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A New Comedy Joins the Perfect Season Club

This past Saturday I was bored and looking for a way to kill time in between a morning trip to the gym and 12 hours of college basketball.  Having just re-signed up for Netflix (the month subscription will end shortly after the release of Daredevil in April, but yes this is a dramatic turn, albeit not a complete 180, from my binge watching warning posted a few weeks ago), I decided to kill time by trying an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new comedy series from Tina Fey, rejected by NBC and picked up by Netflix.  By the end of the day, after skipping several games of March Madness (something I would have considered almost sacrilegious) and taking a few breaks I had finished the 13 episode run.  Unlike my House of Cards marathon, which was double the amount of time and done under a self-imposed podcast deadline, the binge of Kimmy happened completely organically.  The show was too damn enjoyable to stop.  And that is why it joins the rare company of my “Perfect Season of TV Club.”

Now I will only focus on the few comedy shows to post perfect seasons in my estimation, but obviously if drama were to be included, off the top of my head I would include season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad, Seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire, Season 2 and possibly 5 of Six Feet Under, and I am sure The West Wing posted at least one perfect season, if not more.  But as far as comedies only a few shows have posted perfect J-L seasons.

To post a perfect season every episode must be hilarious.  No performances can be weak and it has to finish perfectly as well.  It also helps if the season builds upon itself with either lots of great callbacks and/or humor that improbably gets stronger from a strong start as the season progresses.  Admittedly most modern shows with shorter runs have better shots at pulling off a perfect season, but  so be it.  Despite my recent praise of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I did not think of one season in particular to put on the list.  As an all time great comedy it’s place is assured, but no one season felt “perfect,” though I would put my enjoyment of the over 100 episodes at over 80% hilarious, with only a handful being not worth watching.  But only the following shows have garnered perfect status in my mind:

  • Eastbound and Down – Season 1.
  • Hello Ladies – Season 1 + the 90 minute movie
  • Arrested Development Seasons 1 & 2
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 1

Now there is of course a chance that the limited run of these shows makes their perfection more memorable (only Eastbound made it to even 4 seasons, since the Netflix 4th season of Arrested Development was the worst add on to a classic since Indiana Jones 4 and Godfather 3 I do not count it), but if you have a good and varied sense of humor I don’t see how you could challenge them.  Yes Eastbound is a tad vulgar and Hello Ladies a tad depressing and awkward. But both on the list were tremendous and perfect.  If you don’t think Arrested Development was the best comedy of all time then you are wrong.  Arrested Development is like the deadbeat Dad of both Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny – it gave them the blue print of what made them great without giving a sh*t about anyone or anything AND it had the best cast of a comedy ever.  The cast was so good that almost no one from the cast was able to get cast as anything but a variation of their AD character for the last 12 years.

And that brings us to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  I referred to the show this weekend on Twitter and Facebook as “relentlessly funny.”  That is what it is.  There is so much strong, subtle and brilliant humor in every minute of every episode that I found myself laughing out loud more than I have in a very long time.  The premise of the show is basically 4 women are held by a religious fanatic in a bunker for over a decade (yes, basically they made a comedy that might have been subtly inspired by the Ariel Castro case in Cleveland) and then rescued.  Kimmy decides to stay in NYC after a Today Show appearance and make a new life for herself. She has a gay acting roommate and a job as a nanny for a billionaire’s wife.  For 13 episodes the show is a masterpiece.  From the opening scene where a Charles Ramsey-esque black man is immediately auto-tuned describing the rescue of the women and repeated every episode as the theme song, to the incredible funny courtroom cameo -as-religious fanatic defendant the show is a home run every episode.

The cast is incredible without a weak spot, or even less than a strong spot, but Ellie Kemper (Kimmy), Jane Krakowski (the billionaire’s wife) and Titus Burgess (Titus – the gay roommate) all deserve Emmy nominations.  They are all in full comedy beast mode.  Now, just to get a little indignant and righteous – go watch Transparent on Amazon, if you can muster the 5 hours this week to watch the “comedy” that won the Golden Globe this year.  Then watch Kimmy Schmidt.  My prediction is the laugh ratio will be at least 1:500 in favor of Kimmy.

And I know that I am sometimes harsh on women in comedy and proclaiming that men, thanks to societal expectations and culture and many other reasons, are on the whole, much funnier than women and obviously Tina Fey, whether an exception to that thought, or proof that that thought is nonsense deserves major respect (not that she doesn’t have it already).  Though I didn’t particularly care for her run as head writer on SNL, 30 Rock was brilliant and I think Kimmy may be her best work if it can maintain the brilliant pace it set with season 1.  And that raises a question: with Tina Fey’s legendarily muscular calves, her tiny thug facial scar and her amazing comedic skills… are we sure she isn’t really a man? Hash Browns Just kidding! Hash Browns LOL (inside joke for Kimmy fans).

