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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This is Comedy?



So I finally got around to watching the two comedy specials that have been sitting on my TiVo. The first one was the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner.

A roast of...William Shatner! What an inspired bit of programming! How could this not be absolutely hysterical! I'd been waiting all my life for this! Nobody is a bigger Star Trek fan than me! Well, except maybe for the celebrity roasters, who each got up and said, more or less word for word, "nobody is a bigger Star Trek fan than me." So I guess we're all big Star Trek fans.

So I booted up the TiVo, climbed into bed, dimmed the lights...and...waited for the funny to start. And it never did. How can you screw this up?? How can you make a roast of Bill.....SHAT....ner...and not have people rolling in the aisles? You don't even need to have comedians! All you need to do is show a few clips of him acting and people will have beverages shooting out of their noses! Add in a few select "song" clips, and the entire room will be incapacitated.

Well, actually, they did that. They showed a few minutes of clips and songs, and this was pretty much the only funny part of the show. The rest was painful. Really...really...PAINFUL. Uncomfortable painful. Like passing-a-kidney-stone-and-auctioning-it-off-for-charity painful.

Maybe I just don't get the whole "celebrity roast" thing. I'll admit, I haven't seen one since the 70's, when it just seemed like a bunch of Borsht Belt has-beens would get up and tell dirty jokes about each other. Wait, that's what happened here. Is the Borsht Belt still around?

Bill gives you SO MUCH material to work with! How hard can it be? All the jokes boiled down to these three subjects:

He's bald.

He's fat.

He can't act.

The end. That was it. In fact, that was it, exactly. Comic after comic got up and said, literally, "Bill, you're bald, you're fat, and you can't act." So that's a cozy 4 seconds. Maybe. If you put in pauses. What was the rest of the night? Dirty, offensive, racist jokes about the other roasters. And Star Trek's latest gift to comedy, a Gay Mr. Sulu. That's right. Not one presenter passed up an opportunity to describe in graphic detail the...RAMifcations (if you'll pardon the pun) of a GAY Mr. Sulu. Not even Mr. Sulu, who went on about it AT LENGTH (groan).

But what's the big deal about a gay Mr. Sulu? Half of the comedians on the stage were gay too, and by the time each comic was through with detailing the sexual habits of the various dais occupants, there was scarcely any shock value left for poor George Takai. So what do you do next, to keep the crowd interested? How 'bout some 1930's era racist jokes! Let's talk about how Lt. Uhura was the Enterprise cleaning lady! Or that Lisa Lampinelli (who TF is she, anyway??) sleeps with Black men! Hysterical!

Very quickly any connection to Shatner disappeared from the routines. I think it could have been anyone up there. The jokes would have been the same.

Oddly though, for a show like Star Trek that featured 3 Jewish lead actors, there were very few Jewish Jokes. Shatner himself had the best one of the evening:

"Why didn't any of you say something like, 'Shatner's such a cheap Jew, he only had himself beamed up after 7 when the rates were cheaper'?"

See, that got a chuckle out of me.

I faired much better with the second TiVo recording:

Bill Cosby: Himself

Even after almost 25 years, this act is absolutely, paralyzingly funny. And you can watch it with the kids!

What the heck has happened to comedy?

15 comments:

cruisin-mom said...

Hi P.T., and to think I was mad I had missed the Shatner roast...now I don't feel so bad. Unfortunately, what's happened to comedy, is "cable"...used to be the only place a comedian could showcase his/her comedy on t.v. was Johnny Carson, [are you old enough to remember him :)] and you actually had to have talent.
Now, there's a gazillion cable stations that provide a platform for too many comedians that have too little talent.

Ralphie said...

Come on, now, PT... they said he was old, too.

Anonymous said...

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Prisstopolis said...

"who TF is she, anyway?"

I've never seen Psychotoddler swear befor!

*metaphorically washes your mouth out with kosher coconut soap.*

Doctor Bean said...

Bill Cosby was always a class act, and he was always funny.

Edward Ott said...

George was certainly out of the closet on the roast.

PsychoToddler said...

CM: I'm not saying these guys have no talent. I'm saying that they choose to channel it into directions that I'm sure they think are very clever, but don't make me laugh, just make me uncomfortable.

Ralphie: Good point. Never mind.

Anonymous: Why, is my email so hard to find? You have to leave spam on my blog? I can't stand it when people leave these spam comments...these...spomments. Every day it's something else! Enough already! I should stop all this kvetching now.

Priss...no...I guess after watching 90 minutes of profanity I'm afraid it's the only way I know to relate to those people.

Dr. Bean: Yes, exactly. It can be done, but it takes talent and maybe a little more effort than some people are willing to exert.

Edward Ott: Actually there was one good line about George (Takai): Someone asked if when he came out of the closet if it made that "sshhh" sound. Welcome. Interesting blog you've got.

jewish said...

Who was the third Jew on the show?

Kirk, Spock and who else?

Lt. Horowitz?

PsychoToddler said...

Mr. Chekhov

Neil Harris said...

I just watched it the other night also. It was pretty funny. Too many Sulu out of the closet references for me. Shatner's comment about "wearing the read shirt and being killed" was classic!

RR said...

I liked Shatner's joke, very funny!

And Bill Cosby is great- I used to have his tape "Bill Talks to the Kids" or something like that- it had his "Noah" routine, the one about how cake is healthy (it's got milk, wheat, etc.), and several others- now THAT'S funny!

Wrymouth said...

adding your blog to my "regular" list...

I'd wager that "The Trouble with Tribbles" is still 10 times funnier that a Friar's roast, where the run of sexually oriented jokes hits one with the deadly predictability of tracer bullets.

Chocolate Cake for Breakfast is, perhaps, one of the finest routines ever written. It is certainly in my top 5 list. The pivot point -- that single word, "until..." is perfectly placed, and laden with meaning.

Add "Banana Boat" by Stan Freberg to your list of actual comedy.

I was born in the 60s, but inherited my parents' 1930-1940s sense of humor, so things have been pretty grim of late.

I gotta go and watch Cary Grant in "Arsenic and Old Lace" again...

Wickwire said...

I was anxious to see it thinking it was going to be hillarious and it was a complete let down for me. I've heard Will Shatner in past interviews and he is one very funny man so I'm sure he was really let down. I liked at the end when he said, something like, The only thing I was offended by was that none of you were funny.

I was left with the question, do these people know how to roast? or do I just not like them?

PsychoToddler said...

Wick--exactly! The roasters were so self-referential too--I felt like I wasn't in on the jokes.

Rev. Qelqoth said...

"He's bald. He's fat. He can't act."

Exactly why we all love him! Go Shatner, you crazy bastard!