Tagged: comedy

Michael Keaton’s Birdman Trailer Hatches

BirdmanWell, this sort of came out of nowhere. We must have missed when this wnet into production but here comes Michael Keaton in a brand new superhero film that is set somewhere other than Gotham City.

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play.  In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

The Point Radio: Bill Lawrence Makes Being UNDATEABLE Funny

He gave us SCRUBS and COUGARTOWN, now Bill Lawrence is back as EP on a comedy that owes a lot to the great shows that came before. UNDATEABLE takes some of the high pointed of TV production to give us something new in a sitcom, and Bill shares how it all came together. Plus Showtime promises us more a lot more PENNY DREADFUL.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: The Return Of Roseanne

NBC has brought back LAST COMIC STANDING, but with a number of big changes that include a whole new panel of judges that has Roseanne Barr coming back to series TV. We talked with Roseanne on what lured her back and just what she thinks it will take to win this year’s competition. Plus Jeff Foxworthy talks about breaking into comedy and IDW’s V-WARS gets more good news.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Jessica St Clair and Lennon Parham – Brainy Beauty Besties

Beautiful, brilliant besties, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, are headed to The USA Network for a new series, PLAYING HOUISE (premiering tomorrow on USA). They talk about writing comedy, making the new show stand out and the strength of their longtime friendship. Plus Warner Brothers finally publicly says “There will be a JLA movie!”

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

REVIEW: The King of Comedy

15213160_201402150106There’s a scene early on in The King of Comedy where late night talk show host Jerry Langford (played by Jerry Lewis) leaves his New York City apartment and walks through crowded midtown on his way to the studio. Fans greet him and kibbitz with him and Jerry, always on the move, waves, smiles, and tosses one-liners back at them. He gets waylaid at a corner by a woman on a payphone who gushes effusively—“You’re just wonderful. I’ve watched you your entire career. You’re a joy to the world!”—while he scribbles an autograph for her nephew, with whom she’s talking on the phone. Then, shoving the telephone at Jerry, she asks, “Would you just please say something to my nephew Morris on the phone? He’s in the hospital.” Jerry politely demurs, explaining that he’s late, and, in the blink of an eye, she turns from adoring fan to spurned maniac, screaming after him, “You should only get cancer! I hope you get cancer!”

king-of-comedyLater, wannabe stand-up comedian and obsessive fan Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro) shows up as an uninvited weekend guest at Langford’s country house, unsuspecting girlfriend Rita (Diahnne Abbott) in tow, in an effort to get Jerry to take a look at his comedy routine in the belief it will lead to an offer to appear on Jerry’s show. An earlier, brief encounter that ended with Langford telling Pupkin to call his office in an effort to get rid of him had only fueled the wannabe’s delusions that he and Langford were friends. Langford angrily dissuades the clearly baffled Pupkin of that notion and, like the woman whose nephew Jerry wouldn’t talk to, Pupkin’s response to his inappropriate demand on Langford’s time is immediate and visceral. Neither fan can understand how Jerry Langford can treat them this way. “I’m gonna work fifty times harder and I’m gonna be fifty times more famous than you,” Rupert tells him. “Then you’re gonna have idiots like you plaguing your life!” Jerry snaps.

deNiroKingOfComedyIt’s an interesting coincidence that the Blu-Ray edition of The King of Comedy, Martin Scorcese’s 1982 comedy about fame and obsession landed in my mailbox the same day Archie Comics released the news that their flagship character, was going to die in an upcoming comic book story which I wrote. The news thrust me into a Warholian fifteen-minutes of online fame. On Facebook, people who had earlier praised my work were now denouncing me for “daring” to kill off a beloved American icon, or vilifying me for my creative bankruptcy in participating in yet another comic book death “stunt,” feeling betrayed by my treatment of the character (that the Archie who’s dying is not the “real” Archie, but a future/what if?/alternate universe version of the character either escaped their notice or would have just interfered with their righteous indignation; the “real” teenage Archie remains alive and well in Riverdale.) On the flip side, strangers whose only connection to me was that most meaningless definition of “friend” ever coined, i.e. “Facebook friend,” were claiming reflected glory by posting that their “pal”/”buddy”/”friend” was behind this event, while others didn’t find it in any way inappropriate to email me asking to be let in on the secret of exactly how Archie was to die, or even requesting insider information on sensitive corporate internal affairs.

king-of-comedy (1)While my moment in the limelight pales in comparison with the plight of Jerry Langford, the experience did cause me to look at The King of Comedy from a very different perspective than I had in past viewings. I had always thought of the film as an indictment of obsessive fans, but it’s just as much a stark look at the price of fame. Rupert Pupkin is, in the very first scene, shown to be a member of the Day of the Locust-like swarm of obsessed, autograph seeking fans who haunt stage doors everywhere, but he holds himself above the hoi polloi. To Rupert, these aren’t just signatures dashed off by celebrities who probably didn’t even look at him while they were signing, but bonds of friendship between them.

king-of-comedy-2Later, on a date with Rita, his high school crush, now a bartender in a seedy midtown tavern, he shows off his collection of signatures, casually tossing out facts and personal observations about the stars, trying to impress the clearly unimpressed and disbelieving woman. But Rupert can only see himself through the eyes of others and only in the way he needs to believe others see him. If he were deliberately inflating his talent and his connections to the stars, you would say he was shameless. But the sad, creepy truth is that Rupert, a thirty-something loser who works at a dead end messengers job and lives with his mother in whose basement he’s built a set where he hosts his own “talk show,” complete with life-size cardboard stand-ups of the stars, believes every word he says and is genuinely baffled when others fail to share his warped view of reality.

King of ComedyJerry Langford’s reality is equally sad. He’s one of the most famous faces in the country, but his entire world is constrained by that fame. He can’t walk down the street without being badgered by everyone who believes that because he comes into their bedroom every night on their TVs he also belongs to them in person. Even a solitary dinner in his lonely apartment is violated by a fan who have somehow gotten hold of his telephone number and think it’s okay to call with their unreasonable demands on his time, attention, and, as we’ll see, love.

Aiding Rupert in their shared obsession with Jerry Langford is rich girl groupie Masha (Sandra Bernhard). But where Rupert wants Jerry’s fame, Masha wants Jerry himself, in body if not in soul. Where Rupert’s fanaticism seems constrained, at least at first, Masha’s is crazed and out of control; Rupert at least tries to see Jerry in his office even if his “appointment” is only in his head, while Masha stalks the star through the streets, forcing the frightened star to make a mad dash for safety. And, when Rupert finally accepts that Jerry will never voluntarily have him as a guest on his show, he enlists Masha as an accomplice in his scheme to kidnap the comedian and hold him for the ransom of a guest-shot on The Jerry Langford Show.

While it’s probably heresy to say, I prefer Martin Scorcese’s directorial efforts on films like The King of Comedy, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, After Hours, and Hugo over his gangster oeuvre. His humor is always dark regardless of genre, but it shines much brighter for me when I don’t have to wipe away the blood to get to it. And while his crooks and killers always brilliantly realized as the broken people they are, I have a hard time finding common ground with Joe Pesci’s Tommy DeVito or Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill no matter how real they are. But an ordinary guy like Griffin Dunne’s Paul Hackett in After Hours or the orphaned Asa Butterfield’s Hugo are relatable and, ultimately, have more to share with me as a viewer than even his greatest gangster.

While everyone expects high caliber performances from Robert DeNiro, it’s Jerry Lewis who steals the show here. As a life-long and unabashed Jerry Lewis fan (several of his movie posters and other paraphernalia decorate my living room) I am a bit biased in his favor, but, like many great comedians (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, Milton Berle, Robin Williams, to name a few) his dramatic chops are impressive, giving credence to the old line, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.” Even while trussed up by kidnappers Pupkin and Masha like a mummy with tape up to his nostrils, Lewis is able to convey his entire performance with just his eyes. (The King of Comedy isn’t just a lucky one-off performance under the guidance a great directors either; Jerry Lewis delivers as well in dramatic roles in Raising Arizona and Funny Bones and turns in TV series such as Wiseguy and Law and Order: SVU.) And both actors are backed up a solid supporting cast, including Bernhard and Shelley Hack, and 1980s celebrity cameos ranging from announcer Ed Herlihy, band leader Lou Brown, Dr. Joyce Brothers, comedian Victor Borge, and Tony Randall, as well as Scorcese himself as Jerry Langford’s TV show director, and the then-Tonight Show producer Fred De Cordova as Bert Thomas, his producer.

The King of Comedy Blu-Ray is a nice package, featuring the fully restored and remastered film as well as the usual assortment of extras for those who like that sort of thing, including a Tribeca Film Festival conversation with Scorcese, DeNiro, and Lewis, a “Making of” documentary, some deleted and extended scenes, and the original theatrical trailer. For myself, I prefer a film to speak for itself without filmmakers and actors explaining to me how and why this or that was done or without wading through excised scenes or trimmed footage; if they were so important, they wouldn’t have been excised or trimmed in the first place.

The King of Comedy stands the test of time and then some. In fact, it’s even more relevant today with our cult of undeserved celebrity, fueled by the rise of reality TV starring non-stars like the housewives of wherever, Snookie, and Honey Boo-Boo, nobodies made somebodies by virtue of appearing on television. Maybe if Rupert Pupkin had known how easy it would one day be to become a star, he might have rethought his strategy. Or maybe come to the conclusion that in a world where everybody’s a “star,” it just wasn’t worth the effort.

The Point Radio: THE WRITER’S ROOM Opens Again

COMMUNITY’s Jim Rash is back in THE WRITER’S ROOM for another season, and he previews it all here for us including an episode dedicated exclusively to comic book shows. Plus Tyler Labine talks about his new paranormal comedy, DEADBEAT, which is ready for your binge watching and Thanos will pull the Marvel Universe closer together.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Jen Krueger: Fan to Fan, or Performing Doctor Who for Fellow Whovians

Doctor Who Live at ComikazeThinking about my favorite of the Doctor’s adventures, one that immediately comes to mind is his journey to Tudor England. Crossing paths with an aging Henry VIII on the verge of a final marriage, the Doctor stumbles on a Dalek plot to kill him while companion Brianna is killed by the King’s Guard. Resurrected by the Pope, Brianna saves the day by brokering peace between Henry and the Catholic church, and using her love for the Doctor to melt the Dalek in disguise. If you’re a fan of Doctor Who but don’t remember this episode, that’s probably because this adventure was presented for the first and only time in Los Angeles for a single night in September of 2013. Also, it technically wasn’t an episode of Doctor Who. It was an installment of Doctor Who Live!, an improvised version of Doctor Who that I perform in twice a month.

As a Whovian for several years and an improviser for even longer, I was really excited when I was invited to join a group that would allow me to bring together two of my favorite things. I thought doing a show that would let me transform the things I wish the Doctor would do from idle thoughts into reality (albeit reality limited to 45 minute non-canon installments) would be a blast. After all, every fan has opinions on how the object of their fandom could be improved or expanded upon, but how often does any fan get the chance to actually play out those opinions by dictating what their favorite fictional characters will see, say, or do? Almost never, at best. I was pumped. So, so pumped.

And then, the pressure hit me. Because the more I thought about how cool it was going to be to make up and play out an episode of Doctor Who, the more I realized how difficult that would really be. Walking on stage with nothing more than the TV show’s conventions as a bare foundation on which to build comedy with twelve other people means there’s as much of a chance for failure as there is for success. I’m strictly a 2005 and on fan, so there are decades worth of episodes that I know nothing about yet, our audience may expect to see references from. Thankfully, a lot of the cast knows classic Who, so I can count on them to catch me up quickly in the wings if the audience’s suggested title for our episode contains something I don’t know much about, like the Sea Devils (and man, does our audience love to bring up the Sea Devils).

But my worries about representing Doctor Who faithfully went beyond just nailing the right references. Knowing how strong my feelings about the TV show are, it seemed fair to me that our Doctor Who Live! audience could hold us to the same standard they have for the real thing. We promise an improvised episode of the TV show and the TV show is phenomenal, so we’ve set an incredibly high bar for ourselves and have to figure out how to clear it. Before my first performance with the group, I was a bundle of nerves thinking about falling short of that bar. I wanted the show to be perfect because I didn’t want to disappoint myself or the audience. And with all this worrying going on, I was overlooking a very crucial fact: in that theater, we’re all fans.

After all, while it takes an awful lot of fandom to put on an improvised episode of a TV show, it takes even more to watch an improvised episode of a TV show. And Doctor Who Live! isn’t just lucky enough that there are big enough fans of Doctor Who to make doing our own version of it viable, but luckier still to have fans of our own. We have wonderful audience members who come regularly, encourage our silliest bits, and even let us be part of their birthdays by celebrating at our show. If we didn’t all love Doctor Who, none of that would be possible. I have to admit that despite regularly performing in front of audiences in various forms of improv for the last five years, it always feels weird to me to be recognized for a show I’ve done since improv is, by nature, so fleeting. But I’m starting to enjoy getting recognized for Doctor Who Live!, because being remembered as part of that group is, by nature, being recognized as a fan of Doctor Who, and usually leads to conversations about the real show. Now what kind of Whovian would I be if I didn’t like that?

Doctor Who Live logo

Win a Blu-ray copy of Jerry Lewis’ Famed The King of Comedy

KingOfComdy_BDJerry Lewis is a legendary comedian and entertainer from his days working with Dean Martin as a hilarious comedy duo to his solo career as a filmmaker. He was also the star of a long-running comic from DC Comics that used brilliant work from Arnold Drake, Bob Oksner, and a newcomer named Neal Adams. One of Lewis’ later efforts, The King of Comedy, is finally coming to Blu-ray on March 25 and to celebrate, our friends at 20th Century Home Entertainment gave us a copy as a prize.

To enter, you need to name your favorite Jerry Lewis film and why. All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., Tuesday, March 25. The contest is open only to readers in the United States and Canada. The judgment of ComicMix will be final.

The King of Comedy, The 30th Anniversary

Academy Award® Winner Robert De Niro*, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard give mesmerizing performances in this “chilling black comedy” (TV Guide’s Movie Guide) that explores the painfully high and often hilarious price of fame. Desperate to be a star, struggling stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin (De Niro) enlists the aid of his fanatical friend Masha (Bernhard) to kidnap talk show host Jerry Langford (Lewis). The ransom? A guest spot for Pupkin. The results? Outrageous! The King of Comedy stands as Scorsese’s prophetic masterpiece which confronts a celebrity culture that “looks more disturbingly current with each passing year” (Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide).

*Actor, Raging Bull, 1980; Supporting Actor, The Godfather Part II, 1974.

Special Features

  • Tribeca Film Festival: A Conversation with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, and Jerry Lewis
  • A Shot to the Top: The Making of The King of Comedy
  • Deleted And Extended Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer and TV Spot

King of Comedy, The 30th Anniversary Blu-ray

Street Date:                 March 25, 2014

Prebook Date:                         February 26, 2013

Screen Format:            Widescreen 1.85:1

Audio:                         English DTS-HD MA 1.0

Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0

French Dolby Digital 1.0

Subtitles:                     English SDH/Spanish

U.S. Rating                 PG

Total Run Time:          109 minutes

Closed Captioned:      Yes

In Memoriam: Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks died twenty years ago today, February 26, 1994. Most comic book fans know him from his appearance in Preacher #31, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon:

Here’s the man at work, in a segment that David Letterman removed from his show:

This was his final statement:

February 7, 1994 –

     I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always “awake,” I guess you’d say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place.

     All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who’ve helped me. I’d read these words and off I went – dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words – Vision.

     On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having “liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas.” One of life’s weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I’d been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. “Why me!?” I would cry out, and “Why now!?”

     Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness.

Amen

     I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.

More power to you, buddy. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Harold Ramis: 1944-2014

Harold Ramis: 1944-2014

Actor, writer, producer and director Harold Ramis, who made many of the most iconic comedy hits of the 1980s and 1990s, died today at his home in Chicago. He was 69. The award-winning comedy filmmaker who co-starred in and co-wrote Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Stripes passed away from complications related to auto-immune inflammatory vasculitis which he’d battled for four years.

Chicago native Ramis graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and worked as a joke editor for Playboy Magazine before launching his career as a writer for The National Lampoon Radio Hour, the radio show that was a launching pad for a who’s who of future comedy stars and collaborators including Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Richard Belzer, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner. Rising alongside his peers in the late-’70s comedy scene, Ramis came up through Chicago’s Second City improv troupe and was head writer on sketch comedy show SCTV before breaking into Hollywood as the co-writer of 1978′s National Lampoon’s Animal House. The campus comedy sparked his hot streak through the ’80s and Ramis’s career as a writer, director and actor skyrocketed from there. He wrote camp comedy Meatballs (1979) the next year before making his directorial debut with the Chevy Chase-Rodney Dangerfield classic Caddyshack (1980), which he also wrote with Douglas Kenney and Brian Doyle-Murray. Caddyshack went on to become a cult hit and was named one of AFI’s Top 100 Funniest Films of all time.

via Ghostbusters’ Ramis Dead at 69.

Mike Gold will have his own stories about Harold Ramis later. Our condolences to his family and friends.