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Ben Franklin's Guide to Clean Living

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Have you ever read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin? If you haven't, it's great. Not only is he a great writer, and very funny, he's so full of s**t that you get double the laughs-per-page. Most of his baloney, though, is *very* New Sincerity.

When he was 20, he made a chart of the 13 virtues he wanted to have in his journal. Then, at the end of each day, he would check off the virtues he'd displayed that day. He kept score and tracked his progress over time, until he found that chastity was kind of a bummer, and bailed on the whole thing.

Here's some info and a picture of the chart.

Check out our Rockets show (MP3 Link), wherein I discuss the chart with Josh Kornbluth, who (in addition to being a public TV personality) has traveled the nation performing the monologue "Ben Franklin: Unplugged," which details his search for the "real" Franklin.

Via BoingBoing

Many men... wish death 'pon me.


When I was in college, a guy down the hall from me was interviewed for a man-on-the-street feature in the school paper. The question was "What would you do if there were no laws for one day?"

He responded, "Shoot the president."

It turns out that threatening to kill the president is really, really illegal. The Secret Service practically busted down the doors to our building trying to get to this guy, who was just kidding. He came very close to being expelled.

I guess that's pretty much what happened to Morrissey.

I don't think you should put your DVDs on your iPod.

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I want to make that clear. But let's say you did want to do that, over my vehement protestations. Here's how you might do it.

Monty Python - 1975 update

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That not-seen-since-1975 Monty Python footage is on it's way. I was up late last night with my good friend Tyler MacNiven, director of the film Kintaro Walks Japan, getting it ready. Expect iPod-ready video coming down the pipe tommorow or Wednesday, and web-ready video here around the same time.

In the meantime, check out Tyler's film. It's a feature-length travelogue about the six months he spent walking from one end of Japan to the other (the long way). He did it to impress his (Japanese-English) sweetheart, and to find the place where his father Jamis, founder of Buck's of Woodside, was born. He was armed with only a sketch of shoreline his grandmother had made, but he found it.

It's a pretty beautiful and inspirational story, full of humor and verve, with a dash of myth thrown in for good measure. Tyler is an amazing guy, the warmest person I've ever met, and he makes more friends along the way than you can imagine. He literally made the film himself -- he used a consumer camera, and shot and edited the whole thing without help (except when he gave the camera over to folks along the road, so they could shoot him). It's really a remarkable achievement.

Tyler recently completed CBS' "The Amazing Race," (it debuts Tuesday night) so I'm hoping that will bring some more light to the film. He sells it over the web, and you can also watch the whole thing on Google Video. He also told me you'll be able to watch it on business-class American Airlines flights to Japan, so if you've got an extra couple grand, that's a good way to see it, too.


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Tony for Maaaaayor

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There are a lot of New Sincerity rappers, but it's tough to top Ghostface in that department.

Case in point: the Ghostface f. Jadakiss and Comp - Run video, in which Ghost wears one of the most amazing and New Sincerity hats ever worn by any man ever in all times. Not that it's hard to find Ghostface wearing something New Sincerity.

Not to mention lyrics like this one, selected almost randomly from "Supreme Clientele:"

Hit Poughkepsie crispy chicken verbs throw up a stone richie
Chop the O, sprinkle a lil' snow inside a Optimo
Swing the John McEnroe, rap rock'n'roll
Tidy Bowl, gung-ho pro, Starsky with the gumsole
Hit the rump slow, parole kids, live Rapunzel
but Ton' stizzy really high, the vivid laser eye guide
Jump in the Harley ride, Clarks I freak a lemon pie

And here's a bonus treat:
GFK prod by Jay Dilla - "One for Ghost"

"I Could Eat A Knob At Night"

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I'm one of the last to add my voice to the chorus of supporters for the Ricky Gervais show. The round-headed object of ridicule on the show, Karl Pilkington, is the focus of a neat little Times piece. (signup required, or just bugmenot it)

Karl Pilkington has debated the merits of eating a kangaroo's penis for breakfast, envisioned a wristwatch that counts down the time left in a person's life and proposed a new population control system in which elderly women give birth at the moment of their deaths. He has mused on topics ranging from caveman "bear pants" to dishwashers on Mars, and reported "news stories" about the triumphs of chimpanzees as bricklayers and television talk show hosts. In so doing, Mr. Pilkington, a 33-year-old unemployed radio producer from Manchester, England, has become the object of a global Internet cult, a Guinness world record-holder and the unlikely harbinger of a technological revolution.

The Gervais show is going pay, and the success or failure of the gambit will be closely watched by podcasters like myself. Personally, I don't have much interest in charging for The Sound, but I do have an interest in quitting my real-life job and working on the show full-time. Or even just making some money for it. Or even not losing so much money on it.

The trick of pay media, of course, is that for entertainment, you pretty much have to be famous first. So maybe I should get famous the way Neil Hamburger suggested on last week's show. "Some sort of strangling, or poisoning, or maybe becoming a vegetable like that woman in Florida."

Also... here's a little audio interview of Gervais by Mark Ramsey of Radio Marketing Nexus, about how to make something great.

The Magic of Elaine May

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I've been thinking about Elaine May lately, and just I ran into this nice piece on her films in the Times.

As half of Nichols & May, and a founder of the Second City, she helped invent contemporary improv and sketch comedy in the 50s and 60s. It would be easy to diminish her work in that time by calling her a great female comic (as opposed to a great comic), but I think her gender is significant.

Comedy tends to reward women who are either beautiful accesories (like the women in a Frat Pack movie) or disgusting embarassments (think of the female characters on Mad TV). May's characters drove the Nichols & May sketches, and they were never simply outrageous debasements. In fact, they were quite the opposite... and they weren't ditzy or steely bitches either. To do that and be as funny as they were (and even are) takes astonishing talent, and courage besides.

Besides directing four films (most famously "The Heartbreak Kid" and most infamously "Ishtar"), she's stayed pretty quiet since the Nichols & May days. She had what I thought was a hilarious small part in "Small Time Crooks," which was one of Woody Allen's better outings lately. She wrote two films directed by Nichols, "The Birdcage" and "Primary Colors." She's largely been quiet, though.

She's appearing Sunday February 26th in New York. Tickets are a million bucks, but it might just be worth it.

What's up with The Onion movie?

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From NY Magazine, via The Apiary:

Area Satirists Stay in the Picture

Onionistas’s sketchy film.

Whatever happened to The Onion’s once-ballyhooed sketch-comedy feature film, originally announced for winter 2004? After stalling when the original co-directors and head screenwriter bailed a year ago, the movie’s back on: Mr. Show veteran Scott Aukerman has been brought in to write new material, and Sanford Panitch, president of production at New Regency, the company financing the film, says shooting should resume “in the next couple of months.” Panitch says an hour of previously completed footage will be used in the final film, which he says he’d like to release before the year’s end. That timetable may be optimistic: A source close to the project says the current Onion leadership probably wants to use as little banked material as possible; another insider points out that no replacement director has yet been selected. An Onion spokesperson would say only that the staff is currently debating the wisdom of a sketch depicting “a prominent Islamic prophet” as a murderous sex fiend.


Hear the new scribe, Scott Aukerman, on TSOYA

Speaking of The Human Giant...

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Here's a short about indie assholes.
via Laugh Machine

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