Robin Williams, Humor’s Personal Demons

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I’ve never exactly been a huge fan of Robin Williams, though I always recognized his talent and his humanitarianism. The one movie that I loved, of course, was Good Morning, Vietnam. It’s one of the R-rated movies my mom took me to as a kid. And if there’s any connection, my mom has her own depression issues. Thankfully, she was never successful in her attempts.

It is true, though, about humor being tragic and many humorists are trying to exorcise their personal demons. Fact is, some of the best humor comes from the most horrific circumstances, even suicide. But tonight, we’ll leave that alone as losing Robin Williams has left a void for many people who grew up with his antics on the small screen and the big screen.

Pool Party Office

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This office humor cartoon is from 2008. Some of my favorite gags are the simplest, and yes, I was working in an office when I came up with this drawing. Really, what happens with an office administration is work avoidance by all means possible. Otherwise, you’ll end up going stir crazy.

I Want to Support Theater Releases, But the Movie Going Experience is Poor

I just watched Kick-Ass 2 on HBO and I know it didn’t do well in the theaters which means that Kick-Ass 3 probably won’t be made. It’s a shame because it would make a nice trilogy. According to Wikipedia, Chloë Grace Moretz is quoted as saying it was the second most pirated movie for the year 2013. However, in that same article we get: The film was a box office success grossing more than double of its budget but failed to gross more than the first movie.

So it made back it’s investment and then some, but for producers it’s not worth the risk or time to double the budget. Most likely, when the money is split among the various parties it doesn’t amount to a lot. After all, a million here, a million there doesn’t go as far as it used to.

I would love to support theater releases of movies I want to see and promote with my hard earned cash, but it seems like every time I go to the theater there’s some assholes ruining the experience or a mom has brought their entire clan of 5 year olds who run and scream through the aisles. I essentially gave up. Why ruin my first time watching a movie when I can wait for it to come out on HBO or Netflix and watch it on my big screen TV? It may not be the big “big” screen with ultra fancy surround sound, but that doesn’t matter when I can relax and not have to listen to people talking behind me, teenagers yelling sarcastic comments, or screaming kids.

I’m not sure what the answer is? My second job when I was in my early twenties was at a cinema so I know about all the audience conflicts that happen. I once had to tell a rather large mom with 3 kids to quiet down due to another patron’s complaint. She didn’t even acknowledge my presence or say sorry, she just stared straight ahead like I was a dick for even asking. Then there were  two guys who got into a yelling match over who the hell knows and neither of them would move from their seats to another location to avoid further arguing. We eventually had to call the police to sort it out. And of course, we had the teenagers and college students sneaking in beer which only prompted them to be louder than usual.

I suppose if I ran a movie theater I would end up like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld which is not good for business. It’s not that you have to be quiet in a theater, but your noise should be related to what’s on the screen. If it’s a funny movie, by all means laugh–just don’t try to take over the entertainment by making your own cracks. And for the record, you assholes who think you have talent by cracking jokes and making stupid comments? You don’t have talent! That’s why you’re not on the screen and someone else is.

BTW: In Kick-Ass 2, Jim Carrey really transforms himself into Colonel Stars and Stripes. I wish he wouldn’t have pulled his support for the film because it had nothing to do with school shootings. Kick-Ass is a parody of hero idealism and even as the comic books and films are fantasies, they throw in plenty of plot points with reality checks. You can get really fuckin’ hurt trying to be a hero. On the other hand, with the trend in superhero patrols around the United States, as technology advances and makes the idea of powers into reality I don’t expect this idealism to go away. I think it is going to become a reality. Imagine if you can write apps for an exoskeleton? Or surround yourself with drones that are controlled by your brain?  The only thing stopping a wave of new superheroes is federal and local law enforcement. But then Batman never played by the rules…

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‘Death Wish Club’ Movie, Brilliantly Bad

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That’s the only way I can describe it! Brilliantly bad! I was mesmerized at how bad it was and yet, whoever made it must have known it because they kept putting in brilliant little jokes here and there and the most bizarre plot twists this side of a David Lynch film. Death Wish Club has to be part of your collection if you truly love bad films or even just eighties suspense films.

DWC starts out with narration by a rich asshole who wants to love someone, but not be loved. So he goes to the local carnival and tosses one hundred bills down a young female’s shirt selling popcorn. Her name is Gretta. Then the popcorn is tossed aside and she goes home with him. Apparently selling popcorn or living with a sugar daddy is not enough for Gretta so she makes softcore films which captures the eye of a pre-med student named Glen. He becomes infatuated with her film presence and has to find her.

And he does, playing keyboard at the Manhattan Club, a drinking establishment with a band in the back–owned, of course, by the sugar daddy. From there, our pre-med student Glen becomes romantically entangled with Greta as Greta exhibits a personality disorder where she changes into a man named Charlie White (following this so far?). To add to the fun, the sugar daddy and Gretta are part of an exclusive death wish club and invite Glen to join. The club meets to experience the thrill of someone potentially dying amongst the members. They devise methods such as releasing a deadly insect in the room or a machine that sends out random electric shocks, one of which is deadly.

The film is absolutely ridiculous and hilarious! I enjoyed every bit of it and I wasn’t even disappointed by the ending that went nowhere. That’s because by the time you get half way through you realize the producers must have blended two scripts together: one about a woman with a personality disorder and one about a club that jerks off to death.

If you don’t already know, this is the full film that was edited into a short story for Night Train to Terror, another really bad film. In Night Train to Terror, Satan and God meet up and Satan tells stories while some teenagers breakdance in the next car down. All of the stories are fast edits of films that were never released except for Death Wish Club and the only reason you continue to watch the hacking up of footage is because it highlights nudity, violence and gore. Pardon the pun, but the reason you can’t turn it off is it is a “train wreck” (ha! I kill me.).

Unfortunately, Death Wish Club is out of print. It was one of those releases you found in the video store on VHS in the late eighties and later on as a DVD in the nineties before video rental shops went extinct. I was able to buy a former rental copy at Amazon and it appears that there are about 8 more copies listed at the time of this writing. HOWEVER, Night Train to Terror has been rereleased and as a bonus they include the entire film for Death Wish Club, AKA Gretta. So you can get two pieces of cheeze for the price of one.

Sharknado? Meet Whoricane

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My answer to Sharknado is Whoricane. This actually came out of a stupid conversation with a friend and quite by accident the word “Whoricane” popped out. It would make for a great movie. Thousands of whores in a swirling mass devastate a small town. And one whore even swallows the hero…um…take that where your imagination will lead it.

Sharknado 2 is premiering tonight on the SyFy Channel. It is the shining “cheeze” of this channel’s output of bad B-movies. Sharknado, the original, was good enough, but what I don’t understand is why they let Tara Reid, er, her character survive? If any actress deserves to be eaten and digested by a flying shark it’s her.

Are You Snarky or Just a Bitch?

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I tend to get along with most personality types, but I’m realizing more and more there’s a fine line between snarky and bitchy–and this doesn’t just relate to women. I’ve met some bitchy, judgmental men too. Today I found myself annoyed by a snarky attitude that crossed the line into “bitchy mean.”  Instead of a clever, witty reply to a comment I made that maybe would have added to the humor, the reaction was mocking and seemed to miss the point of the jokey atmosphere. This person was not the only one involved and the joking regarding the resemblance of a certain food item to a certain anatomical part started much earlier in the day before this person was even aware of the intended humor. My comment was simply to include them which is what I do with all people I like to hang out with. However, they seemed to be the only one who found the joking immature and lashed out with fake, sarcastic laughter aimed to demean me for having a smile on my face. And it’s not because they were offended by such humor; they have inconsistently laughed at inappropriate jokes some of the time and other times made value judgments on such jokes (“You’re so immature. You’re such a perv”).

Have you ever been in a familiar crowd where you assume it’s safe to use innuendo or tell an off color joke because it’s been used before time and time again? And then someone who’s not always there calls you out on it by rolling their eyes, acting like you’re the only pervert in the room and exclaiming, “Oh good one! You must be real proud of yourself.” It makes you feel like an idiot and it’s a huge mood killer. I do my best to only use innuendo or wink-wink, nudge-nudge comments with friends–people I like and trust–who use the same humor. I know risque humor makes some people feel uncomfortable and I try to avoid that for the sake of sensitivity at work or places where there may be families, etc. Unfortunately, I misjudged this person’s ability to joke around and this wasn’t the first miscalculation as it has happened before. They’re off my list! In the future I will avoid any further comments in their presence as their snarky, borderline bitchy response was uncalled for.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I grew up in a conservative, repressively religious household where such humor was frowned upon. Considering I had an attraction to humor and cartooning, it was the worst sort of atmosphere to deal with: always having to watch my tongue or keep jokes to myself or not get caught watching movies or TV shows that made any references to sexual humor. Maybe that’s why I feel if you can’t handle adult jokes about sex, you’re the immature one. It means everyone has to treat you like you’re the kid in the room who is only allowed to hear G-rated material. So when someone snarks back at me that I’m immature for laughing at adult humor I really just want to say, “Grow the fuck up.”

And if you’re reputation is to be snarky, at least be good at it. A snarky attitude fails if you don’t have the wit to back it up. Otherwise, you just come off as a mean bitch.

