Richard Pryor reached a broad audience with his vivid observations and storytelling style and dominated the American comedy scene from 1970s to 1980s. He is regarded as the one of the most influential stand-up comedians of all time.
Richard Pryor, a student of both Charlie Chaplin and Dick Gregory, channeled his real life experiences and perspectives into his comedy. Pryor was a comedic innovator. He took on subjects most comedians would shy away from, especially black comedians in the 1960s. He put a spotlight on racist policing and his comedy albums and specials in that era laid the foundation for modern stand-up. Pryor once said he was “raised to hate the cops,” He didn’t just say the police beat up black people. They “degraded” them. Check out his “I Spy” bit - a play off the TV show starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp as an interracial team of intelligence agents. He described how black partners of white officers had to earn their stripes by harassing black civilians to prove their loyalty.
Warning: All Videos NSFW
In his breakthrough 1974 album, That N@#$#$ Crazy, Pryor wondered why police brutality didn’t make black people “go mad.” He used his innate and masterful comedic skills to paint a picture his audience can imagine. He talked about a man who works hard during the week rewarding himself with a night out and getting dressed up, only to be pulled over because of a robbery in the neighborhood. Dramatizing the violation of the pat down, Pryor considers the impact, imitating the deflated man, who abruptly ends the evening to “go home and beat your kids.” That gut punch quiets the crowd, before Pryor adds: You have to take it out on somebody.
Another bit that contrasts white encounters with the police in their own neighborhoods to the lengths black people had go through to prove how nonthreatening they are to the police. Enunciating every word slowly at a volume and tension that performs compliance, he did an impression of what was required: “I. Am Reaching. Into. My. Pocket. For. My License.” That record sold more than one million copies and was so popular that after one show, Detroit officers told Pryor they heard the line repeated from an African-American man they stopped.
The State Of Our Union is not good. Americans are confronted again with our commander-in-chief’s vile verbal rhetoric condemning the protests to police brutality (#BLM). Let’s also not forget we are also going through a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 120k of our fellow countrymen and an economic depression that has forced 30-40M Americans to collect unemployment benefits.
There are a plenty of things happening to take joy out of your daily lives. With that setup, I would like to suggest to all reasonable Americans with a sense of humor (from liberal ‘woke’ progressives to Lincoln Project Republicans) to collectively agree that’s its so much fun to laugh at all the “Karens” and her friends “Becky” and “Susan”.
Who is Karen? Urban Dictionary defines them as a stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women who believe to be entitled to do whatever they want. Viral videos demonstrate their short temper and crown bowl haircuts. This Is Karen is a post from Marley K. on medium.com that provides an informative and entertaining perspective.
There are an abundance of viral Karen videos. Great comedians always find a way to offer context that incorporates what we all see, hear or beleive to be true. Check out Tommy Davidson, In Living Color alumni, break it down for you. Warning: NSFW video.
A recent NYTimes article highlights the challenges Comedy Central is currently experiencing. The network that launched the careers of Dave Chappelle, Stephen Colbert and Amy Schumer is facing a tough crowd as viewership declines has led to corporate restructuring and an exploration on how to produce cheaper programming.
In the last six months, senior executives have been pushed out and in late April most of the network’s talent and development team were relieved of their duties.
Viacom and CBS merged again to form ViacomCBS with the intention to save $750 million through job cuts and develop a strategy to transform its cable TV brands for the emerging streaming video environment.
Robert M. Bakish, the former Viacom boss, became the chief executive of the new ViacomCBS entity when the merger closed in December. Bakish elevated MTV President, Chris McCarthy, to oversee a group of channels that include Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, TV Land and CMT.
Check out Bakish CNBC interview
Chris McCarthy replaced longtime Comedy Central president, Kent Alterman, who was a onetime film director (he made the Will Ferrell comedy “Semi-Pro”). NYTimes report that Alterman was a corporate suit who could make comedians laugh, endeared himself to the talent and guided the network’s most influential series in recent years, “Broad City,” and other unconventional shows. “Kent was kind of the mentor and really the tastemaker there,” said comedian Anthony Jeselnik, who had his own talk show, “Good Talk.”
In recent months the network started to shift away from scripted programs like “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Broad City” and toward unscripted cheaper shows, according to three people with knowledge of the strategy.
