Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top Comedy DVD's of 2010

I can only pick 9 of these, I'm not as big on DVD's as I am albums. But these are my favorite comedy DVD's of 2010.

9. Lewis Black, Stark Raving Black

While not as strong as Black's previous specials, Black's full performance showcased on the DVD is stronger than the special alone. In this DVD Black talks about his aging, his parents and shares stories of performing after some acts that were impossible to follow. His take on aging is especially good, as he also deconstructs the idiotic things people say around him, such as "60 is the new 40," and as Black says, "60 is not 40. 60 is 60 and 40 is 40, THAT'S WHY THEY'RE DIFFERENT FUCKING NUMBERS!"
Favorite Bit: Black rants about Twitter for about 30 seconds. Concise and brilliant.

8. Dan Cummins, Crazy With a Capital F

Cummins is a great joke writer. He has a very subdued, controlled delivery and pace, but he keeps his special funny all the way through. Not to be missed.
Favorite Bit: Cummins does a bit about how impossible violence is seen in an almost charming light.

7. David Cross, Bigger and Blackerer

Again I would say that this special isn't as strong as Cross previous special/albums. But it is still good. Cross discusses drugs, religion and gets playful at the end with a couple of games he and his friends like to play. There are also some sketches at the beginning of the DVD that are great. My only qualm is that sometimes Cross' personal viewpoints interfere with his comedic flow. But he still fights through it and has some great bits on here.
Favorite Bit: Cross reads a postcard with date safety tips that reads "Remember, alcohol loosens inhibitions, so you may do something you regret...or worse." And then Cross speculates what that may entail.

6. Arj Barker, LYAO

Arj Barker has a great delivery and solid material. He remains very likable through his whole set, and his observational style of comedy is punctuated by his resounding voice. He talks about tolerance for gays, technology, and my favorite, global warming. He also deconstructs water... while talking to water. He even goes deep into a joke and then stops to tell the audience, "Ok, clearly I am not educated enough to finish this joke." It's silly and just a fun DVD to watch.
Favorite Bit: The global warming bit, as I mentioned.

5. Paul F. Tompkins, You Should Have Told Me

Tompkins is one of my favorite comedians out there, and in this DVD he gets a lot more personal, and goes into a more storyteller mode than usual. He shares many life experiences he's had and his anecdotal style is punctuated by his great comedic quips and observations. Many times he will add a "what if" scenario to the true events that happened to him.
Favorite Bit: Tompkins discusses his mother's death and funeral (can you see the hilarity?) but no, seriously Tompkins keeps it heartfelt and funny the whole way through.

4. Kevin hart, Seriously Funny

Kevin hart remains infectiously funny and upbeat through this entire set. Hart is one of the most likable people in comedy, and also knows how to tell a story. Hart isn't a dark soul or a social commentator, but he is very fun to watch and you can't help but have a good time watching this DVD.
Favorite Bit: Hart discusses watching his grandpa fall, and then mocks the way Shaq (who's in the crowd) falls during games. I don't even watch basketball much and it's hilarious to me.

3. Joe Rogan, Talking Monkeys in Space

The ex-host of fear factor and current UFC color commentator puts out another great DVD. Rogan, for the first time starts opening up about his aging ("I got gray ball hair"), and talks about the latest development in his life: becoming a father. The explosive Rogan also discusses drug use and drug commercials at length and it is hilarious. Rogan is one of the more underrated comedians working today, and is much more intelligent than is given credit for. He closes it out with a Q&A session with the audience that Rogan keeps funny all the way through.
Favorite Bit: His Mount Everest bit that he's done on previous albums but is expanded even more here.

2. Bo Burnham, Words Word Words

Bo Burnham mixes original comedic music with a tongue in cheek sensibility. He toys with the English language in numerous ways, and this is in my opinion his best work so far. He not only plays songs, but breaks down the conventions of stand up comedy and soceity as a whole. He even gets serious when he plays a song entitled, "Art is dead," which has a line in it about George Carlin that almost brought a tear to my eye.
One of the must have DVDs of the year.
Favorite Bit/Song: While "Oh Bo" and "Words Words Words" are lyrically unrivaled, "Art is Dead" is the one I can't stop listening to. As a 21 year old comedian I can relate to a lot of what Bo says in it.

1. Bill Burr, Let it Go

No contest. The best comedy DVD of the year goes to Bill Burr. No offense to the other comedians above or ones that didn't make the list, but this was an easy choice to make. In this DVD Burr attacks Mothers, stores that make you "do it yourself" and bankers. If you listen to his podcast you know he can't stand bankers. There's also a cool feature on the DVD where you get taken behind the scenes of one of his podcasts. Burr talks extensively about his girlfriend and his new dog, which he was hesitant to get but now loves. Burr's gift for description and references are at the top class of the business, easily.
Favorite Bit:
Burr closes his set with an excellent bit, about the "Old Man face." An excellent 5 minute piece of how a woman breaks a man down over the course of a lifetime.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Is Reality, Really?

I never feel like I can truly know anything. Because even science can fuck things up sometimes. I don't trust religion, but you can't fully trust science all of the time either. Because scientists are just people too, and even they disagree with each other about shit. And then some scientists split off into another group that uphold different truths than the first scientists. But they still use the same books as those scientists. But they give a different name to what they believe and it becomes bureaucratic and the larger groups get more money for research so their hypotheses are considered more legitimate than the ideas of the smaller groups of scientists. Seems a lot like Christianity to me.

Pluto's not a planet anymore. Doesn't that bother anyone? That they just changed that so easily? On August 23rd 2006, Pluto was a planet, and had been for many years. That was a fact. And anyone who said otherwise was a fucking idiot. On August 24th 2006, Pluto wasn't a planet anymore, that was a fact! And anyone who said otherwise... was a fucking idiot! Isn't that scary to you? That reality changed overnight! And it's not like Pluto exploded on the 24th and they were like, "Oh well, guess we can't call that a planet anymore," No! It was the same floating massive rock but we just decided otherwise. I mean who came up with that? Was it the father of a child that was going to have to repeat the 5th grade if he failed his Solar System test?
"I'm sorry Mr. Williams your son will have to repeat the 5th grade."
"Wait, what?"
"Well, he failed his solar system test. One question needed him to list all 9 planets and he forgot Pluto. That was worth 35 points."
"But, he can't...I paid a lot of money to put him in this private elementary school...I...I can't afford to pay another year! ...Pluto's not a planet anymore!" and he just slams his ID on the table, "Look at that! You see that?! I'm the chairman of the International Astronomical Union, and I say it's no longer a planet! I'm infallible!!"

That doesn't scare you that other people are redefining your reality? That makes me think I'm going to wake up tomorrow and turn on the TV:

"Reports are in. All 20 dollar bills are no longer worth 20 dollars, they're all now worth a cupcake. And that's the only thing you can trade them for. You probably should've broken them when you had the chance.

Also, all handicapped people are no longer defined as "people" and you are free to kill and eat them if you wish.

Also, Lawson, this life that you're living isn't real, it's just a 21 year pseudo reality that was constructed by the intricacies of your unconscious and every person you've met and every moment you've had is a figment of your imagination and the only real things in the universe are you, a park bench and a lifetime of sugar to keep your energy going. But even that reality isn't real, it was part of the reality constructed by another person's imagination and another person's imagination before that. All of these people sitting on park benches eating sugar, trying to come up with a better world, and it goes all the way back to God himself who created sugar, a park and a bench and tried to think up the perfect world but couldn't, so he created this chain of descendants to do it for him. The goal being that one day one of these people sitting on the park bench would imagine a world without war or injustice. A world where no one goes hungry and no one gets sick, and people come together on even the most trivial of things. Everyone loves each other and no one has to die. And the day that descendant imagines that world, God will use his powers to snap that world into the actual reality, because he always had the power but all he needed was the outline. And there we will all be, all of the people from the imaginations of all of the descendants, living together harmoniously forever. Until the end of time.

...But that hasn't happened yet. And that's why I still say that Pluto IS a planet! Because I'm a cynic, and I don't believe in that type of shit! The reality is that we're all fucked! And until my television starts talking to me, there's no reason to believe otherwise.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top 10 Comedy Albums 2010

I listened to a lot of comedy albums that were released this year, probably over 20. These are my picks for the top 10 comedy albums of 2010.

