Tag: Comedy Central (Page 2 of 4)

TCA Tour, Day 2: “The Jeff Dunham Show”

I can still remember the complete wave of confusion that washed over me a year or two ago when a friend of mine asked me if I’d seen Jeff Dunham’s DVDs, “Arguing with Myself” and “Spark of Insanity.” Not because *I* didn’t know who the guy was, but because I couldn’t quite work out how the friend who was asking me knew about him. As far as I knew, he was just this comedian with a purple puppet named Peanut, a guy who’d been working the stand-up circuit for years. To this day, I have no idea exactly what changed and when he suddenly became so huge that my daughter’s sitter was enough of a fan to have his DVDs, but, hey, more power to him.

After the success of his most recent special, “A Very Special Christmas,” which earned more than 6.6 million viewers and was Comedy Central’s most watched telecast ever, it’s no surprise that the network decided to transition Dunham into a weekly series, and since he’s become a household name, why not go with the most obvious title?

Welcome, then, to “The Jeff Dunham Show.”

Give the guy credit: he knows the path he’s taken to get here, he’s thrilled that he’s made it, and he’s not afraid to mock how long it took.

“As I drove here today,” Dunham began, “I realized I was going past the comedy club here in Pasadena called The Ice House, and it was there at The Ice House in 1990 that I did my ninth audition for ‘The Tonight Show’ and was booked to do ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ for the first of four times. And if I had known standing there in that parking lot in 1990 that I would be here at this time doing this for Comedy Central, I would have thought, ‘You know what? That just took too fucking long.'”

Of course, Dunham immediately broke out one of his little friends, and who better to present to a bunch of grumpy TV critics than Walter? I try desperately not to offer up actual transcripts of the panels, but given the necessary back-and-forth with a ventriloquist’s act, I’m guessing I’ll be allowed some leeway here…

Walter: Who the hell is the group?
Jeff Dunham: We talked about that earlier today, you know who it is.
Walter: No, I kind of forgot.
Jeff Dunham: Okay, I wrote it down for you.
Walter: Oh, good. Okay. Let’s see, the TV Critics Association Cable Press Tour. That’s it?
Jeff Dunham: That’s it.
Walter: I think our career has peaked. You know, I was thinking to myself just the other day, we’ve had specials on Comedy Central, we’ve opened for the President, but we’ve never done a show for the TV freakin critics. Are you being paid for this gig cash? It is none of that barter crap, is it? We’re not going to get like a year’s subscription to TV Guide for God sake, are we? This is just sad. Let me get this straight: so their job is to get up in the morning, turn on the TV, stuff their pie holes, and then trash the new shows.
Jeff Dunham: I guess.
Walter: This is genius. I want this job. “What’s your dad’s job?” “He tells the world that your dad’s show sucks.” Fantastic.

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Bad news, everyone: “Futurama” may have its voices recast

Variety is reporting that the money talks between Fox and the voice actors of “Futurama” – Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille – have broken down. As a result, rumors have already begun to run rampant that, when the show returns for its 26 new episodes on Comedy Central in 2010, it will be with new actors providing the voices of Fry, Bender, Leela, and the gang.

Per the article on Variety.com

The studio announced last month that it would produce 26 new episodes of “Futurama,” and that Comedy Central was on board to begin airing the new episodes in mid-2010. As part of the announcement, the show’s producers said stars including West, Sagal and DiMaggio had all signed on to return.

Turns out that wasn’t true.

The stars had all expressed interest in returning. But with the budget for “Futurama” dramatically slashed, the salary offers came in well below what the thesps were asking. As a result, 20th has put out a casting call to find replacement voice actors for the show.

Maybe I’m wrong about this (though I certainly hope I’m not), but I think this is going to blow over pretty quickly, and that either the actors will get the money they want or will at least find a middle ground with Fox that makes both parties happy enough to move forward. I mean, think about it: this is a show that has lived, died, and begun to live again as a result of its diehard fans. Do you really think they’re going to accept new people voicing their favorite characters while the original actors still walk the earth and retain the power of speech?

Not bloody likely.

In closing, allow me to present one of my all-time favorite “Futurama” scenes…one which I still quote to this day (“A what what?”)…in German.

UPDATE: Mark Evanier feels the same way I do, and he has a hell of a lot more experience in the field to back it up than I do.

Reno 911!: The Complete Sixth Season

There was a time when “Reno 911!” was so uproariously funny that it’s hard to believe the show never became more popular. Nowadays, it’s just amazing Comedy Central hasn’t pulled the plug. Ever since the release of their feature film, the Reno Sheriff’s Department has been a magnet for low-rent gags and overused cameos. Desperately in need of a creative shake-up, the show killed off three of its deputies and introduced two new ones in their place. Improv veterans Ian Roberts and Joe Lo Truglio quickly proved that they weren’t the answer to the show’s problems, however, no matter how willing they are about making complete asses of themselves. They just don’t bring anything to the table that Carlos Alazraqui, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Mary Birdsong already contributed themselves, and in some instances, their involvement is even less effective. The show tries to make up for it with guest appearances by Jonah Hill, Rainn Wilson and George Lopez, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. There’s still the odd flash of brilliance sprinkled throughout the season – like the well-made parody of the Montgomery Flea Market commercial – but unless you’re willing to sit through 20 minutes of groan-worthy jokes for the chance at laughing once, you’d be better off just watching something else.

Click to buy “Reno 911!: The Complete Sixth Season”

Ron White: Behavioral Problems

While those who follow comedy continue to speculate about Ron White’s mysterious absence from Comedy Central’s recent roast of White’s Blue Collar touring mate Larry the Cable Guy – some suspect it was due to his arrest for marijuana possession last September, though drug use hasn’t stopped the network from inviting Gary Busey, Andy Dick or Courtney Love to participate – his latest concert special, “Behavioral Problems,” provides at least an unofficial answer to that question. Simply put, White is playing a competely different sport than the other three, and this routine, recorded in Seattle, is as funny as anything White has served up to date. His arrest even serves as fodder for his act (“This was Florida; these cops drove by three meth labs and a dead hooker just to get there”), as well as a lawsuit he was served by a pungent paper company in Houston (“two million people could smell this plant. If it were music, and two million people could hear it, they’d tell ’em to turn it the fuck off”). The funniest moments come when he messes up his routine, causing White to riff and even poke fun at the lack of funny in some of his punch lines. His material leans a bit more on sex this time around, but his gift for storytelling saves even the most obvious of his jokes. The DVD also contains three bits excised from the final concert (all of which are as funny as what made the final cut), and one bit of White telling stories at a bar after the show. Twenty-some years after his stand-up debut, White seems to just be getting warmed up.

Click to buy “Ron White: Behavioral Problems”

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