Comedy Wrap

Everything that is going on in the comedy world

Coronavirus Epidemic Presents Reinvention Opportunities for Late Night TV

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Widespread stay-at-home orders during the Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) pandemic has led to higher TV usage in the U.S. according to latest Nielsen figures, TV usage is showing double-digit growth for the week of March 16 vs. the prior week.

Total TV usage — including live and delayed viewing, streaming and use of video-game consoles — now show that figure grew by 18 percent in the week of March 16-22. Ordered shut down of movie theaters, restaurants, bars and sporting events means all forms of entertainment content delivered through TV sets has become one of the few entertainment options still available. Nielsen’s total TV usage statistic measures all devices across all dayparts.

This means advertisers have a strong chance to put their messages in content that appeal to their hard-to-reach consumer targets. Nielsen notes the biggest increases in the week of March 16 came among teenagers (their TV time jumped 43%), and kids (< 12 years) watched 31% more than the previous week. Additional findings from Nielsen can be found here.



The outbreak has forced late-night-TV hosts into exile from their live studio audiences. Now, they are doing their at-home versions of their weekly late night shows. Fans get to see their favorite host do their daily news monologues because many are producing daily videos for their digital platforms, like YouTube and Facebook. A number of hosts have tried to repurpose their shows for the web with social distancing in mind. This week, the 11:30 p.m. major-network hosts — Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Stephen Colbert — all did this. So did Trevor Noah, who has been hosting The Daily Social Distancing Show from his sofa in lieu of the usual Daily Show. Earlier this week, Conan O’Brien announced that he plans to attempt something similar, shooting from his home using an iPhone and welcoming guests via Skype in episodes that will start streaming March 30.

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced late night hosts to adapt which could end up helping to transform this genre format. Late-night talk shows, particularly on the major broadcast networks followed the monologue, various comedy bits and celebrity interviews in a 1 hour format. Johnny Carson is known for this current format that virtually every show follows.

Now each of these hosts are experimenting with how to package their unique talents, comedic sensibilities and DIY at home production to reach their fans is what makes this so interesting. Late night hosts thrive performing in front of a live studio audience and part of the job is to be nimble to address or react to a spontaneous act, weird interview exchange, and now, at home production glitches.
Here are some videos of some of my favorite home monologues.




Streaming Stand Up Specials to Get Through Coronavirus

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Americans and rest of the world are now forced to stay home as President Trump and federal government is in overdrive to implement plans to deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic.

In times like this we all need to keep our minds and anxieties in check. The global impact of Coronavirus will be challenging for many small business owners and entrepreneurs and they will need to be resilient, nimble and creative in finding ways to keep their businesses afloat. Check out Roy Wood Jr Vulture piece* piece as he breaks down the Coronavirus impact to on live comedy shows.

To help you get through and keep your mind occupied with something else, we’ve put together a recommendation of stand up specials you can stream on Netflix


Dave Chappelle, The Age of Spin In less than a year, Chappelle dropped four stand-up specials on the streaming platform in one ear. All are good but my favorites is Age of Spin and Equanimity because I think they best showcase his brilliance.


Hasan Minhaj, Homecoming King Former Daily Show correspondent, Hasan Minhaj weaves an intricate and hilarious account of his life as a son of Indian-American immigrants. Truly relatable to fellow Indian but other Asian Americans born and raised in the US.


John Mulaney, Kid Gorgeous At Radio City Mulaney brings his self-effacing humor with this comedy special. The guy’s still a tall, lanky, baby-faced, squeaky-clean dude who can bring the funny in familiar and baffling norms of society


Richard Pryor, Live In Concert Many comedy aficionados would argue this Pryor comedy special is the blueprint that has influenced many of the stand up comedy specials we see today. Live in Concert was the first feature-length film to entirely focus on a stand-up comedy routine. Eddie Murphy has described Pryor as “the single greatest stand-up performance ever captured on film.”


Aziz Ansari, Right Now This is Ansari’s first Netflix special after allegations of sexual harassment hovers over this performance. This experience has given Ansari time to really ponder the current wokeness culture, importance of family, and #MeToo controversy. This is an honest and rare look at Ansari’s willingness to peel back the layers of fame and his own self-preservation in this new era.


