Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter: Tyra Banks, Not Sane

One of the distinct  displeasures of full-time employment--and of not having TiVo--is the inability to watch daytime television. Remember the thrill of The Price is Right during a sick day home from school, or for that matter, Tic Tac Dough? There was a feeling of law-breaking, of daring, in watching those shows. You felt as if you were getting away with something, even if the 102-degree fever wasn't lightbulb-enhanced. Well, in the working world, or at least my working world, there are no sick days, and therefore the daytime TV lineup to me is terrain as pure as a baby's crabapple bottom.  But while discussing this phenomenon with graduate student friends this weekend, I was clued in to something that may not come as a shock to many of you: Tyra Banks is f-in' bananas. Not bananas like this, but not within the farthest grasps of okay either. Which, I suppose, is strange to me, since I remember her mostly as the person who helped color in a great many teenage exploratory sessions. Anyway, behold Exhibit A of Tyra's quick descent into Krazy from her self-titled daytime talk show:

(A sympathetic friend said that she was just trying to poke fun at Oprah in the clip. My friend is also Krazy. He enjoys Cocoa Pebbles.)

Here's a little more off-the-cuff Tyra Krazy:

And here's a slightly humorous compilation video of her not altogether sane behavior (beware: the "Imma Cut You" line is vaguely racist):

Anyway, all this televised insanity got me thinking beyond The Tyra Banks Show. She can't be the only one in front of the red light who hasn't the slightest hold on sanity, and surely she's not. Enjoy this other batch of televised mixed nuts:

I'll end with a viewer comment to the Marino clip. It's non-grammatical, but it's insightful, and, in a better world, might even apply to our Vaseline-bedazzled Ms. Banks: "Thats a caged beast right there, that what happens when you take a warrior and put them at a desk."

Think about it...

A Field Guide to Literary References in Monty Python's Flying Circus

While it's better known for dead parrots and crossdressing lumberjacks, Monty Python has a surprisingly academic background. Five of the six members of the group (Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, John Cleese, and Eric Idle) attended either Oxford or Cambridge. Cutting their teeth writing for other BBC series, the five eventually joined up, along with American Terry Gilliam, to create Monty Python's Flying Circus. While experimenting with the bounds of sketch comedy, the group also flexed their academic muscle throughout the course of the show, making reference to many works of classic literature in the process. Here's a compendium of many of these references, excluding the ones I couldn't find on YouTube.

The Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights

What Episode: 15
Authors/Works Referenced: Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë & Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare
Don't Miss: The extent of the semaphore, from Catherine and Heathcliff to the baby, nurse, and old man.

Poet Inspection

Episode: 17
Authors/Works Referenced: "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," William Wordsworth, "The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls," Alfred Lord Tennyson
Don't Miss: "There's Alfred Lord Tennyson in the Bathroom!"

A Tale of Two Cities for Parrots

Episode: 20
Authors/Works Referenced: A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Don't Miss: The first line of the "special adaptation," which quickly informs how the rest will follow

Mrs. Premise and Mrs. Conclusion visit Jean-Paul Satre

Episode: 27
Authors/Works Referenced: The Roads to Freedom series, Jean-Paul Satre
Don't Miss: "Four hours to bury a cat?"

All-England Summarize Proust Competition

Episode: 31
Authors/Works Referenced: The epic 7-volume novel Rememberance of Things Past, Marcel Proust
Don't Miss: The choral adaptation

Ant Poetry Reading

Episode: 41
Authors/Works Referenced: Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," Shelley's "Ozymandias," Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade"
Don't Miss: Graham Chapman's increasingly drunk hostess

Hamlet Psychoanalysis

Episode: 43
Authors/Works Referenced: Hamlet, William Shakespeare
Don't Miss: The use of computers in modern psychiatry

Little Red Riding Hood

Episode: German Episode 1 or Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Authors/Works Referenced: Little Red Riding Hood, The Brothers Grimm (amongst others)
Don't Miss: John Cleese in Bavarian Drag

Greg Veis, YouTube Hunter: Tracy Morgan is our Andy Kaufman

People oftentimes assume Tracy Morgan is drunk or stoned to the bejesus. This is absurd to me, and cruel, too. In insinuating this, these people (let's call them "straw men") devalue a comedian who over the last several years--but particularly since he's literally (both on and off camera) morphed into his character Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock--has become something of a national treasure. Susan B. Anthony is a national treasure. Would you like to cast aspersions on her, too? Honestly. Think about it.

Not to say that Tracy's never gotten down. He's developed quite a Page Six rap sheet, as well as a real one. He was also in How High. But what he's done in the last few years has been ingenious: he's completely erased the barrier between his real self and his comedic persona. The act never stops. This is different than when you talk about certain people, comedians especially, who are always "on." That means they're consciously trying to make you laugh, but that doesn't mean they're acting or performing a specific role. Tracy Morgan, at all times, is Tracy Jordan--and because of that, he's become one of the least predictable--and most blisteringly excellent--performance artists since Andy Kaufman.

Although the writers of 30 Rock use him keenly, Tracy's shtick is really honed for talk show appearances. It's his clash with the phoniness of television's "non-fiction" that works so well. Check out this morning show appearance in El Paso:

And this two part clip from Kimmel's show:

As you can probably tell by now, dude can deliver a line. What inflection! Listen to him deliver the closing line in the ESPN commercial:

"The way I dunk on you is going to look unorthodox." Come again?

What Kaufman had over Tracy is an assemblage of personae. Right now, Tracy's only got one, and good as it is, it might not be able to sustain him that much longer. Gallagher only had one note, and although watermelon smashing had surprisingly long legs, where is he now? Tracy needs a second act. I hope he's developing it. In the meantime, it's probably best to watch this again:


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