View Full Version : cutting edge comedy
02-17-2006, 11:38 PM
Where have all the great comedians gone?
steve martin- last seen doing a bad inspector clouseau
tim allen- playing a shaggy dog
bill murray- life aquatic , lost in translation
rodney dangerfield- RIP
Eddie Murphy- from RAW to dr. doolittle
sam kinison- RIP
Chris Rock- busy doing cartoon voices
chevy chase- caddyshack was 1980, fletch 1985
jerry seinfeld- finale was in 1998
bob goldthwaite- crank yankers and doing voices in lilo and stich
george carlin- rehashing old bits, park on a driveway, drive on a parkway.....
I guess that leaves bernie mac, dave chappelle, ray ramono, and don rickles.
02-24-2006, 12:15 PM
Cutting edge comedy, for me, was the late-90s Comedy Central, when they were developing shows like "The Upright Citizens Brigade" and "Strangers With Candy". Look at the stuff they are doing now: Crank Yankers, for example, an amalgam of sexual innuendo and jokes on bodily excretions. The dumbing down is really obvious. Nowadays, UCBer Amy Poehler is on the floundering "Saturday Night Live" and a "Strangers With Candy" movie has been on the distributor's shelf for years because it was thought too weird for the increasingly-infantile comedy marketplace.
02-24-2006, 02:17 PM
But "Tough Crowd" was always edgy and often hilarious. Now we have tripe like "The Colbert Report." PeteLeo.
02-24-2006, 02:27 PM
My man is Jon Stewart. He doesn't do the slash & burn crap like Leno & Letterman. I liked Tough Crowd but the shows were too uneven. It really depended heavily on the guests. Some shows were terrific & quite a few were total duds.
I can take Colbert in small doses. I liked him much better on Stewart's show. The constant snideness gets tiring on his show but it does have some funny moments.
I still like Carlin but I agree he's not as cutting edge as he used to be but hey, he's been doing it for 40 some years & there's a lot of mileage & wear & tear on the tire thread. I also think the death of his wife a few years back took a lot out of him.
I agree with 'Scribes's comments but I NEVER have found Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Tim Allan or Seinfeld to be even remotely funny. Complete hacks as far as I'm concerned.
Bill Murray used to be funny but his act is real tired now.
Probably my two favorites now are Stewart & Wanda Sykes who just kills me she's so freaking brutally honest & funny.
02-24-2006, 02:30 PM
I disliked "Tough Crowd," which too often was the same half-dozen C-listers doing Don Rickles insults on each other. Similarly tedious is both the way-past-its-prime "Daily Show" and its inevitable Smirkalympics spin-off. They will keep playing to the smarter-than-thou sensibilities of an ever-shrinking audience until CC can no longer justify their air time.
02-24-2006, 02:39 PM
Stewart's show HARDLY has a shrinking audience, 'Scribe. Their ratings have grown by leaps & bounds. You stopped liking it when it became popular & no longer was a hidden little gem.
You do the same thing with bands ... I love you man,(in a manly sorta way) but you do tend to be an elitist at times.
02-24-2006, 04:44 PM
GorDoom, I admire your tenacity in defense of Stewart, if only he deserved it.
Firstly, TDS has a tiny audience...I'll bet less than a million. But never mind, you and I both know that popularity and quality never go hand in hand.
Watch a few Daily Shows from the early days of Stewart's tenure and it was fresh and hilarious. Compare them with recent episodes and you'll find that nothing has changed. The format is the same, the style of humor is the same, even the vocal intonations, facial tics and skipped beats before punchlines are exactly the same. Stewart and his supporting crew (a revolving cast of Colbert, Carrell and Littleford impersonators) are just rehashing the same old schtick that they know the audience eats up:
Stewart: And with us to discuss the Vice President's hunting accident is Daily Show Recreational Fire Arms Bureau Chief Rob Cordry. Rob, aren't you a bit disturbed by all this.
Cordry: Weeeeelllllll, Joooohhhhnnnn, let's face facts. As every hunter knows, you can't make an omelet without breakin' a few eggs...
Stewart: But, I mean, the Vice President of the United States SHOT someone. Shouldn't we be concerned about the 22 hour lag time before this was publicly disclosed? Isn't this news?
Cordry: Well, I'm sure that's what the liberals and gun control fanatics would LIKE you to think. It's probably a cheap ruse to deflect attention from the real crisis facing America...the invasion of FRENCH fries on our children's lunchroom tables...
Etc., etc. Then they will ambush-interview some unsuspecting redneck dimwit who sells lawn jockeys and interview a slumming legitimate news correspondent who wants to swap tsunami relief anecdotes from his new book.
It's all so regurgitated. Only the headlines change, and even those, not very much.
I used to love TDS, but I can't watch five years of the same thing. If I want that much repetition, I'll turn on C-Span and watch Scott McLellan's press conferences.
And when did Stewart start getting the idea that he was a real newsman? Him calling Tucker Carlson a dick is like the pot calling the kettle black. OK, maybe like the creamer calling the kettle black...
02-24-2006, 04:52 PM
Tucker Carlson iIS a dick. He's bloated with his unwarrented sense of self importance. As to Stewart that's his shtick & it works. & Btw: He hardly considers himself a newsman.
You can listen to the Afghan Whigs for a couple of decades but 5 years of Stewart is too much? & even you gotta admit he's WAY more palatable than Letterman or Leno.
& I guess what I like about him is that he's not mean spirited like the afore mentioned. & he definitely doesn't take himself to seriously.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree - go watch old movies by hacks like Martin & Chase.
02-24-2006, 05:23 PM
Stewart doesn't take himself too seriously? If you say so...
It'll be interesting to see how he does with the Oscars, in front of an audience that doesn't automatically bust out laughing at every facial tic...
Hey, Stewart is better than Dennis Miller (a former Bucket fave before he went Republican), but I think he could do so much more. He's gotten lazy. And I retired the Whigs after Black Love.
02-24-2006, 06:06 PM
He's going to be on Larry King next Monday in a reversal of roles. The interviewee rather than the interviewer. Check him out. Maybe in a different setting you might "grok" him better.
& yeah, I know, Larry King, blah, blah, blah ... I'm sure you hate him to.
02-27-2006, 10:09 AM
Not much to "grok." He's Dennis Miller in reverse.
With Larry King lobbing softballs at him, let's see how seriously he "doesn't" take himself...
02-27-2006, 02:52 PM
The Oscar for best satirist goes to ...
The organisers of Sunday's Academy Awards must be hoping that host Jon Stewart is on his best behaviour, for, as the presenter of America's most talked-about 'news' show, he has a history of debunking the great and good
By Paul Harris/The Observer
Next Sunday, Jon Stewart will walk on stage in front of the biggest audience of his life. It won't just be the stars of Hollywood staring up at him that will be unsettling, though performing before the likes of Brad Pitt, Steven Spielberg and Judi Dench would intimidate anyone.
No, it will be the tens of millions of Americans watching at home and hundreds of millions more viewers around the globe. Most will be seeing Stewart for the first time, as will the world's critics, pens at the ready, itching to condemn any misfiring quip.
There is nothing small about hosting the Oscars; he will be joining a select band of comic stars such as Steve Martin and Bob Hope. Nor is success guaranteed. Greater names than Stewart have blown this chance at glory. Just ask last year's try-out, Chris Rock.
But how did Stewart get here? He is largely unknown outside America. His movie career, with films such as Big Daddy and Death to Smoochy, is so unremarkable that Stewart himself lampoons it. Yet there he will be, caught in the spotlights with the world at his feet. Stewart's tale is remarkable, of a man who has become a star turn by biting the very hand that feeds him. His vehicle, the 'fake news show', The Daily Show, may get just 1.5 million viewers but it is required viewing for America's political and entertainment elite. With Stewart as the razor-witted host, it skewers the great issues of the day in the guise of a news bulletin .
