Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comedy. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

movie review: 'paddington 2' (VIDEO)

Well, this was a sweet little movie... and I think the last post for tonight. I need a little more time to finish editing for Typhoon, so thus Billboard BREAKDOWN is likely up next - stay tuned!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

movie review: 'the disaster artist' (VIDEO)

You know, I see why people like this film... I just wish I liked it a hell of a lot more. Oh well.

Next up, hopefully something much better, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

movie review: 'spider-man: homecoming' (VIDEO)

Well, about damn time I got to this - and it was pretty damn good. Not really great - and I'm still working on trying to get the vlog microphone tuned, it's going to be a work in progress, folks - but it was a cute little gimmick to start things off.

But that's not all you're getting tonight... stay tuned!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

movie review: 'get out' (VIDEO)

Man, I'm thrilled there was so much interest in this so I could cover it, because it was a fantastic movie and worthy of so much praise. AMAZING flick.

But back to music reviews, I've got Xandria and KNIVES and man, my schedule somehow got insane again. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

movie review: 'the LEGO batman movie' (VIDEO)

Man, it's been nice to talk about a movie again. Glad I'm going to be doing more of that this year thanks to Patreon, it's been quite a trip.

But not a lot of time to say more, next up is Elbow, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

video review: 'mandatory fun' by "weird al" yankovic

Man, this record was a ton of fun. Really enjoyed it, definitely worth my recommendation.

Okay, next up... hmmm, not quite sure. Probably Sadistik. We'll see. Either way, stay tuned!

album review: 'mandatory fun' by "weird al" yankovic

If you've been following this review series at all for a while, you may have come to a certain conclusion about yours truly: that I am, despite all appearances, am a total nerd. And I'm here to inform you that...

Yeah, duh. Amazing what the passage of time has done, isn't it? Twenty or even ten years ago, such an admittance would have tantamount to social suicide, but in today's day and age, where The Big Bang Theory can run for over seven seasons, conventions are attended by tens of thousands of people if not more, and comic book & toy movies can enlist A-list talent and break box office records, admitting I've got deeply nerdy interests is - and indeed, never should have been - an object of remorse or shame. And yeah, I'm the kind of nerd who has hundreds of fantasy and sci-fi novels, can quote Monty Python and Star Wars verbatim, used to be a Dungeon Master when playing D&D, occasionally still goes to Magic: The Gathering tournaments, has a physics degree, and has Aragorn's longsword Anduril from The Lord of The Rings mounted on his wall. 

And like the majority of nerds, I love Weird Al Yankovic, the legendary polka comedy performer who has spent over thirty years parodying pop music with a razor-sharp wit and relentlessly upbeat sense of humour. It should go without saying at this point that the man is a cultural treasure with extraordinary wit and talent, and who is beloved by artists and pop satirists around the world, and it's impressive that he can still come up with innovative and relevant comedy for so long in his career without becoming bitter or jaded or hotly political. 

But over the past few years, something decidedly odd has taken place - the world and especially the Internet embraced nerd culture, and suddenly it wasn't just Weird Al making comedy songs and videos and parodies. And given how damn quickly so many of them work, especially on YouTube with its five minute attention span, it was a little unsettling to think that Weird Al might be crowded out of the market he helped create - or worse, that his material not be as relevant given the lightning turnaround time for so many YouTube comedians and parody acts. That was one of the issues that I found when I listened to his last album Alpocalypse, which took material from across three years of pop music and while I liked a great deal of it, there were parts that even then felt a little dated.

But putting that minor concern aside, this is Weird Al, and if his appearance on Epic Rap Battles of History didn't prove that the man still had enormous chops, I don't know what would, and so of course I was excited for his newest album Mandatory Fun, and since none of this album had been leaked ahead of time, I had no idea what to expect. Was it as fun and hilarious as I hoped?

Monday, June 10, 2013

album review: 'the wack album' by the lonely island

As I've mentioned in a previous review, I don't tend to like reviewing comedy albums, and this is mostly rooted in two factors. For starters, everyone has different tastes in comedy, and I've long ago accepted I have differing tastes in comparison to the general population. Thus, if I'm going to be judging a comedy album (and since, I'll stress, my reviews are my undiluted opinions and thus are framed through my contextual vision), I feel that my review might be misleading, even if I explain my point of view in advance.

