movie thoughts … Vacation

October 20, 2015 9:28am
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vacation_movieCan Hollywood go just one summer without trying to remake and therefore ruin another timeless classic?! 😯

Honestly, although I wasn’t really sure how this one was going to go, I was actually both hopefully as well as a little curious because over the last year or so I’ve grown a bit more fond of the entire series of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies, with the original 1983 Vacation becoming one of my latest go-to movies to put on when I don’t really feel like watching anything in particular, but still want something to listen to in the background.

Thankfully, for the most part Ed Helms was able to take up the, err, helm of the bumbling, but good-intentioned family man pretty well and I actually ended up really enjoying it! It certainly helped that the movie acknowledged what most of us were thinking fairly early on in the film…

Rusty’s Wife – “So you just want to redo your vacation from 30 years ago? Don’t you think that’s going to be kind of a let down???”

Rusty – “We’re not redoing anything – this will be completely different. For one thing, the original vacation had a boy and a girl, this one has two boys, and I’m sure that there will be lots of other differences!”

Rusty’s Son – “I’ve never even heard of the original vacation.”

Rusty – “Doesn’t matter…”

It was one of those remakes where there were enough similarities to bring back good memories of the classic moments from the first movie, but not so much that it just felt like a desperate, shot-for-shot remake. And granted, some of the ideas worked better than others – I liked the relationship between him and his wife and their struggles, but the younger kid bullying his older brother felt a little uncomfortable to me … to the point where I think I was entirely too happy when he finally stood up for himself and shifted the tides!

Of course, it was also neat to see Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo make a short cameo as the grandparents as another nod. I think it was almost a cheerable moment when Clark handed down the keys to the old Family Truckster to help Rusty complete the final leg of his pilgrimage to the forever-sacred Wally World. Even the inspirational chat with old pa leading up to that exchange was both kinda funny and endearing at the same time…

Rusty – “We’ve had enough – this trip has been a nightmare.”

Clark – “Well, that’s what family vacations are, but you can’t give up, Russ…”

Rusty – “They always say that it’s not the destination, it’s the journey, right?”

Clark – “The journey sucks … that’s what makes you appreciate the destination. You had a dream to take your family to Wally World – never let that go. I know I didn’t.”

I just loved this scene because in only a few short lines of dialogue, they really managed to sum up who Clark Griswold, and now his son Rusty, too, is to a T … family men who dream big and will inevitably always come up short, yet perpetually continue looking forward even as everyone else has given up on their Christmas light displays and gone back into the house or despite the realization that the entire family has just taken a bath in liquid sewage.

It’s kind of too bad to hear that apparently this didn’t really do too great at the box office or among most reviewers, but I enjoyed it and it’s one of the few recent remakes that I feel actually continues to build on its franchise instead of dragging on or even taking away from its original glory. Clark Griswold would be proud, even if nobody else was… 😉

Louis CK on Gay People

March 30, 2015 4:46pm
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I think this glorious video sums up everything that I could ever possibly say about gay people.

I think “How am I supposed to explain to my kid?” is my all-time favorite Louis CK quote. 😉

Slapstick for Babies…

February 10, 2015 11:14pm
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I hope that it’s always as easy to make my son laugh as it is right now, and vice-versa!

Being the aficionado of humor that I am, I find myself particularly intrigued to watch Christopher’s sense of humor developing because right now it very much beckons back to the times of slapstick comedy and silly voices and situations, as opposed to more complex forms that take the form of actual words. He loves The Muppets, and to an extent Sesame Street – I think at this point simply because the characters are big and colorful, and sometimes they flail around crazily like Kermit the Frog.

And hearing somebody else laughing is almost a sure-fire way to make him laugh, almost as if the laughter itself is contagious!

I often feel like I’m channeling a bit of The Three Stooges because it’s such a simpler form of comedy and it’s so much different to explore. I’d sound like a crazy person if I were to talk in random voices and “disappear” around doors in the adult world, yet to an 11 month-old all of those things are hilarious, and I might be biased but my little guy has a wonderful laugh that just makes the whole experience very rewarding.

