Humor and Satire– Shmatire!

Tag Archives: Humor

My list of these is up on The Yellow Ham today!

Check it out!


You can read  a new piece of mine  up there today!

You can find a new piece of mine over at the delightful website The Big Jewel!


Check it out!  You can read a brand spanking new piece of mine over at Defenestration!

It’s called “The New Looks for Fall” and it’s here.



Howard, Steve and I took on women in comedy in this week’s Perpetual Post.   Check it out!

I’m growing tired of hearing about how Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are such funny women.  I mean, yes, they are.  But is this such a revelation?  The amount of attention those two receive for being funny is becoming a little patronizing, because for the most part it’s the same reaction of good-natured astonishment that would be elicited by the sight of a gopher wearing chaps or a tap-dancing kitten.  The implication is:  Look!  These women are breaking down barriers, they’ve turned our misconceptions upside down; they’re thriving outside their element!  It’s as thought the general public thinks each of them woke up one day and said, “Today, I think I’ll be funny– unlike women.”

Tragically, I was never informed that women aren’t funny.  As a result, I spent my clearly misguided youth worshipping witty, smart-ass female authors like Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr and Cynthia Heimel.  I listened to old records and radio programs and grew to love the crackling improv of Elaine May and Joyce Grenfell and the sweet guile of Gracie Allen.  I rented early Saturday Night Live episodes and marveled at the physical comedy of Gilda Radner and the snarky wit of Lily Tomlin.  All of these women were brilliantly funny.  I guess none of them got the memo.

It’s true that my many female comic idols are often less well-known than their male counterparts.  George Burns’ fame far surpassed that of his counterpart and comic foil, Gracie Allen.  Ricky always told Lucy she couldn’t be in the Babalu show.  Saturday Night Live, for all its talented female stars, never seemed to launch their careers as far as it did the careers of legendary comedians like Steve Martin and Jim Belushi.

Indeed, for every smart, funny female role model I discovered through books, radio and television, there were many mediums which suffered from a distinct lack of vibrant female characters—or any female characters.  After all, Bugs Bunny had all the good one-liners.  None of the women stranded on Gilligan’s Island had decent comic timing; Smurfette was dull as dishwater.  But to me, the lesson there was still not ‘girls in general aren’t as funny as boys’—it was ‘those girls aren’t funny’.  So instead I watched Murphy Brown raise hell, and dreamed of the day I would live un-chaperoned in the Plaza Hotel like bossy, outrageous Eloise.

I agree with Steve Murphy that humor thrives on awkwardness and alienation, and that an adolescent penchant for feeling like an outcast is very likely to produce an individual who is quick with a one-liner and has a Simpson’s quote for every occasion.  But I disagree that humor is a defense mechanism and a means of social survival mostly for males.  Rather, I think it is a natural reflex for either sex—one that, if properly nurtured and cultivated, can be merrily abused as a dysfunctional means of self-protection by both boys and girls.  After all, both face a tremendous amount of pressure to fit into their respective roles—and there are always going to be those on both sides who look around and think, “Wow, this shit is hilarious.”

I also agree with Howard that individual women who are not funny are often used as an example to somehow prove that women in general are not funny—which I find unfair.  Were this standard applied to men, Pauly Shore alone would irrevocably prove that all men as a rule are desperately unfunny.  Which is fair to no one, except Pauly Shore.

Hilary Duff, you are so right to put Faye Dunaway in her place.  How dare she question your acting talents?  Lizzie McGuire was a tour de force!

Especially since the original Bonnie and Clyde movie was only a re-telling of the story– while the remake of the ’67 classic you’re starring in, in your own words, “is kind of like the true events of how everything went down.”

I’m sure it’s not your fault Ms. Dunaway allegedly lashed out at you.  After all, she’s old!  As you pointed out, “I might be mad if I looked like that now, too.”  Well said, Hilary.  Maybe you’ll get hit by a train and then you’ll always be young and beautiful forever!

I hope this feud does not go on for much longer.  Maybe the two of you can put things right by starring in a modern, scene-for-scene remake of Mommie Dearest.  Nothing would make me happier.

I first caught up with Marie Shafer at her sprawling two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Raleigh, NC.  Shafer shares the apartment with her boyfriend, Bob, and their dog.

“We wanted to really make this place our own, when we first moved in,” she says, gesturing toward the living room, with its traditional white walls and high ceilings.  “When we signed the lease, though, it said no painting and no holes in the walls, so we kind of let that dream die.”

Still, the pair has installed a small shelving unit in the bathroom, and there are several posters in the guest bedroom which have been tacked to the walls.

“It’s kind of hard to do any real decorating without using thumbtacks,” Shafer concedes.  We’re hoping we can maybe patch over any holes when we move out.  This place did require a deposit, though, so I guess they can withhold it if they don’t like the way we leave things.”

Shafer invites me to have a seat on a wide, comfortable brown couch that sits opposite the television in the spacious living room.   A timely acquisition from some friends who were moving and no longer needed it, it is draped in a faux-suede cover which is sagging down a bit on the backrest, revealing the couch’s original material-which is rugged beige corduroy.

“They originally got it off of Craigslist,” Shafer notes, patting the couch.  “When we brought it up to the apartment, a T.V. Guide from 1984 fell out of the springs in the bottom!”

She adds, “It was kind of gross, but funny.”

The black painted coffee table sitting front of the couch is an unusual structure, with interesting shelving and unique lines.  I ask whether it is a re-built antique hope-chest, which seems possible, but learn that it is in fact a repurposed TV stand.  Shafer explains:  “When we got a wall-mounted TV we didn’t need that stand anymore, but we didn’t want to have to lug it to the curb, so we figured it fit right where it was.”

The cheerful dining room is decorated in a style Shafer refers to as, “Early Parent Castoff”.  A small butcher-block table is framed by upholstered chairs acquired from Bob’s family.  A sentimental Shafer family heirloom, the table is the perfect size for intimate meals for two, although Shafer admits that “it’s covered in our junk most of the time.  I cleared it off before you got here.”  An upright desk sits against the wall in the dining room, a uniquely modern touch.  According to Shafer, it wouldn’t fit anywhere else.  It is piled high with cook books and souvenir beer cozies.

The couple’s bedroom is dominated by a queen-sized bed-the frame of which was purchased from another friend who was moving; the mattress was a gift from Bob’s grandparents.  Shafer’s concept for the bedroom was simple yet elegant.

“I wanted to make it an open, inviting space,” she said, “And I think I kind of pulled that off, except that there’s not that much space between the bed and my dresser when you’re walking to the bathroom.  I bang my shin on that damn bed frame all the time. ” Shafer adds that in order to enhance the ‘openness’ of the room, she refrained from putting up curtains on any of the windows.

“Also, we didn’t have any when we moved,” she adds.  “My parents gave me some a few weeks ago, but I have to install the rods myself, and I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  Meh.”

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