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The Rundown: Joe Pera’s Very Strange And Very Funny (And Very Free) Stand-Up Special Is A Lovely Way To Spend An Hour

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE – Listen to me

Comedy is weird. There are so many different ways to do it and so many people find so many different things funny. This is especially true of stand-up comedy. There’s such a range there, from the “What’s the deal with…?” style that Jerry Seinfeld turned into a billion dollars to Chris Rock kind of yelling at the audience to Amy Schumer getting a little raunchy up there. John Mulaney is a mix of weird and classic. Jerrod Carmichael dumps his whole brain onto the stage. It’s cool how there are million ways to make it work.

This is a lot of words to get me to the thing I wanted to tell you, which is also pretty cool. One of my favorite comedians, Joe Pera, just made his first-ever full-length special and then he went and released it for free on YouTube. Here, look. I can just post the whole thing between paragraphs.

That’s kind of awesome. I’ve actually talked about Joe Pera before, back when I was obsessed with his little Adult Swim show. His style is so… I want to say “odd” but that makes it sound bad or intentionally off-putting. He moves so slowly and peacefully and it’s all very lovely. The jokes would read terribly on paper but his delivery makes them work. He talked a little about all of this in an interview back when his show was on.

Some of the episodes come fully formed. Some are like the episode where I hear [The Who’s] “Baba O’Riley” for the first time. That was just the simple premise: What if somebody heard this song for the first time in their late 20s, early 30s? And the whole episode is just the execution of that joke, and elevation of it. So, that was an easy episode.

Other stuff is what I’m interested in. Like, we did a lighthouse episode, and then beans. I love the research aspect, so I wanted to read about beans and lighthouses, and also, we were making the show in winter, so it’s a lot of just what I want to spend time with. If I want to think about beans for a few months, or almost the entire year that we take to make the show, it’s like I could think about beans for a year, and find interesting things, and just be relaxed, same as the sleep episode.

Two things I need you to know here. One, yes, he really did do a whole episode on his show on beans, and I have these two screencaps right here to prove it.


And two, yes, he also did do a whole episode about his character just discovering the very famous song “Baba O’Riley” deep into his 30s. It is also just a lovely piece of television.

I can respect if this doesn’t work for you. That’s why I led with that paragraph about how comedy is so subjective. But I’ll tell you what, buddy: It sure does work for me. A lot. This new special is easily one of the best hours of anything I’ve watched this entire year. The bit about the squirrel and the pita chip had me rolling. All of his crowd work, really, just because it’s so different from the way a comedian usually interacts with the crowd. The whole thing is kind of another Reservation Dogs situation, where I like to think that people who dig my work will dig this, too. It’s okay if you don’t. But it’s definitely cool if you do.

I have not been to my freezer a single time since I watched this without saying “cubes for my boys” out loud to myself.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Hey, speaking of cool and/or weird stuff

This is the trailer for a new series called The Curse. It looks very strange in a way that I think I like. Look at the official description and then smash play on the trailer.

Co-created and executive produced by Benny Safdie and Nathan Fielder, THE CURSE is a genre-bending series that explores how an alleged curse disturbs the relationship of a newly married couple as they try to conceive a child while co-starring in their new home-improvement show. The series stars Emma Stone (La LaLand, The Favourite), Fielder (The Rehearsal) and Safdie (Oppenheimer).

There is a lot happening in those two sentences. We are bending genres and there are curses and people are fixing houses and trying to have a baby. Any one of those things could have been a show. I know this because there was literally a show called Home Improvement once upon a time. This show will probably not be very much like that show. Which is… good.

Anyway, my drive-by take on all of this is that everyone involved here kind of rules and my general position is to support all ambitious and borderline crazy projects by people who have ruled in the past, so let’s all go ahead and get a little excited about this bonkers television series until presented with any reason to feel otherwise.

In conclusion, more shows should feature Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone wearing hard hats. I have been saying this for many years.



Two things I like to highlight in this column whenever I can:

  • People acting or being cool when they do not necessarily have to act or behave that way
  • Keanu Reeves

Which, conveniently, brings us to this story out of Houston from earlier this week.

Actor and musician Keanu Reeves was in town recently for a concert with his band, and he took a few minutes to throw a football with 9-year-old Elijah.

Elijah’s grandmother Annette Cruz likes to be where the celebrities are.

“I like to fish, for me it’s like fishing,” Cruz said.

This is… cool. It’s just cool. In a lot of ways. Starting, of course, with the thing where some kid was like “Hey, do you wanna whip a football around for a little?” and world-famous movie star Keanu Reeves was like “I do,” and then just moving right on to that quote from the kid’s grandmother, whose two major pleasure activities are (1) fishing and (2) meeting celebrities. Good for you, Annette.

I’m sure some of you are reading this right now with your Cynical Reading The Internet Face on thinking “But, Brian, doesn’t this sound kind of fishy to you? Like, maybe this nana just shoved her grandson in front of Keanu Reeves for her own personal enjoyment? Do 9-year-olds even know who Keanu Reeves is? And why did he even have a football anyway?”

To which I say, uhhhhh I don’t know. And shut up! Elijah got a cool story out of it! And he had fun! Look!

“And when I got his signature and my brother got his signature, I asked him if he could play catch with me,” Elijah said. “I asked him the first time and he kind of mumbled something. But I didn’t hear him so I asked him again and he said ‘yeah come on lets go.’”

For the next 30 seconds, Elijah threw a football with “The Replacements” quarterback.

You’re just going to have to let me have this one. I refuse to let you ruin “Keanu Reeves and a child hucking a football around” for me on a Friday.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – I love to see my favorite supporting actors thrive


A cool thing about watching as much television as I do is that sometimes you get to see people make the leap from “scene-stealing supporting player” to “the star of the whole damn thing.” Think, like, Ellie Kemper going from Erin on The Office to the titular star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. That was fun. It made me happy for Ellie. I still need Anthony Carrigan to get a big leading role after killing it as NoHo Hank on Barry. That’s important to me, too. But this next thing helps.

Megan Stalter, who has destroyed pretty much from the second she was introduced as Kaylee on Hacks, has a new movie coming out next year. It’s called Cora Bora and it sounds like a real wild ride.

The film, directed by Hannah Pearl Utt (“Before You Know It”) and written by Rhianon Jones, will be released in theaters sometime in February 2024. It follows a struggling musician named Cora, whose open relationship is on the rocks. So she goes home to Portland to win back her girlfriend and salvage her love life.

Which, like, good. Great, even. But it’s even cooler if you take a second to Google Stalter and read some interviews with her and profiles of her and learn how she got to this point. Take, for example, this one last year from The Hollywood Reporter:

The actress entered the collective consciousness of the Internet during the early days of COVID-19 with her army of the unhinged, putting out regular front-facing character videos on social media and hopping on Instagram Live to do longform improv. She racked up millions of views and became one of the faces of quarantine comedy, with stars like Amy Schumer and Kathy Najimy popping up in the online chats of her shows. Seemingly overnight — as if by magic or the incredible foresight of an HBO Max casting executive — Stalter moved from phone screens to television in a supporting role on Hacks.

That’s what I’m talking about. She was struggling in Hollywood and working through a pandemic and basically created a whole-ass career by pointing her phone at herself. It’s a good lesson for everyone, man. We’re living in the future. You can take these things into your own hands if you have the talent and ambition and the coordination to not drop your phone on the ground when you’re whipping it around with the camera on.

Oh, there’s another cool thing about this movie I should mention, while I’m on the subject of secondary players who steal scenes and who I love very much. One of Stalter’s co-stars in Cora Bora is Manny Jacinto. Who was on The Good Place. As Jason Mendoza. The Jacksonville native who loved to whip Molotov cocktails at things while shouting the name of the then-quarterback of his beloved Jaguars, Blake Bortles.

Yes, I do have those GIFs handy. Thank you for asking. Here is number one…


… and here is number two.


It still cracks me up that the dorks doing subtitles in that second one went with “[indistinct yells]” because they had no idea there is a human named Blake Bortles who played professional football. This is all just very wonderful. I need whoever was responsible for casting this movie to email their address so I can send them a gift certificate to the upscale chain restaurant of their choosing.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Please take five minutes and really think about this one

Okay, here’s what we got going on:

  • There’s a new biography about Madonna coming out soon
  • There’s a story in there about a young Madonna meeting Al Pacino
  • Apparently, during this meeting, Madonna stuck her tongue in Al Pacino’s ear

Via Page Six, of course:

In the biography “Madonna: A Rebel Life”, which hit bookstores Tuesday, Hill shared that her dad, Ed Setrakian, had introduced the “Godfather” star to Madonna at dinner in New York City.

