Comedians and their roles on TV and in movies

26. November 2012 12:43 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Posting Graphic Everywhere you look on TV it seems like a new comedian is taking over the airwaves, and it's been this way for years. Whether it be Jerry Seinfeld making the seamless transition from stand-up to sitcom stardom or people like Jon Stewart, who have taken the more traditional path from the stage to behind the talk show desk, every big star seems to have gotten his or her start performing stand-up shows.

Sometimes the formula is flipped around a little bit, however, and that is especially true for Daniel Tosh. The wise-cracking Comedy Central host got his start on the stage, and while he has always been a talented stand-up, his popularity skyrocketed after the debut of his TV show Tosh.0.

The show, which is essentially Tosh offering up sarcastic comments to YouTube videos, is the perfect venue for him to showcase his oft-offensive brand of humor. Since the show began in 2009, his stand-up star has risen considerably. He released his third comedy album Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts in 2011, which topped the Billboard comedy charts.

Tosh has been a big hit in the last three years, but few stand-up comedians have been more successful on TV than Louis C.K. The self-deprecating comedian became a critical favorite with the debut of his FX series Louie. He plays a somewhat fictionalized version of himself, and the show's dark humor - often coupled with several bits from his routine - have made the series one of the most unique on TV.

Along with his Emmy-winning series, Louis C.K. also helped pioneer a burgeoning trend in the stand-up world. He sold his 2011 special Live at the Beacon Theater for $5 online. Since then, other comedians have followed suit including Rob Delaney and Aziz Ansari.

Speaking of Ansari, he is also balancing a stand-up career with one of the most recognizable roles on TV - Parks and Recreation's Tom Haverford. Ansari had appeared intermittently on several shows and movies before - including Flight of the Conchords and Funny People - but his supporting role as Tom has helped propel Parks and Rec to be one of the most beloved comedies on TV.

Some people have taken the reverse route, including Craig Ferguson. The affable Scotland native gained notoriety for his role on The Drew Carey Show, and later as the host of The Late Late Show. However, he did not release his first comedy special until 2009.

Super Bowl XLVII Update for November

19. November 2012 12:11 by Julie Merar in Football   //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments ()

Posting Graphic The NFL season is already half over; and boy have things changed a lot since the first four games. Surprise teams many thought could make an unforeseen run into the playoffs have almost disappeared completely, while the defending Super Bowl champion Giants have seem to have hit their yearly mid-season slide. Yet, while the landscape has changed considerably over the last month or so, the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans are still the cream of the crop.

After the first month of the season, a lot of fans, me included, were singing the praises of the Arizona Cardinals. They were 4-0, and their wins included a surprising victory over the defending AFC Champion New England Patriots. Since then, the Cards are 0-5 and are slowly fading from playoff contention in the NFC. Plus, with inconsistency at quarterback - whether it's John Skelton or Kevin Kolb under center - it's unlikely they'll get back in the conversation.

The Cardinals fall from the ranks of the undefeated have helped right the ship a little. The familiar names are back in the thick of things - the Ravens, Patriots, Steelers, Packers, Giants and Bears, are all on pace to head back to the playoffs this year, even though the Giants have lost two in a row and have struggled on offense as of late.

But arguably the biggest story so far this NFL season is the success of both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Last year, the Colts released future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning to make way for first overall pick Andrew Luck. The former Stanford star was expected to come into a work in progress, but the unflappable rookie has led the Colts to an impressive 6-3 record and on the cusp of a playoff berth.

As for the Broncos, who signed Manning after he was released, things could not be going any better. Manning seems to be showing no ill effects of his several neck surgeries that required a year off and is beginning to click with his receivers. Add that to the fact the Broncos defense is firing on all cylinders, and they are right in the hunt for a wide open AFC at 6-3.

After a wild start, full of crazy finishes and replacement referees, the NFL seems to have returned to more stable ground. Still, there's still half the season left so a lot can happen, but at this point I wouldn't be surprised to see the Patriots and Falcons squaring off in Super Bowl XLVII.

The changing face of country music

16. November 2012 13:55 by Julie Merar in Music   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

thumbnail thumbnail There aren't many genres more uniquely American than country music. However, despite being an integral part of Americana for decades, the style has changed drastically over the years. From its earliest days of old-timey music to the outlaw country of the 70s and today's fusion of country pop, the style has certainly spanned a wide range of areas expanded over time.

More recently, some bands have emerged that have bridged the gap between old and new country music including North Carolina's own The Avett Brothers. Fronted by Scott and Seth Avett, the band blends elements of folk, bluegrass, country and pop together to create a sound that appeals to a large swath of listeners across the country and helped create a genre all their own, known in some circles as "newgrass."

The Avett Brothers first gained recognition for their energetic live shows and the success of 2007's album Emotionalism. That was followed up by 2009's I and Love and You, which was considered to be among the best albums of that year. In 2012, they were back with another hit album, The Carpenter, along with a popular U.S. tour.

Though The Avett Brothers have put a new spin on contemporary country music, there are some musicians who have been immensely successful for decades without having to change their style too much, including Kenny Chesney. The 44-year-old Tennessee native has seemingly been doing the same thing since the early 1990s, and can you really blame him? He is one of the most decorated country musicians in history and won four consecutive Entertainer of the Year awards from the Academy of Country Music.

Much like The Avett Brothers, Chesney has become a legend thanks in large part to his live shows, which are a summer staples in seemingly every city across the country. Most recently, he teamed up with fellow country icon Tim McGraw for the Brothers of the Sun Tour.

One of the most noticeable trends in country music over the last decade or so has been the increase of standout female performers. In years past, there was usually just one or two women dominating the scene, whether it was Faith Hill or Shania Twain. Now? Everywhere you look there is a talented female performer coming onto the scene. Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Nettles have all left their mark on the modern country world.

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