In May 2020, ViacomCBS gutted Comedy Central’s talent and development team that was responsible for building programs around up and coming comics who were on the verge of breaking through. To be fair ViacomCBS executives needed to make changes because the old way of running a cable network no longer made sense. “Merging organizations is a difficult process, and doing so within a global pandemic makes it more complicated,” Mr. McCarthy said in a statement. “That said, it’s necessary to move from a cable-centric structure to a fully integrated organization with creative, cultural and commercial hits at the center of everything we do.”
Comedy Central veterans that include executives, producers, managers and comedians said this new realignment could weaken the network’s ability to develop and showcase the next generation of innovative and break comedy background like they have with “Key & Peele,” and “Strangers With Candy.”
It looks like McCarthy is going to repurpose his MTV strategy playbook for Comedy Central. He joined MTV in 2016 and turned the network’s fortune by leveraging its past hits to generate nostalgic curiosity by rebooting shows like “Jersey Shore,” “The Hills” and “Total Request Live.“ Plus there are a host of program marathons of “Ridiculousness,” “Jersey Shore” and “Catfish: The TV Show.”
Comedy Central’s late night signature program, “The Daily Show,” has continued to be relevant with Trevor Noah. Also its new sitcom, “Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens” is putting up strong ratings. Despite the success of original programming, the network’s schedule is heavy with reruns of one of its longest-running hits, “South Park,” and old shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” That prevents opportunities for the next Chappelle or Sedaris, but short game is paying off as viewership has trended upward in recent months.
Despite current strategy of heavy repeat TV schedule lineup, Chris McCarthy suggests that Comedy Central would embrace new content, particularly movies, animated projects and unscripted shows. “We remain deeply committed to our talent and partners as we work together to grow existing hits and develop new ones that define culture across adult animation, scripted series/original movies and topical shows — the hallmarks of the Comedy Central brand for almost 30 years,” Mr. McCarthy said in his statement.
The comedy game is going through a tough time as the Covid-19 pandemic has grounded standup comics, talent managers and club owners from touring. Coupled with the challenge traditional cable networks face to hang on to their audiences as more people are cutting the cord and opting for OTT alternatives.
Streaming has been on the rise for a decade. In fact, more people are streaming video content around the world (613 million) vs. the number of cable subscribers (556 million) according to the Motion Picture Association of America. This change in viewing habits have upended the media, tech and telecommunications sectors.
ViacomCBS does have its own streaming service, CBS All Access, which features Peele from “Key & Peele” in their rebooted “Twilight Zone” series. The company has opted to leverage its content to other platforms. Paramount Pictures, a ViacomCBS property, made a deal with Netflix to release “The Lovebirds,” a comedy starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae.
ViacomCBS recently made a deal to sell the “South Park” library to HBO Max for a reported $500 million. And the company has engaged in talks with several streaming services, including HBO Max, about selling some current series and library content, according to two people with knowledge of discussions.
Company executives believe the new programming strategy — movies, unscripted topical shows, animated programs — will attract more viewers than new scripted series at a lower cost. But people in the comedy world doubt and lament the loss of the Comedy Central they’ve known for decades.
Of all the public commentary and discussion we’ve see on TV among
pundits, Chappelle’s real talk and real anger should resonate with reasonable people on both sides of the political spectrum. While most believe Trump to be a racist, I want to believe not all of his supporters are racists. Chappelle’s eloquent and raw anger and perspective is on full display.
Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special 8:46 — which was posted to the Netflix Is A Joke YouTube channel in the early morning hours on Friday — addresses the death of George Floyd. He does not hold back and delivers a blistering commentary about everything from George Floyd death, TV news pundits and his personal connections to events leading up to this point in time. Chappelle taped the performance on June 6 in Yellow Springs, Ohio, near his home. The title of the special is the length of time that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck, a moment captured on video.
He also goes off on TV news pundits reactions to the protests, and seemingly, growing awareness and empathy it has generated with Americans and people around the world.
Some of the people he called out: CNN anchor Don Lemon and conservative commentator, Candace Owens. Both have back-pedaled and side-stepped Chappelle criticisms of their public comments. Lemon responded to Chappelle on CNN’s New Day, at first saying that he agrees in some respects with the comedian’s point.
Check it out:
Candace Owens tweet:
To every Democrat tweeting me the clip of #DaveChappelle insulting me:
I’m not a leftist. I have a sense of humor & I think comedians SHOULD make fun of people.
Dave Chappelle is one of the greatest comedians of all time and I made it into one of his specials.
