comedy, Uncategorized

Best of 2015 comedy: Amy Schumer, of course

I don’t quite agree with looking at the best and worst of 2015 U.S. comedy strictly through the lens of gender, but it’s tough to argue with this Guardian piece hailing Amy Schumer’s brilliance this year.

I’d also subscribe to a YouTube channel of clips from an as-yet-uncreated Aisha Tyler late-night show.

And I have to admit — on Pandora and Spotify, I’m finding the female stand-ups are generally a bit ahead of the male comics. Iliza Shlesinger runs a terrific podcast. I’ve given a thumbs-up to nearly every bit I’ve heard from Jackie Kashian. I’m also enjoying some well-established male comics like Patton Oswalt and Demetri Martin, and John Mulaney’s stand-up is far better than his short-lived sitcom. But I also hear a lot of men who just … don’t get it. They’re as stuck in past gender roles as Beetle Bailey.

So the dearth of women on late-night TV is something I’d like to change. But when Amy Schumer turns it down because she has better prospects elsewhere, that’s a nice sign of progress.

comedy, journalism, tv

How Jon Stewart changed the media … CNN, at least

When a comedian hands you your ass on a plate, the best way to respond it to learn from it:

Stewart clearly has had an impact on other media careers and decisions, most notably on the termination of the political debate show Crossfire on CNN. The then-CEO of the network, Jon Klein, said when he canceled the show in 2005 that he was “firmly in the Jon Stewart camp” on the issue of cable news offering too much partisan arguing. One veteran CNN executive told me that Stewart’s determined efforts to hold that network’s feet to the fire had had an impact all the way to the top of CNN’s management.

via Bill Carter: How Jon Stewart Changed Media (and Made Megyn Kelly Cry) – Hollywood Reporter.

It’s a pity Fox didn’t respond the same way.

comedy

Amy Schumer and the best season of comedy ever

I once saw a really creepy guy approach an attractive young woman on the Metro. She responded as politely as she could a couple of times, then lost herself back in her headphones as he oozed slimy lust.

When it became clear the young woman wasn’t going to walk off with a creepy dude maybe twice her age once we pulled into Dunn Loring, he responded the way men so often do. “You ain’t all that.”

That’s what men do. Women’s looks are threatening. Men (OK, not all men) put themselves back in control by reducing them to body parts and facial features that are either there for men’s pleasure (if they’re great) or a slap against women’s worth (if they’re supposedly not).

So that’s one reason I’ve appreciated this season of Inside Amy Schumer, which has featured not only some side-splitting humor but some of the most provocative satire of masculinity ever aired. Last night, the entire episode was a parody of 12 Angry Men in which the men discuss whether Schumer is hot enough for basic cable.

Here’s Salon on why it’s great:

Because it’s comedy, it never loses the joke in all of its probing of toxic masculinity. It’s a masterful little trick to pull off. It goes crude and hilarious as the men trade insults about Schumer’s appearance (a “potato face,” who looks like an “uncut weiner” with an ass that makes Giamatti “furious”) and then pivots to quiet commentary on the brokenness of these men.

As the sketch progresses, men who moments before were railing against the insult of having to look at Schumer’s body, reveal the psychosexual pain that makes them hate women — and makes them believe that their attraction matters.

via Amy Schumer’s subtle brilliance: “12 Angry Men” isn’t feel-good feminism, it’s crushingly dark satire – Salon.com.

And it’s sweet revenge for Schumer on people like this idiot critic who found her film Trainwreck implausible because there’s “no way she’d be an object of heated romantic interest in the real world.”

No, in the real world, guys would fall all over themselves for her, no matter what they told their bros.

If you want a shorter dose of Schumer, try this terrific take on Friday Night Lights that turns into a jab at deeply ingrained rape culture. Yes, it’s much, much funnier than the description.

comedy, music

Before and after Spinal Tap — Bad News

I always enjoyed the short mockumentary Bad News Tour, which was actually released shortly before This Is Spinal Tap. It was a Comic Strip production featuring a lot of the regulars — three of the four Young Ones, plus Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French.

I had never seen the follow-up from five years later, reuniting the band for a record contract and appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival. (To film it, the “band” — I use that term loosely because there’s no evidence that Rik Mayall had any idea how to play bass — actually played at the Monsters of Rock festival.)

The result is a rarity: The sequel is better than the original. It’s longer, so there’s more time to develop the personalities. Adrian Edmondson’s Vim Fuego has delusions of grandeur only slightly dimmed by the full knowledge that his band is crap. Mayall’s Colin Grigson is a poseur who tries to hide his upper-middle class upbringing, his university studies, and the fact that he lives at home with his doting mom. Peter Richardson, the Comic Strip producer who did not join The Young Ones cast, is the most stereotypical hard-rock guy in the band, actually living the life of drug and drink excess. I’m a little disappointed in Den Dennis, Nigel Planer’s dim-witted guitarist, but his final monologue is a classic.

They also have some dead-on satire of the music biz. The record contract they sign is patently absurd. Their music video shoot is out of control. The final scene, which I won’t spoil here, has a brilliantly ghoulish take on the band’s future.

You can rent More Bad News at Amazon along with other Comic Strip features. The original Bad News Tour is also there in Season 1.

And if you want a small dose of the band in action, check out their version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which treads the line between hilarious and unlistenable.

Or just watch them lip-sync it with embarrassing results on a British talk show: