So, uhm, if you don't like rape jokes, this ain't for you.
But it's nice to see Chappelle on stage being funny.
Ever since Andrew W.K. told us on Jordan Jesse Go! about hanging out at Hansen's songwriting fantasy camp, I have felt that the Hansen brothers are among The Good Ones. This exceedingly pleasant song and its accompanying video, which features both Weird Al Yankovic and an elaborate recreation of one of the best dance numbers in The Blues Brothers (the Ray Charles "Shake Your Tailfeather" scene) is further evidence.
If you're tired of negativity, griping and snark, from others or from yourself, take a second to support positive day by posting something positive on Twitter and tagging it #PositiveDay.
I just posted a link to "Everybody Loves Grampa," the blog of Grampa, Dave Shumka of Stop Podcasting Yourself's dog.
Pass it on!
I'm proud to say that for the next month, we'll have a new underwriter on The Sound of Young America: Toronto's Humber College. Humber is the only college in North America that offers a program specifically focused on comedy. It includes writing, improv, standup and acting, plus chances to perform in the vital Toronto comedy scene. They say they can't make you funny, but they do make funny people funnier. Comedy is about skill as well as talent, and I wish I'd had the chance to do intensive study like this (to say nothing of the networking opportunities).
I talked with the director of the program, who's a big Sound of Young America fan, and it sounds like they're doing wonderful work there. It's also very inexpensive, at least compared to American schools, even for foreigners.
Visit HumberComedy.com for more information on the program. I'm going to try and get up there to give a talk and check things out in person later this year.
Our thanks to Humber for supporting our work! You'll find them in the "With Support From" panel to the right for the rest of the month!
Andy Richter is best known as sidekick to Conan O'Brien, on both Late Night and The Tonight Show. He's also a successful comic writer and actor. His acclaimed series Andy Barker, PI and Andy Richter Controls the Universe are both available on DVD. He's also headed out on tour with Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television" tour, which begins April 12th in Eugene, Oregon.
Andy talked with us about his early days, touring with The Real Brady Bunch and eventually falling into the sidekick's chair on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He talks about why he left that show, and why he rejoined Conan for The Tonight Show, and about what it was like to man a sinking ship after the staff of Tonight found out they were being pulled from the air.
The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.
Today's theme: Mad Libs. Brian "Business, Never Personal" Lane and Arthur Gauss both co-host with Jesse on today's TSOYA.
Brandon Bird is an artist (and fellow UCSC grad) whose paintings reference pop culture and historical figures; he was an artist-in-residence at Risley Residential College at Cornell University and is a regular contributor to The Believer. He talks to us about creating a "Law and Order" coloring book and performs a dramatic reading of the frankly hysterical tale of "Butt Tinkie," dreamed up by his four-year-old self.
Jimmy Pardo, comedian and host of the weekly podcast Never Not Funny, talks about the gift of a Gentlemen's Chest, his mom, and his worst television performance ever.
We're joined next by Geoffrey Nunberg, Fresh Air's in-house linguist and author of Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Confrontational Times. Geoffrey shares his insights on popular language usage, from "nucular" to "like".
We close it out with the legendary comic Shelley Berman, winner of the first-ever Best Comedy Album at the Grammy Awards of 1960 and a founding member of The Second City.
This week's classic is part 2 of our live show in NYC, and is just as jam-packed with guests.
Andrés du Bouchet is a comedian and comedy writer who most recently wrote for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and was the host of the long-running "Giant Tuesday Night Of Amazing Inventions And Also There Is A Game". Andres warms us up with some riffs on vampires and Ikea.
Our old friends in the NYC-based comedy group Elephant Larry then take the stage for a sea-faring sketch replete with shanties. Elephant Larry recently released the awesome parody The Wow.
They're followed by a few songs from the singer-songwriter and geek hero Jonathan Coulton.
Finally, we're joined by Kurt Andersen, host of PRI's Studio 360 and author of books like Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America. Kurt talks about the founding and evolution of Spy Magazine and working with Graydon Carter.
Listen to This Week's Show
The Soul Train line gets down to one of my favorite Curtis tracks.
Above is a clip of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Tracy Morgan. Morgan says something here that I found exceptionally powerful.
Oprah asks him what Tina Fey has meant to his career. She tries to lead into "she writes for my voice." Which is true - the staff of 30 Rock do write for Morgan's voice in a way that the staff of, say, The Tracy Morgan Show didn't especially well. They are, after all, the best in the business. They also write for Jack McBrayer's voice and Scott Adsit's voice and Jane Krakowski's voice. That's their job, and they're great at it.
So Oprah's headed towards some well worn territory with her question. Morgan's response, though, is so incisive. What he says is that Fey recognized he was making choices.
What he's saying is that despite his incredible success and remarkable talent, what was special about Tina Fey was that she recognized, simply, that Morgan had agency.
In a way, that's the opposite of what Oprah was driving at (and what people often seem to say about Morgan). People want to attribute Morgan's comic talent to writers. It robs Morgan of not just the credit for being as hilarious as he is (and he is hilarious), but of credit for creating at all.
Oprah's a great interviewer, and she catches herself and refocuses, recontextualizes her question. This isn't anti-Oprah.
What it's really about is something that it seems Morgan gets completely. When you suggest that a person doing creative work has no agency, that they are not making choices, you don't just hurt their reputation. It's closer in my mind to taking away their humanity. A person's actions can be judged for good or ill; a puppet is benign but it can never be human.
There are sharper race critics than I, but there's no doubt in my mind that race is part of this. My gut tells me that this kind of other-ization through a weird kind of infantilization that borders on taking someone's humanity is something that wouldn't happen to a white performer. I haven't sorted out all the implications in my mind, but I wanted to take a second to give Morgan credit for this insight. I know as an interviewer that I'm lucky if my subject thinks so sharply about themselves and their own experience.
(Video via The Vulture)