Comedy Is King at the Hulu NewFront

Host Seth Meyers flogs new cartoon series, The Awesomes

For a bunch of presentations thrown by technology companies, the NewFronts are becoming notorious for glitchy executions. The exception to the rule this season—likely because it’s run by networks who are old hands at this sort of thing—is Hulu, which came out swinging on Monday with Saturday Night Live writer/performer Seth Meyers, who explained that he was emceeing the event as a way of “hedging my bets.”

“Welcome to the Soylent Green waiting room!” he said as buyers drank in both the lime green decor and mid-morning cocktails. “If you get that joke, you are not in the demo.”

The network had plenty for ad buyers to relate to, including notable crossover talent. This summer will see Geico caveman John Lehr in the network’s original comedy Western, Quickdraw.

The presentation made a serious attempt to ease upfront-goers into the digital world—large swaths of it were a love letter to old television shows, with execs delivering the expected selling points against backdrops of old title cards from shows like Hill Street Blues. The event also included a reel of advertisements that ranged from the vintage to the contemporary (follow that link for a laugh), and a slate of new series including Meyers’ cartoon with SNL vets Keenan Thompson and Bill Hader, The Awesomes.

The network also has American rights to BBC Two’s comedy starring Tony winner James Corden and Mathew Baynton. It’s called The Wrong Mans, and Baynton described it as “an action dramedy” before being corrected by Corden. “That doesn’t mean anything,” Corden said. “It’s just meaningless marketing speak.” 

“Exactly!” said Baynton. “They love that shit.”

The Wrong Mans premieres this fall.

Other guests at the event included WWE performer Sgt. Slaughter and the cast of One Life to Live, who celebrated their online revival alongside the stars of their sister soap, All My Children.

The biggest laugh of the morning came from Meyers’ opening monologue, which seemed to ring true to the audience. “You poor sons of bitches,” Meyers told the buyers. “What do you tell your kids? ‘Stop crying, mommy’s got to go learn about demos.’ When you get back, have your spouses remarried? ‘We thought you were dead!’ You’re laughing, but you’ll be at the Taxi TV upfronts next year.”