Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Time on My Hands edition

Because I had such a slow weekend last weekend, I had a lot of free time to surf the web and collect news stories the few hours that I wasn’t watching House of Cards or sleeping. My boring weekend is your gain – this week’s edition of the pop culture roundup is jam packed with fun stuff. But don’t get too used to this – I think my next completely free weekend is sometime in October.

  • Jon Stewart is taking a three month hiatus from The Daily Show.  John Oliver will fill in as host.
  • Speaking of The Daily Show, this recent segment on maple syrup slayed me. I was literally laughing out loud. Well done.

 

  • Rest in Peace, Bonnie Franklin. The actress, best known from One Day at a Time, passed away at the age of 69.
  • I don’t watch the show Switched at Birth, but this is very cool – Monday night’s episode was done entirely in sign language.
  • Happy birthday to The Big Lebowski, which turns 15 years old today! The Dude continues to abide.
  • This doesn’t quite reach the beauty of the death star construction request, but there is an active petition request to the Obama Administration to change the national anthem to R. Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix).” I’m not saying it is a good idea, but that would be way more fun way to kick off sporting events (added bonus – no high notes):

What’s more American than “it’s the freaking weekend, I’m about to have me some fun?”

  • My red hot disdain of Kristen Stewart has been duly noted on the blog, but she doesn’t have a monopoly on my fury. In fact, I might even despise Taylor Swift more. Her latest crime? Implying that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are going to hell because of a joke they told about Swift at the Golden Globes.
  • While we’re on the subject of people who I dislike, Halle Berry is confirmed to appear in the new X-men movie.
  • The Hold Steady is recording a song for the third season of Game of Thrones, lyrics by George R.R. Martin.
  • A trailer for the new season of Mad Men has been released. Can’t wait!

 

  • A new trailer for Iron Man 3 was released yesterday:

 

  • Fox has renewed The Following, New Girl, Raising Hope and The Mindy Project.
  • Joan Rivers has launched a new webseries where she interviews celebrities in bed.
  • Ben McKenzie has been cast in a pilot at CBS, which means that the renewal of Southland is not a sure thing.
  • I still don’t understand what is going on with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un.
  • Ha! This timely House of Cards parody, House of Cardinals, gets the tone just right.

 

  • Color me intrigued – Christian Bale is rumored to be reprising his role as Batman in the upcoming Justice League movie.
  • It pains me to say this, but the new episodes of Community this season haven’t been good. However, I am intrigued by the idea of doing an all-puppet episode.
  • Tyler Kitsch has resurfaced. He’ll appear in the HBO movie The Normal Heart.
  • Watch Mark Wahlberg and Diddy play a drinking game on Ellen:

 

  • Wahlberg hasn’t closed the door on a reunion with the Funky Bunch. This is a terrible idea, but I totally hope this happens.
  • I’m super excited to possibly be going to see Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake play Yankee Stadium this summer. One person I can guarantee won’t be there is Kanye West.
  • JT will be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend and will be on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon every night next week. I can only assume “The History of Rap, Part 4” is in the works.
  • How bad have things gotten for NBC? A local affiliate has opted to air Matlock instead of the network’s Thursday night’s lineup.
  • This sounds interesting – Speilberg is developing a miniseries about Napoleon that was written by Stanley Kubrik.
  • Albany peeps – local musician Sean Rowe made his national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Monday night. Good for him!

 

  • In pilot news, Naveen Andrews (Sayid, Lost) has landed a role in an ABC drama.
  • Presented without comment – Gary Busey discussing hobbits:

 

  • Feeling lucky? A new website will randomly select a Nicholas Cage movie for you to watch (Netflix streaming account required)
  • The George Lucas museum is coming to San Francisco.
  • This is disappointing – Sam Mendes will not return to direct the next James Bond film.
  • Carrie Fisher will return as Princess Leia in the new Star Wars movie.
  • This may be the greatest interview of all time. I already like Mila Kunis beforehand, but this sealed the deal. Gotta support a fellow Blue Moon fan.

 

  • Neat-O. A portrait of Stephen Colbert, made up of all the words uttered on The Colbert report:

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  • Jason Bateman will team up with Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You. The funny duo will play siblings.
  • 90210 is ending its run at the end of this season. I honestly didn’t even know this show was still on.
  • Alexis Bledel (Rory, The Gilmore Girls) is returning to TV is a starring role in a comedy pilot for Fox.
  • Jon Hamm voiced a talking toilet on this week’s Bob’s Burgers and it was glorious:

 

  • Tom Hardy will appear on Discovery Channel’s new show, Driven to Extremes.
  • This mash up of “Call Me Maybe” and Nine Inch Nails’ “Head Like a Hole” is actually pretty catchy:

 

  • Just because it is awesome, the opening credits of the Dutch version of Golden Girls:

You can check out versions from other countries here.

  • If you ever dreamed of owning a closet like Cher’s in Clueless, you are in luck. We have the technology.
  • Happy news – both Jimmy Smits and Donal Logue will return next season on Sons of Anarchy.
  • And finally……A Star Wars/School House Rock mash-up:

 

See a story that you think should be included in these bi-weekly roundups? Want to see your name in the blog? Want to do my job for me? Feel free to send any suggestions my way via the blog’s Facebook page, the blog’s twitter account (@AsHeathersworld) or in the comments section of this post. I post random pop culture stories on Facebook, so don’t forget to like the page so you don’t miss anything. Thanks to avid blog reader and faux-cousin Chris for the suggestion!

John Oliver –The Egg, Albany, NY – January 11, 2013

One of the more promising developments for 2013 is the increase in the number of comedians that are making a stop here in Albany; while I may have missed out on Louis CK’s latest tour – and I’m still bitter about that – it’s only a few weeks into the new year and I already have tickets to see five comedians in the coming months. If this is a precursor to what the rest of the year is going to be like, I’m going to be a very happy girl.

The first of these shows was last Friday night when John Oliver came rolling into town. Most people know Oliver from his stint as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He fits right in on the show – he’s smart and has a dry sense of humor, but he also isn’t afraid to be silly. He’s particularly funny when he’s asked to be the representative of England, his native land. He did some great stuff associated with the Royal Wedding and the Diamond Jubilee. I always look forward to his segments, especially when he gets to banter with Jon Stewart; the two of them work very well together. This isn’t his funniest or best segment, but it was the only one I could find to embed:

 

I am also a fan of his other program, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show. Oliver is always funny in his opening monologues and he has introduced me to a lot of other comics featured on the showcase that I might not have necessarily heard about otherwise. It’s a good way for me to keep up to date on new voices in comedy when it isn’t easy for me to go to comedy clubs and see people live. It isn’t only new comics featured – some of Oliver’s Daily Show comrades have dropped by, as well as a personal fave Hannibal Buress – but it gives exposure to a lot of different comics and I look forward to DVRing it every week (it’s currently on break, but I’m hopeful that Comedy Central will bring the show back for a 4th season).

So I was pretty excited to see John Oliver live; I’d sampled enough of his stand up to know that he was funny, but I was curious if he would be able to sustain that for an entire set. I am happy to report that he was very funny and I had a lot of fun. It may not have been all new material, but he did improvise some material that was specific to the venue (more on that in a minute) and kept the crowd in stitches for most of his 80 minute set.

I normally don’t like to sit too close to comedians for fear that I will wind up part of the act, but since Oliver doesn’t have a history of doing that (and I didn’t plan to heckle), I braved it and sat in the second row. The audience skewed a little older than I expected; I didn’t figure there would be a lot of young people there, but I had assumed that the median age would be 30-40 when in reality it was probably closer to 45-55. Perhaps it was the slightly older age of the crowd, but for the first time in forever, not a single person yelled anything during the show or was otherwise obnoxious. Everyone was well behaved; it was a nice reminder that people in this area are capable of going to shows and not acting like jerks (they just choose not to most of the time).

John Oliver covered a variety of different topics, but started off with the one closest to his hear: politics. He then branched off to discuss the flu epidemic (something he came back to, especially if anyone in the audience coughed too loudly), what happens when you Google yourself and America’s loosening grasp on their empire. He also did a really funny bit on a library in Boise that has unusual punctuation featured on their building.

 

They are apparently very enthusiastic about libraries in Boise.

They are apparently very enthusiastic about libraries in Boise.

Turns out the exclamation point was donated by a former local pizzeria owner, which as Oliver pointed out, doesn’t make the whole thing any less hysterical (the story behind the donation can be found here).

The funniest recurring bit that he did, however, was on the venue that we were watching the show at. The theater is called The Egg because….welll….it looks like a giant egg:

 

The Egg - weird, right?

The Egg – weird, right?

Having lived in this area most of my life, you kind of forget how absolutely ridiculous this looks to outsiders. Who designs a theater to look like some combination of an egg and a spaceship? We all take it for granted, but when people come to visit it is one of the things that they comment on. I’ve seen a lot of shows at The Egg and all the performers mention the oddness, even if it is in passing, but Oliver came back to it several times through the show and really made us feel that we were getting something that was tailored for us. It is a weird theater – and it only gets more confusing on the inside – and Oliver’s observations about the structure got some of the biggest laughs of the evening.

My only real disappointment about the show was that I had heard a fair amount of the material previously on John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show. It was still very funny and had been slightly tweaked, but the general premises were the same. I would have preferred some newer material, but I suppose when you are involved with two shows that doesn’t leave a lot of time to be crafting an entirely new set. I’ve been spoiled that several of the comics that I’ve seen have used almost 100% new material -Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld come to mind- so my expectations may be a little too high. Again, it was still very, very funny, but there was no surprise to it. Most of the recycled material was toward the end of the show, which was a little anticlimactic. For example, he ended with this bit:

 

And the basics of this bit were done as well:

Despite the fact that some of the set was familiar, I still left The Egg with a face that was sore from laughing too hard. My friends enjoyed the show as well and the murmurs I heard from the crowd as we were filing out were all positive. John Oliver has great comedic timing and provided a very pleasant evening. I would definitely see him again, but would hope that he would have some newer material the next time. Still, he managed to make the older material work with his delivery and enthusiasm. And he reminded us all just how bizarre The Egg really is.