Best comedy show Iíve seen lately: Garth Marenghií s Darkplace

Best cartoon Iíve seen lately: Chowder
Cartoons



Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sea Lab 2021, Harvey Birdman, Venture Bros.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force (along with Squidbillies) [D][D][D][D] is one of the best of the adult swim cartoons. Itís sort of like what if the Beasty Boys merged with Cartoon Network, Kevin Smith, (a funny version of) Nathan Lane, New Jersey (Atlanta), and a McDonaldís value meal. Everyone will be converted. [aqua teen hunger force sounds] [theme] [interview] [interview] [new york times] [fanart] [yes] Produced and overseen by my personal friend, Mike Lazzo of Williams Street Productions and the Cartoon Network. Seriously, this show is God damn art. I bet David Bowie even watches it! Actually, I know he watches it because he is a personal friend of mine too. We watch it together, at my house, while our wives play with the kids and crayons. Sea Lab 2021 [D][D][D] is great. Iím not going to spend my time here trying to convince anyone of that. But let me pass on one bit of key strategy for those who would hear. It is very important to watch these shows in the order they were made. On the second season, there are three brilliant episodes (you will know when you see them), the humor of which is almost entirely predicated on your understanding of the show so far. As for the third season, my two favorites have been "Red Dawn" and "Neptunati." Otherwise, I have been a bit let down since the departure of Captain Murphy. I think I will skip the fourth season (to keep a good thing good; I recommend the same for BSG as well as most things). Nothing gold can stay. Letís keep it that way. Harvey Birdman is great. Thatís all Iím going to say about it. [D][D][shrink gun] [coffee in the crotch] [shut up] Venture Brothers [D] is also great. (I think itís the same guys as Harvey Birdman.) In fact, as the seasons progress, the show just gets better and better and better. Itís now to the point where I think itís about as funny as a cartoon get possibly get. Itís fast. It may even go one further than Sealab, Harvey Birdman and others in that it has processed all of the references and allusions to both cartoon and television and film (including 007) lore and created a humor product which is one small step away from conscioius recognition and one giant step into the sublime. Yeah, itís good. Home Movies is pretty good. Itís the spiritual continuation of Dr. Katz. The Brak Show is about like SGC2C. Iíve seen two episodes. One was just pretty good, but the other one (the one where his Dad runs for neighborhood association president) was fnercking hilarious. [bite me] 'He wants to destroy your pets with...pet bombs...that he makes in his garage.í Space Ghost Coast to Coast [D][D][D] continues to be funny most of the time, but occasionally, the quality is uneven. Then, of course, maybe you just didnít get it. Or maybe I just didnít get it. Who knows. Who knows. Thus is the nature of art, and television. [luke skywalker] [johnny carson] [my own private demons] [temporary insanity]

Top 5 Funniest Cartoons of all Times Ever (In No Static Order)

1. South Park
2. Squidbillies
3. Dr. Katz Professional Therapist (or Home Movies)
4. Aqua Teen Hunger Force
5. The Simpson's

Southpark

Southpark is amazing. It seems like it just keeps getting better and better. Maybe itís me. I donít know. But I just keep liking it more and more. Which is actually really weird because I usually burn out on shows after fiver or so years. But by God I really love this show. I think a lot of it is because I completely agree with the showís point of view (e.g. Scientology = ridiculous, intolerance = ridiculous, intolerance of Scientology = wait, hold onóanyway, never mind). This show just rules. Perhaps I might actually come up with something more insightful to say about it. Or not. Whatever. [clusters] [one day at a time]

The Powerpuff Girls

Ten to fifteen minutes of uninterrupted, retro, satire, visual cartoon splendor. Any more would be dangerous. [Powerpuff Girls Style]

Dexterís Laboratory

This is a special cartoon by Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken (before he did PPG). I think itís a little higher brow, and more psychologically interesting than The Powerpuff Girls. I like it a lot, and so does this person. In fact, Iíve now decided I like it more than PPG, and itís one of my top 5 contemporary cartoons.


Don Hertzfeldt

On November 3rd, the Cartoon Network will show a short film/cartoon called Rejected. After this, nothing will be the same ever again. [Note: They didnít show it. Everything is the same.]