But even if I did lay all my cards on the table ahead of time, I'm still not sure I'd be a good comedy album reviewer, mostly because my knowledge of comedy is - at least in my point of view - somewhat limited. I don't tend to consider myself funny, I understand the fundamentals of setting up a joke but really have difficulty grasping some of the subtleties, and I haven't seen a lot of the comedy gold standards. Sure, I'm trying to catch up, but in comparison with my knowledge of music (I can play an instrument and sing, I can read sheet music, I've done a bit of production work, I have an in-depth knowledge of the charts, and I listen to a grotesque amount of material), I don't think I'm at a level where I can speak to comedy with the same expertise.

So why am I reviewing the new Lonely Island album, an act formed by three SNL actors that is fairly explicitly a comedy act? Well, here's the funny thing: I have a hard time dismissing them as a purely comedic exercise. Or to put it another way, like with Weird Al, I actually will give them credit as musical artists. That's something I don't often say about comedy acts, or even comedians attempting to be musicians (in case you all forgot, Eddie Murphy had a semi-successful singing career).

Now some of you are probably asking why I give The Lonely Island a pass here, particularly when you break the act down to its disparate elements, they really only have one main joke: taking the shallow conceits and style of modern hip-hop and rap and talking about sillier material, with the joke being that it's inherently funny to see a trio of white goofballs behaving like hardcore gangstas. Now there's more in the details, but The Lonely Island have structured a great deal of their career off of this joke, and for the most part, it has held up. And I do not mean to dismiss the talent or the ingenuity of The Lonely Island at all here - while they occasionally go for the gross-out humour more than I prefer, they still have great comic timing and a wide variety of subjects they tackle well. It also helps that unlike former SNL acts of the past - namely the Blues Brothers featuring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd - The Lonely Island aren't trying to be taken as 'serious' musicians or demanding respect from the musical community.

But here's the thing - in a bizarre twist that could only be explained by the changing trends in hip-hop and rap, The Lonely Island got respect from the musical community, and the incredible plethora of high-profile guest stars they continue to recruit for their work speaks to it. And while part of it likely comes from the fact that some pop stars wanted to jump on the bandwagon after Justin Timberlake and take the piss out of their own material, the major point is that in the shallow and increasingly ridiculous pop and rap landscape of the late 2000s, The Lonely Island fit in astoundingly well. Songs like 'Jizz In My Pants', 'I'm On A Boat', 'Jack Sparrow', 'Dick In A Box', 'I Just Had Sex', and many more did surprisingly well on the pop charts because their lyrical content wasn't that far removed from the pop scene as it was. And coupled with the fact that Andy Samberg and the rest of his crew knew how to write decent hooks, it's not entirely surprising why The Lonely Island did as well as they did. Hell, I'd argue on the musical front they managed to beat a fair number of the 'legit' artists that were putting out material during the club boom, with the most immediate comparison point being LMFAO (with their one joke from 'Sexy And I Know It' being 'Heheheh, butts'). 

But now it's 2013, and the hip-hop/rap world has changed a bit. The wave of darker, more serious-sounding PBR&B isn't as easy to parody. Well, that's not quite true, but I'd argue that serious, more conscientious rap is a little tougher to make silly jokes about than the avalanche of ridiculous club music. And there's also the legitimate concern that The Lonely Island, by attempting to sound like the darker, bleaker rap might lose some of their lightweight and fun personality. So, can they pull it off?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

album review: 'having a beard is the new not having a beard' by the beards (RETRO REVIEW)

I don't like reviewing comedy albums.

Now this isn't to say I don't like comedy albums, because I do. Weird Al Yankovic and The Arrogant Worms are both hilarious acts that I find really funny for wildly different reasons (the former because the man is a master at song parodies and the latter because their uniquely Canadian humour has surprising breadth and wit), and I even occasionally enjoy listening to stand-up comedy albums and laughing my ass off at the better ones. But I don't like reviewing comedy albums because humor is very different for different people. For instance, I showed my sister some of George Carlin's comedy, and she didn't find it funny so much as finding it vulgar and a little too middlebrow for her tastes (but then again, she likes some of the humor in The Carrie Diaries, which i find incomprehensible). The point I'm trying to make is that everyone tends to have different tastes and styles when it comes to comedy, different things that make us laugh. 

