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Beg For A Wheelbarrow.

[TBSOWFMU - 11/29/05.]

This show featured a bunch of funnies: Philly Boy Roy called (starts at 39:22) to weigh in on the dust-up at the Eagles game (among other things), Bryce from Newbridge called (starts at 1:11) to secure a "doobie partner" and surprise Tom with the depth of his musical interests (there's a hilarious Drudge/Groening mix-up in this one, too), there was a wonderfully combative discussion (starts at 1:42) with Mack, a 13-year-old Best Show regular and budding rock enthusiast armed with The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal, who gets a surprise call from Jimmy Crespo, and towards the end of the show, Tom compiled (starts at 2:26) a list of the 10 Unfunniest Funny People.

He got the topic started by putting George Carlin on The List, noting his recent HBO special – the awful Life Is Worth Losing (not all was lost: I discovered that this special was a more effective sleep aid than the Ambientinis I had been using, so it remains in my TiVo queue). Tom had pretty strict standards, and most caller suggestions were rejected. Some were rejected on grounds of just being sad (e.g., Chevy Chase and Jerry Lewis), or too easy (Carrot Top), or “not comedy” (Whoopi Goldberg). Chris Rock was rejected for “not being anywhere close to the list.” One caller submitted “any character on What’s Happening!!", which was rejected on the grounds that the caller did not understand the topic.

This discussion was enough to get Timmy von Trimble to climb out of his Slinky (or get off his thimble) and return to the Best Show phone lines. His selection: Ron G-L-A-S-S, for his work as Det. Ron Harris on Barney Miller. Glass did not make The List. TvT threatened Tom’s life and hung up, undoubtedly plotting his next attempt to lodge his two-inch frame inside Tom's body and stab him from the inside.

After what seemed like 9 votes for Kathy Griffin, Tom was in a time crunch and put in The 3 Stooges (bumping Colin Quinn!) and Lenny Bruce. The complete list (in what I think is the correct order of their inclusion, not in descending order of unfunniness):

1. George Carlin
2. Dennis Miller
3. Robin Williams
4. Denis Leary
5. Adam Carolla
6. Rob Schneider
7. Billy Connolly
8. Carlos Mencia
9. The 3 Stooges
10. Lenny Bruce

The only list member I would object to is Billy Connolly, who Tom called Robin Williams's doppleganger. While I haven't seen any stand-up from Connolly since his 1991 HBO special, Billy Connolly: Pale Blue Scottish Person, he usually gives me a nice laff when he pops up in stuff like The Aristocrats or on Real Time with Bill Maher. The thing about Connolly is that the content of his riffs is sort of irrelevant – it's all about the authentically enthusiastic (as opposed to the calculated zaniness of R. Williams, still running on residual coke fumes and Jonathan Winters albums; less of a comic and more of a demented wind-up toy pre-programmed with Mork noises and a small rotation of stock characters – upper torso and arm fur attachment sleeves sold separately) , brogue-alicious delivery, starting a bit giddy, then building to a rush of hearty laughter that is quite exhilarating. Even if you can't understand what he's saying or don't find it as hilarious as he apparently does, you simply want to laugh like he is laughing because it looks so goddamn fun. There’s also nobody better on the planet at saying the word "bullshit". He unleashed a killer bs on the Maher show back in October, masterfully drawing the "bull" out to a mini-symphony, closing the deal in a way that only people from the UK can ("That Scoooo-TAH Leebee thing is fookin buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul...."). In other words, I like quiet, cerebral, absurdist riffs as much as the next fella, but sometimes you just want to ride the Guffawcoaster (an actual ride on the boardwalk in Ocean City, N.J., in the 1980s – at the end of the ride you were shot through a tunnel, spit out at the door of Rascal's Comedy Club in West Orange, and then molested by Rich Vos.) with a loud, joyous Scot.

So yeah, take out BC and put in the nauseating Pat Cooper.

