Home for the weekend. Normally that's a good thing except my family
is away until after the Fourth of July, which means I'm alone. Again,
that's normally a good thing except that I've been alone a lot in New
York working on the show, and so it would be nice to have human contact
with people over whom I have dominion (my kids) and one over whom I
claim dominion (my wife). Even the dog is at the kennel, so I am
totally by myself. Tonight though I'm going to a birthday party for a
friend who is turning forty. I remember when my mom turned forty
somebody got her a penis cake. I was twelve at the time and very
embarrassed, although not so embarrassed that I did not eat a slice.
That single slice of cake is probably most responsible for why I turned
out the way I did.
So we continue to edit our new TV show. All in all, I would say that
it's going well. Comedy Central seems pleased with everything, except
for one sketch that we have a big disagreement about. For a show like
ours it's pretty good to only have one big disagreement. The way we've
decided to resolve it is pistols at dawn, which seems a bit extreme to
me but Showalter is very committed to the idea and I want to present a
united front to the network.
So yeah, it's a slow weekend here at my Connecticut mansion. I gave
the entire staff the weekend off, which was very generous of me
especially considering the fact that I don't have a staff. But if I
did, I totally would have given them the weekend off because that's the
kind of rich guy I would be if I were rich.
Last week I went to see a little
movie called ‘The Hangover’ at my local multiplex and in spite of
people still not being able to abide my law of the cinema (no talking
after the second Pearl & Dean clip) I thoroughly enjoyed a very
funny film that I would highly recommended to anyone (check last week’s
blog for a more in depth review).
The main reason I went to see
‘The Hangover’ was its three male leads: Bradley Cooper, Zach
Galifianakis and Ed Helms – three very funny men whose work I have
always enjoyed immensely. ‘The Hangover’ should be the big break that
these three previously shockingly overlooked comedy actors deserve and
hopefully we will now get to see a great deal more from all three of
This got me to thinking though: which other
actors/comedians are there out there who are criminally virtually
unknown to the mainstream and deserve wider recognition for their
So here are five very funny men who, I think, if there’s any justice in the world, are due a ‘Hangover’-esque big break…
5. Jeff Garlin
he co-stars in one of the best TV comedies out there but beyond his
work on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Jeff Garlin has been criminally ignored.
willing to overlook his misjudgement in agreeing to dress like a giant
carrot to appear in ‘Daddy Day Care’ because this man is a very funny
stand-up comedian with great comic timing as an actor.
has directed two other brilliantly funny stand-up comedians in Denis
Leary and Jon Stewart for their respective HBO Specials as well as
directing several episodes of ‘Curb’ and writing/directing a feature
He has guest starred on a plethora of TV comedies but it
is his work as Larry David’s put upon agent Jeff Greene in the
award-winning ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ that is Garlin’s most recognised.
Garlin also produces ‘Curb’ and his contribution to this
ground-breaking show cannot be underestimated.
One of my
favourite Garlin roles was that of host at the painfully funny ‘The
Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary’ (Lenny Clarke’s “fuck the Kennedys
story still makes me laugh just thinking about it!) where he proved
that he could handle hosting duties with suitable aplomb – I personally
think he’d be a great choice for the OSCARS.
obviously opened doors for Jeff Garlin and even if it has just exposed
a few more people to a very funny man then it has done its job –
although many people will probably know his voice more than his face
after his voice roll in the sublime ‘Wall*E’.
Jeff Garlin is a
larger than life (literally) character and deserves to be so much more
renowned than he is, he may not be getting any younger but if ‘Curb’
continues to enjoy success then there still could be time yet for Jeff
Garlin to become one of the world’s biggest (literally) comedy stars.
I have discussed in the past, American comedy institution ‘Saturday
Night Live’ can either be a gift or a curse to its alumni – and
unfortunately the very funny Kevin Nealon has been struck by the latter
for many years.
Nealon debuted on ‘SNL’ in the 1987-88 season
and remained with the show for nine seasons, during which time he
became anchor on the show’s popular ‘Weekend Update’ segment.
the years since ‘SNL’, Nealon has appeared in several films with his
former ‘SNL’ co-star Adam Sandler, like Jeff Garlin he also made the
ill-advised decision to appear in the lamentable ‘Daddy Day Care’.
is a very funny man, his background in stand-up obviously giving him a
strong foundation for the jump to screen – he has great screen presence
and comic timing, can make you laugh with a simple look and has an
His appearances on one of the most unintentionally
hilarious shows of recent years ‘Celebrity Poker Showdown’ were always
a highlight as it gave him a chance to showcase his biting sarcasm, yet
quite warm personality. Like many a fine comedy actor, Nealon was also
excellent in his cameos on the genius ‘The Larry Sanders Show’.
has recently gone some way to ridding himself of the dreaded ‘SNL’
curse with his role on a show that I really need to get into properly –
the very black comedy ‘Weeds’.
As Doug Wilson, the fun-loving
city councilman with a penchant for smoking weed, Nealon is perfectly
cast – even going as far as improvising a large amount of Doug’s
‘Weeds’ is currently airing its fifth season in the
States on the vastly improved Showtime network, in its previous four
seasons it has garnered a number of award nominations and wins, but as
yet Nealon has been overlooked.
If he continues to be one of the
best things about the show though, then maybe he will finally get that
recognition he so richly deserves.
former ‘Daily Show’ lead correspondent Rob Corddry left the show he
jokingly claimed the reason was that Jason Jones had raised the bar too
high and that he wasn’t able to say the things to people that Jones
While many of his former ‘Daily Show’ peers, such as
Corddry, have left and gone on to bigger things Jason Jones has
remained on the show that made him.
Since we finally got ‘The
Daily Show’ in the UK a few years back, Jones has consistently been my
favourite ‘Daily Show’ correspondent – he recently had me in tears with
his gag to New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.
report on how traditional newspapers are struggling against the
internet, when Jones asked Keller to tell him a joke (I forget the
context) Keller suggested Jones tell him one – has this guy never
watched ‘The Daily Show’!? – to which Jones duly replied “What’s black
and white and red all over?”
A classic right…? Quick as a cat
Keller replied innocently “a newspaper” to which Jones beautifully
responded “no, your balance sheets…”
‘The Daily Show’ special
reports are designed to, in a similar vein to Sascha Baron Cohen’s
comedy creations, expose people’s ignorance by making themselves sound
stupid. Jason Jones just does it in the most hilarious fashion though,
and he has quickly become Jon Stewart’s MVP.
Outside of ‘The
Daily Show’ Jones’ work has been limited; he has appeared in the
inexplicably popular US sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’, as well as
Married to fellow ‘Daily Show’ star
Samantha Bee, with whom he has two children, Jones is reportedly
currently working on a sitcom with his wife in which he will star.
the success that other, less funny, ‘Daily Show’ alumni have gone to
achieve it should only be a matter of time before Jason Jones goes on
to achieve great things and although it will be sad to see him leave
‘The Daily Show’ I would be the first person in line to check out
whatever he comes out with next.
2. Eric Christian Olsen
Christian Olsen played the ill-fated George Mason’s son on season 2 of
‘24’, and as if that wasn’t cool enough; he’s also a very funny actor.
moved to tinsel town just before the turn of the Millennium and quickly
found success and critical acclaim in TV drama such as ‘ER’. His first
series role was on the short lived FOX dramedy ‘Get Real’ opposite Anne
Olsen soon found his forte though when he made the
move into comedy and he has racked up supporting roles in a veritable
smorgasbord of comedy films, invariably being the best thing in gash
films, i.e. ‘The Hot Chick’, ‘Not Another Teen Movie’, ‘Beerfest’ and
‘License to Wed’.
Olsen also had the unenviable task of filling
Jim Carrey’s shoes when he played Lloyd Christmas in the horribly
ill-conceived ‘Dumb and Dumber’ prequel – Olsen was again the best
thing in the film and actually came away from the film not only
unscathed but with certain plaudits.
Eric Christian Olsen first
came to my attention playing Jensen Ritchie on the short-lived second
season of ‘Tru Calling’ and Olsen has continued to combine both
supporting roles in drama and comedy on both the big and small screens.
stealing the show in yet another supporting film role in the Zach
Braff-starring ‘The Last Kiss’ – which boasted an excellent cast
(Braff, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston), Olsen landed a series regular
slot on yet another TV show that wouldn’t survive too long when he
played Sully on ‘The Loop’ opposite ‘Reaper’ star Bret Harrison.
his short career Olsen has proved himself to be a versatile actor but
it is his aptitude for comedy that should eventually make him a massive
star. He has the goofy, slacker friend shtick down to a fine art, but
hopefully his drama work should prevent him becoming typecast, as he is
capable of so much more.
