Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Comedy Shop

RTV (Retro Television) must have a budget of about $12 a day. I recently commented about their reruns of the terrible 60's sitcom, 'The Joey Bishop Show'. Their line-up is the bottom of the barrel, with a few exceptions like 'Route 66' and 'The Naked City'. Their typical fare is garbage like 'The Cisco Kid', 'Soupy Sales' and 'The Real McCoys'. But where else can you see something like the dated but interesting trucker show 'Movin' On'?

Well, we have another winner. A little gem from the early 80's called 'The Comedy Shop', a syndicated half-hour that was a product of the stand-up comedy boom of the era. The host is the incredibly mediocre Norm Crosby.

Typically, there would be three or four B-Team performers and a 'surprise guest', usually a sitcom co-star (e.g., Norman Fell, Isabelle Sanford) who were there for the sole purpose of promoting their shows. They would tell a lame joke and introduce the next act. Some of the performers, like Elayne Boosler, I remember. But some I have no clue who they are and assume they found another career path.

Unlike 'The Joey Bishop Show', I actually remember 'The Comedy Shop'. I don't think I was much of a fan, but it was 'okay'. Watching it now, and seeing how dated and unwatchable it is, I can't help but think, 'there must be about 50 people in the whole country watching this'.

At the time, a club in LA called The Comedy Store was a household name. 'The Comedy Shop' was such an obvious rip-off of the name, there's a disclaimer in the credits.

Stand-up comedy is something that, in general, just doesn't hold up over time. There are some exceptions. I still get a kick out of The Smothers Brothers' albums. And the Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner '2000 Year Old Man' is still funny. Jonathan Winters is a great act and never gets stale. But those examples are rare and they didn't do 'topical humor'. Maybe that's why they hold up. Even the great George Carlin HBO specials aren't funny after a decade or so.

If you get RTV, check out 'The Comedy Shop'. It's so bad that it's great. But after two or three episodes, I think I've had my fill.


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