All Rogans Lead To Austin-Tatiousness
Landing the Comedy Mothership as the Too Much Comedy era continues Marching into 2023
When Joe Rogan moved to Austin early in the pandemic, he promised he’d open his own comedy club in the heart of Texas. His Comedy Mothership finally lands with a “soft opening” Tuesday on the capital city’s primary party drag strip, Sixth Street, just in time for SXSW (even if the festival has nothing scheduled there, and Rogan’s club replaced the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz which used to be a beacon for SXSW film/comedy screenings and panels in years past).
SXSW's 2023 comedy schedule begins this Friday (March 10) with panels, screenings and live comedy shows at The Creek and The Cave and Esther’s Follies.
2023 SXSW Comedy Festival Participants: Abbi Jacobson • Adrienne Iapalucci • Andre Hyland • Anna Kendrick • Anthony Atamanuik • Anthony DeVito • Aristotle Athari • Beth Stelling • Bob Odenkirk • Brian Moses • Caitlin Peluffo • Caleb Hearon • Chelsea Handler • Christina Catherine Martinez • Doug Benson • Eddie Pepitone • Emma Willmann • Eric André • Felipe Esparza • Godfrey • Greg Proops • Ismael Loutfi • Jackie Fabulous • Jake Johnson • James Adomian • Jessica McKenna • Joe DeRosa • John Gemberling • Josh Johnson • Joyelle Johnson • Katherine Blanford • Leonard Maltin • Matt Besser • Mike Lawrence • Natalie Palamides • Nick Thune • Patton Oswalt • Pete Lee • Phoebe Robinson • Rachel Sennott • Reggie Watts • Sabrina Jalees • Sam Jay • Sam Tallent • Sandy Honig • Steve Agee • Steph Tolev • Stuart Goldsmith • Tim Robinson • Todd Barry • Tone Bell • Yamaneika Saunders
2023 SXSW Comedy Festival Special Programs: Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show • ASSSSCAT • The Comedian’s Comedian • Comic Relief US • The Creek & The Cave • Doug Loves Movies • Good Trip Live: A Night of Comedy and Psychedelic Stories • Gotham Comedy Club • I Used to Be Funny • improv4humans • Maltin on Movies • Matt Besser’s 420 Show • Roast Battle’s Tournament of Champions • Swan Leak: A Silent Clown Ballet • Variety Power of Comedy
Comedy Mothership is supposed to formally open April 1. So, will Moontower Just For Laughs Austin include them in their plans next month? Stay tuned.
The online literature for Comedy Mothership really shows The Comedy Store’s influences, not only naming its bar after the late Mitzi Shore, but also snagging the Store’s former booker, Adam Eget, more than a year ago. Tony Hinchcliffe’s weekly Kill Tony open-mic roast podcast is moving in next week, after temporarily holding court a block away at Vulcan Gas Co. The Mothership, meanwhile, plans on eventually hosting shows in two separate rooms — Fat Man and Little Boy — named after the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 to end World War II.
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So let’s talk about dropping some bombs on comedy. Truth bombs? Or just bombing? Either way…
Rogan just had Russell Brand visit last week for Episode #1949 of his multi-million-dollar Spotify podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Brand followed up that almost-three-hour-tour with a barnstorming Friday night of Bill Maher’s live HBO show, Real Time. Fans either loved or hated Brand for sucking up all the oxygen in that room.
The biggest name in comedy to join Rogan in Austin during the pandemic was Dave Chappelle, who also was just on tour with Chris Rock, who in turn just performed Netflix’s first-ever livestreaming comedy special on Saturday night.
Why do I mention all of this? Because these fellas all operate in a different orbit from you and me (and not just because it fits Rogan’s self-idealized poster version of him towering over aliens).
I used to think Rock and Chappelle might be the Carlin and Pryor of my generation — Rock, like Carlin, so meticulous with a superior work ethic of joke-writing; Chappelle, like Pryor, seemed to have a natural genius for stand-up — but this could hold true much easier in 2008, when Rock had released his epic Kill The Messenger special and Chappelle was performing off the media radar. In their later years, Pryor’s MS limited his ability to perform and he retreated further from the spotlight, while Carlin kept evolving and probing and improving himself until he died. On the other hand, Chappelle came back for that Netflix money only to get lost in his own mythology and ego, while Rock got divorced, and after reflecting on that for Tamborine, just stopped evolving?!? Talk about Selective Outrage…Rock fell back upon familiar refrains from Tamborine, Never Scared, and even his closer felt like something the Chris Rock of Bring The Pain would mock him for saying.
