Comedy is a hard thing to define. Everyone has their own specific sense of humor. But what most people can agree on is who some of the legends of the industry are. And the new Showtime program “Inside Comedy” will provide viewers with unique access to these people with stories of their early days, influences and favorite moments.
The series is produced by a couple people who know something about the industry – Steve Carell and David Steinberg. Carell is, of course, a household name from his work on “The Daily Show” and “The Office.” Steinberg earned most of his kudos working behind the camera, directing famed sitcoms like “Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Mad About You” and “Designing Women.” But on “Inside Comedy,” Steinberg steps in front of the lens to talk with comic forces like Don Rickles, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Larry David and others.
While the show may sound a little like “Inside the Actors Studio” with comedians, Steinberg is loathe to agree with that comparison.
“I don’t like the ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ association because it’s too pedantic and these shows aren’t that way,” Steinberg says. Then he jokes, “I don’t talk about myself as much as James Lipton talks about himself.”
Steinberg adds, “Our goal is different…I’m not there to delve into deep emotional anything. I just want their version of how they feel about what they’re doing and who they were influenced by.”
The thing that’s different about “Inside Comedy” is its structure. It offers an intertwining history between the comics who are being profiled. In the first episode, which debuts on Thursday (Jan. 26), Steinberg sits down with Rickles and Seinfeld.
“It’s just interesting how they connected,” Steinberg says. “It [has] a certain warmth to it.”
Perhaps the funniest thing of all is the series wasn’t even going to be a TV show in the first place. It started as a documentary film. But that’s when Carell urged Steinberg to change directions and turn it into a TV show.
Steinberg explains of his conversations with Carell, “He kept on saying, ‘If we do this as a movie, you’ll have four minutes of Seinfeld and two minutes of Mel Brooks.'” So they switched course and created longer profiles and turned it into a series.
While the first season, which runs 10 episodes, will concentrate on comic legends, Steinberg sees the future as focusing on some of the younger set. He says he’d like to create shows featuring people like Kristen Wiig, Judd Apatow and others.
After interviewing those who deserve a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of Comedy, Steinberg was struck by one thing. He hopes viewers experience the same.
“The takeaway from this show [is] how totally and completely unique these people are [but] still doing the same kind of thing,” he says.
“Inside Comedy” kicks off Jan. 26 at 11 p.m. ET on Showtime.