Middleditch & Schwartz Shows How Radical Improv Can Get When It Gets to Go Really Long
Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz, referred to as Middleditch & Schwartz when performing together, have pushed themselves into rarefied air as comedic improvisers. Most people who perform improv, even at a high level, do not get to tour or make money directly from doing improv live. On top of that, a good percentage of the general public only know of the short form improv juggernaut Whose Line Is It Anyway? Though popular, short form improv can be incredibly limiting and restrictive compared to the open field that long form improv can be (improvising scenes merely from an audience suggestion or story/experience).
Yet, the improv prowess of Middleditch and Schwartz has gotten them to the point into making three whole comedy specials for Netflix (now streaming) that really do capture how purely funny Thomas and Ben can be at any given moment, from any angle, and in front or behind the fourth wall.
Playing Carnegie Hall and touring all over the place for Middleditch & Schwartz has really given them an almost unlimited canvas to really bend and break the rules of improv however they see fit.
Generally, a set of long form improv goes about 10-30 minutes. Even if a group is set to do an hour show, they usually take break in the middle and reset. Thomas and Ben push themselves by doing just under an hour’s worth of improvising. The result is that you get to see a bit of the methods behind the madness when they’ll step in and out of the artifice of their performance. They’ll make fun of the entire cast of characters they created, their fluid relationships between said characters, and push each other into more and more absurd situations/choices and then only wiggle their way out, often in a hysterically daft manner. Throughout all these performances, the duo puts on a clinic of how to use and break form in improv for the biggest rows of laughter.
Whether you’re a self-identified improv nerd or someone who has been rather on the hesitant side of watching improv, Middleditch & Schwartz is absolutely something you should get into (again, all three specials are streaming now on Netflix).
Get Your First Look at Middleditch and Schwartz’s Improv Specials Coming to Netflix
When it comes to televised improv, all that most people have seen or known about is the short form improv institution that is Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Yet, Middleditch & Schwartz might just get to that status very soon. The duo made up of Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz have toured together around the globe as, perhaps, one of the most successful long form improvisational comedy acts of all time, creating hysterical scenes and having a solid, surprising narrative arcs seemingly out of nowhere.
So, Middleditch & Schwartz are about to make television history with a full-fledged long form improv (scenes get improvised just off a suggestion versus short form improv that relies on very specific games that have very specific rules to improvise through) comedy special. That comes after reaching milestones like having continuously sold-out performances at Largo, touring everywhere, and playing Carnegie Hall.
Seeing how they’ll make that translate into a comedy special given the ephemeral nature of improv will undoubtedly be fascinating (and probably why they’re releasing three performances of them). You can get your first look at what that might look like with this trailer here, then look for them to drop on Tues., Apr. 21st on Netflix.
Ben Schwartz Announces Middleditch & Schwartz Specials to Premiere on Netflix
Last year, Ben Schwartz and Thomas Middleditch took what very well may be one of the the most successful improv groups of all time, Middleditch + Schwartz, and taped multiple performances for the purposes of a comedy special. Long form improv on TV is a rare thing to see, but leave it to Ben and Thomas to figure out how to really make it work.
During his appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers last night, Schwartz announced that there will be three different specials capturing three different performances by Middleditch + Schwartz coming to Netflix soon.
These specials could be very well break new ground for long form improv, largely a discipline in comedy that only gets seen live and we personally, really can’t wait to see what the two have cooked up together in the moment.
The Greg Daniels Space Military Workplace Comedy “Space Force” Sets John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, and Tawny Newsome as Series Regulars Opposite Steve Carell
Middleditch + Schwartz Are Shooting an Improv Comedy Special
Though long form improv has been an established discipline in the art form of comedy for decades now, the prospect of seeing it in the form of a comedy special has been incredibly rare. The last time we even remember seeing something like that was when Schwartz led off a night of improv with the cast members of House of Lies.
Now, Thomas Middleditch and Ben Schwartz together as Middleditch + Schwartz, arguably one of the most successful long form improv teams in comedy history, will be blazing a new trail by making a special out of four tapings recorded at the NYU Skirball. The tapings are almost entirely sold out at this point, but the promise of what this might be is incredibly enticing.
Admittedly, putting long form improv as a special proves for an especially hard challenge as the nuance and ephemeral nature of improv comedy begs that you don’t cut anything from the entire performance. We’re not sure exactly what Ben and Thomas’ strategy for the final product will be, but it’ll undoubtedly set a new precedent in comedy.
UCB Is Holding a Comedy Yard Sale Benefitting the ACLU, Full of Memorabilia From Your Favorite UCB Alums
If you’re in LA and you’re into collecting comedy memorabilia from Parks and Recreation, SNL, Key & Peele, etc., you better come before noon to get a decent parking spot and first dibs for UCB’s Comedy Yard Sale to benefit the ACLU.
If you’re not in LA, there is already plenty of stuff up for auction on eBay.
NYC’s own wonderful indie late night show Running Late with Scott Rogowsky is back in LA this week and next. As you can see above, he’s got plenty of great guests including Paul F. Tompkins, Ben Schwartz, Eddie Pepitone, Lauren Lapkus, and more.
