Are Smart Phones Killing Live Comedy?

Smart phones have created and ended comedy careers. In the age where everyone has a computer/video camera in their pocket, smart phones are ruining live comedy. Obviously, there are the plain rude assholes who sit in the front row and text their friends while standup shows are going on. (Don’t even get me started about people who forget to turn their ringer off.)

The immediacy of blasting out misquotes and out of context material on social networks has literally ruined comedians’ careers.

Comedy is an ever-evolving process; comedy clubs used to be a safe haven where a performer could get on stage, work out material, and have the creative license to take a chance with the risk of failing. The routine was a present moment experience and wouldn’t go beyond the room.

Now, a joke in-formation uttered by a comedian runs the risk of being broadcast on YouTube and blasted out on the Twittersphere. Cell phone cameras have hurt comedians’ development of material as fans post unauthorized YouTube videos before comics wish to share the material with the entire world.


Chris Rock stands firm that smart phones are ruining comedy. “The sad thing, with all this taping and stuff, no one’s going to do stand-up,” Rock stated. “And every big stand-up I talk to says, “How do I work out new material? Where can you go, if I have a half an idea and then it’s on the Internet next week?””

Rock references his infamous “Niggas vs. Black People” routine from his 1996 Bring the Pain standup special, an act he estimates took six months to hone and perfect. (Imagine the early days of that routine.)

“You know how racist that thing was a week in?” Rock said, “That’s not to be seen by anybody.”

Rock said he would perform more often in small comedy rooms — if he did not fear that fans would post video recordings of his sets. “I’ll go back to comedy clubs when they get a real no-camera policy, the same way they did with smoking.”

The casebook example of a comedian’s career ruined by a cell phone video is Michael Richards. One little racist rant captured at the Laugh Factory — and blasted out to the world — put the nail in the coffin of his career. By no means am I saying being racist is funny (comedy is always the weak taking on the powerful), but when we see the out of context video on YouTube, we have no idea what on before or after the two-minute racist rant that was heard around the world. (My theory is Richards was trying to be “edgy” like hack Carlos Mencia — and horrifically failed. After all, the sign does say, “Comedy Club. 

Another prime example is Dave Chappelle’s show last year in Connecticut – where he stopped his performance after being heckled. Chappelle went on unannounced at the gig so he could work out new material. After getting annoyed by an onslaught of requests to do his Rick James impersonation, Chappelle left the stage. When the video was posted on YouTube, the media jumped to the conclusion that the comedian was having a meltdown: 


Live comedy is just that — a live event. And cell phone are ruining live comedy. Video didn’t kill the comedy star; Daniel Tosh’s rape joke and Tracy Morgan’s homophobic routine both gained a mainstream media frenzy when their acts when their jokes were paraphrased on Twitter. The only solution is for comedians to perform solely for the Amish.

Five Terrible Remakes In The Works

From gritty reboot to plain old plagiarism, here are the worst remakes currently in the pipeline.

Three Men and a Baby:

"Adam Sandler is planning to remake 1980s hit comedy flick ‘Three Men and Baby’. He would team up with Disney, who made the original for the project … Adam wants to remake the same movie again with Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider in the lead roles. The original ‘Three Men and Baby’ was also a remake of a French movie."


"For fans of [Ryan] Reynolds’ other work, we wonder what this means for any potential of him suiting up soon for that other buzzed about project with a hard-to-kill sword-swinging protagonist: Deadpool. And more importantly, are we going to see Reynolds sport long locks like his predecessor? Is he going to rock a fake Scottish accent in flashbacks as part of the Clan MacLeod?"


Unlike the original RoboCop, whose chrome-and-black armor suggested something that was part-man, part-carburetor, the new suit is a more anatomically-inspired and streamlined design, more exo-skeleton than cyborg. It recalls certain examples of superhero outerwear—more specifically, those worn by Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

Evil Dead:

Sam Raimi himself is producing the remake, as well as helping out Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Young AdultJunowith scripting duties.

Dirty Dancing:

Lionsgate is postponing the Dirty Dancing reboot. The studio has put the remake on ice for another year for casting reasons, Deadline has learned. The remake of the 1987 Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey film was scheduled to be released in July 2013, but now the movie is off the studio’s release dance card at least until 2014.

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Chris Rock Reminds Voters Barack Obama Is White

How anyone can be an undecided voter, I still don’t know. But in case you’re a racist white person still on the fence, Chris Rock is here to remind you that Barack Obama is very, very white.

From playing golf to wearing polos to his pet Portugese water dog, Obama sound obnoxiously Caucasian on paper.

But if you’re still not convinced, all you need to do is look at the color of his skin up against that of Snooki, Tanning Mom, and Tara Reid. See? Very, very white.

