Jerry Stiller has been making all of laugh over these last 50 years. Stiller was a was the type of comedic presence that was always a joy to watch in a myriad TV and film projects. Most know him as father figure: Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, Arthur Spooner on King of Queens, and finally, as Ben Stiller’s Dad.
He is probably best known as the cantankerous patriarch to Jason Alexander’s tortured and insidious George. Stiller’s Frank Costanza was so unpredictably hilarious and capable of erupting with incredible rage by delivering staccato-style dialogue like pure comic gunfire. Check out Vulture’s tribute
As popular as he was playing George’s dad on Seinfeld, Stiller was more visible on The King of Queens, the blue-collar sitcom that ran on CBS for nine seasons. His irascible character lived with his daughter, Carrie, and son-in-law, Doug (Leah Remini and Kevin James), after burning down his home in the pilot. His comedy partner and wife, Anne Meara, appeared in the series.
According to Hollywood Reporter news of his passing was first announced by his famous filmmaker son, Ben. He tweeted “I’m sad to say that my father, Jerry Stiller, passed away from natural causes,” actor-director Ben Stiller tweeted. “He was a great dad and grandfather, and the most dedicated husband to Anne for about 62 years. He will be greatly missed. Love you Dad.”
Best way to honor this very funny man is to remember all the good times he delivered to us. Videos below is a tribute to his most iconic TV personas.
The new frontier to explore in comedy is online. From makeshift talk shows to the world’s first digital comedy club, how comedy fans can find new ways to get a laugh.
A career in comedy is unlike most other professions especially now as Covid-19 has put a hold on business as usual for comedians whose jobs is really to perform live. “I think a lot of comedians are trying to pivot to other ways of expressing themselves,” says stand-up comic Kate Willett. “Like podcasts and videos and other writing.”
Since live comedy essentailly halted by end of March 2020, performers have had to adjust their schedules and club dates because many venues have had to layoff their staffs or permanently shutdown. Comedians now have to broaden their entrepreneurial muscles and find new ways to reach audiences online.
“The act of leaving your house and buying a ticket and sitting in a dark room and not knowing if there are gonna be hecklers—all of that’s obviously not the same,” says Jo Firestone of the new digital frontier of live comedy. “But we’re trying to get as close as we can.”
For the past two and a half years, Firestone along with Aparna Nancherla and Maeve Higgins cohosted popular Brooklyn’s hottest weekly stand-up show, Butterboy. Every Monday night, comedy nerds would gather in the Gowanus venue Littlefield for their fix - comedy, margaritas and a mix of local comics with occasional big name comedians. Covid-19 forced them to shutdown their live show so many took to Instragram Live to share their jokes, and that inspired Butterboy producer, Marianne Ways, to find a way to put on a show.
In the beginning of the Covid-19 nationwide shutdown, comedy fans could turn to their favorite content by tapping into streaming services like Netflix and comedy podcasts. Late-night talk shows had to quickly adapt to the new environment with at-home editions of their respective shows. Even SNL had to remotely put together three shows to close out their season.
Everyone now has to recreate and experience comedy online. Slowly, comedy practitioners independently begin to find their own way. Check out this piece from Fast Company.
Online Comedy Talk Show
Scott Rogowsky best known as host of mobile game show HQ Trivia was about to host a baseball show the MLB network, but was served a Covid-19 strikeout. After doing one stand-up set online that felt too far removed from the real thing, the comic went on Instagram Live and launched a talk show, IsoLate Night. His current Twitter handle is “COVID Letterman,” and he referred to himself as “Cedric the Quarantiner” on a recent episode of his show.)
“I think the best way to do comedy well in this medium is to do it in the talk-show style,” he tells me over the phone. “It has to be rehearsed in a way. You’ve got to talk to your guest ahead of time. Like, ‘You got some funny jokes you want to tell? How can you get there? I’ll set you up and then you can do your bit.‘”
IsoLate Night started out as a nightly show but has since pared down to five nights a week. It’s not much of a stretch for the comic, who has been running a sporadic talk show called Running Late with Scott Rogowsky on stages around New York for years. The digital edition finds the host each night in a suit jacket and tie, trading banter with guests like David Cross, the Sklar Brothers, and Richard Kind, in between Letterman-indebted bits like Top 9 Places to Look for a Coronavirus Vaccine.
While the online world of live comedy is new terrain for most comics, it’s something Ben Gleib and Steve Hofstetter have been exploring for years. Hofstetter, former host of the Fox show Laughs, started experimenting with VR stand-up on platforms like Altspace and Sansar back in 2015, while Gleib, formerly of Chelsea Lately and GSN’s Idiotest, was the first comedian ever to perform an entire headline set on Facebook Live. (He eventually played eight cities of his 2016 tour on the medium, getting almost 4 million total views.)
The global pandemic forced this pair to collaborate in creating Nowhere, the world’s first entirely digital comedy club. “Steve and I have both separately been doing things that had elements of this for a long time,” Gleib says. “And as the greatest business ideas always do, it just took a global pandemic.”
The Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) has and will transform many aspects of our daily lives. One example, albeit an insignificant area, is how we’ll get our late night laughs. It’s a good thing that many of these late night hosts have broadened their comedy reach to other media platforms. Hosts like Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden and Jimmy Fallon already have a large virtual following on their respective YouTube channels, and now, have transformed their homes into studios.
Comedians needs a live audience to tell their jokes about the news and whatever else people are interested in today in our culture, politics, business, etc. But what do you do when comics are forced to shelter-in-place? Lucky for us late night hosts have adapted their monologues, political commentaries and interviews. In addition to celebrities, hosts are now including health experts, government officials and celebrities who are carrying out various kinds of COVID-19 relief initiatives. Here’s what four New York City-based late-night are carrying on from their home.
Comedy Central’s host of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” has now become “The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah.” Currently, there are 7.3 million Youtube subscribers on YouTube.
The South African comedian and his diverse team of correspondents, including Roy Wood Jr., Ronny Chieng and Dulcé Sloan, have managed to put together an online show that’s both informative and entertaining.
CBS late night host of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS has transitioned to “A Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and has created some fine content for his viewers to consume online.
His cutting commentary on domestic affairs and the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis is interesting and fun to watch. It makes sense his YouTube channel has garnered over 7.4 million subscribers.
HBO’s John Oliver is host of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. He has more than 7.9 million subscribers on YouTube. Oliver’s carefully constructed and factual monologues cover controversial, and sometimes even obscure, social and political subjects.
Oliver is one of the few hosts on late-night television that can openly swear, which adds a sense of honesty and real entertainment value to his show. Oliver is a man of action and often suggests Twitter hashtags, creates new websites and enlists the help of celebrities on his show to get his message across to a wider audience.
The “Late Night with Seth Meyers” is on NBC has more than 3.6 million subscribers on YouTube and is currently hosting his show from his attic. The “Saturday Night Live” alumnus and star of the Netflix comedy special, “Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby,” is best known for his show’s monologue segment, “A Closer Look.”
Comedians Amy Schumer and Mindy Kaling are using the coronavirus stay-at-home and/or quarantine time to bring and share their unique perspectives to their very own online cooking videos.
Amy Schumer has partnered with The Food Network to host with her husband, Chris Fischer, a cooking show during this isolation. The series will follow Schumer and Fischer, a professional chef, as they prepare meals in their real kitchen for “Amy Schumer Learns To Cook” while Schumer makes cocktails.
While speaking with Howard Stern about when the Food Network approached them, the first thing she told them was, “I don’t know how to cook.” Eventually, they reached a deal with the network donating $50k to multiple food banks. “Amy Schumer Learns To Cook” will premiere on Monday, May 11, at 10 p.m ET.
Mindy Kaling recently made masala dosa, popular fermented rice and lentil fried pancake stuffed with potatoes, with Senator Kamala Harris. They discovered similar experiences growing up Indian. They talked about family traditions, vegetarianism, stereotypes, chopping skills and recycling habits.
Interestingly, neither have publicly talked about their race and culture. They seemed to acknowledge their commonality when Kaling alluded in this video, “You are Indian, and I don’t know that everybody knows that,” Harris smiled. It was a significant moment of identity framing for both women.
This past weekend my wife and I decided to binge the new Mindy Kaling series ‘Never Have I Ever’. As South Asian parents raising a young daughter in United States today, my paternal instinct and curiosity wanted to get a sense of what kind of hell lies ahead for me.
‘Never Have I Ever’ tells the story of a young Indian girl, Devi, raised in America and is dealing with the recent death of her father as she navigates the more traditional teenage perils of high school like finding a boyfriend and how to become more popular.
‘Never Have I Ever’ has the most diverse cast with nearly single character comes from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Devi is South Asian Indian, and her two best friends are Asian and African American. Devi’s high school jock crush is with half-Japanese Paxton Hall-Yoshida.
More importantly, the show isn’t good because it’s so diverse its because it’s a well-written and well-acted series that realistically shows us what’s its really like for a young, Americanized Indian girl who is trying to bridge her two cultures (American vs. Indian). This is something that has not been seen in other comedy series.
Lead actress, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, is a total newcomer to the industry. This is her first listed acting credit where she went from being a complete unknown to leading the number one series on Netflix. That’s huge.
The series is well written as each thirty-minute episode breezes through and effortlessly blends humor with some deeply moving emotional moments, and features love stories and triangles that are genuinely interesting, and not your usual teen fare. There’s really nothing cheesy here, which is something you might not be able to claim about other productions.
This is probably Kaling’s best TV series to date and not a surprise to me that ‘Never Have I Ever’ has maintained it’s 1st place standing for a show or movie on the Netflix’s 10 list. The show has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, only off from a 100% by a single review. That puts it in around the top 25-30 Netflix original series of all time, and if it can crawl 1% higher, in the top 20. There are few comedies this high up other than some ultra-new-era classics like Big Mouth or Master of None, so it’s in storied company.