Listening to all of these guys now, it’s quite clear that they’re living in a world where it’s easy to bash both sides of the political aisle because none of the potential legislation will ever impact them personally. At least the rich and powerful have similar pocketbook interests to them, and that’s who they’re preaching to now, anyhow. They’re telling jokes for the white guys who fund the maintenance of their luxurious, relatively care-free lifestyles. They’re telling jokes for Ted Sarandos at his garden parties, or for Peter Thiel’s Rumble, or for even more baffling reasons, Elon Musk. Did I imagine it, or did Rock voluntarily tell a joke in which the premise is how sexually desired Musk is??? No, none of us hallucinated that. Rock actually made Musk out to be as desirable as Jason Momoa!
I’m pretty sure now that Chappelle didn’t expect his San Francisco arena audience to boo Musk last year when he brought him onstage.
But Chappelle and Rock are so much closer to Musk than they are now to the people paying to see them perform live or on Netflix.
When Rogan asked Brand last week about his own pivot from acting/comedy to podcasting, Brand said: “The truth is it happened organically,” but moments earlier, acknowledged that organic development came “when Rumble came to me with an offer: If you may us your primary home, if you do an hour a day streaming,” they’d make it worth his while. And Brand said of meeting Donald Trump, Jr.: “He’s absolutely lovely.”
Which makes the cognitive dissonance that much more staggering when Rogan and Brand try to laugh off the idea that anyone might want to portray Rumble as alt-right. I mean, where could they get such notions??? Just because ultra-conservative Thiel is funding the platform, and just because DJT Jr. is profiting from behavior that’s the opposite of absolutely lovely, I mean other than that, how could anyone think that?
Rogan continues to espouse beliefs that the left is somehow more authoritarian than the right politically, despite actual legislation and executive orders getting pushed out on the regular from his boys in office in Florida and Texas. But see, the social media “mobs” feel more real to Rogan and his comedian buddies, wanting to police what he says onstage, while none of the actual hard-right legislation will change a single thing in his life, or that of Brand or Rock or Chappelle. So it’s easier to question the establishment and tell the masses that corporations and the military-industrial complex have a stranglehold on both Democrats and Republicans, and to blame the media for pushing people to the right, even if Rogan still claims to want “a rational center” that’s actually Libertarian. Because being a libertarian is easy when you don’t have to worry about paying the bills and have more than enough left over to build yourself a fortress to separate yourself from the less fortunate.
But you know, these guys are just “asking questions.” Not that they ever have the answers. At one point, Rogan and Brand agreed that they’re not so much conspiracy theorists about the pandemic or anything else, as much as believing that powerful people/interests take advantage of the opportunities presented by tragedy and chaos.
Hmmm. Imagine that….Imagine. That.
Awards Season Continues!
The best of the four ways Rock joked we can get attention is to be excellent. So congratulations to these funny people on their excellence, as demonstrated by the awards they won over the weekend!
At the Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by Hasan Minhaj, The Bear took home best new scripted TV series, Quinta Brunson and Ayo Edebiri won the best performer in new scripted TV honors (now all-gender).
At the Writers Guild Awards, hosted by Janelle James (in LA) and Michelle Buteau (in NYC), winners included The Bear (Karen Joseph Adcock, Joanna Calo, Rene Gube, Sofya Levitsky-Weitz, Alex O’Keefe, Catherine Schetina, Christopher Storer); Severance (Chris Black, Andrew Colville, Kari Drake, Dan Erickson, Mark Friedman, Helen Leigh, Anna Moench, Amanda Overton); The White Lotus (Mike White); “The One, The Only,” Hacks (Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs & Jen Statsky); Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Daniel O’Brien, Owen Parsons, Charlie Redd, Joanna Rothkopf, Seena Vali, Johnathan Appel, Ali Barthwell, Tim Carvell, Liz Hynes, Ryan Ken, Mark Kramer, Sofia Manfredi, John Oliver, Taylor Kay Phillips, Chrissy Shackelford); Inside Amy Schumer (Georgie Aldaco, Rosebud Baker, Jeremy Beiler, Cazzie David, Tova Diker, Derek Gaines, Jon Glaser, Jaye McBride, Tim Meadows, Christine Nangle, Daniel Powell, Tami Sagher, Amy Schumer, Joe Strazzullo, Sydnee Washington, Ron Weiner); and Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel
And at Nickelodeon’s Kid Choice Awards: Adam Sandler received the Special King of Comedy Silver Blimp for his prolific career in comedy as an actor, writer, producer, comedian and musician over the past 30 years, accepted from a giant, opulent throne on the KCA stage before getting decimated in Nickelodeon’s iconic Slime
Sue Sues CBS Over IP, #MeToo Shenanigans
On Friday, Paramount Global disclosed a $122.5 million settlement against class action lawsuits pending in Delaware from Viacom shareholders over the CBS merger.