Wanda Sykes, Not Normal Filmed in D.C., Sykes takes everything on from Trump to aging to body image. She brings her irreverent and very relatable experiences on full display in this special.


Chris Rock, Tamborine This is by far one of his most personal and best performances. We get to see a more grown up Rock. His last special was on HBO in 2008 (just ahead Barack Obama’s first election win.)

Stay Safe Everyone!

Coronavirus Impact on Late Night TV Talk Shows

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Late-night hosts on Thursday addressed how the Coronavirus pandemic affects their shows. Below are some video clips to see how each of the hosts addressed the impact of the Coronavirus nationwide lockdown.






It Just Didn’t Feel Right - Hank Azaria Quits Apu

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In an Deadline interview, Azaria said the uproar over his voicing of the Apu character on the ‘Simpson’ began to take a toll on him. “Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore,” Azaria told the Times. “It just didn’t feel right.”

The show came under fire in 2018 for the way in which it responded to the controversy. Among those leading this charge was comedian, Hari Kondabolu, who called out Apu’s portrayal as a racist stereotype. His 2017 documentary, The Problem With Apu, brought this issue to the forefront and forced a ‘real talk’ cultural conversation.


Kondabolu first discussed the representational issues with Apu during a 2012 segment of W. Kamau Bell’s Totally Biased), which served as a launching point for the documentary. The documentary featured emerging Indian American stars like Aziz Ansari, Kal Penn and Hasan Minhaj all gave their two cents about what Apu means to them.



“There’s now enough Indian people where I don’t need to like you just because you’re Indian,” Kondabolu said in 2012, highlighting a small influx of South Asian representation on television. “Because growing up, I had no choice but to like this: Apu, a cartoon character voiced by Hank Azaria, a white guy. A white guy doing an impression of a white guy making fun of my father. If I saw Hank Azaria do that voice at a party, I would kick the shit out of him. Or I’d imagine kicking the shit out of him.”

The Simpsons producers and writers sought to avoid getting into deeper conversations about Apu. However, the show finally addressed the controversy in a episode in 2018. The show’s producers responded to the controversy by having Lisa Simpson, often the Simpson family’s moral center, to voice how the show viewed this controversy. In the episode “No Good Read Goes Unpunished,“ Marge Simpson reads a book to daughter Lisa that has been changed from its original version to something not so controversial. After Marge finished the book Lisa Simpson said, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?,” asked Lisa. The show then panned to a picture of Apu. Marge chimes in to say some things will be dealt with "at a later date” before both break the fourth wall and tell the camera, “If at all.”
Really? The show’s producers basically told Indian Americans to F#$@# Off. Fortunately, many (or at least enough) Indian Americans did not just take it. Most acknowledged the show for finally addressing the issue but insisted [Simpsons writers and producers] do something about it.

Right after the episode aired Kondabolu responded on Twitter “The Simpsons” missed the point of his documentary. In a longer tweet. . “Wow. ‘Politically Incorrect?’ That’s the takeaway from my movie & the discussion it sparked? Man, I really loved this show. This is sad. In ‘The Problem with Apu,’ I used Apu & The Simpsons as an entry point into a larger conversation about the representation of marginalized groups & why this is important. The Simpsons response tonight is not a jab at me, but at what many of us consider progress.” Then he followed that tweet with this dig to the series, which at the time was in its 29th season: “Congratulations to the Simpsons for being talked about & being seen as relevant again.”

Kondabolu wasn’t alone in his disappointment with how the show handled the controversy; comedian W. Kamau Bell also tweeted his frustration, making special note of the fact that the writers chose to have Lisa be the character who tackles it. “I think the fact that they put this ‘argument’ in the mouth of Lisa’s character, the character who usually champions the underdogs and is supposed to be the most thoughtful and liberal character, is what makes this the most ridiculous (as in worthy of ridicule) and toothless response,” he wrote.

Showrunner Al Jean appeared to anticipate some backlash, as he tweeted there’d be a “Twitter explosion” by the episode’s end. He retweeted several defenses of the show, including one user who called Lisa breaking the fourth wall “one of the best moments of my year so far.” He also retweeted a user who praised the way “The Simpsons” tackled what he called a “non-issue.” Unfortunately, progressive liberal Bill Maher sided with The Simpsons response.

Maher is the same guy who causally drops the N word on his show had to quickly apologize after the African American community voiced their outrage. Here’s how Ice Cube confronted Bill Maher.

