Comedy Wrap

Everything that is going on in the comedy world

I'm Barbara Walters and This Is 2020

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Happy New Year!

‘Saturday Night Live’ alum Cheri Oteri joins Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen for New Year’s Eve and revived her iconic Barbara Walters impression to ring in 2020.

How Many People Saw Eddie Murphy Host SNL?

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The 30+ year wait for Eddie Murphy’s be back on the SNL was definitely must see TV. His stint as the final host for 2019 gifted SNL with its highest ratings delivery in 2.5 years. Murphy hosted SNL delivered a 2.5 rating in coveted adults 18-49 demo and 9.9 million viewers overall in Live+Same Day, per Nielsen’s “fast official” numbers ordered by NBC. To put that audience size in context, that SNL‘s 2.5 adult 18-49 rating ties the September Season 2 premiere of Fox’s Masked Singer as the #1 highest-rated entertainment series telecast this season in 18-49 L+SD on any network across all dayparts, including primetime. Interestingly, Murphy’s Buckwheat appeared in a Masked Singer skit. Murphy hosted SNL was the highest-rated comedy telecast on any network since the series finale of CBS’ Big Bang Theory on May 16 (3.2).

Jam packed with some of SNL’s fan favorite former cast members this episode featured Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin, Larry David, Maya Rudolph, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen and Rachel Dratch. This was the highest-rated and most watched episode of Saturday Night Live since the May 13, 2017 telecast, hosted by Melissa McCarthy with musical guest HAIM (2.7 in 18-49, 10.4 million viewers).

Murphy managed to eclipse Will Ferrell hosted SNL episode a few weeks prior, which had delivered the show’s biggest ratings so far this season. Viewership continued to grow — about 29% of SNL’s total viewed minutes during the 2018-19 season came on digital platforms through short-form videos and full-episode views.

As of first Sunday morning, three clips have crossed the 1 million views mark, Murphy’s monologue, the episode’s Democratic debate-themed Cold Open and Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood.

Live From New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!

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The legendary SNL alum (and biggest movie star) returned to Studio 8H after a 30+ year hiatus. Die hard SNL fans struggle to explain to non or passive SNL viewing friends how big a deal it is to have Eddie hosting SNL. From the moment Eddie was announced as host of the Christmas show to the moment he stepped through the famous SNL doors and walked down to the main stage on 12/21/19 at 11:35pm, fans have counted down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to see Eddie back on SNL. To put it another way…viewers watching at home live Saturday night could feel the palpable excitement and energy in Studio 8H.

If you missed this…I feel bad for you because this episode will probably be regarded as one of the best episodes of all time. Here’s what you missed… the return of some of Murphy’s most iconic SNL characters - Mr. Robinson, Gumby, Velvet Jones and an all-star opening monologue. Sometimes with SNL you may get one or two really funny skits or strong weekend update or compelling musical performance, but with Eddie as host and Lizzo as musical guest SNL fans got a strong show that fired on all cylinders from beginning to end.

SNL breakdown…


Fans chanted “Eddie!, Eddie!, Eddie!” before he even said a word. I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers wondered if tonight’s episode was happening at Studio 8H or Madison Square Garden. He kicked off the monologue with a few jabs of funny lines but landed a strong punch with his killer Bill Cosby impression. On top of that…damn near half of Netflix’s stand up budget came up on stage. Who? Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle that’s who. Once these guys were standing together on stage there was a moment where viewers at home could see in their eyes a collective “we got this monologue” realization as they looked at the cue cards and the audience. This was a murderous row of comics and the monologue allowed each comic to drop their jokes that reflected each comics unique flavor of comedic delivery. Also, it was nice to see Kenan Thompson up there. For years, he was often overlooked, but that tide is changing as he has become one of the glue guys for the cast and show. So, it was nice to see Kenan get his props.

Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood (2019)

The writers cleverly placed some of Eddie Murphy’s old characters in a modern day environment that reflects present day societal, cultural and economic touch points. Even if the character was exactly the same, the modern world around them made the character’s return fresh.

Buckwheat on The Masked Signer

Great treat to see Buckwheat as a surprise contestant on “The Masked Singer.” Dressed in a giant corn on the cob costume, his distinctive voice was obvious, even when crooning “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.” After he was unmasked, he sang more songs.

Gumby Crashes Weekend update

Gumby (Eddie Murphy) stops by Weekend Update to remind Michael Che and Colin Jost who he is, damn it.

Black Jeopardy: Velvet Jones

Home For The Holidays

Holiday Baking Championship

NorthPole News

Kevin Hart: Don't F#$%$ This Up Doc

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Netflix just dropped Kevin Hart’s new six-part documentary trailer, Don’t F**k This Up. The trailer reveals that fans will get to hear Hart talk about his tumultuous year that include stepping down as host of the Oscars (resurfaced tweet sparked outrage among the ‘woke’ crowd), his cheating scandal and a glimpse of his life on the road as a megasuccessful stand-up comedian. The series debuts on Netflix December 27, 2019.

