Donald Trump and the Art of the Joke

 

Are you not amused?

Jezebel compares the current grumblings about The Donald’s upcoming SNL appearance with the Andrew Dice Clay episode from a quarter century ago. I wasn’t a fan of Dice’s ultra-gross humor at the time, but I always thought Nora Dunn was a wet blanket for refusing to do the show. Her quote makes me reconsider

He’s a man who gets up and says that a woman is a receptacle, that a man has a right to have sex with his daughter because he pays her tuition, and Lorne is going to make him look like he’s the Fonz,” she said, referring to the Henry Winkler character on Happy Days. “Take the word ‘woman’ and replace it with the word ‘Jew,’ and ask: would he book this person? I don’t know why sexism doesn’t fall into the same category

OK. I get it. But, let’s accept that Mr. Clay wasn’t advocating as a public servant, community leader, or businessman. When we agree with an entertainer (musician, comedian, actor, whatever) that we’re entering into this space where they can create, we have a social contract that says they can say and do things without being truly responsible for the ultimate outcome. It’s art. The person is allowed the space to create and we suspend our conscience according to our own beliefs. That magician isn’t really saying you should saw women in half. Neither Bob Marley nor Eric Clapton were advocating violence towards cops (Ice-T and NWA on the other hand…I’ll let you decide)

Ultimately, the irony here is that the evolution of standup comedy is such that Amy Schumer and other female comics now describe their own sexuality in ways that, if they were done by Dice, would be deemed offensive. But, that’s the EMPOWERMENT of this oft-ridiculed thing called feminism: It’s THEIRS to exploit as they wish. Instead of having men get paid for talking about women being sluts, WOMEN can get paid for calling themselves sluts

A little simplistic, but you get the point

So, we are left with our friend Donald. I won’t speak to the legality of In-Kind Campaign Contributions, as I am not a lawyer nor do I wish to be one. One of the hosts of the popular Brad & Britt Podcast expressed exasperation that Lorne Michaels had signed up for an effort that would ultimately “humanize” Trump

Maybe he was able to give David Spade a career, but, even Lorne Michaels isn’t that good

Certainly, Donald Trump has blurred the lines between entertainer, businessman, and politician. It’s fair to say that’s there isn’t any comedy in his remarks about deporting millions of people in a manner that evokes memories of frightening, fascistic regimes. But, comedy has always been a powerful weapon, able to shine a cleansing light where other things fail. It’s up to an incredibly gifted staff of writers, producers, and performers to unmask this guy. Will they be able to do it? I wouldn’t bet against them. In all honesty, when they’re done sweeping the stage, most people who liked him will continue to do so and those who didn’t, will continue to do that, too

But, I look at that picture at the top and I can’t help but think that the immensely talented Cecily Strong might be being used as a prop

Thank God she has the ability to make up her own mind abut such things

Who Do You Trust? Hardly nobody.

By all reasonable measures, I should be dead.  Psychology Today reported that in “a 2009 study(link is external) of more than 97,000 women showed that optimistic women had lower rates of coronary heart disease, cancer-related deaths, and mortality. Conversely, women with the most pessimistic and cynical personalities had higher rates of these diseases and death. When we think of hostility and negativity as life-threatening conditions, it makes the goal of being less cynical all the more crucial.”  Men’s Health asked if it was possible to name successful cynics. “You can’t. Look at some of the most successful people in the past 10 years: Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, the Google guys. They’re not too cynical. George Clooney, Bono, Pixar’s central creative team. They’re about as genuine about their lives and work as you can get. Cynics don’t become presidents of the United States. They don’t become top CEOs, entrepreneurs, or researchers either.”  The exception to this generalized rule is for comedians, for whom being cynical is practically a job requirement.

Let’s not even bother with politicians, or it’ll blow up everything….. Screen shot 2015-11-06 at 12.25.24 PM

 

 

 

Screen shot 2015-11-06 at 12.28.30 PM

 

 

Actual stories like the one about Joseph Gliniewicz, the Illinois cop who committed suicide and tried to make it look like a heroic death in the line of duty, don’t help my cynicism tendencies.  Every few months you see a headline like this:

Ohio mother allegedly faked son’s cancer

This happened in Newark, Ohio near Columbus in 2013.  According to the Associated Press,  “the woman faked a cancer diagnosis for her 4-year-old son and shaved his head in a scheme that convinced him and others he was dying and bilked people out of donations, authorities said. Court records allege the boy was taken to a hospital for symptoms such as seizures. He underwent at least 20 blood tests, more than 150 hours of inpatient monitoring, and other testing that found no problems, according to the records.”  I carry around several clippings of stories like this in order to resist being hijacked for money at the grocery store checkout terminal.  As soon as the clerk asks me if I’d like to give money to anything, I start reading the stories.  The interaction immediately reverts to business. Here’s one from KUSA in Denver from 2014: AURORAThe investigation into the mother accused of telling her healthy 6-year-old son he had cancer and fraudulently raising money for his illness, started after she was overheard talking about the boy’s illness at work.

Cynicism, which has gleefully taken me over, reached a climax for me this week.  I heard of some guy who has one of those multi-syllabic forms of cancer who’s 32 and doesn’t think he’ll make it to the Dec. 18 premiere of the new Star Wars movie.  He said he’d die happy if he could just see it before he died.  He started a Twitter campaign.  A couple of the stars of the film caught wind of it.  Time: All that effort has finally paid off. “We would like to thank the awesomely talented JJ Abrams for calling us yesterday to tell us Daniel was getting his wish granted!” his wife Ashley wrote in a Facebook post Thursday. “Today the wonderful Disney, Bad Robot and Lucasfilm teams made his final dream come true, Daniel just finished watching an unfinished version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!”A LucasFilm spokesperson confirmed that Fleetwood received a screening of the film.  I couldn’t help but think: 1. Star Wars Freaks and Geeks would go to ANY length to see the movie way ahead of everyone else, even faking cancer and going through the near-death motions and pleas.  2.  Is there anything that Disney wouldn’t do to promote the film and warm fuzzies towards their corporate image?  Did Disney make him sign a non-disclosure agreement?  Doesn’t he HAVE to die now?  I intend to start a self-help group called Cynics Anonymous.  Hello, my name is Brad and I’m a self-confessed conspiracy theorist about a guy dying of cancer who just wants to see a movie that I intend to aggressively not see, since I haven’t bothered with the First Five Sequels since the 1977 Original.  That’s a bad start, isn’t it?

 

YO! BC raps!

If you’re Dr. Ben Carson and you’ve established yourself as a SUPER patriot as well as a pediatric surgeon who has done what few have ever done, you probably want to highlight your career accomplishments in your first round of radio advertising. Maybe you talk about coming from humble beginnings and, thanks to the greatest nation on earth, you were able to accomplish things that were beyond your wildest dreams

Or you make a terrible rap ad that sounds worse than suburban white boys trying to spit rhymes at midnight at The Sig Ep house

Yo! that’s dopity dope, G!

I would disagree with the Deadspin headline that says this rap is “for the blacks”. Most African-Americans will see through this and know that it’s so corny it will show up in tomorrow’s stool. Suburban white kids love the hippity hop and this is meant to appeal to the head-bobbers who reside in cul-de-sacs across America. I’m not sure if Brandon will be repeating these hot bars as he heads down Florentine Lane to go play X Box with his homies

Let’s look at some of the previous nominees for “Worst Rap Ever”

Uh! Feel that, dawg? That’s you losing your “black guy card”

Aw, son! Your drug free rant actually has me wanting to try some crack

I hate to kick sand in Robbie’s face a quarter of a century later, but, yo, Ice, tear THIS down, son

The Ben Carson outreach team needs to work on a line of BC vapes. ‘Cause you know, freedom could disappear in a cloud of mist, son

No one’s petitioning the UN to keep Jon Stewart retired. Phil Collins… now that’s a different story.

I knew all of those “Jon Stewart is 100% Happy and Content in Retirement” stories were 100% BS.  Not at his age.  He was simply tired of the daily regiment of the Daily Show, and most importantly, he had enough money to walk away.  No one ever included that in the stories of him with his wife feeding the llamas.  So, he’s already back after a few months with an open-ended deal with HBO to do what he wants on his own schedule.  Good for Jon.

Phil Collins, however, is a different story.  He is a Battleground Artist.  You either hated him or loved him.  Health problems sent him into retirement years ago, and now he wants back in.  The Hate Him crowd can’t take the idea of Phil coming back, so they’ve gone the petition route…… to the United Nations!  Mashable has the story…. click and enjoy!Screen shot 2015-11-04 at 11.26.34 AM

There is a petition to stop Phil Collins from returning to music

 

The Man in the High Castle

I just saw the first two episodes of an ambitious Amazon Prime series called “The Man in the High Castle”

 

Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, the series imagines a 1962 America that lost World War II. Nazi Germany controls the east coast and the midwest. Japan controls the west coast and there’s a neutral zone that runs generally the length of the Rocky Montains

Chilling

You think that’s eerie, check this out

Even more chilling

That’s the flag of the German-controlled area. A brave resistance battles back against these fascist states, including a mythical man who releases films that show the allies winning the war. How can this be? The German and Japanese governments both seek this man and punish those in the resistance

One of the most chilling scenes in the first two episodes comes when one of the newly-recruited member of the resistance is motoring to the neutral zone, but he gets a flat tire. An unwitting policeman helps him change the tire and even offers him a sandwich. Suddenly, what looks like snowflakes start to appear. The member of the resistance asks the cop what’s up? The policeman replies, “The hospital”. He then says that every Tuesday the infirmed and elderly are incinerated. “Burdens to the state”, he says. Their ashes float through the air

Amazon has made some real strides forward in original content with the award-winning “Transparent” and the woefully underrated “Bosch”. They’re still not up to quality of the Netflix original content, but “The Man in the High Castle” certainly is promising and I look forward to seeing the rest of the first season when Amazon releases the episodes on November 20th

Mayberry Babylon

Speakin’ of poles, boys, I gotta run and show mine to Miss Crump

Daniel de Vise has written a book that blows the lid off the behind-the-scenes dirt of “The Andy Griffith Show”. You can order the book here and help out Brad & Britt in the process. While it’s not quite as tumultuous as “The Brady Bunch” set, the Mayberry gang had more than their share of sex, drugs, and abhorrent behavior. The book even alleges that the good Sheriff Taylor his own self was Ike Turner before Ike Turner was Ike Turner (maybe I should use a more current reference)

I expect the backlash against the author to be swift and loud: “How dare you destroy my favorite show, which accurately depicted classic American values”. Something like that. The good people of Mount Airy, NC (Griffith’s hometown) don’t come off well, either, but anyone who grew up in a small town can’t be that surprised that they shunned the kid from the wrong side of the tracks then celebrated his success when he became a big deal

It occurs to me that the America that is portrayed in “The Andy Griffith Show” is the same one that conservatives in this country long for: Obedient children, friendly neighbors, simpler times. It’s also an America that never really existed. In the late 50s and early 60s people did bad things to each other. Men cheated on their wives. Women were raped. Teenagers got pregnant. Also, it wasn’t a great period for African-Americans, gays, or people who sympathized with their causes

So it is that Mayberry was never what it seemed. And this America that many long for is also an illusion. So many of us long for a past that never was what we thought it was. Perhaps, it would do us better to look forward

You know: Make America Great Again Greater Than Ever