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Gary Gulman: Putting The Funny Back in Painfully Funny

2000 years ago a lean Jew with a gift for analogies died for the sins of mankind and reshaped the world in the process. While not nearly as historic or dramatic, two thousand years later at a low point (in this writer’s opinion) for the art of stand up comedy, a lean Jew just turned his suffering into a comedy special that may save comedy-kind from its own downward artistic trajectory.  I am speaking, if you missed the title of the blog, of stand up comedian Gary Gulman (full disclosure I am friends with Gulman and have been a huge fan and deep admirer of his comedy for the last 15 years. But the friendship is not of the nature that I would lie if his new special was less than great. I would be silent if I felt like what I saw was mediocre or even merely very good). What I saw Saturday night in Brooklyn (this will contain no spoilers as far as material) was as important a special as there has been in the last decade. But its importance does not merely stem from its deep dive into Gulman’s mental health struggles, which give the framework to The Great Depresh. Rather, it stems from the fact that it is hilarious. In this age of cop out one man shows, mediocre stand ups elevated for their social media followings or podcast metrics and teary confessionals being praised as great comedy, despite the paucity of laughs, Gulman has offered definitive and hilarious proof that stand up comedy can still be used to turn pain into laughter, and not just applause and whispers of “how brave.”

When I arrived at Roulette on Saturday there was a long line (I was attending the second show). As my girlfriend and I (she bought the tickets – I was offered comped tickets, but in this age of “gimme free content” I believe in paying for great musical, comedic and pornographic artists) approached the entrance Judd Apatow exited the building (he is producing Gulman’s special for HBO).  I briefly contemplated kidnapping Apatow (he was only surrounded by three women, all of whom I think I could take) and demanding he produce a special for me, but I thought better of it.  When we got to our seats (the balcony – we were too late for the lower level) and it was the only time I was disappointed the whole night.  The leg room was a tight fit, which felt ironic because Gulman, at 6’6″, is the patron saint of tall comedians (apologies Brad Garrett).

Only drawback to the show was doggystyling the guy in front of me #TallProblems

Without discussing any of the specific jokes I can tell you that Gulman’s set, running about 70 minutes, started with an upfront admission of his recent mental health struggles.  I actually briefly feared that he was going to do a one man show confessional (I was the Doubting Thomas to Comedy Jesus), but within a minute he was into classic Gulman. It almost played like a comedic biopic, where the movies starts a little before present day to showcase the low point, but then we go back to childhood and work our way forward chronologically.  It was all the language and in-depth story telling that are signatures of Gulman’s brilliant comedic style, but applied almost exclusively to autobiographical material (if Apatow is reading this I would like to nominate myself to play Gulman in the biopic or limited series).

So the show was an A. That’s the easy part. When a great comedian takes his game to a more personal level it should not be surprising when it is great.  But what made me happiest, as someone who cares about stand up, is that this special will re-set the current standard for personal pain as great stand up. No longer should we have to choose between good comedy and teary confessional spoken word as two branches of stand up – stand up comedy requires laughs and Gulman’s latest proves that a truly great comedian need not sacrifice laughter for truth and depth.

And on another note I think this is exactly the special that HBO needs.  They have been in a particularly long drought (with exceptions for Michelle Wolf’s strong special a few years ago), which is painful for a network that gave us Chris Rock, George Carlin, Dave Chappelle and others. Netflix now has a gluttonous chokehold on specials (but seriously Netflix – call me, I’m really good and need the money), but with Amazon inking a deal with Jim Gaffigan and now Gulman delivering a masterclass for HBO perhaps the prestige can return to HBO, or at least loosen the Netflix monopoly.

So hopefully my “Comedy Jesus has come to save comedy and HBO” has not set the expectations too high for Gulman, but on an equally serious note for Judd Apatow, if you don’t want to cast me as Gulman in a limited series (though please consider my tour de force sketch as Gulman in Comedy Academy Episode 3) my other thought is developing a movie with Gulman and Jon Bernthal playing brothers (Gulman is the big sensitive brother, Bernthal is the ex-military jerk who gets kidnapped and requires his large, but gentle and cerebral brother to save the day. Hilarity and life lessons ensue). I think it’s comedy and cinematic gold!  But if not, at least Gulman and Apatow are going to give the world a great and needed comedy special.

