Friday, July 25, 2008

Werewolves and Lollipops

Werewolves and Lollipops
Patton Oswalt
Released by Sub Pop records in 2007

Oh my god! What the hell is going on with this album cover?? It's like Pink Floyd took some acid with Rush and made an album cover with Salvador Dali! Things are MELTING! There's a big mouth with fangs on the outside where the head should be and the head is a ball and AAAAAHHH!

Werewolves and Lollipops is Patton Oswalt's most recent album. It is hilarious, keeping with Patton's ranting on pop culture retardation, the pain of his own life, and the pure insanity of being the type of person who lives in thes suburbs and has a "normal" American life.

The album starts off with a bit you may have heard now already, talking about KFC's famous bowls, their menu item in which they shove a pile of their food in a bowl and serve it to human beings. From there he goes on to describe how he got married and how he doesn't believe that his wife is real because she is is a hottie and he is not. He meanders over to talking about how disturbing G-rated filth is, why you should only be allowed 20 birthday parties, the Dukes of Hazard being Bush and Cheney, killing George Lucas with a shovel, and how growing up in the suburbs sucks ass.

Patton does a bit about birth control on this album that he has done previously, with one important difference - a heckler interrupts his bit right as he is getting to the punchline. This leads to an instant diversion where Patton rips into the heckler for minutes with a skill and wit I'm sure we all wish we had when having to deal with total douchebags.

The album continues with his admiration of the insanity of four-star chefs, how he can't get a movie made, but Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People is a movie that was, and he finishes up with how the same people who might be against gay marriage will be very for Cirque du Soleil, which Patton describes "What a gay french dude sees in his head when he's tired and horny."

Though this may be an antiquated notion, I recommend getting the physical, non-downloadable, hold-in-your-hands copy because it not only comes with a CD, but a DVD as well.

Now, the DVD is essentially a video of Patton doing essentially the same performance on the album, except someone gets peed on. That's right, someone during the show does not have the self control to leave the crowd for a bit and go to the bathroom properly, so they simply urinate on someone standing next to them. Thankfully you don't see this happening but you certainly hear Patton's reaction to it, which is reoccurring. Patton even makes an introduction on the DVD in front of a bust of Lincoln to specifically plead with people not to pee on each other at his shows.

Besides the stand-up the DVD also features a brief little skit showing Patton at a house he clearly doesn't own with rooms that can't possibly exist in it.

Overall, great album, get it. Enjoy it. Share it with your friends.

back cover

inside cover

acid-trip freaky booklet cover (by an artist called Zeloot)

more normal booklet insides

the discs

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Patton Oswalt's Frankensteins and Gumdrops

Warning/Guarantee: This look at a comedy album is written from the collector perspective. If you're looking to buy an actual full Patton Oswalt CD, this is not a good place to start. If you have all his stuff and are going to buy this anyway, this is for you.

A few months ago, word came down handed unto me by the Chunklet blog that Patton Oswalt would not only have a new CD coming, but it'd be free! Well, free with a pledge to radio station WFMU which I've never heard. After discovering it was free with a $75 donation, it seemed it would not be possible to obtain this CD. Until last weekend, that is. (Don't ask me where I got it.) Limited edition, promotional, and exclusive are very important words to the collector out there, and in here. This album is largely about bragging rights, so I can go to both of my friends who care about such things and say "guess what I've got?"

Frankensteins and Gumdrops gives you 10.3 minutes of the funny. That's not a lot of funny for $75, and I'm sure anyone who actually shelled out the asking rate on eBay would probably not be entirely pleased with their purchase. But keep in mind, I've payed a lot of money for a Transformers toy just because there are only 1,000 of them in the world, so I'm not one to talk. Anyway, the tracks are:
1. There Will Be Blood
2. Mega-Leg

One track gets out some decent movie material out there, even if any references to There Will Be Blood are on the midnight train to Borat-ville. The other immortalizes the KFC Mega-Leg routine, which has been performed live over (at least) the past year now. I still laugh, and you will too-- Patton's endless enthusiasm shows through these bits and odds are that someday I'll find my hypothetical future offspring quoting some of this stuff back to me to the point of madness. (Of course, the language isn't kid-friendly, I'm just guessing that's something my kid would do.)