Maybe it won’t be as much fun in a few years when he learns how to heckle, but even then I suppose that’s just another opportunity to teach him something new… 🙂

1047c26a6b413b397f046a7624afcedeSuicide isn’t funny, but we sure do seem to lose an awful lot of funny people to it, don’t we?

Looking back at my own life, I’ve known too many people who’ve tried to commit suicide … granted, of course, that even one is too many.

Some of them succeeded, some of them failed, and I don’t think any of them you ever would’ve guessed from the surface that things had gotten that bad in their own heads. Which is a terrifying consideration when I think about some of the closer ones to me, but I think that proves just how devilish of a beast depression can be … and just when you think someone is through the worst of it all, it very much still has the capability of rearing its ugly head in the worst possible way.

And it sucks because now that all of the dialog is present and we talk about trying to be there for those in need, this is the time when the most important questions we have to ask those people who we’ve lost remain unanswered … why’d you do it? What was it that finally pushed you over the edge?? What could *I* have done differently so that you’d still be here with us???

We’ll never know, and the only thing we can really do is try to be a little more understanding, and pay a little better attention, and be there a little more for our friends and family all of the time because we never know when today might be that day when they’re clinging to the edge, waiting for someone … anyone … to come along and reach out a hand to help them back up.

We may try to put ourselves in their shoes, but we can’t … not even the ones who tried and failed, because they failed … whatever they were going through wasn’t quite enough … and don’t get me wrong, that’s a very, very good thing that we should be grateful for. Yet to try and quantify the ones who succeeded…

I mean, I’ve thought about it before, but never very seriously. I’ve thought about a lot of different things that are admittedly pretty morbid, but most of them I’d never carry through with … in a way, I think part of that is just the crux of being a storyteller. The creative mind wanders to all sorts of dark corners in search of its next work of art … we just don’t choose to share the lot of them with anyone but ourselves…

Truth be told, I’m actually quite terrified of my own death – to the point where I hate thinking about that part of my future because just not being makes me very sad and I haven’t really come to terms with the thought of mortality in my 34 years so far – but I’ve certainly had bad days where the thought has crossed my mind whether the people around me might be better off without. I think another part of it in my head is me just being passive aggressive – “I’ll show them…” and that kind of mentality, but then I step back and put it into context in reality, and I remember that life does go on without these people. It’s hard until it gets easier, and we always remember them, but suicide is a lousy way to get back at somebody because egos have a funny way of dissipating quite quickly after one dies.

I think we all get low from time to time, and your definition of low may vary from mine and somebody else’s … but the definition of low to someone who’s depressed is in an entirely different sphere that we’ll just never know. And that’s both a good and a bad thing.

* * *

I think my favorite memory of Robin Williams was watching him host Comic Relief with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal on HBO. He was always so off the wall and unpredictable, and he wasn’t burdened by movie ratings or a censor as to what types of dirty jokes were off limits. It was just so cool to watch three of the biggest names in comedy riffing off of each other for hours on end between each act, and it was one of the things that kind of inspired me to create Just Laugh because I wanted to be a part of something cool like that, too…

Something I probably shouldn’t admit in public – I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Good Morning, Vietnam.

I guess I need to get on that.

But Aladdin, Dead Poet’s Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Will Hunting … some of the dialog from Good Will Hunting bring tears to my eyes with how raw and emotional he could deliver, and yet on the other side with Genie he’s probably one of the most memorable characters to come out of The Disney Decade…

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” – Good Will Hunting

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Dead Poet’s Society

“Oi! Ten thousand years will give you such a crick in the neck.” – Aladdin

And he named his daughter Zelda – just how amazingly cool is that?!

Robin Williams always seemed like a pretty great guy. He made a lot of us laugh, and he made a lot of us think, and that’s how I’m going to remember him. 🙂

I Enjoy the Comedy of Hannibal Buress

June 14, 2014 2:55pm
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51u01v4MD1L._SL500_AA280_[1]When I’m not listening to The Sounds of the ’80s on Pandora, my other channel of preference is comedy and Hannibal’s tracks seem to show up a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to Thumbs Up his stuff when it comes on without risking putting the car into a ditch – depending on which track it is, I don’t necessarily like him that much, but he’s still a funny fellow and there’s been more than one pizza run in the last couple of months where I’ve exhausted all of my Next button clicks in search of his comedy that never comes.