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Weekend Recap: Crushed It in Philly and Brooklyn! (watching the Utah Jazz)

This weekend I was out on the road, which was a nice change of pace from sitting in sweatpants for 11 hours a day “on my way to the gym” while trying to finish Netflix (you read that correctly).  However, as my comedy booking e-mails continue to go into spam folders (perhaps using the subject heading “Enlarge your penis by booking me at your club” is a bad way to get through web filters this weekend’s road tripping was to support my favorite sports team, the Utah Jazz.  Perhaps other than “J-L is not booked to do comedy this weekend” no phrase makes less sense in the American pop culture landscape than “Utah Jazz.” As a quick primer they used to be the New Orleans Jazz, but then the team moved to Utah with all those swinging Mormon cats and decided that they should keep the name Jazz. especially if 30+ years later a team would come back to New Orleans and would prefer to be known as Pelicans anyway.  I became a Jazz fan because as a young hoopster I liked Karl Malone’s gigantic arms (no homo), their purple uniforms (no homo) and John Stockton’s short shorts (OK, possibly homo at this point).  And even at a young age the Jazz gave me a sense of identity as a sports fan away from my friends and family’s uniform admiration for the New York Knicks.  Stockton and Malone gave me the added benefit as a mixed race child of seeing a black person and a white person work together in harmony, as opposed to my parents who had more of a Robert Parish-Bill Laimbeer relationship.

Robert Parrish and Bill Laimbeer - less passively aggressive than my parents

So with that backdrop I have been a die hard Utah Jazz fan for 28 years I went to see them against the 76ers in Philadelphia Friday with two friends (Pat and Jim) first and then against the Nets in Brooklyn on Sunday.  Normally I also go to watch them play the Knicks, but when I looked up ticket prices for Knicks games, even the cheap seats had “anal rape” listed as the cost on Ticketmaster so I had to pass, which was disappointing since the Jazz won on a last second shot.  Last year I went because I received Lorne Michaels (yes that Lorne Michaels) seats 3rd or 4th hand (#ComedyMogul), but the Jazz came as close to winning that game as I did to becoming a cast member on SNL.  So on to this weekend’s festivities.

Philadelphia

The first part of Jazz Weekend was Philly.  That meant the PATH train from Manhattan to Hoboken, get picked up by Jim in his borrowed car and Daryl Dawkins’ game jersey, stop at Pat’s house where he was with his adorable two sons, reminding Jim and I that perhaps being struggling, unsuccessful comedians with no families of our own is actually a plan B for life, switch to Pat’s larger car for the Cranford to Philly leg of the trip and then watch a match up that NBA TV called “what the fu*k else is on tonight.”

The drive from Cranford to Philly was uneventful, because Pat (the Dad) did something I have never seen before – he kept perfect 62 mph pace with the GPS. We had a 90 minute trip according to the GPS and he arrived in 90 minutes.  Not 89 or 83… 90.  Being a Dad really changes people.  I might just be mythologizing Pat, but I feel like if we took this trip 10 years ago he might have tried to lap the GPS in a race.

So we arrived at the Wells Fargo Arena just in time for the game and as a Wells Fargo customer (#ComedyMogul) I knew that I wouldn’t have to pay ATM fees (#Blessed).  The game was great if you like terrible shooting and way too many t-shirt gun promotions.  A thing I noticed about the T-shirt gun – it turns people into the rich seats into proletariat animals.  Your seats cost $200 bucks – why are you screaming like a refuge who sees a UN Peacekeeper at a child’s medium piece of sh*t t-shirt?  Our seats were much cheaper but we were closer to the haves than the have-nots, though if you are at a 76er game you are sort of a have-not by definition.

During the game there was a very cool video montage of Allen Iverson and when the crowd saw him in attendance on the jumbo tron it was the loudest the arena got until the very end.

A shot of Allen Iverson on the jumbotron waving to me during the game

As the game got to the end, with the Jazz possessing a very comfortable lead, the game within the game took shape.  See Jim enjoys a bit of gambling now and then (now is every morning and then is every evening) and he placed a small wager that his 76ers would beat the 7.5 point spread.  Well the Jazz had around a 13 point lead with just over a minute left.  It looked like a lost cause for Jim until someone on the 76ers (I forget who) decided he would pad his stats with a barrage of useless 3 pointers.  With 30 seconds left it was Jazz ball up 9. At this point Jim is losing his bet, but because of the 24 second shot clock the 76ers are guaranteed one more possession if the Jazz miss and the 76ers secure the rebound. Well with about 7 seconds left the Jazz missed, got their rebound and missed again!  The 76er player trying to set the record for most 3 pointers made with no chance of winning took the ball, dribbled down court and raised up for a buzzer beater. SWISH!!!  And the crowd went bezerk (Jim, Pat and I were the only people left and you would have thought they just showed Iverson again on the jumbotron putting on a 76ers jersey to play the next night).

All in all a great trip and a great win for the Jazz.

Brooklyn

After a day off to almost go to the gym and declare that I would start eating healthy the next day I ventured to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Jazz-Nets game.  I was picked up in a nice Uber car with my friend John in it (#ComedyMogul) and it dropped us off at the arena with a few minutes to spare, which was good since we had to go through a metal detector when we got there.  I have been to about 10 NBA arenas and I think Barclays is the only one I have entered with metal detectors.  Is that the NBA’s way of not so subtly saying that Morgan Freeman should take over ownership of the team until it is a better place to play (“You Shoot bricks don’t ya D-Will. Well,do ya?? You know what that does – it kills our fan base son, so if you want to kill our fan base stop fuc*king around and do it expeditiously!”)?

