One of the things my son and I like watching together is Late NIght with Jimmy Fallon (getting to see his studio during an NBC tour a while back may have been the trigger for Nick), including the weekly hashtag contest.
This one, on the subject of #parentfail, made us chuckle.
Mel Smith died a few days ago, but I only found out a few minutes ago, while I was catching up on some reading. Smith was 60, and died of a heart attack.
What a funny guy. I first saw him on Not The Nine O'Clock News, which probably lost a thing or two in translation across the Atlantic, but which I still found riotously funny. He directed The Tall Guy, one of my favourite comedies, and later Bean, the feature film with Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean character.
And, of course, he had one of the many funny small roles in The Princess Bride.
"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity." - Gilda Radner
[Radner would have turned 67 today. She died in 1989 from ovarian cancer.]
From Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the latest bit of musical comedy featuring celebrity guests. This time, from Thursday night's episode, a redo of the Lumineers' Ho Hey, featuring Fallon, guest Nick Offerman, musical guest Blake Shelton and staff writer Chris Tartaro.
"In the absence of my own knowledge of a particular thing, I am going to find the best authority I can. Science as a tool allows us to try and generate a really good authority… it is the only system that even bothers to try to minimize bias." - Tim Minchin
So, yes, we all know that Beyonce faked her emotional performance of the Star-Spangled Banner during the inauguration of Barack Obama last week ... but now we can laugh heartily after our tsk-tsk moment. The folks behind Bad Lip Reading stripped the audio of the lip-synched rendition, and came up with something hilarious.
It's not technically a Digital Short, but Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island cohorts have produced a new video that extols, among other things, excessive use of Purel, avoiding the stairs and staying away from children and the "mad lice" in their hair. YOLO stands for You Only Live Once. It's a teaser from an upcoming album, their first post-SNL.
On Sunday, Improv Everywhere brought its pranks-on-a-grand-scale way of doing things out in the open again, or more to the point, underground, in New York City. Each year, the troupe asks ordinary people to take part in one of its videos by boarding the subway ... without pants. Awkwardness is the name of the game, and once again, they got it.
One of the things I'm looking forward to in 2013 is the new Ricky Gervais TV series, Derek, which is being produced for Channel 4 in the U.K. I assume it will show up on this side of the pond soon enough. The setting in this series is a seniors' home, where Gervais' character works as an employee.
Beyond that, I don't know much, other than that it looks like Gervais is going in a different direction from what he has tried before in The Office, Extras and (obviously!) the Ricky Gervais Show.
Well, sort of. Rowan Atkinson reprised the character, albeit in a sketch, and on stage, for a benefit for the Prince's Trust. Another shift in historical eras, too, with a modern rip on the bankers. More to be read here.
No one channels their inner tween like Will Ferrell, who brought out the sobs and shouts on Conan O'Brien while reacting to the "news" that Kristen Stewart had cheated on Twilight costar Robert Pattison.
Those who remember the beer strike in Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985 (if I have my dates right) will surely remember Old Milwaukee ... which quickly gained the nickname "Old Millwater" from less-than-impressed consumers who nonetheless took to the U.S. import as a crutch while the strike dragged on.
Charitably, Old Milwaukee is called a "bargain" brand .. a polite way of saying that's it cheap, and there's a reason for it.
I haven't paid much attention to the brand at all until I read that Will Ferrell, of all people, is not only doing commercials for Old Milwaukee (apparently out of affection for the label), but that they're airing in just a few markets. Have a look at one of them - it was probably done on a shoestring, but Ferrell makes the timing of a 30-second spot work right till the last split-second.
One of the most satisfying magazine reads I've had lately is in the annual Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair ... which is kind of odd, because the subject, British comedian Steve Coogan, is hardly Hollywood material. In fact, that's the very point of David Kamp's excellent profile; Coogan, despite two decades of solid fame in the U.K., is far from a known quanity on the other side of the Atlantic, despite having great fans in the comedy business.
Coogan emerges in the piece as having a hefty chip on his shoulder , yet is funny enough to remain charming ... sometimes at the same time. Example: he bristles, comically, while noting he must be the only British actor not to have been cast in the Harry Potter movies. (And, yes, he has the face for it.)
The article focuses on Coogan's involvement in the hacking scandal, and his determination to see the fight against News Corp. through. As it turns out, Coogan gave up on his resolve to not settle after the issue went to press; Kamp updates that element here, on the VF blog.
I think Steve Coogan is a genius, and a comic treasure: he can do finely tuned monologues, zingers, impersonations and, yes, actual acting.
As noted in the Vanity Fair piece, here's a true gem: an excerpt from Coogan's series The Trip, in which he and Rob Brydon compete for the bragging rights for the better, or precise, impersonation of Michael Caine.
The article, incidentally, focuses quite a bit on Alan Partridge, who has been a key part, maybe the defining part, of Coogan's comedy from the start. I was amused to learn that Coogan is planning to revive the blandly obnoxious host for a movie.
Here's how Kamp described Partridge's introduction (also noting, I must add, the funniest family motto of them all) in Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge:
Indeed, in Episode One, Partridge bounded onto his set—“modeled on the lobby of a top international hotel,” he claimed—with his tackiness fully formed, right down to his soon-to-be-signature ill-fitting double-breasted blazer. (He wore it in burgundy on opening night, but would later unveil a billiard-green version that came with a crest on the breast pocket that included images of a partridge, a pear tree, a microphone, and the words cognoscens me cognoscens te aha.) “Tonight is what I call a J.F.K. kind of a night,” Partridge announced with bravado and good cheer. “Because just as everyone can remember what they were doing when President Kennedy was shot in the head, I like to think that, 30 years from now, people will remember what they were doing when I first said, ‘A-ha!’ ”
Here is Tom Lehrer, one of the funny voices I heard a lot while I was growing up (my parents were big fans), singing A Christmas Carol, a still-apt poke at the true meaning of the season: money.
I included a cover of this song for our annual Christmas mixtape ... sung by Daniel Radcliffe, no less. (And, it's probably worth noting, the rest of the cast of How To Succeed in Business WIthout Really Trying; the tune appeared this year on the annual Broadway Cares fundraiser for AIDS relief.)
Radcliffe is actually a fan of Lehrer, and has demonstrated this notably in a Graham Norton episode on the BBC in which he raced through Lehrer's The Elements. The YouTube clip has been seen well over two million times ... with the Harry Potter fans probably squeaking by the Lehrer fan base, I would imagine!
Absolutely Fabulous debuted on the BBC in 1992; CBC aired it later, quite late at night, but worth setting the VCR for. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley have revived their characters as the ultimate hard-drinking fashionistas here and there, but nothing in the last seven years.
Until this week. The BBC airs the first of a new set of episodes on Christmas Day. It'll be fun to see where things go, especially since the girls are more than showing their age and Eddy's wise daughter Saffy would have to be in her 30s now.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.