Comedy Wrap

Everything that is going on in the comedy world

Covid-19 Forces SNL to Perform Remotely

| Comments

Longtime American comedy institution returned with a special “cast work from home” episode tonight as they they practice their social distancing.

Surprise host for the SNL’s first episode since widespread Covid-19 pandemic was Tom Hanks which marks his first TV appearance since his and his wife, Rita, Coronavirus Diagnosis.

“I have been the celebrity canary in the coal mine for the coronavirus, and ever since being diagnosed I have been more like America’s dad than ever before,” he explained, adding: “No one wants to be around me very long and I make people uncomfortable.”

Hanks and wife Rita Wilson announced on March 11 they tested positive for the virus while in Australia for pre-production on Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley film from Warner Bros. Hanks joked about the different approaches to medicine Down Under and took a jab at Hollywood in the process.

“The folks in Australia are fantastic in every way, but they use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit when they take your temperature,” the two-time Oscar winner explained. “So, they come in and they say ‘you’re 36,’ which seemed very bad to me, but it turns out 36 is fine. Thirty eight is bad, so basically it’s how Hollywood treats female actors.”

Hanks said he and his wife are doing fine. Standing in his kitchen and wearing a suit, he joked, “This suit, this is the first time I’ve worn anything other than sweatpants since March 11,” he said sarcastically. He also thanked health care workers, delivery drivers, grocery workers and the people who have been on the frontlines during the COVID-19 crisis.

This is SNL’s first new episode since the series suspended production last month amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The show was scheduled to air its next episode March 28 with host John Krasinski and musical guest Dua Lipa.

Since its 1975 debut, “Saturday Night Live” has been live from Studio 8H in 30 Rockefeller Plaza. But in this moment of time, this Covid-19 pandemic has forced individuals and institutions to be adapt to our new reality. Of all the shows forced to reformat, SNL arguably faced the biggest challenge. The appeal of SNL is the live theatrical nature of the show and collaborative performances in front of a live studio audience. Going into Saturday, nobody knew what to expect. NBC kept the show’s contents hush-hush, making the episode one of its most highly anticipated — and it didn’t disappoint.

Here a rundown of the show.

Each skit typically featured one cast member at a time but there were a few that where several appeared in a zoom-like setting. Pete Davidson kicked off rapping a Drake parody aptly titled “A Drake Song” from his mom’s basement with the chorus: “This is a Drake song / I miss my ex / This a Drake song / Number one on the Billboard.”

Kate McKinnon brought back her Supreme Court justice RBG and hosted at-home workout tips using random household items. Also, gave a shoutout to Dr. Fauci and requested he answer her DMs.

The first zoom inspired was a skit of our new reality by showing how people are learning how to connect both professionally and socially through this medium. Funny moments with McKinnon’s and Aidy Bryant’s characters, who couldn’t figure out how to use their respective PC cameras.

Mikey Day used the format to become a gamer streaming himself consistently dying in the new Call of Duty while streaming himself on Twitch. #Fail.

Chloe Fineman, who had a pitch-perfect take on Netflix Tiger King docu-series breakout character, Carole Baskin. Wearing a leopard-print jacket over a pink dress, and a long frizzy blond wig with a floral headband to act out Baskin hosting a MasterClass on bike-riding.

For me personally, Weekend Update is what I always want to see. A small audience watched it online when they filmed it because, as Michael Che put it, “telling jokes with nobody feels like hostage footage.” Wait for the end of the segment for the biggest laugh.

Comedywrap Roundup - 4/11/20

| Comments

The Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus) has kept nearly every person from around the world at home. Trying times for all for sure and possibly going stir crazy. Many of us are desperate for something to do or laugh about. collected a few things from around the interwebs to help a variety of comedy nerds get through this pandemic.

Jerry Seinfeld has a new Netflix stand up comedy special titled “23 Hours To Kill”.

Master of his domain, Jerry Seinfeld, has filmed a brand new hour-long comedy special that will drop on the streaming service on May 5. This special will be Seinfeld’s 2nd for Netflix following his 2017’s Emmy-nominated “Jerry Before Seinfeld.” Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” series is also on Netflix but given the current social distancing mandate it’s unclear when that show will come back. Remember that all 180 episodes of the greatest TV sitcom ever, Seinfeld, are coming to Netflix next year.

“23 Hours to Kill” was taped at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, and the title refers to how Seinfeld sees life in between standup comedy performances. For one hour each day, everything comes alive on that stage in front of a crowd, and once the laughter dies down, it’s back to waiting another 23 hours for that fix. This special fulfills Seinfeld’s multi-faceted production deal with Netflix, which he signed back in 2017, and guaranteed two original comedy specials.

New Quibi comedy, “Flipped” staring Kaitlin Olson and Will Forte

Larry the Cable Guy Tells Cancel Culture: ‘Grow a set and get over it’

The 57-year-old, whose real name Daniel Whitney, appeared on “People Now” on Friday to promote his first solo stand-up comedy special in over a decade, titled “Remain Seated,” and during the interview, he weighed in on the cancel culture comedians are now faced with.

Will Smith + Quibi + Comedy

| Comments

Quibi is geting jiggy with Will Smith by acquiring “This Joka”, a 16-episode stand-up comedy series that will be hosted and executive produced by Will Smith. This appears to be a family affair as the series comes from Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Topgolf Entertainment Group.

In This Joka, Smith will feature a diverse lineup of up-and-coming, established, and legendary comedians to explore the nature of comedy and its unique ability to bring people together. Shot on location at Topgolf and other popular Las Vegas venues, the series will feature stand-up, one-on-one conversations between Smith and the comedians, intimate interviews, and docu-style moments backstage and around the city.

Comics featured in the series include Baron Vaughn, Megan Gailey, Punkie Johnson, Sean Patton, Rosebud Baker, Shane Torres, Clayton English, Christi Chiello, Vanessa Gonzalez, Martin Urbano, Sam Tallent, David Gborie, Jackie Fabulous, Chris Estraded, Rell Battle and Daphnique Springs, with special appearances by George Wallace, Demi Adejuyigbe and Shawn Wasabi.

Smith was most recently seen on the big screen in Bad Boys For Life and will next be seen starring in Warner Bros. biopic King Richard, the true story of the hardscrabble but iron-willed father of Venus and Serena Williams, which Smith also produces. Short-form video platform Quibi launches on April 6.

Louis CK Drops New Comedy Special 'Sincerely'

| Comments

To the surprise of his fans and haters, Louis C.K. dropped a new comedy special this past Saturday on his official website. Brilliant marketing idea to get back into what’s he’s good at - Stand Up comedy.
Indirectly referencing the coronavirus outbreak, Louis CK said in his press announcement that laughter helps when “things get shitty” or when people are facing difficult times. “I feel like there are two kinds of people in this world,” he said. “One kind needs to laugh when things get shitty. In fact, the shittier things get, the more serious, the more dark the more terrifying, the more dangerous and dire anything is, the more important it is to laugh in the midst of it and often directly in its face.”

His stand-up special is titled “Sincerely C.K.” can be downloaded and stream for $7.99 on his website. The controversial comedian has essentially been out of the spotlight since 2017, when sexual misconduct allegations against him began to surface.

Coronavirus Epidemic Presents Reinvention Opportunities for Late Night TV

| Comments

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

| Comments

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

| Comments

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

| Comments

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

| Comments

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

| Comments

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.