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New Video Asks: What If Your Favorite TV Bad…

With Sons of Anarchy ending recently, many of the bad boys of the golden age of television are dead and gone (some literally, some just figuratively).  Walter White, Jax Teller, Tony Soprano and Dexter Morgan just to name a few.  But while these men got away with season upon season of violence and anti-heroics, what might have happened to these characters had they been black? Well, that question is answered in this new video:

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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The Righteous Prick Top Eleven Things of 2013

Every year in December I announce my favorite things from the year.  It is sort of like a reminder that my blog and podcasts are not just 52 weeks of cynicism and hostility (just 51 1/2).  2013 was the best year of movies I can remember in my lifetime.  It was also a year where I read less than previous years because of less travel (not to mention several months spent reading a 900 page biography on George Washington), which is my usual time to go through books.  And last, but not least, it was a year where I went from under 80,000 YouTube views to closing in on half a million views.  So this year’s list will range from sports to video games to books to personal accomplishments, but all things on the list were successes on some level.  So without further adieu here is my top 11 things of 2013 (I learned from Buzzfeed to make my lists consist of prime numbers):

11. Stephen Colbert’s Dance Marathon to Daft Punk’s Get Lucky – Not only is Colbert the most talented individual on late night television by light years, but he also strikes me as the guy you wish was your uncle at a wedding. Unlike the awkward uncle who makes an appearance at almost every wedding in America, he seems like the one who actually would tear up the dance floor and not just think he is tearing up the dance floor while dancing like Elaine on Seinfeld. Enjoy this clip before it gets taken down:

10. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America – This Thomas Packer book just won the National Book Award and I read it in San Antonio, TX this year while on the road in the Summer.  It is a compelling, non-partisan (though as Stephen Colbert famously said to President George W. Bush, “facts are well known to have a liberal bias”) tale of how the promise of the American Dream is proving more and more to be a fantasy for ordinary Americans.

9. Alt Wolf/Tim & Aaron/Biggie – This year was a big year for my comedy career (in every way, but financial).  Louis CK Tells the Classics was by far my biggest hit on the Internet, but I had a three way tie for my favorite video of the year (that I made). So if you missed them or want to enjoy them again, here are Alt Wolf, Tim & Aaron and Biggie:

8. Obamacare – You are probably wondering, huh?  The website was a mess (sorry GOP, but the site is working a lot better now) and most Americans, according to Fox News polls, believe the Affordable Care Act is slightly worse than Uday Hussein’s rape room.  But from this blogging comedian’s perspective it was a big success.  My new health care plan will save me $169/month over what I paid in 2013 for health insurance.  I will have smaller co-pays and have a plan that is accepted by all the doctors I already see.  The only sad thing is that in my head I still think I am one of the “young people” that the Act needs to enroll. Then I realized that at 34 I might be older than that demographic.  So now the President and Comedy Central have no need for me.

7. Captain Phillips – My favorite film of 2013.  And the last 10 minutes of acting by Tom Hanks is the best work he has ever done and I do not care what sentiments or feel good stories emerge at the Oscars – Tom Hanks deserves the Best Actor award.

6. The New York Times Series on Dasani – This five part series in the New York Times about Dasani, an 11 year old girl living in a Brooklyn shelter is an incredible and intimate look at the struggles of the poor.  Similar to The Unwinding, it takes a look at the poor and the struggling, not through political or economic theories or through statistics, but through an on-the-ground look at the cyclical struggles of the poor and how difficult it can be for people, even with motivation and talents, to rise above their circumstances in an increasingly unequal society. Check it out HERE

5. Lebron James – With my Utah Jazz in a re-building and irrelevant phase of their franchise, it has allowed me to become more of an NBA fan and appreciate the stars of the NBA (unlike in the Jordan era where the Jazz were actually title contenders and I could only view Jordan from the perspective of hostile opposing fan). And no star has shined brighter than Lebron James.  If the Olympics were every year perhaps Usain Bolt would be on this list, but the most exciting, entertaining and compelling athlete on a year-to-year basis is Lebron James.  And in 2013 it was particularly enjoyable seeing him shut down his haters for good.

4. Breaking Bad – The series ended and I did not think the final season was its best (that would be either season 3 or 4, both of which I would give A+ grades to).  And many people believe that Episode 14 of Season 5 – Ozymandias was the show’s all-time best episode (for me it is top five). However, my favorite moment of Breaking Bad this season, and perhaps the entire show, were the final two minutes of the second to last episode of the series.  (SPOILER COMING IF YOU ARE WATCHING THE LAST SEASON ON DVD NOW).  Walt calls Walt Jr. at school seeking some sort of reconciliation that he does not receive.  So defeated, he calls the police to turn himself in, sits down at the bar and awaits his destiny.  However, he sees his former partners in the business he left (as Vince Gilligan said in an interview, he believed Walt “broke bad” when he refused a job and full care for his treatment from his former business partners in Season 1, purely out of pride – because if family was most important than the decision should have been made easily) minimizing his contributions to the company on Charlie Rose.  It triggers in him a proud rage and as the theme music to the show swells, and we see the police closing in on the bar, the last frame shows an empty seat and an unfinished drink, indicating that Walt is not done yet and that we will, in fact, have one more episode of one of the greatest shows of all time.

3. Hello Ladies – For any show to be ahead of Breaking Bad, given its quality and my sentimental attachement to it, it would have to be damn near perfect.  And like Season 1 of Eastbound and Down, which topped my end of year list several years ago, Hello Ladies was comedy and sentimental perfection.  The show was 8 episodes of sly humor, great acting, uncomfortable awkwardness and pure brilliance.  And I am not just saying that because the lead actor is 6’7″.  Who knows if the show can continue its brilliance, but for 8 episodes it was my favorite thing on television this year.

2. Blurred Lines – Here is how you know a song is good – it is number 1 on the charts for two months before feminist blog sites finally stop dancing and tapping their cyber feet to issue denunciations of it.  The song is fantastic.  And the video is even better.  And the unedited video is even betterer (the brunette could have had her own spot on this list to be honest).

1. The Last of Us – It may seem weird to have a video game as the number one thing of 2013, but The Last of Us was the single best piece of entertainment I experienced this year.  A script worthy of Hollywood’s best, great vocal talent, incredible graphics, great gameplay and an ending of moral ambiguity that would make Vince Gilligan envious.  I know now everyone that reads this plays video games and not everyone who plays video games has a PS3, but this game alone is worth the purchase of a PS3 and it is my #1 thing of 2013.

Take a bow.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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Breaking Bad – The Greatest Show of All Time?

Well, ever since the end of season 4 of Breaking Bad I have been wondering if it could finish as well as it started, I enjoyed it more than any show I had ever seen, but only Six Feet Under had delivered the ending (and overall depth) that its greatness deserved.  And off the bat I would like to say that if you are thinking of your favorite all time show and it has the word Homeland or Lost or Dexter or “CBS drama” attached to the title then you may leave this discussion. This is not the kids’ table at a holiday meal.  There are, in my estimation, only five to six shows that can be in the greatest drama discussion – Six Feet Under, The Wire, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

The West Wing deserves special kudos for being what I believe to be the greatest network drama of all time.  Sure it was inconsistent once Sorkin left, but people make too much of this still.  How about some respect for how well the final season, which pitted Jimmy Smits vs Alan Alda for the presidency, basically predicted the Obama-McCain election?  And the first four seasons were sheer brilliance.  The West Wing was the last network drama to feel on par with the explosion of top tier, next level, cable dramas.

Mad Men I include because of the fact that it won 4 consecutive best drama awards (also accomplished by The West Wing and Hill Street Blues).  However, that is ridiculous.  The show has been an art house favorite, giving people born in the 1970s and later a feeling of nostalgia they could never actually have.  The show is solid, but also incredibly overrated (and even ardent fans of the show admit that it feels like it has jumped the shark).  Just because nothing happens does not mean you have to say it’s great.

That leaves the Holy Trinity of HBO and Breaking Bad as the last shows standing.  At this point all the shows are great on just about every level.  Although Homicide: Life on the Street did many of the stylistic things that the Sopranos did, The Sopranos really is the founding father of the great cable drama.   It provided the anti-hero of Tony Soprano and both the exciting and mundane problems that could be expected and unexpected in the professional and personal lives of a mobster.  However, my problem with The Sopranos, besides the ending (which after having it explained really appears to be a great ending, but I prefer after one or two viewings to be able to discern the meaning of a show’s ending without scholarly interpretation) was that it was not perfect.  The first 10 episodes of Season 6 (the one fans waited 22 months for) was subpar to say the least. These were the episodes that focused on a closeted gay character who was at best a third-tier character on the show.  As if to say, as Jimmy Failla said to me recently, “I know they are murderers and awful people, but they ALSO hate gays!”  The shock value and the social value was nil and it felt like a wasted chunk of 10 episodes.  Just as network drama has a challenge of making 22 episodes a year that can compete with cable, so too do cable dramas have the challenge of removing all waste and The Sopranos has a 10 episode dump in the middle of its overall brilliance (had the show gone seasons 1-5 and ended I might have to have Sopranos sitting at #1).

The Wire – how good is it?  It became a cliché to say how good it is.  Seasons 1-4 of The Wire average out to an A.  Season 1 – A, Season 2 – A- (shut up already people who did not like season 2 – David Simon, the show’s creator, wanted to create a thorough picture of Baltimore and how do you leave off the ports?  But it was less compelling than the other seasons), season 3 – A+, season 4 – A+.  And David Simon, when thinking about a sixth season thought about centering it around the growing Latino community in Baltimore, but decided not to because he did not feel informed on the same level as other aspects of Baltimore to give it a proper authenticity.  This is a respectable artistic decision by someone concerned about maintaining quality (though Treme is hailed as authentic and the first season put me to sleep), but season 5 of The Wire, which I give a B+ to out of respect for its association with the other seasons, is a noticeable step down, partly, if not entirely because Simon had an obvious and well-documented bone to pick with the media, of which he had been a part.  This heavy-handed criticism, along with a weird, fake-serial killer plot that seemed out of place with the rest of the show, made the final season of The Wire its worst, even if the finale brilliantly showed that the cycle of poverty, crime, drugs and bad decisions remained in tact after the journey the viewers had taken.

So that leaves my two favorite, and in my opinion, best dramas I have ever seen: Six Feet Under and Breaking Bad.  First, Six Feet Under.  The show’s structure was brilliant – each episode brings you a death, sometimes comical, sometimes heartbreakingly tragic, which leads people to Fisher and Sons, the funeral home, run by the main characters.  The cast was perfect and the writing was as well.  There was a hiccup according to most fans in season 4 involving Lisa (I will give no more info for those who will decide to take up the show), but I found the show to be pretty much perfect.  I have never felt like I had learned to know people more in a show.  It addresses sex, sexuality, life and death – major concepts to say the least, with such a personal touch and such depth that you feel like neighbors and friends have been lost when the show ends.  Whereas shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad, which show how realistically great writers can portray things that might never come close to happening to you, Six Feet Under showed how monumental the events of normal life can be.  It also stands as a landmark show in the portrayal of same-sex couples.  People can hail Modern Family, Will and Grace, etc. but Six Feet Under gave a same sex couple more detail and heart than almost any relationship ever in popular entertainment.  The show was full of great comedic and dramatic devices, had character growth and development better than any show ever and the finale is nothing short of a masterpiece.  For every fan of the Sopranos, or Lost of Dexter or Seinfeld that has ever complained about a show’s ending, Six Feet Under feels like a reward for all that disappointment and confusion.  I have cried exactly once during a television finale. And that was Six Feet Under.

