Punchline Magazine analysis: the rise of comedian on comedian programming

By Jake Kroeger Punchline Magazine Laugh Spin | April 4, 2011 at 11:11 am

Late last week, HBO dropped a teaser for their new behind-the-curtain comedy special, Talking Funny (see video below) which features such astronomically big names as Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais simply sitting in a room chatting about their craft.

Stalwart comedy observers might think of Talking Funny of HBO’s answer to Showtime’s oft-praised Green Room with Paul Provenza– which is basically the same concept (except it runs weekly and with typically more “underground” comics).

But independent of this pair of high-profile cable channel shows, the Internet preceded and furthered the trend of comedian-on-comedian interviews and has done so in more innovative ways.

One of the most prominent comedy podcasts, WTF with Marc Maron, started back in 2009 and has grown to such popularity (200,000+ downloads each week) — with Maron’s deft hand in scoring chats with both like-minded comedians like Patton Oswalt, or perceived enemies like Gallagher — that he’s been recently profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

And no doubt, WTF‘s popularity has encouraged a whole new crop of comedians to pursue their own online comedian-on-comedian shows. Take A Drink With Dave, which finds comedian Dave Holmes acting as a bartender as he interviews the likes of comedians Jimmy Pardo and Matt Braunger, who play the part of bar patrons (see video below). In this incredibly relaxed setting, Holmes and his guests riff off each other, all the while a quality interview is produced. It’s always engaging and worth watching.

WED March 30: Jimmy Pardo from Brandon Walowitz on Vimeo.

Another even more underground version of this comedian on comedian web series includes a live streaming show from a lounge accessed through an alley in Los Angeles called Comedy Speakeasy with comedian host Josh Filipowski. The show features stand-up performances followed by interviews by Filipowksi with comedians of all shapes and sizes, including Sean Patton who recently made his TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon or Eric Andre who frequently appears on Lopez Tonight, all the way to comics who are vastly unknown to the public, like Comedy Store paid regular, Jerrod Carmichael. Comedy Speakeasy is a great way to see into the heads of what it’s like to climb the ranks as a comedian.

Even national restaurant chain Denny’s has jumped on the bandwagon, giving Jason Bateman and Will Arnett’s “comedy enterprise” Dumb Dumb their own web series, Always Open with David Koechner (see video below). More along the lines of Zach Galifianakis’ wildly popular prank-esque interview show Between Two Ferns, Koechner basically has a meal at Denny’s with guests like Bateman or Sarah Silverman and just makes it awkward and consequently funny.

Though HBO’s Talking Funny has the makings for a hit, there’s plenty of similar content (and, with less restrictions) on the Internet.

PS: We know there’s a ton of other comedian-on-comedian podcasts, series, etc… The above wasn’t meant to be a complete list. But by all means, if you have some in mind, leave some links in our comments section.

About the Author

Jake Kroeger has dedicated his life, for better or probably worse, to comedy. Starting and continually running the Comedy Bureau, a voice for LA comedy, by himself, he also writes and performs stand-up comedy in LA and watches more live comedy than is probably humanly tolerable. He's been a daily contributor to Punchline Magazine, now Laughspin.com because he loves and believes in comedy so much. Said of Kroeger, "...without his dangerously insane, unhealthy work ethic, certain comics would not have any press at all."

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