Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Q & A: Potpourri

I’ve gotten a few questions for the month that aren’t really elaborate enough for me to stretch out an entire post, so to solve this issue I figured I’d take several of them and mash them all up into one grand post. Enjoy!

First up, Jasmine: “What’s the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?”

Nine letters. Also, Wikipedia tells me it’s actually somewhat more complicated than that, as the yam is actually part of the Dioscoreaceae family while the sweet potato is part of the Convolvulaceae family, which would probably mean quite a bit to me if I ever ate either of them. Sadly for those of you whose lives hinged on this answer, though, not only am I neither a botanist or a farmer, I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten either food. As such, I can’t bring myself to research a question so without value to myself.

Jasmine has another quick question, “Why are you eerily similar to the character Dwight Schrute? Do you think the writers of The Office know you or are stalking you and creating a character based off of you?”

Let the record state that my friend Laura has confirmed that I do not look like Dwight, so neener neener on you. Unfortunately, the reason that came up in conversation was because my hoarder uncle, who just moved in with us last week until he recovers from an infection, saw me watching the Office, pointed at Dwight, and told me he looked just like me, which gives me just one further reason to dislike my uncle greatly. That said, I do want royalties, because I am nothing if not a total whore for money.

Shana also chimed in, asking, “Who’s your favorite character on How I Met Your Mother and why?”

Much like pretty much everyone else who watches the show, my favorite character is Barney. Yes, I still have the stalkerish crush on Alyson Hannigan that I’ve had since I first started watching Buffy, though that’s slightly diminished by her having dyed her hair black a few seasons ago. Seriously, her natural red hair was beautiful, why she felt she had to change it is beyond me. Really, though, as long as we can all agree that nobody’s favorite character is Ted.

Shana again: “If you could be any character from the "Twilight Saga", other than any of the Volturi or the kiddies they run with...like Dakota Fanning...who would you be and why?”

It’s a testament to how well I paid attention when watching the Twilight movies that I only have a vague idea of who the Volturi are (they’re one of the vampire families, right?), which does leave my options here somewhat limited. I’d definitely hate to be Bella, what with her having to go through life with scoliosis and a textbook abusive boyfriend. I’d also hate to be Jacob, because I’d have to spend all day every day working on my 300-inspired CG abs to try to distract attention away from the Lovecraftian horror that is my nose. While I hear it’s quite fun to be an abusive boyfriend, and it pretty much has to be fun to be able to race up a giant tree, I also wouldn’t want to be Edward, because let’s be honest, high school sucks bad enough when you have to be there for four years, let alone over one hundred years (seriously, didn’t the teachers ever get suspicious?). I’d probably have to choose to be Alice Cullen, because really, who wouldn’t want to look like this?

My stalker Shana once more asks, “What is with this retarded fascination people have with those freakin ‘Silly Band’ bracelets? Why does it appeal to all ages, from lil kids all the way up to college kids...maybe even older...both males and females? I don't get it.”

Well, my keen grasp of children’s pop culture may be slipping a little, as I had to go on Wikipedia to find out what they were. Now that I know, I find I also do not see the appeal. Kids today should have cooler fads like we had back in the 80s, such as slappy bracelets and jellies.

We’ll close this out with (surprise surprise) Shana, who asks, “Why did people ever find Jerry Seinfeld funny? I get that about as much as I get this Silly Band craze.”

For those that didn’t figure out from her name, Shana is Jewish, and for those that didn’t figure out from her question, she’s so totally a self-hating one. She’s complained about pretty much every Jewish comedian I could name, from Seinfeld to Woody Allen, saying she hates their whiny voices. So really it’s more of a matter of her hating her heritage, I’d say. Still, the question is partially faulty, as it assumes people don’t still find Seinfeld funny, as he tends to sell out every theater he performs in, and the Bee Movie, while a bit of an underperformer, still made over a hundred million in theaters, so over a decade after he ended his show while it was still the most-watched show on television, he’s still doing pretty well for himself.

That said, there’s a few reasons people found his show funny (I’m assuming here that like most people, she only knows him from his show). Obviously first and foremost is that it was really clever and funny, with Jerry and Larry David creating a perfect blend of light-hearted silliness and cynical meanness that should never have worked, except for how it totally did. It was also completely unconventional: while the show wasn’t quite about nothing like it often claimed to be, it had no problem frequently basing entire episodes around the cast getting stuck in some lousy situation and just having them all bounce off of each other (as opposed to other sitcoms at the time, which did tend to make sure each episode had an actual plot to follow), and Seinfeld held fast to one of his core plans for the show: that nobody would ever learn anything. That may not sound like much, but it’s something that no other sitcom (hell, no other show) had ever done before, to go through nine entire seasons without the characters changing in the slightest bit from the first episode (or the second episode, in the case of Elaine). They may have gotten different jobs, fallen into and out of different relationships, but they always wound up right back where they started before too much longer, which meant that they could never do any kind of real Special Episode like a two parter wedding, requiring them to keep their ratings through nothing more than strong writing instead of stunts or extensive celebrity guest spots (check out season two of Friends for a great example of the latter, where now that the show was a hit, every other episode had a new celebrity popping up). It also wasn’t afraid to break the fourth wall more than slightly, throwing in Jerry’s actual stand-up in each episode, while on the scripted show proper he plays a stand-up comedian named Jerry Seinfeld who spends half of each episode smiling and visibly trying not to giggle at how much he’s lucked out with this dream job. Compare that to, say, George Carlin on his sitcom the George Carlin Show, where he just looked like he was having a miserable time right up until the show was mercy-killed, or how unhappy Louie C.K. is frequently looking on his new show Louie (though to be fair, that show is intentionally going for uncomfortable, mean-spirited humor, and while I can’t say I find it all that funny, it certainly has succeeded on the uncomfortableness and mean-spiritedness, and it‘s the only sitcom I‘ve seen since Seinfeld that also worked in the star‘s stand-up). It’s a series filled with rule-breaking that’s been frequently imitated, but has yet to be successfully copied, and while I don’t think it’s the best show of all time by any means, I can’t deny that it’s easily the most game-changing sitcom since the genre was invented back in the 50s. That said though, his documentary Comedian? Really not very good at all. Don't see that.

1 comment:

katsucurrys14 said...

marshall is the best, b/c he's an attorney and he's married to a hot redhead. fuck yeah, marshall. live the dream.

i always thought the genius of seinfeld was the fact that the main characters were so mean and mistake-prone (without becoming downright dislikable), they transcended being sitcom characters and became something akin to real people. and everyone likes laughing at the misfortune of other people.