Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Comedy Central

Dear Comedy Central (,

I would like to start out by saying I'm a fan of Mr. Devine's comedy, and rather enjoy Workaholics.  I think it's a quality, broad-humor show with a brainy streak in the vein of classics like The Three Stooges and Cheech & Chong, and I look forward to viewing more episodes in the future.  I also would like to make the point that I don't shirk from rough comedy; in fact, I revel in the stuff.

However, I think the choice to use a gun (with fired blanks, apparently) at the end of the "Adam Killed a Man" episode of "Adam Devine's House Party" was unfortunate.  I found particularly egregious his pointing the gun for comedic effect (a) at two police officers he was holding hostage, (b) at the (obviously shocked) crowd present, then (c) at his own face.

I do understand that the pointing of guns is widely used on TV programs, but there is usually a psychological wall separating the violence in drama/cop/thriller shows and comedy programming (just as The Daily Show gets away with certain types of editorializing because the network that puts it on the air has the word "comedy" in its name, unlike, say, Sean Hannity, whose network awkwardly includes the word "news" in its name).

Further complicating things, it seems the conceit of "Adam Devine's House Party" to be that it's a pseudo-reality show (as obviously scripted as it may be), where a real-life Mr. Devine is hosting a party of sorts at his house (which also has a theater in it?), and that some of his guests have been invited to perform their stand-up comedy acts.  Eliminating the "fourth wall", in this sense, opens up some comedic possibilities to be sure, but also brings with it the need for extra responsibility since what it portrays can be taken to be more "real" by some viewers, even if they still think of it as scripted comedy in general.  Try to think like a 10-year-old on this one.

Please note that my comment is NOT about the episode in general, its murderous plot, the fact that Mr. Devine appeared on camera throughout the episode covered in blood while presenting the various acts (I actually thought that was pretty funny), or any other dramatic elements. I'm only referencing the gun as an object, and how it was used on-screen.

This is a particularly sensitive matter when a comic actor of Mr. Devine's talents, which appeal mostly to younger viewers, can put the wrong idea in people's minds about what sort of thing is "funny" to do with your friends (something tells me that somebody, somewhere, at some point, mourned the cancellation of MTV's "Jackass", but I hope never to meet that person).

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.  In particular I would like to hear that this uncomfortable choice is a single occurrence, and not a sign of where Mr. Devine plans to take his artistic sensibilities in the future.  I sure would hate to miss any of it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Worst-Case Scenario

I'm often given pause by how casually some people use the phrase "worst-case scenario", and then proceed to describe some situation that is truly trivial.  For example: "with some traffic, worst-case scenario we'll get to the party an hour late".

The worst-case scenario, given everything that philosophy and science tells us about ourselves and the universe, would be the chance generation of a virus that infects the brains of human beings rendering them absolute hallucinatory schizophrenics.  Driven only by their instinct to eat and reproduce, yet forever tormented by imagined pains, visions and horrors existing only in their own minds, our world would be bereft of all remnants of humanity, save for the shuffling, brutish walking dead.

Some say this might have already happened, but at least in my version the rest of the universe is safe from us.

And speaking of space flight....

Are celebrity space boondoggles covered in real time by the media?

Friday, January 03, 2014

Mr. Brooks, of The New York Times, has been there, and feels your pain

Do you sometimes get the impression that a member of the commentariat is forced to write a certain piece because they lost a bar bet with their editor?

To save you some reading, his argument, in the content of Colorado effectively ending pot prohibition as of Jan 1, boils down to the painfully familiar concept that people should be put in jail for smoking pot because won't somebody please think of the children??  The perversity of this coming from a member of the part of small government, ending the nanny state, etc, is plain.

On a related but more amusing note, I still remember a latter-day piece by Christopher Hitchens, written in perfect earnest dead-pan, of his experience going through a scalp-to-toes day spa treatment which I'm SURE was a put-on by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter:

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: