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Thankful List

This site is usually saved for gripes, but today is a today for being thankful so after some reflection (family, health, etc. obviously) here are the things I am thankful for in no particular order:

1) My Obama impression.  It is not my favorite bit or part of my stand up, but I like Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers I do feel like my Obama impression is what could hit the metaphorical winning shot for me in my comedy career.  Of course even if it makes it big, my comedy career will still be the equivalent of a hick in Indiana.  But like money to an ugly man or big breasts and loose morals to a woman I think Obama will get my stand up going places faster than if I was without it.

Me economic recovery is based solely on how long he stays in office.
Me economic recovery is based solely on how long he stays in office.

2) The New York Knicks.  As readers of this blog know I am one of a handful of Utah Jazz fans (22 years and counting) outside of the state of Utah or the Mormon faith.  The Jazz have been a disappointment this year, but the New York Knicks have been nothing short of a disgrace and thanks to ramifications of the trade for Stephon Marbury 6 years ago the Knicks’ first round pick (most likely a top 5 pick) will go to the Jazz.

Dear NY Knicks, Thanks.  Love, Utah Jazz
Dear NY Knicks, Thanks. Love, Utah Jazz

3) My girlfriend.  If only for buying me Adam Lambert’s new CD (and apparently a point on the Kinsey scale) and saving me from one of the more emasculating purchases I could make.  I made no secret of my enjoyment of his American Idol performances and although the album is way too much Lady Gaga-light and not enough Steven Tyler/Freddie Mercury/David Bowie as it should be, no gift has ranked higher on the “it’s the thought that counts” scale, except for her purchase of a Paul Millsap game jersey for me last Christmas.   And a bonus to her is that if in some alternative universe I pull a Sal from Mad Men, she can say, “Dammit, I should have known when he was singing along to that Adam Lambert song.”

Yes, that Adam Lambert is quite the singer.  Wait, you're firing me Don?  What for? A straight man can't like Adam Lambert?
Yes, that Adam Lambert is quite the singer. Wait, you're firing me Don? What for? A straight man can't like Adam Lambert?

Note – this was all conceived before Lambert dragged men on leashes, face-fu-ked and tongue raped other men on the American Music Awards.  While I appreciate his stance that there is a double standard by the heterosexual world concerning lesbians and gay men making out, it was a bit much.  And it detracts from his considerable talent.  Add another Kinsey point. Fu-k.

4) The people running shi*ty open mics, the people who are not taking advantage of struggling, new, or desperate comics and the people who run decent shows for free in the city.   Like a house of worship, the communal strength of the good people trying to do good things in and with comedy in NYC (and elsewhere) make it easier to keep following a tough dream.  So thanks to all you people as well.  To those who are manipulating or taking advantage of even one comic, go fu-k yourselves.

For all my complaints about the establishment in comedy, there are a lot of funny and hard working people making it tolerable.
For all my complaints about the establishment in comedy, there are a lot of funny and hard working people making it tolerable.
Blog

Another Michael Jackson Is Impossible

Muhammad Ali, Barack Obama, The Pope, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton.  This is the group of people’s whose deaths could rival or exceed Michael Jackson’s in terms of worldwide newsworthiness and cultural impact (and Jordan is very iffy).  That is really it in my opinion.  (And it happened a few hours after I was complaining that Farrah Fawcett’s death, though sad for her family and friends of course, did not warrant huge media attention.  Jackson’s did and does. )  And notice there are no music people on the list.  Sorry Justin Timberlake, Usher, Ne-Yo and any other people who they are already trying to figure out who could take the mantle.  That sounds like a bad joke. 

Talent? Absolutely.  About 25% of MJ combined.
Talent? Absolutely. About 25% of MJ combined.

There is no “next” Michael Jackson.  There are a few reasons for this:

The Cultural Gap

Michael Jackson had an incredible talent and an abusive parent willing to beat it out of him (I had parents willing to do the latter, but quickly persuaded them against hitting me a lot with my “I don’t have much talent” defense).   Acrucible this toxic, but which generates such prodigious, one-of-a-kind genius could never occur in today’s over-exposed culture, where every other as-hole can actually become a star.  He’d either be scooped up by a reality show or taken away from his parents (unlikely if he’s famous since we revel in the exploitation of children every day on shows like Jon and Kate plus 8).  So there’s no sense talking about a “next” MJ because it is not really possible given our cultural landscape of low standards and quick fix need for new celebs.

The Innovation Gap

There is nobody with his talent for innovation in the music business.  His closest musical counterpart is Madonna and she’s not really close.  Today there is more imitation than anything else.  Not to draw a comparison, but that is one of the reasons Adam Lambert was so good on American Idol – he seemed to be somewhat original, but still he lived in the shadow of men like Steven Tyler and Freddie Mercury.  The best analogy I can come up with is sports related. The shadow Michael Jordan cast on basketball is so great that players like Kobe and LeBron are trying to be free of it today and cast their own legacy.  Now imagine Michael Jordan were put in a time machine and played in the 1960s instead of the 1980s and 90s.  Now imagine how much more incredible and awe-inspiring he would have been if he was in that era.  That is what Michael Jackson did for music.  And his breaking of major racial barriers goes without saying.

