Thoughtful Comment

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Scent of a Woman President

Donald Trump Sniffs His Way to Irrelevance

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 9:35 PM

Kinda seemed real.
  • Kinda seemed real.
A moment of silence for Donald Trump. The “blue collar billionaire,” brought a knife to a shootout, and we all know how that sort of thing turns out, according to the NRA. It was a small knife too, and not very sharp, and yet somehow the poor fellow cut himself with it repeatedly.

The first debate was a self-inflicted bloodbath for the TV-freakshow turned presidential contender, and you can bet good money we’ll see all the best auto-carnage in commercials through November. The Don bragged about not paying taxes. In an aside that calls to mind a classic SNL skit about caveman politics (and a notorious tax cheat), he said not paying a fair share, “makes me smart.” Ogre-like, he equated good “business” with inflicting human misery, in regard to the housing crisis. He may have even violated Federal law by revealing classified information about a shadowy, bedridden hacker with a terrible eating disorder. 

The man lied a lot, but of course he did. It's what he does. That’s beside the point, which is, he lied about deeply silly things only a genuine moron loser would lie about because none of it’s complicated and Google’s a thing. Now, if you sincerely love Donald J. Trump none of this matters because read what I just typed: “You sincerely love Donald J. Trump.” Unfortunately for you (and Donald J.), the decideds don't matter so much anymore.

This home stretch is all about the Undies, who can’t make up their mind, Indies not fully committed, and an enormous group of white men and women (but mostly dudes), who know Trump’s terrible, and are embarrassed by him, but have invested so much of their political identity in a hodgepodge of “Hillary Clinton is evil” narratives, even vindictive attempts to damn the bitch with faint praise stick in their throats.
I’m not enough of a crank (yet) to say all this tight race polling we’re seeing right now is wrong. But I’m just crank enough to believe this year’s contest between two purportedly unpopular candidates creates unique weather conditions — a kind of Bermuda triangle where perfectly good instruments malfunction. I’m calling it the Shame Vortex, and it’s why I think there’s a real chance for Clinton to outperform her numbers everywhere.

“Crooked Hillary,” isn't just Trump's mantra, it's a cottage industry. It’s been a cottage industry for the better part of three decades. She’s a murderer, and real estate sleaze with fat thighs, two tiny breasts, and a pair of left wings. How can a bro tell his best bros, or even a disembodied robot voice on the phone he’s, “with Her,” when he called out all his Libtard cousins last Thanksgiving, and the previous Thanksgiving, and maybe the Thanksgiving before that, and everybody at the office Christmas party LOVED the Hillary-themed nutcracker he brought for the Dirty Santa game. And man, you know...

Right between the thighs. (Somebody thought this was a good idea).
  • Right between the thighs. (Somebody thought this was a good idea).
The social internet’s full of all kinds of “Trump’s awful, but I just can’t vote for Her” threads, but with cover provided by high profile Republicans coming out for the Democratic candidate, purity will be tested in the booth. Private life, as we all know, and as the Clintons have demonstrated repeatedly, sometimes awkwardly and not as honestly as they might, is a complicated place. But in a debate that turned more on style than substance, a different, expectation-defying Clinton emerged. And this Clinton, in addition to being competent and thorough, was unusually relatable as she countered rude interruption, shouting, fabrications, and crazy accusations with calm, candor, confidence and something that looked like joy.

“As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11-hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina,” Clinton said of her famously orange opponent who was, by that point in the game, a wheezing, dry-mouthed blob of unprepared stress and flop sweat. Everybody saw it. Everybody heard the schlurpy sniffing. Nobody honest with his/herself thought he "did great." 

There are two more debates, obviously. A Texas-sized asteroid might hit Earth any day. All kinds of Trump redemption narratives (sure to be forthcoming) might actually pan out. Heck, the same "shame vortex" I mentioned above might front a silent Trump constituency poised to give him keys to the White House. But all that weird, loud inhalation sounded like a death rattle — a raspy, indignant echo of the Dean scream. It sounded like a lot of undecided voters deciding all at once, and a lot of Hillary haters grabbing hold of their own noses with both hands.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Memphis Comic Remembers Robin Williams

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Robin WIlliams
  • Robin WIlliams
I hope you’ll indulge me for a bit here.

Robin Williams is dead, and all our lives will be a little poorer for it. Particularly those of us in the comedy community.

