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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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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

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Greg Veis: You Tube Hunter Explores...Humor

Listen, life is short and if you, like me, work next to a skyscraper being put up by drunkards it could be shorter. That's why we have to relish in a little light-hearted fun from time to time, eg. going to the beach or eating popcorn with our toes or seeing a Dave Barry column in your paper, refusing to read it, and then ritualistically burning it using your mother's nail polish remover as igniter fluid. There's really no limit to what we can do if we try, and this clip, reinforcing the week's theme of bonhomie and good cheer, is evidence [beware: bad language]:

And so is this video, created by the unlikely—and largely unfunny--internet sensation Liam Sullivan:

Here's the first clip that comes up when you type "funny" into YouTube's search. And here's the first thing you need to know about it: unless you're a 37 year-old divorcee or the type of person who really loves Family Circus, you are not going to find it the slightest bit funny:

If human misery is more your speed, these two should do the trick:

[Hat tip to reader DDW for those two clips, and for the hole in my heart that festers more with each moment we're apart.]

[Actually, reader DDW is just my roommate. Pretty good guy. I'll probably see him when I get home from work tonight.]

And, finally, a wonderful bit of collegiate humor from Dartmouth. This might be one of the best stunts ever perpetrated on a college campus. Three cheers for these guys. Honestly.

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