I don’t watch Jimmy Fallon. I don’t like him. I never have. Why do I feel bad writing that?
Fallon didn’t get the job because he had the most talent as a late-night talk show host. He got it because he was the available cypher. He never makes waves, or complains about pay. He has no opinions regarding corporations, no matter how toxic they are, or how much pressure they exert upon his artistic freedom. He loves karaoke because he loves to imitate. He is permanently star-struck.
The perfect talk show host.
There was a kerfuffle on late night television in the 1980s, between David Letterman and the brilliant writer Harvey Pekar. Luckily, it has been chronicled in Pekar’s American Splendor, and its excellent film adaptation. Otherwise you’d never know about it.
In short, Pekar had grievances with NBC, Letterman’s network. He didn’t like that General Electric owned NBC, and that its president was attempting to form a Political Action Committee. Harvey was right; those things are bad. In 2017, those things cause most of the problems with mainstream media. When a corporate person owns a network, it becomes the propaganda arm of that person. The tail has been wagging the dog for your entire life.
However, Dave was also right. He knew, as a good host, that there’s a time and a place for such discussions. He tried to play off Pekar’s accusations as drollery, which only made Harvey angrier. They parted ways with a banning, then reconciled later, for even greater television.
That’s actual passion. That’s love.
A similar falling out and making up occurred between Letterman and indefatigable fitness guru Richard Simmons, also over several years. Both men had such a love for what they did, they fell naturally into the roles of straight man and holy fool. It was “appointment television” when Simmons was a guest. It was more than worth staying up for.
Richard Simmons is pure love. When my mother was suffering terrible MS, Richard Simmons made her laugh. On TV. She never even got to meet him.
Richard Simmons was in Fellini’s Satyricon, while he was obese. Almost everyone on our planet has made fun of him, and he does not care. Over four decades ago, he accepted the position of court jester, for better or worse. He never came out as gay because it would be reductive. He is already RICHARD SIMMONS. He is the closest anyone has ever come to Bugs Bunny in human form.
When was the last time you saw a person try to entertain you like Richard Simmons? Or Don Rickles? Years? Decades?
That’s because everything you watch has been bought out. There is no love for anything but money. I see no love in Jimmy Fallon, only emptiness. A bottomless well of desire to please and be accepted. That’s not love, or passion.
The Simpsons, in its earliest and greatest period, often featured guest voices from the world of underground and subversive comedy. When “King of Pop” Michael Jackson voiced a character, a pseudonym was used in the credits, to keep from unfairly promoting the episode. (And to “keep it secret”, of course.) Spinal Tap and John Waters were also immortalized as yellow cartoon men. A National Lampoon guy who once made Norm MacDonald angry enough to punch him* wrote some of the finest episodes. Plus John Swartzwelder, from whom almost everything beloved about The Simpsons sprang.
(*Norm lit a cigarette in the SNL writers room, and the guy in question squirted Norm in the face with a water bottle. This inspired not only a punch in return, but the Artie Ziff “squirt squirt squirt” bit on The Simpsons.)
Latter-day Simpsons episodes operate the way everything else does. Whomever pays the most gets the shot. People defend Lena Dunham because:
- She has a show on HBO that people are paid to promote, so it must be good/watchable
- She donated her trust fund/soul (if any) to Hillary Clinton, thus ensuring a year of visibility/overexposure
- She is a lumpen cypher like Jimmy Fallon, even though she technically molested her infant sister and later wrote about it, but this is spun as “brave” since the Left is desperately trying to normalize pedophilia
BOOM! Lena Dunham, someone no one I know likes or can even stand, gets the holy guest voice on The Simpsons. I confess, I couldn’t see her cameo. It was blocked by the gun I was pointing in my face.
You can see love in The Simpsons Movie, Family Guy, and heck, I’ll even give you Bob’s Burgers. The reason we’re all sick of H. Jon Benjamin’s voice now is because for years we clamored for more. Years! Based on what? A moth-monster, and the sick little kid from Home Movies!
Benjamin and also-hilarious comedian Todd Barry did voices in Saddle Rash, the wonderful unsung animated Western. Mitch Hedberg was in it too. It wasn’t picked up as a series. Something with a talking ass or a drunk mouse or whatever was instead. Let’s not cry, shall we?
The thing is, if you put love into something, it will always endure. You can see it in Home Movies, or in the cartoon above. It’s over fifteen years old. That’s around the same time I got my rejection letter from Adult Swim. In 2005, I began writing the script for John’s Arm: Armageddon, not out of desire for financial gain, but to prove to the world “hey- I can do this.”
I was able to do it because I had a girlfriend who loved me enough to put me up in a studio. She gave up everything and I went insane finishing it. Wait, that’s not accurate- I cannot go “insane”. Like Flaming Carrot’s comrade Screwball, I was never sane in the first place. Like they said of the Joker in Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum, I achieved a sort of “super-sanity”. I had a harrowing realization not long ago, where I contemplated drawing an evil “mirror universe” version of myself, as seen in classic Star Trek.
As I pondered this notion, I involuntarily stroked my goatee with my finger and thumb.
I probably took over around the turn of the century. Just look at it like “Lawful Evil” and be done with it.
But whatever mutant gomeril I might be, remember this: I still both need and give love. That’s the fucking least you could do, and the least you could ask for.
Otherwise, where is the love?