comedy | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

comedy

Marvel Studios

WandaVision is a Disney+ miniseries that's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that's set, like, inside the history of television? It follows Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision as they try to conceal their superhero powers and blend into a generic sitcom neighborhood. Episodes so far have taken on the look and feel of American sitcoms from the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s.

Vevo

Olivia Rodrigo's "drivers license" is in its second week as the No. 1 song in the country, having debuted there last week. It is the first debut single by any artist to hit the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 in history.

And: Pretend It's a City is Martin Scorsese's seven-part Netflix documentary series about Fran Liebowitz that's actually also kind of about New York City.

And finally: How To with John Wilson is John Wilson's six-part HBO documentary series of advice and tutorials that's actually also kind of about New York City.

TV: Macrovector at Freepik.com / Illustration: Chion Wolf


With the world the way it is, it’s no wonder we spend so much of our time watching television and movies. From sci-fi flicks like Star Trek, to unscripted reality shows like Queer Eye, to comedy dramas like Schitt’s Creek, we are basking in the very best distractions.

Sheri Terris, Flickr Creative Commons


I love Reddit. This mostly-anonymous giant internet bulletin board has a plethora of communities called subreddits, which bring all sorts of interests together.

Marc Tavernier / flickr creative commons

2020 was ... not great.

But, from a pop culture point of view, it wasn't so bad either. I mean, we got the Hamilton movie, The Queen's Gambit, the final season of Schitt's Creek, David Byrne's American Utopia, the Borat sequel, "WAP," I May Destroy You, Tiger King, two new Taylor Swift albums, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom...

The list goes on.

This hour, The Nose looks back at the year in pop culture that was 2020.

Illustration by Chion Wolf

This pandemic has shuttered so many events, including a few of my own. The Mouth-Off at the Mark Twain House was a storytelling show I hosted and produced for 8 years until 2020. But the good news is that now I get to show off some of my favorite true stories from the series here on Audacious!

The theme for this one? Eat It Up. Stories that feature food.

Netflix, Inc.

Last week, President Obama twittered a list of "memorable songs" from his administration. The list was, let's just say, not necessarily well received.

Vaguely relatedly: Incoming secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken… has his own "wonk rock" tunes up on Spotify?

And: The Liberator is a sort of animated, four-part Netflix miniseries that tells the story of the 157th Infantry in World War II.

Netflix, Inc.

Since nothing has really been going on lately, we figured we'd do an hour about the week in pop culture, as usual.

The Nose is sad to see Sean Connery go. But it's glad to see John Mulaney on SNL again.

And: The Queen's Gambit is Netflix's new limited series adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel of the same name.

HBO Max

Bill Burr hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend, and his monologue -- which included bits about wearing masks, cancel culture, white women in the "woke" movement, Pride Month, and more -- has drawn some criticism. It has The Nose thinking about "How President Trump Ruined Political Comedy."

And: The West Wing ran for seven seasons and 156 episodes and ended more than 14 years ago. A new reunion special debuted yesterday, and it's got The Nose wondering how the classic show -- with its Capraesque, idealized vision of American politics -- plays against our present reality.

Netflix, Inc.

It's been over 100 years since the first cartoons were drawn by hand. Since then, the form has delved into everything from sex and drugs to racial inequality and war crimes. Even the tamest, G-rated cartoons have often found ways of slipping in adult humor past the eyes of younger viewers.

Cartoons have been the vehicle for government propaganda, social change, and political satire. Some have been boycotted and even banned for their content while others have been deemed masterpieces and praised by critics for their bold message and style.

Pop TV

The Nose has been contemplating covering the controversy around the The Ellen DeGeneres Show literally for months now. The show returned with a new season of new episodes this week, and Ellen addressed allegations of a toxic work environment in her monologue.

And: The CBC series Schitt's Creek has been endorsed on any number of Noses over the years, but we've never actually covered it. But then, after it won literally ever Emmy in the comedy category on Sunday (a feat no show has ever before achieved), we decided that this week had to be the week.

Gage Skidmore / flickr creative commons

Bill Murray has starred in some of our favorite movies of the last few decades: Caddyshack, Stripes, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Scrooged, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day, Ed Wood, Space Jam, Lost in Translation, all the Wes Anderson films, and so many more.

He doesn't like managers or agents, and, rumor has it, he once agreed to play Garfield because he thought it was a Coen brothers film. (It wasn't.)

And now, Bill Murray is 70 (!) years old.

a hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, John Belushi, John Candy, Rick Moranis.

Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Beverly Hills Cop, Caddyshack, The Jerk, Ghost Busters, ¡Three Amigos!, Funny Farm, Spaceballs, Stripes.

We maybe didn't properly appreciate it at the time, but the 1980s were one of the most fertile periods ever for screen comedies and screen comedians.

This hour, a look at the mavericks who shaped a whole comedy aesthetic and at some of the most popular movie comedies ever made.

Speech disfluencies are mysterious. They are defined as breaks or disruptions that occur in the flow of speech.

For over 10 years, I was the midday host at Connecticut Public Radio, telling you the weather, the time, what show was coming up next — And at the top of every hour, the call letters.

Amazon.com, Inc.

We've all seen any number of emails and Tweets and Facebook posts this week from companies supporting protests and the like. Entertainment industry firms have jumped on that bandwagon too, but The Washington Post's Alyssa Rosenberg has a different idea about how those particular players might be able to help: by shutting down all the police movies and TV shows.

And: Comedian Sarah Cooper has found an elegant, perhaps surprisingly effective way to lampoon the president. She just lip syncs to his own words.

And finally: The Vast of Night is the feature film debut of writer and director Andrew Patterson. He financed its $700,000 budget himself, and after its premiere at last year's Slamdance Film Festival, Amazon acquired it. The Twilight Zone-style sci-fi mystery debuted on Amazon Prime last weekend.

Netflix, Inc.

Hannah Gadsby has been a prominent comedian in Australia for going on 15 years. In America, though, she arrived seemingly from nowhere in 2018 with a Netflix special called Nanette, which won a Peabody and an Emmy. Douglas is Gadsby's follow-up Netflix special. It's, as she calls it, her "difficult second album that is also [her] tenth and some people's first."

And: I Know This Much Is True is a six-part HBO miniseries set in Connecticut and based on the Wally Lamb novel of the same name. Mark Ruffalo plays two twin brothers, one who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and one who doesn't. Three episodes have aired so far.

hole
Mike Burns / flickr creative commons

In November, 2016, we did a show about all the problems presented by, well, a-holes. And so it seems only logical to expand our scope a bit and do a show about all the problems presented by, well, a hole.

For instance: How many holes are there in a straw? Did you say one? Okay, cool. Then how many holes are there in a sock? (A relatively new sock, I mean.) You said one again, right? But how can both of those things be true at the same time?

Or, put another way: What happens to the hole in the donut as you eat the donut around it? This gets into mereology, the theory of parthood relations -- for our purposes, the parts and wholes of holes and the wholes the holes are parts of.

Your head hurts a little, right?

Netflix, Inc.

23 Hours To Kill is Jerry Seinfeld's fourth-ever standup comedy special and his second for Netflix. It hit the streaming service on Tuesday, and The Nose thinks it's great. And also that it sucks.

And then: Waco is a six-part miniseries that tells exactly the story you'd guess it tells. Taylor Kitsch plays David Koresh. Waco was the big, original launch title for the Paramount Network when it rebranded from SpikeTV in January, 2018. So why is it relevant now? One wonders, but it was recently added to Netflix, and it's been trending there for weeks.

Focus Features

There are plenty of questions about what the future of live performance looks like right now, and, in certain ways, no form seems more displaced by social distancing and everything else than does standup comedy. As such, people are just going to have to try new things, right? New York club comedian Ted Alexandro's YouTube comedy special is one of the first such experiments.

Matthew Glover / flickr creative commons

Fiona Apple's new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is currently the best-reviewed album, um, ever, according to Metacritic. Bon Iver has a new benefit single out that seems to have been written specifically for the present moment. Norah Jones has a new tune. Bob Dylan has kind of randomly put out two new songs, one of which charted in the U.K. despite being very nearly 17 minutes long.

