Blog

The F Word

I would admittedly never pass up an opportunity to say something bad about Kobe Bryant, and his usage of the word “faggot,” which was caught on camera during a Tuesday night basketball game gave me a good opportunity.   It was a heated moment for Bryant who had received a foul call and speaking about a referee said “Fucking faggot.”  On a somewhat related note, Nick DiPaolo once said, “Any white guy who claims to have never said nigger is either lying or never bet $1000 on an NBA game.”  So passion and poor words are not a novel connection in sports or comedy.  In response to the incident Bryant said:

“What I said last night should not be taken literally.  My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.  The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.” 

 
 
 
 

He did not mean to offend, but that shouldn't be a good enough apology.

 

 Like many a rapper and athlete before him, the common defense was, “I did not mean gay people or to offend gay people.”  But how is that any different than using the word nigger to describe someone’s conduct or appearance or using Jew as a verb to describe someone’s thrifty actions and then claiming that you were not trying to disparage those particular groups of people.  The word faggot is a word of hate.  Even if it is not used to describe a gay person, it is used as an insult because the connotation it carries is that you are less of a person because of what the word references.  Just because we have been comfortable with a particular piece of hate speech does not mean it should be allowed in regular conversation under some sort of grandfathered-in homophobia.  Even Chris Rock, my favorite comedian of all-time, failed on his last HBO special, in my opinion, to make a joke validating the usage of the word faggot.
 
But in our society, there is not the widespread guilt and shame over the word “faggot” as there is with “nigger.”  Therefore, defenses of the F word are what I imagine a defense of the N word would sound like in 1880 or 1960. 
My stance on gay rights in this country is simple and has two basic parts.  I don’t believe any institution should be required to accept or acknowledge or conduct gay marriage, except for the government.  In my opinion, the government has no place in marriage.  If I ever get married I want it to be in a Catholic Church and that is where the value for it will be for me, not from a state certificate or tax forms.  BUT if the government feels that certain rights and privileges should be accorded to married people then it is completely absurd to exclude people from that.
Secondly, people may have the Constitutional right to say hurtful, ignorant and insulting things, but we should not tolerate it.  Our society’s general acceptance of the usage of the words “gay” or “fag” and “faggot” is deplorable.  Glee and Modern Family may have people “loving” gays (the same way music and sports have America “loving” black people), but we are still too lenient when it comes to condemning this hate speech.  In fifty years I may have views that make seem like some sort of closed-minded bigot, but fairness from the government and from fellow human beings doesn’t seem to be too much of a leap, except that it still is.  I think the NBA was right to fine Kobe because it was an embarrassing thing to have been observed.  And to those that may say, “Hey, lots of people say hurtful things and don’t get ostracized for it”  that is the price you pay for getting $20 million a year to play a game for your job.
I remember nine years ago getting into a pretty heated discussion with friends of mine.  We were watching a movie and one of my friends called someone a “fag” (for doing something like eating a certain type of sandwich or something mundane like that (and it was not a penis sandwich).  I then made a pretty strong point (thanks in part to Williams College – where I entered as someone who would occasionally use the word “fag” or “gay” to describe things, but left finding those words detestable.) that the word was hateful and I did not want to hear it.  The two responses from my friends were to ask “what the fuck had I learned up at Williams?” and “Was I gay?”  I would never make the claim to be mature, but hopefully at this point my friends have caught up to me at least on this point.  You needn’t be gay or a bleeding-heart liberal to defend decency towards gays.
Kobe would have done better to issue the following statement: “I apologize for the hurtful slur I used.  There is no place in decent society for that word or the sentiments it evokes.  I did not mean to offfend anyone, but I know that even the mere utterance is hateful, even if not said with any literal intention.”
Besides, with the amount of jewelery, fashion-obsession and dougie dancing in the NBA, Kobe may have offended deeply more of his peers than he realizes.
Blog

What You Should Be Watching On Television

While spending a few hours on Facebook the other day I stumbled on to a discussion on my friend and comedian Nick Cobb’s page.  He was asking for a new show recommendation and friends of his were offering suggestions as to what they thought the best show of the last decade was and what the best show currently on is.  There were some sensible answers and some real awful answers.   Here are some examples and shows that did not make the cut:

THE LOSERS

House – who are you my parents? 

