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The Frozen North


Canada has a long history of great comedy, and these days Toronto houses a really exciting alt-comedy scene. Some of the folks from that scene are coming to LA en masse to do jokes, and they (politely) begged me to tell the world about it, since they're scared no one will show up. So here goes:

Finally, someone's standing up to those heck-mongers.


WFMU's Beware of the Blog has a great rundown of the FCC's indecency decisions made public today.

One thing they don't mention is that a number of the violations took place during "safe harbor" hours, which run from 10PM to 6AM, and are supposedly when kids are asleep. Thank God someone is protecting adults who only get one channel and have to watch TV from seeing simulated, no-nudity teen sex on CBS' "Without A Trace" (fine: $3.6 million).

Of course, broadcasters want clearer rules, but clearer rules (like, say, a list of words you can't say and body parts you can't show) would amost certainly violate the constitution, so that's a non-starter.

Side Note: Nice to see that "For Me To Poop On" was determined to be OK, despite complaints.


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Yes, South by Southwest is upon us again, that annual celebration of indie rock types celebrating themselves and each other.

Anyway, let's say we were there (we're not... also, why are we using the royal we?). We would probably take a long look at the hip-hop lineup, then buy our Devin the Dude tickets.

The AV Club is there, and they're doing more conventional stuff, like stalking the guy from Dinosaur Jr.

Also, on the New Sincerity front, kudos to the San Francisco metal chick (and dudes) who brought their rolling concert van to Austin. I've been thinking about how New Sincerity metal is, but I know nothing about it. Maybe one of these days I'll have a metal show, with one of those new indie-metal bands and Brian Posehn.

Garrison + Orchestra = Gimme A Break


Garrison Keillor and the New York Philharmonic
? Someone tell me this is a joke. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Fallen Idols...


Like most other folks who love hip-hop, I love Run DMC. They redefined the form in the mid-80s, brought it to a whole new audience, and their style and energy still can’t be matched. I saw them in concert in high school, and I still treasure the Adidas Superstar I took off my foot so they could sign it.

But this new DMC single is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. And I really mean that. I’m stunned at how awful it is. I thought it would be bad, and it blew away my expectations. I feel like it isn’t real, it’s so terribly terribly terrible. DMC is a bad rapper, and he had the mind-explodingly bad idea to hook up with Sarah McClachlan. And then he was like, "how about you sing "Cat's in the Cradle?" And it got WORSE from there. None of this is a joke. It’s like the Battlefield Earth of songs, only without the creepy charisma of John Travolta at his craziest.

I was at a friend’s house, and it came on TV, and I just sat, slack-jawed, for like three minutes, feeling my soul being sucked out and spit back in.


Aspen jury awards announced...


HBO-U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Announces the 2006 Jury Award Winners for Live Performances and Film Discovery Program

ASPEN, CO March 12, 2006 – HBO and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival (USCAF) announced the 2006 Jury Award winners for Live Performances and the Film Discovery Program, sponsored by Variety in a ceremony hosted by comedian and USCAF performer Robert Wuhl. Presenting the awards for the Film Discovery Program was Jeffery Tambor and Brian Henson.

The winners for Live Performances at this year’s Festival are:

Best Stand-up – Aziz Ansari and Mitch Fatel
Best Alternative – Kristen Schaal
Best Sketch – Whitest Kids You Know
Best One Person Show – Rick Cleveland, My Buddy Bill
Entertainment Weekly Breakout Award – Eliza Coupe

Tied for Best Stand-up was Aziz Ansari and Mitch Fatel, voted by a jury of over three-dozen industry executives who judged over 20 standup performances. Ansari, who performs regularly and hosts the New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade’s show Crash Test, will appear this summer in the Todd Phillips/Scot Armstrong film School for Scoundrels with Billy Bob Thorton and Jon Heder. Fatel is currently a regular correspondent on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and tours nationally.

Rick Cleveland is a former writer for the West Wing, in addition to serving as an executive producer and writer for all five seasons of HBO’s Six Feet Under. My Buddy Bill explores Cleveland’s unique friendship with President Bill Clinton and his dog Buddy. Cleveland won an Emmy and Writers Guild Award in 2000 for his writing on The West Wing. Eliza Coupe, a graduate of CalArts Theater program, developed her solo sketch show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York. She has also trained at the Groundlings Theater and Improv Olympics. Kristen Schaal, a native of Colorado, is known in the New York comedy scene for her quirky, witty and endearing characters and is also the winner of the New York Comedy Festival’s 2005 Andy Kaufman Award. Alumni of the School of Visual Arts in New York City, The Whitest Kids You Know, perform their weekly Wednesday night show at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre to sold-out crowds.

The 2006 Film Discovery Program featured 23 feature films, 23 shorts and six world premieres. A panel of industry executives determined that the following films, directors and actors were most deserving of this year's honors.

The Film Discovery Program's Award Winners, sponsored by Variety, include:

Best Feature - Friends With Money
Best Screenplay - Keeping Mum
Best Actor - Justin Long, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Best Actress - Olivia Wilde, Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Idea
Best Director - Tim Skousen, The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Breakout Filmmaker Jason Reitman, Thank You for Smoking
Best Live-Action Short - K-7, director Christopher Leone
Best Animated Short - Angry Unpaid Hooker, director Steve Dildarian
Best College Short - Check Out, director Dan Eckman
Cinemax Audience Award Winner – Shut Up and Sing

Ike Quits South Park (and I'd have done the same)


According to news reports, Isaac Hayes has quit South Park, citing objections to the show’s strong anti-Scientology stand. I’m no Scientologist, nor am I a Scientology apologist. I, personally, am an aetheist, but I do work at a church, and if you made a list of religions, Scientology would be one of the few that I had more negative than positive feelings about. And I have generally positive feelings about South Park, which I think is typically a very bright (though crude) satire.

That said, I’m a bit disspointed by the early reactions to the story, which have come down strongly against Ike. The South Park team has pointed out that Hayes had no apparent problem with skewering other people’s religions in the show – after all, the short film that landed South Park on TV centered on a fight between Jesus and Santa. They say South Park has made it a policy to skewer everything on the cultural landscape, without exception, and Hayes is drawing the line now due solely to self-interested.

I buy that, pretty much completely. But I still respect Hayes’ decision. Since when is it unreasonable to value your own religion more highly than others when it comes to decisions about your own life? Hayes isn’t starting a war, or even advocating censorship. He just doesn’t want to participate in a show that has demonstrated contempt for his faith (nutty though it may be).

South Park is a brilliant show, but it’s also very mean-spirited, and Hayes is a significant part of its public face. If I were in his position, I probably would have quit, too.

The Sound of Young America: "Southern Soul" MP3 Link (includes much discussion of Hayes)

Keep It Up - The Smithsonian


Seriously, have you ever been to the Smithsonian? It's amazing! I mean, the art museums are only pretty good, but they have the actual Spirit of St. Louis! Space capsules! Mr. Rogers' sweater! It would be quite easy to spend two weeks there. And it's free! Totally free! God bless the USA. KEEP IT UP, THE SMITHSONIAN: AMERICA'S MUSEUM.

Blackalicious Headed Out on Tour


Blackalicious are headed out on an extensive national tour, per Pitchfork. I say sincerely now that you won't see a more fun hip-hop show.

Blackalicious on The Sound of Young America (MP3 Link)

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