In honor of the 30th anniversary of the network’s launch, former Comedy Central executives, Art Bell and Vinnie Favale, are pulling the curtain back on the channel’s tumultuous early days in their new show, “The Constant Comedy Podcast.”
Drawing from their rich history in comedy, Bell and Favale will talk about comedy with the people who write and perform it. Guests confirmed to appear on the show include comedian and actor Jonathan Katz (Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist), comedy writer Nick Bakay (voice of Salem the cat in Sabrina the Teenage Witch), five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, director, and producer Bill Persky (The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl), producer Laurie Zaks (president of television at Mandeville Films and creator/producer of Castle), producer Scott Carter (Politically Incorrect, Real Time with Bill Maher), and writer-producer Betsy Borns (Friends, Roseanne, All of Us).
Based on Bell’s award-winning and bestselling memoir, Constant Comedy (Ulysses Press), “The Constant Comedy Podcast” will look at the wide world of comedy, both past, and present, as well as take listeners behind the scenes into the comedy startup on its way to becoming one of the most successful and creative purveyors of popular culture in the US.
Drawing from their rich history in comedy, Bell and Favale will talk about comedy with the people who write and perform it. “Comedy is pervasive now more than ever. It’s not just movies, books, and TV shows,” Favale said. “We will cover that, but comedy is now an essential part of every form of social media. It is constant—hence the title. Whether it’s a meme, a Twitter battle of wits, viral videos, or insanely funny message board comments, we will talk about it.”
In 1988, a young, mid-level employee named Art Bell pitched a novel concept—a television channel focused on just one thing: comedy—to the chairman of HBO, Michael Fuchs. Vinnie Favale came on board shortly after and, together with a team of seasoned cable network executives, they launched The Comedy Channel on November 15th, 1989. The station would later merge with MTV’s competing comedy network, HA!, and Comedy Central was born.
Although The Comedy Channel was short-lived, it was the launching pad for the critically acclaimed Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and helped initiate the national standup comedy boom of the 90s.
The podcast will delve deeper into the stories shared in Bell’s memoir, Constant Comedy. From disastrous pitch meetings with comedians to the discovery of talents like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart, Bell’s intimate account peers behind the curtain and reveal what it’s really like to work, struggle, and ultimately succeed at the cutting edge of show business.
“Vinnie and I thought it would be fun to interview comedians and colleagues who had a part in building the network, so comedy fans can hear the story of how the channel became ‘the center of the comedy universe’ that we envisioned 30 years ago,” Bell said. “So many of the people we worked with have gone on to spectacular careers in entertainment. We look forward to catching up and hearing their fascinating ‘life after Comedy Central’ stories too.”
About the Hosts
Art Bell is the author of the recently published memoir, Constant Comedy: How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor (Ulysses Press, 2020). He is a former media executive known for creating, building, and managing successful cable television channels. While working at HBO, Art pitched the idea of a 24-hour comedy network which he helped develop and launch. He went on to hold senior executive positions in both programming and marketing at Comedy Central. After leaving Comedy Central, Art became president of Court TV, where he was a guiding force behind one of the most successful brand evolutions in cable television. In addition to writing, he plays piano and jazz drums. Art currently resides in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Deer Valley, Utah, with his wife. Learn more at artbellwriter.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Vinnie Favale is a producer, writer, and director. He has worked in the entertainment industry since 1979 at NBC, MTV, A&E, HBO, Comedy Central, and CBS. As the head of CBS Late Night, he was the executive in charge of the “Late Show With David Letterman” and the “Howard Stern” syndicated show. In 2019, he launched Favale Media. His “Hereafter Musical” has had successful productions off-Broadway and in Buenos Aires. The movie version starring Danny Aiello is in post-production and will be released December 2021. He’s currently writing a new musical, “Happy New Year,” with his writing partner Frankie Keane. Learn more about him at vinniefavale.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagra