13 5 / 2014
I got word about ten days ago that Comedy Central was going into high gear deciding if they wanted to air TCGS. This past weekend, I was in a sandwich shop in Toronto when I got a tough call – after much debate, Comedy Central have decided that TCGS is not for them.
Obviously this is a huge bummer, and there are a lot of feelings to sort out here. I’m sad it won’t be going down. I feel like I let my friends down. I’m definitely a bit shell-shocked – it’s been a crazy six months and I was pretty convinced for a moment there that it might actually happen.
Most of all though, I feel grateful.
Chris wrote the most eloquent and Chris Gethard-like reaction to his show not getting picked up. This is a huge disappointment but good lord does Chris (at least publicly) have a healthy attitude about this. What a damn inspiration.
12 5 / 2014
"I’ve never been a person who uses labels I hardly understand. But, it’s been pointed out to me of late that I, myself, have been labeled. The label that has been sometimes given me is meta-comic or anti-comic. I was never sure what it meant. The word does not exist in the OED. So today I looked to see if it was on Wikipedia. It makes sense. A pretend word on a pretend encyclopedia.
So I read the thing and I saw my name, which I half-expected and made me fully appalled. I’m not an anti-comic and I’m not a meta-comic. And I despise anyone who is. Because these people are not comics, and they ridicule comics and do not like comics and satirize and parody comics. I am a comic and these (anti-comics and meta-comics) are my enemies. Every joke I’ve ever told I found funny at the time. Sometimes, looking back, I found them unfunny. But at the time, they made me laugh.
The first time I remember being accused of being an anti-comic was during the Roast of Bob Saget. This is because my jokes were not dirty, but instead clean. I do not like insulting people and did not want to do the roast but my friend Bob Saget asked me to and I said yes. The producer of the show said to be shocking, and I truly believed that doing clean jokes in this context would be shocking. But, as far as the jokes I delivered, I found each of them funny, in their own way.
The second time this accusation struck me was when I did a joke about a moth on the Conan O’Brien show. It was called a shaggy dog story. It was not. It was called an anti-joke. It was not. It was a very funny joke, and that is why the audience laughed hard and long. They did not laugh because it was a comment on bad jokes and how we all know they are bad. They laughed because it was a very good joke. The truth is all anti-comedy, or meta-comedy, is worthless. It is for the weak and cowardly. The idea is this: the performer does not find the comedy he sees to be funny. So he chooses the worst he can find and ridicules it. It is not comedy. It is critique. And it is not funny. And, of course, that is what is supposed to make it funny. But it has never worked. Never.
Many point to Andy Kaufman as an anti-comic. When they do, they expose themselves to be the idiots they are. Andy Kaufman was a comic. He used comedic techniques, he ridiculed no comedic techniques. Andy Kaufman was one of the greatest comics ever, because of his large arsenal of comedic weapons, which he used only when necessary. Andy Kaufman was not an anti-comic. But he spawned many. Being such a fine and original voice, Andy Kaufman, a great comic, was misunderstood. But he was not misunderstood by the masses. They loved him. He was misunderstood by a small minority who were convinced he was misunderstood by the masses. And this minority was going to let everyone know that they understood, they ‘got’ the ungettable Andy. Some grew up to take the stage, where their mission would be to follow in the footsteps of their hero, whom they considered misunderstood. And he was misunderstood. By them.
I say they because I don’t want to name anyone but I am sure you know of whom I speak. And so they perform their anti-comedy which is comprised of this. ‘I have found a form of comedy I find bad so I will do it, but I will do it intentionally bad’ is their credo. Both are bad. Anti-comics, when you come right down to it, are critics, which may be why they find favor among, guess who, critics. So, just for the record, i am not an anti-comic or meta-comic, I am a comic and therefore despise anyone who ridicules what I love. The end.
I’m not sure I entirely agree with him — I think a lot of these “anti-comedy” practitioners are just poking fun at what they believe to be outdated forms or institutions, just like they mock the government, corporations, or religion. There’s an inherent sense of justice and freshness that’s often the lifeblood of much comedy, and I think that shitting on Jay Leno and Robin Williams is just an extension of that, not shitting on the art itself. (Although it’s hard to argue that it’s not still just empty calories.) What I love, though, is Norm’s (correct) assessment that lazily dismissing your grandpa’s comedy, man is often held up as a way of saying something about yourself, but it’s usually betraying an unwillingness to engage with the comedy at hand. Taste isn’t displayed, much less proven, by reacting to art (or anything, really) with “I’ve seen this before so it sucks.” It’s fun, breezy and galvanizing in the same way office gossip is fun, breezy and galvanizing. “I Love Lucy” was once as groundbreaking to intelligent, curious, discerning people as the best episode of “Arrested Development,” and Stephen Colbert will one day be as stale to the general masses as James Thurbur.