After Setrakian drove everyone home, Pacino and B allegedly said, “That friend of your daughter’s stuck her tongue in my ear. When we were driving home, she leaned over and stuck her tongue in my ear!”

Okay, here’s what I need you to do…

First, think about younger Pacino — Godfather Pacino — telling this story about an as-yet-not-world-famous Madonna, just a fun story about a fun night out with a fun young lady, with his quieter and more reserved demeanor.

Okay, got that image? Great.

Now, picture, like, mid-1990s Scent of a Woman/Heat Pacino, full-on “HOO-AH” Pacino, the guy in this screencap…


… telling the same story about the now megastar Madonna over drinks at, oh, let’s say the Golden Globes.

Do you see? Do you see why this has been bringing so much joy this week? Because of the two versions of this story that are now inside your head, too? And also because of — on a lesser level, but still — this line from the end of the Page Six story.

Page Six has reached out to reps for Madonna and Pacino for comment.

Two more notes in conclusion:

  • Imagine being the representative for Madonna or Pacino and getting this email in 2023
  • Journalism is alive and well

I’m sorry and you are welcome.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From AJ

I know you’re a fan of Hot Ones, and have suggested some good guests for the show (Winkler would be excellent). I have my own list, and wanted to see where you’d rank these options:

1. Nardwuar- he’s the perfect match for Sean Evans, and I’ve seen this recommended numerous times on Reddit. The best suggestion I saw was a two-parter, filmed at one time, including bringing out a second slab of wings and switching interviewer/interviewee. The Hot Ones team seems to be on it, if this FB video they made is any indication.

2. Walton Goggins- This GQ Interview made me long for him doing a deeper dive while giving hilarious reactions to hot sauces. Bonus points if he does it in costume/character as Baby Billy. (Also, I’d be happy with just about any Gemstones cast member doing the show. Ideally it’d be a full panel with all of them.)

3. Samoa Joe- this one probably just comes from my love of pro wrestling and recency bias following his delightful appearance on Doughboys.

Thoughts on these candidates? Any other dream guests you haven’t mentioned yet?

So, here’s the problem, AJ. You wrote this very thoughtful and thought-out email and asked for my equally thoughtful and thought-our examples, and I tried, but all my brain can think of right now is how much fun it would be to watch some notoriously cranky celebrity — let’s say… Tommy Lee Jones — eating progressively hotter wings and fielding fun and well-researched questions from Sean Evans and just hating every single second of it. Go ahead, try it yourself. Picture Tommy Lee Jones as the guest on Hot Ones. See if you can keep a straight face. If you’re like me, you’ve got about 8-10 seconds in you before you crack.

But thank you anyway, AJ. And I’m sorry my stupid brain could not be more helpful. Let’s just go with everyone on my list of potential guest stars for Only Murders in the Building. A list Tommy Lee Jones is also on. Maybe he can go on Hot Ones to promote his role on that show. Look at me, trying to speak things into existence again. To be fair, I do really wanna see both now.


To Colorado!

A multi-day crime spree in Aurora has come to an end after officials tracked down the culprit — a 400-pound pig named Fred.

Three notes here:

  • I am actually kind of angry because this story broke last Friday about 20 minutes after I submitted last week’s edition of The Rundown and I knew I’d have to wait an entire week to write about it
  • Fred is innocent
  • FRED

Moving on.

“It took a look a lot of puzzle pieces getting put together before we could finally solve the problem,” said Augusta Allen, field supervisor for Aurora Animal Services.




Aurora Animal Services and the Aurora Police Department received several calls over the past two weeks about traffic disturbances and damage done to properties.

“We responded out a few times,” said Allen. “The first couple of times, we were unable to find what was causing the problems.”


After a few days, officials were able to capture the pig, which they named Fred, and put an end to his crime spree.

“We finally found him and got him,” said Allen. “Took about eight people to capture him.”


Fred has been at the Aurora Animal Shelter since Sept. 27. His owner has not come forward.

“He’s very sweet, very loving, loves the attention,” said Allen.

Three more notes in conclusion:

  • I love my sweet large rascal son
  • I need Fred to find a happy home and would gladly adopt him if my apartment building did not have the kind of pet policy that prohibits things like “400-pound pigs who may or may not have committed numerous felonies”
  • FRED

We must protect him.