Filed Under Sitcom
A mediabistro article invites you to join critics as they remember the worst TV pilots they ever saw. Lots o’ sitcoms get the shout out including, the current Center of the Universe, the never-aired Grubbs and the cited-as-perennial-target Desmond Pfeiffer. Anyone wonder now why the sitcom is dead?
Filed Under Movies
Jim Carrey’s getting the AFI Star Award at this year’s Aspen Comedy Festival. Yawn. Considering the state of film comedy, I’m surprised Jim Carrey didn’t win sooner. Of course, I don’t see a single one of his early films on the circa-2000 AFI’s 100 Laughs list. What happened? Did somebody just get around to watching Dumb & Dumber?
Shout Factory just put out a huge six disc set of Lenny Bruce’s comedy entitled Let The Buyer Beware. Great for any comedy completists who need to know who created the path stand-ups tread today, whether they know it or not. I admire Shout Factory for making such a (along with my blessed Freaks and Geeks DVDs. Rock!), but I wish they put longer previews of Lenny’s tracks on its web page. You see, back in the day, people were actually willing to wait through a long setup. But today, we only get a minute or so to see if we like anything. It would be nice to hear enough so unfamiliar buyers could get a real taste of the man. Still, you get a taste of Lenny’s rhythms with this excerpt of “To Is A Preposition; Come Is A Verb.” (quicktime audio file)
Apparently the developers of Doom 3 were huge fans of the Office. Hidden in the game is a email from Brent encouraging “Finchy” to bone up for Quiz Night, a reference to an episode from Season 1. You can see screens of the easter egg here.
Louis CK’s getting a chance to helm his own sitcom on HBO. Louis’ focus is a little different, at least for now. As he describes it, along with the development deal, he’s definitely getting a new half-hour comedy special for the network. Which is what he’s really looking forward to, as it’s “concrete” and his last appearance in an 90’s era HBO Young Comedians special “left a lot to be desired.” Hard core training coming up for Louie, so expect to see him a club near you.
Hopefully the sitcom will suffer a better fate than “Saint Louie”, a pilot for CBS that never made it to air. Though it revolved around a couple and their new baby, it sounded like an antidote for audiences who hate cloying stuff about children. In this Onion interview, Louis CK described his first line in the show as “Honey, this baby sucks.” Ah well, another show for the Other Network. (For more of Louis CK’s baby stuff, check out this clip from Conan.)
Filed Under Animation
Caught Father of the Pride. Nothing really funny about it, sad to say.
Father looks amazing. Dazzling animation doesn’t make for good jokes. The camera and animators often get in the way of the humor. One joke where an overly-cute panda takes a seat on the lead’s lap rather than a chair is shot as a close-up, making it impossible to tell what just happened, killing the gag. Sure the fur effects look fantastic, but if the show was funny, I wouldn’t be noticing how nice everything looked. I’d be laughing.
Much has been made about it being an “adult” show, with references to virgins, bestiality and the like. I could care less if kids get corrupted by the show, because jokes like “It may be 9 o’clock in New York but here it’s Mountain time” aren’t “adult,” they’re immature. Kids already make jokes like these, with only slightly less wit. You can usually determine the trailblazing shows from the followers by what they consider adult humor. Sex jokes are great, but without the social and political satire that other highly sexual shows like South Park, Seinfeld and The Office (among many) also aspire to, you look like a giggling adolescent. (To Father‘s credit there’s one New Yorker reference, reflecting a well-read giggling adolescent.) Sex isn’t everything about being an adult and definitely not the only way to appeal to them.
The animation, the sex jokes and setting are just camoflague for the same old shit: bumbling husband, put-upon wife, cranky father-in-law, rebellious cubs. When you’re working in territory this well-tread, you’re not allowed to make fun of Billy Joel being bland. I can’t imagine Father of the Pride will last long. At it’s core, we’ve already seen it before several times on Nick at Nite. And done better.
Filed Under Satire
On Sunday, The New York Times described why jokes about George Bush have become far more aggressive and political. For the most part, all the reasons they point out (the unpopularity of his policies and the harshness of all comedy these days) are fairly accurate. The most interesting points occur at the end of the article:
1) The initial joke that George Bush is a bumbler has helped him. Absolutely true. It’s been ingrained in western civilization since Aristophanes: the smart aren’t so smart and the fools among us are the wisest of us all. Think about the end of Animal House... the characterization of an idiotic George W. Bush could have easily been one of the frat brothers who end up heading on to ambitious destinies. We don’t get angry at the clowns who make mistakes, we have sympathy for them. If the left wants to change minds, it should supplant the dumb jokes with ones that emphasize craftiness. (BTW, who was our last President who was portrayed as a little out of it? Reagan.)
2) Satirical humor plays only the converted. My head says this is true. My heart wishes it wasn’t. Naturally the most vitriolic of comedic rants really doesn’t change minds, but one of the things that always attracted me to comedy was the idea that my getting a laugh, you could sneak an idea in there. I don’t know if anybody ever walked out of a comedy show and said, “that totally changed my stance on abortion.” (In fact, I can’t think of any piece of art that has ever really done that.) On the opposite side, everyone loves to criticize media for driving people, particularly kids, to commit some antisocial act. But we can’t have any positive effects? I don’t think you can have it both ways. I imagine some would prefer to say art, and by extension comedy, has no effect one way or the other because they don’t want the responsibility. But I think exactly the opposite is true. Jokes can both help and harm society, but I think you and I will always be ill-equipped to judge which do which until a couple of decades have past. I mean, who’d ever thought Lenny Bruce would lead to Andrew “Dice” Clay?