Call Me Lucky is a 2015 documentary about Barry Crimmins. This is his story. The good the bad and the ugly of his life. I added this doc to my queue on Netflix because Bobcat Goldthwait was involved. The first half covers his comedy career – his comedy club – this comedian that should have had a ‘bigger’ career. Then the story delves deeper into Barry Crimmins and his past and you find that he had a huge career – a life impacting career as an activist: a political activist and a social activist.
Call Me Lucky
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Barry Crimmins, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Steven Wright, Marc Maron, Margaret Cho – many many more.
I hate to admit that I didn’t know who Barry Crimmins was. I am a stand up comedy fanatic but it amazes me how there are so many that are great comedians that you just never hear about. Barry Crimmins is one such comedian. You get to see sections of his sets in this doc and he is a truly funny guy. But at the same time you get to see his soul you get to see the good in him. This guy, this artist, this compassionate individual was damaged as a kid and used that damage to help people. He used the pain in his past to fuel his career and his thoughts on life, politics and social injustice.
Well, there’s a couple of things I really still feel I have to accomplish, and if I do I think I’ll be able to put my little tile in the grand mosaic of life. And those two things are, of course, I’d like to overthrow the government of the United States, and I’d like to close the Catholic church. – Barry Crimmins
I heard about this documentary from a podcast. I don’t remember which one, but I do know that it had Bobcat Goldthwait on it. It was circa 2015 and he was promoting Call Me Lucky and talking about putting it together. I added it to my “To Watch” list in the back of my head and promptly forgot about it until i saw it run across my feed on Netflix. You would have thought that I would have remembered from the interview what it was about, but honestly, I didn’t remember the depth of the story.
Something that I’ve always remembered about him is we cannot surrender being the rude, funny, obnoxious truth tellers. We cannot surrender that. That’s our best weapon. – Patton Oswalt
Barry Crimmins was raped as a child. This set the foundation of his life. The loss of innocence impacted his comedy, his outlook – everything. His abuse shaped how he saw the world and he shared his outlook through his stand up routine. But he also took that part of his life and changed the world. When the net became popular in the early 90s, he went to congress to speak out about child porn being shared on AOL. He confronted America Online and called them out about their policy concerning child porn and shaped how those criminals are dealt with today.
He gives a voice to all of those moments that you have when you can’t articulate your anger at this entity at the injustice in the world… he is a reminder that you do have power. – David Cross
He is an advicate for peace – for rights – for life – for people. You want to feel like one person can change the world. Watch Call Me Lucky. Life changing.
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So, I am almost done listening to Nick Offerman’s book Gumption and I have decided that When I Grow Up I Want to Be Nick Offerman. Forget the obvious benefit that he is married to the funny, talented and gorgeous Megan Mullally, was one of the linchpin characters in the hit show Parks and Rec and that he is a fabulous stand-up comedian and author. Forget all of that. He is brilliant. He is thought provoking. And he has a grasp of culture, history, art and our world that few possess. It is to this last – his grasp of our world – that I want to draw particular attention.
Gumption, the book of his that I am reading now, outlines the lives and character of various people throughout history that he sees as having those traits that make them important to the fabric of our nation and the world. Gumption came out in May of 2015 but it needs to be on the reading list of every single American, in particular, those between the age of 18 and 35. Those folks young enough to be molded or at least bright enough to realize they need to be shaped.
Take a look at the tag line:
“Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers”
Literally, he names a figure from history, entertainment, etc to represent various character traits and he divides them into chapters such as Makers, Freemasons & Idealists. These individuals range from George Washinton to Wilie Nelson but they all have something in common. They were/are revolutionaries… visionaries… thinkers… doers. His choices and the traits that he chooses for each of them shows a real love of the topic and a lot of thought aimed at his subject matter. I don’t believe that I have ever read a book twice in a row but I believe that I am about to break that rule. I downloaded it using OverDrive so I will be listening to it as well – read in the dulcet tones that only Nick Offerman can offer.