In my case, I think the best comedy (at least for me) is something that can resonate on other levels as well, maybe spur a bit of an emotional impact or have some intellectual heft. For instance, I think Superbad is one of the funniest movies of the last decade because Judd Apatow nails the atmosphere and there's a genuine emotional connection between the characters of Michael Cera and Jonah Hill. It's the same principle with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, because the comedy seems to mean more when it comes from characters you have a connection with. On a similar note, that's why This Is 40 is such an utterly wretched comedy - half because I can't relate with Paul Rudd's slacker character, and half because the entire script is rooted in deep-seated anger and depression that makes all the comedic bits feel really uncomfortable.

And on a similar note, Aaron Sorkin's comedy tends to work when it's delivered with some class and panache and a deft talent for clever dialogue (The Newsroom makes this work about a quarter of the time, mostly when Thomas Sadoski is on screen). Community works as comedy in a similar way, but also balances the cleverness of the entire show with real emotional heft. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report work on the principle that if you take real complex issues and intelligently examine them, you can wring real laughs out of the occasional silliness and idiocies of modern life and politics. Hell, that's a premise Carlin used for years, finding and complaining about the stupidity of the modern world and making it entertaining and funny. 

Either way, my basic principle behind comedy is that I like material that has some wit behind it, but also can connect with me on an intellectual or emotional level. So considering that, does Having A Beard Is The New Not Having A Beard by The Beards manage to work for me?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

movie review: 'ted'

Short version: Yeah, I know that this review is late, and I should be talking about Chris Brown. Fuck that, I don't care, I just saw the movie, and I want to talk about it. As it is, it's a great comedy with Seth MacFarlane finally bringing his A-game. Great acting from the leads on a utterly conventional and unessential plot, but still definitely worth seeing as it's probably one of the funniest movies you'll see this year. Go see this movie. 

Longer version...

You know, you can't talk about Ted without talking about Seth MacFarlane, and you can't talk about MacFarlane without talking about Family Guy, so let's get this part out of the way quickly (I've never watched American Dad or The Cleveland Show, so I can't and won't comment on them). Yes, I liked Family Guy. I think the first five seasons are damn excellent with some clever gags, some surprisingly deft dialogue, some quirky subtext, and some actual genuine heart you wouldn't expect. My favourite character is Brian (obviously), with Stewie and Peter being close seconds. I found the show to be genuinely entertaining, a great way to waste time, and the more clever of the pop culture references always amused me. 

And then... something happened. It was after it had been moved to Adult Swim, and after 'Blue Harvest', the first Star Wars themed episode, but I can't quite pinpoint the exact moment when it happened. What I do know is that after that point, Family Guy stopped being the consistently funny and occasionally heartwarming show I liked and became something else. And that something else was darker, more cynical, and loaded with the kind of anti-humour gags that only work on Adult Swim when you're baked out of your mind. The show began relying much more heavily on cut-away gags that rarely worked as well as they should have, and even some of the novelty episodes began feeling phoned in (this was present in both 'Something Something Dark Side' and 'It's A Trap!', the followup Star Wars episodes). It began in Season 6 and then actively got a lot worse in Season 7 and 8 - suddenly, outside of a few glimmering moments like 'Brian & Stewie' and the 'Road To...' episodes, the show got a lot less watchable. The show became a depressing, angry shell of its former self, and I really found it unpleasant. And plenty of critics agreed, attacking the show for its reliance on cheap shock humour, bad cutaway gags, and terrible pop culture references. Even Seth MacFarlane admitted he wasn't a fan of what Family Guy had become.

So when Ted was announced, a film that Seth MacFarlane wrote, directed, and starred in, I was a little nervous about how good it could possibly be. I was sure that some of the traditional Family Guy tropes would be there, but which would he include, and which would work? Would it be like Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, a critical flop because it took the excuse of an R-rating and cranked up the scatological humour without a better script, using the higher budget to make everything bigger and more stupid? Or would it be like the excellent Simpsons movie, a show that harkened back to the best of the source material, simply making it bigger and better along the way?