The Creators of ‘Brooklyn Sound’ on Their New Deal with Comedy Central

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Photo: Brandi Nicole Photography

Get ready for your new obsession: Brooklyn Sound, a new web series from the minds of comedy-musical duo Julia Mattison and Noel Carey which last week was picked up by Comedy Central after rave reviews at the New York Television Festival.

The pair met while attending Emerson College and have since become creatively entwined through their various endeavors – now, first and foremost, their hilarious brainchild about a fictional Brooklyn recording studio desperate to keep from going out of business. Mattison and Carey created the show and also star in it as the studio’s owners and the various wacky musical acts recording songs each episode – there’s a group reminiscent of folksy bearded men like Mumford and Sons, rapping siblings wearing neon baseball hats, and even a dark, eerie Lorde-esque songstress who makes weird hisses.

We caught up with the duo to find out what it was like filming the show, and how it feels to be on the brink of having their own Comedy Central program. At the bottom of the interview, find the first two episodes – the full series is available here.

BlackBook: So you two met freshman year of college?

Julia: We did, yeah. In the musical theater program.

Did you meet in class and hit it off immediately?

J: We did! I feel like instantly in class we both had a tendency to not be the most attentive, and we got along cracking jokes on the side. We got along very quickly with our humor and our styles creatively. But we didn’t really write – we did songwriting together in college, but didn’t fully write stuff together until we graduated.

Had you both always wanted to do comedy, or was musical theater the original plan? Not that they’re necessarily separate.

Noel: I’d always wanted to comedy, even if that meant bringing it into musical theater. That was certainly a draw for musical theater for me, as a kid – great physical comedians like Dick Van Dyke and Danny Kaye were musical theater guys. And Julia and I were both involved in the Emerson comedy scene, as well, but we were in separate troupes. I was in an improv troupe, and Julia in a sketch troupe.
J: Yeah, I did always know I wanted to do comedy, but it was varying – I got into it through different angles through acting in theater, and writing sketches. Actually musical theater was not really my plan – I’ve always loved it, but Emerson was the only musical theater program I applied to. Everything else was an acting program, or a music recording program. I thought I was going to go onto other creative endeavors for a while, but I ended up at Emerson.
N: I didn’t know that. That’s crazy.
J: I’d done a few musicals, and I’d always loved musical theater, but I didn’t think it would be where I was going, necessarily. I’d seen a lot of rock musicals, and alt-leaning musicals. I loved that scene, and Broadway was absolutely a dream of mine, but I wasn’t really certain I was going to do it full out until college.

So you two knew you wanted to write a musical comedy show. How did the idea to set it in a recording studio come about?

J: The catalyst for the idea was Noel and I wanted to do something where we play a bunch of characters, and get to write music in a variety of genres. Originally it was about bands trying to make it in New York, more generally and using different venues. But it would have been harder to film in a variety of settings. And I’d watched the Sound City documentary about the Sound City recording studio and was really inspired by that, and simultaneously my boyfriend runs the Virtue and Vice recording studios, in Brooklyn, and that’s where we filmed the show. And he had always had stories about different artists, and the random characters you get in and out of the studio.

To me the show feels kind of like The Office in how dry it can be, but then also like Summer Heights High since it’s wacky and you play a bunch of different characters. What shows were you looking to inspiration-wise, and what would you want people to think of when they see the show?

N: I think musically a thing we’re drawn to, and we’ve made this comparison before, is that it’s Parks and Rec meets A Mighty Wind. We really love Christopher Guest, and for me I love how Christopher Guest’s characters always take themselves very seriously, and seem like real people, and the music in his movies can be very funny and out of place at times but still sounds genuine. We didn’t necessarily want to spoof the music industry – we drew from certain artists, not directly – but we wanted to make something that celebrated it, rather. We never poking fun – we wanted you to like these characters and think they took their music seriously.

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The music is all really good, I think, which adds to the show.

J: Thank you. That’s what we were going for – that higher quality music that seems real. I think we also drew from Portlandia, where they are playing multiple characters, and trying to make it seem normal. We’re huge Summer Heights fans though, that’s such an honor.

Noel, you’d mentioned that some of the musicians are loosely based off of real people. Were there any direct artists you drew from?

N: Josiah and the Teeth, from the first episode, we definitely wanted to sound like Mumford and Sons. I don’t believe Mumford and Sons is actually a group of homeless hillbilly people. But we did want to write in that town.
J: The core inspiration for the different characters – the “Shee” character I actually created for impressions for an SNL tape, and I was trying to come up with a Lana Del Rey impression. And I always thought she sounded so sleepy, so I wanted to songs literally about how sleepy she is, and then it became this more Lorde, creepy character. I didn’t come up with the crazy high-pitched voice until the day of shooting. Which is so funny to look back on. But I’m happy with the results. That’s the fun of filming, too. We had very big inspirations, but sometimes didn’t know what was going to happen until we started shooting.

Did you have a favorite musician character to play?

J: My favorites were Shee and Why the Lilacs? I think their story is touching and silly and weird, and we just like playing old people.
N: That was just a great opportunity to spend three hours in a makeup chair, having really good old person makeup put on me, and then you start looking at your face in a different way, and using your body in a different way. It was the best pretend I ever got to play.

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I saw that the show has been picked up by Comedy Central. Congratulations!

J: Thank you! We had a really exciting week at the New York Television Festival. We won a couple awards, and then were really surprised to get the Comedy Central development deal. So that’s the next chapter. We’re such fans of all the stuff they have out right now. They believe in us and I think they really get the style. It’ll be cool to see where we take it with them.
N: I like how they invest in comedians and partnerships, too. That’s where some of my favorite teams that I look up to come out of, like the Broad City girls, and Key and Peele.
J: It was only about a week ago when we found out about this deal, so we’re hoping to know more soon about what the timeline is!

Are there any other projects coming up for either of you?

J: I’m putting out a new live show in a few months – a new comedy, standup, multimedia show – I guess standup music comedy is the best way to describe. It’s about hiding with the world so scary now, and trying to come out and give some observations about life. But Noel helped me write the music for it. It’s called “Safe Space.” I’ve committed. I’m calling it “Safe Space.”
N: I’m writing a few things, but I’m also going away to do a show I was on tour with, called Murder for Two – it was Off-Broadway for a year, and then it went on a national tour that I was on. So now I’m going to Key West.

Comedy Central Orders 8 Episodes of Musical Mashup Series

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Comedy Central has ordered eight episodes of The Comedy Jam, an unscripted series where comedians talk about songs that have held importance for them and then offer their own renditions of said tunes.

The series previously existed as an hourlong special on Viacom, and featured guests as varied as Jay Pharaoh, Pete Davidson, and Adam Devine, who talked and sang about losing his virginity to Blink-182.

The show is based off of a live event in Los Angeles created by Josh Adam Meyers, who will be producing the show with Ugly Brother Studios.

Comedy Central president Kent Alterman said of the series, “We have been working under the false impression that what comedians want most is to have television and digital platforms to further their comedy careers. It turns out they really just want to be rock stars.”

Take a look at Pete Davidson giving his all to “Gangsta’s Paradise” below.

The Comedy Jam is in talks to air early next year.

‘The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore’ Show Cancelled Pre-Election

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Photo: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore has been cancelled, and will only air a couple more days before it’s done, just before the final months of this incredibly wacky election season. Which means we no longer get to hear Wilmore’s fresh, spunky take on how big of an ass Trump is sure to make himself in the coming debates.

On Monday night, the day of the axing, Wilmore opened by asking the crowd: “So, how was your day?” He continued to explain, “On the plus side, our show going off the air has to only mean one thing: Racism is solved. We did it!”

While we’re sad to see Wilmore go, it’s not exactly a shocker, as Vulture points out. The witty political comedy hour was simply not drawing in enough of an audience for Comedy Central to justify sustaining it. That’s a shame, because it deserved a bigger audience.

Take a look at Wilmore’s Monday night monologue below.

 

Martha Stewart Is EVERYTHING While Roasting Justin Bieber on Comedy Central

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If you missed Comedy Central‘s roast of Justin Bieber last night, all you really need to see are five minutes of absolute gold — offensive, embarrassingly hilarious gold — perpetrated by former inmate Martha Stewart. This five minutes has it all: Attacks on Shaq (and his mom), racist jokes, prison jokes, and, like any good appearance by Martha, mating calls.

Enjoy. Probably with headphones.

Photo: Justin Bieber photographed by Joe Bielawa via

Nathan For You is Coming Back, You Should Watch It

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Image via Comedy Central
Nathan for You is the creation of Nathan Fielder, who you may recognize from “Dumb Starbucks” his full-service Starbucks franchise in Los Angeles that puts the word “Dumb” in front of every menu item. Or from his fake viral video of a pig saving a baby goat. Or from his Instagram selfie series wherein he stealthily includes images of porn through reflections on CDs, utensils, and anything else shiny in his.

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Image via Comedy Central video still

Nathan for you is my favorite show on TV, and it’s returning to Comedy Central on July 1st. If you’ve never seen the show before, the premise is: Nathan Fielder is a comedian who actually went to business school, and he combines those two things to make for TV that made my little brother actually shoot Sprite out of his nose one time.

Fielder finds failing businesses, and pitches them ideas to save their company. Not, like, “get a social media following!” or “re-invigorate your branding!” kinds of ideas. More like “serve poo flavored frozen yogurt,” or “allow attractive people to shoplift from your store,” kinds of ideas. The weird part is they sort of work, but who cares about that it’s really really funny.

To prepare, you can watch the full first season for free on the Comedy Central website. Don’t have time for that? Here are a few of my favorite moments from the show which premieres on July 1st at 10:30 PM on Comedy Central.

Dick Cheney Roast In New York: Plenty of Jokes About Waterboarding

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The key to comedy is:  Time + Distance = Laughs. 

With that in mind, Do you remember Dick Cheney? He was once our vice president; bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Burns on the Simpsons –  shot his friend in the face while hunting. Surely you remember Cheney; he was the architect of his administration’s War on Terror; said waterboaring produced "phenomenal results." Yeah, Cheney – remember him?

Conservatives gathered at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on Monday night to roast the former vice president. The event was sponsored by such notable illuminati as  Rupert Murdoch, and Paul Singer. According to Buzzfeed:

At the gathering, hosted by Commentary, figures including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey drew a mix of chuckles and winces with jokes that left few lines uncrossed.

Unlike Comedy Central’s Roast of Charlie Sheen, this event featured plenty of jokes about waterboarding. Ha-ha-ha! Torture. It wasn’t funny back in the day – but with a little bit of time and distance…it’s now goddamn hilarious! 

Sen. Joseph Lieberman was quoted as saying:  “It’s nice that we’re all here at the Plaza instead of in cages after some war crimes trial.” (Again, hilarious – because they actually DID torture people.)  The Plaza Hotel roast wasn’t the only incident where moronic statements have been attributed to our former vice president.

Here are 5 of the most idiotic things said by Dick Cheney: 

-"My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." -March 16, 2003

-"Go fuck yourself." – -to Sen. Patrick Leahy, during an angry exchange on the Senate floor about profiteering by Halliburton.

-"There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise."

-“I had other priorities in the 60’s than military service.”

-"Except for the occasional heart attack, I never felt better."

Every Episode Of ‘The Critic’ Is On YouTube For Some Reason

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It’s curious what you can find lingering on YouTube for years and what gets removed almost instantly. Sometimes, entire TV programs—the full run of the wildly discomfiting and hilarious Peep Show, for example—turn up there, and nobody bats an eye! But the BBC is pretty chill. What’s more shocking is that a TV show that ran on two major American networks could exist on the site without IP lawyers throwing a fit.

 
Which just goes to show, one would think, how deeply unpopular Jon Lovitz-voiced cartoon The Critic really was—at least with the networks that failed to understand its allure. Considered too hot for ABC, which gave it the boot, and not raunchy enough for Fox, which also canceled it, the show is sometimes a twin to The Simpsons, albeit a great one. It’s also a cult favorite whose axing was mourned like that of Arrested Development. (Comedy Central also just re-canceled one of the best cartoons of all time, Futurama, so let’s get a petition going on that.)
 
Regardless, if you’ve never seen The Critic, now you can do so without spending $13.99 at Walmart for the DVDs of the entire short-lived series, plus the cost of gas to drive to Walmart. It’s all right there at your fingertips, and so far only 12,580 people have watched the pilot this way? That’s criminal. Come for the movie satires, stay for the rich and hilarious supporting cast. Watch the episode where Duke Phillips, the Ted Turner character, runs for president, and tell me it hasn’t dated beautifully.
 

‘Nathan For You,’ A Seat-Of-Your-Pants Documentary Series

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A while back, Comedy Central canceled the too-good-for-this-world Jon Benjamin Has a Van, seemingly deciding that H. Jon Benjamin should stick to voicing his couple dozen cartoon characters. As partial atonement for this outrage, however, the channel has turned to one of that show’s deadpan stars, Nathan Fielder, in filling its meta-comedy-documentary series slot.

“Nathan For You” grabbed some attention with an early stunt: a fake cute animal video that was designed to go viral and quickly did, with even respected news sources failing to check up on its origins. This kind of cerebral twist is typical of the program, which blends psychological setups and the unscripted results. Take, for instance, this two-part bit about catching a teen graffiti vandal and tattling to his mom about it.

This conceit—from helping small businesses get buzz with marketing stunts to interviewing seven-year-olds—is simply too fun and feel-good to pass up, so please do set your DVRs to record this on Thursdays at 10:30. I’d like it if we could get to season two this time.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Stewart-O’Reilly Rumble May Be Closest We Get To Elevated Discourse

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As if this election hadn’t already reached critical mass of ridiculousness, it’s about to get 100% shoutier. In a last-ditch attempt for anything remotely resembling elevated or even bearable political discourse before the 2012 election, longtime punditry peers and “frenemies” Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart will spar on the issues affecting the country during election-time. Under the tagline “It’s Why Al Gore Invented the Internet,” the Daily Show satirist-turned-voice-of-frustration and Fox News’ resident rage-face will do it live for IRL and web audiences, and if the respected pundit faces of blue and red states respectively can get together and shout over each other, so can the rest of us, right? 

“O’Reilly v. Stewart 2012: The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium” will take place Saturday, October 6 at Lisner Auditorium at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Pre-sale tickets are on sale now, and the whole thing will be broadcast online via a $4.95 Internet stream, with half the profits going to charity. Those who pre-order tickets by October 1 can submit a question for the two parties to debate. 

We would have liked to see rapper, Renaissance man and longtime O’Reilly nemesis Ludacris as the moderator for this debate, because although that would perhaps taint the integrity of a good, honest debate, it would be excellent. But, instead, news anchor E.D. Hill, a veteran of CNN and Fox News, will moderate.