Monday, February 20, 2017

Laugh, Laugh

I recently wrote about how some sitcoms have the same plots by chance.  But sometimes whole shows seem similar, and you wonder if they were developed with an eye on each other.

Sometimes there's no question.  After Animal House was such a big hit the three networks (back when you had three networks and not much else) each put on their "Animal House"-style sitcom, one--Delta House--directly adapted from the movie with some of the same actors.  They all flopped, by the way.  Then in 1990 there was the TV version of Ferris Bueller on NBC, while Fox (hey, a new network) did a knockoff--that was considerably better--called Parker Lewis Can't Lose.

Last year, HBO and Showtime put out dramas about the business side of rock and roll, Vinyl and Roadies.  Both were high profile projects, and both were rejected by the viewers. (They weren't that bad--I was sorry to see them go.)

And now, this year, both HBO and Showtime are giving us their take on the world of stand-up comedy.  Coincidence? (Last week I posted about kinds of comedy, but I didn't include comedy about comedy.)

There's Crashing, which debuted over the weekend.  It's created by Pete Holmes, who stars as a younger version of himself--he's got a failing marriage and is just starting out in stand-up.  He goes to the clubs and we meet other comedians playing themselves.  Above all we meet Artie Lange as himself--Holmes leaves his cheating wife and crashes in Artie's pad.

The pilot wasn't bad.  Holmes is low-key but charming, and Lange comes across well.  The show is also produced by Judd Apatow, who must have more projects going than anyone else in town.  Mike Birbiglia is a consultant, which makes sense, since he made a movie, Sleepwalk With Me (2012), that was about his early days in stand-up.

Then there's I'm Dying Up Here, which will debut later this year on Showtime. Created (but not written by) Jim Carrey, it's based on the William Knoedesleder book of the same name about the 1970s LA comedy scene.  It stars Melissa Leo as a comedy club owner who I can only assume is a fictionalized version of Mitzi Shore, who ran the Comedy Store back then.

It sounds interesting, but you always wonder, when there's a show about comedians, will we be seeing much stand-up within the show?  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be weird, since you're once-removed from it--is the stand-up part of the plot, or is it to be enjoyed on its own.  Ironically, if you're involved in the world of the characters, you'd probably rather see them offstage anyway.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

You have reminded me of a question I've been meaning to investigate. The Seinfeld show always featured a snippet of Jerry's stand-up act that related in some way to the dilemma dealt with in that episode. Were those written for the TV show or did Jerry have such a huge storehouse of material that the writers could always find something that fit? I always thought the stand-up was pretty good in it's own right.

4:48 AM, February 21, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always went to bathroom during that part

7:48 AM, February 21, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Some of the earliest episodes may have featured material he already had (in fact, some of the jokes he did in the plot sections were from his act), but later on, I think he was writing original material for the show.

9:00 AM, February 21, 2017  

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