Comedy Tonight

*Last week, I reached another easily attainable goal (set your goals low, kids, and you minimize the chance of disappointment) and got Chevy Chase to sign my VHS cover of "National Lampoon's Vacation" (previously signed by Randy "Cousin Eddie" Quaid, Anthony Michael "Rusty" Hall, and Jane "Cousin Vicki" Krakowski...Chevy Chase's is the one you can't read above). It was surprisingly painless, and the event that preceded it--an edition of the UCB Theatre's "Inside Joke," where every month a comedian is interviewed about his/her career--was surprisingly uneventful. Chase told some interesting stories (including the background behind the famous Richard Pryor job interview skit from SNL's first season) and admitted a few faults (he never watches his work but recently saw "Caddyshack" and marveled at how awful he was), but overall, the interviewer seemed ill prepared and the audience was so enamored of Chase that they laughed at just about everything, which got annoying after awhile. I was reminded of the time I watched one of the Andy Kaufman specials in one of the theaters at the Museum of Television and Radio and sat behind two people who laughed during the setups to Kaufman's elaborate punchlines. And that drove me crazy. Laugh at the funny stuff, people. And stop pretending that everything the comedian you're watching says is uproariously funny. It's not.

*I'm just about done with the book Comedy at the Edge and it's pretty good, though not incredibly revelatory. So far, my favorite anecdote, which I've probably heard at some point before, involves Larry David, an admittedly hypersensitive, uncomfortable performer:

One night at Catch [a Rising Star]...David came out, silently scanned the audience, muttered "I don't think so," and walked off without saying another word. David confirms that the story is not just urban legend. "I just didn't like what I saw," he says.

The book could use more quick shots like that, and probably would've been better as an oral history, but it's still a good read.

*BET ran a "Diff'rent Strokes" marathon Sunday, and I think it's safe to say that that show may have been the most consistently horribly acted show ever. Of course, I came to that conclusion after watching about eight episodes in a row, so there's clearly something wrong with me. But since the marathon featured shows from different points in the show's run, I became fascinated with Gary Coleman's descent into hell, starting off as the cute little kid and gradually turning bitter right before your eyes. There was a point in one of the later episodes where there was a clear moment for a "Whatchutalkinbout, Willis?" but all that comes out of Gary's mouth is "Wha?" I can just picture the director begging Coleman to do the old softshoe there. Poor guy.

*I ate at the Cozy Soup 'N' Burger near Astor Place for the first time tonight and quickly became fascinated with one of the autographed pictures on their wall. It was a signed 8X10 of ALF (or, as they knew him on Melmac, Gordon Shumway). And it was signed from ALF. Intriguing. So, ALF came in there one day? Man, that must've been cool. But way odd for the other diners there that day. Only in New York, kids.

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