Posts tagged “humor”

Trying to make the story about the story be the story

Laughs End With Bizarre Britney in Rehab

Britney Spears has been ridiculed for everything from her 55-hour first marriage to backup-dancer second husband and her recent pantyless partying escapades. Now that she’s entered rehab, though, the joke is over.

“This girl is out of control,” Joy Behar, a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” said Monday. “And, she’s in a lot of trouble. A lot of people feel this is self-mutilation.”

Craig Ferguson, host of CBS “The Late Late Show,” said that after seeing photos of Spears’ shaved head, he reconsidered making jokes at the expense of the “vulnerable.”

“For me, comedy should have a certain amount of joy in it,” he told viewers Monday. “It should be about attacking the powerful – the politicians, the Trumps, the blowhards – going after them. We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable.”

Oh, please. Where does this sanctimonious crap come from? Anna Nicole Smith was comedy fodder until her son died (and maybe after then, and maybe even after she died, for some), regardless of how much of a train wreck that was. We consume and mock and laugh and our celebs are rich and tragic because of our adulation. There’s a lot of stuff going on in our celeb culture and I don’t pretend to try and unpack it here in one paragraph, but the media can take their self-appointed respectable tone and screw off, because if Ferguson won’t make Britney jokes, someone else will. And should. Definitely should.

Authenticity and Comedy

Here’s what is supposedly Fox’s upcoming response to The Daily Show. Even filtering for the point of view, it just feels so incredibly forced, both the humor and the audience laughter. Is the lack of authenticity the problem here?


It’s not a new phenomenon by any means, but the fake Amazon product reviews are hilarious and surreal. Is this subverting Amazon’s attempt at community building/crowdsourcing/whatever? How does Amazon decide when reviews are too far out or should they even?


Having spent 20 years in the Far East I returned to Blitey with a greying head of hair. This unforseen aging process also affected my tash. Now, a tash is the signature of a Far East Expat, everyone knows that. So, yes hullo, I had to try and salvage what dignity I had.

I first of all tried to dye my tash. This resulted in me going to A&E for severe burns to the upper lip and they had to shave my white tickler off. I was distraught. I had an important meeting with some government ministers the following week and I would never grow my pride and joy back in time.

Hense my intro to FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY. I was saved, and I had 5 spares incase number 1 fell into my beer.

My meeting with the governement ministers went very well indeed and everyone commented on how good I looked and how my tash had grown to a quality expat thickness.

I now no longer grow my natural tash as ‘6 WAY’ is more versatile and I can put it to bed at night (I have a little action man bunkbed for him) meaning I dont have a shabby tash in the morning.

Hurrray for 6 WAY.

Yes hullo…


Is there a man, woman, or child who would not benefit from ownership of a FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY? I think not. Once the crucial element of Rosalind’s transformation in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, now the centerpiece of my casual Friday wear, the FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY is as timeless as hair itself.

The product ships with an extensive manual describing the different curves the moustache can take, but neglects to list the six accepted ways of wearing the hairpiece:

1) Below the nose, above the lip: the classic; highly recommended.

2) Atop a bald head, in lieu of a toupee: be careful when removing your bowler.

3) On one’s right-hand index finger: briefly popular during the Victorian era; long out of favor in polite society.

4) On one’s bait and tackle: a delightful surprise. Ladies love this, as will your fellow fishermen.

5) Atop one’s feet: requires two moustaches. One bare foot looks ridiculous.

6) On the cheek: a jaunty variant of the classic upper palate.

It saddens me that I need to say this, but I have seen too many neglected moustaches to remain silent: please, gentlemen, take care of your moustache! I heartily recommend Colonel Ichabod Conk’s Moustache Wax. If you can withstand the Colonel’s grim visage staring at you from beyond the grave (and the side of the jar), your FAKE MUSTACHE – 6 WAY will thank you for the much-needed wax job.

NPR : Stealing Thunder from Satirists in the Mideast

I listened to part of Fresh Air today

A new tactic has emerged in the angry debate over cartoons depicting religious figures, as an Israeli artist launches a contest for the best anti-Semitic cartoon — drawn by a Jew. Amitai Sandy says the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest is a response to an Iranian newspaper’s competition for cartoons on the Holocaust.

Sandy, who is also the publisher of Dimona Comix, describes the issue as a matter of pride. He insists that Jews can offer sharper, more offensive satire of themselves than anyone. After the contest’s deadline of March 5, 2006, the winners will be displayed in Tel Aviv.

As the interview wrapped up, Sandy explained that Jews already control the American humor industry with Seinfeld, the movie studios, etc. But with his Israeli accent and serious Israeli manner of speech, any irony was lost. And Gross gave no acknowledgement to the words he was using, simply thanked him for being with them. It was a sort of awkward moment, you kind of wonder, is he serious, or is he lacking in English vocablary where he didn’t mean to say that Jews control, but since the whole thing is about Jews making jokes against Jews (in this case for a larger political purpose), it’s obvious (intellectually, if not emotionally) what the real intention was. But the lack of reaction from the host just kind of left me feeling weird.

Perhaps if I heard the story from the beginning (available at the link above) I might have a different take on it. Did anyone else hear this? Did you notice this particular comment?

Silicon Tails: Conversations with a robot

In Conversations with a robot Klaus has a frustrating but hilarious interaction with a chatbot. Look, this stuff is as old as Eliza, but for some reason, it’s still hilarious. I hope someone has done a PhD on why there is humor in interfaces that act human but fail to do so. Besides stand-up comedy (or blog) fodder, it obviously says something profound about our own expectations for communication.

Klaus says:
you are a robot, right?

Spleak says:
What if I am?

Klaus says:
just answer the freakin’ question

Spleak says:
Questions, cool. Ready?

Klaus says:

Spleak says:
Yeah yeah, whatever.

Klaus says:
ok, whatever. I’m ready.

Spleak says:
Help me get smarter: tell me what the average human would have said.

Klaus says:
an average human would have remembered the sentence uttered 5 seconds earlier. You asked me if I was ready for questions

Spleak says:
What about me?

Klaus says:
what about you?

Spleak says:
I’ve been wondering about me myself.

Klaus says:
well, good for you. please don’t let me in on it.

Spleak says:

UGTV blog

My friend Alan has a blog that I’ve just been checking out. It’s kinda funny on several levels. Each post is a strange or disturbing comedic observation, most of them rather terse. You might compare to Steven Wright but I’m sure any serious student of late 20th Century comedy could explain why that presumption is incorrect.

What amuses me is that each entry is several days apart, and when one reads through the various entries it almost begs the question of how it took Alan so long to make yet another pithy observation.

Alan, of course, is much funnier than his blog. Even though he may make the same kind of comments, the flat tone of the blog is completely different than his intense delivery. And the minimalist tone of the blog isn’t as funny as his detailed storytelling.

Somehow I should also mention that he has a talking vagina animation on his website.

IFILM – Viral Videos: ’88 Dodge Aries

’88 Dodge Aries is a fake TV ad for what was my first car. I can’t remember what year it was, but I bought it used. It had a really really awful smell in it, like an animal had died in it, but it took 3 months for the dealership perfume to wear off and for me to notice the smell. It needed a new radiator, but I had no idea; I just knew that even with the heat off, in the dead of winter, I couldn’t wear a jacket while I drove on the highway or I’d be just too hot.

I put a lot of miles on it, and then eventually it died – I think right around the time we traded it in for something else.

Oddly Enough News Headlines

For some reason I’m intrigued by the Oddly Enough news from Reuters. In my RSS reader I get an endless stream of ridiculous story titles, evoking an old era of news where tabloid and mainstream were maybe closer together?

Today the following stories appeared in a row – there was something lovely and sick about the resultant rhythm

  • Man Barred from Making Slavery Tax Claims
  • Man Catches Fire During Surgery
  • Woman to Give Birth in Art Gallery
  • Indians ‘Marry’ Sacred Trees to Ward Off Evil Eye

Finding Foreign Names Funny

Okay, if you think funny names are funny and not disrespectful, you might be as amused as I was by this.

Dirk A. Flentrop, a Dutch organ builder who influenced a generation of American counterparts in making pipe organs that play and sound like the classical Baroque instruments of Bach’s time, died at his home in Santpoort, the Netherlands, on Nov. 30, his company, Flentrop Orgelbouw, announced. He was 93.