King of Pop
King of Pop

The Class Gap

As ironic as it may sound Michael Jackson is lucky to have lived until 50 with the media pressure and voyeuristic celebrity hunting that now goes on.  He was fortunate enough to be a fully grown man by the time people were really going psycho for him.  Nowadays with this exponentially growing blood lust we have for celebrities wouldn’t he be more likely to suffer a fate like Britney Spears?  Breaking down right before or after Thriller, thus denying the public of several years of quality music afterwards?  I even like You Rock My World, which he released 19 years after Thriller.

The child molestation charges and odd behavior of Michael Jackson will forever be linked to his legacy.  I have a friend who believes child molesters should be castrated.  I am one of those people that hopes that Michael was just strange and never did anything sexual to the children, but that feels unlikely.  But I look at a guy who was abused by his father, and lived a public life for 40 years that no one besides Obama over the last 2 years can even relate to I think.  I feel bad for him.  People feel bad for victims of abuse when it occurs, but when they turn into monsters themselves, no one cares anymore.  This is not a defense for his actions, if he did abuse children, but just maybe a moment of compassion is warranted, even if you do find him despicable.  When you look at pictures of this cute talented kid and then at the recluse alien he became you have to know this was a deeply troubled person not in full control of what he became – his family exploited him and society smothered him.

So I am happy to own a bunch of Michael Jackson records and in a show of class I only told one Michael Jackson joke (it was the entertainment elephant in the room) last night (at one of the most difficult shows of my career – nothing compared to the massacre at Medgar Evers College a few years ago, but bad):

With Ray Charles, James Brown and Michael Jackson dead I’d be scared sh-tless if I was Stevie Wonder.  If diabetes doesn’t get his chubby ass, then apparently the ghost from Final Destination will.

The good money in your legendary black musical figures death pool.
The good money in your legendary black musical figures death pool.

I will write some funnier stuff on Sunday or Monday about my Florida trip (let’s hope the worst is behind me), but I wanted to write something about the biggest entertainer in the world.   And at least “kids these days” can see that there was something just a tad bigger than The Jonas Brothers and Lady Gaga.  After all, even I had a Michael Jackson figure – I believe it was the Billie Jean one (modeled on the 1983 Motown Special).  Music didn’t just lose a giant.  It lost THE giant.

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Adam Lambert vs. Kris Allen or as Don King…

Last night America added insult to widowery when they voted off the soulful sound of recent widower Dany Gokey.  On pure talent the finals should have been Dany Gokey versus Adam Lambert.  But like many elections, especially those involving reality shows, women flex their pop culture suffrage in greater numbers than men and Gokey could not measure up.  See, Adam Lambert is the talented gay friend that every girl, not from the Bible belt (and maybe secretly in the Bible belt – “Daddy, it ain’t a sin if I just watch him sing his songs!”) wants (think Sex and the City or Rupert Everett) .

Option 1 for ladies - Shopping and Endless Compliments from Adam Lambert
Option 1 for ladies - Shopping and Endless Compliments from Adam Lambert

Kris Allen is the cute boy next door that will sing a girl an acoustic song on a beach somewhere (think Owen Wilson’s take on Hutch in Starsky and Hutch). 

Otion 2 - Kris Allen - Remember The Time I sang to you you ungrateful bit*h!  Why don't you have sex with your best friend - oh that's right - he doesn't want to.
Option 2 - Kris Allen - Remember The Time I sang to you you ungrateful bit*h! Why don't you have sex with your best friend - oh that's right - he doesn't want to.

But what category did Dany Gokey bring to the table – soulful white man on the worst rebound imaginable (think Michael Bolton or C. Thomas Howell for the 20 years in between Soul Man and Southland).  So the women have spoken and they now have to choose between The Birdcage and The Notebook.

It's not going to get any easier Dany.
It's not going to get any easier Dany.

On pure talent, Adam Lambert should run away with it.  His voice is so powerful he basically sounds like he is showing off every time he sings.  Although I think the judges are now under some hypnotic Prince-like spell with Adam where they are incapableof criticizing him, his performances of Mad World and Satisfaction this season have been the two best performances of the season.  But things that are not in his control could hurt him (Katy Perry wearing an “Adam Lambert cape before her performance?).   Sidenote: my tweets during the show got Katy Perry to follow me on Twitter.

But Kris Allen emerged as a contender with his first performance in the Top 13 when he did a great version of Do You Remember The Time by Michael Jackson.   Since then he has been the competition’s John Mayer (minus strange tattoos and complete douche-bagginess) on “Your Body Is A Wonderland” overdrive, with ooooo-ing and ahhh-ing at his awww shucks charm (which does seem genuine).   Two things may hurt him.  One is that he does not have the pure talent and showmanship of Lambert and two is that he is from what I have heard is that he is a married Christian, which will lose him the vote of physicists and alternative NYC comedians.

So who will win?  It should be Lambert and I think it will be.   If he does win I hope his album is some sort of melding of Sebastian Bach and Freddie Mercury and not some trite pop, which would not really fit him anyway. 

My two funniest moments from last night’s show:

  1. A female fan in San Diego rushing Adam Lambert while removing her shirt – either she was from a Bible-based re-orientation program or she got some very bad information.
  2. The Real Sex moment.  Seeing Jordin Sparks looking quite nice singing her song and then flashingback to Adam and Kris was the equivalent of Real Sex on HBO when one minute it is the “Female Porn Stars HavingLesbian Encounters” segment followed quickly and inappropriately by “Old Men Masturbating” segment.  Not cool American Idol.