Over the weekend, Slate picked up a long, thoughtful, and altogether excellent piece from Patton Oswalt’s blog, which amounts to something of a “state of the union” on three of comedy’s consistently hot topics: joke theft, heckling, and rape humor. The first two topics are covered (as is Oswalt’s standard practice) thoughtfully, passionately, and with no shortage of humor. But the headline here, the reason people should be talking about this piece, is that he does something rather extraordinary in his discussion of rape jokes: he alters his previously stated opinion. “I had my viewpoint,” he writes, “and it was based on solid experience, and it…was…fucking…wrong.” … Read More
Comedian Julie Klausner has become widely known for her fantastic podcast, How Was Your Week?, an intimate chat show that she has frequently produced live at Brooklyn’s Bell House. Klausner has long been a performer — she has roots in New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre — and it’s a pleasure to experience her live. Despite her collaboration with rocker Ted Leo and her ability to hilariously skewer pop culture, it’s her musical theatre roots that have I’ve always found fiercely entertaining. (Fun fact: Julie accompanied me to my first Broadway show, Promises, Promises.) That musical theatre sensibility has never faded away, and next week Julie Klausner will make her New York cabaret debut with Too Gay for Booklyn, which she will perform on June 18 and 19 at the venerable Joe’s Pub. Along for the ride are her pal Ted Leo and the larger-than-life singer Bridget Everett. I spoke with her yesterday about the process of putting the show together, the loose and experimental nature of cabaret, and the performers who have inspired her aesthetic. … Read More
The Internet loves nothing more than cats, but it’s rare that we look beyond the cute photos and memes to more seriously consider their place in our world. Flavorwire’s Highbrow Cat Week is an attempt to remedy that, with a series of pieces devoted to analyzing their impact on the cultural realm.
Marc Maron is having a very good year. His WTF podcast is now approaching its 400th episode. He just published a book, Attempting Normal, a thoughtful, candid, and frequently hilarious series of autobiographical essays. And his IFC series Maron is halfway through its first season; Maron is “thrilled with the way it came out. I feel like we really captured a tone in that, and the stories are compelling and yeah, I love it.” But we’re not here to talk about those triumphs. We’re here to talk about cats. … Read More
The comedy community is in the midst of one of its periodic conversations about the appropriateness and responsibility of rape jokes — a fascinating and thorny discussion that encompasses both intellectual discussion and, ugh, death threats. Marc Maron is in a unique position to comment on it, as both a comedic performer (on stage and on IFC’s Maron) and a chronicler of the comedy scene (via his consistently wonderful WTF podcast). I had the opportunity to talk to him today, mostly concerning a far less controversial topic (spoiler: CATS), and we’ll have that full interview tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s his thoughtful and measured response to this ongoing issue. … Read More
After he won his second Oscar, the world lost its right to call Sean Penn “Spicoli.” In the same… Read More
I can’t believe we’re still arguing about rape jokes. Perhaps I’m someone who gives humanity more credit than it deserves! But, of course, I can’t believe men still rape women (and men still rape men, because that happens, too!), so perhaps I shouldn’t be shocked that moderately funny people still scratch their dirty fingernails across the bottom of the shitty comedy barrel and rely on lame, offensive humor to get cheap laughs from people who don’t like to think critically in any way about how we as a culture deal with the problems of sexual assault. … Read More
Tonight, Showtime premieres the excellent documentary “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic.” This piece examines how Pryor changed the face of the modern stand-up comic, via two talk show interviews and a testy exchange with a comedy legend.
November 25, 1974. It is the first day of Richard Pryor’s week-long stint as celebrity co-host of the syndicated daytime Mike Douglas Show. The panel’s key guest is TV legend Milton Berle, there to promote his autobiography. Two segments pass, neither of them terribly memorable; Berle tells some stories, hawks his wares (“This is not a sad book, but there’s a lot of pathos in the book, do you agree on that?”), and tells some jokes, most of them not very good. Pryor laughs pleasantly, and tells the audience, “I’ve been on shows where all those young guys were dying, trying to get laughs, and Milton was there with cards, giving us jokes to help us out.” … Read More
If you invite Tracy Morgan to your panel discussion, you’ve gotta know what you’re getting into. The comic, actor, and general crazy person was one of five interesting folks who assembled after the Tribeca Film Festival’s Wednesday screening of the wonderful new documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic; he was joined by The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac, author Walter Mosley, Pryor’s widow Jennifer Lee Pryor (or “J,” as Morgan affectionately called her), and the film’s director, Marina Zenovich. But Morgan dominated the talk, with jokes and peculiar sidebars — until Jennifer Pryor got going, and proved as raw, candid, and devil-may-care as her late husband. … Read More
Last night in Beverly Hills, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and their Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris reunited for a screening of that 1992 classic, in what has been reported far and wide as a public “burying of the hatchet.” Great comedy doesn’t always come from harmony; Myers and Spheeris reportedly clashed over her directorial and editing choices (as a result, he demanded she not return for the sequel), while tension was high between Myers and Carvey on set, since Carvey — the bigger star on Saturday Night Live — was playing a decidedly supporting role. Their rift is rumored to have widened in the years after their Wayne’s World collaboration (the bone of contention is whether Myers stole his Dr. Evil character from Carvey). But it was all smiles and laughs and good times at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, and while their conflicts weren’t directly addressed, Spheeris recently shrugged off the feuds, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “We’re all getting too old to pissed.” True enough, but comedians have never exactly been known for their thick skin; here are a few of the most contentious feuds between funny people. … Read More