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The Commencement: Advice for Graduates from Pop Culture Guest Speakers

“And make no mistake about it, you are dumb. You’re a group of incredibly well-educated dumb people.”

This isn’t exactly the sort of fluffy, “Reach for the stars!” sort of message one expects to hear at their college graduation. But then again, these aren’t exactly times that call for fluff. And anyway, how totally disappointing and bummer-inducing would it be to hear a totally cliché commencement speech from Aaron Sorkin?  The writer behind The West Wing and The Social Network addressed the 2012 graduating class at Syracuse University over the weekend, delivering some very serious, eloquent, and at times, heartwarming real talk.

Watch Sorkin’s speech below, and check out some other inspiring words of wisdom for the Class of 2012 from other pop culture and literary icons through the years.

John Legend (University of Pennsylvania, Kean University)
This year, the R&B musician, songwriter and actor received an honorary degree from Howard University. But he’s also given two commencement speeches: first in 2009 at the University of Pennsylvania, where he waxed philosophical on leading a soulful life and the “politics of empathy,” and then again in 2011 at Kean University.

Amy Poehler (Harvard University)
Leslie Knope herself spoke at last year’s Class Day at Harvard. Amid all the jokes and one-liners, Poehler left graduates with a message about the importance of collaboration and humility in succeeding in the “real world.”

David Foster Wallace (Kenyon College)
As one might expect from the late, great infinite jester, Foster Wallace’s 2005 speech to Kenyon graduates includes a crazy parable at the beginning, is self-reflexive and self-aware of the liberal arts education, perhaps a bit too long and above all, beautifully written.

Ellen DeGeneres (Tulane University)
The television, film and comedy icon had the unique and extremely stressful task of addressing the Tulane Class of 2009, the class that would have entered the university the semester following Hurricane Katrina. Naturally, she tackles it with humor, grace and important truths. This speech also produced this heavily Facebook-status-quoted soundbite: “When I was your age, I was dating men. So what I’m saying is, when you’re older, most of you will be gay.”

Steve Jobs (Stanford University)
Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Always.

Lil B (New York University)
Not a commencement speech, but The BasedGod still has plenty of inspiring words for the Class of 2012. The Power of Yes is applicable on more days than just grad day.

And, just because…

Chris Rock – "No Sex In The Champagne Room"
Not from this year, but Chris Rock’s wise words for the GED Class of 1999 are still relevant today. Congratulations, graduates!

On the Insidious ‘Dudes Group’: Notes From a New Dad

The way we feel about the upcoming film What To Expect When You’re Expecting can be summed up from two things. The first is by Tyler’s post entitled What To Expect From What To Expect When You’re Expecting. The second is by the phrase: "We’re not that excited about it."  However, this morning they released a new clip called "Dudes Group" in which fathers, with babies strapped onto their chests, commiserate about the indignities of fatherhood and the yank of the old Ball and Chain. As a new father—my son is almost five months old—I watched it with trepidation and awe. Is this really my future?

To get the exposition over with, this clip involves these fathers who are hanging out in Central Park talking about how they are gradually being asked to surrender those fetishistic items which, to them, denote masculinity. One character has a vintage Camaro but he is test-driving a minivan. Another looks at houses with his wife Holly but doesn’t think they are going to buy one. Chris Rock disabuses him of this notion. "Bro! Bro! Bro! When your wife says you’re just test-driving a minivan, you buying a minivan." [Note: the absense of the copula, a typical indicator of AAE used, in this case, to add, perhaps, street cred to the statement.]

Anyway, I watched this clip way too many times. But I keep thinking, a) it’s not funny and b) that it really indicates an approach to gender dynamics which is a hegemonic quicksand. It’s the worst trap and, unforunately, it’s one that is super easy to fall into. I don’t have a crew of Dad dudes with whom I meet up in Central Park. One of them isn’t always shirtless. I don’t have a perfectly calibrated racial mix. But the few times I have hung out with other fathers, bitching about the plight of fatherhood and domestication is always an easy way to build rapport. But it’s also the absolute worse. Sooner or later, it morphs into talking shit about your wife (or partner or whatever) which, sooner or later, begs the question: Why did you marry this person? To talk shit about them to fill up potentially awkward silences between acquantainces because you aren’t imaginative enough to think of other topics that aren’t simply reinforcing the stereotypical norms? 

Also, what the fuck is wrong with a minivan? Why is it uncool or somehow unmasculine to want a car in which a carseat fits? That’s your kid in it.

Ultimately, the clip—and everything I’ve seen of the movie— is that it just suffers from a lack of imagination. Now whether this is the fault of it being a lazy movie or simply that it reflects stupid hegemonic stereotypes is immaterial. Isn’t the hegemony just kept in place by laziness anyway? 

