Can you think of a well-known gay/half-Jewish comedic duo? If you’re stuck, the answer is Kate Berlant and John Early, whose Peacock special “Would It Kill You to Laugh?” which was broadcast on Friday, has established their name in the zeitgeist.
High-concept Andrew DeYoung directed the special. Berlant and Early’s public split from their smash sitcom “He’s gay, She’s Half-Jewish” is depicted in this episode. The interview with Meredith Vieira (yep, the actual radio and television journalist) swiftly goes awry when they fight over who received which humorous pieces in their settlement.
Robot Arm Movement Was Allowed Early.
A mechanical robot arm movement was allowed for Early, while a cross-eyes gesture was allowed for Bernett. Who is the most well-known gay-Jewish comedy combination that comes to mind? The solution is Kate Berlant and John Early, whose Peacock special, “Would It Kill You to Laugh?” premiered on Friday.
Andrew DeYoung, the director, has created a high-concept special. “He’s gay, She’s Half-Jewish” is the setting for Berlant and Early’s decades-long dispute and public fallout from their famous show. While sitting them down for an interview, broadcast journalist Meredith Vieira (yes, there really is such a person) gets into a heated argument with the two of them over who owns the rights to certain comedy pieces.
A mechanical robot arm movement was allowed for Early, while a cross-eyes gesture was allowed for Bernett. There’s usually something going on with the characters we’re drawn to. I mean, the way we all are kind of portraying authenticity or presenting some type of truth, which is very similar to any celebrity interview—the person getting there and it’s all highly choreographed. It’s a lot like that.
EARLY: I don’t see what’s amusing about someone being honest or true. To do a show where the sketches were based on real events would be impossible for me to imagine. Just the tenseness, I think. Funny how people can speak one thing and feel another at the same time, don’t you think? On principle, we don’t make as many jokes. For us, that’s one of our favorite jokes because it’s a type of behavioral thing of suppressing something, like what you do when nervous and in the public and being seen.
BERLANT: While trying to shape the perception of someone else.
EARLY: Which is a logically implausible proposition. But you may try, for goodness’ sake.
BERLANT: You’re right. I see. And I’ve been doing it for a while now.
What Was the Most Interesting Part of The Interview?
EARLY: It has the lifeless seriousness of something that is entirely pulp schlock. Even though they’re referring to their debut record, it sounds like Darfur is on their minds. That’s always struck me as essentially amusing. ‘ There was a YouTube video of Suzanne Summers and Joyce DeWitt having a reunion after 30 years of not seeing each other, not communicating, and having a public falling out about “Three’s Company” and other things that we always liked.
It’s a video with so many levels of complexity. “Watching Bergman” comes to mind. It’s fascinating to watch the contrast between what they’re saying and how they’re feeling. And the Competition to Appear the Most Opportunistic and Compassionate when John and I First Met, He Showed Me that Video, and I Were Blown Away by The Way They Hugged. The hug had to be cut short because of scheduling constraints. It’s not clear how Meredith Vieira became involved in this.
Of course, we were delighted that Meredith accepted our proposal. When she died, we were prepared for it, and we would have been completely understandable. I believe it helped that her children are fans of ours. But she was, first and foremost, a joy and a dream, as well as hilarious, an excellent performer, and someone who just seemed to get it. That’s her reality, after all. In doing so, she enhances the special as a whole and makes the joke feel even stronger.
We Wrote a few lines for her that were pretty basic. I had no idea she was going to act the way she did. This idea of looking at the comedy duo as a legacy interests me as well, so I’d like to discuss it with you as well. So, who are some of your favorite comedic duos, and who are they?
BERLANT: We are.
EARLY: I adore French and Saunders.
BERLANT: Mike Nichols and Elaine May are a legendary duo in film history.
As Celebrated a Kind of Collaboration.
The fact that in our generation, despite the fact that there have been people who have worked together, it is not as celebrated a kind of collaboration is amusing to me. Instagram is the primary medium for people to even notice your work, as you’re a one-man-band there.
If the duo is devalued or not attempted as frequently, it makes sense to Think about what we could post if we shared an Instagram account. Such an uncomfortable situation. Do you get what I’m saying? It has a sweetness and old-school charm that we both love in this age of vanity and unbridled individuality.
BERLANT: In terms of sheer enjoyment of working, it’s a lot more enjoyable.
EARLY: When you’re not attempting to build anything around yourself, there’s certainly more that can happen on an acting level when there are two elements at play as well.
Is There Going to Be a Full-Length Version of This?
EARLY: That’s good to hear.
BERLANT: I’d be delighted to indulge in a piece of brain candy like that. The program we’re currently writing, a scripted narrative comedy, is one of our long-term goals. But there was something about the self-contained aspect of the sketch comedy hour that appealed to us, and we’d like to make more of them.
For Pride Month, you’re the preeminent gay-half-Jewish comedy team, Kate, and in “The Other Two,” you utilize the F-word in possibly the most famous manner ever heard. Let me know your thoughts on that. I was overjoyed. It’s a word I’ve attempted to incorporate into a lot of my writing. It was exhilarating to be a part of.
BERLANT: You’re sure we’re talking about “woman” here?
Early on, I’m a fan of it. It’s wonderful, in a big way. Also, I’m impressed by the outpouring of support it received. That’s never made you angry, as far as I know. Not a Single Person, Says Berlant By the way, Jordan Firstman came up with that one.
So You’re Just Going to Pass the Buck Around, Are You?
Well, I wouldn’t write something like that for myself, you know.
BERLANT: Yeah. Thank you for your kind words.
That is one of my favorite things to hear from strangers as we are walking down the street. And would you watch it again?
BERLANT: Pitzi Pyle was a one-hit-wonder, but it was a good one. A continuation.
Is there a way to do this?
BERLANT: That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Was there anything you particularly missed that was omitted because you mentioned that some of your favorite scenes had been trimmed?
EARLY: There are a lot of people out there. Almost every sketch had a four-minute arm that we had to shave from it. So many, just like in the [sketch] book club.
Is there a backstory behind the book “Clancy’s Reward” by Paul Floor that your characters are reading?
BERLANT: I’m not even sure what to call him, what should I call him? I was in awe of my own wits.
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What Is the Name of Doctor Amanda Baby?
Paul Floor, both. Doctor Amanda Baby’s name was a running joke in “Search Party,” in which characters’ names were objects. Then I realized that you use Paul Floor since it’s so much easier to clear legally because you’re not going to run into someone named Paul Floor, as I had assumed. Paul W. Floor’s likeness was even attempted, according to BERLANT
ADVANCED: Yeah, we just want to make sure there’s no Paul Floor.
If some Paul Floor in Delaware sues, imagine what BERLANT: would do. You’ll receive a letter in the mail. John‘s gin-hiding book is a Paul Floor short story collection.
BERLANT: This is a small Easter Egg in the sitcoms. For your third or fourth viewing, you’ll be able to go back.