Barclays looks like a nice NBA arena with a touch of inner city high school

When we finally got in the arena I settled in with a hot dog and pretzel (couldn’t eat a hot dog at Friday’s game because of Lent (#CatholicMogul)) and our seats were fantastic.  Sadly, once the Nets become even decent the prices will skyrocket, but it is nice to see a 6pm Game on a Sunday with a great view of the court, without having to bring crimes against humanity charges like at Madison Square Garden.  The game was competitive, I ate cheesecake (When in Rome with a Junior’s cheesecake concession stand) and the Jazz earned a quality victory, with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert solidifying my decision to make them the next two Jazz jersey purchases in the off season, continuing the black and white Jazz tradition.

After the game I asked the Jazz for free tickets next year because the Jazz are 2-0 in 2015 when I am in attendance (#Blessed).  No response so far.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Road Comedy Recap: The Scatman Crothers of Metro North

On Tuesday a storm hit the Connecticut/NY area.  It was a healthy mix of snow, rain and hail and caused me some apprehension because I had a gig in Stamford, CT at 8pm and it was up in the air whether it would be cancelled.  I also received multiple messages from my mother warning me about the weather, which if not for windows, eyesight and Internet access I would have never known.  Feeling sleepy and being discouraged by the weather I was tempted to cancel on the booker, but then I realized I had a lot of new material I wanted to work on so my love of comedy propelled me to Stamford.  That and the fact that at 330pm yesterday my daytime work assignment ended abruptly and the gig in Stamford was a paid gig.

I have not had road work since December so forgive me if I consider a 47 minute express train to Connecticut as a road gig, but for blogging purposes I do.  And for $14.50 I had to stand for the whole 47 minutes to Stamford (unlike many people I cannot fit into most Metro North seats, especially if there are other people sharing the seats).  So I am really less of a road comic and more of a road warrior.

When I got to Stamford I had about 40 minutes until my set and according to my phone’s GPS, which was getting soaked in the slushy rain that was pouring down, I was a mere 15 minutes from the bar.  And then my phone did something that it occasionally does that pisses me off.  Holding my phone completely upright it still refused to point the right way so I spent 10 minutes in the slushy dark trying to determine which unshoveled sidewalk I was supposed to walk on to get to the gig.  I finally was able to interpret my messed up GPS and trudged along to Castle Bar & Grill (a very cozy little spot in Stamford). When I walked in it looked like (get ready for the title of this blog) Scatman Crothers arriving in The Shining.  The only difference was that he was axed to death immediately after his long, wintry journey (35 year SPOILER) whereas I only wished someone would ax me as I dripped my way in to the bar like a giant, melting, grey parka snow cone.

After thawing out I went up and had a very good set for something that was 75% material written in the last month (#prolific #blessed #NeonBoudeaxuOfComedy #BlueChipsReference #ItMeansIamAGiantButYetLargelyUndiscoveredTalent #TooManyHashtags).  And it confirmed the thing I have felt for years – very little can restore my desire to perform comedy than doing well with newer material in a bar show.  They don’t do anything to advance the business side of my career but it always feels good to win over a small audience, as well as fellow comedians, and gives a little boost to keep going to see it work with bigger crowds.

Now it is time to get on social media and see a bunch of tools claiming to crush and/or be blessed so I can get rid of my renewed enjoyment of comedy ASAP.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Binge Watching Shows Is Destroying America

This weekend the third season of House of Cards went up on Netflix (subscribe to my podcast here (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) for tomorrow’s debate/discussion over the show) and like many Americans I went to extreme lengths to finish the series before work on Monday.  Positioned in my favorite chair (dubbed by former podcast guest Brian McGuinness as the “Throne of Hate”), wearing XXL Depends to limit bathroom breaks, armed with various snacks and with numbers for diners and my Seamless account logged in for quick orders of food I was prepared to marinate in Kevin Spacey’s atrocious accent, as well as my own filth.  But feasting on multiple rounds of diner food and burgers over two days could not match the emotional disgust I felt after watching 13 hours of one television show in two days.  By early afternoon on Sunday when I was done I felt like I needed to introduce myself to my neighbors like a convicted sex offender I felt so morally bankrupt.

Just like CNN reporting on Lindsey Lohan or Kim Kardashian, binge watching is another example of society and media giving us what we seemingly want, while having no regard for what is in our best interests.   And perhaps with no addiction to anything conventional like alcohol or drugs, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have tapped into the most destructive of all addictions that plague many Americans: sitting on your ass doing nothing.  And just like the gun control debate, only more important, something needs to be done about the easy access to entire seasons of shows before we destroy our nation.

Now there are times when a Netflix or Prime binge can feel less dirty, even at times like a noble endeavor.  People catching up on Breaking Bad, which was exceptional and one of the driving forces in linking binge watching and popularizing shows, was like our generation’s Neil Armstrong on the Moon moment.  No longer did missing a show leave you out of the cool kids’ table.  Netflix allowed people to catch up on the show in anticipation of upcoming seasons and then, in many cases, provide the late comers with the confidence to act like they were the first to discover the show.  These Christopher Columbus-like frauds should have been the first warning sign that binge watching might have an ugly side.  But I, like many, ignored it.  I mean during two weeks off from work in February I managed to devour 9 seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and then began proselytizing about it like a born again Christian.   Granted each season was only, on average 3.5 hours of actual viewing, but I managed to catch up to the current season and had a strange and pathetic sense of accomplishment.  But this is just another step on the slippery road of binge watching hell.

The binge watching phenomenon to catch up to shows would have been bad enough, but once Netflix, and shortly thereafter Amazon discovered that people liked binge watching old shows/seasons a new depth of depravity was formed.  Because what is better than binge watching old shows?  Introducing new shows that could be binged of course.  The feeding of America’s television gluttony became a step too far.  It was like a restaurant saying – hey all of our customers enjoy our chocolate frosting cake, so now, for dessert we will offer them a 4 pound bowl of frosting for them to eat with their hands.  Sure that sounds amazing as I sip a soy protein smoothie this morning trying to purge the House of Cards weekend of trans fat from my system, but it is too much.  In addition to augmenting the grossness of an already sedentary and obese nation, it is not even a good way to watch television.  I love the show Alpha House on Amazon Prime.  Ten 30 minute episodes per season it goes by in a breeze (and is a far superior show to House of Cards for any political junkies reading this).  It is a good comedy and I barely remember any of it.  That is because each time the seasons went up (there have been two) I have been able to crush them in a single weekend (and still make it outside to breathe fresh air and have unhealthy food picked up by me instead of delivered).  But that then leaves 50-60 weeks in between viewings during which time the show’s details both humorous and plot related are squeezed from memory.  Most likely to make room for 6-12 other shows that have been binge watched.

Frank Underwood is helping destroy fictional and real Americans.

House of Cards suffers the same sort of fate as do many of these shows.  Instead of racing to catch up and join a discussion – at least an idea tangentially related to joining a community, it becomes a race to finish the season as if it were a contest and not entertainment (I am fully hiding behind “I needed to be done for my podcast” as my excuse).  The irony of racing through streaming television diminishing our actual ability to run a race is not lost on me.  So in an effort to make myself a healthier individual and more appreciative of entertainment I have already cancelled my Netflix account (at least for a couple of months).  So I have it through March 5th. Which is just enough time to finish the remaining 8 episodes of the Starz’ violent video game/gay porn-posing-as-a-television series Spartacus.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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NBA Fashion: It’s FANTASTIC(ly Bad)

The NBA locker room was the most flamboyant place I’d ever been. Guys flaunted their perfect bodies. They bragged about sexual exploits. They primped in front of the mirror, applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful. They tried on each other’s $10,000 suits, admired each other’s rings and necklaces. It was an intense camaraderie that felt completely natural to them. Surveying the room, I couldn’t help chuckling to myself: And I’m the gay one. – John Amechi

The above quote is from a former NBA journeyman center and the first NBA player to come out publicly as gay a little under a decade ago (after his career was over).  This blog post will not be about gay athletes, but I did think it tangentially highlights the absurdity of what I am writing about today.  The NBA had a fashion show this weekend as part of their All Star Weekend festivities (I did not watch). And with the All Stars of the NBA in NYC, there were several ads in the newspaper featuring prominent NBA stars doing appearances at places like Bloomingdale’s (James Harden) and Ermenegildo Zegna (Carmelo Anthony) to name a couple.  Over the last decade the media has increased its love affair with NBA players showing an interest in fashion like it makes them modern day Bill Bradleys.  My question is, when did fashion stop being the hallmark of one-dimensional stupid people?  I mean at least Modern Family gets it right that the dumb daughter is more of an idiot savant when it comes to fashion, instead of it being one impressive arrow in her quiver of diverse talents.

Disclaimer – I am not “fashionable.”  I wear a lot of sweatshirts and flannel.  My sneakers are usually New Balance.  I have close to a dozen Jos. A Bank suits, which if you have seen their commercials mean I only actually paid for half a suit and got 11.5 free.  But something has shifted.  When did fashion become a real pursuit outside of dumb chicks and gay men?  I am obviously being flippant on purpose to make a point.  Of course I know what it looks like when someone is wearing a great suit (I own mirrors) and I am aware when a woman is wearing something great or awful on the Oscars red carpet.  But fashion in general, and more specifically with athletes, has begun to feel like a modern day version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.

Yeah, sure Russell. This is a great look.

NBA players are more concerned than ever with their “brand.”  I preferred the 1980s and 1990s when only Michael Jordan had a brand because he was the best and a villain to all the other fan bases in the NBA.  Everyone else was about their team, had a modest shoe deal and would not be afraid to punch and tackle a friend on another team.  Larry Bird was not interested in showing the world how diverse a man he was because he was too busy practicing his jumper and icing his back.  Charles Barkley was not holding his tongue and wearing rimless glasses and a fedora at press conferences.  John Stockton showed up wearing polo shirts and khakis as if he were modeling Calvin Klein’s new “Middle School Math Teacher Couture.”  Scottie Pippen rolled in a long black leather coat like he was Shaft, not Zoolander!  The point is these guys might have had other interests, but they had no need to pretend to be a hundred different things for a social media hungry world.  They were well paid basketball players and that is what they did.

Great Capri pants D-Wade

But now with shoe deals paying more than team salaries, players who are more immersed in social media approval (and probably a more insecure bunch) and team-to-team bro hugs being part of the ritual of the NBA, playing basketball is not enough for some of these cats.  So when you have super rich men who have focused so much of their lives perfecting, to quote Liam Neeson, a particular set of skills, to the exclusion of other interests, what is an easy way to make them look diversified?

“Fashion.”

Of course, fashion houses benefit – who wouldn’t want giant, athletic, human billboards walking around in their suits or clothing?  And maybe you can make some of these wealthy young men investors since they have more cash to spend than they know what to do with and it sure beats accruing gambling debts like Antoine Walker.  But along the way of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant rocking slick and classy suits we veered into full on Emperor’s New Clothes.  Along the way someone was supposed to tell Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook to cut the shit.  But no one did because they are the meal ticket and they have an odd mixture of supreme self confidence given their fame and skills, but also a need to be taken seriously beyond basketball.  I think that need to appear “more than just a basketball player” is a big need in this day and age of media diversity.  If 50 Cent can be a Vitamin Water mogul then why can’t NBA players be “fashion icons?”  Because not every NBA player can be a Shane Battier or even a Shaquille O’Neal.  So the quickest way to appear to have taste, class, diverse interests AND people kiss your ass is to become immersed in the fashion world.

No comment on Tyson Chandler needed

I will admit, I am no risk taker when it comes to clothing.  And occasionally I can admire someone taking a risk and pulling it off.  But I have always said a woman (and most men) wearing a fedora is an idiot no matter how hot she is.  And some of these “bold fashion choices” by NBA athletes are moronic, no matter how athletic and rich they are.  So come on NBA, maybe next All Star game let’s have a showcase of some extracurricular talents (musical, artistic, educational, etc.) of NBA players to showcase the real diversity of interests in the league instead of a parade of bullshit that really just looks stupid.  And in the spirit of Jon Amechi’s quote at the beginning of this blog post, perhaps have R. Kelly sing “Down  Low” during the next fashion show if you decide to keep it.

NBA Fashion Show... HATED IT (In Living Color reference for young readers)

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Who Might, Should and Will Replace Jon Stewart

Yesterday at the end of The Daily Show taping, Jon Stewart, host of the popular and critically acclaimed “fake news” show for 17 years, announced that he will be leaving the show sometime in 2015 (I think –  his announcement was not really that clear or definitive).  But as soon as he announced that he was leaving (perhaps back-to-back losses at the Emmys to Stephen Colbert had finally taken its toll) the Internet was abuzz with who should replace him with irritating ferocity.  Having correctly predicted who would take over for David Letterman I think it is only right to the Internet and my dozen readers that I offer my one of a kind, in depth analysis of who might and who will take over for Stewart.  It is important to keep a few things in mind.  First, Jon Stewart was an accomplished stand up comedian with a lot of TV hosting experience in his youth (an MTV show, a guest host for Tom Snyder after Letterman and he was even the guest host threatening to take over for Larry Sanders on HBO’s terrific The Larry Sanders Show).  Second, the Internet is going to want a woman and/or person of color and will be prepared to set fire to the world if it is another white man.  Third, not withstanding the aforementioned desire of the blogosphere, America has a demonstrable preference to receive their comedy and news, either separately or together, from men.  So with those factors now in the open, it is time for my list:

Bruce Jenner (Name TBD) – What says change and new era of late night than choosing someone who is literally transitioning from a white man to a woman?  He has great name recognition, is used to celebrities and the spotlight and can speak intelligently on sports, entertainment and transgender issues.  It is a long shot, but Jenner’s selection could bring together traditionalists like myself and the far left progressives.

Chris Hardwick – I have sometimes criticized Hardwick’s ubiquitous presence on networks I watch, but my mind was really changed after seeing him on Bill Maher. The guy is sharp and quick though he can sometimes look super tired, a side effect from having almost as many shows as Ryan  Seacrest.  He has experience hosting, is already part of the network and is someone who has mastered social media and has good numbers with key demographics.  An added bonus is that he could then host a show each night at 12:30 recapping his two shows from 11pm and midnight.

Craig Kilborn – The greatest Sports Center anchor of all time and the original father of The Daily Show.  Isn’t it time that the industry gave him another chance?  What’s that?  The show sucked under him?  Well I did go to a taping of it when I was a young buck so it couldn’t have been that bad.

Amy Poehler – The Internet’s favorite choice of the last 16 hours.  Poehler is pleasant and funny enough to do the show, assuming she has a host of male writers behind the scenes.  However, will she be allowed to co-host with Tina Fey every show?  And if your instinctive response to that last question was to say “That would be EVERYTHING” please swallow a shotgun. Ii really hate that phrase.

Justin Timberlake – Sure we have no indication that he can do anything but sing on songs dominated by more talented producers, act poorly and play board games with Jimmy Fallon, but if Fallon is willing to separate from his brother from another mother the name recognition would be huge ratings, at least for a few weeks.  I am sure a vote of confidence from Fallon would at least help JT get his name in the conversation.

Rick Sanchez – You may be asking… who???   Well Rick Sanchez was the exuberant and largely terrible afternoon news anchor on CNN often mocked by Stewart.  Well, what better revenge than to host Stewart’s show.  Sanchez is Cuban, satisfying the no-more-white males-on-Late Night bloggers and he also has experience as a TV host.  But most importantly he is a visionary, obsessed with Twitter and social media interaction for his show far before other people were.  And he knows the news and is not afraid to share opinions about it… even when supposed to be an objective news anchor.

Ryan Seacrest – What’s one more show for this robot?

Neil DeGrasse Tyson – He now has a late night show starting on the Nat Geo channel, but perhaps he could handle a show with more than 480 potential fans.  I sort of want him to be picked because it is time he learned that he is only funny for an astrophysicist.  An embarrassing short run on The Daily Show might raise the platform for science (a good thing) and also humble all the people who call him “cool” when he is a failure at a funny show.  Then his fans will be forced to call him “cool… for an astrophysicist” which is how he should be known.

Beyonce – Is there anything she cannot do?  Well let’s find out!  She is stunning, talented and a black woman.  Even if she is not funny that is irrelevant when she hits all key categories for the no-more-white-males-on-Late Night. If she is funny then it is a bonus.  But most importantly, she is the only selection that will not receive an angry visit from Kanye West.

Al Madrigal – A Daily Show correspondent, an experienced comedian and Latino.  However, with Larry Wilmore on at 11:30 is Comedy Central willing to deliver all of 11pm-midnight to “people of color”?!  Being not well known enough may be a weakness, but it may also play as a strength, allowing him to make the show his own.  And his lack of a vagina would satisfy traditionalists like me.  (Repeat this for Wyatt Cenac except replace “Latino” with “black”)

Jason Jones – He has not been nearly as big a presence on the show as in past years (though admittedly I do not watch nearly as often as I used to) but I have always found him to be the funniest correspondent by far since Ed Helms/Colbert/Carrel era.  He also looks like a more goy-ish Jon Stewart which could retain the current audience, but also potentially bring in Anti-Semites who were hesitant to support Jon Stewart on the basis of his Judaism (while oddly still being politically left – admittedly this Venn Diagram cross section demographic is probably very small).  I think if the job does not go to a big name then it will be Jones.

P.S. I am also available for the job.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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The Rise of the TV Comedy Without Laughter

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I was very disappointed when I saw the almost entirely humorless Transparent won Best TV Comedy at this year’s Golden Globe Awards.  Anyone that I am friends with on Facebook know that I find the more bizzare-than-LOL homage to Woody Allen named Louie on FX to be more a testament to Louis CK’s work ethic and enjoyment of Allen’s films than actually funny.  And then there is HBO’s 800 lb Gorilla (no not Lena Dunham, but Girls, the show that generates more smirks and whimsy than laughter).  All that seems left for critics and comedy awards to gush over is if Wes Anderson decides to bring his quirky, critically acclaimed nonsense to a Showtime series before television comedy can finally usher in the apocalypse.  It is really time for some of these “comedies” to start getting a new category saved for people who are occasionally humorous, but cannot compete in the realm of full comedy: spoken word shows.

To put this in perspective, imagine that there were stand up comedy awards and the nominees were Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle, Henry Rollins and a Steve Martin art discussion.  Two of those are comedians. One is a guy who rants for an hour and occasionally throws in a joke to amuse a crowd while they are not in awe of his re-telling of adventures that show how open minded and worldly he is.  And the last is a comedian who is not doing comedic things.   Well this appears to be happening in TV, as shows that are not particularly funny (I deem funny by the ancient test of “does it generate laughter”), but clearly cannot compete in the age of incredibly great dramas, are being allowed to hog some of the spots for best comedies.

By Emmy and Golden Globe standards Henry Rollins would be a stand up comedian.

For example HBO – Veep has lots of laughs and gets critical and award recognition.  But Hello Ladies or the 1st season of Eastbound and Down got nothing.  Can anyone reasonably tell me that they laugh more at an episode of Girls than at Hello Ladies or Eastbound and Down?  To say nothing of the fact that those shows are actually just better shows, they are certainly better at generating laughs.  I understand that there are reasons why Ace Ventura: Pet Detective did not get nominated for Golden Globes for Best Comedy – it is funny, but it is obviously not a “good” movie.  Tone Loc and Dan Marino are rarely going to have large speaking roles in high quality entertainment. So I understand that there needs to be a quality threshold to be considered.  But once a show meets that threshold then humor should be the deciding factor.

HBO is not alone.  I just recently mowed through 4 seasons of a long running comedy on FX It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  The show is absolutely hilarious.  Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think it has ever been nominated for a Best Comedy Emmy.  Perhaps the network is ignored?  Well, that is not true because Louie continues to compile nominations (as well as wins – hey if Louis CK can win for playing himself then why didn’t Eminem win for 8 Mile?) for best comedy even as the show continues to generate fewer and fewer laughs (and viewers).   But on a humor scale it is not even close as to which show is funnier.

