Saturday, November 21, 2009

Comedist Apostate's Day

My Fellow Comedists,

Good brother Ron asks,

"What is the unfunniest day on the calendar? Is it December 7, a day that will live in infamy? Sept. 11? Aug 6 (Hiroshima)? That list seems distinctly American, but I'm having trouble thinking of others. The Jewish calendar has Tisha B'av, a day to remember the destruction of the Temple. Other historical Jewish catastrophes (the Nuremberg Laws, etc.) are shoehorned in as well."

He gives us a link to Newsweek's vilification of certain big name comedians. Their list of 12 unfunny comedians:

Larry the Cable Guy
Carlos Mencia
Howie Mandel
Dane Cook
Andrew Dice Clay
Emo Philips
Jay Leno
Jeff Dunham
Paulie Shore
Carrot Top
Yakov Smirnov

The list, to my mind, is a bit suspect. A number of these guys were decent stand-ups whose fame outran their standing.

Dane Cook is no Carlin, but he's a good comic, not as good as the press he gets, sure, but he's got a "The Price Is Right" sketch that is well written and he knows how to work a stage. No, that stage shouldn't be as large as it is, but, hey, jealousy is unbecoming. Ditto for Larry the Cable Guy. Yes, the least talented of the blue collar guys, but he's got a schtick. No, he's not as good as the reception he gets, but, then, someone gave me tenure.

Gallagher and Carrot Top are hack choices. Everyone busts one them. Carrot Top is an anti-comedian, his schtick is to be unfunny and over the top. Gallagher was smart and clean and comics see him as not having had an edge at a time when Eddie Murphy was reshaping the art form. But as a smart kid who loved comedy, I enjoyed his linguistic/observation stuff (same for Emo). Yes, sledge-o-matic was obnoxious, but you could tell he hated it, too.

Going nightly or weekly makes stand-up tough because you don't have the chance to sharpen your material on the road like other comics. You have writers who give you a regular monologue and your routine suffers. I think Leno and Mencia get a pass for their regular contributions to comedy.

Yakov Smirnov caught a moment. His line in Vegas -- I was walking through a casino and saw some people playing roulette, I like your version a lot better -- has always been one of my favorites. No, he's not one of the all-time greats, but making light of the Cold War was a good thing. No one would compare Dexie's Midnight Runner to The Stones, but why begrudge them their fifteen minutes?

The others, o.k., I'll give them to you. Andrew Dice Clay was the Ronald Reagan of stand-up and Jeff Dunham is the Dick Cheney. Paulie Shore is the Kato Kaelen of comedy.

So, who do you find unfunny or not as funny as their reputation?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve