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Up-and-Comer of the Month: Meet Stanley Simons, the Heart and Soul of Sean Durkin's 'The Iron Claw'

Plus, Vin Diesel denies troubling allegations, and I introduce a new segment called The Comedy Cellar.

It’s Thursday, and I hope you’ve stayed dry over the past 24 hours, as it’s been a wet one here in Los Angeles. Saved me some cash on a much-needed car wash, though, so I’ll take it!

I got veneers put in today, and while they look great, they sure do feel weird in my mouth. I’ll give it a few days to get used to ‘em, but I wish I’d consulted someone with veneers first, as I might’ve just kept my old chipped tooth had I known what I was getting into! My dentist did a wonderful job though, so hit me up if you need a recommendation.

I stayed up late last night doing the work of Santa’s elves, and making sure my fantasy football teams are well-positioned heading into this weekend’s playoff semifinals. If you don’t know who to start, shoot me an email and I will advise you the best I can — unless you’re in my InSneider+ league. In that case, no help for you!

In tonight’s edition, you’ll read about Vin Diesel, Jordan Peele, Chris Pine, new Golden Globes host Jo Koy, comedian Erica Rhodes, and a rising young actor named Stanley Simons who stars in The Iron Claw alongside Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, and Harris Dickinson. Read on for more…

Up-and-Comer of the Month: Meet Stanley Simons, the Heart and Soul of Sean Durkin’s The Iron Claw

A star is born in A24’s wrestling drama, which is now playing in theaters nationwide.

Who is that?”

If I ask myself that question while watching a movie, it’s usually a pretty good sign that I should be writing about that person.

Throughout my 20-year career, I’ve had the good fortune to have interviewed many stars at the outset of their careers. In fact, that’s when I prefer to talk to actors — before they’ve been media-trained to death and taught to speak in soundbites, or, in some cases, to avoid speaking to the press at all. That’s why, back when I was running The Tracking Board and finally in charge of running an editorial operation, I launched an interview series called Up-and-Comer of the Month where I spoke to the young actors who I believed would turn out to be the stars of tomorrow.

The monthly feature was effectively my answer to Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch list. The only difference is that agencies haven’t spent months lobbying me for a spot on the list. Instead, I rely on my highly developed taste and my Copernicus-like gut to select those chosen for the honor. Ultimately, this is me, using my name and platform, to place a bet, and more often than not, I’m right.

Jessie Buckley. Paul Walter Hauser. Geraldine Viswanathan. These are just a few of the performers who had me asking “Who is that?” when I saw their respective films Wild Rose, I, Tonya, and Blockers, and who I’m proud to have used my little corner of the internet to help shine a light on early in their careers.

At my prior job, I was so busy editing other writers’ interviews that I barely had the time to do any myself, so when I launched this newsletter, I knew I wanted to resurrect the Up-and-Comer of the Month column. I just had to wait for the right performance.

And then I saw The Iron Claw.

For months, I knew that Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, and Harris Dickinson played brothers Kevin, Kerry, and David Von Erich in Sean Durkin’s devastating family drama, but I had no idea who played the fourth brother, Michael.

I saw the poster and thought to myself, ‘Who the hell is Stanley Simons?’

Well, I’ll let him tell you himself, as he’s this newsletter’s Up-and-Comer of the Month for December.

The 23-year-old actor was born in Australia and spent some time living in Shanghai, China as well as Hong Kong, though he now calls Brooklyn home. He got his start young, acting in commercials as a boy and starring in school plays before going on to form a band with his older brother, which made him even more comfortable as a performer.

Represented by Jonathan Yue at Seven Summits, Simons has appeared in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the CW series Two Sentence Horror Stories, and the Apple TV+ anthology show Little America, but The Iron Claw represents his first major movie, and he’s the heart and soul of the film.

See, Michael is the Von Erich brother who is a little bit different. He wasn’t born and bred for the ring like his brothers. Instead, he’s a bit more sensitive and artistic; for example, he’s in a band. But you can see how he hates to disappoint his father, and wants to fit in with his brothers, and when he finally gets in the ring, you just know it won’t end well.

Simons does a wonderful job of earning our sympathies before breaking our hearts, and in a cast full of veteran actors — including Holt McCallany and Maura Tierney as Mike’s parents — it’s remarkable that he not only holds his own, but steals scenes from his more experienced co-stars.

Get to know Stanley below, and keep an eye out for his turn in The Iron Claw, which is a devastating gem from A24.

Simons said that Zac Efron set a great example on the set of The Iron Claw.

The InSneider: What sparked your passion for acting and made you want to get into this crazy business?

Stanley Simons: You know, it’s always been something that I was good at — performing — and loved to do since I was a child, I guess. And I did audition for school plays and such and caught “the bug” from there. I did some commercial work when I was younger. My Dad was in creative advertising, so he kind of opened my eyes to the world of commercials, and I would visit him on set when he would do commercials. I fell in love with that environment and then wanted to be a part of it myself.

So I got a glimpse and a taste for it when I was younger, and then when I was around 15 or so, I realized that I could make it a career. Somehow, I got an agent, and then I actually found an audition on Actors Access when I was about 17 or 18, and that happened to be the same casting director [Susan Shopmaker] as this film, The Iron Claw. I auditioned for a little indie film [Angelfish] and I booked it, and that’s when I got an actual agent and I started auditioning and it became my job.

So tell me about the audition process for The Iron Claw and how you landed this incredible part.

Simons: It was just a self-tape audition. I got my friend to do it with me. It wasn’t this past summer, it was the summer before, and I didn’t think much of it because as a working actor, I get quite a lot of auditions. I try my best and put my whole heart into it, but then once it’s done, I try to forget about it just because that’s the nature of the beast and I don’t really want to dwell on it for my own mental health’s sake.

But around two months later, I got a call from the casting director through my manager. He was like, ‘She wants to have a call with you,’ and I assumed it was gonna be a general call — possibly about the role — but she’d had a call with me before because I did get that role from her in the past, so I thought we were just having a meeting, but in reality, it was a callback for the film with the other casting agent.

Luckily, I was prepared already, so I did it, and I think I messed up [on] the first try, and then I did it again and I did it pretty well. And then a week or so later, I had a meeting with Sean, and by that time, I’d done as much research on the family as I possibly could. Obviously, there was a lot more after, but I tried to impress Sean a little bit. I think I was kind of interviewing him a little bit. And then two weeks later, I thought, ‘Aww, well, I didn’t get that.’ And then my manager gave me the call and I was ecstatic.

OK, so you didn’t have to read with the other guys or do a chemistry test with them or anything?

Simons: No, I didn’t.

How did you celebrate when you found out you’d won the role?

Simons: He called me and he was like, ‘I’ve got bad news…’ but he duped me. I was in the back of my brother’s van, and I just set my phone down and looked into space, and I was like, ‘Whoa, I got it. Wow.’ And I told him and then I just dissociated a little bit and took it in fully.

You said you immersed yourself in the Von Erich legend, but did you go any further in terms of immersing yourself in the world of wrestling before shooting?

Simons: I watched some new-age WWE just to see what it was like now compared to back then and how the sport has changed, and that was interesting, but I didn’t necessarily do anything wrestling-wise until I got to Louisiana and we had wrestling training with Chavo Guerrero. But as soon as I got the role, I realized I had to start eating a lot and working out, so that was my prep.

Do you think your size contributed to you getting the role? (I didn’t ask his specific height, but Simons is much taller than Efron, White, and Dickinson.)

Simons: I don’t know if Sean knew how tall I was. I don’t know if you saw the difference onscreen; I didn’t necessarily see it. I think that in some photos when we’re together, I’m wearing heels and that doesn’t help. But I did tell Sean, ‘You know, I’m pretty skinny and lanky,’ and he was okay with that.

I think it was perfect for the character.

Simons: I think so too. That being said, I did start working out because I was like a twig before, but I did get into the best shape. But compared to them, I still looked like a twig.

But I think that’s the whole point, that Michael is different than his brothers. And you’re right, I didn’t really notice the height difference in the movie, it’s more in red carpet photos with all of you guys. Speaking of your onscreen brothers, how did you bond with them off-camera, and given their experience, did any of them give you any acting tips or advice?

Simons: To answer the second part, a lot of it was just watching them and being with them. I would go to set even when I wasn’t shooting, and I just sat with Sean in Video Village and watched the monitor with him. They definitely gave me advice, but I feel like it was probably in the moment more. I would be like, ‘Do you think that was okay, or do you think I should’ve done it like this?’ But it was all about giving each other a little bit of help, and they were very open.

