Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Norm Macdonald: a profile and a great joke

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Andrew R. Chow has a good profile of Norm Macdonald in TIME magazine and includes a video of Macdonald telling a wonderful joke. Here’s the joke

Written by Leisureguy

15 September 2021 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Video

Ilan Stavans on Don Quixote

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Bronze statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, at the Plaza de España in Madrid, Spain. 2010. Photo by רנדום.

I am a big fan of the book Don Quixote, and I am just one fan among millions of others. (Indeed, it is probably time to read the book again.) In Octavian, Ilan Stevens writes about the book:

More than 400 years ago, an aging and obscure Spaniard named Miguel de Cervantes published a novel that would change the course of literature (and come to be regarded as perhaps the greatest of all novels by numerous critics): The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, more commonly known as Don Quixote. Rich, strange, nearly infinite in its influence, the book offers us a profound understanding both of humans and of the stories they tell. This brilliant essay by Ilan Stavans  critic, essayist, translator, Octavian board member, and publisher of Restless Books imagines the Quixote as a nation unto itself, one whose ambassadors have spread its magic through space and time. 


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It has been described as the most influential novel in the history of the form. It is also among the bulkiest, longer even than David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. It is the steadiest of bestsellers, only outshined by the Bible (speaking of which, the 19th-century French critic Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve once called it “the secular Bible of humanity”). It has been translated into English a total of twenty times, more than any other novel. The first appeared in 1613, while its author Miguel de Cervantes was still alive.

Don Quixote of La Mancha, in other words, is a book one should love without restraint. It is moody and unpredictable. It is formally idiosyncratic. It moves easily between the highest and lowest of tonal registers. It possesses an uncanny ability to weed out unwelcome readers. Its 381,104 words, 8,207 periods, 40,617 commas, 690 exclamation points, 960 question marks, and 2,046 semi-colons draw those readers it does welcome into a labyrinth not only of signs but of images and emotions. To find one’s way through this requires intellectual stamina, psychological alertness, and — paradoxically — a willing credulity. After all, the book is a collection of bizarre episodes, some comic, some pathetic, some utterly disengaged from the rest, all connected by the thread of its two wandering protagonists, a slim, laid-back hidalgo who does nothing but spend his idle hours reading tales of adventure, and his squire, Sancho Panza, an almost illiterate field laborer and family man who believes he’s a practical fellow when he isn’t. It’s hard to know which of the two is more cuckoo: the foolish señor who is convinced he can change the world by becoming a superhero, or the silly employee who wastes his time following him.

This already complex structure exists, as well, in four dimensions — it changes with time. Come to the book when you are young and you will discover in it the endless ebullience of youth; read it again in your fifties (about the age of its protagonist, Don Quixote de la Mancha, also known as the Knight of the Mournful Countenance) and you will see a subtle and empathetic portrayal of a man in the grip of a midlife crisis. Return again in your old age, and find the Quixote transformed into a book on how to deal with the end that awaits us all, a well-tempered look into the face of death.

This year marks the 400th anniversary of Cervantes completing the novel’s manuscript. If the definition of a classic is a book that passes the test of time, this one has succeeded with flying colors. But I want to propose a different definition: a classic is a book capable of building a nation around itself. This one has. The world may be divided by flags, currencies, borders, and governments, but the realest nations congregate around mythologies. Unquestionably there is a Quixote nation, made up of the millions of readers who have fallen under its spell. It includes an assortment of admirable names: Lord Byron, Gustave Flaubert, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges, Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí, Miguel de Unamuno, and Pablo Picasso (whose 1955 ink study, also undertaken as an anniversary commemoration, of the knight and his squire still amazes the eye today). George Washington, who helped build his own republic of the imagination, read the book and loved it. But more admirable than these are the countless readers of the book whose names are lost to history — the true creators of a homeland for the knight and his servant.

