HBO's 'Talking Funny': Are you having a laugh?


Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/HBO

I’m finding it hard to think of a better way to spend the 9-10 p.m. Friday night hour than watching four comedians shoot the s— about what it means to be funny. God, I really need to get a life! But seriously: Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K. just lulled me into prime yay-weekend mode with their stream-of-consciousness ridiculata — and intelligent discussion, too. I only wish this were a weekly series instead of a one-time special. Even a podcast would work. Just get everyone on the phone — we don’t care about sound quality!

My favorite thing about the special was that these four guys have very different approaches to comedy. They clearly all respect each other, but there was a definite rift between Seinfeld and the other three — due to both his refusal to swear onstage and his unabashed confidence and elitism about his career. When the group debated whether the comedian played the part of the underdog during a live show, only Jerry disagreed. “You’re the only one in the room talking! You’re above them. Period.” Louis C.K. summed it up: “It’s totally different with Jerry. You’re a singular comedian,” he said. Gervais pointed out, “He is the purest observational comedian of all of us.” (I wondered if they were all in agreement on that.)

Some other highlights:

On having a niche: “I haven’t got a thing,” said Gervais. “Chris has got ‘black,’ but he’s educated.” Rock’s response: “Boy, did I luck out with that.”

Rock to C.K.: “You are the n—-rist f—ing white man I have ever seen.”

Seinfeld on Rock’s black porn vs. white porn bit: “I think about that bit, honestly, once a month. It was the first time I realized, Oh, black people live in a different world than white people. Their Playboy is different from ours, and they’re not that thrilled with it!”

Gervais completely losing it after C.K. reminisced about watching another comedian getting huge laughs by simply playing a guitar and singing — to the tune of Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” — the words “Sitting on a c— ’cause I’m gay.” C.K. genuinely enjoyed this joke, but Gervais could not stop cracking up at how it was only funny because of the irony of the context. “You shouldn’t go out with a guitar and sing ‘Sitting on a c— ’cause I’m gay!'” he cried — and at this point he was about two octaves higher than usual, in that Ricky Gervais zone that’s just peals of melodic laughter. I don’t know how other viewers felt, but this was easily my favorite part of the special, just watching the spectacle of Gervais beside himself with laughter. I’ve had the same experience listening to his podcasts — once he starts, you as a viewer/listener can’t stop. There doesn’t even need to be a joke after a certain point; just watching him wriggle around is hilarious.

On how performing stand-up mirrors a relationship: “You assume she loves you, because she’s there every day. But you still have to work on it every day,” said Rock.

Did you catch Talking Funny? Who, besides Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, who might join Gervais for another installment, would you want to see? How about some LADIES? Ladies!

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Comments (92 total) Add your comment
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  • chichichihuly

    I’m a female, don’t consider myself a lady, but I love this stuff!! there’s more stuff like this on the nerdist podcasts, which i really like.thanks Annie for the heads up.

    • Samantha

      Lisa Lapinelli is on the A list right now. Brilliant timing.

      • Sean

        Lisa is funny, but nowhere near the level of the four people on this show.

      • Elizabeth

        Lisa’s one trick – filthy mouth.

    • Shasta

      For real, give the Nerdist podcast a shout-out. Great comedy discussions.

  • sandecorchar


    • sandecorchar

      Not!! Anyway, I saw Ricky Gervais on Joh Stewart talking about them getting together another group including Conan O’Brien, which would be fantastic with just the three of them. I would love to see Tina Fey or even Chelsie Handler and Whoppi Goldberg with that group. I know the last two are polarizing, but that is what would be interesting about it. Love the idea of this.

      • Pittner

        I know Gervais really wanted Letterman but I think he realizes now how hard it is to get Letterman to do anything. Also, Chelsea Handler is not funny. She tries to be funny through a type of shock comedy which requires no intelligence at all.

      • Pittner

        Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli or Witney Cummings, who I know has done Chelsea Handler’s crap show, would all be great female comedians to have on.

      • Pittner

        Sorry, I meant Whitney Cummings.

      • LAB

        Whoopi Goldberg may be polarizing, but her comedy is great. She has some of the best routines I’ve ever seen.

      • Nicole

        I’d love to see Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho, Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt. I also love the suggestion below of Craig Ferguson.

  • Tom Strong

    Loved it, very funny.

  • Glenn

    SPOILER ALERT: Next episode has Carrot Top, Gallagher, Rich Little, and Jay Leno.

    • Mephysto

      That’s the hell I imagine I will end up in

      • tfs

        what could you have possibly done to deserve that hell??

      • Mephysto

        Voted for Bush… Twice

      • chichichihuly

        didn’t u learn ur lesson the first time??

    • Samantha

      That sounds AWFUL.

    • kim in kentucky

      I can hear the crickets already

    • Nicole

      Are they just going to call that edition “Talking”?

  • Simm Fan

    Gervais already invited Letterman, but Dave said thanks, but no.

    • jared4ever

      Good, he’s a hack.

      • Simm Fan

        And you’re a douche … oh, wait, you’re probably a Leno fan. Then you’re definately a douche.

      • L

        I’m not a fan of Letterman, and I used to like Leno but I never considered myself a “fan”.

        I’d rather see Ferguson (sp?) anyway.

  • Nico

    Watch Fringe instead

    • Delon

      Hell, yeah!

    • Sal

      I second that.

    • oleg

      best comment i’ve read on the web today!!

    • Nannette

      Thats why viewers beg for Fringe to stay on the air. If its so great why do you need to push the show on other articles.

  • RS

    Craig Ferguson!

    • Edmonton Girl


    • sq

      I was thinking the same… Craig Ferguson. Smart and Funny!

      • JMB in FL

        Which automatically makes him sexy! Love Craig Ferguson!!

      • Posit

        Eddie Izzard, or Dennis Leary.

      • LAB

        I agree with Posit. Eddie Izzard would be a great choice.

  • Mike

    Jerry Seinfeld rules!

    • banana

      I really don’t like Seinfield at all, i get the impression he is a arrogant ego guy. Maybe i’m wrong, i know his name, i don’t watch his show etc. But he came across as a tw@t imo.

    • L

      NOT. I’ve never found him, or his show, all that amusing.

      • Sherri

        I loved Seinfeld’s show, but I’ve hated everything he’s done since then. He seemed hopelessly out of touch on Talking Funny.

  • Mark


    9pm-10pm is reserved for Fringe in this household.

    • Marks wife

      Why are you here bragging to people you watch x-files 2.0? I told you those comments make you look as limp as you are in bed.

  • nezzo

    How is Louis C.K. on this? he’s just not funny.

    • KC

      You’re kidding, right?

    • Madge

      I was thinking Louis CK is the funniest one. I think Jerry Seinfeld isn’t so funny but he was perfect to round out the group.

    • Jason C.

      Nezzo: Obviously you don’t know what funny is. Louis CK and Gervais are my two favorite comedians, with Daniel Tosh a very close third.

      • Carl

        The fact that Daniel Tosh is in your top 3 comedians, pretty much makes any views you have on comedy obsolete.

      • Pam

        Tosh, cmon. Than Joel Mchale, Hal Sparks, and Greg Kinnear are gods

    • Charles_Grady

      I used to hate Louis CK, too. Then I wised up. Or maybe he just got funnier. He’s hilarious.

    • Anthony Pereira

      louie CK is the best stand up in that room. Rock had it when he is younger, jerry is a robot like leno, ricky isnt a stand up. Louie Ck is only funny in stand up form. like i said , the best stand up in that room

      • zee

        You obviously haven’t checked out his brilliant show “Louie” – give it a look…

  • marco

    how can i watch this online or can i download it?

  • tC

    DAVE CHAPPELLE dammit!!!!!!! They wouldn’t even need anyone else there.

    • Shawna

      Agree. Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock are the funniest out there now.

  • Jim

    An amazing hour that proves what a gift these performers have. Watching Ricky crack up was the high point of the show.

  • Dysthymia83

    Seinfeld didn’t really belong with the other 3. His humor is on a different level, and he sometimes seemed uncomfortable with the other three. Not so much the blue vs not blue thing, he just seems to come from a different mindset. Maybe because he’s a Leno guy and he’s from THAT generation and the other 3 came from the subsequent generation of comedians, so there’s different attitudes there.

    • Korey

      Seinfeld totally belonged with the other 3. Their different attitudes is what made the show work so well. It was obvious that all of them admired each other.

      • Simm Fan

        What Korey said.

        And if anyone sounded like the odd man out it was Gevais. He didn’t get into standup until recently.

  • Snsetblaze

    I like the idea of Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler or Whoopi Goldberg. Another polarizing one -Rosie O’Donnell. Also – if they were going a bit older I suppose Judy Tenuta, Rita Rudner, Ellen DeGeneres, Joy Behar or Paula Poundstone.

    • Shawnuel

      Jim Gaffigan would be interesting. Like the idea of Handler or Fey as well. Jim Carrey started as a stand-up. He’d be great if he resisted the urge to “perform”.

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