I am a child of the 70’s . There are three comics who set me on a path to doing standup and improve comedy. Bill Murray’s film critic on SNL was an early influence in my writing style and my understanding of the mechanics of character based comedy. Steve Martin taught me the syntax of standup, and showed me that comedy can be stupid and brilliant at the same time.

And then there was Robin Williams. His frantic energy and rapid fire brain showed the pure adrenalin fueled side of performance and improv that few have ever or could ever match.

Martin’s 1977 Let’s Get Small and Williams’ Reality…What a Concept a couple of years later were among the first albums I ever owned. And I listened to both endlessly.

And, though I didn’t realize it at the time, all three of these guys proved to be so much more than comedians. All proved themselves to be brilliant actors — serious and comedic- and all showed great depth in their various work.

Sure, I’d later come to appreciate the brilliance of George Carlin and the importance of Richard Pryor. But in the mid to late 70’s Bill, Steve and Robin planted the seeds in my head that would eventually lead me to perform.

I can’t even guess how many times I saw Robin Williams’ various stand up specials on HBO. The man was a force of nature. The jokes and characters and voices were rapid fire (maybe fueled by a little more than brain power at times). And the act was more than jokes. It had heart and soul.

He proved himself to have the capacity to truly act. Not just be silly on camera, but to open himself up and serve raw emotion, humor and wit. No, not all his movies were good. But when they were, they were amazing.

Robin Williams faced his demons over the years. Sometimes he’d beat them down for a while. Ultimately, they won.

The shameful question here is could Robin Williams have been Robin Williams if he hadn’t had that darkness within him? Could he have bared his soul on stage and screen without that thing inside him that ultimately killed him?

I don’t know.

Comedians are often damaged people. It’s a cliché to say it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Performers in general, and comedians specifically, all to varying degrees have some demon they are trying to feed or keep at bay. Performance as therapy is pretty common. Unfortunately, a lot of performers also choose to medicate themselves to stave off whatever it is that eats at them. Drugs and alcohol are the all too common medications of choice. And they take their toll.

Society, and even comics themselves, forget how important their work is. Those of us who can get up on stage and make people really, truly laugh are working magic of a sort. I have had many people over the years personally thank me after an improv show because they had gotten through a terrible day and “just needed to laugh”. It’s not a rare message.

Do you comics understand how important that is? Do you understand that you really are honest to goodness HELPING people when you perform. The ability to ease peoples’ burdens, even if it’s for a few minutes is a gift. Take it seriously and own the fact that you are doing some good out there.

There’s a wonderful thing about comedy. Stand ups and improvisers are part of extended families of fellow performers. Dysfunctional families at times, to be sure. We fight. We talk bad about each other. We take vicious shots at each other constantly. We all think we are better than the next performer.

But, when it comes down to it , we actually do tend to care about each other.

Comics, use your family to help deal with the monsters. Watch each others’ backs. Turn to each other just to freaking talk when you need to. You probably aren’t going to slay anyone’s dragons, but maybe you can help them do it.

Comics, just know that there’s a real good chance that you have a group of fellow performers who actually give a damn about you. Use that to help yourselves tread water.

Robin Williams was a giant. A flawed giant, to be sure, but he gave a lot to all of us. Comics who grew up in the 70’s-90’s would cite him as an important influence. Even if the sadness behind the comedy was obviously intense.

Comics, keep the magic and your fellow performers alive. You are all too important to this world to do otherwise.

Joey Hack is a member of the Wiseguys and a regular contributor to Fly on the Wall. This story originally appeared at The Howling Monkey blog.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Existential Dilemma and You

Posted By on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 9:59 PM


Bandz a make Miley Cyrus twerk. But then again, what doesn't?

I want to go home... to the PYRAMID!
  • I want to go home... to the PYRAMID!
Ever had one of those days where you just ponder on the "Why" of things? I do. I do often. Why did my AC go out during the hottest week (so far) in Memphis? Why is there 10 months between seasons of Game of Thrones? Why is Tanning Mom a celebrity? Why did Kimye name their kid after a defunct airline? Why is the Pyramid cursed? Why is the fiber network in Memphis not being used? Why did Miley Cyrus decide that twerkin was the right path for her? Why is he asking all of these why questions?

It's because I want you to think and open your mind. Why, you may ask...

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