Thursday, January 15, 2015

Orenda Fink To Play at Reverb Feb 11

It has just been announced that Orenda Fink will be making her premier performance at The Reverb Lounge on Wednesday, February 11 (click for tickets).

I'm very glad that Orenda is doing this show, as I missed her two Omaha shows at the end of last year due to scheduling conflicts. This concert takes place in between her two European tours (one of which is happening now).

Maybe you somehow missed it, but Orenda Fink was a guest on my podcast last year, and her interview is on episodes #116 and #117. Both can be streamed below:

My Sweet 16 Video!

For this video, I tried something different. I called it, "My Sweet 16," and I am discussing the Top 16 albums from the year I turned 16. In my case, that took place way back in 1987. Hope you dig it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: Women Aren't Funny

Caught an interesting documentary last night on Netflix called, Women Aren't Funny. The doc is directed by and stars comedian Bonnie McFarlane; and in it, Bonnie tries to answer the question (that I don't know who is asking), "Are women funny?"

To me, the answer is obvious. Yes. Of course, women are funny. Who keeps asking? Well, I guess people do keep asking because McFarlane found plenty of people (mostly male comics) who were less than certain about their answer.

This documentary is very much a comedy insiders film. One needs to be pretty well versed in the history of stand-up comedy and in the lifestyle of comedians to fully appreciate it. McFarlane splices together interviews with numerous comedians, both male and female, and all are asked if they find women funny.

Obviously, all of the female comics answered yes. As far as the male comics go, the results were mixed. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I do question some of the editing decisions with regards to the male comedians. Many said they didn't find women to be funny. However, most all of them later qualified their comments by talking specifically about female comedians they have seen or worked with. In one example, the late comedian Patrice O'Neal said bluntly that he didn't feel women are funny. But toward the end of the movie, he rattles off a list of females he finds funny. So, his answer is less than definitive. This was the same with some others, as well.

Many of the comedians and club bookers were quick to point out that there are so many fewer female comedians than males that it is hard to accurately gauge general appeal of female comics. Former Howard Stern Show sidekick, Artie Lange, argued that most male comedians aren't funny and the same applies to women. The bookers spoke in raw numbers: fewer people come out to see female comics, therefore they get booked less. It's hard to argue with that logic, but it still shows a serious amount of sexism. If you internalize the idea that women are less funny, it is easier to come to the conclusion that it's bad business to book female comics in their club.  
In between the interviews with comics, McFarlane splices in some footage of her life off the stage. Her husband is a comedian with a higher profile, and the two often tour together. This is great from a family perspective, as it allows the couple to travel with their young daughter. However, it causes McFarlane to question whether or not she would be successful if she didn't have a headlining husband's coattails to ride. The question is not really answered.

By the end of the film, McFarlane seems exhausted by the whole process and disappointed in the results of her numerous interviews. Feeling frustrated by her lack of notoriety as a comic, McFarlane dresses up as a man (complete with a fake beard), calls herself "Barney Mac", and attempts to perform her normal stand-up routine. Would audiences like her material more if it came from a male comic? 

Well, this one was not really answered. Her set as "Barney" was not a success. The crowd was largely indifferent. A visibly distraught McFarlane can be seen crying after the disappointing set and seeking consolation from her husband. I don't think this experiment was all that illuminating because McFarlane looked like a woman in drag and didn't have a very masculine voice. No idea if people suspected she was a woman dressed as a man, but she certainly did not seem like a "normal" man. However, because good a comedian's material is so tied into a person's true self, could this experiment ever work? By definition, while dressed as "Bernie," McFarlane was not being her true self, and the material suffered from that.

Sidenote: I have seen Bonnie McFarlane do stand-up on Comedy Central and she is very funny.

At this point in time, it is sad that questions like, "Are women funny" even need to be asked. I mean, have you not heard of Joan Rivers, Roseanne, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Laura Kightlinger, or Chelsea Peretti? That's only the first six I could think of off the top of my head. The list is much longer.

If you still, in 2015, question whether or not women are funny, you may not be persuaded by watching this film. But I think that shows more of a subconscious resistance to female comics than any demonstrable fact about women's ability to be funny. Unfortunately, the whole world of live improv was ignored. Many of the most famous funny females (i.e. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler) were very successful in that world. It's not traditional stand-up comedy, but it is comedic live performance, and many of the top women in TV comedy come from that world.

Overall, Women Aren't Funny is a decent film and definitely worth watching. And, if Bonnie McFarlane makes her way to Omaha, I would definitely go out and see her perform.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Back in the Day - The Story of Mafia Money Records Part Two

I just posted part two of my video series on the history of my old record label, Mafia Money Records. In this volume, I discuss and play music from the label's first full length release, Hugh's You Are Here CD. 

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Vinyl Video: Recent Spins

My newest vinyl video. For this one, I have only a little bit of new music to discuss. Most of this video is devoted to stuff I have been spinning lately. As usual, it runs the gamut stylistically. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin Can Perform Wedding Ceremonies

Not from The Onion or anything like that. Go-Go's guitarist and songwriter, Jane Wiedlin, is a legally ordained minister who can perform wedding and commitment ceremonies. All the details can be found at Interesting.

Monday, December 08, 2014

My So-Called Weekend

I only ventured out on Saturday to see this band
Had a very uneventful weekend. The only thing I actually accomplished was making a permanent indention in my living room couch. I barely ventured outside the entire time. 

There are barely any decent shows from now through the end of the year. On Saturday morning, I went to Rockbrook Camera and bought a new camera. Despite blowing over a grand on the camera, I still headed over to Half Price Books to look for records. I grabbed a used 'Best of Scorpions' record which features the band's music from the 1970s. I have never heard the really early stuff, and I liked it. I also grabbed a Heart record and a still sealed copy of Matthew Sweet's 'Sunshine Lies,' which is a double LP, gatefold with a CD inside. It was heavily marked down. Score!

Later that night, I hit Reverb Lounge to see my friend's new band. Unfortunately, I already forgot the name of the band. They were good -- a 90s math rock, instrumental band. The set was only about 30 minutes, and I soon retreated back home where I stayed the rest of the weekend.

Not much else to report. I will hopefully have my video for part two of my Top 20 albums of the year up in a day or so. I already posted part one.