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James Hibberd

And the Award For Most Awkward Lunch Goes To…

January 12, 2007 4:46 PM

Starz, for their cadre of malcontent, oversensitive, unfunny comedians.

The movie network sponsored a TCA “working lunch' (which means you have to eat a salad while giving intermittent attention to a panel on stage). First up is Alexandra Wentworth, who plays a shrink in Starz’ new scripted series “Head Case.' Somebody thought it would be funny if she took the TCA stage in character.

“I can see there are a lot of depressed people here,' she says, clearly knowing how to win new fans. “I’ll try to take some of your questions. Maybe some of you have issues or problems. You are press, so there’s a lot to mine there.'

Annoyed critics stare back. Wentworth is not Borat, she can’t pull this crap. Critics raise their hands, and ask serious, production-based questions. Wentworth awkwardly attempts to remain in character.

“Could you stop doing that, please and speak to us like you were—“ one critic begins.

“You need to stop now,' another finishes.

The second Starz panel is “Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-Up.' Except Lawrence isn’t here due to scheduling conflicts, though critics are assured he “sends his love.'

What follows in the session transcript is 16 pages of awkward discussion, and only eight transcriber notations of “(Laughter).' By comparison, the producer of G4’s series “Code Monkeys' Adam de la Pena managed seven “(Laughter)'s in six pages, and he was on stage alone, and not a comedian.

The comics proudly discuss how profanity is important, why Martin Luther King jokes aren’t funny and their life stories. At one point, the discussion appropriately devolves into a debate about whether the comics have ever bombed in front of an audience.

“Yeah, like you fuckers now, you’re not laughing,' one of the comics says—which resulted in one of the eight “(Laughter)' marks in the transcript because, of course, it’s true.

Later, while discussing Michael Richards use of the “n-word' on stage, comic and moderator Doug Williams suddenly demands of the critics: “Anybody here who has never used the N-word, please stand up!'—which causes every white reporter in the room to freeze with racial terror, spoons of crème brulèe half-way to their mouths, wondering how the hell they get out of this lose-lose dilemma. I’m asking myself: “Does quoting count?' One critic in the back proudly stands up. The rest wish they ordered room service for lunch.


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