90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Comedy On And Off The Radar

How the Wild West of late night cable and internet comedy is changing the world of American humor.

A screenshot from "The Maria Bamford Show. (YouTube)

A screenshot from “The Maria Bamford Show. (YouTube)

American comedy once had two big rivers:  late night and stand-up.  The network giants – Leno and Letterman on down.  The stand-up giants – George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers and all that.

Now, it’s a whole new picture.  TV has a zillion channels on cable, and new comedy all over there.  And the internet has unleashed a flood of funny guy and gal podcasters catering to a million stripes of humor.

It doesn’t have to make everybody laugh anymore.  Just you.

This hour, On Point: how the new Wild West of comedy is changing American humor.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Emily Nussbaum, television critic for The New Yorker.  Author of the recent article “Small Wonders” on niche comedy on cable and the internet.

Maria Bamford, comedian, voice actor, writer.

W. Kamau Bell, comedian, host of the FX late-night talk show “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell.”

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker “You have to head online to find the true Wild West, where pioneers have cobbled together quasi-organized Deadwood-like comedy encampments, shooting off viral videos like pistols, and scratching together a subsistence economy using Kickstarter and PayPal. The best sketches from “Portlandia” and “Key & Peele” are passed virally, friend to friend; Web sites like Funny or Die and College Humor operate as loosely run studios, producing material that viewers vote up and down. Standups saturate Twitter, devising new comedy forms within a hundred and forty characters.”

The New York Times “The premiere was Comedy Central’s biggest series debut in years, drawing 2.1 million viewers and dominating the young male demographic. “I think the network was thinking, ‘Fingers crossed, this could reawaken the “Chappelle’s Show” audience,’ ” Mr. Peele said. “But in our audiences, we see every single race, every single age, sitting together.””

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 31, 2014
Nurse Kaci Hickox, right, and her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur are followed by a Maine State Trooper as they ride bikes on a trail near her home in Fort Kent, Maine, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.  (AP)

Quarantines and Ebola. An exploding rocket. Apple’s CEO comes out. Hawaiian lava flows. Midterms in the home stretch. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Oct 31, 2014
Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) and Sauncho Smilax (Beninico del Toro) share a drink in a scene from the upcoming Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Inherent Vice," an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel of the same name. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment)

From “Interstellar” to “Into the Woods.” The biggest and best movies of the fall and holiday seasons. What to see, what to skip.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 30, 2014
Soylent is a new meal-replacement substance meant to offer a complete nutritional alternative to traditional food. (Courtesy Soylent)

Soylent is a grey smoothie the consistency of pancake batter that claims it can replace all your food. On a crowded planet, is this the future of food? Plus: what does the Antares rocket crash mean for private space travel?

 
Oct 30, 2014
Realtor Helen Hertz stands in front of one of her listings in Cleveland Heights, Ohio Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Hertz, a real estate agent for more than three decades, has seen firsthand what has happened to the market in the wake of the recession and foreclosure crisis. (AP)

Home ownership rates are at a 20-year low. Millennials and more aren’t buying. We’ll look at what American’s think now about owning a home.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Three: What Is The Dow Jones Industrial Average?
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

We dig in to that all-important, all-confusing daily stock notice: the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 31, 2014
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

We tumble for ya, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Tuco the Massachusetts K-9 Unit puppy in training.

More »
Comment
 
Awards Season 2014: The Movies Worth Your Time
Friday, Oct 31, 2014

What movies should you watch before 2014 comes to a close? Our critics offer their picks for the movies of the season right here.

More »
Comment