He's ba-ack. Jon Stewart made another surprise return last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. This time, he sat down to have a heart-to-heart with The Media to tell them dating advice because their relationship with Donald Trump is just hurting them and they have to break up.
I love Bob and Ray. Just love them. There isn't all that much video of them, though a bit of audio, mostly from their Broadway show, The Two and Only.
This, though, happily is some video, from an appearance on The Tonight Show, one of my favorite of their sketches, "The Slow Talkers of America."
Okay, following the lead from The Netherlands, here's another of those videos that comedy TV shows around the world are putting out, based on Donald Trump calling "America First," and all these other countries making the case why they should be second.
This one is from Switzerland. Yes, neutral, non-political Switzerland. Even they think Trump is a someone worth ridiculing. It's pretty good.
Last week, I wrote about a series of videos that are springing up around the world, made by comedy TV shows to compete with one made by The Netherlands. The premise is since Donald Trump has declared "America First," all these countries around the rest of the world are trying to position themselves to be "second."
They go by various names, one of which is Comedy Against Trumpism. Another, which I quite like, given the cleverness of its pun, is "Every Second Counts."
I've watched a lot of them, and The Netherlands remains my favorite. (You know how wacky and funny those cut-up Dutch are...) But many of the others are still almost as good, what with personal taste and all. As I wrote at the time, I'd be posting a bunch of these. And here's one more.
This is from Belgium, making their case why they should be second...
The guest contestant on this week's comedy-news quiz from NPR Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! was supposed to be Lena Dunham, but alas she had to cancel. Instead, host Peter Sagal had to get a last-minute fill-in contestant, a fellow by the name of Stephen Colbert! Making the "Not My Job" segment all the more fun -- because his appearance was last-minute -- is that all of the questions that Peter Sagal asks Colbert are ones which were intended for Ms. Dunham. But I don't mean just all the quiz questions, which always have a them centered around the guest ...but all the questions, including for the interview portion!
A short while back, a comedy TV show in The Netherlands made a very funny video at the expense of Donald Trump. It was based on the idea of Trump going around saying, "America First," so the Dutch thought they should make a plea to at least be second.
The plea caught on, and other comedy shows around the world got competitive and, largely using the same format, made their own case for being second. And more countries are joining in weekly. This has all be done under various headings -- "Comedy Against Trumpism" is one. Another is "WHO Wants to Be Second?" And then there's "Every Second Counts." It's all part of the same effort.
Not all that I've seen are wonderful -- but most are. And some are laugh out loud hoots. But of all the really funny ones, the best I've seen so far is the first, from The Netherlands.
I'll post some of the better ones here, but to start with this is the one that started it all.
It begins in Dutch, but at about the 40-second mark, the official video will kick in.
John Oliver is back. So, the world is at least looking a little brighter. And his first report, as you might expect, is spot on and very funny -- with a wonderful twist at the end.
The report is on Trump's relationship with The Truth. He looks at it from four perspectives -- how did we get a pathological liar in the White House, where are his lies coming from, why do so many people believe him and...what can we do about it?
It's this final question, the "what can we do about a problem?" that Team Oliver tends to shine, and they don't disappoint here.
With a very funny -- and even-more surprising -- nod to Kellyanne Conway and the Trump administration, the Unilever company has taken out a two-page ad in several major London newspapers to promote its new Dove AntiPerspirant.
The first page of the ad is full of "alternative facts" about the Dove product, while the second page simply lists a few basic "Real Facts."
That the company felt the news about Ms. Conway's "alternative facts" would be something that would resonate with the British public speaks massive volumes about the impact the Trump administration is having on the whole. That it's something to joke about and have fun with as a marketing tool is even more notable.
Here's the first page. My personal favorite "alternative fact" may be -- "New Dove antiperspirant boosts your Wi-Fi signal."
You may have seen this by now, since it's making its way around that Internet thing. But I watched it live on Saturday Night Live, and thought it was a gem.
The sketch is a press conference led by Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And it's very funny on its own, but what takes it to a higher level is that he's played -- in seriously-impressive make-up -- by, of all people, Melissa McCarthy. It was an unannounced appearance, she wasn't the host, nor even a scheduled guest. And the make-up is so good that I don't think you can tell who it is. The audience applauds on entrance, but unless they were told ahead of time that it was a surprise, I don't think they'd have had a clue. Only when she begins talking do you realize the voice is familiar and then you catch on. And it's at that point the audience ratchets things up.
