Later On

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Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Bill Gates: “Eddie Izzard is a comic genius”

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Bill Gates writes on his blog:

I’ve recently discovered that I have a lot in common with a funny, dyslexic, transgender actor, comedian, escape artist, unicyclist, ultra-marathoner, and pilot from Great Britain. Except all of the above.

Eddie Izzard is one of my favorite performers. Melinda and I had the pleasure of seeing one of his comedy shows live in London, and then we got to talk with him backstage after the show. So I was excited to pick up his autobiography, Believe Me. It was there that I learned for the first time that Izzard and I share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses.

As a child, Eddie was nerdy, awkward, and incompetent at flirting with girls. He had terrible handwriting. He was good at math. He was highly motivated to learn everything he could about subjects that interested him. He left college at age 19 to pursue his professional dreams. He had a loving mom who died of cancer way too young.

I can relate to every one of these things.

You might find you share similarities with Eddie as well. In fact, that’s the overarching point of this book. We’re all cut from the same cloth. In his words, “We are all totally different, but we are all exactly the same.”

If you’ve never seen Eddie perform his stand-up routine, you’re missing out. Like Monty Python, he often draws from real historical figures, such as Shakespeare or Charlemagne, and comes up with hilarious riffs, many of them improvised. And like other super talented comedians like Robin Williams and Tom Hanks, he’s also great in serious dramatic roles. (He recently appeared in the movie Victoria and Abdul, with Dame Judi Dench.) He even talks semi-seriously about running for Parliament.

Despite all those gifts, I’m not sure I’d recommend this book for those who’ve never seen Eddie perform. There are some comedians, such as David Sedaris and George Carlin, whose books would make perfect sense even if you haven’t seen their act. That’s not the case here. You have to witness his brand of surreal, intellectual, self-deprecating humor. Otherwise, it will be like you’re walking into the middle of a conversation.

But if you have seen Eddie’s stuff and you like it—here’s a typical bit, a riff on Pavlov’s dogs—I promise you’ll love this book. You’ll see that his written voice is very similar to his stage voice. You’ll also see that the book provides not just laugh-out-loud moments but also a lot of touching insights into how little Edward Izzard, a kid with only a hint of performing talent, became an international star.

The book begins with . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

3 February 2018 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Books, Comedy, Daily life

Vermont Institutes Travel Ban For Residents of Six States Known to Produce Terrorists

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Makes as much sense as some others. The Winooski reports:

Gov. Phil Scott signed legislation late yesterday afternoon that would effectively ban residents of six states from entering Vermont. Gov. Scott denied that it was a ban, and said only that it was to ensure the safety of Vermonters. The ban is seen as controversial, despite the last minute amendment that would allow access to the state for those with relatives living here.

The six states whose residents are are now banned from entering Vermont are:

Arizona, the state of Jared Lee Loughner. Loughner opened fire at a supermarket in 2011, killing six people, wounding thirteen others, and putting Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition after shooting her in the head.

Colorado, the state of James Eagan Holmes. Holmes killed twelve people and injured seventy more at a movie theater in 2012.

North Carolinathe state of Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr.. Miller traveled to Kansas in 2014 and killed three people outside of a Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement home.

Pennsylvania, the state of Eric Matthew Frein. Frein opened fire on a state police barracks with a sniper rifle in 2014, killing one officer and wounding another.

South Carolina, the state of Dylann Storm Roof. Roof murdered nine people and injured one more during a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015.

Wisconsin, the state of Wade Michael Page. Page was a white supremacist who shot and killed six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in 2012.

Over the coming months, as the effects of the travel restrictions are observed, the state has vowed to consider expanding the ban to the other 43 states that contain possible terrorists.

Note: Satire.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2017 at 9:58 am

Steve Martin teaches an on-line course on comedy

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Learned it from this post on Open Culture. Here’s the teaser:

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2017 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Comedy, Education, Video

Satire shows how to cover Trump: Use common sense to blow up the bullshit

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Vox has a very good explanation of how political satire comes into its own when politics becomes irrational.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 April 2017 at 10:57 am

The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths

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I well recall the Smothers Brothers and at one time could recite by heart a considerable portion of their albums. David Bianculli has a good story on them in the NY Times as part of the Times series on the Vietnam war 50 years ago. He writes:

On Sunday nights at 9, 50 years ago, more than a quarter of American households were watching NBC’s “Bonanza.” That comfortable and comforting western series was so dominant that CBS felt it had nothing to lose by taking a chance and giving that time slot to two brothers, musical satirists who interrupted songs like “Boil That Cabbage Down” and “Dance, Boatman, Dance” with ridiculous bouts of sibling rivalry.

The brothers, Tom and Dick Smothers, had had a successful run of appearances in nightclubs and on television variety shows with subversive takes on folk songs. When “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” made its premiere on Feb. 5, 1967, CBS figured the two men in their late 20s, clean-cut and appealing, might find a niche.

Two weeks later, the “Comedy Hour” beat “Bonanza” in the ratings. After a few weeks more, the brothers who had seemed so nonthreatening became more daring, making political and topical references and booking musical acts with new, often anthemic songs to sing. Censors in the network’s standards and practices office began cutting jokes, comments, even entire skits. The brothers’ challenges to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration and comments on other political issues became sharper. Battles with the network censors became more frequent. The brothers took their dispute to the press and became national symbols of countercultural resistance. A little more than two years after the show’s debut, CBS fired Tom and Dick Smothers and canceled their still-successful show.

But for the new generation coming of age in the late 1960s, “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” represented their view of the world, the only place on American prime-time TV where George Harrison would pop in unannounced to provide moral support for the brothers’ righteous struggle. There would be no other show on TV quite like it until “Saturday Night Live” had its premiere, in late night, in 1975.

Dick Smothers, now 77, says he still encounters fans who say he and his brother were ahead of their time.

“Not correct at all,” Dick said in a telephone interview. “We would have been ineffective if we were ahead of our time. We were on time.” But, he added, “the time was right for us, too. It was like a big crane just dropped us down right at the start of the bubbling part of the ’60s.”

You wouldn’t get a sense of why the program caught on, or think that it would end up causing such a fuss, by looking at Tom and Dick in their matching red blazers on their earliest shows, hosting such guests as Jack Benny, Bette Davis and Jill St. John. But in the days when most homes had only one TV, which the whole family would watch together, the brothers and their writers started out by trying to appeal to multiple generations, then increasingly sought younger viewers.

“Tom and I had a bachelor pad together before the show started,” said Mason Williams, 79, who became the program’s head writer. “I remember watching TV with him, and Tom asking why there was nothing on for us and our friends.”

And there were a lot of folks like them. Thanks to the postwar baby boom, 90 million Americans — almost half the population — were under 25 years old. And stodgy network TV — about all there was on TV then — didn’t reflect their culture or the turmoil they were experiencing.

At the beginning of 1967, the State Department announced that 5,008 Americans had been killed in Vietnam in 1966, fueling nationwide protests. Also at the start of that year, Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most prominent athlete in the world, fought induction into the Army on religious grounds and condemned the war. Timothy Leary, Jerry Rubin, the Grateful Dead and others held the Human Be-In in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where Leary told people to take psychedelic drugs and “turn on, tune in, drop out.”

For the younger audience who looked longingly at the San Francisco scene, the “Comedy Hour” began presenting new bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Electric Prunes and hip comics like George Carlin. The show’s sketches and jokes might seem tame now, but they signaled that the program was at the center of the social hurricane.

Buffalo Springfield appeared in the third episode, singing “For What It’s Worth,” with its refrain that would make it a counterculture anthem of resistance: “There’s something happening here.”

Before the ninth show, the network censors for the first time banned the broadcast of a sketch, written by the guest star Elaine May, which they considered objectionable because it made fun of censors.  [Whose ox is gored? – LG]

 

Continue reading.

Other articles in the series are listed on this page.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 February 2017 at 10:57 am

How Louis C.K. tells a joke

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Interesting video by Nerdwriter via Jason Kottke:

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2017 at 11:23 am

Posted in Comedy, Video

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne

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Researchers:Sarah E. Shea, Kevin Gordon, Ann Hawkins, Janet Kawchuk, and Donna Smith

Their report begins:

Abstract

Somewhere at the top of the Hundred Acre Wood a little boy and his bear play. On the surface it is an innocent world, but on closer examination by our group of experts we find a forest where neurodevelopmental and psychosocial problems go unrecognized and untreated.

On the surface it is an innocent world: Christopher Robin, living in a beautiful forest surrounded by his loyal animal friends. Generations of readers of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories have enjoyed these seemingly benign tales.1,2 However, perspectives change with time, and it is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists that these are in fact stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet DSM-IV3 criteria for significant disorders (Table 1). We have done an exhaustive review of the works of A.A. Milne and offer our conclusions about the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood in hopes that our observations will help the medical community understand that there is a Dark Underside to this world.

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We begin with Pooh. This unfortunate bear embodies the concept of comorbidity. Most striking is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), inattentive subtype. As clinicians, we had some debate about whether Pooh might also demonstrate significant impulsivity, as witnessed, for example, by his poorly thought out attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud. We concluded, however, that this reflected more on his comorbid cognitive impairment, further aggravated by an obsessive fixation on honey. The latter, of course, has also contributed to his significant obesity. Pooh’s perseveration on food and his repetitive counting behaviours raise the diagnostic possibility of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Given his coexisting ADHD and OCD, we question whether Pooh may over time present with Tourette’s syndrome. Pooh is also clearly described as having Very Little Brain. We could not confidently diagnose microcephaly, however, as we do not know whether standards exist for the head circumference of the brown bear. The cause of Pooh’s poor brain growth may be found in the stories themselves. Early on we see Pooh being dragged downstairs bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head. Could his later cognitive struggles be the result of a type of Shaken Bear Syndrome?

Pooh needs intervention. We feel drugs are in order. We cannot but wonder how much richer Pooh’s life might be were he to have a trial of low-dose stimulant medication. With the right supports, including methylphenidate, Pooh might be fitter and more functional and perhaps produce (and remember) more poems.

I take a PILL-tiddley pom It keeps me STILL-tiddley pom, It keeps me STILL-tiddley pom Not fiddling.

And what of little Piglet? Poor, anxious, blushing, flustered little Piglet. He clearly suffers from a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Had he been appropriately assessed and his condition diagnosed when he was young, he might have been placed on an antipanic agent, such as paroxetine, and been saved from the emotional trauma he experienced while attempting to trap heffalumps.

Pooh and Piglet are at risk for . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 October 2016 at 10:30 am

Posted in Books, Comedy, Science

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