Tag Archives: comedy

A Brief Rumination on South Park

I have no desire to ever review ‘South Park.’ And I don’t mean that in some uppity Parents Television Council kind of way, but instead because I consider the show to be unreviewable by me for reasons I don’t fully understand. I watch the show every week and have almost every year since it started. My very first piece of published writing was an editorial on why people should watch the show the week after the season premiere. It’s cuh-razy because the little kids say the swears! Actually scratch that. I got a poem published as the prelude to a book when I was 8. Suck it, struggling writers; I think my parents congratulated me with a trip to Golden Corral.

Still, as I watched the conclusion of the excellent, “The Coon and Friends” trilogy, I started thinking about the show and what I liked about it. I might be one of the world’s most immature 29 year-olds, but I also know I won’t laugh at any old thing set in front of me. In other words, when I went to that Golden Corral buffet, I didn’t just take one of everything, I left the carrots on the hot plate. Once I started thinking, I realized that what I like about ‘South Park’ is that I can fool myself into thinking that it’s matured with me.

Have you ever gone back and watched early episodes? It’s kind of painful. The animation is a lot worse and the cussing really is half of the jokes. Everything worked because, before then, it had never been done. Back then, saying things like, “oh my god, they killed Kenny,” or, “respect my authori-TAH” was earth-shattering. Oddly enough, this is where my admiration for Trey Parker and Matt Stone comes into play. They saw the limitations of what they were doing and kept an eye on making movies and longer story arcs. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was really well put-together and filled with great, catchy songs. They had already done the wheels-off Orgazmo and fired off BASEketball while the show was in its infancy. Each movie was a strong leap from the one before it, but nobody would have put any money on them perfecting high-concept silliness.

With the dawn of the new millennium, Parker and Stone began thinking bigger for the show. We saw multi-part episodes, Mr. Hanky, Towelie and the wonderful comeuppance of Scott Tenorman. At the same time, they became more self aware with episodes like, “Simpsons Already Did It,” and, “Trapped in the Closet.” Then, Trey and Matt unleashed, Team America: World Police in 2004 and made me happy and ronery all at the same time. I consider this a milestone because since then, many of my favorite episodes seemed to have perfected that balance of ‘South Park’ silliness and a more complex story. “Cartoon Wars I and II” was a fantastic explanation of what is funny and pleasing to audiences, and, in addition to explaining where ‘Family Guy’ got its ideas, it also winkingly admitted that people like shows that “don’t get all preachy and up [their] own ass with messages.”

Since this episode, most of my favorites have taken the epic story-telling approach. If you haven’t seen the following episodes enjoy laughing at distasteful comedy, you really need to use the internet machine to find them:

“With Apologies to Jesse Jackson”
“D-Yikes!”
“Night of the Living Homeless”
“Imagination Land I, II and III”
“Major Boobage”
“Canada on Strike”
“About Last Night…”
“Fishsticks”
“Margaritaville”
“The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs”
“You Have 0 Friends”
“Crippled Summer”

Why am I just listing episodes? Do I have a point? What is a horse shoe? Are there any horse socks? I think Trey and Matt have grown bored with making simple episodes. The fall season opener was some throwaway crap about NASCAR that I couldn’t remember five things about if you held a gun to my head. It was no bueno. But, if you give them three episodes of space, they make a superhero story that is equal parts ridiculous and sublime. Is this the future of the show? Does this mean they are winding this down for bigger things? Comedy Central will probably pay them for as long as they want the money, but I figured I would at least kind of slap these ramblings up and see what everyone else thought. Until next time… MintberrrrryCRUNCH!!!

Advertisements

Things We Like #14: Greg Giraldo

Comedy lost a great today. He’ll be missed.

It’s Always Sunny, “Dennis Gets Divorced”: I’ve made a huge mistake.

I don’t even know where to begin. Thursday’s episode of Sunny wasn’t the best episode ever, but it hit on all its strengths, and even on an off day, it always leaves me satisfied and smiling (hey-oh!). I’m not breaking new ground by saying that the characters are what drive this show’s success, but even at the dawn of season six, I’m still loving everything that makes Frank, Dee, Mac, Charlie and Dennis the funniest assholes on TV.

And each of them had their moment in this episode, beginning with Dennis’ dismissive exchange with his new wife Maureen Ponderosa as he tries to treat her like one of his regular conquests. “We’re married. I’m psyched, dude, that’s great. No, totally.” At this point, Dennis isn’t thinking that the marriage was a mistake… he just seems to be constantly forgetting that he’s married in the first place.

Later that morning, Dennis is at the bar with the gang, and we find that the newlywed glow has faded from Frank and Charlie’s sham gay marriage as well. Plus, Sweet Dee is having an affair with Bill Ponderosa, but it’s okay – she’s not married, so she’s not doing anything wrong. This is where Dee gets her moment as she tries to nonchalantly let the gang know that Bill is obsessed with her! Calling and texting all the time and even buying her a car! As a girl, I can empathize with her desire to be part of the boys’ club, but as someone who’s not tall, blonde or thin, I think she should shut-the-hell-up-because-there’s-no-way-someone-that-gorgeous-could-ever-ever-be-a-loser-and-who-do-these-Always-Sunny-douchebags-think-they-are-trying-to-make-that-shit-believable-I-mean-seriously?

