Monday, October 27, 2008

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy
Originally released in 1982 by Columbia

Once, a long time ago, Eddie Murphy did stand up comedy. No, it's true! This self-titled first release by Eddie Murphy from 1982 has it's ups and downs.

First, the ups - considering how young Eddie Murphy was at the time (21 years old) he really shows how talented he is. He has timing, delivery, and performance that's impressive for even a seasoned comedian.

There are many memorable bits on here, most notably Doo Doo/Christmas Gifts which first details how boys tend to gross girls out with poop, and then goes into how fathers tend to get screwed with Christmas gifts. For example:

"You come down and rip all the stuff open, and there would be toys and shit on the floor everything scattered all over the place and your Father would come downstairs and you would say 'Here's yours Daddy!' There's just one box, and every kid in the house's name is on the card. 'Hey thanks a lot!' Open it up, and he would say 'Brut. By Faberge. Thank you. (whispering) Cheap motherfucker.' They gotta smile when they get that stuff, man."

There are also some funny if very dated bits involving the assassination attempts on President Reagan and The Pope. He makes the point that anyone who gets shot, anyone, even the Pope, is going to swear.

There's also a very dated bit about talking cars. If you don't know what that refers to, that's okay.

While there are many great bits on this album, there are also some infamous bits. First, there's a long series of bits about Chinese people that's a little, racist as fuck.

Second, there's "Boogie in Your Butt." This is an atrocious song sung by Eddie Murphy which involves sticking things in your butt. I'm not sure if he was trying to be funny or cool, or cool/funny but it's laughably bad, expecially considering the first track of the album is called 'Faggots' and involves harassing gay people.

Admittedly, Eddie Murphy himself has come out and apologized for his insensitive work such as this, and overall, there's some great bits on this album. It's on par with his other comedy album, Comedian, and much much much much better than his music albums, How Could it Be, So Happy, and Love's Alright which you have probably never heard of for good reason.

Back cover:

Inside cover:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast

From the Kapser Hauser Sketch Comedy group
Mostly from 2007
(No relation to a mysterious foundling)

There are some funny bits to this sketch-comedy podcast and there are also not-so-funny bits. There are more funny bits than not, which is why I am recommending you listen to this sketch comedy podcast.

First the good - it has a pretty professional production quality, no recordings made in a parents basement here. In particular, I can think of the two "This American Life" episodes, where they make it sound almost exactly like a This American Life episode, complete with an Ira Glass sound-alike and beautiful interstitial music. The only difference between it and the real This American Life is that the subject matter is complete nonsense, such as a guy whose high school sank into the ocean and a guy who has a job fixing computers but knows nothing about computers.

There's other great stuff material, like "Spicy Pony Head" which involves a man ordering in a French Restaurant and getting offered pony head repeatedly. There's "Phone Calls to the 14th Century", a game show where people make a phone call to the 14th century in order to win a million dollars. There's "Mundo Des Perros" which is a show about dogs in Spanish. Good, wacky, well written stuff.

The bad stuff is the "Wedding Announcements from the New York Times" which is occasionally funny but about as entertaining as the actual New York Times wedding announcements.

There is also the repeated, incessant plugging of the book "SkyMaul" which is a parody of the "SkyMall" catalog found on most plane trips. It's pretty much plugged in every episode and some episodes are merely pages from the book. I mean, really, do you need to plug it with every show? It makes me absolutely, positively, not want to buy the book.

There are also some video bits. They are...okay.

So, go ahead, give the show a download. It's free, and it hasn't updated since 2007, there aren't a lot of episodes but there are some gems in the pile of sharp glass.

Here is a link to the Kasper Hauser website.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Maniacal Rage Podcast

There are a lot of Podcasts that are categorized as comedy if you look through the iTunes music store. Many of them deserve the comedy label about as much as your alcoholic step-uncle "deserves" booze. This podcast, the Maniacal Rage Podcast, does in fact deserve this title if it is the sort of thing you like.

It is Garrett Murray and Shawn Morrison out of New York City, having ordinary conversations that turn absurd quickly. For example a dream about turning into a marshmallow and being in a convenience store as it is being robbed leads to a discussion of how the marshmallow is made from either horse face or horse skull. Then they start talking about a jockey who would win his races by eating marshmallow fluff in front of a horse, which would get it angry and make it run harder. From there they discuss how horse races are actually run, which involves a cat on a stick moving around the side of the track, being swung around, yelling "Help me horses" and the horses run after it. Jockeys are discussed as being actual wizards who use their magical abilities to make people watch horse racing. An adjustment to horse racing is put forth where at the finish line, the horses all run into a giant vat of boiling gelatin at the end and everyone gets some memento glue.

