I recently saw a very well made and yet politically confusing movie Battle of the Sexes. Emma Stone plays the 1970's woman's tennis champion Billie Jean King. Steve Carell plays the former men's tennis champion Bobby Riggs. Both give at worst Golden Globe worthy performances, and at best Oscar nomination worthy performances.
The film itself is a very odd, unfocused docudrama about the famous tennis battle between the top woman player in the world verses a former men's champion who is now a hasbeen looking to get back into the limelight after feeling stuck in a deadend marriage.
The film parallels the two leads fantastically. Both feel neglected by the system. Both are trapped in unfulfilling marriages. Both understand the hustle behind promoting a sport they love. Both want to grow the sport. Both see the financial inequality because of sexism and ageism. But somehow I felt much more sympathy toward Riggs than King. He has been cast aside. She's still a beloved star.
Where Riggs causes marital problems as a gambling addict, a sin yes, but considering he always wins, not a great sin, King is cheating on her husband with her hair stylist.
While I understand Billie is "trapped" by a sport and society that can't promote or accept her true desires, her husband doesn't deserve to be cheated on. Husband Larry King (no relation) is by far the most likable character in the film, understanding his wife's needs and never judging her once. He's a good man.
Riggs is a good man too. While he might act like a chauvinist pig, it's just that -- an act. Even Billie sees Rigg's act for what it is and calls it a show. She never once seems fazed by his remarks. She laughs and even poses with him.
Riggs actually comes off as a loyal husband, great father, and fantastic showman. He's a likable version of Donald Trump. Imagine if Donald Trump just yelled out "JK" tomorrow and began a moderately progressive term working with democrats and republicans? That's how Riggs comes off.
Billie Jean King comes off as a person more driven to prove equality is deserved than being a good wife or friend. She sneaks behind her husband's back. She won't let certain broadcasters be part of the end battle. She comes off as weak and whiney.
The biggest sin is that the movie plays the Tortoise and the Hare motif, hurting Billie King more than helping.
While Billie Jean King trains hard, Riggs is seen goofing off in front of the cameras. He doesn't take it seriously. So how can the results be taken seriously? The final battle shows a fat, cocky character losing a battle his training never showed him wanting to win. That might be true, but it undercuts the whole theme.
The film is a day late and a dollar short in many ways. Had this film come out a year ago at this time, the Clinton-Trump parallel would have been too hard to ignore. But Clinton lost. Therefore, this story feels more like feminist mythology than real life reflection.
While woman's tennis has become the ratings equal to men's, other sports don't fare as well. The WNBA is not in par with the NBA. There's no pro softball league. Women still cheer on the sidelines of football games.
The major exception: UFC. But females wouldn't beat men. I'm sure Ronda Rousey could kick my ass, but could she beat a 55 year old ex-MMA star today? Eh. Probably not.
The film's final thesis is muddy at best. In a world where sexist reality TV billionaires can beat qualified politicians for the presidency, this film feels stale and outdated. While well made and acted, it has the weird backdrop of history going against it.
The cigarette companies sponsor the girls.
The network commenters say sexist things on the air.
The all men's clubs are not really a thing anymore.
Ironically, the world has changed, for the better. While sexism still exists and feminism still needs to be appreciated, the battles fought in the film don't exist or can't exist anymore. Virginia Slims is the only corporation behind women's golf? That's a twist that doesn't fit today's narrative. Cigarettes are the feminist brand?
The film needed a stronger point of view. What really motivated King and Riggs? Because according to the film...it was just about money.
I'm 35 years old.
I have a Masters Degree in English.
I have health insurance.
I also love the Muppets. Like how fat kids love cake. Like how women love shopping. Like how Miss Piggy loves herself.
When I was a kid I watched The Muppets Take Manhattan probably 3-4 times a week. Those songs. Those jokes. Those life lessons about friendship. They stuck with me.