On and off set, we would hang out, because I think we all realized that was what the movie was about, so we tried to just hang out and be around each other and shoot the shit and get to know each other. And explore, because we were in Baton Rouge, which is on the smaller side of towns, so we were in a new place together, exploring the restaurants and the sights, and that helped. It’s also a testament to how they’re just good actors, and in some scenes, it was very easy to just play off of them. I think all of us have one or more brothers, so I think that definitely helped as well. 

I didn’t know if when you guys hung out off-camera, you assumed the group dynamic of the Von Erich brothers, with Zac as the leader of the pack.

Simons: I wasn’t thinking about it in those terms. They definitely treated me as an equal. I will say that Zac was so motivational. He was the perfect example of what the leading man on a set should be, just sending motivational texts and being there for us. He’d come up to me after a scene and ask me for advice, and I’d be like, ‘I don’t know what to say, you’re amazing!’ They [all] made it so I was able to be totally vulnerable, and that was really helpful. 

Did you reach out to Kevin Von Erich for some insight into Mike?

Simons: I didn’t. We all had limited contact with Kevin. I think Sean kept it that way because he was very wary of us doing imitations, or getting in our head too much about what we thought they should sound like and act like. It did help because we had way more faith in the script because of that, and it was a good script. Part of me wanted to but part of me was terrified to do that. I did do as much research as possible from an external point of view just so I could have it in my back pocket, but when we went to do it, I kind of tried to let it go somewhat, not entirely, but so I could draw on it [rather than] use it fully. A lot of the footage [of Mike] is amazing and I do think it helped.

Stanley Simons strikes me as a younger American version of Nicholas Hoult.

Let’s talk about your band in this movie. I understand they were a real local band called LVVRS that casting found in Baton Rouge. Tell me about playing some tunes with those guys and working with composer Richard Reed Parry on the music.

Simons: It was really cool. I didn’t know them, it was production who cast them. I was kind of like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a little strange. Whatever. I hope we’ll mesh okay.’ And then I got in touch with the leader of the band, River [Gibson], and I went to his family home in Baton Rouge, and we just had a fun band practice in this DIY practice space in his house, and I met the rest of the band. We just had fun, it was a lot of jamming for a second, and then Richard Reed Parry created this awesome song, and we just went over it a bunch of times and tried to make it as ‘80s as possible.

I actually got this little synthesizer that the prop master gave me, and we used it and it was straight from the ‘80s, we didn’t know if it could even turn on, but we turned it on and started messing around with it, and made it super ‘80s and garage-y and fun and jam-y. I had some calls with Richard and he kind of went over the guitar a little bit. He’s amazing and growing up, Arcade Fire was a big influence on me, so it was cool meeting him and going over the song with him. I think it’s a cool song and I really enjoyed playing it.

Once we were on set, we were debating with Sean whether we were going to pre-record it or do it live, and then we got there and we were just like, ‘Let’s do it live. We’ve already practiced it, so let’s just do it live.’ And he was like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it.’ I think we did it in two takes, and we were just having a party, really. It was just, like, a house show, that was the vibe of it. We were having fun and it felt loose and fun. LVVRS are great, they’re great musicians. 

You looked like a natural, to the point where I wondered, ‘Is this guy a musician?’ And then I saw that you were in a band with your older brother...

Simons: Yeah, I was. He has his own band under his name, Sid Simons, and he has an accompanying band called The Darlings. I was in a previous machination of that band for three years playing bass, and then sometime around when I got this movie, he kind of rebranded and got a whole new band and changed his style, slightly, to more rock-y than folky Americana, I guess.

But I was in the band for three years and we went on tours, and it was really formative and really fun, but I was never that good at bass. I didn’t practice that much on the bass, to be honest. Guitar was always my [first] love, it’s the first instrument I picked up. I’m not the best musician, and definitely not the best singer, but that being said, I love to write songs, and that’s so easy on the guitar. It’s very enjoyable to me, and I think it definitely helped with the character.

Do you plan to continue pursuing music?

Simons: Definitely. Most of my close friends are musicians, so I’m always collaborating with them and making music. I have 30 songs, maybe, that I haven’t done anything with, either in my head or demos on my computer, but I just do it for the love of it right now. I would love to get into a studio when I have more money and do them — and actually do them well — but for now, I’m just getting better as a musician, I think.

