If, in 2002, your television viewing habits were dominated by Fox News, The Osbournes, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, you may have missed out on the highlight of Adam Carolla’s early television career. He left Comedy Central’s The Man Show in 2003.
Similarly, if you scrupulously avoid any relationship advice from Dr. Drew Pinsky as if it were a visit to the Ebola Bridal Shoppe, you missed another post-millennial Carolla enterprise. Carolla left Loveline in 2005.
There’s been a slew of Carolla projects in the interim, but if you’re like millions of baby boomers whose mental image of the word “podcast” conjures primarily a plaster replica of the seed pods from 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you may have lost all track of Carolla, and rediscovered him as a guest on the O‘Reilly Factor.
While you’ve been passively forgetting, patently ignoring, or ardently following Adam Carolla, he’s been working full time, outside of what passes for the usual show business gestalt. Like Charlton Heston, Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammar, and Wayne Newton before him, Carolla has made his conservative/libertarian values known. Only this time, unlike with those illustrious examples, the conservative is outside of so-called mainstream culture.
If there is such a thing as a conservative counterculture, I think you have to put Carolla on the ground floor. Bear in mind though—Carolla says he’s not really all that conservative; it’s just that the culture has driven him rightward.
Whether delivering irresistible cuties bouncing on trampolines, dispensing relationship advice Doctor Laura would scarcely have approved of, or the tearing off an improperly installed roof, the comedian, author, radio personality and #1 national podcaster always brought the fun.
Carolla hilariously worked his take on Eros into the Loveline script. The Man Show was like a frat house micro-burst around feminism’s ankles.
Lately, if you work in construction, you don’t want Carolla’s Catch a Contractor crew rolling up on your job site. Carolla’s home improvement sting operation on Spike TV has just been renewed for a third season.
When one contractor cornered says to Carolla, “You’re a standup comedian, right?” Carolla responds, saying, “No joke I ever told is as funny as the work you performed here.”
Carolla’s atheism is something that places him outside preconceptions about how conservatives’ reckon humankind’s place in the universe. Unfairly or not, we associate the right more with established belief systems, traditional religion, and the left more with secularism—within a larger context of the atheistic state.
Carolla’s, or anyone’s, atheism, strikes a discordant note with a statistical majority of the conservative base demographic. Thou shalt not judge is the guiding principal, but for true believers, atheism alone will put Carolla in a counterculture.
Also to be accepted is his pro-choice (while being assailed as a misogynist), pro-same-sex marriage (while being decried as a homophobe), and pro-marijuana legalization positions in the bargain.
At the entertainment website My Damn Channel, Carolla responds to criticisms about remarks he made on race that some characterize as racially insensitive.
What about this conservative counterculture? Alice Cooper has got to be some kind of emeritus standard bearer. Greg Gutfeld, Vince Vaughn, and Kid Rock?
Writer P.J. O‘Rourke has a hand in this. If you aren’t worried about coming across as pompous, a case can be made for making Dennis Miller the honorary godfather.
And who doesn’t love Wayne Newton?
Will the term “counterculture conservative” someday be remembered like “Tea Party?” the lexicon of a movement assimilated, like the Tea Party itself?
In the culture war, that might be progress.
Or will the conservative counterculture remain its own thing, and perhaps someday be sent-up in a counter-culturally conservative version of The Monkees?
Whatever happens, performers like Adam Carolla will provide the reality check, but one possibility cannot be ignored: Carolla may reject the whole idea, and someday spew forth with a rant and drill it a new one.
See more of PJ Lifestyle’s coverage celebrating Adam Carolla over the past few years, led by Kathy Shaidle:
- March 7, 2012: ‘This Would Be Heaven For Me’: An Evening with Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla
- June 27, 2012: ‘That’s the Ultimate Race, Poor People’: In Praise of Adam Carolla’s Brutal Honesty
- January 2, 2013: The Imaginary Rabbi and the Dead End Kid: Another Evening with Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla
- May 28, 2013: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Fellow Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand (Part One)
- March 13, 2014: Adam Carolla’s Cool New Series Brings Bad Contractors to Justice
- June 12, 2014: The 11 Best Ideas in Adam Carolla’s Hilarious New Book
This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion:
- Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
- David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
- Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
- Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
- Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
- Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
- David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
- Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
- Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
- Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose
- Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
- Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
- Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
- Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
- Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
- Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
- Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
- Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
- Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
- Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
- Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, two wannabe-famous New York twenty somethings, teamed up to talk sex via their “running soap opera,” “almost reality TV show” podcast Guys We F*cked. Broadcasting under the “anti-slut shaming” banner makes Guys We F*cked appealing to the contemporary feminists at Salon who never turn down the chance to normalize twisted sexuality. Salon assistant editor Jenny Kutner sat down with the comedy duo more commonly known as “Sorry About Last Night” who, as they enter season 2 of their famed podcast, are looking to crowdsource funds from fans while noting that their careers are “…getting better because of the podcast, which is really exciting.”
Performing an editorial feat, Kutner defines the duo’s narcissism as “comedy with a purpose” in her attempt to define the two as feminists. In doing so, the assistant editor at Salon exposes exactly why contemporary feminism is failing 21st century women: Today’s feminists have worked to sever feminism from its historical roots as a biblically-grounded movement for women’s independence. What they’re replacing it with, a “social media feminism” as artist and feminist April Bey has dubbed it, is a mere mask for narcissistic, death-obsessed, goddess worship.
I pushed off the idea of writing this article when I first heard that Joan Rivers, one of my comic icons, was rushed to the hospital after a botched outpatient procedure last week. I didn’t want to think about having to say goodbye to Joan, to bid farewell to yet another icon of an age gone by, a powerhouse who managed to be a cultural force until her last breath. The only solace we can muster is in knowing that, for these ten reasons at least, Joan’s memory will be a blessing.
10. Joan never grew old or gave up.
At 81, she was as attuned to pop culture, politics, and current events as a 20 year old. A self-made fashionista, the comedian never retired, sat in a chair, or gave in to technology. Joan will forever be a role model to women who refuse to trade style for a shapeless moo-moo and an office chair for a rocking chair. In her later years she paired up with Melissa, illustrating that mothers and daughters really can work together and get along. She was a modern Bubbe, surrounded by her children and grandchildren as she took the world by storm.
The world mourns the passing of one of the truest talents of all time – Robin Williams. The Juilliard-trained comedian and actor won an Oscar, two Emmys, five Grammys, and — dearest to me — became a Disney Legend in 2009. Williams made his struggles with depression and addiction public, yet he was unable to overcome them. But here at PJ Lifestyle, we’re going to celebrate his life. Here are Robin Williams’ ten best performances. I hope you’ll take as much comfort in these wonderful moments as I have.
10. The Crazy Ones (2013-2014)
One of the most underrated television series of the past season paired Williams with Sarah Michelle Gellar as father-and-daughter partners in an advertising agency. The Crazy Ones featured a terrific ensemble, sharp writing, and plenty of space for Williams to let loose. Williams had his best moments on the show when he had the chance to blend his trademark humor with sweet sentiment (as in the clip above). He couldn’t have a much better alter ego than the character of Simon Roberts — he and the writers even made recovery from addiction a huge part of the character. The Crazy Ones showed such promise, and it’s such a shame that CBS didn’t see fit to give it a second chance.
Twenty-five years ago, a sitcom pilot titled The Seinfeld Chronicles debuted on NBC. A year later, the network gave the show, retitled Seinfeld, a try. Unlike what usually happens today, NBC nurtured the series and let it build a following. Today many critics and fans see Seinfeld as a high-water mark in television comedy, and in honor of its 25th anniversary, here are the ten funniest episodes.
10. “The Puffy Shirt”
By its fifth season, Seinfeld was at a bit of a crossroad. The fourth season had raised the bar creatively (one of the show’s writers referred to it as “our Sgt. Pepper year”), and the show was more popular than ever. Could they top themselves? After an uneven debut, the season’s second outing, “The Puffy Shirt,” showed that the team had plenty of creativity left in them.
In this episode, Jerry politely agrees with Kramer’s “low-talking” fashion designer girlfriend, not hearing what she said. Next thing he knows, he’s stuck wearing one of her creations on the Today show – a ridiculous pirate-inspired puffy shirt.
Naturally, Jerry embarrasses himself on national television, and the design goes nowhere. But in between are some memorable moments – Jerry whining, “But I don’t want to be a pirate”; Bryant Gumbel’s incredulous reaction to Jerry’s shirt; and two homeless men in the final scene wearing the shirts that have been donated to charity. “The Puffy Shirt” proved that the series still had plenty of life in it.
10. Sullivan and Son
This working class comedy executive-produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley is fraught with all the non-PC ethnic and sexual humor you’d hear in a working class, Irish-Korean, middle-American bar like the one in the show. Created by Korean American actor/comedian Steve Byrne and Cheers writer Rob Long, the TBS sitcom reminds you that some jokes are still OK to crack. The stellar cast features Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and comic genius Brian Doyle-Murray, along with Christine Ebersole and Owen Benjamin, who portray the drop-dead hysterical mother-son dependent duo Carol and Owen Walsh.
CNN reports on Eretz Nehederet, Marcus’s first creation.
Omri Marcus is the #1 TV Geek you’ve never heard of. An Israeli journalist-turned-hit TV comedy writer, Marcus made it big thanks to his scientific understanding of comedy, a theory he delves into in a recent interview with Tablet magazine. The dialogue provides a fascinating look at Israeli television, an industry still cutting its teeth thanks to decades of gross nationalization. Until the introduction of foreign channels, the country lived off of one government-run station that began broadcasting in 1968. Color transmissions, a topic of great bureaucratic battles, didn’t begin until 1983. Hitting the industry on the cusp of change, Marcus, 34, helped launch the nation’s greatest comedy hit Eretz Nehederet (This Wonderful Country – think: SNL meets The Daily Show) from a hall closet next to a ladies’ bathroom. Now he’s sought out by TV execs around the globe.
Not ironically (he is a comedian, after all) Marcus made a funny observation about the one thing all TV writers’ rooms have in common:
“One of the best things about my work is that I’ve been to so many writer’s rooms all around the world and they’re basically the same anywhere,” Marcus said. “They are all dominated by a group of neurotic Jews. You know, my dream is to create the world’s largest Jewish writers’ room: German Jews and British Jews and American Jews and Israelis, all sitting together and writing jokes about how they’re not getting laid.”
So, do Jews run TV? Not quite:
“The fact that the world is this global village allows you to reduce the risks in making TV,” Marcus said. “You learn a lot from other countries, and we are all, after all, just storytellers. The stories we tell may differ in details, but they should all be appealing, with well-crafted characters, leaving viewers feeling as if they’ve spent their time wisely watching your show. By learning from each other, we’re able to create great, longer-lasting, and more meaningful content.”
Along with developing a rather scientific dating game involving Google glasses, the Huff-Po contributor maintains BizarreTV, a Facebook page where he chronicles the strangest television shows he’s encountered around the globe. My personal favorite is While You Were Sleeping:
How would you feel if you woke up in the middle of the night and discovered that you’re in the middle of a TV game show? ‘While You Were Sleeping’ is the first game show that gives you money while you’re fast asleep! In each episode one couple plays for a chance to win a cash prize. The twist – only one partner knows what’s going on! To stay in the game they must answer the trivia questions correctly, or risk performing a crazy and hilarious challenge – without waking up their partner!
Other shows featured include The Shower, in which contestants sing in the shower before a live studio audience, Guys in Disguise, a dating show that requires a woman to choose from 2 secret admirers dressed in bizarre costumes and I Wanna Marry “Harry” a new FOX dating game featuring a Prince Harry lookalike.
Currently working under an exclusive, multi-year deal with European media conglomerate ProSieben, chances are Marcus’s shows will be hitting American shores for decades to come.
The “Is Santa Clause white?” debate is an embarrassment for both sides.
I’m as right-wing as they come, but I grew up seeing non-white Santas on Christmas cards and in commercials — yes, it was the seventies — so I honestly don’t care about this “issue.”
What’s really disturbing?
On his Daily Show segment about the “controversy,” Jon Stewart made a particularly twisted “joke.”
Twisted, that is, because in patented progressive fashion, it turns the meaning of an ordinary yet important word completely inside out.
The far-left blogosphere and the MSM have gleefully high-fived Stewart’s segment, but they don’t tend to highlight his most insidious quip.
Probably because, as far as they’re concerned, he’s just stating received liberal wisdom.
Mocking Megyn Kelly’s statement that “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t mean it has to change,” Stewart smirked, “Actually, I think that’s the official slogan of oppression.”
Yeah, no. Legislating “change” because some people “feel uncomfortable” is a good working definition of true oppression. He could always read about it in my book — helpfully titled The Tyranny of Nice — which features real-life examples of individuals who’ve been persecuted and prosecuted by the State because they hurt someone’s feelings.