I watched The Muppet Show on Nick at Night. I was a Seseme Street Kid. Follow That Bird was a favorite too. Jim Henson Presents was a childhood favorite. The Muppet Babies were just as important as Saved By The Bell. All of it. I almost wrote my Master's Thesis on the Muppets, but my advisor wouldn't sign off.
On Saturday (9/9/17) I saw them at The Hollywood Bowl. Live. Kermit played the banjo. Fozzie told bad jokes. Miss Piggy stole the show. Gonzo was...well he was Gonzo.
The show opened with Sam the Eagle and the star spangled banner and ended with a gospel choir and Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem singing Joe Cocker's version of I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends.
The Muppets are very special to me because they are the last iconic group void of cynism.
They are inclusive. Never exclusive. Everyone gets a spot. No one is judged. It's a merry band of misfits. I felt I always fit right in.
The Muppets are what every child should be raised on. Not princess cartoons or poop humor. But old fashion imagination. The type that inspires kids to figure out their God-given gifts and embrace them.
That is what the rainbow connection is about. The dreamers. The people who aren't afraid to see the world they hope to be a part of.
In fact, there was a joke in the show where Gonzo was about to try a dangerous stunt and said:
"Don't try this at home. Or try it. You have free will."
To mix theological and philosophical ideas with a silly cannon joke is why I love them.
But what was even cooler was watching 18,000 others partake, cheer, laugh, and sing along with each other because even though we aren't the same, through Kermit and company, we have that rainbow connection.
August 2017 has been my best month yet in comedy.
I had 10 paid gigs. From 3 different established comedy clubs. In 2 different states.
4 paid gigs at Laffs in Tucson.
2 paid gigs at The Ice House.
4 paid gigs at Flappers Claremont.
Plus I've done shows in Hollywood and Burbank and I'll be doing a show at a Hooters soon.
Ive also booked 8 more paid gigs for the future as well.
This is feeling more and more real everyday.
Thursday (8/24) at The Ice House was a real defining moment for me. I felt like a comedian. For the first time, I felt like someone that has really developed an act.
Standing on that main stage was so surreal. To think 2 years ago I was just starting out, and now I'm playing the main room in a show booked by the house booker is just amazing.
I will be writing a few more blogs about this feeling and how the "Debbie downers" can be the real motivation for what God knew you had inside of you all along...but until then, I just want to say, I'm coming into my own...and it's amazing.
I wrote about male attraction a few weeks ago, and now I'd like to tackle female attraction.
I have a lot of attractive female friends, and one connection I notice is that many have a distant or poor relationship with their father.
Freud argued that the daughter/father relationship was crucial to understanding women. If daddy is their hero, they'll want a man like him. If daddy was abusive, they'll find a jerk to change to win the emotional war they lost with dad.
There are 5 basic types of dads. This is a generalization. But here it goes.
1. Great dad. Great role model. Great husband.
2. Great dad at first but then becomes distant or sadly dies.
3. Bad dad. Around but not "present" - ignores daughter due to work or personality.
4. Abusive jerk - either verbally or physical abusive
5. No dad at all. He might be known. Might not. But he's not there.
So so what does this mean for a woman? I'll break down why many girls like bad boys, etc. and why many are picky and why some settle horrifically.
1. The Good Dad
You can usually tell when a girl has a great dad. There's a way about her. Her standards are high. Silly boys don't impress her. She knows what a man is and she's not settling for less. This girl knows that a guy who is flakey and inconsistent is not worth her time. Her boyfriends and eventual husband are always model guys. She dates in longer terms and usually marries younger because she's excited about having this new man treat her like the queen she sees herself as. She likes stable men. Looks are important but not crucial. She waits to have sex until the relationship is established or they're married. Sometimes she doesn't get married because no man can measure up. It's extremes in this case.
2. The Ghost Dad
This is the most complex father. This is the dad who fawned over his little princess, but around 12 years old backed off. What I'm about to explain is very complex and words cannot explain fully, so allow for general grace.
Around the girl's 12th or 13th birthday, the father sees his little princess becoming a woman, so now the attention and affection he was so freely giving becomes awkward. When they hug or she sits on his lap, she's slowly becoming a woman, and it's uncomfortable. In no way is it sexual, but he views her differently.
