Monday, November 30, 2009

Great read...

Go read Steve Hofstetter's Silent One Day Sale, Holy One Day Sale about how it's hard being a Yid at this time of year.
I imagine it's much more difficult to be a Jew on Christmas than it is to be a Christian during Hanukkah. You don't find many Hanukah specials about families getting stranded in an airport learning the true meaning of the menorah.

But if there were lots of Hanukkah specials, I'd be just as annoyed as I am at those about Christmas. I finally realized that I do not dislike most Christmas specials because they are about a holiday I do not celebrate - I dislike them because they're really, really cheesy. I love the original Grinch cartoon. The Peanuts specials are always fun, and Seinfeld's Festivus episode is a classic. A number of sit-coms have simply had funny events happen at Christmas parties, which is fine considering that the holiday is a part of our country's pop culture. But the shows that have people changing their lives based on the true meaning of Christmas really exasperate me.
Go read the rest for more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recommended: Great Presidential Wit by Senator Bob Dole

Fan of humor and politics? Then be sure to purchase Senator Bob Dole's book, Great Presidential Wit!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Message: 2009 Edition

May you have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family and friends. Times have been rough, more so this year than possibly ever before. Those friends have come through for me in more ways than they could possibly imagine and for that, I'm grateful.

I am thankful for my great-grandparents getting out of Europe and Russia before the war started.

I am thankful for my public school education, although the state of Kentucky has a lot of work to do. The education system in this state needs work. Teachers need to teach, not show the movie Forrest Gump on a rainy day because they don't want to deal with students. No excuse for having seen that movie five times while in the public school system, especially when it had nothing to do with the curriculum. Seriously, teachers. Get with it. A history class? Sure. Other classes, no way.

I am thankful to those of you who have forgiven me for doing that which will not be mentioned, although it gave me my first fifteen minutes of fame. If you don't know what I am talking about here, please message me appropriately. Strike that. Earlier this year, I was told by a friend of mine on mainstage at Second City that he loved it. These guys know what they are talking about. They do this for a living. It makes up for all the death threats that I recieved, whether those were done in a joking manner or not.

I am thankful for our troops serving us overseas even if I disagree with why we went over there in the first place, except for Afghanistan which was justified.

I am thankful to be living in a free country which allows the freedom of religion. On that note, especially this year, I am thankful for the Anshe Sholom community for their warm welcome following my move from Kentucky to Chicago last year.

I am thankful for the Jewish comedians of the vaudeville and Borscht Belt eras for paving the way for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart.

I am thankful for President Bush for providing so much comedic material along with Sarah Palin as well. She's self-destructing when she doesn't realize it.

I am thankful that shows like The Daily Show, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, The Late Show with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, CSI: NY, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office, 30 Rock, Numb3rs, Smallville, and The Colbert Report were approved by the networks so that I have television to enjoy.

I am thankful for the writing room of Caesar's Hour, considered to be the smartest and funniest room since Thomas Jefferson dined alone at the White House.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Remembering John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

The world would be a better place if Jack Kennedy were still with us today.

Image hosted by
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Born Brookline, Mass. (83 Beals Street) May 29, 1917
Died Dallas, Texas November 22, 1963

-Published "Why England Slept" in 1940 despite writing it in 1938
-Graduated Harvard in 1940
-Joined the Navy in 1941 and rose to the rank of lieutenant while commanding a PT boat.
-United States Congressman from 1947-1953
-United States Senator from 1953-1961
-Published "Profiles in Courage" in 1953
-Published "A Nation of Immigrants" in 1958
-Earned the Democratic nomination for the presidency on July 13, 1960
-Elected President of the United States on November 8, 1960
-Sworn in as the 35th President on January 20, 1961

Notable quotes:
On September 12, 1960: "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters - and the Church does not speak for me."

On September 14, 1960: "If by a 'Liberal' they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a 'Liberal,' then I'm proud to say I'm a 'Liberal.'"

Inaugural address on January 20, 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country"

Jack, we will forever miss you. Rest in peace.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Second City visits Kentucky...

Andy Samberg was in Chicago this past Sunday at a YLD event.
Switching gears, Bazer and Samberg discussed the comedian’s Jewish identity. He said his parents raised him with a strong cultural Jewish identity, but, at first, not a particularly religious one. One day his sister, in the fifth grade at the time, came home from her Jewish day school and said, “We’re way more Jewish than you guys are telling us.” From that point on, Samberg and his family ate Shabbat dinner and observed the Jewish holidays.