…there are consequences to forgetting truths. One consequence is that while we instinctively want to preserve the morals and manners of the Christian tradition, we cannot quite explain or defend them intellectually. So we find ourselves seeking more contemporary (i.e., in practice, secular) reasons for preserving them or, when they decay completely, inventing regulations to mimic them. When courtesy is abandoned, we invent speech codes, which are blunter in their impact and repress legitimate disagreement along with insults.
Stewart’s definition of “oppression” is just another way of saying, “Shut up, you right-wing peons.” It is, quite simply, a sentiment that’s toxic to the health of the body politic.
And, I imagine, college kids are printing it onto T-shirts as I type.
Sometimes, the only fact which gives me hope for America’s future is that, despite the hype, The Daily Show draws fewer viewers than its coarse, politically incorrect network rival, Tosh.0.
I call it “Big Sorry”: the veritable industry that’s grown up around the public apology.
As Ann Coulter pointed out recently, the time has long passed for entertainers and others in the public eye to quit feeding the apology monster:
Bullying is the essence of politics for the left. They bully those they disdain, like Palin, with adolescent insults. They bully everyone with the threat of losing a career because of a word. (…)
That isn’t the rule of law; it’s the rule of bullies.
Conservatives believe people have a right to be left alone, whether from the word police, the government or delusional nuts, no matter how much they want “closure.”
As distressing as they can be, it’s not the foul-mouthed tirades of Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin that are fraying the fragile bonds of an already divided society.
It’s the counterproductive way we “handle” these “controversial” events today:
We demand (a usually insincere) apology, often on behalf of a supposedly aggrieved “community.”
These apologies reinforce truly toxic notions, such as the very existence of “group rights,” and that free born citizens should “watch what they say” lest they lose their livelihoods at the whim of stuck up, self-appointed word police.
Erik Griffin doesn’t plan to be one of them.
Around this time back in 2011, I told PJ Media readers that stand up comic Nick DiPaolo and his longtime friend and colleague Artie Lange had signed a juicy three-year deal to host a sports talk show on satellite radio.
As a fan, I was thrilled for DiPaolo.
He’s been stealing every Comedy Central Roast since they began, and was the undisputed (co)star of the late-lamented Tough Crowd.
That’s why I can’t figure out why (in the words of his fellow comedian Joe Rogan) he’s still not selling out arenas.
So obviously I was shocked (and ticked off) when his radio show returned to the air after the Christmas 2012 break — without him.
Why? No one’s talking, even now, probably for legal reasons.
(It took me far too long to learn that you almost never find out the real reason you — or anybody else — gets either fired or dumped.)
The good news is, DiPaolo promptly went back out on the road, which — don’t kid yourself — isn’t as fun as it sounds, especially when you’re, well, not a kid anymore.
(There’s a reason that’s the premise of Adam Carolla’s next movie…)
DiPaolo has also put together a new hour, just recorded his new performance DVD — and he’s launched a new weekly podcast.
I was always told never to talk to strangers, so if I traveled back in time to have a word with my younger self, I like to think I’d kick me in the shins.
What difference would it make anyhow?
My pre-pubescent, Carter-era self would never have believed it when grown-up me assured her that (putting aside those brown polyester Sears catalog pants and the blue velour platform shoes and the Love’s Baby Soft and the baby blue, cap sleeved “two fried eggs” t-shirts and root beer-flavored Lip Smackers) one day, believe it or not, I — that is, we — would miss the 1970s.
It’s like the “beer googles” effect but for inanimate objects:
Pretty much any cultural artifact, no matter how hideous, starts looking pretty darn good after all these
Bud Lights years.
Sometimes, those goggles work a little too well; we misremember stuff as being better — or just bolder — than anything we have now.
For example, a few years back, it became commonplace to cluck:
“They could NEVER make Blazing Saddles today.”
Please. Have you seen There’s Something About Mary or any random South Park episode?
Likewise, those of us of a certain age have been known to make the same fact-free claim regarding All in the Family.
True, the same network that once proudly aired that award-winning landmark television show couldn’t broadcast it now, but a cable channel certainly could.
Late night host Jay Leno joined the culture-wide mockery of Obamacare last night. In his monologue, Leno compared Healthcare.gov’s “glitches” to al Qaeda’s website.
LENO: “Here’s a very disturbing story. You may have heard about this 25-year-old man in New York arrested for trying to join al Qaeda. Well, here is the amazing part. He said it was still easier to join al Qaeda using their website than it was to sign up for ObamaCare. And he was in! He was in, in like, two minutes! [Laughter and applause] Well, President Obama said yesterday, when it comes to all the problems with the ObamaCare website, he said, “No one is madder than me.” So apparently he hasn’t met any of these Republicans, I guess. [Laughter] And of course, you know, today, boy, it’s, and you know, it is hard, because today there were more problems with the website. It seems when you type in your age, it’s confusing, because it’s not clear if they want the age you are right now or the age you’ll be when you finally log in. [Laughter] So there’s a period there.”
On Monday night, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart ripped Healthcare.gov in a hilarious segment that spanned several minutes and flayed the website’s “glitches” in excruciating detail.
So being a genetically programmed pessimistic misanthrope and contrarian, I was all geared up to bash Comedy Gives Back.
This 24-hour telethon airing November 6-7 is raising money for “Malaria No More, a charitable organization striving to end deaths from malaria.”
My immediate reaction was, “Oh, great. More damn mosquito nets.”
See, liberal idiots have been pushing mosquito nets on Africans for generations as a way to (sort of) prevent malaria, when every smart conservative knows there’s already a cheap, easy, safe, proven way to prevent malaria: spraying DDT all over the joint.
DDT’s exaggerated dangers were debunked long ago, but so many progressives cling to emotion and dramatic narratives over cold hard facts — no matter how many black strangers have to die so white leftists can keep feeling self-righteous.
I figured the folks at Malaria No More were still pushing the anti-DDT message, one that would get a boost after A-list comics like Marc Maron, Adam Carolla, Eugene Mirman and Kevin Nealon performed on the Comedy Gives Back telethon.
Then I visited MalariaNoMore.org.
I’m a genetically programmed contrarian, right down to my pop culture tastes (as regular readers know).
As I’ve written here before, my preference for the
“corny, uncool butt-kisser” unabashedly enthusiastic Arsenio Hall over slimy late-night lounge lizard David Letterman marked me as a Gen-X pariah for a very long time.
Sure, Hall probably helped Bill Clinton win the White House, after letting the candidate “play” the sax on his show.
But I admired Hall’s insistence on carrying on with his Los Angeles-based show during the Rodney King riots, and trying to be a peacemaker; it’s a night people still talk about.
Then there was the time obnoxious “Queer Nation” activists tried to hijack his program and he literally got up in their faces, unscripted.
It’s an amazingly timely clip that more of today’s cowardly, politically correct comedians should study closely:
Politically correct millennials (and a few Gen-X/Y enablers) have turned stand-up comedy into a peanut-free play-date, a spindly shadow of its former raunchy, nicotine-stained self.
Each week seems to bring an earnest new dorm-room-debate of the “are jokes about Topic X ever acceptable?” variety.
I figured this week’s non-issue was going to be “How Do You Tell a Story About Four Black Guys Mugging You Without Sounding Racist?”
I was prepared to loathe Phil Mazo’s bit, assuming he was just another grovelling liberal “open mic” beta male.
Then I watched this video.
I hope you will too.
It belongs in a time capsule marked “America: 2013.”
The latest stand-up comedy “controversy” is one you probably haven’t heard about yet, unless you’re serving in the United States Air Force.
Earlier this month, veteran comic Mitch Fatel performed for the troops at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.
One audience member — Colonel Mark K. Ciero, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander — didn’t care for Fatel’s raunchy jokes.
According to Stars & Stripes, Ciero’s report on the show up at the Lakenheath website has “prompted Air Force officials to review procedures regarding entertainment provided to troops.”
The performance comes at a time when the U.S. military is reeling from a number of sex assault scandals that have prompted top military and civilian leadership to stress a zero-tolerance policy toward such incidents.
Indeed, although it’s tempting to wonder whether or not the sudden “increase” in sexual assaults is simply a rise in the number of reports filed, due perhaps to changes in the definition of “sexual assault” or any number of other factors.
Given recent history, we’re well advised to proceed with caution when dealing with such alleged sexual “epidemics.”
They often turn out to be fanciful “moral panics” that cause even greater harm to innocent individuals and to society as a whole.
