It's CT vs. Darrell tonight. NBA playoffs begone!
A standing ovation for Better Call Saul. A bit more on last night's episode. Per Gennifer Hutchison, who penned last night's episode, "Mike and Gus both are people who don't say a lot and so when you put two of them in a scene together, it can be a little bit scary. I think the balance for me in that scene was really showing that these are two formidable guys who are very measured and are really about sussing the other out. They have competing goals here, so there's definitely an inherent conflict between them, but at the same time they're intrigued by each other and there's a bit of respect between them even from the beginning, because ultimately they're gonna have a very close working relationship. Making sure that that seed of connection was there right from the beginning, but felt reasonable and justified, was really a big goal in that scene, so it was just making sure to calibrate the dialogue in such a way that they both were getting what they were looking for, at least a little bit in the other, even while still having that conflict between them."
NBC premieres Great News tonight. More below.
Nat Geo premieres Genius (which has already been renewed for a 2nd season). The first year of this anthology chronicles the life of Albert Einstein, as played by Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush.
On the day of the season 2 finale, TBS has announced a season 3 pick up for The Detour.
Megyn Kelly will front an NBC show that is penciled in to start on Sundays in June, according to sources who spoke with Deadline.
I meant to post this yesterday but here's an inside look at Andy Cohen's clubhouse.
A cause of death for Erin Moran has been determined, throat cancer.
Film and TV writers are ready to strike beginning next week, voting overwhelmingly to give their union leaders the authority to call for a strike if this week's final round of negotiations fails to end up in a meeting of the minds. The strike authorization was approved by 96.3% of the 6,310 writers who cast ballots. Story developing. . . .
"Former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly returned to work Monday with his fervent delivery intact, despite a much lower profile. On his latest No Spin News podcast, released Monday night, O'Reilly remained confident that 'the truth will come out' about the allegations of sexual harassment that led Fox News' parent company 21st Century Fox to dismiss him Wednesday. 'I am sad that I am not on television anymore,' he said in the podcast on billoreilly.com. 'I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can’t say a lot because there's much stuff going on right now, but I can tell you that I am very confident the truth will come out and when it does I don’t know if you are going to be surprised, but I think you are going to be shaken as I am.'"
In the event you're curious as to what Nick Viall is up to, here ya go.
"We’ll have to wait a little longer for Apple Music’s release of CBS’ Carpool Karaoke: The Series. Apple announced at the Code Media conference in February that the show, the portal’s first series, based on James Corden’s popular Late Late Show segment, would debut in April, but that has now been delayed, according to Reuters and confirmed by CBS. Apple did not explain the delay, but told Reuters in a statement that 'Carpool Karaoke: The Series will premiere on Apple Music later this year.' CBS Television Studios said in a statement: 'We’re excited about our Carpool Karaoke for Apple Music, and look forward to everyone seeing it later this year.'” That makes one of you.
I teased this a couple of weeks ago. It's the one where the network and production approved an athlete, sent me a contract for said athlete, athlete signed said contract and then they told him to F off while he was at home waiting for a car to pick him to take him to set, because Shawne Merriman said yes in the interim. Shawne Merriman isn't a difference making A-lister in your mind either? Spoiler alert: Merriman was THE FIRST PRO ELIMINATED. In any case . . . . "Past Challenge seasons have featured an even playing field -- Real World, Road Rules, Are You the One?, Fresh Meat, Bloodlines and Spring Break Challenge alums, to be exact. Now, an esteemed group of 10 guys/gals who have had the privilege of donning the coveted winner's badge are about to encounter a different type of competitor on the legendary MTV battleground.
"The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros will pit 10 of America's top athletes against familiar faces from the long-running series. NFL star Victor Cruz will host the special six-week event, which premieres on Tuesday, May 16. Some salsa touchdown dances are in our future!
"Before we get to the roster, the game rules for the first-of-its-kind clash of the titans is as follows: Each episode will focus on a different strength (agility, ingenuity, brawn, brains, endurance and guts). Every week, the winning team’s captain will choose one member of their team to go into the elimination round, and the rest of the team will vote in their opponent. The losing team’s captain is automatically sent into elimination, and their team will also nominate their opponent. The final male and female competitors of the season will endure the ultimate test, showcasing each strength in one heart-pounding race for the chance to win $50,000 for their favorite charity.