He talked about the role his Jewish identity plays in his comedy. “My comedy is not Jewish,” he said. “I’m a comedian because I’m Jewish. That’s like every fifth Jew is a comedian, right? And every other four have a pretty good sense of humor.”

He says he grew up on a diet of Mel Brooks and Woody Allen Jewish humor, but that today’s young comedians must mix it up. “For some reason, this generation of comedians, [no matter] what their ethnicity, can’t base their whole act on one thing because to me that feels a bit limited. A lot of comedians are like, ‘So, I’m single…’ and that’s their whole act,” he said.[...]

When asked whether Samberg finds the constant YouTube parodies of his videos flattering, he said he absolutely does. “When I see a group of 10-year-old girls doing ‘Lazy Sunday’ in their small rural town and they’re clearly having fun, that’s inspiring,” he said. “It reminds me of what ‘Saturday Night Live’ meant to me as a kid.”
Actress Natalie Portman has become a vegan after being a vegetarian for over 20 years.

Some talented friends of mine were performing at the University of Kentucky earlier this month when Second City's Blue Co was touring the commonwealth earlier this month.
Shad Kunkle went from Iowa to Chicago hoping to make it to the Super Bowl.

But he wasn't playing for Da Bears. He wanted to get to the Second City comedy troupe.

"It's the first Oregon Trail, it's the first place where comedians sought to use satire to affect people, and the place where people sought to do a blend between stand-up and actual comedic acting," says Kunkle, who will be on stage Friday night when Second City's touring company performs in the University of Kentucky's Memorial Hall.

If the name Second City doesn't ring a bell, many of its alumni certainly will — and they will explain why Kunkle refers to the theater as "the Super Bowl."

The veterans include current A-list comedy stars Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert. And the star-studded list of alumni stretches back through Gilda Radner and John Belushi to early stars including Fred Willard and Robert Klein.
If you are ever in Chicago, make sure to hit up a show at Second City, iO, The Annoyance, The Playground, etc.

The Who will rock the halftime show at the upcoming Super Bowl? The Who? Yes? Who? Yes. Okay, that's going to be a failed joke.

Brian Williams writes about Jon Stewart on the Newsweek website.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jay Leno sucks and FOX can't get with it...

First things first, the television season is starting to really see some cancellations. It's not like the olden days when the networks saw what happened during the rerun season. These days, if you can't get an audience, you get the axe. That's what's going on.

Kelsey Grammer's latest project, Hank, has been cancelled after only five episodes.

According to the NY Times, they were working on the 10th episode when the announcement was made.
The network said it would halt production on the series after work is completed on a 10th episode. Five episodes have been broadcast, and ABC has not yet announced its plans for the five remaining episodes it will have on hand. “Hank” is the second short-lived series for Mr. Grammer, who played the unctuous Dr. Frasier Crane for 20 years on “Cheers” and “Frasier”. His sitcom “Back to You,” on which he and Patricia Heaton played rival television news anchors, ran for one season on Fox in 2007-8.
Dollhouse, a low rated show on FOX, is also a goner.
According to multiple insiders, Fox has informed Joss Whedon that it will not be ordering additional installments of his low-rated drama beyond the current 13-episode order.
Back to the Jay Leno experience, it has been a failure for NBC. Anyone could have told NBC that this would happen. Were they expecting that people would watch him 90 minutes earlier? I would certainly not think so.
When it came to ratings, the network's goal was modest because the show costs almost nothing to make compared to average 10pm dramas. But what's going to happen to the great Jay Leno experiment now that the show isn't even garnering the tiny audience NBC expected for it? Up against juggernauts "Monday Night Football" and "CSI," Leno's last two Monday night shows have dipped way below even their modest goal. To make things worse, other NBC shows and local affiliates are starting to complain that Leno's unpopularity is dragging their own ratings down, too. The phenomenon even has a nickname: "The Leno Effect," and it's turning into a disaster for other NBC shows.[...]

"The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," for example, was building an audience and holding its own against David Letterman before Leno's show debuted. But now with a poor lead-in, "Tonight's" ratings are so dismal that Letterman beats Conan soundly night after night. Similarly, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," which was a moderate success when it debuted last spring, can point directly to Leno for its own ratings dip. And even NBC staple and fan favorite "Law and Order" is suffering because Leno's show stole its classic 10pm time slot. The producers of these shows are no doubt grumbling in-house, where Leno is probably not very popular right now. But making some very definite noise are NBC's local affiliates around the country, who are finding that nobody is watching their post-Leno local news shows because by the time they air, the audience has long since changed the channel.
Take a look at what Mark Harris had to say on the matter.
It’s easy to enumerate how dire things are for the network: The fourth-place finishes, night after night, in both total viewers and the 18-to-49-year-old demographic that still serves as TV’s gold standard. The absence—for the third year running—of any new hit show. (For the week ending November 1, NBC placed exactly one series in the top 30.) The continued attrition of the network’s Thursday-night lineup, which throughout the eighties and nineties was the bedrock of both NBC’s wide appeal and its yearly Emmy tally and now has only The Office and 30 Rock keeping that old tradition-of-quality candle burning. And the fact that the network’s one big prime-time ratings success—Sunday Night Football—goes off the air in early January, making the season’s second half, particularly after the Winter Olympics, even bleaker.

And when you step back for a broader view, things get even worse; they devolve from “What’s wrong with this network?” to “Why own a network at all?” Because this isn’t just about the new sitcom with Chevy Chase and the guy from The Soup pulling in only 5 million viewers, or Trauma failing to become the next ER. This is about a company that has lately seemed to hold in contempt the very idea of a broadcast network, and that has become a symbol of the death of ambition in an industry that, in its glory days, attempted to program for both mass and class. Without that goal, a network is nothing but a basic-cable channel with a gloomier business plan and an uglier balance sheet.[...]

And then came the Leno move, for which Zucker was so intent on the cost-per-hour benefit to NBC that he failed to anticipate the collateral damage. With its wee audience—around 5 million people per night—Leno has robbed the network of viewers that could be watching promos for its following evening’s lineup, which means that, except when it airs football or The Biggest Loser, NBC tends to start each evening’s prime-time schedule with an already diminished audience. Handing 10 p.m. to Leno has also hurt ratings—severely in some cities—for the late-night newscasts of NBC’s affiliates. That, in turn, has dinged the Tonight Show, which, in the shaky hands of Conan O’Brien, now loses to David Letterman (who, even mid-scandal, seems to be having the time of his life). And that weakens NBC’s Jimmy Fallon and helps CBS’s Craig Ferguson. Back in prime time, NBC’s highest-rated scripted series, the durable warhorse Law & Order: SVU, has suffered because of its eviction from its longtime 10 p.m. slot. And on October 26, a humiliating report in Advertising Age revealed that NBC has been able to charge an average of only $57,486 for a 30-second ad on Leno, in contrast to CBS’s $127,000 for a new hit like The Good Wife and ABC’s $240,000 for a demographic blockbuster like Grey’s Anatomy.[...]

But these days, with its lineup zigzagging from football to low-end cheapo reality like The Biggest Loser to botched onetime hits like Heroes to media pets like 30 Rock, NBC’s brand is scattershot. The face of the network, by virtue of sheer omnipresence, is Jay Leno, who, at 59, is not any network’s demographic ideal. He may not be killing NBC, as TV Guide recently speculated, but it’s beginning to feel like he’s participating in an assisted suicide. One thing’s already clear: Remaking an entire prime-time lineup in his familiarly peevish image was a Hail Mary pass, not a long-term business strategy. And one suspects the network knows it. With Jeff Gaspin already working hard to repair NBC’s relationship with the creative community by signing deals with high-profile producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and J. J. Abrams, it’s hard to imagine that he and Zucker are not beginning, very quietly, to consider a Plan B. That could involve paying off Leno and canceling his show, cutting it back to three or four nights a week to give the grid a little more flexibility, or even returning Leno, “by popular demand,” to the Tonight Show. Start sweating, Conan; Leno recently told a trade reporter he’d take that deal if he were asked to—a seemingly offhand comment that sounds a lot like the beginning of a gigantic face-saving maneuver. In any case, even if, as media watchers gossip, the 44-year-old Zucker is unlikely to survive for long under Comcast, the various regulatory hurdles the deal has to clear will give him at least a year either to right the ship or sink it.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Neil Diamond covers Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song?

A Jewish parody of Walk the Line

Lyrics by Country Yossi

I wear a kippah on this head of mine.
I daven mincha in the proper time.
and by havdalah in my pockets I put wine
cause I'm a Jew, I do that too.