Also on rare occasions, they have video podcasts which involve sketch comedy. Such sketch concepts like Garrett Traveling from the future to tell Shawn not to eat a sandwich, and further copies of Garrett start appearing from the future with different facial hair and start killing each other. Other sketch concepts include women dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and the notion that shooting at bums is very sexy.

The podcast does have some faults. One is that they don't update it that often, as is the case with many podcasts. The other is that with most of the podcast consisting of just two people talking, it can get a little slow. Still, this is a very funny and very well done podcast, and free, so you can't really go wrong in downloading it.

Click here for The Maniacal Rage Podcast Website

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Down + Dirty with Jim Norton: Episdode 1

One thing that it seems we see less and less of these days are showcases for stand-up on TV. On talk shows, most comedians turn their material into Q&A sessions on the couch. Comedy Central has a special here and there, but rarely is there a program where you might be able to check out sets featuring multiple comics. Thankfully, HBO has realized that we've got a massive gap from when VH-1's Stand-Up Spotlight was dropped, and decided to give us a new show with less bleeping and more (any?) funny.

The format for Down + Dirty with Jim Norton is as follows: Jim comes out and tells us jokes. His musical guy is Lemmy from Motorhead. Four comics come out and tell us jokes in 30 minutes, making this a pretty manic show. The episode I caught featured Whitney Cummings, Artie Lange, Jim Florentine, and Anthony Jeselnik-- and it was pretty good. Despite the fact that herpes jokes infected multiple sets, the half-hour went by pretty quickly and the comics had at least a couple of really good laughs. Being an HBO special, it seemed going blue wasn't so much an option as a requirement.

You might be asking "so column writer, who are these people?"

Host Jim Norton is a foul, funny man best known for not being particularly well known. I first saw him on Colin Quinn's Tough Crowd, but he also turned in great performances on the HBO series Lucky Louie as a depraved, often underdressed shell of a human being. In other words, he's the perfect vehicle for comedy.

The first guest Anthony Jeselnik I've never heard of before. Apparently he's been on Deadwood and he does a lot of stand-up. His material was certainly pretty good-- he actually writes jokes, rather than observations or funny voices, plus he has more than a few topics to go on. Worth seeing? Yes.

Next up was Whitney Cummings who, again, I have never heard of. We've been pretty good on this blog about not making the typical "woman not funny" jokes, and this lady is indeed amusing, but she's also a one-trick pony as far as her set goes. Pretty much the entire set was "hi, I have a lot of sex." As comedy nerds, we cannot connect with her on this subject, which made up the lion's share of her set. A little variety would have been nice.

If you blinked, you missed Jim Florentine. Best known as a contributor to Crank Yankers, his set was short and sweet-- also funny. Artie Lange was the show's headliner, and I swear I've heard a lot of this material beforer. Lange is a funny guy, known primarily for his Howard Stern connection but he's actually done some interesting stuff. Who can forget "My White Momma" on Mad TV? His material also kicked off by getting the audience on his side by saying what we were all thinking-- how the Hell is this guy still alive? Don't get me wrong, I like the guy's act, but watching him on stage was more than a little uncomfortable. If he isn't hanging out with the grim spectre of death when he goes backstage, I'll be surprised. Here's hoping he doesn't die before his time.

All in all, it was a good showcase of talent-- some were funnier than others, and if you're the kind of person exposed to comedy mostly through network television this would probably be an unpleasant experience for you. It was certainly entertaining, and it's really wonderful to see a TV show giving me a chance to see multiple comics in rapid succession. It almost felt like the only way you'd see comedians on TV were as talk show guests or in half-hour specials... so kudos, HBO, for having the balls to try this format again. I'll keep watching.

Future guests include Andrew "Dice" Clay, Patrice O'Neal, and several people who I do not yet think I've seen. I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Monday, October 6, 2008

An American Carol

I hate this movie. Then again, I'm a dirty liberal, so I'm guessing I'm supposed to hate this movie and get angry and blog about my hate, which is what I am doing. Question is, why would a conservative want to watch this movie either?

First of all, how could the director of Scary Movie 3 make such an unfunny movie? Wait, that's not quite right. There's more to him than that. How could David Zucker, director of Scary Movie 3 and 4 make such an unfunny, fucking stupid movie?

