Posted tagged ‘funny’

On Mitch Hedberg vs. Anthony Jeselnik

November 17, 2010

My fake plants died because I didn't pretend to water them

I got a phone call late last night telling my Grandmother's only got a day left to live. I don't want this to sound cold, but I'm not going to pay the ransom.

Recently, according to the internet, there’s been quite the hoopla about hot *it* comedian Anthony Jeselnik and his new album Shakespeare. Personally, I find this fanfare well deserved as the man is quite funny. He’s crafted a unique one-of-a-kind style, fine-tuned his performance and really makes me laugh. However, when discussing/sharing Jeselnik I’ve found a growing number of people have started to bring up the late great Mitch Hedberg. These mentions have ranged from comparative compliments to accusations of biting. As a longtime admirer of both, I can see why one might remind people of the other. They’re both one-liner comics with their own specific brand of logic that pulls the audience into their specially-designed world. However, I believe there are three major difference between the two that show Jeselnik is more than his own man.

1 ) The Darkness
– If there’s one obvious trait about Jeselnik, it’s that he’s a comedian with subject matter so dark it’s pitch black. In any other venue than stand-up comedy, his tales would convince you that he’s quite possibly the worst human being who has ever lived. We all told dead baby jokes in junior-high, but to relegate Jeselnik to this status would be doing his craftsmanship and utter depravity a tremendous disservice. For him, it’s not enough that the baby’s dead, rather there’s an even grimmer circumstance as to why it’s dead and a sinister anti-comment on society to be made, said with the most gleeful stoicism possible. Hedberg, on the other hand, wants to cuddle with koalas and buy ducks Subway. He’s sweeter than Sweettarts. I’m pointing this out because it isn’t enough to merely state one is a bit more morbid than the other. They’re on completely opposite ends of the spectrum.

2 ) The Confidence
– Mitch’s delivery was as quiet and hidden from the audience as possible. His persona was rooted in being shy. There’s a telling moment in his first Comedy Central stand-up special where, after an applause from the audience goes longer than expected, Hedberg half-looks up and says “I smile when I’m happy.” It’s that natural uncontrived vulnerability that allowed the sillyness of his humor to thrive. Anthony Jeselnik is dry, no banter, “these are my jokes” and making direct eye contact with you the entire time. His persona is the man on a mission to let you know through his heartlessness that he’s the coolest guy in the room. Hedberg is the stoner buddy, AJ is the door-to-door salesman of doom.

3) The Fluidity
– Hedberg had an almost stream-of-conscious structure to his jokes where his one-liners would seem to just pop in and out of his head. The order of how he delivered them could change, but he knew how to use the bricks he had to build a special padded wall of comedy. His performances had the warmth of late night campfire stories. Comparatively, Jeselnik is as detached and cold as the HAL-9000. AJ punches his jokes in-and-out like he’s reading a grocery list, using a smirk and the occational “yeah, I’m good” head-shake as his only transition. His agenda is to tell you these jokes and that’s it. Hedberg is there to hang out and whatever happens happens.

Bring the darkness home for the holidays!

That’s not to say there aren’t similarities. They’re both in-and-out setup-punchline comedians at a time when that’s fairly rare. There’s more-than-likely a Hedberg influence on Jeselnik, but watching a performance of the two back-to-back shows that they’re pretty different beasts. As someone else pointed out, to call Jeselnik a copy of Hedberg is like calling Hedberg a copy of Steven Wright. I don’t believe the stark differences between the two makes one better than the other, rather I believe they should each be celebrated for the tremendous hilarity that both bring to the table.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Things I Reference All the Time – Volume 1

May 6, 2010

Do you understand the words that are coming out of my blog?

