Category Archives: comedy

A Roundup that won’t give you cancer…

FILLER WATCH: The latest to succumb to the Juvederm/Restylane/Filler-Of-The-Month succubi are Maggie Haberman and, surprisingly, Asha Rangappa. Yes, they look good. Damned. Good. Yes, I covet their damned injectable hyaluronic acid. But alas (and alack), injectables are like the new Logan’s Run with class separation thrown in for (debatably) good measure.

wrinkles the clownEVIL CLOWN WATCH: Hailing from – where else? – Florida, WRINKLES THE CLOWN is an eponymous documentary about its subject, a creepy AF clown that unfit parents hire to terrorize their children. It’s also a look in general at the place clowns have taken in pop culture and in folklore, the desire that some other kids with actual decent upbringings have to scare the hell out of themselves, and a look into the mindset and mission statement of the anonymous-for-his-own-safety entity underneath the eyeless Michael Myers-esque clown mask and blousy polka-dotted onesie. If you can get through the completely horrific wails of the terrified children in the background of Wrinkles’ voicemails from parents using him as a punitive device in place of genuine parenting, it’s a pretty fascinating – and creepy – documentary.

“YOU GOTTA HAVE HEART” WATCH: Currently available via HBO, you can catch Gary Gulman’s The Great Depresh – which is the best comedic special about mental illness I’ve seen since Chris Gethard’s Career Suicide (also available on HBO). Gary is an amazing guy as well as a spot-on comedian. Every day, he tweets out tips for hopeful new comics to encourage them to WRITE. And they are some damn fine tips (for example, he urges them to read “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the finest essays going on how to be unapologetically yourself, and conform to no other standards than your own – which is so important to comedians, especially in the face of attempted censorship).

GALAXY MIND WATCH: Feeling a little woo-woo? Want some words every day that you can project your own stuff onto that ISN’T a horoscope? Want to be occasionally freaked out by how uncannily accurate something randomly is? Sign up for Notes From The Universe. It’s been the first email I read every weekday morning – even when I’m too damn insane to read anything else – for several years now. I’ve gotten a lot out of it. You might, too. What the hell, it’s free, why not?

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When Cancel Culture Comes For Comedy

The rant about Cancel Culture is not yet over. There is one more point to make. Cancel Culture is False Morality and has no place in Comedy.

To wit: Cancel Culture is a group of people pointing at one person and, as they do in THE HANDMAID’S TALE, yelling, “SIN! SIN! SIN! SIN!” It is Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery: Is your number up? Who shall we stone today? There is no explanation requested. Just a rush to judgement by a bunch of Hang ‘Em Harry’s.

So yes, I posit that it’s false morality, because what does it achieve, other than attempt to ostracize someone and try to end their career? What does it do, O Manic Pixie Hashtag Warriors, to further the agenda of a “better world”?

What are these “well-meaning”, self-righteous, morally-superior-in-their-own-minds minions doing to affect any change for the better?

Hi, Nothing. Meet Jack Shit.

Every member of the Cancel Hive-mind will say “I’m a good person” if you ask them. But none of them carry the benefit of the doubt in their pockets. I don’t know about you, but I have this bizarre idea that the first reaction of a good person is not to condemn, but instead, gather the facts.

Admittedly, I may be conflating “good” with “intelligent”, and completely derailing my argument. But – is this even still possible in the Era of Weaponized Opinion? – hear me out. Humor me for a moment, please.

Where is the dialogue? Why is the question not asked, “Hey, why did you say this? What was your intent? What was the joke here that I am obviously not seeing?”

AND.

Does no one these days actually UNDERSTAND comedy? I mean, sometimes, a comedian will take on the ‘voice’ of someone less enlightened than themselves, in order to demonstrate that this sort of person’s point of view is markedly ignorant. They do have the responsibility to make this clear. That onus is on them. But, if they have done their job, and that joke is sound, that joke works, that joke lands, welcome back to my argument.

The problem I’m seeing here is that people have forgotten – or have apparently never known in the first place – that:

  1. Art is meant to provoke (and yes, Comedy is absolutely, empirically Art); spurring discussion on whether a viewpoint is right or wrong and why that may be is a good thing. Talking to a comedian about where they were coming from with a controversial joke is also a good thing;
  2. Comedy itself is a good thing. It can help us deal with much of the darkness we are faced with in this life, including ignorance, so that we don’t, say, organize into a mouth-foaming mob brandishing portable guillotines from Sharper Judge Jury and Executioner Image.

