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It was just about a handful of years ago that late night legend Conan O’Brien completely reinvented himself with the brand Team CocoSince having done so, and totally taken over the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), O’Brien has become a symbol for not only what the digital age can do for an artist but also a beacon of inspiration, showing just how important it is to be driven. Having faced a highly publicized amount of rejection and struggle back when NBC kicked him off of The Tonight Show, it seems the comic has decided to begin giving back to those who have opted to fight the good fight and lay their roots as professional comedians.

To support the up and comers, Team Coco has developed a record label for comedians, aptly titled Team Coco Records, which plans to highlight the comedians they see as “on the rise” and offer more creative control as well as a larger cut of his or her profits.

Ian Edwards will be the first comedian to release an album via Team Coco Records. His debut,100% Half-Assed, drops this coming Tuesday, June 10.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Edwards exclusively tells MStarsNews. “I think people will take notice; that’s always the hope. To have someone like Conan and Team Coco Records confirm that I’m ‘funny,’ it’s pretty cool.”

Though Edwards’ 100% Half-Assed is his very first album, the comic from New York is surely no stranger to the stage, having been performing since his early 20s. And while he’s had multiple successes over the years, Edwards claims that doing CONAN was a definite “benchmark” for his career, “When I started comedy, the last thing I was going to do was give up. You never know what your family is thinking when they have a kid who went to college but ends up doing comedy. When you spring something on them that they don’t know how it works, it’s hard,” Edwards says. “But, they do see comics on television. When it’s you, at least it puts them at ease. They start believing you’re on the right track.”

Perhaps because of Edwards’ obvious respect for the late night host, it seems only appropriate that it would be Team Coco to release his debut album.

The comedian, who is also a writer on the CBS series Two Broke Girls, has been called “the best and most underrated comic in the industry” by famed Curb Your Enthusiasm star JB Smoove, and now, Ian Edwards talks to MStarsNews about what it’s like being the first stand up comedian on the Team Coco comedy label.

Read the Interview at MStars

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Over the past few years, TBS has grown in leaps in terms of original content, morphing from a network of reruns to one that produces quality material viewers are actually searching for. Perhaps part of the reason for this change is comedian Steve Byrne‘s popular series Sullivan & Son, a sitcom of his creation (alongside Executive Producers Vince Vaughn, Peter Billingsley and Rob Long), in which he plays Steve Sullivan, a longtime lawyer who quits life in the big city and heads home to run the family bar.

The show carries a cast of legendary comedy icons, including Brian Doyle Murray and Christine Ebersole, as well as an impressive cast of fellow stand ups: Roy Wood Jr.Owen Benjamin and Ahmed Ahmed.

The third season of Sullivan & Son begins on June 24. To kick if off, Byrne recently spoke with MStarsNews about the show, his newest stand up special on Netflix and how working in television has made him a better comedian.

MStarsNews: Sullivan & Son begins its third season on June 24. Are you a little more at ease going into a new season as opposed to starting a brand new series?

Steve Byrne: I’d say just a little bit. It’s not easier because the challenge to come up with interesting stories and something solid is always there, but I think what is more defined for us now are the characters and what makes them each unique. We know the relationships and how each interacts so there’s a kind of freedom there.

During the first season you’re usually trying to figure out who the characters are and what works and season two is somewhat of a continuation of that. I think now we’ve learned from both our mistakes and our successes so we use those going into this season. And I have to say… this season is by far our best yet. I can’t wait for people to check it out.

MS: Because of that there’s a sense of familiarity there, which I would think could lend itself to a looser atmosphere. Does that make working on the show more fun? 

SB: Absolutely. I think everybody is accustomed to each other now. We’re all pretty close both on and off the screen so it really is like a family atmosphere. And I know that sounds cliché but it definitely is true. This show is such a great time.

I’ve actually had people who have done guest spots come up to me afterwards and say it’s never like that, which is pretty special. Because of that, it helps me enjoy it more. I now know we’re doing something right.

Read the full interview on MStarsNews

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The walls of Boston’s Wilbur Theater were certainly littered with laughter the night comedian Myq Kaplan stepped onstage to record what would be his newest stand up album and special… Small, Dork and Handsome. Kicking off with, “In conclusion, a joke about time travel. But first, everything else…” the album continues to deliver nothing but a steady flow of A-level material from a guy who is continually growing into his own.

If there’s one constant in the album it’s the comic’s distinct and truly original ability to prove that the traditional “set up / punchline” format is no longer the prominent way of performing stand up comedy.  As the listener will take in – much like the audience in attendance – the evening in which the album was recorded was filled (and I do mean filled) with funny from beginning to end – holding minimal, if any, lulls in laughter.

