These are just a couple of long-winded Facebook posts I put out, but for those of you not on Facebook here they are:
A year ago I was performing in the middle of Pennsylvania. In my set was a joke about guns. Four white dudes between 25 and 35 came up to me after. They said in the middle of the conversation that they were hunters but then three of them made fun of the one of the four of their group who was an “Obama gonna git my guns… 2nd Amendment is the 3rd part of the Bible” style “thinker.” Seems about right based on polls that a majority of them, though liking hunting, would find that guy absurd.
Free speech has limits that everyone accepts (no threatening the president, no yelling fire in a crowded theater, etc.), but over the last decade stupid people (or disingenuous people interested in selling guns or denigrating the left or both) have convinced enough people and politicians that guns are less dangerous than words and that freedom requires less gun restriction, not more.
It should be surprising to no one that it was Clarence Thomas of all justices who, in a footnote to a late 90s case (US v Lopez I think) started the Supreme Court’s path towards enshrining a ridiculous reading of the 2nd Amendment.
But Obama is black and Newtown was a fake so let’s “wait for all the facts”
Laws are not just about criminalizing an activity immediately and like a magic wand all is right. Laws, for good and bad, can dictate and cultivate changes in culture that may not always materialize over night. And I do believe there is WAY too much violence in our popular culture (exception – John Wick – that dude can’t be violent enough – HE RULES)
So of course for some shootings, laws may not have stopped them, but 20 or 30 or 50 years from now if we are a country that treats guns like dangerous weapons as a last resort (like the way countries view nuclear weapons) instead of accessories or extensions of genitals we may see a shift that cannot be easily quantified by a simple signing of a law.
But the left recently is always stuck having to tell a dumb and increasingly impatient ADHD populace that things like gun violence, universal pre-K, affordable housing, family planning, environmentalism, etc. are for the best, which they are, but they take time and require patience and a little less self-interest and a little more common interest. But for people who will say “laws could not have changed this” think back to legislators around the country that wanted to limit assault weapons or magazine capacities after Sandy Hook. They either failed, or the legislators (in places like Colorado) were voted out., even though if the Sandy Hook killer had not had access to high round magazines (either because of scarcity or illegality), some of those slaughtered kids would be alive.
We have too many guns and are too violent a culture. Everyone should take some responsibility. TV and movies, legislators who limit funding for mental health services, but most of all gun lobbyists who fear monger (the NRA is a gun seller lobbying group masquerading as a gun rights group) and people who oppose sensible legislation. We need to make changes now so that immediate changes take place, but more importantly the culture is given the chance to change long term.
For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast oniTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!
Last night upon seeing the results of Last Comic Standing (and the fact that I had predicted the exact order of everyone except the winner, Felipe Esparza) I tweeted “I don’t understand America’s sense of humor. Felipe Esparza!” That was greeted with a tweet from someone else in reply that said “Well said – you don’t. He’s funny as hell. Over your head.”
Without addressing the irony of something going over my head, is this what America thinks is “smart” comedy? Perhaps that is why we are such a dumb country. After all I have a feeling a majority of the country does not realize that amending the 14th Amendment to strip children, born in this country to illegal immigrant parents, of their citizenship (AKA Mexican-Americans) is only a midterm election issue. That won’t play on a national level during a presidential race, but the point is to get House and possibly Senate seats this Fall using the hate-driven proposal. It has nothing to do with amending the Constitution because that won’t happen. Republicans just want to use it as a wedge issue to pick up Congressional seats now. Unfortunately Obama’s supporters consist of too many fair-weather black voters (they did not even support him until after he won Iowa) and too many white voters who were ready to jump ship at the first sign of trouble (they had done their “I’m not a racist” duty by voting for him in the first place). The messsage needs to get to them that the uncool white men in the Senate and House have some power too and people need to wake up and realize what is going on. Go vote during the midterms! (end of tangentially-related political pitch)
Now perhaps in that context I should be happy to see Felipe Esparza win. After all, he is a Mexican-American and that sends a nice message. The only problem with that is that comedy viewers, unlike Academy Award voters (Milk) don’t take issues like that into consideration. They want their comedy simple, but also to feel good about themselves subconsciously. Nothing does that better than when that comedy is delivered by an ethnic comedian who plays into their ethnicity. And entertainment is a safe place for people of color. They can be appreciated without any discernible power (once again, Obama elected on the strength of an incredible and entertaining campaign, but as soon as he started wielding the power he was given all Hell broke loose).
