Tag Archives: Jimmy Kimmel

Heeeeeere’s Johnny!

Nineteen years ago today, Johnny Carson said goodbye.

Retiring after thirty years at the age of 66, Carson walked away from a show that became part of the fabric of American pop culture. Much like Ed Sullivan’s variety show, unknown performers could become instant superstars just by nailing a single appearance. Carson didn’t start the Tonight Show (Steve Allen and Jack Paar preceded him), nor would he finish it, but his impact upon it and the late-night talk show design will forever be paramount.

Other talk shows of the day were warm and fuzzy (Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas) or a bit cerebral (Dick Cavett); Carson blended both with a parade of incredible guests and a willingness to be as serious or silly as the situation required. He let people be themselves. During his reign, the show’s title became secondary to the man; artists simply referred to “being on Carson“.

On his final night, Carson went out with grace and class:

And so it has come to this: I, uh… am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who’ve shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back that you’ll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night.”

Video: Excerpts from the final show

Although he never came back into the public eye, his legacy lives on through everyone who speaks into a microphone from behind a desk, and the advent of cable television has allowed many students to co-exist in the form. While initially his replacement Jay Leno and his protegé David Letterman split the bulk of the audience, a flood of worthy children now occupy the night-time hours and will be worthy successors to their aging mentors.

Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher have taken the political end of the spectrum to new heights; Stewart is often singled out as the most trusted source of news on television, despite his consistent disclaimer that his is a comedy show. (Speaks volumes about the networks, doesn’t it?).

After holding slots previously occupied by both Leno and Letterman, Conan O’Brien’s new TBS effort proved that people will follow the man, not the show. The embarrassing NBC debacle was followed by the guerilla Team Coco movement, and Conan remains a strong brand and a unique personality.

After shaky starts, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and especially Jimmy Fallon have proven to have solid and consistent programs that attract first-rate guests and feature brilliant writing. Along with smaller network show hosts (Chelsea Handler, George Lopez, Mo’Nique, Graham Norton), the comedy/music/chat formula is in good hands.

But to a person, each will point a finger back at the master, Johnny Carson.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV

Stand Up Wit…Adam Carolla

I’ve never been a big Adam Carolla fan.

I always found Carolla to be a bit smug, although in fairness it’s pretty much the role he was playing on such highbrow fare as Loveline and The Man Show. And frankly, people like Dr. Drew and Dr. Phil (never trust a doctor with only a first name, says Dr. Bristol) are as twisted and codependent as their idiot callers and guests. Carolla just played the bystander who was really pity-mocking the poor saps on the help shows and doing what any overgrown adolescent would love to do on The Man Show…if they had the freedom and the budget.

But Carolla’s book In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks is pretty funny, because he remembers the first rule of comedy – make yourself a target as well. That way no matter how petty or whiny or condescending you get, you’re really saying “I know, right?” rather than defending your lofty perch. There is no shortage of people, institutions and concepts to attack, and Carolla does so with vigor.

The book reads like a collection of related thoughts rather than a narrative flow, which is perfect for bathroom reading (coincidentally the subject of chapter 7), and his rambling observations and caustic asides are peppered with anecdotes involving some of his famous friends, most notably Jimmy Kimmel. Some fo it is a little whiny and pretentious, but a lot of it is pretty damned funny.

Read excerpts here.

But he has a point – look at that cover picture and focus on your first thought. That’s right – biker leather no longer makes you think of tough guys like Marlon Brando or Lee Marvin…you think Village People. When did that happen? The book is loaded with observations that wonder aloud when common sense took a backseat to popularity, and why celebretards – people famous only for being famous – should be worth anyone’s precious time.

I won’t go back and watch The Man Show (and I like Joe Rogan and Doug Stanhope even more than I like Jimmy Kimmel), and I’d take a bullet to the head before watching something like Loveline. But if I ever see Adam Carolla, I’m going to buy him a beer, or ten.

And I guarantee it won’t be light beer

Smug as a bug in a rug

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Reviews

Stand Up Wit…Jeffrey Ross

Although I love Jeffrey Ross’s stinging barbs on the Comedy Central Roasts, I was not a fan of his first CD/DVD release, No Offense. Matter of fact, I gave it a kick in the nuts at the time, and I stand by that review; he’s capable of much, much better.

But I need to give credit where credit is due, and over the past few weeks I wound up viewing his film Patriot Act and finally reading his book I Only Roast The Ones I Love. Big thumbs up to both.

The book is a combination of three things – light biography, showbiz back room stories and a how-to-be-a-Roastmaster primer. Credit the author or credit the editors, but it juggled the three topics adeptly and for the most part is a breezy and enjoyable read. The how-to part is obviously written tongue-in-cheek, since being funny is a gift, not a trade. But he offers some valuable tips for the weekend/wedding roaster which should elevate a clumsy act with potential into at least a clumsy act that’s organized.

The bio and backstage bits are well-balanced; lots of caustic one-liners from the roasts, some inside and backstage bits about famous comics and several heartfelt exchanges with or about legends (i.e. Milton Berle) who Ross obviously reveres. While obviously charting his own success he deftly describes this rise with a minimal amount of ego-stroking.

Fans of his generation will no doubt appreciate the anecdotes involving contemporaries like Jimmy Kimmel, but anyone who appreciates the art of comedy will see the respect that he has for the history of the art form. By extension, they’ll learn to respect Ross a little more in the process. I know I do.

But that Bea Arthur story is going to give me nightmares.

I’m as much an avid fan for films about stand-up comedy as I am films of stand-up comedy. Ross promotes this as little more than a “home movie”, but it’s simultaneously as strong a documentary about comedy as it is an endorsement of our brave troops stationed around the world. I don’t mind when those of us with different political agendas get caught up in deep discussions about our political beliefs, but it’s a weak mind that thinks a person opposed to a war is “against the troops”.

Maybe it’s the word troops; these are people like you and me, or our sons, daughters, siblings and parents, who have volunteered to serve our country and by that definition, serve the rest of us. When I hear some politico accusing another of being “against the troops” I know they’re out of mental ammo and gasping. It’s bullshit cheap shot rhetoric that only idiots and talk radio sheep buy into.

I wish all those poison hearted people who toss words around with such callous disregard could watch how a group of comics interact with our military personnel and juggle full frontal comedy with complete deference and respect. But even if you miss the more important point, you’ll come away having enjoyed some great jokes courtesy of Ross, Blake Clark, Drew Carey, Rocky LaPorte and Kathy Kinney. (And as a longtime fan of Drew Carey, I was glad to see his tireless efforts for the troops get some overdue recognition.)

Coincidentally I just re-read Jay Mohr’s book Gasping For Airtime this week. He and Ross both revered Buddy Hackett, and while I grew up watching Hackett on television and in the movies (It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World is a stone cold classic), I came away with a new respect for him as a both a comic and a mentor. And seeing a new generation of comics paying genuine respect to those who laid the foundation is heartwarming; both Mohr and Ross knew Hackett well (and Mohr does a killer impression of the man). Maybe someday the DVD wizards will finally release this gem.

Jeffrey Ross on Wikipedia.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV, Reviews

Lost on Cinco De Mayo

This little piggy went...(boom)

LOST fans might have just plotzed for a number of reasons. 

Without spoiling anything, if you haven’t seen last night’s episode you need to do that right away. Because otherwise you are in danger of being tricked into experiencing that deadly hallway conversation, Tweet or email subject line that will kill your appreciation of viewing the show without a priori knowledge. 

And yes, much like the writers, I just dropped a few hints. Or maybe I didn’t

The good news, though, is the announcement that the final episode has been extended by a half-hour, eliminating your local news for the evening and taking you right into what will likely be the highest rated Jimmy Kimmel show ever

Per The Hollywood Reporter and other sites, “ABC is airing an enhanced (pop-ups) version of the show’s original two-hour pilot on May 22. On Sunday there’s a two-hour retrospective titled “Lost: The Final Journey,” followed by the finale, then the local news (which was preempted in the first-blush recounting of this plan) and Kimmel post-show.” 

Sounds incredible! Too bad the title The Lost Weekend is already taken (and rightfully so – kudos Ray Milland!) 

People...can't we just all get along?

Lost fanatics who are pondering the concepts of time-shifting and alternate realities will certainly celebrate today as the birthday of Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher who declared the idea of subjectivity as truth and is recognized as the founder of Existentialism, an influential author in psychology, and an important figure in Postmodernism. The rest of us will go all Cinco De Mayo on ourselves and fondly remember the birthday of Sandy Baron, Tammy Wynette and Lance Henriksen!)

But after you watch the episode, check this out.

As a follow-up to my TV Or Not TV post the other day, I must tell you that TV By The Numbers has once again hit a home run

Ever time a show hits the rocks, an S.O.S.  fan campaign sparks up, usually a petition sent to the network pleading the cause to “Save Our Show“.  It rarely works; usually it falls on deaf ears. Here’s the latest multi-show campaign from USA Today (and screw them, they didn’t even list Better Off Ted!) 

TVBTN writer Bill Gorman, highly cynical of such ill-fated efforts, figured he’d flip the concept on its ear. Why not centralize the effort and tell the networks what you want to see hit the broadcasting dumpster? Brilliant! So please vote in their “Don’t Save Their Show” poll;  they promise that it will have as much impact as the positive-themed attempts…none

*** 

 

And a fond farewell to the voice of the Detroit Tigers, the great Ernie Harwell. I feel bad for those not old enough to have experienced listening to baseball on the radio when that medium was the major broadcasting arm of the sport. Ernie – like Jack Buck, Vin Scully, Mel Allen and so many other greats – could paint a wonderfully descriptive picture with just their words and inflection. 