The Quixote’s birth was far from certain. Prior to starting work on what would become his magnum opus, Cervantes was a soldier (he fought in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks, a heroic yet humbling experience: he was injured and lost much of the use of his left arm), a captive at war, and a lousy tax collector who ended up in jail for mishandling funds. He was also a rather limited author, a poet and playwright (he also wrote novellas), whom, I suspect, posterity would ignore if, about a decade before his death in 1616 at 69, he hadn’t stumbled on the idea of exploring the limits of parody. Still, he was penniless in the end, never suspecting for a minute the global impact his work would have. Indeed, I often imagine the surprise on his face (none of the portraits available were done while he was alive) had he realized the whole period he belonged to would be called “the age of Cervantes.” Not the age of Lope de Vega, the most successful and prolific of all playwrights who were his contemporaries? Not Quevedo or Góngora, two astonishing sonnetists?

The majority of readers, at least American readers, first learn of Don Quixote through Man of La Mancha, a syrupy and formulaic Broadway musical that in most ways could not be more distant from the antinomian spirit of the book. The one consolation to be drawn from this fact is that, for all its flaws, Man of La Mancha does manage to communicate an essential truth about the novel — the essential truth, in fact: both are driven by the restless and infinite imagination of Don Quixote, who dreams, in the words of the song, the impossible dream. (One is tempted to quote Picasso here: “Everything you can imagine is real.”) Indeed, no book addresses with a more penetrating eye the freedom dreams grant us. (Sorry, Freud!) Consider the arch-famous episode of the windmills, which should be seen as a clash between a decrepit feudalist and the most innovative energy technology of the time. Don Quixote is convinced these magisterial structures are giants whose intent is to conquer the earth, whereas Sancho knows (and so does the narrator) that they are far more mundane than that. Or the puppet theater performing a tale of adventure and submission which the knight confuses with real events, jumping on the stage and destroying the marionettes. Or the group of prisoners in transit whom Don Quixote liberates because he believes them to be innocent. Or the Cave of Montesinos, a dark and frightening place where Don Quixote has a mystical experience. The list of such incidents is long.

True, Cervantes wasn’t a good stylist. There are bumpy parts in Don Quixote, in which the author seems asleep at the wheel. He is sometimes repetitive. He forgets crucial details, such as the name of Sancho’s wife, calling her variously Juana and Teresa. But novels, especially lasting ones, don’t need to be perfect. What they need to be, of course, is . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

And read — or listen to — Don Quixote. The Edith Grossman translation is serviceable.

Written by Leisureguy

9 September 2021 at 10:36 am

John Mulaney tells Seth Meyers about his eventful year

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I found this absorbing.

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8 September 2021 at 4:36 pm

Ivermectin

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:34 am

McSweeney’s eloquent appeal to get vaccinated

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Wendy Molyneux pens a heartfelt appeal to the public to get vaccinated. It begins:

Oh My Fucking God, Get the Fucking Vaccine Already, You Fucking Fucks

Hi, if you are reading this essay then congratulations, you are still alive. And if you are alive, then you have either gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or you still have the opportunity to get the vaccine against COVID-19. And holy fuck, if you aren’t fucking vaccinated against COVID-19, then you need to get fucking vaccinated right now. I mean, what the fuck? Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck.

The fucking vaccine will not make you magnetic. Are you fucking kidding me? It just fucking won’t. That’s not even a fucking thing, and that lady who tried to pretend the vaccine made her fucking magnetic looked like a real fucking fuckwad and a fucking idiot, so get fucking vaccinated. Jesus. Fuck.

The vaccine also doesn’t have a fucking 5G chip in it. What the fuck do you think a fucking 5G chip is, fucknuts? You think it’s like some invisible nanotechnology they can suspend in a liquid and then just put in your fucking blood and then it what, exactly? Fucking floats around in your body going on Instagram and telling the government you went to the grocery store? No one fucking cares where you go, you absolute fucking fuck-barf. Fuck off with that. Fuck.

