January 12, 2012 1:13pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
TCA: 6 Things to Know About Showtime's 'Inside Comedy' (Video)
David Steinberg continues his love affair with comedy with Showtime's Inside Comedy, a 10-episode documentary series that will explore the community that exists within the comedy industry.
Sitcom director Steinberg (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mad About You, Designing Women) joined by Larry David and Tim Conway -- two of his many subjects -- previewed the series Thursday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Here are six things to know about Inside Comedy.
1. It will be both funny and intellectual. Is comedy hard to talk about? "Are you really asking me what's funny? Are you out of your mind?!" It's hard to talk about anything intellectually? "Yes, yes it is. It's very hard, it's hard to talk about anything intellectually." Like Larry David's responses to the questions here, the series will be both funny and intellectual.
2. It will be different from TV Land's Sit Down Comedy With David Steinberg -- and other talk shows. Steinberg noted that he intentionally didn't prepare for the interviews featured on the series. "A spontaneous interview feels different than anything you'll see on TV," he said. "That's why the revelations come out. I describe it to myself as deep listening … it's a conversation."
3. No live audience. Also unlike Sit Down Comedy, the interviews were not filmed in front of a live audience. Says Steinberg: "In this, the last you hear is the crew, family and friends."
4. It isn't a "gotcha"-type show. Steinberg says his intention with the series is to celebrate the community that exists between comedians. "I'm not after a 'gotcha' question, I'm not after a deep revelation," he said, noting that Jonathan Winters voluntarily opened up about his mental illness and he opted to include the footage in the series.
5. Pairings and solo episodes. Of the 10 episodes, some of the interviews are cut together, though everyone was interviewed individually. Some, however, will be stand-alones, with Chris Rock among those getting the solo treatment. "I could have paired Tim with a few people, but paired him with Ellen DeGeneres," Steinberg said. Added David: "They're both gay!" To which Conway quipped, "Well, festive."
6. There are through lines. While each episode is a stand-alone doc, there are through lines that come out that all the comics have in common. Among them: The inspiration to be a comic often comes from within the family, Steinberg offered.
Inside Comedy premieres Thursday, Jan. 26 at 11 p.m. Watch a preview below.