Amoeblog

out this week, 8/2 & 8/9: Tig Notaro...the next great female comic...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 18, 2011 12:15pm | Post a Comment
I have been a huge fan of strong female comedians since I can remember. My first memory is probably of Joan Rivers on the Muppet Show or in The Muppets Take Manhattan. If you have not yet seen her recent documentary A Piece of Work, you must do so right now. Amazing stuff.

I can't remember a time when I didn't love Bea Arthur. I was too young to watch Maude, but I was instantly in love with The Golden Girls. I think I honestly just wanted them all to be my grandmothers. How awesome would it be to go to Miami for the weekend to stay with Blanche, Dorothy, Rose, and Sophia. I am sure this was not every kids dream. But it was mine. I didn't have some Harold and Maude type fantasy. I was gay after all. But I just wanted to hang out. Talk about current events. Make fun of celebrities or people in general. I loved that sarcastic and humorous outlook on life. And The Golden Girls might have been the first show that I remember to feature gay characters. There were other shows of course. But not many. Dorothy's old friend visits and turns out to be lesbian and falls in love with Rose. Blanche's brother visits and comes out to her in his golden years. And of course the very first episode features a gay housekeeper. My favorite character was of course Dorothy, played by the amazing Bea Arthur. If there is one celebrity I could go back in time to hang out with or have dinner with, It would probably be Bea Arthur. She was hilarious and sarcastic. But also brutally honest and warm and sincere. She loved her friends and her family more than anything. But she understood a good joke and could never be mad at anyone for too long. She was sort of my role model. And she also got me in love with the female comic. Gay guys have always flocked to the female comic. There just are not that many out gay male comedians. At least there weren't in the '80s and '90s. So these comics were all we had to relate too. And honestly, they were a whole lot better than any of the gay male comics that I had seen or heard about. Female comics were sort of outsiders just like the gays.  Bea Arthur probably opened the doors for a lot of these women. At least the TV comic. There would probably be no Roseanne without Bea Arthur. I seriously can't imagine my life with either one of them.

What Bea Arthur did for the TV female comic, Joan Rivers did for the stand up comic. Joan Rivers was also brutally honest. Like Sophia on The Golden Girls, she never held back. She said what was on her mind. I don't think there could be a Kathy Griffin, Janeane Garofalo, Wanda Sykes, Sandra Bernhard, Margaret Cho, or Sarah Silverman without Joan RIvers.

There are obviously different styles of female stand up comedians. Most of the good ones end up with their own sitcom or talk show, which is sort of the goal -- a stable job that doesn't involve the crazy kind of travel needed to be a stand up comic. Sarah Silverman ended up creating one of the most brilliant shows ever. The Sarah Silverman Show, unfortunately, didn't last long enough. But she and Brian Posehn together is magic. Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell ended up with two of the most successful daytime talk shows. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar ended up hosting The View. Joy Behar also has a nighttime news show. While I am not a huge fan of The View, I am a huge fan of the comedy of both Whoopi and Joy. Whoopi Goldberg has been in some of my favorite movies...at least some of my favorites of the '80s. She gave us Jumpin' Jack Flash in 1986, and Burglar and Fatal Beauty in 1987. Ghost in 1990. Sister Act in 1992.

Ellen DeGeneres was the star of a very successful sitcom and now that Oprah has left us, Ellen probably has the most successful daytime talk show. I was never really a fan of Kathy Griffin until her reality show started. I just didn't really know much about her, and I was not about to watch some sitcom starring Brooke Shields. But how can you not love somebody who is such a supporter of the gays? And so hilarious. I was hooked after the first time I saw her perform. Going back much further, I do have faint memories of Phyllis Diller -- probably from Scooby Doo or The Mad Monster Party -- but I did always love her. She got her start at the Purple Onion in San Francisco, so how can I not love that? I was also obsessed with Lily Tomlin. Two of my other favorite movies as a kid were 9 to 5 and The Incredible Shrinking Woman. Lily Tomlin was another stand up comedian that I just somehow related to.

I have also always loved the female comedians of Saturday Night Live. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are two of the best comedians that show has ever seen. They now star in two of the best sitcoms on television, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation. Kristen Wiig is one of the funniest people to ever exist and one of the main reasons to still watch SNL. She is already a movie star; please watch Bridesmaids if you have not seen it! I also see a TV show in Kristen Wiig's future, but maybe not for another ten years. SNL has also give us the brilliant Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer, Jane Curtain, Laraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Jan Hooks, Cheri Oteri, Nora Dunn, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Janeane Garofalo and Sarah Silverman may have not had the most successful careers on SNL, but they were both cast members that just happened to go to do amazing things afterwards. Some actresses went on to better things and some did not, but they have all done amazing comedic work at some point in their life.

