Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway.

Imagine having no talent. Imagine being no good at all at something and doing it anyway. Then, after nine years, failing at it and giving it up in disgust and moving to Englewood, N.J., and selling aluminum siding. And then, years later, trying the thing again, though it wrecks your marriage, and failing again. And eventually making a meticulous study of the thing and figuring out that, by eliminating every extraneous element, you could isolate what makes it work and just do that. And then, after becoming better at it than anyone who had ever done it, realizing that maybe you didn’t need the talent. That maybe its absence was a gift.

These were the stations on the via dolorosa of Jacob Cohen, a.k.a. Rodney Dangerfield, whose comedy I hold above all others’. At his peak — look on YouTube for any set he did between 1976 and 1990 — he was the funniest entertainer ever. That peak was long in coming; by the time he perfected his act, he was nearly 60. But everything about Dangerfield was weird. While other comedians of that era made their names in television and film, Dangerfield made his with stand-up. It was a stand-up as dated as he was: He stood on stage stock-still in a rumpled black suit and shiny red tie and told a succession of diamond-hard one-liners.

The one-liners were impeccable, unimprovable. Dangerfield spent years on them; he once told an interviewer that it took him three months to work up six minutes of material for a talk-show appearance. If there’s art about life and art about art, Dangerfield’s comedy was the latter — he was the supreme formalist. Lacking inborn ability, he studied the moving parts of a joke with an engineer’s rigor. And so Dangerfield, who told audiences that as a child he was so ugly that his mother fed him with a slingshot, became the leading semiotician of postwar American comedy. How someone can watch him with anything short of wonder is beyond me.

~ Alex Halberstadt, from “Letter of Recommendation: Rodney Dangerfield” (The New York Times, January 26 2018)

It’s just doubt, that’s the biggest thing.

You’ve been doing stand-up since the late ‘80s. Do you remember your worst night?

Oh, there are so many of them. In the beginning, there are endless amounts of worst nights. But there was one, after “Everybody Loves Raymond” had been on for a year, out at the University of Florida’s Gator Growl. It’s in the stadium, like, 30,000 people, Dave Chappelle, Larry the Cable Guy and me. Five minutes in, I heard a woman yell out, “You better start getting funny.”

Anything you miss about those early days?

There was something gratifying about going up onstage in front of a room full of total strangers. They’ve never seen you in their life, and they’re kind of like, who is this guy? And then you win that crowd over. That will never happen again, only because somebody in the audience has seen me. Seinfeld said, they give you the first 10 minutes if you’re well known. But you still gotta be funny.

When you first started taking on dramatic roles, what was your biggest worry?

You wonder, are you any good? It’s just doubt, that’s the biggest thing. The desire is there. But then I also want to be a pro golfer, and that’s never gonna happen.

You still have worries like that?

Oh yeah. No matter how successful you are. I hear that from other comedians all the time. You’re just waiting for the funny police to come and arrest you as an impostor.

~ Robert Ito, excerpts from his interview with Ray Romano in “Ray Romano Still Fears the ‘Funny Police’” (NY Times, June 30, 2017)


Photo of Ray Romano: Aces Comedy

Who picks your clothes – Stevie Wonder?

Don Rickles, 90. RIP.


Notes:

  • Blog Title: “Who picks your clothes – Stevie Wonder?” Don Rickles to David Letterman
  • The Very Best of Don Rickles: Youtube
  • Photo: Don Rickles by Markku Lahdesmaki via travelist

Costanza: “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

jerry-seinfeld

 

Q: You and Larry David wrote Seinfeld together, without a traditional writers’ room, and burnout was one reason you stopped. Was there a more sustainable way to do it? Could McKinsey or someone have helped you find a better model?

JS: Who’s McKinsey?

Q: It’s a consulting firm.

JS: Are they funny?

Q: No.

JS: Then I don’t need them. If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way. The show was successful because I micromanaged it—every word, every line, every take, every edit, every casting. That’s my way of life.

~ Daniel McGinn, Life’s Work: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld (HBR, Jan-Feb 2017)


Blog Post Title Credit: The Independent – Seinfeld at 25: The Show’s Best Quotes

Bonus Quote: Jerry Seinfeld: “You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’

Truth

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“You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.”

