Louis CK demonstrates how to capture a hangover on film. Like being blasted into a parallel dimension where you don’t speak the language.
Ricky provides what is probably the best cold open of the entire series
Trailer Park Boys may be the funniest show to come out of Canada, and maybe even the most innovative. It, along with Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, was one of the first improvised comedy series (a story outline with ad-libbed dialogue rather than a script). Thanks to this innovation, situation comedy has changed for the better over the last decade — made smarter, more daring, more naturalistic — and the trend promises to get stronger.
On a Friday that’s also Canada Day, we deserve no less than the best.
The seasonal return of KFC’s Double Down recalls this sequence from The Simpsons: Krusty the Klown’s The Clogger.
How bad is the Double Down? This earlier posting of the SNL commercial parody, “Taco Town,” seems to be in the same neighborhood, at least for the purposes of satire.
Why “Double Down”? Maybe because if you eat it you’re doubling down on the chance of a massive coronary. At least it doesn’t have a bun: fewer fattening carbs.
A commercial for this wonder of suicidal consumerism after the jump.
The stoutly libertarian Ron Swanson of Parks and Recreation (played by Nick Offerman) seems to have become an audience favorite. Here’s where I think it began: with his unveiling of the “Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.”
For Randians: “Capitalism: God’s way of determining who is smart and who is poor.”
[I am] short, stark, and mansome.
You should contact me if you are a skinny woman. If your words are a meaningful progression of concepts rather than a series of vocalizations induced by your spinal cord for the purpose of complementing my tone of voice. If you’ve seen the meatbot, the walking automaton, the pod-people, the dense, glazy-eyed substrate through which living organisms such as myself must escape to reach air and sunlight. If you’ve realized that if speech is to be regarded as a cognitive function, technically they aren’t speaking, and you don’t have to listen.
They’re teamed up in the Wiig-scripted Bridesmaids, and this SNL sketch from a year ago demonstrates why.
After the jump, Jon Hamm as Don Draper works some 1960’s Madison Avenue magic on Mad Men. The long delayed fifth season begins in January.
I never need an excuse to post something from Tina Fey, but there is good reason this week as Sarah Palin pretends not to be gearing up to maybe announce that she might be running for the presidency she cannot win. Her cat-and-mouse is reminiscent of the manipulative passive-aggression of the Fey-scripted Mean Girls.
After the jump, in what looks like an instance of life imitating art, video of Palin’s mangled version yesterday of Paul Revere’s ride. It’s pure Tina Fey; Palin effortlessly captures the hollowed out goofiness of Fey’s impression of her:
He who warned, uh, the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free and we were gonna be armed.
SNL commercial parodies are always worth seeing. This is one of the best. Taco Town is us, and it doesn’t show much sign of no longer being us.
You can watch it here.
I usually post comedy on Friday assuming that it’s a source of end-of-the-week relief whose relevance is implicit, but today’s post invites more consideration.
Here’s a groundbreaking SNL commercial parody from 2002 featuring Tina Fey, Amy Poeher, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph and Rachel Dratch. These five women did a lot to change the place of women in comedy over the past decade, and this parody encapsulates how they did it: by demystifying feminine taboos and making them funny on their own terms. You can watch the video over at Funny or Die here.
Meanwhile, here’s Frye in “The Nature of Satire” on our response to the “naive and childlike quality in satire” that arises from otherwise risky subject matter:
[Satire] of this kind is based on a solid physical laugh, an earthquake in miniature, a laugh which begins far down in the abdomen, bursts the vest buttons, rolls the stomach, shakes the diaphragm, suffocates the throat, reddens the face, and finally reduces the whole body to rolling and kicking in an epilepsy of joy, then, after quieting down, returns for the next few hours in a couple of dozen squalls of splutters, gasps and reminiscent chortles, and finally sinks into the subconscious to be left until called for. (CW 21, 48)
In Notebook 12, he reflects on the barriers in getting past the anxiety associated with excretory functions, something that this sort of humor helps to diffuse:
I imagine it will be a long time before we have public toilets without distinction of sexes. That seems to be the last stronghold of the primitive passion for separate houses & initiation rites for the sexes: I am noting a strong desire for co-educational residences & the like, & am wondering if excretion rather than sex is the real basis for sexual segregation. E.g. puberty rites & seclusion at menstruation. (CW 9, 248)
In The Return of Eden, Frye delineates the convoluted relation between creation, sex, shame, and sin in Milton’s Paradise Lost as the state of fallen consciousness:
In refusing to recognize the Son as their own creative principle, then, the devils are closing the gate of their own origin. This theme of closing the gate of origin recurs all through the epic, and is the basis of the feeling which later appears in humanity as what Milton calls shame. Shame to Milton is something deeper and more sinister in human emotion than simply the instinctive desire to cover the genital organs. It is rather a state of mind which is the fall itself: it might be described as the emotional response to the state of pride.
