This Friday, Wonder Woman, the latest DC comics attempt at a film, opens up nationwide. The film has recently generated (or manufactured) some headlines in anticipation of its release with Alamo Drafthouse receiving angry criticism from men at their “Women Only” screenings of Wonder Woman. Now, I do not know if that means 11 emails, or 11,000, but I am guessing it is a lot closer to the former. This was savvy strategy. After all making an all ladies Ghostbusters worked the same angle. The movie was terrible and unfunny, but by making the marketing a quasi political quest to show how funny women are, critics largely gave it praise and liberals and feminists heaped praise on a movie before they even saw it. Thankfully for good taste, lady Ghostbusters did not make enough money to warrant a sequel, but the same tactics will probably prove much more successful for Wonder Woman. The main reason is that Wonder Woman is a comic book movie, which as DC has proven repeatedly, is critic-proof. They have yet to make a good one not involving Christopher Nolan, but they have all been massive hits. Add on top of that a sort of Trump-America guilt (after all what is more American than not voting in the eminently qualified Hillary Clinton for the comic book villain Donald Trump, but then flexing our collective progressive muscle by supporting a comic book hero in bigger numbers than a real woman who could provide real things) and savvy social media posts about “men losing their minds” over all female screenings and you have a recipe for a major hit. But there are several issues with this. Quite simply, they are, in order, DC films, Gal Gadot (the star of Wonder Woman) and Wonder Woman in general.
DC – A Tradition of Crap
Ever since Christopher Nolan set the bar with The Dark Knight trilogy, DC has done their best to erase the memory. It’s as if Christopher Nolan was The Cosby Show and every film DC has made since has been a rape allegation. Man of Steel – mediocre, Batman vs Superman – a mess, Suicide Squad – atrocious (with a good soundtrack to distract you from the pain). And yet, despite all evidence pointing to a rushed and incompetent franchise, now everyone is going out of their way to claim that Wonder Woman will be different. Fool me once – shame on you; fool me twice – shame on me; fool me 4 times and I am a comic book loving moron. Nope. DC – you are terrible and unless you pay Chris Nolan or David Fincher to rescue your garbage factory I will keep my money.
While I like the idea of a girl named Gal playing a Woman, praise on her has been absurd. She has benefited from the Tony Campbell rule (a mediocre pro basketball player with a 6 points-per-game average, Campbell averaged over 22 ppg the year he was picked by the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves because someone had to score points). People have said Godot was the best part of Batman vs Superman. That’s like saying the bathroom air freshener is the best part of violent diarrhea – sure it is true, but how much of that is mere downward social comparison? Lets look at Godot’s last 4 films:
- Triple 9 – 53% on Rotten Tomatoes (rotten)
- Keeping Up With The Jonses – 19% on Rotten Tomatoes (rotten)
- Criminal – 30% on Rotten Tomatoes (rotten)
- Batman v Superman – 20% on Rotten Tomatoes (rotten)
Basically the only way to have a worse movie track record than Godot is if your name is Tyler Sandler. But she is very attractive and married to a real estate mogul so if Ivanka Trump can have a moment in 2017 then why can’t a lady named Gal? But I am not ready to sign on to the emergence of a star just yet. Though, if Ryan Reynolds got 17 chances at being a leading man before he finally had his hit with Deadpool, it stands to reason that we should extend Godot 13 chances to do the same (that’s 77 cents on the dollar of chances a white leading man gets).
Why Does Wonder Woman Have To Be a Hot Woman?
Then we get to the casting, once we have gotten through the phony marketing politics and the failed track record of a dame named Gal. I am just surprised women have not yet railed against the choice of a tall, thin, attractive white former model. So instead of getting caught up in this bullsh*t toxic masculinity, male privilege, patriarchal micro-aggressive casting choice I would like to offer some other choices that might actually move us forward, instead of backwards (if the movie doesn’t suck):
Ariel Winter – If there is anyone fighting the real struggles of modern women with style and grace it is the middle child from Modern Family. Will Wonder Woman ever face the level of scrutiny that Winter has faced for dressing like a porn star to attend an elementary school picnic? Has Wonder Woman ever had to “clap back” at Internet trolls for pointing out that her ass cheeks need not be exposed to order a sandwich from Subway? In other words, once Winter’s ample chest and Miley Cyrus booty have dealt with the issues of today, channeling the strength to play Wonder Woman would be no problem – and also a little more relatable to today’s millennial ladies.