He has ridden this unlikely horse to become a star in America. Stewart's humour takes no prisoners - he slams everybody. Here's a recent take on the US military in Iraq: 'The bombs destroyed the area and left behind a 60-foot crater or, as coalition forces prefer to call it, a freedom hole.'
He can slice politicians of both stripes in a single sentence: 'Please explain to me why John Kerry sounds more dickish telling the truth than Bush sounds when he's lying?' he asked during the 2004 presidential election. Or: 'Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Don't eat pork. I'm sorry, what was the last one? Is that the word of God or is that pigs trying to outsmart everybody?'
It can be brutal stuff and it is hard to think of a target in American life that could escape his barbed humour. Nor are Stewart and his team of writers afraid of the powerful. They delight in taking a swipe at a self-satisfied elite. And there can be few elites more self-satisfied (or smug?) than Hollywood's top tier. Stewart has vowed not to upset anyone at the Oscars too much ('I'm not an anarchist, I'm a comedian,' he said).
But a few Oscar organisers will probably be holding their breath when he steps up to the mike. On reflection, it probably won't be Stewart who will be nervous on Sunday - it will be the crowd watching him. 'To have a public intellectual host the Oscars, that doesn't happen too much. My biggest worry would be that he'd upstage the entire night,' said Robert Thompson, professor of television and pop culture at Syracuse University.
Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz was born on November 28 1962, in Lawrence, New Jersey. It is not uncommon in entertainment to change one's name, but there is a slight mystery surrounding Stewart's metamorphosis. His father, Donald Leibowitz, a physicist, left the family when Jon was just nine and Stewart has hinted that is why he shed his surname. His father has still never seen Stewart perform live. However, like much of Stewart's biography, such stories are gleaned from his own comedy act. Stewart is, in fact, highly private and has admitted he exaggerates his past for his shows. 'I made up shit for the show about my family,' he once confessed.
Whatever the truth of his parents' divorce, Stewart's childhood was largely happy. His mother, Marian, a teacher and educational consultant, brought up Jon and his elder brother, Larry, in the rough and tumble of Jewish life in New Jersey. Some of it was plain slapstick. He once got fired from Woolworths after diving on to a beanbag and knocking over $10,000-worth of aquarium equipment. The manager who sacked him was his brother.
His humour showed early. Stewart's school yearbook entry paid tribute to his ability to make other pupils laugh. But he has also said he was picked on at school for being Jewish. If Stewart's humour developed as a defence mechanism, he would be travelling a well-trod psychological path from being bullied to stand-up comedy. It would also give him a healthy disrespect for the establishment that The Daily Show would come to define. A short, Jewish guy was never going to penetrate America's Wasp elite, but as a comic, Stewart can stand outside it and use his jokes as a weapon.
Stewart went to college in Virginia where his adult character quickly emerged: he is a workaholic, an insomniac and thoroughly addicted to news. He also became similarly addicted to cigarettes (he finally kicked the habit in 2000). When he graduated in 1984, he followed the route of all aspiring performers: he headed for New York.
There, he worked, variously, as a barman, a puppeteer and a contract administrator at a university, yet he really wanted to be a comic. His first gig came at the Bitter End, in Greenwich Village. He got through two minutes before being jeered off.
He eventually landed a slot at the famed Comedy Cellar, albeit the 1.45am gig, playing to the bar staff. It was enough to launch a career. His first break came in 1989, with cable TV's Short Attention Span Theatre. He then forged an influential friendship with David Letterman. By 1993, Stewart was hosting his own MTV show, but when his show was cancelled in 1995, it seemed he had peaked. He signed a movie deal with Miramax and played bit-parts in a series of forgettable comedies.
Then he landed the show that would catapult him on to the national stage. The Daily Show is now so associated with Stewart that few people realise there was a host before him, Craig Kilborn. When Kilborn left in 1998, Stewart replaced him. Under Stewart, The Daily Show became, if not the most watched, certainly the most talked about comedy show in America.
