Nothin’ up my sleeve… Watch me make three television shows vanish!

Don’t blink or you’ll miss them…


Vulcans claim they don’t understand it and I’m not sure any of us humans really do.

One of the most agreed upon theories is that humankind developed humor as sort of a coping mechanism. Like religion, only with more fart jokes.

Learned men with neatly trimmed white beards that they stroke absent mindedly while deep in thought, believe that humor is a way for us to deal with the fact that the world can be a damn scary place to live—this was especially the case back before we became the enlightened sophisticates that we are today.

The biggest problem with humor here today in the twenty-first century (in my humble opinion and if I may be so bold) is that it’s so damn subjective that anyone who dares to be a fringe dweller stands a good chance of never being heard (and even if you do find a forum to express yourself and someone does take notice, you have to keep your fingers and toes crossed in hopes that they actually ‘get’ you).

Sedaris and Jeff Foxworthy are both very funny men, but which one are you more likely to find in the bargain bin at the bookstore?

When it comes to movies and television (especially a new television sitcom), it’s essential that they hit the ground running and do whatever it takes to be instantly adored by the masses. Every once in a while one of the networks will give a show they really, really, really believe in a few extra weeks to find its footing and gather a following, but this is hardly ever the case. Look at the series ‘Arrested Development’ for example. It was a critical darling up and down the boards, and if a viewer got within fifty feet of a television while it was playing, they were hooked for life, but the show was on life support since day one. It got plenty of breaks and second chances, but humor being the subjective beast she is, not enough Nielsen Families in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewa or Grovers Corners, New Hampshire really understood the brand of humor the show was dishing out.

We’ve never been asked to participate and be a Nielsen Family, but if you want to know if a new television show you’ve taken a liking to is going to survive or not, just give us a telephone call here and find out what we’re watching. Valarie and I have a long track record of backing losers. I guess we wouldn’t fit in too well in Moose Jaw or Grovers Corners.

Here are three of our favorite new television series. Just for laughs, let’s see if anyone even remembers they even existed come the end of this summer.

--The Class

The first three or four episodes suffered the shaky legs of a newborn colt and the critics had a field day trying to match the characters on the series with their counterparts on the shows Friends and Will & Grace (the comparison was inevitable, thanks to show’s creator David Crane being a driving force behind Friends.

The cast and the writing staff have things on an even keel and each consecutive episode is getting funnier and funnier. Now all that’s missing is a regular audience. It won’t take you long to know if it’s your cup of tea. It’s a show you’ll know by the first commercial break if you love it or hate it. If it’s still on the air by the time you read this, give it a try. If you need help finding a half an hour to spare in your busy schedule, give me a call.

--The Knights of Prosperity

This one is a slam-dunk. If you like Donal Logue and have enjoyed any of the movies or television he’s starred in (especially the comedies like Grounded for Life, American Splendor, and The Tao of Steve), you’re going to know exactly what to expect—with the only major difference being that The Knights of Prosperity is approximately thirty-nine times funnier than anything he’s done in the past.

The show is a product of David Letterman’s production company, which probably accounts for the quality of the writing and the overall polish on the production. They advertised the beejesus out of the series, weeks and weeks ahead of the debut, so you may already know that the plot revolves around a ragtag bunch of working stiffs who decided to rob Mick Jagger’s fifty-two million dollar New York apartment.

It shouldn’t have worked; it really shouldn’t have, but this bombastically preposterous plan being executed by this gang of certified losers, manages to come off as endearing. What they’re attempting is purely idiotic, but at the very least you have to give them credit for trying. The casting for the six lead players is so precise that some sort of laser must have been involved.

And as an extra bonus, like when you get home from Burger King and see that the chimp working the drive-thru window accidentally gave you an order of onion rings that you didn’t order or pay for, it turns out that Mick Jagger is a pretty freakin’ funny guy who doesn’t have any problem with poking a little fun at himself. Interspaced between segments of the show are clips of a VH1-type special wherein Mick Jagger takes the viewers on a tour of his fifty-two million dollar apartment. It’s worth watching the show just to see the new ways that Mick has come up with to torture his silently suffering houseboy.

--30 Rock

I don’t get it.

This show is about the trials and tribulations of a female head writer of a Saturday Night Live-type show. Which is what Tina Fey used to do/be.

One of the Executive Producers of 30 Rock is Lorene Michaels, which is what he does every week for Saturday Night Live.

My problem is that the two of them are doing a thirty-minute parody of the ninety-minute show that they used to do together, and the parody is infinitely funnier than the real show was.

Was Tina Fey saving all her really funny stuff material just in case she would get offered the chance to parody herself?

No, that’s too silly to even imagine. But why wasn’t Saturday Night Live three times funnier when she was the head writer of that show. They had three times the airtime and budget.

I think that 30 Rock is one of the funniest sitcoms currently on the air yet Fey and Michaels’ Saturday Night Live used to put me to sleep. There has to be a complicated story behind all this. Fey will probably write a book about it when all this is done and over. I’ll wait to buy it when it comes out in paperback. It probably all makes perfect sense when you know all the facts. In the meantime, I’m going to soak up the good times.

The casting is sort of hit and miss. Alec Baldwin deserves all the awards they throw at him. My secret favorite is Jack McBrayer’s Kenneth. Do yourself a favor and watch it while you can. It’s far too good to last.


Anonymous said...


LANSING | The Theatre Historical Society of America threw a birthday bash Tuesday night, and the guest of honor also was the host.

The old Lans Theatre, currently Beggars Pizza, celebrated its 60th birthday with a party. The main feature was the music being played by the theater pipe organ that has been a fixture for more than 24 years.

Richard Sklenar, executive director of the Theatre Historical Society, was the host for the evening.

"What the THS does is collect and preserve the history of theater buildings across Americas," Sklenar explained. "We collect photos, negatives, clippings, books, any type of printed material that will document the theater. We have been working hard to collect all we can about the Lans."

The THS has pictures from opening night at the Lans on Jan. 29, 1947. It also has documentation it has gathered depicting changes to the building, inside and out, over the years.

On this particular night, many of Lansing's residents were out to enjoy the music and the birthday celebration.

"I brought all three of my children here regularly," said Mary Alice Sylvester. "Saturday matinees were a regular thing for all of the Lansing children. Later, my daughter (Theresa) worked here as a cashier when she was in high school."

Much of the sentiment focused on the theater as an old family friend.

Today, it's the music that attracts and keeps the crowd.

The large theater pipe organ was installed in the early 1980s, when the building was reborn as Pipes & Pizza. The organ was moved here from the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee, where it had been since 1924.

"This organ was originally used at a silent film theater house," said Glenn Tallar, the organist. "If you look around, you will see cymbals, tambourines, drums, all sorts of musical instruments. They are all played through the organ, all air activated."

During the evening, Tallar plays various songs and countless other sounds through the pipe organ.

"What's so special about this place is that it is still entertaining people," Sklenar said. "Sixty years after it first opened, it's still bringing people together and entertaining them."

Tony Akins said...

I watch the hell out of 30Rock!
That's some good dang T-vay.