He also views her friends differently. Suddenly, by high school, she's bringing beautiful young ladies over. They're giggling, bouncy, cute women. He's conflicted. So he backs off. Now she's confused. Why doesn't daddy hug me? Kiss me? Tell me I'm beautiful?
Please understand that male sexuality is the closet to animal behavior that we as humans share. If women understood what sex does to men, they'd be less likely to wonder why the man got weird after sex and why we can't be friends.
Now, after being innocently physically neglected, she pursues the boys who do touch and caress. Overly confidant, reckless, horny bad boys who will say anything involving the words "baby" or "beautiful" or "love" to get what they want. Now she's fighting with daddy, who feels helpless, and that break becomes what drives her to the men who promise what daddy used to and can't anymore.
So when I meet a girl dating her drug dealer, but her dad is still paying for bills, but she thinks he's weird, I can usually map out what happened quickly. He wants to love her, but can't out of his own misunderstanding of the female/daddy relationship.
In many ways this dad "ghosted" their daughter. The only other situation is if dad passes away and so there is a cut off of relationships. That might have no fault at hand, but the results are similar.
3. The Distant Dad
There are work-a-holic and emotionally distant dads who were there but not present. Many times mommy raised the children and he didn't take an interest in the kids until the boys played sports.
For years I met dads like this while coaching wrestling. The wrestlers would tell me that they didn't really see their dad except at sporting events. And their dad never took an interest in their sister's lives.
These girls can go either way in picking a man. Some pick great guys to make up for years of neglect. Some pick guy's who ignore (but not abuse) them in hopes of changing him so she can claim a victory over the distant men in her life.
Fathers who are there but not "there" actually do less harm than ghosting dads, because they never created a standard that they neglected and she seeks.
4. Abusive Asses
These dads are just the scum of the earth. They cause insurmountable insecurity and issues in daughters that many don't recover from. Drugs. Alcohol. Very early sexual encounters. A tolerance toward being mistreated.
And how can you blame those girls? Drugs and alcohol numb the pain. Sex creates a false intimacy. And if he's a jerk...well aren't all guys? That becomes the prism in which they view men.
So while these girls can have functioning lives, they can't find men who treat them well, because they assume those men are faking it. They lost hope early, and now they subconsciously aren't looking for anything more than "a guy." And since the standard starts low, a douche doesn't have to change much. So physical attraction trumps emotionally masculine men.
5. The MIA Dad
This is the guy who pumped, dumped, and jumped. This leaves a vacuum and so many variables now come into play. If mommy brings in a rotating door of men, a lot of damage can be done. While mommy was looking for love, the daughter becomes the consumer of a bad image...the woman who thinks any man will do.
I've known a few girls who had "step dads" who were never legally step-dads but acted that way throughout their lives, helping them even after the mom dumped him. But the lack of a solid father figure becomes a cloud hovering over that no sunlight can break sometimes.
So what now?
That's a lot of information.
Its based on articles I've read, theories I've studied, and anecdotal stories I've heard and seen. Regardless, I'm pretty sure if you look at the types of women you know and look at dating/marital outcomes, you might see the patterns I described.
All I can say, is if you're a father, you have a responsibility. You must be the best you can be and maintain a loving relationship with your daughter.
As a teacher, I can tell you I've heard stories of girls wondering why their dad got weird in junior high. I've dated girls 10 years younger who got drunk and said "You're just like my dad..." There dad was out of the picture. I've also known girls whose dad was so chivalrous they would only settle for a Disney Prince.
Either way, the only solution is to be aware of how past experiences frame today's attitudes. Then and only then can the circle be unbroken.
Dating isn't simple
Here's the thing. If anyone thinks that they're in control of who they like, there're fooling themselves. Attraction is too complex.
While men have a moment where hormones meet the first woman they find "hot," woman have attraction deeply rooted in fatherly relationships.
Assuming all guys like "boobs" or all girls like "bad boys" is wrong. There are complex backstories and conditions.
Women are also naturally attracted to power, wealth, and other social statuses. Height and looks play a part, but women can overcome those if the guy offers other bonuses.
In the end, I wrote this not to judge but to help. To clarify questions. In the end, fathers be good to your daughters like the John Mayer song suggests.
The biggest "complaint" I get from friends and family is "Do you really mean what you say up there?"
It's a fair question. So you have some context, take a look at this 4 minute clip from last year's Burbank Comedy Festival. I'll explain what I'm doing, why I did it, and why all your concerns for my emotional well being are both sweet and wrongly analyzed.
Here's a few general notes. It was hot. I do eat salad. A girl did say I wasn't bad looking. No one ever judged my eating an egg mcmuffin. I did once observe that the mcmuffin was just a compact normal breakfast. I did once paint a girl's room. And I don't follow football, but I know that everyone hates the Raiders. Even Raider fans.
So so what was I doing on stage? I was tapping into three types of truths.
Let me explain using a boring, basic concept.
We can all agree on this basic truth. But let me explain the three truths.
Literal Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a fact. Case closed.
Emotional Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a dumb idea for an analogy. Here's an opinion or point of view.
Cultural Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a conceptual idea. We may change the value of one culturally. What if 1 is a pack of three cans? Then we really have 6 cans, but we as a culture still call it 1.
You might be confused. But what comedy does is take a truth in those three ways. So yes, some of those things really happened in my tape. But I tapped into the exaggerations to find humor.
I really don't think I could be Miss Bakersfield. There are many beautiful women in Bakersfield. But there were a lot of "hicks" and more so than in LA. So emotionally I felt more attractive.
I'm not a Raiders fan or enemy. But our culture has deemed them the butt of sport jokes, so relating my faith to another hard to believe faith has cultural truth to it.
I do literally think I'm not very attractive in the LA area, but that's for another blog.
So here is my main point...
Comedy is taking the different levels of truth and creating the funny out of that. A literal truth can't always do that. Literal truth can be sad, depressing, boring, etc. But when matched with emotional or cultural truth, there is laughter.
I've had people ask me this. And no. Though I did think having the image of a crying young girl is emotionally and culturally truthful. Because I do get depressed when people ask me if I am depressed after I talk about my weight, singleness, and being trolled on the internet.
One thing the comedian can do that others can't (which is why comedy is hard) is take the frustrations of life and find the funny. Many other people would just complain and say "stop being mean!"
Comedy doesn't offer solutions. If you want solutions go watch a Ted Talk. Here's one on losing weight if you are upset I made fun of being fat or fat people.
The First Time I Knew I Liked What I Liked
This year I'll turn 36. I will also celebrate another year of being a strong independent man. Sounds more silly than strong independent woman, huh?
One criticism I get a lot is that I'm too picky. My standards are too high. And I'm not good looking, powerful or rich enough to have such standards. All of these statements are generally true, though why am I attracted mostly to women that are physically more inclined to look for alpha males and power brokers?
I'll take on female attraction another time.
I have a general theory deeply interwoven within Freudian thought. What if there is a physiological matrix in which the moment a boy sees women differently and the woman/women that coincide within that coming of age awakening?
Let me break it down this way...When puberty hits, what woman was in your life at that moment? That might create a sexual desire blueprint that you'll have to adapt and fight for the rest of your life.
Ever heard your buddies talking about a girl and you just don't get it? Then you mention a girl and they look confused? That might be because attraction could be imbedded in us and creates a blind spot toward all the other beautiful women and personalities out there.
I'll give you my story. I've was never a "butt guy" (though I have changed a lot) growing up. I was a boob man. Plain and simple. Never thought of legs or hair or eyes or anything else as the do or die feature on a girl. From about 6th grade until very recently, I found the curves in the torso the most physically pleasing. But why? My buddies in junior high talked about butts a lot. I didn't get it.
