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Comedy Recap: Sacred Cow # 2

It has been a while since I walked audience members, but like donating blood or having a cheat day during a diet, sometimes it is good to purge or shock the system to initiate a healthy replenishment.  That is what happened Sunday night at a show at Beauty Bar in Brooklyn.  First off the show had a huge batch of homemade butterscotch chocolate chip cookies, which were fantastic, but I only had 4, stopping short of my usual cookie limit known as stomach pain.  I then went up after the host and could tell from the fedoras, glasses, beards and beauty salon theme to the bar that this was a hip place.  So with a belly full of cookie confidence I decided to inflame the ironic passions of the room.   Let me say this about the Brooklyn room – for about 30% of the patrons – they acted like I entered a different culture, ignorant of their customs, and should have read my Fodor’s Guide to Brooklyn, which would have informed me that Louis CK, and more importantly Lena Dunham, are holy figures.  For example, a person could be stoned or beheaded  if they drew a likeness of Lena Dunham in Brooklyn.  So because my digital recorder audio cannot be transferred to my computer I will recap the short set in writing, which will be known as “Brooklyn’s 9/11”:

“I had a viral video get 250,000 hits, but don’t worry I am still humble and will not forget where I came from.”

What was the video of?

“I did a parody of Louis CK.  My favorite comment was ‘I hope Louis CK takes a shit in your mouth’ which would probably be more original than the one note of his last 4 specials.  WHAT??? I went there. Who wants some? (clearly kidding around/trolling – hence laughter from the side of the room not taking itself too seriously)”

(multiple grumblings) I like Louis CK!

a few minutes later…

“I enjoy the band Fun. with a period, not to be confused with the band Fun with no punctuation, but I am bothered that one of their band members is dating Lena Dunham.  Who makes it big in music and then decides ‘hey now that I am rich and famous I want to bang that gross looking chick from Girls!?’  Dude, you could have fu*ked her if your band didn’t make it!  Like if you were still working in a cool coffee shop and quit music you could pull that.  But now, thanks to you, there are hot whores with nothing to do on a Friday night because the bass player for Fun. wants to bang a manatee.”

(Lots of grumbling).  Girls is great! (the good news at this point is that the third of the room that was talking stopped, but only to angrily listen to their hero get made fun of)

“Girls sort of sucks.  Every 4 or 5 episodes something interesting happens, but it is very overrated show.”

Girls is great! (about 7-10 people get up and start leaving)

“Oh I am sorry that I attacked your sacred cow!  And I did not mean to call Lena Dunham a cow; it’s just a convenient coincidence in the analogy… and look at the woman with her hand over her mouth like she just witnessed the second tower falling.  Oh my God  5/5 in Brooklyn never forget that time a mean man made some jokes about Lena Dunham.  Never forget. I hate all Dunhams – Lena and Jeff!”

I then did a bit about hating cats and left the stage.

I am a left of center thinker, but I am not as conformist as many people might think.  I am more socially conservative than many of my friends, but still believe in more liberal fiscal policies (known in America as “virtually unelectable.”  I am all for free speech in comedy and I never criticize comedians for taking chances and attacking things I like as long as the take is an attempt at originality and funny.  But it bothers me sometimes that the most liberal folks (check out the comments section on my Louis CK video for confirmation) can abandon their attitude when it comes to one of their heroes.  Trash religion, religious figures or any notion of conservatism on stage and you are cool with these people, but get at one of their new high priests or priestesses of authenticity and all bets are off.  Like their celebrities get a pass that others don’t.  And in fact, I would argue what made the CK video successful and made me enjoy the Dunham quips is the very fact that many of their fans treat them like the higher beings so many of them have written off.  So I am glad I pissed those folks off.  I feel like liberals are the new conservatives when it comes to entertainment.  And no this is not a defense for a bunch of d-bag comics to start dropping nig*er, cu*t and f*g on stage for the sake of saying it, while trying to cloak themselves in the overused defense of being just “too edgy” for liberals.  Comedy can have dignity and that is a good thing, but I am not sure anything should be sacred.  Especially celebrities that rose to fame challenging and defeating previously held assumptions and sacred cows.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes

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Quevenzhané Wallis – If She Were Kim and Kanye’s…

Last night was Oscar night and everything was going along as I had planned.  Seth MacFarlane proved what can go wrong in American entertainment when the nerds dominate and are given full alternative, punchlines-optional (Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy provided the worst humor moment I can remember in Oscar History), Star Trek co-hosting free reign.  It was not a disaster in hosting, but I did cringe when he told a Lincoln joke that was so lame and so designed to just get to a trite “too soon” quip (see this for my official rules).  As far as the Awards go I had predicted most of the awards correctly including Ang Lee and Argo wins, but did fail to get best animated feature correct (Brave sort of sucked, Wreck It Ralph was robbed).  And just as I was retiring for the night I saw some tweets about a controversial tweet by the satirical newspaper The Onion. So I looked it up and here is what they tweeted:

“Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right? #Oscars2013”

It was the hardest I laughed all night.

