Tag Archives: Greg Fitzsimmons

T.G.I.F. – Ten Literary Laughs

“Looks like we got us a reader…”

Ever since a relative spoke that horrific (and ironic, considering the skull it was emanating from) comment about one of my young daughters, it stuck in my head like glue. I don’t know if it’s in the DNA or it’s just a nice skill to develop, but yeah, I raised a couple of “reeedurzwho will hopefully continue and enjoy the science of mental absorption until they take their final dirt nap.

Arguably, as an adult with a busy schedule, it is hard to find the time to plow through books; even my pop magazine consumption has fallen off the cliff. When I do get in the swing of it I tend to grab a few things with a common theme, be they historical recollections, humorous fiction or pop culture biographies. For example, a recent viewing of Public Enemies whetted my appetite for the golden age of FBI vs. bank robbers, so I grabbed a few books about crime during the Depression Era. Similar spontaneous tangents have seen me devour a few books at a time on political corruption, alien invasions and the birth of the television industry.

I am a Renaissance Man ready for my day on Jeopardy.

So I noticed that a gaggle of books by or about comedians was hitting the shelves and thought I’d pass along a few tips. I haven’t read most of them, but I’ve got a few in hand and some of the others seem to be no-brainers considering the source. I’m not sure why such a plethora of comic pulp has descended upon us in such fashion; maybe a certain relative wandered into a publishing house and dropped a famous observation in the lobby?

Of course, like the environment I created for my children, I had a loving mentor making sure I was exposed to the wonders of the written word from the moment I could pay attention. My Mom wasn’t a career woman, the word they had back in the day was housewife. Of course, we know now that a housewife not only cooked and cleaned and shopped and managed the household but also had the ultimate responsibility of talking these little lumps of flesh called kids and molding them into people. In my house, Mom was the moral compass who taught by example first and words second; how to be kind and unselfish, how to be confident without being boorish, how to develop an independent personality and find your voice in a world that was increasingly pushing vanilla.

And yes, how to read. By the time I entered first grade I could read at a middle school level, understood basic math and had a fairly voracious vocabulary. And although that description screams nerd, I wasn’t. That jump-start on my education provided an incalculable advantage for me throughout my life, even if I didn’t always seize the opportunities that came my way. She also had a great sense of humor, something that she encouraged me to nurture, and although our tastes in comedy would eventually veer off from the basics, she was the one who celebrated my attraction to the comics I would see on Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson (and hear during the first great wave of recorded comedy).

I drift off onto this tangent because today marks twenty-five years since my Mom died from cancer, far too young and far too suddenly. There’s so much that she never got to see, and it pains me that I never got to share so many events and accomplishments with her. But I am comforted that I carry her spirit in my heart every day, and I see her best qualities in my daughters , the ones she never got to meet. So as skeptical and confused as I am about life and religion and human condition, I know that whether you call it DNA or a soul, there’s a bit of her sweetness and greatness that is preserved beyond her time.

Twenty-five years? That sometimes seems like an eternity and other times like yesterday. Thanks for everything, Mom.

I doubt Mom would have read these books to me as a child. But here are Ten Literary Laughs – books by comedians for those of us who need a little diversion in a difficult world. The brain exercise is just a side benefit.

And yes, Mom, they’re in alphabetical order by author

(01) – Mike Birbiglia: Sleepwalk With Me

(02) – Jim Breuer: I’m Not High

(03) – Adam Carolla: In Fifty Years We’ll All be Chicks

(04) – David Cross: I Drink For A Reason

(05) – Tina Fey: Bossypants

(06) – Greg Fitzsimmons: Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons

(07) – Gilbert Gottfried: Rubber Balls and Liquor

(08) – Paul Mooney: Black Is The New White

(09) – Patton Oswalt: Zombie Speceship Wasteland

(10) – Sarah Silverman: Bedwetter

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T.G.I.F. – Ten CCP Episodes

 

To honor the fourteenth season of Comedy Central Presents, which kicks off next week (2/19), this week’s TGIF focuses upon ten standout episodes from the past. Many of these are in rotation at Comedy Central but there are no set days and times – the schedule of reruns changes constantly. So set that recorder to grab “all episodes” and you will not only come across these (eventually) but discover a few new favorite comics by accident. I know I did. 

And don’t forget to tune in for tonight’s episode (2/12) featuring clips from the upcoming season, followed by the season finale of John Oliver’s New York Standup with Mary Lynn Rajskub, Chris Hardwick, Greg Fitzsimmons and a feature set by the great Paul F. Tompkins

Below are links to ten comics who might not be household names in the flyover states, but are top-shelf for true comedy fans. Links will take you to their Comedy Central page where there are several video clips available, some from their CCP episodes. I’ve also included a note showing how CCP describes them…and what the truth is

In alphabetical order by height: 

Having a ball isn't a bad thing.

 

Ian Bagg – Actually, they don’t say much about Ian except that he’s Canadian and from a remote area. Maybe they need better scouting. I say he’s a nutjob with a rapid-fire delivery who will have you rolling. 

Todd Barry – They say he’s cute and adorable. Yeah, like a Doberman puppy! How about sneakily subversive and wily? One of the best minds in the game – dry, droll and lethal. 

Nick DiPaulo – They say he’s a little bit reckless. I call it brutally honest and fearless. In his world there are no sacred cows…there is only hamburger. 

Pat Dixon – They say uniquely off-kilter comedic sensibility. I say incredible wordplay, subtle perversity (and some overt perversity too), great delivery and such an old-school look he should be in black and white. 

Eddie Gossling – I guess they’re running out of adjectives when they call him original, charming, and slightly self-deprecating. How about the guy at work you don’t want to mess with because he might blow his top? (Literally – the teapot impression is a classic!) 

Nick Griffin – They say he’s personal, precise and powerful. Really, CCPalliteration? Why not go with sadness, semen and shame? Griffin nails the middle-age guy who is life’s pinata. 

Lynne Koplitz – They say an accomplished stand up comedian. (Yawn.) I say that she’s proof positive that the phrase “comedy ain’t pretty” is a lie. But be careful – behind that lusty appearance is a killer with a bit of crazy and a filthy streak…you bad girl, you. 

John Mulaney – They say he is nice, kind of tall, whatever. Boy, that nailed it, huh? Mulaney released one of the best comedy albums of 2009; he’s a great writer and should be much better known than he is now. With his skills I suspect that’s only a matter of time. 

Dan Naturman – They say he’s a combination of self-deprecation and downright grouchiness. I say that…yeah, they got that one right. Perfect delivery and funny as hell – Last Comic Standing really blew it when they overlooked him. 

Tom Papa – Ok, CCP, time to hire a bio writer when you describe a guy as a family man. Sure, “observational comic” is an overused phrase, but Tom Papa is animated and smart and cranky and sarcastic. Oh – and hilarious. Opens for Seinfeld and if Jerry doesn’t show up the show still rocks. 

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