10. Matt McCarthy, Come Clean

You may know him from the FIOS commercials as the cable guy, Matt McCarthy is also a brilliant comedian. His debut album is almost like an experiment in stand up comedy, and I mean that in a good way. Many of the bits on this album are very offbeat and you will catch yourself thinking, "What the fuck is going on right now?" but you will also be laughing. Bits like "Badass Poetry" and "Old Suicide Notes" come to mind. McCarthy also does some more traditional stand up bits such as "Unsung Minority" (about being a redhead), and some great observational comedy: "Is it just me, or do way too many funeral homes look like they could be Italian restaurants?"
Favorite Track: "Love", a relatively short bit but showcases McCarthy's knack for ingenuity in writing and stream of consciousness.

9. Glenn Wool, Let Your Hands Go

Strong, funny social commentary anchors the Canadian Wool's debut album. He deals with topics from cocaine to religion and his deconstruction of our society rings with the air of a late era George Carlin. Wool also isn't afraid to get personal as he discusses his dealings with AA and shares anecdotes about his drug use. This is a terrific album.
Favorite Track: "New Swears", the opening track of the album. That's not to say that the album goes downhill after that, but my love for Carlin gave me a love for dark, edgy comedy and for comedy which deconstructs the English language.

8. Anthony Jezelnik, Shakespeare

There is not one joke on this album that is not greatly offensive. There is also not one joke on this album that is not a great joke. This is a very dark and caustic album, and, coupled with Jezelnik's dry delivery, one of the best. At one point on the album you'll hear Jezelnik say this: "If you liked that last AIDS joke...lucky day. You are going to love this next AIDS joke." It's that kind of album. And by that I mean it's great.
Favorite Track: "Standards and Practices", includes a great edgy joke and a great story about how "people, that are offended by jokes...are fucking stupid."

7. Aziz Ansari, Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening

Ansari's debut album is very strong, as he gives his take on things from gay marriage to Cold Stone Creamery. Ansari is a great writer and an energetic performer, and establishes an excellent rhythm in this album. The album is anchored by Aziz's now famous "Randy" character, who ends the album with 10 minutes of his style of stand up comedy.
Favorite Track: "Harassing Harris on Facebook", As an older sibling, this bit hits me hard. Just the idea of a celebrity like Aziz spending his time annoying his 13 year old cousin on Facebook is awesome.

6. Hannibal Buress, My Name is Hannibal

Hannibal is a great joke writer and his odd premises are thrust into reality by the tone of his voice: laid back and smooth. He sets up so many bits so casually that you go, "Oh that makes sense," but it rarely does, and when he gives even more twist on it it's hilarious.
Favorite Track: "Pigeons Get Murked", Hannibal talks about why he wants to kick a pigeon so much, but unfortunately can't.

5. Sean Kent, Waiting for the Rapture

Sean Kent's style of dark sociopolitical commentary is thought provoking but never preachy. Kent hits his targets hard and without remorse. After an impressive deconstruction of WalMart he closes it by commenting on the people that work there, "I'm not saying I'm better than those people. I don't have to say it, I know it."
Favorite Track: "Anderson Cooper", Kent's take on the earthquake in Haiti turns a mirror on America's morality and is brutally true. Even a heckler disrupting Kent's flow doesn't derail this bit.

4. Brian Regan, All By Myself

In Regan's latest album, he delves into more personal topics, like his kids, his health and how he's getting older. Regan still explores many of the absurdities of the world, and in usual Brian Regan fashion, is clean while doing so. He also is not afraid to reveal his shortcomings in life, such as when he tried to learn about Native American culture at a shoeshine stand (he thought it was the Shoshone tribe.) This album also includes an old Chess joke of his that is excellent, and he finally got it recorded. To me Brian Regan is, bar none, the best clean comedian working today. I'm amazed he's not more famous. Brian Regan may be getting older, but he's still hilarious.
Favorite Track: "Pirates and Pilots", Regan's take on the Somali pirates and the Sullenberger landing are both excellent. And he ends it with a great joke about the balloon boy incident.

3. Myq Kaplan, Vegan Mind Meld

You might know him as a finalist from Last Comic Standing (I thought he should've won), Myq Kaplan's debut album is a fast paced, joke filled frenzy of sorts. Kaplan is a master joke writer with a creative delivery: it's lightning fast. Upon the 3rd time listening to this album I found new jokes I didn't hear the 1st 2 times around. It's almost like having bonus tracks interspersed throughout the album. He toys with the English language in creative and funny ways. He's brainy, but not nerdy; edgy, but not filthy. Kaplan's not afraid to use puns, sarcasm or self-deprecation to get his humor across. Even when his use of puns borders on overbearing, he brings it back by commenting on it, "We made it through the pun jungle everybody. ...Or Pungle, if you will." Great, funny album that has a very relistenable quality.
Favorite Track: "Bigotry is Confusing", I've told Myq this before, he has my favorite take on gay mariage ever. Which says a lot, given how many comedians tackle the issue.

