TIME Television

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch’s Second City Show Dratch & Fey Is Now Online

Before there was 30 Rock, there was Dratch & Fey

+ READ ARTICLE

It’s hard to recall a time when Tina Fey wasn’t filling our TV sets and movie screens with big laughs, but back in 1999, before Saturday Night Live made her a household name and Mean Girls was the stuff of legend and 30 Rock GIFs filled Facebook, Fey was just another comic trying to make a name for herself in the comedy trenches.

Thanks to the magical elves that post videos to YouTube, fans can travel back in time to witness the wonder of a two-woman show called Dratch & Fey, starring Fey and fellow SNL-er Rachel Dratch. The show ran at both Second City and New York’s UCB Theater from 1999-2000, when both women were on the cusp of stardom. Dratch had joined the cast of SNL and Fey had recently been appointed as the head writer of the show, but had not yet moved in front of the camera.

The show itself, much like SNL, was a series of sketches woven together by nothing more than humor. In the clip posted to YouTube, the duo starts by riffing on “theater as social tool” with Dratch becoming Edwina Garth Burnham, a woman’s rights pioneer, while Fey adopts the personality of a modern woman exploring her sexuality. Naturally, big laughs ensue.

The quality of the video isn’t great, as it appears to have been ripped from a VHS tape, but when you get nearly an hour of vintage Dratch and Fey given free rein on stage, you don’t look a YouTube gift horse in the mouth. You just watch.

(via Splitsider)

MORE: Watch Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld Go on a Coffee Run Together

MORE: Watch Tina Fey Throw Punches in This Is Where I Leave You Trailer

TIME Music

Watch Monty Python Sing Their Last Song Ever

Always look on the bright side of life, even if there's no more Monty Python

+ READ ARTICLE

After almost 50 years together, Monty Python bid farewell in appropriate fashion: with a sing-along of their decidedly tongue-in-cheek song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

The song, which was originally performed during the final crucifixion scene from their hilarious (if heretical) film, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, was a fitting end to a long career for the influential and iconic comedy troupe.

The surviving members of the group — which included Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman, who passed away in 1989 — reunited for a 10-night series of performances billed as a “pre-posthumous memorial service” with the tag line “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go.” The Python members said that this would be the final time they performed together, a pronouncement that helped the wildly-popular and well-respected troupe sell out London’s 20,000-seat capacity O2 Arena in a staggering 43.5 seconds. Another nine dates were added, which also quickly sold out.

Their final performance, which took place on July 20th, was recorded for a live, worldwide theatrical telecast, which more than 700,000 tuned in to watch, according to a statement by UK comedy channel Gold, which hosted the broadcast. A DVD of the performance is reportedly in the works.

To end their final performance and mark their remarkable 40-plus-year career, the Pythons chose to go out with a swan song joined on stage by Mike Myers, Harry Shearer and others eager to pay their respects to the group and lift their voice in song alongside the Pythons. As “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” ended, the beloved troupe took their final bow and a screen displayed, “Monty Python, 1969 – 2014,” leaving fans the barest hope that in true Python fashion, they’re not dead yet.

MORE: Monty Python Release New Comedy Track ‘Lousy Song’

MORE: Watch Mick Jagger Prove He Can Take a Joke in Hilarious Monty Python Video

TIME Music

The Al Yankovic Paradox: He Doesn’t Seem That Weird Anymore

Weird Al
"Weird Al" Yankovic appears on NBC News' "Today" show on Sept. 26, 2013 Peter Kramer—NBC NewsWire / Getty Images

"Normal Al" just doesn't have the same ring to it

Al Yankovic — best known as Weird Al, the man who realized the “Amish” has the same number of syllables as “gangsta” — recently tweeted that he would be releasing eight new music videos in the eight days beginning July 14. The videos will feature songs from his forthcoming album Mandatory Fun (out July 15), the titles from which have not yet been announced. This move drew comparisons at Vulture to Beyoncé’s all-at-once strategy, and seems designed to capture some of the headline-grabbing buzz that she earned from deciding not to obey the usual music-release timeline.

But, as his new album approaches its release, Weird Al is in a weird place.

The reason? He just doesn’t seem so weird anymore.

Yankovic’s cultural penetration peaked in the late ’90s with platinum-selling albums like Bad Hair Day and Running With Scissors, which contained songs like “Amish Paradise” and “Pretty Fly For A Rabbi.” Around the release of his most recent album, 2011’s Alpocalypse, he told the AP that he had been “getting kind of cocky” at that point. Even though Alpocalypse broke the top 10 on the album chart, he acknowledged that sales were down and it was getting harder to get performers to approve the use of their music in his parodies. An artist experiencing declining album sales, compared to his ’90s high, is certainly not unique to Yankovich — and the parodist has been keeping fairly busy in the years between Alpocalypse and Mandatory Fun. He went on tour, he denied retirement rumors, he appeared on TV shows like Adventure Time and 30 Rock, he co-wrote three books (two for kids and one about himself) and he appeared frequently in Funny or Die videos.

That last credit is the interesting one. His most popular work was perfectly timed for the last days of pre-YouTube comedy. In the late ’90s, his music videos were some of the easiest-to-access sources of short comedy. Now, the kind of humor that used to make him seem “weird” is pretty much the most mainstream comedy out there. Countless Frozen fans have filled YouTube with “Let It Go” parodies and, since 2005, Saturday Night Live‘s Digital Shorts have been the professional equivalent. Yankovic is clearly aware of this change: in addition to Funny or Die, he’s participated in an “Epic Rap Battles of History” video — which has accumulated 11 million views in one month, versus 22 million for the official “Amish Paradise” video, which has been on YouTube for five years. In this season of Comedy Central’s YouTube-to-TV Drunk History, he plays Adolf Hitler.

All of which is to say that though Yankovic certainly wasn’t the first musical parodist or the most influential one ever — an honor that should likely go to Allan Sherman or Tom Lehrer — it looks like he may just be the last of his kind. In a world where any “weirdo” can rack up hits on a YouTube clip, the designation begins to lose its oomph. And, while it’s normally a good thing for an artist to have anticipated the zeitgeist, the exception is an artist who relies on being outside the mainstream — and “Normal Al” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

If Yankovic’s video-release strategy can make him stand out from the rest of the parody-song bunch, interest in funny clips could be great news for Mandatory Fun and for his weirdness level. It just might work: eight music videos in a week isn’t normal yet. For that matter, neither is his hairdo.

TIME Television

Whitney Cummings: “Crazy” Is the “New C-Word”

Whitney Cummings
Comedy Central

The comedian's new stand-up special premieres June 28 on Comedy Central

The fictional characters created by comedian Whitney Cummings — whether on CBS’s 2 Broke Girls or NBC’s Whitney — tend to struggle when it comes to love. But the real-life Cummings is eager to say “I love you,” at least in the title of her new one-hour stand-up special, which premieres June 28 on Comedy Central. Here, she talks to TIME about the special, her changing attitudes toward marriage, why she thinks feminism has won and how women being called “crazy” inspired her work:

TIME: Let’s talk about the title, “Whitney Cummings: I Love You.” Is it “I love you, says Whitney Cummings,” or “I love you, Whitney Cummings”?

Cummings: At the end of every show I always say ‘Thank you, I love you’ and so my director was like, Why don’t you call it that?

And with any luck people will say “I love you too.”

Exactly. The nice thing about saying “I love you” is usually someone feels obligated to say it back. People think comedians are sociopathic robots yelling at a crowd. In reality we love you and want you to love us back.

Speaking of love, I saw on Instagram that you got ordained as a minister.

The plot twists in life! I think the big theme of this phase of being a stand-up is that I thought I knew everything in my 20s. In your 30s, all of the sudden you realize you know nothing. The ironic twist is that a friend asked me to officiate her wedding, whereas my whole first special and the TV show I did at NBC were all about how I didn’t believe in marriage.

Has the wedding already happened?

No, it’s in August. I consider myself pretty good at public speaking. Like, I kind of do this for a living. But I’m so nervous.

What about?

The pressure is just so intense to do justice to this moment. If I worked half as hard on my career as I did on this wedding-officiating, I’d probably have accomplished all my goals by now.

A lot of the material in this special is about the differences between men and women.

When you say that I kind of cringe a little bit, because that’s such a fraught territory.

I don’t mean necessarily biological differences…

As a comedian, the edge is my comfort zone. What makes people uncomfortable? What’s the elephant in the room? What are we all struggling with but nobody has the courage to admit? What’s the truth, basically? But when you start saying men and women are different, people get weird. I think feminism has done its job and now you can’t imply that women and men aren’t capable of the same things.

You’re not allowed to say that women are more emotional. That pisses me off when somebody says that. I don’t want someone implying that I’m weak in any way. I didn’t cry until I was 28, you know? It’s made me feel like I have to be so strong and tough all the time. I think that’s caused me a lot of struggle in terms of what I’ve expected to be versus what seriously biologically is going on with me. That was something I wanted to get into. I wanted to play around with the idea of giving women permission to be sensitive again.

It does seem like a lot of differences are from cultural expectations, like what you say in the special about how long it takes women to get ready to go out.