*Ahem*

Anyway, Charlie and Frank are a little underutilized in this episode, but we do get one excellent Charlie moment where he admits that he signed the pre-nup Frank gave him because he thought it was the phone bill. It makes perfect Charlie-sense, and in fact, I’m going to start using the term Charlie-sense, because there are certain things, like signing the phone bill, that just make Charlie sense – like when you’re really drunk or tired or unfocused, they’d fly right by you because all the pieces make sense individually, but if you’re firing on all cylinders (which six seasons have shown us that Charlie isn’t), you realize that the finished product is not so much a model airplane as a piece of macaroni artwork created by a kid who wears a helmet and eats paste by the fistful.

I do love the twisted logic of these characters. Mac is mad at Dennis for throwing him out of the apartment, but hey, Dennis is mad at Mac for not throwing him a bachelor party, so a belated bachelor party where Mac foots the bill is really the only way to set things right. At the strip club, Mac gets his moment when he’s mad at the others for not taking his motorcycle-revving dance move seriously. Predictably, Mac and Dennis get drunk and confront Maureen about the marriage, which prompts her to start beating herself in a hilarious shout-out to the movie Fear (which came out fourteen years ago, if you want to feel old).

In the end, Charlie’s pedophile-lawyer uncle drops by to help with Dennis’ divorce (spoiler alert: he didn’t help), and we get a fun call-back to the lawyer the gang terrorized throughout last season. I love that it’s just as much fun to see the schadenfreude delivered on the gang as it is to see them dish it out. There are shows that speak to our inner child, shows that speak to our inner romantic, but Always Sunny will always speak to my inner dirtbag (I typed asshole first, and then douchebag, but both had the potential to convey the, uh, wrong message; I think you get what I mean).

Things We Like #13: The Sklar Brothers

You don’t understand. If you’re not subscribing to the Sklarbro Country podcast, the terrorists win. Just trust me. And them. But more importantly me.

Between Two Ferns: Steve Carell

For those who haven’t seen it yet. Did you guys know Steve Carell did comedy, too?

All Good Things…

Tonight we say goodbye to one of the best shows in the history of television. Goodbye, Lost. There will never be another show like you, although that won’t stop ABC from trying to find one.

Oh yeah. I’ve got more of this stuff coming, too, for those of you who still care.

Thursday Night Comedy Catch-Up: The Office

The name says it all. There’s no way I can catch up by writing out full reviews of every episode of every show I’m behind on, so NBC’s Thursday night comedies are getting the short shrift, with my thoughts about the last few episodes all lumped together. But on the bright side, my new house is looking awesome. Mediocrity. Enjoy.

I’ve come to the conclusion that The Office is an unforgiving bitch goddess. She gives with one hand and takes with the other. After a more or less solid episode in “Secretary’s Day,” it yanked the rug out from under us with “Body Language,” setting up what has to be Michael’s most unbelievable relationship yet.

At the center of many of The Office’s problems is Michael Scott. I’ll explain in a roundabout way. I think Erin’s a likable character, but having said that, I still thought Michael’s attitude toward her for much of last week’s episode was really funny. She’s kind of a rube? Hilarious! She’s the new Andy. She annoys Michael so much that he can barely bring himself to talk to her (for this episode at least). But later, when he finds out how upset she is about the whole Andy/Angela situation, he does his best to make her feel better, sitting and joking with her outside. I like this Michael. The believable, adult Michael. But this week that Michael disappears, and we’re left with the weird kid in

It’s consistency, or rather inconsistency. We’ve seen a wide range of Michaels over the past six years, and now he’s basically whatever the writers need him to be that week. Forget what he did in the last episode, or whatever he’ll be doing in the next. And Michael isn’t the only character used this way. Pam holding out hope until the very end that maybe, just maybe, Donna had some interest in Michael just didn’t ring true. After how pissed off she got after learning that Michael was dating her mother, I have a hard time believing that Pam is much concerned with his personal life.

But because this is how the show works now, short of getting rid of the characters and trying to start fresh, I don’t think there’s a quick fix for these problems. I would to hate to see the show lose these characters, have the show take place at a Sabre training facility and change its name to Scrubs: Med School. I mean, wouldn’t that SUCK??!? It’s entirely possible that this is just a slump that the show will pull itself out of. It’s coming back for a seventh season, so let’s all meet back up in a year and compare notes.

Now that we’ve talked a bit about Michael, let’s move on to Donna. After Michael sat her in the office all afternoon and acted like he’d rather be spending his time with her in his own personal sex dungeon, she still waited out in the parking lot for him after their meeting. I’m guessing that there’s either something wrong with her, or she’s playing Michael for something. With only a few episodes left this season, getting used to her character probably isn’t a good idea.

A few other random observations about these past two episodes. There was no mention made about Andy and Erin’s relationship this week, which I thought was a little strange. But it’s something the show has done a lot of this year. Jumping several episodes without mentioning potential love interests that it had set up.

Am I the only one who thinks that the big reveal of the show is that Kevin is actually mentally handicapped? The whole Cookie Monster thing provided a few yuks, but did anyone pay attention to the things he was saying? What’s the difference between a tostada and a chalupa? Well, fine. I don’t really know myself. But for me — and I’m really the only one I can speak for — his character’s just become too stupid for me. And the whole thing from “Happy Hour” with Pam’s chest, I’m still having nightmares.

The Office is a show that on the surface is still enjoyable, and funnier than a lot of comedy on TV these days. But they’ve really fallen into a rut this past year, and with it being one of the only successful comedies on NBC (the only successful comedy, depending on who you ask), it’ll probably be around for a while yet. We’ll see if it can pull itself up.