Oh, you’re afraid of fucking side effects? Fuck you. You know what has fucking side effects? Fucking aspirin, fucking Tylenol. You could be fucking allergic to pineapple, you fucking fuckwit. Everything has side effects. You’re being a big fucking baby with a huge diaper full of fucking diarrhea, complaining about maybe feeling slightly tired for a day or two while your asymptomatic COVID case you get and pass to some innocent fucking kid could wind up killing them or someone else. Fuck you, you fucking selfish fucking shit-banana, you unredeemable ass-caterpillar, you fucking fuck-knob with two fucks for eyes and a literal poop where your heart should be. You want a two-month-old to wind up on a fucking ventilator instead of you, a fucking adult, getting a fucking sore arm for a day? What are you, a pitcher for the Yankees? A fucking concert pianist? An arm model? Get the fuck out of here! Fuck you. Get vaccinated. Fuck. Fuck you!

You think vaccines don’t fucking work? Oh, fuck off into the trash, you attention-seeking fuckworm-faced shitbutt. This isn’t even a point worth discussing, you fuck-o-rama fuck-stival of ignorance. Vaccines got rid of smallpox and polio and all the other disgusting diseases that used to kill off little fucks like you en masse. Your relatives got fucking vaccinated and let you live, and now here you are signing up to be killed by a fucking disease against which there is a ninety-nine-percent effective vaccine. You  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

I think she makes a good case.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2021 at 11:28 am

Every Sport a Bowling Ball

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Written by Leisureguy

31 August 2021 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

Dick Gregory — great comedian and civil rights icon — wrote a great cookbook

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Shea Peters has an interesting article in Atlas Obscura on the origin an impact of Dick Gregory’s cookbook (available in a Kindle edition for US$1.79):

Adrian Miller, the author of Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, remembers how for his family, holidays like Juneteenth always meant celebrating with food. “We went to the public celebrations in the Five Points neighborhood, Denver’s historic Black neighborhood. At those events, the celebrated foods were barbecue, usually pork spareribs, giant smoked turkey legs, watermelon, and red-colored drinks.”

To many Black Americans, barbecue and soul food mean victory. Cooking techniques passed down for generations speak to the fortitude and perseverance of Black culture and cuisine. But along with celebration comes the consideration of the health effects of meat, sugar, and fat. Running parallel to the narrative of soul food lies another story, one that ties nutrition with liberation, and one that features an unlikely hero: a prominent Black comedian whose 1974 book filled with plant-based recipes continues to influence Black American diets today.

I grew up with Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookin’ With Mother Nature in my home in Memphis. I even took it along with me for my first semester at Tennessee State University. The campus was surrounded with fast-food and soul food restaurants, and I often referred back to Gregory’s book for nutritional advice. I also made recipes from its pages, such as the “Nutcracker Sweet,” a fruit smoothie made with a mixture that would now be known as almond milk. Today, many years later and living in Brooklyn, I still consult the book. The same copy I first saw on my mother’s bookcase—with its cover depicting Gregory’s head wearing a giant chef’s hat topped with fruit and vegetables—now sits on my own.

Now considered one of history’s greatest stand-up comedians, Dick Gregory skyrocketed to fame after an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar in 1961, a segment that almost didn’t happen. Gregory initially turned down the opportunity because the show allowed Black entertainers to perform, but not to sit on Parr’s couch for interviews. After his refusal, Parr personally called Gregory to invite him to an interview on the Tonight Show’s couch. His appearance was groundbreaking: “It was the first time white America got to hear a Black person not as a performer, but as a human being,” Gregory later said in an interview.

Gregory was particularly adept at using humor to showcase the Black experience at a time of heightened tension and division in the United States. During a performance early in his career, he quipped, “Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?”

“He had the ability to make us laugh when we probably needed to cry,” U.S. representative and civil rights icon John Lewis said in an interview after Gregory’s death in 2017. “He had the ability to make the whole question of race, segregation, and racial discrimination simple, where people could come together and deal with it and not try to hide it under the American rug.”

But Gregory didn’t just tackle racial inequality at comedy clubs. He also used his voice to advocate for civil rights at protests and rallies. After emceeing a rally with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in June 1961, Gregory developed a relationship with King. (Gregory’s close ties to leaders like King and Mississippi activist Medgar Evers would eventually lead to his becoming a target of FBI surveillance.) He aided in the search for the missing civil rights workers that were killed by the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi during the intense “Freedom Summer” of 1964 and performed at a rally on the last night of 1965’s Selma to Montgomery march.

For Gregory, who became a vegetarian in 1965, food and diet became inextricably linked to civil rights. “The philosophy of nonviolence, which I learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during my involvement in the civil rights movement, was first responsible for my change in diet,” he writes in his book. “I felt the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ applied to human beings not only in their dealings with each other—war, lynching, assassination, murder, and the like—but in their practice of killing animals for food or sport.”

Throughout Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet, he ties the liberation of Black people to health, nutrition, and basic human rights. Gregory was all too familiar with the socioeconomic obstacles to a healthy diet: Growing up poor in St. Louis, he had limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In his book, he notes that readers may not always have the best resources, but they can have the best information. Each chapter serves as both a rallying cry and a manual, offering everything from primers on the human body to lists of foods that are good sources of particular vitamins and minerals.

Thanks to Gregory’s longstanding collaboration with nutritionist Dr. Alvenia Fulton, the book offers healthy recipes as well as natural remedies for common ailments. The chapter  . . .

Continue reading. The article includes two recipes.

And see also this earlier post about a food that came from a radical movement: Bean Pie.

I’ll also note that the FBI’s surveillance of civil-rights leaders is yet another example of the FBI’s sleazy side, as is its support of the pedophile Larry Kassar (refusing to investigate credible allegations) and its blaming on an Oregon man for the bomb attacks in Spain because the FBI couldn’t read fingerprints — not to mention the scandal of the incompetence and bad practice at FBI forensic labs. It’s an agency that needs considerable work (and a new culture).

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26 July 2021 at 12:40 pm

Ventriloquist gets a volunteer

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22 July 2021 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

A clip from “Yes, Minister”

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I very much like two series with the same characters (and actors): “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister.” Wonderfully literate writing and witty dialogue. (You can stream both on BritBox.) Here’s a clip from “Yes, Minister,” Season 3, Episode 6 in which the Minister has just learned that the UK is selling arms that end up in the hands of Italian terrorists. He’s speaking with Sir Humphrey, his chief of staff (a civil-service position, so it serves various administrations) while his assistant Bernard listens.

Written by Leisureguy

9 July 2021 at 12:11 pm

Michael Davis juggles at Ford Theater in the 1980’s

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Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 10:15 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

Liz Cheney and Big Lies (including lies of omission)

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Maureen Dowd has a good column in the NY Times:

I miss torturing Liz Cheney.

But it must be said that the petite blonde from Wyoming suddenly seems like a Valkyrie amid halflings.

She is willing to sacrifice her leadership post — and risk her political career — to continue calling out Donald Trump’s Big Lie. She has decided that, if the price of her job is being as unctuous to Trump as Kevin McCarthy is, it isn’t worth it, because McCarthy is totally disgracing himself.

It has been a dizzying fall for the scion of one of the most powerful political families in the land, a conservative chip off the old block who was once talked about as a comer, someone who could be the first woman president.

How naïve I was to think that Republicans would be eager to change the channel after Trump cost them the Senate and the White House and unleashed a mob on them.

I thought the Donald would evaporate in a poof of orange smoke, ending a supremely screwed-up period of history. But the loudest mouth is not shutting up. And Republicans continue to listen, clinging to the idea that the dinosaur is the future. “We can’t grow without him,” Lindsey Graham said.

Denied Twitter, Trump is focusing on his other favorite blood sport: hunting down dynasties. “Whether it’s the Cheneys, the Bushes or the lesser bloodlines — such as the Romneys or the Murkowskis — Trump has been relentless in his efforts to force them to bend the knee,” David Siders wrote in Politico.

Yet an unbowed Liz Cheney didn’t mince words when, in a Washington Post op-ed a few days ago, she implored the stooges in her caucus to “steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality.”

That trademark Cheney bluntness made Liz the toast of MSNBC and CNN, where chatterers praised her as an avatar of the venerable “fact-based” Republican Party decimated by Trump.

But if Liz Cheney wants to be in the business of speaking truth to power, she’s going to have to dig a little deeper.

