From the announcement that Larry Wilmore would take over at 11:30PM timeslot on Comedy Central to Chris Rock becoming our comedic version of Jean-Luc Godard with Top Five, 2014 was a pretty great year in the laugh business. And yeah, it was a pretty good year for us here at The Experiment Comedy, as we close out a full year as a thing that your eyeballs and ears to enjoy.
Here are some of our writers’ most favorite things to have happened in the comedy scene in the year that is 2014, in no particular order:
My number one comedy “thing” of 2014 with a cartoon bullet that wears a cowboy hat, has a Sam Elliot mustache and fires it’s own miniature guns while flying through the air… you know. Like the dum-dums from Roger Rabbit…
What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. My number one is Weird Al Yankovic. A ton of amazing things happened in the comedy world this year (And some are mentioned by my colleagues on this post) but for a career that spans 38 years, 2014 was one hell of a year for old polka lovin’ Yankovic. Why it’s significant to me is that for my entire adolescence Weird Al’s music wasn’t just my main window into comedy it was my ONLY window into music in general. I listened to, and loved, Smells Like Nirvana BEFORE I knew who Nirvana was. Until, at least, middle school I knew only his parody songs without ever hearing the originals. In 4th grade I spent three days shaping and painting a fake foam guitar just so my best friend Matt could smash it at the end of our mock performance of Smells Like Nirvana at the yearly talent show. Yeah, that was our talent. Miming to Weird Al. Talented.
Back on track: Two significant things happened this year for Alfred. UHF, one of, if not THE, best insanely bizarre family friendly comedies ever made saw it’s 25th anniversary with a new Blu-ray release from Shout! Factory. I used to rent UHF every chance I got from a local ma and pop video store called Video Vista. The amount of times I rented that VHS tape my parents could probably have bought a crate of copies. And, that’s back when rentals were fifty cents, you whipper snappers. To this day UHF in my family is as quoted, if not more so than, The Simpsons. If you know me and/or my family that is a lot of quoting. Like “Shutup, and stop talking about teaching poodles to fly!” levels of annoying quoting. I also would rent, from time to time, the hilarious mockumentary The Compleat Al which is also available from Shout! Factory (I swear they aren’t paying me. Al though they probably should be considering the amount of their products I buy.) It’s only in DVD form as it was made for Showtime TV but still worth watching.
Essentially, all things Weird Al are my jimmy jam. Even his version of Peter and Wolf. Which I got as a bootleg cassette when I was seven years old and still have in a shoe box. Bootleg cassettes, again for you youngins, was the Napster before Napster was a thing that made kids say “What the hell was a Napster?”. I’m shaking my cane at you right now.
The bigger significant Yankovic moment of 2014 was the release of his newest album Mandatory Fun which is his first ever #1 album as noted here. Not only that but he released 8 music videos for the album, one after another daily, exclusively through different websites. The man who has made a career, several decades long, parodying people is ahead of the curve when it comes to promotion and the future of the music industry. He’s stated that Mandatory Fun was his last record on his contract. Some people believed that meant he was done making them but instead he’s looking toward releasing songs as quickly as possible as mentioned in this Vulture article.
Here’s all eight of his videos you should watch NOW. Yeah, most of them are Experiment links. Got to get the clicks, guys. This is a business. A poor, poor business.
Myself, I’m going to be enjoying his holiday themed songs like Christmas At Ground Zero and The Night Santa Went Crazy. Weird Holidays to you all and here’s to a hilarious 2015, hopefully with more from Al!
This may go down as the single most historic thing to happen in comedy: When Barack Obama went on The Colbert Report on December 8th, he became the first sitting President ever to co-host a late night comedy show. And what made it even extra special was the fact that it was one giant meta joke. We all know that comedian Stephen Colbert plays a character named “Stephen Colbert”, who helms his own political chat show where he rages against Liberals and most of all, President Obama. In the clip above, The Leader of the Free World got the chance to sit behind the desk and deliver the rant against his health care initiatives that was written for Colbert’s character. So, for a few minutes, Barack Obama was “Stephen Colbert”, the most anti-Obama person on television.
Take that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Rielly, and other meatheads!
Right-ho Experiment fans (Experimenters? Experiments? Can we get that over?), here’s my number one pop culture phenom, thing, whatever, of the year; a little thing called motherfucking HOODSLAM! (All-caps isn’t required, but highly recommended.) Some of you may not have heard of this Oakland based wrestling/variety show and I’m not going to go into the details of it’s background. Instead, read about it’s background in The LA Times or in Vice or check out the movie that was made about them or, hell, just go to their website and find out when the next show is and experience the accidental, hopefully soon to be nationally known (because it should be, dammit), phenomenon for yourself. Hoodslam is a thing that’s hard to quantify. If you’re a pro graps fan, it’s the closest thing you’ll ever get to being part of the old ECW you’ll ever get while simultaneously being better. If you think wrestling is stupid and lame (then you’re stupid and lame), it’s the most fun, bizarre, accepting of all (except kids, don’t bring you’re f’n kids) concert type atmosphere that you’ll ever experience in your sad, pathetic waste of a life. So read the articles, watch the movie, go to the show and spread the Hoodslam mantra of fuck the fans! Fuck the fucking fans!
I’ve spent this entire year complaining how all online articles have degraded into things like “29 Ways ‘The Little Mermaid’ Changed My Life”. Listicles they call them. And yet here I am willingly participating in a listicle where I get to choose my favorite moment in comedy for 2014. But The Experiment Comedy continually lets me write a column entitled “How To Not Be A Dick” so clearly they are the greatest site in the world.
I love comedy. I love people who bring me to the point where I can use the phrase “crying laughing” and mean it. Not like you insincere LOL people.
Like many kids, I grew up with my parents telling me how much they loved Saturday Night Live. I first learned from them about Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Rosannadanna and Jane Curtin’s famous deadpan expression. I would watch my parents try to explain these things to me-in the days before YouTube-and they would completely botch the retelling of the jokes and sketches, but holy shit did they still laugh so hard about it.
So it fits that my favorite moment in comedy this year has to do with SNL. Specifically, when Jim Carrey hosted. My parents don’t watch the show much anymore. Mostly because they haven’t seen the other side of their eyelids past 9:30pm for the better part of a decade. They also feel-and rightly so-that the majority of the humor is now aimed at a demographic far younger. The Social Media generation. My parents still think Facebook is struggling to make its way in the world. “That Zuckerberg kid sure does work hard! I’ll give him that!”
I was in San Francisco on a business trip when it aired and watching Carrey parodying Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln commercials made me laugh so hard that the people in the next room banged on the adjoining wall. But I couldn’t help it. It was beyond my control. He is the consummate host-and I have to wonder why SNL doesn’t have him back more often. What are they opposed to? High ratings? People actually laughing? YouTube clips going viral?
My favorite sketch of the night was the “Secret Billionaire” and because my appreciation of all things weird and funny first began with them, I texted the links of that sketch and the Lincoln parodies to my parents the next morning. At a more reasonable hour. And my mom instantly wrote back, “Oh my! He’s too funny. We are just crying laughing over here.”
HONORABLE MENTION MOMENT: Chris Franjola’s comedy album The Shallow End available on iTunes is laugh out loud hilarious.
Black people in comedy were my favorite part of 2014. Lots of Internet back-and-forth happened this year over “diversity”, but it’s 2014, more Black people on TV being funny is good for everybody. I wouldn’t even call it “diversity” but reality. There are a lot of people in the country that aren’t rich and white (the prime demo for networks and advertisers). Most TV watchers (read: people) in the Midwest (read: suburbs, where I’m from) don’t interact with minorities on a daily basis or personal level. Their perception of “them” is defined by TV, which is a pretty mutated, distortion of reality. The Internet however has been a blazing with Worldstar, Black Twitter, Vines, etc. Creative stuff that actually makes me laugh out loud, I guess because it’s not “safe” — but real. I think networks will realize they’re missing out on huge ratings by failing to create programs and content that deals with the realities of American life for people; not just with “moving home” shows either. But then maybe, they don’t want to? Maybe they want to keep the distortion of reality happening and pander to people too lazy or isolated to know that they’re watching is not real… until it’s too late, am I right?!
To end the year, as well as a decade of podcasting, Slate came up with a list of the Top 25 Greatest Podcast Episodes of All Time. That’s right, not podcasts as a whole, but individual episodes. By my calculations, those numbers range somewhere between a trillion and infinity, but the fine people at the site undertook the mission and came up with a very comprehensive list which included scripted material such as the fan favorite Welcome to Nightvale, the improvised genius of Paul F.Tompkins in The Dead Authors Podcast, and the auditory phenomenon that has been the documentary style hit Serial. Spoiler: Number One on the list was an episode of WTF with Marc Maron from 2010 which was originally released as a two parter. The guest: Louie C.K. Two funny guys — arguably two of the funniest guys out there — shooting the shit, mending their friendship, being honest yet still being hilarious. To me, that kind of recognition makes that the best moment in comedy for this year.
Nothing brings me more joy during the week than listening to Ice-T’s Final Level podcast. He is an engaging host, in the same manner that your crazy but still cool uncle is, who has invited you to his New Year’s Eve party. Ice is the everyman with strong opinions but who is also interested in connections people from different walks of life have, like for example, the fact that both his Law & Order: SVU co-star Mariska Hargitay and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy loved Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. But nothing will prepare you for his interview with his former New Jack City co-hort Chris Rock, who is there to promote Top Five. Ice has an affinity for comedians (he’s had Toddy Barry and Paul F. Tompkins as well) but no more than for Rock. He’s not just a friend, he’s a fan. For an hour or so, we all become Ice-T, which is something many of us had only dreamed of.
HAPPY END OF 2014 FROM THE EXPERIMENT COMEDY!