The Onion has taken it down, but has not issued an apology yet.  And they should not.  The Onion is a hilarious, envelope pushing product, but sadly they upset part of the liberal fans, who delight in bashing and mocking everything from sports to religion and everything celebrity.  But why did this one hurt so much?  Because they used the word cunt?  Please.  The Onion is always irreverent.  And if the story came out 9 months from now, but instead of referring to Wallis, it said “Kim and Kanye give birth to 7 lb 6 oz cunt” do you really think the outrage would be the same?  I doubt it because their child, despite being an innocent child, will never have the sympathy or affection of the general public.  In fact, just this week I saw hundreds of tweets about Kim and Kanye’s unborn child that were “horrible.”  This is of course because people are treating the unborn girl as a celebrity already.  But Wallis is more darling to the liberal crowd that The Onion courts and Wallis makes that crowd feel good about themselves.  She is a tiny black child playing a poor black child in a movie that became a little-engine-that-could to Hollywood.  The movie was not even that great, but it had the kind of story and star that can make people feel good about themselves.  Not because the movie is super feel good, but because by watching it and cheering for a tiny black child, Hollywood and the liberal readers of The Onion can feel good about themselves for cheering for her and the movie.

It is too bad that The Onion deleted it, but I really hope they do not apologize.  The joke had nothing to do with the kid.  It is clearly meant as a mockery of the cattiness of Hollywood culture and the fact that she is nine years old is the source of 90% of the humor.  Unlike, say Don Imus’ infamous comments referring to the Rutgers Women’s basketball team as “nappy headed hoes””( a rude joke that I don’t think he should have been punished for either), this joke is even more obviously a joke because of the age of Wallis.

I consider myself left of center, but probably center to center-right as far as the comedy community is concerned, but stories like this annoy me.  It feels like partially fake-outrage because of the arbitrary lines some in the general public and in comedy are willing to draw.  This is not about preserving Wallis’ integrity, but about preserving the feel good moment for those that enjoyed patting themselves on the back for having a tiny black girl nominated for best actress.  I am sure you are not conscious of it if you are reading this and disagree (and maybe some of you do feel genuine outrage), but once again, if this were about Will Smith’s kid, would you be as horrified?

I understand that Wallis is a tiny and adorable child and that referring to the girl as any bad name is cruel and crude, but it does not mean that it is not funny, and in this context clearly is not about delivering an actual insult to or about the young actress.  But the new battlefront in comedy appears to be protecting non-conventional celebrities from the glare and satire that comes with celebrity. Folks like Lena Dunham, Adele and now Wallis are deemed untouchable by people within and outside of comedy. Any joke about them (or in Wallis’ case, mentioning them) is deemed some sort of cruel, below the belt attempt at humor because they give good feelings to their fans about themselves.  Rooting for Dunham or Wallis gives the fan self-worth, so a joke about these women or others like them becomes an attack on the fan who in defending the celebrity is really guarding the good feelings they feel for themselves.

So hopefully The Onion does not apologize for doing what they do, but if they do I hope all these outraged folks remember this when they start an onslaught of jokes and Kim and Kanye’s baby later this year.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning about the Oscars check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes tomorrow (Feb 26th)

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For Colored Girls vs For White Girls – Who…

The fans of Tyler Perry films and Lena Dunham’s Girls probably do not have a large intersecting area in the Venn Diagram of entertainment.  One is a large black man who is a hero in the black Church community who writes horribly written films for an often neglected section of America (black middle class), starring an underemployed segment of Hollywood actors (black people not named Will or Denzel).  The other is large white woman who is a hero to the white girls who cannot find their footing in this big crazy world and find validation watching a show about unlikeable fu*k-ups.  But she is 26 and to accomplish what she has is impressive.  So Perry and Dunham are both remarkable role models, despite being creators of somewhat cringe-worthy content.

And to be fair, I do not have a gripe about Dunham writing a show that focuses on all white chicks, despite their saturation of music, television and movies.  I already wrote a defense of it here last year.  So that is not the point of this.  In fact I am not sure the point of this except after watching this week’s episode of Girls, I realized that Dunham and Tyler Perry could and should form an alliance.

Watching the episode that just passed it dawned on me that Girls and Tyler Perry’s colossal failure of a film For Colored Girls (not his original work, but definitely his bad film making and terrible adaptation of the source material) provide a duo that basically amounts to a mediocre comedian doing an extended bit called “Black women have problems like this!  But white women have problems like this!” (George Lopez trademark pending).

Taking the four memorable incidents from Perry’s For Colored Girls and the four big shifts for the characters in Girls so far this season let’s learn a little about what it is like to be in these different groups:

The Big Star Gets In Trouble With A Gay Man

Lena Dunham’s character has realized that she cannot date her socially awkward, but significantly more attractive boyfriend (a 5 to her .8), she bangs a black Republican and most shocking, her friend Marni banged her gay ex-boyfriend.  Pretty tragic all around.

Janet Jackson gets HIV from her down low husband and reveals that she knows her husband is gay when she throws her blood test result at the overly muscular man (a favorite of Perry) and says “And take your HIV with you!”

Slight edge to Janet. Ms. Jackson if you’re HIV positive.

Shy Sidekick Has Awkward Sex

David Mamet’s daughter, Eyebrows, loses her virginity at 21 and is dating a guy who turns out to be struggling with life and living out of his car, which is literally between the Holocaust and a nuclear-armed Iran in the fears of Jewish parents.

Yasmine, a dance instructor in FCG, starts dating a seemingly nice gentleman who rapes her on their first date.

Rape is bad, but is it really as sad as a Jewish chick dating an unemployed guy? Edge – Eyebrows

Family Problems For A Supporting Character

The British chick on Girls ends up embarrassing her husband (they got married after a few bad dates as a misplaced plot point) at a dinner in front of her in-laws.  They end up separating after 19 hours of marriage.

Crystal, one of the characters in FCG watches her two children get thrown out of a window to their deaths by her baby daddy.

Had it only be one child, Brit might take this one, but two kids definitely gives the edge to Crystal.

Working a Bad Job

Marni, the attractive one on Girls (though Brit’s rack turned out to be a surprise highlight of the last episode), is really having it rough, from letting a diminutive artist go raw inside of her to having to work as a hostess at a club where men treat her like an attractive hostess at a club.

Thandie Newton’s character in FCG is a sex addict with a past of sex abuse (or possibly just a super-empowered woman) to the point that dudes assume she is a prostitute.

Anytime you let a guy who wears fedoras, or at least seems like a guy who would wear a fedora, bang you – you lose.  Edge – Marni

Group hugs make everything better.

So after taking in both of these artists, it is clear that Tyer Perry and Lena Dunham need to get together and, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, have a kid together.  They operate on the extremes of Hollywood.  On writes for black Church folk (a group that goes “Ummmm HMMM!” to signify that Perry has validated their beliefs) and the other writes for narcissistic white women (a group that goes “That is so us!” without realizing that just makes them unlikeable tools as well).  And both have ways of capturing the lives of their characters in opposite ways.  For Colored Girls shows that every character has an apocalyptic level event happen to them and can still carry on, while Girls shows that every problem, no matter how small becomes a time for self-discovery and personal enrichment.  It is like these people are from different planets (possibly Mars and Venus).  So let’s get these two crazy kids together and let them have a kid (its celebrity name could be some mix of Dunham and Perry – Dairy!).  So maybe one of you solves a series of tragedies with an empowering group hug and prayer while the other solves a marriage ending after 4 meals with a witty bathtub encounter.  But I still think you can find common ground.  The silver lining to these Hollywood clouds getting together is maybe, just maybe,  if their child is exposed to the horrific writing and tragedies in Perry’s mind with the witty drivel from Dunham’s, he or she might see the world as it actually is (and write an angry blog about it).

Perry is Dunham. Dunham is Perry. Dunham is a man!!!!

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

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Deadspin and How Men Became Dumb Chicks

Adam Carolla’s first, and incredibly hilarious book was called “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.”  Now some of you may have already stopped reading, since you may think you know how I am framing the story given the tip of the cap to Carolla.  But I am here to say that Carolla was wrong.  He should have titled the book, “In Five Years We’ll All Be Dumb Chicks.”  I am not as concerned as Carolla with the increasingly politically correct tone of our culture (though I am not completely numb to it either), as I am with how eager men have been to jump to (after a healthy dose of nudging towards) culture and news that previously had been the province of only the most empty-headed women.

First They Came for Our Barber Shops

I cannot remember the first time I saw Maxim Magazine, but I know it was sometime during college (the first issue was released in 1998).  I am sure some of my friends were reading it.  After all it featured hot women on the covers and when targeting late teen and early twenties males that is pretty much all you needed to sell magazines in the late 90s/early 00s.  But beneath that Trojan horse cover that made you want to buy Trojans was a more pernicious purpose.  It was not until the stacks of Maxim magazines began piling up in my barber shop that I shoved aside the NY Daily News and Rolling Stone magazines and decide to take a peak.  Of course there were airbrushed pictures of D-list starlets, but there were also lots of helpful tips on grooming, fitness, sex and other things if you wanted to become the ultimate date rapist (I think FX or Spike have optioned this as their next reality show).