On Feb. 21, Paramount Global faced a new federal lawsuit brought against them by comedian Sue Costello. Costello had received two TV deals from Les Moonves before finally getting one of her shows on the air in 1998, the short-lived FOX sitcom, Costello. In July 2017, she again met with Moonves to pitch a new TV series to CBS, but this time around, she claims CBS executives stole her idea and attempted to pay her off, and a year later, when #MeToo news surfaced about Moonves, they tried to get her to participate in the internal investigation on him. Then in 2022, news broke that Moonves and CBS had received interference from officers inside the LAPD. Now Costello is charging the network with Breach of Written Contract, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, Tortious Interference, Constructive (Contract) Fraud, Fraudulent Inducement, Malicious Intent to Cause Emotional and Financial Distress, and Discrimination on the Basis of Sex.
Costello spoke with me on my podcast back in 2017, as things were starting to swirl around her.
I wonder just how often and how many other comedians or writers or performers have found themselves bullied and victimized by the TV and/or movie studios, and felt they had no recourse?
You tell me (please!).
Industry News and Notes
What else is new?
Among comedians adding tour dates this past week: Fortune Feimster, Adam Sandler, Kevin Hart, Andrew Santino and Bobby Lee
BET+ has deals with DeVon Franklin for two projects: Played, a comedy in which Franklin would star as TV personality and dysfunctional dater; and Closure, a family drama inspired by Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson’s life after baseball as a funeral home owner.
The BBC is banking on more success from Cunk on Earth star Diane Morgan and Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed, inking deals with both of them.
Netflix, meanwhile, wants whatever comedy Kristen Bell will star in next, ordering up an untitled series from Bell, created by Erin Foster and EP’d by Bell, Foster and Steven Levitan.
FOX has ordered THREE seasons of animated series Krapopolis, even though the latest show from Dan Harmon hasn’t even aired yet and won’t until the 2023-24 season. So don’t shed too many tears for Harmon over the scandals at Rick & Morty.
Fulwell 73, the production shingle responsible for James Corden’s Late Late Show and its offshoots, will remain in business with CBS Studios for the next three years, it seems.
In case you missed it, during the Chris Rock “pre-show” telecast, Ronny Chieng also announced that Netflix plans a second comedy festival in Los Angeles, returning in May 2024.
And who saw this coming? Film studio A24 has purchased the Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC’s Greenwich Village, home to some of the best off-Broadway comedy shows in recent years.
Last Week’s Specials
New on HBO Max
Marlon Wayans: God Loves Me (my review in Decider)
New on Netflix
A Whole Lifetime with Jamie Demetriou (my review in Decider)
Chris Rock: Selective Outrage (my review in Decider)
New on YouTube
Aakash Metha: No Smoking, INDIA,
Masud Akbarzadeh: Fame, GERMAN-IRANIAN
John McCombs: Make a Way to Estonia (via Four by Three)
Graham Elwood: Manifest It (via All Things Comedy)
Gaurav Kapoor: Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, INDIA (only 21 minutes but more than 1 million views!)
Paul Mone: Elected, N. IRELAND
New on Amazon and Vimeo
THIS WEEK: 14 (Previous subtotal: 90) Running total for 2023: 104 stand-up specials!
Battle of the Instant Stand-Ups on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (featuring Nat Towsen and Allison Reese)
Fun Things To Do In NYC
This past weekend’s show(s) I plugged in The New York Times: Tom Delgado, a lawyer-turned-comedian and NYC tour guide, launched a monthly showcase in February at Caveat called Tom D’s Big New York Show. It happens first Saturdays of the month, so your next chance is April 1, 2023. But you can still buy VOD tickets for this past weekend’s show (VOD through March 11), which featured Janeane Garofalo, Gastor Almonte, and an interview with Patrick Bringley, who wrote a new book about being a museum guide at The Met.
Would you like to promote your comedy show or album or special or whatnot on this newsletter???
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Thanks for reading!
thank you as always for all of this!
i particularly like this line:
"it’s quite clear that they’re living in a world where it’s easy to bash both sides of the political aisle because none of the potential legislation will ever impact them personally."
and the rest of it!
you're great! thank you!
Also from the Department of Oversight: It also was only brought to my attention yesterday that Nick Youssef released his stand-up special, "Take Care," on YouTube on Feb. 18 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q5MzAsF81o). I didn't catch it because it didn't come up in any of my three search parameters. Sorry about that!
That brings my running total of new Stand-Up Comedy Specials for 2023 to...105. If you think I've missed anyone else, please let me know so I can add them to the list. Thanks!