There Are No Television Comedies Other Than ‘Modern Family,’ Apparently

So, the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards were last night, and considering we still have a bad taste in our mouths from our inappropriate drunk uncle Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars, for the most part, they were actually pretty fun to watch. Jimmy Kimmel had some funny bits, Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul hugged it out and made us all verklempt, Lena Dunham ate cake naked and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss and Amy Poehler stole the show with their acceptance speech switcheroo.

In terms of the awards themselves, the recipients were almost painfully predictable, especially in the comedy category. The drama awards were mostly bang-on, as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the most part avoided the soapy pleasure of Downton Abbey and Don Draper’s steely gaze to actually reward what probably are the two best dramas on TV right now, Homeland and Breaking Bad (Aaron Paul’s Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award made our hearts happy). And Louis C.K. took home two awards — one the writing on Louie and one for his standup special at the Beacon Theatre.

But in terms of comedy, once again, the Academy chose to throw Louie its one bone—the equivalent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences giving the most envelope-pushing film of the year Best Original Screenplay and then kind of ignoring it the rest of the night—and then choosing to celebrate thoroughly mediocre stuff. In a run similar to the one Frasier made in the mid-‘90s, for the past three Emmy cycles now, Modern Family has dominated the comedy categories to the point where even better stuff from the banal, laugh track-y, Chuck Lorre school of TV comedy was ignored (come on, as eye-roll-worthy as The Big Bang Theory can be sometimes, seeing Mayim Bialik win an Emmy, especially as the show’s saving grace that is Amy Farrah Fowler, åwould have been golden). All four of Modern Family’s big winners—Outstanding Supporting Actress Julie Bowen, Outstanding Supporting Actor Eric Stonestreet (convinced that there is one dude voting in the Academy who is just still totally super shocked that a straight dude can play a preening gay man even though this is 2012, y’all), Director Steven Levitan and the show for Outstanding Comedy Series — are repeat wins, with the show itself and Levitan earning them back-to-back-to-back. This year, the rest of the show’s adult cast members were nominated for acting awards.

I like Modern Family. It’s cute. Ty Burrell and Sofia Vergara are eternally fun to watch. I usually walk away from it not hating myself. My whole family watches it (cross-demographic appeal!). And granted, the Outstanding Comedy Series pool was a little thin this year—the token Lorre (The Big Bang Theory), two former comedy powerhouses that are still very funny but mostly over-the-hill (30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm), and the two other HBO shows, Girls and Veep, which were long shots anyway. But at a time and place where so many awesome things are happening with television comedy, at a time when a fart and smunny show like Parks & Recreation or something that, love it or hate it, can spark an international conversation like Girls or a show that is so funny and so human like Louie or a show that celebrates its dweebiness so joyfully like Community or a great traditional thirtysomethings-in-the-city sitcom like Happy Endings can all exist, it seems a disservice to let more of the same rack up statue after statue. It seems kind of silly to rant—the Emmys will probably never change and TV comedy is full of niches and Modern Family certainly isn’t the worst thing to happen to television ever. But when the whole run of programming is so totally awesome, it would just kind of be nice seeing the celebration of the awesomeness spread around a bit. At least Leslie Knope won her city council election. Better luck next time, Team Dunphy.

So, to make ourselves feel better about everything, here’s Aaron Paul’s acceptance speech again. 

Daniel Tosh, and a Lesson About Rape Jokes

After I moved to New York from Chicago, I returned to the Windy City for Thanksgiving with friends. As I was walking down a blustery street in Edgewater with my best friend and former roommate Christina, both of us carrying casseroles and pies in our hands, I noted while passing an alleyway how there are no alleys in New York. "What!" she exclaimed. "Then where do women get raped?!"

That is a funny rape joke.

They do exist, as Daniel Tosh of Tosh.0 fame has suggested. The host of everyone’s favorite clip show that pulls slightly funny shit from YouTube for television broadcasts has gotten himself in a bit of hot water lately after a disgruntled comedy patron objected to his brand of sexual assault humor. From an account on her Tumblr:

So Tosh then starts making some very generalizing, declarative statements about rape jokes always being funny, how can a rape joke not be funny, rape is hilarious, etc. I don’t know why he was so repetitive about it but I felt provoked because I, for one, DON’T find them funny and never have. So I didnt appreciate Daniel Tosh (or anyone!) telling me I should find them funny. So I yelled out, “Actually, rape jokes are never funny!”

Well, she’s not really correct there! Rape, like any other topic, can be joked about—if done properly. Once I heard the creator of a much-beloved Comedy Central sketch show say that his retort to a woman’s swipe (in which she suggested that she wouldn’t sleep with him if he were the last man on Earth) was, "Oh yeah, well if we were the only people on Earth, who would you tell if I raped you?" (Paraphrasing, clearly.) Not a funny rape joke! That’s basically just saying, "Ha ha I could totally rape you if I wanted to." But joking about the act of rape—particularly the ill conceived notions about it—is different. Take my friend’s joke from above. She’s a comedian, she’s a lady. She’s not making fun of the idea of being raped, she’s making fun of the idea that rape exists only in the context of a violent attack by a stranger in the street. 

There’s no real record of what kind of rape jokes Tosh was making (I’m guessing they were of the "Ha ha  I could totally rape you if I wanted to" variety, as he is the host of a clip show in which slightly funny shit from YouTube is pulled for rebroadcast on television), but the author of the post does go on:

After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.

Not a funny rape joke! Not a joke, really, and more like a gross misogynistic attack. And sadly, that is something that happens often when one sees straight male comics, particularly the variety of straight male comics whose legacy will be forever limited to hosting a clip show in which slightly funny shit from YouTube is pulled for rebroadcast on television. 

Daniel Tosh apologized in his own special way (by which I mean, acknowledging the woman and not apologizing). He has even gotten the support of Louis C.K., who tweeted to Tosh that he really likes his show. Cool. Even Louis C.K. likes to take a break from making a critically adored television show to watch a grown man in front of a green screen laugh as fat people fall down in YouTube videos.

(BTW, is it just me or does Daniel Tosh have a giant sleep-rapist vibe about him? JK! Funny rape joke!)

‘Louie’ Returns Thursday (Awkwardly, Of Course)

Season three of Louie returns to FX this Thursday, June 28, and foulmouthed ginger Louis C.K. is back with more of the same. Which is great, of course, because what he’s got is excellent. Louie‘s return will see more even explorations of friendships, conundrums as a parent, and of course, the hits-and-misses of the dating scene as a 40-something father and divorcée.

In real life, C.K. is the father of two girls ages seven and 10, of whom he has joint custody. Plenty of celebrities refuse to mine their young children for material, but in C.K.’s case, he’s interested in telling both the charming and the uniquely sexist experiences of being a devoted but part-time dad. He told the New York Post:

When you’re divorced and have part-time custody of your kids, that’s something I have a vivid perspective on. When you have your daughters with you half the week and you’re really taking care of them, and then you take them for lunch and the waitress says, ‘Isn’t that cute that you’re out with your daddy,’ you kinda want to punch her in the face. It’s very patronizing. Because a lot of people expect that if a father’s with his kids, it’s an unusual event, or his birthday or something. A lot of people don’t know what that feels like, and I do.

Whether C.K. actually punches any waitresses in the face in Louie remains to be seen. But I’d bet good money at least one of his onscreen love interests — this season will see Parker Posey, Melissa Leo, Gaby Hoffmann, and Maria Bamford in the hot seat — will want to punch him. For example, he described his Hoffman relationship thusly to the Post:

What’s the worst thing guys do when they break up. Well, they don’t do it. They won’t break up. They make her do it. So I make myself a real asshole for that whole episode.

So true. So true. Man, on behalf of all womankind, I want to punch him myself.

Louis C.K., Cate Blanchett to Star in Next Woody Allen Film

Somewhere, in some bar far away from here, someone has won a very unlikely bet, or their weird fantasy movie lineup has indeed come true. Allen has announced that his next film, following the release of To Rome With Love on June 22nd, will feature a formidable cast with two comedians at the head: Louis C.K. and Andrew "Dice" Clay. Yes, you are reading this correctly. And yes, it rhymes. Granted, the two and their director all have quite different styles of humor, but that will make for a very interesting on-screen blend. 

Michael Emerson of LOST and Cate Blanchett will round out the starring roles, along with Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale. Little else is known about the project, other than it will be filmed in New York and San Francisco, Allen’s first film in the Golden Gate City since Take The Money and Run

To Rome With Love, Allen’s next feature film and the third stop on his whimsical European fantasy vacation (after the Pénélope Cruz/ScarJo/Javier Bardem triangle Vicky Cristina Barcelona and last year’s acclaimed nostalgia trip Midnight In Paris), will hit theatres later this month. The film stars Allen, previous collaborator Cruz, Alec Badlwin, Roberto Benigni, Jesse Eisenberg and Greta Gerwig, the "Helen of Troy of Mumblecore." The film was previously known as Nero Fiddled, and before that, The Bop Decameron. Roll clip. 

And just for fun, an alway-relevant selection from Louis C.K. to get us in the mood for this next project: 

Five Questions For Internet Week Honcho David-Michel Davies

How is Internet Week different from any other week, you might ask? Are you required to do more tweeting, Facebook stalking, online shopping, Grindring and illegal downloading? No, you are not.

Internet Week, which kicks off today, is a seven-day festival of panels, parties, workshops and Klout superstars that celebrates the way the web has influenced the culture and people of New York.

We sat down with festival co-chair David-Michel Davies to find out what Bjork, Bill Clinton and Instagram all have in common.

What exactly is Internet Week?
It’s a city-wide festival celebrating our industry’s thriving community. It’s a fun and interesting model for a festival in that it really mirrors the way the Internet works. Instead of us sitting in a room and coming up with events, we work closely with New York’s Internet community to program the festival, which means there are more than 200 events that are thrown by all sorts of different organizations under the festival’s umbrella. Those range from panels and conferences to arts events and parties. We also have a 50,000-square-foot headquarters at 82 Mercer Street. It’s relevant to what’s happening on the Internet today because the content is created by the city itself.

What events are you most looking forward to?
I’m excited to see the New York City photo exhibit at the W Times Square. It’s New York’s most talented Instagram photographers taking photos of the city and shown in a gallery there. There’s another exhibit at a Soho gallery called The Art of Apps, where people like Peter Rojas will have an exhibit of art interfaced with iPhone and iPad by some of the world’s top designers. And we’re having a panel at the headquarters with comedian Billy Eichner and others talking about comedy on the Internet.

And you also produce the Webby Awards, right?
We do produce the Webby Awards, which will be on May 21 at the Hammerstein Ballroom and will be hosted by Patton Oswalt, so it’ll be super funny. Even if you can’t come to the show, it’s live streamed at webbyawards.com at 5:30 EST and anyone can tune in. We’ll be honoring Louis C.K., we’ll be honoring Bjork, we’ll have a special tribute to Steve Jobs that we’ve been working on which will feature video message from President Clinton, Al Gore, Jimmy Fallon and more.

Do you see Internet Week as helping the pale, sweats-clad people of the web overcome the stereotype of being socially awkward loners?
The thing about it is that the web is really the hub of pop culture today. When I was younger it was television, that was the media that drove conversation. Today that’s the internet. We see all sorts of type of culture emerging online and Internet Week is a way of seeing that and bringing it to life in real space. Absolutely it’s a way to see people outside of behind the screens, but it’s also mirroring how vital the Internet is to the world.

Get Aziz Ansari’s ‘Dangerously Delicious’ Comedy Special for Only $5

Because Internet distribution is the new black, funny man Aziz Ansari has released his new comedy special, Dangerously Delicious, on his website for the low, low price of $5. Following in Louis C.K. and Jim Gaffigan’s footsteps, it’s a way to cut out the resource-draining middleman (the DVD factories that are run by orphans) and giving Aziz’s team the pure profit of a job well done. If you need a little convincing, he released a clip from the show accompanied by an old-timey introduction, which you can watch after the click.

Oh, Aziz, your method of yelling a rude thing really loudly will never get old. Buy Dangerously Delicious at Aziz’s website for the price of a nice beer/crummy cocktail. 

Greg Dulli-Curated ATP Festival Adds Sharon Van Etten, Louis C.K., The Roots, More Awesomeness

The very talented folk singer and recent BlackBook feature subject Sharon Van Etten is one of many ecstatic squeal-inducing additions to the ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival this September. This morning, the festival, this time around curated by Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli, announced a hefty chunk of its lineup, and the people saw it, and it was good.

In addition to Van Etten and Dulli’s own celebrated group, he’s chosen some crazy exciting acts to share the stage: Louis C.K., The Roots (plus a DJ set from ?uestlove!), fellow rock ‘n’ soul ensemble the Dirtbombs (performing Ultraglide in Black, which you should probably listen to right now, because better Friday morning music you will not find), riot grrrl icons Scrawl, The Mark Lanegan Band, The Antlers, José Gonzalez, Dirty Three, Emeralds, Vetiver, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, Charles Bradley & The Extraordinaires and Reigning Sound.

The ATP team round out the lineup announcements with The Make-Up (who will be getting back together JUST FOR YOU GUYS at I’ll Be Your Mirror), Hot Snakes, The Magic Band, Autolux, Thee Oh Sees, Factory Floor, Death Grips and I Break Horses, with many more likely to be announced.

Tickets for I’ll Be Your Mirror go on sale on Monday, and there are still tickets left for the Mogwai-curated, Gen-X-nostalgia-packed IBYM London show in May, which features the Melvins, Archers of Loaf, Mudhoney and Slayer performing Reign In Blood. Rock on. 

Morning Links: Adele Gives The Finger, Ashley Tisdale Joins Louis C.K. Sitcom

● Adele took home more awards yet from yesterday’s Brit Awards. And then she pulled an M.I.A. and flipped everyone the bird. [ArtsBeat]

● Look who’s back for season five of Mad Men — it’s Betty! "I misbehaved," she says. This is going to be good. [Huff Post]

● Strong woman Miranda Lambert is still not having it with the return of "rage-broccoli" Chris Brown. "I just have to speak my mind, because where I come from, beating up on a woman is never OK," she explained to a Massachusetts audience Thursday, adding that, "that’s why my daddy taught me early on in life how to use a shotgun." He wants a fight? Well now he’s got one. [Us]

● Rumor has it that Sasha Baron Cohen is planning to show up at this weekend’s Oscars ceremony dressed as his character in The Dictator. But will the academy have it? [THR]

● That Louis C.K. CBS sitcom will for some reason star High School Musical‘s Ashley Tisdale as "the beautiful and sarcastic assistant to a vintage clothing designer struggling to carve out her niche in New York." [Deadline]

● Kicking off CBS This Morning’s new series "Note To Self," now 83-year-old Maya Angelou tells her fifteen-year-old-self to find some beautiful piece of art and then to realize that it was made by some human being, "just like you. No more human, no less." [Huff Post]

Will Louis C.K.’s CBS Sitcom Be a Hit?

Now that Louis C.K. is famous, he can work on staying paid: CBS has ordered a half-hour comedy from him and writer Spike Feresten for immediate development. As The Hollywood Reporter says, "the project centers on an ensemble of young people who are trying to achieve their creative dreams in these tough financial times." Sounds like HBO’s Girls with more dudes, then. We can’t wait.

C.K. is, of course, horrendously busy with Louie, going strong at two seasons — he writes, directs, edits, scores and acts in the show, which seems like it should take up all of his time. But there ain’t no money like CBS money because CBS money keeps flowing, what with all the Two and a Half Men merchandise there is to push like Blu-ray box sets and Charlie Sheen-branded condoms. Feresten is active in his own right, with a writing credit on an untitled comedy being developed by Fox — if you forgot, he used to write for Seinfeld (Soup Nazi!) and The Simpsons, as well as his own late-night show a few years ago. With such a creative pedigree, how could this show fail?