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Shame of Thrones: The Incest Inclusion Problem of TV’s…

If you are binging or catching up or have started the show this contains earlier season spoilers

On Sunday, May 19th HBO will air the series finale of Game of Thrones, it’s most popular show of all time and the definitive show of the last decade (all due respect to one of my TV Drama Mount Rushmore members Breaking Bad). But for all the deserving praise the show is getting as its run concludes (and some deserved and undeserved criticism) I have been perplexed by a lack of criticism for one of Thrones‘ most glaring omissions in this era of representation and inclusion: none of the incest is same sex.

The show over 8 seasons has featured rape, murder, gore, loads of nudity and yes, incest.  But of all of that incest, which has been a hallmark of the show as much as it has been a hallmark of the Targaryen history, none of it has reflected the LGBTQ community.  Most notably we have:

Jamie and Cersei Lannister – the twins who don’t know how to quit each other

Cersei and her Cousin Lancel (Lancel eventually goes Born Again Faith Militant)

The Whole Targaryen Family

Craster – the man in the north who has sex with all of his daughters (and notably has all of his sons KILLED, denying even an opportunity for same sex incest with their father later in life)

And last, but not least Jon Snow and his Aunt… Daenerys

This is a lot of incest in various forms – sibling-sibling, father-child, aunt-nephew, cousin-cousin, etc., but they all have one insidious common thread – all heterosexual intercourse.  This begs the question: what are show creators Weiss and Benioff so afraid of?  Why leave out a marginalized community from one of the driving forces in the hit show?  Now there was one character who gave the LGBTQ-Incest Ally community hope: Prince Oberyn Martell.  A demonstrably sex-positive, bi-sexual hero (he had sex with women and men on screen and notably told the Lannisters that he did not judge their relations.

But just as the show’s LGBTQ hero was defending the life of the dwarf Tyrian Lannister (an ally to yet ANOTHER marginalized community), the show writers demonstrated their true contempt for that voice of inclusion.  This is the fate our inclusive, sex-positive, LGBTQ hero received from Weiss and Benioff (who, by the way, have said they want to make a Star Wars film where the Confederacy wins and enslaves Jon Boyega – HARD PASS):

This scene is still the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen in a movie or show – both the brutality of it and the loss of a true LGBTQ hero

So as this show ends its run on Sunday night I say good riddance.  Incest is not just a plot device and taboo to be enjoyed by the hetero masses.  Hopefully, with the spinoffs of Thrones and other shows HBO develops will do better. Because the audience, like Prince Oberyn, deserved better.

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Kevin Durant May Have Killed The NBA

Celebrating my 30th year as a Utah Jazz fan in 2017 (in exile in NYC for the whole time, like a hoops Roman Polanski) I began the 2016-17 season with deferred optimism. Last year (2015-16) the Jazz would have made the playoffs if they had not been the most injured team in the league. This year they had a contract year Gordon Hayward, an ever-improving Rudy Gobert and veteran additions of George Hill and Joe Johnson, so it was not hard to convince me that this was the year they finally became relevant again. They won 51 games, despite losing the most starters’ games to injury in the league.  They have a young core, a rabid fan base and a series win over the Clippers to give most of their players a first taste of playoff success.  And as of last night’s bitter defeat in Game 3 of the second round hope has been snuffed out. And it may have been snuffed out for the rest of the NBA for some time.

Kevin Durant – Possibly The Biggest Bitch in NBA History

I think I learned that I hated Durant for the first time last night.  I thought his decision to sign with Golden State was weak and anti-competitive (you get to an NBA Finals at 23, take the defending champs to 7 games – after BLOWING a series lead – and you decide to join your vanquisher instead of staying put?), but I did not really care that much.  I was more focused on the development of Utah and figured we would not be championship ready for a couple of seasons anyway.  But seeing the Jazz, who I think could have easily been the 3 seed this year if they had merely suffered the league average for injuries, make such strides so quickly made me feel more helpless as a fan much sooner than I expected.

The Jazz have built a team slowly and surely that could be a conten- oh never mind.

And before I continue destroying Durant, I think some of the blame for his decision rests with the fans and the media in our age of easy markers of success and low attention span.  As a Jazz fan, and a 90s hoops fan of any good team without Michael Jordan on the roster, I felt many stinging defeats, but in retrospect I am happy to have rooted for a team that was competitive for 2 decades and elite for 4 or 5 years.  Malone and Stockton are among the game’s greatest players and losing to Jordan did not tear them down as much as it enhanced the legend of Jordan’s greatness.  However, with social media, the Internet and stupidity all playing a bigger role in our lives, the scrutiny and need for an easy token of “greatness” dominates sports’ conversations.  So after Lebron was crushed, but then redeemed for winning, by a fickle and hypocritical fan base, Durant probably looked and said “The only way for me to be legit is to win a title and the media and fans will forgive my cowardice if I win, just like they did for Lebron.”  Of course, there are critical differences (Lebron joined a 47 win team and had been in a purgatory of Cleveland – never bad enough with Lebron for elite draft picks, never enticing enough for free agents. He did not join one of the 5 greatest teams in NBA history that had just barely beat him), but I cannot say that fans and media are completely blameless in creating the atmosphere that made Durant choose Golden State.  But that said, his move to Golden State was the most cowardly and bloody coup since the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones (there will be more GOT analogies).

The Decision now looks like storming the beaches of Normandy compared to Durant’s gutless decision to play for the Warriors.

But none of these things made me hate Kevin Durant.  No, it was not until late in Game 3 of the Warriors-Jazz series, when Durant cursed out the Jazz mascot, Bear, that I realized he was a bitch.  YOU (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) GET (clap emoji) TO (clap emoji) ACT (clap emoji) TOUGH (clap emoji) WHEN (clap emoji) YOU (clap emoji) BITCHED (clap emoji) OUT (clap emoji) AND (clap emoji) JOINED (clap emoji) THE (clap emoji) WARRIORS!

I’ll admit I was deeply frustrated that my Jazz squad had nullified Curry, Thompson (FYI – the only non-bitch superstar on the Warriors) and Draymond to bad games and the Warriors were able to rely on the Johnny Gil of their Shitty New Edition to drop 38 points.  But seeing Durant try to be a tough guy, a villain and an “assassin” has made me (I never thought I would say this) miss Kobe Bryant – who may have been a douche and a jerk, but never an anti-competitive turd.  Watching Durant emotionally flex felt like seeing Amazon do a touchdown dance in front of a neighborhood bookstore that was closing.

So is there any hope? Probably not.  I mean maybe Klay Thompson could leave and maybe the overall bitch-ass-ness of the team would force it to implode, but other than that I think we may be stuck with this squad for a while.  But if there are any chances for the rest of the league here they are (with a slight Utah bias showing on one):

Lebron.  Lebron may be the Jamie Lannister of the NBA at this point (how ironic that the King is best represented by the King Slayer).  The Decision was when he pushed a kid out of the window (boooo), but he then helped a giant, unappealing woman (Brienne of Tarth = Cleveland) and we all were fans again (yay).  Well with Durant and GS being Cersei and The Mountain (a bitch and a powerful monster tandem) it may be the King Slayer who will provide us the best chance to prevent a terrible dynasty.  And, by the way, if Lebron actually does beat this Warriors team in the Finals, I (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) CARE (clap emoji) ABOUT (clap emoji) MICHAEL (clap emoji) JORDAN’S (clap emoji) SIX (clap emoji) RINGS!  The GOAT title will have passed and I will not longer entertain other arguments… even when it is revealed that Lebron uses HGH for milk in his cereal.

Lebron and Cleveland… GoT style

Chris Paul to the Spurs (or if not, the Jazz).  Gregg Popovich is the only superstar in the NBA besides Lebron with a shot to stop the Warriors.  And getting Chris Paul would greatly enhance their competitiveness for the next few years while Paul can still deliver (he was outstanding against the Jazz).  The Spurs are the Patriots of the NBA, except their leaders don’t like Trump, so they are even better.  With Chris Paul taking over for Tony Parker they would immediately be a legit contender again, especially if Apple updates the Kawhi Leonard operating system for 2017-18.  But if the Spurs cannot get him I would argue that the Jazz could make a compelling argument.  They have a great defense, depth at each position (except center – maybe address that in this Summer’s draft) and with George Hill injury prone and not under contract a possible place for major upgrade. And only a few teams are better than the Jazz and almost all have the pG position filled – GSW, Cleveland, Houston (Harden), Spurs, Jazz.  So basically if the Spurs cannot get Paul I think it would be beneficial to the league, to CP3, the Jazz and my mental health for the Jazz to make a deal for CP3. The pitch the Jazz make is simple – “Right now Chris, you are in the Stockton, Payton, Nash category and unless you get a title you will never break into the Isaiah Thomas category.  We are your best (non-Spurs) shot at that. So what if Utah is boring – it is beautiful and we only want you for 3 years.”

JaVale McGee accidentally injures all the Warriors. Perhaps an athletic move gone awry (known henceforth as a “JaVale”) in practice leads JaVale to land on Curry and Draymond, ending their seasons (note – I have always been a McGee fan – athletic, plays hard, goofy -pure entertainment, and oddly admirable).

