Giraldo Show Pilot Taping 4/7/05 - Sony Studios
It was like old times. Take the Babylon
line into Penn, hop into a cab, and get dropped off on W 53rd
between 9th & 10th. Stand outside Sony Studios and check in
with someone wearing headsets and holding a clipboard with your
name on it. Be handed a ticket and have a creepy bald man with a
metal detector grope your pockets. Stand by the stage door until
you're strategically seated in small groups.
Sadly you look over to the right and don't
see the pool table, the framed picture of Manny Dworman, the end
tables covered in candy & fresh grapes, or Colin Quinn's
face on a poster with the words "Tough Crowd" in bold
print next to it.
Instead we see the same old NYC skyline
facade, placed behind a small bar area, atop a familiar, yet
barren wood floor. The old plasma TV looms in the background,
displaying an animated, circular graphic with the words
"The Greg Giraldo Show" spinning around like a clock
dial. Look over to the left and you see a mini bar fashioned
with opened beer bottles, crushed peanuts, and napkins perfectly
crinkled to give the illusion you're sitting in your favorite,
old school NYC watering hole.
You're seated in new, highly uncomfortable
wooden chairs, longing for the soft cushioned seats your ass
adorned while watching guys like Patrice O'Neal & Jim Norton
spar over current events. You see the same old production people
& stagehands tweaking everything from the lighting to the
cameras. You even see Ken Ober, Colin's right hand man, sitting
at that small black table still placed to the right of the
A balding gentleman with a microphone
warms up the crowd. His name is Pete Dominick, an up &
coming NYC comedian with razor sharp comebacks and an angry
outlook on life. No longer can you sing the theme song to the
"Fresh Prince Of Bel Aire" in order to be handed a
cheaply made Tough Crowd t-shirt or hat from the hand of Quentin
Heggs. Damn how I miss seeing people stump him by having him
sing the theme song to the awful 80's sitcom, "Small
Wonder," or guessing his age (which I believe was 43.)
Dominick deals with an energetic, Dr. Ruth
looking, mature woman, who's hell-bent on stealing his spotlight
and steps over his lines constantly. After silencing her and
poking fun at his physical afflictions, he introduces the host
of tonight's show, Greg Giraldo.
Dressed in all black, with his patented
"messy yet neat" hairstyle, Greg grabs the mic and
points out familiar faces from the past scattered all throughout
the audience. Giraldo opens up his diatribe by explaining just
what the hell is going on here today. He blurts out the words
"Tough Crowd" and is met with a genuine round of
applause. Greg goes on about how this is just a pilot taping and
if the show is picked up there will be a new look & feel to
the set. He looks over in my direction and blurts out something
to the effect of "I don't want to read on Cringe Humor that
this is just a second rate Tough Crowd."
Giraldo wraps up, and Pete Dominick
emerges in time to introduce tonight's panel of 3 comedians.
Lewis Black enters to a huge ovation, also dressed in all black
and looking rather sickly. Mind you this is the first time I've
had the chance to actually see Lewis in person, so I'm sure he
always comes off that way.
The lovely Lynne Koplitz is up next,
wearing a revealing green top, matching pants, and sexy high
heels. You can sense all of the men (myself included) zeroing in
on her supermodel, MILF-like looks, which are highly accentuated
thanks to a generous amount of cleavage being displayed.
Our final panelist, Patton Oswalt, also
receives a huge ovation. Greg went out and got the big guns for
tonight - two Comedy Central legends, and a gorgeous comedienne
to help break up what would otherwise be a sausage fest.
An ominous, familiar voice emerges from
the speakers above & below, and a countdown commences. 5
seconds later Greg, enters the set from a huge green door and
stands behind the aforementioned bar area. He begins his
monologue and proceeds to pick apart topics such as Terri
Schiavo, the Pope's death, and more. Greg delivers everything in
his trademark intelligent & smarmy manner. The audience eats
it up and replies with huge amounts of laughter. Greg wraps up
and literally runs to his perch, another bar like structure that
holds 4 people. His 3 panelists are directly seated to his
right, the setup resembling a cafeteria lunch table. Greg
introduces each individual and barrels into tonight's first
Nostalgia begins to set in as the plasma
displays a graphic of Spongebob Squarepants and his buddy
Patrick The Starfish, standing side by side. The first debate is
over homosexual undertones in children's entertainment. Greg
starts the segment off with his own, rather lengthy twist on the
topic at hand, and hands it over to Lewis Black. It goes down
the line as each comedian gets in a line or 2. Long gone are the
days of Patrice stepping over your lines & hijacking the
show. Everyone let the other person speak and we were treated to
clean & crisp comedic gems. Watching Lewis Black in person
for the first time is remarkable. His hands & head shake
like someone stricken with advanced Parkinson's, while his mind
processes hilarious thoughts that his mouth delivers in an
agitated, annoyed fashion.