Cooper has become one of the hottest comics to emerge from the Covid-19 era with her social media videos, where she lip-syncs Trump’s nonsensical public comments by offering mix of deadpan flair and exaggerated facial expressions. These videos are great procrastinating fodder for all of us taking breaks from our new work from home reality.
In “How to Medical,” she lampooned Trump’s comments suggesting that perhaps injecting disinfectant and shining a ultraviolet light can cure people who have this virus.
This video caught fire and has attracted more than 18 million views on Twitter. “It’s not something that people have seen before — a black woman lip-syncing Trump’s words in a very realistic, sort of documentary kind of way,” said Cooper.
Here’s another funny one where she performed how Trump literally made up a new conspiracy theory name during a press Q&A about former President Barack Obama.
“I’m having a moment, but it’s definitely been surreal,” Cooper said in an interview from her New York home. “Agents who wouldn’t call me back three years ago now want to talk to me. Things are going really well while the world is falling apart. It’s been quite a roller coaster. One moment, it’s ‘Oh my God, what’s happening with the pandemic, lockdown and quarantine?’ and the next moment it’s ‘Oh my God, Ben Stiller retweeted my tweet.’”
Trump’s stumbles reminded and inspired Cooper to use her experience as a designer for Google, where she was required to attend a stream of monotonous meetings where much was said but little was accomplished.
“When Trump started doing those daily briefings and being confronted with how incompetent he is and how out of his element he is, I was just reminded of being in the corporate world and seeing people BS-ing through a meeting, making their coworkers think they know things when they really have no idea what they’re talking about,” Cooper said.
Her distaste for Trump has fueled her comic sensibility: “It seems like we’ve been gaslighted for 3½ years. Now he’s saying ridiculous things that make no sense, but people are nodding, and no one is calling him out. That frustration is part of the reason why I wanted to do something like this.” One of the descriptors in her Twitter bio is “#blockedbytrump.”
While at Google, she started writing blog posts about how to appear smart at meetings. When those posts began to get attention, she got a deal to write a book titled “100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying.” The success of that book convinced her to devote more of her energy to comedy: “I had a platform. There was a period when I was teaching the business world about humor and bridging the two worlds.”
Her stand-up career was just starting to gather some momentum when the pandemic struck. But breaking through during a quarantine when comedy venues are shut down has been bizarre. “I had just done my first Montreal ‘Just for Laughs’ audition,” she said. “I was starting to get noticed, hosting open mics. Now I’m not able to go out and perform at night. It’s been a little bit of a blessing because I can focus on my comedy now working at home.”
So far Cooper says she has received little backlash on her Trump attacks. She’s even heard from Trump supporters who are amused by the videos. Asked how she thinks Trump would respond to her “Trump mode,” she paused. “That’s a real good question,” Cooper said. “I’m of two minds on this. One, he wouldn’t realize I was making fun of him. He would probably think, ‘There’s a black woman who supports me. Get her to the White House.’ Or he gets really angry that his voice is coming out of my mouth, and he sues me.”
In the meantime, she’s working on a new book — an Audible original that will be “my take” on Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” she says. She’s also working on developing a late-night stand-up set. And of course, there will be more videos: “I’ll keep on doing them as long as my head writer gives me material.”
Due to Covid-19, Turner Networks and CBS could not air their annual NCAA Basketball programming. Now, TBS has concocted another bracket-style program featuring comcis. TBS ‘Tournament of Laughs’ will feature a bracket-style comedy face-off with a bunch of comics who will participate with self-filmed material.
The WarnerMedia-owned outlet has green-lit seven episodes of Tournament of Laughs that will feature 32 comics going head-to-head. Jason Sudeikis, SNL alum, will serve as host and color commentator for the remotely produced series, which premieres June 21.
“We may be without some of our favorite sports right now but we can still partake in some fierce rivalries,” said Brett Weitz, general manager of TNT, TBS, and truTV. “These comics promise to bring the funny each week, but the audience will get to decide who gets the last laugh.”
Each week, the comics will film, produce and star in their own videos, ranging from stand-up sets to song parodies and whatever else they can dream up. Viewers will vote on the winner of each matchup until the final, when a panel of comedy experts will crown the winner.
If you’re a House Hunters fan, you know the drill. You’re not just watching this series, you’re generating your own running commentary whether you’re watching alone or with others about the homes itself and the people whose on the house hunt. Some fans have created their own House Hunters drinking games where participants chug, shot or sip every time a ubiquitous HH buzz-phrase gets uttered. There’s House Hunters bingo. Same basic idea, but the booze is optional. This practically begs for the Mystery Science 3000 treatment.