"Without further ado, here are the pros who will take their marks (the MTV victors will be announced after the Invasion of the Champions finale and reunion special on Tuesday, May 9):
TIA BLANCO: PROFESSIONAL SURFER
LOUISE HAZEL: OLYMPIAN & FITNESS EXPERT
LINDSEY JACOBELLIS: PROFESSIONAL SNOWBOARDER
LOLO JONES: OLYMPIC HURDLER, BOBSLEDDER & WORLD CHAMPION
GUS KENWORTHY: PROFESSIONAL SKIER & OLYMPIC MEDALIST
SHAWNE MERRIMAN: RETIRED NFL LINEBACKER
CM PUNK: UFC FIGHTER
LOUIE VITO: PROFESSIONAL SNOWBOARDER & OLYMPIAN
KAMERION WIMBLEY: RETIRED NFL STAR
CANDICE WIGGINS: FORMER WNBA ATHLETE"
I watched a couple more episodes of Girlboss and it has definitely grown on me. "Girlboss, Netflix's new comedy, is no fairytale — and its road to the screen wasn't either.
"Inspired by the New York Times best-selling book of the same name by Sophia Amoruso, Kay Cannon's (Pitch Perfect) adaption follows the ambitious and brash 23-year-old Sophia (Britt Robertson, Tomorrowland) and her rise to build an online fashion empire known as Nasty Gal. The comedy, which counts Charlize Theron among its executive producers, explores Sophia's ups and downs — from dumpster diving to running her own online fashion retailer.
"Cannon tells The Hollywood Reporter that initial feedback to the pitch for the show was less than perfect, as one early potential buyer insisted that the show be made more for men, a surprise given Cannon's work on Pitch Perfect, 30 Rock and New Girl. After passes from multiple networks, including Fox, Girlboss finally made its way to Netflix, giving Cannon her first gig as a showrunner.
"Below, Cannon talks with THR about early reviews, notes from Theron and creating a character that's not always likeable:
What was it about the themes of Sophia Amoruso's book that appealed to you?
We're not telling a fairytale, which is exciting. She did an extraordinary thing at such a young age. The girl in Girlboss to me has always meant youth, not gender. She had a voice and the fact that she used it, that's what attracted me to her. [The real] Sophia has gotten a lot of harsh criticism lately because Nasty Gal went bankrupt and people say, "Look at you. You tried to do something. Haha, you didn't get to do something!" which is incredibly unfair. What happens to a lot of young women is they become paralyzed with fear to even attempt to try and do something. They're so worried about being liked and being polite and not finding their inner voice and using it. She represents what young people feel. This idea of when we're lost and we don't know what our deal is in life that manifests itself in many different ways. For her and a lot of people, it was anger, sadness and depression. We have a lot of depressed people in the world because they don't know what their purpose is in life.
What was your reaction to Nasty Gal going bankrupt? Is that something that could be explored in subsequent seasons?
We had already finished filming and Sophia called me the day after Donald Trump was elected president and said that Nasty Gal was filing for bankruptcy. In this idea that we're not telling a fairytale, I thought that was an amazing story. Here's this guy who filed for bankruptcy several times and has failed upward and we have a female-driven business that hired hundreds of women and Sophia was this mentor to women to take risks who is being criticized. We have a president where now our female reproductive rights are in question, and we've taken a million steps backward and this company is filing for bankruptcy. That's a wonderful story to tell. I hope Netflix lets us tell it and we get enough seasons to do that.
Theron has mentioned that as Girlboss was being developed and pitched to the town that the early feedback was that it needed to be less female-focused. How common was this feedback as you took Girlboss out to the market?
I was on an overall deal with 20th [Century Fox Television] so we pitched it to the studio because they're my bosses. They're primarily doing network shows and that just has a different business model. When I pitched it, they said, "You can't call it Girlboss. Make it more for men." I'm a people pleaser so in my head [I said], "How can we do this?" And Charlize was like, "No! We're not doing that." (Laughs.) Their pitch was, "Bring in a guy who teaches her to be the boss." That's when I did not want to do that because then it becomes about gender politics and that's not what this show is. It would feel like every other show out there that's in the workplace. It's very condescending and bullshit.
Where did you go after that?