Oh, Hi Readers. Over the 23-and-a-half years I’ve been on this planet* I’ve come to discover that I like certain funny things to the point of repeating them whenever possible. This has allowed me to stretch the amount of laughs in one sitting to absolute capacity. Sometimes** I’ll make a reference that will go over the heads of everybody in the room, leaving me alone on stage mid-battle staring at the crowd as if to say “No trust me, this gentlemen I’m disrespecting looks JUST LIKE that unflattering celebrity I’ve compared him to.” So, in the interest of you getting maximum enjoyment out of this site and me in general, here’s five things I reference all the time.

Hamburger!

Alonzo “Hamburger” Jones was introduced to me last August by the homegirl Marni and my life has never been the same. Where to begin? His entire “act” is a serious of jokes bridged together by the word “hamburger.” No rhyme or reason to his train of thought, just jokes randomly bridged together by the word “hamburger.” Research tells me he’s on the Christian Comedy circuit and uses “hamburger” in place of other comedians’ cuss words. I can respect withholding the swears for whatever the reason, but how can one be a CHRISTIAN INSULT COMIC? He’s also wearing a vest and cowboy hat that he never once makes reference to. Hamburger.

HEY, YOU LIKED ‘CARNOSAUR!’

Siskel and Ebert have always been heroes of mine, and The Critic was one of the first television shows I really became a fan of. Their guest appearance is one of the series’ highlights, and since age 8 their summoning of movies they can’t believe the other liked acted as my step-by-step guide to arguing***. Girlfriend upset with you for forgetting her birthday? Roommate angry you ate all his Funyuns? Just turn to them and yell “HEY, YOU LIKED CARNOSAUR!” Argument won.

Oh, Hi (your name)

For the five of you out there not familiar with The Room, it’s a motion picture that fires its awfulness engine on all cylinders. A running “joke,” that nobody involved in the film in any way shape or form is in on, is how just about every entrance of a character on screen is met with “Oh, Hi Mark” or any variant thereof. This has become the absolute only way I greet people. I suggest you do the same.

People Come Up to me and they say “Paul?” And I say “What?” And they say…

Dear Starchild is one of my favorite YouTube series. Pat Francis’ hilarious impression of Paul Stanley from KISS has always been an enjoyable part of the ‘Never Not Funny’ Pardcast. When he moved it to YouTube as an advice column, well, let’s just say it was awesome. The opening “…and I say ‘what’…” bit has been summoned countless times on this site. That’s just how I put the ‘X’ in ‘Sex.’

WE’RE LIVIN WE’RE LIVIN WE’RE LIVIN IN EXTREME DAYS!

As the old adage goes “All good things must come to an end involving Christian Rap-Rock.” TobyMac, one-third of rap-rock pioneers DC Talk, has always been ahead aware of the curve. If you’ve ever seen the Gospel Music Channel documentary on the man, you would know he takes full credit for the idea to put singing in the middle of verses on rap songs****. By picking up the aged white Christian rap torch where Carman left off, the TobyMac debuted as the rapper on “Jesus Freak” before breaking solo eventually leading to the TobyMacsterpiece “Extreme Days.” A paint-by-numbers late 90s nu-metal jumpoff from the excess usage of the word “Extreme” to the melodic “deep” part in the middle***** to the acting scene in the middle describing the artist as dangerous and pursued by bad actors the government, it’s some sort of awful perfection. Next time you go to a party, just jump in the room and scream “COMIN AT ‘CHA LIKE A WHIRLWIND!” You may have heard this song in the post-apocalyptic XBox360 game Crackdown where, when you steal a car from futuristic cyborg thugz, it’s the first song that plays.

Scene from 'Avatar' (2009)

So until next time… let’s agree to agree!

*EARTH, which is NUMBER ONE! SUCK IT NEPTUNE!

**And by “sometimes” I mean “just about every time.”

***Meaning if you and I are on an airplane, I will probably have an outburst debating with you over the merits of this.

****Seriously. He really said this. Must be part of that “school of Hip-Hop 1979” where “Sugar Hill had the skill” that taught him to steal rhyme.