I put my sh'lok down when it starts to rain.
I shake a lulav, which my neighbors think insane
I like to bury my gefilte fish in chrein
Cause I'm a Jew, I do that too.

Cause I'm a Jew, cause I'm a Jew,
because the Torah tells me to, I do that too,
I do the strangest things a man could ever do,
cause I'm a Jew, I do that too.

Oh there are times when I where sneakers with my suit
and I must confess that it looks rather cute
and there is a time when we must send each other fruit...
cause I am a Jew, I do that too.

Oh once a year I twirl a chicken over my head
and it wouldn't be that bad if it were dead
and there's a time when I go outside and burn my bread
cause I'm a Jew, I do that too.

Cause I'm a Jew, cause I'm a Jew,
because the Torah tells me to I do that too,
I do the strangest things a man could ever do,
cause I'm a Jew, I do that too.

Oh Once a month I go outside and bless the moon
and once a year I have to eat all afternoon
and there's a time a pound my chest and sing a tune
cause I'm a Jew, Ia do that too.

On Pesach I will drink four cups of wine, it's true
and then eat matzah till I have no strength to chew
then I eat horseradish until I am turning blue
cause I'm a Jew, Ia do that too.

Cause I'm a Jew, cause I'm a Jew,
because the Torah tells me to, I do that too,
I do the strangest things a man could ever do,
cause I'm a Jew, Ia do that too.

Chandler on Health Care Reform

Ben Chandler released a statement on why he voted the way he did.
“After hearing from many constituents on both sides, holding meetings throughout the district, and reading a 2,000-page bill which has changed dramatically in the past week, I voted against the bill because I do not believe it is the best course of action for the people of Central Kentucky, specifically our working families, small businesses, and seniors.

“In particular, the cost of this bill for the taxpayer is too high. We already spend more on healthcare than any other country on earth, and now we are being asked to spend a trillion dollars more. The Congressional Budget Office states that the bill does not bring down the growing cost of healthcare and perpetuates a system that is fiscally unsustainable. I have serious concerns about forcing people to purchase health insurance they cannot afford, especially if we are not bringing down the costs.

“I am also concerned the reform bill would not adequately protect our rural hospitals and our small businesses—the engines of job creation. I have had these same concerns throughout this difficult debate, and in the end, do not believe this bill is the best for the Sixth Congressional District.

“I appreciate the efforts of President Obama and the Democrats to put together a bill which incorporates a number of reforms that are long overdue, including greater regulation of insurance companies, the elimination of lifetime caps on coverage, and prohibiting denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

“There is no doubt that our healthcare system is broken, but I am not convinced that this bill today would lower costs, improve coverage, and maintain quality care in the long term.”
I will say that I did not read the 2,000 pages of the bill so I can't comment on the matter without knowing all the facts.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Comedy Central orders Onion pilot

Comedy Central has ordered a pilot for a show based on the Onion Sports Network.
It's the sports world at its funniest: COMEDY CENTRAL has ordered a pilot from The Onion for a half-hour, scripted comedy series based on its popular Onion Sports Network online video series, as announced today by Lauren Corrao, president, original programming and development, COMEDY CENTRAL.

The as-yet untitled series will take on the whole universe of modern sports – teams, players, leagues, sycophantic fans, ridiculous products and over-hyped sports coverage – with an eye towards appealing to sports fanatics and more casual fans, as well as long-time followers of The Onion and The Onion News Network.

"We are thrilled to be in business with a cultural icon like The Onion to give our audience the sports show they deserve," said Corrao. "The short-form content on the OSN Web series is outstanding, hilarious and exactly what you'd expect from the gang. We're really excited to take this great idea and turn it into a regular, weekly series."

"The Onion is the biggest, most fearless, most influential news organization in the free world," said Steve Hannah, CEO of Onion, Inc. "And we see a collaboration with COMEDY CENTRAL as the next logical step in the expansion of the Onion Sports Network's hard-hitting coverage."

Executive produced by Onion News Network producer, Julie Smith and director Will Graham, the half-hour scripted comedy takes its cue from The Onion Sports Network video content which authentically replicates the flashy look, breathless pace and general insanity of modern sports coverage.

"Get ready for the most intense sports coverage humanity has yet witnessed," Graham said. "We won't rest until you're perched in front of your TV, shouting in breathless excitement, neglecting your loved ones and your job because you are so completely addicted to our sports coverage."