Then recently I started psychoanalyzing my tastes in women. Where did it stem? What was the earliest childhood moment of pure desire and unsolicited lust?
Simple. 6th grade. Summer of 1992. Watching The Price is Right at 10am on CBS. I had watched TPIR countless times. But then one of the models, Dian Parkinson walked on set in a sundress that was removed to showcase a buxom figure unlike what I've ever noticed.
I was entranced. My hormones went into overdrive. I'd seen her before. Never thought of her as anything special. But in that moment 12 year old Paul knew he liked what he saw. So did the counselor. His jaw hit the floor.
I truly believe this moment was an actual biological explosion. Had another type of girl been showcased, I might have like brunettes with long legs. Instead, I spent junior high and high school and my 20's pursuing women with this build. The results have been disasterous.
As time went on, my obsession with women who looked like Dian got stronger. I remember in 9th grade watching USA Up All Night and The Bikini Carwash Company 2 came on. It was edited for cable and the sex scenes were blurred...but I got the gist. By now I'd expanded my physical attraction desires and fully accepted brunettes and redheads with large mammories as equal to blondes. And in the Pamela Anderson era, that was quite progressive of me.
I really hope you appreciated the above satirical tone.
By the way, younger millennials, in the mid 90s there wasn't an internet to browse. It was late night cable. We had to stay up and keep the volume low. It was exhausting. And these movies only came on once or twice a year. VCRs were recording all around the country.
Proof that I was beyond blondes only were two new favorite TV girls, Debbe Dunning of Home Improvement and Jennifer Dempster of ESPN 2's Bodyshaping.
I started watching Bodyshaping to get workout ideas for wrestling. The dudes were jacked! I wasn't. Haha. That's when I fell in love with Jennifer Dempster. The thin, fit, perky dark hair beauty was on my TV every morning from 6am to 7am. I had some free weights and would work out with the show. I looked forward to getting up every day. Saturday's were let downs because the show wasn't on.
Debbe Dunning replaced Pamela Anderson as the Tool Time girl. I was so obsessed my buddy DJ snapped at me one time saying, "She's not that hot! Get over it!" I wanted to buy her 1996 calendar. My mom objected. I still haven't forgiven her. Here's a few of those photos.
I suppose she knew why I wanted the calendar. She cleaned my sheets. She was just trying not to make more work for herself.
As you can see, my 6th grade Eureka moment inspired "a type" and I've realized over the past few years I've tried to fulfill that desire with a type that is near impossible to meet in real life or date me.
You might say, But aren't these girls everyone's type? I would argue yes...in America. In other parts of the world heavier women are desired. Older women are cherished. And hair color is irrelevant. In fact, genetically speaking, breast size is more of a western thing than eastern.
Therfore, my attraction is still unique to me, though many would agree, not all.
The Subconscious Mind
Like I mentioned before, DJ wasn't a fan of Debbe. Found her average. I remember thinking about the girl he liked in school. Very plain to me, but if his hormonal volcano eurrupted in the presence of a similar type, that would explain his association of attractiveness to that type of girl. Again...his crushes weren't ugly...just not in the mold and shape of mine.
Therefore, I believe men will unwillingly go after a type of girl that they associate with early childhood attraction. I don't remember finding a girl my own age attractive until 7th grade. I never had a school yard crush. I liked women. not girls. And the girls I liked in middle school were the ones who were genetically gifted too early in life.
Truly, I believe my subconscious was aware of my conscious lusts, and created a block toward other types.
TV Images Are Crucial
The main reason I was inspired to write this blog is because I believe that mine and other heterosexual males tastes in women were crafted at that pre-pubescent stage. Therefore, the images presented to us creates a blueprint for the rest of our lives if we don't control it.
There really is truth in the unattainable woman idea. That Hollywood creates false images through hair and makeup and costumes and lighting and men are now seeking what in reality isn't available, creating a blockage toward women who are interesting and beautiful and smart, but not in the way our brain first associates attraction and sexuality. Here's Dustin Hoffman explaining it even better than I could. I don't think he understands where his "shallowness" stemmed from, whereas I do. But take a watch!
Changing What We Find Attractive
A lot of people will say to me "I only find a certain type attractive" and say "I can't find short, fat, tall, etc. attractive." I understand. Your brain has high wired you. But why aren't other areas of a human being equally attractive?
What about integrity, character, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and other admirable traits? Movies and TV shows tend to showcases these heroic characteristics, but with already good looking people. If Danny Devito was the actual hero is more movies in the 80's, would women my age find that type more desirable?
I know people claim those attributes are important, yet many will date and marry good looking people who lack those traits hoping they'll gather them up on the journey of life.
NEWS FLASH! They probably won't. Why should they? Unless a huge life event occurs, many people stay the same. You "fell in love" with the jerk. They won. Why give up the trophy?
So while I believe there were images that formed what I thought to be physically attractive, I've had to learn and teach myself what else should be deemed desirable.
The questions arises now, how do these men that date average looking women not have a block like others do? I believe they were the lucky ones. At their moment of hormonal volcano eurruption, the girl they saw was doing something generous, and that became the association with attractiveness that they sought after from that moment on.
In stand up comedy there's a thing called a "bringer show". Ask a comic what the definition is and they'll give you a few different responses.
My experience has been very minimal. But my friends have had a lot experience. So here is my definition of a bringer show.
Any show that requires the comedian to bring X number of people to the show to perform is a bringer show.
If the venue or booker only book people who bring but put them on stage regardless if they're successful, then it's not a bringer show - it's a show that values butts in the seats over quality. Which is smart economically, but not smart comedically.
After a few years swamping through the LA comedy scene, I'll say that any booker or venue that MANDATES a number of people to come see you at a show is a scam.
By this theory, a funny comedian is less valuable than my grandma, who's never done comedy, but can bring her grandkids to watch her on the main stage of The Comedy Store.
That is offesnsive to the greats who honed an act for Mitzi in the 70s and 80s to perform on that stage. But yet clubs all over LA use the bringer model to fill rooms.
Sadly, this model doesn't improve the state of comedy, comedians, or the audience's view of comedy.
Young comedians like the promise of getting to perform at cult like secret society comedy clubs in front of their friends, but the end result leaves their friends tired and broke by the night's end.
Bringer shows are the ITT Tech of comedy shows. They look real, but they're not.
So how do they end? Simple. If comedians just stopped doing them, then they'd cease to exist.
I've been very fortunate as an upcoming comedian. I've worked a lot of road gigs so far. Cities outside the Greater Los Angeles Area include BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
• Chico, CA
• Humbolt, CA
• Oakland, CA
• San Diego, CA
• Tucson, AZ
• Provo, UT
In LA, the audience gets up and goes home after a show. What I find so cool is how after a road gig, everyone in the building becomes your best friend.
I've had so many different types of people approach me after a show too. Beautiful women. Families. Gang members. Hot chicks. Dads. College nerds. Extremely gorgeous women. Doctors. Lawyers. Women who made me bite my lip while I was chatting with them. Pet owners. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. You get it.
After filming for Laughs in Temecula, the waitresses were so happy I tipped them well and talked after the show. In Tucson, I met two girls who just wanted to hang out after the show. In Oakland, this one group wouldn't stop asking me about my parents. They were my cousins, but that's not the point.
The point is that the road has reminded me that there are tons of great people just living life in America. And they're thrilled that comedians come out to make them laugh.
Oh. And the women are much more flattering too. After every show, at least one really cute girl comes up and says, "You're not fat. You shouldn't joke about it." Then they smile. Then I smile. Then we lock eyes. Then their boyfriend takes them away.
Today I tried rock climbing. I was invited by my friend Crystal to join our friend Caroline. To be honest, I was nervous at first. Mostly because I'm not very athletic. And they're two of the most athletic girls I know.
But I decided two years ago that I was just going to do anything (within reason) I'm asked to do. So I said yes.
It was so fun. My body feels so loose and limber. The girls even did a little aerobatic activities too.
