I love great sketch comedy, and as demonstrated on this site, I have tremendous nostalgia for the video industry of the 1980’s and ’90s. By nature I am protective of those things, out of love. I have little tolerance of exploitation of them.
I believe the modern peak of sketch comedy came with two shows; Mr. Show with Bob & David, and The Kids In The Hall (both on HBO). Since the 1990s, these programs set the gold standard. Inevitably, new sketch comedy shows are compared to them, and they seldom hold up. I don’t think The State gelled until they became Reno 911. Broken Lizard has fantastic moments; generally one or two per film. Too many comedy groups nowadays are post-UCB; all manic energy, no focus. That’s fine if the group is performing live for an drunken bar audience. TV is a different matter.
When retiring his comic strip Bloom County, Berke Breathed remarked “a good comic strip is as eternal as a ripe melon.” Personally, I think that’s bullshit, and reflects more on Breathed’s motivation, or lack thereof. A good comic strip lasts a lifetime. We still pass around clippings of The Far Side and Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, decades after they were printed. A cartoonist who can’t perpetuate over changing times has inked themselves into a corner. Or dried the well.
If a comic strip is still hilarious long past its sell-by date, it is a successful comic strip. That is the acid test.
Before you ask, the “flip book” of Dan Quayle eating a Twinkie actually works. Quite well.
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.
Do you know what a “cold open” is? Sure you do. Every current sitcom you watch uses it. It’s when the show just begins, no fanfare, no opening titles. Right into the action, because the producers know you’ll change the channel if you have to sit through 30 seconds of the same music every week.
Congrats! You’ve done exactly what was expected of you, and nothing more.
“Cold opens” are like “cold sores”. They spread easily. Saturday Night Live has done cold opens since before you were born. You’re used to it in sitcoms. Hell, you were getting tired of the “typical sitcom theme”, anyway.
The closest I ever got to molested was when I was eighteen.
(Art: Dave Gibbons)
I was walking to Fair Lawn late at night, to cause trouble. I was thinking about Rorschach, the masked psychopath from Watchmen. An overweight creep with glasses stuck a tiny knife in my back, herded me behind a border of hedges, and tried to force me down on the ground.