Tag Archives: comedy

“But why are the kids crying?!”

“How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”

That’s the attitude I try to have when it comes to the death of someone I loved, yet never met.

In 2013, I lost three of my best friends.  The news was devastating every time.  Did I know them personally?  No.  And yes.  And not really.  And very well.

Why did I consider them my friends?  All of them had just, I dunno — all of them had gotten me through so many confusing, shitty, or just plain boring times.  I hope I don’t sound too crazy when I say that.  I’ve never stalked anyone and I understand the difference between fantasy and reality, but yeah, these people meant a lot to me.  They still mean a lot to me.  I can call them my “friends” if I want.  And I was sad when my friends made their exits.

Still, the question remains: “How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”

Lou Reed?  He ain’t dead.  He can’t be.  I still love him very much and I still have “Sweet Jane,” so nothing has changed.

James Gandolfini isn’t dead, either, and neither is Tony Soprano.  (My theory, anyway.)

Peter O’Toole.  My dearest, darling Peter O’Toole.  The coolest.  The smartest.  The hottest.  The craziest.  That voice.  That height.  That hair.  I think about him all the time and I miss him all the time, and yet, as long as I can get together with my friends every December and laugh and cry and yell and drink champagne while watching The Lion in Winter, Peter O’Toole can never die.

This morning, as soon as I got to work and turned on my computer, I found out that Rik Mayall died.  Today.  Rik Mayall died today.  Weird.  So very weird.  And sad.  He was still, well, young…

Just last week, I was listening to The Pogues and wondering when Shane MacGowan would die.  I was also wondering why Shane MacGowan hasn’t died already.  Seriously.

I should stop.  I don’t wanna give the universe any ideas.

My point is, I was already thinking about my remaining heroes and wondering who I’d lose next.  Apparently, not Shane MacGowan.

Oddly enough, I was also thinking about The Young Ones last week.  I don’t remember why or how, but, quite suddenly and inexplicably, I felt inspired to find the Dr. Marten’s boots song on YouTube.  After watching it, I spent a good hour and a half searching for cheap Dr. Marten’s online.  No avail.

The next day, a co-worker of mine mentioned The Young Ones.  He’s Scottish.  I said, “I fucking love The Young Ones.”  He said, “That’s too weird.”  I asked him why.  He said, “It’s just weird that you even know that show.”  I asked him why.  He said, “I dunno.  I mean, it’s British and it’s old and it’s weird…I mean, I was watching that when I was in high school.”  I said, “So was I.”

If you knew me in high school, you must recall that I was a pretty cool teenager.  I mean it.  Like, the coolest.  For example, when I was 15 or 16, I begged my mom to buy me orange suede ADIDAS like the ones Ewan McGregor wears in Trainspotting.  I felt so badass whenever I wore them.  Like, so very, very badass.  I also begged her to buy me a pair of plaid pants, because, ya know, Scotland.  Or something.

There’s really, like, very minimal plaid in Trainspotting.  I realize that now.

The coolest thing, though, was that every Saturday afternoon in tenth grade (after improv practice, no less) I would go to my friend Kaley’s house for Britcom.  Yes.  Britcom was our somewhat exclusive club that involved eating ice cream and watching British comedies until our eyes hurt.  We wrote a constitution at one point.  I don’t remember what was in it except for The Golden Rule, which came from an episode of Father Ted: “If anyone is ever talking to you again, think about what you’re saying and then don’t say it, and then just run away somewhere.”

The Young Ones was one of Britcom’s staples.  Every David Bowie reference made me feel so damn validated.  I went out and bought a Madness record and listened to “House of Fun” on repeat.  I began referring to my English teacher as a “fascist bully boy,” despite the fact that she was a She.  I seldom said, “I don’t have any money” — I usually launched into a Neil impression and said, “We haven’t got any breaaaad.”  When I was feeling boy crazy I was a “Bitch funky sex machine.”  I wrote “Boomshanka” on things I shouldn’t have written “Boomshanka” on.   I even once got a Starbucks barista to write it on the sleeve of my Americano.  I think I still have that sleeve somewhere.

Rik Mayall is dead.  The people’s poet is dead.  I’m sad for his wife and his family.  I’m sad for Ade Edmondson.  Like I keep saying, though, “we still have his poems.”

My VHS tapes of The Young Ones were dragged from my parents’ house to my college dorm (there was a VCR in the downstairs common room), and when I moved out of the dorm and into an on-campus apartment, I made sure to buy a TV that had both a VHS player and a DVD player.  Why?  Well, how could I live without Neil, Mike, Vyvyn, and Rick?  They were university students, after all.

I still have those tapes.  I’m not ever going to get rid of those tapes.

Aw, Rick.  Thanks for helping make it nearly impossible for me to legitimately enjoy 99.9% of the current comedies on television.  No giant sandwiches falling from the sky?  No jokes about Leonard Cohen being a vampire?  No pervasive political undertones?  No, thank you.

There was also the music: Dexy’s Midnight runners doing “Jackie Wilson Said” and multiple Madness appearances and that great scene with friggin’ Motorhead…

What the hell is that shot of you guys being pushed on that…what is that?  That’s a luggage carrier thing, right?  Well, it slays me.  Every time.

Ah, Rick.  Thank you.  Your show is so damn cool.  So, so cool.  It had everything the teenage version of Steff wanted in a show, and, since 27 year old Steff is very similar to the person she was 11 years ago, it’s still one of my all time favorites.  It’s part of me, really.  An appreciation for The Young Ones (or the ability to sit through several episodes in-a-row) is my litmus test for whether or not a man is husband material.  (Husband, not boyfriend.  Those are two different things.)  Watching an episode of The Young Ones is my solo go-to activity when I’m having a shitty day.  The music that plays during the end credits is what I hear in my head when I’m exceptionally happy.

Aw, Rick.  RICK.  My favorite pseudo-intellectual-anarchist-hipster-bachelor-boy.  You’ve never failed to make me smile.  You never will, you friggin’ weirdo.

 

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Stepha’nie: Public School Girl

I was sitting up in bed last night looking for bizarre videos on YouTube, and I suddenly wondered if I’d be able to find a specific clip from the second season of The Flavor of Love: the moment where New York yells at her mother, “I AM MRS. FLAVA FLAV.”  I didn’t find it, nor did I find the moment where Flav tells the camera that Buckeey “had the applesaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuce.”

You guys, season 2 of The Flavor of Love will always be my favorite competitive program.  Yes, yes, RuPaul’s Drag Race is the ultimate, but there will always be a place in my heart for Flavor Flav and his various women.  This place will forever remain untouched by any other reality show.

Why do I love the show so much?  Specifically the second season of the show?  I’m not going to give an in-depth explanation.  I will say, however, that I was obsessed with that show when I was a sophomore in college, and my sophomore year was one of my favorite years.

So last night, after searching for videos of Flav on YouTube and failing, I decided to re-visit my sophomore year in an even more intimate way: by busting out my diary.

You guys.  I read the thing cover to cover.  I laughed.  I cried.  I winced.  I smiled…

I reminded myself of Ja’mie, as in Ja’mie: Private School Girl.  After awhile, I started reading the entries out loud in Ja’mie’s voice.  Every “like, seriously” and “what the fuck” and “so I sent him a facebook message” made me hyperventilate.  Oh.  Oh my.

If you aren’t familiar with Ja’mie and her foul mouth and her attitude and her slang, go familiarize yourself right now.

And here we go.  I now present to you one of my favorite, most Ja’mie-like entries.   Names have been changed. Enjoy.

Click here….

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Clean Up Your Act. Or, Ya Know. At Least Make It Funny.

Why is everyone so Goddamn eager to stick up for Daniel Tosh?  What contribution has he really made to comedy?  I know he has a show that I’ve never watched.  I know he does stand-up that I’ve never seen or heard.  I know that people know his name.  What has he really contributed, though?  As in, who the hell is he, really?

Like I said, I’ve never ever watched his show or his stand-up acts, but I just want to point out that most people I’ve spoken to about Tosh’s humor seem to think that the man is just not that funny.  I’m sure there are plenty of perfectly nice people out there that put on Tosh.0 and laugh their asses off, but I’ve never met any of those people — at least not as far as I know.  (If any friends of mine out there are reading this and thinking, “Shit, I LOVE that show.  Now Steff’s gonna hate me!” please calm down.  Chances are, I like YOU more than I DISlike this Tosh asshole.  Once more, I don’t even watch the damn show.  That’s how much I care about him.)  That aside, I think it’s safe to say that the man is not going to be remembered as an important comedian of our time.  In fact, I’d bet every cent I have that the man only has a few more years before he’s headlining at the Chumash Casino.

Anyway, this guy made a rape joke.  In fact, it wasn’t even a joke.  According to the girl who actually experienced this whole thing, Tosh was up on stage making awkward comments about how “rape jokes are always funny.”  So, you see, he wasn’t even making rape jokes — he was just making weird statements about rape jokes.  He said, “rape jokes are always funny,” and this girl — who, at the end of the day, is a damn brave girl — disagreed with him, and said, “Rape jokes are never funny.”

Now, I’m not gonna bother going into the sexual politics of what happened here.  I’m going to keep it very simple.  Ready?

I wouldn’t really call that “heckling.”  She didn’t say, “YOU are not funny, you asshole.”  She just disagreed with his statement.  Because that’s what the line was — it was a STATEMENT.  It wasn’t even a damn JOKE.  He wasn’t up there making JOKES.

You see the point I’m trying to make?