Many of the surprises of Small, Dork and Handsome come from the unexpected and seemingly unwritten jokes within the jokes. Track six, for instance, titled Buddhism, Feminism, and Math, is a three minute and twenty-five second journey that not only touches upon the subjects within the title, but also introduces puns and quips that leave us questioning whether or not they were prepared or completely improvised in the moment. In discussing those who mock has last name, asking if he could make them more intelligent (based on the Kaplan Test Prep), the comic’s witty return is flawlessly, “I feel like with that attitude anyone could make you smarter. I feel as though a tree could help you. Not that a tree would help. Would help… extra joke!”

And let’s not forget his short, but effective quip about men receiving emails for enlarging their penis size, “Do you want your d—k to be bigger, thicker, wider, hung more like a horse? Hung like a horse? Of course, of course! That’s a joke for the Wilburrr Theater.”

Read the Full Interview at MStarsNews

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Writer/Producer Mark De Angelis and sketch comedy masterminds The Imponderables are back with season two of “Bill & Sons Towing,” an original web series written by De Angelis and Imponderables member Eric Toth that is centered on four dysfunctional brothers running a Tow Truck company in Canada alongside their also dysfunctional father (famed actor Nicholas Campbell). The hysterical web series stars The Imponderables themselves — Jon Smith, Eric Toth, Tony Lombardo and Dave Brennan — and succeeds wholeheartedly in delivering edgy, well thought-out, unique comedy at all costs.

I recently spoke with the series creator Mark De Angelis about season two, his method for finding funny and their new partnership with MyDamnChannel.

Kyle Dowling: I’m thrilled “Bill & Sons” is back; I’m a huge fan of it. There was a rather lengthy amount of time between seasons one and two, however. Correct?
Mark De Angelis: There was! It was a little hiatus. It came down to funding really. But we’re back and so excited that people are going to get to see this season. I’m really proud of it.

KD: So have you completely written and shot all of season two?
MD: Yep! All 12 episodes were shot in early December. We’re doing sound mixing right now on the back half, but other than that they’re all ready to go!

KD: How do you feel they compare to one another? Season one was phenomenal.
 I think season two is a better season, honestly. We learned a lot from the first season. In this one we’ve tried to open up the world a little more so you’ll see over this season that we do get out of the garage a few times, which is cool. It’s the same guys that everyone loves but we wanted to do some new elements as well. A big storyline in season two is Stewart Sutherland, their rival from the end of season one; he ends up buying a shop down the street from them. He has a great storyline this year, he’s just hell-bent on destroying Bill & Sons Towing.

As you know from watching the show, these guys have money troubles, parent troubles and so much on them already, but we thought how can we keep piling on the tension for these guys. I think that storyline adds a great deal of story and funny to it. Another great storyline from this season is that we’ll be introduced to Tony’s mystery mom.

KD: The woman he was jerking off to in the beginning of the first episode? [laughs]
 [laughs] Exactly.

With the always-expanding range of CGI and special effects, it’s refreshing to see something real. But in the case of the Cinemax series Banshee, “real” just doesn’t seem to cut it. Now coming to the end of its second season, the show delivers some of the most cringe-worthy, jaw-dropping fight scenes on TV, all surrounded by a story and characters that draw you in from the pilot…which actually isn’t the pilot. Don’t worry, you’ll understand soon enough. If you haven’t jumped onboard yet, get to it!
We recently spoke with Banshee showrunner Greg Yaitanes (House, Lost, Heroes) about the upcoming Banshee finale (Friday, March 14 at 10 P.M. on Cinemax), how it came about and his ingenious ideas that helped him get to work on the show he wanted so badly.

Playboy.com: Banshee may be one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen. It’s dark, it’s gritty, the fight scenes make you cringe…almost as if the violence itself is a character. Was that the idea from the start?

Greg Yaitanes: I’m really thrilled to hear that! We pictured all of that early on. We made a change in our stunt team at about the third episode in because we wanted to really up the ante. I remember when I interviewed Marcus Young, he asked, “How far can I take this?” I told him I wanted to go all out. I said, “You go as far as you’re willing to go, and I’ll pull you back.” I don’t think there’s any better demonstration of that than the upcoming season finale. I’m so excited.

Playboy.com: I know this is going back some time, but how did the show initially come to you?

Yaitanes: At the time, I was executive producing House. It was the last season of the show and I was looking for my next project. I had seen some things along the road that I liked but I just wasn’t able to work on with my House schedule. I knew Alan Ball was doing a project with Cinemax. I was constantly stalking this project and its progress along the way. I didn’t know Jonathan [Tropper] and David [Schickler] at the time, but I knew I wanted to get out of network and move to cable. When I first started meeting about the show I went through a series of meetings…totally different than network. With HBO, it’s like, “Okay, we’ve got 10,000 Emmys. What else you got?” [laughs]

What I did for the meeting was create a trailer for Banshee out of other movies. I used it as a pitch video for what was in my head. I think that worked to my benefit because I was giving them a tangible way to see how I wanted the show to go. It was a great opportunity for me. Also, I had a very out-of-the-box concept for shooting season one. Normally, you shoot the pilot episode first. I actually shot episode four as the pilot. If people go back and watch, they’ll see that it’s totally out of sequence.

