Anyone else feeling fatigued after the events of the past couple weeks? My therapist told me I am. Lately, it seems like reality has been specifically calibrated to produce the worst possible psychological outcomes. A quick scroll down Twitter induces more fear-adrenaline than a bad acid trip. America is a public mental health emergency. If FEMA were proactive they’d have agents stationed at street corners bumping Cocteau Twins and handing out popsicles and pictures of baby javelinas.
I won’t even bother to specify the events to which I’m referring because this week’s column is intended as a balm for your besieged soul. This space is devoted to things I enjoy that have nothing to do with you-know-who or the you-know-whats. Sit back, hug a pillow and let’s begin.
Dovetailing with last week’s startling reappraisal of Guy Fieri, I must share a strange and hilarious phenomenon I’ve stumbled upon online: guys who go out in public pretending to be celebrities. Unsurprisingly, the actual stars are pissed about it. This video comes to us from Internet Hero Vic Berger. Besides the sheer chutzpah of the knock-off celebs, the most startling thing is their lack of actual resemblance to the mayor of Flavortown.
Fieri isn’t the only easily counterfeited star with a legion of attention-hungry imposters—KISS frontman Gene Simmons seems to relish informing people on Twitter that they didn’t have their picture taken with the real rocker:
No. That’s not me. There are a number of guys running around saying they are me. They are not. https://t.co/fbcRIwAHZF
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) July 22, 2017
Jason Bateman in Ozark
Have you watched the Netflix series Ozark? It’s good, and the comparisons to Breaking Bad are apt albeit a little oversimplified. The most striking thing about this bloody, suspenseful crime drama is the work of Jason Bateman. He plays Marty Byrde, the financial planner-turned-cartel money launderer pushed to the limits of his ingenuity. The show features grisly murders and menacing villains, but Bateman mediates the drama with a faltering haplessness that injects comedy into the corpse-strewn proceedings.
Marty Byrde isn’t a far cry from Bateman’s previous role as Michael Bluth on Arrested Development: the dutiful family man beset by increasingly insurmountable obstacles he must overcome in order to save his family from financial ruin. In both shows, Bateman’s stammering deadpan is hilarious and masterful.
Before Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston was best known as the bumbling dad in Malcolm in the Middle and Jewish-for-the-jokes dentist Tim Whatley on Seinfeld. So there’s some precedent for dropping a funny actor into a dark drama for comic relief and off-kilter pathos. If this has become a new Hollywood casting formula, I’m all for it.
Emmett Montgomery and Walter
If you’ve seen local comic Emmett Montgomery perform in the past few years, you’ve probably heard him talk about his troubled cat, Walter. Recently he teamed up with local videomakers Cut to tell the story of his life with the now-deceased feline and it’s been rocketing around the cat internet. Check it out:
Daniel Carroll’s Instagram
Finally, for more locally sourced inspiration, you might remember that Seattle darling Daniel Carroll moved to LA [see my Re-Exit Interview with him here] where he now lives with another very funny Seattleite, Andy Haynes. Together they created a podcast, Fine and Dandy with Dan and Andy, where they explore ways in which they can become better straight white dudes. Most of their guests are non-dudes—including brilliant thinkers like Ijeoma Oluo, Lindy West and Sara Schaeffer—who school them on a variety of topics like transphobia, sex work and ableism. It’s touching and illuminating to see two guys step up to the plate and embrace the journey of becoming better people and rooting out the pernicious effects of white supremacist heteropatriarchy in their own lives.
But what I’d like to draw attention to is Carroll’s Instagram feed, which is comprised entirely of pictures of him taking pictures of his food. It’s such a silly, simple concept that it gets dumber—and funnier—with each new post. In the end, what is the life of a comedian if not an ongoing commitment to the joke?