Sometimes, you just get tired, lethargic and don’t want to do anything.
This is happening a lot in the wider (though shrinking) world of journalism — especially entertainment journalism, of which I still consider myself a part — as, week after week, countless print and digital outlets are downsizing and hundreds of writers, editors and freelancers (like myself) are forced to compete over fewer and fewer gigs.
I’m in the middle of a massive (and possibly career-altering) job hunt that, I hope, will either help support me so that I can keep doing this on the side, or take me out of the writer’s pool altogether. So, yeah, I’m tired and haven’t been nearly as productive as I initially promised I would be on Too Much Comedy. For that, I apologize. Hopefully, things will pick up and, as a result, I’ll be able to stick to weekly editions.
Anyways, today’s edition of the newsletter follows below, though I’ve made a few slight changes to its structure. Going forward, I’m not going to insert separate, repeated sections for smaller bits and feedback. Instead, I’m going to make use of Substack’s button feature, which is either completely new or just something I’d never noticed before.
See what I mean? It’s so convenient. (And, probably, annoying.)
Hey, want to watch 24 hours straight of uninterrupted comedy?
Ahead of Friday’s premiere of Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents’ latest season, the cable channel will launch a 24-hour live stream on its official YouTube channel consisting entirely of “its deep vault of half-hour stand-up specials” from the past.
Per the official press release:
The live stream will include performances from some of the biggest names in comedy including Kevin Hart (2004), Jim Gaffigan (2000), Amy Schumer (2010), John Mulaney (2009), Zach Galifianakis (2001), Patton Oswalt (1999), Michael Che (2014), Gabriel Iglesias (2003), Anthony Jeselnik (2009), Daniel Tosh (2003), Sebastian Maniscalco (2008), Chris Redd (2017), Donald Glover (2010). In all, the 24-hour live stream will feature a curated playlist of over 60 half-hour stand-up specials.
I know I’ve branded Too Much Comedy as being about how there’s “way too much goddamn stand-up comedy right now,” but this? This is a lot. But hey! At least it’s located on YouTube and not Comedy Central’s actual network. This means that the Viacom-owned channel won’t have to cut into its latest The Office marathon, and viewers interested only have to watch when they want to. It’s a win-win for us all!
What about new, proper half-hour specials?
Obvious sarcasm notwithstanding, Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents has routinely espoused some of the industry’s greatest talents, be they just-established or on the rise, and this latest batch is no different. From The Daily Show correspondents Jaboukie Young-White and Dulcé Sloan, to the previously Austin-based Vanessa Gonzalez and New York’s own Nore Davis, the 12 half-hours set to air between Friday and late November feature plenty of names known and unknown to general audiences.
If you’re one of the holdouts who haven’t managed to “cut the cord” from their lives (and replace it with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and other streaming options that, combined, cost the same as — if not more than — cable), then Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents is definitely worth your time.
The first two episodes, Young-White and Gonzalez’s half-hours, premiere Friday, October 18th at 11:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.
No? There’s always Netflix!
I almost subtitled this “No? There’s always (and will always and forever be) Netflix!” but we all know that cannot possibly be true. Nothing lasts forever. And considering the sheer speed at which social media, metrics and technology-driven entertainment is moving now, the current comedy “boom” is inevitably going to burst. As Bloomberg recently noted, Netflix “is cutting back” on its stand-up production and distribution. (To the tune of 20 or so specials, as this time last year, the streamer had released 50 titles. Right now, that number’s closer to 30.)
Even so, October has been one hell of a good month for Netflix, comedy-wise. From (internal) The Standups veterans Nikki Glaser and Deon Cole, to actress Jenny Slate and late night host Arsenio Hall, the streamer has managed to release (or schedule) a good variety of stand-up.
Or HBO, which may be launching a comeback of sorts
Of course, Netflix’s stand-up cuts mean less stand-up overall. Sure, Bloomberg reports “the company is now investing more in areas like sketch comedy and shorter sets from lesser-known comedians,” and yes, they’ve been releasing (and supporting) oddball titles like Tim Robinson’s sketch-driven I Think You Should Leave and other similar programs. But the numbers don’t lie.
Maybe that’s why Comedy Central (Stand-Up Presents and many other scripted and non-scripted shows) and HBO have been doing more stand-up-specific programming in recent months than the past few years. As the latter’s programming chief Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter in 2017, “stand-up specials account for less than 1 percent of usage on [HBO] Go and Now.” Therefore, the thinking at the time concluded, doing more stand-up was not a winning strategy. “It's hard for me to pay [an] exorbitant price,” he said, referencing the colossal figures Netflix was paying to the likes of Amy Schumer, Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres and Jerry Seinfeld. “When prices come down, or when it makes sense again, it's relatively easy to get back in. We'll wait it out.”
But now, HBO is producing and distributing a great deal more stand-up. From Ramy Youssef and Julio Torres’ first specials, to new hours from industry stalwarts like Gary Gulman and Sarah Silverman, all kinds of new traditional and genre-bending shows are pouring out of the premium network. Yes, they’re nowhere close to reproducing Netflix’s numbers — even in an “off” year for the streamer — but that’s not the point. Netflix has been trying to amass a huge library of stand-up specials from big names and new faces alike since 2012. Seven years later, they’ve got it. HBO, on the other hand, must contend just as much with streaming and social media as cable subscribers. So while they too possess a big library of titles, they’ve also decided to focus more on innovation and originality.
As promised, here’s Molly
There she is! She’s so good. Gonna go give her a treat now.