Mr. Show Talks Show Biz - A Q&A with Bob Odenkirk


He's one of those guys who's more of a household face than a household name, having appeared in popular shows like Weeds, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother and so on all the way back to Seinfeld in 1990. For more astute comedy fans he's well known as a writer/performer on Saturday Night Live (1987-95), as the creator and star of HBO's Mr. Show, alongside David Cross, as a featured cast member of Adult Swim's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! - actually, you know what, just check his IMDB profile. It'll blow your mind.

Right now he's playing crooked lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC hit Breaking Bad (about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a meth cook) and producing and performing a comedy show for kids called "The Not Inappropriate Show". We caught up with him in Montreal at this year's Just For Laughs Festival before one of his family-friendly performances to get his take on the state of the entertainment industry. 

Q: What TV shows are you watching now?
Even though I'm in it, I'm actually watching Breaking Bad. I actually haven't seen it all. I'm on second season and it's really amazing. The interesting thing about Breaking Bad is that it's like a movie... the main character has a personality arc, unlike most shows where the character personality is fixed from week to week. This character is gradually changing... mutating.

My favorite TV show, which I got to see on DVD is a British show called The Royle Family. It's awesome. That's where The Office came from. I also like 30 Rock, Hoarders, Intervention. I watch FOX News just to get mad.

Q: So what are your thoughts on the current state of the television industry?
Bob: I don't really care for the industry. But I do notice there are all these new channels. In one way it's exciting and in the other way it's very daunting. All of these people tend to be hungry for the big bucks. So you want the small outlets to do something cool. I remember HBO telling David Cross and I, "whatever you create for us, just make sure it's something different". Nowadays, even most of these small outlets are hungry for money. They just want to be in the mainstream. But I do think the Adult Swim channel is doing it right with comedy and AMC with drama.

Q: What's your take on comedy on the web?
Bob: I think it's cool... I love that there's an outlet for people. The only disadvantage is that you have to grow as an artist and you have to develop your sensibility and the web doesn't encourage that because what it wants you to do is just get peoples' attention today

Mr. Show would have died on We weren't doing things that were flashy and in the moment, or ridiculing pop culture of the moment - which gets a lot of attention - or doing extremely crude things. Those are the videos that are getting the big hits but they don't necessarily lead you into getting a show. Ultimately, to get picked up, somebody has to take a chance on your vision.

Q: Is that what happened for you?
Bob: Yes, and I myself as an artist in television need somebody to take a chance on me because I'll never write a middle of the road show. I can't do it. Although, I really liked King of Queens... and Everybody loves Raymond. I thought that show was masterful.

Q: Will there always be a future for sketch on television then, rather than online?
Bob: Sketch shows don't do that well on TV in America. They're just not that popular. It's the kind of comedy that draws a younger audience so older people don't really care about it. So that would hold it back. I mean the last sketch show that worked on prime time was The Carol Burnett Show.

Q: If you had your own TV network, what would you do?
Bob: There is this whole crop of young comic actors that I'm seeing right now that I would love to see get a chance. I know eventually most of them will be on screen but what I'm seeing right now is not just a bunch of funny people but more of a movement of a new generation. They're a good ten years younger than most of the people on TV, including SNL, and maybe it might be a matter of time till these people are seen but maybe not. So if you gave me my own network, I would give an outlet for these people who are starting to peak. 

Q: What's actually in the plan for you?
I've got a show in early development right now. I star in it and it's about me and my camera crew working for a network and going out to middle America and doing these life story pieces. This is an idea I had ten years ago and I'd be very excited to do this show. I'm still not sure if it's going to happen but I'm very proud of it.

Here's what the stars of Breaking Bad have to say about Season 4.

And check out this clip from Mr. Show:


Written by: Scott Goodyer  



Hour Producer's Short Film "Break a Leg" at JFL

Our own Jesse Shamata, a producer and director on The Hour, has written and directed a short film called "Break A Leg" which was selected to appear at a number of prestigious festivals and which you can check out at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal tomorrow night. Watch the trailer below and for showtimes and ticket info click here.



How to Pitch a Movie

The Just For Laughs Comedy festival is in full swing in Montreal right now and the festival is simultaneously hosting their annual Comedy Conference where top film and television execs and insiders share the secrets to their success in a series of panels.

We'll be smuggling out some of the best advice offered up for all you comedy fans and future media moguls.

From the film bootcamp session featuring David Milner (Producer/Executive, 3Arts Entertainment),  Joe Medjuk (Executive Producer,  Montecito Picture Company) , Kirsten Smith (Writer/Producer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth), and Kit Giordano (Creative Executive, Red Hour Films) here are the top 5 tips for pitching your comedy movie:

1. Get paid - You could lock yourself away in a tiny garrett and live on Ramen noodles while you pen your masterpiece but a lot of writers think spec is for suckers. Pitch the idea - not the completed script- and you could actually get paid to write.

2. Pimp yourself - This is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments or experience. This is the time to convince people that you are actually capable of executing what you propose to do, so by all means toot your own horn and make them have faith in you.
3. Keep it snappy - pitch meetings with studio execs or production companies are generally  25 minutes or less.  In that time you need to communicate the theme and tone, the story arc, principle relationships, maybe a few key actors who'd be perfect for the part and some killer moments or lines. Make sure it's all killer, no filler, but still know your story and characters well so that if they ask you a question, you can elaborate with ease.

 4. Be original - Apparently The Hangover was a movie no one wanted to make for a long time. But once it was made, everyone wanted another one or some reasonable facsimile. That's just how the business is.  But what film execs are really looking for is a new idea and a new story from a unique perspective. 
5. Cry - The purpose of a pitch meeting is to make people fans of your project, so excellent storytelling is crucial. Good pitchers have been known to laugh, cry and do whatever it takes to engage the people in the room as they take them through the ups and downs of their story. If someone is a funny person, execs believe that they'll produce a funny script. So, if you haven't got the chops, consider pairing up with someone who does.

The Just for Laughs Festival and comedy conference continues through Sunday, July 18th, so if you're in Montreal you can come check it out yourself. There are Comedy Pro passes available for all you big fans.

We'll be sharing more insider secrets from the festival right here so check back soon.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the comedy industry you wanted answered, post them in the comments section below and we'll hook you up with answers.

Written by: Scott Goodyer



The World According to Cheech and Chong

Back at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, we talked to two famously laid back guys, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, to get their take on some of the topics the rest of the world has got their panties in a bunch over.

Lindsey Lohan goes to jail

Cheech: I think it'll be good for her, actually.
Chong: She's gonna learn how to clean a carpet, I'll tell you that! And she's really gonna learn what, "Hey bitch, get over here!" means. I think she should hook up with Mel Gibson. That would smack her - er, I mean... PUT her in her place.

Mel Gibson losing control

Cheech: He's losing credibility fast, as well as dollars.
Chong: I hope he turns it around. He needs a year... somewhere. He can't control the situation. He needs to clean up.

Jersey Shore

Chong: When I saw The Situation, I realized... that's the wrong situation.
Cheech: I hate those reality shows, I just hate 'em.
Chong: Well, "Up in Smoke" was the first reality show. We didn't know it at the time... but it really was a slice of life.

Russian Spies

Cheech: I can't say anything because I'm married to a russian spy. Actually, I figured out what they're over here spying on... They're spying on all the new reality shows that are in development. They're going to transport them back to Russia before we can even get them on the air.

Lebron James

Chong: I think Lebron has a sex problem just like Tiger - because he's really fucking Cleveland.
Cheech: I would have liked to have seen him stay in Cleveland, but as long as he stays in the East, they'll just knock eachother out and the Lakers will win! We were just onstage in Boston taunting them, chanting "We're number 2! We're number 2!"

What do you guys think? Tell us in the comments below.  

Cheech and Chong are reunited after 25 years apart in tonight's Cheech and Chong gala at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.  

To see Cheech and Chong's Best Story Ever, click here.

Written by: Scott Goodyer



Top Ten: Celebrating Canada Day

Our great nation - you know you love her. Here are 10 great ways to prove it on July 1st, Canada's 143rd national birthday.