In “The Top of the Tower: The Imagery of Yeats,” Frye provides an apocalyptic perspective on excretory functions:
To return to his creator, man has to come back down again, return on himself, seek the source of creative powers which are close to the sexual instincts, and are therefore in “the place of excrement,” as [Yeats’] Crazy Jane says, partaking of the corruption out of which all life comes [Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop, l. 16.]
And, finally, in “On the Bible and Human Culture” (among other places), he associates the apocalyptic with the female — perhaps the best way to round out any meditation on why menstruation is funny until it isn’t because, like everything else wrongly associated with fear and shame of the human body, it is in fact an intimation of deliverance:
The story of the fall in the Jahwist account tells us that the woman took the initiative in breaking the divine prohibition regarding the tree of knowledge. This was of course a standard proof-text, for many centuries rationalizing a patriarchal social system, and in fact the Jahwist account itself says that patriarchy would result from the fall. Commentary has been so anxious to make this point that it has overlooked the fact that the creation of woman was placed at the end of this creation account, as the climax of the whole procedure. Besides, the conception of fall is unintelligible without its complement of reconciliation. Humanity falls as woman, that is, as sexual being, and it is clear that the eating of forbidden fruit has a good deal to do with the loss of innocence and the developing of the sexual relation as we now know it, or what D.H. Lawrence calls sex in the heard. In the Jahwist account, as in so many forms of social psychology today, morality, the knowledge of good and evil, is founded on the repressing or sublimating of the sexual instinct. But if humanity falls as woman, humanity must be redeemed as woman. In Christian typology the souls of all human creatures, whether they are biologically men or women, are symbolically female, forming the body of the bride Jerusalem or the people of God. The Virgin Mary in Catholic thought is placed at the head of all created human beings, below only the Jesus who was begotten, and she is the second Eve in much the same sense that Jesus, in the Pauline phrase, is the second Adam. (CW 4, 122)
The Prince and Princess of Canada
South Park sends up the royal wedding by setting it in Canada. As always when it comes to South Park portrayals of Canada, the joke is that massive ignorance about us means anything can be attributed to us. We speak with sort-of English accents and have an insatiable appetite for fart humor. Our favorite expression is “You’re a dick.” And, of course, our royal weddings have traditions all their own, including showering the royal couple with Captain Crunch as they make their way down the aisle. You can watch the episode here.
Here’s Frye in A Natural Perspective on the genesis of sentimentality regarding the royal family which continues to this day, even as the royals themselves begin to look more and more like b-list celebrities. The “fairy tale” aspect of a royal wedding retains an absurdly sentimental hold upon the public imagination, even thirty years after Diana Spencer’s Grimm’s fairy tale version of it:
There is a famous story about the reaction of a Victorian lady to Antony and Cleopatra: “How different from the domestic relations in our own royal family.” The basis of the remark is the mental attitude of the audience appealed to by the sentimental domestic comedy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (CW 28, 208)
The enduring literary jimmying of this kind of sentiment is pretty remarkable. If, as Wilde says, life imitates art, it could do better than this.
The Beastie Boys have put together a short film to mark the 25th anniversary of “Fight for Your Right to Party” — a song they admit is awful, even though it became a novelty hit. However, they clambered through the window of opportunity it provided to produce some of the best old school hip hop. It’s easy to be nostalgic for it now: the 70s funk-based samples meant old school was already retro when it was still new school. It also meant that the gritty, grifter’s limbo that is New York City (at least as depicted in movies from the 1970s, like Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets) endured as a cultural whetstone. And then there is the playful cheekiness of the music that’s been missed since the arrival in the mid-90s of ganstas, bling and hos. It was, relatively speaking, a more innocent time.*
(*Not intended to be a factual statement.)
The film is a vanity project, but a pretty impressively executed one, worth seeing just for the cast and the lineup of cameos, including: Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Steve Buscemi, Shannyn Sossamon, Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, Rashida Jones, Rainn Wilson, Amy Poehler, Mary Steenburgen, Will Arnett, Adam Scott, Chloe Sevigny, Maya Rudolph, David Cross, and Orlando Bloom.
The story is set in 1986, and the Beasties are played by Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride. After a day of casual vandalism and dedicated drinking, they meet up with their future selves, played by John C. Reilly, Jack Black and Will Ferrell. Things happen. There’s a showdown. A dance mat is cumbersomely rolled out. The real Beasties turn up as cops to put the beat down on the entire assembly.
After the jump, a great video that captures old school rap just as it was about to be superseded altogether, 1994’s “Root Down.” You’ll probably want to see it, if only for the vintage breakdancing and graffiti.
The Beastie Boys’ new album, The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, was released on Tuesday.
Finally, the literary antecedent to rap is “flyting,” which Frye regularly refers to. In “Music in Poetry,” he characterizes it as a poet’s “instinct to use his technical resources in cursing somebody,” in which “a very intricate rhyming and metrical scheme is completely subordinated to the pounding accent.” That covers it nicely.