Tuesday, November 05, 2019

TV: It's tricky

Run DMC nailed it years ago -- It is tricky.  It's tricky especially when it comes to comedy.


Daniel Sloss struggles with comedy.  Most of the time it lands him on his ass.

His HBO special -- billed as a comedy event -- debuted November 2nd on the channel.  Watching it, though, you felt like it was a rebroadcast of a 90s comedy special and you wanted to grab your phone to Google him and find out how much weight he'd put on and how badly he looked now that he was no longer in his 20s because he is not going to age well.

Sadly, we'll have to wait another 20 years for all the lines and creases and sags and bulges in his face to really set in.  What we can see right now is that he's really not that funny.

He just isn't.

He lacks a rhythm.  All the greats have a rhythm -- Richard Pryor, Lily Tomlin, Joan Rivers, Dave Chappelle, Jack Whitehall, George Carlin, Roseanne Barr, John Mulaney, Wanda Sykes, etc.  The others?  They're just a bunch of kids trying to repeat what they heard on TV the night before.  Maybe someday they'll grow into comics.

"Stuff going up your butt," Sloss says at one point.  He wants you to know that, "I'm not really comfortable having a homophobic opinion" these days.  Yet he does.  He has many homophobic opinions.  We're not even talking about his routine about a finger being inserted.  We're talking about how all of his jokes about his friends (who are all male -- unless he's doing a tampon joke or the last third of the special) are built around how it is funny if you are a man and you look gay to your friends or, if you are a man, you make fun of your male friends, yucking it up over how they come off gay.

It's not a let's-make-everyone-laugh kind of special.  It's pitched to men over and over and he doesn't get most of what he's saying.

For example, he talks about a friend who is dating a woman (ten dates, all they've done is kiss):

'I think she really likes me.' She f**king doesn't, man.  'Oh, how can you tell?'  Because your nose still smells like your nose. It's a very simple equation.

We laughed at that.  We thought it was a funny joke.  If you're doing oral with anyone, your nose doesn't smell like nose.  Good joke.

Except he, Daniel Sloss, didn't get that.

Instead, he insisted, "If you get that reference you're no better than me."  And you may, like we did, think he's talking about oral sex period.  Nope.  In his mind, this is just a joke about men going down on women.  (Gay men and lesbians exist only as punchlines in his world, not as people.)

We hate to break it to Daniel and we're surprised he honestly doesn't know this already but he doesn't smell like roses -- or a nose -- in his groin.  And if a woman's going down on him, her nose is going in his pubes and her nose is going to smell like that.  Maybe it would be easier, for Daniel, if we put it this way, "Her nose is going to smell like your hands does several times a day."

In the last third, he wants to talk rape.  A friend of his (female) is raped by another friend (male) which, he insists, is what this is all about, the special.  Everything has led up to this so he can awaken you.

You know what, do your PSA somewhere else.

He's like Hannah Gadsby, he wants to awaken you.

He should work harder at the comedy (as should she).  Like Hannah, he's a foreigner (for US audiences).  He mentions Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein -- leaving us to wonder is #MeToo just an American issue?  Why do these foreign comics, even if they tape their special outside the US, who are so 'woke' and so 'wonderful' refuse to call out their own?  We noted that when Hannah taped her special, there was a big rape scandal in Australia.

Like Hannah, he's just a big chicken.  Alex Salmond is a big political name in Scotland -- is that why little Danny Sloss can't name him?

It's strange how these 'woke' comedians say they want to change the world but the people they know who raped or attempted to rape are never named and, when they do name abusers, it's always some American who was publicly named over three years ago -- at least three years ago.

Exactly who do these prigs think they're waking up?

Daniel's not funny.  Even the last third of the show doesn't qualify as funny or, for that matter, edgy.  Building a third of your act around what happened to a woman you know -- even if you insist she gave her permission -- isn't really funny.  And while it might (it might not be) funny to hear her tell three rape jokes, what really makes you think you've earned the right to repeat those?  Daniel wasn't raped.

He claims, as the special is finally winding down, that he can talk to other men in ways that other people can't -- women, for example.  Well, go talk to them.  Don't bore us all with a special -- one billed as a comedy -- built around your attempts to convert knuckle draggers like yourself.

It's tricky.

ATYPICAL's third season is now on NETFLIX.  It's a comedy about a family facing both dramatic and mundane issues.  Yet they never feel the need to set everything aside and hit pause to lecture the audience.  They grasp that entertainment -- with or without a message -- needs to entertain.

In season three, ATYPICAL really hits its stride.

Sam (Kier Gilchrist) is navigating college life as a freshman.  New cast member Sara Gilbert has two things working against her.  First of all, her character, Professor Judd, isn't cute or funny in how she treats Sam.  Does she not know that he's autistic?  Did it never enter her head?

She punishes him for being unable to navigate a free-flowing discussion/argument.

He gets an F.  Later, she lets him write a paper as a make up and gives him a C on it.

Yes, he will go on to navigate the nonsense that passes for a discussion in her class; however, we really think the character is a problem -- one who would face discipline in a real work setting.  Structure is a big issue with people who are autistic.  If the professor wants to grade on verbal participation, she should make a point to invite Sam into the conversation.

This isn't, toss the child in the pool and they'll learn to swim.

Sara's second problem is she never grew up.

Her face did -- and then some -- but she didn't.  That's not as noticeable when she's playing Darlene.  When she's doing any other role, however, you wonder why this woman -- so self-amused with herself -- acts like a young girl?  She can't inhabit an adult character, that's very clear.  Fortunately, her role is so unimportant.  Eric McCormack's role isn't that much bigger but he creates a character and holds your attention.  He's not the only one.

Jennifer Jason Leigh has been amazing as Sam's mother Elsa but in season three she really delivers.  The writers deliver as well, providing her with minor scenes that she runs with and that deepen Elsa and our understanding of her (these include the scenes revolving around the plants and her scenes with Jenny O'Hara).  Michael Rapaport and Brigette Lundy-Paine also deliver but examine the dance that Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport do around a Fleetwood Mac concert and marvel over the layers the two actors bring to that scene.

ATYPICAL was always a solid program.  In season three, it's become the best thing NETFLIX has to offer.  It's deepened and the relationships are more intertwined.  It's also even funnier.  And the quiet moments stay with you -- a hug that Brigette gives Jennifer followed by a quick (and requested) second hug.  These moments are realistic and they are lived in.

You watch and you recognize life.  You watch Daniel Sloss stumble around onstage and you recognize someone who isn't able to pull together a coherent act, let alone anything you can laugh at with recognition.  Like Run DMC once observed, "It's tricky."

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