Category Archives: Humor

Should Be More Famous, Volume 2: Kevin Eldon

If Steve Buscemi can’t be corralled into doing a Don Knotts biopic, we do have a backup.

Continuing my whenever-I-feel-moved-by-YouTubing-ly series featuring performers I love that I want you to love, too, I offer Kevin Eldon.

Last time, I talked about Dylan Moran, and like Dylan, Kevin is a stand-up comic and Britcom actor with a difference…and a tendency to pop up in Simon Pegg projects. Unlike Dylan, he’s freaking insane. I mean, maybe he’s not insane. Maybe he’s one of the most brilliant conceptual surrealist comedians of his generation. It’s hard to know. He also does voices, plays guitar, and is clearly going to hell.

It was actually in Dylan Moran’s show “Black Books” that I first became acquainted with Mr. Eldon, in a series-stealing performance as The Cleaner…

Dirty.”

In the DVD commentary, which I have had on while I did light housework and don’t you judge me, I remember Bill Bailey saying something to the effect of “Here’s Kevin Eldon playing…Kevin Eldon” to laughter and noises of assent.

OK, this isn’t really a Kevin Eldon clip. It’s actually from Bill Bailey’s show “Part Troll,” but I think Kevin really sells the bit. I’ll get to a Bill Bailey post one of these days.

The sci-fi-themed Britcom “Hyperdrive,” starring Simon Pegg’s bestie Nick Frost, didn’t always work for me. It was like “Galaxy Quest.” Shoulda loved it, but by Grabthar’s Hammer…meh. Maybe it’s just me. But Kevin Eldon’s probable sociopath Lt. York was reason enough to smile and nod through the rest of the show, in much the way I’ll still endure the datedness of TOS Treks for Nimoy’s scenes. At least until William Shatner starts explaining what a kiss is.

My favorite York line is “We don’t have long to kill it before it dies.” I like to find opportunities to use this in my personal life. Here’s an unrelated clip that begins with Nick Frost’s Commander Henderson convinced Lt. York is a saboteur on their ship.

If you liked “Galaxy Quest” or “Red Dwarf,” you might want to check out the whole “Hyperdrive” series on Netflix.

Now to the ensemble sketch show “Big Train,” featuring Simon Pegg, Catherine Tate, and other people I’ll probably be moved to blog about in the fullness of time. If you haven’t seen it, they did fairly bizarre, but brilliant sketches like this one, in which Kevin IS Chairman Mao IS Bryan Ferry in Roxy Music playing “Virginia Plain.” Like SNL, a lot of the sketches were clearly born out of in-joke gestalting, and this sketch is a good example, but unlike SNL, the sketches are not unnaturally prolonged. I also really like this song, so that helps.

I haven’t even begun to mine his  2011 one man show “Kevin Eldon is Titting About” or his appearances on most of the other successful Britcoms of the last 20 years that didn’t star and concern the elderly. The interwebs also tell me that he’ll have his very own show on BBC2 in 2013, “It’s Kevin.” So there you have it. Should Be More Famous, volume 2: Kevin Eldon. I’ll close with a clip of one of his most famous characters, the pretentious poet Paul Hamilton. It’s probably fitting for him to have the last word.

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Kony Kids, Mike Daisey, And The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Chic Kony Youth infographical photoshop by Edward Stafford with all due apologies to Sonic Youth and Raymond Pettibon.

Every now and then, I just have to sort of turn off the Internets and remind myself that there is a world around me that I am not powerless against and where my actions do make a difference.  Usually these actions involve making sure my son doesn’t break a limb or paint the floor silver.  This past week, it’s meant dropping out to finish some gratifying crafty projects and spending time with people who have become very dear to me.  I enjoy dropping out and venturing into the real world.  I used to think it was so much worse than the virtual world that springs into existence when I hit the Safari or Firefox icons.  But lately, that virtual world has become the bigger drag.

In the last week, a confluence of media clusterfuckery wafted across the binary landscape like that scary fucking dust storm that swept across Australia.  Or was it Arizona?  First, there was the Kony 2012 bear trap that Paul documented here.  I can’t add anything useful that hasn’t already been screamed across the Tweetisphere or Facebookistan.  Between everyone trying to tell me what I should think– or worse yet, how I should feel about it– I have to admit that I really just don’t fucking care.

There’s a term for this — Compassion Fatigue.  There is just so much of a shit one person can give.  Yes, what Joseph Kony is responsible for is reprehensible.  Yes, something should be done about it.  And yes, it’s a good thing that people are being made aware of it.  But I honestly believe that Invisible Children made things worse.  It’s the same problem that arose over the weekend with this douche nozzle:

Mike Daisey: pathological liar dirtbag infographical photoblop by Edward Stafford with apologies to all the 13-year-old girls who don't really work at Foxconn

I’m a big fan of This American Life.  I love Ira Glass and have a deep appreciation for the magic he and the crew bring to the radio box every week.  So I was stunned to hear this weekend’s show, “Retraction,” which is basically an hour long apology and serious look at how one of their most popular shows, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” was mostly a fabrication.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s basically an hour-long exposé of the shitty working conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese superfactory where many computer companies, including Apple, have their ideas turned into reality.  As you might imagine, the shitty conditions at the Chinese superfactory are pretty fucking shitty.  Like, way worse than working at Wal Mart or Starbucks.  This particular episode of This American Life was based on Mike Daisey’s one-man play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which was supposed to be based on his reporting done in China while he posed as a fatcat businessman, which I imagine he pulls off convincingly.  The problem is, well, he just made a bunch of shit up.

