May 2010

Comedy has gotten much more democratic over the years: It’s no longer limited to guys in clubs or major-network TV shows. With a bit of free time and minimal iMovie know-how, everyone from budding young comics to name-brand stars can carve out some Internet space for their sense of humor. It’s a great time to be a comedy fan, and Laugh Track, The A.V. Club’s new monthly column, will round up new and noteworthy stand-up, sketch, and online video, much of it courtesy of under-the-radar comedians with a little too much time on their hands.

Album: Brian Posehn, Fart And Wiener Jokes
It was inevitable, but Brian Posehn is growing up. The Mr. Show alum and Sarah Silverman Program actor released Live In: Nerd Rage four years ago, getting out all the self-admitted nerdy things that simmer below the surface. There’s material on overly simplistic metal music, people that ruin movies, ways nerds can piss off other nerds, and, uh, masturbation. His latest, Fart And Wiener Jokes, covers similarly dorky and scatological fare—metal fans, the music iTunes automatically recommends, how to increase your jizz volume—but the framing of each bit has matured. A joke about masturbating in front of his wife is preceded by an explanation of how hard it is for married couples simply to simply be alone together. The story about an outrageous clubbing experience is made all the more outrageous because it’s rare he musters the energy to get out. And even though he starts the album by proclaiming, “Take off your thinking caps: I’m about to make it fucking stupid in here,” he delves into sharp and humbling material, like his thoughts on Obama (a little dated) and his admission to using his dick as a bath toy as a kid. He may be growing up, but his early comic sensibilities remain.

Here’s a track off his latest CD, a song called “More Metal Than You”:

He's been performing his new material recently on the road, here's one bit from that:


TV: Childrens’ Hospital
It didn’t feel quite right when Funny Or Die leapt from the Internet to small screen earlier this year. The HBO show definitely captured the randomness of the site, but didn’t follow through on multi-part series it launched. In other words, there were few reasons to turn in each week. The latest attempt to bring web shorts to TV, though, has all the makings of a success. Childrens’ Hospital, a medical drama spoof created by Rob Corddry and produced by David Wain, launched in 2008 on TheWB.com. (The punctuation is correct; the hospital is supposedly named after someone with the last name Childrens.) Its first “season” was 10 episodes clocking in at about five minutes each, and starred some of the funniest people around: Corddry, Megan Mullally, Rob Huebel, Lake Bell, Ken Marino, and Erinn Hayes—who played opposite Corddry in the wholly underrated The Winner. Adult Swim picked up a second season of the show to premiere in July, and they’ll begin airing the first season later this month. But you can watch all the episodes now and get a jump on things. Be on the lookout for a “healing-power-of-laughter-off” and a plethora of funny people, including a pre-Ron Swanson Nick Offerman.

Rob Corddry talks about the series in this quick interview:


Internet: The Timewaster Phone Calls
Robert Popper, one of the minds behind the hilarious mock-educational video series Look Around You, is keeping the proud prank phone call tradition alive. His take on the medium—often with the help of Tim Heidecker and co-Look Around You conspirator Peter Serafinowicz—are sophisticated, involved, and sometimes abstract, like booking a hotel room as Siamese twins who only sometimes speak at the same time. There’s a large collection on Popper’s website; here’s the latest post, another multi-faceted attempt to get a hotel room, this time for a swan and a rat:


Internet: A.D. Miles
After well-liked appearances in Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, and Dog Bites Man, actor A.D. Miles is now hitting his stride as a writer, especially online. Say what you will about Jimmy Fallon’s hosting ability (though he’s getting better every show), but the writing on his show is superb. As head writer, Miles oversees it all, including the show’s fantastic Lost parody, Late, and its recent Glee parody 6-Bee. The last few years have seen Miles hone his Internet video chops, creating the web series Horrible People about mock-confident people doing bad things to one another—with, among others, Kristen Schaal—and Hot Sluts, about a naïve Alison Brie coming to work in a seedy bar. (The first episode’s… just okay. It gets better.) So the next time Jimmy Fallon unveils something cool on the web, say, “Thanks, A.D. Miles.” And now you know.