Being on the road a lot more in the last two years has shown me something about America – it is that rooms full of white people are generally a lot kinder to a comedian of color especially if he does one of two things:
1) confirm stereotypes, which allow white people to laugh twice as hard – once for the joke and once for relief of their feelings
2) portray themselves as fish out of water – I cannot tell you how many times a black comic has killed on stage with some line like, “I must be at the wrong club.”
Felipe Esparza was easily the 5th comic out of the five on the show last night. I thought he was more like 8th out of the overall final ten. He was literally the only one of the five that I thought could not win. Sadly I have also said that Sarah Palin could never win a presidential election. But Esparza gives America what it subconsciously wants – an ethnic friend. He delivered a quirky character. I am not saying he played it up to some caricature, like say, Dat Phan (Last Comic Standing winner – season 1), but he gave America enough. Perhaps the “I have a black friend” mantra can now be replaced by “I like that Mexican comedian” in thousands of homes across the country.
But that show was awful last night and not just because of the result. Kathy Griffin was the big headliner. To me, her success tells me that a lot of gay men and women have awful senses of humor. She acts like she is saying shocking things (“Oh no she diiiiiiiin’t”), but she is just saying things that Jay Leno passed on in his monologues. She is awful to look at and listen to. And just because she acknowledges her grotesque face and surgeries does not make it any more watchable.
Also Tom Papa, “The Marriage Ref”. Thanks for giving me another GPS-voice joke.
One highlight was Iliza Shlesinger (last season’s winner). Someone has been doing P90X while practicing Dane Cook-esque pratfalls! My friend John (non-comedian) only texted me twice during the final episode. One was to say: your boy Kaplan 🙁 (when buddy and frequent vanquisher of me in comedy contests Myq Kaplan was eliminated) and the other was: Shlesinger 🙂 I guess he liked her comedy.
Another highlight was Mike Destefano,, “If you voted for me thanks and if not Fu*k you.” I wish the show had ended there.
This weekend I was featuring at Magooby’s Joke House in the greater Baltimore area. I emphasize “greater” and “area” because if you are thinking an urban crowd (a/k/a Omar, Bodie and the rest of the cast of The Wire) would show up you would be mistaken. There were four shows. The two shows Saturday were my kind of crowd and I was very happy with my sets. But Friday offered many lessons in comedy and life, which is why I will share those with you now.
Friday April 9, 2010 – 830 pm Show
First show demographics 2.5 people of color, including myself (.5), 160 white people. 50% of the crowd was over the age of 48. This would not damn me because I have been pleasantly surprised by crowds with not so different stats before, but this crowd would be an animal that I have never had before. If the show were a children’s book it would be called “Where’s Negro?”
My second bit of the night was this:
So Sandra Bullock’s husband cheated on her. Let’s just be honest – if you marry a tattooed man-whore and he goes out and sleeps with a bunch of whores that have tattoos, can you really claim to be surprised? (Laughter) And come one Sandra – 46, no tits and expects to keep a man in Hollywood? (Silence with start of murmuring) How arrogant Sandra! You obviously made a deal with the Devil to win an Oscar of Meryl Streep and now it’s time to pay the price. (Silence broken by a couple of boos).
My girlfriend had warned me about making any jokes that got near the star of The Blind Side, which is treated by white people in Maryland with the same reverence that Hoosiers is treated with by rural basketball players in Indiana. But one of the decisions I made with these shows this weekend was that I was going to do my best to not compromise a lot on the road. I have the material to do NYC rooms and road rooms, but who I am as a comic is closer to the NYC material and I need to make crowds meet me a little bit more so at least my reputation will start to be based on who I really am as a comic and not just on an ability to be Jay Leno-ish one night and then more personal and edgy when I feel safer doing so. But this crowd obviously loved Sandra Bullock because she saved a big black dude from eternal damnation, etc.
They probably would hate my short film, The Blind Side 2:
I took Megabus here tonight… I can’t take Greyhound anymore because it is like travelling with Hollywood celebrities – Hey there’s Precious (HUGE LAUGHTER), there’s a creature from Avatar and there’s that dude from that old movie Mask (laughter almost completely dies).