Olsen’s gift for comedy has gained a
cult following in the last year or so thanks to Will Ferrell and Adam
McKay’s website Funny or Die. There are a series of videos circulating
starring Olsen as Perry Hilton – a borderline retarded male socialite
unashamedly based on Paris Hilton.
The video of him annoying
Jeremy Piven is great and there is also a spoof sex tape with Eva
Longoria, but it is the video of Perry being caught drink driving that
always has me in stitches and features the genius line: “I went over to
Lindsay Lohan's barbecue. And by barbecue, I mean she heated me up a
hot pocket and blew me."
Hopefully Perry Hilton could start the internet buzz that kick starts Olsen’s career and just remember: “life’s tasty”.
1. Michael Ian Black Michael Ian Black is the proverbial ‘Jack of all trades’ – comedian, writer, actor and a damn good poker player.
book ‘My Custom Van… And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays’ is a
spectacularly funny read and has turned me into a huge fan of this very
Please follow the link below and start following him
on twitter, he has some of the funniest, non-sequitar updates I’ve seen
and the fact that he has amassed close to 700,000 followers speaks
He even instigated what he dubbed the “World’s first
twitter war” with Levar Burton (the guy who played Kunta Kinte) to see
who could get the most followers.
Black first came to real
prominence in the States as a commentator on the ‘I Love the…’ series –
we get Kate Thornton they get Michael Ian Black, how’s that fair!?
with members of his comedy group The State, Black performed on the
shows ‘Viva Variety’ and ‘Stella’, he also had a supporting role in the
He has recently been seen on the awesome ‘Reaper’
as a gay (now dead) demon alongside another very talented comedy writer
Ken Marino and his new Comedy Central show ‘Michael and Michael Have
Issues’ with frequent collaborator Michael Showalter begins next month
in the States.
Black co-wrote ‘Run, Fatboy Run’ with Simon Pegg
– a man who has great taste in comedy – and he also wrote and directed,
slightly less impressively, ‘Wedding Daze’, the spontaneous marriage
comedy that starred “the pie-fucker” himself Jason Biggs.
with Nealon and Garlin, Black also appeared on ‘Celebrity Poker
Showdown’ and was consistently praised for his poker playing as well as
being extremely entertaining at the table.
Black’s comedy is
very pop-culture heavy and is the sort of thing that I personally eat
up, he has proved with his screenwriting, his stand-up and his book
that he is an exceptionally funny man and it’s about time that more
people knew about him.
So now we're editing, which means we're putting together everything
we shot into an actual TV show instead of just hours of footage of
Showalter forgetting his lines. The way you edit is load everything
onto super computers and then nocturnal people with big eyes use magic
to make into it a movie.
So far, the editing is going well. We've got first cuts of all of
the episodes, which is good considering we start airing in less than a
month. Our goal is to have everything pretty much done by the end of
June so that if time shrinks it'll still be ready for our July 15th
premiere. (By "time shrinks," I meant the literal shrinkage of
time-space, which is also one theoretical way you would travel at warp
I will say that I'm thrilled to be done with shooting. Shooting is
hard work, and as I get older I realize more and more that I was not
cut out for that sort of thing. Easy work, yes. Shooting Klondike
commercials, for example. That's pretty easy work. Writing, acting,
directing, and producing? Not as easy. So it's good to be onto the
final phase of our show.
Increasingly the question in our minds is: will anybody watch?
Fortunately I have little control over that, so it's not something I
spend a lot of time worrying about. I would say I worry as much about
how many people will watch as I do about the state of Jon and Kate's
marriage, which is to say I worry about it, but not so much that it's
affecting my appetite.
"That's a Wrap" is not only a terrific name for a pseudo
health-conscious sandwich shop, it's also what we said last night
around eleven o'clock to signify the end of shooting on "MMHI." The
announcement was greeted with many hugs, tears, ass grabs, etc.
The end of a long shoot is always a time of mixed emotions. On one
hand, one is happy to be finished with the long, long days and
questionable catering. On the other hand, intense friendships are
formed over the weeks, and we haven't had a chance to have terrible
falling-outs yet, which is how I know a friendship has completed its
Our entire crew was magnificent, doing heroic work on a very tight
budget. Each one of them is the film equivalent of a really hot
stewardess on a discount air carrier.
The next step is editing. After that we put the shows on the air and
then obsessively check the internet for every single random mention.
