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I'm about to go off and watch Jesse marry his high school sweetheart, but before I do, I want to share with you a video I just saw which incorporates almost all 3 from my list of favorite MaxFun episodes: Patton Oswalt on Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, as seen on American TV by you, most likely an Nerd. Maybe even an American Nerd.
If you're in the mood, stick around for a You Look Nice Today Preferred-Mouthbreather appearance in the same episode, no less, by GAPE coverboy Ed "Begs" Begley "EBJ" Jr., in this series (1, 2, 3) of ads for the revolutionary new Cinco-Fone. Heavy as hell, but that's a good thing. Simply press NO times for zero.
Rest in Peace to the most compelling stage performer of the past 20 years of comedy, Bernie Mac. A truly amazing, unmatchable presence on stage and on screen.
Above is one of my favorite clips, recorded on Def Comedy Jam relatively early in his career, when he was a still a bit of a newcomer from Chicago. He didn't make it to national audiences until he was a grown up, well into his 30s, having performed on El trains and local stages for ten or fifteen years. Every time he enters and tells the aggressive audience, "I ain't SCAAARED of you motherfuckers!" it breaks me up. He makes dick jokes seem almost inspirational. It felt like Bernie Mac wasn't scared of anything. As the Chicago Tribune obit correctly points out, that lack of fear was what made him great.
A few years ago on this blog, I wrote about a feature on Bob Newhart that ran in the New York Times. The Times went to Bernie Mac to contextualize Newhart's achievements, perhaps expecting to get some fireworks out of their apparent difference. This is what Mac said:
"A lot of people define courage as being out front and in your face," Mr. Mac said, "but Bob didn't come out of his picture frame for anybody. That bland style, that plaid jacket, with the hair combed to one side over the bald spot — that was Bob. And there's nothing wrong with that. Because it takes courage to be yourself, and he showed everybody that."
Bernie Mac was a performer who had nothing but the courage to be himself, and we were all lucky to have seen him shine.
If you can, rent The Kings of Comedy this week, and see one of the greatest performers ever to step onto a standup stage.
We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.
Brent Hoff is the editor of the DVD magazine Wholphin. Hoff explains why it's worthwhile to maintain a magazine that operates in the red. Fred Armisen is a comedian who you have to know by now. He appears on a show called Saturday Night Live and many movies you have no doubt seen. Armisen talks about his humble beginnings as a musician and how he fell into comedy. Also on the show music from the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players and a sketch from Kasper Hauser.
We at YLNT HQ loved Jesse's DIY money-saving microwave popcorn tip. We pinned it to the Reading Wall for a month. It made Adam cry. Twice. So far it's saved us $140 in popcorn-related surcharges.
It's a great tip. But like most people, Jesse neglected the demographic we can least afford to slight: supervillains. In fact, per the Supervillain Appeasement Act of 2005, blogs are legally required to provide consideration for the special needs of the differently-moralled (otherwise they feel overlooked, get mad, and then it's nukes on the moon all over again).
So, to ensure fair coverage, here are a few penny-savers for the evil geniuses among us:
Snakes are a great choice for your Tomb of Death. But don't fall for expensive "exotic" species. It's all marketing! Nobody bought pit vipers back when they were called Patagonian toothworms. Fill your T.o.D. with a domestic poisonous snake. Copperheads are quite lethal. If you have enough of them. And you will.
Does the electric fence around your secret island lair need to be electrified all the time? Think about your carbon footprint, badguy! Install a motion detector near the fence, and only charge to 50,000 volts when there's a lost hiker nearby to actually zap.
Loyal henchmen aren't really in it for the payday; they're just lonely kids with daddy issues. Don't pay workers who are happy to kill for free.
Lots of evil geniuses overpaid for clunky, Flash-based web sites full of bandwidth-chugging visions of fiery holocaust. Keep it simple, M. Knight. Lay out your plan for bringing the Age of Humanity to a close, and maybe post a sketch of the giant moth/Eva Mendes hybrid creatures whom you will dispatch across the planet to do your bidding once everyone else is dead.
There's nothing more boring than having to watch home movies of children who (probably) aren't yours. I understand! But here's a tiny glimpse of life at our home, as my wife and I give our son his first bath:
If time machines weren't so expensive, I'd rent one out for an hour just to send Jesse back in time to interview the authors of this book.
In 1935, Pravda sent two Soviet writers to New York with enough money to rent a Ford and enough time—two months—to drive to California and back. In words and pictures, they report back to the Motherland:
The sidewalks are empty. Instead, the road is full of automobiles. At first, we found this circumstance striking. Then we quickly got used to it. Even in Washington, there are almost no pedestrians. It's impossible to say whether they're sitting at home or hidden away in their automobiles. ... There are exactly as many pedestrians as absolutely necessary to contradict the unbidden but persistent impression that the entire population of the city has perished. You see the same pavement, the same automobiles, and the same billboards.
So much for "small town charm." At the same time, though, the two are stunned by the unvarnished kindness of the locals:
About a week later ... we had our first automotive incident. In America it's called an accident. We almost landed in a ditch. ... The very first car to go by (it was a truck) stopped and out came a man with a rope in his hands. Without saying a word, he tied one end of the rope to the truck and the other end to our car and within a minute he had pulled it out onto the road. All the drivers who passed us while this event was taking place stopped and asked whether we needed help. ... Our rescuer wished us a pleasant journey and left. He didn't even want to hear out our thanks.
Ilf and Petrov collected tons of little vignettes like this. Cowboys and other bygones share the book with still-fresh observations about us Americans (we're naïve, not so curious, but pretty nice).
When, in a fit of Christmas shopping desperation, you remember this book and buy it for your stepbrother, and from then on he thinks you're The Cool Step-, you don't have to thank me.
I'm headed to San Francisco to get married, and I'll be away from the computer for the next two weeks.
I have found a crew of yukaluks to fill my shoes.
Adam Lisagor, Merlin Mann and Scott Simpson are the hosts of You Look Nice Today, my favorite new podcast. They are also accomplished bloggers in their own rights, particularly Merlin, whose 43 Folders has become the industry standard for productivity sites. I am only too happy to turn the keys of the MaxFunFerrari over to them for the next two weeks.