Category Archives: Comedy

Stan Freberg R.I.P.

One time years ago, I was at a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and Matt Besser was on stage, dressed like Pope Benedict XVI.

Besser-as-the-Pope

(This is Matt Besser and James Adomian. Neither of them is Stan Freberg, but just bear with me….)

Besser wanted to riff on some jokes he probably had prepared about celebrities, and for some reason he pointed right at me and asked me to name a celebrity–he probably thought I was going to name a movie actor or tabloid fixture, like Lindsay Lohan.

But I have a problem with proper nouns, especially when I’m put on the spot, and I couldn’t form the name of Eddie Murphy or Selma Hayek or Tom Cruise… I had to reach deep down in my soul, and the only name I could think of that would bubble up to the surface was “Stan Freberg!”

You could see Besser struggling to do something with that. Clearly he knew who Freberg was, but the audience wouldn’t, and I kind of wrecked his whole bit.

Anyway, apparently Stan Freberg died yesterday. And it’s a shame, because he was a pioneer and a funny guy and a rebel during the 50s, something that should have been super easy but which few people outside of the Beats and the rockers manager to do.

And while I love rock ‘n’ roll, Stan Freberg was able to lampoon its own mumbling, monotonous excesses in a way that was ridiculously funny, precisely because he could replicate it so well on his comedy albums, with a gleeful mimicry not even Weird Al was capable of. There are so many good tracks by him, and this one, “Sh Boom,” is my fave. I heard it as an early teen, and even now, even in an obituary, it’s likely to make me giggle like a moron.

“Real monotonous now!”

John Oliver, I love you.

I know this is an old episode, but there have been so many good ones, and I don’t have cable, so I was unaware of it.

Thank you, John Oliver, for saying that our prison system is broken. Thank you for saying that prison rape, and “drop the soap” jokes, are tired and cruel and silly and unacceptable.

And thank you for keeping it up with similar messages. I was so moved by the clip above that I had to check out Oliver’s most recent show. I was not disappointed by this one, about the ridiculousness of municipal fines for tiny little infractions, and how the fees on those services can snowball into a world of fuckedness:

I’ve recently been unemployed, for the first time basically since 2001 (give or take a week here and there in 2012 and 2013 when I got laid off and then hired within a fortnight). This lack of work couldn’t have happened at a worse time, since I’m kinda crazy and have incurred thousands of dollars in fees for things I was late on paying, even though I had the money, like a ticket for driving with an expired tag, or a minor tax fee to the state of California (where I got over $1000 just as a penalty for about $2000 worth of overdue taxes).

I’m in a world of financial hurt. And yet I am technically a lucky fella–on a good year, I can pull in an upper middle class salary doing tech work. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be gainfully employed, working hard, making minimum wage, and trying to pay off these ridiculous fees.

I’m glad someone is preaching the healing truth about how fucked up our federal, state, and local governments have become, and how we’re making billions of dollars for private companies at the expense of the poor, and even at the expense of government. We needed someone to tell us this.

Thank you, John Oliver. Now it’s up to us to do something about it.

I’ve grown rather fond of Lee Camp.

Lee Camp is really coming into his own. In a few short years, he’s gone from merely being right (but too full of vitriol to prove his points sometimes) to being entertaining, persuasive, insightful, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. He never dips into conspiracy talk (in fact he pokes fun at that side of activism) but isn’t afraid to tackle the numerous in-plain-sight atrocities the media never challenges.

This episode about factory farming is so spot-on, it makes me want to put him in the same pantheon of humorous truth-tellers as Will Rogers, Woody Guthrie, and (until he went nuts) Dick Gregory. This guy certainly has the potential to outshine Jon Stewart. We need more like him. Let’s keep watching.

Video Games – A Real Discussion of a Misunderstood Medium

Repeat reader at A Rrose in a Prose (and former author here) Ross Lincoln is part of a really interesting panel discussion on the future of gaming. They cover everything from sexism to nerdism to a wish-list over the future of gaming, and while I don’t agree with everything all the panelists say, Ross is pretty fucking dead-on.

Emily Maya Mills at A Rrose in a Prose

interview with Tim Heidecker (of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!)

Somehow I was pulled into interviewing Tim Heidecker at the last minute for L.A. RECORD. I’m not saying I was unprepared, but I had only about 24 hours to get this together. He and I didn’t have my famous chemistry, and he had no interest in talking about the sexual inappropriateness of David Liebe Hart, but I still got some great answers out of him, largely about his recent album. Read it here.

A Rrose Is a Rrose – A Feather Boa of Words for the Drab Throat of L.A.

Come on July 7 at 3 p.m. to the Hedgehog in Echo Park and see a full house of fierce literary talent! A Rrose Is a Rrose has everything, from poetry to confessional autobiography to music criticism to a marvelous idea for a new video game.

ARTHUR?!? Really? I draw a line in the fucking SAND!

Sorry, dear readers (of whom now most of you are dead, since it has been years since I’ve written anything, and I was always most popular among the restaurant patrons of Conrad’s in Pasadena) for my absence: I have been doing a “real” writing gig now for some time in a magazine and on a website–er, not this website, but, like, the kind that pays.  I’ve also been involved in a heavy amount of relationship turmoil, less than moderate drug usage, sex in the bathrooms of various shady hotels, growing increasingly ashamed of my creeping baldness… in other words, some heavy personal shit has gone down, dear friends, and I’ve been drawn away from my contributions here.

And I apologize also to God and the world, because it was not the turmoil in the Middle East, nor Obama’s complete lack of talent, nor the Birthers and Tea Partiers and their contribution to the complete collapse of the U.S. as a major player on the world stage, nor the impending environmental catastrophe(s) that even now threaten to sink islands and shrivel Lake Mead so that California has no power and the punkers have to have generator shows or nothing–no, none of these things that drew me back to this fair website.

NAY!  The thing that got my dander all dandery and forced me to type was the evil of Hollywood.  It’s obvious and so American, but I can’t help myself–the decade-plus trend in movie-making, and TV shows, and greeting cards, carousel design, stapler naming, etc, of making EVERYTHING a remake of something else, has gotten so ridiculous that now it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.   We all know that eventually a Three Stooges remake is going to come out, and a Ferris Bueller remake, and a Serpico remake, and a Rainbow Brite remake, and a Ghostbusters remake, and some kind of remake of everything that has ever been a movie, or a cartoon, or a video game, a lunchbox, and… GHHAHAAAA!!!! 

If we’re lucky, they just disembowel a classic like the Blues Brothers with an unnecessary but easily forgotten sequel, but even that slightly tasteful avenue of brand recycling, the late-era sequel, seems to have been replaced by full-fledged repeats.

And we’ve gotten used to it.  Even this fair writer has said things like “Whoa, I don’t think this remake of Dawn of the Dead is that bad, if you just measure it on its own standards.  There’s still a mall…”

I mean, there was a time when remakes now and then were done, and some of them were really good.  The Wizard of Oz version I saw every year  as a kid was a remake of an older movie, fer chrissakes.  Hitchcock remade one of his own films.  And in recent years, some pretty decent directors, e.g. Peter Jackson, have taken a hand at remaking classics such as King Kong and done an okay job, as have the directors and actors in Star Trek.  Or so I’ve told myself…

But HOLY FUCK, WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY REMAKING ARTHUR?!?  Is this what I’m supposed to find funny?

Now, the original Arthur actually is not the best movie in the world.  Let’s take it as a fact that Dudley Moore was a funny, funny guy, who had a pet project that was not completely funny, nor was his main character sympathetic–and the same can be said for Liza Minelli as the love interest.  Yet there was an originality there, and a uniquely interesting sadness that somehow even makes Christopher Cross seem less ridiculous than a punker like me  should feel.  You don’t always want to watch it, but it’s hard not to respect it, and feel nostalgic for it, and to feel for the characters, even view it as Dudley Moore’s finest work.

And the other side of the tragedy here is that Russell Brand as the lead is really funny in almost any role you put him in!  He’s not the perfect person or the perfect actor, but he does have talent, and when you stick him in a comedic role, you generally are guaranteed to get a couple guffaws if not full yuk-yuks!

So WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU SPOIL A CLASSIC MOVIE? Ah ah ah ah AAAAAHHHH [bangs head on table].

We live in moronic times. The retards are now driving the short bus.

trannies rule! thugs drool.

I have been living in a cloud of anger and frustration in both my personal life and when I watch the news.  The way well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning Democrats get heckled into submission by clowns on television and conspiracy-drum thumping Neanderthal hoodlums makes me want to PUKE!

But at least somewhere in the world, some bullies fucked with the wrong transgendered people and got the shit knocked out of them in two seconds:

P.S. Even though I’m liberal, I DON’T normally love The Young Turks, who often come across as bullies, shouting without a whole lot of substance.  But their good intentions often reap rewards for me anyway, and this was a major vat of silver sprinkled lovingly on my cloudy day.

Michael J. Nelson, why did you break my heart?

Okay, so this is a personal request, done late late late in the day.  But can I ask why one of my personal heroes is a right-wing fuck, and has been for years?

Well, let me say this, I read the National Review cover to cover.  Check in at Townhall.com every day.  Check the Washington Times daily.  Listen to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved on a regular basis.  Read Mark Steyn with regularity.  Read the Weekly Standard.  So, yes, I do vote Republican.  As the pundit Hugh Hewitt has observed, there are indeed two Americas: Serious America and Silly America.  The Democrats seem bent on turning this into Silly America, so I stick with those who wish this to remain Serious America.

 So, now that it’s six or so years since you said those flippant words, and Bush has proven to be the most wasteful, unconstitutional, and deceitful president we’ve ever had, can I get a retraction from the man whose comedy I love so dearly?  I can understand that as the writer and actor on an underdog show, Mike Nelson might have sympathy for Bush, a president whose lack of popularity surely puts him in the “cult following” category of presidents such as Fillmore or Taft.  But jeezuz, Nelson, your show is so much better than your politics.  Maybe your inability to see the continuity between Republican pro-rich policies and the current economic fiasco we’re in stems from watching all those plotless Coleman Francis movies?

The best thing I can say about Nelson is that because he never wore his politics on his sleeve, he was able to make me laugh, and poke fun at movies without revealing how truly enthused he was about some of their saccharine religious plot-points.  But jeezuz, your people destroyed our country.  I hope Joel Hodgson rips your heart out of your chest with his teeth and videotapes it, so he can make fun of it later.