Garry Shandling

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I really enjoyed It’s Garry Shandling’s Show back in the 80s.  (It was on Showtime the same night as Brothers, which was also really funny and had a great theme song.)  It was kind of odd and subversive and had a great deal of fun with subverting the sitcom genre.  I even remember the words to the theme.

I never watched his other show, but I know it was much more popular and much more bitter and sarcastic.  I’d like to remember him best as a good-natured goof who made me smile.  Thanks for the laughs, Garry.  I hope you join Robin and all the other great comics during the stand-up interludes at the Great Concert of Eternity.  (Hey, the musicians need breaks once in a while.)

Because I Am Cranky Today

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Well, things have calmed down a little bit.  I got caught up on my school work (for the moment, anyway), including all the stuff that I didn’t do when I was sick for a week or so.  Mom’s doing okay.  She celebrated being cleared to drive by getting a haircut and buying cigarettes, dammit.  (Damn the cigarettes, not the haircut.)  We had the house sprayed for termites while I was sick (a more eco-friendly version that didn’t require the house being tented and us moving out for a week).  And got the oven door fixed when one of the hinges decided to quit.  I’m behind on my podcasts again, but I’m getting caught up on the laundry (one more load, I think. . . no, two since Mom’s bedspread needs washing).  All in all, I think I managed to survive.

Did I mention I was sick?  Oh yeah.  I only get sick maybe once or twice a year, but I pull out all the stops when I do.  I felt like something one of the cats heaved up.  I did a little heaving up myself, and just the idea of food put me off for several days; I couldn’t even watch food commercials on TV.  It took me about two weeks just to get my sea legs back.  I’m still not back into my old routines, but I’m getting there.

Of course the weather has been putrid–you know, since everything else was going so smoothly.  Because it was so hot when I was sick, I lost several plants outside because I couldn’t water.  We’re still in hell (literally, not figuratively) temperature-wise for the next couple of days.  That’s what the weather people keep saying, anyway.  The electric bill is through the roof the last couple of months.  (Thanks, climate change!)

All of this is to say that the last few weeks have not been a little slice of heaven.  And although there is a light at the end of the tunnel (probably from an oncoming train, but at this point, I don’t give a flip), I have been, shall we say, a little tense today.  Or, to put it another way, fuck the world and the horse it rode in on.  Between grocery shopping today, my 49ers stinking up whatever joint they happen to be playing in, and all the other little annoyances of life, I’m about ready to rip out the throat of the first person who asks me how it’s going.  It’s probably hormonal, but I can’t be sure since the hysterectomy made it impossible for me to tell which time of the month is that time of the month anymore.  (Thanks, giant fibroids!)

And there’s still a lot of crap stuff to do.  All the household stuff that always needs doing, of course.  And I’m late for my annual checkup (like two years late), so I need to see the doctor now that I’m feeling healthy again.  I’ve got a half-dozen other things that are causing the hamster wheel of worry in brain to spin faster and faster.  Generally, the best thing I can say about life right now is that I’m still alive.  And that’s probably a good thing.

Where am I going with all this ranting?  What kind of musical connection am I going to pull out of my ass hat?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Because this song has nothing to do with anything.  But when I watched this video about fifteen minutes ago, it made me smile.  And given everything else, that’s a pretty big deal to me right now.

I hope it made you smile, too.

Robin Williams

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I had just finished my earlier post, and I went in to watch the headlines at 4:30pm.  I figured it would be some crime, or an update of the UCLA flood.  I never thought I’d see today’s news.

I will never laugh as hard and long as I did with Robin Williams again.  I have no words to express my shock and sadness.  My thoughts go out to all who loved him.

This is probably my favorite of his performances, maybe because it’s the first stand up show of his I ever saw.

The great concert of the afterlife just got a lot funnier. Nanu-nanu, Robin.

Not Music, But Still Nominated for a Grammy

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I won’t be watching the upcoming Grammy Awards (I gave up on them years ago).  But I feel the need to share one of the Best Comedy Album nominees with you.  The comedian’s name is Tig Notaro, and her album is Live.  I watched her on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson recently, and found out she was nominated for the recording of what might be the single most stunning moment in stand-up comedy history.

I remember reading about this set shortly after it happened.  It was like a nuclear bomb going off in the entertainment world.  Her strength is amazing.  The way she takes the horrible cards life had dealt her at that point and turns them into a figurative royal flush is amazing.  She mesmerizes her audience.  Everything in this recording is visceral, stunning and moving.  It’s also pretty goddamn funny.

Tig Notaro is the favorite to win the Grammy on Sunday, and she should.  It’s one of the best recordings I’ve ever heard.  It only costs about $5, so treat yourself to something awesome, and download a copy.  (I paid a dollar extra for the “deluxe” version on itunes; the second set is from another performance.)

BTW, the album is titled Live, but it’s not pronounced with the long “i,” as in “Live from New York!”  It’s the short “i.”  And after a double mastectomy, I hope that Tig Notaro continues to live on.

Freaky Friday: Jonathan Winters

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I don’t really have any music for today.  But I would like to pay tribute to one of the freakiest freaks that ever lived, Jonathan Winters.  He was insanely funny.  He might have been a little insane, too, but that’s just part and parcel of being a brilliant comedian.  It was kind of difficult to choose a single moment of his work to include, so I was glad when I found this montage.

(Part Two is available here.)

Winters was the undisputed master of improvisational comedy.  Without him, comics like Robin Williams might not exist.  The world is just a little less funny today.

Freaky Friday: Andy Kaufman

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If there were a Freak Hall of Fame (and, really, there should be), then Andy Kaufman would have a whole room devoted to his strange form of freakiness.  Kaufman is probably best known to folks as Latka Gravas on the TV show Taxi (which also brought Danny DeVito and Carol Kane to the spotlight).  Kaufman created the character as part of his stand-up routine in the 70s, known then only as Foreign Guy.  He was a brilliant comedian and performance artist who died too soon.

One of his most famous–and most funny–bits was the Mighty Mouse skit.  (Is now a good time to mention I was also a huge Mighty Mouse fan as a kid?)  I’d explain it, but it’s better just to watch.

The awkwardness as he stands onstage doing nothing is incredibly funny and just a little unnerving, which was sort of Kaufman’s specialty.  He wasn’t a mean-spirited guy, but his comedy wasn’t designed to make people feel good about themselves, either.  He made you see the weirdness of the world.  His characters were frequently bombastic oafs, even when he was purportedly being himself (such as in the wrestling bits).  He was surreal and silly, and I loved him to bits.  Years after he died, probably around the same time the biopic Man on the Moon was released, I heard that he had confided in friends that he wanted to fake his death and return 20 years later.  He died in 1984, so that would’ve placed his return in 2004.  I was a little disappointed when he didn’t show up (although I’m also still waiting for Houdini to make contact from the great beyond every Halloween).  My brain knew he wouldn’t, but my heart didn’t want to listen.

That might be the lasting legacy of Andy Kaufman.  His comedy was done with love, and responded to with love.  He put his whole heart into everything he did.  It’s impossible not to love that.

“Now, Andy did you hear about this one?  Tell me are you locked in the punch?  Hey, Andy, are you goofing on Elvis? (hey, baby) Are you having fun?’