Filed Under Movies
Aforementioned Your Frog Abroad Correspondent Ian Lendler also checked out another show at SF Sketchfest, the hugely popular Match Game Live show, featuring David Cross, Maria Bamford, Doug Benson, Paul F. Tompkins, Scott Aukerman, B.J. Porter and host Jimmy Pardo. Here’s what he saw:
Another auspicious start to an evening: YFAC took his seat down, only to discover that he was directly in front of Samm Levine (aka Freaks and Geeks’ Neal Schweiber). Through the incredible journalistic technique of “eavesdropping,” YFAC can confirm the following about Mr. Levine:
But on with the show Part II: This is one of those real tight-wire shows. Jimmy Pardo has to interact with the guests, comedians and audience and keep the show moving. Fortunately, he was up to the task.
Employing the full range of game-show-host-cheesiness, Pardo managed to be both ironically pseudo-host funny and authentically funny at the same time. He was helped by the contestants. It says everything about San Francisco (or this crowd) that the contestants called up were a cheese-maker, a medical illustrator, a theater usher, and a member of a Latino improv company.
The show then moved straight into replicating the TV show, Match Game. For those of you who don’t remember The Match Game, the contestants had to answer quasi-retarded joke/questions like: “Carl the Cannibal wanted to open a restaurant. So he decided to open a Chinese restaurant so he could serve [blank] Foo Young.”
The blank was then to be filled in by contestants who were trying to match their answers with the celebrity panel. “Fill in the blank” humor has a proven pedigree. Mad Libs has been mining that vein for years. And the comedian panel didn’t disappoint, employing every trick in the comedy lexicon from surrealisms to witticisms to, of course, “cock” and “anal rape.” Doug Benson was particularly sharp, very much giving off the vibe of being the smartest guy in a room of comedy writers.
But it was David Cross got the biggest applause of the night with his answer to the [blank] Foo Young question. His answer was: “Ching-Chong Chinaman Foo Young.” This may only look funny sort of funny in print, but trust YFAC, it killed.
Again, a fine night of comedy. Like the Red Wine Boys, this show was less about material then just good stage presence. Both nights were examples of comedians who have been on stages so long that they could get up their, with practically no scripted material, and be at total ease with the situation. This is especially true of a show like Match Game, that actually encourage a rowdy audience to boo, hiss, shout answers, etc. This is the sort of thing that can quickly go south, but instead it made for a great interactive atmosphere.
An impressive couple nights all around, and it must be said that, in terms of star power, creativity, and unusual offerings, SF Sketchfest is living up to the hype.
The San Francisco Sketchfest is going on the rest of the month. If you’re in the city by the bay, you owe it to yourself to check out one of the many other great shows they got remaining.
Mike Judge’s much-mistreated comedy Idiocracy was released on DVD this week. As you might recall, Idiocracy’s distributor Fox only released the film in a few cities without a trailer or any advertising. It’s pretty much the kind of treatment a film only gets if it’s irredeemably awful.I’ve seen the film, and though it’s not Office Space, it’s definitely far better than many of the comedies that saw release last year (or in 2005, which is when Idiocracy was originally slated). It’s a smart comedy about stupidity and hence, it treads a very fine line, with gags that could be appreciated for the wrong reasons as well as the right. It’s a finely pointed satire that many I know have described as feeling like a documentary. The film is rough around the edges at some points, but there is a lot to enjoy if you look past where Fox obviously tightened its purse strings before the film’s completition.But seeing it will say much more than I can. Here’s the first couple minutes of the film:
If you’ve enjoyed any of Judge’s work in the past, particularly if you ever felt you appreciated Beavis and Butthead a bit differently from others, you should see this film. Rent it. And if you like it, buy it. You can find it on bittorrent quite easily now of course. But this is the type of film you should give a little bit of money to, just to show Fox how wrong they were.
Filed Under Movies
The New York Times Magazine had a big comedy issue this weekend, more of which I’ll comment on later. But one of the stories was about the top 5 desert island comedy movies of the people they interviewed. Naturally, there’s going to be some overlap - though not much. But they do create a potential Top Ten. Here it is:
Tie with 3 mentions
Tie with 2 votes
Of those interviewed, two of them had the most common taste: Catherine O’Hara and the creators of the online short Le Montage.
Of course, three of those asked had the most idiosyncratic lists:
How off is the top ten? Is there any one from the three more distinctive lists that should have made it?
Filed Under Movies
I’ve always liked Comedy Central’s Reno 911, but it’s never made me laugh as hard as something like The Office - perhaps because many of the gags are pretty broad despite it’s reality show format. But that same sense of scale might be perfect for the movie screen. Plus, it’s got Patton Oswalt, though sadly not as his squirrelly dungeon master character from the series.
