Showtime’s new series The Green Room with Paul Provenza features a new panel of comedians each night, discussing whatever topics come up. These sessions get pretty revealing, so it’s a good thing they can swear on Showtime. Provenza and some of his guests previewed some of the dirt you’ll get on the new show, including tense moments between comedians.
One panel got into a heated debate about race. “Moments like that did happen, particularly in the episode with Paul Mooney and Rain Pryor and Bobby Slayton and Jim Jeffries,” Provenza said. “Those things do happen, but see, this is what really I find compelling about being around comedians at this level of depth and intimacy is that you can have those emotional responses. But instead of it being conflict, it becomes funny. Then you can actually discuss really what it was that you said that got somebody upset or vice versa or whatever. And you do get a little bit of that on the Saget show, and you do get quite a bit of that on the Paul Mooney show. I just think it's fascinating to see people deal with conflict and emotional realities in ways that don't turn into arguments or fights or hurt feelings, but they turn into laughter.”
An appearance by Andy Dick gets personal too, in a happy way. “The Andy Dick thing is really interesting,” recalled Dana Gould. “Andy Dick and I both worked on The Ben Stiller Show in 1992, and we were incredibly close. Then Andy went off on a decade and a half of what we like to call ‘extreme fun.’ And he's clean now, and you can actually see it on the tape. I called, like, all the people from the show, and it was like the old Andy, and you can see it in my face. It was like finding a friend again. You would see him, but you didn't really interact with him.”
Edgy comedienne Sandra Bernhard was excited to participate in the series, and expose the viewers to discussions that need to be had. She talked about her abortion during her episode. “It's great for the times, too, because we've been so repressed for the past eight years,” Bernhard said. “People have been so afraid to really put themselves out there in the way I remember when I was a teenager and it was the Vietnam era and the hippie movement and everybody said whatever came into their mind. Suddenly, boom, it shrunk back and nobody was allowed to express themselves. So this show is a great kind of throwback to just people putting it out there and not afraid. When the audience sees it at home, we don't know what the response is. We are not with them. We're with each other. There's that safety zone. You just want to say whatever you're feeling. That's great.”
Even after hot button episodes, The Green Room ends in a good place. “We have one episode that got pretty, pretty, pretty ballsy when it came to dealing with race,” Provenza said. “A number of people who were at the live tapings came up and said something akin to, ‘Wow, man. I've heard things that I've never heard uttered in public, and I heard them coming out fast and furiously, and at no point was there anything but love in this room.’ And that's kind of a beautiful sentiment.”
The Green Room with Paul Provenza airs Thursdays at 10:30 on Showtime.