2. Joe Derosa, The Depression Auction

This debut album from Joe Derosa is filled with outrage and social commentary, which are two of my favorite staples in stand up comedy. Derosa deconstructs the malignant aspects of our culture, but is also not afraid to turn the criticism towards himself. He is a man on a mission to better himself, as he talks about how he quit drinking...but he's also got a long way to go, as he still smokes. This album is consistently funny and contains many stories of Derosa's own embarrassing moments as well as reflections on how he can mature. One can see a bit of Bill Hicks in Derosa's work, but Derosa is truly original, as he, unlike Hicks, describes himself as being "politically stupid, and easily led." Derosa anchors the album with his most famous bit, titled "the Worst Gig Ever", about the time he had to perform for Gathering of the Juggalos, a kind of Woodstock for fans of the Insane Clown Posse (who Derosa calls “the worst band ever in the history of man”), held in the woods of Ohio. This album is very relatable and extremely funny.
Favorite Track: "I'd be the Shittiest President Ever", Derosa actually sympathizes with former president, George Bush, and reimagines how events would've unfolded had he been the President on 9/11.

1. Kyle Kinane, Death of the Party

Kinane's debut album is chocked full of stories from his life and the album has a cynical, yet hopeful theme to it. A comparison to Oswalt can be made, but Kinane's view of life is even darker and more self deprecating than Oswalt's, comparable to that of Louis CK. But Kinane is definitely unique. Kinane is almost like a misunderstood visionary, as his sharp outlook towards the world seems cloaked beneath his cranky attitude. Kinane also couldn't be more relaxed onstage, almost like he's not trying to become a comedic character, but he's just naturally funny. Just a hilarious man that can tell a great story. Kinane is a master storyteller, and his ability to describe people/events is comparable of that to a great author. Commenting about a man that came into the bathroom Kinane was in at the time, "I can only describe this guy, as looking frustrated...from having run out of places to tattoo." The album is anchored by Kinane recounting how insomnia can make him become a "Midnight Scientist."
Favorite Track: "Writing on the Wall" (The title of every track is the title of a song on Cheap Trick's "Dream Police.") The Trader Joe bit is an extremely funny observation of the different names used in the Trader Joe store, and Kinane gives his theory on why this might be.

Those are my top 10. Another great year for comedy albums in the books my friends.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clinician Diagnosis Eats Dick Sometimes

My sister went to see a psychiatrist recently. After one hour from the first time they met, she diagnosed my sister as being bipolar. First of all, my sister is 16. Everyone's bipolar when they're 16. You're out of your mind. Your brain's running through a fuckload of thoughts a day. You hate your life at school and you hate your life at home and you question what the fuck life's even about. Then a girl touches your dick and you forget about it all. ...Although that probably wasn't the case with my sister.

The reason this psychiatrist diagnosed my sister with because she had seen my sister go from very very happy, to very very sad, in the span of an hour. When my sister went into her office, she was happy, and when she left, she was sad. Yeah, it might be because she's bipolar, or it might be because after you spend an afternoon hanging out with your friends and laughing and joking around and roaming wherever you want outside, and then you're forced to sit in a small office with a stranger and tell them everything you hate about your life for an hour...your mood might tend to change.

You can't diagnose bipolar disorder that way. That'd be like showing up at someone's house and giving them a 3 million dollar check, and then telling them it's fake and revealing the dead body of their puppy to them. "Your mood changed suddenly there, might you be bipolar?"

They don't diagnose things properly. That's why I don't always trust clinicians on shit like this. Like ADHD, they don't diagnose that correctly. "Jimmy's not paying attention is history." Of course not, it's boring. Fuck him for not wanting to hear about the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers for 45 minutes, give him some Ritalin to keep him in check. Don't let his mind wander and think about the universe and the meaning of life, he might realize how useless all this history shit is.

This is how they should find out if a kid has ADHD. In the middle of class, have the teacher leave. And let Sasha Grey and Bree Olsen, 2 of my favorite porn stars, come in and just start making out in front of the class. And I'll be in the room at the time to monitor. And if I look over and see Jimmy staring out the window, well you've at least narrowed it down. It's either ADHD or homosexuality.

"At least ADHD has a cure!"

Fuck you, you homophobic bag of shit.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Whether Santa's Real or Not, I Couldn't Care Less

Is anyone else like me, in that when they were a kid, they didn't care whether Santa was real or not? I don't care who brings me the gift. I don't. I don't need a backstory as to how the gift got here. Just give me the gift. I don't need to know how the Playstation 2 made it's way into my house. I just know that now I have a Playstation 2. Even if on a random day in summer a Playstation 2 made it's way into my room and I woke up to find it... I wouldn't even ask how it got there, I'd just start playing it. I'm 9, I don't even question whether God exists or not, you really think I'm going to question how a PS2 got in my house?

That's the thing, parents think, "Oh my child is so innocent and needs to conjure up this fantasy of a jolly fat man with a beard in a red suit with 9 reindeer that puts you on a list and checks it twice..." fuck that. I'd prefer that my parents give me the gift because at least they have an accurate judgment of me. They hang out with me everyday, this fat dude sits up in the North Pole and watches me when I sleep, how is that a good way to judge character? You can't comprehend the human condition, you hang out with elves in curly shoes all day, wearing your dopey red suit.

Red suit. They always say that, but that's not a suit. You've never seen a suit that looks like that, it's a coat. It's not a suit, if you showed up to a job interview wearing that they'd kick you the fuck out.

I don't know if parents understand what kids want. When you're young they bring you to the mall and make you sit on some stranger's lap and everyone has to pretend that he's Santa Claus. Yeah, it's early December, Santa's busiest time of the year, but he's chilling at the Macy's on Atlantic Avenue. Guess all the kids that don't live in New York are fucked, because they can't come down to tell him what they want.
And that was never fun for me. That's like your first job interview as a kid. I was fucking nervous. But my parents would act like it was fun. Because there's nothing more fun than judgment from a stranger! And in the end none of it mattered. I was nervous for no reason. I didn't have to do any of it. Like what, if I had shit in his lap were my parents going to return all the gifts they had already bought for me, just to continue the ruse?

And when are you supposed to tell your kids? What's the cutoff point? You need one, because otherwise you'll have a 27 year old kid living in your basement thinking that Santa's real and the government can be trusted. Probably not a likely source for grandchildren.

So when, 12? What if the kid's born a few days before Christmas (like I am), do you spring it on him then? "Happy 12th birthday! Santa's not real!" Or do you wait until the summer so that you don't fuck with his head, associating his birthday with his knowledge of the Santa Claus lie? But the problem is there, you tell him in July, December rolls around and he's like, "I can't wait for Santa to bring me my...oh. Oh yeah...I remember now..." You're fucked either way.

It's weird that society expects you to lie to your kids about that. They expect you. In this country, you're a bad parent if you don't lie to your kid. because all the fucking parents do it. And if you tell your kid santa's not real then your kid will tell the other kids at school that will go tell their parents and all of a sudden you're a villain, for exposing a lie that those fuckers perpetuated to begin with. Parents always tell you not to give in to peer pressure, but even they can't rise above it. "Don't drink, don't do drugs". Yeah well don't lie to your fucking children.

And that's the only reason parents do it, is because it's so widely accepted. You're allowed to lie to your kid about that one thing. What if I told my child that Bigfoot was real. And that he visits our house one night every year. And that he better be good or otherwise Bigfoot will break all of his game systems. And one day my kid wakes up and sees a giant footprint on his floor that I drew the previous night.

People think it's harmless. "It's just a white lie about Santa Claus, who could it hurt?" Sure, it's just a child, your child...that trusts you implicitly, but why don't you push this lie into their little trusting head that they'll definitely figure out is a lie later on. I'm sure that won't create a sense of distrust between you. I read an article that said atheism is increasing in children... no shit. When you tell your kid that Santa, the tooth fairy and God all exist, and then later you go, "Well, 1 out of 3 ain't bad right?"
"Fuck you mom and dad, It's 0 out of 3!"
All you're doing by telling your children that Santa Claus exists is creating a contrived means to control your child's innocence. That's all it is. And that's fucking sick. "Oh you're so innocent you'll believe anything I say! Santa's real and I'm always right!" That's fucked up. Just stop it.