How sad is it that so many television broadcasters today have the full range of multiple zoom cameras, instant replay and a wealth of historical data at their fingertips and still can’t entertain an audience…let alone communicate what’s happening on the field of play. The great ones knew the game was the star, not the announcer

Ernie was supposed to receive the the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting this afternoon. Al Kaline will accept in his honor, and for one day, there will be crying in baseball

Sometimes there is. RIP Ernie!

4 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Features and Interviews, Film/TV

Holy Crap! Conan to TBS!

I guess George Lopez is taking to everybody these days.

First Sandra Bullock. Now Conan.

“If you haven’t heard by now, Conan O’Brien will be joining us on late-night on TBS. Welcome!, Welcome! I want to say this, I want to say that I am completely 100% on board with this move. I talked to Conan on Wednesday and I talked to him last night and I said I welcome you into my deep loving embrace. Then I said let’s take the party and make it bigger and take it into the next generation of late-night TV. Lets do that! Lets do that! Lets do that! Everybody’s heard of ‘I’m with CoCo’ but now everybody can ‘Go LoCo’.”

Lopez also made a great crack about how doing his show an hour later wouldn’t be the same – basically a nod and a wink to Conan’s response to NBC. Of course, he’s able to laugh because he knows that he just scored a major lead-in for his show.

Yeah, I was shocked at the TBS signing; I figured FOX was in the driver’s seat all the way. And I wasn’t the only one with dropped jaw. But it makes sense for a network that refers to itself as “very funny”. They need to be very funny. And Conan fills the bill.

Face it, the Tonight Show is a brand name, but the legacy is irrevocably tarnished. People refer to the choice as Leno or Letterman, not Late Night vs. The Tonight Show. And Leno’s viewing audience is old…and getting older. Lopez, on the other hand, skews young. So does Conan. Tonight might have the name, but lately Jimmy Fallon is hipper, and NBC knows it. Enjoy that deal with the devil.

This year TBS even tried a comedy show – underpromoted, of course – called Very Funny. Imagine how much talent they will attract when the comedians know they will be cross-promoted on Conan’s show…where they will also appear. Imagine the new wave of comedians that will get airtime knowing that they are on basic cable, not network television.

And frankly, aside from the depth of penetration, what is network television? Very few cities still receive over-air broadcast; it’s almost all digital. Most people get something beyond basic cable, and many of those basic cable packages include TBS. And thanks to Al Gore, we have this medium you’re using right now. In other words, a platform is a platform in the twenty-first century. If you want to see something, you can.

All Conan did over the past year was (1) legitimize his ability on the grander stage, (2) exit a horrible situation with class, good will and a shitload of money, and (3) raise his profile ten times higher than a great run on NBC would have done. Win, win and win.

I cannot wait! Until then, catch the mad redhead on the road.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV

Stand Up Wit…Dwayne Kennedy

Oh. My. God.

Prescriptioneers know I am a huge Marc Maron fan. Love the guy. Along with Doug Stanhope and Louis C.K., maybe the very best comedian on the planet at this moment. And his twice-a-week podcast, WTF, is a godsend.

Prescriptioneers also know that I have been touting Dwayne Kennedy for years. Well, today, the parallel universes crossed paths. Dwayne Kennedy joined Marc Maron on Episode 46 of WTF.

If you’re scratching your head trying to place the name Dwayne Kennedy, maybe Maron put it best in his introduction when he says “as soon as anything is about to happen for Dwayne – in a big way, in a show business way – Dwayne disappears!”

I first saw Dwayne do short sets on a couple of comedy shows and he absolutely killed, so I hit his pseudo-website which said that there was a CD that would be coming along soon. Of course, that was 2003…wherever that website was, it’s long gone. And sightings since then, sadly, have been few and far-between.

Dwayne Kennedy is absolutely funny as hell. His bits about the Bible and window shopping when poor, and young dumbasses and Jesus’ lesser known brother are flat-out brilliant. Somebody needs to go ring his doorbell, get him out to a taping and let him fly. It is criminal that there isn’t a CD or DVD out there to document what he does and widen his audience. And until he/they do that, savor these moments.

Dwayne’s first time on David Letterman and his second.

Dwayne on Jimmy Kimmel.

Dwayne’s new website – sadly, still no CD.

"No! I don't have a clue! But good luck in prison!"

3 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Features and Interviews, Reviews

Chin Music, Part 3

So I guess it has come to this.

Conspiracy theorists have determined that both David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were passed over for the Tonight Show because they are/were red-haired gentlemen. Today’s update.

Sounds like this needs to be investigated further.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Editorials, Film/TV