Lost – you are too stupid to appreciate the list I am putting together

Rome and Deadwood – these are the people that in a music discussion of the best band of all time would ignore the obvious rule that you MUST say Rolling Stones or Beatles (my favorite band is Guns N Roses, but my answer would be Rolling Stones).  Those who drop Rome and Deadwood – a good and a very good show, respectively – are the people who drop Nirvana in a “best band” discussion.  Shut your mouths and just accept that sometimes, like a broken clock, American culture gets it right.

John Adams – it’s a miniseries. read Nick Cobb’s question.

The Mentalist – seriously?  CBS is the network that produces dramas to make Jay Leno fans feel smart.

True Blood – a show that like Glee, seemed to realize that their main demographics were women and gays and decided – to hell with writing – we’ll just get everyone on this show in a gym, skimp on story and consistency and still draw ratings as long as we amp up the sex, gore and campiness.  Headed down a path of awfulness this season.  The real shame is that Alan Ball, who created a television masterpiece in Six Feet Under, is also listed as a creator of True Blood.  My guess is that after Six Feet Under he made a ton of money, found himself a trophy wife/husband (no idea what his sexuality is) and after season 1 of True Blood said – “Hey, you are shallow and pretty dumb – wanna write this show for me? Most of it is written in a book already – you will just have to add more breasts, blood and campiness?  What’s campiness?  Well you know when you think something is good? Right, like Paul Walker or Dexter – just write it with that same feeling.”

Dexter – I made it through one season.  Some of the worst acting I have ever seen.  Michael C Hall should die poor and be remembered for David Fisher than collect paychecks with that cast of nothings (though I hear John Lithgow was good in later seasons – too bad I give a show one full season to at least entice me.  It didn’t).

Special Note – Why I have no faith in Showtime – You may notice that Dexter is the only Showtime show even mentioned by me.  That is because Showtime is stupid.  Their shows are made with the following concept – can we write one character, line up one credible actor or actress and surround him or her with mediocre writing and acting?  Yes, well then we want to make your show!  Even USA at least says “CharacterS welcome.” Showtime’s phrase should be “Character welcome as long as long as character brings mediocre humor, drama and/or co-stars.”  I hate Showtime in all its forms – Lakers, Cable Television, etc.  If HBO, AMC, USA and Showtime all went to school together, HBO would be the Harvard bound quarterback, AMC would be the slightly arrogant and nerdy valedictorian, USA would be the guy who chicks inexplicably liked and Showtime would be a Goth kid.  No, it would be the girl that dates the goth kid, but is not goth herself.  Loser.

Treme – wake me up from my coma – have they cancelled it yet?

Mad Men– Mad Men to me is once again, like sushi – it is something that lots of people like, but also something that lots of people like to say they like because they want to be people who like things like sushi and jazz and other overrated things.  Mad Men is a well done show.  But like Treme, Mad Men sometimes feels like a documentary on early 1960s life, which can be somewhat boring.  I found Season 3 of Mad Men (until an admittedly great finale) to be an excruciatingly boring endeavor.  I often defend shows like The Wire by praising its authenticity, but it helps that there is actually some intriguing plot development to go with the realism. 

So here for all of you is the definitive list of what shows from the last 10 years you should watch.  It is objectively correct.

1) Six Feet Under – Funny, moving and the most realistic look at relationships and human fears of any show ever made, by far.  if the show feels “too gay” for you, rent Queer As Folk, watch it and then re-start Six Feet Under.  f the show is too troubling or upsetting for you then it is working.  And it is widely and justly considered to have the greatest finale in television history – take that MASH!

The Fisher Family will change your life.

2) The Wire– Would be number one, but Six Feet Under is just more personal.  If this show is too slow for you, then watch The Shield and consider yourself ignorant.  If the show is too black for you, watch Southland and consider yourself slightly racist.