I got to the point where I was like, “No wonder women aren’t achieving as much as men. We have three less hours a day.” When I did the TV show with my male co-star, my call time was 5 a.m. and his was 8! I had to do make-up for three hours. I just started getting so frustrated with the fact that I had to have someone else’s hair snapped into my head every morning. Guys get so mad that I’m taking too long in the bathroom and it’s like, “I’m doing this for you!” I’m not saying I have the power to change it or I’m going to start some revolution. Just be a little nicer to me. Just be a little patient. I can’t feel my feet, I have blisters, I have a string up my butt, I just spent three hours putting pencils in my eyes to try to fit this standard of beauty.

I really think the special was driven by the rage I felt when people call women “crazy.” That really, to me, is like the new c-word. It’s just so dismissive and frustrating and such an ignorant thing to call someone. To me it was like, “Ok, you think we’re crazy, here’s all the things that go into this.”

How so?

We can do all the same stuff with all these insane obstacles and 2 hours less of sleep and the added obstacles of being more sensitive and feeling five different emotions at once. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like we’re allowed to say “uncle.”

The digital album of Cummings’ special is available July 1.

TIME movies

They Came Together: Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and David Wain Champion A New Era of Spoofs

David Wain
David Wain attends the premiere of "They Came Together" during the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival on June 16, 2014 in Los Angeles Frazer Harrison—WireImage / Getty Images

The 'Wet Hot American Summer' director discusses his new film

When David Wain was growing up, he loved spoofs, like Airplane!, early Woody Allen movies and the Mel Brooks oeuvre. But, Wain — who directed and co-wrote the new rom-com spoof They Came Together, out June 27 — noticed something weird in the post-Airplane! world. “Airplane! specifically was an incredible touchstone for a whole generation and yet it wasn’t really followed up on all that much,” he tells TIME. “We hadn’t seen in a long time the next Airplane! type movie.”

If he has anything to say about it, that may be changing.

When Wain and his co-writer, Michael Showalter, first conceived They Came Together, it was shortly after the release of their 2001 summer-camp comedy Wet Hot American Summer. Wet Hot would eventually go on to become a cult favorite — Wain says he’s particularly proud that liking the movie is a litmus test for friendship for some fans, and word that he’s working on a prequel had fans salivating earlier this month — but they found that, at the time, the studio that had originally seemed interested in their follow-up project wasn’t ready to commit. The idea was They Came Together, a spoof of rom-com cliches. They tried making it independently, but it didn’t happen. Eventually they got burned out. The project died.

Many years and projects later, Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler — who had both appeared in Wet Hot American Summer — participated in a staged reading of the They Came Together script at the San Francisco Sketch Fest, just for fun. The response was so enthusiastic that the project came back to life, securing microbudget financing from Lionsgate, with Rudd and Poehler attached.

But, Wain says, the rise of Rudd and Poehler wasn’t the only thing that had happened in the intervening years, though it certainly helped. Today, he says, absurdist comedy is more likely to catch on beyond the “cult” label that has stuck to so many of his past projects.

“We’ve made something now that either the audience has caught up with or we’ve caught up with how to deliver it,” Wain says.

And one of the reasons for that change in the comedy vogue has little to do with mainstream Hollywood. “YouTube has made a wider range of comedy more available to more people who want to see it and seek it out. It’s allowed people to look at web series and more TV shows and movies and shorts,” he says. “It’s a good thing.”

It’s not that there have been no spoofs since Airplane! — Wain says he’s a fan of Walk Hard and MacGruber in particular — but that the spoofs that have been successful, like the Scary Movie franchise, have largely fallen into what he sees as a slightly different category. Wain draws a distinction between broader, absurdist genre spoofs and catch-that-reference comedy; They Came Together strives for the former. (It doesn’t always stay on that side of the line, however, particularly with its heavy reliance on the plot of You’ve Got Mail.)

“One of the things I find so interesting about Airplane! is, sort of like Wet Hot American Summer, it was not a spoof of a movie anyone had ever seen or cared about. It was a spoof of this random forgotten disaster movie. That’s I think why it’s so enduring and universal. It has nothing to do with ‘you saw that movie Zero Hour and now you want to see Airplane!’ It’s its own thing,” he says. “That was exactly what we were going for with They Came Together. It’s on its own. You don’t have to care or like or have any opinion about romantic comedies in order to like it.”

The goal is to create your own catchphrases despite being a spoof (something Wet Hot managed handily, even if it took a few years to get there) rather than encourage viewers to hark back to the thing you’re making fun of. Wain knows that there will always be people who don’t like that kind of comedy — “Some people are so befuddled and hateful of it, because they can’t imagine why anyone else is laughing at it, because it’s so stupid or so banal” — but, more and more, he can do without them.

And besides, he says, when it comes to They Came Together, the spoof isn’t just for people who really want to make fun of rom-coms. In fact, you might not want to make for of them at all. “Underneath it all, it’s still intended to work as a romantic comedy,” he says. “Despite the fact that we undercut everything, I personally still find myself rooting for Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler to make it through and get together.”

TIME Television

Brian Williams’ Latest, Greatest Rap: ‘Baby Got Back’

It's probably his finest work yet

+ READ ARTICLE

Over the half-decade he’s served as a television talk-show host — first on Late Night and now on The Tonight Show — Jimmy Fallon has introduced a new generation to old-school hip-hop by giving the genre an unlikely mouthpiece: Brian Williams, the NBC Nightly News anchor who otherwise spends his time covering presidential elections and natural disasters.

By means of clever editing, which probably required some poor soul to comb through hours of news reports, the nation’s pre-eminent prime-time anchor has rapped for us Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and The Sugarhill Gang. On Monday night, Sir Mix-a-Lot joined that list. Judging by the audience’s laughter, it very well may be Williams’ finest work yet.

TIME celebrities

Louis C.K. and Judd Apatow Want TMZ to Ditch That Tracy Morgan Crash Footage

Tracy Morgan speaks onstage at Spike TV's "Don Rickles: One Night Only" on May 6, 2014 in New York.
Tracy Morgan speaks onstage at Spike TV's "Don Rickles: One Night Only" on May 6, 2014 in New York. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images for Spike TV

Victim Ardie Fuqua's daughter had already petitioned the site, but received no response

Three days after the New Jersey traffic accident that put Tracy Morgan in intensive care and killed his fellow comedian Jimmy Mack, TMZ shared a video of the crash scene. In it, we see Morgan’s limousine flipped over on its side, a crowd of motorists gathered around it, and, toward the end of the clip, the unconscious body of comedian Ardie Fuqua being removed from the vehicle.

On Wednesday night, Louis C.K. and Judd Apatow took to Twitter to urge TMZ to remove the footage from its website and to encourage their followers to do the same.

Their requests come a day after Fuqua’s daughter posted an Instagram photo petitioning the website to take down the video.

“They don’t understand how hurtful it is to see my father be dragged out of the wreckage,” the post reads.

As of early Thursday morning, TMZ hadn’t acknowledged the requests. It would be rare for them to comply, although not completely unheard of: in 2013, the site deleted the video it posted of 19-year-old Andre Lowe’s murder outside a Hollywood nightclub after the victim’s family launched a massive online campaign requesting the clip be removed.

TIME movies

The Obvious Question About Obvious Child: How Do You Make a Rom-Com With an Abortion?

Obvious Child
Chris Teague

How a funny movie on a controversial subject made it from page to screen

Last month, following a Maryland Film Festival screening of the new movie Obvious Child (in theaters June 6), an audience member asked what many in the room were probably wondering: Considering the fact that the entire plot of this romantic comedy revolves around an abortion, was it hard to get the movie made? Who would fund such a controversy-magnet? Who would distribute it?

But writer-director Gillian Robespierre — who, due to the success of Child, her first feature film, was scheduled to have her last day at a desk job the following Tuesday — shrugged off the assumption that such a feat would be particularly difficult. In fact, as she told the audience that day, the abortion plot line was less of an obstacle than the abundance of fart jokes were.

The line drew laughs, but Obvious Child didn’t exactly have a quick path to the big screen.

It started in 2007, when movies like Knocked Up and Juno, as well as the Gloucester pregnancy pact, had put unplanned pregnancy in the public consciousness. Robespierre found movies like Knocked Up funny, but didn’t think they depicted a realistic version of what unplanned pregnancy would be like for a real young woman. She and her friends decided to make a short film in which the unplanned pregnancy would lead to a result that they thought real-life women they knew would choose. The movie wouldn’t be glib about abortion, but would treat it as a safe and legal procedure that happens in the world and can be taken seriously without seeming like a tragedy. “I didn’t want to see a movie where she was riddled with guilt. I don’t think we make light of that emotionality,” Robespierre told TIME just before that Baltimore screening. “It’s a heavy moment in a person’s life and it’s not like she’s super excited about this, but she knows from the beginning that she’s not in the right place, emotionally or intellectually. All of those reasons make it an easy choice for her.”