Playboy.com: That’s an ingenious idea. What made you do that?

Yaitanes: I’ve directed pilots and I often find that they’re the worst episode of the series. So I thought, the best chance I could give it was bury it in the middle of shooting. Maybe by the fourth episode the audience would grab on and move with it. By doing it that way, I didn’t have to worry so much about making everything perfect. It allowed for the characters to settle in and for us all to find the groove of the show. And when we got around to shooting the first episode of the series, things ran very smoothly.

I was asked to create an interview series for Playboy.com. It’s a five part series in which comedians/actors take the time to sit down with one another one to discuss… anything!

Part 3: Comedian Mark Normand chats with comedian Gary Gulman
   Part 2: Comedian Aparna Nancherla interviews comedian Myq Kaplan
    Part 1: Comedian Jimmy Pardo talks with ‘Mad Men’ star Rich Sommer

I was asked to create an interview series for Playboy.com. It’s a five part series in which comedians/actors take the time to sit down with one another one to discuss… anything!

Part 2: Comedian Aparna Nancherla interviews comedian Myq Kaplan
 Part 1: Comedian Jimmy Pardo talks with ‘Mad Men’ star Rich Sommer

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She’s heard it from countless club owners who expected her to bomb: People won’t laugh at a sexy woman telling jokes. They were always surprised when Macie killed instead. “It’s an element of surprise I guess,” she reasons. “Especially if they aren’t familiar with your work. Most men are confused about how your tits can be funny.”

Macie poped her cherry at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, after years of “almost no work ethic” and a bad breakup that ended when she was slapped with a restraining order. “I had a really dysfunctional childhood and wasn’t too qualified to do anything else,” she admits.

After just three and a half years of working the clubs, she caught the eye of Last Comic Standing and became a finalist on Season Four. Fame was finally hers when Howard Stern named Macie his Funniest Hottest Comedienne.

 Read the Full Interview

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Mark Pellegrino has played some badass roles. His parts on “Dexter,” “Supernatural,” “Being Human,” and “The Closer” – among others – shined brightly as fan-favorites. And let’s not forget his portrayal of Jacob on ABC’s “Lost.”

However, beyond the dark characters he seems to portray onscreen (which he believes find him more than he finds them), Pellegrino appears to be a true admirer of the craft of acting. Which is probably why he has chosen to remain always fresh in the business he loves so much by not only doing but also teaching.

Pellegrino’s newest project – “The Tomorrow People” – premiered back in October on the CW network. The actor was kind enough to spend some time talking to me for The Smoking Jacket about his new series, how he approaches a character, and why the antagonist is the most intriguing part of a story.

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Some might consider Steve-O an artist; others just think he’s absolutely insane. However, no matter what your opinion, the truth is that when Steve-O, often known as the “Icon of Mayhem” gets in front of a camera, we’re all fixated – except when he’s doing something really, really disturbing. But, most of the time, whether he’s piercing his ass together or lighting himself on fire, we can’t seem to get enough of this self-professed attention whore.

Gaining an immense amount of fame on MTV’s smash “Jackass,” Steve-O has gone on to make us laugh, squirm and often cringe. And now he’s taken his antics to YouTube…finally. I recently spoke with Steve-O for TSJ about his new YouTube channel, moving on from “Jackass,” and perhaps the weirdest/funniest tattoo story in the world…

The Smoking Jacket: You’ve finally taken what you do to YouTube – How’s that going?Steve-O: It’s awesome! I’m uploading a new video as we speak, so by the time this comes out it’ll be up.

TSJ: Can I ask what it is?

Steve-O: Well, I’m calling it “Poo Dime.” It starts off as a nifty bar trick and then turns and goes down another path.

TSJ: What you’re doing for YouTube, is it much different than what you’re used to doing?

Steve-O: It’s not, but no matter what the outlet is, I just found that I’m putting incredible pressure on myself to outdo anything I’ve ever done before. On some level, whatever the forum is, it doesn’t matter; I’m always pushing myself. With this, I’m going back to my roots and pushing things further.

TSJ: I’m assuming having over 517,000 YouTube subscribes in just two weeks doesn’t help alleviate some of that pressure. Is that crazy to you? That’s over half a million people.

Steve-O: I know! I love it! But also, I can’t enjoy it because I just put so much pressure on myself. But at the same time, it’s crazy exciting. It’s a weird mixture of anxiety and excitement. I don’t know if it’s healthy, but it’s exciting nonetheless.


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