The plot of the movie is this - members of the Taliban in Afghanistan have a recruiting problem with the American military doing such a good job to free up the country. So, they decide to hire a Hollywood director, someone who really hates America to do their recruiting videos. Enter Michael Malone, played by the dead Chris Farley's brother, Kevin Farley. Michael Malone, who is obviously supposed to be Michael Moore, is a documentary filmmaker who falls down a lot and is constantly eating. Oh, he also is hosting a rally to protest July 4th because he hates America. The Taliban pick him to be their filmmaker, but somewhere along the line they decide that instead of having him make films for them he would be better used to get access to a public event to cause terror. Michael Malone gets visited by three spirits, the ghost of Patton, Washington, and the Angel of Death, oh, also JFK. In the process of --- it doesn't matter. This movie is not about comedy but preaching. Preaching, preaching preaching, with poor attempts at humor thrown in.

Let me put it this way, would you like to see a movie telling you the following:

College students are stupid and will repeat anything in a protest.
College professors are 1960's throwbacks who want to indoctrinate kids into hating America.
The war against terror is the same as the war against the Nazis.
Pacifism means surrender.
If Liberals were in charge, the Union would have lost the Civil War because they are against any war.
People in Hollywood rich hypocritical iditots.
The Left wing is full of crazy extremists.
The members of the ACLU are zombies who fight only to destroy America. They fight for the fourth amendment which leads to terrorists bombing America.
Bill O'Reilly is a decent human being.

If your answer is yes, then you probably already believe all this anyway, so the question is, why would you go to a movie that tells you what you want to hear that isn't entertaining?

There's very little comedy in this, and when there are attempts at comedy there are weird jumps that go from, talking solemnly of the death of thousands of innocent people, and the people who tried to save them, in the ruins of the World Trade Center, to Michael Malone stumbling around in a graveyard, bumping repeatedly into bells.

I think the message of this film is that "conservatives are right, liberals are wrong" and it plays that message for an hour and a half, which makes this movie an inverse of Team America. That movie was funny, had some hilarious scenes, and some music you could really sing to and maybe 2% message. If you were liberal, conservative, who cares? It was funny. An American Carol is about 99% message and 1% entertainment.

It's also just really angry with it's message. It's almost like they wanted to make a movie that just had an hour and a half of liberals being beaten to death, but instead made it veer towards "comedy" so it could be labeled "satire."

So, if you're that type of person who just hates the liberals, and wants to see a movie about hating liberals, and hate hate hate, liberal liberal liberal, then go ahead and see this movie.

It should be noted that I, being a dirty horrible liberal, saw this film in a movie theater in Phoenix, the home of John McCain. They, like me, did not laugh through most of the film, but at the end of the film, they stood up and applauded. Some cheered.

This isn't satire, this isn't entertainment. This is like a fourteen year-old kid being angry that he has to go be cooped up at High School all day, so he throws his own shit at the Principal's office. Seriously.

Quick Shots of False Hope

Quick Shots of False Hope
Laura Kightlinger
Published by Avon Books in 1999.

Laura Kightlinger. Beautiful. Dark-witted. You may have no idea who she is. Oh, she is in The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman. In any case, here's a book to tell you about her, written in her own words, which is no longer in print. It is called Quick Shots of False Hope.

Personal stories about Kightlinger, running through her adolescence to her young adulthood are in this book, and as per the norm for the upbringing of the comically-minded, the upbringing of Laura is filled with pain. From the personal embarrassment of doing a poor rendition of the song "Car Wash" in front of her entire High School, to working at Ponderosa Steak House, to dealing with her Mom hiding from her Father behind the couch when he came over to visit after being with his other family.

The stories proceed from her adolescence to her college years, where she is horribly dumped by a boyfriend It goes on from her post college years to her being a stand-up on the road, leading her to a long and frightening story about being raped in a hotel room which is only an allegory for how horrible the stand-up road can be.

There's stories about writing for Rosanne, there's stories about the horror of being on Saturday Night Live in 1996 and dealing with Adam Sandler, and on and essentially this whole book is about going through a lot of pain, despite success.

At the end, her Grandmother dies.

Sorry to give that away.

Overall, If you would like to read a book about a female comedian and the pain she has gone through, look no further than this book. The book is written well, with Kightlinger's self-deprecating wit throughout. There aren't many autobiographical books out there that so honest, dark and dark.