Category: Comedy

“Where do I sign?”

These days the people who make television are expected, for a variety of promotional and fan base–stroking reasons, to engage in something resembling dialogue with their viewers. But Harmon was the first showrunner who seemed like he was creating a TV show in order to have that dialogue. Community was Harmon shooting off a flare gun to attract like-minded weirdos, articulating a worldview — institutions are bad, individuals are good, normalcy is an illusion, people who feel uncomfortable on the planet constitute a kind of sociocultural 99 percent, what we all have in common is our brokenness. Every character represented a facet of his personality; every episode was packed with callbacks and homages and fractalized sub-references aimed at people who, like him, had been warped and saved by pop culture at an early age. And he wanted us to know he was doing this. He didn’t just want the attention that came from blogging, tweeting, Reddit-ing, and annotating every episode for the A.V. Club — he seemed to need it, for reasons deeper than ego or vanity. He wanted to be out there in direct communication with the small but passionate group of people who liked his TV show because he wanted to connect.

Alex Pappademas spent 36 hours with the fascinating Dan Harmon, creator of “Community” (he was fired after the show’s third season) and a person who is widely considered to be “difficult.”

The “Freaks and Geeks” Oral History

There was this sense that it wasn’t going to last, so the network wasn’t really going to try to fix it. I’m not sure you could get away with those things on a show that isn’t about to be canceled.

An oral history of “Freaks and Geeks”? Sure, I guess. I mean, there’s an audience for everything, so maybe that’s the kind of thing that will interest a few people? (And yes, it’s just as delightful as you might hope.)

Lena Dunham astutely sums up some of the “Girls” backlash

People are ultimately threatened by young people taking positions of power. But there’s also this feeling of I could do that, too. People don’t feel rabidly jealous of Larry David or Salman Rushdie because they don’t think, I could do that. And with what I’ve done, I think a lot of people think, I could do that in my sleep. If I’d just met one person along my path, I would have that TV show.

— Lena Dunham seems like she has a pretty good idea about why so many people freaked out when “Girls” premiered. (And she has already cogently and thoughtfully addressed the other, larger criticism of the show: that it presented a very, very, very, very white world.)

And it’s true! A lot of the backlash did seem to stem from this notion that Dunham bumped into Judd Apatow and then got this show made, and since she and her costars had famous/successful parents, basically nobody worked for what they earned. I touched on this in my review of the pilot. (I never wrote a follow-up review or anything, but: I did wind up liking the show more and more as the season progressed.)

Dunham was born into privilege, she is young and she is a woman, so she is going to be the target of a different type of scorn than was directed at, say, Mark Zuckerberg. (Very different, apples and oranges, etc., I know, but: young man, very successful, got a few breaks and was ultimately criticized only when his actions [see: Saverin, Eduardo] warranted it, rather than for his enterprise as a whole.) If Lena Dunham didn’t meet Judd Apatow, she might not have a TV show, but she would definitely still be making movies and producing her art somewhere.

NBC gets out of the Dane Cook business

I realize that NBC is still, in spite of its fledgling successes this season, a television network with a lot of problems. It is also a television network that infamously mistreats some of its best shows (see: delaying “Community” time and time again, postponing the premiere of “Parks and Recreation”). But! Since 2006, NBC has aired the best comedies on network television. Its status as a force for good in the world of televised comedies is something that is easy to overlook when it keeps yanking around “Community” and airing episodes of “The New Normal.”

So it’s nice to have a reminder that NBC occasionally looks out for you, the discerning viewer. Case in point: NBC was going to air a midseason comedy starring Dane Cook, and now NBC isn’t going to do that anymore. Four of the show’s six episodes were already filmed, and in a weird twist for this sort of thing, the network pulled the plug and reportedly won’t bother airing those episodes. Generally, a network will at least burn off the episodes of shows it has no interest in, as we saw with the likable-but-doomed “Bent” last year.

(We offer our blog apologies to the people who counted on this show for work, of course.)

Baratunde Leaves The Onion

I argued that in an increasingly noisy world of information and digital interactions, comedy can still deliver the truth in a way that captures people’s attention and does so in an essentially human way. As the definition of media grows from “news” and “video” to anything that acts as an interface to our world (duh, medium!), comedy must follow.

Baratunde Thurston, author of “How To Be Black,” was until very recently the director of digital for The Onion. He announced his departure in a blog post last week, but I only just saw it because Splitsider just linked to it, hence this post arriving a full week after Thurston’s initial post. (Got that? Cool. Because I think you definitely wanted to know the specifics of how/when/why I found his post to link to it.)

Ricky Gervais talks about the Golden Globes again, because that’s his thing now

Ricky Gervais wrote something, and without even clicking the link I bet you can probably guess the topic. Because it’s Ricky Gervais, it will be about one of two things: the Golden Globes or his atheism.This time, it’s about the former, because sure, people are still interested in how Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes back in January and a few people were annoyed for a little while. It’s definitely worth reminiscing about for the millionth time nearly 10 months later. I guess it’s better that he rambled on about that instead of his atheism, because I don’t know if you heard him the first 499 times, but Ricky Gervais is an atheist.

Dane Cook is getting an NBC sitcom, because of course he is

Ever since “Arrested Development” went off the air in 2006, NBC has been the undisputed home of the best comedies on television (namely “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Community”). The network has also been in the toilet, ratings-wise, so they have decided to try a different route: Dane Cook. He signed a development deal with NBC to create and probably star in his own sitcom with an eye on the 2012-2013 television season. The show will be called “Louie” and bear a remarkable resemblance to the FX show of the same name.

(Just kidding, because I guess we can’t make those jokes now that Dane Cook actually went on “Louie” and it was great and he and Louis C.K. seemed to clear the air regarding the whole “Did Dane Cook steal jokes from Louis C.K.?” bit. Instead, let’s have fun predicting the premise of this show: Will he be a dude giving out relationship advice to other dudes who are in relationships? Will he be a bro who just wants to party but winds up with a baby on his doorstep? Will he be a guy who delivers punchlines very loudly? It will definitely be the first and third items.)

From the Desk of Mitch Hedberg

I’D BE SO HAPPY TO WEAR A UNIBALL T-SHIRT ON MY NEXT LETTERMAN SPOT. I’D PROMOTE THE PEN ANYWAY POSSIBLE.

I STILL HANDWRITE MOST OF MY JOKES. PERHAPS I WILL TYPE THEM MORE IF UNIBALL UNLEASHES A GEL IMPACT KEYBOARD. I USE PENS CONSTANTLY. YOUR PEN IS IT.

— The late, great Mitch Hedberg wrote a letter to Uni-ball, seeking a sponsorship deal with the company. Letters of Note relays the handwritten missive.