The next topic is brought up by Greg in
the same fashion, and you can't help but notice how much
uninterrupted time Greg uses to set it up, and then insert his
own hilarious twists. Almost double the time Colin would
take...It's apparent who the star of the new show is. Greg hands
it off to Patton first, who replies with a deadpan "Thank
you, Colin" one liner that the crowd immediately ate up and
applauded for - a tribute to the man who paved the way for
today's event. Not skipping a beat, Giraldo fires back with a
"Thank you, Janeane" zinger once Patton shut up.
The debates go on smoothly, nothing
hectic, wild, or too unpredictable occurs. I miss that. I miss
seeing Judy Gold getting groped after uncomfortably pointing out
how Colin can't father children. I miss Colin getting pelted in
the face with a grape after flubbing a line. I miss the mean,
below the belt, inside joke insults Norton, Keith, DiPaolo, and
even Greg himself would hurl towards one another.
Everything went down too smoothly, a
testament to Greg's well documented & almost obsessive
preparation. You sit there & finally realize this isn't
Tough Crowd anymore, this is Tough Crowd Lite. The funny is
still there, but the excess has been trimmed away.
Could it be because of the panel? All 3
performers are well groomed comics who aren't known for
attacking one another. Would this go down if t was the old show
regulars? Theres grumbling around the comedy circuit that the
old Tough Crowd regulars want nothing to do with Greg's new
show, which is apparent by the lineup for the 2 tapings. Can the
same concept survive without the same vibe? More on that later
The first commercial break happens and the
monitors show an artsy rendition of Greg walking down an NYC
street. The show logo spins around in the corner while an
instrumental portion of "Black Betty" blares loudly.
Pete Dominick comes back with awful "Drawn Together"
t-shirts draped over his shoulder, looking to hand them out to
select audience members. Before Pete is able to do so, he is
told "we're coming back" and quickly exits. Black
Betty blares again and this time we see a graphic of Greg
sitting at bar before fading into a live shot of the set.
Act 2 starts with some news story about
these religious, refugee Mexicans raising a ruckus. I honestly
don't remember the story exactly, so feel free to correct me.
Anyways, each time Greg went to start, there was a technical
glitch in the production and the ominous voice from above would
halt the progress. After a 4th attempt, Greg eeked through the
opening set up and segued a video of him talking to some random
Mexicans on the street about it (in his native Spanish.) The
men's replies were fabricated via subtitles, and pretty much
expressed how they love America and it's women. The panel then
tackled it with their own, funny perspectives and more, smooth
The next topic is steroids in baseball.
Once again we're treated to a video with Greg, this time in a
local gym talking to an admitted steroid user. Greg picks apart
the beefcake's thought process on the positives of using
steroids, and the video ends with a funny homosexual embrace
between the 2 men in the locker room. I can sense the women in
the audience getting tingly in the crotch after seeing Greg
topless. More hilarious, safe banter ensued and it was time for
Now we get to old act 3. Instead of a
poorly executed sketch, we were treated to a game titled
"Skeletons." Basically a random audience member (or a
production assistant I should say) would sit at the end of the
panel and have a dirty secret written down on a huge cue card.
Only the 3 panelists and the audience members know what the
secret is. The 3 panelists would then feed Greg a clue, which
they read off of their own index cards. Greg would then get a
guess and ask the audience member a question in which they would
reply with a simple yes or no.
The first contestant's secret was that her
gyno tried setting her up on a date with his son. Each panelist
had a funny one line clue, with Lewis Black having the best line
- "She was smeared, and I'm not talking about her
reputation." Greg came close to guessing it correctly but
just fell short. Contestant # 2's secret was that he banged a
woman the first night she was out of jail. Greg once again fell
short, but seeing him come up with funny shit on the fly saved
an otherwise lackluster segment.
For act 4, each comedian brought in their
own news items and were allowed to pick it apart & riff on
it. As many of you who read my shit know by now, I have the
memory of a goldfish and can't remember what each panelist
contributed. Of course it all ended well, and each comic got
their laughs. End show.
So now we're left with more
Will Comedy Central pick it up?
- I certainly hope so. In my worthless
opinion the show would be best done once a week (broadcasted on
a Friday night) and should be an hour long.
Will it capture the same vibe as Tough
- Even though there are similar elements,
I don't see it happening. The show has an odd West Coast vibe
about it. Everything is just too rehearsed & pristine. It
probably came off that way, because after all, it was a pilot
that's being sold to the network. Everything had to be perfect
as people's jobs are on the line. The beauty of Colin's show was
the unpredictable element presented when you had 2-3 buddies in
comedy interacting with timid outsiders. Seeing the old regulars
harass the outsiders & one another is what myself and the
majority of the CH fan base loved seeing. You never saw that
realism on a show before. It can never be captured again.
- With some grooming and slight changes,
The Greg Giraldo Show can be a success. It won't beak any
ground, or explode like a Chappelle's Show or The Daily Show
(mainly because the scumbags at Comedy Central won't allow that
to EVER happen) but it can be a nice regular series that once
again captures what the network should be about...Comedians