Stewart's style is to mug for the cameras, playing the befuddled nice guy confused by the insanity of the modern world. Until he hits out with a well-placed aside. These are good times to be a satirist. Just as Spitting Image thrived during Thatcherism, so The Daily Show, with its liberal bent, flourishes in Bush World. Sometimes, though, reality can even trump Stewart's taste for the absurd. When Dick Cheney shot his 78-year-old hunting companion, Harry Whittington, Stewart reduced his audience to hysterics by simply looking skywards and saying: 'Thank you, Jesus.'
Under Stewart's guidance, the show has won Emmys for its comedy and Peabodys (second only to the fabled Pulitzer in American journalism) for its election coverage. It has a guest list few normal news shows can rival. Democrat Senator John Edwards even announced he was going to run for the presidency on the show. Stewart told him: 'We're a fake show, so I want you to know this may not count.'
That success has outraged some mainstream media, but the joke has really been on them. For Stewart's main obsession and The Daily Show's real target is no single politician or political belief - it is the media themselves. And here is where Stewart has had his greatest success. In one incident in 2004, Stewart appeared on CNN's Crossfire political show. It is a programme full of angry 'debate' hosted by Republican Tucker Carlson and Democrat Paul Begala.
On the show, Stewart took off his clown's mask and berated the hosts for reducing politics to a slanging match, avoiding real issues in favour of slogans. As Begala watched open-mouthed, Carlson tried to respond, telling Stewart he wasn't being as funny as he was on The Daily Show. 'You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show,' Stewart retorted.
On the next day's The Daily Show, Stewart hit out again with this zinger: 'Tomorrow, I'll go back to being funny, but your show will still blow.' The clip of the slanging match was downloaded 670,000 times from the internet in the next few days. A few months later, CNN axed Crossfire as the channel's top executives publicly admitted that Stewart had a point. The fake news show had just scalped a real one.
That led to a backlash against Stewart. Mainstream pundits suddenly started attacking him for softball interviews. Certainly that is true. Stewart does not grill Kerry or the Clintons when they appear on his show. The interviews are opportunities for banter and a light-hearted ribbing. Stewart's response to this criticism was frank: he is a comic, not a journalist. The Daily Show is fake, not real. It is the real media's job to confront politicians, it is their job to hold the powerful to account. He believes they have roundly failed.
When Americans have to hold up Jon Stewart as their great journalistic hope, the big joke is actually on the media. But suddenly it is not very funny.
The Stewart lowdown
Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New Jersey, on 28 November 1962. His father, Donald, was a physicist and his mother, Marian, an educational consultant. He how lives in New York with his wife, Tracey. They have a son, Nathan, born in 2000, and a daughter, Maggie, born this year.
Best of times Next Sunday. Jon Stewart will host the Oscars before an audience of hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide. It is a traditional launching pad for a comic career (or potential graveyard) and is the highest profile moment of Stewart's comic life.
Worst of times His first ever gig in 1986. He took the stage at the Bitter End comedy bar in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. He got through just two minutes of his four minutes of prepared material before fleeing the stage.
What he says 'How can Washington criticise Hollywood when they use Hollywood principles to design campaigns? There are no leaders anymore, only studio executives. Our country's chief executive runs focus groups every four years and tries to make sure his movie opens bigger than the other guy's.'
What others say 'No one upholds the honour better of what remains of the media than this fake news comedian. How pathetic is that?' Eric Alterman, media critic for the Nation magazine.
03-06-2006, 03:50 PM
...I thought Stewart did a pretty good job. I'm just posting this because I enjoy getting a rise out of the Bucket.
SECTION: Style; C01 , TOM SHALES
LENGTH: 890 words
HEADLINE: Memo to Jon Stewart: Keep Your 'Daily' Job
BYLINE: Tom Shales
"Crash" was not only the film chosen Best Picture at the 78th Academy Awards last night; it was also the sound made by the show itself as, metaphorically speaking, it drove into a wall.
It's hard to believe that professional entertainers could have put together a show less entertaining than this year's Oscars, hosted with a smug humorlessness by comic Jon Stewart, a sad and pale shadow of great hosts gone by.
