Tag Archives: comedy
“Was that Will Smith?”
Chris Rock, to Dave Chappelle after the latter was attacked onstage
“How was your weekend?”
It was the slap seen around the world. During the single most awkward moment at this past Sunday’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ annual Oscar ceremony, actor Will Smith got so mad when presenter Chris Rock made cheap comment at the appearance of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, that he stormed the stage and literally smacked him across the face. Rock – a comic already known for his abrasive sense of humor – was about to present the award for Best Feature Length Documentary, when he started his usual routine of picking on some of his fellow celebrities – including the Smiths who were seated in the front row.
In recent years Jada has been suffering from alopecia, so she sat beside her husband with her bald head. In an industry that puts so much emphasis on looks, with most everyone – especially women – trying to out-coiffure and out-style one another, Jada appeared defiant and comfortable with her new-found condition. If not comfortable, at least accepting. When Rock turned to her and said, “G.I. Jane 2, can’t wait to see it,” he was referencing the 1997 movie “G.I. Jane” about a fictional first female Navy SEAL candidate, where actress Demi Moore portrayed the title character and even shaved her head as part of her method-style acting. If you watch the moment, it’s obvious Will got the joke and started to laugh. But his wife rolls her eyes, as if she was suddenly offended. At that point, Will snapped and practically ambushed Rock, then proceeded to curse him out once back at his seat.
The audience gasps are audibly apparent, and the mood suddenly darkened. What many in the theatre and global audience thought was a staged incident turned out to be brutally real. Will Smith really slapped Chris Rock across the face! Rock – in his usual comedic, show-must-go-on persona – seemed to brush off the incident and continued with his presentation.
Things seemed to get more awkward when – some 35 minutes later – Smith won the Best Actor award.
But the response has been insane and surreal. Social media (of course) blew up with Smith defenders and critics, as memes mocking the fiasco exploded across the cyber universe. The incident made national news, and late night talk show hosts have had fun with it.
The Oscar ceremonies have dealt with plenty of controversy over the decades. A kerfuffle arose over Hattie McDaniel’s Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in “Gone with the Wind”. She was the first African-American to be nominated for and to win an Oscar in any category. Just as many eyebrows were raised when “Midnight Cowboy” became the first (and to date, only) X-rated film to win a Best Picture Oscar. George C. Scott created a tiff when he refused to accept his 1970 Best Actor Oscar for “Patton”. One of the biggest fiascos arose two years later, when Marlon Brando didn’t appear at the Oscar ceremonies to receive his Best Actor award for “The Godfather”. Protesting the treatment of Native Americans, he sent a would-be actress attired in Indian headdress to speak for him. The audience booed her as she exited the stage. The following year saw another unexpected moment, when a male streaker pranced across the stage behind David Niven.
Over the past several days, just about everyone has an opinion about the Rock-Smith flap. Ricky Gervais tweeted a clip from his popular TV show “The Office” that pokes fun at alopecia. Like Rock, Gervais is known for his unbridled humor. If everyone who got offended by his jokes took a swing at him, a coroner would have to identify him by whatever little pulp of his flesh remained. Comedian Kathy Griffin – definitely no stranger to controversy – worried openly that Will Smith’s actions could pose a danger to everyone in her profession, if the incident goes unchecked.
It has to be noted that Smith apologized to the Academy during his acceptance speech, but waited until the next day to apologize to Rock. Jada has now opined and called for a “season of healing” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. These latter two statements naturally came out on social media.
The matter took a more serious turn when the Academy’s Board of Governors decided to convene and discuss possible actions against Smith, including stripping him of his award. That has never happened in the institute’s history. If bad behavior on or off stage is reason to rescind someone’s Oscar, then the majority of recipients would be award-less.
The show’s producer, Will Packer, now confirms that Academy officials asked Will Smith to leave the Dolby Theatre, but he refused. Moreover, Los Angeles police (who are always present for such a large-scale event) entered the chaos and said they could arrest Smith. After all, it was felony assault. Packer says he deferred to Rock who refused to demand Smith be arrested. Now, this about this for a moment. How many of you believe you could bitch-slap someone in a public forum and then be given the option of vacating the premises?
One unique irony of the incident is that, just last week, Jada posted a TikTok video stating she doesn’t give “two craps” what people think of her now and how she looks. So what happened at Sunday night’s event? She suddenly got offended? Or is that woman’s prerogative to change her mind suddenly manifest itself?
