In the summer of 1997 we gathered some of the most original voices and originators of the UnCabaret story based style to do a special for Comedy Central. We shot it at Luna Park, on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood. Luna Park is where we did our weekly Sunday night shows for seven years. To accommodate the shoot we moved the show upstairs to the bigger room. We shot two shows, back to back, with the same line up and, like most comedy specials, edited them together. Unlike most comedy shows, we encouraged the talent to do alter their sets in the second show.
Beth Lapides hosted Kathy Griffin, Taylor Negron, Scott Thompson, Andy Dick, Dana Gould and Julia Sweeney. The show was executive produced by Beth Lapides, Greg Miller, Sue Wolf and directed by Sue Wolf. Debbie Liebling was our Comedy Central exec.
Comedy Central wanted us to do stories about summer and we were working with the title “It’s Getting Hot In Here”, but then they wanted to simply call it UnCabaret. Never the less the show is summer themed. At first that seemed like a silly idea for a theme when we’d already worked with so many themes like love, family, spirituality that were rich in story. But as it turned out, and something we had never really noticed, summer is a time of life rich in story. It’s a time of adventure and expansion. With some of the usual stories, like Beth’s story of heartbreak and Kathy’s story of a celebrity run in with Hansen, the but also stories of travel and adventure.
Some trivia: The show aired on the same week as the premier of South Park. It got good ratings. We edited it in an office on Larchmont Boulevard. Our PA delivered the final master to a Fed Ex office and left it there without getting a receipt. No disaster occurred. We fought for spending more than Comedy Central wanted to on lighting. We fought for no reaction shots of the laughing audience to tell the home viewers something was funny.
We lost Andy Dick between the two tapings but also quoted his story about his accountant: let’s get it behind us, all the time when we were rushing through life.
The success of the show lead to a talk show pilot for Beth, called The Couch, at MTV. The show was announced and then retracted and Tom Green’s show was put on the air instead. We turned the cancellation of the talk show around and launched an UnCabaret spinoff called The Other Network Festival of UnAired Pilots. The Other Network was an ongoing live event where show creators told the story of making the pilots, what went wrong and then we watched the pilot. It toured as well including shows at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Some of the writers we featured were Conan O’Brien, Bob Odenkirk and Judd Apatow.