Politics and pop culture have always been strange allies, from campaign songs (“Tippecanoe & Tyler Too,” William Henry Harrison’s 1840 theme) to actors-turned-politicians (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan, and I hope someone reading this knows who George Murphy is — I am NOT that old but I am a buff of old movie musicals and learned about him through a Tom Lehrer song… but I digress). Presidents have even joined in the fun, including Clinton’s famous sax solo on Arsenio Hall and Obama’s appearance on “Between The Ferns,” although nothing can top Richard Nixon uncomfortably saying “Sock it to me?” on Laugh-In. (And yes, I AM that old… ) Read More Rock And Politics
Lawyer jokes are low-hanging-fruit — everyone knows at least a few, and it’s easy to make fun of ambulance-chasing caricatures. That said, I do have a favorite lawyer joke: A priest, a rabbi, a nun and a lawyer walk into a bar, and the bartender says, “What is this, some kind of a joke?” Read More How Many Lawsuits Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?
There are a variety of theories attempting to explain the relative minority status of women in comedy, ranging from socialization (women are raised to laugh at others, not to tell the jokes) to courtship (men want to be the ones to make others laugh) to good old-fashioned sexism (club owners tend to be men and think men are funnier). At any rate, women tend to be less comfortable with, or at least less proficient at, off-color humor, which is why it’s so startling when they do get down & dirty (part of Sarah Silverman’s huge appeal is that she looks like a fresh-faced girl-next-door and talks like Lenny Bruce). Read More Boys, Sophomoric Humor, and Politics
Over-reaction is becoming so common on the political scene these days, things have to go pretty far before they qualify as genuinely surprising over-reaction. But the furor over last week’s primary defeat of Eric Cantor definitely qualifies. Read More The Sky Is Falling! No, Really! No, I Mean It This Time!
It seems that nearly everyone has a different opinion about what is and is not funny. One common definition is, “Comedy equals tragedy plus time.” Another definition explains, “When I fall into a sewer, it’s bad, but when someone else falls in, it’s funny.” And you can find thousands of websites purporting to explain why The Three Stooges are hilarious to men but not to women. Read More Can Anger Turn Into Comedy?
Music and science may seem to be strange bedfellows — the only songs I could think of were Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” from the ’80s (and if you’re not old enough to remember that era and its fabulous goofy technopop, check out Devo while you’re at it), and “I Sing The Body Electric” from Fame (from the ’70s, which is making me feel really old). Read More The Music Of Science
I’m probably dating myself by referencing that antique, fairly offensive Virginia Slims tagline that encouraging women to embrace feminist progress by flaunting a florally decorated brand of cigarettes. Now it comes across as hideously dated, but in the 1960s, the idea that women could do anything that men could, including poisoning themselves with nicotine, was both novel and incredibly exciting. When I was around eight years old, I remember struggling with whether I would prefer to be a world famous concert pianist or the first female president. I was clearly thinking small. Read More We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
…and all the men and women merely players. So wrote William Shakespeare (or Christopher Marlowe, if you subscribe to that theory; or Family Guy, if you’re like my sons and get most of your cultural references from that show’s parodies). So much of what we do is for public show, from dressing for a special occasion to posting on Facebook to making a speech on the House floor. And you were wondering how I’d segue from theatre to politics! Read More All the World’s a Stage