Well, the other day I finally remembered that you can actually buy albums to listen to, too, so I did that with two of Hannibal’s albums and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve gotten at least $19.98 worth of comedy out of those two purchases thus far.

Some of my favorite lines:

  • “I didn’t know that about myself until today, but I don’t hang out with anybody that quotes rape statistics.”
  • “There’s no such thing as sippable bomb water – you’re being silly right now!”
  • “They asked me if I wanted to go perform for the troops in Afghanistan … no! Do the troops have YouTube? I’ve got a bunch of shit on YouTube…”
  • “Oh, man – I’ve gotta … get a team. I don’t have a team, I just have … friends.”
  • “I was so caught up in the euphoria of having all of that apple juice that for a minute I lived in this world where racism didn’t exist…”

This is kind of fun, although who could possibly imagine Tom Cruise or Johnny Depp as Ferris Bueller?! 😯

Steve Hofstetter Talking Shit…

June 10, 2013 9:50pm
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These are the kinds of comedy club moments that you just can’t make up.  😆

Comedy … Where’s the Line???

March 23, 2013 3:38pm
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I thought that this was an interesting discussion because frankly, don’t think that there should necessarily be “a line” … as Jimmy says, as long as comedy is the intent. Comparing the Michael Richards incident from a few years back is really a great example because although he was on stage, it really didn’t seem like he was trying to be funny at that point – he was just being a jerk. There have been plenty of examples of comedians heckling back at their hecklers and it being hilarious, but that just wasn’t it and the world was right to call him on it.

On the other hand, I actually did think that the Quvenzhané Wallis tweet from The Onion was pretty funny because she’s nine years old and apparently currently just about the nicest kid in Hollywood. That’s the joke – calling someone a horrendous name that she’s most definitely not. But I guess you get a lot more airtime if you denounce the joke as obscene and horrendous and raise you and your audience up on a pedestal above it because that’s what nearly every media outlet did in reaction.

But the thing is, humor is subjective and what I may find funny you might not find as much. Hell, over time don’t find the same things funny that I did a decade or more ago, and that’s completely ok. I have fond memories of the summer of 1997 when one night I abruptly smashed my new Firebird that I’d only purchased a couple of months prior. And yet the memories are still “fond” because the way I coped with the tragedy later that night with my friends who’d been through the accident with me was by staying up half the night reading dead baby jokes to each other out of a book that we’d picked up at the mall earlier that day.

Sure, they were tasteless.

Hell, I think the name of the book was Truly Tasteless Jokes, but in that moment, they were hilarious and we all had a ball seeing how far the next one would push the envelope, and they helped us to forget about otherwise being in a really dangerous situation that could’ve gotten somebody killed earlier that evening.

Now of course, I’ve gotten complaints about that page on Just Laugh – many several pages long from people who’ve lost babies or whatnot themselves … and yet I’ve also gotten emails asking for more and it’s still one of the most popular pages on the site, so you be the judge. At the end of the day, most jokes make light of somebody or something, and if you were to eliminate anything that could possibly be offensive to anyone, we wouldn’t have much left to laugh about at all. And typically that’s not how most people get offended, anyways – it’s not really fair to get all up in arms about something that offends you if you then turn around and enjoy the things that offend other people … a la a Christian who’s offended by Christian jokes, but doesn’t have a problem with jokes at the expense of Muslims.

What’s funny to me is that through it all, I’ve yet to see anyone specifically interviewing Quvenzhané Wallis herself to show that she was offended by a satirical publication calling her a dirty word … just lots of people with microphones eager to be offended on her behalf.


Again, it’s funny because she’s actually not a cunt at all!  🙄

Stephen Colbert Does The Hobbit?!

November 30, 2012 7:32pm
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Oh man oh man oh man – I need to make an effort to watch The Colbert Report next week! :mrgreen:

Bob and Tom – You Guys Rock!

