Towards the end of his last television appearance before his death, the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen, Patrice O’Neal does something out of character. After scrapping prepared material in favor of slicing and shredding his way through the dais with a spontaneous and devastating verbal assault of a riff, the comedian finally arrives at the grand prize, Mr. Sheen himself. Even a comic with half the talent and experience of O’Neal would have perceived the tiger blood-fueled actor as a sitting duck, a veritable piñata of embarrassments just waiting to be bashed open. But when it comes time to deliver the final deathblow, the comedian suddenly changes tack. [...]
We can do anything we want. We’re college students!
–Tagline for Animal House, 1978
So went the battle cry of the Deltas, the “worst” fraternity at Faber College and the anarchic scourge of its campus administration. When it was released in 1978, Animal House was a low-budget college movie with a cast of mostly unknowns that went on to bust box-office records, launch a few careers, and rocket the genre of gross-out comedies into the mainstream. By today’s standards Animal House now seems incredibly tame, almost endearingly so. But when it first hit theaters it was heralded as a subversive punch from the counterculture. This was less a reflection [...]
It’s a rare phenomenon that a film so completely decimates an audience’s understanding of civility that it forces them to recalibrate their entire moral compass. Before Danny McBride swindled us into liking Kenny Powers, the bullying, ultra-arrogant former major league pitcher in Eastbound & Down, he forced on us a protagonist far more brutal and amoral. Fred Simmons, strip mall Taekwondo instructor and small town psychopath, intruded upon the public consciousness in 2006 with Jody Hill’s The Foot Fist Way, leaving audiences stunned and struggling to regain their internal equilibrium, as if they had been suddenly dropped into higher altitudes.
Fred Simmons’s savage presence loomed so large over the [...]
“Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” —Rainier Maria Rilke
Of all the titles and descriptors Marc Maron has acquired through the perilous swings of his long career, “Feral Cat Wrangler” might be, curiously enough, the most appropriate. It’s one he gave to himself, an acknowledgment of his inclination for taking in wild strays. But it also serves as a profound metaphor for his duties as host of the enormously popular WTF podcast, on which he welcomes in from the trenches of entertainment a long [...]