comedy

Karyl Evans Productions/Facebook

The late John Meneely Jr., a Yale Medical School graduate, struggled to rebuild his life after returning home from World War II. His daughters have created an oratorio to commemorate their father, and the making of that oratorio is the subject of a new documentary called Letter from Italy 1944: A New American Oratorio, narrated by Meryl Streep. It airs this Thursday, June 18th, at 8pm on CPTV. We talk with the film’s director, Karyl Evans.

When the final episode came, after weeks of accolades and tributes to his genius, David Letterman made sure he punctured the emotion of the moment with a little old-fashioned, self-deprecating sarcasm.

Rev Stan/flickr creative commons

David Letterman reinvented television. He's irreplaceable. He was a comedic revolution. According to President Obama, Letterman is "a part of all of us."

After 26 seasons of giving life to nincompoops, do-gooders, and even God, actor Harry Shearer has announced he'll be leaving The Simpsons. A stalwart of the show, Shearer has voiced central characters such as Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, Reverend Lovejoy and Principal Seymour Skinner.

In a tweet sent in the wee hours of Thursday, Shearer said he was leaving "because I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work."

David Shankbone / Creative Commons

Eddie Murphy is this year's winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The prize, given by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., has been awarded since 1998. 

Steve Sobczuk / Flickr Creative Commons

You're probably no stranger to the Morning Zoo if you were in your teens or twenties in the 1980's. Developed after the death of disco left  Top 40 stations with a big hole to fill, the Morning Zoo revitalized early morning radio with a fast-paced improvisational style that for the first time broke down barriers between news and entertainment.

South African comedian Trevor Noah will become the new host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, stepping into the role Jon Stewart has filled for 16 years.

Confirming reports of his new job Monday morning, Noah tweeted, "No-one can replace Jon Stewart. But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!"

Chad J. McNeeley / U.S. Navy

Elizabeth Warren summed it up in a tweet:

On the next Nose, is there any way we can spin the departure of our favorite truth teller as a good thing?

It might be pretty tough. 

How do we put this in context at the end of a terrible week for the news industry, with Brian Williams being suspended from NBC News for six months, and the death of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon?

A presidential election cycle looms, but one of the men most associated with covering presidential politics since the first election of George W. Bush won't be sitting in his usual spot: Comedy Central confirmed on Tuesday that Jon Stewart is stepping down later this year from his post at The Daily Show.

Peabody Awards / Creative Commons

Ophira Eisenberg is a standup comic from Canada, who brought her act to American radio on NPR’s trivia show Ask Me Another. Later this month, Ophira will be in Connecticut to perform for local fans at The Outer Space in Hamden. This hour, she joins us to talk about some of her latest projects, including her memoir Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy.

Later on, public radio extraordinaire Ira Glass will tell us a bit about his show "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host." It was in New Haven last month and is now on its way to Pittsburgh. He tells us about his inspiration to combine radio and dance, two seemingly different art forms, into a single performance.

Chuck Olsen / Creative Commons

People have been predicting the death of the sitcom since at least 1999, but the current TV season has been so toxic towards them that some observers have wondered whether the sitcom, which has been around since the birth of television, has anything left to say to us. But then again, what is a sitcom? Do sitcoms have to air on network television? Do they have to have a laugh track? Or fill a half-hour time slot? Do they even have to be comedies?

This hour, we consider the art form of the sitcom with producers and critics of the genre. What is your favorite sitcom and what makes it your favorite?

Brian Friedman / Mike Lavoie/Creative Commons

I know what you're asking yourself. You're thinking, I know the Colin McEnroe staff is amazing, but how do they manage to book two big celebrities with the same initials?

Well, you're right. They are awesome. but we did not actually hatch a plan to have guests with the initials M.B. Anyway, we already did a long interview with Michael Bolton. 

At the end of last year, I had a conversation with food writer Mark Bittman, whom I've known since the earliest days of his career. We've been looking for a chance to share that interview with you.

Then we got a chance to talk to Mike Birbiglia, a comedian and teller of monologues who has been on with us twice before.

After nine years, Stephen Colbert is retiring the character he created for The Colbert Report, the conservative, self-important blowhard who opines about the news and the media. The final episode airs Thursday. Colbert will take over as host for The Late Show, replacing the retiring David Letterman.

In the new film Top Five, Chris Rock plays Andre Allen, a standup comedian who has starred in a series of blockbuster comedies as a catchphrase-spewing character called Hammy the Bear.

When Top Five begins, Allen has given up the Hammy movies, given up drinking and is trying to reshape his career with his new dramatic film about a Haitian slave rebellion. Like Allen, Rock says he has had doubts about his own career.

John Cleese is a big, tall, stiff-upper-lipped international symbol of British wit. He's made us laugh in Fawlty Towers and movies including Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits, A Fish Called Wanda, and, recently, as the exasperated master of spycraft — Q — who gives James Bond some of his best toys to break.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Happy 25th, Seinfeld!

Aug 20, 2014
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.

Iconic TV Announcer Don Pardo Dies At 96

Aug 19, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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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