And then, here's a trivia question: There are five artists who have charted singles in the Top 40 in each of the last four decades, Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2, Kenny G... and who's the fifth? Would you believe it's this guy?

National Theatre

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live aired a prerecorded special, "Saturday Night Live at Home." Tom Hanks hosted from his kitchen. Michael Che and Colin Jost did Weekend Update from their living rooms and by Zoom or something similar. Chris Martin covered a Bob Dylan song in front of handwritten "ENTRANCE TO TRAIN" signs.

All of the late night shows are operating in some similar way right now. Jimmy Kimmel hosts from his living room and has people like Jason Bateman on by Skype or whatever. John Oliver sits at his desk in front of a mysterious white wall. Samantha Bee hosts from the woods.

FX Productions, LLC

The novel coronavirus has started to take its toll on figures from our popular culture. Adam Schlesinger, who founded Fountains of Wayne and wrote songs for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend among other things, died on Wednesday. The great playwright Terrence McNally died last week. The list goes on: songwriter Alan Merrill, country music star Joe Diffie, fashion designer Jenny Polanco, college basketball star Dave Edwards, actor Mark Blum, soccer star Lorenzo Sanz. And it seems like the jazz community has been especially vulnerable: guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, pianists Ellis Marsalis and Mike Longo, and trumpeter Wallace Roney have all died.

And then: Dave is an FXX comedy series that tells a fictionalized version of the rise of rapper Lil Dicky, and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch is a Netflix children's special that Mulaney made "on purpose."

Yujin =) / Flickr

From ancient mixtures of boiled goat fats and ashes to modern artisanal soaps with calendula and coffee grinds, humans have been inventing clever ways of cleaning themselves since the very beginning.

This quest for cleanliness has wound its way through religion, sexuality, culture, and more. It has been the source of everything from comedies to conflicts to consumer crazes. This hour we talk to experts and historians about the history of hygiene.

Netflix, Inc.

Katy Perry dropped a new single and video (which we apparently call a "visual" now) on Wednesday night. The video ends with what's being called "a stunning reveal."

And: A pair of new comedy specials caught the Nose's eye. Pete Davidson's Alive in New York on Netflix and Whitmer Thomas's The Golden One on HBO are both kind of... sad-funny? Funny-sad? And maybe in a particularly millennial way.

Lionsgate

Quarantine culture is coming. Maybe. So we start with a look at the coronavirus in comedy, COVID in culture, etc.

And then: Knives Out is Rian Johnson's fifth feature film as writer and director. It's mostly a howcatchem in the vein of Columbo and an all-star ensemble cast murder mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie adaptations like Murder on the Orient Express. It was nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), and Johnson's screenplay was nominated for an Oscar. It's out on DVD/Blu-ray/4K and for rental on iTunes/Amazon/etc. this week.

Jonathan McNicol / Connecticut Public Radio

This week, The Washington Post published "The 20 defining comedy sketches of the past 20 years" covering television sketch comedy of the 2000s. It includes a lot of what you'd expect it to include: SNL's "More Cowbell" and "Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks," Inside Amy Schumer's "Last F---able Day," Chappelle's Show's "Frontline -- Clayton Bigsby."

rauter25 / Flickr

Love it or hate it, ventriloquism is hot these days. From Jeff Dunham's superstardom to three recent America's Got Talent winners, 'vents' are seeing more exposure than they have in decades. And with this attention comes new fans and practicioners from around the world.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

The Netflix limited series Unbelievable stars Toni Collette, Merritt Wever, and Kaitlyn Dever. It tells the true story of a serial rapist and the investigation that caught him, and it's based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Marshall Project and ProPublica article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape" and the This American Life episode based on that.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

Merriam-Webster has added 533 new words to its dictionary. Words like "deep state," "pickleball," "escape room," and "Bechdel test." My favorite is probably "fatberg." But there's a particular new dictionary entry that The Nose is specifically interested in: "dad joke."

Pages