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"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

June 01, 2011

I Steal Pets

Of course I do, but this isn't about me, it's about Rachel Bloom:

Man, that's great work. I heard about it by following Tami Sagher, who wrote and performed one of the funniest segments ever on This American Life.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 1, 2011 08:04 PM

Beautiful work!

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 1, 2011 09:05 PM

"... Animals make the best friends because they'll never leave you, unless you forget to tie them up or accidentally leave the door open." --Rachel Bloom.

A good laugh is always a good way to start the morning.

Posted by: Paul Avery at June 2, 2011 08:21 AM

If we take the shackles off the government by raising the budget surplus ceiling, they may stop stealing our pets too.

Posted by: Dredd at June 2, 2011 10:12 AM

Cute. Unfortunately I was watching this when my wife wanted me off so she could use the computer. The usual excuse of needing an antidote to the propaganda put out by the mainstream media didn't work this time.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 2, 2011 11:09 AM

This is funny. And as I enjoy your humor and intelligence I would like to pose a question: What value is there in humor that partakes in our mythology of "success"?

So many of us have zero influence or power in this world and in this space lives humor. But I think this piece in particular offers us the common comic's "self-denigration". It wants to poke fun at many things, but in the end doesn't it mostly poke fun at the "singer" in a way that doesn't really implicate the dominant desire of inclusion in popularity or "belonging" to a group that is a group only via economic demarcation (normally--pretty people are normally living better than the rest of us) and social success based on athleticism and physicality. It isolates the "crazy"; but this is the truth of our entertainment/advertising culture--we are told to be envious.

Also, the majority of "unpopular" students would likely not give a fuck what the high school popular kids are doing--finding their own groups to hang out with. Who comprises this "middle" world wannabe culture? Those who like to perform? Those who "wanna be bob dylan"? Becoming popular by becoming a viral a performance star? (and so marketing the self)

I think I prefer the folks that want to beat up the popular people or at the very least disdain them for their blind obedience to class.

I know that's way too serious a comment and I know that will be deemed a "dullard" response--but I often feel this way about political humor (a la Jon Stewart)--it diffuses the reality into something to laugh at rather than be fucking mad at it.

Very Large Stick it the Mud

Posted by: doug at June 3, 2011 10:17 AM

Doug, I see where you're coming from, but it ignores something pretty central to comedy: you're not in control of where your audience's head is at. Comedy can change people's minds, but that can't be its main goal, which is reserved for elicting a physiological response. This secondary-ness, or obliqueness, makes that change accretive, rather than direct, and the audience has to be primed for that change before something comic can crystallize it for them.

There is a vast mechanism of conditioning that puts us all into the hierarchies you're talking about; tells us who's pretty and who's not; and increasingly encourages us to openly commodify and market ourselves. I, like you, find all that pretty loathsome, and largely imposed. But this is how people live today, and comedy that attacks this stuff head-on would likely be judged confusing rather than funny. Even so, you could read the piece as an attack on just the things you're talking about: the tyranny of hierarchies and the pretty people actually drove this person insane. (I'm not saying that was her intent, but you could read it like that.)

Anyway, I know of where I speak. Barry Trotter 1 does everything but put "I'm against big corporate media!" on the cover, and ten years later, about four people have ever mentioned that aspect. You create the work, and then the audience does what it wants--that's especially true in comedy.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at June 3, 2011 12:17 PM

Hey, Mike,

Thanks for engaging. I guess I'd ask a couple of questions:

1. What of the Lenny Bruce type of comedy? Who is doing this today?

2. What of comedy "by class"? Outside of the faux class of redneck comics I don't know if there is a particular type of humor or object of humor that differs via economic class (or race for that matter).

I have never followed comedy (stand-up) outside of what might be considered funny as "social commentary".

I guess I'd just reiterate that anger for the sake of very focused attacks on clear abuses of all forms of power is not used enough in comedy.

With the recent passing of Gil Scott Heron I was reminded that his poetry and music was often funny in a barbed manner and that it attacked power.

Mostly our comedy has no teeth and fears power and would rather play to power, like the fool at court. The most brilliantly focused attack of this manner was likely the Colbert's "roast" at the correspondents dinner.

Posted by: Douglas at June 3, 2011 01:21 PM

Doug, you would probably like Dennis Perrin's essays, if you are not already familiar with them.

Posted by: grimmy at June 3, 2011 08:56 PM

I should add that I don't see Bloom's video as being particularly 'transgressive', no offense to our host and his tastes. (She is cute though.)

My recommending Perrin's work is based on your comments, not a suggestion that his humor is similar to Bloom's. I like his essays, although I'm not familiar with his stand up routines.

Posted by: grimmy at June 3, 2011 09:08 PM

Doug, aka stickinthemud -

I take it someone stole one of your pets and then dressed it up like Obama or Michelle or something.

You can always retaliate to the pet stealer's nasty deed by replacing their Ferrarai's engine with a two stroke, gasoline powered lawn mower's motor.

Or sneaking into their house and saran wrapping all the toilets is a good start, as well.

Posted by: carol_dagg at June 4, 2011 05:40 PM