This video discussion between Gilbert Gottfried and Richard Belzer about whether jokes can be "too soon" is worth checking out if you have the 20 minutes. Gottfried is famous for getting in trouble for mining large-scale tragedy for material, but here he tells the positive story of making the first 9/11 joke at a roast of Hugh Hefner in 2001, and the resulting mass catharsis among the audience:
The laughs just exploded out, and everybody was just screaming and crying and – Rob Schneider was there, he fell off his chair – and they were applauding and going nuts, and it was like that moment of, "Hey, [...]
The Observer examines why some 9/11 jokes rally an audience and others produce total silence. And speaking of controversial humor, did you know that Roseanne Barr once posed for the magazine Heeb while "wearing a Hitler moustache and a swastika and preparing to take a bite of what the caption referred to as 'burnt Jew cookies'"? What?
During my basement era — those years from age 8 to 17, 1990 to 1999 — I watched constant comedy. I memorized NBC's jingles (“If you want to be happy on Tuesday night, Wings'll raise your spirits with a brand new flight”), and called my off-at-college brother after episodes of Seinfeld to do post-mortems of Nothing. At that point my critical capacity only allowed me comments like, “Another thing that was really funny was when George screamed 'Seven.' Wasn't that funny?” I still needed him to tell me for sure.
By the time I was 14, television producers and writers had become my heroes. They were like baseball players [...]
Guys, try to remain calm here, but take a look at this Simpsons screenshot. Notice anything? Like how it spells out New York 911 when you treat the WTC silhouette as numbers!! Guys, those Ivy Leaguers who write The Simpsons totally have connections to the Skull and Bones society and they caused 9/11, making it an inside job! It's a conspiracy!
And that's not the only example from the show. Apparently, this happened as well:
Last night's Family Guy episode, "Back to the Pilot," took us (duh) back to the show's pilot episode, allowing for what was basically audio commentary on the pilot by the characters themselves. Go back in time right now and watch it. You can finish reading this when you're done.
The first half of the episode mostly consists of Stewie and Brian using a time machine to visit different scenes from the pilot and poking fun at them. They're in the same position as us, having grown accustomed to the modern look and feel of a ten-year-old Family Guy, so re-watching the pilot is a little jarring. But the [...]
Almost 100 comic strip artists used their Sunday strips this week to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. They range from simple visual tributes to full narratives that find humor in the way we remember tragedy. The strips are collected here and definitely worth a look.
Comedy felt frivolous, and in some cases downright insensitive in the weeks after September 11, 2001. This was not lost on television’s funny men, who gave solemn monologues with knotted throats and fists, asking for forgiveness for their chosen profession. In an effort to explain the serious sincerity of his own reflections and those of other hosts, Jon Stewart suggested, “It’s something that unfortunately we do for ourselves so that we can drain whatever abscess is in our hearts. So that we can move on.” David Letterman similarly asked for the “patience and indulgence” of his audience and explained, “If we are going to continue to do [...]
Okay, this was a tough week for political comedy. If nothing else, it confirms something about the nature of comedy that we know deep down: it plays a major role in our healing process after national tragedies.
Immediately after something as disastrous as the shooting in Tucson happens, comedy just feels inappropriate. That makes sense. How could we be so insensitive as to laugh? That's how it is until suddenly it's the opposite, and laughing about that same event suddenly feels like a welcome relief. Even if we're not conscious of it, we begin to demand laughter. When we laugh, does that mean the worst is over?
The Week in Political Comedy is a column that rounds up the week's biggest news comedy stories and looks at how the presumptions, opinions, and short cuts comedians make shape our perception of the world. This week, we take a look at the news since Labor Day.
It was a short week but a busy week, as the nation’s comedy outlets got back to work after their late August breaks. Coming into this week the big comedy story was supposed to have been Joe Biden, who not only had a heavily promoted appearance on The Colbert Report, but also featured as the Onion’s front-page headline, “Biden To Cool [...]
This month marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the release of The Voice of Something, writer and director Jodi Lennon's 18-minute look into Marc Maron's experience just four days following the attacks in 2001. Shot from his then-home in Astoria, Queens and on to The Comedy Cellar in Manhattan, the film gives a raw glimpse into Maron's ability to find strength and some solace in comedy during a time when many of us were not ready to laugh.
Maron tells me by phone, “Obviously we were all horribly angry and upset and devastated. We were victimized in the eyes of the rest of the country and New York [...]
Usually with “Checking In,” I look back at a show or movie or Off-Broadway musical and tell you know what the cast and creators (and wonder hamsters) are doing today. Not this week, though. This Friday, let’s go with “Looking Back.” As you might have heard, Sunday is September 11, 2011, and that means not only has it been a decade since “Love and Theft,”The Blueprint, and Nickelback’s debut were released, it’s also been 10 years since this. In the aftermath of that terrible day, many TV comedies either revised soon-to-air scenes featuring the Towers, or took previous episodes and clips showing the buildings out of syndication. [...]
Screening this month in NYC and LA, director Jodi Lennon's documentaryMarc Maron: The Voice of Something follows the WTF host as he ambles around New York on September 19, 2001, during which he visits memorials, performs at the Comedy Cellar and basically tries to grapple with the aftermath as a comedian who tells it like it is, when "telling it like it is" is a deeply sad prospect.
Jon Stewart is pushing very hard to get the bill to pay for the healthcare of 9/11 first responders, currently being blocked by Senate republicans, passed in Congress. He dedicated nearly half his show last night to a discussion with four first responders, all suffering from serious health problems related to the months and months they spent working at ground zero.
It's a pretty serious departure from what Stewart usually does. In the past, his rants against or for certain pieces of [...]
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