Let’s acknowledge who created the template for Trump’s Big Lie.

It was her father, Dick Cheney, whose Big Lie about the Iraq war led to the worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy. Liz, who was the captain of her high school cheerleading team and titled her college thesis “The Evolution of Presidential War Powers,” cheered on her dad as he spread fear, propaganda and warped intelligence.

From her patronage perch in the State Department during the Bush-Cheney years, she bolstered her father’s trumped-up case for an invasion of Iraq. Even after no W.M.D.s were found, she continued to believe the invasion was the right thing to do.

“She almost thrives in an atmosphere where the overall philosophy is discredited and she is a lonely voice,” a State Department official who worked with Liz told Joe Hagan for a 2010 New York magazine profile of the younger Cheney on her way up.

She was a staunch defender of the torture program. “Well, it wasn’t torture, Norah, so that’s not the right way to lay out the argument,” she instructed Norah O’Donnell in 2009, looking on the bright side of waterboarding.

She backed the futile, 20-year occupation of the feudal Afghanistan. (Even Bob Gates thinks we should have left in 2002.) Last month, when President Biden announced plans to pull out, Liz Cheney — who wrote a book with her father that accused Barack Obama of abandoning Iraq and making America weaker — slapped back: “We know that this kind of pullback is reckless. It’s dangerous.”

For many years, she had no trouble swimming in Fox News bile. Given the chance to denounce the Obama birther conspiracy, she demurred, interpreting it live on air as people being “uncomfortable with having for the first time ever, I think, a president who seems so reluctant to defend the nation overseas.”

Thanks to that kind of reasoning, we ended up with a president who fomented an attack on the nation at home.

In her Post piece, Cheney wrote that her party is at a “turning point” and that Republicans “must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.”

Sage prose from someone who was a lieutenant to her father when he assaulted checks and balances, shredding America’s Constitution even as he imposed one on Iraq.

Because of 9/11, Dick Cheney thought he could suspend the Constitution, attack nations preemptively and trample civil liberties in the name of the war on terror. (And for his own political survival.)

Keeping Americans afraid was a small price to pay for engorging executive power, which the former Nixon and Ford aide thought had been watered down too much after Watergate.

By his second term,

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 May 2021 at 11:24 am

The Lulz of Medusa: On Laughter as Protest

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Shira Chess is Associate Professor of Entertainment and Media Studies at the University of Georgia and author of Ready Player Two and Play Like a Feminist. The following, an extract from the latter, appeared in the MIT Press Reader:

The physical act of laughter is the ultimate tool of playful protest. It does not require props, screens, or any affiliated costs. Laughter has the ability to disrupt the status quo, extricating stifling hypocrisies. It is always available, regardless of your position of power. It works as an antiseptic and is clarifying. It is personal. Laughter has been used and mobilized by those in the past, and needs to reclaim its role in the protestations of the future. Laughter is a striking tool of resistance. If deployed properly, we can giggle, guffaw, chuckle, and snicker toward resistance and advancement.

But how do we laugh in the face of the terrible things that happen — things that strike us so deeply that we are immobilized with fear? In these moments, our first response to protest is often one of anger and deliberate, obstinate resistance. When this anger turns into overwhelming sadness, how do we locate the presence of mind to laugh without diminishing or undercutting our topic?

When I wrote about protest and laughter in my book, “Play Like a Feminist,” I wrote it in the shadow of a shooting in 2018, when 11 people were shot at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Like so many other shootings, this story feels unremarkable, with fresh gun violence occurring as frequently as our hearts beat. Last month, a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, most of them women of Asian descent. Not a week later another killed 10 shoppers in Boulder. In the face of this, how do I find space for laughter? This year alone, there have already been 104 mass shootings recorded in the United States of America. How do any of us find space for laughter?

I laugh because laughter is power. Rebecca Krefting refers to “charged humor”: a form of disruptive laughter meant to reimagine communities and use comedy to “foment social change.” Krefting observes that in this way, laughter is an inroad toward social justice. Similarly, historian Joseph Boskin writes about the ability of comedy to disrupt the momentary zeitgeist and offset power. But he also suggests that political humor is often deployed ineffectively, and that rather than focusing on institutions, it tends to be directed at individuals. In other words, the target of derisive laughter should not be the politician who makes a public misstep but instead the political system that put that politician in power. This lack of institutional focus makes our laughter less effective as a weapon.

Nevertheless, laughter has been and can be weaponized. Charged humor, in addition to being a kind of communal glue, is personal and intimate. We can laugh in a crowded theater, to great satisfaction, but we can also laugh alone and unheard by others. Laughter can be deployed by the disenfranchised to reclaim their sense of the absurd world we live in while remaining a binding substance that can fortify relationships. We need more laughter.

Famously, in her essay “The Laugh of Medusa,” Hélène Cixous writes about the monstrous feminine as inhabited by the infamous mythological icon. Rather than casting her as a beast, Cixous reinterprets the character, noting, “You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and laughing.”

Medusa’s laughter is rebellious; it fights back against the gods and mortals who have left her in her predicament, and it is our own fear that keeps us from hearing that laughter. It is Medusa’s laugh that we need to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 May 2021 at 4:53 pm

Homeopathic ER Doctors

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22 April 2021 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Humor, Medical, Science, Video

The Far Side: A masterclass in storytelling

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13 March 2021 at 5:04 pm

Stephen Fry comments on the difference between American and British comedy

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11 March 2021 at 9:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Humor, Video

European Anthem, “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, sung by eminent baritone

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16 February 2021 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Humor, Video

Craig Ferguson speaks from the heart — worth watching

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This is from 11 years ago, but still relevant.

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10 February 2021 at 6:11 pm

Sarah Silverman just wants to make things right

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In the Washington Post Geoff Edgers has an engaging profile of Sarah Silverman (including a couple of videos). It begins:

One morning not so long ago, Sarah Silverman needed some weed. So she drove to Santa Monica and pulled into a parking space outside a dispensary.

That’s when the trouble started. A man in an Escalade got out of the car and started screaming.

“What’s wrong with you? You hit my car, you b—-.”

Whoa. Silverman was sure that she hadn’t so much as smudged his bumper. But, even if she had, did this man’s response match the crime? Standing there, Silverman had a choice: shout back or try one of her social experiments. Could kindness convert this negative energy into something positive?

“I’m so sorry,” Silverman said without a tinge of sarcasm. “Show me where the scratch is? I’ll pay for it.”

That’s all it took. The man was disarmed. He told her to forget about it; life would move on.

Except that Sarah Silverman knew the story was perfect material — not necessarily comedy gold, but funny enough and with a deeper message. She told her sister, Laura, about it in a Zoom, mentioned it to her producer, Raj Desai, and then recounted it on “The Sarah Silverman Podcast” a few days later.

The interaction is about human behavior and our ability to reshape even the ugliest confrontations by trying just a bit harder. It also highlights Silverman’s special superpower, the ability to use her glow and an awwcomeonbuddy nudge to convert all sorts of nasty mojo.

She would be delivering this story onstage now, except that there’s a pandemic and, therefore, no gigs. Or she might be telling it on TV, except that Hulu canceled her “I Love You, America” series in 2019 and HBO passed on her latest pilot last year. Then again, it makes cosmic sense that this is being told on her podcast, because it’s hard to imagine Silverman’s pot-fueled parable getting space to breathe on those other platforms. The HBO bigwigs would have told her to tighten up the anecdote. The rules of standup would have required the setup to be met by a punchline.

Which is why “The Sarah Silverman Podcast,” launched by the longtime comedian a few months ago with little fanfare and a sense of resignation, may be one of the sneakiest successes of the pandemic.

“I mean, yeah, I came to it because my hands were bound,” Silverman says in a recent Zoom interview from her apartment in Los Angeles. “I couldn’t do standup and I had no place to put stuff. But now I realize this was really what I needed to do. I just can’t believe the freedom and the messiness and the looseness. It’s maybe something I didn’t realize I was missing.”

Everybody has a podcast, she’d grumble when the subject would come up in the past. “And I get it,” says director Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Anchorman”), a longtime friend and one of those nudging her. “You want to do a TV show. It certainly seems bigger and cooler, but that’s changing. I honestly don’t know anyone out there right now with the reach that Joe Rogan has.”

Rogan, the former “Fear Factor” host and second-tier standup before he launched “The Joe Rogan Experience” in 2009, chums around with Elon Musk and signed a $100 million deal with Spotify last year. Rogan says the podcast has 190 million downloads each month. Marc Maron reinvented himself with “WTF,” with then-President Barack Obama showing up at his garage in Los Angeles. Conan O’Brien, with his ever-shrinking late-night show, expanded with “Conan Needs a Friend” and his Team Coco company producing other podcasts. (Silverman considered an offer from O’Brien’s company, but chose Kast Media because she thought Team Coco wanted too big of a revenue share.)

Still, Silverman had other plans for 2020.

Her big project was “The Bedwetter,” a musical adaptation of her best-selling 2010 memoir. It was set to open off-Broadway in May at the Atlantic Theater Company with a cast that included Linda Lavin and Stephanie J. Block.

In early March, Silverman was in New York with playwright Joshua Harmon, who co-wrote the book, and Adam Schlesinger, the Fountains of Wayne founder and Emmy winner, who wrote the music.

Schlesinger, years earlier, had been the one who pitched the idea of a musical after reading the memoir, a freewheeling, origin story of the anxious young girl — she struggled with enuresis, or bed-wetting, until she was 16 — who became a comic star.

In mid-March, after the NBA shutdown, the Atlantic closed its doors and postponed the show. “And two or three days later, Adam texts: ‘You won’t believe this, I think I have this thing. I have a super high fever and a cough,’ ” Silverman says. “And then, April 1, he was dead. Dead.”

By then, HBO had already passed on “Silvershow.”

Over the past decade, Silverman’s penchant for shocking, potty-mouthed material has evolved to embrace more of what she calls social politics. She’s still not above discussing, in detail, her Internet porn search words. But she also addressed the Democratic National Convention. Her philosophy, onstage and off, is that not everybody is stupid, not only her views are right, and if we listen to those we disagree with instead of rolling our eyes, we might get somewhere. Imagine being as clever as John Oliver without the snark.

“I Love You, America,” which ran from 2017 to 2019, embraced that evolution. In one early segment, Silverman traveled to Louisiana to visit a family of rabid Donald Trump supporters. During the visit, she led a discussion about health insurance, and it became clear that the family, which had been mercilessly bashing Obama, was covered by “Obamacare.”

[the article includes the dinner portion of this video:

Start at 3:45 to see that portion. – LG]

“That moment was the crystallizing moment for me,” says Amy Zvi, Silverman’s longtime manager and an executive producer on the show. “Rather than say, ‘You realize that you’re wrong and I’m right,’ Sarah didn’t correct them.”

“I don’t want to make people look dumb,” Silverman says. “Those aren’t the people I care to show up. I think people can be changed, but they’re never going to be changed by feeling judged.”

“I Love You, America” lasted two seasons, earning Emmy nominations each year and allowing Silverman to boldly confront even her most uncomfortable experiences.  . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

The concluding paragraphs:

Then there was the angry Escalade man. The incident did not end when she killed him with kindness. No, Silverman insisted, “I want to make this right.”

Then she asked what he smoked.

“I like a full-bodied high,” he told her.

With that, Silverman, Emmy-winning standup, TV host and now podcaster, walked into the dispensary and acquired a spliff of Indica for her antagonist. He smiled at the olive branch, but they were already at peace. While she was inside, he had paid her parking meter.

“I haven’t shaken someone’s hand in a year, but I gave him a big handshake,” Silverman says. “And I go, ‘Look at us. We were arch enemies and now we’re best friends.’ ”

Written by Leisureguy

4 February 2021 at 10:08 am

Pandemic Last Supper

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1 February 2021 at 12:38 pm

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The Four Yorkshiremen Sketch

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24 January 2021 at 10:13 am

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