Our favorite comedy troupe, Cook St. Productions, is currently in the home stretch of a 30-day KickStarter to fund their short film, Bunco. With just a few days left, they are only $2,550 short of their $16,000 stretch goal. That’s just 260 more donations of $10! If you would like to donate, here is the KickStarter link. If you would rather spend $10 on something else, here’s a list of where you shouldn’t allocate those funds. Continue reading
[There is a companion podcast to this article, by Cook St. Productions, which you can stream or download here, or get through iTunes here. On the podcast, we run down this list and my colleagues Travis and Evan outline their many disagreements.]
So what am I talking about when I say “The 20 Best Funny People Right Now?”
It’s a title intended to be vague, and one that I settled on by default. I say ‘Funny People’ because that avoids the term ‘Comedian,’ which suggests it’s relegated to stand-up. And I say ‘Best’ because ‘Funniest’ sounds somehow more subjective, and ‘funny’ ain’t all that’s being measured here.
I made the following list using my own opinions and tastes, but also combined with whatever ‘facts’ or statistics the Internet could offer. I then evaluated the contestants based on these conflicting merits:
- Success – past, present, and projected future.
- Popularity – amongst the general popularity, or critics, or other comedians.
- Versatility – how they’ve fared across multiple projects and media.
- Talent – charisma on-screen or, presumably, in person.
- Voice – is it distinct, and how much ownership they have over the comedy.
- Relevance – are they important to the comedy landscape, and will they be moving forward.
- Trust – This might be the most important metric, but the hardest to qualify. A relationship without trust fails 100 times out of 100, and when you lose faith in someone’s ability to make you laugh, that’s kind of it. For instance, when you hear someone’s in an upcoming project or you see them pop up on TV or in a movie trailer, what’s your gut reaction — is it ‘yes!’ or is it ‘uh oh what is this?’ Do you trust their talent to transcend their project? Do they make interesting creative choices? Do they seem to still care? The answers to these questions come from the gut, and as inexact as that science may be, it helps settle some ties. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Andy Samberg are both extremely funny people, but I do not trust Andy Samberg.
‘Nuff disclaimer? Alright you monsters, here’s your goddamn list. Continue reading
Sorry, but today we’re going to discuss Death and Social Media. Look, I wish we weren’t, but these repulsive concepts are finally colliding and I can’t help but rubberneck.
THREE KEY EVENTS over the past few months made me uncomfortably aware that a lot of us humans will now die as we lived — online. And seeing as how life is seemingly quite short, or as scientists say, “slipping away every second,” it’s best we just jump right in, hand-in-hand, and see where the rabbit holes take us.
1. Funeral Selfies.
As many angry people know, “selfie” was deemed Word of the Year in 2013 by the Oxford Dictionary. Apparently, the sacred crown that is ‘Oxford Word of the Year’ was soiled irreversibly by this decision, even if it was just the cold result of online usage analytics. But a selfie is a selfie — it’s not nothing. I learned this tautology from a riveting BuzzFeed list titled ‘The 23 Most Important Selfies of 2013.’ I really recommend it, especially #15, which is a dude taking a selfie in front of his teacher while she’s in labor.
When it comes to selfies, no category was more maligned than The Funeral Selfie, and with good reason—the pictures show an ugly new stage of the Internet’s growth. But not everything evolution throws our way is aesthetically pleasing. New forms of media and viral communication are constantly invented and adopted, we just never consider what will happen when Death gets his frozen, greedy hands on that shit. Continue reading
Six weeks ago, at the beginning of September, I was doing what a lot of people do, which is convince themselves that they are excited for autumn. That the long, sunny days and warmer temperatures of summer would no longer interest me because sandals and shorts are the wardrobe of a boy; men, or at least the handsome ones, wear pants and a jacket, possibly even a dashing hoodie.
In autumn, I told myself, even the women become more attractive, more nuanced. It becomes less about skin and more about scarves; it’s eye color, it’s how they hold a hot chocolate, it’s how the palms of their hands interact with sweater sleeves. Summer? Summer’s just a superficial sex market where everyone’s wearing skirts and there are sundresses and people are tan and curvy and everyone’s drinking and wow I just realized that living in Miami would make me unstable and I would never use commas. Continue reading
I’ll start with the bad news.
If you were born in the 1980s, then congratulations — you are known currently, and for the rest of history, as a ‘Millenial.’ I apologize, but you are trapped, my friend. We do not get to choose which generation we belong to nor what hideous name describes it. If it is any consolation, I am sure that very few of our parents liked the term ‘Baby Boomer’ when they first heard it, or better yet, imagine how the 70s babies felt about being hamstrung by the label ‘Generation X,’ which still sounds so desperately anarchistic that you cannot help but pity its members. At least we didn’t end up being ‘Generation Y’ as originally suggested.
Now it’s time for the really bad news.
Generations, for whatever reason, are remembered for their counterculture. So, for example, when I said Baby Boomers, you thought Hippie (thanks Woodstock!). When I said Generation X, you thought Grunge (thanks Nirvana!). When they (i.e. our kids, historians, me … right now) speak of the Millenials, or rather, what characterized American culture in the early stages of the 21st century, they will have no choice but to imagine the Hipster (thanks Portlandia!).
And like I said, you are trapped, my friend.
We’ve gathered here today to dissect one of nature’s most resilient new organisms: the Like Button on Facebook. The Like Button is, apparently, here to stay, regardless of how comfortable you are with its continued survival. Even though it presides over much of our daily lives, we don’t, as citizens of a democracy, get to vote on it or anything, just like I don’t remember ever casting a ballot with ‘Extreme, Devastating Weather Patterns’ or ‘Craig Ferguson’ checked off.