Morning Links: Justin Bieber Does the Unthinkable, Peaches Geldof Crashed the Pussy Mobile

● Do you feel that, Beliebers? Does the ground on which you stand shake? Justin did what we all thought impossible: he cut his hair. For those interested, the boy’s bangs will be auctioned off for charity sometime in the near future. [TMZ] ● CNN is adding a new “Most Trusted Name In News” to its team: Camille Grammer is joining the network as a commentator for this year’s Oscar red-carpet. This isn’t a big bid credibility, but the “unabashed” Housewife should be great for ratings. [TV Guide] ● Beyoncé raised brows when she “voluntarily darkened” her face in tribute to Fela Kuti for the cover of French fashion magazine L’Officiel Paris. [Jezebel]

● Peaches Geldof, British socialite and unlicensed driver, crashed Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill car after her (now ex-) boy friend Eli Roth let her take it for a spin. Can we please make her go home already? [ContactMusic] ● Record exec turned adman Steve Stoute took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times to tell The Grammys that they “have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture.” Next year, he hopes artists will find something more relevant to do on the night of the antiquated awards show. If this more relevant event is some sort of televised, triumph-of-the-people concert where performers are determined by the number of minutes they spent trending on Twitter during the past year, we’d be totally into it. [HR] ● There’s probably more to this story about Courtney Love saving Chris Rock from getting beaten up by Jude Law, but suffice it to say, “Courtney kind of barked, or was growling, and that was it.” [Esquire]

Links: Miley Cyrus Inspires Salvia Ban, Nicole Riche Gets Married

● After a video of Miley Cyrus smoking salvia from a bong while listening to the band Bush made everyone with a pulse smile, critics in California are pushing for an all-out ban, claiming, “Miley is a star and young kids are going to emulate her behavior.” Bongs and Bush for everyone! [TMZ] ● Chris Rock told jokes to calm a woman when her water broke and she went into labor in a Neiman Marcus department store. Expect an HBO special within the year. [Us Weekly] ● Jwoww of Jersey Shore is writing a book of dating rules. [Page Six]

● Nicole Richie and Joel Madden were married over the weekend — two kids and four years later — in the presence of a giant circus elephant. Other guests included Gwen Stefani and her husband Gavin Rossdale, who hopefully strummed Bush songs while everyone smoked salvia. [People] ● Jake Gyllenhaal and Taylor Swift allegedly met at a dinner set up by Gywneth Paltrow, who will doubtlessly be held responsible on Swift’s eventual break-up album. [Us Weekly] ● Michael Jackson fans are protesting a television show about his autopsy, which might as well be called The Year 2009. [TMZ]

Chris Rock Talks to Leno About “the Redhead Guy”

Chris Rock was on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien Jay Leno to promote…well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. The point is, Rock spent most of the interview taking Leno to task for shoving Conan aside. He led the interview with a verbal punch, quipping, “Last time I was here, you weren’t here. Some redhead guy said you’d be right back.” Leno looked visibly uncomfortable, feebly responding with, “I don’t think he said that.” Rock also asked about the loss of former Tonight Show band leader Kevin Eubanks, saying “Did the redhead guy take Kevin?” Leno squirmed. It’s must-watch stuff for Coco fans (and any Leno haters) out there. Video after the jump.

BlackBook does Bonnaroo (Sort Of)

The Bonnaroo Music Festival happened this weekend, and although we didn’t attend, reading enough blogs, rundowns, and roundups of the festivities makes us feel like we did (we love you, www). And now, some of the high and low lights:

-My Morning Jacket played a four-hour set on Friday night in torrential rain. Calls of “Best. Show. Ever.” abound.

-Olsen Twins are spotted backstage at Cat Power’s Saturday show, as is Eddie Vedder, who they mistake for “the guy from MGMT”.

Read more highlights after the jump!

-Kanye West is over two hours late for his Saturday night, er, morning set. He finally took the stage well after 4 a.m. When he sung his hit “Gone,” he unintentionally described half the crowd.

-For the third time in just over a week, M.I.A announces her “last show,” this time in a Bonnaroo tent. We hope so. The sooner she stops touring, the sooner we get a new album.

-Pearl Jam plays their first festival show since the tragedy in 2000 Roskilde, where nine fans were trampled to death. When their three-hour set reached “Better Man,” Vedder looked into the massive crowd to see a sea of lighters, and said “That’s beautiful.”

-Worthwhile Chris Rock zinger during his hour-long stand-up performance: “”Flavor Flav must be killed in order for black people to be truly free.”