I couldn’t care less. One egotistical celebrity attacking another egotistical celebrity because his feelings were hurt amidst a pack of overrated zealots gathered to bloviate how wonderful they all are doesn’t bother me. Will Smith’s actions shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, he’s a rapper at heart, so violence and vulgarity are in his blood. Neither he nor his wife are exactly class acts.
Jada admitted a few years ago that she had strayed from their union on more than one occasion. She confessed to having entanglements – meaning she fucked around. But Hollywood is like Washington, D.C.: if you want loyalty, get a dog.
Understand one thing: Jada is suffering from alopecia – not cancer! She’s losing her hair – not her life! Considering that thousands of our military personnel from returned from Afghanistan and Iraq without limbs – if they didn’t come home in body bags – and what’s happening now in Ukraine, it’s really tough for me to feel sorry for an over-hyped actress who has an image problem.
Jada is a selfish, egotistical wench who went from empowered to pissed off in a nanosecond. And her husband felt into her trap as he let himself get sucked into the proverbial chivalrous role of male protector; a man willing to become violent to uphold the dignity of his woman. In this case, a woman who had already disrespected him by entangling with other people and then playing the victim when someone made a joke about her hair. Spare me the drama!
Of all the antics I’ve seen at the Oscar festivities, I have NEVER seen anyone physically assault another person! This is truly a first.
The show produced a few other unique firsts. “CODA” became the first film with a majority physically challenged cast to win the Best Picture Oscar. Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, while Ariana DeBose became the first queer woman of color to win Best Supporting Actress. (Curiously, DeBose won the same award for the same role that Rita Moreno won 60 years ago. They’re the only two Hispanic actresses to win acting Oscars – something that annoys me more than a fight over hair follicles.)
On Friday, April 1, Smith declared that he will resign from the Academy. But the damage is already done.
The Rock-Smith incident will forever be sealed into the memory of the American public. No one who saw it – either as it played out or later – will ever forget it. Will Smith will forever be known as the guy who struck someone on live television in front of a global audience. His award does not overshadow what he did to Chris Rock; what he did to Chris Rock will overshadow his award. No matter what he says or does now, he will never be able to escape that.
“I mean one of the most chilling phrases in the English language is: ‘Surprise, it’s Rudy Giuliani.’ Just ask the crew of ‘Borat.’”
Stephen Colbert, commenting on Rudy Giuliani’s unexpected appearance on ‘The Masked Singer’
The episode has yet to air.
“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.”
“There are some people who want to throw their arms round you simply because it is Christmas; there are other people who want to strangle you simply because it is Christmas.”
Robert Staughton Lynd
“I get a little behind during Lent, but it comes out even at Christmas.”
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and receipts for all major purchases.”
“I haven’t taken my Christmas lights down. They look so nice on the pumpkin.”
“At Christmas, tea is compulsory. Relatives are optional.”
“The principal advantage of the non-parental lifestyle is that on Christmas Eve you need not be struck dumb by the three most terrifying words that the government allows to be printed on any product: ‘Some assembly required.’”
“Nothing’s as mean as giving a little child something useful for Christmas.”
“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying, ‘Toys not included.’”
“What I like about Christmas is that you can make people forget the past with the present.”
“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.”
“I love Christmas. I receive a lot of wonderful presents I can’t wait to exchange.”
“That’s the true spirit of Christmas; people being helped by people other than me.”
“Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.”
“For Christmas this year, try giving less. Start with less attitude. There’s more than enough of that in the world as it is – and people will usually just give it back anyway!”
Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the birth of Santa?”
“Let me see if I’ve got this Santa business straight. You say he wears a beard, has no discernible source of income and flies to cities all over the world under cover of darkness? You sure this guy isn’t laundering illegal drug money?”
“Who’s the bane of Santa’s life? The elf and safety officer.”
“Santa Claus wears a Red Suit, he must be a communist. And a beard and long hair, must be a pacifist. What’s in that pipe that he’s smoking?”
“Nothing says holiday like a cheese log.”
“Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.”
“Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.”
“I bought my brother some gift wrap for Christmas. I took it to the gift wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.”
“Be careful with drinking this Christmas. I got so drunk last night I found myself dancing in a cheesy bar… or, as you like to call it, delicatessen.”
“Christmas sweaters are only acceptable as a cry for help.”
“People can’t concentrate properly on blowing other people to pieces properly if their minds are poisoned by thoughts suitable to the twenty-fifth of December.”
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
Roy L. Smith
“A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.”
John B. Priestly
“Pets, like their owners, tend to expand a little over the Christmas period.”
“Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.”
“Next to a circus there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.”
Frank McKinney Hubbard
“One good thing about Christmas shopping is it toughens you for the January sales.”
“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.”
“There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.”
“Ever wonder what people got Jesus for Christmas? It’s like, ‘Oh great, socks. You know I’m dying for your sins right? Yeah, but thanks for the socks! They’ll go great with my sandals. What am I, German?’”
“Every year, Christmas gets longer and longer, and you don’t care, do you? Every year, you just take more of the calendar for yourself. How long does it take you people to shop? It’s beyond belief! It’s insane! When I was a kid, Halloween was Halloween, and Santa wasn’t poking his ass into it!”
“I’ve had this look for about a year. I usually grow this beard out around Christmas. I like to go to malls dressed as Jesus, and I like to then walk around the mall and go, ‘No! No! This wasn’t what it was supposed to be about, people!’ Then if there’s a Santa at the mall, I walk up to him and say, ‘Listen, fat man, you’re just a clown at my birthday party.’”
“I set a personal record on Christmas. I got my shopping done three weeks ahead of time. I had all the presents back at my apartment, I was halfway through wrapping them, and I realized, ‘Damn, I used the wrong wrapping paper.’ The paper I used said, ‘Happy Birthday.’ I didn’t want to waste it, so I just wrote ‘Jesus’ on it.”
“Christmas: it’s the only religious holiday that’s also a federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services, and everyone else can sit at home and reflect on the true meaning of the separation of church and state.”
“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
“It may be a cliché, but it’s true – the build-up to Christmas is so much more pleasurable than the actual day itself.”
You’d look the same if you had a Christmas tree stuck up your ass!
Top image: Charles van Sandwyk – ‘The Fairies’ Christmas’ – “How to See Fairies & Other Tales” – Folio Society 2018
Bottom image: Julian Clary
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, does that include vocal parodies? Sarah Cooper certainly thinks so. The writer, comic and formal Google associate has created a series of brief videos in which she lip syncs to actual recordings of Donald Trump opining on a variety of subjects. While the verbiage alone is confounding enough, Cooper’s facial expressions are hysterically priceless!
In the mid-1970s, Freddie Prinze was leading an extraordinarily successful life. In December 1973, at the age of 19, he had come to the nation’s forefront after a stint on “The Tonight Show” in December 1973, which led to him landing the first half of the title role in “Chico and the Man,” an NBC television comedy. He appeared opposite Jack Albertson, a stage and film veteran. Despite their age and cultural differences, the two became good friends, with Albertson serving as a mentor to his younger co-star. I remember the series clearly. Prinze’s character was a breakthrough role. For the first time, American television boasted a Hispanic figure who spoke English perfectly.
By January of 1977, Prinze had a rollicking standup comedy career with sold-out gigs wherever he went and a top-selling comedy album; “Chico and the Man” remained a highly-rated show. He even performed at Jimmy Carter’s inaugural ball. He was married with a 10-month-old baby boy, Freddie, Jr.
And, he was miserable.
Things had begun to spiral out of control for Prinze. He’d become addicted to Quaaludes and cocaine and, in November 1976, was arrested for drunk driving. Then, on January 26, 1977, his wife, Kathy, startled him with a restraining order. Two days later Prinze planted himself at the Beverly Hills Hotel and began making a series of “goodbye” calls to his mother, a few friends and his manager, Marvin Snyder. Snyder rushed to the hotel to try to stop his young client from harming himself. But, it was too late. Prinze put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He survived the initial shot, but the next day, his family authorized officials at ULCA Medical Center to remove Prinze from life support. He was 22.
The news of Prinze’s death – a suicide, no less – shocked and horrified the masses who loved him. How could someone that young with so much talent, success and money, plus a beautiful wife and baby, be so unhappy? I was 13 at the time and couldn’t understand. He was popular, right? He had lots of money, right? Why would he kill himself? It just didn’t make sense.
The recent suicide death of actor / comedian Robin Williams exposes, yet again, a miserable underside that lurks beneath a life of outwardly blissful happiness in the entertainment world. There’s a reason why the symbol of the theatre is comprised of dual masks: the comic Thalia, smiling, and the dramatic Melpomene, frowning. They’re high and low; top and bottom; the moon’s bright side and its dark side. Intertwined and – for the most part – interchangeable. All emblems of life. One can’t exist without the other.
Both Prinze and Williams had a great deal of money and a great deal of fame. It seemed everybody loved them. If someone has those two things – money and fame – then everything else is inconsequential. They should be completely and totally satisfied with their lives. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?
Money may make life easier, but it really doesn’t make it completely satisfying. As cliché as it sounds, money truly does not buy happiness. No amount of money will make you like a job you hate. I love writing, for example, even though I haven’t made much money from it; a few freelance and contract technical writing gigs over the past few years. When I lost my job with an engineering firm in 2010, I was earning more money than I ever had before. Yet, in that last year, I hated the place. For some reason, tension had been building since the end of 2009, and I ultimately felt management was targeting me specifically. It was almost a relief to get laid off.
It’s difficult for people outside of artistic communities to understand. But, comics, actors, singers and other artists are people, too. We’re weird, yes, but we’re human beings first. We have the same emotional fluctuations and experience the same anxieties in life that everyone else does. We’re just a bit more expressive about it. Yet, because professional artists exist in the public realm, their lives fall under greater scrutiny. They’re magnified a thousand times for all to see. And, when someone makes a career out of telling jokes and doing impersonations, people assume they’re always happy. But, it’s difficult for most to imagine the pressure an artist must feel to perform and be “on” all the time. People expect a comedian to make them laugh – all the time. Entertain me, my little clown. I want nothing less from you.
And so, the entertainer does what they’re supposed to do – entertain. That’s why they’re paid – very well, sometimes – and thus, despite whatever agonies they’re facing, they pull the spirit of that entertainer deep from within the depths of their souls and put on a show. The writer, the singer, the dancer – all of them do what they’ve trained themselves to do; what they’ve wanted to do perhaps since childhood.
It appears artists, in particular, are prone to severe mood swings that often lead them to substance abuse and untimely deaths. Actors, writers, painters and the like experience the best and worst that humanity has to offer. That’s why the word “troubled” often accompanies the moniker of artist.
Jackson Pollock was one of the most innovative abstract painters of the 20th century, but he battled alcoholism his entire adult life. Ernest Hemingway was a literary giant, a larger-than-life persona who was the epitome of masculinity and steadfast courage; yet injuries he incurred during his raucous life apparently took a toll on his mental and physical health, and he committed suicide in 1961.
But, it’s not that every artist is troubled; we’re not all mentally unbalanced and destined for an early grave. We merely troubled; we’re not all mentally unbalanced and destined for an early grave. We just observe life through a more acute lens; we balance things out differently. We don’t see the world strictly in terms of black and white. We watch it move in all its colorful glory; the laughter and the pain mixed up together. That’s how and why we create the art that we do. If we didn’t experience the full gamut of human emotions, then we wouldn’t be so creative. We’d be … well, just like everyone else.
Fellow blogger Gus Sanchez touched on this very subject a few weeks before Williams’ death. “On Mood Disorders and the Writing Process” jumps directly into the fire of the artist-mental illness connection. As someone who’s gone through the manic highs and lows of creativity and dry spells where I feel the entire world is out to get me, I fully comprehend the realities of depression and anxiety.
It’s a blessing to be imbued with such creative elements. We can make other people happy, or make them think. It’s a curse in that we see the ugliest sides of the world glaring back at us and challenging us to do something about it. We often take up that challenge. Many times it works out for the best; sometimes, it hurts.
The Melpomene mask doesn’t conform to our vision of life in the limelight. Everyone wants to be around Thalia; we always demand Thalia be there to make us feel good about things. But, Thalia just can’t be a part of our world unless Melpomene is also present. They’re undeniably symbiotic; conjoined twins held together by the same heart. They can’t live separately. Without cold, there can be no hot. Wherever there’s a smile, there must also be a frown.
Towards the end of my tenure at the engineering company, I had a private meeting with my immediate supervisor. I told her that everyone was on edge and just didn’t feel good about things. She shot back, accusing me and the others of “creating all this drama.”
“There’s no drama,” I quietly responded. This wasn’t a soap opera. It was the real thing. I guess she couldn’t understand it the way I did. She was looking at the situation through a narrow, gray tunnel. I saw all of the sign posts, in blazing red and yellow, warning of danger ahead.
When Freddie Prinze passed away, my young mind couldn’t fathom such horror. But, as information about Williams’ emotional problems begin to surface, his tragic death seems only slightly more comprehensible. I keep thinking Freddie Prinze and other artists who died at their own hands reached out from the netherworld, grabbed Williams’ soul as it departed his beleaguered body and said, ‘Come with us. We understand. You’re safe now.’
So, I look at all the happiness and all the tragedy that make up this wonderfully unique thing called human existence, and I understand, too.