Friday, November 21, 2008

Rant of the Day: Black Comedians

I was driving in to work today when it struck me. I just don't like Black comedy.

I'm not so narrow minded to say all Blacks are the same, but of the comedians that I could think of off the top of my head, they all shared some characteristics, most of which just don't appeal to me.

1. Angry - Everyone loves angry comedy, and I'm no exception. The "Rant of the Day" series was founded on that fact. For me this is a parody of angry comedy of sorts. As anyone who knows me will attest, aside from the cancellation of Arrested Development back in 2006, I haven't been angry in a decade.

The problem here is that the Blacks are angry, but not funny. They've got the build up, but no delivery. I'm always left waiting for that home run hit, and quite frankly it rarely, if ever, comes.

2. Cursing - The Blacks love to curse. It's one of the foundations of their comedic style. Again, so do I. But here's the deal. You can't throw sugar on a pile of turds and call it apple pie. The F word adds emphasis. It does not add funny. This is a common Black mistake.

3. The Let Down - I touched upon this in #1, but one of the biggest issues is the let down. For years I honestly thought that I loved Black comedy. One of them would come on the screen and I'd be the first to yell out, "Man, I love this guy. He does a rant about Starbucks that is hysterical." 5 minutes later I'd be thinking, "I remembered that bit being funnier."

4. Ego - The Blacks always think that they're the best. They're either the foremost commentator on everything, or some kind of wonderboy, but the Blacks always think they're the best. This ends up being a key point of their comedy. In most cases it's so far from the truth that it's not even funny.

Let's take a step back now, and look at two of the biggest Black comedians in the world today. I'm of course referring to Lewis and Jack.

Lewis I remember first seeing on Comedy Central's Daily Show and thinking, "Man, this guy is awesome. He's so angry. He's so observant." As years went by I finally realized that he was really just filler in between the Jon Stewart bits. He didn't even one up Kilborn, and that's just depressing in retrospect.

Here's an example of Lewis's comedic genius as he explains how to stimulate the economy(Use of the F word may make it not safe for work):





Jack on the other hand I first heard in a little band named, "Tenacious D". The concept was pretty simple. Take a few guys who'd never make it in rock and have them think that they're rock gods. Their first song "The Greatest Song in the World" was actually pretty solid. Unfortunately for Jack, it was all downhill from there.

In his last movie, "Tropic Thunder" Jack was out-funnied by Ben Stiller. That's like losing a marathon race to Heather Mills.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jesse B and the Case of the Missing Umbrella(Part 2)

August 19th - INT Bearden Household - Dusk
"Well, I don't know where they possibly could be" the woman stated without hesitation. If she did know the location of the umbrellas, she wasn't telling me. I had ransacked the entire house and found both the lights and the bulbs, but the umbrellas, the final pieces to the kit, were nowhere to be found.

My only lead was the woman standing in front of me. She was a middle aged dame with a mother's face. It'd seen joy, laughter, good times and bad. Her birth certificate read Elizabeth Ann, but around these parts she was known as Liz, AKA Lizzy, AKA Dizzy, AKA Big L. This broad had more handles than a broom shop, but to me she was known simply as "Mom".

And today "Mom" was fresh out of answers.  I had grilled her for a good twenty as to the whereabouts of the umbrellas but she was steadfast in her argument that she hadn't seen them.

She wasn't lying.  At least not to her knowledge.  I know lying.

Jesse B and the case of the Fortunate Cookie
It was back in aught six when I got an urgent telegram from a Mr. and Mrs. Ying.  Their daughter had been missing for a month and they wanted me to find her.  Sure, it seemed odd that a well to do Chinese family would offer me a sizable amount to find their daughter, but times were tough and the heat still had to get paid. When you ain't got two pennies to rub together for warmth it's time to get off your ass and make something happen.

I spent two weeks searching Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi looking for Lai.  Turns out the sassy skirt had run away from dad's overbearing discipline and turned up working wangs for a few Yuan at a local gentleman's club.  While a decent number of the men in that town had gotten their happy ending, the Yings never did get their's

The trail had run cold. I had given up and gone to price replacements, but with economic times being what they were I wasn't ready to drop 60 clams on a pair of rain shields for a small project about a silly chair.

Dejected, I took the top down on the car and went for a drive. Maybe it was out of habit, or maybe it was 20 years of following my gut, but I ended up back at my parent's house.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nerd Marloue Words: Metro-Grub

Metro-Grub
- restaurant/verb

1. A downtown restaurant, particularly one with a trendy or hip style to it. 

- distinguishing marks
Most Metro-Grub places will turn in to a bar late at night, and tend to have a wide assortment of food. A sure fire way to know that you'reMetro-Grubbing is the interesting choice of furniture(Such as a couch in the middle of a restaurant) and the abundance of feta.  If the waiter asks what kind of bread you want your sandwich on and then lists "Pita" "Wrap" and "Panini" as your choices, then there's a good chance you're at a Metro-Grub restaurant.

[ Origin: My coworker Marloue used the word once to describe Switch, a new downtown eatery. ]

- usage
1. I'm thinking something light today. Wanna Metro-Grub?

Par For the Course

A few days ago I had lunch at ZPizza.  Z is a cool little Metro Grub Pizza joint that defies the MG stereotype by actually being priced somewhere in the affordable range.  The mile distance from my office to Z is taken up by the "historic" Willo district of Phoenix, which is one of the few green and peaceful areas in the city.  I generally grab the iPod and walk the distance on a day where the temperature is less than scorching.  

My head was still back at the office as I ordered two slices of the daily special, but I quickly snapped back to the present after paying.  As I turned around I realized there was an exceptionally cute girl behind me.  She'd been there for a while, and I had surprisingly been too lost in my thoughts to get nervous and do something stupid.

I stepped outside for a moment to check for table availability on the patio and then back in after spotting the perfect seat.  As I walked over to the bar where they set the orders I noticed the cute girl was standing over two slices of the daily special, patting them down with a napkin to remove any excess grease on the top.  Since she had ordered after I did, it seemed likely that it was actually my pizza she was patting down like a TSA agent, but I was too busy wondering if we'd serve ZPizza at our wedding to be bothered.  It would all be "our" pizza once we were married. 

The girl looked up at me for a moment as if to say, "What are you staring at?" to which I just nodded.

"Catherine!" a Z employee announced as she set another plate with two slices of the delicious Italian pizza on the bar.

The cute girl, somewhat surprised, stared at the new plate for a moment.  She then looked at me, and then back at the plate her left hand still clutched.  I nodded again.

"Um... do you just want to take that one?" she asked, with a little bit of demand in her voice as she motioned to the new plate.

"I don't know.  That one looks like it has less grease" I deadpanned and pointed at the other.

"Well... " she sighed with frustration, "You can have it if you want."

I gave up and went back outside to eat my lunch.  As I walked past on my way back to the office I considered asking her how my pizza was, but decided to just drop it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jesse B and The Case of the Missing Umbrella(Part 1)

There comes a time in every P.I.'s life when he ends up his own client.  My pal Murray used to say, "Better a gumshoe who's his own client than a heart surgeon".  Of course that was before Murray went to jail.  A leggy blond with a huge rack hitting on a scrawny kid from Sausalito is about as out of place as Michael Phelps at a public pool wearing a pair of orange floaties, but Murray always did think with his lower brain.  Until the cops fished her out, the blond spent the better part of a week at the bottom of the East River with a knife in her back, a gag in her mouth, and Murray's finger prints all over her like Amy Winehouse at a free meth handout.  Murray?  Well, Murray ended up getting a double life sentence despite the fact that it was an obvious set up.

The point is, when it's your ass on the line, when push comes to shove, that's when the real detectives are separated from the kids with the Fisher Price action detective play set. It's the time when the Holmes of the world show their stuff.  The Columbos.  The Magnums.

My first self client case wasn't anything quite so serious as a murder rap, but that didn't make it any easier. Any sleuth worth his salt will tell you that even the smallest mystery carries with it a certain urgency. Every folder you place in the U filing cabinet under "Unsolved" is reminder of your own failings. They weigh you down. They keep you up at night.  

This particular case revolved around a unique missing item, or I should say set of missing items.  Umbrellas in fact, but not just any umbrellas. These were those special white umbrellas they use when you go to a professional photog. 

You see, in my younger days my associate Adam O and I had fancied ourselves pioneers in the independent movie market. We were young and full of dreams. It was a time of innocence, before the real world had chewed me up and spit me out a hardened man.  Back then, every day was a new adventure and the world was my oyster.  I don't see Adam much anymore.  Not like the old days anyhow.  He was seduced by a frisky frau from Berlin and has since taken up residency across the pond.

In our youth we'd saved and bought some doodads that we were sure would assist us on our way to our directorial destiny. Adam had a fancy Japanese made microphone, and I had purchased a professional lighting kit complete with umbrellas.

I had all but forgotten that lighting kit until an August afternoon many years later I had need of it once again.  With the economy in a downturn and most people turning to Google for their answers, work had been slow.  I found myself working key grip on the set of a motion picture titled, "How to Build a Chair". It was a small job, but it filled the space in between cases.  Everything was ready to shoot except for the lights.  The fluorescent bulbs of the set just weren't cutting the havarti, and we need something a little better.  Something a little more professional.