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Constant Comedy, Pushing Boundaries & Starting Comedy Central with Art Bell

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to build a career in comedy – and an entire TV station dedicated to comedy 24/7? Meet the legend, Art Bell, author of Constant Comedy: How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor. We get a peek behind the curtain of what it was like in the early days of Comedy Central. You’ll hear stories about comedic icons from Bill Maher to Jon Stewart, Al Franken, Chris Rock, Gilbert Gottfried, Sarah Silverman and Dennis Miller. We talk about the power of comedy to push boundaries, and how hard it is to work in comedy today as the present culture is sometimes too easily offended.

00:00 Introduction

04:12 Has Art Bell ever been star struck?

06:30 Art’s non-traditional path to working in entertainment and comedy

11:45 The Wharton Follies – creatives in business school at Wharton

13:20 HBO & their failed plan to create a family friendly TV channel “Festival”

15:00 Disney, Netflix, HBO and “The Streaming Wars”

17:27 Working with Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and other A-listers

19:15 Why did Bill Maher try to get Art Bell fired from HBO?

23:15 “Weird asks” in entertainment

24:45 1992 State of the union address: Comedy central’s coverage and Al Franken’s walk-off & walk-back

27:15 “The Slap” of Chris Rock by Will Smith – And the perils of live TV

29:53 The comedian’s job and Gilbert Gottfried’s near career-ending joke as he starts to tell a joke about 9/11 and pivots to The Aristocrats

31:50 The comedic realm of satire and pushing cultural boundaries of what’s acceptable

35:40 “Shtick” around minority cultures – something that (sadly?) simply “doesn’t work” anymore

38:00 Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and reshaping news in America

39:48 The most outrageous thing that ever happened to Art Bell – another “State Of The Union” story, featuring Dennis Miller

42:00 Corinna’s favorite comedy show & meeting the cast! It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

About Our Guest, Art Bell:

Art Bell is the author of the memoir: “Constant Comedy: How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor”. He earned his MBA at Wharton in Finance & Economics, and started his career in entertainment first in economics in Washington – then pivoted to his love of entertainment, first at CBS, then at HBO where he was directly responsible for the creation of The Comedy Channel (Comedy Central). He then continued his television career as president of CourtTV before shifting his focus to writing.

Art Bell’s links:


Max Brooks, author of World War Z:

Nancy Geller, Talent Producer:

Gilbert Gottfried’s The Aristocrats joke (Rated R):

History of The Aristocrats joke:

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  • Corinna Bellizzi

    Corinna Bellizzi, MBA is a natural products industry executive, mom of two young boys, and podcaster who began her broadcasting journey as a guest on many nationally syndicated radio shows. In her role as an executive, she is a pioneer of new nutrition categories, and an experienced media spokesperson. With a background in technical directing, ethnographic research, and storytelling, she launched her first podcast: Care More Be Better, in January 2021. It ranks in the top 2.5% of all podcasts globally.* Corinna is 1/2 of the dynamic due that is The Femcasters Podcast and Network alongside Julie Lokun. *As reported by Listennotes.

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