*****HE WAS ONLY E-LEV-EN!

THIS WEEK IN SPAM – “MR. POSTMAN”

February 8, 2010

Hey Mr. Post-Modern!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’m an MC or “rapper.” Being a rapper, I do rap things such as rhyme over a beat, keep rhythm, move the crowd, cold rock a party etc. However, there are plenty of rap things I don’t do such as watch the movie Scarface every weekend, wear clothing covered with images from the movie Scarface, take a time machine to a 1998 Sam Goody location and purchase every single one of their posters from the movie Scarface, etc. These differences are slight and while they don’t define me or those that do, I bring them up cause who I’m talkin’ about y’all, is Hip-Hop to make the point that we are aware certain practices are prevalent but some of us just don’t do them.

That ain't me, babe.

Case in point – internet spamming. While some are super fearful of Jay-Z’s rumored illuminati ties, non-reptilian rappers have proven time and time again that they can be just as dangerous annoying on their own. Look at how it took a nation of nobodies to ruin MySpace. Scary, eh? While the internet is a necessary and awesome evil that we have to use in order to keep the wheels on our career-mobile rollin’, I think the blog/Facebook event with one or two reminders/email list/Twitter sequence or any combination thereof is sufficient. But even then, they should be practiced with extreme moderation. I keep two* active email addresses, one for my personal life and one for the rap world that I give out on those ‘please sign my spam list’ or ‘let’s collaborate’ opportunities. I really don’t mind when they hit the latter, as that’s the reason I set-up that account, but believe my surprise when THIS ended up in the former. NOTE: This is a complete copy-pasta exactly how it appeared in my electronic mail box:

Rai Knight – Mr. Postman – (feat. Oseeola)

Free MP3
In our lives, there are times, where what we want to say are just to hard to say. Mostly, we find those times when we are deeply in love and fear that are sentiments are not shared, sometimes it is much easier to put it on paper! Soldiers overseas, their spouses, in many cases, can only communicate via letter and with love there are never enough words to say how you truly feel, but to say some

thing is better than saying nothing.

In “Mr. Postman” Rai Knight and Oseeola take the opportunity to thank whatever medium which allows itself to be the carrier of “I love you”; facebook, twitter, or mail. The story is simple, sometimes we just all to need to know how much we are cared for. Simply, just say it!

Wow. My initial reaction was along the lines of “how the H*ll did this get sent out to presumably thousands of emails, most likely from a paid email blast company, without some semblance of a spell check?” I closed the email, took a shower, played some Rock Band, microwaved some leftover Taco Bell** and couldn’t shake that text out of my head. As someone who reads dozen of press releases a day and writes tens of them a year, how on Urth did that get green-lit?

Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I began googling every person in the email, each name pointed back to the same “release” until I stumbled on the first site that featured it right here:

http://imflashy.com/2010/02/03/rai-knight-ft-oseeola-mr-postman/

What the H*ll is this? The fluxuating-minimalist production, absurd stream-of-conscious lyrics (“I would be your Huckleberry / I would be your Merrie Melody too”) and genuine weirdness is only emphasized by how professional it sounds. I can’t tell if I like the song or not, but it is an oddly effective snapshot of modern internet-based flirtation. The “PS” at the end of the second verse gives the whole song a weird full-circle vibe, as if it’s the Bratz doll b-side to the spectacular Google Super Bowl ad.

It took six listens for me to realize how much more effective and memorable this atrocious press release was than a forgettable passable one. I’ve given this song that I can’t even determine my opinion on (that is starting to grow on me) from someone I’ve never heard before a much more intent listen than anything else in quite some time. Rai Knight, I raise my glass to you. Thank you for giving me a lemon that I’ve turned into a Tim O’Brien Lemon Tree.

We give this SPAM a Five Out of Five

Until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*RE: OK, five. I have five email accounts. You happy?

**When I refer to “livin’ the life,” I usually mean this.