July 1, 2002 10:10am
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Well, technically isn’t even up yet, but I had the privilege of attending an utterly amazing concert this weekend and simply can’t fight back the urge to write any longer! Besides, it’ll make the archives look better if there’s actually a little something in them when this beast finally does go online, right? 😉

The show in question was in fact a live performance by The Bob & Tom Band, of the famed nationally syndicated radio show, of course! Taking place at The Orbit Room in Grand Rapids, MI, the shows from both Friday and Saturday night collectively represent the first time the band has ever performed in Michigan, or at least that’s what the promotion said. Nevertheless, after faithfully listening to the show for over three years, it was about time to see the band in person and it saved me a trip out of state to boot…

Surprisingly, although I showed up as the opening theme song to the show was playing, I was able to get one of the better seats in the house – I guess there is one advantage to flying solo! The main floor was pretty packed, but I managed to score a table on the second level almost directly over the stage – close enough to see the entire performance, but far enough out of eyesight from the comedians to avoid any direct ridicule! This is a rule you can’t learn soon enough after you’ve seen a few comedians…

With the exception of Kristi Lee and Dean Metcalf, the entire cast was there – Bob Kevoian, Tom Griswold and Chick McGee, as well as several back-up vocalists who I was soon able to identify as characters in various sketches on their albums. The band was announced as a 20-piece extravaganza, although the numbers didn’t seem quite that high unless they were including multiple personalities, but they rocked just the same and provided a solid backbone for the entire show. Hell, I would’ve paid just to hear these guys jam, even without all of the comedic stunts…

And oh boy, there were certainly a few of these! The actual set list (found below, in no particular order) included nearly all of their greatest hits and even a few “specialized” pieces “just for Grand Rapids,” although I’m guessing that they can just as easily insert Chicago or Indianapolis or B.F.E. to succumb to any given audience. The most hilarious parts of the show, however, were actually how the cast interacted both with each other and with the audience members in between bits. Just as we’ve all heard on the radio each and every morning, everyone equally hates each other off-radio also, which leads to the witty banter which we’ve all become accustomed to by this point!

For the show which I saw on Saturday night, I must say that the MVP easily goes to the one and only Chick McGee! Whether he was defending his own sexuality, making shadow puppets on the breasts of the ladies on stage, or merely doing his best to distract the audience away from Tom while he was performing, Chick kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what he was going to think of next. He’s always been a personal favorite of mine on the show, so getting to see him in his natural environment was certainly a treat! Possibly the most entertaining moment of the night came as Chick found it necessary to deal with a heckler in the audience, whom happened to be sitting about six feet in front of me. It’s safe to say that the bar was making their money off of this guy, so he was fairly inebriated by the time of the incident. For an unknown reason, this guy decided that it was the appropriate time to yell out, “Chick sucks cock!” right in the middle of one of their songs. Going with the flow of things, Chick stopped Bob in the middle of the bit and recognized the asshole for what he really was! The show continued and the man seemed to quiet down, although about five minutes later, some very large security guards showed up and escorted him out, so I guess being the Sports Director of a nationally syndicated radio show has a little more pull than we would’ve thought!

It was an amazing night and I’d be one of the first people in line for tickets if they announced another show nearby tomorrow – I highly recommend catching this show the next time they’re in town! Obviously, their tour schedule is very limited as they’re only able to go on the road on the weekends, but it’s certainly worth your time and money to check out. For the complete Bob & Tom virgin, the show did get a bit dirty, as they were sure to take full opportunity to make-up for all of the FCC regulations that moderate their radio show, but for anybody who can enjoy a good dildo joke or the objectification of women in the name of sex, this is a show that you’re definitely going to love! I can’t guarantee that your girlfriend is going to enjoy the show, but after a few beers and a couple hours of non-stop laughter, it’ll be worth the effort…trust me! Do yourself a favor and go see The Bob and Tom Band the next time they’re in your neighborhood… 😀

Set List for Saturday, June 29, 2002 @ The Orbit Room, Grand Rapids

  • Blow Me a Kiss
  • Dear Penthouse
  • Everybody’s Pissed at Me
  • Snailman
  • Big Knockers
  • Paging Richard Smoker
  • Dicken’s Cider
  • Nasty Stuff (featuring The Chick McGee Experience)
  • Buzz, Buzz
  • We Are Smoking
  • Livin’ La Vida Polka
  • Kay
  • The Drinking Song
  • Captain Dildo
  • Trophy-Wife Barbee
  • Prisoner of Love
  • We’re Still Standing Tall

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