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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

Sa-Ra Creative Partners


If you're not down with Sa-Ra Creative Partners, then you'd better get down. Seriously, now is the time.

Check out this review I recorded of their leaked demos for Nick White's former KZSC music talk show, "On the Record."

Who wants to play Random Rules?!

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A couple days ago, I blogged about a new feature on the AV Club called Random Rules. They have celebrities and whatnot put their iPods (or their iTunes, or their non-iPod MP3 players, or their WinAmp) on shuffle and write a graf about the first five songs that come up. No cheating.

Here's mine, but what's yours?

Prince -- Controversy

I was a Michael Jackson fan as a kid, I only came to Prince in college. I had dismissed it all as synth-pop garbage in my mind, but boy was I wrong. This is actually one of my favorite Prince songs, from Controversy, which is a cool album. Not as good as Dirty Mind, but the same kind of hard synthy funk that he moved away from when he got REALLY big. He played this song at a show my girlfriend and I went to at the Fillmore, Valentine's Day two or three years ago. Great show, although there was a group of REALLY drunk late-30-something white women who were REALLY awful.

Killer Mike -- Niggas Down South

This is from The Killer Mixtape, which he put out last year. Killer Mike might be the most underappreciated rapper out. He can really, really spit. He's got flows and his lyrics are great. He's sort of like Big Boi, but he has a ferocity in his flow and voice that Big Boi doesn't. His voice has impact. "Ask your older brother 'bout me / I'm O.G."

D'Angelo -- Playa Playa

This is from Voodoo, which is among my favorite records of all time. It's a vibey record, which is a word for shitty Maxwell albums and stuff, but the only other records that can match it for me in that department are Blowout Comb by Digable Planets and Fresh by Sly & the Family Stone. Not just a make-out record. I saw the Voodoo tour (again with my girlfriend), and it was probably my #1 concert experience ever. I await the followup patiently.

(an episode of This American Life)

Not sure if this counts. I've heard almost literally every episode of This American Life.

Raphael Saadiq -- Uptown

This is a great song from Saadiq, who coincidentally produced "Untitled" from Voodoo. He was also a member of Tony Toni Tone. It's about conflicts over leaving the hood.

Akon -- Gunshot (Fiesta Riddim)

This is from this great mixtape Akon put out last year called Illegal Alien Vol. 1. I dunno if there were more volumes, if so, I should get them. I love Akon's voice... it's tough to find a male singer suited to singing what's basically hip-hop. Akon's voice is thin, but it's really haunting. It's spry, too, or maybe sinewy. He can sing with hip-hop phrasing and it sounds right. The best song on this mixtape was a "freestyle" over the beat from Anthony Hamilton's "Comin From Where I'm From" called "Senegal," about Akon's childhood in Africa.

Louis CK at Cobb's


Thanks to our pal Brian Palmer (check out his great website) for this... he went to the Thursday night Louis CK show and shares it with all of us.

Via A Special Thing

Slovin & Allen

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Eric Slovin & Leo Allen are probably the most succesful comedy duo since like, I dunno, Super Dave and Fuji. But that's not sayin' too much.

Maybe you've seen their great Comedy Central Special, or seen them on stage at an event like SF Sketchfest. Maybe you saw one of the sketches they managed to get on SNL the years they were writing for the show, like "The Falconer." If you've never seen them, trust me, they're great.

But have no fear! Experience the magic of Slovin & Allen two different ways:

Download their (not work-safe) short film "Family Film" (right click and save as)


Download their appearance on The Sound of Young America some years ago

you could even check out this interview on

Beaver-Otter-Platypus? That's what I'm talkin' about!

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Note to scientists: discover more stuff like this.

Oscars: I Beg of You


I really don't care who wins the Oscars. Usually.

This year, though, this year I really do have something to root for.

Please, please, please, please, let the 3-6 Mafia win an Oscar. PLEASE.

Mustache TV

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On this week's Sound of Young America broadcast, I'm going to have Andy Daly. Besides being the host of Comedy Central's "Crossballs," and being a former castmember of Mad TV, Andy is one of the funniest people I've ever seen improvise. More importantly, he's created "Mustache TV," which, he claims, is "The hip parlor game that's sweeping the nation!"

Apparently it involves placing mustaches on your TV set, then getting points when they land on a face. Or, I guess, a face lands on them.

See for yourself.

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