DID YOU READ

How to Be Funny: 7 Comedians Give Awesome Advice

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Being a comedian is hard. Being an aspiring comedian is even harder. To help jump start your career in comedy, we’ve compiled a list of established comics giving advice on how to write, perform, and make it in the funny business. Most of this advice applies to any occupation, so read on and get inspired.

1. Jerry Seinfeld Explains How to Write a Joke


2. Bill Burr on How to Jump Start a Comedy Career


3. Ricky Gervais on Writing What You Know


4. Judd Apatow on How He Got Started

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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

10 Incredible Musical Episodes in TV History

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Comedy Bang! Bang! is boldly venturing into the musical episode world this Friday at 10/9c. To help warm up your vocal chords, here are ten non-musical TV shows that went down that path successfully.

1. That 70s Show – “That 70s Musical”

A common excuse for a musical episode is having it take place in one character’s imagination, and for That 70s Show, it could only be Fez.


2. Fringe – “Brown Betty”

In the world of Fringe, anything could happen. This second-season episode started with Walter Bishop smoking a particularly potent strain of marijuana and drifting into a film noir reverie.


3. Community – “Regional Holiday Music”

Community took the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone with season 3’s “Regional Holiday Music.” It’s a musical episode, it’s a Christmas episode and it’s a Glee parody all at once.


4. Batman: The Brave And The Bold – “Mayhem of the Music Meister”

Even animated series can dip a toe into the musical episode well. Batman: The Brave And The Bold’s 2009 outing starred Neil Patrick Harris as a Bat-villain out to control the world with song.

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10 Comedy Web Series You Need to Watch

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SNL star Bobby Moynihan stops by Comedy Bang! Bang! tonight to play the endearingly stabby Little Orphan Fourvel. Since there’s no such thing as too much Bobby, not only will we tune in at 10/9c, but we’re going to spend the day watching Moynihan’s web series The Sidecar. If you’re looking for more laughter before tonight’s episode, here’s a list of must-watch comedy web series.

1. The Sidecar

Bobby Moynihan stars in The Sidecar, a new web series about a bar where a bunch of superhero sidekicks hang out. We’re particularly fond of this special episode commissioned for YouTube’s “Geek Week,” starring Moynihan and our pal Chris Gethard.


2. Speakeasy

In a recent episode of Paul F. Tompkins’s web series Speakeasy, he sits down with SNL’s Bill Hader, who just happens to be a guest on tonight’s episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! They chat about Hader’s entire career in comedy, including his childhood interest in Monty Python and his anxiety-ridden days at SNL.


3. Burning Love

This hilarious parody of The Bachelor stars a who’s who of comedy including Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, Adam Scott, Paul Rudd, Kumail Nanjiani, Nick Kroll and a host of other indie comedy legends all vying for love in all the wrong places.


4. 7 Minutes in Heaven

SNL writer and soon-to-be featured player Mike O’Brien invites celebrities like Portlandia’s Fred Armisen, Insane Clown Posse and Ellen Degeneres to recreate one of the most awkward moments of junior high school. Sure he likes to talk instead of make-out, but it’s still entertaining to watch.

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