Dr. Katz (Professional Therapist)

Excellent show. Follows the same structure as Beavis and Butthead as an ongoing story interjected with Dr. Katzí patient sessions. Like the music videos in Beavis, this device allows a constant infusion of external humor, intentioned or not, (Iím thinking of David Lee Roth or any Aerosmith video right now). Many of Katzí patients are real comedians who can be pretty funny sometimes. And being a cartoon, itís not burdened with the kind of stupid Hollywood personalities you get on real talk shows. It may take an episode or two to get into, but this is truly one of the best shows around. Watching it will make you a smarter person. In fact, watch 12 hours, and you can legally practice psychology in some states. [fan site]

Squiggle Vision (Science Court)

Very funny. John Benjamin from the Dr. Katz show. This show is really funny.

Looney Tunes

All these years, and still, no one has surpassed them. Actually no one has tried really. :)

The Critic

Isnít made anymore. But it was pretty funny.

Family Guy

This show isnít as bad as some people think. Yes itís formulaic and overly referential. But for those who do get the references, it does provide a certain amount of guilty pleasure. In fact, I tend to think that sometimes the question of whether a show is too topical or referential is can be willfully disregarded. Is it great art? Probably not. Is it funny to me? Sure. Would I step over my own grandmother to see it. No. Would I step over John Kerry to see it? Yes. There you go. [D][D]

Simpsons

Oh my god, if Iím the one to first tell you about the Simpsonísóno, Iím not saying anything.

Grim Fandango

Brilliant, captivating, hilarious. This is one of the most entertaining video productions Iíve seen. It just happens to be a computer game. I stopped playing computer games long ago, but a friend showed me this game called Grim Fandango. Itís basically an interactive movie, and itís cool, thing. The voice performances and writing are great. Your character moves through one after another of colorful, surreal and totally sublime Erte-esque sets ('why is he not linking to Erte?' you wonder. Well, because then you would actually see that the comparison isn't valid, and expose me for the fraud I am). Anyway, the animation is stylized (avant-garde filmmaking). The game also has countless humor elements that are a byproduct and exclusive to the vehicle itself. That is to say, the interactive nature of playing a computer game actually enables a unique form of humor. Of course, you already knew that, and I'm like, pointing out the obvious. There's one scene in particular, where your character enters a bar, and goes on stage to do one of those Saturday night poems (Um, yeah, you know). Anyway, you get to construct your poem from various lines each as cheesy as the next. The result is some truly fantastic parody. Actually, I wish I could just have little excerpts on my computer as a screen saver. That's just how damn good this is. Note there are other games like this, but this is the one I'm talking about now.


News and Sports

ESPN Sports Center

Itís on just about all the time, so the only way you donít know about it is if you are a non-carbon based life form, you donít get cable, or both. Whether one follows sports or not, this is a great show that everyone should watch. The highlights are presented cleverly so as not to be predictable and the writing shares a great awareness of the social climate in America (perhaps even rivaling MTVís Real World and/or the brain power of Carson Daly). The show is light-hearted and entertaining enough to make you not care that professional sports is really all fake anyway (except pro-wrestling and boxing).

SSX

The last time I played a video game for more than ten seconds was back in college, when you couldnít find a dorm room without that litte hockey game, you know, the one. In college, it was fun to watch two friends clobber each other in some video game. But it was mainly fun because one of them would lose (usually the same one) and get pissed and throw the controller across the room and you could feel smug about not being as much of a hot-head as your friend.

Well now a friend of mine just got this thing called a Sony PS2, and he showed me this game called SSX. The gameís about the (for now) made-up sport of free-style snowboard racing. But like, wow. The visual effects and sounds are nothing short of mesmerizing. And although I have no desire to actually play it, I have to admit itís pretty damn exhilarating to just sit back and watch someone else, especially on a huge T.V. Hell, itís better than golf.

FOX News Sunday

No matter what side you swing from, this is one entertaining news show. Many feel the moderator is ďa breath of fresh airĒ as he ranges from cool indifference to outright disdain,
depending. Others say the decor is ďlike a bad suburban country clubĒ and the food has ďenough grease to start a refinery.Ē

PBS McLaughlin Group

Love this show. Lawrence O'Donnell is great. Takes himself a little seriously at times, but don't we all? The only point where he and I disagree is on the death penalty. He's completely opposed to it. I want everyone dead. Tony Blankley is the loveable, hefty GOP. Mort Zucker is the loveable self-made Jewish trillionaire. Pat Buchanan represents an exquisite blend of social conservatism and economic isolationism. Eleanor Clift plays the shrew. I don't know what happend to Michael Barone, but he had a remarkable knowledge base despite being too far to the right (unless perhaps the two go hand in hand). Either way, I would watch the show even without any of them because sooner or later, John McLaughlin's head is going to explode, and I definitely don't want to miss that.