Howard Stern's 2nd Act: Master Interviewer

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Howard Stern’s new book, “Howard Stern Comes Again” is a collection of his best radio interviews. He hopes this book will transform the perception of his past crass , short-tempered, juvenile radio DJ persona into a master conversationalist.

I’ve always been a Stern fan and his radio interviews in recent years have been amazing. He has a unique talent of making his guests to relax and feel comfortable and engage them in a real conversation where he can ask the questions most people are wondering about their favorite entertainers, journalists and politicians. His sincerity and sense of humor reassures his guests that his studio dungeon is a safe place for his guests who know a Stern interview will now follow the typical PR interview format.

The beginning of that transformation, Stern says, is easy to chart: The end of his 23-year marriage to Alison Berns in 2001. Miserable and disappointed, fearing how his three daughters would view him, Stern began seeing a psychotherapist four days a week. These life events has enabled Howard Stern to consistently elicit honest emotion and genuine insight from his celebrity guests. It’s real talk.

In his latest book, Stern wrote that “I don’t think I’ve ever tried harder to get a guest than I did with Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 election.” He said the outcome might have been different had she agreed to talk with him back then. Well, she finally appeared on the Howard Stern to promote hew new book, “The Book of Gutsy Women”, she co-wrote with her daughter Chelsea. Check out her Stern interview below.

If You Hate Bill Cosby. . Does That Mean You Also Hate Cliff Huxtable?

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Will Bill Cosby fans help him make it rain while he is in jail? That’s an interesting moral question for Cosby fans.

Bewildered Cosby fans finally heard from Bill Cosby after his conviction last year for sexual assault. In his first telephone interview behind bars with the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s, the once beloved comedian said: “I have eight years and nine months left [in prison]. When I come up for parole, they’re not going to hear me say that I have remorse. I was there. I don’t care what group of people come along and talk about this when they weren’t there. They don’t know.” Here you can listen to his BlackPressUSA interview here.

With that context…Cosby fans will have to ask themselves if they can separate the artist from the man. Independent television studio, Carsey-Warner, plans to shop around its vast library of classic sitcoms to streaming services as they scoop up modern classics by doling out big money. Recently, WarnerMedia has reportedly paid $425 million for the rights to Friends and NBCUniversal ponied up $500 million for The Office. Both shows will move to their new streaming homes, Warner’s HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock, respectively, next year.

If these streaming services move forward then Cosby fans will have to grapple with this dilemma. The struggle is real…check out Jerry Seinfeld sort through this for himself.

In interviews with Deadline and the Los Angeles Times last week, Carsey-Werner’s president of distribution Jim Kraus the studio will put out feelers to gauge appetite for ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘A Different World’, ‘That '70s Show’ and ‘Roseanne’, who also has fallen from grace and kicked off her rebooted self-titled show on ABC after a series of nasty tweets.

These streaming services will have to do a cost benefit analysis to guide their decision making to acquire any Cosby affiliated content. If they move forward with Cosby then he’ll be able to make it rain while in jail because he’ll likely collect his percentage of the rights fees to residuals for his acting work. First up for Carsey-Warner to pitch to streamers will be ‘A Different World’, a spin-off of The Cosby Show. All six seasons of A Different World are currently part of Amazon’s Prime Video catalog but the rights are up for renewal in 2020. Meanwhile, there is no word on what might happen with the rights to The Cosby Show, all eight seasons of which are also on Prime Video.

Here’s a sampling of the best moments from ‘The Cosby Show’

Sacha Baron Cohen vs. Mark Zuckerberg

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In a rare public appearance as himself, Sacha Baron Cohen, went after Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook in his acceptance speech for international leadership from the Anti-Defamation League.

The comedian behind Borat, Bruno, Ali G, and Showtime’s “Who Is America?” is known to publicly troll people, but this time, Cohen eviscerated Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for providing a platform that helps fringe hate groups spread their conspiracy theories that is facilitating a rise in hate crimes targeted against religious and ethnic minorities. Providing a historical analogy, Cohen said that if Facebook existed in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post ads on his “solution” to the “Jewish problem.”

What does Cohen want? The frustrated comedian used this opportunity to demand for more tech regulation and a fundamental rethinking of social media, noting that these social platforms give “some of the most reprehensible people on earth the biggest platform in history.” The comedian admonished social media giants for not doing enough to counter the racism and bigotry spreading on their platforms. “These are the richest companies in the world, and they have the best engineers in the world. They could fix these problems if they wanted to.”

