Jesse Thorn's blog

Behind the Scenes of "Lucky Louie"


A few weeks ago on the show, we interviewed Louis CK, the standup-comic and creator of the upcoming HBO series "Lucky Louie."

Some enterprising folks from have tracked down this 12-minute "behind the scenes" short about the show. Louis talked a lot on The Sound about getting back to the roots of the sitcom -- you can see what he's talking about here.

I watched "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" last night, and he made an offhand comment about the contrast between the establishing shots of "The Cosby Show" and "Good Times." You can feel the influence of the 1970s studio-audience sitcom, the legacy of Norman Lear, in this short clip. I've got high hopes for Louie's show.

New Sincerity Classics


Here are some things that are totally New Sincerity, and don't you forget it...

Best Friends

High Fives

Lemonade Stands

Ron Popeil


Catapults & Trebuchets

Forty Water Banned in Visalia?


Mike Osuegeda of the Fresno Bee exposes the Visalia Police Departments (succesful) efforts to prevent E-40 from performing a charity concert there. Luckily the Fresno Convention Center stepped in to help.

This is 2006... we're still dealing with this anti-rap-concert BS? Gimme a break.

More blogging from Aspen


More blogging from the Aspen Comedy Festival... Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere is among the folks blogging on behalf of HBO. Improv Everywhere's Chris Kula is blogging it, too, and he's bringing back reports on some of their "scenes." Even Jon Favreau's in on the action. Everyone agrees that New York's The Whitest Kids U Know are the hot ticket, and guess what? They're blogging too. And of course Dead Frog and The Onion's AV Club are there as well, offering choice Damon-Wayans related anecdotes.

I'd be there myself, but my job doesn't offer vacation days. Or enough pay to cover visiting the world's most expensive place.

The Sound of Young America, with guest Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere (MP3 Link)

Werner Herzog: Hero of The New Sincerity


Stupidity is the devil. Look in the eye of a chicken and you'll know. It's the most horrifying, cannibalistic, and nightmarish creature in this world. - Werner Herzog

This is somewhat old news, but that makes it no less spectacularly New Sincerity.

Also: Werner Herzog on Fresh Air

Why can't something funny be good?


This post is a follow-up to this one, about why there's no comedy training for actors.

This whole business is a symptom of a broader culture in which things that are funny can't possibly be good, and vice-versa. Think of this year's Oscars. "The Squid and the Whale," Noah Baumbach's wonderful serio-comic film, received the only comedy nomination in any of the major categories. The only one! Out of like 30! If you want to find any other comedy at all, you have to look at the animation category. I guess if it's funny, it isn't art.

Of course, this is self-reinforcing. If a funny prestige film gets no prestige, then why try to make funny prestige films? And if you're not making a prestige film, why not just aim for the bottom of the barrel?

Even the best comedies of the last few years, films like "School of Rock," "Rushmore," and "High Fidelity," are ignored. "Sideways" slipped through, but it was about hoity-toity stuff, which pretty much gives it a pass. I remember watching the good-but-not-great "In Good Company," and being shocked. Not because it was a shocking film, but simply because I realized I was watching a comedy that was trying to be a good film.

When no one's trying to make something good, the cream of the comedy crop ends up being semi-improvised mish-mashes like "The Wedding Crashers." There's a place for movies like that, don't get me wrong, but the pile-of-jokes thing gets old after a while. I mean, I liked "Old School," too, but I feel like I've been watching it over and over for five years.

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was a problematic film, but at least they gave it a shot. The main character had some dignity, the romance was somewhat credible. It was a bit bloated and a bit formulaic, but at least it didn't abandon all hope of being a story, with characters we care about.

At this year's SF Sketchfest, David Cross & Bob Odenkirk of Mr. Show pointed to the sketch-iness trend in recent comedies. Why bother with story, the asked, when people just want to see a bunch of jokes? Why not just make a sketch movie?

Ways to make America a better place...

| 1 comment

A) Eliminate Poverty
B) Understanding between the races
C) Give Chris Elliott a family sitcom.

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