10. Just for the day, replace the entire House of Commons with the cast of Degrassi.
9. Call up Anne Murray and tell her you love her.
8. End everything you say with "...for the Queen."

7. Name every child born on the day "Peter Mansbridge".

6. Pitch a television show to the CBC called "Beaver Blood" about Canadian vampires trying to make it in a small rural town.

5. Two words: Timbit Poutine.

4. Start a carolling group and go door to door singing "Love Can Move Mountains" by Celine Dion.

3. Put on a Leafs jersey and get "romantic" with your significant other... just don't go all the way.

2. Tweet like its 1878 and you're Sir John A. MacDonald!
And the number one way you should celebrate Canada Day is...

1. Unite with all other Canadians to re-enact an entire episode of "Anne of Green Gables" live to the world! It would be so beautiful.

Written By: Scott Goodyer



Top Ten: Secrets of the iPad


You thought you knew it all but the iPad will never cease to amaze...

1. iPad is latin for Bieber.

2. The iPad will pretend to ignore your touch if you also have a PC in your home.

3. It was either during the assembly or packaging stage, but Steve Jobs has made love to your iPad.

4. If you end up with too much porn on your iPad, use the 'self destruct' app and just walk away.

5. If you accidentally kill a guy, your iPad is programmed to take the heat.

6. The iPad almost beat out Jaden Smith to play the next Karate Kid.

7. In private, Bill Gates has slowly strangled an iPad. Then he stopped, stared at it a bit, then he strangled it again.

8. If you play with your iPad long enough, there's a magic function that makes your social skills disappear.

9. The iPad is the latest attempt by the machines sent from the future to find Sarah Conner.

10. Crush the iPad and blend it into a liquid. Drink the liquid. You will now LIVE FOREVER!

Sh*ts and Giggles is written by Scott Goodyer.



Strombo receives a "Challenge Coin"

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Immediately following his interview with General Walter Natynczyk, Strombo was presented with a "Chief of Defence Staff Coin", also known as a "Challenge Coin". To find out more about these coins, feel free to read this. Check out the video below:



Are there aliens?

This week's question came from Taylor, and it's a question quite a few of us still wonder about and argue over: Are there aliens?

As always, we want your answers to pass on to Taylor!  If you have an answer, a question, or a video upload, just head on over to and submit it there.  As you know, George reads some of the best on the show... and if you send in a video, you might see you or your kids on The Hour.



What's your book to read or skip?


Moby weighed in on books tonight on the show via Skype - he offered up a few suggestions, along with author Yann Martel, both to help George answer Richard's e-mail about books to read or skip.  Though we think Moby, Yann and George have great ideas, we also know that The Hour audience has been talking books for some time now, so...

What's your best book to read?  What book should you skip?

I'll offer up one of my favourites: The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu, is likely the first novel ever written, and it was written by a woman in Heian-era Japan.  The full version could be called daunting, but it's entirely worth it.  There's also a long-held tradition of keeping journals while reading the book - which I've not been so good at, even when I just tried doing it via Twitter.

Give us you suggestions below!

On May 18th, Moby has a new CD called 'Wait For Me. Remixes!' coming out, and Yann Martel's new novel, 'Beatrice & Virgil', will be on sale in Canada on April 6th.



Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans

Sometimes, it's interesting to see how we're viewed from the outside. This intro aired before the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver in the US.



Accidental Time Capsule - Halifax 1963

YouTube user Klaatu42 recently discovered a wallet from 1963 while running cable in a crawl space. It's an interesting snapshot of life before PIN's, ATM's and holgraphic security measures.


Usually Klaatu42 posts more thoughtful videos, such as this:




How to tell if a dog is Canadian

Brian found this very patriotic dog, and I didn't want it to get lost in the shuffle to the new site, so... here's the creative dog owner's way to show some Canadian pride.



The Christmas Tree Rocket

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Just saw this on BoingBoing and had to re-post it here.
A couple of enterprising young fellows decided to transform their Christmas tree into a rocket and the results are spectacular!