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Tea Party Comedy Show

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.

Season 2 of The Wire was the closest thing the Friday 830 pm show had in common with pop culture's best Baltimore reference - and it was not close

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_oK6EPc6QA

My 5th bit of the night:

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.

Like the seam of her pants, Precious split a clear line between the two Friday crowds.

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-

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Hey – great I just turned the show into a Tea Party rally –

a few laughs and some claps

Your closing act – Sarah Palin (joking)

Applause Break

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.

I expect the Teap Party audience to bring their guns next time.

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.

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Oscar Breakdown & Predictions

If you read this blog regularly you should know that the first thing I hope (and certainly expect) from the 2010 Oscars is a prominent role for the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling ” in the pre-show hype fueled montage. 

When can we stop having a feeling? Sometime after the Oscars is my guess.

My biggest hope is that during the Oscars someone comes out and says, “By the way, The Blind Side is actually not nominated for Best Picture.  That was a big joke.  And also, An Education was extremely boring and we apologize for nominating that so congratulations 500 Days of Summer and The Messenger – you are actually nominated for Best Picture.”  Not going to happen, but here are my predictions for the major awards and what should occur (within the realm of possibility):

BEST PICTURE

I would be OK withany of the following winning in descending order of preference: District 9, Up In The Air, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Precious, Avatar, The Hurt Locker. 

I think Inglorious Basterds is going to win in what I will call the “Norah Jones Strategy.”  In 2002, the Best Album Grammy went to Norah Jones despite The Rising by Bruce Springsteen and The Eminem Show being nominated.  I think voters split on Eminem and Sprinsgteen leaving a plurality to Norah Jones.

I like Basterds' chances.

The Hurt Locker has a lot of momentum and Avatar is the most financially successful film of all time.  But I think people who put The Hurt locker first would not have Avatar second and I do not think people that vote Avatar first would have The Hurt Locker second.  But those voters who put either of those first could very well put Basterds as their second choice.  And since Quentin Tarantino is a Hollywood favorite and an original I think he could pick up some small percentage that think it is time he won a big prize so I am putting my money on Inglorious Basterds to edge out Avatar and The Hurt Locker.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges is going to win the Oscar that Mickey Rourke should have won last year.  Jeff Bridges is a really good actor and it will be nice for him to win. 

 I would vote for Clooney for Up In The Air.  It was his best acting job yet and finally fulfilled all the love that Hollywood had bestowed prematurely on his high brow films (which were generally sort of boring  -Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana were all overrated, relatively boring movies, but Hollywood loves the high school quarterback who also hangs out with the geeks and that has been Clooney for the past decade).  And the look that Clooney gives his lady friend when he meets her at her house was one of my favorite acting moments of the year.

Best Actress

This is a two horse race.  Meryl Streep was great in Julie and Julia and this is her 134th nomination. She has won twice, but I think it is time she get another win.  She is like the Michael Jordan of actresses – she should win the MVP every year, but doesn’t because some obscure actress did something obscure and artsy or some pretty actress got fat, or naked, or sassy. And with that let’s discuss the other best actress front runner – Sandra Bullock.

The Meryl Streep of basketball.

Sandra Bullock was a B+ in The Blind Side, which was good because the movie was a C/C-.  But other than a benign racism that is sweeping the country (“Hey, we voted for a black guy, we like movies where white people save black people – damn we are awesome white folk!”) I do not understand why Meryl Streep is not guaranteed a third Oscar.  If you need ant other reasons not to root for Sandra Bullock and/or The Blind Side please watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_oK6EPc6QA

So I am going to go with what is right and say Meryl Streep over Bullock.

Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Waltz from Inglourious Basterds might be an even bigger favorite than Heath Ledger last year.  What a great performance – he is the front runner and deserves to be.  He was so good that the Academy is considering granting him a Polanski (“a pass for a rape of a minor based on high quality work”).  I enjoyed Woody Harrelson in The Messenger and must admit I did not see The Last Station yet, but am glad to see Christopher Plummer nominated (in my mind his lack of a nomination for The Insider is still the biggest snub I can remember).

Best Supporting Actress

Mo’Nique in Precious. Also a no-brainer.  The most raw performance I think I have ever seen.  Her motivation may have come from the fact that Mo’Nique’s husband has a hairy leg fetish, which probably means he is on the down low.  That would make most women pretty angry, but Mo’Nique took it to another level. The only thing that may detract from this for Academy voters is that the film is very black in both mood and casting.  It is sort of the Anti-Blind Side.

She has an "open relationship" with her hairy leg-loving husband. Keep it on the down low and go win your Oscar Mo'Nique!

Best Director

Without ten nominees to thin the voting, this will be between James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).  I enjoy the fact that they were married and that I think James Cameron bounced.  That will make it even more painful if she has to lose to him, which I think she will.  The breadth and technological advancements and sheer volume of time spent on Avatar should give it to Cameron.

I might go for Tarantino or Reitman (Up In The Air) with my vote. Which I don’t have.  But Avatar is pretty hard to deny.

Best Animated Feature

Up. 

The only thing that would make me madder than a Blind Side victory in any category would be Fantastic Mr. Fox winning here.  I think Wes Anderson films are incredibly irritating, though Mr. Fox was relatively enjoyable.  But Up’s first 15 minutes alone crush the competition.

A moment of silence for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, which was ignored and not even nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay

I think Precious should and will win here because form what I have heard the original text is written in the first person and might pose a challenge to make into a quality film, which they did.  However, the hilarious and extremely clever In The Loop, as well as the most original film of the year, District 9 would make me happy as well.  Fu-k An Education.

Best Original Screenplay

Inglourious Basters should win and almost definitely will win.  Part of me is rooting for Up though. It is about time Pixar got recognized for being the most consistently original and great film studio.

Best Score

I genuinely can’t remember any of the scores, so here is my list of my favorite scores of all time (shut up Star Wars fans):

1) The Last of The Mohicans

2) Brokeback Mountain (the score literally could have been called “sad and lonely cowboy”)

3) Chariots of Fire

4) Hoosiers

5) Rudy

Alright – there it is a comprehensive list of the categories you care about.  If you want incessant humorous commentary by me during the Oscars – check out www.twitter.com/JLCauvin

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Blind Sided By The Oscars & Some Early Predictions

When I looked at the Oscar nominations only a couple of things startled me. One was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs not being nominated for Best Animated Feature.  Another was seeing Christopher Plummer getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Last Station.  I have not seen the movie (one of the very few among nominees that I can say that about), but it just brings up angry thoughts of 10 years ago when he was snubbed for a nomination for his portrayal of Mike Wallace in The Insider.  And there was good news – District 9 was nominated for Best Picture.  However, besides the excruciatingly mundane An Education getting nominated, there is an egregious error among the best picture nominees.  The Blind Side.

There can be many debates about who should win what, but one thing is for sure: The Blind Side is the worst movie nominated for Best Picture in my lifetime. (But An Education was pretty lame as well.)

The Blind Side is an average movie. It has some good moments for sure, but it abounds in awful old and new Hollywood cliches.  It has the sassy southern white woman, which is now the female Oscar equivalent of a man playing a mentally handicapped person – automatic Oscar nomination.  She has a reticent daughter, but a spunky and fun son who says such cute and witty things for a little kid!  And most importantly it has a poor black person in dire need of white people’s help.  Now I know this is based on a true story, but even the subject of the film, Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher said in a NYT article, “I wish they hadn’t made me look so dumb.”  His coaches also remarked on how bright he is and h did make the Dean’s List at Ole Miss.  But perhaps if Michael had been portrayed smarter at first it might have looked more like… gulp.. affirmative action – and that is not as feel good for America.

I have seen almost every best picture nominee in the last 30 years and unequivocally The Blind Side is the worst by a lot.  I am not saying it’s terrible.  Most movie critics already did that.  I am saying it is like seeing a C+ student make the Honor Roll.  I have received some comments about how opening up the Best Picture category to 10 nominees led to this.  I disagree.  Although I think they should have stayed at 5, there were better movies than The Blind Side.  That is like saying if there had been ten nominations a few years ago then Coach Carter would have been nominated (that was a trick- of course it would not have been.  not only was it a mediocre film, but that was a black man – Samuel L Jackson helping minority kids – not a white woman!). 

Perhaps this was the Academy’s concession for nominating Precious, a gritty, depressing book at the plight of inner city African Americans.  They watched Precious and were like, “Wow that was good, but sort of sad – quick nominate a feel-good, whites-helping-Negros-movie before we feel compelled to actually do something constructive.  Quick do we have anything?  The Blind Side? FINE!”

Predictions:

Mo’Nique and Christopher Waltz in the supporting actor categories.  No one else should even show up.

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges.   I would vote for Clooney if I had a vote (I thought his performance was finally the one that Hollywood has pretended for the last ten years that he has delivered.  In Up In The Air he actually delivered it – funny, subtle and awesome).  But Jeff Bridges has all the momentum and has had a quality and varied career.

Best Actress – I’d take Meryl Streep, Precious (she was really good) or even Helen Mirren because she’s very good looking for an old lady, but Sandra Bullock seems to be a lock. Yikes.  I think I’d pick Precious.

Adapted Screenplay – District 9 was the most original film of the year (barring technical originality of Avatar), but I will accept all (included In The Loop which is hysterical) except for An Education – what a fu-king bore, except when it seemed to inject bizarre out of place humor.

Original Screenplay – I think I’d go with The Hurt Locker or Inglorious Basterds, but I will guess that Basterds takes it.

Best Director – James Cameron or Quentin Tarantino – I think Cameron just for the scope and technical achievement of Avatar.

Best Picture – I’d pick District 9, but would be ok with Inglorious Basterds or Up In The Air.  However I feel that it will be between The Hurt Locker or Avatar.  Avatar in a close one.