Ron Rosenbaum

I Think I Was The Only One to See The Ad...

…it was in such an odd place. Page 25 of The New York Daily News,
a tab I usually don’t read on Saturday. But there it was, “Just Back From Edinburgh” underground comedy legend Rick Shapiro dong a one hour show at a place on W.24th St. called The Cutting Room.

“Just back from Edinburgh”? Apparently the angriest comic in the world had been a hit at the famous “Fringe Festival” there. Anyway I rounded up a couple of friends and we had the most amazing time. I mean when people hear “angry comic’ they usually think of the white-bread frat boy rants of Lewis Black on The Daily Show. Please. Rick Shapiro is a vicious, venemous, obscene, not politically incorrect but politically indefensible satanic god of anger. who makes Lewis Black look like Little Lord Fauntleroy. He makes The Aristocrats seem dainty. The slogan on his card: “more than wht you think you can handle”.

Shapiro has been a kind of underground legend for a decade; I first saw him back in 2002 I think on the Loser East Side and I thought, oh thank god there’s someone who hasn’t caved to the Seinfeld-vanilla humor wave. The guy was out there, and so over the top in his venomous hatred of himself and everyone else in the universe that it was awesome. It helps that he seems to have spent some time as a male prostitute to pay for his heroin habit.

But you get to see another side of the world from that perspective. Hearing him riff on his disgust is, you know, educational.

Well he’s stayed true to his hateful truthfulness which is why he hasn’t made it to national visibility with the dream–and the declaration of surrender–of just about all stand-up comics: the sit com. Just no way Rick Shairo’s EXTREME obscenity, offensiveness, is going to make a tv series, although somebody should do a live unedited version of his show. Which left us all exhausted from laughter, horrified by the content, wrung out by the rage.

A few years ago the writer, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc was a guest at an NYU journalism school seminar I was teaching, and talked about how for years she wanted to do a book about this guy, Rick Shapiro. She wasn’t sure what th source of her fascination was. I suggested to her that comics like Shapiro and his circle, in pushing the edge of the envelope are exploring the nature of human nature. They’re analagous to the philosphers asking basic questions about human beings in the Athenian agora two and a half milennia ago. I hope she writes the book whatever take she has on it.

Google Rick Shapiro (he’s on Myspace!) and find out when he’s next coming to a venue near you. Warning: he’s not only Not Safe For Work, he’s not safe for Life, I think. He’s not for everyone. I’m not endorsinghis worldview or how he expresses it. But you’ve got to admire the purity of his viciousness.