The movie "Munich" was represented in one category, musical score, by a clip in which suspense built over a bomb that didn't go off. The Oscar show on ABC, televised live from Los Angeles, was a bomb that did.
Film buffs and the politically minded, meanwhile, will be arguing this morning about whether the Best Picture Oscar to "Crash" was really for the film's merit or just a cop-out by the Motion Picture Academy so it wouldn't have to give the prize to "Brokeback Mountain," a movie about two cowboys who fall reluctantly but passionately in love.
"Mountain" won two of themajor awards leading up to Best Picture: Best Screenplay Adaptation (co-winner Larry McMurtry wore baggy jeans with his tuxedo jacket) and Best Director, for Ang Lee. In his acceptance speech, Lee said the movie was not just about a homosexual affair but about "the greatness of love itself."
But the Academy ran out of love for the film at that point, making "Crash" the surprise winner. To its credit, "Crash" (which won two other Oscars) deals with important social issues too, especially racism in American society.
Among the more beguiling acceptance speeches was that given by Reese Witherspoon, who won for playing country singer June Carter in "Walk the Line," the story of Johnny Cash. "I never thought I'd be up here in my whole life," she said with ingenuous charm. She also quoted June Carter's succinct philosophy of life: "I'm just trying to matter."
The program looked gorgeous in high-definition television from the Kodak Theatre, but it was filled with so many clips -- piles and piles and miles and miles of clips from films present and past -- that the visual luster was squandered. The audience at home does not want to look at clips. It wants to look at big-time movie stars.
Unfortunately, those are in increasingly short supply. When Jack Nicholson strode out to give the Best Picture prize at the evening's end, there was not only an ovation but a huge sigh of relief in the audience -- a sense of the whole crowd saying, "Oh yes, we still have giants in the business."
This point was made earlier as well when Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin did a masterly, breathless impression of a film by special honoree Robert Altman, replete with overlapping dialogue, half-finished thoughts and constant interruptions. This was a piece of presentation that must have taken weeks to master in rehearsal; it was a double virtuoso performance.
Stewart began the show drearily, loping through a monologue that lacked a single hilarious joke with the possible exception of "Bjork couldn't be here tonight. She was trying on her Oscar dress and Dick Cheney shot her."
That was about it -- and Stewart had five months, working with his legions of writers from the "Daily Show" on Comedy Central, to come up with good material. It goes to prove that there's still a big, big difference between basic cable and big-time network television after all.
The liveliest moment of the night was contributed by the hip-hop ensemble Three 6 Mafia performing a nominated song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from the film "Hustle & Flow." The group practically brought the house down, leading Stewart to ask, following the riotous performance, "How come they're the most excited people here tonight?" He said more Oscar acceptance speeches should be as rollicking. But it's the host's job to generate excitement, too, and Stewart generated none.
There was a cute taped bit before he appeared in which past hosts turned the job down. Billy Crystal and Chris Rock said no because they were sharing a tent a la "Brokeback." Even David Letterman, who has joked for years about flopping as an Oscar host, made a gracious reappearance as if to say "no hard feelings."
Letterman's hosting gig, however, was better than Stewart's by far.
For some strange reason, ABC decided to play music under most of the acceptance speeches, instead of just having music interrupt winners when it was time for them to walk off. Perhaps the music was there to facilitate the use of a 10- or 15-second delay, part of the new morality inflicted on TV by the FCC, which levies fines for naughty words even when they are spoken spontaneously and with no malice aforethought on shows like this.
Among other highlights: Jessica Alba's dress; Jessica Alba; a handsome Plexiglas lectern that facilitated some dramatic shots from just in front of the stage; the usual tastefully done "in memoriam" montage for film figures who died since the last Oscarcast; and Jennifer Lopez looking particularly attractive.
Winners of Best Documentary Feature for the film "March of the Penguins" had the clunky bad taste to bring stuffed penguins onto the stage with them. It was a joke that laid a penguin-size egg.
The epitome of honesty perhaps came when Stewart muttered "I am a loser" into the microphone. He was speaking not only for himself but for the whole show.
