stand-up comedy

When All the Stand-Ups Got Their Shows

There’s a line in Swingers where Mikey, played by Jon Favreau, talks about heading out to LA and mentions that part of it was because he was pretty sure they were “giving out sitcoms at the airport” to stand-up comics like him (or something like that, anyway).  Naturally, this isn’t true and Mike’s really a struggling actor and comedian who spends the better part of his days lamenting his breakup with his girlfriend back home in New York.  At the same time, there’s some truth to the line he has about stand-up comics and sitcoms, especially when you consider that both Jerry Seinfeld and Ray Romano had two of the longest-running sitcoms of the decade.

In 1993, NBC, which was riding the high of the success of two stand-up comedian-driven sitcoms, Mad About You and Seinfeld, decided to show off how much success it had been having by airing a one-hour primetime special called The NBC Super Special All-Star Comedy Hour.  Meant to be a showcase of current talent as well as upcoming shows, it kind of acted like a comedian and sitcom version of the Saturday morning cartoon preview shows that we used to love as kids–an hour to stay up later than usual to see what we’d be seeing in the fall.

This show, which was hosted by Bill Cosby with some help from Paul Reiser, was something that I actually had been pretty sure for years I was actually misremembering.  For years, I had been searching for some sort of evidence of it, evidence I thought would be easy to find since Reiser was on it, but a look at his IMDb profile didn’t bring anything up and I couldn’t find anything on the resumes of any of the other people I remembered.  Until, that is, this past summer, I was going through a pile of old videotapes that I had grabbed from my parents’ basement and there it was, sitting on one of those random tapes.  Yes, I’m sure I could have found this on YouTube if I really tried, but there was something so cool about scanning through an old VHS labeled “Tom’s Blank” and saying out loud to nobody at all, “I found it!  I’ve been looking for this for years!”

The picture quality was solid even though the sound on the tape had deteriorated quite a bit, but it was good enough for me to watch it all the way through and take some pictures along the way (because nothing says quality blogging than pointing my cell phone at the basement TV).

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We open with two women in NBC Peacock costumes doing a song and dance bit as Paul Reiser, who was going into his second season of Mad About You, which I think at that point was on Thursday nights at 8:00 with Seinfeld having officially moved into the 9:00 Thursday slot vacated by Cheers, doing a quick opening monologue before introducing Bill Cosby as well as Branford Marsalis and The Tonight Show Band, who were the musical accompaniment for the evening. (more…)

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