We went to all the networks. We knew we wanted to be at Netflix. In a way, maybe I did some self-sabotage because I pitched more of what we might see in season two where we would see her with four or five employees in a workspace where we see Sophia not being a great boss to her friends and the obstacles of being a boss to her friends. That's what I had pitched to the networks and they were like, "No!" Netflix wanted something for young women because they wanted something for everyone in a household to want to watch. Whereas networks cater to a specific demographic.
This is your first TV series as a showrunner. What made Girlboss appealing for TV versus film given your recent success in film with the Pitch Perfect franchise?
Being at Netflix, I felt like I could do a cinematic show that felt like you were watching a movie, but it'd be a television show. It's a hybrid in my mind. The show looks beautiful and we try to do some really cool things that I don't think we would be able to do elsewhere. There's a lot of story to tell and I'd rather it be told in seasons [rather] than just one movie.
You've written for a lot of female voices throughout your career, especially with Pitch Perfect. What makes Sophia different?
She is very real. In that way, it feels different. She's not so jokey. In some episodes, she goes from being fun and playful to lashing out at someone to then crying. What I had to put to the side is this concern about her being likeable. She wouldn't feel real if I was concerned about making sure people were head-over-heels in love with her. The whole point of her is to give young women the permission to be real and not say, "I'm this good little girl that listens to whatever a guy tells me to do." It was about trying to unravel this idea of what a woman should be. The show is called Girlboss, but she's not a girl, she's a woman. Hillary Clinton had this issue of, "Stop shouting. Smile more." People try to make women a very specific thing so that we like them. My hope is that people don't watch the beginning and tune away because they think she'll never grow and they can't stand her. I hope this is a different story and character for people to watch and root for. I'm not saying our show is Mad Men, but when you watch the first episode and you see Don Draper at the end and are like, "He cheats on his wife!" But you still love him and you root for him. He's appalling in a lot of ways. Society is like, "Yeah! I love Don Draper." And I just think people are harder on ladies than we are on guys.
There's a storyline in which Sophia is obsessed with preventing the company from getting a bad review. How do reviews impact you?
I don't obsess over the reviews, but I have an opinion on them. We've gotten mixed reviews and I think when we've gotten a really bad review they've only seen the first couple of episodes. And Sophia is not the most pleasant in those. Where I get a little bummed is I want to be like, "Give it another shot. Keep watching." I read one review that said there's no growth in her at all. Clearly they had only watched the first two [episodes]. Anytime you're doing the set up of somebody it takes a little bit to get going. I felt like we did find our footing and just like the character of Sophia, we as a show grew and figured out what it exactly was that we were trying to say. I hope people know we're just trying to tell a real, true story about someone in a fun way. For anybody who watches the show I hope what they get out of it is that it gives them permission to be who they are. I do think we're living in a time where everybody is feeling like we're being controlled by outside forces and they don't get to be themselves. This is a character who embraced who she was, warts and all, and still is going out there and taking a risk. Specifically for young women who feel paralyzed with fear to dare to try to do something because of failure I hope they go, "I'm going to try. I'm going to try and do it."
How involved was Sophia in retelling some of what actually happened to her? Which true events did you find the most amusing and how much did you have to embellish on some of these events?
Everyone around her, all of her friends that's all fabricated. The big business things that happened to her, those are all true. Like when she launched her own site she sold out in the first day. There's a lot more true stuff in the first couple of episodes. If you think about what happened to her, she sat behind a computer and had this online business and that's so boring to watch. I had to dramatize a lot of things. She called her company Nasty Gal based on a Betty Davis album, but she just looked at that album when she named it that. I didn't think that was interesting so we fabricated a more interesting way of having her hear the song.
Did Sophia have objections to fabricating her story?
Not at all. She was so great in being hands-off and trusted me and the writers. Sometimes I think that the real Sophia likes the fake Sophia more than herself. (Laughs.)
How involved was Theron in the series? Was she on set? Did she have notes on the script?
She was there the first week of production. She'd be on set in Africa and would watch the dailies and give notes. She was always checking in. She was really instrumental in being a mentor to Britt.
What would a season two look like and where would we see Sophia?
We would see more of her rise. It's unclear if she'd move to L.A. or not, but we'd see some of the bumps of actually being a boss to people. What we'll do in the show is this idea of understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are. A big weakness of Sophia's is that she has no business managing people, especially when they're her friends and how these friends could possibly take advantage of having their very young boss be their friend at the same time. We'll explore all of that."