Being over twenty and a virgin in NYC is enough of a radical act that a woman turned it into a one-woman show and built an entire comedy routine on it.
Alexis Lambright was a confirmed virgin in NYC for 10 years. Determined to hold on to her innocence, the Catholic schoolgirl was committed to a life of celibacy — until marriage. But when she realized that dating in the most superficial city in the world wasn’t virgin-friendly, the 28-year-old funnywoman living in Sunnyside, Queens, turned to comedy as therapy: She created the one-woman show “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity,” which is running at the New York International Fringe Festival on select dates from Saturday to Aug. 24.
It used to be perfectly normal to be a virgin till marriage, at least for women. In fact, in most societies it was the expected thing. The pivotal turning point in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes when one daughter, Lydia, elopes and lives with a man who has no intention of marrying her.
Even during my own upbringing, which, granted, took place in Portugal where things were twenty years behind the times, while virginity before marriage was no longer universal, girls at least still pretended to be holding out.
But I’d heard from Scandinavian friends that in their lands it was considered strange and indicative of something wrong with you if you were a virgin much past puberty – and that culture seems now to be here too.
To be sure, we always knew it was coming, since movies like Splendor in the Grass made it sound like not having sex could send an otherwise sane woman clean off her rocker. In a way it is a logical consequence of safe and reliable contraception. Whether you believe that women are naturally as sex-crazed as men, or that women would have as much consequence-free sex as men given the chance, the fact remains that all of us, men and women, are in fact social animals.
When the society we live in decides that “normal” people are all rutting like deer in fall, and that if you don’t do it there’s something wrong with you, those who don’t fit the model will at least try to pretend they do.
Under those circumstances, holding on to your chastity becomes an act of radical defiance.
My life on the Left wasn’t a total write off.
Sure, I wish I had back all the money I spent on cigarettes and booze, and I regret wasting my then-22 inch waist on a stoner trust-fund boyfriend.
Yet very occasionally, I’d experience a life-changing epiphany while sitting on the rodent-infested couch in our drafty, leaking apartment.
I’ve written about one of those moments before: The Night I Stopped Hating Ronald Reagan.
Another incident occurred under almost identical circumstances: me and the boyfriend, watching TV.
It was The David Letterman Show.
I couldn’t stand the guy, but his show was the “approved” late night program in our circle, and besides, sometimes Letterman’s guests were worth waiting up for.
On this particular night, Letterman introduced his next guest with the words:
“Brace yourselves. I’m not kidding. Please welcome Sam Kinison.”
My mom answered, reassured her pal that everything was fine — and quickly got rid of her.
Her show was on!
My mother wasn’t being raped or murdered or anything, just laughing at one of her favorite TV programs (and mine): the “old” Whose Line Is It Anyway?
That is, the American improv comedy series hosted by Drew Carey that aired for nine seasons starting in 1998.
Whose Line Is It Anyway? was one of those British television imports-adaptations (like All in the Family and Chico and the Man) that surpassed the original.
Improv purists won’t agree.
For them, Whose Line…? is to “real” long form improv what the Partridge Family were to the Beatles.
For the rest of us, though, it was appointment television.
Few shows have ever made me laugh so hard.
Some comedian named Andy Kindler (?) delivers the “State of the Industry” address, which, from what I can gather, is a sort of “roast” of other comics.
Except the “roaster” — that is, Kindler — clearly isn’t “just kidding.”
(My philosophy? “No one is ever just kidding.” No, not even comedians. Especially not comedians. It’s a motto that’s served me well…)
Maybe you had to be there, and I wasn’t, but Andy Kindler comes across as a bitter, nasty piece of work.
And who can blame him?
After all, his biggest claim to fame is that every year, he delivers an unfunny speech in which he insults other, funnier, more successful comedians.
If I didn’t know better, I’d say this arrangement is actually an elaborate, ironic, high-concept prank on Kindler himself, a la Windy City Heat.
This year, everyone in the business is talking about Kindler’s attack on author/podcaster Adam Carolla.
Author James Wasserman posted this image on Facebook last week and noted:
Laura Wiggers sent me this photo of Robert Anton Wilson in Gurney’s apartment (1986) for the post-lecture evening described on page 216 of In the Center of the Fire when a certain Nancy Wasserman drove me half crazy, probably in collusion with Laura if memory serves. Not that anyone was drinking in those days!