Come on folks – Bernthal would make a great brother to Gulman in an action comedy!
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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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Colin Farrell May Be The MVP of the Summer

Now that NBA season is done and Lebron James’ heroics fell short we have entered the period of time where dumb movies and baseball dominate our entertainment lives.  In other words, it is a very sad time for many people, even if you ignore the oppressive heat that is coming (the opposite of Game of Thrones).  But in this time of hopelessness it appears a hero may have arisen from the ashes of Stannis Baratheon’s daughter on HBO.  It is not The Rock, though Ballers, for all it’s clear flaws did hold my attention. And it is not The Brink, which also seems to be on the line of potentially fun/potentially a disaster. No the hero comes from a place I never expected it: Colin Farrell.

Colin Farrell was the pretty boy of the moment around 2003(?) or 2006(?) – I really don’t know. he was Irish, and douchey-handsome and women seemed to like him even though his acting was inconsistent and his box office track record sort of shoddy.  And it seemed like no Hollywood dramatic A-listers wanted to follow the McConnaughey-Harrelson season. so the show put together a patchwork quilt of “eh.”  Vince “I really need a hit before my Libertarian politics bury my career for good” Vaughn as the bad guy, Rachel “I am out of my depths, but I am tired of being the nice girl” McAdams as the tough girl cop, Taylor “I’ve had more shots as a leading man than 10 qualified black actors and Steve Howe combined” Kitsch as the cop who has a past we don’t car about and the aforementioned mustachioed Farrell. Now I mention the mustache for the simple reason that the last time Farrell prominently displayed a mustache he was in my “Worst Movie of 2006” Miami Vice.  But in a weird bit of foreshadowing, I though Farrell was the best part of Miami Vice (contrast with Jamie Foxx, whose performance prompted me to demand that he return his Oscar for Ray).

Well, the comparison that came to mind while watching Farrell was Lebron James.  Lebron was in a great no-lose situation with the Cavs in the NBA Finals.  He had a poor (though still underrated cast, since most people talked about them like they were the silver medalists at the Special Olympics) set of teammates with his two best injured, he could showcase his talents fully and if they won he was the greatest and if they lost, he had still done what just about no human could have done.  I was skeptical of Farrell, but after last night’s episode I see that he both brought it AND was given a great set of circumstances.

First, unlike basketball, an ensemble helps your performance.  Farrell does not need to do 50 minutes of acting, he simply needs to steal the show in 15 minutes (I guess more like a game 3 Matthew Dellavedova), but he does just that. He delivers rage and creepiness that is so on point it is almost funny (in a good way).  I will not spoil his lines for you so you can enjoy them yourself. #hero

Second, the show seems to have taken a nosedive in structure and quality.  It is just gloomy and to be honest when there weren’t exposed breasts or Colin Farrell on camera I sort of drifted in and out of the plot.  So like Lebron, Farrell has a better landscape to perform in for personal glory.

Third, they give Farrell’s character (can’t remember his name, don’t really care) a fat, red-headed son.  This is like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love being injured.  I don’t even know how Farrell could produce a fat ginger kid (I was reminded after posting this that the kid appeared to have been the product of a rape, presumably with a fat ginger rapist), but it makes his son the target of bullies, which allows Farrell to a) bully his fat ginger kid into telling him who took his kid’s Lebron sneakers (SEE THE PARALLEL IS RIGHT THERE – last year had the Yellow King, this year it is King James)and b) attack the father of the kid who bullied FGK and then yell expletives and sexual threats… to a 12 years old.

Fourth, Colin Farrell does deliver. Last night was not quite a 40 point, 16 assist, 13 rebound type game, but it was like a 27 point, 5 steal performance off the bench.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the creators of TD2 were calling everyone in today after the social media response (and the Righteous Prick bump) and just re-working the last 6 episodes to focus on the Dad beating, kid cursing, fat ginger kid having sonofabitch (sorry Ballers has me writing in the style of The Rock).

So in summary, though I feel like the gloomy nothingness of season two of True Detective will yield no awards and no praise, it is a time for Farrell to step up and reclaim his popularity (which I am not quite sure why he ever had it) and the show seems to be giving him the chance. And if he can make 9 more episode of this watchable, then he will be the real MVP.

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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A New Comedy Joins the Perfect Season Club

This past Saturday I was bored and looking for a way to kill time in between a morning trip to the gym and 12 hours of college basketball.  Having just re-signed up for Netflix (the month subscription will end shortly after the release of Daredevil in April, but yes this is a dramatic turn, albeit not a complete 180, from my binge watching warning posted a few weeks ago), I decided to kill time by trying an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the new comedy series from Tina Fey, rejected by NBC and picked up by Netflix.  By the end of the day, after skipping several games of March Madness (something I would have considered almost sacrilegious) and taking a few breaks I had finished the 13 episode run.  Unlike my House of Cards marathon, which was double the amount of time and done under a self-imposed podcast deadline, the binge of Kimmy happened completely organically.  The show was too damn enjoyable to stop.  And that is why it joins the rare company of my “Perfect Season of TV Club.”

Now I will only focus on the few comedy shows to post perfect seasons in my estimation, but obviously if drama were to be included, off the top of my head I would include season 3 and 4 of Breaking Bad, Seasons 3 and 4 of The Wire, Season 2 and possibly 5 of Six Feet Under, and I am sure The West Wing posted at least one perfect season, if not more.  But as far as comedies only a few shows have posted perfect J-L seasons.

To post a perfect season every episode must be hilarious.  No performances can be weak and it has to finish perfectly as well.  It also helps if the season builds upon itself with either lots of great callbacks and/or humor that improbably gets stronger from a strong start as the season progresses.  Admittedly most modern shows with shorter runs have better shots at pulling off a perfect season, but  so be it.  Despite my recent praise of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I did not think of one season in particular to put on the list.  As an all time great comedy it’s place is assured, but no one season felt “perfect,” though I would put my enjoyment of the over 100 episodes at over 80% hilarious, with only a handful being not worth watching.  But only the following shows have garnered perfect status in my mind:

  • Eastbound and Down – Season 1.
  • Hello Ladies – Season 1 + the 90 minute movie
  • Arrested Development Seasons 1 & 2
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 1

Now there is of course a chance that the limited run of these shows makes their perfection more memorable (only Eastbound made it to even 4 seasons, since the Netflix 4th season of Arrested Development was the worst add on to a classic since Indiana Jones 4 and Godfather 3 I do not count it), but if you have a good and varied sense of humor I don’t see how you could challenge them.  Yes Eastbound is a tad vulgar and Hello Ladies a tad depressing and awkward. But both on the list were tremendous and perfect.  If you don’t think Arrested Development was the best comedy of all time then you are wrong.  Arrested Development is like the deadbeat Dad of both Modern Family and It’s Always Sunny – it gave them the blue print of what made them great without giving a sh*t about anyone or anything AND it had the best cast of a comedy ever.  The cast was so good that almost no one from the cast was able to get cast as anything but a variation of their AD character for the last 12 years.

And that brings us to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.  I referred to the show this weekend on Twitter and Facebook as “relentlessly funny.”  That is what it is.  There is so much strong, subtle and brilliant humor in every minute of every episode that I found myself laughing out loud more than I have in a very long time.  The premise of the show is basically 4 women are held by a religious fanatic in a bunker for over a decade (yes, basically they made a comedy that might have been subtly inspired by the Ariel Castro case in Cleveland) and then rescued.  Kimmy decides to stay in NYC after a Today Show appearance and make a new life for herself. She has a gay acting roommate and a job as a nanny for a billionaire’s wife.  For 13 episodes the show is a masterpiece.  From the opening scene where a Charles Ramsey-esque black man is immediately auto-tuned describing the rescue of the women and repeated every episode as the theme song, to the incredible funny courtroom cameo -as-religious fanatic defendant the show is a home run every episode.

The cast is incredible without a weak spot, or even less than a strong spot, but Ellie Kemper (Kimmy), Jane Krakowski (the billionaire’s wife) and Titus Burgess (Titus – the gay roommate) all deserve Emmy nominations.  They are all in full comedy beast mode.  Now, just to get a little indignant and righteous – go watch Transparent on Amazon, if you can muster the 5 hours this week to watch the “comedy” that won the Golden Globe this year.  Then watch Kimmy Schmidt.  My prediction is the laugh ratio will be at least 1:500 in favor of Kimmy.

And I know that I am sometimes harsh on women in comedy and proclaiming that men, thanks to societal expectations and culture and many other reasons, are on the whole, much funnier than women and obviously Tina Fey, whether an exception to that thought, or proof that that thought is nonsense deserves major respect (not that she doesn’t have it already).  Though I didn’t particularly care for her run as head writer on SNL, 30 Rock was brilliant and I think Kimmy may be her best work if it can maintain the brilliant pace it set with season 1.  And that raises a question: with Tina Fey’s legendarily muscular calves, her tiny thug facial scar and her amazing comedic skills… are we sure she isn’t really a man? Hash Browns Just kidding! Hash Browns LOL (inside joke for Kimmy fans).