All in all, the way to enjoy humor is to roll with it and not be uptight.

 

John Denver Clone

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My parents recently went to see this guy, a John Denver tribute artist. I don’t know, are we really going to try to resurrect all our favorite musicians and actors from the past with lookalikes? It’s popular in Vegas–I get it–but Vegas is about cheesy acts, drinking and losing your money. The John Denver artist, whose real name is Ted Vigil, sells an album of him singing John Denver songs…? Why wouldn’t I buy the original albums? After all, if I’m a fan of John Denver I want to listen to John Denver.

The same thing with a concert tribute. It’s one thing if you had a Beatles tribute band or a Kiss tribute band because it is a stage performance and they’re often trying to capture an era (like the Beatles in the sixties). But John Denver was not what I would call a stage performer with costumes and glitz, etc. He sat down and sang to you. I know this because, my Dad the fan, took me as a kid to see John Denver. And the original man was entertaining enough because he simply talked between songs and then sang his hits. For a tribute, someone who is acting like John Denver? I don’t get it? I’m sure Ted Vigil is a talented singer and if I looked like someone famous and could pull off their voice to make money I understand doing it. It’s no slight against him. What I don’t understand from a music fan perspective is why would I invest time and money into a faked version of the original? At best, I could see him singing some new songs in John Denver’s voice which might cause some interest.

A friend and I got into a debate on this one–yes, a very pointless one–and I said what if this was done with movie remakes? Not only would the movie be remade, it would be remade with an actor that looked exactly like the original actor. The example I gave was what if an Al Pacino look-a-like redid Serpico? And she said, why not? Well, what’s the point of doing that? An Al Pacino clone may be able to redo the movie and make you think he’s Al Pacino, but if I have any sort of brain in my head I would go back and watch the original movie with the original actor.

So the same is true of John Denver. I would want to listen to his original music. If I want to see him in concert there is plenty of footage and specials. But to go see a look-a-like/sound-a-like  in concert?

In the future, we will see digital clones of deceased actors doing new movies. I believe that makes sense. I think cover bands make sense for the bar scene. John Denver clones? I guess we can expect more of the same as there is a niche for everything and judging by the comments under his CD people seem to love a knock-off. As for me, I’ll listen to the original John Denver, which is odd to begin with as I was and still am into heavy metal, and to listen to JD you have to get into a sickly sweet sentimental mood. Maybe Ted could reboot the Oh God movie series?

The Critics are Making Me Want to See ‘Tammy’ the Movie

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I hadn’t even considered seeing Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy” movie until I heard Michael Medved’s bashing of it on the radio. If you don’t know who Michael Medved is he’s a conservative talk show host and movie reviewer. When Medved played a sound clip of the movie for the fast food robbery scene after droning on how unfunny it was I found myself laughing at the clip. Next day I saw another reviewer on our local news bash the film and play a clip about eating chips and I laughed.

So maybe these clips are the best scenes for the film, but I’m starting to become skeptical of the critics’ reactions. I keep hearing things like: “Why is she making so many fat jokes?” Why isn’t the film smarter?” “Why so much toilet humor?” “Why such dark material?”

News flash to reviewers: these are not good reasons to bash a film. Basically, what you’re saying is you don’t know why the film is bad. Lowbrow humor is lowbrow humor, it may not have been meant for you.

In the shit economy we’ve been dealing with since 2008 with unemployment and an obesity epidemic why would you not expect someone to exploit it for laughs and even sympathy. As far as dark material, that’s obvious too and humor doesn’t have to be optimistic or overly “ha-ha.” We’ve been through some dark times and the forecast for the middle class on down never seems to be good. I like clever humor too, but I’ll embrace toilet humor if it makes me laugh and appeals to my cynical mood. Maybe the film was aimed towards people who are not happy with how life has been treating them?

I guess now I’m going to have to see the film as I don’t trust these critics. If it sucks so be it, but it sounds like it’s no worse than a cheezy eighties film with a cast from SNL or screwball comedies like Porky’s. Those flicks were hit or miss on the laughs and yet overall they still made us want to watch. Did critics at the time of release like those films? Probably not, because they made their livings as movie critics–which isn’t a real job! Professional critics don’t live in the real world, I’m sorry to say, and these days there are so many wannabe Eberts that they often try too hard to be a “critic.” What the hell is so important about one person’s opinion on a movie versus another? This is why I tend to read audience comments versus critic reviews to get a feel for how the movie did on release. 

After all, some films become minor comedy classics like Tommy Boy. I wonder how much we would have laughed if Chris Farley didn’t encourage humor about his weight or intellect?