Friday, September 5, 2008

The Next Great Depression

I have always been a fan of comedy. I remember I was ten years old when the first comic I ever watched was Janeane Garofalo. I related to her sarcasm the most and at such a young age, I never saw a female portrayed like that and it was refreshing. She wasn’t blond or classically pretty or clucking on about boys and dating.
Since then, it’s been an intense hobby for me. Comedy Central, (at the time) showed hours upon hours of stand up every day of the week. It was absolute heaven to me. I watched everything! I remember first seeing all the comics we love today when they had their TV debuts: Lewis Black on Comedy Central Presents, Robert Kelly and Jim Norton on Premium Blend. Not to mention a slew of others that I still love to this day.
No one else knew more about comedy than me as a kid. I remember liking Dane Cook when he was good (and not shoving two of his fingers in every snapshot taken of him) and back then, no one knew who the fuck he was.Ugh… it was all downhill when I get to college and that stupid fucking super finger followed me into my nightmares...brainless fans.

Since I was a teen, I have known better: I don't think Carlos Mencia is edgy, nor do I think Dane Cook is a growing legend. I don’t think Jeff Dunham’s puppet act is one of a kind nor do I think Pablo Francisco should have a career! I’ve known that these are the thoughts and beliefs of those who do not know any better. They follow blindly and eat up what’s given to them. In a way, I can’t blame them.
Fast forward to now. I’m 22 and have been exposed to the real side of the comedy business for over a year. I’ve seen the “fancy” shows with the big names, the shitty open mics and everything in between. All of it is fucked. There’s just no better word for it. I don’t want this to become a forum for bashing New York City comics (quite honestly, I don’t need the trouble), but without using any names, let me just discuss how the quality has gone way down!

I know this has been touched on by other websites (fuck, how could it not? It’s the huge fucking unfunny elephant in the room), but seeing it firsthand has made me sick. Going to the former Laugh Factory and seeing some jackass (on more than several occasions!) do more time than he should be allowed; all about drinking and getting drunk. Twenty minutes on the stage at the famous Laugh Factory and all you have to say about life is getting drunk and not remembering anything? What the fuck are you contributing to the world? The next night I go and see some woman pontificate over nothing! Yeah, great, you use your breasts to attract men. Holy God! Someone call Montreal! Someone call HBO! We got an aspiring legend on our hands!
I disagree with *Patrick on one thing…the quality of comedy overall has gone done due to the comics themselves. At least that’s how I see it. No one is writing anymore and nowadays, people in general I think are just dumber and can’t form a real opinion of what good comedy is. Which just means anything will make them laugh. The comics who win me over write from their heart. They discuss what’s real to them and thus, we can relate to it because it’s something real to us. It hits a nerve with us. Isn't that the fucking point of comedy! Laughing over a subject brings people closer together. But, that’s not the case today. You can do a slightly accurate impression of Al Pacino? Boom! You’re featuring. You angrily discuss how women talk too much? Boom! You’re at Gotham.
With the quality going down coupled with the over-saturation of the market, people are getting a less-than-high quality product. Just like anything else that absorbs that lethal combination. You think McDonald’s were as unhealthy today as they were when they first opened up? No way. Back then customers got a real burger that wasn't slathered in chemicals. But, with competition, laziness, and the thrill and desire to scam more money out of people while spending the least amount, the quality of food went down. And just like McDonalds, New York City comics that are featuring in the city today makes me want to vomit.

*NOTE*: Inspired by Patrick's article about the lack of scrotums on bookers at Cringe Humor.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sticks and stones can break your bones…but words are much more fun.

(The "aftermath" of my reviews of LCS Season 5...this was put up last summer originally on Cringe Humor)

“We’re searching the world…who is the funniest…you will decide…who will be the last comic standing”

Don’t those words just send a shiver down your spine? That same shiver you felt when you watched Are You Afraid of the Dark when you were nine. Unfortunately, unlike that pleasant thriller, Last Comic Standing is still on the air, continuing to disappoint millions of real comedy fans (Alright, so maybe there aren’t millions of them…at least 235…maybe). And as a real comedy fan, I think it’s safe to say I can tell the difference between a good comic that possesses great creativity and writing skills…as opposed to a comic who does obsolete impressions of Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.
Recently, during season 5 of Last Comic Standing, I bared witness to this awful comic named John Caparulo. To be honest, my first instinct was to not give his name out because I didn’t want to give him any press. In any event, I basically called him out on his awfulness, and to my surprise, he wrote back to me in a not-too-happy manner.

“Actually, what I said was that I DON'T LIKE big dogs. If you’re going to criticize someone, you could at least try to be accurate.
And yes, both Larry the Cable Guy and I wear baseball hats on stage, but the similarities stop there. He is from the deep-south while I am from the midwest, and our respective points of view are completely different. However, I wouldn't expect you to recognize that because you’re only 21 and have probably never even left your parents’ house.
The problem with MySpace is that it makes nobodies from Nowhere, New York, feel like they're really important. The fact that you actually take the time to sit and write a comprehensive review of a television show, even though no one is paying you to do so, leads me to believe that you’ve gotten used to people listening to whatever you have to say. But, trust me, as you get older and older (and heavier and heavier) people are going to start listening less and less. So, I guess, enjoy it while it lasts.
As for me, I've done pretty well for a “dumb hick.” I've been on the Tonight Show twice. I’ve done a Comedy Central special, and I have a movie coming out in February. I’m pretty sure all of that didn't happen by accident. Meanwhile, you’re still living with your mom and criticizing people who are actually doing something with their lives. So put that in your next blog, fat girl.”

What an interesting way to respond. Don’t get me wrong, I found it hilarious. I personally enjoyed the fact that I irked him so much that he felt the need to write such a comprehensive insult back to me. My first response to this was how pathetic he must be that he went out of his way to try and prove how wrong I was and said that I’m a nobody who knows nothing. If that is so true, then why respond in the first place?
“I’m sure it bothered him… [But] you gotta have a tough skin,” says comedian, Harry Terjanian. “As far as what he did, I don’t think it was necessarily wrong of him to respond, but I think for him to get personal and insult somebody as calling them fat or whatnot…shows that it really bothered him and it’s kind of pathetic. I wouldn’t have done that.”
“If you don’t like it, that’s just the way it is,” says comedian Joe DeVito, who was on Last Comic Standing with John Caparulo. DeVito made it past the auditions and performed on the showcase, but unfortunately didn’t make it far into the competition. “If someone wants to say I’m not funny, they’re entitled. If they say I’m a joke stealer, then I need to take them on. Unless they’re making an accusation, then you have to let it go.”
“I get a lot of negative criticism mostly online,” Terjanian adds. “I ignore them completely unless something bothers me factually or someone misrepresents something. If you just don’t think I’m funny that’s fine. If they make some kind of factual statement that’s wrong or say that I’m saying something that I was not saying. That’s the only time I ever comment on it.”

When I first posted up my mini review of Caparulo’s set on my Myspace profile, I originally got one of his quotes wrong (not that it mattered…it was still unfunny). So he was right in writing to me to correct a wrong quotation…but as for the rest of it? It just confirmed how pathetic he really is and as other comedians will tell you, you should never let your anger show. It lets that “dumb fan” win and trust me when I say that it does make us “dumb fans” very happy to know that we ticked someone off. That was never my intent; I just simply wanted to voice my opinion. But to know that something I said made such a “celebrity” so angry that he took time out of busy schedule to write to me, says more about him than me.

“Any comic that’s dealt with criticism…some guys are too sensitive and take any critiquing…with a ‘fuck you’ reaction,” says comedian Joe DeRosa, who recently had his own awful experience with Last Comic Standing and unfortunately did not make it onto the show. “I don’t take it well…it’s the only job where people think they have the right to tell you if you’re doing it wrong. Most of us fall into that trap. If you really care about what you’re doing, then when some stranger tries to diffuse your work in 30 seconds, you picture all the times you’ve bombed and got shitty money.
“Its all because you believe in this stuff. It’s very hard to not snap on somebody, especially because comics tend to be sensitive and insecure. It’s hard not to indulge yourself and make this person feel stupid, but it shows they’re getting to you.”

“With Caparulo, his attacks got personal too, which you never really wanna do,” Terjanian says. “Whether they’re a fan or not, unless it’s onstage and that’s different, but internet comments, you should take them for what they’re worth and know that some people are gonna hate you and a lot of people are stupid. As far as Caparulo, from his perspective, I can sort of understand why he’d be pissed because to him, he’s funny. When you tell someone they’re unfunny, you’re telling them they’re no good, whether they realize that or not.”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and thankfully we live in a country where complete free speech is not only protected by law, but it’s encouraged (well…most of the time, if you don’t count the Don Imus/Opie and Anthony/JV and Elvis debacles). Unfortunately, that’s also going to mean that, for comics at least, you’re going to get some great opinions and some terrible ones. If you’re a comic and someone insults you or your act, take it with a grain of salt and know that you know better.
Thankfully, Last Comic Standing is almost over…for the moment…and we can all go back to seeing real comedy (especially live in clubs). As for John Caparulo? I had fun with my response and allowed my sarcasm to run rampant.

“Oh, wow, I'm so sorry! You're right! I completely misrepresented you! And you know what, now that I know what your joke really is...I was absolutely wrong about you! You're so creative and original...I can't believe what I was thinking! I was wrong, I'm sorry. But now let's go over what you got wrong. First of all, Larry the Cable Guy is an act. His name is Dan Whitley from Nebraska (not the deep south). Here's a link to a video of him BEFORE he became a hit on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. I figured if you're such a fan of accuracy, you might be interested in it:

Daniel Whitley

Second, I am only 21 but I have been living in my own house in New York for the past three years. But that's okay, you didn't know. I forgive you completely. Third, if I'm such a nobody from Nowhere, New York, why would such a huge celebrity like yourself take the time to respond to my 4 sentences with such a long response? I suppose your movie shoot that day just got canceled and you had some time to kill, right? Yeah, that's understandable.

But thank you anyway for writing to me. I get so tired of hearing praises from so many comedians on what I write about the show, that sometimes, it's nice to hear a different opinion. Especially coming from someone so well-read and erudite. It makes me feel so special that while I'm sure I'm not the first one to give you such a negative review, but I am someone who hit a nerve. That would make any fat girl feel special.
You must tell me when your film comes out, I'm dying to see it! Love ya!”

He never wrote back to me. Most recently, out of curiosity, I checked to see if he was still on Myspace. He isn’t. And I really hope that wherever he is, he’s bombing on stage. If my words can hurt him…God knows what a New York club audience would do to him.

Last Comic Standing, season 5, episode 13 & 14

Yep, I haven't updated in a looooooonnnnng time. My apologizes. So let me just sum up what might've been my last two reviews on the last two episodes of LCS Season 5.

Jon Reep won. Lavell Crawford didn' my surprise. I thought he had it for sure. But this show continued for another season during the summer...and shockingly enough, I didn't watch it. I couldn't. For one, I had improv class during that time. And two....Esther Ku. I think that's all I need to say. Ugh. Believe me, I watched ONE episode...and that alone was enough to make my stomach turn.

This industry sucks.