LOAD-DATE: March 6, 2006
03-06-2006, 05:42 PM
Stewart gave a weak show some punch
By Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
When the movies are small, Oscar's host has to be huge — and Jon Stewart came through big time.
* * * *
By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY
Indeed, moving Stewart from late-night cable to prime-time network for Sunday's Academy Awards may have been the best Oscar idea in years. By taking a risk on a well-liked but untested TV star, the show gave viewers a rooting interest in the host that they may not have had in the nominees. Happily for viewers and Oscar alike, Stewart was up to the task.
Anyone who has seen Stewart on his Daily Show knows he's a smart, razor-sharp comic with a sophisticated sense of humor and a pro's knack for getting the most out of a joke. (Related items: Review some of Stewart's best lines | Thirty-second Oscar recap)
Wisely, he brought along some effective Daily Show touches, most obviously in the gay-centric Western salute and the fake "for your consideration" ads. What he added for the Oscars was a heretofore unproven ability to shape his style to the event's demands, and to shift his political jabs from Washington to Hollywood.
In some ways, Stewart was less an emcee than an extremely clever commentator. Unlike some prior hosts, he played more to the camera than to the crowd, sticking a pin in Oscar's balloon and making jokes that probably played better in homes than in the room.
Yet if he didn't lead the event, he didn't hold himself above it or apart from it, either. He seemed to be thrilled to be there — the smart kid who's happy to be invited to the cool kids' party.
As for the party itself, it went to almost desperate attempts to make its at-home guests feel welcome. The clear goal of this smooth but not exactly inspiring evening was to get us to connect with the movies in general, if not to these movies in particular. The you-know-you-love-us tone was set by the opening-montage welcome from digitized old-time stars, and continued through the salutes to film biographies, film noir, and, most obviously, social-interest movies.
Did it work? Maybe, though you have to think the people who weren't offended by George Clooney bravely but foolishly declaring "I'm proud to be out of touch" (you know you'll be hearing that on Fox News again and again) were surely sent reeling by It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp.
Actually, you have to hand it to Pimp, which combined with In the Deep to revive the awful Oscar production-number tradition. Only the Oscars can give us dancing faux prostitutes and slow-motion contortions around a burning car.
Still, the night's most annoying musical trick was the whiny ditty under the acceptance speeches. Instead of just coming in as a cue for long-winded speakers to wrap it, this tune started the instant the winners walked to the microphone. It seemed designed to make them think their mere presence was enough to bore us.
Even for Oscar, that's small.
03-06-2006, 06:21 PM
I didn't see Chris Rock, but I certainly enjoyed Stewart more than the awful Whoopi Goldberg. He does not lay on the Hollywood schmaltz as thickly as Crystal, so he will never be the be-all and end-all of hosts, but he got off some decent one-liners. The Academy won't have him back, though, because I'm sure it was uncomfortable with all the political commentary...wrong tone for a show like Oscar. Great line about Bjork trying on her Oscar dress and getting shot by Dick Cheney.
03-06-2006, 09:00 PM
You guys really watched that evening of slop? Oscar night isn't known as "the chicks' Superbowl" by TV execs for nothing, remember. PeteLeo.
03-07-2006, 03:07 PM
Actually I didn't watch one second of the show. I hate award shows. A bunch of overly pampered, over paid actors self congratulating each other.
What's there to watch?
But I did feel Stewart would do a good job & apparently he did.
03-08-2006, 01:09 PM
The Daily Show is IN its prime and I think Stewart is as good as ever, certainly better then when he first started. I thought Kilborn was pretty good but his stint on the late late show turned into him falling in love with himself.
You don't like Martin, Gordoom? The Jerk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels are two of my all time favorites. I thought Chase was pretty good through the first Vacation movie but he quickly nosedived.
I do agree about Tim Allen. Home Improvement was one of the most un-funny but seemingly loved family sitcoms in history.
Murray has cleverly survived into more artsy but still dryly comedic stuff. I thought Life Aquatic was pretentious though.
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