Comedy Central will follow up on its successful six-part documentary series Black Heroes of Comedy
with similar multipart efforts on female and Jewish comedians.
The projects are part of the network's effort to build long-form programming to complement its mix of 30-minute and hourlong series and specials, said Comedy Central vice president of original programming and development Lou Wallach.
The network will air Women On Top
beginning March 1, while Jews In Comedy
will bow next July. Both series will consist of six half-hour specials, according to Wallach.
"This allows us to go behind what motivates a particular stand-up comedian that you may see on the network, or what a comedian's perspective may be," he said.
The two series follow Heroes of Black Comedy, which premiered this past February. The documentary, which profiled Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock, among others, averaged a 0.7 rating, slightly above the network's primetime average at the time.
"Heroes of Black Comedy really worked both creatively and in terms of [being] a ratings player for us," Wallach said. "From there, we wanted to see whether the concept would work with other subsets, such as gender or religion."
Unlike most of the Heroes
will examine genre-specific themes, rather than individual performers.
"There were certain people that we were able to identify in the Heroes
project that made sense to do full episodes on," Wallach said. "But for women and Jewish comedians, the stories ended up jelling together as subjects or bigger stories, rather than single-subject profiles."
The goal is to eventually build these documentary-themed series into a long-term franchise for the 11-year-old service.
"What it will come down to is how it creatively plays on the air; if we can attract top name talent that we might not otherwise have access to; and whether the audience tunes into it consistently," he said. "We want the series to continually give something comedically to the audience that they might not find somewhere else."
The two series are among several new original projects on tap for Comedy Central.
This week, the network will bow Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn, a unique late-night talk show featuring the irreverent former Saturday Night Live
Comedy will give the half-hour Tough Crowd
a two-week run without as much as seeing a pilot episode.
"We feel excited about it," said Wallach. "We didn't develop a pilot for the show, but instead will air eight test pilots on the air. Basically, the audience will have the same opportunity to weigh in on a pilot that I have."
The network will also debut Chappelle's Show, starring stand-up comic David Chappelle, in January.