Losing It On The Air

Oct 18, 2013
Pulse12, Flickr Creative Commons

I don't know why we love it so much when anyone in front of a live audience loses their composure and bursts out into laughter. Maybe because it shows them for what they really are - human. It's so fascinating to witness a spontaneous surrender to, well, giddiness, and because of good ol' fashioned empathy, we can't help but laugh along. 

Chion Wolf

A popular video this week was a highlight reel of Stephen Colbert being unable to stay in character as a pompous, self-pleased right wing blowhard. Instead, Colbert is swept up in the hilarity of the material. One of his adorable tricks is to hide the lower half of his face behind something, allowing us to see only his laughing eyes.

Kudumomo / Creative Commons

The plan to transfer all female prisoners out of the Danbury federal facility is back in effect today, although it remains to be seen whether the government shutdown will slow transfers. While we wait to see what happens next, The Wheelhouse Digest is making a pit stop in New London, where a German website has taken an interest in development news. Also a must-see: the "Saturday Night Live" send-up of a square white Connecticut mom who checks out Grand Theft Auto 5, and ended up playing it all week.

Standup is not an easy thing to do. You might think you're funny, but funny takes on a new definition when you're stranded on stage with just a microphone, a spotlight, and a judgmental audience. Today we talked comedy with Jason Zinoman, first-ever comedy critic for The New York Times. While researching the show, I watched a lot of comedy (what a job I have!) so I thought it would be fun to provide you with a sampling of a few of my favorite performers. Caution: some of these sketches may contain NSFW language so, you know, don't blast it at your desk.


"Saturday Night Live" returned for a new season on last weekend. There are six new "featured players," the biggest cast turnover in recent memory. Five white men and one white woman. 

I brought up SNL with Eric Deggans on a recent show, and before the question was all the way out of my mouth he was planting his palm on his face and moaning, "I know what you're going to say."

Wikimedia Commons

You could say that most of the live comedy done by young performers in cities around the United States is just one big feeder system for Saturday Night Live, which launched a new season this weekend.

Chion Wolf

Come on, you must be outraged about something! These are the headlines: "Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World." "Dave Chappelle's Hate-On For Hartford Called 'Sad,' 'Asinine.'" "No Exception For Newington Veteran Being Evicted For Smoking." 

Chion Wolf

We have in the works, for next week, a show about J.D. Salinger, the American writer most at odds with his own greatness. 

Little did we suspect that Dave Chappelle, the comedian most at odds with his own greatness, would come to Hartford and have peculiar and very contrary experience with the audience here and create a national stir by his refusal to perform for them.

Exit Stage Right

Aug 30, 2013
Matias3000 (Flickr Creative Commons)

Hartford's Comcast Theatre seemed like an odd venue for the Oddball Comedy Tour.

Well, the night ended oddly enough when David Chappelle walked off after a few minutes. Unfortunately for him, audiences now obsess with recording everything (see this NSFW Louis CK bit), and there is lots of crummy cell-phone footage circulating from the performance.

Compared to some of the other stories in the world right now, this isn't a big deal. But it got us talking about something other than the VMAs.

Baseball All-Star Game Special: Abby and Costello

Jul 3, 2013
CPBN Media Lab

Just in time for Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities, the CPBN Media Lab Radio Theatre proudly presents Erin "Abby" Connolly and Tyler "Costello" Salomon in this homage to the great Abbott & Costelllo and their classic Who's on First?

Follow along below with this transcript courtesy of the

Chion Wolf

Chion Wolf

Some time in the late 1980s, when my main job was writing allegedly funny newspapers and magazine pieces and books  I was visiting a friend who worked in the offices of "Late Night with David Letterman." I think she was an assistant to Dave's assistant or something. Anyway, she introduced me to the show's head writer Steve O'Donnell and she must have mentioned me before because he said, "Oh yes. The humorist."

Flickr Creative Commons, Free Grunge Textures

Today, in order to watch a Lenny Bruce monologue on YouTube, I had to sit through a Starbucks commercial. This feels like proof that some kind of fundamental battle has been lost, right? The Internet is free, but not really.

Connecticut launches it's first barn trail complete with an iPhone app. Helen Higgins, from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, walks us through the process of how the barns are chosen and what the trail has to offer.

Take a Deep Breath: Clear the Air for the Health of Your Childby Nina L. Shapiro

Flickr Creative Commons, david_shankbone

A romantic comedy about a substitute teacher recently discharged from a mental hospital after eight months of not necessarily complete treatment for bipolar disorder.  His potential object of affection? A woman whose own experience of psychic trauma has led her into a spree of promiscuous behavior that results in the loss of her job. 

Comedy Central

I grew up in an era when the "political humorist" was a segregated specialty. 

Mort Sahl, Pat Paulsen, Mark Russell. These guys weren't part of the pack of regular comedians. It was the humor equivalent of a semi-obscure edical specialty. One saw them only occasionally. Like your dentist. Maybe twice a year. 

Chion Wolf

Today's edition of The Nose is an occasionally tense conversation about a series of issues all of which swirl around the issue of free speech. Chick-fil-A, a sandwich chain, sends millions of dollars in corporate profits to vehemently anti-gay groups, including ones that practice “gay-to-straight” conversion therapy. Its CEO went public this week with his anti-gay-marriage views. 

Flickr Creative Commons, nahtanoj

Tomorrow night I'll be appearing with the comedy troupe Sea Tea Improv in a format requiring me to do little monologues based on prompts from the audience. The Sea Tea troupe will then improvise sketches based on my monologue.


May 30, 2012
Ecstatic Mark, Flickr Creative Commons

Puns are terrible, right? But then why do we love Groucho? When Mrs. Teasdale tells him: "This is a gala day for you," he says: "Well, a gal a day is enough for me." He also tells her:
"You can leave in a taxi If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff. "

These are puns, right? But instead of being agonizing they're part of the Rosetta Stone for the greatest manic American comedy.

Courtesy Photo

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to talk to comedian Mike Birbiglia. Birbiglia will perform his latest show, "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend," in Harford Friday, May, 4, at the Bushnell. He'll also perform in Stamford on Thursday, May 3, and Northhampton, Mass. on Saturday, May 5.

Leave your comments below, e-mail or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

Bill Griffith

True story ... last week, the Connecticut legislature's Environment Committee's public hearing agenda included, on the same day, An Act Permitting the Possession of Reindeer Year Round and An Act Concerning the Hunting of Deer with a Pistol.

This is why I don't celebrate April Fool's Day. Life is like this every day. Break that story apart into separate scenes, and your mind is flooded with images of a man plugging a deer with a Saturday night special or a young couple walking their reindeer on a leash.

'The Changing Landscape Of TV Comedy'

Jan 5, 2012
Flickr Creative Commons, Jessica.Tam

Why do we watch television comedies?

There are certain formulas you get used to if you regularly see any amount of dramatic theater. One of them starts with a Renaissance play that would’ve been seen as ribald when it was new. To that, a production adds whatever it needs to to make the play reek with ribaldry in the present day: vulgar language; vulgar humor of the sexual and toilet and anatomical varieties; even vulgar, outsized anatomical touches themselves, through makeup and costuming.

Flickr Creative Commons, makelessnoise

Have you noticed that nothing is ever quite funny enough?

Last night I was reading a story in the New Yorker and glancing at the cartoons and kind of gasping at how not funny they were. Hey, this is the New Yorker! It's not like there's some place else for all the better cartoons to go.

Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Beckett's plays are the little black dress of modernist literature. They go with anything.

Flickr Creative Commons, :mrMark:

What will big business head honchos learn from the fall of CL&P's Jeff Butler? Maybe they'll learn not to be the face of the company during a big disaster.

Somebody talked Butler into handling CL&P's press briefings personally, even though the company has a whole staff of mouthpieces on call to do just that.

takomabibelot, Flickr Creative Commons

Unconventional Shakespeare

Jul 26, 2011
Chion Wolf

How influential is Shakespeare?

Bernard Levin writes:

Summertime TV

Jul 1, 2011
Flickr Creative Commons, Jonas B

Back in the days of three, maybe four, networks, summer television was an odd wasteland, mostly re-runs with occasionally odd oases. Ray Stevens hosted a summer replacement series which offered the first full exposure to the dadaist comedy of a young unknown named Steve Martin.