Monday, February 25, 2008

POLL: Goofy Good or Bad?

The word "goofy" has both negative and positive connotations. So which is it? It would seem goofiness is bad, but wasn't Steve Martin goofy? Sure he was ironically goofy, but still balloon hats are pretty goofy.

That's goofiness at its best. At its worst, it means Gallagher, Carrot Top and the Jerky Boys. Dane Cook is even a little goofy. Indeed, it seems like the cards are stacked against goofiness.

But some of the greatest legends were goofy. Andy Kaufman lip synching to the Mighty Mouse theme? Albert Brooks smashing an egg in his head and doing bad ventriloquism?

I say that goofiness is like mustard or barbecue sauce--it's amazing, but you need something of substance to go with it.


Christian Comedy Boom

While stand-up comedy was in its golden age in the ‘70s, Christian stand-up was in its fetal stages. Thirty years later we are in a Christian stand-up boom. Between the Blue Collar Comedy tour (Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy often reference the Lord in their acts) and what may be the only stand-up sensation of the YouTube era, clean jokes about family life are more popular than ever.

It may seem like religion and comedy are nothing new—after all, many of the greatest comedians are Jews. But many Jewish comedians either take a secular approach or are downright hostile towards religion.

Indeed, many comedians are Christian. But not to the extent of preaching Christianity in their acts. If cable TV drove the comedy boom, the web is fanning the hellfire-and-brimstone flames of evangelical Christian comedy.

Many TV stations want to appeal to all religions and faiths, thus shying away from comedy of any particular religious bent. The web has no such restrictions, letting Christian message groups and blogs delight in the works of a Brad Stine or an Anita Renfroe.

But it is important to note that almost all comedy blogs and sites—sites as diverse as Comedy Central Insider, Shecky and Cringe Humor—do not cover these comedians. Will this change after the NY Times article on Renfroe? Or is this yet another example of how most popular blogs reflect city culture—indeed, the interests of the creative class—not necessarily what the rest of the country thinks.

I am a staunch atheist, but I find Renfroe’s rise to the top interesting. She appealed to a large online niche (evangelical mothers).

Is this not a similar story to that of Aziz Ansari? Didn’t interest in alternative comedy snowball after Ansari’s M.I.A. bit (the only other famous stand-up video in recent online memory) went viral on the indie music blogs? If so, then does this mean that the future of stand-up is finding a niche audience that shares similar obsessions with the comic?

What does this mean for comedians who touch on a variety of topics? It may be wise to put up a video regarding a certain topic on a site that focuses on that topic. So if you have a joke on Facebook, see if you can post that video as a link for all your Facebook friends and see if they can relate, if not laugh.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link Buzzfeed!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remembrance Of Videos Past #55: Paul Shaffer, “When the Radio is On” (Live Version)

Paul Shaffer was David Letterman’s obedient foil, laughing at his jokes and leading his band through runs of “Wild Thing” and “Born to be Wild.”

One episode, however, the writer of “It’s Raining Men” took the reigns and debuted one of his own compositions: a doo-wop revival song with Dion, Fresh Prince, Carol Kane and other assorted guests.

Wasn’t enthralled with this song, but it never left my head. Every now and then I remember the melody.

Catch the Fresh Prince at his whitest.

Monday, February 11, 2008

World Wide Web: Toughest Crowd For Stand-Up

Judging from these two excerpts regarding cool reception stand-up gets on the web, it seems like the glory days of the genre were in the ’80s, when cable channels showed it incessantly. Now sketch is doing much better.

“When they say that all writers are storytellers, I just laugh at that,” said Matt Besser, a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe, who recently started “A majority of them are, but there’s a lot of writers who write sketch comedy, and a sketch isn’t a joke, and it isn’t a sitcom. I don’t know any really great stories that are three minutes long.”
Sketch comedy “just has its day right now,” he added. “This is sketch’s medium, really.”

Dan Bialek advises that up-and-coming stand-ups put up a sketch or anything before they put up a stand-up video online:

There’s nothing that comes across worse via the Internet than video of standup comedy. You could be the funniest person on the planet and have a 20-minute tape of you making a packed audience cry bloody tears of laughter. Put it up on the web and I defy you to get more than 30% of the people who comment on it anonymously tell you it doesn’t suck. If you’re not famous and people don’t already know and love you, don’t put your standup up on net. You’re just begging for rejection.

Besides, standup sets (even bits) are too long for today’s 30-second, ADHD stricken YouTube audience. Ten seconds into your hilarious two-minute chunk on parking spaces, every Adderall monkey on Bebo will be heading over to the Bang Bros. to watch failed beauticians take it reverse cowboy style from men with Hepatitis-flavored tattoos in the back of a Volkswagon Vanagon. It’s not your fault. That’s just the way internet audiences are.

Instead, make a short video demonstrating your sense of humor using whatever you have around you. If you know how to use Adobe Flash or a similar program make a short animated series showcasing your material. If you’re flat broke and completely maladroit when it comes to tech stuff, shoot a series of short unedited videos using your cellphone, a borrowed digital camera or a cheap webcam.

Indeed the last viral stand-up video was Kramer saying the “N-word” over and over again. Needless to say, that did not help his career.

So to all of you stand-up comics who keep talking about “doing something online,” it may be wise to take the Taoist approach and do without doing.

Cloverfield Spoiler Alert

I know I’m late to the party (in this case Robert’s going away party [wink]) but I finally saw Cloverfield.




Yeah, so that took me by surprise, but altogether it was a great monster

Tuesday, February 05, 2008





(please love me)

Not Only Is It Super Tuesday

Not only is today Super Tuesday but it’s also Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day as well as:

White Blues Tuesday: Annoying white frat boy blues musicians working on Wall Street affect their most annoying blues argot today. “Sho nuff the dow sho’ be down. But my dong is up—I think you know what I’m talkin’ about.” Soul patch sales usually peak at this time.

Huey Lewis and the News Tuesday: Huey Lewis calls everyone and says “This ain’t a sales call, just checkin to see if you wanna go back in time.” Christopher Lloyd doesn’t mind because he gets the call every day (and time travels).

Naghib Mahfouz Tuesday: Drunken college kids gather at the student unions and belt out short stories by the Nobel Prize winning Egyptian author as girls do keg stands while wearing wet white burkas.