It’s funny Maher quickly apologized to the African American community but tells the South Asian community to get over it because the Apu character has been around 20 years. Someone should ask Maher why he didn’t tell Ice Cube and the African American community to get over it.

Long story short… The Simpsons lost. Apu’s voice has been muted for now thanks to Hank Azaria announcement he wanted no part of this controversy.

Will President Snowflake Go to 2020 Nerd Prom

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The White House Correspondents' Association (aka Nerd Prom) is bringing comedy back to its annual dinner. This is an event that brings together about 3,000 people that span the world of journalism, politics and an assorted group of power players beyond the Beltway.

This annual event began in 1914 and was supposed to be a friendly gathering to celebrate political journalism, but in recent years it has become a schmooze fest where journalists and Hollywood players try to establish relationships in order to influence the most powerful politicians to support their personal causes. Not surprisingly, this event has drawn criticism for its fostering of increased coziness between the White House press corps and the current serving administration. The dinner’s basic agenda in recent years has typically included a live or video skit by the sitting U.S. president in which he mocks himself for the amusement of the press corps. The press corps, in turn, hobnobs with administration officials, even those who are unpopular and are not regularly cooperative with the press. After the 2007 dinner, New York Times columnist Frank Rich announced that the Times would no longer participate in the dinners and wrote the dinner had become “a crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11 era” because it “illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows”.



Other criticism has focused on the amount of money actually raised for scholarships, which has decreased over the past few years. The public has become more aware as the dinner’s profile has been elevated because of its growing “more Hollywood” guest list. The attention given to the guest list and entertainers often overshadows the intended purpose of the dinner, which is to “acknowledge award-winners, present scholarships, and give the press and the president an evening of friendly appreciation”. Now, it has become an event for most to “see and be seen”.

Two years ago, Michelle Wolf performed and caused a stir for her funny and no holds barred routine that reflected on the past year’s political news that drove a few news cycles as both conservatives and liberals either vented or celebrated the comedy portion of the event. Of course, Trump allies claimed the jokes went too far and proved liberals (and by extension the press corps) hatred of Trump. Of course, the President was not at the event but that didn’t stop him from tweeting that the dinner was “embarrassing” and the event was “dead.” Judge for yourself.


On the flip side many writers, activists and comedians defended Wolf for roasting both the administration and the news media. Unfortunately, the correspondents' association caved and apologized and expressed regret that Wolf’s jokes overshadowed the dinner. After that fallout, the president of the association the following year, Olivier Knox of SiriusXM, and others decided to book a historian instead of a comedian. Famed author Ron Chernow was the featured speaker at last year’s dinner. Chernow only mentioned Trump by name once, but the president’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric came up repeatedly. “When you chip away at the press, you chip away at our democracy,” Chernow said. Chernow’s speech was well-received, but many observers felt that by scrapping the comedian on dais was a form of capitulation to Trump.

In a break with decades of presidential tradition, Trump boycotted the dinner for three straight years. Instead, he opted to counter-program by holding rallies. So, it’s unlikely Trump would the attend this year. ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, this year’s president of the association, said “Every president since Calvin Coolidge has attended the dinner. I have no idea whether President Trump intends to come this year.”

Headlining this year’s 99th annual White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD) will be some much needed comedic relief to journalists and correspondents and all Americans in this tense moment in the country. The dinner will be hosted by actor and comedian Kenan Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” Hasan Minhaj – host of “Patriot Act ‘’ – will again serve as the featured entertainer. He also headlined the event in 2017. The event will be on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Thompson is the sixth African American entertainer and fourth comedian since the single entertainer era began in 1983. He follows in the footsteps of stand-up comedian David Adkins, known professionally as "Sinbad,” singers Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Cedric the Entertainer, and comedian Wanda Sykes. He is also the sixth SNL writer or cast member to host, as Conan O'Brien, Al Franken, Darrell Hammond, Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong also hosted between 1994 and 2015.

“Kenan and Hasan are two of the most engaged and engaging entertainers in America. I’m thrilled they’ll help us celebrate the role of a free press in our democracy,” Karl, also president of the WHCA, said in a press release. “We’re looking forward to a lively evening honoring the most important political journalism of the past year.” Check out Hasan’s routine from the last time he hosted the event.



