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Joe Mande's Screenplay Adaptation of Glenn Beck's Novel: The Overton Window Featured in The New York

Feb 23, 2015

Live from New York, It's "The Overton Window"

It's fair to say that Joe Mande is a glutton for punishment. The comedian and author of the blog-to-book, "Look at This F*cking Hipster," recently took it upon himself to read Glenn Beck's bestselling novel, The Overton Window. It all began as masochistic experiment for a column Mande writes called "Taking One for the Team." It turned out that reading The Overton Window, which Mande polished off in a few hours, was the easy part. More difficult was effectively conveying the consummate awfulness of Beck's writing in a few hundred words. Mande decided that the only way to do the book justice would be to adapt it into a screenplay, which he recently staged at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea.

In lieu of Hollywood conservatives like Jon Voight and Stephen Baldwin, Mande enlisted a number of comedians for the reading. Chris Gethard played Noah Gardner, the cocky heir to a public relations dynasty and a young man with "an outstanding record of success with the ladies." Kristen Schaal starred as lithesome Tea Partier Molly Ross. Schaal played the anti-government crusader with the manically spacey style she's brought to The Daily Show and Flight of the Conchords. The 30 Rock star Scott Adsit was Noah's father, P.R. guru Arthur Gardner-the mastermind who sold the American public on restless leg syndrome and Che Guevara t-shirts.

The plot goes something like this: Molly and Noah meet cute in the office break room. He's there buying a Tootsie Roll from the vending machine; she's putting up flyers for a group called "Founders' Keepers." For Noah, it's love at first sight, even though he thinks Molly's politics are crazy. Together they uncover a plot-spearheaded by Noah's father-to overthrow the American government. Along the way, Molly, Noah, and a ragtag band of patriots share some unlikely experiences. In one scene, Molly slips past a Star Wars-loving T.S.A. employee at the airport by pretending to be Natalie Portman, and the script's finale hinges on a fateful mix-up involving a fake atomic bomb.
Molly Ross (Kristen Schaal) loves Noah Gardner (Chris Gethard) almost as much as she loves the Constitution.

Adapting the "relentlessly crazy" book was an excruciating process. "I was very concerned about capturing the arc of the story and the tone of the dialogue, so I ended up reading and rereading each chapter at least a dozen times," he said. "It was pure torture." The end result is canned dialogue that, in the hands of performers like Schaal and Gethard, plays as more absurd than it already is:

NOAH: Be very quiet. This is my Dad's office.

Molly picks up a small statue on the desk. It's a composite of the Statue of Liberty merged with the Colossus of Rhodes.

MOLLY: What is this?

NOAH: That? Oh, it's just a visual representation of my father's life philosophy. He thinks law and order, the Statue of Liberty, can only take a society so far. Because at some point law must be replaced by militarized force, the Colossus of Rhodes, for any true progress to be achieved.

MOLLY: Thank you for explaining that to me.

Torture aside, the writing process did have a few bright spots. Mande's favorite moment in the screenplay is the almost-sex-scene between the leads. (Noah to Molly: "I've got one rule in the bedroom, and it's don't tease the panther.") Judging by the uproarious response, the audience at the Upright Citizens Brigade appeared to enjoy watching it at least as much as Mande and-I'm guessing-Beck enjoyed writing it.

Curious patriots-and Hollywood producers-can read Mande's screenplay

(Video stills courtesy of Todd Bieber.)

Joe Mande Presents Glen Beck's The Overton Window will be returning to the UCB Theatre in October. Check
our schedule
for details.
NY Shows

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Derek Waters to develop comedy for FX