That 2009 short, which starred a then-unknown Jenny Slate, was positively received in the feminist blogosphere, which encouraged Robespierre to move forward with a feature-length version, which would also star the now-better-known Slate, who is profiled in this week’s issue of TIME. Elisabeth Holm, who produced the film, had no hesitations about the controversial content. “It’s just a very empathetic portrait of a complex human experience,” she tells TIME. “So to me it was kind of a no-brainer.”

Not everyone was sure it would work. “I think for the first couple of years of talking about this project to people there was this reaction of: ‘Interesting. We’ll see if you can pull that off,'” she recalls. But when Holm and the other executive producer on the film, David Kaplan, began a concerted effort to seek financing, they found it easier than they had expected given the hot-button topic. They quickly cobbled together money from three companies and from grants. For those who passed on the too-controversial proposition? “I guess if the topic scared people off, they weren’t the people we were meant to work with.”

Those who weren’t squeamish knew what they were getting into. Expanding from a short to a feature meant more time to address the subject of abortion head-on, and making the effort to take steps like working with Planned Parenthood to ensure accuracy; the healthcare organization vetted the script for a scene that involves a consultation with a nurse, to be sure the dialogue was realistic. Robespierre was even allowed to film at a clinic, an experience that ended up being Robespierre’s favorite part of making the movie, the part where it felt like “everyone clicked together.”

“We always say that it’s not an agenda-driven movie,” says Robespierre, “but it is.”

The finished product premiered at Sundance this year with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign and was quickly snapped up by hip distributor A24 (the company behind films like Spring Breakers, The Bling Ring and Under the Skin) for a reported “low seven figures.” A24, no stranger to controversial films, may have seen an opportunity where others may have seen potential for scandal. Holm says: “They felt that [abortion] was for sure going to be a part of the conversation, and that was in part why they were excited to pick up the movie.”

Robespierre and Slate both say that reaction at festivals has been overwhelmingly positive — as has critical reaction — but exposing the movie to the world beyond feminist bloggers and film-festival attendees has, naturally, come with some negative feedback. Its creators and stars are prepared for that, but remain undaunted.

It helps that Obvious Child isn’t really a movie about abortion. It’s really about a life that gets messy, and the struggle to find confidence. To that end, the movie may just sound more controversial than it actually is. The film works hard to strike a balance between gravity and humor; Holm recalls that she and her colleagues decided in the ending room to keep a particularly uncomfortable joke toward the end of the movie in the film. “It is putting that toe over the line, and that’s an okay thing to do especially in moments of tension — we all just find relief in humor and laughing about these things. The film hopefully has enough heart and sincerity and humility that it earns those moments. But it was never our intention to just make something provocative for the sake of being provocative,” she says. “A24 felt that the film was really funny and sweet and relatable. Abortion was just one unique element.”

It was that realism and honesty — realistic characters, realistic friendships and, yes, a realistic look at the possible options a pregnant woman faces — that propelled the film from funding to filming to distribution. As Gaby Hoffmann, who plays the heroine’s best friend (and who recently made public her own real-life pregnancy), puts it, “Most of the women I know [have had an abortion] and it’s sort of despicable the way it’s been skirted around again and again and again and again, in culture, in media, where we have no problem showing gratuitous violence and sex — not that those two things are equal, because they’re not, but certainly plenty of sex scenes — and not the consequences of such. I didn’t give it a second thought at all. I think it’s so weird that it’s standing out as being a film that actually addresses abortion in a straightforward way. I can’t believe that that’s the case. It is, but it’s baffling to me.”

And standing out never hurts. So, back in Baltimore, Robespierre suggested a possible reason why it was easy to find financing: “It seemed,” she told the crowd, “like people were waiting for this story.”

TIME celebrities

Dave Chappelle Will Return to NYC Spotlight at Radio City Music Hall

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle performs as part of the The Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre on Sept. 20, 2013 in Mountain View, Calif. Tim Mosenfelder—Getty Images

After he sold out five consecutive comedy shows within minutes, Chapelle adds three more rare chances to see his standup

Dave Chappelle had originally scheduled five shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. They sold out in minutes. So now Chapelle is offering three more shows on June 24th through 26th.

The new shows will include both standup from Chappelle and live musical performances. “The connection between improvisation and timing will be on full display as Chappelle co-headlines with a special musical guest each night,” an announcement on Radio City’s website says. The Roots will play on the first night; Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier and Janelle Monáe on the second; and Erykah Badu on the third.

It’s not the first time Chappelle has teamed up with some of those performers. Badu and the Roots were featured in the Michel Gondry’s 2006 documentary Dave Chappelle’s Block Party.

The eight total shows are a rare high-profile, public appearance by the comedian, who has maintained a low profile since his Comedy Central show ended in 2005.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser