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The Tao of Recent Comedy News

April 8, 2010

The idea of balance between opposing forces is one that pervades most ethical and moral systems, including most of the world’s major religions. Taoism has yin-yang, Christianity has “To everything there is a season,” Scientology has the legendary Xenu vs. Tom Cruise thumb-wrestling match, etc. In some schools of thought, the relationship is dichotomous where one is clearly preferred over the other (think good vs. evil), but others allow for more complexity and ambiguity, where balance is the ultimate goal (again, yin-yang is a good example).

The same model can be applied to the religion of comedy. In between my five daily prayers to our messiah, Carrot Top of Santa Monica, I often pause to take note of the harmonic balance between good and bad comedy news that regularly seems to befall us. One may prevail slightly over the other for a time, but the center always seems to hold.

This week, I’m happy to report that the good news seems to be outweighing the bad by a tally of 3-1.

First the bad news: comedy bad boy David Cross has indicated that the Arrested Development movie is back to being unlikely to happen. Too bad—I was looking forward to seeing Michael Cera do deadpan awkwardness for two hours. My only consolation is that I can rent any of his other movies to get the same performance.

And now the good news, starting with a bit of awesomeness coming your way tonight: Parks and Recreation‘s Facebook fan page confirms that a recently filmed bit will be aired on tonight’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Supposedly, we’re in store for a “Glee-style sing-off” between the Parks and Rec cast and some Late Night regulars. Can’t wait.

In other news, apparently the fanbase of Seth Green & Co.’s brilliant Robot Chicken Star Wars has expanded to the highest levels—George Lucas himself. Lucasfilm is producing its own Star Wars-themed comedy/parody show, and instead of getting pissed at the Robot Chicken crew’s irreverence, he’s bringing them on board.

And finally, my favorite bit of recent comedy news—beginning in June, the TV Guide Network will begin airing the entire series run of Curb Your Enthusiasm. That’s exciting enough, but what really caught my eye is how the network is presenting them. Each episode will occupy an hour of air time, which will allow the show’s sometimes-unorthodox episode lengths to be preserved. Filling the extra time during each episode’s hour time-slot will be “Curb: The Discussion,” a live-in-the-studio conversation among a panel of notable guests, who will watch the episode in real time prior to the filming of their conversation. The wonderfully acerbic Susie Essman, one of Curb’s ensemble players, will moderate the unrehearsed panel discussions, which will feature celebrities, media pundits, social critics, and other commentators. Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Hamm have already been tapped to participate in the first post-episode discussion.

To me, this is a drop-dead genius idea that instantly turns Curb’s TV Guide Network debut into a bona fide event. When they first acquire the rights and begin airing the old episodes of a beloved show, many networks will have marathons during the first weekend…and that’s about it. But this is an actual debut of new material, certainly worthy of being saved for special content on DVD sets, that Larry David and the network are giving away for free. Other networks might want to take note—this is how you revive viewer interest. I doubt I’ve ever looked forward to reruns as eagerly as I’ll be awaiting these.

And that, my friends, is where we stand with the cosmic balance of good and bad comedy news. Enjoy this while it lasts, because the natural order of the universe tells us there will be more bad news coming our way soon.

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