Now, I have tried to stay out of Tosh-related conversations since this whole thing went down.  I’m at a brand new job, and I’m trying to be nice to everybody and I don’t want to make anyone too uncomfortable by babbling about all the steadfast convictions I have about every damn thing.  Remaining quiet during Tosh-related conversations, however, has proved rather challenging.  It seems that whenever someone starts a conversation with, “Have you heard about the Daniel Tosh thing?” they always end up mocking the girl who spoke up.  I’ve also heard a lot of, “Well, if you’re gonna go watch a comedian, you have to be prepared to hear something offensive.”

This is true.  This is a true, true statement.  I would simply like to point out, though, that I would be behind this idea 100% if Tosh were actually up there performing material he’d worked on.  He wasn’t really doing that, though — he was just saying dumb shit.

There’s a difference between George Carlin and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Chris Rock and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Kevin Hart and Daniel Tosh.  There’s a difference between Louis C.K. and Daniel Tosh.  Ellen Degeneres.  Sarah Silverman.  Robin fucking Williams.  Motherfuckin’ M’ONIQUE.  What’s the difference?  The difference is simple.  The people I just listed are amazing comedians who challenge their audience members to look at — and laugh at — the ugly, messed up truths of being human.  If any of these comedians decided to do an entire routine that revolved around the idea that “rape jokes are always funny,” it would probably piss off and embarrass a lot of people, but it would also make them THINK.  That is one of the most amazing things about comedy — it makes you laugh while you recoil in horror at how fucked up the world is, and that YOU are very much a part of this twisted place.

This is why the argument of “he was making a joke” is invalid.  He wasn’t making a joke, he was just saying shocking shit to get a reaction from people.  Yes, there is a difference.

A few days ago I was watching an episode of 30 Rock.  Popular damn show.  Prior to watching it the other day, I had only ever seen one entire episode from start to finish.  It isn’t the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s damn smart and I think Tina Fey deserves all the credit she gets.

Ya know what the episode I watched the other day contained?  A rape joke.  I don’t know the characters’s names so bear with me while I try to explain.  Jane Krakowski’s character was half-assedly trying to seduce the weird guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The guy got scared and ran away, and Jane Krakowski called after him, “IT ISN’T RAPE IF NEITHER ONE OF US REALLY WANT IT!”

I laughed.  I thought it was a funny line.  Oh, believe me, I think it’s terrible when people say with strong conviction, “It isn’t rape if the girl was wearing a tank top” or “It isn’t rape if the girl was drunk” or “It isn’t rape if it was a date.”  Trust me, that is some fucked up repugnant shit.  However, that’s exactly the kind of mentality this joke was invoking and, therefore, dissecting.  It was funny because bullshit statements like that are very true to life.  ALSO, the line in question was said by a WOMAN.  The shock factor was there not only because someone said “rape,” but also because the person saying it was a woman.  So there it all is — your shock value, your social commentary, and your punchline.  It was an actual rape joke that was funny.  Are there people out there who would have heard that line and thought, “Turn off this filth”?  Yes.  Absolutely.  And they have the right to turn off the TV.  Is Tina Fey as bad as Daniel Tosh?  No.  Why?  Because she had the decency to write some actual material.  Because she’s a comedian, not a bullshitter.

Are rape jokes always funny as long as women deliver them?  I don’t know.  I’m not really trying to argue that they are “always” or “never” funny.  I’m simply pointing out there difference between what Tosh actually said versus an actual “rape joke.”  Anyone can stand up on a stage and talk for an hour and call themselves a comedian, but not everyone can be a comedian just because they never shut up.

During my sophomore year of college I took a stand up comedy class.  (I also took my first feminist studies class that year.  Ya know what the first thing my professor said was?  “This class is not about hating men.  I love men.”  Chew on that, assholes.)  My stand-up professor was a foul-mouthed queen from San Francisco named Doug.  He let us tell jokes about everything and anything.  People told jokes about sex and drugs and violence.  People told jokes about race and religion.  Really, there was nothing we weren’t allowed to discuss.  Doug’s one rule?  No rape jokes.  Some people in the class thought this was a stupid rule.  In fact, a lot of students started making jokes about how they weren’t allowed to make rape jokes.  None of the jokes were ever all that funny, really, and they really annoyed Doug.  One day, a kid did a routine about a time he peed up his grandma’s nose.  He ended his routine with some kind of dumb line like, “No rape jokes, you guys.”  Doug got on the microphone afterward and said, “I just let you come up here and talk about peeing on your grandmother.  I don’t think I need to be persecuted for outlawing jokes about  rape.”

Doug didn’t have a bad point, really.  There’s an entire world of material out there — why should audience members be expected to brace themselves for an evening of discomfort?  If a comedian can only come up with the line, “Rape jokes are always funny,” I think HE should be prepared for someone to disagree, right?  And then maybe deal with it in a professional, witty manner?

I guess that’s what a real comedian would do, anyway.  At least one with staying power.

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