FunnyMen vs. FunnyWomen? The answer is Transparent

FunnyMen vs. FunnyWomen? The answer is Transparent

I’m feeling unloved, defensive and more than a little bitter. With the ubiquitous Amy Schumer suddenly synonymous with comedy, it’s obvious that the road of the male comedian has become a lot more perilous. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy, Mindy Kaling… The list of A List Comedy Powerhouses is so long it’s boring, and there’s not a male in the bunch. Even Judd Apatow is only relevant because his last movie was a collaboration with Amy Schumer. There are plenty of solid funnymen out there, of course, but there just isn’t the same…excitement. The truly great male standups like Bill Burr – and even the brave and brilliant Louis CK – are all overshadowed by the Amy’s (remember when Amy Schumer was the “female Anthony Jeselnik”? AJ is now hosting “Last Comic Standing” and is less well known than JB Smoove). In film, Steve Carrell and Will Ferrell are poised to accomplish what Jim Carrey only dreamed of – spend their sunset years in highly regarded dramas. On stage and in movies, Kevin Hart’s on a winning streak but let’s be honest, he’s the black Dane Cook; he works so hard to be funny you wish he’d take a laxative. On TV, Dave Letterman and Jon Stewart have retired. And while John Oliver and Larry Wilmore are solid, they’re carrying the torch, not lighting anyone’s fire. The closest we have to a king of comedy right now is the great dramatic actor Jon Hamm, and if his performance in “Minions” is any indication, his funny juice dried up when he stopped serving as a...
The end of Mad Men made me HAPPYish

The end of Mad Men made me HAPPYish

One door closes, another opens. When I watched Mad Men in its original run, I had become disillusioned by the ad biz. I loved the show, but in 2007 the industry was on the verge of stagnation (or at least extreme conservatism), the economy was about to implode and the “good days” of advertising had come to an abrupt halt (or a slow stop beginning in 1989, according to some). So, while I was mesmerized by the characters, the nostalgia had a wistful side that was at times too much to bear (though never too much to watch). As we all know, the show was slow in resolving itself – there were, what, a dozen or so years between the two halves of the 7th season?? In that time, the world has turned, we’ve dragged ourselves through incredibly hard times, truly disheartening inhumanities, insufficient response to global warming (I’m no activist, just not a Koch drinker)…and, for the moment, we’ve survived. So while things aren’t all better yet, we have a sense that we’ve made it through to the next phase: the end of Mad Men. The show ended on a generally upbeat and capitalistic note, making many of us in creative marketing feel just plain good. Because the truth is, once you find your personal truth, everything you say is truthful, even if those truths are told in the form of messages about ideas that may or may not be, well, true. Where to go from here? Into modern times, of course, and the world of HAPPYish, Shalom Auslander’s singular meditation on the two most challenging things a...
SFW: You don’t have to worry about me

SFW: You don’t have to worry about me

A classic story from Eddie Murphy about Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor: When Eddie was starting out, Bill chastised him for using profanity. Richard asked Eddie, “Do people laugh when you say what you say? Then tell Bill to have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up!” Decades later, not one of these brilliant comics has been convicted of rape. So, I guess it all worked out. Today, we don’t need Bill Cosby to tell us right from wrong. We have the Twittersphere. This unofficial watchdog group is on call 24/7, ready to lash out at anyone who missteps, misspeaks, or, well, speaks at all. The mayor of Baltimore accidentally said “space to destroy” instead of “space to demonstrate” and caused a near-riot (a second one, she was trying to control the first). This mistake had nothing to do with the issues, which are grave, and should not detract from the work to be done. But Jesus, tensions are high in the US and abroad (sorry, “Geez”). The whole world is on edge. And we thought it was round. Shows what we know. But when it comes to watchdogging, how much is too much?  The more power we give to words, after all, the more dangerous they become. At what point do we see someone say something stupid and just shrug it off? When does our obsession with a sanitized SFW society evolve into “He/she said that?? SFW!” What I love about standup is that the stated intention is to make people laugh. The fact that the club is called the “Funny Bone” or “HaHa” or...
Gen X-bred. Millennial-approved.

Gen X-bred. Millennial-approved.

There’s a lot of frustration out there on the part of old people. I don’t blame them. They’re nearly 40, and irrelevant. What these sad sacks need to understand is that it’s their own fault. In the 90s, they were bouncing along the edges of the dot com bubble, thinking they were the next “me” generation, instead of what they were: chum for the Wi generation. If this sounds harsh, it’s because I told you so. I saw this coming. I knew nothing was going to stop me from aging. I was bound to turn 40 in the late aughts. But I could prepare. Money wasn’t the answer; I knew I’d lose that in the recession. The solution was simple: artificial intelligence. Well, not artificial per se. More, an extension of my own brain. The science isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and I’ll come out with it: in my early 20s, instead of climbing the ladder of success, I started having kids, and I didn’t stop — until I knew I’d won. The biggest problem old folks face is that Millennials don’t take them seriously. Why should they? Boomers, Gen X-ers and the literally deceased have always been grownups, and the one old rule that these youngsters do adhere to is never to trust anyone over 30. I didn’t turn 30 until after my Millennials were spawned, and as a result, I’m one of them. I grew up with them. Sure, there was an age difference, but we went through a lot together. A move from NY to LA, a divorce (mine), a move back to the east...
Shout a Little Bit Louder Now

Shout a Little Bit Louder Now

Okay so Kim Jong Un succeeded in scaring film executives. Wow. I scare film execs every time I pitch a project I want to star in! I guess once you scare their lawyers, though, you’ve really accomplished something. Maybe. For my part, I’m sharing the only video I’ve made that takes a swipe and the supreme holy terror himself (see below)…he’s not really on the top of my list but he’s in here. I wrote/recorded this in the name of marriage equality and the hope that love will conquer all. Kim Jong Un’s lawyers don’t get rattled by legal motions or the F.B.I. They’re not even scared of Sean Penn. Kim’s lawyers are only afraid of one thing: Kim. Whatever he says, goes. He’s always right. He’s the boss and dissenters will not be tolerated. He’s like…he’s like…well, I guess he’s like a movie star. Which is ironic, because in “The Interview,” he is played by another actor. What if Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg had offered him the role? What if they’d sent Dennis Rodman over with some bonbons? What if they’d given him some LUV-Un? Well never know. And while I’m a Seth Rogen fan, he has to own up to a little diva behavior himself. This was his call. We all know when we saw the trailer, we were thinking, “What are they thinking?”, meaning what was Seth thinking, and the studio was afraid to tell Seth what they were thinking, so to that extent Kim and Seth were thinking the same thing: “I’m gonna do what I want, no matter what any reasonable person thinks”....
Marriage Equality & Hersh’s Rainbow Connection

Marriage Equality & Hersh’s Rainbow Connection

Here’s an interview from the Raging Artists blog: “My comedy comes from the things that make me cry,” explains Hersh Rephun about the source of his “Rainbow Connection” parody, featured in a YouTube video produced by Jordan Brady. “If I could write sad and beautiful music, this would be a much more serious video about marriage equality and finally being on the right side of history. Instead, it has muppets getting divorced.” For Hersh, the choice of “Rainbow Connection” has as much to do with song itself as the apt title. “I’ve been a huge fan of the song by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher since I was a kid watching ‘The Muppet Movie’ and the message of unity was already there,” Hersh relates. There’s a deeper connection, too. “I knew at 7 years old that I was different, that I was an entertainer. That’s what a gay or lesbian person feels. All we want is to be accepted and loved for who we are.” Of the vocal, he notes, “I do impressions, but it’s always gotta be in the context of a story or an idea. I didn’t even know I could do Kermit’s voice until I had something for him to say.” Hersh began performing the parody onstage about a month ago, and the idea for the video came from Brady, a director, who was in the audience when Hersh headlined at Saba Sushi June 27. “Witnessing Hersh perform the parody live, I thought this gem needed to be shared with a larger audience,” Brady says. “Hersh’s support of equality, woven with comedic criticism of all marriage...