David Sedaris and the true meaning of blue-collar comedy

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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"Blue collar comedy" is often viewed as synonymous with words like "dumb," "cheap" and "Republican." It was largely co-opted by Jeff Foxworthy's low-brow comedy tour, and since then you really can't discuss the humor that comes out of labor-work without everyone assuming you have a Support the Troops bumpersticker on your SUV.

David Sedaris stands out as the peacock in this grove of turkeys. While he may come from an upper-middle-class background, many of his stories chronicle his time as a college drop-out, trying to develop an artistic identity while working as a dishwasher, apple-picker, house-cleaner or, in the case of The SantaLand Diaries -- the story that catapulted him into the NPR dynasty and the focus of a free program at noon today at the LoDo Tattered Cover -- an elf working at Macy's SantaLand during the holiday season. He may be an intellectual gay liberal, but as a humorist Sedaris is unendingly dark, sarcastic and accessible -- a combination only truly earned through years as a blue-collar worker.

See also: Ron White on gay marriage, marijuana and opening acts -- including Josh Blue


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My Lou Reed Halloween: "Too soon" jokes only work if someone gets them

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My Lou Reed with bloody liver costume, accompanied by a friend as Edie Sedgwick.
Whenever someone lays the "I find that joke offensive" line on me, I always silently wonder: Do you really? Or do you just want people to know that you do? Nowhere does this happen more often than in comedy clubs, and it's no surprise that comedians love to find and slap those buttons like lab monkeys because it ultimately forces people to stop and question their social politics. Should I be laughing at this? Is my laughter an endorsement of the comedian's joke? Should cross my arms in silent protest?

This quandary was on my mind last Thursday when I chose the recently deceased Lou Reed as my Halloween costume. Other than the fake bloody liver hanging from my T-shirt, the costume was mostly a lazy attempt at wearing my usual tight-jeans and leather-jacket uniform, but I was also curious to find out if hipsters could experience outrage when their herowas irreverently parodied "too soon" after his death.

See also: SNL's Wes Anderson parody reminds us why we love him -- and should hate him

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SNL's Wes Anderson parody reminds us why we love him -- and should hate him

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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Edward Norton as Owen Wilson in the recent SNL Wes Anderson parody The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.
"The New York Times calls it 'You had me at Wes Anderson,'" say the credits of Saturday Night Live's recent Wes Anderson horror-film parody, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. By assembling the usual suspects of every Anderson film (pastel aesthetics, mod soundtrack, Owen Wilson) while mocking the public's appetite for anything the hipster-auteur's name is attached to, SNL has laid out a complex paradox that you almost never see in popular culture -- both explaining why we love Wes Anderson and why we should hate him, using the same argument.

The parody comes on the heels of the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel trailer, hyping Anderson's new film that appears to contain all of the ingredients we've come to expect -- and treasure -- about his work. Yet with all of this predictable preciousness over the years, why is it that Anderson's reputation for creating stellar films is still firmly intact?

See also: Top five Wes Anderson one-liners


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Humor and dating: Is being funny the ultimate aphrodisiac?

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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It's probably the biggest cliche in the history of dating: You're looking for someone with a sense of humor. But since it has nothing to do with money, social stature or good looks -- things people are often most insecure about in dating -- why is humor such a big deal? The current science on the issue suggests that women are drawn toward men who crack wise, while men are attracted to a woman who will laugh at their jokes -- and never the reverse. That's a pretty convincing observation, especially when paired with online-dating stats and evolutionary-biology theories.

But how does this fit with the fact that most male comedians are hopeless at dating (or at least that's what they consistently rant about on stage)? If the basic function of your job is to exude what is (supposedly) the most attractive quality a single male can have, a sense of humor, why aren't these dudes cleaning up?

See also: Fred Savage Love: Horrible romantic advice from Wonder Years to Ladies Night

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Fox News mistakenly sources satirical blog; my love for Fox grows stronger

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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Yes, it's true. Over the weekend, one of the interchangeable blond anchors on Fox and Friends reported that, despite the WWII memorial being closed during the government shutdown, "some things are continuing to be funded . . . President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture." This little nugget of misinformation was delivered as a pre-commercial teaser promoting an upcoming interview with RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Most likely during the break, a standby blone lady working from a crimson bunker at the Fox castle did some fact-checking and discovered the source for this tip: Satirical news blog National Report.