NBC premieres Great News tonight. I have it DVR'd and have been looking forward to checking it out. Here's a review that might get you to tune in: "Some comedies need a few episodes, or sometimes even whole seasons, to get into their grooves. Great News is not one of those comedies.
"Created by Tracey Wigfield and co-produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, all veterans of 30 Rock, this NBC series, which debuts Tuesday night, establishes its sharp, madcap, hilarious bona fides right from the jump. Given its pedigree and the fact that it’s a workplace comedy set in the media world — the focus is on the behind-the-scenes bedlam at The Breakdown, a national cable news program broadcast from Secaucus, New Jersey — Great News might sound like a spinoff of 30 Rock. It isn’t. But as is true of the sitcom’s codependent main characters, Katie Wendelson (Briga Heelan) and her low-flying helicopter mom Carol (Andrea Martin), you can definitely tell pretty quickly that they share some DNA.
"The dynamic between these two women — Katie, a 30-year-old news producer desperate to earn some hard-hitting story assignments, and Carol, her suffocating mother who’s been hired as an intern for The Breakdown’s old-school, arrogant co-anchor Chuck Pierce (John Michael Higgins) — is what defines Great News. While that premise may sound a bit gimmicky, or, perhaps, a little like a sitcom version of that Nancy Meyers movie The Intern, the snappy, astute execution immediately dispels any misgivings. Perhaps anticipating Intern comparisons, Great News even astutely dares to take a friendly jab at Meyers’s body of work. 'Why don’t we see that new Nancy Meyers movie where Chris Hemsworth builds a gazebo and then marries a hundred-year-old woman?' Carol suggests to Katie in the second episode. Did I mention that I love this show?
"As was the case on 30 Rock and continues to be standard practice on another Fey-Carlock series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the jokes on Great News fly like fastballs whipping out of a pitching machine. In the rare instance that one is a dud, it’s okay, because a good one will likely cross the plate in a matter of seconds.
"A lot of those jokes tend to be generational in nature. Not surprisingly, Carol — who’s been out of the workforce for three decades — is a bit out of her depth in an office environment. She has no idea what a PDF is and signs her internet search queries, 'Sincerely, Carol Wendleton.' She’s a whiz on social media, though, especially Facebook, which sounds exactly right for a 60-year-old who’s always up in her daughter’s and everyone else’s business. Her unique set of skills makes her the perfect support system for Chuck, who has no idea how to communicate with his much younger, self-promotional co-anchor Portia (Nicole Richie) and is terrified that his seniority will be his downfall.
"The dialogue is funny, but performers like Martin and Higgins, who are both fantastic, really make it sing. It’s thrilling to see Martin, such a versatile comedic talent, finally get a starring role in a series like this and truly get to run with it. Unlike the mother she plays on Difficult People, who clearly studied at the Lucille Bluth School for Withholding and Aloof Maternal Figures, Carol is perky, warm, and hypernurturing, but also scatterbrained and a compulsive worrier. Martin embodies her fully, right down to the eager smiles, agreeable nods, and tendency to bowleggedly race around the office in capri pants.
"Higgins, who, like Martin, is a pro at improvisational comedy, plays Chuck with a vaguely Brian Williams-esque bluster. He says just about everything as though it’s breaking news and reads aloud from his self-aggrandizing autobiography during news meetings. (“1977, The Bronx: I had an idea for a new type of music.”) He also pitches a fit when anyone suggests that he needs to get with the digital times. “One false move,” he tells Carol, “and they’ll replace you with some hotshot young newsman who eats sriracha and drinks Lululemon.” In the third episode, when Chuck gets cataract surgery but nevertheless tries to anchor a live newscast while Carol feeds him lines via an earpiece, I honestly was laughing so hard I had to pause the screener for five minutes so I could compose myself.
"But Great News isn’t merely taking potshots at the olds. For one thing, Wigfield, who also plays oddball weatherwoman Beth, feels an obvious affection toward the characters — Carol is apparently based on her own mother — that prevents the humor from descending into ageist meanness. For another, the show is equally critical of the youths. Portia, for example, is so fixated on building her own brand that she has no sense of what it means to adhere to journalistic standards. ('What if we did a segment called Am I Snapchatting My Vacation Wrong?' she offers during a pitch meeting; in a separate moment, she asks Greg, The Breakdown’s executive producer, played by Adam Campbell: 'What’s a Walter Cronkite?') Richie, best known for her TV work on the reality front, comfortably slides into place right alongside her more experienced comedic co-stars, dousing Portia in a blasé narcissism that seems all the sillier because it scares Chuck so much.
