Wednesday, January 01, 2014

2013: The Last Look Back

Well, that was a busy year.  And I feel pretty good about what we've accomplished.  The big event, of course, was opening Tao Comedy Studio, in a beautiful little space on Beverly Blvd. where Bobbie can teach her workshops, which also doubles as an underground performance space.  We've been hosting open mics there every Friday night, and doing shows on Saturdays.  Come out and check out the place!

In October, we went to our college homecoming, and I performed a 30 minute standup set, the longest I've yet done.  Meanwhile, Bobbie published her book, The Tao of Comedy: Embrace the Pause, and she has a new album available for download.  And we have some great things in store for 2014.  2013 was all about sewing seeds, dig?  Now let's watch them grow.

A few of my favorite things from 2013:

Maria Bamford - Ask Me About My New God
Maria was already in a league of her own, but she really upped her game on this CD.  Her comedy has never been this tight, this focused.  When you compare it to what a lot of big names are doing, they all seem like they're treading water.  I love Louis CK, and I admire that he's committed to doing a new hour from scratch every year, but I feel like this set really shows the advantages of taking time to cultivate your material.

The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
Kathleen Hannah and Kathi Wilcox return with a new band and an album full of catchy, bouncy, neo-new wave hits.  The title track, especially, almost makes me tear up.

The World's End
Generation X finally have our own The Big Chill.  Needless to say, ours is a lot more fun.

Kristen Schaal - Live at the Filmore
I laughed so many times watching this Andy Kaufman-esque comedy special.  I've never actually seen a performance of The Vagina Monologues, but Schaal's parody ("The Taintologues") is pretty much exactly how I always pictured it.

Affordable Care Act
Millions of Americans have gained access to the health insurance market.  That's gotta be on my list.

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story, by Peter Bagge
One of my favorite underground comix creators of the 90's is back with a graphic novel biography of feminist activist/birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger?  FUCK YES.  Aside from being a fun read about a fascinating person, this book debunks a lot of the bullshit out there about Sanger.  You've probably heard all this stuff about her being a Nazi eugenicist who wanted to forcibly abort minorities, usually brought up in an effort to discredit Planned Parenthood, feminism, abortion or contraception.  My response to this was usually to say "Thomas Jefferson was a slave raper, does that discredit the Declaration of Independence?"  But Peter Bagge includes a lot of research in the introduction and footnotes that demonstrate that this stuff is all made up, based on misinterpretations of out-of-context bits of data.  Sanger was an awesome person (although she also happened to be anti-abortion).

Danaerys gets an army
THE most awesome moment of TV this year.

The Act of Killing
I'm not even sure how I feel about this incredibly disturbing documentary.  In Singapore, a military coup in the 60's led to the commitment of the most horrible of atrocities.  But the military regime is still in power today, and the killers are celebrated as national heroes.  Thus, no survivors will talk to the crew for fear of retribution.  So the crew punk'd the killers into documenting their own crimes, by having them stage and film reenactments in the style of the Hollywood films with which they are obsessed.  An incredibly powerful piece of cinema, although I can't quite decide if this power is being used or abused.

Run the Jewels
Killer Mike and El-P reteam for a free mixtape.  Harder than anything released for money this year.

The Man With Two Brains
I had seen this film from late in Steve Martin's "wacky" period once when it came out, and had vague memories (mostly of the sex jokes).  I caught it again this year, and those sex jokes really dominate the film.  Kathleen Turner plays a nightmare of masculine sexual anxiety: a sexy seductress who not only fucks rich guys to get at their money, but takes delight in being cruel to them.  She turns from fiery temptress to cold fish literally the moment she says "I do" (while still acting like a nymphomaniac toward any hot young guy that passes by).  It's a Freudian tableau as potent as Notorious, Baby Doll, or Good Morning And Goodbye. Or any Woody Allen movie.

John Oliver gets his turn at bat

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
I love how this Swedish synth duo sounds so raggedy and cheap, not at all the precise machine-like stuff you associate with synths.  They're like the anti-Kraftwerk.

Room 237
A documentary about the hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.  Are these people crazy, or just insightful?  Well, probably at least 75% crazy, but it's a fun trip nonetheless.

Sarah Silverman - We Are Miracles
It would have been very easy for Sarah Silverman to just come up with a new hour of Sarah Silverman jokes.  She's got a good formula, and I'm sure the jokes would have been hilarious.  She didn't really need to push herself.  But instead, she came up with this amazing hour of honest, singular, personal comedy.  

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Somehow, this movie just captures the feeling of being a teenager.  Not necessarily the reality, but this is how I remember high school feeling.

Kanye West - Yezus
I listened to it when it came out, thought it was OK.  Then there was the George Zimmerman trial, and the Paula Deen scandal, and as the summer went on, the mood of the country started getting angrier.  Buried canisters of racial tension began to leak to the surface.  By the time the summer ended, Yezus really seemed like the album of the moment: an angry rant fueled by justified grievances, but with the venom often misdirected.  It's not really a great album--it runs out of steam about halfway through, until the bizarre "Bound 2" grabs my interest again, but it just fits into it's time.

"Racist or Not Racist" on The Daily Show
Oh, I can't get the embed to work, here's the video.



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