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Apocalyptic Comedy

I do not believe in mythology, except that it exists in book form. I don’t believe in raptures and I’m not concerned about where I’ll be come December 22nd of this year. I find it all fascinating, certainly the Mayans had their reasons and those theories were based heavily in nature and more specifically in the sun, moon and space itself. Nonetheless this calendar was set forth over 3000 years before Christ and therefore well over 4000 years before scientific discovery came into play. All this being said I love treating this year like it’s the last. That’s why in all my Christmas and holiday cards (yep I give holiday cards, there is no war on Christmas, there just happen to be other holidays celebrated that month) I said to enjoy this last holiday before the apocalypse. This lame joke has been applied to every subsequent holiday and birthday and I’ll continue to enjoy the last days and weeks of each month until doomsday arrives. Whenever I’m confronted with crazy, either in the form of a person, a group, a theory or an event, I just laugh. When in Rome, do as the crazies do. Even as the priorities and fixtures of my life seem to adjust, food, comedy and yoga seem to be the constants, beyond love and water and people and other necessities. So it is with great enthusiasm that I share some opportunities for you to laugh on purpose, beyond just occasionally chuckling at crazy people. First off, television. Let’s assume for fun that we will all perish on December 21st, or around that date. And because we’re applying this prediction for our death date we can then know for certain how many days we have left. It amazes me people of any age waste their time on the mindless reality shows still forcing their way onto our screens, but I understand the irony in some of it and I suppose the guilty pleasure element comes into play. But because we’re pretending we have 7 months left to live, I’d love to encourage anyone to give up extraneous nonsense to make way for some decent comedy, which does actually exist on TV.

I’ve mentioned previously that I no longer have cable. I do have some pretty fancy bunny ear antennas that my wonderful grandma sent and with those I occasionally watch some Hockey or re-runs of Seinfeld when I can’t sleep. I hardly ever turn it on to just see what’s on and when I have, I’ve been appalled by the mediocre crap still piping into people’s heads. My apologies to the 2 and 1/2 Men and Network comedy fans but beyond Community I can’t quite decipher what’s worth watching. If I’m missing something, let me know. I caught 5 minutes of a hybrid episode of NCIS: LA with my favorite 20 year crush, LL Cool J, mixed with Hawaii 5-O. I was certainly entertained but not for the reasons they intended. Never underestimate the value of unintentional laughter.

I’m grateful to not have cable because I can 100% avoid Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC and even CNN. I like Anderson Cooper but the “news” has become a joke, a competition at who can be the most ridiculous, inflame the public’s interest, and given my desire to control what I do with my body, for my gay friends to have equal rights and to hear about real issues over what someone may or may not have done with a dog, I only ever watched those channels to laugh at them. I am stunned people take it seriously. And a few smart ones, too. Except Rachel Maddow, she’s an intelligent, thoughtful woman, whether you agree with her or not. Most are just haters drawing in viewers who also love to hate, love to gossip, and love to win an unwinnable argument. The truth, oddly enough, is revealed more honestly and objectively through humor on The Daily Show and Colbert Report, and for that, I’m so thankful.

Every week we watch a political show with genuinely intelligent people from both sides of the aisle; truly thoughtful, experienced, reasoned republicans, democrats and independents. I find myself agreeing with varying arguments from all backgrounds, understanding there are much more than two sides to this complicated coin. That show is Real Time with Bill Maher. Bill is a divisive man. Many I know and love truly despise him, which is a major waste of energy, but nonetheless I understand how he can rub people the wrong way. What I enjoy most is watching the panel debate so brilliantly and so respectfully. The show is funny but more than that it is informative and it challenges you to think critically. I’m not being handed my opinion by one person, one channel, one party. I’m carefully dissecting my values and beliefs, listening to impassioned people from many sides and deciding from there. The guests consist of respected journalists, former and current politicians at the state and federal level, authors, musicians, activists and strategists. I wish more people watched this show, spent less time hating whatever opinion or person is opposite of theirs and instead opened themselves to be entertained and enlightened. There’s no room for growth if you surround yourself with sameness. Differences bring perspective and bridge gaps.

A near and dear friend recommended Girls on HBO. It’s a Judd Apatow production co-written/produced/starring Lena Dunham, the brilliant mind behind 2010’s Tiny Furniture. I must be truthful, I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t have HBO anymore. How do I live a happy life? That remains to be seen but I will apply a bit of patience and perhaps finagle a way to see this show soon. It’s received tremendously high critical praise and has been renewed for a 2nd season. I’ve heard only good things from discernible, trustworthy sources so let’s all jump on this bandwagon together, shall we? In a nut-shell, Girls is an even more honest, raw and dare we saw funnier version of Sex and the City, except the focus is on girls in their 20’s, so less marriage and baby focus, more sex and career focus. Sounds good to me.

For those of you who don’t mind humor of the animated variety I’d like to highly recommend Bob’s Burgers. I love Jon Benjamin and everything he touches. He’s brilliant. His other animated comedy, Archer on FX, is hilarious as well. His voice lends really well to this genre and his deadpan delivery stimulates the right areas of my brain. I’m so satisfied listening to him. He’s smart, clever, honest and dry. Bob’s Burgers is about a burger joint run by Bob, his wife Linda, and his three children. The family has such an interesting dynamic, one that resonates with my heart. The show isn’t as outrageous as a South Park or Family Guy. It’s more of a slice of life comedy set to animation. It’s surprising and sweet, filled with amazing comedic guest-stars, impeccable writing and great story-lines. It’s on Hulu and Hulu-Plus if you’re interested.

Movie-films. I watched a movie last night that I know so many people will just want to hate, want to trash, want to dismiss without even giving it a chance. But like it or not it received fantastic critical reviews, including a hilarious and poignant recommendation from my favorite critic, Dave White. That film is none other than 21 Jump Street. I know. Really? Channing Tatum? Yes. Channing Tatum. Get over it. Just because he’s sexy to almost every generation doesn’t mean he is somehow untalented or undeserving of a chance. Do I love Dear John, or whatever Nicholas Sparks movies he’s doing? No. Most certainly not. But the dude has comedic chops. He delivers well, is believable, unafraid to look like an ass and his chemistry with the very funny Jonah Hill really works. We watched this at home last night and laughed our asses off, sober. There’s a very exciting cameo, a very respectable and funny supporting cast, and this excellent application of humility and irony as the film consistently makes fun of itself and its genre. I dug it. Not ashamed to admit it.

This is TV and Film related. The British show Inbetweeners is a Rated R equivalent of Freaks and Geeks and it is stellar. It is quick, unpredictable, endearing and painfully funny. The film version releases in June of this year. Hurray 2012! I'd watch the 18 episodes before seeing the film. The background is imperative.

If you’re into alternative comedy, meaning you should probably have smoked marijuana or taken mushrooms at some point to understand the material, then you’d love Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie as much as me and my troop of weirdos did. This is another TV/Film hybrid suggestion as the Adult Swim Tim and Eric Awesome Show: Great Job is of course batshit amazeballs as well. You need to approach Tim and Eric with this purely open mind, like whatever comes your way is welcomed and instead of questioning what these wackadoos are doing or saying, or being disgusted by their strange behavior, surrender your confusion and just go along for the ride. The episodes are 11 minutes. The movie is longer. Prepare accordingly.

I love Sacha Baron Cohen. I used to watch Da Ali G Show when I still lived at home with my parents. And the subsequent Borat and Bruno films did not disappoint. He’s got massive balls, literal and figurative, you cannot deny that. And if you’ve seen his movies, you can validate that fact for yourself. But if you neglected to see Hugo, then you missed what a talent he is beyond shock comedy, beyond making uptighty whitey’s more uncomfortable than they already are. He was charming, humorous and added such an intangible quality to that beautiful film. I cannot wait for the Dictator! This is a great departure from the mock-u-comedies that were a staple in Borat and Bruno, and instead is an original script shedding light and humor on a fictional leader from the Middle-East.

Living in a big city I encounter all facets of humanity, those deemed good, bad, nuts and everything in between. I recently was yelled at by an elderly woman with a big quaff of gray hair riding her bicycle. My mind went to The Wizard of Oz and all I could do was give her a thumbs up and laugh my ass off. For some reason I no longer take the opinions or criticism of others seriously or to heart. What does it matter? What does my opinion matter? It doesn’t. It’s a string of words floating in my very active imagination and should carry no weight on who I really am as a human being. I am more than my opinions, thoughts, and beliefs and if I took myself so seriously I’d close myself off to many people, opportunities, change and to genuine happiness. And so I laugh, like the Buddha, rubbing my belly, hungry for more food for my brain and body. Life is a fun and challenging ride. If we can laugh off the trivial stuff then we’ll be better equipped during actual difficulties.

Thanks for reading. Hope you laugh a lot, today and everyday.