Michael Jordan – He never lost in the Finals, basically making him and LaVar Ball the only two people qualified to be superheroes (SORRY LEBRON). And why can’t Wonder Woman be a man? This path only seems to go one way. Maybe it is finally time for a man (a BLACK MAN to boot) to play Wonder Woman… OR DO WHITE GENDER NORMATIVE THINGS ONLY APPLY TO WHITE WOMEN TAKING OVER TRADITIONALLY WHITE MALE ROLES????? (thinking face emoji)
Caitlyn Jenner – If we are going to restrict casting to only physically stunning women then why not Caitlyn Jenner? Olympic Athlete, around since WWI, media savvy, banging body – I mean maybe we should just re-name Wonder Woman “Caitlyn Jenner.”
Ivanka Trump – as mentioned above, if we must cast a “hot woman,” married to a real estate mogul who is having a moment in 2016-17 then why not the First Daughter-Wife-Thot? Gal Godot is basically the Israeli Ivanka, which is probably what Jared Kushner would have preferred (sadly Gal was not attached to several billion dollars).
So, to summarize I won’t be seeing Wonder Woman and if you are someone who likes good movies, women from Dove commercials or embraces true liberal politics and not just surface level hashtags, then I know you won’t be seeing it either.
Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER & ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.
The last week has been a great microcosm of my career. My latest album, Israeli Tortoise, with no industry, label, management or iTunes support hit #1 on the comedy charts for a day and stayed in the top 10 for 4 days (as I type this it currently sits at 110, so basically my album has had the same arc as the movie Awakenings – a miracle occurred and everyone became happy only to see it quickly fall back into a Robert DeNiro stupor by the end of its run. The album also received a Twitter endorsement from Jim Gaffigan, the Pope of iTunes album sales. And to kill time on the road I saw 4 movies, 3 of which I enjoyed. That’s the good news. But like any comedy adventure it also featured the usual assortment of low lights – a 15 hour train ride with 20 minutes sleep and then having to wait 4 hours before checking into the hotel, being avoided like a leper by 99.9% of the audiences of the shows after performing, despite crushing 4 of the shows and only having one stinker (LATE SHOW FRIDAY – I AM TALKING TO YOU). Fitting that during the week where I hit #1 on iTunes I have my worst week of merch sales on the road ever (I am averaging 1 CD sold per show with one show to go – the good news is I will get an unsuspecting workout dragging 90% of my albums home on Monday morning) . Here is my truth (hand to the chest) in more expansive details:
If Eli Roth is looking for a new movie idea for one of his awful torture porn films, perhaps “Cross Country Amtrak” could make a compelling subject. I have taken the Lakeshore Limited (the one that goes from NYC to Chicago by way of Greenland) well over a dozen times in my comedy career as it hits Cleveland, upstate NY and Chicago, all places I have performed in many times. But perhaps it is my increasing #ComedyMogul status or just getting more uncomfortable as I get older, but the train is rough. Especially to Toledo. It was an hour late and arrived in Toledo at 7am and let me tell you, there is nothing more refreshing than getting off a train filled with the obese, the “I need to avoid TSA” and bare feet crowd of an Amtrak after 15 hours (and kudos to the two separate people who took powerful shits in our car during the Odyssey) and only 20 minutes sleep.
Due to inconsistent Internet in the room and the fact that the gym in the mall closed 2 years ago, movies ended up being my main time killer. I saw 4 movies, one each day. I loved Sausage Party (see the review here), was more than pleasantly surprised by Bad Moms, found a lump in my throat during Pete’s Dragon and wanted to murder every critic on Rotten Tomatoes who gave the atrocious Lights Out a positive review. Also one of the great benefits of the Toledo Funny Bone, besides the excellent hotel across the street (not withstanding the Internet, it is pretty swanky) from the club, is the fact that food and the mall (not a great mall, but better than nothing) are within walking distance and involve no crossing or walking along the side of any highways – always a plus in the life of the car-less feature).