While many of you lefties in the blogosphere see this as another straw on the broken camel's back of Fox News credibility, for me it only reinforces my sincere, unironic love for the cable-news behemoth.

See also: Adam Carolla calls me an a**hole and turns Paramount Theatre crowd against me

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Senator Ted Cruz's stunt proves politics is show business for ugly people

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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Ted Cruz spoke on the Senate floor for 21 hours for no apparent reason.
"I fired a manager after he said to me, 'Do something crazy and it'll get on YouTube and your career will take off!'" comedian Christopher Titus told me in an interview this summer. "I looked at him and was like, 'Really, that's your plan? Really?'"

While Titus may be cynical about creating a phony exhibition as a method of infiltrating the public consciousness, media-savvy Republican Senator Ted Cruz found success using the same tactic last week when he staged what could be mistaken for a post-modern performance-art piece on the the Senate floor, but has become known as his "faux filibusterer."

See also: Jon Stewart shut down Crossfire -- but now it's back on CNN

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Bill Maher, Louis CK explain why the Internet is making us cruel and empty

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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Over the weekend both Louis C.K. and Bill Maher dropped some wisdom about how the Internet is draining us of empathy and encouraging a consequence-free environment of cruelty and debasement. After spending the last two weeks whining about homophobic roasts and the irony of "clean comedy", it feels good to embrace the moments when funny minds take us into the often unexplored territory of self-reflection. And besides, this territory comes with Louis C.K. delivering an existentialism lecture via a Bruce Springsteen impersonation, and Bill Maher shouting the words, "Fuck you, Betty White!"

See also: Clean comedy isn't comedy -- it's politics

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Clean comedy isn't comedy -- it's politics

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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On Sepember 19 Denver crowds will unload a serious amount of cash on an event titled "The Clean Guys Comedy," which features such stand-up legends as Jamie Kennedy (Scream), Uncle Joey from Full House, and some other folks you vaguely remember from somewhere. The comics themselves aren't what's selling this event, though, and neither is the content of the show: What sells "clean comedy" doesn't have anything to do with comedy at all. The singular defining appeal of these shows is the absence of something: Essentially, if you are a clean comic, nothingness is your identity.

See also: Homophobia's still going strong in 21st-century comedy

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Homophobia's still going strong in 21st-century comedy

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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James Franco's Comedy Central Roast had 26 jokes about his possible bisexuality.

Homophobia in popular culture began to fade in the '70s, and for the most part was dead and gone by the '90s. With music, it began with disco and was stomped to death by riot grrrl. In film it was exposed with Boys in the Band, and deemed passé with My Own Private Idaho. Art and fashion have been gay since Michelangelo's hyper-homo "David," and even sports have begun to come out of the closet in recent years.

But for whatever reason, large swaths of standup comedy remain as vigorously anti-gay as a Michelle Bachman speech at Liberty University. The most recent evidence of this was the 26 "you're gay!" jabs directed at James Franco during his Comedy Central Roast last week. This was excessive even for the characteristic locker-room, juvenile behavior of most roasts, and even though there's been a strong progressive streak in standup since the "smart comedy" revival of the '90s, the medium remains a haven for bro-down butt-smackers who still think the greatest insult a man can receive is the accusation of being light in the loafers.

See also: Dave Chappelle's "meltdown" was more Bill Burr than Michael Richards

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Dave Chappelle's "meltdown" was more Bill Burr than Michael Richards

Categories: Funny Ha Ha

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A week into his comeback tour, Dave Chappelle either had a "meltdown," was "booed off the stage," or was treated like a black-face minstrel by a crowd of "fucking animals" last Thursday in Hartford, Connecticut. The incident has made for a bloggery buffet of commentary on race, comedy and corporate culture, but what happened really wasn't all that dissimilar from what drove Chappelle from comedy in the first place back in 2005: heckling from audience members demanding the iconic "I'm Rick James, bitch!" one-liner.

Judging from crappy cellphone video of the show, Chappelle kept his cool throughout the inevitable jeers that followed his refusal to play the monkey, sinking into a heartfelt narrative about Richard Pryor and Damon Wayans dealing with similar situations. Without the cracked-out darkness of Katt Williams or the aimless N-bombs of Michael Richards, Chappelle managed to walk away with a reputation only further cemented in integrity and mystery -- at least in my eyes. Hopefully, he'll have a smoother path until the Oddball Comedy Tour reaches Denver on September 13.

See also: The ten best comedy events in Denver this September

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