3) Arrested Development – The best comedy I have ever seen.  Nothing is actually close, especially this decade.  So naturally it only made it three seasons on television.  I blame the South.

4) The West Wing– If this show is too political for you, then you are dumb.  As impressive as the dialogue, plot and acting is, the details of the show are incredible. To say nothing of the fact that they basically predicted the election of Barack Obama before he had even announced his candidacy.

5) The Sopranos – The first of the Big Three for HBO (Seriously in an 8 year period HBO dropped Six Feet Under, The Wire and The Sopranos on America – to me that will go down as the greatest accomplishment in original television programming).  Sopranos, unlike The Wire and Six Feet Under did not quite end in a way that met with its overall impact and quality.

6) Breaking Bad– the best show on television right now by a mile.  It is dark, filled with tension and excitement, well acted and yet feels incredibly plausible and realistic at the same time.  This is the first drama I have seen that clearly indicates that HBO has dropped the ball recently.  Mad Men gets mentioned as the one HBO let get away (especially because that might have meant naked Joan!), but Breaking Bad is so superior to Mad Men it’s a joke.  More entertaining without sacrificing anything in terms of writing or acting quality.  If the show can finish with way its first three seasons began then it may move towards the top of this list.

Here's an objective truth about a show about a scientist - Breaking Bad is the best show on television.

I feel I must mention Eastbound and Down (but only 1 six episode season to show so far) and I have not seen In Treatment – an HBO show that has been highly recommended to me.  Other than that those 6 shows above will entertain you and raise your expectations for what television can do.  Then when you are done with them you will look down on most other people’s television show opinions like only a condescending six-foot-seven comedian can.

Blog

Toledo Nights 1: Glee, The Funny Bone & Deposed…

Last night was an interesting night to be performing in Ohio.  The pending “decision” of LeBron James at 9 pm was perfectly preceded by a show at the Toledo Funny Bone.  But the day was just full of perplexing and disappointing news.

Glee was nominated for 19 Emmys.  That number of Emmy nominations is usually reserved for shows like Six Feet Under (what I believe is the best show ever made) or, in an alternate universe where white people are not afraid to nominate shows full of nuanced black characters, The Wire.  But Glee?  Between Twilight and Glee I am starting to think that perhaps teenage girls and gay men should not be having quite the influence on our pop culture as once seemed desirable.  The show had a couple of promising episodes to start the show, but veered so far off into a cheap and campy format (I am not including the outstanding Jane Lynch in this analysis) that it became unbearable.  I feel Glee is sort of like sushi – plenty of people genuinely like it, but many people just like being the type of people who say they like sushi.  The show is not good.  I hope Modern Family (Arrested Development Jr.) wins.

Glee - the sushi of television. Some people like it. others like being people who say they like it. In the end it sucks.

In the drama category Breaking Bad must win or I will be forced to dedicate an entire blog to its greatness.

(My top shows of all time, in no certain order are Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, The West Wing, Arrested Development and Breaking Bad).

So with bad news already beginning with Glee’s dominance of the Emmy nominations and the clouds ominously gathering in Ohio (literally and metaphorically) I headed to the Toledo Funny Bone. 

I noticed that the audience was about 93% white and suburban, which sometimes (almost always) is a bad omen.  But things started turning around immediately as I was brought on stage to Rick Astley’s “Never gonna give you up.”  The crowd turned out to be excellent.  So with Glee scoring an early win for crap entertainment and me scoring a win for mediocre entertainment it was up to the main event – where would LeBron go?

And LeBron announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach.  Here are the repercussions of this decision:

1) Mass suicide in Cleveland – seriously Cleveland is a nice city with good people that gets dumped on all the time.  Now their own son has spit on them.  It is very sad.

2) Making Me a Kobe Bryant fan versus the Heat.  I never thought I could root for Kobe in any situation, but like a pro wrestling move there has been an instant realignment.

3) A lot of unjustified hatred from Knick and Bulls fans.  You would have been villains lite if he had gone to your team and you had no other claim to him other than an unjustified feeling of entitlement.  Cleveland is the only town with a legitimate gripe here.

