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We Interrupt Doug Benson's Busy Schedule to Preview Comedy Central's 'Benson Interruption'

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 5th 2010 3:10PM
Comedian Doug BensonTelevision comedies have had a long and interesting history of sudden interruptions:

A crowd of 9/11 "truthers" crashed the set of HBO's 'Real Time with Bill Maher' and heckled the man live on the air as security crawled to drag them out of the studio.
• Some crazed tech junkie interrupted the Chicago airwaves in 1987 with his creepy rendition of Max Headroom being spanked with a fly swatter.
• The cast of the long running 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' have talked back to more bad movies than a group of drunken teenagers during a Jim Varney movie marathon.

Comedian Doug Benson's 'Interruption,' however, is designed to help more than heckle. The live stage version of the stand-up show featured top name comics like Patton Oswalt and Greg Proops doing their acts while Doug interjected his own observations. Comedy Central has turned Doug's unique comedy concept into a late night stand-up comedy showcase premiering tonight, Sat. Nov. 6 at 12AM ET.

Doug took a brief break during his stand-up tour to talk to TV Squad about the show's early days and how he has become the first person in a comedy club to use his heckling powers for good, not evil.

How did the 'Benson Interruption' stage show get started? What sparked the idea?

It was sparked by the fact that I'm always in the back of the room during comedy shows making cracks about the comic onstage. Not necessarily mean comments, just adding my own lines to the jokes. I'd participated in a few shows in L.A. where the host, either as themselves or a character, would speak to the comics from an offstage mic. So I thought I'd try it, called it 'The Benson Interruption,' invited my friends to do sets that I would comment on from the audience, and did it once a month in Los Angeles in such venues as The M Bar, Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and Largo on La Cienega. There are clips of me interrupting Patton Oswalt and Graham Elwood in the doc 'Super High Me.' I'll plug all of my projects by the end of this interview.

How did the TV version come about?
Some folks from Comedy Central, at the suggestion of my friend/producer Dave Rath, came to see the show at Largo, where I had taken to sitting next to the comic on stage in a comfy chair. And, to my surprise they said, "Sure, let's see if this works on television." So now I've got six episodes to win the hearts and minds of America.

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Was it easy or hard to make the transition to television? In other words, did the limits of a time slot make it harder to make the show funny since it's such a free-flowing, improvisation show?
I'm not sure what people will make of it when they see it. There's not a lot of improv on TV. It's kind of like magic, much more impressive in person. I hope people like it on TV as much as they like the live show, because I have a really good time doing it. Once the show's on the air I hope it will create an audience for me to bring the format to theaters across the country. Or somebody's backyard.

What are some of the names of people you've "interrupted" and who can we expect to see on your new show?
The list is the same, because all the acts on the TV show will be friends who have done the live show at least once over the years. So far we've taped sets with Brian Posehn, Greg Proops, Tig Notaro, Adam Carolla and a few others I can't remember. But four out of six is pretty good!

Who would you like to "interrupt" either on stage or your show and what would make them such a good target? They can be living, dead or other.
I don't do it to hurt, I do it to help. I don't have any dream guests, because I'm already getting them. I've managed to become friends with a lot of funny people. Narrowing it down to 18 for the first batch of shows wasn't easy. Scheduling issues also had to be considered.

Is there a particular type of comic who works best in your shows? Do you have a favorite or friend that you like "interrupting" more than others?
Like I said, all the guests are friends of mine. I've tried interrupting comics I didn't know a few times, and it gets uglier than Betty. It's like giving a heckler a microphone. Even if I'm trying to help, a comic's instinct is to insult the person in the crowd who interrupts the show. That's not the vibe I'm going for. I'm hoping that the enjoyment that I get from sharing the stage with such funny people translates into fun for the viewers.

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I absolutely loved the Benson interruption. It was a riot and i look forward to the next one!

November 06 2010 at 7:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Speaking of Doug Benson. Whatever happened to "Best Week Ever"? The last episode in 2009 said they would be back in 2010 and they never returned.

November 05 2010 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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