What you have here is a great little collectible. As a can't-miss laughfest for the car on your next road trip, well, it'll fill 10 minutes. So if you have a harrowing journey to the 7-11 or through the Wendy's drive-thru, this is just the thing. Just take my advice when I say it is not only not worth the premium pricing. One can't put a price on a premium collectible (or rather, they can, and we pay it) but the actual quantity of material here is not worth the typical EP asking price. Were this a mass release, anything more than $6.99 would seem excessive.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Gong Show with Dave Attell: Premiere Episode

The Gong Show, for those of you/us not old enough to remember the original, was this unique program from thousands of years ago that could loosely be called a talent competition. People would come out and do something vaguely funny, musical, or sexy, and as long as people didn't get bored, they could show America their talent. If what they were showing America irritated the judges, they'd hit a gong and that'd be that. This image of the gong is so powerful that it transcended the show, becoming a reference you could trot out and people would understand. "Oh, this show sucks. I wish he could be gonged." They even use it at film festivals in Tucson, AZ, to move things along. Simple. Easy. Effective.

Because nostalgia isn't so much a place in your heart than it is a cave of intellectual property to be mined, Comedy Central brought back a program that, really, is more of a game show than anything else. The first episode of the new show has aired, and it brings Dave Attell with a decent selection of cackling cronies celebrity judges. There's Dave Navarro, he of Jane's Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. As no women judges were on this episode, he also qualifies as the prettiest of the panel. Andy Dick appears, looking as creepy as one might expect, with numerous references to his liklihood of jumping the contestants. Rounding out the trio was JB Smoove, who I must confess I know only of his wonderful stint on Curb Your Enthusiasm as one of the Blacks. I mean, one of the people Larry took in from Hurricane Katrina. (You know what I mean.) Future judges scheduled include Jim Norton, Brian Posehn, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Adam Corolla, and many others. It's a mixed bag.

The acts were all over the place. There was a trash rock act (named "Trash" if I can read my notes right) which sounded like the kind of sleazy garage act you'd hope to see open for a band at some random dive on a weekend. (They got gonged.) There was also some stripper act involving some chick and a guy in a monkey costume that seemed like it came straight from Chris Katan's "Mr. Peepers" character on SNL. (No gong here.) There was a guy who played wine glasses, a couple of guys who slapped their chests and pants, and even a "magician" who ripped a rabbit out of his stomach. The chest-slappers won, despite the stripper actually whipping out her boobs. Hey, I know what America likes, and it's the booby. The grand prize? $600. That sounds about right.

I have to say I'm a little surprised there's not a single female judge planned for the show, and I'm even more surprised that they were so hesitant to use the gong. It's called The Gong Show. You have a gong. USE IT. Seeing the show updated for the generation entertained by 30-second YouTube clips and aired on Comedy Central means that what you're getting is a show geared for a post-The Man Show world. The humor is aimed at college-ish men, and unfortunately, there's not a lot of it. Attell doesn't get a lot of opportunities to shine. On Insomniac he was a walking physical manifestation of enthusiasm. Someone would ask if he wanted to see them clean sewage, and he made it fun. Granted, he was drunk, but still it made for some engaging television. Hopefully we'll see more of that Dave Attell next week.

Andy Dick steals the show to do whatever it is he does every chance he gets. If I wanted to see Andy Dick just being an ass, I could tune in to any of a number of late night talk shows and get basically the same thing. The commentary of JB Smoove seemed to totally fit the show, be it the original incarnation or this 2008 version. He seems to get what they're trying to do without looking too cool or too edgy or anything. He's perfect. You'll probably like him.

This episode was engaging enough that I'll tune in and watch at least one or two more episodes, but not without a limited amount of personal shame. I have a hard time believing The Gong Show with Dave Attel is going to get picked up for multiple seasons, especially given Comedy Central's itchy trigger finger as of late. Check it out while you can, odds are it's going to be on for a month or two, and then rerun at 4:00 AM at some point in 2011. I suggest you watch it. If you don't like it, you can take solace in that the 30 minutes of airtime this show uses prevented another encore airing of Mind of Mencia. Bless you, Dave Attell, just for that.