Prayer – It cannot be denied that the Golden State Warriors are an unholy creation.

LaVar Ball gets his son traded to the Warriors on Draft Night and all Hell breaks loose.  Now that would be awesome.

LaVar Ball may be our last, best hope to stop the Warriors.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.

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Blood Transfusion Is the Next Great American Show (and…

Last night I watched the Emmys and immediately felt accomplished because I had seen almost all the shows referenced in the opening dance number by homeless-man’s Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg.  Ten seconds later I felt shame realizing that my studio apartment really is a binge watching bunker.  Samberg went through his monologue, which although full of bombs, did have the gem, that based on new classifications in the nominating categories “Orange is the New Black is now a drama, and Louie is now considered jazz.”  I laughed out loud when I heard that.  But then it was time for the awards.  I gave a detailed preview score sheet on Facebook that proved mostly correct, except for a few pleasant surprises and a bunch of losses to something called Olive Kitteridge.  So here is my Emmy recap and a quick preview of what I think will win Best Drama at the 2018 Emmys.

Veep scores the most important win of the night. Veep is a great comedy that scored its finest season this year (the addition of Hugh Laurie aka House was tremendous – like if the Golden State Warriors had added Lamarcus Aldridge this off season). I believe Veep was the 2nd best comedy of the year (after Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), but more important than who won, was who lost, namely Transparent.  I had a genuine fear that the hip, politically timely, offensively hipster led (look up director/creator Jill Soloway at last night’s ceremony – all that was missing was a bonnet made out of kale), and incredibly unfunny (though Jeffrey Tambour is an excellent actor and gave a good, mostly dramatic performance in the show) show would score a victory for politics over actual humor.  With Veep crushing it in most comedy categories, the Emmy voters (which were recently expanded from its usually high brow “blue ribbon panel” voters) send a resounding message that comedy actually matters more than political winds in the comedy category.

So quirky, progressive and hip she probably lactates almond milk.

Game of Thrones and Peter Dinklage get rewarded for Season 4 by winning for Season 5.  Game of Thrones is a masterpiece of film making on TV screens and Peter Dinklage is tremendous.  I believe that Better Call Saul and Jonathan Banks should have won these awards, but Game of Thrones and Dinklage were both my 2nd place choices in their respective categories.  However, I really think Game of Thrones and Dinklage hit their high water marks in season 4, so this may have been a make-up call for when Breaking Bad is not eligible (Hi also to Jon Hamm – the Hakeem Olajuwon of the Emmys – winning his titles in the absence of the GOAT – i.e. Bryan Cranston)

Well deserved wins for Peter Dinklage and GOT (image of Peter looking up at me)

Olive Kitteridge.  Fine HBO – I will watch it. Thanks for keeping it On Demand.

Inside Amy Schumer  hit its peak at the right time. SNL has been in a low not seen since the Goat Boy era and IAS is both qualitatively good (though the last couple of episodes ran out of steam in season 3), as well as politically well suited to spearhead the “women in comedy” cacophony/movement.  Cool to see someone I did bringer shows with a decade ago get an Emmy.

Kimmy Schmidt Gets Nothing.  I was stunned that Titus Burgess did not win for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  Legitimately shocked (though Tony Hale is great on Veep, and he gave a shout out to the creator of Arrested Development in his acceptance speech, which always gets my respect).  Also Jane Krakowski continues to go home empty handed.  Then it dawned on me that the lead actress was not even nominated.  I hope the show gets more respect for its second season next year.  On a tangential note – I do not believe shock and tears from winners who already won a year ago for the same exact role – I am talking to you Uzo from Orange is the New Black.

You won last year. How blessed and surprised can you feel this year?

Viola Davis gave a great speech and inspired the next great American show.  Inspired by the Emmys, the speeches and the winners I began feverishly writing the pilot for my new series that will be a diverse tapestry of all things gritty and progressive.  It is about a member of the Bloods gang in LA who is a ruthless killer and has 5 kids by 4 different women, but is really acting like the world’s worst inner city nightmare because he is transgendered and is merely overcompensating for his crippling fear,  The show will be called Blood Transfusion and I expect it to get a 2 season pick-up from Netflix or Amazon.

