Wednesday, December 30, 2009

News: The Jeff Dunham Show Not Picked Up

Numerous media outlets including the New York Times confirmed that Comedy Central's The Jeff Dunham Show has not been picked up for a second season, or as the kids say it, "shitcanned."

...not that any of our five readers watch the show that we know of anyway. The show, which had Comedy Central's highest premiere ratings in history, dropped off quickly and was also reportedly a very expensive show to produce. Hence, no more show. There will, of course, be additional TV specials and merchandise to ironically gift your relatives come the holidays, only for you to be shocked and saddened to discover they're actually quite happy with the gifts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: The High Road with Doug Benson

WHAT: Two episodes of a series bundled as a special
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: The comedy and twitter stylings of Doug Benson
WHERE TO FIND IT: G4TV, airing seemingly at random

So the story behind The High Road with Doug Benson is that G4TV had been airing Benson's movie, Super High Me, nonstop for a few years and it generated decent ratings and feedback so they basically asked for more of that.

The High Road isn't really quite that; while Super High Me was a fairly focused documentary, this series just follows Benson and fellow (yet sober) comedian Graham Elwood on the road together. It's kind of an odd mashup of standup appearances and run-ins with the locals in the towns they're performing in, all punctuated by Benson's many tweets. As far as structure goes, it's kinda all over the place, but the whole thing is so laid back and easygoing it's difficult to fault it for lacking focus.

There have been many documentaries and miniseries about comedians on the road over the years -among them the now-classic Comedians of Comedy, the passable Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Tour, Ray Romano's 95 Miles to Go and the odious Dane Cook's Tourgasm; the appeal of these things seems to boil down to how interesting, funny and likable the comedian(s) you're following are. Nobody likes Dane Cook, for example, because he seems like he's kind of an asshole, and his road documentary just fuels that notion. Ray Romano seems sort of oppressively normal and sedate, and so his (very boring) road movie reinforces that. With The High Road, Doug Benson's half-lidded, witty appeal is what carries the entire thing and prevents it from being dull or uninteresting. If you like Benson's personality - which you have ample access to thanks to his many podcast appearances, his I Love Movies show or even just following his Twitter account - then this will feel very familiar and pleasant. There's very little about it that seems forced or gimmicky; it is very basic in premise and execution. And that's fine. The utter lack of pretension or "intensity" makes it a lot more palatable than many of the other "comedians on the road" projects out there.

As this thing presently exists, it's 2 half-hour episodes of what is obviously intended to be a series, packaged together as one hourlong special. Notably they didn't edit out the "previously on" segment at the half-hour mark, and the second episode doesn't offer any sort of a "conclusion", you're just left waiting for more. Hopefully G4 will reach whatever ratings benchmark they're looking for with this and just air the rest of the episodes. The High Road isn't anything groundbreaking, but it is funny and entertaining and engaging in an easygoing way, and really that's all anyone could ever want.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Road Trip Album Picks: "R.O. Magic: The Best of R.O. Manse"

WHAT: Comedy album with music and sketches
LABEL: A Special Thing Records, 2008
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: 80s music, novelty albums, fighting
WHERE TO FIND IT: Online or bust
LENGTH: 63 minutes

The novelty record is experiencing something of a revival. Every few years "Weird Al" Yankovic puts out something new that burns up the charts, and the Conchords had a great run on TV. Rather than go with parodies, R.O. Manse has some sketches, some faux interviews, some songs, and more to make what basically amounts to a pretty great CD of character development. We learn who this guy is, we hear some highlights from his career, we meet his ex-wife... this is a fleshed-out guy.

With numerous special guests and all sorts of gags, this album is pretty all over the place. With 26 tracks spanning a variety of styles, there are a surprising number of great gags here-- the suite of 1980s movie theme songs, for example, are pretty fantastic. The album has a couple of songs which qualify as "hit singles" of sorts, awesome little ditties that work really well outside the context of the album. "Ladyboy" and "I Have a Synthesizer" are clearly the two shining stars of the album, were you to play them for a friend, the former of which is a surprisingly catchy song that-- unlike many novelty songs-- manages to play it straight. (As it were.)

If you can pick up a few tracks odds are you'll enjoy this-- it's a few steps beyond the recordings from various tunesmiths you'd here on Dr. Demento, and while pretty goofy, tracks like "Ladyboy" take comedy songwriting in a direction where it's funny without being overtly jokey-- that's quite a challenge. Well done! Pick this up if you're looking for comedy mixed with 1980s synthesized new wave songs, because it manages to pull it off nicely.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tonight Show Highlights: Dumbledore, Twitter Tracker

Because of the short week, or perhaps because of a sense of giving the audience what they want, The Tonight Show rolled out three of their most popular recurring bits this week. If you haven't been watching what Conan has been doing, here you are.