Check out comedians from past dinner events

Bloomberg Campaign Strategy to Use Humor to Needle Trump

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Real Time with Bill Maher Valentine’s Day episode featured an interesting bit of political comedy news to excite comedy nerds in this current 2020 Presidential contest.

The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary has managed to winnow down the number of Presidential candidates that is still in the game for the 2020 Democratic primary race. While other candidates have left the race, Mike Bloomberg looms large as the latest player, who is putting his money where is mouth is. Bloomberg is investing millions in TV and digital ads to shape his Presidential candidacy pitch to American voters, and at the same time, needle President Trump who spends a considerable amount of this “Presidential time” watching cable news.

Katie Couric joined Bill Maher’s weekly political roundtable and broke news by discussing the ongoing feud between Trump and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. In her reporting of Trump and Bloomberg’s tweet tiff this past week, she said “He said, we’re both from New York, we know the same people, behind your back people are calling you a — what did they say? — a carnival barking clown who inherited a ton of money but through stupid deals and incompetence lost it all, or something like that,” she said with a laugh. But the most intriguing news she shared was right after when she described one component of Bloomberg’s campaign strategy was its focus on how to exploit this adversarial dynamic between Trump and Bloomberg.

Couric said, “I talked to somebody from the Bloomberg campaign, they said they’re hiring an expert on narcissism and combining that — no, this is for real — and combining that person with a comedy writer to get in Donald Trump’s head,” Couric reported. “When they go low, we go lower,” Couric joked. “Isn’t this a great country!”

Check it out:


At this point we all know is that if there is anyone hates being laughed at its President Donald Trump especially if he’s the butt of the joke. That’s why its so bizarre he agreed to be a subject of Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump a few years before he became President. Check out the highlight clip from the event.


Despite Trump agreeing to getting roasted in the past, it seems like he’s become thin skinned snowflake lately as he’s avoided the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner as President. That’s what makes this Washington Post column so interesting and potential blueprint the Bloomberg campaign tried to use. Maybe Bloomberg will pass this strategic tactic to Biden or Sanders as both are still running for POTUS in 2020. Stay tuned.

Oscars 2020 Hostless Again

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2020 Academy Awards (92nd telecast) will be on ABC Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. For the second consecutive year, the 2020 awards show will be hostless.

Billy Crystal stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live and quickly commiserated about the Oscars ceremony. Between the two of them they have hosted Hollywood’s biggest event 11 times (9 for Crystal & 2 for Kimmel). So, it would make sense for these guys on the eve of this year’s telecast to talk about show going hostless again.

“This year is another no-host show, which is like having a trial without witnesses,” said Crystal alluding to Donald Trump’s impeachment proceeding. “It moves faster, but it’s not quite the result that you want.”

Kimmel asked Crystal if he thought having a host was important. “Well, yeah! Don’t you?” the comedian responded. “It seems like it,” Kimmel said.

Check out their exchange…



Despite not having a host, plenty of stars will be on hand to pass out golden statues. Here’s what to expect from the 2020 Oscars.

In addition to airing on TV, the ceremony will be available to live stream on ABC.com and the ABC app, which can be accessed by signing in with a participating TV provider. Those living abroad will be able to watch the ceremony. The Academy announced that the Oscars will again be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

To make things interesting for those going or hosting their own Oscar viewing parties to watch the red carpet to fawn over best or hate on the worst dressed celebrities, FanDuel is trying to get in on the action. FanDuel has made it easier and more fun for everyone watching by providing a printable pdf list of all nominees across all categories to make it easier to wager and get through a show that might as long as 3+ hours.

Democrats Need to Fight Dirty Like Republicans

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This week Senate Republicans voted to block any witnesses from appearing in front of the judge at the impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. On late night’s Real Time With Bill Maher, the host didn’t hide his disappointment as he opened Friday night’s episode with a defeatist attitude. “Good news: the impeachment trial is almost over. The bad: so is rule of law in America.”

He goes on to say …“It’s a done deal” when it comes to Trump’s acquittal. “ This is going to happen. Trump will be acquitted on Wednesday. Republicans have nothing left to do but dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and f*ck the u’s.”

But it was his “New Rule” segment, Bill Maher offered his advice to Democrats … it’s time to fight dirty and offers two political ads to help them get started.

