Pryor pilot program, other surprises at Comedy Fest |

Pryor pilot program, other surprises at Comedy Fest

Stewart Oksenhorn

Audiences will get rare, unexpected looks at the late Richard Pryor, former president Bill Clinton and current first daughter Jenna Bush; history, suicide and cop shows; and the humiliation of being fired, when the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival hits Aspen next month.Producers have announced the full program of events for the 12th annual USCAF, set for various Aspen venues March 8-12.Coming under the spotlight is a little-known facet of Pryor. “The Richard Pryor Show: An Inside Look” features producers John Moffitt, an executive producer of the USCAF, and Rocco Urbisci reflecting on the short-lived 1977 series, with a presentation of censored and definitive clips. The festival also will present a screening of “The Richard Pryor Pilot,” the program pilot that featured guest appearances by John Belushi and Maya Angelou.Among the featured one-man shows are “My Buddy Bill,” in which “The West Wing” writer Rick Cleveland reflects on a brief friendship with Bill Clinton; and “The Miss Education of Jenna Bush,” starring Melissa Rauch as first daughter Jenna Bush, preparing for her first day as a fourth-grade teacher while nursing a hangover.Robert Wuhl, star and creator of the HBO series “Arli$$,” puts a pop-culture spin on history in “Assume the Position with Mr. Wuhl.” Wuhl plays the most irreverent teacher ever, teaching actual history from an unusual perspective.In “First Day Off in a Long Time,” Brian Finkelstein offers an account of working the overnight shift at a suicide hotline. “Crime Scenes” is a live performance spoofing cop shows and action thrillers, and their tenuous connection to reality.Among the films to be presented in the festival’s Film Discovery Showcase is “Fired!” Issued a pink slip by Woody Allen, actress Annabelle Gurwitch goes on a journey to learn about job markets, downsizing and the experience of getting canned. A special show, “Fired! Live!” will have comedians, including Andy Borowitz, Paul F. Tompkins and Illeana Douglas, reliving their most humiliating career experiences.Other special shows recently added include a stand-up set by Louis C.K., star and creator of the upcoming HBO sitcom “Lucky Louie.” Joining C.K. on the bill is his “Lucky Louie” co-star Jim Norton. Round Midnite, the USCAF’s annual late-night free-for-all, will be hosted by Damon Wayans.In the main show category, the Center for American Progress’ Freedom of Speech Award will salute the 15-year anniversary of Def Comedy Jam. The TV show’s creators Russell Simmons, Stan Lathan and Sandy Wernick will appear; the presentation will be moderated by former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell. Also scheduled to appear are Dave Chappelle, Cedric “The Entertainer” and Bill Bellamy.Additional featured shows include: Aspen … on the Edge, featuring performers from the alternative comedy scene; Creation Nation, the two-man team of Billy Eichner and Robin Taylor mixing sketch, stand-up, songs, short films and celebrity interviews; “The Patriots,” in which Eliza Coupe portrays five quintessential Americans, or those aspiring to the title; and The Whitest Kids U Know, a five-man sketch troupe riffing on such forbidden topics as date rape, racism and domestic violence.Also, the Walsh Brothers, a collaborative comedy duo of real brothers Dave (a court officer at the Massachusetts Statehouse) and Chris (a Senate page); stand-ups Dana Gould (co-executive producer of “The Simpsons”), Russell Peters (Toronto-born son of Indian immigrants, who lampoons cultural and racial differences) and Paul F. Tompkins (VH1’s “Best Week Ever”); Off the Web, featuring six Internet-based humorists; and Steve Connell & Sekou, a duo known as tha misfit whose spoken-word, interactive show examines the nature of choice.Among the 24 feature-length and 24 short films in the Film Discovery Program are: “Conversations with Other Women,” starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart in director Hans Conosa’s dual-screen romantic comedy; the Romanian tragicomedy “The Death of Mister Lazarescu,” about a retired engineer on a one-night, booze-soaked odyssey; “Festival,” director Annie Griffin’s look at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and the Ringling Shorts Program, featuring work by animation students from Florida’s Ringling School of Art and Design.Previously announced events include the presentation of the AFI Star Award to Goldie Hawn, moderated by Michael Patrick King; a celebration of the TV series “The Larry Sanders Show”; a special presentation of Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and a screening of the Robert Altman film “A Prairie Home Companion,” starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline; a career tribute to TV director and producer James Burrows; and a reunion of the cast of the 1996 film “Swingers.”For a full festival program and ticket information, go to, or call (866) 350-3369.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is


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