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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When Empowerment and Awareness Go Wrong

One need only turn on the debate of one of America’s two major political parties to know what women do not get a fair shake in our society, STILL, in 2015. I mean if a rich, arrogant man speaks to a beautiful, intelligent woman like Megyn Kelly with contempt and disrespect, what hope is there for a 7 or… gulp… a 5 or below in our culture?  Watching Trump rise in the polls for his brash and insensitive talk about women is almost as disturbing as the other more mainstream GOP candidates talk about women’s issues with 19th century paternalism.  So for all my jokes about women needing empowerment, and all the assorted hashtags that have accompanied it in recent years, it is clear that women’s rights and awareness for their issues is still in a critical phase.  That is why I am using my blog to highlight some of the bored and weird women raising awareness for issues that should be considered 10th tier issues for women who are not bored with their lives and lack of purpose.  Inspired by Dave Chappelle’s “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” here is “When Empowerment and Awareness Go Wrong:”

The Woman Who Ran a Marathon Without A Tampon

Kiran Gandhi, a 26 year old Harvard Business School grad ran the London Marathon on her Megyn Kelly to raise awareness for women without access to feminine products and to encourage women not to be embarrassed about their periods.  Huh? I get that lack of access to important hygienic products can be important (I would hope she helped raise money for this as well), but period-shaming/empowerment is now a thing requiring an awareness campaign? As Gandhi (not the one who helped free a nation, but the real hero without a tampon) said, “I ran with blood dripping down my legs for sisters who don’t have access to tampons and sisters who, despite cramping and pain, hide it away and pretend like it doesn’t exist.”  I might be part of the primitive part of the culture that thinks a woman with blood seeping from her vagina through her pants is kind of gross, but I have never dated a woman who had a problem telling me (or just demonstrating through poor attitude – AM I RIGHT FELLAS???!) when she was on her period, and frankly is it now “shaming” to not share your bodily excretions with co-workers, acquaintances and strangers?  Well in that case, please join me in your favorite pair of white underwear in NYC next Saturday for “Skidmark Awareness Saturday.”

Breast Feeding As a Constitutional Right

I'M HUNGRY MUMMY! #GameOfThrones

The other story that caught my attention was a breast feeding rally at City Hall and then a subway ride to raise awareness of breast feeding discrimination.  I am still getting used to people putting their bare feet on Metro north seats and now I am the new class of bigots that do a double take when a woman pops out a boob to feed her kid?  This is part of what I think should be called the “Bored Moms In Need of a Sense of Meaning” mafia.  There just are not enough selfies and yoga classes in the world to satisfy these ladies so now every thing they do has added weight.  Of course there are times where you must feed your child that are inconvenient, but why should it be the norm that you feed your kid wherever you please if you have a choice or alternative? Farting is natural, but if I do it in an elevator with other people I have the class to blame it on someone else because I was raised with a sense of decorum.  I might be OK with breastfeeding on subways if the woman about to breastfeed yelled out “SHOWTIME PEOPLE!” before doing so, like their break dancing counterparts.  My favorite line in the article is that Representative Carolyn Mahoney said that breastfeeding should be a “Constitutional Right.”  How did the Founding Fathers miss that one?! It is legal in NY, but the women say they still face discrimination and are fired for breast feeding in public.  I would be curious how exactly many firings require a rally – 2? – gay people cannot get an anti-discrimination law passed in Congress, but hopefully both parties can come together to ensure that women no longer get strange looks when they pop out a boob at Chipotle.

I feel like women protesting why their dry cleaning costs more than men’s clothing, for less fabric usually would be more sensible and practical. But I am probably mansplaining or something,

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 Weekend of Melissa, Lebron and Stannis

I gave a positive review of a Melissa McCarthy movie. I was rooting against Lebron while it seems most people I know are now rooting for him.  Comedians were on social media criticizing Stannis Baratheon (Game of Thrones SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) for using his child to advance his career.  Any one of those things in a decade would be enough to justify me writing a post (first one in just under a month – I believe a record for lack of productivity for me), but they all happened in the span of four days.  I am not sure what to make of all these, but I need to break out of my blogless slump so here goes.

First off, last week I saw a screening of Spy with Melissa McCarthy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, which thoroughly surprised me.  The critical praise has been big and the movie opened up at #1 at the box office.  I offered a solid (first positive review of the Summer) and slightly shorter review than usual of the film and even posted it two days early.  The result?  My least watched review of the last year. The message is clear – call J-L a negative and bitter observer of entertainment… and then don’t watch when he likes a movie.  Call J-L sexist… but don’t watch a glowing review of a film centered around a strong and funny female lead.  That’s right critics of this critic – time for you to look in the mirror.  Welp, I guess next week I will have to take a verbal dump on Jurassic World…

Then there is watching the social media reversal on Lebron James.  I spent 4 years writing posts (some of which got shared a ton) and recording some podcasts defending Lebron going to Miami, but more importantly as his place as the game’s best player (I have been saying he is the best since 2007).  But then something happened.  After beating up on the eastern conference that everyone said sucked many more people joined the “Lebron is the best… time to recognize… I think the Warriors have no chance…”  in the last few weeks, which feels insane.  And it all happened as Lebron began spouting insecure platitudes like a Teddy Ruxpin whose string you pull and he only says 4 phrases:

  • I have to teach my team to win
  • I am a leader 
  • I’ve been there
  • It’s a process

Basically it looks like he took Rosetta Stone Erik Spoelstra during his four years in Miami and brought fluency in sports cliches to Cleveland… and the fans love it!  I preferred Lebron wearing the black hat and forcing his greatness down the throats of haters.  If I can give the devil his due, at least Kobe has not taken off his black hat since he put it on in 2004.  But last night Lebron won me back. I still want Golden State to win, because the most important thing to me is being right and I predicted GSW in 5, but Lebron won me back with last night’s performance.  I am not talking about his inefficient, but stat sheet stuffing performance. Rather I am talking about his explosion of exuberant rage at the conclusion of the game and the fact that he was too tired and drained to spew cliches in the post game interview.  I loved that!  He got away with several travels in the game, but he was hacked badly so bad late in the game that the ref should have blown a rape whistle that I enjoyed seeing him enraged with happiness (possible album title for me?).  I hope Lebron keeps it up so no matter who wins I can be happy.  But if he starts mentioning his own leadership again I will slide back firmly into Golden State’s camp.  But to the morons on social media (majority of people): Lebron is and has been the best. Him defeating the Hawks with a shitty cast should not have been what pushed you over the edge.  Nor should 4 Finals appearances with the Heat. He has been the best individual player since 2007.  But to the knee jerkers who also will inevitably start calling Steph Curry a bust or not great if he fails to win the title – The Warriors are a great team. Not a very good one. A great one.  And Steph Curry is a top 5 player in the NBA.  Just facts.  Anything else regarding Lebron, the Warriors and Curry is open for conversation, but the respective greatness of those three parties is not.

Lebron stops with the cliches and let's his rage out! YES!

But the biggest moment in entertainment for me this weekend was episode 9 of Game of Thrones this weekend.  I have always identified with Stannis Baratheon.  If you don’t know who he is, see if my description of him sounds familiar.  He is an angry and dark person, who is generally right about his career but has not attained his goal yet.  His goal is to be King because he is the rightful heir to the throne.  And last night (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) he had his daughter, who he loves, burned alive because it will likely give him the power to succeed at war.  Apart from my horror all I could think was, if only I had a daughter… is that what Comedy Central execs are looking for?

But of course the social media reaction, including from comedians, was pretty much universal condemnation. Huh?  The community that exploits pics of their kids for laughs and likes across the Internet is mad at Stannis for simply using his kid the way the Native American uses the buffalo?  You use all of it or it is a waste.  I, for one, am doubling down on my support of Stannis.  Sure you don’t like his attitude or his methods, but he is the rightful king and it can’t be an easy choice to torch your daughter so at least no one can tell him that he isn’t working hard enough.  Perhaps if it doesn’t work though Stannis’ next course of action will be to secure management. OK, maybe I made this a little too personal.

In other news, this week’s podcast will go up Wednesday because this Tuesday is the launch of my new video 12 Years A Bringer.

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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Righteous Prick 2014 Heroes Nominees (half way point)

With 2014 halfway over (apparently time flies whether you are having fun or merely trekking the wasteland of comedy drudgery) and a few weeks on the road about to offer me numerous opportunities to share comedy stories I thought today would be a good day to offer some early possibilities for 2014 Righteous Prick Heroes (like CNN Heroes except unlike doing good works of charity or humanitarianism, these people have just entertained me).  So here are your first batch, and it is a diverse batch with two Latinos, two Asians and someone who will give me diabetes:

1) Luis Suarez – the Uruguayan star player who sabotaged his own team’s chances (and his own legacy) at the World Cup by biting another player (his third career biting infraction I believe).  If there is one thing this blogger/podcaster/comedian believes in it is sabotaging one’s own talent through questionable decisions.

2) Mendez – Watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix this weekend I was struck by how much more nudity, fingering and all around sexual horse play there was on this season.  It was giving me a True Blood-ish feeling, meaning I enjoyed the first season of True Blood. A lot.  Then I think marketing people got their hand on some stats and realized, hey – our fan base has a lot of women and gays so lets start upping the beefcake factor, the gratuitous sex and the campiness because we really want to solidify our base.  It is like the Tea Party – instead of sticking to your original principles you pander to a loud and critical base, which then makes the political process, or in this analogy, the show, suffer.  Well I was getting that feeling until Mendez showed back up.  The abusive, mustachioed prison guard only appeared in three episodes, but it was the highlight of the show for me and brought me back from the brink. Let’s hope (no spoilers) that he can make it back to play a big role in season three or else I may have to tap out.

