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Funny Friday

I am so sad that the goldmine that was holygoof.com is no more, apparently zapped by the site’s host. The Holy Goof was a like a supernova: it appeared suddenly, was quite a spectacle, and disappeared as suddenly (that’s what supernovas do, right?). I have not come across a finer audio comedy site, and my life “” and iPod “” is emptier without the fine comedy which the Holy Goof shared. So, for funny Friday, a bit of comedy; some of it samples from stuff I found at the Holy Goof.

Ali G – Ali G Meets Posh Spice And Beckham.mp3
Ali G has been eclipsed by Borat, who was much funnier in small doses than in a feature film. This interview with Victoria Beckham and her little pet monkey is Baron Cohen at the height of his game. He makes Posh repeat what football fans used to allege about her supposed unlocking of the tradesman’s entrance. When he sets up David with a poor joke, it is not the punchline that makes us laugh, but the way David walked into it. And through it all, Victoria handles it with grace, making me almost like her.

Chris Rock – Real People Of Ignorance (Friend of a Rap Star).mp3
Chris Rock – Real People Of Ignorance (Tattoo).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Pineapple).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Jamaica).mp3
Chris Rock – Tip Your Hat To Whitey (Mars).mp3
Five short skits from Chris Rock’s Never Scared album, a collection of stand-up and skits. While I regard Chris Rock as the funniest and most penetrative stand-up comedian of his generation, his skits are a mixed bag. The five on offer here, however, are very good indeed. Rock’s backing vocals on the “Real People Of Ignorance” bits are total genius “” hear his comments on nightvision goggles and the purposelessness of vaginal tattooes (and those in Sanskrit). The Friend of a Rap Star one comes from an earlier post.

Jim Norton – Michael Jackson Is The Artist Of The Millennium
Be warned: Jim Norton smacks you in the face with some entirely inappropriate gags. You may laugh because it is funny, but even then you gasp and think: “He didn’t say that, did he?” Michael Jackson is, of course, an easy target. Britney Spears, another target in this bit, was not yet the pitiable wreck she is now. With Norton, one understands after a while that the offensive lines, often self-deprecating, are merely gratuitous, not representing an agenda or manifesto. By Norton ascribing shocking conduct to himself, he opens his way to be as shocking and scathing about the targets of his jokes. Still, fuckin’ hell, man!

Patton Oswalt – You Are Allowed 20 Birthday Parties.mp3
Patton Oswald is only marginally less ready to offend than Jim Norton. His CV lends him some credibility: voices for various versions of Grand Theft Auto; appearances in several movies and TV shows, and a voice appearance in the Pixar movie Ratatoullie. His routine is laced with pitchblack humour, offset by a certain self-deprecating geek charm (indeed, self-deprecation is a popular technique among contemporary comedians. Ãœbergeek Woody Allen used to it great effect in his stand-up days).

Eddie Izzard – Americans.mp3
Eddie Izzard – The Future.mp3
When I big up Chris Rock as the finest stand-up comedian of his generation, I feel a need to send an apology to that cross-dressing genius Eddie Izzard. I love Izzard’s voice and delivery, but it is his way of weaving a narrative “” not unlike that other giant of British standup, Billy Connolly “” which merits total admiration. So it was quite difficult to cull a couple of tracks out of the context of that narrative. Izzard’s humour is insightful, playing with absurd concepts and the surreal, rather than turning to aggressive sarcasm for laughs.

Paul F Tompkins – Cherry Picking.mp3
A veteran of TV comedy programming, Paul F Tompkins’ debut album Impersonal is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Some bits, like this one, are very amusing; others seem to try too hard in their stretch for surreal humour. But Tompkins’ delivery is likable “” you feel that you are in the company of somebody who will make you laugh at some point; and sooner than later he does. And even the chuckle-free bits hold the listeners interest because Tompkins knows how to tell a story. Sides will remain unsplit, but one is not likely to regret the time spent listening to Tompkins’ brand of observational humour.

Bill Hicks – On The Bright Side.mp3
This is from the Shock & Awe album, recorded in Oxford. While Izzard is an Englishman speaking to an American audience, so is Hicks the Yank trying to explain his country to an English audience, and trying to make sense of Britain. This is not Hicks at the top of his game ““ for one thing, he’s is far less aggro and much more laid back than on other recordings “” but even Hicks not at his best is preferable to many other comedians. Just two years after this show was recorded, Hicks died of pancreatic cancer,

on February 26, 1994. While he never attained great fame, his influence on any number of contemporary comedians, including some featured here, is evident.

Peter Sellers – Party Political Speech.mp3
I have said it before: Peter Sellers is not by any stretch of the imagination a favourite comedian. I find absolutely nothing mirth-inducing about “Birdy Nam Nam”, and the Goon Show leaves me cold, other than to acknowledge the debt owed to it by Monty Python and everything that took influence from that ensemble. But when Sellers was cooking, he really was great. His satire of a political speech which is high on pomposity and empty of content might sound dated in delivery, but remains relevant today. And on the subject of politics: what is the fucking matter with fucking Ohio? Bush in 2004; HRC in ’08?

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