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Beatrice Arthur: May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009

Posted by Job O Brother, April 25, 2009 02:29pm | Post a Comment
Heads up, everybody. This planet just got less funny.


























R.I.P. BEA ARTHUR!!!

Posted by Brad Schelden, April 25, 2009 02:06pm | Post a Comment

(In which we consider Vince Clarke.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 22, 2008 10:49am | Post a Comment

Vince Clarke, worshiping in his own way.

Oh! Something I meant to tell you: The other day I was talking on the phone to Vince Clarke about Yazoo (or Yaz, for those few of you who live in the quaint li’l province of The United States of America). He’s on tour right now with the indomitable Alison Moyet. For those of us who discovered the two, flawless Yaz albums in youth and remained loyal to the duo long after they weren’t to each other, this reunion tour is nothing short of a miracle.

Corey and I saw them perform recently and I’m telling you now, kids – find out when they’re playing near you, buy your tickets fast and GO! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a concert more.



Because I signed away all legal rights (I wasn’t using them anyhow) I can’t post my chat with Mr. Clarke on the Amoeblog, but you can read it by clicking on the sentence below:

This sentence serves no purpose other than providing a convenient link upon which you may click with your (rather dirty and in need of cleaning) mouse.

In other news, a bunch of we Amoebites went to the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night to see Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Feist, but I’m not going to report on it until Logan sends me the [insert cuss word here] pictures.

So, what does this blog entry have to offer you besides promises of reports elsewhere available?

Well… um… how about this?



No, but that’s not good enough. Last I checked, Amoeba Music isn’t selling baked goods (although there’s rumors that we might replace our Freestyle section with a smoothie stand).

My mind is still with Vince Clarke. He’s brilliant. My favorite Depeche Mode album is their debut, Speak & Spell, for which he did the music.



He then quit the band and formed Yazoo, which (sadly) only produced two albums: Upstairs at Eric’s (Eric being E.C. Radcliffe, one of the producers) and You and Me Both, which has the distinction of having my favorite cover album art of all time (at least, I think so – don’t hold me to that).


From 1983 to 1985, Mr. Clarke formed The Assembly, which was more a project than a group. The concept was that Clarke would write music that different vocalists would sing for. Very little output came out of this, though it did produce one UK hit, “Never Never.”



After that came Erasure. I remember, in high school, being backstage at our production of Camelot in which I played Tom of Warwick (which meant I spent two hours backstage and, at the finale, running on stage dressed like a cross between Gidget and Bea Arthur and screaming precociously to King Arthur). One of the techies, a pretty girl named Star, was listening to her Walkman. I asked if I could hear her music and she offered it to me. It was their album Wild! and I thought it was keen, but for whatever reason I could not manage the name Erasure.

“It’s Erasure,” she informed me.

“A razor?” I asked.

“No, Erasure,” she said again, unjustifiably annoyed and taking the Walkman back. But I still didn’t hear correctly and for the next year I thought my new favorite band was called Your Asia. Which isn’t a bad name for a band, actually. Any of you readers who’ve recently formed a music group but not yet decided on a name, might I suggest you call yourselves Your Asia? It’s yours for free, but please do give me props in your “special thanks” section.

It’s rare these days to find anyone outside the GLBT community who’s willing to take Erasure seriously, which is a shame. Their lyrics are unabashedly vulnerable and romantic, and certainly go against the grain of what we collectively signed onto when we looked to the Seattle grunge scene to determine what was proper etiquette for cool.


The in sound from way out.

I’m no exception. At a certain point I decided they were “too” something and stopped listening, but recently I’ve been re-investigating their catalogue and secretly enjoying them. I’m still sometimes embarrassed by Andy Bell’s gushing, emotive vocals, but their ability to craft a catchy pop song is undeniable. They rival ABBA in their understanding of what makes a song stick in your head happily. Someday, when you’re not feeling so cynical, you should give them another chance.

Of course, enough time has passed for even you hard-hearted Hannahs to enjoy their 80’s catalogue. If nothing else, you can shield yourself in the cloak of irony which is so fashionable these days. (Just be certain to accessorize appropriately.) And if anyone gives you grief for rocking out to some Erasure, just point out the ridiculous amount of Journey in their iPod and tell them to feck right off.
 

My 80s Nostalgia Peaks: Mrs. Garrett's Got Somethin' to Sing About!

Posted by Miss Ess, September 7, 2007 11:48am | Post a Comment
I truly never thought it would happen, but I actually and officially MISS the 80s.... and this is the best thing ever:

 
Although I was sheltered compared to most 80s kids, I still was a latch key kid.  Remember back when TV characters really did feel like part of your family? That Punky Brewster sure is full of spunk!

God I feel old.
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