Tag Archives: comedy

The laugh’s on me

I spoke too soon—about a few things.

In a February post I pined for the old American Comedy Awards, but took solace in the fact that Comedy Central would be starting a new comedy award program in April.

Then a few weeks ago, I gloated about having finished my taxes three weeks early.

As these sentiments came back to me yesterday, I ended up eating my words.

First, I suddenly remembered that, in addition to federal and state income taxes, I had to file state personal property taxes for my business. The form is only six pages long, but it causes me more heartburn than anything I do all year. I do this one myself, rather than rely on a tax preparer, because it should be relatively simple. I work in an eight-by-ten-foot home office, with very few assets and, but for a few printer cartridges, purchased nothing in the past year.

Still, factoring in dread and recovery on either end, filling out the form takes me several hours, and I had put it off until the last weekend day before April 15.

I got psyched up by promising myself that, if I finished filling out the ugly tax form Sunday afternoon, I would treat myself to an evening enjoying Comedy Central’s first annual Comedy Awards.

So I plowed through several pages of instructions, and tackled the analysis of the original cost of my assets by year of acquisition, a balance sheet breakdown of the value of furniture, fixtures and equipment, accumulated depreciation, depreciation per year for the last five years and the net book value. I filled out a form for the disposal of machinery (a deceased computer). I wrote a check for $300, a “filing fee” that is charged simply for the privilege of being sent a tax bill. Then I took two Extra Strength Tums.

The process was tedious and gut-wrenching.  I sweated, groaned, clenched, cramped and did a year’s worth of cursing, but I got it done. It was time to curl up in front of the Comedy Awards.

I was beyond psyched. After all, the nation’s great comedic pioneers and geniuses were behind the creation of this new event:  Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Seth MacFarlane, Conan O’Brien, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Phil Rosenthal, George Schlatter, Jon Stewart and Lily Tomlin, among others.

The joke was on me. It was the worst awards program I’d ever seen, bar none, and this includes the TV Land Awards, the Teen Choice Awards and every other low budget, low talent competition in modern television.

I had more fun doing my taxes.

One bright spot – Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig won Best Actress. It almost made the misery worth enduring. Almost.


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio, Rants and Raves

Save the subplot

Among the season’s sitcoms debuting recently is one I will keep my eye on with high hope.

You already know how I feel about sitcoms—that good ones are a dying breed, and the best ones can provide enough laughter therapy to last through the week.

I can’t say just yet that Mad Love will fulfill my therapeutic requirement, but I do know there’s a gleam of potential. The premise isn’t anything special. However, in addition to a strong lead cast and some mildly decent writing, the creators have also written in a character who is prone to mutilating common words and expressions. What’s especially funny is that her gaffes are corrected boldly by the one character who seems least likely to know enough to do so.

Dim-witted characters aren’t uncommon sitcom material. However, I can’t readily recall any having this particular trait. There are so many ways the writers could go with Erin. They could shape her into a modern day Mrs. Malaprop, which would be hilarious. Haven’t we all worked with one person who just couldn’t seem to get straight a simple figure of speech? I’m tempted to send in a few real-life ideas.

The problem is, it looks as though Erin’s character could be short-lived, as she was dumped by her boyfriend, one of the main characters, in the first episode. I can only hope they at least remain colleagues at the law firm in which the story takes place.

It seems that Chicago Sun-Times TV critic Paige Wiser agrees with me. In fact, her review took the words right out of my mouth: “The other bright spot is Ben’s ex-girlfriend Erin, played by Alexandra Breckenridge. She’s given to mangled expressions like “taken for granite” and “an escape goat,” and I hope to God that Ben’s new relationship doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of her. Come back, Erin. Please.”

Erin’s calling a fabric swatch a “snatch” was just a tease.

1 Comment

Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio

Best in class

It might be irreverent to say it in this movie awards season, and I might just be a minority of one, but I wish they’d bring back the American Comedy Awards.

Everything that can be said about Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards has been said, by those far more in the know than I. To prove how out of touch I am, my favorite movies (drama and comedy) of the last two years didn’t receive significant mention; this is shaping up to be the third. Gran Torino in 2008 and Pirate Radio in 2009 went un-hyped. This year, one of my faves, Get Low, which featured one of Robert Duvall’s best acting performances to date, hasn’t really even been mentioned. Maybe Oscar will take notice.

What really baffles me about the Golden Globes is the make-up of their “Musical or Comedy” category and, specifically, why The Kids Are All Right was deemed a comedy. I watched it yesterday and didn’t laugh once, and wondered if there was simply a shortage of comedies and musicals and it just got stuffed in there for balance. I liked the movie well enough, and agreed that both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore deserved nominations for their acting, but can’t for the life of me understand the comedy designation.

Comedies don’t typically get serious nods during award season anyway. They’re often too raunchy for serious consideration. It seems that good comedies are rarer each year. Perhaps, rather than lump them in awkwardly with movies like The Kids Are Alright, comedies should have awards all their own. The question is: are there enough good ones?

I’d think that anyone with a bit of smarts and a working funny bone would enjoy two hours in a theater laughing until the tears flow—without toilet jokes,  off-color ethnic jabs or in-your-face genital humor.

In 2001, the year in which the American Comedy Awards were last held, Best in Show, perhaps the best of director Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries, took Funniest Motion Picture, Funniest Supporting Actor (Fred Willard) and Funniest Supporting Actress (Catherine O’Hara). It’s hard to find better comedy than that.

Word has it that MTV and Comedy Central are starting new comedy awards to air this April. I hear many comedic greats are involved, including Phil Rosenthal of Everybody Loves Raymond. This gives me hope that a void will be filled.

Otherwise, with no serious award to strive for, what’s the incentive to make a good comedy any more, except to entertain a country and a world in desperate need of intelligent humor?


Filed under Movies, Television and Radio

Gitchy gitchy goo

I have never heard of the University of Glamorgan, but apparently the Welsh researchers who work there have just completed a study on grumpiness.

Is this a joke?

It must be real because I saw it on my local television news over the weekend. These Welsh researchers found that people, at least Welsh people, become grumpy at the average age of 52. They laugh less, they gripe more and it only gets worse as they age, according to the so-called Lifetime of Laughter Scale.

This study, which I cannot locate anywhere, says that people in their fifties laugh half as much as teenagers. The study further contrasts the 300-some times a day an infant laughs out loud with the pitiful three times a day of the average quinquagenarian.

Could this be because the fifty-somethings are the parents of these teenagers? Could it be because infants have their bellies tickled all day long by grown-ups making funny faces and animal noises at them?

Assuming this isn’t a phenomenon uniquely affecting the Welsh, and even if it is, something must be done. This trend must be reversed.

As someone who, at times, can be quite the grump, I also laugh out loud plenty throughout the day. My minimum daily allowance of comedy is just a foundation on which I pile giggling at my cats, chuckling at my own foibles, even laughing to keep from crying when circumstances dictate. I often laugh out loud at the movies when no one else does. We already know that I laugh inappropriately on planes.

If grumpiness peaks at 52, I’ve got 14 months to beat back the trend. Even though statistically that puts me smack dab in mid-menopause, I’m up for the challenge.

Starting today, I am striving for 300. Who’s with me?


Filed under Foibles and Faux Pas, Health, News