comedy

Gene Wilder
8:44 am
Thu October 30, 2014

"Blazing Saddles," and Gene Wilder, 40 Years Later in Stamford

Superfan Ria Scalish, at left, with her husband.
Jeff Cohen WNPR

It's been 40 years since the release of the Mel Brooks' movie Blazing Saddles. I recently went to an anniversary screening and in the audience was one of the movie's stars: Gene Wilder.

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Entertainment
3:40 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

A Candid Memoir From Comedian Amy Poehler? 'Yes Please'

Amy Poehler plays Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation, which will air its final season next year. Poehler says, "It's a privilege in television to be able to have a proper goodbye."
Colleen Hayes NBC

When comedian Amy Poehler was in her 20s, she read her boyfriend's journal and found out that he didn't think she was pretty.

"It was almost like an itch being scratched, which was, 'Aha! I knew that you didn't think I was pretty!' ... And then it was followed by a real crash because ... my ego was bruised," Poehler tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Poehler says it taught her that the earlier you figure out your "currency," the happier you'll be. For Poehler, that meant not leaning on her looks to be successful.

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On Stage
9:54 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Two Actors Journey Through "Annapurna" at Hartford's Theaterworks

Vasili Bogazianos and Debra Jo Rupp in "Annapurna" at Theaterworks.
Theaterworks

After 20 years apart, a woman tracks down her ex-husband, a poet living in a grungy trailer in the Colorado mountains. Their raw, funny, heartbreaking reunion unfolds in a new play called "Annapurna" by Sharr White, currently running at Theaterworks in Hartford.

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Code Switch
5:40 am
Sat September 13, 2014

Why Michael Che's New Role Could Change More Than 'SNL'

Daily Show correspondent Michael Che will become the first black co-anchor of Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.
Paul Marotta Courtesy of Michael Che

Originally published on Sat September 13, 2014 1:27 pm

It seems some TV networks have gotten the message on late-night diversity and others have not.

Friday's news — that Saturday Night Live hired comic Michael Che to join Colin Jost behind the anchor desk on its popular "Weekend Update" segment — shows NBC's venerated late night comedy franchise may, finally, stand among those in the first group.

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Remembrance
4:01 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Joan Rivers, An Enduring Comic Who Turned Tragedy Into Showbiz Success, Dies

Rivers became permanent guest host for The Tonight Show in 1983, a gig that ended when she left to host her own late-night show on Fox. Here she interviews Miss America Suzette Charles in 1984.
AP

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 6:49 am

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:13 am
Wed August 20, 2014

Happy 25th, Seinfeld!

Credit Steve Harris / Creative Commons

Pop culture is ephemeral.

People eventually lose interest in music and television shows once a new fad surfaces and piques their interests. Not so for Seinfeld. It is still relevant after 25 years for a whole new generation of viewers.

But, it wasn't always that way. In the beginning, it didn’t test well with audiences. It had weak ratings, bad scheduling and creative differences. It survived under the wing of a lone NBC executive who believed in the show's emphasis on characters who felt like family.

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Saturday Night Live
1:53 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Iconic TV Announcer Don Pardo Dies At 96

Frazer Harrison Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 3:59 pm

Fans of Saturday Night Live and the original versions of The Price is Right and Jeopardy! recognize Don Pardo's voice immediately.

They may not be able to identify his face, but his voice was famous.

Pardo died Monday in Tucson, Ariz. He was 96 years old.

An NBC spokesman confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he died in his sleep.

Pardo began working for NBC in 1944 and stayed with the network for 60 years.

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Remembrance
7:56 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Robin Williams: A Supreme Talent Who Was Always On

Robin Williams performs during the Sixth Annual Stand Up for Heroes charity event at the Beacon Theatre in New York in 2012.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 11:16 am

For many years, Robin Williams seemed like a talent who had no off switch.

From his standup comedy work to TV roles to talk show appearances to Oscar-caliber movies and performances on Broadway, Williams was a dervish of comedy — tossing off one-liners, biting asides and sidesplitting routines in a blizzard of accents, attitudes and goodhearted energy.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:44 am
Mon July 28, 2014

The Scramble: How to Be a Guest on a Talk Show with David Rees

David Rees in "Going Deep with David Rees," on the National Geographic Channel
Credit National Geographic Channel

This hour's Scramble starts fun and gradually grows darker. We begin with David Rees, host of a television show in which he layers expertise onto simple acts like opening a door or making ice cubes. Its motto is "de-familiarizing the ubiquitous so as to increase our appreciation and wonder thereby." We can get behind that.

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Performing Arts
11:40 am
Sun July 20, 2014

At Monty Python Reunion Show, The Circus Makes One Last Flight

Michael Palin, left, and Terry Gilliam perform on the opening night of Monty Python Live (Mostly). The final performance of the reunion show, on Sunday, will be live-streamed at theaters around the world.
Dave J Hogan Getty Images

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 12:08 pm

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Code Switch
11:11 am
Fri June 27, 2014

The Elusive Dave Chappelle Re-Emerges, But For How Long?