She's absolutely wonderful. But as terrific as she is, the people who I think deserve the most praise are 1) the lunatic who suggested, "Hey, how about we get Melissa McCarthy to play Sean Spicer, and 2) the make-up artist.
Here 'tis --
The Sundance Chanel ran a Zucker Bros. marathon most of the day yesterday, and no, I'm not expecting royalties from my two very-brief appearances as butts of jokes. But I did tune in throughout the day to watch parts of all the films. I've worked on four ZuckerMovies in total, back in my wayward days as a film publicist. I never liked being a publicist, but I loved working on these movies, some of the best work experiences of my life.
(For the record, if anyone happened to watch, the roles -- in you can call them that... -- were "Police Sketch Artist" in Naked Gun 2-1/2 and "Cabbie" in "Naked Gun 33-1/3. The bizarre thing is that I've been recognized a few times from them, which is awkward since the total screen time of both combined is about 12 seconds. My hope is that the people saw the films the day before they saw me...)
By the way, the subtitle of that third movie in the series was "The Final Insult," which I thought was pretty good -- but it wasn't the original subtitle, which I liked even more. But the filmmakers decided not to use in on the off-chance that they decided to do one more. They didn't expect to, it really was intended to be the last one, but just in case, they wanted to hold onto the title and use it then. And so, if there had been one more, it would have been Naked Gun 4: Beating a Dead Horse.
Which brings us to the point of all this. While watching Naked Gun 2-1/2 I was reminded of the great teaser trailer for the film. You may remember it (or not), but a bit of its background is in order.
They had made the first Naked Gun film in 1988. Today, studios will turn out sequels every other year, maybe even every year. But they didn't with The Naked Gun. Brothers David and Jerry Zucker, and Jim Abrahams, had intended to make that one film and then they moved on to other things.
One of those "other things" was a solo project that Jerry made, Ghost, separate from his brother David, and Jim. It was thought to be a nice, little film...that turned into a phenomenon and even got an Oscar nomination as Best Picture in 1990. The "Unchained Melody" sequence -- with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore seductively molding wet clay on the pottery wheel -- became so iconic to the film, in part from its relentless viewing, that it revitalized the careers of the Righteous Brothers, who sang the song.
By way of reminder, here's that scene. No need to watch the whole thing if you don't want, but at least the first minute-and-a-half since that helps set up what comes later in this piece...
Then, a full three years after The Naked Gun had originally been released, it was decided to bring back the characters and make a sequel. During production -- on which Jerry and Jim weren't much involved except as executive producers, working instead on their own projects -- the filmmakers started thinking of what to do about a "teaser trailer," to let the public know that Frank Drebin and the gang were finally back after so long. And in one of those lightbulb "Eureka!!" moments, the idea and its great tagline burst forth. Though in the middle of filming the movie, they loved the idea so much that they found the time to schedule this special shoot and convinced the studio to let them do it.
(Side note: the juke box used in the teaser trailer is the exact same one used in Ghost. David called his brother, who had kept it after the film, and Jerry lent it for the special shoot.)
When the teaser trailer played in theaters, the reaction was explosive, even getting cheers. I remember my brother telling me he saw it in the theater, and when he started up he was suckered in, thinking it was about a re-release of Ghost, and groaned since that was so soon after the film had been out. But then when he realized what he was, he burst out laughing -- and when they got to the tag line, he fell apart. (And then they had a topper tag at the very end, based on the original ad line for Ghost, which had been "Believe.") The response was so tremendous that TV entertainment news shows began doing pieces on it.
One final word. When the finished movie itself finally opened, and the scene from the trailer appeared, audiences began applauding wherever I attended screenings. But the funny thing is -- it was never intended to be in the movie. It wasn't in the script, and the material was only shot for that teaser trailer. But at the very last minute, the filmmakers realized that it not only was so funny, but that audiences might even be disappointed if it wasn't in. So, they rewrote a scene that allowed the trailer footage to be included, and then shot some additional material to expand it.
Here's that teaser trailer. Imagine if you will, that it's 1991. There hasn't been a Naked Gun film for three years, and as far as you know, there won't be another. And Ghost had been in the theaters only about nine months earlier. You've bought your popcorn. The lights in the theater go down. And the Coming Attractions start...
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, and is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post and the Writers Guild of America. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.