Tuesday, August 09, 2005Mixed Bag
Bob Saget is a sick fuck.
Yeah, I mean that Bob Saget -- Danny Tanner, wholesome TV dad, host of America's Funniest Home Videos. The darling of the Family Channel has a brain that would make a German porn director squirm with embarrassment.
What, you don't believe me?
In comedy circles, there's a famous Saget story about the night his first daughter was born. After a very difficult birth, during which Sherri Saget and her baby almost died, a friend showed up to find Mr. Saget looking utterly destroyed, unshaven, unrecognizable, but holding his newborn.
"Oh my God, Bob, she's beautiful," the friend said.
"For a dollar, you can finger her," Mr. Saget replied.
(link, because the original New York Observer article requires payment)
That's just about the nastiest joke I've ever heard, and yet it's one of the most painfully funny ad libs ever. I don't understand what it is that makes it funny and not reprehensible -- I think it has something to do with the agony and relief of what he'd just been through expressing itself in the form that would most quickly defuse the tension; whatever, somehow it has meaning beyond being merely nasty. That's not a gag, it's a Statement. Shocking, yes, but significant in its insignificant little way.
Compare that to the current work of a kid I know -- an obviously brilliant, creative, driven kid who wants to be a filmmaker -- who's just in that shocking-for-shock's-sake stage of his adolescence. He's been advertising for actors, looking for someone familiar with "vore" fetish. Now, I happen to be something of an amateur scholar of polymorphous perversity -- please don't infer anything about my personal life from that -- but I'd never heard of a "vore" fetish. So I looked it up. Turns out that this is "vore" in the sense of "carni-vore" or "herbi-vore" -- it purportedly has something to do with the physical consumption of one living thing by another. It's all very Freudian; look here if you must. Regardless of what this fetish means to those who possess it, in terms of this kid's work I put it down to that typical teenage boy desire to appear to be depraved, ideally to the point that societal rejection follows. The thing most of us learn by the age of eighteen, though, is that nobody buys it for a minute because in someone that young it has no meaning; one's depravity must be earned through distasteful experience.
So what does all this have to do with anything?
Mostly I'm thinking about it because I desperately want to see The Aristocrats. This is the epicenter of this entire question, the point at which meaning and meaninglessness in a nasty joke intersect. It's meaningless in that the joke is a rather poor joke, not very funny, and the point of the joke actually has nothing to do with the punchline. But it's incredibly meaningful in that it represents a pinnacle of comedy art, the greatest skill to which a comedian can aspire, and a measuring stick by which they may be judged. It's a joke that only comedians really understand, and as such is pretty goddamn zen. And at its best, it's absolutely stomach-turningly disgusting. Bob Saget apparently shreds it.
People who know me well know that comedians -- not the hacks that populate Premium Blend, but the Prophets who inhabit a higher plane of existence -- are my heroes. I prefer them to rock stars, I consider them on a level equal to that of Jesus or Gandhi or the Gautama Buddha. And the ones I love best are the ones who deal in black humor and sick jokes -- it's not about shocking anyone, it's about catharsis and purging one's soul of the pain of living. The best of them tend to falter at a young age -- Lenny, Bill, Richard, poor old Andy -- but perhaps that's the price of living your life as a filter for all of society's anguish.
Anyway, on a similar note, much of Bill Hicks' standup has finally been released on DVD. There's still a lot missing -- you won't find his Rush Limbaugh bit on here, or his wtf?-inspiring riff on Dick Clark (or any other part of Sane Man, which is a shame) but at least it means that I can get rid of my PAL VHS copies.
And I was all excited that the entire run of The League of Gentlemen has also finally been released on DVD here, until Dave pointed out to me that the fuckers somehow made a feature film without my ever knowing about it. I admit I was faintly offended -- I felt like they'd been hiding something from me. But that won't stop me from desperately needing to see it right now.
Dave also pointed out to me this deeply gratifying ad campaign by a pizza chain in New Zealand: