Ever get annoyed? Ever feel like someone needs to be told where the dog died? Or handed a crowbar and a tub of Elbow Grease to help them pry their head out of their arse? Congratulations--you've come to the right place.

And when I'm not commenting on the latest thing to piss me off, I'm trying to figure out my own twisted life. Because, hey, I'm like that.

On a gentler note: for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, and other assorted bullshit: You are NOT alone.

And if you're looking for a laugh, search on the key word "fuckery." It's just my little thing (as the bishop said to the actress).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is it ever "too soon"?

Hey, kids. Happy Talk Like William Shatner Day from the Migraine Zone. (Because da Shat is where it's at! Love that crazy bastard.)

So... Japan. I haven't really said anything about the horrific aftermath over there because honestly, I can't wrap my mind around it. The fabulist in me is looking at the events in the West Pac and seriously wondering if the Elder Gods are rising. The realist in me is wondering if all that bullshit about 2012 might not be so out there and remembering that the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia was a safe zone on the future maps a slightly out-there friend showed me a few years ago.
Bottom line is that my prayers are with them over there--Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru... all the places hit over the past few months so horribly. (Quebec got hit with an earthquake last week. Fuck 'em. Damn Quebecois!) (Yes, that was a joke.)

*sigh* It bothers me that I have to put that little rider on that statement. The other "aftershock" of the earthquake last week came when Aflac Insurance fired Gilbert Gottfried for making *gasp* OFFENSIVE JOKES via Twitter regarding Japan.
Just color my fat ass shocked. NOT.
Let's take a look at the two sides: Aflac, insurance company, which derives 75% of its business from Japan. Has an "iconic duck" for its ad mascot. (Yahoo News's phrase, not mine.) Hired Gilbert Gottfried to voice the damn duck to quack out, "AFLAC!" in commercials.
Now, I would never have noticed these commercials, despite the fact they contain a duck (in case I've never mentioned it, I love ducks. Ducks make me happy, alive or roasted) were it not for the fact that Vicki gets the biggest kick out of them. Until she sent me the link to the story about Gilbert Gottfried being fired, I had no clue he voiced the duck. (Stupid me, honestly, his voice is so distinctive, but I just didn't care, y'know? It's not like it's an episode of Futurama where I love to play "Spot the Voice Actor" because the cast is so damn good.)
And the other side... Gilbert Gottfried. Annoying-voiced comedian. Famous with Disney crowd for voicing Iago the Parrot in Aladdin. Done quite a bit of other cartoon work.
Not exactly known for being the most tasteful of comedians, he was greeted with the ultimate censoring comment, "TOO SOON!" at the Friar's Club roast of Hugh Hefner in 2001. He told an airplane joke less than three weeks after 9/11. The bit was used in the Paul Provenza/Penn Jillette film, The Aristocrats, a documentary on the infamously tasteless joke that comedians tell to each other.
Can't recommend that film enough, BTW--how to see how many different versions of the same joke can be told. It's not a comfortable film--it's not a stand-up film. I actually found it a bit disturbing (and it turned me off Sarah Silverman forever), but well worth the watch. (Yeah, I own it; willing to loan local.)
At the Foxwoods gig a few weeks back, Pat Oates told a great story about opening for the late Greg Giraldo. It was a funny frickin' story and nothing inappropriate about it (honestly, Giraldo was an utter DICK to him, but Oates gave him props and respect). Some idiot behind me yelled out, "TOO SOON! TOO SOON!"
Fuck you.
The point of comedy is to act as a release valve--a cathartic for both the comic and the audience. It's storytelling without all the airy-fairy artsy-fartsy bullshit around it--a chance to have a damn good laugh and, depending on the comedian, a little self-revelation. For some people, it's always going to be "too soon." Or in bad taste.
Example: I got to see Boston legend Lenny Clarke on Friday night out at Giggles. There was an MC and two openers. Everyone was good--best of the lot was Artie Januario (I hope I spelled his name correctly). He had the two of us howling. Lenny Clarke was awesome--I've heard him on radio plenty of times, but this was the first time I've seen him live. I was laughing and howling for most of his set. MOST of his set. I was with him when he took down the douchebag who was decked in party store regalia letting the world know it was her birthday and expected him to give her a shout-out in the middle of his set. I was there with all the Catholic school jokes (although one of his routines came a little close to one of my bits I've been working on; just gives me a challenge). He lost me when he started on his political stuff because we're at opposite ends of the electorate.
Did I heckle? No. I stopped laughing. I didn't find what he was saying funny; I found it uninformed and (IN MY OPINION) ignorant. I paid attention; everyone deserves their say, and this man is a legendary comic who's been at it forever. It was his room, his stage, and I chose to be in the room (and I was warned about his political views beforehand). He's also not a stupid man, not by a longshot. I just bloody well disagreed with his politics. Didn't take away from the fact that I found most of his material hysterical, and didn't diminish my respect for his command of the room and stage presence. Five minutes out of the 40 weren't to my taste; I can live with that.
Same thing goes for Talkin' Shit, the Jim Jefferies & Eddie Ifft podcast. Some of the shit they talk... Yeah. Not to my taste. Tough shit for me--I choose to listen to it. It's an unscripted chat--it's "live" fuckery. Not everything is going to be a perfect hit. The overall experience, however, is great, and it takes balls to put it out there (and regular listeners know that Jim regularly shows his balls to everyone in the room just for the reaction). I do know, however, that if I spend the money to catch Jim live, I'm going to get an amazing freakin' show--tight, professional and FUCKIN' HYSTERICAL.

So, Aflac hired Gilbert Gottfried to voice their duck. Now, I can't imagine that a huge insurance company does not have a really intense human resources department with an equally impressive legal department. I can't imagine that the marketing department did not know Gottfried's resume and reputation when the talent agency/casting director presented them with choices. Even if the suits above only knew him as "that guy who voiced the parrot in the kids movie, right?" the flacks would have made damn sure to do their homework in case on of the suits actually knew his shit and asked the wrong question. You take a risk, you do your homework first. You also can't tell me that Gottfried's shenanigans on Howard Stern haven't gotten back to them.
You hire a comedian, you take your chances. You accept that you're getting not just their talent for your product, but also everything connected to them, and if you have a problem with their material, you either a) don't hire them; or b) suck it up, buttercup, and roll with it.
Now, I'm not going to debate the merits of Gilbert Gottfried's "humor." Personally, I can't stand the guy; his voice goes right through my ears, and I don't find him funny. That's me; there are a few comedians out there who do NOTHING for me (Joan Rivers is right at the top of the list; I'd like to park a tank on that woman, but she's had so much plastic surgery, she'd jam the treads; either that, or the silicon would explode). The reality is that, unless Aflac put a rider in Gottfried's contract, they had no right to fire him. What he said on Twitter, on his personal account, is protected under the First Amendment. By attempting to censor him by firing him and depriving him of income, they have put themselves in a precarious position. (There's already a petition out there on FB to get him reinstated.) They've also set themselves up for a lawsuit.
Right now, the Twitverse and Blogosphere are the Wild West of First Amendment protection. What's being said on personal accounts is technically considered protected speech; however, not all employers see it that way. There was a ruling a few weeks back (sorry, don't have time to research it) that ruled in favor of the blogger. I'm hoping the precedent is going to be used to get the suspended high school teacher reinstated for the comments she made on her blog regarding her students.
Now, I didn't bother to check out the jokes last week. I just did. *headdesk* Jokes? For fuckssake people, they were VAUDEVILLE STANDARDS. I'm completely fucking serious--they weren't jokes, they were CHESTNUTS. Insensitive? Yeah, absolutely, but right up there with, "Take my wife. Please!" retard, and parapalegic jokes.
Jesus wept, can we all GROW THE FUCK UP AND GROW A SAC?!?!?! This was the kind of schoolyard BS that the tough kids would ignore because they knew the little smartass was just talkin' shit and trying to show off--the kind of shit that you IGNORE and it goes away because the idiot isn't getting any attention.
Instead, this PC hypersensitivity has given a mediocre talent a hell of a lot of attention--that will lead to more employment because there's ALWAYS an asshole ready, willing and able to pay someone to generate some publicity for themselves. You know who's going to lose because of this? The First Amendment and free speech in general. Think about Gilbert Gottfried as the poster child for the First Amendment; to me, that's right up there with the KKK and neo-Nazis having the right to march. I also don't like the fact that it's going to make it harder for other controversial comics to get hired as spokespeople.
And what will that mean? The harder we make it for people to speak freely--the more censorship power we give to the corporations--the less freedom we have, and hey, what the hell, we're already bordering on being a fascist state as it is.
Well done, Aflac. Instead of having a fucking brain and using a plausible excuse--misquote sales figures, tell him you can't justify his salary, terminate the contract--it's done all the time. Instead you've given him grounds for a lawsuit and a shit-ton of publicity. And all the people whining about how awful he is will be the first to watch the damn interviews and the stupid documentary or telly dramatization of his "horrible struggle."
Yeah, I know. TOO SOON!
Grumpily yours,
Her Most Imperial Pissiness

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