Given that it seems (temporarily) permanent and that we interact with it visually and emotionally on a daily basis, I have decided to conduct a long-overdue, informal survey of the Like Button in my own mind.
Conclusion: Yeah. I love it. Continue reading
“Don’t…stop…thinkinnn about tomorrrrrowww!”
A few weeks ago, politician/adulterer Bill Clinton sashayed to fervent applause as he approached a podium from stage right at the Democratic National Convention. He then spoke, and speak did he, delivering a 45-minute endorsement of President Obama that went into great detail about the reasons and statistics for re-election. His overall presence, forever folksy and comforting, was arguably the highlight of the DNC. What you may not have registered throughout this whole spectacle was the song playing during Clinton’s entrance and exit: Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” … i.e. ‘thinkinnnn about tomorrrrowww,’ i.e. his 1992 presidential campaign’s theme song. A subtle touch by the convention organizers to summon potential nostalgia, all-the-while suggesting, and I cannot be totally sure about this, that Clinton (and by extension, Obama) is focused on making the United States a great country again, but not just for us— no no no — also for all those adorable little kids and grandkids we have. What debt ceiling, amirite?
This only proves what we already knew: political campaigns need to create a brand like any other business. And if you want to brand something, overplay a song. Ask the 90’s Bulls teams. Ask Garden State.
[Tangent #1: Political branding still works on us (e.g. Shepard Farey posters) and I do not understand why. We are the most informed (often against our will) humans in all of history. This gives us a certain savviness as a culture; someone starts talking about politics and the conventional wisdom is that it’s ‘all just a bunch of pre-packaged bullshit.’ Every election year, it feels like we are just watching a magician saw his assistant in half–we know how the trick is done, but we want to analyze how this particular magician sold it. We armchair-quarterback the art of illusion. Consider Romney’s career-changing ‘47% Video.’ Much of my reaction was ‘what a gaffe!’ instead of ‘what a terrible thing to say.’ Just think about how often people say that Obama is a ‘gifted politician’ (which he is), an utterly backhanded compliment (which it should be) …we are basically just saying he is a great liar, correct?]
[Tangent #2: We hate ’em, but we have to choose between ’em. Those that run for political office understand this paradox, Ron Paul included. Everyone that has ever tried to sell anything to anybody understands this; we loathe the general spirit of advertising, but still gotta choose between Bud Light and Miller Light every weekend.]
So anyway, Bill Clinton, way back when, used Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop” to help frame his overall message, to give his policies a jingle.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, remains a man without a soundtrack. Continue reading
For Part 1 of this 2007 movie retrospective, please click here.
Cutest Couple: Seth Rogen & Judd Apatow
In 2006, a movie called 40 Year-Old Virgin came out, directed by Judd Apatow and introducing Seth Rogen in a supporting role. The movie performed moderately well, but gained more traction on DVD than it did in the theater. It did, however, load the bases for 2007, when Knocked Up and Superbad made a quarter-billion dollars (domestically) at the box office. Rogen starred in Knocked Up and was a writer/actor in Superbad. Apatow, who wrote and directed Knocked Up, in addition to producing Superbad, became a household name and finalist for TIME’s “Person of the Year.”
Over the past few months, The Computer Newspaper has re-visited the year 2007 for an occasional feature called P.I.E., or Perspective Is Everything. This has ranged from an-entirely-too-thorough-to-be-readable music tournament of albums to a retrospective on the Florida Gators’ NCAA basketball success. Naturally, within the holy trinity of popular culture, this leaves us with only film to dissect. Let’s at least have fun with this biotch!
(Editor’s Note: ‘biotch’ is a variation of the word ‘bitch,’ but one would definitely have to travel further back in time than 2007 to remember an instance when this was a funny thing to say)
While doing the research for this piece, it became clear that looking at a list of movies that came out five years ago is an experience fundamentally akin to reviewing your old high school yearbook. Flipping through those pages, skimming images from a simpler time, there are fleeting moments of fond nostalgia.
[Tangent: When I look through my yearbook, ten years later, the nostalgia I feel is not for high school, necessarily, but for the idea of the yearbook itself. I don’t get transported back to a pep rally or English class, but only to the moment I first looked through our senior yearbook and thought ‘oh wow, they put in that picture… that is going to be priceless in ten years!’ Now, honestly, it could be burned in a terrible fire and only like an hour of the rest of my life would be affected. Otherwise, I live in a weird, wistful boomerang where the only thing I remember is what it was like to need a yearbook to remember things. Clearly none of us that shelled out $60 per copy were taking into account the extent to which we all would just live on the internet.]
Traipsing through your high school yearbook is just like looking at a list of movies from five years ago. And in case that does not seem like a fair comparison, how else do you explain this retrospective, hastily-fashioned list of Senior Superlatives for 2007 film? You cannot, unless you believe in the existence of journalism gimmicks. Continue reading
If you are remotely familiar with science fiction over the past century, you already know that the premise
artificial intelligence will overwhelm Life on Earth as we once knew it
is science fact, not fiction. Moving forward in the argument, an amateur logician would also grant the following syllogism:
In conclusion, John Malkovich will die (probably later this summer), and by the looks of it, this death will be facilitated by a preternaturally-wise robot.
Having established that, let us now begin discussing the two frontrunners for how this happens. Continue reading