Saturday, January 23, 2021

Checking Out Byron Allen’s Comedy.TV.

December 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., News, Opinion, Tech/Internet, Weekly Columns

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( Byron Allen is someone who should be familiar to Thy Black Man readers. He began his comedy career in the 1970s at 14 and made his TV debut in 1979 after being discovered by Jimmie Walker. In modern memory, he is better known as a businessman and TV exec.

Byron Allen and Entertainment Studios

His studio started in 1993 and just grew throughout the 90s and 00s by producing lower-budget TV shows for the syndicated broadcast market. When the 2010s rolled around, Allen’s company was involved with some of the big movers of network and cable TV.

It was also through all of groundwork and progress made the decade prior that Entertainment Studios was able establish a number of networks. Most of these networks are available via AT&T’s cable service.

While the focus will be on Comedy.TV, it’s important to note that Entertainment Studio is worth $1 billion and has subsidiaries under it. His purchases include The Weather Channel, TheGrio, and partial ownership of Fox Sports Network via his involvement with the Diamond Sports Group.

Of the networks available on AT&T cable tiers, it’s Justice Central and Comedy.TV that have caught my attention.


Justice Central

Just to go into this network briefly since I mentioned it, Justice Central is mainly just court shows. We all know these shows; you have a judge or a panel of judges, they hear a case, and depending on the kind of case, the judge(s) rule accordingly.

Different court shows stand out because of the personality of the judge. These judges are either lawyers familiar with the types of cases coming their way or were former judges with the same knowledge.

Justice Central has several shows hosted by judges and legal personalities who have hosted other hit court shows in the past. These include Judge Karen Mills-Francis, Cristina Perez, Judge Kevin Ross, Gloria Allred, Mablean Ephriam, and Judge Glenda Hatchett.

The majority of the block is dominated by reruns of America’s Court (Judge Ross), We The People (Gloria Allred), and Justice for All (Judge Cristina Perez).

While I will sit and tank hours of a court show, it’s a network for those who are really into these shows. Similar to how cooking networks are for foodies and cooking enthusiasts—only a more limited lineup.


Now, Comedy.TV is worth checking out. If you remember how Comedy Central was when it first aired in the 1990s, you’ll know what Comedy.TV is. For those unfamiliar with that period, it was mostly stand up shows, older films, and a couple of offbeat British sitcoms.

Comedy.TV is a stripped down version of that. There are a few shows all created and produced by Allen himself. The current line up features a game show with stand up comedians, a weather show, and a stand up/talk show hybrid.

While the game show, Funny You Should Ask, is the strong runner-up, Comics Unleashed is the star. This show ran for a season between 2006 and 2007. It was definitely in syndication for a while afterwards. That said, this one season still gets laughs.

A lot of the jokes are dated and outside of the credits at the end, it’s the jokes that give this show away. Honestly, Comics Unleashed should still be in production when you consider the young talent out today and veteran acts who would be down for the format.

Basically, the host—Byron Allen—sits with four comedians and give them a lay up. Often it’s a question that could be about a guest’s life or current events. The comedian will take that and go into one of their jokes in a more casual, conversational manner.

For the most part, it’s different from them performing the joke. It’s still a performance but there’s face-to-face interaction. Sometimes other comedians will jump in on the joke or ride a joke as far as it will go.

Outlook For The Networks

The concept is simple but it works. Right now, Comedy.TV doesn’t have a ton of shows. I believe that some older sitcoms, a stand up show, reviving Comics Unleashed, and maybe an original comedy—but not a sitcom—could really pop the network.

There’s definite upside to the network. The schedule needs to be fleshed out a lot as a few shows are marathoned no matter the slot. It’s likewise for Justice Central. While it’s just court shows now, running true crime during primetime and late evening and having a justice news talk show would do wonders.

Think Court TV with court shows in the daytime slot. On that note, being able to show ongoing cases and providing commentary with those TV judges would be something. It popped Court TV years ago.

Who’s to say that these ideas aren’t on the table or in the works? With a media network worth around  $1 billion, Entertainment Studios is able to sustain these channels. However, I think these two channels in particular have a lot of potential to grow rapidly.

While it can be done, you can’t just have a network running reruns of a small pool of shows. At least having more shows to mix up TV blocks would help.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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