The notion of a significant portion of a magazine's readership buying a very obviously fabricated story, on April Fools' Day, no less, is so antiquated that the idea itself is practically unbelievable.
But it was only a little more than a quarter century ago that our country's pre-eminent sports publication and sportswriter teamed up to craft what would go on to become the Museum Of Hoaxes second greatest April Fools' Day Hoaxes of all time, and serve as a cultural time capsule of America before the Internet.
By the time Sports Illustrated ran George Plimpton's the Curious Case of Sidd Finch, a 15-page bio of an unknown New York Mets pitching prospect, both magazine and writer had amassed enough literary clout to ward off universally immediate suspicions of, as Plimpton's therapist character in Good Will Hunting would say, “tomfoolery” or “ballyhoo.”
And so Plimpton was given free reign to concoct as fantastical a character as the sports journalism — or any journalism for that matter — has ever seen. Which is precisely what he did, detailing the life of a 28-year-old orphan, which included stops at Harvard and a Tibetan monastery, a single hiking boot, a food bowl, a rug, and a French Horn. His fastball was clocked 168 miles per hour, 65 mph faster than the fastest ever recorded. READ MORE
16 years ago last Friday, comedian Charlie Barnett's life was cut tragically short, the ends to a drug and doubt-fueled means that had reduced one of the most naturally gifted performers of a generation to an AIDS-stricken, debt-ridden smack addict.
Yet in spite of the sordid details of his demise, it is his Barnett's talent, fearlessness, and generosity — to his audience, his disciples, and his craft — which carry his legacy.
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It took the Village to raise Charlie Barnett.
Born in 1954 to an alcoholic mother and mentally ill father, he lived with his grandmother in the coal mining town of Bluefield, West Virginia until age 11, when, finding little importance in schoolwork, he dropped out and headed north, to be with his mother in Boston. But the socioeconomic obstacles for a black post-pubescent sans education or responsible guardian are nearly insurmountable, and at 19 he is lucky to be alive. READ MORE
Fools be in the bars unadvanced with a switch
Uppercuts and fight kicks with Weird Al Yankovic
-Coolio, "Throwdown 2000"
On a scale of pop music beefs from the last 25 years, Weird Al Yankovich v. Coolio would likely fall somewhere in the neighborhood of Morissette v. Coulier and Arrested Development v. Arrested Development. Which is to say, it wasn't much of a beef at all. To even label it a beef almost seems like an insult to the whole concept of beefs.
And yet, in the time it took for the two to formally and publicly reconcile their differences, The United States has seen 3 presidential elections, 4 new Supreme Court justices, and 20 Now That's What I Call Music! albums.
On the surface, “Weird Al” and Coolio would appear to be polar opposites, but it's striking how similar the two are, artistically and personally. Each were born and raised in Southern California (Coolio is Compton-bred, Yankovic Straight Outta Linwood) where as children, their bookwormish penchants found them ostracized socially. To find solace, they turned to music, where they rose to prominence by offering self-effacing, endearingly agitating alternatives to the increasingly self-serious musical genres of West Coast Gangsta Rap and modern pop. READ MORE
Like McSweeney's articles and Non-Governmental Organizations, the names of sketch groups often run the gamut from hyper-literal to the impossibly esoteric. If a group is successful, it can define its name so that people just think of them when they hear it. After all, what's a Monty Python if not Britain's greatest sketch group? But all these names, no matter how strange, came from somewhere. Below, you'll find the etymologies of seven prominent sketch groups, giving you the perfect bit of trivia to impress/annoy your comedy nerd friends with. READ MORE
In more ways than one, David Letterman couldn’t win at the 67th Annual Academy Awards. He was there as a host, not a nominee, which meant he couldn’t win literally, but unrealistic expectations made winning in a figurative sense all but impossible. And so at an event where almost no one left victorious, the biggest loser of the night wasn’t even nominated.
Johnny Carson’s impending retirement in the Spring of '92 triggered almost instantaneous speculation over whether Jay Leno or Letterman would emerge as heir to the Tonight Show throne. To the bewilderment of Letterman, and against the wishes of Carson himself, the NBC brass went with Leno. The debacle had left Letterman’s ego in tatters, but his newfound vulnerability had endeared him to folks who’d otherwise find his schtick unappealing. Suddenly the guy everyone loved to hate was now who everyone hated to love. America’s Smartass had inexplicably become America’s Sweetheart.
Two years later, the love affair reached its apex as he first strutted out onto the Shrine Auditorium stage sometime around 9pm EST. The ensuing three and a half hours, the most watched since Carson hosted 11 years prior, is considered the most notorious hosting performance in the history of The Oscars, if not all award shows. READ MORE
There’s a scene in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party where the comedian summarizes comedy and music’s long-standing marriage by positing, “Every comic wants to be a musician. Every musician thinks they're funny. It's a very strange relationship that we have.” It’s a fitting appraisal, especially when considering the source, whose intertwining of the two is unrivaled by his contemporaries.
The following list, which features genres ranging from indie rock to commercial hip hop to dancehall, supports Chappelle’s theorem that musicians think they’re funny, and, in the process, seek to prove that occasionally they are. READ MORE
Auto Buds: From Delocated's Jon Glaser, Auto Buds are two cars of the same make, model, color, or as identical as possible, that are parked right next to each other or in close proximity.
Where is Randy Savage?: A collection of photos with randy savage ingeniously photo shopped into them.
Hungover Owls: Owls that look hungover.
Literally Unbelievable: People who mistake the onion headlines as real.
I’m not racist, but: People on social networking sites who start updates with 'im not racist, but…'
Cats who look like Ron Swanson: Self-explanatory. READ MORE
The ½ Hour News Hour and An American Carol were a television show and feature film made by conservatives, for conservatives, at the expense of liberals. And yet their objective badness is perhaps one of the few issues in the last half decade on which liberals and conservatives are in agreement. They sought to prove that conservatives possess a quality sense of humor, and in failing, did just that.
Fox News Channel launched The ½ Hour News Hour in February 2007, billing the satirical “news” program as a right-wing retort to The Daily Show. Critical reception was negative from its infancy, including a then-record-low MetaCritic score of 12. In spite of this universal disdain (or perhaps because of it), initial episodes lead their time slots across all of cable. Those impressive early numbers soon eroded, however, and the show was euthanized after 17 episodes.
History repeated itself a year later with An American Carol, the liberal spoof from post-9/11 conservatism convert David Zucker. Roundly panned from both sides of the aisle (including scathing reviews from right-leaning rags the New York Post and Washington Times), it nonetheless received plenty of support financially (Carol's budget was in the neighborhood of $20 million), and promotionally (both Zucker and his cast were ubiquitous on right-wing media outlets in the weeks leading up to its nationally-released opening weekend), only to ultimately flop commercially (of that $20 million, only $7 million has been recouped).