I’m old enough to remember when Bill Maher was a stand-up comedian; i.e., a person who stands behind a microphone and makes people laugh. I have vague memories of Kathy Griffin doing the same thing. As far as I can determine now, Maher and Griffin just make people mad, by saying or doing something deliberately inappropriate, and then flaying open their breast in apology, crocodile tears a-flow.
Then they go back to being unfunny. Because funny ain’t what pays their bills.
More integrity and realism than anything Maher has done since.
I’m also old enough to recall when Maher’s show Politically Incorrect lived up to its name, instead of being a vehicle for trendy virtue-signals. My pal Jim Goad once made an appearance. It was far more fringy and loose. Now it’s a reductive caricature, a safe forum for “differing viewpoints” (vetted by the network/sponsors). It’s a funnier joke as it is than anything that ever came out of Bill Maher’s mouth.
The May 2000 issue of The Last Laugh contained a do-it-yourself board game as its centerfold. It was called Not The Nineties!
I don’t know if anyone ever played it; I doubt it. The potshots are pretty brutal for a fun diversion. What can I say, the 1990s were actually pretty brutal themselves. The game provides a reasonably accurate simulation of trudging through ten unpleasant years.
(Printable game board included at the end of this article!)
From 2002 to 2010, two childhood best friends competed for dominance in a Toronto apartment house. Those friends are Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice, and on the Canadian reality show Kenny vs. Spenny, these competitions and their outcomes would be recorded for posterity. Each program, the loser would be subjected to a humiliation of the winner’s choosing. It provided a clearer picture of the male psyche than anything on television before or since.
Men think in terms of winning and losing. We see humiliation as undesirable but often inevitable. This runs counter to the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. You want a trophy? You better walk through fire to earn it. Otherwise, what does it mean? And why should your trophy be on the shelf with the others?
Even though the competitions in KvS are often simple, they become psychological endurance tests, and because Hotz and Rice have such magnetism as a team, we get a complex picture of the struggle for victory. Kenny is conniving and will resort to cheating; Spenny is guileless and strives to compete honestly and respectfully. They’re a compelling yin and yang, and since they’re Canadians, they are to funny what birds are to flying. There are cameras trained on them because they are funny simply being.Continue reading →
By the year 1993, I was hooked something fierce on a cable show called Mystery Science Theater 3000. It combined everything I adored about weird television; puppets, obscure humor, cheesy sets and B-movies. One could learn about the golden age of TV from the well-rounded cast and writers, through their rapid-fire gags and “riffs”. Nobody knew it was a show that would shape the world of entertainment, and become a household word. It was just this wonderful thing we all watched for two hours on Sunday morning, instead of church.
Then word began to spread that the host and creator of the show, Joel Hodgson, was leaving.
Now that everyone has a smartphone, no one cares about remote control.
The remote control used to be a powerful object. Couples fought over it. Some televisions would not operate without one, necessitating a trip to the local Radio Shack for another “universal remote”. Dads would exact a stranglehold over the remote, and moms would hide it on purpose, feigning ignorance while secretly enjoying the resultant frustration.