TV Eye

Locally grown, 'Premium Blend'

Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton

You might have seen him do stand-up at the Velveeta Room or the Cap City Comedy Club. Now, you can watch Austin-based comedian Jim Hamilton take his turn at the mic on Comedy Central's Premium Blend. Hamilton is one of the featured comedians this Friday, Dec. 16, in the series that showcases up-and-coming talent. Damon Wayans hosts.

"Those Comedy Central people, they know everyone," Hamilton said in a phone interview about the unexpected invitation to appear on Premium Blend. "They always come to the Funniest Person in Austin contest, they know all the clubs here and everywhere, but I was a little shocked because in years past, they always asked for a tape. This time they just called."

Hamilton has been a runner-up the last four years he performed in the Funniest Person in Austin contest. Last year he placed third. When asked what he thought it would take for him to take the title, his response was short and quick.

"I don't think I'll ever win. My stuff isn't for everyone. It's kind of dark at times."

Dark? Perhaps. But there's also a sharp political edge, as well. In fact, there are a couple of jokes Hamilton was sure would be edited out of his Premium Blend performance because of their pointed criticism of President Bush and swipes at creationists and intelligent design theorists. Oh, and the penis jokes.

Originally from Wisconsin, Hamilton came to Austin specifically to develop his comedy chops. At 28, he still has a boyish, awkward charm. Yet his work bears comparison to Woody Allen's early stand-up in rhythm and delivery. His jokes are intelligent, his laughs well-earned.

"When I was first starting out, I didn't like the comparison to Woody Allen because I just knew him from a couple of bad movies," Hamilton says. "But now that I've read some of his books and heard some of his early stand-up, I kind of like the comparison." Emo Philips ("a great joke writer"), Dave Attell, and Sarah Silverman are some of Hamilton's current influences.

Those who miss Hamilton on Premium Blend had better keep a close watch for future Austin performances. Though he's only been in Austin four years, a move to Los Angeles is looming large.

A last-minute notice from the Comedy Central PR folks indicates that another Austin-based comedian, David Huntsberger, appears on Premium Blend on Dec. 23.

The show airs Fridays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central and repeats on following Thursdays.

Other Funny Stuff

I was determined not to like the newest of the fish-out-of-water reality series because the last one in recent memory (The Simple Life with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie) was just so mean-spirited and snooty. Not the case with Daisy Does America, starring British actor and comedian Daisy Donovan. The humor of the series relies on Donovan's stranger-in-a-strange-land experiences as she makes a cross-country tour of the U.S. in search of the "American Dream" among "odd characters" and their "quirky" jobs (her first job was as a bounty hunter). Ultimately, Donovan is warm and respectful in her approach, making her much more likable than the aforementioned pop tarts.

Daisy Does America airs Tuesdays at 9pm on TBS.


Finally, my whining paid off. All right. I'm sure the suits at HBO couldn't care less about what I want to see on TV, but that doesn't mean I'm not thoroughly ecstatic about the appearance of Epitafios on HBO Signature.

This Argentinean import, filmed in Buenos Aires, is the first in HBO Latin America's programming "written and filmed in Latin America, by Latin Americans, for the Latin American Audience." However, you don't have to be from Argentina to get addicted to this cat-and-mouse drama. In fact, you don't even have to speak Spanish. The 13-part series is subtitled in English.

While Epitafios has been airing on HBO Latino and HBO On Demand, it launched with English subtitles on HBO Signature last week. Stylish, hair-raising, and sometimes a bit overwrought in mood and tone (by U.S. standards), it's positively narcotic in how it draws you in.

Epitafios is set five years after the brutal murder of several student hostages. After the rescue mission goes awry, Renzo Márquez (Julio Chávez), the police officer sent in to disarm the situation, lapses into a depression and leaves the force. When the series begins, Renzo is reluctantly called into action when his friend and police commissioner makes a gruesome discovery that points to Renzo and others who might have stopped the tragedy from happening as targets of an unknown serial killer's revenge.

I've only seen one episode, but I can already tell I am thoroughly hooked. Don't call me on Wednesday nights at 8pm. That's the only play date for new episodes of the series.

As always, stay tuned.

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Premium Blend, Jim Hamilton, David Huntsberger, Daisy Does America, Epitafios

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