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 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?