Have you been taking meetings with major agencies?

Simons: Why do you ask that? [laughing] I’m in talks with some people, I think. Yes, I am. No decisions yet, but hopefully soon.

Are there any actors who you admire or whose careers you’d like to emulate? 

Simons: Yeah, there’s a huge list. People like Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Daniel Day-Lewis. The three of them are somewhat method actors and I wouldn’t say I’m that, but I definitely really admire how believable and different they are in each role and how they bring so much to [their characters]. I guess someone recently who’s been inspirational is Cillian Murphy… and Viola Davis, too. There are so many, but those are the first people who came to my mind. 

Are there any directors who you’re eager to work with?

Simons: Well, I have a huge list of those, but part of me doesn’t want to say because I don’t wanna jinx things. I want to keep that to myself.

Anything you’ve seen, heard, or read lately that you’d recommend?

Simons: I’m reading a lot of books, a lot of Philip K. Dick, and I’m listening to a lot of Big Thief. I just saw Poor Things and I thought it was amazing. I’m watching a lot of older movies, and somehow I had never seen Casablanca, so I [just] watched that for the first time and I think that may be one of my favorite films of all time now.

Have you been reading reviews of The Iron Claw or have you been cautioned against that?

Simons: I have not. My parents have been, like, ‘This review says this, and this review says this,’ [but] I’ve had to steer away from it as much as possible. I mean, I’ve been hurt in the past from doing stuff like that, but sometimes, I can’t help [but see it]. Like, there’ll be an Instagram post, or they’ll go into the comments, and sometimes that just makes my eyes bleed, but that’s just how it goes.  

I saw on your website that you write screenplays. Is there anything you can tell us about?

Simons: There’s nothing I can [really] tell you about but I met a P.A. on The Iron Claw and she introduced me to this writing class that I do every week now. I have two features in development and a couple of short films. I don’t know if I’m ever going to get them made. I mean, hopefully, but with writing, I would say I’m the least well-versed at but I love it so much and I want to keep doing it and I want to get better. It’s new but it’s something I can do personally, like music, and it’s really been helpful for my mental state for the last year, especially with the strike happening. So yeah, I’d love to be a writer and get into some writing rooms and collaborate with others. That’s what’s so amazing about that class — I can collaborate with other great writers, which has been so helpful.

What’s next for you? 

Simons: I’m auditioning now that the strike has ended, and I’m very excited about a couple of different things that are coming up, but hopefully something good. I mean, I set the bar pretty high for myself with this one. I just want to collaborate with some really good people. That’s why I got into doing this in the first place — to work with other great artists so, hopefully, something good.

A24 will release The Iron Claw in theaters nationwide on Friday, Dec. 22.

Oscars Shortlists: Look Closely and You’ll See Society of the Snow Creeping Up on the Outside

There must be some Toros in the atmosphere.

The Academy announced shortlists in 10 Oscar categories on Thursday, and we’ll explore seven of them below while leaving out the three short film categories. That’s because I haven’t seen any of the shortlisted titles this year except for Wes Anderson’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which may be the eclectic filmmaker’s best shot at an Oscar despite seven prior nominations.

Notable snubs include D. Smith’s documentary Kokomo City, the makeup and hairstyling efforts on Barbie, the song “Peaches” from The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and a handful of international films, including Chile’s The Settlers, which the South American country selected over Pablo Larrain’s El Conde.

My big takeaway from today? Pay attention to J.A. Bayona’s survival drama Society of the Snow, which opens in Los Angeles this weekend and is starting to come on strong. It was shortlisted for International Feature, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, and Visual Effects, and it’s another late-breaking Netflix release like All Quiet on the Western Front, which earned nine Oscar nominations last year, winning four.

167 films were eligible, and 15 were chosen to advance by members of the Documentary Branch, which votes to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

American Symphony
Apolonia, Apolonia
Beyond Utopia
Bobi Wine: The People’s President
Desperate Souls, Dark City and the Legend of Midnight Cowboy
The Eternal Memory
Four Daughters
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
In the Rearview
Stamped from the Beginning
Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
A Still Small Voice
32 Sounds
To Kill a Tiger
20 Days in Mariupol

Projection: American Symphony, Beyond Utopia, The Eternal Memory, Four Daughters, 20 Days in Mariupol

88 countries submitted films, and 15 were chosen to advance by Academy members from all branches who met a minimum viewing requirement. All Academy members can elect to nominate the final five in this category provided they watched all 15 shortlisted films.

