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oh my god, i love NORM MACDONALD. dude is my spirit animal.
he is quite honestly the funniest comedian ever. my opinion. what i love about him is his ability to self-sabotage and decimate every premise available with absolute conviction. watching him is watching a tight-rope act of the most highest order. he is the comedy equivalent of a sledgehammer, disregarding form, audience and even time limits.
in other words he is beyond unique and a comedian's comedian. dude hosts the ESPYS in the 90s and eviscerates his audience, a RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL audience full of athletes. he hosts SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE within a year of being fired for making fun of his boss only to eviscerate his former boss and the show in his opening monologue. NORM even does a roast of his peer BOB SAGET with unfunny jokes designed to bomb. then there is his legendary moth joke. i could do this all night. but i wont.
dude is a legend.
whenever i am down i just search for his guest appearances on LETTERMAN or CONAN and just laugh. to me he is the ultimate because he is absolutely unhinged. other comedians feign like they are out of control, but NORM truly doesn't give a shit. his career is so up and down because of his unpredictability, but im telling you, when its all said and done he is the LENNY BRUCE, the RICHARD PRYOR, the GEORGE CARLIN of this era.
him and CHRIS FARLEY are my two favorite comedians ever. please check out his material embedded below.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
for whatever reason, the four seasons of 90s cult classic comedy show MR. SHOW (HBO, 1995-1998) starring BOB ODENKIRK (BREAKING BAD, BETTER CALL SAUL) and DAVID CROSS (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) is criminally overlooked. an outgrowth of the alternative comedy scene in LOS ANGELES at the time, its cultural impact can be seen in the varying careers of its many collaborators including that of BRIAN POSEHN (METALOCALYPSE, THE BIG BANG THEORY), TOM KENNY (SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, JOHNNY BRAVO), JILL TALLEY (SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, THE BOONDOCKS), PAUL F. TOMPKINS (BOJACK HORESMAN, BOB'S BURGERS, THE DAILY SHOW), JACK BLACK (TENACIOUS D), SARAH SILVERMAN (THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, BOB's BURGERS), JAY JOHNSTON (THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENHOLE), BEN STILLER (THE BEN STILLER SHOW, ZOOLANDER, DODGEBALL), JERRY MINOR (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, COMMUNITY), MARY LYNN RAJSKUB (24, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW, PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE), JOHN ENNIS (TWIN PEAKS, WALK HARD, ZODIAC), SCOTT AUKERMAN (BETWEEN TWO FERNS WITH ZACH GALIFIANAKIS), MARLON WAYANS (IN LIVING COLOUR, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) and JANEANE GARAFALO (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, 24, THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW). the "Titannica" skit was referenced in the name of a BLINK-182 song ("Adam's Song") and the show even become the springboard for a TOOL side project (MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN's PUSCIFER) and TENACIOUS D, who themselves had an HBO show that was co-created and co-produced with ODENKIRK and CROSS.
the show takes its sensibility from MONTY PYTHON in that live and prerecorded skits are connected tangentially from segment to segment with no narrative arc. this frees the material to be the focus. a product of the CLINTON-era, much of the focus of the humor is derived from lampooning the stupidity of american life (reality tv, jingoism, sensationalist journalism) and public institutions (the police, government officials, corporate america). in many ways the lack of intellectual curiosity and selfish nature of the american general public is a target just below the surface and for that reason, this show has aged remarkably well.
given the political nature of their comedy, the creators and select cast members have done mix-media tours of theaters over the years. i saw them in NYC around 2003 as they lampooned the build-up to the misguided return american military adventure into the middle east on their HOORAY FOR AMERICA! tour. to me MR. SHOW holds a special place in my heart as they were consciously articulating a perspective and using comedy as a mirror to articulate just how far from our professed ideals we had fallen, especially during a time of compliance and plastic patriotic fervor rooted in raw, uninhibited xenophobia.
again, MR. SHOW still holds up. definitely worth your time to investigate.
art by nacrowe
i don't where my sense of humor and the work of MEL BROOKS divides. to me that separation ended a long time ago as i was basically raised on his films, most notably SPACEBALLS (BROOKSFILMS, 1987), BLAZING SADDLES (CROSSBOW PRODUCTIONS, 1974), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (CROSSBOW PRODUCTIONS, 1974), THE PRODUCERS (CROSSBOW PRODUCTIONS, 1967) and HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART I (BROOKSFILMS, 1981). all absolute classics. the dialogue in his films a long time ago became short-hand in my family.
the first time i saw SPACEBALLS was with my father in kindergarten. i didn't get any of it. my dad realized i'd never seen STAR WARS so after that was done i got some of the jokes.
i could go on about the incredible cast (RICK MORANIS, BILL PULLMAN, JOHN CANDY, JOAN RIVERS) or its commentary on franchise film-making, or even the legendary set-ups and one-liners, but really this film has to be experienced to be appreciated. i want to safeguard that experience by encouraging everyone and anyone to seek it out, even if you are not a sci-fi fan. it transcends the genre it parodies.
for me BROOKS is an american treasure. being the quintessential brooklyn-ite, he is a bit of throwback to an era of comedy writing that has largely been passed over for cheap gags and gross-out humor. given that part of my family is from brooklyn, i always considered his humor a channel to a different time and aesthetic regarding humor that is very urban, very pointed and very intelligent. it's almost aspirational and for whatever reason i associated it with my families roots. what i love most about his parodies is that he uses them to interject criticism about the genre they cover. SPACEBALLS routinely goes after the ridiculous reliance on spectacle as an audience-draw in sci-fi films as well as the blatant money-grabbing consumerism of the time with LUCAS and SPIELBERG-related properties like E.T or INDIANA JONES. it is funny because many of the same special effects people that worked on those films did so for SPACEBALLS as well. BLAZING SADDLES likewise went after the inherent racism portrayed in the american WESTERN FILM and american society en masse as well. that is a subject for another review. with BROOKS you can take the film at face-value or dig deeper, which is the sign of any quality film product. its just a pity he doesn't get the critical due he deserves since for whatever reason, the film industry doesn't take comedies as seriously as dramas in the UNITED STATES.
don't ask me why that is. as a writer, director, producer and actor he cleans the floors of most of his peers, including LUCAS and SPIELBERG. just my opinion.
check out the film. let me know what you think in the comments. and if you ever find a legit website that sells SPACEBALLS THE T-SHIRT please let me know.