Which is fine.  I’m a big fan of making shit up.  But I don’t try to pass it off as the truth.  There needs to be a disclaimer, like when you go to the movies and it says something like “this film is based on actual events.”  You know it’s been cooked a bit for dramatic effect and it’s okay because the filmmakers gave you a knowing wink.  I understand that maybe Daisey thought that because it was This American Life, he could get away with not telling the whole truth and call it creative license and claim the high ground because he brought these deplorable conditions to the attention of millions of people.

Which brings us back to the Kony Kids and what they have in common with fellow numbskull, Mike Daisey.  There’s a danger in playing this game where you insert yourself into the story.  When it’s your story, you embellish, embroider, and embiggen.  It’s hardwired into our DNA.  When the story is about something particularly heinous, like Joseph Kony or the terrible conditions at Foxconn, isn’t it enough that the story is terrible?  Why the need to make it more terrible through exaggeration, misstatement of fact, or not being upfront with your reasons for bringing the story to light?  It’s pretty obvious that the purveyors of both of these stories are attention whores and it’s maddening that the media doesn’t call them out on it.

But the worst thing is that, just like that other famous attention whore, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, these guys ultimately do more harm than good and end up as dinner for the wolf.  Wolf Blitzer.  The important stories they try to bring to light become secondary to the rise and fall of the hero.  Daisey and the Kony Kids  become the story, the media looks at their belly buttons and wonders how the fuck they got duped, and everyone forgets about Foxconn and Kony because it was all just made up, right?

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ART THOUGHTZ: Performance Art

A new installment of “ART THOUGHTZ” on the subject of performance art by my favorite internet art critic, Hennesy Youngman.

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Oxymoron Defined – Conservative Christian Comedian

Quick, off the top of your head, name your five favorite comedians.  I don’t care who you are, what your ideology is, or even where you fall along the sense of humor spectrum, I’ll bet you a wooden nickel your five favorite comedians have one thing in common with my five favorite comedians — none of them are conservative.

And I think I know why.  In order to be a great comedian, I believe you have to have a sense of humor about yourself.  This is something all conservatives inherently lack.  They cannot laugh at themselves.  A little healthy self-loathing is the wellspring of good comedy.  A lot of unhealthy self-loathing can be the wellspring of great comedy.  But when you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t be funny.

I had the misfortune of catching Brad Stine on at CPAC (the Conservative Public Action Conference) on CSPAN yesterday.  He is billed as a “Christian Conservative Comedian.”  He is obviously the first two things.  But he is not a comedian.  I hereby issue the following challenge: First, I dare you to make it all the way through the video above.  Second, Find a funny part.  I’m not talking about the chuckles you get from watching a terrible contestant on American Idol.  Unintentional comedy doesn’t count.  I’m talking about intentional comedy– i.e. The Jokes.  There are none.  He can’t for one second take himself as anything less than a very serious, conservative Christian.  He cannot make light of himself because he fears it might make him appear weak.  Because he can’t do that, he’s not funny.

Maybe Brad Stine could learn a thing or two from this guy:

This is a clip of Louis C.K. on David Letterman.  So it’s clean.  It’s clean and it’s funny.  And it’s funny because Louis C.K. understands that if you’re going to make fun of other people for being idiots, you had better make it clear that you’re perfectly capable of being an idiot yourself.  The best comedy always involves a bit of self-deprication.  That’s why there are no genuinely funny conservative comedians.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Dennis Miller or Victoria Jackson.

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Rick Santorum – “I’m Crazy And I’m Right”

Congratulations to Rick Santorum for surging forth like a fantastic, frothy geyser and smearing Romney’s face in your namesake.  I love you, man.  You are crazy.  And it’s disturbing to no end to think there are people in this country who believe you are actually fit to be president.

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Luxury Comedy Gold

I’d like to say something clever about this, but my higher brain functions have yet to return after just watching this little gem.  I have never been a big Mighty Boosh fan, but maybe I need to reevaluate.  Luxury Comedy is the best thing I’ve seen in a long, long time.  Myco-lysergic, super-saturated dada British sketch comedy combining elements of Sid & Marty Krofft, The Banana Splits, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and Wonder Showzen?  I know, it sounds awful.  But trust me, it’s brilliant.

Thank you, Dangerous Minds, for tuning in and turning me on.

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The Very Best of Jazz Club

Why on earth have I never seen this television show??? Well, the fact that I haven’t owned a television set since 1993 could have something to do with it… But at any rate, it’s a really funny parody of both avant garde jazz as well as the annoying hosts on TV music shows. What’s great about it is that it’s even more funny if you are actually a jazz fan because you get all the little inside jokes they throw in.

After a bit of research on the Wikipedia, I’ve discovered that Jazz Club was a regular sketch on the BBC comedy show called The Fast Show. The format as well as the host were meant to parody the classic British music show, The Old Grey Whistle Test.

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