We’re joined on the Starline by Art Bell, the media executive who had the funny idea to create a cable comedy channel. That funny idea turned into The Comedy Channel which we all know now as Comedy Central. Stories from that experience are in his memoir “Constant Comedy: How I started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor”.
We welcome Art Bell.
Let’s go Beyond the Mic growing up you wanted to be a famous scientist. What brand of science did you want to focus on?
After courses at Michigan and Swarthmore, you killed it at your college production of Fiddler on the Roof. What made the stage so appealing to you? (Laugh)
(laugh) do you have any pictures from that production?
The Road to a Comedy Cable Channel
You left Washington DC as an economist and headed to business school. You then got jobs at CBS & HBO where your big idea hit. A comedy channel, but it almost didn’t happen…
This idea was so important, you were quitting and taking the idea to anyone who would listen.
By the way, I was in one of the areas where the competing comedy channel “HA!” had a presence but I didn’t laugh.
Art Bell’s Memoir “Constant Comedy: How I started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor” available now. Art, you’ve worked with comedy giants, Jon Stewart. Bill Maher, Dennis Miller and more. How did your time with them shape (pause) or warp your sense of comedy?
Matter of fact he tried to get you fired…
But that campaign ended up winning an award…
(laugh) The book is “Constant Comedy”, the author Art Bell joins us Beyond the Mic. One of the things I loved in the book was the many meetings of the Buzz Committee. Can you explain what it was to people who haven’t read the book yet? Are you still in contact with those friends ?
How hard was it to watch an idea you had passion for change and evolve under the hands of corporate America?
Did your creation help people evolve the way they enjoy comedy and comedians today?
Author Art Bell joins us beyond the Mic. Which comedians are cutting through and making an impact in comedy right now?
The Rockin’ 8
Time is running out, so it’s time for the Rockin’ 8, 8 random questions, answer with the first thing that comes to your mind.
There is no Pressure.
1. Art what was the most interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
Really… (laugh) I was just shocked about the answer. Tell me more about 3D Television
(quiet) We return to the Rockin’ 8 already in progress
2. Top 3 comedians of all time?
3. Art, what makes your wife Carrie laugh?
4. Favorite type of chocolate?
5. Most unappreciated job in comedy / television?
6. Favorite place to vacation?
7. Favorite Marx brother
8. Who was the last comedian you saw live?
He likes milk chocolate with nuts, has learned to laugh again and loves to vacation in Northern Italy.
His book is “Constant Comedy: How I started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor”. Author Art Bell, thank you for your time today.
And that my friends is Beyond the Mic.
Get Art’s book here