Workaholics on Comedy Central also stands out for me.  Admittedly I have found the show inconsistently funny over the last 2.5 seasons, but when it hits, it hits huge, which you would think might generate a writing nomination (for an episode), but not when Girls is generating at least 4 smirks per episode!

Two episodes of Workaholics have more laughter than 4 seasons of Girls.

 

And then we arrive at Transparent, which may be the apex (or nadir) of this humorless comedy movement. The show is a critical (and I would say Hollywood liberal) darling because it stars a usually hilarious Jeffrey Tambour and is the first show to have a transgender character driving the narrative.  I laughed 3 times during the 10 episodes of Transparent‘s first season.  What makes it even more bizarre is that Transparent is the 3rd comedy on Amazon’s video service and it is overwhelmingly the least funny of the three (I strongly recommend Alpha House and also recommend Mozart in the Jungle).  Despite my critiques of stand up I am actually a relatively easy laugh, especially by the standard of stand up comics.  But that show, which I watched half of the weekend it went up on-line (so I was not biased by any awards) and found it annoying.  But even allowing for difference in tastes, it just was not very funny.  Even half of the people I have engaged with on social media over the show who like it admit that they don’t think it really qualifies as a comedy.  But once again, what is easier to challenge for awards – Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones or Girls and The Big Bang Theory?

So now we live in a world of comedies that don’t make people laugh, but rather think and smirk?  The question is why?  When did laughter, even in awards that have categories to honor comedy, become a handicap instead of a strength?  I would argue it is what happens when a culture begins to cater to hipsters and nerds. Comedy is not jazz!!!  It is not the laughter you cannot hear that makes it fun!  But I think the need to create your own sense of cool and to reject the mainstream and “know more” or have inside knowledge has given rise to these comedies that are the laughter equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes.  In an effort to cater to the cool kids of the day shows that are unfunny except to people who hate the sound of out loud laughter, these shows have cut a far too large slice of the comedy award pie.  So hopefully the pendulum swings back soon. It is bad enough the Oscars tend to not honor comedies (though seriously shut the fu*k up if you thought Bridesmaids deserved Oscar recognition) but in awards like the Emmys and Golden Globes it is time to give actual laughter more weight in determining what makes a worthy comedy.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Mark Wahlberg to Star in Tiny White Power, about NE Patriot Wide Receivers

In a movie sure to get a lot of buzz following the New England Patriots’ stirring Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Mark Wahlberg has announced he will star, write, produce and direct Tiny White Power, a tribute film to the New England Patriots’ modern legacy of undersized, but highly skilled white wide receivers.  Early rumors say Wahlberg will play Wes Welker, Channing Tatum will play Julian Edelman and Tom Hardy  will play Danny Amendola.  The movie figures to be an inspirational tale of how muscular, relatively good looking white guys can still have hope in America, even with a black president and an NFL dominated by black men.  Wahlberg, who is a Boston native and a huge Patriots fan, is excited to bring to the screen a movie that will allow him to hit the gym and take off his shirt in several montages.

“I have done sports movies before, but this one is going to be special,” said the former model and rapper  ”Tiny White Power will speak to all white men, who are a little on the short side, that with hard work you can compete in America despite all the obstacles in your way by a society that clearly favors black men,” gushed the man who violently attacked black and Asian men on the streets of Boston in his youth.

One of the Super Bowl heroes Julian Edelman. Channing Tatum is rumored for the part.

The film is not endorsed by the NFL or the Patriots’ organization, but superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski gave his unofficial approval for the film when he said “I like popcorn and getting head in movie theaters,” when asked if he thought he movie would do the Patriots’wide receivers justice.

When asked why this story meant so much to him Wahlberg said, “My wife really got obsessed with that movie Magic Mike and all the buff white dudes dancing. Well TWP will be like Magic Mike but for straight dudes, instead of for chicks and fag*ots.”

Expect an early 2016 release date.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Super Bowl Preview: Battle of the (Potential) Inspirational Sports Movies

I generally save this blog for stories of comedy struggles, comedy complaints and the occasional defense of President Obama or Lebron James.  But, as a huge fan of movies and sports, I cannot help but see the amazing potential for inspirational sports movies out of this coming Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX (that is 49 in letters apparently).  If just one of the teams in the Super Bowl had made the game it would be enough to inspire a Disney movie 20 years from now, but both the Seattle Seahawks AND the New England Patriots provide blueprints for at least  half a dozen new sports movies.  So here are a few I thought some screenwriters should get working on ASAP:

The Man Behind The Sweatshirt – Bill Bellichek is one of the greatest coaches in NFL History. And he has a secret that could ruin his career.  He has a thing for extremely handsome quarterbacks (this was inspired by a bit on Adam Carolla’s show last week).  Everyone knows Tom Brady.  But how about his back up quarterback Jimmy Garappolo?  Matt Damon and a beefed up Zac Efron to co-star? But imagine the Oscar worthy performance of coaching brilliance and unrequited love that someone like Brendan Gleeson could turn in as Bill Bellichek.

My #1 casting choice to play Bill Bellichek

 

Mat Damon and Zac Efron would co-star.

Alien and Predator – This movie would focus on the Christian robot of quarterback humility and cliches Russell Wilson and his relationship with Richard Sherman, Stanford grad and wearer of hairstyle from 1987′s Predator.  Tag line for the movie: “One plays offense… the other is offensive. But together they might just win it all!”

The Rejects – This movie would be a traditional sports movie, focusing on all of the Seattle Seahawks, many of whom were low round draft picks and the goofy white savior coach who believed in them (and basically let them do whatever they want), Pete Carroll.

The Unnatural – This would be a movie focused on 5th Round pick Kam Chancellor who thanks to supplements would become a safety the size of a linebacker leading the terrific secondary.  This movie would almost follow a Stand and Deliver (inspiration, but not a sports movie) where about 2/3 of the way through the movie he would fail a drug test… but then eat the drug tester so he could continue playing.

Crotch and Gronk – In the spirit of movies like Radio, not only do crowds like inspirational movies about special needs people, but so do the Oscars.  And in this Super Bowl we have not one, but two people with prodigious talent and prodigious special neediness. Marshawn Lynch can run through a brick wall, but enjoys touching himself in public and has difficulty speaking to reporters.  Rob Gronkowski, statistically the greatest tight end in NFL History is possibly the dumbest happy go-lucky man in the NFL. Just imagine the comedic possibilities when his coach asked how many concussions he had after failing the concussion protocol and Gronk answers “None. I am just not very good at tests.”

The Anti Sports Movie – Yes this would be the hipster, alt title to the movie and it would focus on the New England Patriots (based on a brilliant comedic bit by a comedian named J-L Cauvin).  Sports movies always provide us certain templates – e.g. white guy saves a bunch of black guys who work hard and don’t have a chance because of racism and/or lack of resources.  But how about a movie about an angry white coach who makes heroes out of small white guys in a league full of formerly poor black guys?  And they are led by the least likely (and least likable) sports movie hero of all time – a pretty man named Tom who wears Uggs, hair plugs and is married to a super model.   Possible break out comedy hit of 2020.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Weekend Comedy Recap: The Magnificent Seven

This weekend was a busy weekend in comedy for me.  On Friday night I opened for Bill Maher (this is what I call eating a sandwich and tweeting a couple of funny jokes before sitting down to watch Bill Maher on HBO) and Saturday I was having an important industry meeting (this is what I call having a couple of beers with my friend John while telling him an Adam Carolla joke about microbrews, “are there any more ‘brews’ or is everything now a microbrew?” while he suggested to me having a podcast on craft beer – not a bad suggestion, based solely on the irritating trendiness potential of the topic).  So after that whirlwind of comedy (I was also asked to review a contract of a comedian friend on Saturday evening, giving my unpaid legal work gigs an early 1-0 advantage over unpaid comedy gigs in 2015) I moved on to Sunday where I actually had that lesser valued part of a growing stand up comedy career (after Twitter followers, Google analytics, numbers among millennials, etc.): a stand up comedy gig (and just like that unpaid comedy gigs pulled even with unpaid legal consultations for comedians at 1 a piece).

On Sunday night I was on a show at the Laughing Devil in Long Island City, the club where I recorded my Louis CK video (https://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=E7Fe3blRKU0) and my best album, Keep My Enemies Closer (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/album/keep-my-enemies-closer/id710932829). In other words I am only a Hells Angels’ stabbing a random black dude away from making that place world famous.  Well, to confess, this was my first gig of 2015 so I decided to try a batch of mew material for my 10 minutes set.  When I entered the showroom a minute before my set I noticed that there were 6 audience members.  I felt like Rain Man counting toothpicks I calculated the number so fast, but upon slowly fact checking my brilliant first impression it was indeed only 6 people.  But as much as it is a cliche for comedians to say, I had a great time with those six people (if you are not as good at math as I am, the title of this blog alludes to the fact that me performing would be added to the six audience to make it a “Magnificent Seven.”) and at least 5 of them seemed to enjoy my set.  about 8 of the 10.5 minutes I did was 2015 new and the biggest chunk, based off a blog I wrote, really killed (you would have thought there were 11-13 people laughing) so that was encouraging.  I can confidently say that two of the bits from last night will almost certainly make the cut for my next album recording this Spring/Summer (it will be album #5 and so far the two titles I am considering are Chinese Democracy or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, assuming that neither is taken)

So that is it folks – the first comedy recap blog of 2015.  Now here’s hoping the hostel gig I have booked for February 1st is the gig that finally takes me to the next level. #Blessed #ComedyMogul

Epilogue: It was raining when I went to the gig so I brought an umbrella.  The rain had stopped by the time my set was done so I left my umbrella at the club. Assuming it is gone now the gig actually cost me $15 in a lost umbrella. #ComedyMogul

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes (https://itunes NULL.apple NULL.com/us/podcast/righteous-p***k-w-j-l-cauvin/id504139550?mt=2) and/or STITCHER (http://www NULL.stitcher NULL.com/podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin-podcast/righteous-pk-with-jl-cauvin?refid=stpr). New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!



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Go Back In Time