Chappelle alluded to his decision to walk away from his hit Comedy Central show only obliquely.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat June 28, 2014 10:50 am

Just before Dave Chappelle took the stage Monday as part of a sold-out series of shows at Radio City Music Hall, a song featuring a loop of LL Cool J's famous opening line from "Mama Said Knock You Out" blasted over the sound system.

Don't call it a comeback!

You could take it as a suggestion that Chappelle had never really gone anywhere. Or you could read it as a coy reminder that none of us should get too comfortable, because Chappelle might bounce again at any moment.

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Theater
2:26 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Hartford Stage Closes 50th Anniversary Season with 2013 Tony Award Winner

The cast of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. (from l. to r.) David Gregory (Spike), Andrea Lynn Green (Nina), Mark Nelson (Vanya), Leslie Hendrix (Masha) and Caryn West (Sonia).
T. Charles Erickson Hartford Stage

You might say Hartford Stage has Tony fever. Not only did the musical "A Gentlemen's Guide To Love and Murder," which was developed and produced by Hartford Stage, win big at last Sunday's Tony Awards, but also the 2013 Tony winner for best play is currently running at the theater. 

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:25 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Oh, Canada! How'd You Get So Funny?

Credit Muhammad Ali / Flickr Creative Commons

David Steinberg, Martin Short, Mort Sahl, Rick Moranis, Lorne Michaels, Jim Carrey, John Candy, Kids in the Hall, Samantha Bee, Jason Jones, Howie Mandel, Rich Little, Norm Macdonald, Katherine O'Hara, Russell Peters, Leslie Nielsen - They are all Canadians.

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Who you gonna call?
3:41 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

The Connecticut Ghostbusters Inspect WNPR

Connecticut Ghostbusters represent.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Before Wednesday's Colin McEnroe Show on Comic Con culture, we invited our guests, the Connecticut Ghostbusters John Kantor and Eric Gunther, to take a tour of the 6th floor offices at Connecticut Public Broadcasting.

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Television
3:19 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Louis C.K. On His 'Louie' Hiatus: 'I Wanted The Show To Feel New Again'

In Louie, Louis C.K. plays a comic who finds comedy in uncomfortable, touchy topics.
K.C. Bailey FX

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 2:59 pm

Louis C.K. is now commonly acknowledged as one of the greatest comics of his generation. His celebrated FX series, Louie, started its fourth season a couple weeks ago, after a 19-month hiatus.

Louis C.K. created, writes, directs and stars in the series as a standup comic named Louie, who, like Louis C.K., is the divorced father of two young girls and shares custody with their mother. Last year, Louis C.K. also had prominent roles in two films: Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and David O. Russell's American Hustle.

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Code Switch
10:43 am
Sat May 10, 2014

Breaking Things Up: 'Senior Black Correspondent' Gets Colbert Slot

Larry Wilmore accepts the best talk show award for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at the Critics' Choice Television Awards in June 2013.
Frank Micelotta Invision/AP

Originally published on Sat May 10, 2014 10:43 pm

It's not often the gods of TV hand you almost exactly what you ask for.

So it's time to praise Comedy Central for trying something different in late night, handing Stephen Colbert's time slot to the guy who plays The Daily Show's "senior black correspondent," Larry Wilmore.

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Political Humor
2:45 am
Sun May 4, 2014

Obama Cracks Wise At White House Correspondents Dinner

Obama has two ferns brought to the podium as a spoof of his appearance on "Between Two Ferns" for his standup at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 8:14 pm

President Obama made fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, the annual nerd-ball schmooze fest where Washington's media stars get comfy with a mix of political bigwigs and Hollywood beautiful people to celebrate a year of journalism.

Obama, known for his comic timing and delivery, didn't disappoint.

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Nerd
9:48 am
Fri May 2, 2014

"Wits" Host John Moe Answers Lightning Round Questions

Wits 'Lightning Round' with Robyn Hitchcock, Paula Poundstone, and host John Moe (left to right).
Credit Wits APM / YouTube screenshot

At the end of every episode of Wits, host John Moe puts his guests through a lightning round of questions. The relevance of Moe's questions is not important. One of my favorite questions was about the prettiest state in terms of geographic outline.

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Sound effects
4:12 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Songwriting With Colin: "Truckin' Bees"

Chion Wolf's Gibson Hummingbird.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

It's not too often I get to write a song with Colin, but I love when it happens. We had about two hours until showtime when Colin dropped off the lyrics to the song we wanted to use as an intro to our show about bees -- specifically about how bees are trucked to different locations throughout the country. I could hear the tune in my head right away.