PBS Jim Lehrer Newshour [find your PBS station]

Now, I don't normally talk to the television, but if I did, and I was watching The News Hour with the beady-eyed but often level-headed Jim Lehrer, I would say, "Show me more of that Margaret Warner giggling (at something a guest has said, which is funny whether they meant it or not)." That is one of the most beautiful things on T.V. today. And not just because it reveals a keen sense of humor, but also because she's one of the best around at generating follow-up questions, redirecting responses, asking for clarification and getting court restraining orders. When the time comes, she needs to skip the promotion to Jim Lehrer's spot and just be handed the presidency outright. I'm not kidding about all this. It's either her or Condy. I know who I'd rather.


Dramas and Sit Coms


On Dramas...

Yeah. Who cares what I think about dramas.


On Sit-coms and Other Quality Entertainment...

Sit-coms are stupid. You should never watch them. You are stupid. You watch them. So do I. That 70s Show? Sucks. I wish I could bitch slap the entire cast as well as the producers, writers and make-up artists, and myself, once for each minute Iíve ever watched of that show. Will and Grace used to be funny, now it bores me. I hate King of Queens very much. Why canít it join The Drew Carey Show and Just Shoot Me all on one channel that I can not watch. Oh, and let me assure you, everybodyódoes not love Raymond. This is a very time-sensitive spot so 7/7/06.

Sit Coms which actually ARE funny include: The Office (both versions) and Flight of the Concords

Gameshows and Other Reality TV

The Weakest Link? Youíre the weakest link. And isnít this show off the air? It definitely was an interesting phenomenon, but it was always so painful to watch, like cruelty to animals or something. I might be tempted to watch Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, but I sort of have a rule against waiting five minutes for some pud to answer a simple multiple choice question. Thank god they now screen out contestants who are most likely to say, ďWell (name of host), when I was a small boy growing up in the mean streets of Dallas, mom would take us all to the park and we would swing on the swings and play in the sandbox until it was time to go home. Then I would cry and throw sand in my sisterís face, and mom would tell dad when he got home, and he would spank me. So Iím going to say Winston Churchill, final answer.Ē Who Wants to Bludgeon a Millionaire? I never saw Survivor until I accidentally ran into the final reunion show. I watched about five minutes, and yes, it was awful. I saw a tribal council once, and three minutes was about all I could take. ďWell, sheís a great girl, like Iíve said all along. Iíd love to have sex with her when this is all over. Sheís like a sister to me. But sheís history. I vote for Betty Sue.Ē But as bad as Survivor is, it couldnít hold a tiki torch to Big Brother, perhaps the dumbest show in the entire history of voyeur television. Okay, saw the first episode of Big Brother II. Damn itís dumb. Is there a way we can vote them all off? Iíve never seen a bigger bunch of idiots in my life. And I went to college! American Idol is so painful, Iíd rather watch a slab of tuna rot, or Joe Millionaire 2. I once knew someone whoís favorite television station was E, and thatís starting to not look like such a bad thing.

1 Humor theory applied to 3rd Rock (warning: very high big word count)


2/26/03 Reality Bites (Reuters) - A senator on Tuesday accused CBS of peddling "bigotry for big bucks" by planning a "reality" show based on "The Beverly Hillbillies," which portrayed a family of simple country folks suddenly transplanted to a posh neighborhood. In a fiery speech on the Senate floor, Georgia Democratic Sen. Zell Miller called on CBS and its chief executive, Leslie Moonves, to cancel the program, which has already sparked protests in rural areas where casting is being done.
ó Yahoo News
2/26/65 Reality Bites The 'massí audience looks up at the 'starsí; the educated audience looks down sympathetically, as if reading a case history. They all stew in their own narcissism. The mass audience is beginning to catch up. On a recent television program Ed Sullivan clucked sympathetically at Brigitte Bardot and told her how much he sympathized with the hard life of glamour girls like her and Monroe and Taylor, and, final irony, told her how much he admired the way she had 'handled herself.í
ó Pauline Kael (I Lost It At The Movies)




Other Things


British Television (cannot be on the same page as all of this).

Late Night Talk Shows

I didnít think it was possible, but Jimmy Kimmel and Carson Daly are so square they make Jay Leno look like a flaming radical. Letterman is still the best, and that Scottish Guy is about the biggest douche-bag on television today. I bet the guy from Cheaters would even be a better talk show host. So Graham Norton is funny.
whatever happened between 1970 and now that caused sketch comedies to go from a bunch of people having fun and being funny to a sterilized, over-written, overproduced schmeel of commercialized waste.
Charlie Rose

This is the show that keeps me from killing people. And has for so many years.

Sketch Comedy and Other Comedy Shows

Tim and Eric Show Great Job (Adult Swim) is sometimes pretty funny/zany.(2/07).

Other acceptable comedy on T.V. today includes The Daily Show. The Colbert Report was funny at first but itís already old. It wonít outlast the The Daily Show (even though both are written by Joyce Carol Oates), because Colbert flubs one in ten jokes. Colbert is really just a comedian in the end and although heís very quick witted, he doesnít really care in the way Stewart does. This is more important than people now realize. Reno 911 was great for the first season although it may have dipped since. The Dave Chappelle Show was great for a while. Newsflash: The year is 2007 and SNL actually has a few decent writers now. The players are still so-so, but damn, they actually got some decent writers it looks like.

I would be more than happy to discuss this with anyone from the show at the producer, writer or performer level (see contact page). I can help you. Meanwhile, everyone should buy all of Monty Pythonís Flying Circus episodes on DVD from Amazon. The The Kids In The Hall had a lot of funny material, and when they did suck, at least it wasnít assóer, wait. Of course, there is the old SNL (I mean 70ís not 80ís), but you canít really even buy it because of some cruel executive joke.


Blind Date

Now we get into the good stuff. This is that show that lets you tag along on the blind dates of some pretty dim witted people. As you follow along on their dates, the show throws up one caption after another to provide running sardonic commentary. Think of it as Mystery Science Theatre 2000, but instead of B movies, itís B people. You canít watch this show more than about twenty minutes before you are ready for the vomitorium. But this show has some truly brilliant writers and every time I watch it, I end up falling out of the chair more than once, especially whenever real animals are involved.

Quicktime Video Clips for Shows That Never Got Made Mystery! on PBS and A&E

Anything by Ken Burns

Ken Burns is a god. Ken Burns could write a documentary on rubber chickens and it would kick ass. Anything and everything he has done, including The American Experience series, particularly the ones on Frank Lloyd Wright and Mark Twain, are required viewing. Ken Burns could have my baby, if I ever get tired of it. All of this, and to see him talk, youíd think he was a twenty-seven year-old dork. Wow. He totally looks like Bo from Days of Our Lives.

Frontline Documentaries

No idea if theyíre as true as they portend. Okay, they totally make shit up. But so what? The stories are so well told. Thatís all that matters. Say it with me. Res-o-nate. And sometimes theyíre about human trafficking!

Advertising

Advertising is good in Europe and Japan. And Australia. And Canada. Mexican ads can be funny too. Come to think of it, advertising is good just about everywhere in the world except the United States. I donít know why that is. But suffice it to say that in car commercials, there are only three companies worth shit. Volkswagen (best in class), Mitsubishi (good music), and there was a third I was thinking of...maybe it was Toyota? Ooh, maybe Mercedes? Huh.


Radio

BBC World Service

All Things Considered (NPR)

Car Talk (NPR)

My Word (NPR)

Frank DeFord
Interesting, amusing and often insightful commentary about sports and society in general. Usually has little 2-3 minute monologues that come on the radio from time to time.


1 Or as Lope De Vega said of Gongora (later usurped by Borges to describe James Joyce)
"Be what it may, I will always esteem and adore the divine genius of this gentleman, taking from him what I understand with humility and admiring with veneration what I am unable to understand."
2 All spelling mistakes are Lana Choiís fault. She was supposed to edit this page. Lana Choi: supposed to edit this page.


curb your enthusiasm = good

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