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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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:

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic, iTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all 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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James Gandolfini and the 7 Ways Comedians React To…

James Gandolfini passed away shockingly yesterday at the age of 51.  He was known primarily for his iconic performance/character of Tony Soprano and for being the face of one television’s greatest, if not the greatest, shows (my pre-Game of Thrones list has it at #6 on my favorite shows of all time).  But with an untimely death comes the ritual of comedians taking to social media immediately to offer RIPs, jokes and other comments.  I was particularly disturbed after Whitney Houston’s death only because I thought her talent was so singularly spectacular that it would have been nice for people to reflect and appreciate it for a minute or too before offering half-baked jokes.  Plus, it is worth noting that I saw a lot of trashing of Whitney Houston (black) for her drug problem – sometimes in the form of “Why do we care about this crackhead whore who did this to herself when we have troops and other real heroes dying,” and yet interestingly enough I have seen no calls for similar reflection from America’s social media heroes in the wake of grieving and reflection for the obese Gandolfini (white).  But rather than make this my usual tone of judgment I thought I would just offer the casual comedy observer the different types of responses that now come from comedians in the wake of a tragedy.  Enjoy!

1) Standard RIP message – this is made to either show appreciation for the man or woman’s work, but just as likely to let everyone know that you have heard the news and are hopefully either informing them, which makes you cool, or that you are feeling something profound, which makes you look warm.

2) Hack Joke – for example if you mentioned the ending of The Sopranos or Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ you need your comedy license revoked.  These always seem to happen so quickly to the point that you see 8 comedians with the same joke, and they are all Facebook friends sharing the same wall, but they still failed to realize that the joke was dead on arrival.

3) Video Clip and/or Photo RIP – I like these actually. The person is known for something so it makes sense to share.  Which is why I will share Kim and Ray J’s tape when Ray J dies.

4) Actually Funny Joke – after a day or more of respectful time usually, you can just go to www.Facebook.com/JLCauvin for these 🙂 but seriously folks… every so often someone posts something that manages to be a little gallows humor, but not too disrespectful and actually funny (or disrespectful, but really funny).  But if they do that and then spend the next 2 minutes telling you how good that joke was you are watching Anthony Jeselnick.  This is a great blog post people…

5) Unbelievable Emotional Post – This is the horsesh*t extension of #1 where someone with no emotional connection has a heartbreaking message.  99 out of 100 I don’t buy it, but just know that if Bryan Cranston meets an untimely death, my tears will be real.

6) We were friends post – You met the celebrity twice, but you refer to them as your friend, your spirit, your buddy, your dear friend or any other such nonsense. 

7) Fake Moral Outrage post – These are the folk who either take a celebrity’s death as a time to remind us about the troops or breast cancer or any other important thing, but they only do it on that day.  There were no posts about honor or important causes the day before.  They are like the Westboro Baptist Church – they show up to a social media mourning and then try to shame you with stuff they don’t care about most days, but become morally indignant just to fu*k with your appreciation.  Or they point out that the death was not a surprise or that they deserved it.  Hey – if the celebrity did not harm to others and they were talented it is OK to reflect on their skills and gifts without being told about the causes you rarely discuss during non celebrity mourning social media time.

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

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Top 13 Righteous Prick Blogs of 2012

As has been customary for the last few years I have made my (unpaid) bread and butter writing about the comedy business, my own career and the occasioanl rant about something else in our culture.  So for those of you that have not kept up or would like a convenient link to send to people to turn them on to the blog I present my Top 13 (I refuse to do a Top 10 because they are too popular) Blogs of 2012.  Also, if so inclined to show me support either become a fan of the Facebook Page and/or “like” my Huffington Post page where some of these appear. Thanks and enjoy:

1. The Death of Stand Up Comedy – My typical cheery, well-reasoned about the demise of stand up comedy.  I believe this was the most “liked” post on my website this year.

2. 10 Things in Stand Up Comedy that Should Be Retired – Let’s put it this way, Chris Rock shared it on his facebook page and Ralphie May argued against it. Not sure I need any more endorsements.

3. Adam Carolla’s Eddie Brill Moment – My defense (well-reasoned to those not highly emotional while reading) about why what Carolla said was a) not as bad as people thought and b) not what people claimed he said.

4. The Elephant in the Room at the Comedy Awards – During another coronation of Louis CK I make the case for the late, great Patrice O’Neal.

5. Dane Cook and Comedy’s New Politically Correct Police – My first beef with a celebrity began here with TJ Miller replying (quite respectfully to his credit) to my commentary about Dane Cook’s new vulgar voice on stage.

6. How to Get Along with a Struggling Comedian – Very popular on the Huffington Post with comedians and called “bitter and mean” by commenters who know nothing about comedy or comedians.

7. I Did Not Know That Memes Were The Future of Comedy – Suck it George Takei! (metaphorically)

8. Comedian Speaks at South Bronx High School Career Fair Despite Lacking a Career – I often write about road work, but this was a nice change of pace as I recapped speaking at a career day about my legal and comedy “careers.”

9. The Social Media Guide to Watching Breaking Bad – What year would be complete without some Walter White work?  Only read this one if you made it through Season 4 of BB.

10. Jeff Dunham Announces New Puppets for 2012 – My press release for one of comedy’s genius level talents.

11. To the Defense of “Girls” – It’s Not Its Fault – Premature hysteria over 4 white girls starring in a show demanded a response and even though many disagreed with me, they were mostly not right.  Like the Carolla blog – this was a thoroughly anaylitical breakdown of the show and only those with an emtoional stake in the show would see me as wrong.

12. Why I Am Rooting For Lebron James – Praise for the King and shame on the NY Knick fan base.

13. The Future of Comedy – A sarcastic look forward at the comedy and stand up comedy worlds.

So please share this whole post or individual posts you like and thanks for reading in 2012 and hopefully in 2013.

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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.

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Friday Gripes #1 – Break The Glass Floor: We…

Inspired by a discussion I had last night with another comic I have decided to dedicate each Friday to an over-the-top diatribe on things that annoy me.  Other days will continue to be random thoughts when I think of them randomly.

I wanted to watch Pardon The Interruption yesterday evening on ESPN and instead was treated to Women’s softball.  Per a discussion last night at my show at River Bar, which went well (and by “well” I mean it was the comedic equivalent of dying alone on a hospital bed with no family and no friends, writhing in pain) I believe it is time for ESPN to just develop ESPNW – a sports network dedicated to women’s sports so that I am not rudely surprised when I turn on the television looking for sports and instead find women’s sports (and it would probably knock off at least 23 cents on my cable bill).  To make an analogy I have made several times before – turning on ESPN when looking for sports and finding women’s sports is like finding an episode of Real Sex on HBO and instead of it being a segment on nymphomaniac, attractive female strippers, it is about a nudist colony for chubby people over the age of 70.  Disturbing and disappointing.

ESPNW

Now I am all for women and women’s equality.  I was raised in a household led by a strong woman (if she were black she would have been a “strong, black woman,” but I don’t think the phrase “strong, white woman” is a actual acceptable phrase outside of police descriptions.  I enjoy the company of women, both in relationships and naked on the Internet.  But equality can only go so far.  It is time to get women’s sports off of my television.  Now sports like gymnastics (the closest a young girl can ever come to experiencing the life of an abused altar boy) and figure skating make sense being televised because there is a different capacity than men in those sports.  They offer unique skills and outfits, except for the case of Johnny Weir.  But any other sport – golf, basketball, softball/baseball, soccer, tennis, running, speed walking, push ups, jumping jacks, etc. are just better done by men.

This is not a shot against Title IX – I think parents of girls should have just as much chance as parents of boys to not have to pay for their kids’ college education if they can play sports, but at some point it is time to say – welcome to the real world.  The same way I think it is important for strangers not to pretend to be impressed by every toddler they run into, just because that toddler’s parents are going “Can you say hello to the man?” and the kid mumbles something, so to is it important to not pretend that women’s professional sports have some intrinsic value.  In both cases you are merely deluding the other party.  It would be like if there were a television station dedicated to The Godfather films (even 3), but every 6 days they flood the station with The Last Don – CBS’ terrible original movie (also based on a Mario Puzo novel) starring Danny Aiello.

My Mom once said to me, when I was complaining about the WNBA, “If you had a daughter, wouldn’t you want them to be able to watch other women playing basketball really well?”  And I thought about it and realized I was not Chinese and could not offer her to sterile, white Americans for cheap so I said “yes.” But I’d really prefer them to want to watch the NBA because it is 1000 times better and I would not have to cringe for 2 hours watching a bunch of women my height executing the fundamentals of the game at 1/3 the natural speed.

The truth is all televised sports are just vehicles for advertisers and corporate America to reach consumers, and I am not saying women’s pro sports should not exist.  That is what YouTube is for – like those underground MMA fighters.  They can still compete, but I just don’t want it interrupting real sports and real sports news. 

Next Friday – RIP messages on Facebook & Twitter