And in the other corner we have Breaking Bad.  To cover the finale, it is obvious that Vince Gilligan has paid attention to the failed or disappointing finales of the last decade and took notes.  The final last night delivered the goods.  It was satisfying, thorough and had heart, but never packaged the good feelings with a bow and gift wrapping.  Not everyone forgave Walter and the forgiveness that was given felt realistic.  His death was well-played and he was finally honest to his wife.  He brought death to those who were worse people than him and he freed those who were better than him.  Of course, for all the hype that Ozymandias received (the 14th episode of the 16 episode final season), my favorite episode of the final season was the second to last one.  This was the one where Walt appeared finished with his son telling him to die and having to pay his smuggler thousands of dollars just to keep him company for an hour.  But the final scene of that episode, where Walter seems to be given the (angry) strength to finish the job, both of his life and the show, after feeling disrespected and dismissed by his former business partners on a Charlie Rose interview, gave me chills. The full version of the show’s outstanding theme song building until you see Walt’s unfinished drink, indicating that he is going to give himself and fans of the show the ending they want.

Breaking Bad delivered a show, perhaps more than any other ever, that was perfect on every level. The cast was great, the writing – both dialogue and story – amazing.  And on a level where many shows don’t focus, the art direction and cinematography were on a level with great, epic cinema. Sometimes you felt as if you could watch the show silently and still marvel at it.  It delivered big moments, heart racing action, and more than a handful of OMGs each season.  In short, it is great. It never slipped (people who criticize early seasons should recognize that, in the totality this plays as a brilliant 62 episode movie where all parts are necessary and all add to the recipe of greatness.  There were no weak spots (other than the acting of the man who played Gomie, Hank Schroeder’s partner), no weak seasons and it delivered the goods at the end.

So the question is, what is the Righteous Prick’s greatest show of all time?

Tie.

Six Feet Under has the greatest ending of all time (imagine a guy hit a walkoff grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series down 3 runs – sort of impossible to ever beat) and showed life so realistically and so epically, while still just being about every day life.  But Breaking Bad, did the opposite in equally brilliant fashion – it showed how using great writing and acting could bring cinematic brilliance and epic storytelling into our mundane homes each week.  Both shows lasted five seasons, which also showed the perfect sense that both Alan Ball and Vince Gilligan had to prioritize art and story over money (Hi Dexter – how did those last 4 seasons work out for you?).  So I declare it a tie.  But since today is about Breaking Bad here is how bad my life immediately turned after Breaking Bad ended:

My door lock broke and I was locked inside my apartment for 3 hours, like Jesse Pinkman with the white supremacists, minus the torture and ice cream.  Then a locksmith showed up at 1:30 am, charging a king’s ransom, all while wearing a “Party With Sluts” t-shirt (true story). Then I read that Mad Men will be splitting up their final season into two parts the way Breaking Bad did.  To show you what is at sake among the actual and merely perceived shows – for Breaking Bad (and Six Feet Under to an extent) the question was of mortality – who and how will characters die?  For Mad Men, I assume the question will be “Will Don Draper cry in the final episode?”  To be great something has to be at stake.  Six Feet Under and Breaking Bad, the two greatest dramas of all time – put it all on the line in their own way and our reward was the best entertainment.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday!

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Minnesota Fats, Gary Matter and a Reverse Soul Bounce…

Last week I travelled to Minnesota for an old-fashioned fun week of road work (I call it old-fashioned because road work has become something of ancient lore for my calendar and bank account).  I was going back to the club that was first to give me a headlining weekend, the Joke Joint in St Paul, Minnesota.  It is a great little club with a friendly owner/manager.  In fact, unlike many comedy condos, the comedy condo at the Joke Joint is a welcome sight.  It is the second floor of the club owner’s house and is stocked with lots of homey amenities like a DVD player, bowls of candies and snacks and very clean (it is on his property so there is a major incentive to have it be more than just adequate).  But as it turned out, the owner had family in town so I ended up staying at the downtown St Paul Embassy Suites.  But I am racing ahead of myself.  This was days 2-4 of the trip. The first part was getting to Minnesota and going to the Black Bear Casino.

 

Part One: Cauvin’s 11

The first gig of the week was at the Black Bear Casino in Carlton, MN. I have done the casino before and it was solid the first time.  Rather than write out how the flight went, I will just provide you a few minutes form one of my sets at the Joke Joint to recap the flight.

When I arrived early afternoon I was picked up at the airport by Wayne, a local comedian who sort of resembles Drew Carey, if Drew Carey had served in the military and had some ink.  We drove north to Carlton and the Black Bear Casino made the mistake of giving me a $10 comp card to play on their machines.  I stuck it into a slot machine like a woman who had no idea she was about to be shamed.  I turned that $10 into just over $50 in winnings.  I kept looking over my shoulder for casino security to escort me out for taking them for all they could handle, but perhaps because I was “the talent” they let it pass.

I then went to the buffet (which was comp’d, once again, “the talent”) which was an incredible display of Middle America gluttony.  I saw so many obese people with 3 and 4 plates of food (and kept wanting to say “do you often bring 4 plates for yourself at home?  Then why are you doing it now? Have some shame!”) that it forced me to only have one dessert.  Then I went to entertain.  The show went great and I managed to sell a few CDs.  In summary – the house does not always win.