The premiere is less than a month away. Sho and I are very excited and
nervous. I'm also nauseous but that has more to do with eating my first
"finger steaks" here in Montana than with anything having to do with
Observation: any food that incorporates the word "finger" is
probably not going to be the smartest choice, although Butterfingers
taste pretty good.
Although I am surely not the first person to call it “Bongaroo,” I was nonetheless pleased with myself when I thought of renaming the hippie-dippy Tennessee music festival from which I just returned. Michael Showalter and myself spent a scant few hours at Bonnaroo, but we had a great time during our brief stay and I definitely went apeshit on the free Butterfingers.
Butterfinger sponsored the comedy tent where we were performing, so there were lots of tiny individually wrapped candies in lieu of the fresh vegetables and dip that we usually have backstage. Is that a good thing? I guess it depends on your perspective, but I will say that Butterfingers taste surprisingly good dipped in Ranch dressing.
The shows themselves were good. Nick Kroll and Aziz Ansari performed with us, and during the first show the lovely Margaret Cho showed up and did a surprise set. So that was cool. Both Nick and Aziz were hysterical, especially one of them but I’m not going to say which one because it would definitely upset the other one. But ONE of them was amazing. AND good-looking. The only downside was that the shows were only scheduled for around an hour and fifteen minutes so Showalter and I didn’t have a lot of time to perform, since we were hosting the night and wanted to make sure everybody had time for their sets.
There is a common misconception that comedy and music go hand in hand. That’s usually not the case. Doing comedy at a music festival is actually very difficult since comedians do not compete well with musicians on any level. We’re not as cool, and we’re certainly not as loud. Last year, Sho and I went to the Sasquatch Festival in Oregon. The Mars Volta was playing while we were doing our show, the result of which was that our audience was able to see us, but hear the Mars Volta. Pretty sure that’s not a good combo.
Bonnaroo actually did a very good job of keeping the two things separate. There was a tiny bit of spillover from the music, but they had a great big air-conditioned tent for the comedians which worked well. If they invite us back, I’d love to go, although next time I’m hoping we can stay for more than a few hours. The reason we had to come and go so quickly is that we’re still in production on our TV show and there just wasn’t time to hang out and enjoy the amazing bands they had: Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Band of Horses. They also had Phish! You will note I separated Phish from the list of amazing acts. Actually, I’ve been making fun of Phish a lot but the truth is, I honestly don’t even know their music. My mockery is coming entirely from a place of ignorance based on their genre: jam band. I’ve never been fan of free form musical experimentation because I am not a fan of being bored.
Anyway, thanks Bongaroo for having us and thanks Butterfinger for providing hours of jokes based on your name.
[DISCLAIMER: Although I do not know him, Al is a friend of friends, so any opinions expressed herein are written knowing that if I say the wrong thing about Weird Al, one of my friends might go, “Dude, what the fuck?” I never know how to respond when people say “what the fuck” so I try to avoid that situation whenever possible.]
The other day I got into a mild argument with somebody when I said that Al Yankovic has a lot of respect in the comedy community. This other person, who shall go nameless because I did not bother to learn his name, seemed shocked that the words “respect” and “Yankovic” were coming out of my mouth in the same sentence. So let me say it loud and proud: I respect and enjoy the artist formally known as Weird. Why? Because nobody does what he does better.
In general, song parodies are not my thing. I mean, it doesn’t seem to take a lot of talent to replace the lyrics to somebody else’s song, but when you think about it, by that definition, some of the most famous songs in the world are song parodies. For example, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is basically just a song parody of “God Save the Queen.” Maybe not as hilarious as “Eat It,” but basically the same idea. “The Alphabet Song” is “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Etc.
But Al has single-handedly elevated the concept of the song parody into its own comedic genre. He was the first person to parody music videos. More importantly, he was the first to put Dick Van Patten in one of those music videos. Also, many of his songs aren’t even direct parodies. His latest, “Craiglist,” is a riff on the Doors. Not any song in particular, but the entire oeuvre, which is my favorite word. Ray Manzarek even plays keyboards on the song, which is one of the reasons it sounds so Doorsy.
I suspect the reason Al doesn’t get more credit is because his comedy doesn’t rely on irony. His is the comedy of Hawaiin shirts and funny last names. He plays accordion. He has funny hair. He is, in short, uncool. Ironically though, it’s his very uncoolness which I think contributes to his growing street cred. Weird never went alternative, never did anything other than what he does. He never went gangster except for “Amish Paradise,” the video of which features that gangsta bitch Florence Henderson. He is who he is, a Dr. Demento devotee who made it big. People respect his devotion to a craft that seems, on its surface, so utterly lame.
As a kid, I loved Weird Al. Looooved Weird Al, and so did every other teenage boy I knew. When MTV was young, Al’s videos felt subversive, the way a whoopee cushion is subversive. His Michael Jackson video for “Eat It” was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. Ditto “Fat,” and “Like A Surgeon.” A new Weird Al video was a major television event, the teenage boy equivalent of Breaking News. I cannot tell you where I was the day Reagan was shot, but I can tell you about the first time I saw “I Lost on Jeopardy.” Even then though, nobody really talked about Weird Al the way we talked about other musicians we liked. How is it that in my underdeveloped teenage mind, Simon LeBon deserved more respect than Weird Al? The thought shames me still.
By any measure, Weird Al has had an amazing career. He’s won three Grammys, sold twelve million albums, and for a time, had the worst moustache in the entire world. And on top of that, I’ve heard that he’s a genuinely nice guy.
My friend Tom is friends with Al, and I once asked Tom if when they are hanging out Al ever breaks out the guitar and plays some of his totally romantic heartfelt shit that he’s too embarrassed to release to the general public: the love songs, the anti-war protest songs. Tom said no because Al doesn’t write those kinds of songs. Al just writes stupid comedy songs. Which made me love him even more.
Now to cover the other end of the spectrum I think absolute craziest
Twitter background title belongs to Mr. Michael Ian Black in which has
a depiction of him hiding behind Dr. Pepper cans evidently naked and
apparently strangling a unicorn while Demi Moore is looking on.
This background seems to be helping him gain followers because he
also has over a quarter of a million followers, even though he is not
famous. He does claim to be a famous comedian but his claim to fame is
from an obscure show on MTV which no one watched since MTV has stopped
playing video and started ripping off Mexican TV game shows. His
Twitter background can be seen at http://twitter.com/michaelianblack
Hammocks are one of the finest inventions humanity has ever created. A hammock is probably as close to an anti-gravity machine as we’re going to see between now and the year 2015, which is when “Back to the Future II” takes place.
The technology is startlingly simple: string a bunch of rope between two trees, get in, and voila – instant contentment. It’s hard to be pissed off in a hammock. Rarely does somebody storm out after a fight yelling, “I’LL BE IN THE HAMMOCK!”
On Sunday I spent several hours in my backyard hammock. They were the best hours of the weekend, even when my children joined me and decided to play a game I dubbed “severe turbulence.”
Children love hammocks for all the wrong reasons – they see them as opportunities to induce nausea, whereas I see them as antidotes to the slightly sick feeling that I associate with my daily life. But the hammock’s versatility just further proves its greatness; it can be a place of meditative calm or a vomit-inducing thrill ride.
My hammock was a Father’s Day present from a couple years ago, so much better than my usual Father’s Day presents, which are best described as “nothing.” It came in a big cardboard box, and I immediately went outside to string it up between two trees. Unfortunately, it turns out we do not have two adequately spaced trees on our property, so I was forced to order a hammock stand which seemed like kind of a cheat at the time but was actually a blessing in disguise because it made the hammock portable. The hammock therefore became the most portable means of achieving rapid unconsciousness at my disposal until I discovered Ambien.
I like to call the hammock my “dry womb” because it’s as close as I can get to entering the fetal state without submerging myself in expensive amniotic fluid. It’s also sort of like cocooning, but I don’t like to think of it in those terms because then I start to think about caterpillars and caterpillars are gross.
Sadly, living in cold weather climes as I do restricts a hammock’s use to about half the year. I suppose I could bring the thing inside, which the kids would love, but if I do that they will undoubtedly force me to portray Captain Bligh during countless games of “HMS Bounty” throughout the long winter. A man can only stand so many mutinies before growing annoyed. My limit is one.
The other nice thing about the hammock is that my wife tends to yell at me less when I am sleeping outdoors. When I sneak off to our bedroom during the day, she yells at me to “get my lazy ass up,” but something about the fact that the hammock is outside makes tricks her into thinking that I am somehow doing something active. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the fact that the hammock moves. Regardless she almost never yells at me when I am in the hammock, just as I never yell at her from within it. “YOU ASSHOLE!” are words that never come out of my mouth when I am in the dry womb. Because the hammock is a happy place and I am happy within.