Additional Bitching:
- Too much "show", not enough "gong."
- Navarro was totally making out with one of the girls they hired to bring out signs and stuff. Or so it seemed!
- Andy Dick is still a man whore, and creepy. Even without his recent arrest on the brain.
- "Hey Mr. Dick, want to spank my monkey?"
- Anyone want to take bets on when someone will come on to perform The Popsicle Twins routine again?
- Are we going to see any more amusing bands? Bad or good, slimy bands always make for good TV. Plus the original show had Oingo Boingo on it, so yeah, maybe we'll see some future talent here. But probably not.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stop Liking Monty Python and the Holy Grail So Much

a commentary by Shaun Clayton

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. People need to stop liking this film so much.

It is a good film. It is a terrific film. It's a classic of comedy. It's just that there are too many people who take their like of the film to lengths that are irritating and actually damage the film itself.

Let me first start off with the saying of "Ni." In the film, "Ni" is taken as a word that causes pain and discomfort. As life has so tragically imitated art, "Ni" is now in real life a word that causes pain and discomfort. Going around saying "Ni" in a high pitched tone repeatedly is not funny. Nor is it funny if, when someone tells you to stop, you continue to say "Ni" or demand "a shrubbery." It is especially disturbing if you have a small branch ripped off a shrub on your person which you produce exactly for that line. You are not clever, you are grounds for homicide.

Further, reciting "It's just a flesh wound," "Some call me...Tim" and basically any line of the film does not make you as funny as the people who said it in the first place on the screen. Nor does it make you seem clever. Nor does repeating a line over and over again make you more clever. In fact, it makes you less clever, in much the same way if you were to touch a pot on a stove, burn your hand, and then continue to try to grab the pot. Stop doing it.

Clacking together coconuts - oh, I get it. You are a horse. No wait, you are a guy who is annoying me with a repeated, loud noise. Please don't make me break your legs, because if you are a horse, I have to then shoot you to put you out of your misery.

I am glad to see that the female gender does not participate in these annoying rituals, or at least they haven't been seen by me. In fact, even mentioning you like Monty Python and the Holy Grail to a woman will make the merest chance of any proposition of having sex with her completely off the table from now until the end of time.

Therein lies the tragedy, that people who like the film too much make other people not like the film at all. They present a stereotype of the kind of person who likes the film and that person is not pleasant. Much like the man passed out in his own vomit on the bathroom is not a ringing endorsement of binge drinking cheap supermarket vodka, the man who shrieks the lines to Monty Python and the Holy Grail is not a ringing endorsement for the type of person who would like the film.

In fact, even if there is the rare screening of the film in an actual movie theater---then, I for one, can't even go see it. I know the place will be filled with people who like the film too much, wearing silly costumes, reciting every line as it is said on the screen (sometimes before) and essentially masturbating furiously and openly to the film in a way that is as disturbing as watching people literally masturbating en-masse in a movie theater.

I really wish to be transported far into the future, say thirty years, to see if the cult-like fanaticism has died down (emphasis on DIED) and the film has been relegated to being the classic bit of comedy that it is, without the people tainting it with their blind lust for it. Something that you can actually go into a movie theater and see without having to fight for silence.

I really wonder.

Stop liking this film so much.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Woody Allen: Stand Up Comic

Woody Allen: standup comic
Woody Allen: Standup Comic
Published by Rhino/Wea in 1999

I don't hate Woody Allen. I like his films. I even find his more recent films that aren't so good to have a certain charm. I think that this album shows that sticking to films is his best bet.

Listening to this album, I kept thinking "gee, I would like to be watching a Woody Allen right now." Woody Allen keeps delivering a lot of story material. Story material that makes me think "Wow, this would be really great to see in a film, but just having Woody Allen tell me this story sucks."

For example, Woody tells the story of how he shot a moose, strapped him on to the fender of his car, and the moose, not dead wakes up as he is driving through the Holland Tunnel. Apparently, it is against the law to drive with a conscious moose on your fender in New York, so Woody panics and goes to a costume party with the moose, hoping to ditch the moose at the party. The moose mingles and someone tries to sell the moose insurance for an hour and a half. There is a costume contest, and the moose comes in second behind a couple, the Berkowitzes, that are. dressed as a moose. The moose is angry and fights the couple. Woody takes the chance to grab the moose and strap him to the fender of his car and drive him out to the woods, but he gets the Berkowitzes instead. The next morning Mr. Birkowitz is mistaken for a moose, shot, stuffed, and displayed at the New York athletic club, which is funny because the club is restricted.

See how hilarious that story is in writing? Woody just telling you the story is about as hilarious.

What doesn't help is that the audience seems disproportionately pleased with Woody Allen. It's almost like everything he is saying to them are the most brilliant words ever spoken in the English language. Yeah, they are clever words, but seriously, I thought I was going to star hearing screaming, weeping and hymnals.

I understand that this CD is compiled from three albums released of Woody Allen's material from 1964 to 1968. So, perhaps the original material released in an unedited form comes across much better, but I get the suspicion that I would still feel the same about this. I listen to the album and I say to myself "Well, that's clever," "That's imaginative" but I do not say "This is hilarious," "This is really funny," or "I must listen to this again sometime."

Also, I would like to point out the sound quality for this is somewhat sub-par. Sure, there are a lot of analog to digital recordings out there, but I'm pretty sure not many of them sound like a digital recording from a cassette deck that was hooked up to a dusty LP on a Fisher Price record player. This is what this recording sounds like.

Overall, I think this a good album if you are a fan of Woody Allen and are curious to hear what his stand-up is like but it isn't one of those things you will find yourself laughing out loud to.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How to Win!

How to Win!
Maria Bamford
Published by: Stand Up Records in 2006

How to Win! is the most recent release of Ms. Bamford's comedy material on CD as of the publication of this article. In the future, CDs will probably be "quaint" but for now, this CD album resonates. Specifically, with people with the jokes about living in Los Angeles, working as a temp forever, and dealing with depression.

For instance, there's Maria talking about working for Disney and how when you work in the office, "They call you 'Cast Member,' like you're in a show or something, but you're in the shitty, boring part of the show nobody wants to watch."

Maria Bamford has an almost preternatural ability to change her voice. Yes, this has been mentioned before, and I will do no different. It's so much of a change from her normal voice (which some people say is "annoying" and which Maria refers to sounding like "James Earl Jones through a kazoo") that it's almost like a completely different person. I think what's best about this skill of hers is that she most often uses it to do impressions, and not impressions of people that are famous, but of people that aren't famous, but everybody knows.

For example, on this album, there's the leader of a corporate outing requesting more ways to build productivity through tragedy and fear, an American visiting Australia asking where the kangaroos and koalas are, and someone ordering coffee in L.A., and refusing it because it isn't organic.

Though I will say in this album she does a great impression of Alicia Keys. That's the only famous person you are going to her her do on this album, and good for her to not use the impression of her to put her in a stupid premise, such "Wouldn't it be funny if Alicia Keys worked as an air traffic controller?" Instead, it's used as example as how Alicia Keys can be as Maria puts it, "A silly goose" on her albums.

There are many stories about her family on her album, such as her sister talking about working as a forensic pathologist and talking about her work at the dinner table, her father as a collection of random noises, and her mother asking her to go buy some Vagasil.

There's further trials and tribulations of Maria, how comedy clubs often tell you nothing relevant about the stand-up acts at the club, and how dealing with therapists can be a hassle, and trying to use the Dale Carnegie sales course she was sent to as a teenager to try to influence her parents to let her be a roadie for R.E.O Speedwagon.

I'm guessing the title of the album comes from the Dale Carnegie book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I don't know.

Overall, it's a charming, entertaining, pain-filled disc of comedy.

Intriguing inside cover:

Boring, dull back cover:

Also available through Maria Bamford - How to Win!