So instead of reading the newspaper and discussing politics and family at the barber shop it became about learning new ways to wax your chest, smell like a sex trafficked slave working at Abercrombie and what drugs to buy to convince your girlfriend to have a threesome.  This may all seem normal to you now, but there used to be a day where only insecure and/or dumb women would read magazines that turned them into insecure narcissists.  But either some evil woman or brilliant marketer (or both)decided, “If our dummies cannot better themselves through harsh magazines whose only goal is to make women feel insecure and create a co-dependency with our magazine, then we will bring men down to that level.”  And so it began.

Then They Came for Our Colognes

In the last several years, manscaping, spanks for men, body washes, and an assortment of other things have made men the new insecure chicks.  Apparently we are no longer the confident, stable ones in the world (it’s been a solid 50,000 year run). We lack just as much confidence as any other subscriber to Cosmo.  And the only thing mroe dangerous to a culture than insecure women is insecure men (we are even better at that).  For God’s sake Lena Dunham is now our culture’s benchmark for confidence! I cannot even find a cologne that smells manly anymore.  I used to use a cologne called Polo Crest.  It had a scent that evoked wealth and oak-paneled steak houses and women loved it. Because it smelled like a man’s cologne.  I went to a department store recently to find a new scent, since Polo Crest has been discontinued, and every thing I smelled felt like I was 19 years old trying to get bottle service at a club that I was not allowed into.  I am not sure how exactly to describe the different scents I smelled, but they mostly just smelled fruity and sporty and immature (I feel like a sommelier right now – “This cologne is full bodied, but I’m picking up a hint of sexual assault”).  Admittedly I did not try every cologne in the store, but after spritzing several samples on my wrist I started to smell like a bouquet of douche bag.

And Then They Came for Our Sports

So once we allowed the Cosmo mentality to be combined with 19 year old douchebag taste there was no stopping the runaway train.  Eyebrows, chest hair, pubes – none were safe from it.  Every rapper who previously rapped about shoot outs and gang bangs were now doing hooks for female teen pop stars.  But then the Cosmo-Douche movement got sports in its cross hairs and nothing less than the battle for the soul of the American man began. And the American Man is losing.  Badly.

Now some women studies major or other person looking to flex their tolerance credentials may tell me that I have a somewhat primitive view of masculinity.  But whether its opening a jar of peanut butter, a door, a wallet at a restaurant or a can of whoop ass to a disrespectful dude (or mouthy woman) most women and bottoms would agree that having a man take the lead on some or all of those things is still one of the attractive components to men.  And that is why I think we need to save sports from the Cosmo-Douche movement.

The great thing about sports (I refer to men’s sports as “sports” and women’s sports as “what the?”) is that it is still an area where the primal nature of men is allowed.  Brains, braun, camaraderie and competition. All four of these things are involved in most sports and that is why people, and especially men, love them.  And that is why I always get annoyed when I see new Deadspin articles floating around on my Facebook or Twitter feed.

I think it was a few years ago when I first saw a Deadspin article on my Facebook feed.  I cannot remember which athlete’s penis it was discussing – perhaps Greg Oden’s or Brett Favre’s, but the bottom line was that Deadspin obviously observed a culture of sex tapes, Snoop Dogg rapping with Katy Perry and athletes wearing rimless glasses at post game conferences and thought “This is the time to finally make the Cosmo-Douche movement into the Cosmo-Douche-Sports alliance!” 

Currently on Deadspin are articles about Lance Armstrong being “an asshole,” Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend (I understand the journalistic merit here) and comments Lena Dunham made about her weight.  This is the site that called itself  “the go-to source for athlete dong.”  Maybe I am an old fashioned heterosexual man, but if I want sports news I go to ESPN and if I want to be aroused I can watch porn (preferably with women involved) or hire an au pair, but I have never had the desire to look at athlete penis or find out what Lena Dunham has to say about her body (sidenote – why in a culture obsessed with getting kid’s healthy and stopping an obesity crisis are we praising Lena Dunham for making us all look at her manatee-like frame?). But obviously Deadspin is very successful, which means that the Cosmo-Douche movement has basically won.  Either we have crafted a culture of repressed gay guys who just want a snarky site full of athlete cock shots and updates on Girls or the culture now operates from the mindset of a sad reader of Cosmo as its baseline mentality.  But the reality is that men were simultaneously nudged and willingly jumped to this.  It is easier to indulge in the dumb and the salacious then in the real value of things.  But we are all dumb chicks now – smart women, smart men, dumb men – we all lost to the underdog with the under 90 IQ.  So let us repeat our new Cosmo-Douche mantra America: We all suck, we all need constant improvement and we are all looking ways to please our man or look at dick pics, so buy this magazine we are selling you nation of clueless losers.  But just don’t bully anyone because that is bad.