Preview of 2020 SuperBowl Ads

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SuperBowl remains one of the last annual programming events on TV that can deliver a massive US TV audience. Every year, big brands look to the SuperBowl as the best opportunity to put out their best creative work and/or launch new campaigns.

This year FOX will host the SuperBowl and will collect a large portion of this year’s biggest ad budgets. Initially, FOX sold 77 30 second ad units, but brands are going long with their ads, resulting in fewer spots in the game. So after FOX sold out its initial ad inventory by late November, they managed to find new real estate by creating an additional 2.5-minute ad pod opportunity to rope more brands into the big game. That means this year viewers can expect to see about 50 total commercials in Super Bowl 2020. It has been reported that FOX is selling 30 second ads going as much as $5.6M per ad spot (one 30 second ad).

Here’s a sneak peak of this year’s biggest commercials for the Big Game that will feature the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Feb. 2.

Smaht Pahk — Hyundai Features Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, and Big Papi himself, David Ortiz, Hyundai had fun with the traditional Boston accent. This year’s 2020 Hyundai Sonata features Remote Smart Parking Assist or, as the three Massachusetts natives and the New England sports legend call it, “smaht pahk.”


Whassup Again — Budweiser/Uber Budweiser teamed up with Uber to bring back Budweiser’s classic “Waaaassssup” commercial that will feature an entire house full of smart home devices taking center stage.


Monologue — Doritos Doritos brought Sam Elliott and Lil Nas X together for some comedic relief.


Where It All Began — Cheetos MC Hammer is featured in this Cheetos ad appears has the legendary hip hop star revisit where his hit 1990 song U Can’t Touch This began.


Dirty Laundry — Tide Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Emily Hampshire from Schitt’s Creek features the pair of actors literally going through their own dirty laundry.


Before Alexa — Amazon Features Ellen Degeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi, at least briefly wonder out loud what people did before Alexa.


Jimmy Works It Out — Michelob Ultra Jimmy Fallon buddies up with John Cena and viewers will see these two guys hang out.


2020 Big Game Commercial — Pringles Rick and Morty bring their meta, fourth-wall-breaking antics to push Pringles.


Famous Visitors — Walmart Playing off the slogan “out-of-this-world convenience,” plenty of otherworldly figures will be featured.


As Good as The Original — Mountain Dew Running with the tagline “as good as the original,” Mountain Dew creates a shot-for-shot remake of an iconic scene from The Shining.


Daniel Craig vs. James BondHeineken Heineken ad has some fun playing up the differences between the real-world Craig and fictional 007.


Winona in Winona — Squarespace Winona Ryder travels to Winona, Minnesota, to find out what Winona is really all about.


Let it GoAudi Audi’s ad mixes Frozen‘s Let it Go with a Game of Thrones fan favorite.


All People Are Tax People — TurboTax Tries to convince viewers that doing their taxes are actually fun.

Throw a Punch for the Children

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” Friday night after officially sending the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate.

A lot has been said about Speaker Pelosi, but even her most harshest critics begrudgingly respect Speaker Pelosi for her ability to play Trump like a fiddle. In the season 18 premiere of Real Time, Pelosi was greeted as a rock star. She took questions on a whole host of issues and got props from Maher and his audience for her resiliency and perseverance she demonstrated in her current role as Speaker.

Maher also discussed with Pelosi on her reputation in the Democratic Party. “A lot of your accomplishments, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with you and saying this is the person who saved the country, helped Obama from going into a depression by passing the stimulus, saved the automobile industry, got Dodd-Frank passed, and got health care, got Obama care passed, you’re kind of our Iron Lady here on the left,” Maher said to raucous applause. “I feel like the Democratic Party very often is the victim of their own purity tests.”



“Oh, I don’t worry about that,” Pelosi said of how younger members of the Democratic Party view her. “But in terms of me because I’m in the arena, you go in there, you go in, you have to be ready to take a punch, and you have to be ready to throw a punch, for the children.” “Love the children,” Maher said as the audience laughed. This got one of the biggest laughs for the night.

“What I am concerned about for the children is the future of this country and we have to have our common ground a mainstream message,” she said. “Now in [the most] recent election, we won, we showed in the House we know how to win, disciplined, focused, cold-blooded in terms of just winning.”

Here you can watch her full interview.