Check out the first episode of 6-Bee, and stay tuned for the second one, starring the cast of Parks & Rec:

Here are a few clips of A.D. Miles’ anecdotal stand-up:


Podcast: The Lavender Hour
Stand-ups Natasha Leggero and Duncan Trussell aren’t desperate for laughs. Their podcast, launched earlier this year, is only loosely themed: Leggero and Trussell gather in a Los Angeles living room, invite one of their comedy pals, and discuss whatever comes up, be it funny or not. On last week’s episode (the sixth installment) they talked about the nature of addiction, the nature of our understanding of “self”, and the nature of poop jokes with The Onion Editor Joe Randazzo. The show is serious and thoughtful when it has to be, but breaks things up with spontaneous bits and Leggero’s warm, hefty chuckle. The two have a winning formula on their hands.

Here are a two clips of the hosts:


Album: Myq Kaplan, Vegan Mind Meld
Words take on new meanings in the hands of Myq Kaplan. His debut CD Vegan Mind Meld—an homage to Scott Pilgrim, perhaps?—is rife with puns, wordplay, and double-entendres. One verbose stretch begins when Kaplan’s home Googling shit, and by that he means, literally, Googling the word “shit”; another casually kicks off with the line, “I lost my cell phone the other day, it’s like losing a child,” and quickly kicks into an analysis of exactly what kind of child the loss would personify. His observational material takes listeners down a similarly meticulous path, like a step-by-step breakdown of what makes Final Destination so darn terrible (with sound logic). Some sections go on a bit too long, especially when puns are involved, but Kaplan always ends bits with a button and plenty of self-referential humor. He clearly knows his strengths, and it’s nice to see a young comic play to them so definitively.

Check out some clips from his Comedy Central half-hour special, which debuted last week:

(Hat tip The Comic’s Comic)


Internet: John Mulaney
When the witty, likeable John Mulaney was hired as a writer on Saturday Night Live last year, there was an unfortunate, obvious side-effect: He’d be busy now, which meant fewer tours, fewer online videos, fewer good things in general. But the silence was broken two weeks ago when Mulaney appeared on Weekend Update to deliver an editorial on Girl Scout cookies. (“How come I have to know a child in a beret in order to get them?”) The segment went well, and is hopefully a harbinger of more Mulaney to come. In the mean time, here’s a look back at some of his finest work:

One of his best jokes recounts the time he fiddled with a jukebox to hilarious effect. Listen to that track, off last year’s album The Top Part:

He did a Daily Show-esque segment for College Humor, about finding hangover cures. Boom:

Drag queens have never been so funny:

Mulaney and Nick Kroll created the show “Oh, Hello,” about two well-to-do New Yorkers with relationship problems:

Finally, remember I Love The ’90s? What about I Love Th e’30s? Probably not: The made-up series aired only on Atom.com. Check it out:


Album: Matt McCarthy, Come Clean
Matt McCarthy’s stand-up debut, out last month, isn’t shy. The first track, one of the longest on the album, is a recursive bit in which McCarthy plays a character who introduces another character who introduces… and so on, until he’s gone around the world and through the Muppet kingdom. In the hands of a less-eager comic, the joke would flop, but McCarthy’s rambunctious energy sells it. Elsewhere, McCarthy reads old (fake) suicide notes, comments on the inherent creepiness of redheads, and recounts a particularly surprising trip to Africa with the punchy sarcasm and silliness of Jim Gaffigan. (“Is it just me, or do way too many funeral homes look like they could be Italian restaurants?”) His character work comes back —a son giving the worst Mother’s Day gift known to man; “Bad Ass Larry,” a guy who writes “bad ass poetry”—and always with aplomb. Even if a joke falls flat, McCarthy’s quick to kick it away and try something new—he’s not shy, after all, and there’s plenty more where this came from.

Take a look at McCarthy’s commercial reel, and marvel at how familiar he looks:

McCarthy’s in Front Page Films with Pete Holmes, who was in March’s Laugh Track. Here’s a pretty funny video in which Holmes makes an appearance:

Here are a few jokes, off the new album:


Bonus: Lizzie And Sarah
Brits Julie Davis and Jessica Hynes (who you might remember from Spaced) have a new TV pilot on the BBC about two middle-aged women whose lives are falling apart. The BBC, though, chose to debut the show at 11:45pm on a Saturday, clearly not a sign of good faith. But the pilot, which leaked onto YouTube, is pretty funny—well, funny in that “deeply disturbing, I can’t believe they just showed that autoerotic asphyxiation scene” kind of way, but still…

Filed Under: TV

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