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Sound Effects
10:15 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Creating the Sounds of a Wedding Reception

The multitrack for the intro about being a wedding guest at a reception.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Having Colin McEnroe write the introduction for every day's show is always a surprise. I never know what kind of sound effects I'll need, or who else will be voicing it with me. This introduction was no exception.

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Humor Research
10:31 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Home Of Second City Comedy Ranks First In Humor

Head to Chicago for top-shelf comedy.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:45 pm

Need a good laugh? Try Chicago.

The Humor Research Lab at the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado Boulder (and doesn't that sound like it was created by The Onion?) concocted an algorithm to rate America's funniest cities.

Humor researchers calculated factors like the number of working comics and comedy clubs per capita, funny local tweeters and visits to funny websites. They asked people to assess what they called their "need for levity."

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

The Nose Replaces Colbert, Marries Jesus, and Has No Love For the Gov

Portrait of a Lady: Susan Campbell is the communications and development director for Partnership for Strong Communities, and author of Tempest Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Scientists say the papyrus that mentions a wife of Jesus is not a forgery. Stephen Colbert will take over when Letterman leaves. I'm not saying the two things are connected, but maybe our weekly culture roundtable The Nose will find a common thread.

It might seem like a small thing - the departure of Stephen Colbert from his late night role in which he depicts a strutting, preening, right-wing media star. In the last analysis, who cares who takes over the Letterman show?

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Television
1:05 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert Will Take Over 'Late Show'

Stephen Colbert: He's moving on up, from basic cable to the big time.
Theo Wargo Getty Images

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 1:38 pm

Breaking news on CBS-TV's Twitter feed:

"Stephen Colbert to be next host of 'The Late Show'...press release coming"

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:31 am
Mon March 24, 2014

The Scramble: Intelligence Gathering, the History of Missing Airplanes, and the Book of Mormon

Credit Future Atlas / Flickr Creative Commons

Today on The Scramble, we'll talk about a system run by the Navy that keeps track of, among other things, parking tickets and field information cards filled out by police, even when no crime has occurred - is this data collection crossing a line?

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The Colin McEnroe Show
12:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

The Nose Lurks Behind the Backdrop of "Between Two Ferns"

Matthew Warshauer is a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, and board member of Connecticut Humanities.
Chion Wolf WNPR

President Obama has consistently refused to be a panelist on The Nose, but his appearance this week on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis has given us new hope!

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Comedy
9:30 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Obama Goes Between The Ferns To Talk With Zach Galifianakis

In an interview with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the Web series Between Two Ferns, President Obama pitched health insurance to a younger audience.
Funny or Die

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 8:01 pm

"My mouse pad broke, and I had to get my great-aunt some diabetes shoes."

That's how comedian Zach Galifianakis begins his segment with President Obama in an episode of the online interview show Between Two Ferns that was posted Tuesday. It was an interview unlike any other for a sitting U.S. president, as Galifianakis probed the commander in chief's views with a range of oddball questions.

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Television
3:03 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'

Jimmy Fallon took over as host of The Tonight Show on Monday. "I hope I do well," he told the audience. "I hope that you enjoy this."
Theo Wargo Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Opening nights of new incarnations of late-night TV talk shows are good, mostly, for first impressions — or, in the case of Jay Leno, sometimes a second impression. It's not fair to make strong judgments on the content alone, because a first show always is top-heavy with ideas, special guests and nervousness. But it is fair game to judge the set, the environment, the overall mood, and how well the host fits into the history of late-night television.

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Television
7:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Jimmy Fallon, 'Your Host ... For Now,' Takes Over 'Tonight'

Jimmy Fallon during his debut Monday as host of NBC's The Tonight Show.
Theo Wargo Getty Images for 'The Tonight Show'

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:42 am

The new guy's getting pretty good reviews.

Jimmy Fallon took over NBC's The Tonight Show on Monday night, saying he just wants "to do the best I can ... make you laugh and put a smile on your face."

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My Big Break
6:20 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

For 'SNL' Cast Member, The Waiting Was The Hardest Part

Bobby Moynihan (left) appears on Saturday Night Live as the character "Drunk Uncle."
NBC Dana Edelson/NBC

As part of a new series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click and people leap forward into their careers.

For about a decade, Bobby Moynihan lived a double life. By day, Moynihan says, he tended bar at a Pizzeria Uno in New York. By night, he performed improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

But he says he always had one dream: to join the cast of Saturday Night Live.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
9:00 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

The Complications of Comedy

Didi Conn and Burke Moses
Chion Wolf

Dying is easy, comedy is hard. But, why is comedy so hard, especially on the stage, and what makes something funny?

The premise for a famously funny plot could easily sound like a tragedy.  An out of work actor is so desperate for employment that he dresses up like a woman and then falls in love with a beautiful co-star whom he deceives and betrays on several levels. That doesn't sound that hilarious. 

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