HGTV will host a four-night, special event at 10 and 10:30 p.m (ET/PT) that will begin Tuesday, June 2, 2020 through Friday, June 5. Playing off the wildly popular House Hunters series, HGTV will debut House Hunters: Comedians on Couches. The series will feature top seven comedians providing their own colorful commentary on classic episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters.
HGTV’s most fun-to-make-fun-of show will be headlined by seven popular comedians, who will deliver uncensored, no-holds-barred color commentary on classic episodes of the phenomenally long-running series. In keeping with our nationwide current social distancing practice, all the commentaries and dialog will take place on videoconference. Fans will see these comics calling out the victories and agonizing defeats deriving from dubious real-estate savvy, unusual paint-color choices, and the nuances of matte finish vs. high-gloss.
“House Hunters is a pop culture phenomenon that inspires strong reactions from viewers who like to play along with its familiar house selection process,” said Jane Latman, president, HGTV. “While we may not agree with the house each family chooses or the reasons they select it, we can agree that it’s a good time to lean on talented people who can find the humor in everything and make us laugh out loud – even when it comes to the challenges and triumphs of house hunting.”
The event also will raise money for Turn Up: Fight Hunger, through a partnership between Discovery, Inc., and No Kid Hungry, a national campaign dedicated to ending childhood hunger and will provide one billion meals for kids facing hunger in the U.S. over the next five years. Viewers can text HUNGRY to 707070 to make a secure donation.
SNL’s version of House Hunters - #SNL #SNL44 #LievSchreiber
Comics headlining HGTV’s House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Edition:
Dan Levy) is a comedian, writer and producer, who is currently the creator and executive producer of the NBC comedy Indebted starring Fran Drescher. He also wrote for The Goldbergs, Whitney and the animated Hulu series, The Awesomes. As a comedian, he performed in the Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival, had a one-hour special Dan Levy: Lion and appeared on Comedy Central Presents, The Late Late Show and Late Night.
Natasha Leggero is an actor, producer, and writer with numerous film roles, including Neighbors, Let’s Be Cops and He’s Just Not That Into You. She stars in CBS’ new comedy, BROKE, and was a series regular in NBC’s Free Agents. Leggero also created, wrote, produced and starred in the Comedy Central sitcom Another Period. #AloneTogether #NatashaLeggero
Whitney Cummings is a comedian, actor, writer, producer and director. Best known for creating and starring in the NBC series Whitney, she also co-created and co-wrote the Emmy®-nominated CBS comedy series 2 Broke Girls. In 2019, she launched her own podcast titled “Good For You” and debuted her fourth stand up special, Can I Touch It?, on Netflix. #StandUp #WhitneyCummings
Eliot Glazer is a writer, producer and performer who most currently serves as Executive Producer on Liza on Demand. Additionally, he has written for Broad City, New Girl, and Youngerand is developing original half-hour comedies I Run Hot for AMC Studios and Dentata at Paramount Studios, as well as the Untitled Liza Koshy Project at Nickelodeon. He hosts the bi-monthly live show Haunting Renditions in Los Angeles and New York and in cities and festivals around the country. Best known as ‘Eliot’ on Broad City, he appears alongside Seth Rogen in the upcoming Lionsgate/HBO Max movie An American Pickle.
John Mulaney is a two-time Emmy® and WGA award-winning writer and comedian, most well-known for his standup comedy and writing on Saturday Night Live. In 2018, he toured the U.S. with Kid Gorgeous, which was later released as a Netflix special. He starred in the Netflix originals, The Comeback Kid and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch; the Comedy Central special New In Town; and the Broadway hit, Oh, Hello; and was heard in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. #StandUp #JohnMulaney
Chris Redd is an Emmy® Award-winning actor, writer, stand-up comic and rapper who is in his third season as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. He most notably appeared in the film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and in the Netflix original comedy series Disjointed. He starred in his own episode of Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents and released a debut stand-up album, “But Here We Are.” #standup
J.B. Smoove is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian best known for his iconic role as Leon on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has starred in many film and television projects including The Sitter, We Bought a Zoo, Date Night, Hall Pass, Uncle Drew, CBS’s The Millers, and most recently the hit Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home, for which he won a National Film & TV Award in 2019 for Best Supporting Actor. #snl
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.”