The main event for every trip are the shows and I have been very happy with my performances. But to be honest, I have eaten it on stage (Birmingham, AL 2009 comes to mind as an overall week that was a struggle) and still came away still selling decently. However, the Toledo crowds have been a perfect storm of people who don’t want to buy AND don’t particularly want to make eye contact with you after a show. I did get a handful of “are you really half black”‘s – slightly fewer than the “good show”‘s I got, but a lot closer than I would have liked. The main thing I have judged from the crowd is that a lot of them seem like stand up novices – those who may not be comedy savants so they simply know by the end of the show “the guy who went last and did the most is the only human being that counts on the lineup!” I have opened for some of the biggest names in comedy and although never overshadowing them – if you hold your own as a feature, good crowds can recognize the talent and promise in all the acts. These crowds laugh their asses off (EXCEPT YOU LATE FRIDAY SHOW), but then walk by you like you were the 25 minute mic stand repair guy. Very weird and frustrating, but that’s the deal sometimes.
The worst though, was the guy who came out after my set with his wife or girlfriend to specifically tell me that he thought I was really great and that my set blew him away. He asked for a picture, I obliged and he and his lady went back in for the rest of the show. I went to the emcee and said, “Well, at least I will get one sale after the show.” Fast forward 245 minutes (black headliner) and the same dude might have been able to challenge Usain Bolt for the 100m. I kept thinking – don’t you at least want my website info?”
Usually merch money pays for all my food and movies for a weekend and then some. Now I am going to have to hit an ATM to tip out the bartenders after the last show. This is my 9/11 (which if I had sold between 9 and 11 CDs I would not have to go to the ATM).
One other thing I have learned about myself being on the road for the last few years is my ability to depress emcees. It is admittedly cool that because of my videos and impressions my reputation and skills have outpaced my actual career within stand up comedy (which is sort of counter-intuitive – “Hey people know and like your work – of course we can’t book/represent you!). On top of that my exposure on podcasts like Carolla and TBGWT have made more people on the road familiar with my work. But it is sort of a bizarre compliment seeing comedians getting sort of depressed about the business when realizing that I am still a nobody (implying that they think I should be further along – hence the compliment). Not to mention I get slightly aroused seeing comedians become more aware of what a shameful joke this industry is. Quick teaching moment – kiss the ass of a headliner, get a manger or be under 30 with a pinch of talent (but not too much so that they don’t think they can mold you into what they need at their agency) – these are the ways to “make it.” All other methods are red herrings.
So as I gear up for the finals show of the week (and a 3:20 am Amtrak back to NYC – SEE AT THE BOTTOM FOR SUNDAY EPILOGUE) I leave you with some bits from the weekend and a reminder to go buy Israeli Tortoise on iTunes (or other digital platforms), Enjoy – and pray that I don’t get Zika, Ebola or Bird Flu on my way home.
Play Station Banged My Ex
The Problem With Ocean’s 8 in 1 Minute
I sold 1 CD on Sunday night after a very strong set, which helped complete my 1.0 sales per show rate – the lowest of my career for any road weekend. However, group of older black people came up to me at the club after the show and said the following (for ease of writing I have turned all of their voices into one speaker):
OBP: We were on your Amtrak coming here. We sat next to you and in front of you (there were 4 of them total)!
J-L: Oh yeah, I remember you!
OBP: Yes, you were very funny tonight. And we commented on the train how often you got up to go to the bathroom.
J-L: Yeah, I didn’t sleep for the whole trip so my body kept having to pee.
OBP: Will you be going back on the train tonight?
OBP: Then we will see you there. We will get a picture with you there!
So look for a pic of me and 4 older black people at the Toledo Amtrak station coming to the Internet soon!