumble across this June 2013 interview with him by the great Robert Osborne (at the 92Y) was a delight to find. Enjoy.
For years, I have wondered why some Saturday Night Live sketches (frequently after 12:30 AM in the last half hour of the show) die horrible unfunny deaths. Watching this old sketch from the 1989-1995 series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie (starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), I realized the way good comedy writers turn a sketch around.
Too often the sketches run out of steam, or beat a dead horse. The great thing about this sketch–which for the most part has Laurie singing an absurd American jingoistic parody–was just as you thought it ran out of steam, Fry enters the sketch and punches Laurie in the throat.
Ending a sketch can be a challenge (as any writing, of course), but this struck me as a great lesson in Sketch Writing 101.
Former Entertainment Weekly writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong has a new book–Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted–detailing the creation of the classic TV series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show, which originally ran from 1970 to 1977, is still front and center in many people’s minds. In this year alone, it was ranked fourth in EW’s top shows of all time, and the Writers Guild of America named it #6 in its 101 Best Written TV Series List. To make the release of the book, she agreed to an email interview.
Once you have enjoyed the interview, be sure to visit the publisher’s site for a preview read and for links to a variety of ways to buy the book. It is a great read–and I cannot wait to see what she does examining Seinfeld (her next book which she mentions briefly in the interview).
Tim O’Shea: Consider how you viewed the cast and crew before writing the book and then after, was there any particular actor or crew member that you came out of the process for a greater appreciation of them?
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: Almost all of them, really! I loved the women who wrote for the show, and hearing their life stories gave me a broader appreciation of not just their work on the show as much as what they had to do to hack it in such a male-dominated world at a time when women’s lib was just starting to make inroads. And Valerie Harper, who’d always been a role model to me, was even better in person — and it was clear to me how much her motherly instincts helped glue the backstage family together.
There are so many highlights to this PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make a Noise. To name a few of them: Brooks recounts when he realized the full measure of what Hitler did to the Jews; how he used comedy to belittle Hitler; and finally, The Producers (the musical) director/choreographer, Susan Stroman, recounting how Brooks’ humor helped her cope with the death of her husband, Mike Ockrent.
This interview of Judd Apatow by Alec Baldwin (on his WNYC show, Here’s The Thing) blindsided me for Apatow’s utter admiration for James L. Brooks and Albert Brooks.
Consider this snippet from the interview transcript:
“I met him [Albert Brooks] in the early ‘90s when I was working at ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ I had dinner with him a couple times with Garry and I was just in awe to be around him because his ‘Saturday Night Live’ movies were a really big influence on everything we did at ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ and obviously ‘Defending Your Life’ and ‘Modern Romance’ and ‘Real Life’…”
Garry Shandling is a fellow always seemingly ready with a laugh. But in this video excerpt where he recalls Gilda Radner’s appearance on his show, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, there’s a vulnerability about him.
As he notes, Radner was dying of cancer. Radner was also a longtime, close friend of the show’s co-creator, Alan Zweibel.
So it’s been a tough week for Tuesday sitcoms I like.
First up, James Van Der Beek made this announcement regarding ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in APT23:
Sad to say ABC has pulled #Apt23 and will not be airing the 8 remaining episodes any time soon. Translation: we’ve basically been cancelled.
— James Van Der Beek (@vanderjames) January 22, 2013
In the case of ABC, there has been a great deal of buzz that the show would be considered far more successful if On Demand and streaming (aka metrics other than traditional TV ratings) were considered.
Here’s hoping this is the last season that shows are cancelled without all forms of ratings are properly considered.
And I also hope Van Der Beek is interested in doing more sitcom work in the future.
As the comedians note in tribute to David Letterman (from last night’s Kennedy Center Honors on CBS), it is fun to see Dave be uncomfortable. People (namely Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel and Ray Romano) complimenting and honoring him definitely makes him squirm.
This tribute was great to watch, except the end, when producers made all four presenters interact in a scripted manner. That was awkward for everyone.
The creator of Night Court, one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, Reinhold Weege died of natural causes on December 1. The Wrap has details.
His death gave me reason to track down John Larroquete’s twitter account, in which he wrote the following great tribute:
In life there are those who impact us with such force everything changes. Reinhold Weege was that in mine. May he truly rest in peace.
— JohnBLarroquette (@johnlarroquette) December 7, 2012
Below is one of my favorite Night Court bits.