Comedy Wants to Expand Its Base

Looking in part to attract more black and female viewers, Comedy Central’s 2005 development slate includes deals with Norm Macdonald and Jamie Kennedy, parodies of entertainment-newsmagazines and an original stand-up comedy movie featuring Dave Attell.

Projects include six pilots, most of which are nearly completed, said Lauren Corrao, senior vice president of original programming and head of development at the network, whose main demographic is 18-to-34-year-old men.

“The idea for us this year was to broaden the number of things that we put into development, and also broaden the scope of our development, and perhaps reach out a little bit from our core audience to bring in more viewers, mainly African-Americans and women,” Corrao said.

The two Tinseltown-skewering entertainment-show parodies on the slate are Gone Hollywood, hosted by Greg Giraldo, formerly of Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn; and The Hollywood Show, hosted and co-executive produced by former The Daily Show correspondent Brian Unger. Only one will be picked. The winner might wind up as a companion to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Gone Hollywood will incorporate actual footage, clips and on-location field pieces, as well as celebrity guests.

The Hollywood Show is a topical parody of show business, pop-culture and entertainment stories featuring celebrity interviews, man-on-the-street reporting and actual movie, TV and paparazzi footage.

“The idea is that it’s a topic that we’re committed to putting on the air,” Corrao said. “We heard several different ideas sort of along those lines, these being the two that we liked the best and piloted.”

Comedy may air the first run of the entertainment parody from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a repeat later in the evening. The Daily Show repeats now air at 7 p.m. and perform well, but the addition of the entertainment parody might boost that early time period even more and “so provide a stronger base going into our primetime,” namely 10 p.m., Corrao said.

Comedy Central has had a strong year. Viewers have been drawn to staples like The Daily Show and South Park, the sophomore seasons of Chappelle’s Show and Reno 911 and animated reality-series spoof Drawn Together, already renewed for a second season.

Macdonald would star and serve as executive producer for a sketch show, while the premise of Kennedy’s half-hour show is to test people’s stereotypes and social expectations.

Kennedy, who’ll serve as executive producer with Josh Etting, will go undercover at times to make his points.

“They are two funny guys our audiences connect with on many levels,” Corrao said.

Pilots include: Stella, a scripted series from Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and David Wain, veterans of the sketch-comedy troupe The State; Take It to the Bitch House, in which comedienne Sommore acts as judge and jury in real-life disputes; Con, in which Skylar Stone uses his smarts to get what he wants; and Happy Game Fun Bomb, which pits comedian video-game players against a satellite group of real gamers from cities around the U.S.

Comedy will probably decide in the next month which pilots will go into series production.

The Attell movie — in the spirit of Blue Collar Comedy Tour and The Original Kings of Comedy — will feature the Insomniac host and his friends on tour, Corrao said.

“We thought this was a great opportunity with talent that we know our audience is already invested in to do a stand-up comic movie, basically, with some behind-the-scenes footage using Dave as a headliner.”