4) Pat Riley is now the Suge Knight of the NBA and will be played by Gordon Gecko in a biopic (Michael Douglas is not good enough).  I expect to see Dwyane Wade and LeBron to throw cash at a video camera with Chris Bosh dancing in the background while Pat Riley, a la Suge Knight, calls out Dan Gilbert.

Pat Riley now can only be played by a fictional character of greed.

5) Led to a Twitter explosion of creativity by me on possible names for the new Miami trio.  I came up with Miami Pound Machine because a) it is a clever pun; b) this team will crush the competition and c) it captures the homoerotic undertones of this bizarre reality show episode.

6) Miami fans are about to become the worst people on Earth.  LeBron reminds me of private school girls from NYC , though this type exist in lots of places (and I even dated one once).  You take a hot shallow chick (the Miami scene) and add to it a talented, wealthy career driven person that is ugly (LeBron) and they have kids that are not as smart or talented as the Dad because he married a shallow hot chick, but not as attractive as the Mom because she married a wealthy ogre.  Their offspring is demanding, insecure and shallow all at the same time.  And now they will populate the stands of the Miami Heat.  Good luck the rest of the NBA.  49 other states are rooting for you.

Blog

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

In keeping with today’s cultural trend I will provide some random and short quips today on television (I have been watching more because the book I am reading on Robert Oppenheimer is sort of heavy – side note – is it possible that if Mel Gibson were sober he might have meant to say “Jews End All The Wars” – based on how many were involved with creating the Atomic Bomb?):

I have seen documentaries on Rwandan genocide that made me laugh more than the debut of Saturday Night Live.  Lorne Michaels needs more black friends because maybe he is looking for their permission to fire Keenan Thompson.  That guy has taken more jobs from deserving black people than segregation and Jim Crow.

Fred Armisen does such a bad Obama impression that Secret Service should arrest him.

Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?
Did Lorne Michaels know that these men were ruining comedy and if so, when did he know it?

Bill Hader of SNL is extremely funny.  His Kieth Morrison alone almost makes watching SNL worth it.

Friday Night Lights is a great show (re-joined Netflix to catch up on some shows that I have heard are great – Breaking Bad is on the list).  So of course it has terrible ratings.   it is odd to me that a show featuring good looking young people and football could not be a success.  It is as if America is collectively saying – give us shallow things, but don’t you dare deliver them to us in anything that could be called high quality.

If Modern Family can keep up the pace from its pilot then it will be the best comedy on television not named Eastbound & Down.

I watched a 5 part mini series on Sundance called Brick City, on Corey Booker and his attempt to change Newark, NJ.  I am now working on a Corey Booker impression and once I have perfected it one of two things will happen: Corey Booker will not get re-elected and will fade into obscurity, or he will gain an even higher national profile and then Fred Armisen will do an impression of Corey Booker that is so bad, it will make his Obama look good.

Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!
Part 2 of my comedy tour entitled: Impersonating Light Skinned and/or Half Black Politicians. that's right Harold Ford Jr - you're next!

The Cleveland Show was not good.

Family Guy premier was great.

Glee started strong, but I think it will fade, only bolstered by religious-like support from women and gays.

Cougar Town – see Glee, but eliminate the started strong part.  And the term Cougar is really just a brilliant re-branding of “she’s kind of old, but yeah, I’d probably fu-k her?”

I have only seen 4 episodes of Jay Leno’s show, but only Jim Norton stood out to me as exceptional.

Bored To Death, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm provide a nice HBO Sunday night.

At 4 pm, if not at the gym or sitting at my desk staring at the wall, I prefer Ellen to Oprah.

On Saturday will be the 2 year anniversary of my appearance on Craig Ferguson (my national television debut).  Since then, based on travel expenses, web expenses and gigs I have made about -$450 dollars from comedy.   My comedy career feels like the final third of a Behind The Music special; the downfall part, but without the awesome rise and hedonism that precedes it.

Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change.  Next after commercial.
Voice of Behind The Music narrator: October 3, 2007 seemed like comedy was working out, but little did J-L know that was all about to change. Next after commercial.