From the wonderful blog "Vintage Scans," a page from Lifemanship lesson from Stephen Potter, 1957 (11th impression). Potter was a British writer known for dry, mocking, self-help books, and the TV and film projects they inspired.
Now, the Machinima YouTube channel is publishing a new version of the show, "Sifl & Olly Video Game Reviews." Twisted Junk has an interview with Liam about the reboot, and Chris Hardwick's NERDIST has a Q&A with him here.
The September 16 recent episode (above) included a bit about pandas (around 3:05 in), and then, just like magic, a baby panda is born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. This is a sign that all is right with the universe.
* Some DVDs of the old MTV originals are available on Amazon.
I've always admired Steve Martin. He's smart, funny, and avoids engaging in the kind of behavior that ends up in celebrity tabloids. (He's also a terrific banjo player.) I recently read his autobiography, Born Standing Up, and now I admire him even more.
This short book is about Steve Martin's career as a stand-up comic, which lasted about 20 years and ended abruptly (by his decision) in the 1980s. Martin starts with his childhood, which is full of wonderful anecdotes about working in the magic trick store at Disneyland as a young teenager, and doing magic and comedy routines at Knott's Berry Farm. Martin highly praises the old vaudevillians and magicians he worked with at the theme parks. These stage show veterans took Martin under their wings and mentored him in the art of timing, patter, trick presentation, and joke delivery. Fortunately for Martin, the Orange County high school he attended didn't assign homework, so he was able to spend every waking minute outside of school at the theme parks, learning his craft. (If he had been required to do as much homework as a student does today, he may very well have ended up working alongside his dad as a real estate agent, albeit a funny one.)
Martin goes on to describe how he went on the road, spending years developing his unique style of stand-up. As he describes it, he was not doing stand-up. Instead, he played the role of a foolish comic doing stand-up. In the 1960s, he experimented with his routines in the small clubs of San Francisco's North Beach, sometimes to a completely empty room, save a bartender.
Martin's rise to fame was gradual. But that all changed in the late 1970s when his brand of quirky humor caught on in a big way (thanks in large part to his frequent appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show). Martin went from filling 100 seaters to 1000-seaters. His success begat more success. In a period of months, his audience grew to arenas filled with 20,000, then 40,000, then 60,000 people. His brand of physical humor was impossible for most people in a mega-sized venue to appreciate. Martin was just a white dot on the stage.
The resulting fame, while not entirely unwelcome, was often a drag for Martin. An admittedly shy and private man, Martin said he felt uncomfortable when people on the street would excitedly recite his jokes back to him and expect him to be a wild and huh-razy guy."
Martin rode the wave for a few more years, but when he realized that he was no longer doing stand-up, but instead had become a kind of party host for giant throngs of people who wanted to hear him deliver the same stuff over and over again, he called it quits and never did another stand up show. Martin says that until he wrote this book, he rarely gave a thought to the stand-up up career that had made him famous.
I think the best way to read Born Standing Up is to listen to the audiobook, read by Steve Martin himself. That way, you get to hear the way he says his stock lines ("Excuuuuse meeee!") and you get to hear his emotions when he talks about his father (a cold-hearted man who wrote a negative review of Steve Martin's
movie The Jerk first appearance on Saturday Night Live, in the company real estate newsletter he produced).
I hope Martin writes a follow-up book that covers his movie and music career, too.
[Update] commenter Petzl says:
Speaking of Martin's self-effacing manner, for years he's been (quietly) famous for handing out these cards.
They're brilliant: he doesn't have to give his personalized signature (which must get old after the first 1000 or so); he gives his fan something uniquely Steve Martin to take away, as well as giving them a "funny story"; it allows him to exit cleanly and quickly.
Jim Meskimen is a talented impressionist, as the videos in his YouTube channel attest. In this clip, he offers his version of Christopher Walken, reciting poetry in the ancient Haiku style of Japan; three lines of five syllables, then seven, then five again. Below, his Morgan Freeman haiku. Read the rest
Read the rest
The un-bylined author of the Cookies for Breakfast tumblog publishes the story of two female friends attending a standup performance by Daniel Tosh, host of the notably unfunny Comedy Central show Tosh.0, in which the comedian made some stupid rape jokes. Not that there are any other kind of rape jokes.
“Actually, rape jokes are never funny!,” the woman in the published account says she replied from the audience.
Snip from her version of what followed:
I did it because, even though being “disruptive” is against my nature, I felt that sitting there and saying nothing, or leaving quietly, would have been against my values as a person and as a woman. I don’t sit there while someone tells me how I should feel about something as profound and damaging as rape.
After I called out to him, Tosh paused for a moment. Then, he says, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…” and I, completely stunned and finding it hard to process what was happening but knowing i needed to get out of there, immediately nudged my friend, who was also completely stunned, and we high-tailed it out of there. It was humiliating, of course, especially as the audience guffawed in response to Tosh, their eyes following us as we made our way out of there. I didn’t hear the rest of what he said about me.
Now, proposing that an audience member sitting right in front of you in a crowd of mostly men "get raped by, like, 5 guys right now" is in my opinion a whole lot heavier than letting a few random rape jokes drop in your lame standup act. Not that rape jokes are lulzy. But, Christ, what an asshole.
By way of this non-apology, Tosh appears to confirm the woman's story: Read the rest
Read the rest
A report from Louis CK's no fees, no scalpers direct-sales concert tour: Mr CK is up more than $6 million, and scalping is down to less than one percent (compared with 25 percent for his other, traditional-sales events). CK has been approached by scalpers who defend their practice by saying it's legal. He replies to them in this statement to Laughspin:
Contact with these scalpers has been enlightening. They tend to respond with indignance and a defensive posture “Hey man! Scalping is NOT a crime!” We’re not treating it as a crime or even a wrong-doing. We are just competing with them, on behalf of my fans, to enforce the terms and conditions of our ticket sales and to keep the prices down. It’s worth the effort, it’s working and it’s even been kind of fun.
Which is a pretty good reply. "I'm not trying to get you outlawed, I'm trying to make you obsolete."
Having disrupted the traditional concert DVD distribution system with his ground-breaking DRM-free $5 download video, comedian Louis CK is now preparing to go on tour and he's going to cut out all the sleazy ticket brokers slimy scalpers, and other middle-men, and sell the tour tickets direct to fans. Tickets are a flat $45 each. He says he'll make less than he would if he went with an expensive ticketing service, but he wants to make his shows affordable.
Making my shows affordable has always been my goal but two things have always worked against that. High ticket charges and ticket re-sellers marking up the prices. Some ticketing services charge more than 40% over the ticket price and, ironically, the lower I've made my ticket prices, the more scalpers have bought them up, so the more fans have paid for a lot of my tickets.
By selling the tickets exclusively on my site, I've cut the ticket charges way down and absorbed them into the ticket price. To buy a ticket, you join NOTHING. Just use your credit card and buy the damn thing. opt in to the email list if you want, and you'll only get emails from me.
Also, you'll see that if you try to sell the ticket anywhere for anything above the original price, we have the right to cancel your ticket (and refund your money). this is something I intend to enforce. There are some other rules you may find annoying but they are meant to prevent someone who has no intention of seeing the show from buying the ticket and just flipping it for twice the price from a thousand miles away.
Some of these rules may be a pain in your ass, but please be patient. My goal here is that people coming to see my shows are able to pay a fair price and that they be paying just for a ticket. Not also paying an exhorbanant fee for the privalege of buying a ticket.
Kevin Bleyer (Emmy Award winning writer for the Daily Show) personally rewrote the Constitution of the United States and needed his author’s portrait painted in the neoclassical style. I’d never been to a life drawing class before but heard they involve nude models.
Anil Dash, whose familiar mug appears briefly in Hasan's video here, has a few things to say about the matter.
(via Aman Ali)
Video director and wonderfully funny guy Eric Spiegelman tells Boing Boing,
The new season of Old Jews Telling Jokes begins today, featuring jokes we recorded in Boca Raton. We've been on hiatus for almost a year, and it's good to be back. The joke that begins our season, about a bull and an enema and a bridgekeeper, is one of the best I've heard. Also, a bit of trivia. We have a new logo for the show, and it was designed by Milton Glaser. I'm not going to lie, I feel like that's a pretty great honor.
Embedded above: I've selected a joke from the new season told by Irving ‘Brownie’ Brown, a gentleman who is 102 years old. Below, the bull enema joke, as told by Charlie Seibel.
There is to be an Alan Partridge movie. Alan, for those not in the know, is the vain, mean-spirited, emotionally broken protagonist of a pitch-black British comedy series--think David Brent with notes of Bill O'Reilly and Goebbels. A "best of" is embedded above for your cringing pleasure. [Norwich Evening News]
Aziz Ansari, an extremely funny standup comedian, has just released "Dangerously Delicious," a comedy special that follows Louis CK's Live at the Beacon Theater DIY, DRM-free concert video, which netted CK over a million dollars. Ansari, who was an outspoken critic of SOPA and PIPA, is also asking for $5 for his DRM-free download, and has a very good ecommerce setup for buying and downloading the video, and is also using it to promote an upcoming tour.
Ansari isn't the only comedian who's trying this. As Mike Masnick notes on Techdirt, Jim Gaffigan is also following suit. Masnick laments that both Ansari and Gaffigan are slavishly copying CK's exact methodology, and wishes that each would experiment some with pricing, delivery and so on, in order to learn if there are ways of improving on CK's experiment.
The one thing that concerns me a little about this is the fact that the deal terms are identical. I can understand why they're doing this. It's basically "don't mess with what worked for Louis." But I worry that the message people are getting is "$5 direct offering off a website is the secret." I don't think that's it. Lots of people have offered up a product for download off their website for a variety of prices. The key to making it work is not just the pricing. It's the way the offering is presented. I think it would be even cooler if some of these comedians experimented a bit more with branching out creatively around this business model. It wouldn't be hard, for example, to build on what various musicians have done, and offer up different tiers of support. Or something else. The real opportunity here is in how it's presented -- in a way that treats fans as fans, rather than assuming they're criminals or that there needs to be a big impersonal gatekeeper in-between the fans and the artist. But, unfortunately, some are going to look at these experiments and say "the lesson" is "$5 off your website is the secret." And when that doesn't work for some content creators, they're not going to understand why.
A new season of my favorite lifestyle improvement edu-tainment program, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, airs tonight at 1230am on Adult Swim.