Monday, June 13, 2022

TV: STAND OUT -- maybe, but not in the good way

Friday night Azealia Banks stormed off stage at a Miami Pride event, flipping off the audience after ranting about the venue's various issues.   The storming out, the flipping off, the complaints about security and dry ice?  None of that surprised us.  The only thing that made us raise our eyebrows was why the hell was she invited to perform at a Pride event?

Yes, she does claim to be bisexual but how long ago was it that she was launching a homophobic rant against gay men and had to publicly promise to never again use the f-word again?  And how many times has she verbally attacked the trans community?

Why in the world invite her to perform at a Pride event?  No one's that desperate.


Or so we would have thought it we hadn't caught NETFLIX's hideous new comedy special.  After watching, we had to check the press release to make sure it was supposed to be comedy.  Yep, it was supposed to make you laugh:

Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration is a stand-up comedy special hosted by none other than Billy on the Street‘s Billy Eichner. The special includes various comedians belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, all of whom take to the stage to tell their own hilarious stories.

Their own hilarious stories?  That may generate more laughs than the special did.

Can Billy Eichner do standup?


We know he can act.  He was part of one of the finest sitcoms of the 2010s (DIFFICULT PEOPLE).  We know he can do funny street interviews.  But we watched STAND OUT and we're still not sure he can do stand up -- at least we're not sure if he can do good stand up.

He's the host which means he delivers a monologue and then introduces guests who introduce the comedians.  The monologue?

Not since Budd Friedman hosted AN EVENING AT THE IMPROV have we seen such bad comedy.  Billy may have been nervous -- that would explain the hideous timing -- but that wouldn't explain the material.  It was awful.  Here's the big joke he did (which is also pretty much his complete monologue):

We all know how backwards and dangerous the Don’t Say Gay laws are. Queer people, and especially trans people, are under legislative attack in this country. Trans people are being demeaned. They're trying to dehumanize trans people. They're trying to erase trans people. And I'm not even talking about Florida. I'm talking about Dave Chappelle's latest Netflix special!

Did you write it for a bad, generic 90s sitcom, Billy?  Because it sounds that way.  Obviously, Dave Chappelle is not doing "laws" or "legislative" so the rule of the three you're operating under that takes you to Dave Chappelle isn't a real clear path, is it?

Maybe that's why people weren't laughing.  

Sure, they applauded.  Applause at a comedy show, instead of laughs, mean that they agree with the sentiment, not that they find the material funny.

There wasn't much to find humorous in the special.

There was Tig Notaro, she was hilarious.  But too much of it wasn't.  Bob The Drag Queen?  Maybe he had an off night but it just wasn't funny.  

Patti Harrison wasn't funny.  But she tried.  We'll give her credit for that.  She came out with a prepared bit.  It probably plays very well in backwater clubs.  She pretends to be Stevie Nicks on stage.  Sometimes she sounds a little bit like Stevie in terms of the singing voice.

But is Stevie Nicks just a singer?  No, she's a songwriter.  She gave Fleetwood Mac the group's only number one hit ("Dreams").  So if you're going to do Stevie Nicks singing as a comedy bit, you have two choices.  Part of the joke can be Stevie singing someone else's song -- say, Stevie sings "Wooly Bully."  Or you can do a joke about Stevie singing a song that she wrote or supposedly wrote.  Patti's song is not like anything Stevie would sing.

We know Stevie and we love her.  But we still laugh our asses off whenever we watch Lucy Lawless as Stevie Nicks in the SNL skit "The Fajita Roundup."  

If Patti wants to do a Stevie Nicks impersonation, she needs to learn about Stevie -- there are many things that pop up in her songs -- fog, mirrors, velvet, moons, stairwell, lace, lightning, wind, rain, storms, the sea, dreams, dreaming, crystal visions, blue crystal mirror . . . -- and then she might try writing a song Stevie would sing.  A baby being being left in the sun on the beach?

That is so unlike Stevie -- both in terms of her lyrics and in terms of her life (Stevie has avoided the sun for decades which is why her skin still looks so good).

What's especially sad is she's being doing that parody for years now and no one -- friend or foe -- has cared enough about her to be honest and tell her it's half-baked and really needs more work before you perform it publicly.

Patti wasn't awful and her bit could be fined tuned.  We can offer notes for her.  The others?  They're beyond notes.

Marsha Warfield was funny and so were Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster and Trixie Mattel.  Other than that?  There was a male comedian.  Parts of his act were funny.  We're not so sure he should have been invited for that act when they want to be so anti-Chappelle.  The comic was anti-White -- including to his own boyfriend.  More to the point, he engaged in bottom shaming.  That's not a minor point among gay males.  In fact, that may be the next big hot spot -- at least in the G part of the LGBTQ community.  It's not a minor point to a vocal number of gay men.  And we'll also note that no one came on and did any top shaming.

Does that seem picky?  We don't think it is when you present yourself as better than others.  Billy saw himself as better than David Chappelle and since he clearly isn't when it comes to stand up, we'll assume he just thinks he's a better person than Dave.  A better person wouldn't lack sensitivity on issues in his own community.  Just be clear for those who aren't gay men or don't have gay male friends -- a lot of gay men find it easier to come out to non-gays as being gay than they do as being bottoms.

In fact, if the people in the special are trying to present themselves as better than Dave Chappelle, they've got a lot more work to do than they realize.  For example, Dave's African-American. Dave's straight.  He's spent his whole public life being both.  It sure was funny to see a number of faces talking about being out and proud and telling stories -- one telling a story about the 80s -- when the reality is that during the '00s, they were still pretending to be straight.

No, we don't mean Lily Tomlin.  Lily came out in 2000 to US magazine.  Some on the special continued to hide past that date.  We're not referring to Marsha either.  She's been very vocal about her mother making her promise not to come out until she (her mother) was dead.  We're talking about other people.  They know who they are, don't worry.

But while we're on Lily . . . 

Oh, Lily.  Why?

Seriously, why?

Why did you introduce Sandra Bernhard?

You thought it was funny when she made the comments in 2008 about Sarah Palin being raped?  Or that she stereotyped African-American men in those 'jokes'?  That she thought, a White, Jewish woman like her could speak for African-American men?

Or maybe you've found her use of the N-word hilarious?  

We can't imagine that's it, Lily?

But, here's the thing, Lil, others aren't willing to gloss over it.  It's gone on far too long.  It wasn't funny in the 80s, it wasn't in the nineties and it wasn't in the '00s.  Fortunately, Naomi Campbell isn't shy about going there.


As Naomi and Mariah Carey discuss how Sandra used the N-word to describe Mariah (turned it into an adjective, actually, but let's not promote Sandra's 'joke'),  Naomi said of Sandra, "Honey, let's remember what you said because those things will come back to haunt you."

And they should.  Which is why we were appalled to see Lily introducing "my friend Sandra Bernhard."  (For the record, one of us, C.I., is friends with Naomi.)  

We were even more appalled to see Sandra onstage at the event.

How low was the bar?

Pretty damn low.

Sandra didn't have a routine per se.  Just the insults you know.  She wanted to be political and she got them all to their feet.

Which only begged the question of why was she there even more loudly.

Sandra wanted to 'joke' or 'riff' or whatever she passes observations off as now about . . . abortion.



We don't imagine many lesbians end up pregnant by accident.  Nor gay men.  Nor transgendered people.  Abortion really isn't an issue for any in that community other than the female Bs.  

Unless, they're raped and get pregnant that way.  But Sandra knows to stay away from her rape 'joke,' she learned the hard way after women's centers cancelled her bookings when she made the rape 'jokes' about Sarah Palin.

Sandra didn't belong there.  She didn't belong on that stage because of all the time she's spent in the closet.  She didn't belong there because of her material (abortion, honestly, that was her bit for this special) and she especially didn't belong up there after her non-stop use of the N-word throughout her career.  She's been hurtful with it.  Mariah is not the only one who has been harmed.

But Billy wanted to take on Dave Chappelle.  

Billy, it's not just the fact that you're not a funny stand up, it's also that you're not a good enough person.  Don't throw stones at Dave when you're inviting a racist on stage.  

The special wrapped with Rosie O'Donnell leading everyone in a version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" with "Gays" substituted for "Girls."  

That was an entertaining and joyful moment.  And the special really needed it but it's a shame they couldn't make room for Rosie to actually do stand up.  Rosie knows how.  So many on the stage didn't have a clue.

If the point had been to talk about LGBTQ issues, the special would have gotten a B-.  But the point was to be funny.  And the bulk of it wasn't.  It felt like we were watching a taped walked through -- not even a dress rehearsal.  It was boring and to be boring is bad for a comedy special but to boring and offensive?  The people behind STAND UP need to sit down already, they've embarrassed themselves enough for the whole year.

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