Armenia, Amerikatsi
Bhutan, The Monk and the Gun
Denmark, The Promised Land
Finland, Fallen Leaves
France, The Taste of Things
Germany, The Teachers’ Lounge
Iceland, Godland
Italy, Io Capitano
Japan, Perfect Days
Mexico, Totem
Morocco, The Mother of All Lies
Spain, Society of the Snow
Tunisia, Four Daughters
Ukraine, 20 Days in Mariupol
United Kingdom, The Zone of Interest

Projection: Fallen Leaves, Society of the Snow, The Taste of Things, The Teachers’ Lounge, The Zone of Interest

All members of the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch will be invited to view excerpts and interviews with the artists from each of the shortlisted films on Sunday, Jan. 14.

Beau Is Afraid
Killers of the Flower Moon
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Poor Things
Society of the Snow

Projection: Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Oppenheimer, Poor Things, Society of the Snow

148 scores were deemed eligible this year, and members of the Music Branch determined the shortlist.

American Fiction
American Symphony
The Boy and the Heron
The Color Purple
The Holdovers
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Killers of the Flower Moon
Poor Things
Society of the Snow
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
The Zone of Interest

Projection: American Fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon, Oppenheimer, Society of the Snow, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

94 songs were eligible this year and members of the Music Branch determined the shortlist.

“It Never Went Away” from American Symphony
“Dear Alien (Who Art In Heaven)” from Asteroid City
“Dance The Night” from Barbie
“I’m Just Ken” from Barbie
“What Was I Made For?” from Barbie
“Keep It Movin’” from The Color Purple
“Superpower (I)” from The Color Purple
“The Fire Inside” from Flamin’ Hot
“High Life” from Flora and Son
“Meet In The Middle” from Flora and Son
“Can’t Catch Me Now” from Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
“Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” from Killers of the Flower Moon
“Quiet Eyes” from Past Lives
“Road To Freedom” from Rustin
“Am I Dreaming” from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Projection: “It Never Went Away,” “I’m Just Ken,” “What Was I Made For?,” “Keep It Movin’,” “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)”

Branch members will be invited to view excerpts from each of the shortlisted films beginning Thursday, Jan. 11 in the San Francisco Bay area, followed by London, Los Angeles, and New York.

The Creator
The Killer
Killers of the Flower Moon
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
The Zone of Interest

Projection: Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Napoleon, Oppenheimer, The Zone of Interest

The Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee determined the shortlist, and all members of the VFX Branch will be invited to view excerpts and interviews with the artists from each of the shortlisted films on Saturday, Jan. 13.

The Creator
Godzilla Minus One
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Poor Things
Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire
Society of the Snow
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Projection: The Creator, Godzilla Minus One, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Napoleon, Society of the Snow

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

The man who brought you Dom Toretto stands accused of some ugly behavior.

  • Find Me Guilty - Vin Diesel’s former assistant Asta Jonasson is suing the Fast and Furious star, alleging that he pinned her against a wall in an Atlanta hotel suite and masturbated in front of her back in 2010 during the production of Fast Five. Jonasson’s suit claims that Diesel groped her breasts and forced her to touch his erect penis, and that shortly after the alleged assault, Diesel’s sister, Samantha Vincent, called Jonasson and fired her. Vincent runs Diesel’s company, One Race, and Jonasson claims that another One Race executive propositioned her a few days before the Diesel incident. In addition to sexual battery, the suit makes claims of gender discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, and negligent supervision. Diesel, for his part, “categorically denies” the allegations, but suffice it to say, this is not a good look for the “family” man. Diesel boldly announced two more Fast and Furious movies at CinemaCon earlier this year. It’s unclear whether that’ll still be the plan after this lawsuit, and if it is, it’s unclear whether Diesel will see his own screentime scaled back. Stay tuned, as this one isn’t getting swept under the rug…

  • Joy to the World - Comedian Jo Koy has been tapped to host the Golden Globes, which will stream on Paramount+ in just three weeks. Koy is best known as a stand-up comic, though he recently wrote, produced, and starred in his own movie Easter Sunday, which was actually kind of charming, though it did next to no business. I know Jo Koy sells out arenas, so in general, the public likes him, but I can’t even imagine how far down the list he was, and I don’t think Jo wants to know either! At this point, Penske should just call me to host — I can sing and dance and pronounce all of the nominees’ names, which is more than some can say…

  • Jordan Peels Away From Next Year - Universal Pictures has quietly removed Jordan Peele’s next movie from its 2024 slate. It sounds like the strike is the culprit behind the delay. No surprise there. Look for Peele to return behind the camera next year, and for his next feature to arrive in 2025.

  • Vertical Takes a Dip- Indie distributor Vertical Entertainment has acquired Chris Pine’s directorial debut Poolman, which debuted to disastrous reviews at TIFF this fall. I bet Vertical nabbed this film at a bargain basement price and that the curiosity factor nets the company a tidy little profit.

  • HBO Loves Its Costume Dramas - The network has renewed The Gilded Age for a third season. I don’t know a soul who watches this series, but clearly, it’s intended for a different audience than 40-year-old straight men, so I hope they’re happy!

The Comedy Cellar: After Three Hilarious Specials, Erica Rhodes Deserves Her Own Sitcom

I’m introducing a new segment today — The Comedy Cellar — because it’s at the bottom of the newsletter. Get it? Eh, I’ll leave the jokes to the comedians.

Anyway, I plan to use The Comedy Cellar (which is a real place) to shine a light on the people who are making me laugh. If I can turn even a few people on to their new favorite comic then I will consider this a huge success.

I’m not a comedian myself — maybe I’ll give it a shot one day — but I fall asleep listening to comedy almost every single night. Honestly, I think the laughter of the crowd soothes my ever-racing mind and helps me feel a little less alone as I drift off to sleep.

Comedy is, of course, subjective, so I won’t necessarily call you crazy if you like some comedian I don’t like, or can’t stand one who I love. The medium is more like music in that way. People like what they’re gonna like, and that’s that, whereas with movies, I do believe there’s a right and a wrong answer… usually.

Anyway, for years, I’ve been listening to Erica Rhodes sling jokes, and after three specialsSad Lemon, La Vie en Rhodes, and the newly-released Ladybug — she has become one of my favorite comedians. I’ll talk about her in reverent tones like I do Gary Gulman and Todd Barry. She’s very clever, and she also happens to be adorable, which tends to be helpful in Hollywood.

If I were a TV executive, I would try to develop a show around her.

Erica’s whole shtick is that she’s constantly being underestimated because she’s “too nice.” She has a squeaky, high-pitched voice, so even when she pretends to sound upset, she still sounds kinda funny. I think there’s a show in watching her play a people-pleasing, somewhat vanilla character — a fictional “Erica,” if you will — who starts to take back her power, stand up for herself, and come out of her straight-laced shell with the encouragement of a wild-card friend who has been there, done that, and seen it all before — someone like Nicole Aimee Schreiber, another hilarious L.A.-area comedian.

There’s so much talent that takes the stage across southern California every night that it seems insane that there isn’t a TV series built to showcase all that talent. I’m talking about Jenn Sterger, Erin Darling, Tori Piskin, Emma Willmann, Julia Jasunas, Jade Catta-Pretta, Ali Macofsky, and Rachel Sterling, plus content creators like Alexandra Siegel, Christina Mavronas, Delaney Rowe and Roxy Striar.

I just named 14 very funny people — find the right combination of 3-4 of them, give ‘em a development budget, and I think you could wind up with something akin to the next Broad City or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia — perhaps even the next Sex in the City for a new generation (all apologies to The Sex Lives of College Girls).

Back in the day, before the era of social media, it seemed like broadcast networks were more willing to take chances on young comics and develop TV shows around their personas. I’m talking about Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres, Bernie Mac, George Lopez, Brett Butler, Roseanne Barr, and Garry Shandling.

More recently, the comics given their own shows include Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler, Sarah Silverman, and Louis C.K. but where is the new crop? Well, they’re on social media now, of course. But networks need to invest in these people… and Erica Rhodes is where I’d start.

She’s got something special, and her largely TV-friendly sense of humor is easy to relate to. Give her albums a listen and maybe lob a call to her reps at Authentic.

That’ll do it for me, folks! Follow TheInSneider on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Got a hot tip, or an interesting pitch? Want to buy an ad or ask a provocative question for future mailbag installments? Email me at [email protected].