So far, Rogowsky has got three dates at The Virgil and you can tickets are now on sale for Friday, May 5th, Saturday, May 6th, and Sunday, May 7th. If you get the tickets in advance, it’ll cost $7. At the door, it’ll be $10. He also has a date locked down at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre & Cafe on May 10th that you’ll want to keep a close eye on for tickets.
The rest of our listings for comedy shows, events, open mics, and maps can be found at www.thecomedybureau.com.
Watch “The Earliest Show” Where Ben Schwartz Goes Through the Five Stages of Grief as a Morning Talk Show Co-Host Next to a Very Chipper Lauren Lapkus
The Intervention Might Just Be the Dramedy of the Year
Clea DuVall’s debut as a writer/director is a pretty damn fine one.
Her film, The Intervention, following a “marriage intervention” is simultaneously well crafted, emotionally charged, and laugh out loud hysterical. The notable ensemble cast of Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Ben Schwartz, Natasha Lyonne, DuVall, Alia Shawkat, and Vincent Piazza do not disappoint either in handling the delicate material.
If you want more comedy in your dramedies or want to see something that exhibits the real nitty gritty of several different relationships, but does actually celebrate the idea of love without seeming too heavy handed, The Intervention just might be for you.
Trailer for “Intervention” Dramedy from Clea DuVall Brings Up a Different Sort of Intervention
The A&E series Intervention brings to mind the struggles of those with various drug and substance abuses and the harrowing journey that all of that entails.
The Clea DuVall movie of the same name does track an Intervention, but it has nothing to really do with the ‘usual suspects’ that force an intervention.
Instead, Ben Schwartz, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne, and Jason Ritter give Vincent Piazza and Cobie Smulders the sort of intervention that might become more commonplace after this movie hits theaters.
Look for Intervention, the dramedy feature film, in theaters on August 26th.
IFC Gives a Full Episode Sneak Peek to the New Season of Comedy Bang! Bang! with Weird Al Yankovic as the Band Leader
Season 5 of Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC is pretty close. In fact, the season premiere is this Friday, June 3rd, which will be the inaugural episode for new CBB bandleader and legendary comedic musician Weird Al Yankovic.
Fortunately, the good folks at IFC were nice enough to preview a full episode before the season premiere that you can watch on YouTube right now.
18th Annual Del Close Marathon Announces Line-Up and Schedule
The names on the flyer are only a fraction of the flocks upon flocks of teams and performers that will be performing in NYC for the literally non-stop Del Close Marathon from Fri. June 24th-Sun. June 26th (i.e. shows will be happening for 24 hours a day the whole weekend).
Take a gander at the whole routinely massive line-up and schedule right here.
Watch Ben Schwartz’s Last Appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Since Craig Ferguson is winding down his run at The Late Late Show, his last round of guests are all his favorite folks to chat and goof around with.
Any time Ferguson and Ben Schwartz are seated next to each other, they’re having the most fun from wire-to-wire without really getting to any sort of pre-interview questions, though that is Ferguson’s sort of interview style.
Ben Schwartz and Joseph Gordon Levitt Want To Make Sketches Out of Your Secrets, Anonymously Of Course
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hit Record is continuing their crowdsourced experimental form of entertainment, this time with a little help from Ben Schwartz.
Basically, Schwartz and Gordon-Levitt want to make comedy sketches based off of anonymously submitted secrets for Hit Record. In this way, deep, dark secrets could be shared, supposedly, without anyone’s identity or reputation being compromised as well as presented with great comedic embellishment.
For more details, watch the two give you all the details.
Ben Schwartz Feature Comedy Attaches Adam McKay as Director and Seth Rogen as Star
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
The likes of Ben Schwartz, Adam McKay, and Seth Rogen are teaming up on an upcoming untitled feature that was pitched by Schwartz. McKay is attached to direct and produce while Rogen is attached to star and also produce.
There’s no synopsis, premise, or logline, but, already, we have the feeling that this project might, at the end of it, have a giant blooper reel or even an alternate uncut version.
Ben Schwartz Hosting Livestream with Simpsons Writers, Producers, More During FXx’s Simpsons Marathon
While we are well underway into FXx’s Simpsons marathon of Every Simpsons Ever, there’s something extra special going on right this very second as Ben Schwartz is hosting a livestream featuring writers, producers, etc. of The Simpsons as well as a whole other bunch of comedians and fun people.
Schwartz is aiming to keep this going all day long, so just make this whole day about The Simpsons like you were going to anyway.
Ben Schwartz and Pete Holmes Have Almost Too Much Fun Together
From Ben Schwartz’s appearance on The Pete Holmes Show a couple of days ago, you might be able to guess that Schwartz has done improv with Pete Holmes. With that in mind, Pete and Ben get delightfully goofy right from the get go.
Watch Benjamin Berman’s Sundance Short “I’m a Mitzvah” with Ben Schwartz
It’s a heartfelt, funny angle on handling death when you can’t speak any Spanish and you’re stuck in Mexico. So give it a watch here.
And Now, The House of Lies Live Improv Special at UCB
As promised, Showtime has posted The House of Lies Live improv comedy special, taped at the UCB Theatre here in Los Angeles, online for all of us to enjoy. Yes, it does have Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell doing improv with the likes of Ben Schwartz, Lauren Lapkus, and more.
So, you can watch it now or you can watch it/watch it again on Showtime tomorrow/New Year’s Eve at 10PM.