Results from survey conducted by talent agency’s UTA’s data group UTA IQ, in partnership with research firm SightX, found from their representative survey of nearly 1,100 people (ages 18-54) across the US who had been social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak from April 4 to April 11 that most look for laughs while social distancing.
Comedies is the preferred genre among movie and TV viewers as people are now stuck at home practicing social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. The survey found that 51% of respondents were watching comedy TV shows during the outbreak.
After Comedies, these respondents say Drama (39%), action/adventure (33%), news (33%) and Family programming (27%.)
The comedy genre also dominated among movie viewers, with 59% of respondents saying they tune into comedy movies while at home. Interesting finding considering comedies have struggled in theaters in recent years while blockbuster superhero movies dominate the box office.
Toni Nagy describes herself as a writer, comedian and filmmaker. For the past 15 years she has created online content, and ironically, often encourage people to spend less time on the internet - except for people seeking her out.
If interested then you can check out Her handles on Facebook (Toni Nagy) and Instagram (@ToniNagy)
Check out some of her videos.
Quarantine Beauty Tutorial:
Parenting While Quarantined:
Corona Bunker Couple:
BTW - for more info of other humor blog sites check out Feedspot’s Top 100 humor blogs.
“In partnership with Feeding America, my comedian friends and all of us at Allen Media Group are pleased to announce this global live-streaming comedy event on May 9th,” Allen said in a statement. “Laughter is often the best medicine, and we are extremely motivated to bring attention to issues of food insecurity, and to assist in providing meals to families across the country who are financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Check out Byron Allen interview on The Breakfast Club
Viewers will be encouraged to donate to Feeding America. The hunger relief organization is working with food banks to provide drive-thru pantries, emergency food boxes, and long-term support during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it has created is shining a light on the fragile nature of people’s household budgets,” Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot said in a statement. “Millions more of our neighbors are turning to food banks for help and we cannot thank Byron Allen and Allen Media Group enough for their support to raise funds and awareness of our work.”
Vic DiBitetto believes his Covid-19 rant about the US government’s response was seen over 10M times. His near five-minute rant about the government’s response to the coronavirus shows DiBitetto spewing spit as he rants in his car because he didn’t want to upset his wife. “This was totally unexpected,” says DiBitetto about the virality of his video, but, he adds: “Obviously I struck a nerve.”
DiBitetto is a Brooklyn-based comedian and he knows he has a propensity to curse and spit when he is angry. Working comedians like him have had to cancel their shows due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, with no money coming in, he has had to rely on his wife to pay the bills.
“We understand we have to [stay home] – quarantine, safe distance – saves lives. But I am not working, I have no income coming in. [They are offering] $1,200 – what does that do? There’s gotta be a better plan for this,” he says. The American working class are hurting right now. He said one woman contacted him from her death bed, to say the video hit the nail on the head. Others, he says, think he should run for president.
Lily E. Hirsch’s new book, “Weird Al Seriously,” gives a serious look to an artist whose work for past decades has been under appreciated. Weird Al is 60 years old (can you believe that?) and he’s still singing silly and twisted tunes. Artists like Yankovic are often dismissed as and not taken very seriously. As Dr. Demento writes in the book’s foreword, the music created by people who write and sing funny songs is “dismissed as ephemeral by serious music fans and as trivial by connoisseurs of spoken comedy.”
Hirsch writes “about the various aspects of Yankovic’s art that merit serious attention,” and encourages readers to listen with fresh ears to Yankovic’s classics. Many of you may be asking yourselves, “She’s joking, right? We’re talking about a goofy, long-haired, Hawaiian shirt wearing hippy.” Consider what are considered to be his “classics” - “I Love Rocky Road,” “Like a Surgeon” and “Another One Rides the Bus.”
Did you know that Yankovic has released 14 studio albums, has 5 Grammys, most recently was in 2014 for “Mandatory Fun,” which was not only the first comedy album ever to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and is the first album to achieve that feat since parodist Allan Sherman’s “My Son, the Nut” in 1963.
“His songs,” Hirsch writes, “make us laugh, but also have a point of view, be it on society, popular culture, politics, race, gender, fame or words themselves.” Analyzing comedy is always a challenge but comedy junkies can’t help it because it’s just fun. Not so much when arrogant critics and haters do it. Hirsch gets that and includes an E.B. White’s quotes like “Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” So, keep that mind when you read this book.
The book includes interesting insights like how his parents rented an accordion for their 7-year-old son from a door-to-door salesman; how he learned how to play rock-and-roll by listening to Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”; how he was inspired to write funny songs by, of all things, the Johnny Cash song “Boa Constrictor,”; how Dr. Demento’s radio show introduced him to Sherman, Tom Lehrer, Spike Jones and other musical iconoclasts and encouraged him to submit his homemade recordings to Demento.
Hirsch writes that Yankovic’s intentions are always sincere as he always seeks permission to parody other people’s songs. Her interviews with Yankovic suggest her interactions suggest that he is that down to earth guy who doesn’t take himself too seriously.