Comedy

40 articles
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The roast where Chevy Chase learned that everyone hates him.

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A comic who had previously refused to discuss his private life opens up for the first time, riding high on the surprise success of Blazing Saddles more than thirty years into his career.

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The thin, resentful line between comic and audience.

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On film comedy’s silent beginnings.

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Their partnership lasted a mere four years, but transformed comedy forever. Mike Nichols and Elaine may give their first joint interview since breaking up 51 years ago.

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“It’s the American view that everything has to keep climbing: productivity, profits, even comedy. No time for reflection. No time to contract before another expansion. No time to grow up. No time to fuck up. No time to learn from your mistakes. But that notion goes against nature, which is cyclical.”

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A profile of Mindy Kaling.

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Creators, gatekeepers, and the future of the comedy business.

A transcript of Oswalt's keynote at last week's Just For Laughs conference.
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An interview with Marc Maron.

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BARR: What makes you laugh? BERNHARD: Well, it's really a myriad of things, but usually it's something that's very organic. It's something that happens on the street. BARR: Like fat people falling down? BERNHARD: No, no . . . [laughs] BARR: That really cracks me up. It's terrible.
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It didn't matter if these clubs were in Cleveland, Portland, Corpus Christi or Baton Rouge—if it was a nightclub, the owners were the Mob. For a good forty years the Mob controlled American show business.
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An oral history of Saturday Night Live.

Part of our guide to SNL for Slate.
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A conversation with the comedian.
JW: You’ve talked about how you’ve had to explain moral lessons to your daughters, but do it in an inarticulate, catchy way. It’s almost as though you’re writing material for them. What’s the place of morality and ethics in your comedy? I think those are questions people live with all the time, and I think there’s a lazy not answering of them now, everyone sheepishly goes, “Oh, I’m just not doing it, I’m not doing the right thing.” There are people that really live by doing the right thing, but I don’t know what that is, I’m really curious about that. I’m really curious about what people think they’re doing when they’re doing something evil, casually.
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Midtown Manhattan. The highest concentration of showbiz havens and hangouts in the whole entire world. The Chorus Girls. The Drunk Newsmen. The Jazz Hepsters. The Mob. They converge with the force of a fly against a windshield. This is where American popular culture is born. Its influence permeates the nation. Walk the streets and weave through the hustlers, the gangsters, the bookies, the rummies... and somewhere among that crowd - you'll walk past a nondescript artistic genius or twelve, indiscernible from the dregs, biding time until they transform the American landscape. And high-above the loud, syncopated beat of Midtown you can hear... The Comedians.
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A profile of Mike Judge, creator of the now-resuscitated Beavis and Butthead.

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Four unhealthy, bearded, mostly unknown comedians from Atlanta tour 3,020 miles in a van.

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An oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

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On the life and career of Chris Farley.

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A profile of an up-and-coming director:

Well, according to Woody, his ascent has been a series of painful falls. Success hasn't changed him, Allen insists: he's still a schlemiel. "I'm afraid of the dark and suspicious of the light," he says. "I have an intense desire to return to the womb—anybody's." Ineptitude, Woody goes on, is a family curse.

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Jerry Lewis has had a spectacular sex life. On the road, of course, girls were everywhere—in his dressing room, back at his hotel. But even at home, when he was directing a film, sometimes he'd get to the set early for "a little hump," just to get the day started right. Joseph Levitch, as he was named upon his birth in Newark, New Jersey, had his first sexual experience seventy-three years ago, when he was 12. It was backstage at a club where his father, a singer and dancer who called himself Danny Lewis, was performing. The temptress was a twentysomething stripper named Trudine who lured the boy into her dressing room. "Whatever we did, I remember it took only a minute," Lewis recalls fondly. "She was a piece of work. She danced with a snake." He married his first wife, Patti, a singer with Jimmy Dorsey's band, when he was 19. They'd met after he dropped out of high school to go on the road, starting at the bottom in burlesque houses where comics took the stage in between strippers. These were the kinds of dives that were patronized by "guys in the front with the newspapers in their laps and the trench coats—a tough room, but you had to do it."
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The name Shecky can vacillate from noun to verb to adjective. The opinion of every comedian during that gilded age of show business, whether they were Republican Bob Hope or hipster Lenny Bruce, is that Shecky Greene was the the wildest of them all. The craziest of them all. Most importantly - the funniest of them all.
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A profile of the up-and-coming comedian just after the cancellation of his VH1 talk show, Late World with Zach. His sentiment at the time: “Hollywood is just such a fucking idiot machine.”

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Louis C.K. has a deal unlike anyone else’s on TV: his network, FX, has no approval rights and offers no notes. He is also the show’s lone writer, editor, director, and star. A profile.

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A profile of Steve Carell, whose last appearance as Michael Scott in The Office airs tonight.

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On the life and career of Richard Pryor, as he neared the end of both.

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"Howard Stern's a bad motherfucker, man..if I had to be on six hours a day, it would be just as nasty and foul and not sophisticated. The fact that you're going to see me do an hour every four years? Reduce Howard Stern to an hour every four years, you'd have the most brilliant comedian who ever lived. It's not even close."
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The comedian and veteran of MTV’s The State on a peculiar brand of stardom. “Often people would be like, I’m such a big fan of your work. I think you’re amazing. I want to have a career like yours. And I’m like, great, can you buy me a slice of pizza?”

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On the late comedian Bill Hicks, just as a performance on Letterman is deemed unfit for network TV.

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A profile of Larry David, with a focus on his years as a struggling stand-up. “I was hoping that somehow I could get some kind of cult following and get by with that.”

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The young Woody Allen writes jokes for supper club comedians, decides he will never make it as a performer and then does, idolizes and is snubbed by Mort Sahl, and develops the comic persona which will make him a star.

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The life and times of female comedy LP sensation Rusty Warren, whose bawdy hits like ‘Knockers Up’ commanded the charts and the lounges of the 1960s Midwest.

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Ten years ago, Esquire did a piece about Harvard Law grads who had eschewed their degrees. One of them was the late comedian.

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A profile of Jon Stewart, who’s now run The Daily Show for more than a decade.

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A profile of Garry Shandling.

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The making of Caddyshack.

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Bill Murray grants a rare interview and appears to admit, among other things, that he occasionally approaches strangers from behind on the streets of NYC, puts his hands over their eyes, and says “guess who.”

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Born in Germany, raised in Montana, now living in New York, comedian Reggie Watts describes his style as “culture sampling.”

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“I think talk shows have kind of lost that. It’s mostly about super famous people telling long, dull stories about their swimming pools or something.”