Twitter Tracker

Dumbledore Rides Again

Noches De Pasion con SeƱor O'Brien

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays from Comedy is Dead!

As a special gift for you this year, Comedy is Dead has received a sneak peak at the Big Dogs tee-shirt product catalog for 2010. Here's a look at next year's hottest Big Dogs shirt designs!

Now you can plan all your Big Dogs shopping needs in advance! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Road Trip Album Picks: Bill Cosby's "Revenge"

WHAT: Cosby's fifth comedy album
LABEL: Warner Bros. Records, 1967
WHERE TO FIND IT: Your local library, some record stores
LENGTH: 42 minutes

If you're roughly 30 years old, odds are your parents raised you in a home with albums from Bill Cosby. My dad had several, but I didn't hear Revenge until just last month. It's a little looser than some of his other stuff and much more personal in the sense that it's about his person rather than Noah's Ark or bad drivers. Tales include "Revenge," a classic bit about saving a snowball for summer, and "Buck, Buck" which is seemingly the genesis of another famous character, namely Fat Albert.

In this disc you'll get all sorts of tales, and it's a little slower-- and naturally, significantly cleaner-- than the sort of things we usually cover in this column. Cosby, like Steve Martin or George Carlin, is one of the few comedians that works on some higher ethereal plane and his older albums, like this one, were a big part of the wave of fame he continues to ride to this very day. Sure, he's done great new stuff since then, but these things were bought and kept in homes in the pre-VCR era when records were the only way to play back your favorite people and shows for most people.

Cosby's voice carries well and it's a pretty great release overall. There's clearly a missing visual component which rears its head when you hear some of the laughter on the album, which was recorded at Harrah's nearly a million years ago ago, but it's worth hearing. It's worth picking up a Cosby album or two to see how the form evolved over the past half-century. A lot of things have changed, but the funniest stuff tends to resonate the longest.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekly Comedy - Ho, Ho Ho I'm Ha, Ha Hungry!

I think that's the worst title Weekly Comedy has ever had and probably ever will have.

And yet, I feel proud.


The Hangover – Did your friends and family love this movie, guffawing at every zany plot development and recurring joke while you sat in mild amusement and oddly disconnected silence? You’re not alone! Even though this movie employs the comedic talents of our favorite bearded comedian Zach Galifianakis, it’s pretty lukewarm. Apparently this is the most financially successful comedy of all time, which is.. well, alright, I guess. If it gets Galifianakis and Ed Helms more work (preferably in movies funnier than this one), then great.

It just wasn’t that funny, is all I’m saying.

Robot Chicken Season 4 – Here’s the formula: cartoon characters from the 80’s murder
eachother after making boner and/or retard jokes. And now there’s more of it. Rejoice.

The Goods – Live Hard, Sell Hard – There is no Bluray release for this movie and it was a Redbox exclusive for a while.

Redbox is the DVD vending machine you find out in front of grocery stores, gas stations and pawn shops. So that tells you most of what you need to know.

In all fairness this wasn’t that bad; it has its moments. It’s also pretty confused and doesn’t really seem to know what it’s trying to be. Rent at your own risk.

The Mel Brooks Collection (Bluray) - A whole shitload of Mel Brooks movies in a big Planet of the Apes-style hardcover book set, minus a few glaring omissions (most notably The Producers) but if you’re a Brooks fan this is a must-get. After all, Spaceballs wasn’t available in 1080p before now.


Did You Hear About The Morgans? – Why, yes I did! And I’ll be staying away from this toxic shit as a result!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Road Trip Album Picks: Neil Hamburger's "50 States 50 Laughs"

WHAT: Another tour-only CD from America's Funnyman, no audience
LABEL: Million Dollar Performances, 2000
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Early Neil Hamburger
WHERE TO FIND IT: Good freaking luck, on tour if he still has them
LENGTH: 27 minutes

It's no secret, we love Neil Hamburger-- especially his new stuff. His earlier recordings, like 50 States 50 Laughs, use his slightly less gruff earlier persona in which he's more of a sad sack than an increasingly spiteful comedian. The theme is a joke for each state, which sometimes works out as a pun, something about the local fare, or... well, we won't spoil it all for you.

"Have you ever looked in the trash can at a Long John Silvers? It's full of pieces of fish, each with exactly one bite taken out of it, and then all these napkins rolled up into little balls and in the center of each one is the corresponding piece of chewed-up fish!"

The entire album is particularly unique in that it's a stand-up album, more or less, recorded completely without an audience. This guarantees every joke sounds like it's being delivered to an unresponsive room, which actually makes it even funnier.

