Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Wacky midget and currently one of the top 5 funniest living people, Patton Oswalt was on NPR on monday being interviewed. Most of the chat was standard promotional stuff for his new CD but he also addressed a subject that I had just brought up last weekend in conversation about the current state of standup comedy.
He was talking about when he first started out and, thanks mostly to Johnny Carson, 99% of comics did standup in the hope that they wouldn't have to do standup much longer. Every comic had 5 minutes of clean material that they could perform on Carson in hopes they would get invited over to the desk and then the sitcoms and movies would just roll in from there. Then they could finally be rid of the 'burden' of having to please people face to face.
With the success of comics like Ray Romano and Kevin James, and the creation of shows like Last Comic Standing , this attitude seems to have returned in a big way. None of the comics on 'LCS' want to continue doing standup, that's the whole point of the show. Everyone on it is a 'successful' standup comedian who is now demanding a lucrative tv deal so they can finally quit this job they obviously hate so much. The only trouble is, as a result of them hating their job, they're usually not very funny and won't get a tv deal. It's a vicious cycle.
Thankfully, there's still a few comics that love what they do; Dave Attell, Louis CK and Patton to name a few. Despite relative success on tv, all three of these guys continue to perform all the time. It's people like them that stop comedy from eroding back into the awful 'Night at the Improv' days of the mid-80s. We're dangerously close to returning to the heady days of ventriloquists and impressionists cracking us up with yet another 'dead on' Jack Nicholson...
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Some people probably hate David Cross for his political views and no-holds-barred criticisms of George W. Those people, of course, are idiots.
Cross, along with Lewis Black, is one of the greatest political comics working today. And even if you don't agree with his views, his writing is so good and his timing so dead on, he'll still have you laughing your ass off.
You can't really mention Cross without mentioning Mr. Show, the groundbreaking show he created with Bob Odenkirk that is the closest thing to Python in 30 years.
The two CDs he has released, "Shut up You Fucking Baby" and "It's Not Funny" are both so topical that it will be interesting to see how they stand the test of time. I personally think they'll do very well and rank right up there with Bill Hicks, who was also very topical.
Saturday, July 03, 2004
Mr. Attell is nothing short of a phenominally funny comedian. Everything from the construction of his jokes to his incredibly well-timed delivery lets you know he's been at this for a while. The show that has brought him fame, Insomniac, is an excellent vehicle for his real gift which is to make fun of someone to their face in such a nice and funny way that they don't even realize they're being made to look like an ass.
The formula for Insomniac has gotten a bit stale as of late, and attempts are being made to spice it up (hour long specials, foreign countries etc.), but the format really doesn't work too well overseas, and Dave's anonymity combined with American's desire to be on television is the combination that worked the best.
All that aside, Dave Attell easily makes any list I would make of best standup comedians of all time.