3) Masuhiro Tanaka – In this season of Derek Jeter (the icy cool, bland, gives baseball memorabilia to hook ups, has his boys approach women for him at clubs, was obsessed with mariah Carey as a teen which would have made their dating really weird if he was not a famous baseball player Yankee – you know a real hero) I am glad that it is another Yankee that is stealing his spotlight.  Tanaka has been an absolute beast on the mound for the Yankees, even when he loses and I like that he arrived in NY on a 777, the rental of which cost $200,000 with his wife, dog and only a couple of advisers in a gesture whose hubris lands somewhere between the 2010 Miami Heat pep rally and Donald Trump architecture.  I love it.

Derek Who?

4) Godzilla – Giant monster that literally burns bridges and creates hostile division among movie fans.  How could I not have him as a hero nominee?

5) The guy who brought girl scout cookies to crumbs – My favorite cookie is probably the Samoa.  One of the foods most responsible for my weight gain over the last 5 years the Crumbs cupcake.  Well in a move that rivals the pairing up of DeNiro and Pacino in Heat, they are now selling Crumbs Girl Scout cookies.  They come in at a cool 950 calories each, so as expected I only eat two per sitting.

The death of me. Possibly literally.

6) George RR Martin – There were hard feelings after “The Mountain and the Viper” episode of Game of Thrones, as exhibited by this video I made, but after deeper reflection I have to offer the highest level of respect to a man willing to continuously anger and destroy fans on a season-by-season basis.  Not since Drago yelled to the Russian crowd “I DO THIS FOR ME. FOR ME!” has a hero turned on his own fans so harshly.

7) The Guy Who Does The Sound Effects for Tyrant on FX – I do not know if Tyrant is going to be the next great show on television, but it is clear that FX is preparing to challenge AMC for the #2 cable quality spot behind HBO.  They just had Fargo, which for my money was far superior to True Detective and possibly the best show this year, they have The Americans and they are also premiering a 10pm Sunday show in July called The Strain, from Guillermo del Toro, which signals to me that with Mad Men ending soon, The Walking Dead ending soon (I think they said 5 seasons, but maybe they dont want to end that cash cow) and Breaking Bad already done FX is ready to move into the Sunday prime time level.  With all that preamble, the pilot of Tryant was fantastic.  And the singular moment for me was when the lead character slaps the sh*t out of his son.  Whoever did the sound effects for the double slap deserves an Emmy because it sounded like a thunderclap in a storm. Ridiculous? Yes.  Excellent? Double yes.

8 ) The People Who Made Fargo on FX – As I already mentioned – the 10 episodes of this show can only be rivaled (within the qualifying Emmy period) by Season 4 of Game of Thrones.  Better than the final 8 of Breaking Bad. Better than True Detective.

9) Lebron James – Just like he is always a top MVP candidate, he is always a top nominee for an RPH of the year.  By opting out of his contract (and the rest of the Miami Heat following suit) he has opened the door for the Heat to add more firepower in needed areas (like point guard, interior defense and the assassination of Dwyane Wade).  What I hope more than anything, including success in my own career, is that if they sign someone of quality (sorry World Cup has me calling things quality), BESIDES Carmelo Anthony, that they all come out in another pep rally and it simply says “Fu*k Y’all” in big bright letters behind them. They are going to hate anyway – might

10) J-L Cauvin – duh.

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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Weekend Comedy Recap: Chappelle, Danbury and Twitter Credit

This weekend presented a diverse array of comedy exposure.  I featured at a country and western bar in Danbury, Connecticut on Saturday night, but the undercard for the weekend was going to see Dave Chappelle at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday.  I have not been to Radio City Music Hall since I was a child and I forgot how big and beautiful that place is.  It really looked too big for a good comedy show.  But being a huge star that the crowd has been missing for a decade has a way of taming an intimidating room.  The DJ started the show with a tremendous slate of hacky jokes, but he’s not a comedian and the crowd enjoyed them so as usual… I’m the asshole.  The show started late, which led to numerous people standing in front of us (what happened to places like Broadway and Radio City? It used to be if you were late enough you didn’t get to sit and especially a comedy show with an intermission there is no reason to allow late people to disturb the experience of people who paid substantial money for tickets (they were a gift to me for my birthday but I am never above acting indignant).

So the show started with an immediate J-L Cauvin connection.  Tony Woods, a well known DC comic, was the opener.  The difference between DC comedy and NYC comedy is at some point NYC comedians decide they are above open mics and some bar shows, whereas in DC Tony Woods, who was already an established headliner, showed up all the time to any decent bar show or shitty open mic to work on his stuff.  And he always killed.  And I remember the first time I saw Dave Chappelle and Greer Barnes at the DC Improv, after seeing Tony Woods enough times, and it didn’t seem hard to guess who one of their inspirations was.  Whether that is true or not I do not know, but when you see two younger comics with a similar style to an older, funny comic your brain cannot help but make connections.

Woods did very well and then after an intermission Donnell Rawlings had a set that had me laughing at a few moments harder than anything I would see that night (this is only meant as a compliment, not as an insult to any other performers).  Then it was Chappelle time.  I enjoyed his set and I also enjoyed the fact that he was wearing a suit and  not a sleeveless shirt.  One of the few areas where black people are given a pass that white people are not is fashion (#blackprivilege?).  This is why Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook feel so comfortable walking around like morons after games wearing clothes that the Emperor would not be caught in.  And this is also why when Chappelle wears sleeveless shirts on stage to show off his new muscles people marvel at his guns.  White comic with muscles does it today I guarantee other comedians are chanting douche-bag at him (the way we all did at Dane Cook – unless we were the chick he was banging that night – and he didn’t even have muscles to show off).

Cool or Douche?

The set was fun, fairly light and enjoyable.  I was more impressed with the ability to control a room that large with standard stand-up.  Obviously his fame and devoted fans buy a longer attention span, but he also delivered.  If I had to grade it I would say it was a B+/A-, but I am sure that is “hating” to most people.  Oh well.  It was a relief to me though, because he washed away the memory of when I saw him in DC a decade ago, for top club dollar, and he delivered what amounted to “Hey man, I’m Dave Chappelle and I’m famous, rich and just me talking about anything is worth the price of admission.”    I left with a much better impression on Thursday.

But this was all prelude to my soon-to-be legendary performance at Coyote Maverick Bar in Danbury, CT on Saturday night.  I was featuring, but still brought 10 CDs because you never really know if you are going to sell zero or all of your CDs on gigs like this.  When I arrived at the location about 20 minutes before showtime I saw that the room was pretty small (roughly 100 capacity).  That is a good thing, unless you consider that 20 minutes before showtime and there are still approximately 98 seats left to fill.  I was informed from the smiling manager that the advertisement for the show (which was jam packed the week before) was placed in the wrong paper in a different city.  So now I had to deal with the fact that people in Bridgeport, CT were intentionally ignoring my show, instead of the good people of Danbury intentionally ignoring my show.  Now they just had to indifferently miss my show.

When the show started the crowd was about 25 strong.  I worked my ass off and felt good about my set, but pretty bad about my life.  They were a solid crowd (though with the average age being Crypt Keeper I had to dump a bit of my 40 and under material) and I did some of my best crowd work ever so at least that skill set got some exercise.  However, the biggest laugh of my set came with “I am selling CDs after the show…. oh who the fu*k am I kidding…”  But the gig was fun, the bar is cool and the check cleared despite having my last name spelled incorrectly.    So great job Dave Chappelle opening for me for the weekend. You really set the comedy table nicely.

But like any weekend of comedy it ended on a down note because after the world cup USA game yesterday, which was great and with an objectively incredible ending, I tweeted “That was some George RR Martin shit!  #WorldCup””  It got 5 retweets and 7 favorites from my 1700 followers.  20 minutes later I saw a retweet, from someone I follow, of a tweet by some tech geek with 11K followers who tweeted 1 minute after me (he doesn’t follow me so I doubt he saw mine) that said “George RR Martin wrote that game” and it had over 3200 retweets.  And I shut off twitter and felt a renewed sense of hate for all things comedic.  Sorry Chappelle and Danbury, but hate is stronger than any joy you can provide, but thanks for trying. #Blessed

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Reactions to the Most Disturbing Thing Ever on Television

On Sunday, Game of Thrones (SPOILERS COMING), the show with brilliant acting, what feels like a dozen plot lines and incredible jaw-dropping, stomach churning scenes topped itself and also set a new low in television at the same time.  The final scene of last night’s episode was devastating from a plot point (I’d rank it with Ned Stark’s Season 1 death) and managed to smash (literally and figuratively) the carnage and devastation of the Red Wedding episode.  It was simply the worst thing I have ever seen on television.  The fact that for almost 20 hours I have not been able to remove the scene from my mind speaks to the power of the show’s creators, but also to the unspeakable horror that the scene presented.   A man took an ax to the skull earlier in the episode and I could not even recall that until this morning.  Two great comedies following Game of Thrones got nary a laugh from me until I re-watched them this morning.

Some people may think, “Dude, settle down it is just a show and fiction,” but let me pose this to those people – if there was a simulated child rape on the show, with CGI penetration would people be disturbed to the core or just say “Oh well Game of Thrones does it again!”  Seeing (DOUBLE SPOILER – LAST CHANCE) a man have his eyes gouged out and skull crushed and splattered at the bare hands of another man should trouble you, fiction, simulated or real.  It is a horrific image that I cannot yet scrub from my conscious thought.  The sounds, the sight (on top of feeling devastated at losing one, and possibly two engaging and popular characters) and the screams and looks of horror from two characters have made this too gruesome to me to fully compliment the artistry of it and the acting of those involved.

But since I am a comedian, I decided to sublimate my anxiety and horror into a short comedy video. So here it is! Enjoy:

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Game of Thrones & Onion Sports Dome: 2 Great…

The conclusion of the television season has two clear winners for best new shows.  HBO’s Game of Thrones and Comedy Central’s Onion Sports Dome.  But only one has survived.

Game of Thrones

There were a few new dramas I enjoyed this television season.  I thought Boardwalk Empire was close to excellent.  The Killing on AMC was very solid, though a little up and down and The Event, which sadly was cancelled, was the most surprising good new drama, being that it was on NBC and was attempting to evoke Lost, two big drama negatives as far as I am concerned.  There were a ton of dramas that sort of sucked (Hawaii Five-O comes to mind), but only one show this season has the quality to potentially join my upper tier of shows.  And that show is  Game of Thrones.

A friend of mine recently told me that if I keep comparing shows to Breaking Bad then I will never be happy.  I told him, we should assume that I am unhappy to begin with so comparing things to Breaking Bad will not increase or decrease my happiness.  Just like I now compare comic book movies to The Dark Knight, I will always compare dramas on television to my Top 5 dramas (Six Feet Under, The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The West Wing).  That is why shows like Sons of Anarchy or Dexter, although much better than its premiere season over the years, will always be entertaining distractions, because they lack the gravitas and quality of the Top 5. 

Game of Thrones had a few things working against it before it started.  It struck me as something of a cross between Rome (HBO’s well done, but too expensive two season drama) and True Blood.   I was afraid that Game of Thrones could easily go the route of Rome, which seemed to have as its goal to appeal directly to the id of heterosexual males and sacrifice some of the quality of the story (for the most perverse example of this please Netflix Spartacus: Blood and Sand – the worst drama I have ever seen).  Similarly, True Blood, which for me has been on a rapid decline since a very strong first season, seems to be geared towards the id of young women and gay men.  For both shows it felt like the shows did excessive focus group work after initial success and realized respectively, “hey dudes dig tits and blood” and “chicks and gay dudes like pecs, androgony and excessive smoldering looks.”  If I want tits and blood I will go back to dating on Craig’s List.  But for quality television I demand more.

Starring on season 4 of True Blood...

So the test for Game of Thrones, which certainly had its share of gratuitous nudity and violence (two horses beheaded – take that Godfather, and a 10 year old breast feeding – how is that not child pornography?), but it was also the best fantasy epic  piece of entertainment since The Lord of the Rings.  The show is beautiful, the cast is without weak spots and the story has held no character sacred or untouchable (not to mention the opening score is Last of the Mohicans-esque awesome).  Although a show needs at least three seasons before it can make the “Shows J-L Incessantly Praises While No One Listens” list, Game of Thrones has made a strong statement with its first season.  But it has to tread carefully now.  Because on either side of the fine line it has drawn is an HBO show that lost its way. 

Onion Sports Dome

I was convinced that Onion Sports Dome had the potential to join Arrested Development and Eastbound and Down as the Holy Spirit in my trilogy of great comedies of the last ten years.  It did what I always want a comedy to do – it compromised nothing.  The humor was sophisticated and clever and it was coupled with an intimate knowledge of sports.  In other words – if you like comedy and know sports it was nothing short of brilliant.  If you didn’t possess one of these qualities then the show was not made for you.  Unfortunately ratings were not strong and the show has not been picked up for a second season.  Neither was Norm MacDonald’s Sports Show, but that is no great loss.  The people who praise MacDonald’s show all seem to be pre-existing Normphiles.  The truth is the show was not that good, except for the first episode.  Onion Sports Dome, however, is a major loss.  Every episode (except the first, which I thought was mediocre) was an A+.  But in an industry that is constantly on the lookout for the next twelve Zach Galifianakis look-a-likes yelling non-sequiturs in funny voices, I guess I should have known a brilliant, hilarious, sports-themed comedy show would be DOA.  The comedy business is revenge on jocks, not a celebration of them, even if in jest. 

Perhaps there is more of a market for Onion Comic Book Dome.

Well at least the geeks and me can agree on Game of Thrones.