AUSTIN — Hoo boy, y’all. I know I’ve complained about the oddly-dressed masses who infiltrate the city for SXSW music, but I take it all back for a brief moment, because yesterday, my face was thoroughly rocked off at a kickass performance by the American heroes of Tenacious D: Jack Black and Kyle Gass.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The comedy day began with a screening and discussion of one of my favorite web-series-turned-TV-shows, Drunk History, to air on Comedy Central this July. Creators Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner kicked off the segment by showing a clip from the upcoming show, featuring comedian Jen Kirkman drunkenly discussing the history of Mary Dyer, a Puritan who was continually exiled from Boston for wrongful preaching. I won’t give away all the details – I hate spoilers as much as the next gal – but look for stellar appearances from Michael Cera and, briefly, Chris Parnell.
Comedian Kyle Kinane then joined the duo onstage; Kinane also recorded a segment for the show on the Haymarket Riot (Chicago labor history, awww yeahhh!). Kinane shed some light on the recording process, noting that he had never blacked out so hard before, and only recalled having done a Drunk History performance after finding “some barf on [his] freezer door.”
The trio closed by showing another clip of the show featuring the story of successful arsonist (Nick Offerman) and his cronies (Derek Waters and my favorite corrupt lawyer of all time, Bob Odenkirk – Breaking Bad, am I right? Anyone?). Suffice it to say the show has translated beautifully from the Web to real television, so tune in this July.
Speaking of Web series, later that evening, I attended a screening of one of Yahoo! Screen’s new original comedic series called Ghost Ghirls, another Jeremy Konner project. Executive produced by Jack Black, the show centers on two ghost hunters (Amanda Lund and Maria Blaslucci) who bumble through various hauntings to document and halt unseemly spiritual activity.
And, once again, I’m going to tell you to watch out for this show when it airs this spring. The writing is smart and the comedic guest stars plentiful. A who’s who from the first two episodes: Natasha Leggero, Molly Shannon, Jack Black, Dave Grohl, Kate Micucci, and, in his first comedic role since Batman Forever, VAL KILMER – heyooooo!
I must say, I’m thrilled to see Yahoo! investing in edgier comedy series like Burning Love and Ghost Ghirls. VP and Head of Video and Originals at Yahoo!, Erin McPherson, told me that their commitment stems from the natural fit comedy has for online spaces: “It’s super shareable, it’s easily snackable… right now, online, comedy is excelling in the scripted realm. It’s very easy to dive right into a comedy.”
And dive in we did. Shortly after the screening, Black and Gass took the stage to perform a slew of hits from Tenacious D to a deeply enthused crowd, ending with a one-two punch of “Tribute” and “Fuck Her Gently.” Nothing like a sultry serenade to close out a long day. It was destiny.