Days Two and Three – St Paul Laughs at an “Oaf”

The people of Minnesota have a well-earned reputation as being nice.  And after the first three shows the manager/owner of the Joke Joint only received one complaining e-mail where I was referred to as an unfunny “oaf.”  As someone who has a wealth of YouTube comments wishing death, AIDS and death cause by AIDS, I must say that being called an oaf is practically a compliment.  The shows did go really well all week, I sold almost all of my albums that I brought (Guns N Roses CDs were particularly popular) and was well-rested and relaxed.  So here are some random complaints I have about the area surrounding my Embassy Suites:

  • Jimmy Johns – I have seen many, never ate at one until now, out of necessity.  Great cookies.  Bad sandwiches – they sort of pretend to be a real deli, but that is just a front to pile on extras and condiments on to sandwiches which contain less and almost as slimy deli meats as Subway.
  • Dear Nice deli/diner/restaurant near the hotel (and the rest of America) – some people like Russian dressing for sandwiches.  Ranch Dressing is not a cure-all condiment and it is one of the many reasons we are a fat nation.

(See, not that many complaints)

Day Four: Gary Matter

If you are not a Breaking Bad fan, this is a play on Grey Matter – the company Walter White helped found and has regrets about because it took off after he left. In season one he is subjected to seeing their happiness and almost unlimited wealth as a reminder of what he felt close to achieving and is now very far from.  Similarly, on this day of my trip I ventured to the Mall of America where one of my favorite comedians (currently the #1 ranked tall comedian in America) Gary Gulman was headlining the House of Comedy.  We decided to meet up for lunch, and were instantly on par with Supreme Court Justices Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun as one of the most powerful partnerships ever forged in Minnesota (sorry Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer).

Vince Gilligan's rendering of my meeting with GaryGulman

Gulman selected a restaurant called Firelake Grill House, which appeared to be a restaurant from the future.  I felt like a person in a futuristic movie like Elysium, seeing how the privileged class lives.  Outside the restaurant was a series of oddly shaped pieces of furntiture that no one could sit on. That is how you know it was fancy.  I met Gulman and a local comedian he was buddies with and we have a fun lunch.  It was full of television talk and some words on comedy.   I never got to pitch my idea to Gulman for an HBO-sponsored tour called PremaTour Ejaculation (which would be a prequel sort of tour to Tourgasm), where Gulman would headline with a series of less accomplished comedians on the bill.  It was good to hear Gulman’s thoughts on comedy and simultaneously inspiring and disheartening to know that ten years in Gulman was struggling too.  Sadly I may not have Gulman’s Gus Fring-like patience to build an empire over decades.  My Walter White bank account (meaning it has stage 3 Cancer, not piles of money from overseas drug dealing) necessitates me finding sources of hope and revenue sooner, rather than later.  Gulman then picked up the check, which was the Grey Matter-picking-up-the-health-costs-for-Walter moment.  Very generous of him, but also I now expect to see Gulman completely disavowing me on a Charlie Rose interview in to the future.

The shows went really great that night. Made some new fans, sold a bunch of CDs and got a whole 3 1/2 hours sleep before my “You can’t afford conveniently timed flights” 645 am flight out of Minneapolis.

Epilogue – Silent White People

So I arrived back in NYC exhausted, but with no time to waste.  I had a guest set at Gotham Comedy Club Sunday night that I was hoping would make a clean tape to submit to a few things.  Of course I was nervous – I assume people out for a show during the final two episodes of Breaking Bad do not share my values or sensibilities and I may have been right.  I went on stage and the first joke did well, second joke was OK, but a reference to the movie Mask fell flat (even if you have not seen the movie I thought Eric Stoltz’ face was pretty much a cultural reference point for ugliness). Mind you it did not fall flat for sympathy (like a series of “awwwww”s or some other reaction, but just did not register.  The third joke was the one that really bothered me.  In it I reference the proliferation of movies about rich, white superheroes. If comic books are supposed to be fantasies, why are half the dudes rich white guys?  That is how the world works anyway.  So the punch line is as follows (the bit is on my 2nd album Diamond Maker):

So why doesn’t DC Comics just go all the way and have their next superhero be Todd The Hedge Fund Douchebag. (silence).  He gets his superpowers from high fives and bottle service at clubs (a couple of awww’s and “hey!”s in mild disapproval).  Instead of a bat signal, when you need him you just flash a signal in the sky of a high priced escort being choked to death – “Hey bro, the city needs me!” (a few scattered laughs).

The final bit got several laughs with a call back to an earlier bit, but I could not shake the anger I felt to the crowd’s reaction (or lack thereof) to a joke that consistently does well for me.  And then I realized – the vast majority of the crowd, which was pretty sizeable for a Sunday night, was white (like 96% +).  It felt like a tony Connecticut crowd. And this is one of those things I have realized in my comedy travel. On the road you see a lot of white suburban crowds – including my shows in Minnesota.  And I have seen mediocre black comics get what I call the “soul bounce” – which is many all-white crowds tendency to give mediocre black emcees a sort of bonus for being unfamiliar and so “gosh darn entertaining,” solely(soully) because they are black.  But at the same time, lack of exposure does not always mean you harbor prejudices or ignorance and I felt that from many of the crowds in St Paul.  The flipside is just because you live in a diverse melting pot like NYC does not mean you get a pass on being a sheltered, ignorant ass.  And to me, living in Lilydale, MN (the actual location of the Joke Joint and the whitest name of a town in America) and not having a diverse show or group of friends is a lot less weird than living in NYC and self-selecting a group of like-minded, like-looking, like-everything group of friends, because implied in the latter scenario is not a lack off opportunity for diversity in your life, but more likely an outright rejection of diversity in your life.  And that is what went through my mind as the crowd offered more sympathy for the poor hedge fund workers I was poking fun at.  Half of the bros in the audience probably work in finance and half the women probably are or want to be married into finance so I guess I was reverse soul bounced – when a white looking guy bashes bastions of white privilege in front of a Wonder Bread audience it gets silence. Of course this might be over analysis by me, but I doubt it.

Other than that the set went well and I was greeted by the very funny Mike Vecchione off stage who said “Nice set and really funny shit on-line.”  That made me feel good and like a comic’s comic, which Richard Belzer once said meant “that comics like me and I have no money.”  I then went home and watched Walter White’s second to last episode and realized that there are worse things than having a so-so set, but then got jealous because those worse things have been made into the best drama on television.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STICHER. New Every Tuesday! This week’s episode is a discussion of Breaking Bad, Mariano Rivera and my new album.

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Badly Broken: USA Chooses Cyrus the Virus & Angie…

It is no secret to readers of this blog that I am a huge fan of Breaking Bad.  It is one of the few shows I watch live and I consider it one of televisions three best dramas ever (assuming they stick the landing with the remaining 5 episodes).  But this morning was a 1-2 punch of disconcerting news for me on the Breaking Bad front.  First off, Breaking Bad is well behind… Rizzoli and Isles of TNT, in most watched shows on cable television.  Huh?  I have never heard of anyone liking this show, let alone hearing or knowing anyone who watches it.  I mean a co-star of the show just killed himself, so that seems like a big thumbs down.  Angie Harmon was the attractive, but overrated, one-note-of-complete-intensity actress who is married to the NFL’s Last of the Mohicans – Jason Sehorn (he was a white starting cornerback in the NFL).  Welcome to the Two Americas people – one where some watch Breaking Bad, some watch Rizzoli and Isles and way more people watch the MTV Video Music Awards.

Huh?

That’s right, after reading the Cable TV results in the NY Times I tuned in to Facebook and saw that many more of my friends were offering more commentary about the VMAs (shouldn’t YouTube be hosting these awards now?) than about Breaking Bad.  And the big story was about Miley Cyrus performance (John Malkovich’s Cyrus the Virus from Con Air is now passing the title on to Miley).  As embarrassed as I am that lots of people I know in their thirties were watching it instead of Breaking Bad, I was even more disturbed by her performance.  People are condemning it, but haven’t we reached a critical point in youth and sexuality (sorry to sound like an old fart – I know Miley is an adult legally, but her and MTV’s market is more youthful).  There is a flood of sexual content on television on exponentially more on-line.  Cell phones have also cut out parents as middlemen in the relationships of teenagers, while also giving teens and younger the capability of sending sexual images to each other.  As I said on my third album Too Big To Fail, teens have been horny forever, but a half a generation ago you had to buy pornography from another human being (shaming) and often speak and meet a parent or parents to become close to a high school girl or guy you were interested in (awkward and uncomfortable).  Now the sexual urges have never been stronger, but none of the gatekeepers are as firmly in place so kids can act upon their urges with not as much need to develop the requisite maturity that used to go hand in hand with it (or at least more so). Just like your 5 year old’s ability to play video games on your smart phone does not necessarily mean the child is actually smart, so it goes with teens’ increased exposure to sexuality and the actual maturity to deal with sexuality.

I know we no longer judge people, especially women, quite as harshly for sexual practices, but at some point shouldn’t we retain a little bit of judgment?  Sexuality, like technology, is not inherently evil, but in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone not mature to deal with it can still be harmful, both physically and mentally.  Here is what I posted on Facebook this morning that seemed to get a good response and sort of sums up my thoughts.

Can some people at least admit that our culture of hedonism masquerading as sexual empowerment, without any judgment or restraint, is partly what gives us monsters like Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian.  Exposing and teaching young people, especially girls, to embrace sexuality before they are mentally mature enough to understand it is what leads to chicks like Cyrus and Kardashian thinking they are “brave” or “bold” or “empowered” when they are just sort of shameful and disgusting.  I understand the backlash that emerged from substandard treatment to women and the sexual double standard that still persists to an extent today, but the pendulum seems to have swung too far.  We need fewer hypocrites on the right talking about family values and more free spirit liberals to start citing the values of decency once in a while.  This is not about condoms in high schools or birth control. It’s about common decency.  Perhaps when the next Miley Cyrus blows the next Robin Thicke on stage in 2025 we might pause and say “hey maybe we aren’t evangelical hypocrites or puritans burning witches just because we draw a line in the sand for what our kids are exposed to.”

Odd that today is the anniversary of women getting the right to vote.  I am sure if Susan B. Anthony were alive today she would have harsh words for Miley Cyrus and there would be many empowered women telling her to shut her judgmental ass up.  And then Ms. Anthony would watch Breaking Bad. #Hero

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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Keep My Enemies Closer Official Promo PLUS A Special…

As of today we are 36 days from the release of Keep My Enemies Closer, my new album that will either be a launching  pad for the next phase of my comedy career or the epitaph on my comedy career tombstone.  Either way it will be worth a buy and listen, preferably in that order.  As the final touches are done on artwork and production before I start promoting the holy hell out of it I offer you my August JLComedy video of the month.  I took this month off from impressions and skewering the comedy business to honor my favorite television show and character.  If you are a fan of Breaking Bad you will get this and enjoy it.  If not, just watch the fu*king thing as a show of support and mark your calendars to get on iTunes on September 24th.  Here’s the video:

Just to show you that I still have a stalker who is willing to fight a sad and lonely fight.  He has used a couple of false names on-line to draw attention away from the positive attention my work has been getting recently.  Sadly when you post 9 consecutive hateful comments filled with information stated by me on my podcasts people do not actually think you are stirring a debate, but just in need of mental health assistance.  So if you enjoyed the video and are looking forward to the album, thank you and here is an example of the kind of people who are REALLY excited about the album:

Oh yeah – on a positive note I have lost 11 pounds in my first 8 days on the Paleo diet so I hope “Claymaker” can one day by my friend!

