A Toast To Absent Friends

Imagine if legendary and revered comedian Bill Hicks hadn’t died in 1994.

Some people believe Alex Jones is really Bill Hicks. I am not among them.

What if- just hear me out- he supported Trump in 2016? How would that make you feel about him? What if he’d gone “right-wing”, pre- or post-9/11? Would he still be referenced in Tool songs?

I’d like to torpedo my own argument, and think that Bill Hicks would have shunned politics altogether, as he did the advertising industry:

“By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising… kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I’m doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalization for what you do, you are Satan’s little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: ‘There’s gonna be a joke comin’ up.’ There’s no fuckin’ joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself… borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something… rid the world of your evil fuckin’ presence.

“Do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you’re a corporate whore and eh, end of story.” 

-Bill Hicks

I believe from here on, anyone that has worked as a comedian should not be allowed in politics.

Not to get all ivory-tower, but I graduated high school. Just barely, which means I am naturally contemptible of high-school dropouts. I come from that kind of generation. If you didn’t graduate high school, you better have a GED, or be comfortable performing manual labor. Like it or not, I worked to acquire a high-school diploma, at a time when public school standards were ten times higher than they are now. I’ve won awards for achieving things, as far back as my teens. Okay? That’s my default mindset. I don’t mean to put anyone down.

It comes down to this: ACHIEVEMENT vs. ATTITUDE.

Comedians make a living based on ATTITUDE. The most ruthless ones honed their skills early while fucking up in school. I know, because I did the same basic thing; doodling. The difference is, I developed a physical craft I could both capitalize upon and express myself with. Plus, I didn’t drop out, as much as I wanted to. I dropped out of college, but that was because my family couldn’t afford it anymore, and I’d been hired as a newspaper cartoonist, thus accomplishing what I’d set out to do. ACHIEVEMENT.

I made a mistake after 9/11- I allowed myself to be emotionally vulnerable to comedians. I wept along with Jon Stewart when he returned to The Daily Show, asking the audience “are you okay?” For years following, I got all my news from Jon Stewart- everybody did. That’s why we’re paying the toll we are now.

When atrocities happen, you want to laugh at them. You don’t want to be afraid. So you turn to comedians; the ones willing to say literally anything for controversy and fame. 

That’s how high-school dropouts can still get political influence. By making the “right people” laugh.

I haven’t watched The Daily Show in many years, but it’s not because of Trevor Noah. He seems fine, so let me get all my Trevor Noah material out of the way, if you’ll permit me:

  • They had to go all the way to South Africa to find a black guy named Trevor?
  • I’m sure Noah’s vague resemblance to a recent beloved two-term president is a total coincidence. I mean, if Craig Kilborn suddenly returned, viewers would note his vague resemblance to Trump. You know, white.
  • I know Trevor’s not a minority hire, and totally represents the average American, but was his being born outside the US a meta-joke on the “birthers” of the Obama administration? If so, ha!
  • “Noah”- what’s a better name for a comedian than that? “Boone”? “Yousuck”?

I’m here all week, folks. Please don’t pay someone to stab me.

Beware of comedians with political stars in their eyes. On January 20, 2017, I thought to myself, “Jeez, even could be president.” That’s never, ever happened to me before. And I don’t even want to be president, or involved in politics whatsoever. I’m supposed to be defending you from that garbage, you know? The only agenda I can maintain is common sense. 

I have a bad, sick feeling that Al Franken is going to be the next turd the Democrats try to surf to the sacred White Bowl.

All due respect; Al Franken is a jerk-off.

Who am I to bestow such a judgment? I’ll tell you who. Someone who witnessed the public body of Al Franken’s work, when he was a goddamn mediocre comedian. I’m someone who did the math and offered my considered opinion. Al Franken sucks.

He used to work with Tom Davis on early Saturday Night Live, as Franken & Davis. Despite Davis’ passing in 2012, you might not recall his name. How about Christopher Walken as “The Continental”, Bill Murray’s Nick the lounge singer, or Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin as the Coneheads?

Tom Davis created all that.

Al Franken is most widely known for a recurring SNL character called Stuart Smalley. Phil Hartman’s soothing voice would intone “Daily Affirmation, with Stuart Smalley”. Stuart would recite his catch-phrase into a mirror:

“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone-it: people like me.”

This was Franken’s best work, and it cost him when he ran for office, and was dubbed “Senator Stuart Smalley”. He did a movie, Stuart Saves His Family, which revealed the familial horrors behind Smalley’s unbreakable positivity. It’s really not bad, as it portrays the ravages of addiction with realism, and has great performances by Harris Yulin and Vincent D’Onofrio. It’s also not a lot of laughs, unless you compare it to It’s Pat: The Movie.

In 1983’s Trading Places, Franken & Davis got the scene with the guy in a gorilla suit, as baggage handlers. I point this out when it happens because I’m convinced it was a covert form of actor humiliation. Yes: there is a gorilla-suit scene in Trading Places, and Al Franken is in it.

(l-r) “Gorilla”, Franken, Davis.

The real gorilla in the room is what went down last year, courtesy of Al Franken and Sarah Silverman. With three simple words, Silverman alienated everyone in her fan base who didn’t still want to fuck her. (i.e., everyone.) Franken loomed behind her, a half-politicized monster cobbled from the corpse of comedy. Three simple words.

“You’re being ridiculous.”

She said this to people who stuck by her when she made a show designed to offend literally everybody. People who laughed at her jokes about rape and incest. People who wanted her to succeed, based on their perception of who she was, or could become.

People who accepted her.

In three simple words, it was all over. Now Sarah has developed a complex where she sees swastikas everywhere. It’s not a meta-joke; I wish it was. You’re watching someone lose it. Someone who had a hell of a lot of talent and ability. Someone culturally important. That’s politics.

That’s why comedians should have no part in it.

And I’m up while the dawn is breaking
Even though my heart is aching
I should be drinking a toast to absent friends
Instead of these comedians.

-Elvis Costello

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