Here are my top 5 people/duos/entities that are currently bringing the funny (not in any order of preference):

1. The Arrested Development Collective
2. Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
3. Tom Scharpling & Jon Wurster
4. The Comedians of Comedy Collective (PO / ZG / BP / MB) [Pass the torch!]
5. George Saunders

Note: One of the extras on the Comedians of Comedy DVD is a set of six clips from “comedians to pay attention to”. I paid attention and my three faves were Jen Kirkman (nice bit about a "story time" gone awry when a friend’s toddler was inconsiderate in selecting a book that had already been memorized instead of Running With Scissors or something else that Jen might enjoy), Morgan Murphy (her use of the term "rape boost" sealed that deal; she's a writer on the Kimmel show and the only web mention with imagery that I could find is a small pic of her and Eddie Pepitone from PO's 7/4/2004 Spew entry), and Howard Kremer (fun riff about illegal sneeze pills, impression of Jolly Green Giant as film soundman, etc.)

One of the other extras on this DVD? One word: mayonnaise.

*****

UPDATE 12/21/05: Ted Leo was the guy who suggested Margaret Cho! Here's the riff from his site:

UNFUNNY COMEDIANS/ENNES (COMICS)
I don't know how familiar you guys are with The Best Show on WFMU, on... WFMU (duh), but if you were listening last night, you'd have heard the last 15 minutes given to Tom taking calls to compile a list of the top 10 unfunny funny people. I called in and suggested Margaret Cho, but she didn't make the list. I wanted to argue my point, but it wasn't fully formed enough in my head yet, so I let it go. Since then, I've been able to better distill what it is I don't like about her, and I've decided that it's not her, it's the "family bit." I think I'm now officially on a crusade against the "family bit." It's like, o.k., o.k., you have an older relative from the "old country" who talks in a funny accent and doesn't understand "todays' kids." Right -- you and every other comic to ever walk the stage who's parents didn't come over on the Mayflower. I'm sick of it. And it can be extended to cover any crotchety oldie who doesn't understand "today's kids," like Richard Pryor's Mudbone character (boring), Bill Cosby himself (duh), etc. The only funny family bit I've heard in a long time is the by that guy Robin Harris who did "Bebe's Kids," who I think is also Kid's father in House Party, no? I didn't see the kiddie movie, but his more "adult" stand up bit gave me a chuckle. And come to think of it... They're not even his kids! They're Bebe's kids! So maybe that doesn't count. Can we put a stop to the "family bit," people? Whaddaya say? [Tipped off to this via AST.]

UPDATE 12/28/05: Morgan Murphy trio – Under construction website, MySpace page, and a set from Jimmy Kimmel Live (clip #74).

Comments

Wow. Epic. Diving in and taking notes:

1. Good grief. This sentence could have spurred its own post alone: "We especially have a zero tolerance for people who run onto the field and dump an unknown substance in a stadium full of people."

2. Crespo!!! What a site he has. You’d think these 1995 Geocities deals would have rotted off the internet by now. Most intriguingly car crash-y link? “After Aerosmith.”

3. Ambientinis. Never even heard of it. You and your sleep problems. At least you don't have to sleep with a speech-slurring, middle of the night sex limiting, teeth clenching appliance.

4. What a rave-up Trimble paragraph. Only the 2-inch racist would even remember the black guy on Barney Miller. Nice to see that Glass is still doing like legit stuff.

5. And whoah, this was the concept for the show?: “In 1973, Danny Arnold had an idea for a television series about a Jewish patrolman. His partner Ted Flicker wanted to do a sitcom about a detective in Los Angeles. They put the ideas together, and came up with the Barney Miller show.” For me it was just a scary, creepy show that signaled the end of afternoon cartoons. But with an addictively killer bassline.

6. Nice R. Williams destruction. Nailed it. A better review of a failed person has not been written. Dr. Red Duke does a pretty killer impression of Williams doing a Mr. Happy penis “joke.”

7. Connolly’s giddiness was definitely a high point of The Aristocrats. You’ve sold me. Took me a sec to suss out the Scooter Libby, but it’s pretty crystal now.

8. VOS!!!!!! What a punchline. Hilarious.

9. Nice list. Great to see Saunders in there mixing it up. And I guess I need to dive into these Best Show mp3s. For some reason I had it in my head that the only way we could hear their stuff was via their Hippy Justice-like best ofs.

10. Red’s busily Googling up this Morgan Murphy in hopes of finding more than that tiny image.

Very nice. Times like these I wish my brain let me listen to the Best Show without getting distracted about 5 minutes in and turning something else on.

I think one potential solution to this is that each Wednesday, Flux should .mp3 up all the key bits (i.e., anything featuring Wurster) and post them on his Fluxblog!

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