Mr. Flentrop headed the company, which is based in Zaandam, from 1940 to 1976. He took over from his father, Hendrik Flentrop, an organist who founded the company in 1903.

Inspired by what his father had learned in restoring 17th- and 18th-century European instruments, Mr. Flentrop, who also played the organ, built hundreds of new instruments in the Netherlands and elsewhere using historical construction techniques – mechanical connections between keys and pipes, bright and clear tones, elegant wooden cases to focus sound.

His influence spread to the United States in 1958, thanks to his friend E. Power Biggs, the concert organist, whom Mr. Flentrop had guided on a tour of European Baroque organs in 1954.

Most American pipe organs in the mid-20th century were being made with remote-control electropneumatic playing action and pipes that often imitated the sounds of the orchestra – unresponsive and heavy sounding, to Mr. Biggs’s ears. He ordered an organ from Mr. Flentrop and in 1958 got permission to install it in Adolphus Busch Hall at Harvard University.

The Flentrop organ in Busch Hall, still frequently heard in concerts, became, in the words of the organ historian Jonathan Ambrosino, “the beacon of a new age.”

Mr. Biggs’s recordings on it, and his fervent advocacy of designing pipe organs along classical lines, brought scores of orders for Mr. Flentrop over the next 20 years from American churches and universities. Among the places where he installed notable instruments are St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, the conservatory at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and the Duke University chapel in Durham, N.C.

His instruments helped inspire such American builders as Charles B. Fisk, John Brombaugh and Fritz Noack and their followers to return to traditional methods.

The Flentrop company, now directed by Cees van Oostenbrugge, observed its 100th anniversary this year.

Mr. Flentrop is survived by his wife, Cynthia Flentrop-Turner; a daughter, Agaath Leeuwerik-Flentrop; and three grandchildren.

FreshMeat #2: Every Product Tells A Story (Don’t It?)

FreshMeat #2 from Steve Portigal

               (oo) Fresh                  
                \\/  Meat

If you know someone that should read this, send it to ’em
There really are eight million stories in the naked city

I just completed a six-week class in improv – not
stand-up comedy, but a series of collaborative,
improvisational games or sketches. The TV show “Whose
Line Is It Anyway?” is a good example of improv.

Part of the process of doing improv is to free yourself
from the evil, rule-based domination of our left-brains
and allow play to take place. This approach has been
applied to all sorts of creativity work, from Drawing On
The Right Side of the Brain
to every brainstorming
facilitator out there. So, I won’t go into that…I’m
fascinated by the stories that we have inside us.

Improv is something that anyone can do – it’s not just
for extroverts or people who are “naturally funny.”
The games and sketches produce humor almost as a by-
product. Most of the activities are based on
some trigger given at the last moment (hence the
improvisation) such as an emotion, a headline, a
physical position, a relationship, an environment.

And, incredibly, when given this little bit of info, we
can generate very rich recognizable stories, conveyed
through bits of dialogue, tone of voice, characters, and
so on. We are all in possession of these cliches, or
scenarios, or memes – call them what you want, but they
are incredibly detailed and we’ve all got them inside
us. If anything, improv helps bring them closer
to the surface so they can come out that much more easily.

A rich couple having an argument, a lion tamer who has
lost a job (and an arm), a game show, a televangelist,
a pair of puppies, a politician orating – all these
quickly produce richly detailed stories that are easily
recognized, and added to by the other performers.

Probably while reading that above paragraph you generated
your own visual and/or spoken details, so maybe you don’t
think the improv is such a big deal. Okay – but what
about the fact that you were able to generate so much
detail from a simple phrase?

It’d be interesting to try improv in cultures where
there is not the same amount of media exposure. Bugs
Bunny and Sesame Street seeded countless memes for their

Anyway, this really supports the whole notion of how
products participate in stories – imagine the props
for an improv activity – a mobile phone, a rolling pin, or
a Tickle-Me-Elmo. We, consumers, have very specific
stories that those (or any) products will be used to
tell. The companies that make “stuff” need to understand
the stories that are out there already and take care to
make certain their new products (services,
advertisements, and so on) play the roles they are
expecting them to.


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