With the looming 2020 election, Cohen has joined other activists and politicians calling for tighter regulation on social media platforms. Unfortunately, the hate speech and misinformation will likely continue proliferating on Facebook as the company is notoriously opaque about everything from its algorithm to Zuckerberg’s secret dinners with Donald Trump.

Friendsgiving TV Marathon

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Here’s your chance to spend Thanksgiving with your favorite Friends. Warner Brothers has negotiated a deal with local stations across the country to air popular Thanksgiving-themed episodes.

“We’re excited for ‘The One Where Our Local Television Partners Offer Curated Thanksgiving Friends Episodes and Marathons,’ which are sure to delight fans during their Friendsgiving holiday celebrations,” said Lisa Gregorian, Warner Bros. Television Group president and chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Thanks to streaming services Friends has won over new fans and coupled with the fact that the series is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its 1994 debut on NBC. Airing in syndication since 1998, the series will make its new streaming home on WarnerMedia’s upcoming subscription streaming service on HBO Max.

This is a great way to escape family drama or avoid those relatives who want to talk about politics this Thanksgiving. The marathon will air on stations across the country, including in all top-ten markets, reaching 42 million homes.

Here’s the Thanksgiving schedule:

WPIX New York: Wednesday, Nov. 27, at midnight; and midnight on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 28

KTLA Los Angeles: Thanksgiving Day, 10 am-6 p.m.

WGN Chicago: Thanksgiving Day, 1-6 p.m.

WPHL Philadelphia: Thanksgiving Day, 12-5 p.m.

KDAF Dallas: Thanksgiving Day, 12-5 p.m.

WDCW Washington, D.C.: Thanksgiving Day, 12-5 p.m.

KIAH Houston: Thanksgiving Day, 12-5 p.m.

WSBK Boston: Thanksgiving Day: 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

WCPH Atlanta: Thanksgiving Day: 12-5 p.m.

For all other local markets, check local listings.

Friends Reunion Possible!

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Can you believe it? Classic 90s sitcom, Friends, is celebrating its 25th year anniversary, and according to the The Hollywood Reporter, discussions are underway among the cast (six core stars) and Warner Bros. TV creative team to bring Friends crew together for an unscripted reunion special on the new WarnerMedia streaming service, HBO Max.

Principle stars include Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. Series creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman are expected to be involved. Word of caution … this is deal far from final as there are many details to sort through.

Despite past denials from the cast and creative team regarding their decade long collaboration, WarnerMedia is highly incentivized and crazy not to leverage its highly valuable IP for its streaming service launch into this very crowded landscape. The most of the cast came together in 2016 to join NBC’s special honoring of legendary director and producer James Burrows. Five of the six stars — save for Perry — participated in the look back that also featured the casts of Will & Grace, Cheers and The Big Bang Theory.

Recently, Aniston told daytime comedian talker, Ellen DeGeneres, “We would love for there to be something, but we don’t know what that something is. So we’re just trying. We’re working on something.”

Why is Friends still popular? The 10-season long series has remained popular in various television syndication deals, but has managed to generate new fans on Netflix. So, it’s no surprise WarnerMedia snagged the series back for its HBO Max offering. The series leaves Netflix at the end of the year and will debut on WarnerMedia’s HBO Max. Fans will have to sign up for a $15 monthly subscription fee to hang out with Friends again.

Sources say WarnerMedia paid $85 million per year for five years ($425 million) to reclaim streaming rights to Friends for its own platform. (Netflix, for its part, paid somewhere between $80 million to $100 million.

Check out some bloopers from the Series

Netflix Stand Up Specials You Should Check Out

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Comedy nerds regularly debate which platform is the best for stand up comedy specials. The stand up comedy boon really got its first start in 1980s as new cable channels began to emerge to give club comedians TV exposure. Tradtionally, comedians would develop their comedy acts and hope to get on Tonight Show w/ Johnny Carson or Late Night with David Letterman. By late 1980s, Arsenio Hall entered the late night arena with his popular urban appeal talker that dominated most of the 1990s.

Also around this time HBO and Showtime added fuel to the comedy fire by offering hour long unedited stand up comedy specials that enabled not safe for primetime comedians to get their exposure.

20 years later starting from 2010s to present, Bloomberg reports profiles Netflix as they discovered that that stand up comedy is a cost-effective way to build a large content library featuring celebrities around the world that would help the streaming company grow their subscriber base. Now, Netflix is refining their content strategy and starting to look at different forms of comedies like sketch comedy and perhaps different formats. This year Netflix streamed about 30 comedy specials so far this year compared to last year where it offered 50+ at this point last year.

Having said that Netflix is still far and away the biggest financier and distributor of standup comedies among all the major TV networks. Some of my favorites (in no particular order) from this list.

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.)