Feb 21, 2015

FX makes 'Grade' with Waters, Cera

Funny or Die series creator gets cable gig Derek Waters, who's behind the 'Funny or Die' Web series Drunk History, has partnered with thesp Michael Cera and scribe Emily Kapnek to develop a comedy for FX. Waters, Cera and Kapnek are the exec producers behind 13th Grade, which centers on a high school graduate who's content with his meager lifestyle -- until his girlfriend dumps him for being 'stuck' between childhood and adulthood. Waters is onboard to star in the project, which is based on an idea by him and Paige Gullivan. Cera is co-writing the script with Gullivan. Also onboard as exec producers are Naomi Odenkirk and Mosaic. FX Prods. is handling the show inhouse. Development comes as FX looks to continue expanding its comedy lineup. Waters and Cera first connected when Cera guest starred on Drunk History, which has also featured thesps Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Danny McBride, Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly. Waters is next set to appear opposite Owen Wilson in the Farrelly Brothers comedy Hall Pass. Cera, currently onscreen in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, also wrote and produced the Web series Clark and Michael. Kapnek, whose credits include Hung, is a consulting producer on Parks and Recreation.
LA General

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What's Going On? with Mike Mitchell featured in LA Weekly

Feb 21, 2015

'What's Going On? With Mike Mitchell': Late Night Show Brings Laughs and Charm to Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

It's close to midnight on Saturday as an army of comedy fanatics amass in front of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. They're all eager to see the evening talk show "What's Going On? With Mike Mitchell." The program has attracted a huge following and usually sells out quickly.

The premise is simple. Host Mike Mitchell, has no clue what will happen during the show. He knows as much as the audience does, which is pretty much nothing. He doesn't know who the celebrity guests will be or any of the jokes and sketches that have been written for him. What's Going On is an original, one of the more hilarious and well-written productions to come out of L.A.'s comedy scene in recent memory.

Inside the 92-seat theater, the small stage is designed to reflect the set of a talk show, complete with two chairs, a desk with a coffee mug adorned with Mitchell's face and a large image of the downtown L.A. skyline framing the background. Given the program's clever concept, you have to wonder how Mitchell keeps it all together without failing miserably. He does stumble a few times, but pulls it off in a way that somehow endears the audience to him.

'It's the classic underdog story,' says co-producer Meghan Falcone. 'When people see that he is frustrated, you just want to root for him.'

The evening begins with announcer Michael Cassady introducing the intrepid host. Mitchell starts his opening monologue by reading jokes off note cards. He fumbles the setup of a few.

'I'm very nervous,' Mitchell tells the audience. 'I apologize.'

Despite his mea culpa, Mitchell exudes an amiable charisma and a wide grin that makes it hard not to like the guy. The crowd responds to his apology with applause and cheers. The next bit has Mitchell's personal assistant come out with his dry cleaning. Mitchell never knew he had a P.A. Showing a need to please his new boss, the overzealous assistant pulls out a toothbrush and cleans Mitchell's teeth. He later has Mitchell spit out the toothpaste onto his hand, eliciting laughs and groans from the audience. Crew members wearing 'Team Mitch' shirts later rush out on stage, throwing a judge's gown and a white wig over him. They're doing a parody of the The People's Court. Two women from the audience come on with one complaining that her friend doesn't show off her breasts enough in public.

'I have my ruling,' Mitchell says immediately, amid chuckles. 'You have to show the boobs.'

Most guys in the audience clap in approval.

Then come the celebrity guests. Simon Helberg of the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is introduced first to our illustrious host. Helberg seems to be relishing Mitchell's anxiety.

'Are you sweating through your blazer?'' Helberg asks.

Mitchell nervously tries to pivot back to asking questions that reveals he never watches the sitcom.

'So how are things on the set?' Mitchell asks a smirking Helberg.

Ashley Bell, star of the upcoming horror film The Last Exorcism comes out next. Mitchell is clearly smitten with the attractive actress, revealing that he always has a fascination with the paranormal and thinks Bell is 'very pretty' despite being a demon in the movie. The whole interaction reads like an awkward first date.

As the night draws to a close, Mitchell thanks everyone for being part of the show's six month run as dozens of balloons fall from the ceiling.

'I love doing the show,' Mitchell tells the Weekly. He expresses gratitude for the hard work that the crew puts into the production every month. As he's talking, a small crowd lines up backstage after the show praising the winsome host. People just seem to love Mike Mitchell.

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