In trying to figure out a regular angle for my third resolution, it dawned on me the other day how many Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) books — particularly his novels — I still had not read. Maybe for my excerpts for funny PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf recommendations I should highlight his jokes? Hence today’s excerpt from Schrodinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door.
As with many countercultural and spiritual wanderers of the past 40 years, one of my most cherished guides and influence was RAW, a comedic philosopher-intellectual and novelist most well known for his mind-bending memoir Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-authored with Robert Shea.)
The idea uniting Wilson’s books is one that I still sympathize with but no longer embrace: radical agnosticism. Wilson sought to provoke his readers to learn to always question their perceptions and assumptions, to strive to look through other people’s “reality tunnels.” As a general principle this is still a sound cause to triumph. But I understand now, having imbibed a few more glasses of painful life experience, that this as an overarching ideology cannot sustain itself.
Recognizing a multiplicity of potentially valuable, useful reality tunnels is one thing. But figuring out how to value one as more effective than another is something else entirely. And looking back now across Wilson’s work I see how he failed to do that. His list of influences runs across the gamut from the genuinely brilliant to the malevolent charlatans. And his storyteller and raconteur’s gifts then apply to help popularize both. Perpetually doubting and always striving to see from another’s perspective means that when the time comes to really stand strong on an important principle it can be very hard to do. Insist long enough that we live in a world of endless shades of gray and someday you’ll stumble into a darkness far bleaker than anything imaginable. And doubt can stand against it?
No, but laughter can. And just because Wilson couldn’t realize that some of the ideas and authors he trumpeted were better than others it doesn’t me that we cannot.
For Wednesday’s humorous blogging I’m going to start going through my old RAW books and highlighting what I discover now through my more seasoned, less naive eyes. I want to try and figure out what Wilson got right and where he went off the rails. Which of his 11 novels and 18 nonfiction books merit inclusion on the Counterculture Conservative book list?
But I’ll still try and stick to the New Year’s Resolution and offer up some humor too and not just dwell on the darkness that he and so many of his generation and many since chose to escape confronting.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Most novelty duets don’t last past the song’s three-minute mark, and with good reason.
(Exhibit A: This “American classic” that nobody really listens to.)
It’s not that the performers involved aren’t talented, but bringing them together is shallow musical stunt casting. The pairing is an ill-advised mutation, a doomed chimera.
When Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla first started appearing together onstage, unimaginative types didn’t “get” it.
Why would a distinguished, highly educated Jewish author go on the road with a foul-mouthed atheist comedian from the wrong side of the tracks?
To fans like me, this duet actually made good sense.
On his podcast, Carolla had repeatedly expressed his admiration for Prager, both as a fellow Los Angeles broadcaster and as a man whose values so closely jibed with his own.
Another fan, R.J. Moeller, made it his mission to bring the two men together to talk about politics, religion, and values.
Thanks to Moeller’s efforts, Prager joined Carolla on the air, and it was obvious to everyone within earshot that the two men were a natural team:
I read the article in the New York Times entitled “Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics” (thanks to the reader who sent it to me):
But a closer look at the accumulating research on sitting reveals something more intriguing, and disturbing: the health hazards of sitting for long stretches are significant even for people who are quite active when they’re not sitting down. That point was reiterated recently in two studies, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine and in Diabetologia, a journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
Suppose you stick to a five-times-a-week gym regimen, as I do, and have put in a lifetime of hard cardio exercise, and have a resting heart rate that’s a significant fraction below the norm. That doesn’t inoculate you, apparently, from the perils of sitting.
The research comes more from observing the health results of people’s behavior than from discovering the biological and genetic triggers that may be associated with extended sitting. Still, scientists have determined that after an hour or more of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in the body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting, they add, slows the body’s metabolism of glucose and lowers the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Those are risk factors toward developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
“The science is still evolving, but we believe that sitting is harmful in itself,” says Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at the University of California, Los Angeles.
It seems like everything we do these days is harmful. I’m just waiting for the government to demand that all offices come equipped with something like this FitDesk. Don’t get me wrong. I actually have this FitDesk and use it occasionally but you can bet that contrarian that I am, if someone told me to use it, I might just stop. Sitting might be bad for you, but so is a constant barrage of negativity from the media telling you that everything you do is somehow bad for you and then using the information to implement policies that restrict people’s individual choices.