By the end of the night (3 1/2 hours) I felt like a noodle. But I'm glad I tried something new. Life is about overcoming fears. So I suggest to you to find something you wouldn't normally do and try it.
I'm not talking about dating a homeless guy, by the way. I'm talking about making memories. Though, dating a homeless guy could create a memory. What do I know.
UPDATE: THE NEXT MORNING.
I used to be a TV junkie.
From 1993 until about 2010 I was obsessed with TV. I'm the 1990's I would plan my whole life around professional wrestling, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons. In the 2000's I had news shows, The Simpsons, and NBA games to watch.
I used to record shows on my VCR, watch others shows, and would watch the VCR tapes after school.
I can still remember in 1994 taping episodes of Steve Harvey's Me & The Boys but watching The Martin Short Show. Both shows were only watched by me.
I was a TV junkie. But that ended when I moved into an apartment in 2010, and to save money I eliminated cable and just read more and learned to love the internet.
But a funny thing happened in the January winter of 2016. I got a Netflix account. And my life has changed dramatically. I've fallen in love with TV again.
Returning to Cheers, The 70's Show, and finding new shows has been a real joy.
The Netflix originals Stranger Things, Lemony Snicket, and reruns of The People v. OJ Simpson made me love the power of TV again. And commercial free. Thank you very much. Hey Hulu! Get a clue!
Last week I recently binge watched GLOW and I'm currently watching Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here on their YouTube channel and will finish the show on their 30 day free app trial. I'm cheap. I know.
GLOW is a fantastic new show fictionalizing the birth of The Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. I'm Dying Up Here is a new show fictionalizing the birth of the LA comedy scene. Primarily The Comedy Store.
Both shows have a lot in common.
Both are period pieces. GLOW tackles the gritty 80's. Dying tackles the 70's.
Both have a large ensemble cast.
Both tackle sexism, drugs, family life, etc.
Both are dramady in tone.
Both are about creating a character on stage to entertain the masses.
Here's where they differ: GLOW is fun and Dying is miserable to watch.
Dying only works if are a comedian. The cliché of the tortured artist is the only emotion it has. The actors are all fine, but the idea of only tackling the sorry saps of Sunset is hard to watch an hour of. It's based on a book that chronicles the comedy lives of famous comedians before they were famous. That would have made a great show. Young Jay Leno and young David Letterman, before they were enemies. That would be great TV. Instead we get boring conflict between unfunny characters yelling and screwing each other. It's not fun. How anyone outside of LA or NYC would enjoy this mess is beyond me.
Then there's GLOW. This funny, inspirational, dramatic, twist filled STORY is everything great TV should be. Instead of just saying "sexism is bad" the show says that while exploiting it's characters. As a character is being called a prude, she's stripping down in the locker room of a gym. There is true satire there. The idea that a post feminist culture created an even more sexist world is deeper than anything Dying has to say.
The shows are both anchored my great performances though. Melissa Leo is fantastic as a Mitzi Shore rip off Goldie, and Marc Maron is a revelation as Sam. But where Goldie is willing to backstab and show she's one of the boys, Maron's Sam is not trying to be one of the girls. He's frustrated and anxious, but it's charming and builds empathy in the audience. We want him to win. With Goldie, we want other characters to defeat her.
The major area Dying gets wrong is the tortured artist syndrome. Yes. I get it. Stand up comedians have issues. But so do Wall Street gamblers. But a lot of comedians are funny people. I know. I am one. The myth that they're all depressed is not true. Many are just normal people who see this as an artistic outlet.
Jim Gaffigan. Jerry Seinfeld. Albert Brooks. They aren't tortured souls. Nor does their comedy reflect that. Yes, Richard Pryor was, but his story is an anomaly. Most of us didn't live in a brothel.
GLOW demonstrates the fun and excitement of performing. These girls want to put on a good show. The comics of Dying want to entertain themselves.
Either way, TV is totally back. And 13 year old Paul is thrilled he can watch it all on apps instead of a VCR tape.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.