If the youtube link goes down, you can see the same trailer in quicktime format here.
Filed Under Movies
Watching Johnny Knoxville on last night’s Daily Show, he mentioned a bit in the next movie Jackass 2 featuring him getting run over by a Yak was inspired by an old Warner Brothers cartoon (specifically the act of tying a blindfold and smoking a cigarette beforehand). Later on in the interview it talked about him riding on a rocket for another stunt, which instantly evoked in my head Wile E. Coyote’s ill-fated use of Acme products. Combine that with one short shot from the trailer, featuring one of the boys stepping on the business end of a rake and driving the pole right into their face - something straight out of a Sylvester & Tweety chase.
It was a kind of revelation and it made me wonder how many other bits from the previous episodes or films were inspired by cartoons. Do any others come to mind? I’m sure the connection has been made before but it surprised me how much the stunts from Jackass echo the childhood memories of Bugs, Daffy and others. It probably part of the reason why I find them so funny and why I’m looking forward to the movie’s release on Friday - it’s the laugh of recognition, just a little bit removed.
Filed Under Movies
Patton Oswalt in his blog recently pointed out three attempts to adapt a comic book script of his. The script is a parody of an ad campaign anybody who read comics in the 70s will immediately be familar with - a short one page story where superheroes foil crimes with Hostess Twinkies, Cupcakes and Fruit Pies (imagine supervillains yelling “Real Fruit Filling! Light, Tender Crust!”). Sean Baby has a wonderful site reprinting all of them with appropriately snarky commentary. The script was originally meant to run in a parody comic from Marvel, but never made it to press.
Two of them are draw it out comic book style - I’ll let you go to Patton Oswalt’s post to see them. But another was filmed, staying brutally faithful to Patton’s script. (Patton: “I feel violated and honored.”) Here it is (warning: the sound is a little off):
One of the interesting things about this, other than we’re getting to a point that we’ll create the media we want to see whether a big company will publish it or not, is that, as Patton points out, the two drawn pieces missed his first direction to the original artist to “try to replicate that dashed-out-in-an-afternoon, generic artwork you used to see in the Hostess Fruit Pies ads.” The filmed piece he said caught this original direction. He’s right, it’s the closest. But in my mind, there’s still so much darkness and shadow in it - it seems like the perfect tone would almost be the old Electric Company Spider-Man live action shorts (if you were going to film it).
I really want to see someone nail this the way Patton suggested - contrasting the tone of the darkness against the workman artwork and sunny tone that made the original ad campaign. To me these contradictions are why shows like Wonder Showzen are so brilliantly hysterical - they keep the look so faithfully and let the darkness swallow it from the inside.
(As an extra: check out this cool little interview with Patton by comics creator Brian Michael Bendis)
Filed Under Movies
An article in June’s Esquire portrays Mike Judge as somewhat cowed by the studio on the release of his next film Idiocracy - particularly because they won’t let him show the writer the trailer (apparently the first version that 20th Century Fox has got right). The writer find this particularly distressing, considering Judge created the white collar manifesto Office Space which has, in my mind, really become a classic comedy of our time - as symbolic as Modern Times was of the 30s. The treatment of Idiocracy doesn’t bother me so much from the perspective of Office Space being a rallying cry for workers, but because there hasn’t been one thing that Judge has touched that has failed comedically yet ( and commercially if you could Office Space’s success on DVD & cable). Why second guess this man?
Idiocracy has one of those hit yourself in the head premises that you wish you thought of: Luke Wilson plays an “average dumbass” who gets put into hibernation and awakes 500 years into the future where after years of the stupid people breeding and the smart people not, he’s now the smartest man on Earth. All you have to do is think of Kevin Federline to know how true the idea is. The rest of the script involves a save the world plot that is really just an excuse to explore how far the world has sunk (no one drinks water but rather “Rauncho, The Thirst Mutilator” according to this script review). It doesn’t sound as subtle or recognizable as Office Space, but the exaggerations of our culture to its logical extreme sound hysterical. (I’d love to read the script, if anyone has a copy.)
Apparently the studio was a little afraid of testing, according to Judge making trailers where instead of setting up humor, it attempts to set up wonder (“What if you could travel through time…”). Plus they’ve backed away from spending money on the special effects of a Ghostbuster-level premise ( to circumvent, director Robert Rodriguez apparently did one special effect scene for free for Judge ). But the worst is the amount of time they sat on completing the film - leaving everything in a limbo that erodes creators’ confidence and care.
Idiocracy apparently finally see release on September 1st and it’ll probably be the last time Judge deals with a studio. I’ve read postings that the next films he does will be self-financed. So much the better, more control and less doubt are what someone with this track record deserves.