Oh, and one thing he’s completely right about is Andy Kaufman, who was not the hateful guerrilla comedian that a generation of comedy fans seem to think he was but somehow became a mascot for guys with a chip on their shoulder.
Last thing: Norm Macdonald told one of my favorite jokes ever on Weekend Update. The joke, if I recall, was: “The richest girl in the world had a birthday party this week. What kind of birthday party does the richest girl in the world throw, you may ask? Well, for starters, she had two cakes!”
12 5 / 2014
Norm sent off this missive last night on Twitter (edited together and for clarity):
"It is sad to me that so many great comics are not working because they are dismissed as being ‘difficult’ or ‘crazy.’ I worked with 2 of them.
The first I worked for was Roseanne Barr and she taught me how to write stuff that was real and fine and true. And I remember in the writer’s room, the boys from Harvard would write a script and send it over to Roseanne. And an hour would pass and the script would come back from Rosie and she would always have the same note: too many jokes. Too many fucking jokes. The Harvard boys thought Roseanne was crazy, but they deferred because they had to, and took out the jokes they loved so much. And the episode would be great.
And the next week, don’t you know, the Harvard boys would write a script and Roseanne would have the same note: too many jokes. So the Harvard boys had to kill their babies and denude the script. And that week the episode would kill. And so it went, week after week after week. The Harvard boys saw the show killing but boy, it would kill a lot harder if those jokes were in. It became clear to me early that Roseanne was onto something, that she wasn’t interested in a standard sitcom. Roseanne was more interested in the sit than the com. She knew the situation should create the comedy. Fuck the jokes. But the Harvard boys never quite got it. Just thought Roseanne was lucky, that the casting was responsible. They never saw that Roseanne was creating something never seen on TV before. Something ultra-real, sad, rough, funny as hell. What Roseanne was creating, with the help of the typists from Harvard, was a beautiful, tragic, funny show. Like life. A lot like life. And the show resonated in this nation. And there was never a more lovable, effective feminist than Roseanne.
When the show ended, the Harvard boys went to other shows and were paid millions. After all, they had written ‘Roseanne.’ Sort of. And Roseanne went away. She may have wanted to. I don’t know. But I do know what she was called. ‘Difficult.’ ‘Crazy’ even. These are words that are dismissive and can torpedo careers. Orson Welles was difficult when he tried to make a canned pea ad literate. And he was mocked for that. And so, the genius who made the best movie ever made couldn’t work. He’s crazy, you know, very difficult. Code words, these. Meant the guy or gal in creative has some ideas, maybe ideas much better than yours. That can be very difficult indeed.
Once I had a sitcom and I wanted to cast a legendary actor. ‘No,’ said the director. ‘You don’t want him, he’s crazy.’ ‘I don’t want you,’ I said. I was looking for a writer once for Weekend Update and they said, I hear he’s crazy, and I read his jokes and they were great and he was hired. I’m sure people have said I’m crazy because when I’m on a show, I stay late into the night writing and people want to go home. I’m crazy. I know Roseanne has tried a couple of times to do something and I know for fact she could create another masterpiece. I know for a fact that Roseanne is a true feminist in a world of false ones, and I know she has greatness in her. And I know Roseanne is a genius who is being wasted. If only she was less crazy, less difficult. If only she were an easygoing dolt. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the other comic that’s too ‘crazy’ to work.”
28 4 / 2014
08 1 / 2012
If Ron Paul wins the GOP nomination, and ultimately the presidency, he would join a select group presidents who are notable for one thing: Having a last name that is also a first name. He would join previous presidents as:
- Ulysses Grant
- Franklin Pierce
- Chester Arthur
- Benjamin Harrison
- John Adams
- Howard George
- Don Mort
- Kimberly Walter
- Bobby Theodore
- Timothy Benedict
- Bruce Bruce
- Eisenhower Tom
- Jeffrey K. Jimmy
- Paul Simon
- "Uncle" Pat Douglas
- Benedict Bernie
- Gary Russell
- Xiomara Matilda
- Elton Van Washington
- Sal Cody
- Mary-Lou Betsy-Mae
- Marion “Tiny” Erwin
- Pete Doug
- Johnny Herman
- Elvis Brian
- Charlie Charles
- Paul Ringo