"Then there’s Katie. As much as she hates it when Carol announces to the staff that her daughter has irritable bowel syndrome, Katie makes it clear that she genuinely relies on her mom’s advice and support, which is a slightly different take on a relationship dynamic that could otherwise seem too familiar. Plenty of movies and TV shows poke fun at coddled 30-somethings who refuse to grow up. Katie very much wants to be an independent woman but sometimes finds she’s unequipped to do so because her mother has been so busy protecting her from anything that smacks of the difficult or dangerous. Heelan, who’s had recurring roles on shows like Love, more than holds her own in scenes with Martin, bringing both zaniness and authenticity to her performance. Her exasperated 'Mom!' hisses will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever been embarrassed by his or her mother, i.e. everyone. Like Liz Lemon before her, Katie has a tendency to rattle off sentences before thinking about what she’s saying, then have panic attacks mid-paragraph. Heelan handles all that humiliation and word soup as if she’s been built to do so.
"Like 30 Rock, Great News has its share of running inside jokes that speak to how well Wigfield & Co. have constructed a specific world. There are a number of digs, both subtle and direct, at Fox News that seem even more timely than they must have when originally scripted. But perhaps the best ongoing gag is the consistent refusal to fully reveal what Dave, Carol’s agreeable doormat of a husband, looks like.
"From Carol’s perspective, the only thing that matters is her Katie, and the series always adheres to that same sense of tunnel vision. As dysfunctional as it may be to view things that way, from a TV comedy point of view, it’s an absolute delight. The first season of Great News consists of only ten episodes. My only major complaint about this show is that I wish there were more of it to watch right this very minute."
Per People, "[t]hree months after Tarek El Moussa filed for divorce from his wife Christina, the exes have signed on for more episodes of their hit HGTV series Flip or Flop — extending the current seventh season to 20 episodes.
“'Tarek and I have been working together for a long time and we look forward to continuing to work together on Flip or Flop,' Christina tells People in a exclusive statement. Adds Tarek: 'From the beginning, HGTV has shown Christina and me tremendous support and we are excited to go out there and flip many more houses for Flip or Flop.'
"The couple split in May 2016 — after a tearful Christina, 33, called 911 reporting Tarek, 35, had taken a gun into a forested park behind their Yorba Linda, Calif. home — but continued to publicly play house through December 2016 when holiday-themed promos featuring the pair were airing on HGTV even as news of their split broke. Episodes from the current seventh season have continued to air — and be filmed — as their divorce plays out in the media.
"Christina has admitted that she and Tarek had been driving to set separately for months before going public about their split, but that continuing to film and hosting lucrative seminars together 'is just normal to us,' she told People in February. 'We had fun onstage together and went home to different houses, but we both went home happy. It’s comfortable for us to work together,' she added of doing an appearance with Tarek in Las Vegas on Feb. 10.
"Tarek is currently living in Newport Beach and told People in March that he’s currently 'adjusting' to splitting custody of daughter Taylor, 6, and son Brayden, 20 months, “pretty much 50-50” with Christina. 'We had a talk and said, "We still want the kids to understand we’re a unit—that we’re still a family even if we’re not together,"' he said.
"Flip or Flip premiered in 2013 with the couple making a reported $10,000 per episode. Over the past seven seasons, the reality series has become one of the network’s most popular shows and spawned spinoffs featuring house flipping experts working in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Fort Worth, Nashville and Chicago.
“'Tarek and Christina’s expertise and success flipping houses has made Flip or Flop an audience favorite on HGTV for many seasons,' says Allison Page, the general manager for U.S. programming and development for HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel. 'The series is so successful because it shows how real estate and renovation savvy can lead to financial success.'
"Flip or Flop‘s current, super-sized season of 20 episodes will continue to run through the end of 2017."
"Ingrid Michaelson is bringing her life to the small screen.
"The singer-songwriter behind The Way I Am is set to star in a semi-autobiographical comedy for Hulu, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
"Michaelson is teaming with Casual showrunner Liz Tigelaar for the half-hour single-camera comedy, titled The Way I Am. The project, which is in development, landed at the streaming service with a script commitment in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding.
"The duo created the comedy together, with Tigelaar set to write the script. Both will executive produce alongside Lynn Grossman.
"Michaelson — who frequently injects humor into her concerts with wit and snark between songs — started playing piano at age 4. She studied theater at Binghamton University and was a member of a co-ed a cappella group, a theater repertory company and the Pappy Parker Players, an improv comedy group. After launching her first album in 2005, Michaelson followed that up with 2006's independently released Girls and Boys. Many of her songs have been featured on ABC's Grey's Anatomy. After signing with Original Signal Recordings, Girls and Boys was rereleased a year later and debuted on the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 63.
"Her third album, Be OK, debuted at No. 35 on the Billboard charts. Michaelson — who is a self-proclaimed feminist — is best known for hit singles include Girls Chase Boys (whose video is a spoof of Robert Palmer's Simply Irresistible), Be OK and The Way I Am. She next will release Alter Egos, a five-song duets EP featuring reimagined versions of songs from her most recent record, It Doesn't Have to Make Sense."
Per Uproxx, "[l]ongtime fans are familiar with Lewis Black’s rants, but not everyone realizes just how much of a workhorse the typically angry comic is. From making frequent appearances on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show and Trevor Noah’s Daily Show, to constantly touring to promote his latest stand-up hour, Rant, White & Blue, the comedy stalwart is seemingly unstoppable. Hence his latest project, The Rant is Due, a new series on Audible through which users can submit their own tirades to Black.
"As the 68-year-old comedian explains to Uproxx, he selects the best submissions — be they long treatises or short questions — and delivers them while on the road. Black isn’t performing The Rant is Due en lieu of his own material. Live audiences who attend the comic’s concerts will see Rant, White & Blue and his latest material, of course, but Black spends an additional 20 minutes or so debuting the fans’ latest ire from the Audible series. And it all came about, he says, because the seemingly angriest man in the room wanted to interact with everyone else around him"
How did The Rant is Due come about?
About three years ago I was thinking, “You know, it’d be fun to do a Q&A with the audience.” We started doing it about two years ago, and once that happened, I realized I was just getting little things about what was going on in their city. All the things they thought were psychotic, you know? If something was being done that was completely ass-backwards, and made no sense, we’d hear about it. Then people started sending in these things online, so I started telling people at shows, “If you’ve got something to get off your chest, just go ahead and send it in.” It started very slowly, but now it’s kind of snowballed.
Fans love sharing their own jokes — or in your case, frustrations — with comics.
There’s been a certain amount of that, yes. For the ones who tell you jokes, you could shoot yourself because they come up to you and say, “I got one for you.” That’s usually the beginning of it. I always try to smile and focus whenever that happens. The other thing that happens is when people come up and say, “Did you hear about this?” or “Do you know about that?” It’s always about something. So yeah, there’s always been that kind of thing after shows. Mostly things like, “I’m glad you’re doing this because I’m as angry as you are. I just don’t let it go.” It’s not that difficult to note there’s been a lot of anger in this country lately, and we’ve just been sitting on it. This is just a way to let it all out.
The other thing about anger is, people always ask me how I do it every night. I am able to do it because it’s not just anger about whatever the larger issues are. It’s also about little things, like trying to use your phone to get something done. Like trying to get a prescription because most places are forcing you to go online. You can’t go to your local pharmacist anymore. You have to go to their special place. And then it comes down to access. “I can’t get on the website.” “What do you mean you can’t get on the website?” “It doesn’t work.” “We’re going to send you the ID.” It goes on and on, and the next thing you know, a day and a half has passed and you’re still not on the website.
At which point you’d probably be dead.
Right. There’s such a high level of frustration because we live in a society in which everything should be solved in a second, but the solutions always take much longer. Well, how the fuck is that possible? The shortest distance between two points is not a machine. I think we’re learning that finally.
I don’t know if we’re actually learning, though.
You shrugged off fan jokes earlier, but you seem to really enjoy many of the submitted rants you read.
Here’s the thing. I don’t really like to laugh at my own stuff. I’m not good at it. I mean, sometimes I’ll say something I didn’t know I was going to say and I’ll surprise myself. Or, I’m trying something for the first time. Though I don’t usually laugh at new material when I’m really trying it out for the first time, which is about 20 percent of the act. But if I’m reading somebody else’s stuff, I can laugh at it. That’s part of the reason I’m reading those particular submissions. They made me laugh.
It has been really fun to read them because the rants, and the people who wrote them, are developing an audience out there. Listening to them on Audible, or watching the live streams on my website. We’re doing these every night after the main show. We live stream all of them, and Audible picks the best ones for the latest Rant is Due episode. And the people who’ve been paying attention are writing better stuff. I mean, what they’re writing is remarkable. Some of it, at least.
During a recent live stream from St. Louis, you read a 17-year-old girl’s bit about her recent diabetes diagnosis. It was fantastic.
She was taking shots, and it was great. She was there with her boyfriend and his grandparents, and her rant was all about her elderly school nurse. This nurse, who was giving her her shots every day, had become her nemesis and was totally screwing up her life. The whole thing from beginning to end was great, and it was all written by a 17-year-old girl.
What’s the submission process like?
Here’s how psychotic it is: Loads of them have been coming in. Every day I get a bunch. Some of them I star immediately because I know I’m going to use them, while others I’ll return to after reading them all. “This would work, this would work, this would work.” I’ve gotten better at the process over time. Audible has really helped me out, as they created some software that allows me to organize everything so it’s easier read, select and perform them by showtime.
At the beginning, however, it was like sitting at a Cracker Barrel while listening to some kind of psychotic storyteller. I was working with an iPad then. I have about as much of a relationship with an iPad as if I’d appeared on stage with a falcon on my arm. It drove me nuts because I’d have to go back and forth between all the different submissions during the show, but it’s much tighter now. I’m better able to put it all together. I was doing my damnedest at first, but especially now that Audible has gotten in the mix, I can fly through hundreds of these without issue. And I really do try to read them all when they come in. I’ll be getting on a plane Thursday, and I’ll sit there the entire time I’m on the plane and read these rants.
Maybe Audible can deliver these, including the unread submissions, direct to Washington D.C.
That would be nice, though I’m kind of in a weird position. I always want to be off to the side in these messes, ranting and raving and drawing attention to these things. Whether it’s stuff I wrote for myself and my own show, or things submitted by fans for this separate thing.
The Rant is Due hinges on your popular image as an angry comic, and you don’t seem to mind. That said, do you ever get tired of playing that character?
No. The only thing that ever got to me was a few specials ago, when I made a concerted effort to modulate the anger. I’ve always made an effort, from when I started until now, to monitor how much I would rely on anger in my shows. I didn’t want to do too much of it. When I first started, I was yelling from the beginning to the end of my act. I quickly went from 70 percent yelling to 100 percent of it. It was insane. So I tried to do something different and modulate the intensity throughout the piece.
I found other ways to express anger — through the language I used and how I delivered the lines. Anger doesn’t just need to be yelled. But all I got in response to it was, “He got tired.” And it was like, “Fuck you, you idiots. You’ve never heard a word I’ve said, then. And you certainly didn’t listen to what I was saying now.” Of course, part of what made my act work was that character I played up there. You’re stuck with what works for you. You made the bed, so lie in it. Then Trump and Hillary came along, so there’s that. I mean, this is what my generation has spawned?
Speaking of which, there’s a popular idea floating around that having Trump as president makes comedy easier. Or that more comedy is possible as a result. I don’t buy it, but what your thoughts on the matter?
The thing is, he has turned everybody into a political comic the same way Bill Clinton got the blowjob and turned everyone into a blowjob comic. I was so excited he got the blowjob too, because I felt could talk about blowjobs on stage without issue. So in many ways I wasn’t a blowjob comic then, but it opened a door for me so that I could bring it up in my act. In the same way, comedians working today have a similar opportunity with Trump. Honestly, all you have to do is repeat what he or someone working with him said. Things like “Holocaust centers.” I’ve done this plenty of time before, and it always gets the audience howling.
You don’t actually have to do a lot of work. But what I find difficult is, how do you satirize that which is already satiric? That’s the main difficulty. That’s what makes it tough, but it’s also what maintains my interest as a comedian. The material we have to work with already reads like fiction, so how do you exaggerate it more? Look, my job as a comic is to always make things seem crazier than they actually are. Now I’m really being tested because I don’t know how much farther I can go without just being hospitalized."
You can find new episodes of Lewis Black: The Rant is Due at Audible.