Like his other work, this album is brilliant-- but in increasingly unexpected ways. This is one of few albums which criticizes itself, and is built around a pretty clever idea. Due to how Hamburger's early voice projects, it may not be the best pick for your car rides as his low voice sometimes gets drowned out by the road sounds-- but that's really dependant on what you're driving. Either way, it's an album worth checking out simply because you've probably heard very little like it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MST3K Hits Hulu

If you love Joel and the Bots, Hulu added five episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 today. Secret Agent Super Dragon, The Starfighters, Monster A-Go-Go, The Rebel Set, and The Giant Gila Monster are up for your enjoyment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Free Maria Bamford Christmas Special

We just downloaded (but not yet have started watching) Maria Bamford's One-Hour Homemade Christmas Stand-Up Special over on her web site.

There are pugs. There is a couch. Presumably, this will be awesome. We're quite impressed, a lot of comics are putting out some great YouTube videos but this is the first time I've seen a gigantic long special.

Road Trip Album Picks: Eugene Mirman's "God Is A Twelve-Year-Old Boy With Asperger's"

WHAT: Third proper album from comedian of comedy
LABEL: Sub Pop Records, 2009
GOOD IF YOU LIKE: Pretty much anything vaguely resembling alternative comedy
WHERE TO FIND IT: Tons of places, this got a wide release
LENGTH: 42 minutes

How Sub Pop got into comedy we'll never know, but it's good to see top-notch talent getting decent distribution for a change. Eugene Mirman's God Is A Twelve-Year-Old Boy With Asperger's (the title) comes from a tale on his book tour, specifically track #8. In it, you hear about a kid asking aloud why Eugene doesn't worship him as his God-- if you don't find that funny, well, stop reading now. The always funny, sometimes spiteful, but genuinely hilarious ramblings are just as good if not better than his previous albums.

The album's material gets increasingly personal, culminating in a bit on airplanes losing his luggage that crosses over from a mere joke to some higher level of performance art. Not only are we treated to transcripts of his calls, but we also find out that he wants his audience in on the act-- he printed up a bunch of postcards to send to the airline, enlisting his audience as troops on his quest against his lost pants and whatnot. Truly, this should be the stuff of tomorrow's comedy legends.

Like his other recordings, this is a great road trip album, and is also good pretty much any other time. If you haven't heard his material, this is a good of a place to start as any,

Also notable: His first two albums are "The Absurd Nightclub Comedy of Eugene Mirman" and "En Garde, Society". Eugene appears on "The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company" with Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and Maria Bamford. The comic has a mini tour CD from the Comedians of Comedy as well, some of which seeped into his other releases-- so it's more of a collectible than it is a must-own disc of rarities. (But we'll look at it later.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Brian Posehn Album in 2010

From Henry Owings and the Chunklet Newsletter:

You got that right! And much like the most recent Patton Oswalt, yours truly was the producer. Brian's told me that it'll be out in February on Relapse with much promotion and touring to support it. I call him BROsehn. Get it? Because we're bros!"

There you go! So in the past year or so, all of the Comedians of Comedy made a new album except Zach Galifianakis.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Neil Hamburger: The Plush Doll

Today Neil Hamburger announced that Neil Hamburger plush dolls now exist. They're pretty low-rent as toys go but nearly no comedians that don't have collars that are blue do much in the way of quasi-figural merchandise, making this particularly unique. America's funnyman is available for about $20. We approve.

If we could get a USB figure that spouts out jokes, that'd just be fantastic. We'd pay up for that.

Comedy Death Ray and I Love Movies This Week

Wow, was this a heck of an amazing show! You really missed out by not going. What's wrong with you? Both shows were at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles.
I Love Movies

Doug Benson once again proves that he's being robbed by the fools running television for not having the foresight to give him his own show. This week his guests were "Weird Al" Yankovic and Chris Hardwick, and they were fantastic. As always, the show will be available via iTunes or whatever podcatching service you use in a few days, and this is one you won't want to miss. (Despite a tiny chunk of it being three men Twittering at once.)
Comedy Death Ray

A fantastic show. Hosted by Mike Kaplan, who we have not seen previously, but will now go out of our way to see. Excellent work. Also on deck:
  • Dave Anthony
  • Charlyne & Armen (seemingly improvised musical act/sniper spitting)
  • Rory Scovel (stand-up plus something involving clowns that courtesy prevents us from spoiling)
  • Zach Galifianakis (a few jokes, a whole lotta great crowd work)
  • Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak (a conceptual piece about Tom Bergeron's kids)
  • Chris Hardwick
Hardwick brought a lot of brand new (to us) material, and never disappoints as a headliner. Mr. Galifianakis was fantastic to see, particularly because his ticket price probably just quintupled since the summer-- great stuff, very funny. We were expecting Hardwick to come out in a yarn beard in-character.

The evening was fantastic, the pacing was great, we're pretty sure you would enjoy it if you were there. Some kid in the front row was taping most of it so it wouldn't be a stunner to see this on the web some day, if we find out about it we'll link to it.