~ Chris Rock, as Richard Cooper in the movie “I Think I Love My Wife

 


Portrait of Chris Rock: Trending Topics

His commitment, full, all his molecules

If you were a fan of comedian Chris Farley, I highly recommend the new documentary on his life titled: I Am Chris Farley. The trailer above gives you a snapshot.  The quotes below are a few of my favorite testimonials from the film.

Mike Myers: “I was very influenced by his commitment, full, all his molecules, and anybody around him’s molecules, pulled into his performance.”

David Spade & Lorne Michaels: “Because everyone can fall down and whatever, but you can’t do it this good. He doesn’t put his hands up, which is what I would do. So he doesn’t block his fall, and you can’t do those forever. I think Chevy Chase warned him not to do that.  Because Chevy’d always had something there just before he fell so he could break the fall, but Chris was just taking it as paid. He wasn’t paying close enough attention to see that there was a way you could do it and not hurt yourself. His commitment was total.”

Bob Saget: “Then at one point there was a little fluffa that happened. There was a line that got skipped, and I just like pushed his glasses up and his eyes crossed. It was this delicate moment that made me very happy.  He came from that background where you pull everybody up – that you are there for everybody. You don’t leave anyone hanging. So when you are working with him, he was right there, helping you.  “Come on buddy”, you know, and that kind of thing.”

For a film review by Variety.com: “Film Review: I Am Chris Farley


But right now I’m happy, happier, ish

steve-coogan

Michael Hainey in an interview with Steve CooganComedian Steve Coogan is Happyish:

MH: If you look at yourself now—a man nearing 50—what would you have said to the young Steve Coogan?

SC: It’s a very good question. Well, I would have… [long pause] aimed higher. I don’t just mean that in a career sense, I mean be better, strive to be better in all things, and work harder, because you’ll find it rewarding. I’d say, Be comfortable with who you are as well, just listen to yourself more. I suppose when I was younger, I wanted to get on and have a career and be successful. And try to be all things to all men. I don’t do that anymore. Now I want to do things I believe in, and have a sort of honesty, in work and in life. When I was younger, I didn’t really want to say anything contentious, because I thought it might alienate people who liked my work.

MH: Is there anything you sacrificed to be in your position that you regret?

SC: In my quest for authenticity and sincerity, I can be a bit annoying. In my quest to try to bring some love into things, I can be a bit acerbic and nasty. I love that quote that Aldous Huxley said at the end of his life: Through all his writing and everything, all he’d learned at the end of his life was that people should just be a bit nicer to each other. I love the simplicity of that. And I do well to remember it. Sometimes I need to just be nice to people. I have been quite driven over the years. But right now I’m happy, happier, ish, than I’ve been before. I’m fortunate in that I can make choices, and I think I try to make the right ones. And I don’t do anything I don’t believe in. And that’ a real luxury.

Don’t miss full interview here: Comedian Steve Coogan is Happyish


Photo: wegotthisdiscovered.com

 

 

I predict laughter in your future

Nina Conti one more time…Stick with it to the end, especially closing piece of act. Thank you Sandy!

Another Lovely Day

Dave posted a video of Nina Conti the other day on his blog, Live & Learn. It was so funny [see Dave’s post here] that I had to watch another one. And here’s it is . . .

Happy Saturday!

View original post

Saturday Morning

funny,laugh,sleep,saturday morning

funny,sleep,saturday morning


Source: wobblywibbly

But now we must pick up every piece, of the life we used to love

illustration,painting

Maureen Dowd on Stephen Colbert, A Wit for All Seasons:

He (Stephen Colbert) describes himself as “an omnivore,” who loves everything from “A Man for All Seasons” to “Jackass,” from hip-hop to Ovid in the original Latin. He had 10 older siblings. But after his father and the two brothers closest to him in age died in a plane crash when he was 10 and the older kids went off to college, he said, he was “pretty much left to himself, with a lot of books.” He said he loved the “strange, sad poetry” of a song called “Holland 1945” by an indie band from Athens, Ga., called Neutral Milk Hotel and sent me the lyrics, which included this heartbreaking bit:

“But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on. . . .
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don’t move anymore.”

Read Dowd’s full article in the NY Times: A Wit for All Seasons.


Notes:

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