There truly is a difference between controversial comedy and bad, mean comedy that is genuinely racist or misogynistic. And let me inform you so that we are clear – the shit comedy? That unfunny crap that actually is racist, misogynistic, cruel? First off, it’s lazy, no real comedians respect that shit. And also, it does not last long (unless you are frequenting white supremacist comedy bars or something, in which case, you have some duplicity fish to fry there). That kind of “comedy” is not rewarded. You won’t find it anywhere in the mainstream, or in the indie scene, either. So-called comics who sound like 7th grade bullies don’t end up going anywhere good. And so blurring that fucking line needs to halt.

You ABSOLUTELY have the right to not find a joke funny. You have the right, even, to be OFFENDED by a joke. I won’t even say it’s a crime to MISUNDERSTAND a joke. I don’t want to take any of that away. What I take umbrage with, though, is this piling on, this group anger directed at one person, this automatic rabid-wolf-packing

Stop jerking your knee, calling out EVERYTHING that you don’t like or don’t get or find distasteful. Do some research first. Knowledge is power, but also?

IT’S FUCKING KNOWLEDGE.

Do you truly think it’s problematic? Write an essay about it. Express yourself intelligently. Again, do some research. And apply some nuanced thinking, please. Stop viewing everything in black and white, binary terms. It is possible. I refuse to believe that we have lost the ability to do that.

Bertrand Russell said the sign of an intellectual is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time. When I consider that statement, it appears to me to be the only true way one can come to a solid conclusion. If you do not weigh  opposing viewpoints objectively, how can you expect to come to a conclusion that comes anywhere near to sound?

definition of censorship - cancel culture comes for comedy

Comedians have a goal that they dedicate themselves to heart and soul. No matter how gruff they may seem, believe me when I say this: That goal is to make you laugh. To make your life a bit better, a bit more tolerable, if even for just the time you are in that comedy club or bar or on the couch watching that special or set. It is not their aim to make you feel like shit. Please, try to remember this before you decide to string up the next one for something they say. Please, just take a moment and try to see what they might have been trying to do, and how they might have been trying to do it.

Comedy is not supposed to be safe. If you are worried about sounding like a “nice” person, you cannot do comedy. It isn’t possible. Because you can find a reason not to say just about anything.

I don’t want to live in a world where people are afraid to speak. Likewise, if someone has something to say that is heinous, hey, I’d prefer to know that they feel that way than shut them up. You have a better chance of improving a situation you know exists than one you insist is swept under the carpet so your delicate ears don’t have to hear it.

One day, it might be your speech that is condemned, you who is the one being cancelled. You may be the one who came off the wrong way without intending to do so. If that ever were to happen, I think you would want a chance for people to hear your side of things before they release the hounds. I want you to have that chance, too. I want us all to have that chance.

Even the people busy combing through 10 year-old Tweets as I type this.

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Damn It, Bert Kreischer

Bert KreischerI’ve been listening to comedian Bert Kreischer‘s podcast, The Bertcast, for a couple of years. He’s a great guy. He’s interesting, funny as fuck, tells amazing stories, and has a big heart. He’s a family man – loves his wife and kids like crazy – but the last thing Bert could ever be would be a stick in the mud. And he’s from my hometown and knows how fucking terrible this place was when we were growing up (it still is fairly terrible in certain ways but that’s another rant post). Bert is a good guy, means well, and is very open-minded. I got to meet him the last time he played Tampa. Great guy, just all around nice and cool.

All this I say because I heard him say something the other day that really bummed me out.

Bert has a new podcast called Open Tabs, where he shares the week’s Googling. And apparently, there was a video he saw on YouTube that frightened him to his very core. Now, I have not watched the video. I probably SHOULD but I am just not going to bother. Because from the title, it does not seem like much would be going on in it. Because the title is “Catatonic Schizophrenic”.

Bert said, basically, “If you want to be terrified, look up Catatonic Schizophrenic.”

That is just straight-up ignorance. Damn it, Bert, I am so disappointed in you.

Catatonic means not moving, not reacting. Schizophrenia is a mental illness where your brain is disorganized, you are subject to hallucinations and delusions, and you have a flat or blunted affect. Social skills are not so hot. But when medicated, and even when NOT medicated, there is not a whole fuck of a lot to fear from the majority of schizophrenics, any more than there is something to fear from the majority of people. Some people are dangerous and some people are assholes and this is true of the mentally ill but it is also true of the “sane”. It takes all kinds. And just because someone is schizophrenic… Oh, JFC, do I really need to write that sentence? In this day and age?

Bert Kreischer has swum with sharks but he’s afraid of a person who is more than likely just drooling and sitting there. Because he might, um, sit there and drool MORE. Or something.

Yeah. Me, I’d rather be in the ocean with a dozen mental patients than a dozen sharks, man. But a drooling, sitting shark, hopped up on Thorazine or whatever?

OH, FUCK NO! TOO SCARY!

Bert Kreischer doesn’t know this – but he MET and TALKED TO a schizophrenic at his show last year. (Not me. The friend I went to the show with. I am bipolar, thankyouverymuch) And Bert had a nice convo with him, too. And never ever knew that my pal was schizophrenic.

But Bert Kreischer is scared of schizophrenics who pose no threat to him.

BUMMER, MAN.

Stigma is just not going to go away, ever, is it? I could say a lot about this, but honestly, I just do not have it in me. I don’t have it in me to fight such ignorance. I guess this is because I’m too busy being CRAZY.

You wanna know what crazy looks like? It looks like sitting on the fucking couch trying to process everything in your brain for hours until you can clear out enough space to figure out what the hell you are supposed to be doing today.

Real scary, right?

I am sure there are a couple of schizophrenics out there who are scary. But I am willing to bet they were fairly scary before the onset of their illness, too. I am not a scary person (okay, it’s a matter of opinion but whatever) and I was not scary when I was psychotic. In fact, no one in my family EVEN NOTICED that I was psychotic until four months in. THAT is what’s crazy.

This is not a well-written post and it’s already gone where it was going, so I am retreating now to fret over finances as per my usual, and to feel really fucking bummed out that people are still so ignorant and afraid of people who have a mental illness, because how can I ever think things will get better for me if people – smart, funny, NICE people – still believe this bullshit?

Like, wait for someone to GIVE YOU A REASON to fear them before you just automatically fear them, you know?

It’s so depressing. No matter how hard you try, no matter how well you behave, all it takes is a label. And once branded, it sure as fuck feels sometimes like the only logical thing to do is give up, because people around you judge you by that label, and not by your actions or behavior or intentions. (And yes, I call myself out as being mentally ill – for this very reason. Not to become just the sum of a label, but to show people that those with mental illness can also be other things, not just their illness.)

Damn it, Bert. I like you. Why did you have to be the one to spray futility all over my garden?

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TV Time

If you aren’t watching LEGION on FX, you must get to Hulu or the FX app and catch up right away – hey, this weekend is perfect – because this show is absolutely AMAZING.

Also coming up on Hulu: The Handmaid’s Tale. And the new season of Westworld is coming to HBO.

Want to watch a fucked-up documentary? Give HAUNTERS on Netflix a viewing. Starts out just as a behind the scenes look at people who run haunted houses, this film gets dark, FAST.

Another Netflix gem is American Vandal, which is just hilarious.  Oh, Hello on Broadway is great, too, if you’ve ever been given Too Much Tuna.

And Amazon’s The Amazing Mrs. Maisel is a fantastic series about a woman trying to be a stand-up comic in the 60’s. Authentic, funny, the lead actress is charming and gorgeous, and Alex Borstein is comedy gold in this.

Obviously, Black Mirror is a recommendation. And holy damn, is Gotham getting intense or what?

Comedian Christina P. has a Netflix special called Mother Inferior that kills. Try it out. (Machines within…) Her husband Tom Segura also has a new special: Disgraceful – and it’s hysterical. Tony Hinchcliffe and Ari Shaffir are also really good fucking specials. Laugh your ass off, then give them a nice ol’ thumbs up.

There is a cornucopia of good standup on Netflix.. These are just all I can think of at the moment.

Oh – if you have not yet seen Twin Peaks: The Return, you must remedy this immediately.

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