Tagged: Woody Allen

Dennis O’Neil: Comics. The Other Kind.

Now as I was young and fuzzy, mired in what we were assured was a university education, just beginning to pull my head out of my… Okay, look – no need for vulgarity here. Let’s leave it at this: I was pulling my head from the sand and becoming aware of kinds of culture other than what I was being fed to us by radio and movies (that Bob Hope! What a stitch!) and that alien entity in the living room we called “the teevee” or “the television” or simply “the set.”

(No need for further elaboration: we had only two sets, the one in the living room and the one Mom kept tucked away somewhere and that we saw only on the most festive of occasions, such as Christmas and the like, Oh, and full disclosure; I’m not sure we ever really had a holiday meal on the family set. Mostly we did our holidaying at relatives’ places.)

Did I mention that Bob Hope was also on the (living room) set where, I guess, he continued stitching? Or that I was once in a one-act play with his daughter Linda, but never spoke to her? (Could that be why I didn’t get a Christmas card from the Hopes?)

But this isn’t about Bob and his show-biz peers – Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Edgar Bergen, Jimmy Durante, those guys, oldish performers many of whom began in vaudeville. No, this is about the newish laugh-makers: Woody Allen, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, the Smothers Brothers, Lenny Bruce, Mort Sahl… closer to Mark Twain than Bozo the Clown. And Dick Gregory. Especially Dick Gregory. (Mother-in-law jokes not welcome.) Their humor was well-observed, hip, topical, and sometimes about pain. You wouldn’t catch their acts on the broadcast networks, but you could enjoy them, sometimes, at live shows of various kinds.

Then the world’s change accelerated, humor along with everything else, and humor and news intermingled and, lo and behold, on Sunday nights we can now see the newest kind of new comedian, the comedian-activist. The program is called Last Week Tonight and it stars a Brit named John Oliver. Oliver delivers a brief news item – about 10 minutes long – and then a longer piece, loaded with irreverence and disrespect and gags and facts. You may not always get facts from the non-comedic news venues (though some seem to be cozy with “alternate facts.”) But Oliver always delivers the real deal.

This week, he upped his game. After presenting a detailed story concerning certain politicians’ ongoing efforts to revoke the legal protections laws that guarantee internet neutrality, he suggested that we pro-neutrality fight back by communicating with our senators. Then he told us how. Use that internet to contact your senator by visiting this address: www.gofccyoursef.com. The screen will tell you how to proceed from there.

Marifran did it. I did it. Your turn.

Martha Thomases: Thanks For The Mammories

Woody Allen

The doctor was over an hour late for my mammogram appointment this morning. The only magazines in the office were about decorating and polo, and my phone was being wonky, so I had a lot of time to think.

As you might expect, I thought about breasts. A lot.

Too much.

Specifically, I wondered why, despite our culture’s obsession with breasts, especially among the adolescent man-children who make so many of our commercially artistic decisions, no one (to my knowledge) had ever considered what a super-powered breast might be like.

Even without fictional help, breasts have a lot of power. As mammals, we use them to feed our young. Our patriarchal culture judges a woman’s value (in part) by the firmness, size and perkiness of her tits. While some people (including a fair number of women) think this gives women power, I have never perceived it this way. Instead, in my experience, men think the mere fact that I have them means they can remark on how much they do or do not like them.

I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t had a stranger say something about her breasts. While there may be some women who make similarly unrequested comments to men, I’ve never heard about any and must suppose it to be a much less common phenomenon. Telling me what he thinks about my body parts is one way that a man can tell me that he thinks I exist for his appraisal and approval.

What if my breasts could actually be a source of physical or metaphysical power? What if the more than 30-years exposure to radiation charged them up to affect me the same way that radioactive spider affected Peter Parker?

Would they shoot out webbing like Spider-Man does from his hands, but from the nipples instead? Would the webbing be edible, like Twizzlers?

Or would they shoot out death-rays?

Perhaps they would be malleable like Mr. Fantastic’s body, able to change shape and size to rope in criminals, or cushion a fall.

They might turn rock hard, like The Thing, and make my rib-cage impenetrable, so that no one can shoot me in the heart.

Or perhaps they could jiggle at super-speed, creating veritable earthquakes to knock my antagonists off their feet or allowing me to vibrate through walls.

Or they might grow massively in size and strength, like the Hulk, when I get angry, allowing me to use them to smash any cat-caller who gets in my face.

Alas, none of this happened to me.

I did get a clean bill of health, which is a good thing. I urge you to do the same.