My comedy can sometimes be conservative, but it does not necessarily mean I want the support of fringe conservatives. Another parallel is when I watch Jim Norton perform comedy. I think the guys is absolutely brilliant, but he is also dirty, which draws a lot of fans to him that I don’t like. He may tell a joke involving the words “pussy” and “cock,” but it is also brilliant comedy in there. Some of his fans get it and some of his fans I think just get off on the usage of the words “pussy” and “cock.” I feel the same way about some of my jokes that maybe take more conservative angles on abortion or entertainment or religion. I want comedy fans to appreciate the comedy and thought in the joke, not necessarily to take it as an endorsement or a statement for a certain group. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t, so the real point is to not bring all your agendas to the show and just laugh if it is funny.
However, when I heard the all white crowd almost cackle at the Precious reference what I heard was, “Yeah, that fat black bitch is gross.” Which of course, she is but that is not the point. This crowd was so sensitive to a millionaire white lady who helped an exaggeratedly helpless black man, but not to an impoverished obese black teenager. You laugh at both or you laugh at neither in my book.
My final exchange of the evening:
I know you may not like this, but I’m not being political when I say I like Obama-
Hey – great I just turned the show into a Tea Party rally –
a few laughs and some claps
Your closing act – Sarah Palin (joking)
I eventually got to my Obama bit and it went over well enough, but I was startled to be what amounted to a Tea Party rally. I genuinely don’t understand people who are Sarah Palin fans. I understand (diminishing every day), but disagree with many Republicans, but Tea Party people are from another planet to me. Booing Obama, but an applause break for Sarah Palin, who is that magical combination of stupid and increasingly smug/arrogant the more money that gets thrown in her face for “speaking” engagements. But that also explained why my comedy went over so poorly at that first show. I was performing for a Tea Party. Because I like the owner of Magoobys and enjoy playing there I will not connect the dots, but if you have read my blog I think you know what other “R’s” I associate with Tea Partiers besides Republican.
Oddly enough on the 1030 pm show that same night – the Precious joke got near silence because about half the crowd was black. That did not anger me as much, but it still angered me a lot because the joke is funny and the same way the Tea Party crowd let their cruel humor run rampant on Precious, the second crowd decided, as if they were a liberal arts college in the northeast, that they would let me know how attuned to the plight of poor and sad people they are and would not laugh. The second crowd was overall 100 times better than the first crowd, so one annoyance did not break an otherwise good show and good crowd, but I still thought I should mention it lest a Tea Party Comedy member read the blog and comment, “See he’s letting all the African-American Nig-ers get off without any complaint.”
Overall it was a fun weekend at Magoobys (3 out of 4 shows a success – previous lessons of shaking off bad shows quickly came in handy), but just another reason for me to hate the Tea Party. Before it was just business, but now… it’s personal.
Well, today I had an audition for Last Comic Standing. I did two minutes in front of three big time pros: Andy Kindler (very respected comedian), Natasha Leggero (who sort of reminded me of the lead singer of The Bangles – niiiiice) and one of my two favorite comedians, Greg Giraldo (Chris Rock the other).
From the title you can tell that I did not advance and sadly I completely agreed with the judges. However, there is something profoundly crippling when one of your idols in your business tells you, as nicely as possible, that it wasn’t good enough. Sort of like how Michael Jordan ruined Kwame Brown’s career by continually berating him and calling him a “faggot” in practice when he was an 18 year old rookie with the Wizards. Kwame was never a good player after that, though he did his best to dispel the epithet by fathering a starting five and two subs with numerous women (at last check). None of the judges were mean at all – they were quite nice and refreshingly constructive, but I hope that was not because I am almost the size of Kwame Brown and they are not Michael Jordan’s size. I must admit though, that when Giraldo went to speak and I could see from his expression that it was going to be a very lukewarm appraisal it was one of the most painful moments of my career.
I guess I came prepared with a sort of a generic set that may have worked with producers in the past, but with real, genuine comedians of a high order judging, that was a big mistake. It seems whenever I audition for something I play it safe, probably because auditions terrify me.
What is so bitter to take is that this season could be great and come with an extra stamp of legitimacy because of who is judging and selecting. Of course there are funny people who will not make it, but if Greg Giraldo says you are a good comedian, it carries with it some real street cred that Bobby Baccala from The Sopranos (previous celebrity judge) just does not have.
On a plus, they thought my Obama impression was really good. But Giraldo thought the premise surrounding the impression was too convoluted (which as soon as he said it I thought – “of course it is – FU-K!”). As I left Gotham Comedy Club – my brain began to re-work jokes, but not to make a show, but because their advice, even on the two minutes of material, could actually make me a better comedian. I guess if their feedback can help me make my material better then there is a silver lining. It might have been helpful if one of them told me to give up also. Time will tell on that one.
Good luck to Nick Cobb, David Cope, Luke Cunningham, Myq Kaplan and any other friends who have moved on.
Two great shows in Boston at Nick’s Comedy Stop this weekend. Here are the highlights:
Handed out about 80 courtesy cards and only found 1 on the floor/ground/surrounding trashcans. Highest ratio yet.
Best compliment that was really disgust at my show from an older woman: “Well, good job. That was…educational.”
Worst positive compliment I got: “That di-k in the ass joke was hilarious!”
Most common compliment: “Great Obama!”
Best movie I saw in Boston – The Wolfman
Only movie I saw in Boston – The Wolfman
Joke that garnered almost no laughter: “NBA All Star game in Dallas this weekend, which is also known as ‘the weekend where tall black men from Dallas can walk around the Dallas shopping mall without getting harassed. ‘ Don’t want a nother Oprah situation.” Nothing.
Amount of Facebook fans from Boston added as of today: 0
My favorite moment of the trip actually occurred when I got off of Megabus at 4:30 am Sunday morning on 27th and 8th ave in NYC. There were about five police cars outside of a bar called Mustang Sallys. Many black women were yelling and shouting and several of them were walking shoeless into the 1 train station. One shouted, “Taneesha!” And the woman who I presumed was Taneesha yelled, “I don’t care! When I see that bitch I am going to fu-k her up!” I felt like Axl Rose getting off the bus in the Welcome to the Jungle video. So thanks to Taneesha for giving me a short story to end what would have been a boring bullet point list about my trip to Boston.
December 21, 2012 has been touted as the end of the world on the Mayan calendar and by an atrocious 2009 film. If that is the truth then a slightly less significant milestone will be missed, which is June 2, 2013 – my last day in comedy. That’s right, like Oprah, Jay Z and Barbara Streisand I am announcing a tentative, likely to be ignored, retirement date. That date means that I will have been performing comedy for exactly ten years. Given a likely confluence of impending doom for my comedy career (1 term for Obama, personal bankruptcy, Type II diabetes if I continue to carry on an extra-relationship affair with Entenmann’s products, and a general sense that the brand of comedy I hope to perform (sans accent, sans unoriginal atheism, sans GPS and Viagra references) is going the way of journalism (my brother’s career which is also being sacrificed to society’s newest deities of impatience and ignorance). So if you see me in Times Square wearing a sign that says The End Is Near you will know what I mean.
So given that my life as a comedian may in fact have an expiration date I have already begun my next quest to find an outlet for one of the remaining talents I have (and if you are reading this you may agree) – I have begun writing a book.
My life has been a perpetual quest for finding an adequate outlet for my particular semblance of talents and ambition. Perhaps if I was born ten years later then I might have been stupid enough to pursue a reality television show instead of law school or stand up comedy, but I am where I am, with an education collecting dust, non-exploitative parents, some semblance of dignity and no contract with Bravo or E!.
I remember basketball being my first passion, but dreams of playing professionally seemed difficult for me since my hoops resume at the end of college would have basically read:
good at lifting weights
at 245 lbs can supply ample warmth for bench for people who play
93.3% from the free throw line (true story I was 14/14 from the line and on the last play of my career – an and 1 dunk – I missed my only free throw. This is also the answer to the future Jeopardy question: What is the most likely seed for J-L’s bitterness and sad outlook on life)
Microsoft Office skills
So after that dream came the reality of law school, during which I became so depressed that I turned to something that, like a mob loan shark, provided temporary relief, but long term headaches: comedy.
So for the next three years and five months I will give it all that I can, and hopefully it does not end as a repeat of hoops, but it already feels like I have had my dunk (Craig Ferguson) and have been missing free throws ever since. Who knows, there are examples of people attaining their dreams at late ages, Susan Boyle (who apparently at 48 has the same disease as LeBron James and Richard Harris, which adds 20-30 years of age to your mug), and the Holocaust museum shooter to name a couple.
However, if comedy doesn’t work out, at least you will be able to have fun reading all about it. If people are still reading books by the time it’s finished.
No movies made this list (but I have already given you my Top Ten of the Year, so they don’t really need another platform anyway). Not everything is from this year, but they were read, viewed, worn or observed by me this year.
10. Fred Armisen. In a year that had some ups and downs, he represented both. He gave what is the least funny impression ever on Saturday Night Live and he did it week after week. To quote Forrest Whitaker’s character from The Shield, “It’s like he is pissing in my mouth!” But the bright side of that is that one year in there is still a void for a decent Obama impression. If ever there was hope for me in 2010…
9. Arrested Development – I know this show is older, but I watched the first three seasons on Netflix this year and it is the funniest multi-season show I have ever seen (important distinction hint hint). If you have not seen it, you should.
8. Laid Off/Full Time Comedian
According to my biopic script:
I walked out from the law firm that had crushed my soul with a defiant stride knowing that although I was taking a risk pursuing comedy full time I had the confidence of knowing that I would follow my dream and in the end be a success. I was also touched by the slow clap I received from all my co-workers as I left on my last day.
According to reality:
I planned on going to do comedy full time in 2009 at some point, but given the economic climate and the generally good feeling of a swollen bank account (from a pretty nice place to work as law firms go) I probably needed the push, or shove, of being laid off to pursue comedy full time. Now my dream still feels attainable, but is starting to resemble a bad acid trip as much as it does a dream on its way to fulfillment.
7. Steeler Super Bowl – This was cool because it was a great game and washed away memories of the only Super Bowl the Steelers had won in my lifetime – Super Bowl XL (40), which was the worst Super Bowl ever played. I also cannot put the Yankees title on here, because although I like many of the players, something about that victory felt like cheering Goldman Sachs’ bankers when they date rape your daughter and your pension fund. Of course the Steelers did not help themselves with their “ni-ger” shouting fans this season, but perhaps a poor season will be their punishment for having racist fans.
6. Obama’s Inauguration/Nixonland – Such a cool moment when Obama was inaugurated. Even cooler was being able to predict how half of America would turn on him as soon as they could and how his young supporters would realize that politics is work and detail and compromise and not a pop culture reality show called For The Love of Obama on VH1. I always bet on old people in the long term in politics and in 2010 the book Nixonland will prove quite prescient when the Republicans break through the 60 voting block in the Senate and win about 30 seats back in the House. If you like politics or just want to predict the 2010 election read Nixonland. But January 20, 2009 was still a great day. The country was divided on September 10, 2001 and after 9/11 the country rallied around Bush (91% approval, after being dismally low before). Do you think if the same happened today the country would rally around its President? I am guessing not.
5. The West Wing – Watched the entire seven seasons on DVD in 5 weeks. The greatest dramatic series I have ever watched not named The Wire. Sorry The Sopranos I think you’re great as well, but the detail and the writing of The West Wing was intimidating in its brilliance.
4. New York’s Funniest Comedian – I am still waiting for an e-mail response(to a very politely and respectfully worded e-mail) from a certain comedy club as to why I never got a call back, despite being promised a spot in a showcase and simultaneously being denied a chance to audition because it was unnecessary. This moment was a low point in my comedy naivete, but also a wake up call that was invaluable. That is not to say that 40 years from now when I am sitting a lone in a mansion, miserably counting my money in the dark, that I won’t assault, with a bowling pin, some booker or manager or assistant sycophant who shows up to my home. That reminds me, I think my next CD will be entitled “I’m Finished!”
3. The Bonfire of the Vanities – The most enjoyable piece of fiction I have ever read. Did for novel writing what The West Wing did for me in terms of television. As Salieri said of Mozart’s music in Amadeus, “Remove one note and there would be diminishment.” That is how I felt about every sentence of this 600+ page novel, which is just as relevant today as it was 22 years ago. Just don’t see the movie before or after reading it.
2. Paul Millsap Jersey – I received this gift Christmas 2008, but I did not wear it until this hoops season. If it’s the thought that counts, then I have never received a better gift in my life. And I seem to be the only person outside of Utah to possess one, which makes it even more exceptional if you consider things in Utah fashionable.
1. Eastbound and Down – So this is the answer to the question what could be better than great literature, historic national elections, pursuing your dream or seeing your team win a title? That’s right – a fu-king redneck. If Eastbound and Down ended after only these 6 episodes it would be like Guns N Roses dying after releasing Appetite For Destruction – a perfect debut to live on forever. So apologies to my girlfriend, Barack Obama, Tom Wolfe, Jason Bateman, The Steelers, stand up comedy, and everything else that went on this year, but my favorite thing this year was a foul mouthed racist pitcher form Shelby, North Carolina – Mr. Kenny Powers.
People often ask to start with the bad news when given a good news/bads news option and this blog will be no different. Besides, the worst movies will provide more humor than the best movies of the year. For me it as also easier to come up with the list of 10 worst movies than the ten best. Here they are,
10) Year One. Jack Black, Michael Cera, Paul Rudd and Harold Ramis, to name a few, decided to take off from being successful and funny and make this terrible movie, which, like many liberal comics in New York, showed that making fun of the Bible does not necessarily make you as funny as George Carlin.
9) Friday The 13th. It came out early this year, but was strong enough it in its shi*tiness to stick around. This was actually the first horror film I have ever seen where the acting was actually better than the film. That is like watching a WNBA game and saying, “Man these girls are awesome, if only they had better coaching to take advantage of their skills and athleticism.”
8) Funny People. This film is here, not so much because it was a terrible movie (it was not), but because I have not been misled by a marketing campaign for a movie this much since I thought I was going to a sports movie called Jerry Maguire. Late night show hosts and bloggers seemed to all be in on the scam – this was a movie that would show what being a comic is really like. Instead it showed the audience what the lives of chubby, unfunny, overpaid Jewish guys is like. It could have probably been called Goldman Nut Sachs (as a tribute to the genital humor that also abounds in this movie).
7) Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.Needless to say this was the #1 movie of 2009 in terms of financial success. Racist robots were apparently the cure for the summertime blues of Obama fatigue. This was also the worst movie experience of the year for me since I sat next to a guy who talked so much during the movie that I think he was conjured up in a stereotype machine invented by the Wayans Brothers a la Weird Science’s creation of Kelly LeBrock.
6) 2012. The biggest disaster film of the year not starring Tiger Woods (I am almost done making Tiger jokes). The effects were weak and at 2 1/2 hours long, the film was about 2 hours and 27 minutes too long.
5) The Proposal. In a year where 500 Days of Summer showed how good a romantic comedy could be, this film showed how bad they could still be (and people ate it up). Puritan sexual mores and too much religious fervor are some of the things that people point to to show how unenlightened America is compared to some of its less powerful, but equally Disney and McDonald’s craving European allies. I think looking at the collective grosses of Sandra Bullock’s movies make the case much more strongly. (I have not seen The Blind Side yet, but am looking to get a free ticket, which will allow me not to financially support a great white hope story that looks terrible).
4) X Men Origins: Wolverine. My hopes ran high a year ago when I saw The Dark Knight for the 432nd time. Perhaps people would demand higher quality action films. And the trailers for this film looked promising. What was delivered was the worst thing from Australia since Yahoo Serious.
Let’s take a breath here and recognize that the next three films are even dangerous to say out loud they are so bad.
3) Antichrist. Here is the review I posted on Facebook after seeing this film:
I wanted to see this movie based on the preview, despite mostly bad reviews. Upon seeing the movie, here is who should see this movie:
1) Want to see a montage in which Willem Defoe sexually penetrates (shown) an actress while his character’s son (approx 4 yrs old) falls out a window to his death.
2) Want to see a fox eat its own wounds (take that Fantastic Mr Fox)
3) Want to see Willem Defoe receive a handjob and then ejaculate blood.
4) Want to see a woman self-circumcise herself.
If you have answered yes to more than one of these questions (I appreciate morbid curiosity in small doses) then please de-friend me. 🙂
2) Paul Blart: Mall Cop. One of the surprise hits of the year and that is what made me watch it. However whenever something that I am initially skeptical about generates popular success (Mamma Mia! the musical, The Fast and The Furious to name two) my initial skepticism is always correct. This may be the greatest example of this in pop culture history. It seemed to have the quality of a student film, but with far less quality work on the part of the actors. A movie of truly devastating crappiness. To paraphrase the Dude from The Big Lebowski: “Well, you finally did it America, you’ve killed fu-king comedy.”
drum roll please
1) Amelia. Perhaps Amelia Earhart knew this movie was coming, because I would disappear too if this bag of sh*t were attached to my name. Hilary Swank and Richard Gere both producing the worst film of their careers (yes I am counting The Next Karate Kid). And here is the worst thing I can say about a movie. This was not only worse than Paul Blart, but was worse than last year’s worst film – Twilight. ‘Nuff said.
If civil unions afforded completely equivalent benefits as marriage, sans the actual title, would gay people still feel unequal? I think this is a legitimate question. The argument against that is that the separate but equal classifications creates a second tier of citizens, a la Brown V. Board of Ed. But is that really true in the case of gay marriage? If the benefits are identical, why is the term marriage so inherently valuable? People will use the term married if they want (I doubt a couple would say “we’re united civilly”) and listeners will respect or disregard the usage of marriage in accordance with their own personal beliefs, regardless of what name the state confers upon a gay couple. For centuries marriage has meant one thing in our culture and language. Without stating whether this is right or wrong or getting into religious beliefs, my question is is it the word or the benefits or both?
But make no mistake, it is heterosexuals and our overstimulated culture that ruined marriage, not homosexuals.
Perhaps the gay lobby simply needs to re-vamp its marketing. Maybe pay off some of the more attractive homosexuals to get married. Every time I turn on a protest it’s some ugly lesbian couple or some fat pair of dudes that want to get married. No one wants to see those people marry and imagine them having sex, whether gay or straight. So get the happy gay people out of the clubs, gyms, and coffee shops and get them to sign on.
2) CLIMATEGATE/POLLING AMERICANS
After “Climategate” Americans’ belief in global warming is going down according to polls. My questions is why do we poll the American people on complex issues (not that climate change’s veracity is really a complex issue)? I especially enjoy it when they poll Americans to know if they approve of the President’s handling of the economy. I have a law degree from Georgetown, an undergraduate degree from Williams College and I don’t understand sh*t about economics (a B in my only economics class). I also have a blu ray dvd collection that does not speak to fiscal responsibility. So if I feel inadequate to speak on economic issues, and the economists and bankers in charge have helped ruin our economy and they are the experts, why do we ask average Americans what they think? They can have an opinion obviously, but most of the time it will be useless, which is what 77% of the people I asked this to thought.
But what if climate change is some elaborate hoax (Dan Brown’s next novel?)? So what? Why are goals of cleaner air, cleaner water,(i.e. healthier people) and better usage and replenishing of our resources not enough to motivate people and governments? But of course, climate change is real. The opponents of climate change urk me, but none more than the group of Republicans/”Democrats” who describe themselves as socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They love to preach about science to the religious communities on social issues, but when science indicates climate change this is the first group to question scientific findings. I do not enjoy the politics of this group of people because often the issue they care about is money.
I think if I had more courage I’d volunteer to go to Afghanistan (I still get scared while playing Modern Warfare 2). I support Obama’s troop increase into Afghanistan, but it makes me nervous. In my first year of law school I thought that perhaps the fight against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden was my generations WWII and that I might be wrong for not participating. But then President Bush gave me a moral out by waging war in Iraq.
But it saddens me that the resolve of the American people seems to be swayed by their boredom with war almost as equally as by the facts of war. When W. was waging war the country was more behind him for various factors; proximity to 9/11, less time invested in the war and lies to name a few (and by the way W. had one thing going for him – he delivered war speeches better than Obama. When W. spoke on the war and the threats he really did believe with his whole heart that he was doing the right thing, as evidenced by the fact that these were the only times he could speak with clarity and confidence. I think Cheney had more nefarious motives, but from all I’ve read Bush really may have been more incompetent than malevolent – more Fredo than Hitler). During that time our country’s independents/centrists/moderates had no problem being supportive and would disregard evidence to the contrary. Now they are all too willing to back away from Obama. No one knows for sure whether we will succeed or fail in Afghanistan, but our societal ADHD should not play a favor in the decision making and I am glad Obama did not let it.
A friend of mine actually said around 4 years ago, “the soldiers volunteered for it” as if it justified the cause (in Iraq) while more recently this same friend tried to play the sympathy for military members and families against me for my support of sending troops to Afghanistan. We are front runners in this country and it does not just apply to sports teams and celebrities. Perhaps the surge won’t work. After all I once bought a puppy to act as a romance surge in a failing relationship. A month later the relationship was over. I hope the troops have better luck and I feel that the cause is just.
4) Why does health care for poor people get some people angrier than any of these things?
Last night was a perfect storm of comedy, sports and the the thing that those two forms of entertainment have served me steadily over the years, disappointment.
At 7 pm I was on stage at Comix as the warm up comedian for 12 Angry Mascots, a fun show that features stand up, sketch comedy and interviews with comedians and local pro athletes. Last night featured the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis and the Duke Alum/NY Knicks’ Chris Duhon. Of course my Jets fan friends (including one who wears a Revis jersey every Sunday), my Duke alum friends and NY Knicks fan friends did not make the show, which moves them ever closer to my prognostication that my friends will one day accept an invitation to be gang raped if the only other option left to them is to attend one of my shows (noted for my Michael Jordan-esque Emmy acceptance speech sometime in the next decade). Sh*theads.
When I went backstage before the show I saw something that was bizarre at the backstage of a comedy show, attractive women. Like attractive flies to athletic sh*t, nice looking women just find out where athletes are, even if it takes them to, yikes, comedy clubs. It dawned on me that for pro athletes like Revis and Duhon, they probably have to actively decide NOT to get laid when they go out for a night. You know, the way a comic has to decide whether to buy a chocolate milk and walk home from an open mic or save the money for Metro card money and have a pleasant bus ride home. Same sort of thing.
So I did my set to warm up the crowd. I have not emceed a real show in a while and I had forgotten how cold a crowd can be when you get out there. Material went over well – my targets were LeBron James’ oldness (Morgan Freeman going to play him as a high school senior in a biopic), racism in baseball and President Obama (per usual). I was pretty happy with it, but there was no time to gloat or see if I could hang with Revis because it was off to Philadelphia for a show at the world famous comedy venue, JD McGillicuddys.
As I got on my Amtrak I saw that AJ Burnett had staked a 4-0 lead to the Angels. I furiously munched peanut M&Ms and listen to the angriest Jordin Sparks song I could find on my iPod in response.
I arrived at JD McGillicuddys in plenty of time before my set so I enjoyed some ice waters and watched the Yankees make an awesome 7th inning comeback. Fortunately, before I lost my semi-depressed delivery the Yanks gave the lead back to the Angels. Showtime.
Did about 25 minutes where almost everything worked (including some new bits about yelling at people in elevators and the first prison rapist), but I have never blindsided a crowd more than with a new bit that is simply called “The Terminator.” Might need some tweaking, but it sort of veers from Greg Giraldo (my favorite comedian and the type I hope to be some day, minus the stint in rehab) into more Jim Norton (comic I really like, but who is a little to the dirty/blue side of me, but who sort of inspired me to take some darker chances with my material). Then after the set I watched Nick Swisher pop out with the bases loaded I binge drank two beers.
The night ended with the comics crashing at Luke Cunningham’s mother’s house (because comedy, once again, is not rock and roll or professional athletics, which did not stop me from trashing the guest room). I thought about sleeping in the train station for the night, just so I could truthfully include a The Pursuit of Happyness moment in my biopic, but opted against it. We all got a solid 4 hours sleep before catching the 7:07 am SEPTA/NJ Transit train from Philly to NY, also known as the “My fu-king spouse insists we live in Philly, even though I work in New York” express.
All in all a very fun trip. And it was a reminder that I could turn more of a profit if I were a homeless man who alowed frat guys to kick him in the nuts for $20 a pop.
Next week I will have a big show in NYC Tuesday or Wednesday (unknown yet) and then I am in Boston October 30-31st headlining Tommy’s Comedy Lounge – hope you can make it.