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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How Good Is Breaking Bad? Not Even YOU Can…

For most readers of this blog it is not news or a shock that I have a podcast where I trash, or at least debate, popular, trendy or oversaturated things in our culture.  As much as crushing them is fun, at least half the time it is not the thing itself, but the overwhelming and overdone reaction of fans to the thing in question that I am really trashing.  I don’t hate cupcakes, to use an example of an early episode topic, just the way every bored chick with money in 2012 in Manhattan seemed to be opening up a cupcake store trying to out-cute and out-trendy the last week’s cupcake offering.  And last night, as I saw how large the Breaking Bad fan base seemed to have grown on social media I feared Breaking Bad might suffer the same fate as many of my podcast topics: that the culture that now obsesses over something (or anything) as soon as it becomes cool would drain Breaking Bad of its cool from overuse and overexposure and in the process kill (or at least reduce) my joy in it (sort of like the old people in the movie Cocoon did to the cocoon).

The old people got near the cocoons, became cool, but then drained and killed what was in the cocoons.

I liked Breaking Bad when I could still tell people about it without annoying them (3-4 seasons ago).  Now everyone who has caught up on Netflix in the last 8 weeks is preaching the Gospel with all the annoyance of a born again crystal meth Christian. I was not quite John The Baptist (that was comedian Nick Cobb for me who got me on the show after season 1 had aired), but I was a relatively early and outspoken fan, while the cool kids were still sucking Mad Men‘s balls (do you STILL think Mad Men is better????).  But now it has become a “thing” which is when I start to hate stuff, even if it is not the stuff’s fault.

But guess what?

Breaking Bad is too good for social media or humans to ruin, no matter how hard they hashtag and pun their asses off about the show!  This is the true sign of greatness – delivering the goods (which the final season premiere certainly did) while simultaneously withstanding the surrounding douchebaggery of trendiness that usually makes me hate something.

Congratulations Breaking Bad.  You are truly great.  Now I just hope there is not a mad rush to watch Six Feet Under by assholes.

Today’s post is short because I am conserving my energy. I just started the Paleo diet and will be bidding adieu to processed foods, potatoes of all kinds and desserts that are not fruit salad.  So hopefully by January 1st I will have dropped 60 pounds or died because I will not be able to deal with any other outcome.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday! 

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The Cleveland Recap and Salon Backlash

This weekend I was at the Cleveland Improv emceeing shows.  My math, which is probably good for the present bottom line and horrible for future earnings is, “Will this gig net me more than sitting on my ass this weekend?” If the answer is yes, then I usually take the gig.  I was supposed to be featuring at the Cleveland Improv since a little while back, but just after logging half a dozen emcee spots (as in weekends, not shows) I was told that the feature booking responsibility had been shifted the main Midwest outpost of the Funny Bone/Improv chains (just like the Mob in Casino had Kansas City as a critical control hub between the East Coast and Vegas, so too does a town in Ohio control the fate of many working comedians.  And instead of adding (and earning) a club to my roster of places I feature I effectively had to take one off and be content emceeing.

The shows were fun and I ended the weekend with a 5-1 record (the Cleveland Improv is a largely urban club and I would compare my experiences there to playing organized basketball – you only have fun at the end of the game if it turns out you won a/k/a won over the crowd – but every show feels like work.  This is not shooting around or pick up basketball – it is adversarial and it partly feels, especially as the emcee (the three shows I have featured at the Cleveland Improv have always been my best), like you have to break the will of the crowd to laugh at you.  And before this sounds too much like a slave master analogy, let me remind you at this time that my father is black.  At best I am a house slave chiding field slaves (now the featured pic makes some offensive sense).

On more fun notes, AKA the time spend off stage, I must say downtown Cleveland is beautiful.  This is not a joke.  I think my purpose in comedy is not to become a successful or even marginal comedian – perhaps this adventure has just allowed me to scout many American locations so I can choose a place to live and work when I hang up the microphone.  And I think I identified the exact location in Cleveland.  Near the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame (recap of that next paragraph – WOW) there is a Catholic Church, an Amtrak Station, a football stadium (OK – the Browns, but still), a beautiful, expansive lakefront view and all the municipal buildings, presumably where prosecutors who did not get into comedy go to work every day.  If Cleveland were willing to throw an IHOP and a Cheesecake Factory into the area I would gladly plunk myself down there and die of happiness and trans fats sometime in my early 40s.

Sunday I went to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.  Holy sh*t that place is even better than I remember.  If you like music at all or do not suck as a human you must go here.  You learn so much (Les Paul should have a movie made about him already if there isn’t) and the place is chock full of great music, interactive exhibits, memorabilia and more.  Right now there is a two story exhibit on the Rolling Stones and for me the highlight is still the (now 90 minute) montage film of all the Rock n Roll HOF inductees.  That place should be on everyone’s bucket list.  Most readers of this blog would not believe how much I was smiling while inside the museum, but my face hurt a little bit when I left for overusing muscles I never use.

So thanks Cleveland for having a very underrated city and I hope that rumors of a comeback and rejuvenation are not wrong.

In other, probably more significant news I was featured in a piece on the popular site Salon.com.  The article was the work of Daniel Berkowtiz (no relation to David) a Columbia journalism student who met with me over many months to write a 6500 word tour de force about a respected, but failing comedian in the age of social media (me in case you do not respect me).  One of the interesting things about my peers and I that often gets overlooked is that I am part of the last generation of comedians who really invested themselves in comedy right before YouTube and social media completely changed the game of stand up for better and worse.  The article captures that very well, but when Salon took the article they required it cut down to 2500 words (though I did appreciate Salon using a photo of me from before comedy took my jaw line).  The big loser in that was probably my mother who was interviewed for the article and who gets a lot of praise from me for her support and is one of the biggest reasons I feel guilty for potentially squandering a law degree/career to pursue a more selfish/self-centered career.  The biggest winner was probably my ex fiancée who was not spared in the original version for being a terrible presence in my life at the very point when my career may have been poised to take off.

But the article has driven new traffic to my work and of course most comedians are respectful, appreciative or even encouraging, but some “comedians” and many heroes in the Internet Commenter Community have come to trash me.  Part of the problem is the title of the article Salon chose “YouTube Is Killing Comedy” was overbroad, sensational and completely inaccurate when compared to the substance of the actual article.  It probably primed some readers (those with poor reading comprehension) to view it under a totally false framework.  The original title “The New Life of a Stand Up Comedian” was a better choice, but perhaps would not have generated as much traffic (ironic that an article about a comedian having to bend over backwards and devote efforts to other pursuits to satisfy Internet business models had to adjust to a title that was more sensational and inaccurate to drive Internet business).  But I enjoyed all the negative comments (cue Nas’ Hate Me Now, but with all the wealth references replaced by sarcasm).  People that still insist on defending Louis CK from an impression as if he is their child (and attack me because I am not famous – had the sketch been on SNL it would be exempt from scorn) or people trashing my comedy – one guy shot up my Ferguson set with no real ammo, but wrote with self-important authority so I guess I should heed his non-advice – these folks are the backbone of Internet comedy!

So on to Breaking Bad week.  This week I will record a new video – a Breaking Bad parody to promote my new album.  Looking forward to everyone telling me I don’t look like Walter White (I won’t be in costume – I’m playing myself – but I assume at least one comment will say “This was OK, but Bryan Cranston is a much better actor”).

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!  This week’s episode will be all BREAKING BAD so subscribe or follow today to get it Tuesday.

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The Social Media Guide to Watching Breaking Bad

Last Sunday night I watched a great episode of Breaking Bad, the best show on television by a mile and a show that is only looking up at Six Feet Under in my all-time drama rankings.  But thanks to Twitter, Facebook, E-mail and Adult Friend Finder my television viewing has become a high wire act to avoid both spoilers and requests for immediate analysis at 11:05 pm every Sunday.  This Sunday’s episode was particularly bad because a fairly major event occurred, but because I was 11 minutes behind on my DVR I was treated to an alert on Twitter that spoiled the ending (Yes, I know the solution is to avoid Twitter, but I was not checking it.  It was when I went to look at something else on my computer that the message was up on my screen. The person deleted the tweet which was a good idea because I went looking for the tweet so I could publicly shame them).   So, in keeping with this blog’s love of Breaking Bad, as well as its beloved condescending and angry tone, here are my tips/requests of people who ruin Breaking Bad:

1) You must wait at least 48 hours before revealing significant plot points.  Sunday night has become television’s most packed night. Perhaps you are still cleaning off your vibrator of bad taste and loneliness from an episode of True Blood or enjoying Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom, the only thing liberals refuse to abort, despite the fact that it endangers the health of the viewer, but Breaking Bad belongs on the level with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and The Wire (no, Mad Men you may not join this party you pretentious B+ of a show posing as an A+) as Sunday’s greatest achievements (Church and NFL are already in the Sunday Hall of Fame).  But folks, the DVR has been invented!  So people are not watching all their shows from 10:01-11:04, but may start it at 10:15, 10:30 or even the next day!  Granted, if you are a true Breaking Bad fan only military service or the birth of a male child should prevent you from watching it the night it airs, but unless you start at 10:11 pm with flawless fast forwarding skills you will be seconds or even minutes behind the real time viewing.  If you feel compelled to comment on the show (instead of staring blankly at the screen for hours, the way I did after the final two episodes of Season 3 of Breaking Bad) here are examples of acceptable and unacceptable social media posts:

  • ACCEPTABLE – “Tough/Sad/Great Breaking Bad tonight””
  • UNACCEPTABLE – “RIP ——–(enter name of character)”

Now I believe RIP messages on Twitter and Facebook are usually inappropriate, but reasonable people can differ on that (you are still wrong if you disagree with me). However, RIP messages for fictional characters that ruin plot points for others can not be acceptable in a civilized society.  And this says nothing for people in later time zones who are also victims of these Breaking Bad social media terrorists.  Admittedly I have done this on shows like American Idol, but I have no respect for fellow viewers of American Idol.  Breaking Bad viewers deserve more respect.

And as a follow up to this – if someone is good enough to post an acceptable message, you should not then retweet or comment with information that spoils what the original poster was not revealing.  You are a bad person if you do this because you are both spoiling the show and hijacking someone else’s status update for your own evil agenda.

So I think 48 hours is a good amount of time before openly revealing plot points. Please abide by this out of respect for people who watch television’s best show.  Or you shall be dealt with like Gus Fring dealt with the cartel in season 4:

2) Please Do Not Ask Me For Instant Analysis.  As part of the social media culture we are in a race to declare, opine or explore everything instantaneously.  I am usually bombarded with emails within 30 minutes of the conclusion of a good episode.  I am still wiping the lotion off of my nether regions thirty minutes after a good episode of Breaking Bad, so what makes you think I want to immediately get on my computer, AKA porn machine, if I am already spent?  Besides, Breaking Bad episodes, the truly powerful ones (which is all of them, including The Fly episode – shut up haters!), are meant to linger in your mind and soul and make you question all that is good and bad in the world (or am I taking it too seriously?), so let those thoughts and feelings marinate.  That is why it is called water cooler conversation – because you should wait until mid-morning on Monday to discuss it. In other words, if enticed to ask questions either go to sleep or follow Walter White’s advice:

3) Do Not Live Tweet Episodes of Breaking Bad.  I know AMC has all sorts of “two screen experience,” promotions but dammit,  just watch the show.  This is simply a respect issue.  Like people who play fantasy football and then ruin your experience because they are rooting in your face for a back up running back against your team, simply because their Dungeons and Dragons league is at stake, live tweeters are ruining the show for themselves and you.  Like taking your hat off indoors or holding a door for a woman who is not starting at her iPhone, this should be a time-honored part of proper, mannerly behavior.  I think computers should be rigged to react like Tio Salamanca’s wheelchair here for anyone who live tweets Breaking Bad:

That is it people – really easy steps to making the final 9 episodes of Breaking Bad more enjoyable for everyone.  And sorry if this post spoiled season 3 or 4 for you, but what the fu*k have you been waiting for?  If you read this blog and have not watched Breaking Bad until now and are not at least caught up through Season 4 then it is your own fault. Bitch.

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Golden Globe Breakdown

It should go without saying that I have some issues with today’s Golden Globe nominations.  We will keep this between the best picture and best televisions show categories.

Best Picture – Drama

The Descendants – agree, one of my favorite movies of the year.

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The Ides of March – agree, one of my favorites.

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The Help – A good movie, but a best picture nominee?  Oh right, this year’s white guilt/white power entry (admittedly much better than The Blind Side).  Absolutely not a best pic nominee.

Moneyball – a good movie, went long though.  This is the “thank God they did not nominate Drive” slot.  I would not have nominated it, but it was solid for the most part.

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War Horse – haven’t seen it yet. Not out yet.

Hugo – bored me to fu*king tears, but it is a movie by Martin Scorsese and is masturbation material for cinephiles.  Might be the most overrated movie of the year.  I fell asleep. Only the second time in my life that happened,

BESY DRAMA SNUBS – Thank God Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was not nominated (who knew the spy world was so fu*king dry and boring).  The only movie I really loved that is not nominated in this category was Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  I know it had no chance, but the movie was great (I thought it might have a shot at a District 9 type nomination)

Best Comedy Picture

This is the category that the Globes force every movie they want nominated into the category.

50/50 – one of my top 5 movies of the year up to this point.  Really good movie and very respectable choice

Bridesmaids – a good comedy, but in the year of “Females Can Be Funny” articles this is a no brainer. My only complaint on this one was that many of the jokes were over done (i.e. 4 punchlines – hilarious, 7 punchlines – diminishing returns). No beef with the nomination (though in my reivew you will see me bash the preview for Warrior, which turned out to be really good)

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The Artist – will see this and will definitely win based on all the buzz

My Week With Marilyn – have not sen it. Will see it. Not a comedy or musical. Foreign press is stupid.

Midnight In Paris – a nice movie, but pales in comparison to Woody Allen’s bleaker views of humanity (it is no Annie Hall on the comedy scale and it is definitely no Crimes and Misdemeanors – my favorite Woody Allen flick).

SNUBS – Where the fu*k is Crazy Stupid Love?!!  My favorite comedy of the year.  Great heart, great comedy, great performances, not a dull moment.  One of the best movies of the year.

BEST TELEVISION DRAMA

Game of Thrones – second best show on television – damn right!

Boardwalk Empire – no problem here

Boss – this is the show with Kelsey Grammer on Starz.  No idea, but someone should penalize Kelsey Grammer for Frasier – the most overrated comedy of all time.  Apparently he plays a corrupt mayor with cancer – ahem I guess they won’t forget the best show with a guy with cancer, right? Or did they pick the wrong show with a terminally ill lead?

Homeland – everyone is masturbating to this not-quite-early 24 Showtime show.  A great premise but episodes have been hit and miss for me and Clare Danes is a shit actress (her bug eyes have been vying for an Emmy every second she is on camera).  The show is not bad, but I think people are a little too gaga for it.

American Horror Story – had no interest in this, but will catch up on it – I have heard good things.

SNUBS – Where the fu*k is Breaking Bad?  Golden Globes never nominated The Wire, so you are in good company BB.  The best show on television by an Usain Bolt margin.

BEST COMEDY SHOW

Enlightened – new HBO show – I will now do some serious On Demand watching to see if it is good

Modern Family – slipping, but still very funny – no problem

Episodes – GREAT – really really funny show on Showtime – good choice

Glee – seriously, get the fu*k out of my face – I’d gladly accept Louie in its place. 🙂

The New Girl – Zooey Deschanel is a pair of brown eyes from being homeless – I loved 500 Days of Summer so she has some credit in the bank with me, but the New Girl is not very good (the best episode by far was the pilot which had Damon Wayans Jr. – who then went to Happy Endings) – it feels like a hipster comic was asked to write a sitcom for CBS – that weird blend of quirky and crappy.  There are people who Hollywood have been inexplicably trying to make a star – one is Ryan Reynolds, two is the lead actor on Hawaii Five-O and the third is Zooey. Stop it.

SNUBS – Parks and Recreation, Two Broke Girls could and should replace Glee and The New Girl.   When Community is good it is great, but every third episode falls flat for me so not consistent enough.

TOMORROW CHECK OUT MY REVIEW OF THE NEW SHERLOCK HOLMES MOVIE AND THEN MONDAY I WILL RECAP MY ADVENTURES IN SAN ANTONIO.