“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Gumption by Nick Offerman
Offerman is a modern day renaissance man. Stand up comedian, trained actor, author, woodworker. Yup, woodworker. His personal website: www.offermanwoodshop.com, is an actual shop that creates works of art out of wood. It is not a joke, it is Nick Offerman’s business. It offers info on his other projects as well but it is the eCommerce end of an honest to god woodshop, you can buy things made of wood, that he and the artists he employees have made. WHAT!?! The first time you visit the site, you might have the same reaction that I did: “Am I at the right place?” I love the fact that he is more than just a comic or an actor or an author. The fact that he can “do” things and make things, makes him even more interesting than if he was just writing about those topics. If you get to choose one celebrity to get stranded on an island with – you pick Nick Offerman.
“Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous, and unafraid version of you—and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing else does.” – Gumption by Nick Offerman
At the end of the day, this book is life changing. This book makes you re-evaluate what you do, why you do and how you do. I think I might have to buy a couple of copies of this book for those young people in my life that are about to move from being children to being adults. Gumption goes on my annual read list (this is a very short list of books I read or listen to each year). And, of course, as I stated before, when I grow up I want to be Nick Offerman.
Nick Offerman for Mayor of Detroit and then President – just saying.
Jim Jefferies: Freedumb special on Netflix is comedian Jim Jefferies latest comedy special – that is a stupid sentence but Google will love it. As so many stand ups are doing nowadays, this is a Netflix original – if you arent subscribed the Netflix what i wrong with you – it is 2016 for goodness sake. You need to be binge watching TV and watching all of the latest comedy specials.
First a little on Jim Jefferies
All of this has come off Wikipedia, if it is wrong I blame Jim Jefferies or his people.
Jim Jefferies is an Australia comedian, actor and writer. Jefferies tours the world doing stand up but has also been in the low budget Australian zombie film: Me and My Mates vs the Zombe Apocalypse and his TV show Legit. By far is largest acclaim is his stand up but he has recently become known for his stand on gun control. You can learn more about Jim Jefferies and find him on tour at his official website.
On to the special – Jim Jefferies: Freedumb
I love Jim Jefferies. He is funny as hell and his stand up is very personal. He opens this special with stories about his life and the new addition to his life, his little boy. From vaccinations to potty training he pokes a little fun at his life and really connects with the audience over things that everyone finds challenging and many, those with kids, have experienced. Hard discussions over autism, raising your child those day to day fights that you might have with your significant other. From this common ground, Jefferies take a quick turn into more serious matters.
Jefferies, having won over the audience dives into topics like gun control, Donald Trump and atheism. It is not my place or my want to discuss these issues but I want to point something out. This guy is genius. He has won over the crowd, now they have paid to see him, so most if not all know what to expect. Being on stage in Nashville though he doesn’t know if maybe someone that doesn’t hold his same opinion has snuck in. By grabbing the “low hanging fruit” at the beginning of the set – he has a chance to wing his own thoughts and beliefs at people. The most controversial statement:
“The only thing that can beat hate is love”
He admits that love doesn’t always beat hate but I think it is a good idea. He also admits that he gets death threats and emails about his political beliefs, and whether you agree or not you have admire him for getting out their and using his platform wisely. He is equal opportunity with his jabs and barbs. He doesn’t mind pointing out the flaws in arguments and beliefs. His brilliance shines through – more on this in a minute.
Anyway, great special! Jim Jefferies is one of my favorites. As I always say, comedians are the smartest people working in entertainment. Jefferies is no exception. is self deprecation really takes the edge off what he says but what he says sticks with you. One of the last pieces on this special is on freedom – hence the name of his special. Lots of knowledge being onloaded on an unsuspecting audience. And they loved it!
Not for nothing, but he spins back around to something a little more superficial at the end of his set. Again, genius. He throws some truth at the audience a d then brings them all down with a discussion of the beauty rating of the people around the world. Leave those that have the ability to have their mind changed guessing. I would love to know if he got some converts out of the night.
Riki Lindhome is not a household name, but it should be.
Riki started her career as an actor on the stage in Tim Robbins “Embedded”. She then made her debut on the big screen as “Mardell Fitzgerald” in Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004). She is best known though for her comedy. Particularly with her friend Kate Micucci as the duo of Garfunkel & Oates. Together they have put together 4 albums of some of the most irreverent songs ever heard and the first season of a sketch comedy of the same name on IFC (The Independent Film Channel).
The episodes are always based around a song they have written. They basically act out the song and then randomly insert it into the sketch.
Here is a list of just a few of my favorite songs:
To find out more about the pair visit their website at http://www.garfunkelandoates.com/
Riki has a quick wit and a way of articulating jokes that are on the risqué side that makes you stop and think, “Wait…Did she just say that?”. With that said, her brand of comedy may not be for everyone but she is one hilarious chick. She has been in many other movies, TV shows and has her own podcast that can be found on her home page http://www.rikilindhome.com/category/podcasts/
For me the best thing about Riki Lindhome is that I can hear her tell the same joke more than once and each time is different. The words might not be but the delivery and timing are right on every time. Another thing about her, and you will find this if you listen to her podcast, is that she is totally random in what she says and where she is, doesn’t matter. She has done a series of podcast from The Olive Garden Restaurant chain. She invites people to have a meal and then interviews them all the while you hear the interaction between them and the staff.
Riki Lindhome is a comedian that definitely deserves more face time on TV and the big screen. She brings a type of uplifting vibe with her that no one can deny. I believe that even the most down person could listen or talk with Riki and immediately a smile would come to their face.
So, if you don’t know who she is or if you are not familiar with Garfunkel & Oates please go to this YouTube link and start watching https://www.youtube.com/user/rikilind/videos
Believe me, you will be hooked!
I am kind of a stand up comedy nerd. Not only do I enjoy listening to and watching comedians, I really love learning about how they build their acts, how they craft their material, how they juxtapose their words – all of it! All of the stuff that goes into the show. At times I don’t really care who the comedian is and if it someone that I haven’t heard of all the better. I want to watch to see how they work. I want to watch their shows to see how they function. Knoxville, the closest big city to where I live, isn’t a big comedy town. There is a club, I think. There are some open mics, but not a huge comedy scene. Touring comedians come through the area, but it is not quite the same. So, I am forced to listen to albums, catch them streaming and of course dig into podcasts and other projects that my favorites have going on.
I don’t remember when it was that I started really listening to comedy. Now, I don’t mean just laughing along but listening to the words that the comedians were saying and laughing, but that first moment when you realize that they have chosen everything that happens in the set. That the words might not always be the same but that the moments, the pauses, the beats between words and especially the order of the stories being told are all chosen for a reason. Metered. Thought-out. Pre-Ordained. Good comedy is an equation. X, Y and Z are the variables and the solution is somewhere between the rapture of the audience and the final bit that ties the whole set together.
To Relate a few of the people that I think about when I think of those comedy pieces that made me a big ole comedy nerd:
- George Carlin – Carlin was always and still is my go to. His use of language. His love of words. His ability to paint a picture. There is not another like him and probably never will be. When you listen to people describe his way of working, the attention to detail, the writing down of every phrase – there is no doubt why he was one of the greats.
- Jerry Seinfeld – Watching Seinfeld’s documentary about constructing his first set after the TV show really opened my eyes. Working 15-45 minutes of material. Taking out the stuff that didn’t work and then starting over. It gives you an insight to what these entertainers go through and how they work. You don’t think about Seinfeld bombing. But he did and he has and he will.
- The Nerdist – This is a go to podcast for me. When Chris Hardwick has comedians on the show, when the Hostful episodes really focus on comedy and the business of comedy – these are the episodes that stick for me. Again, as much as hearing a good set, hearing how they develop that set is just as entertaining for me.
- Chris Rock – I can listen to a Chris Rock set over and over and over. Hearing him rail against the establishment, rail against popular culture or the lack of culture. He has a voice that was distinct when I first heard it and he has kept that same sense of wit and biting observation throughout his career.
- Aziz Ansari – It is my opinion that Aziz Ansari is the new generations Chris Rock. Seeing him work Madison Square Garden blew my mind. He is standing in front of a huge screen of himself and his jokes and his style, present like he was talking to a much smaller crowd, like he was working a small room somewhere. He is one of the busiest comedians alive today. Working on his own projects, movies, TV shows and always having a new special rolling out.
- Gilbert Gottfried – Dirty Jokes. One guy telling unconnected jokes for an entire album. Screwing some of the punch lines up and still rolling through them . DAMN. Great comedian.
- Lewis Black – Potentially my favorite, when I need a fix of smart comedy. Full of piss and vinegar, Lewis Black rants like no ones business and he works a joke back around on itself with ease. He really make sit look like he is not working hard to get the material out but there is an attention to every word being used that is undeniable.
- Sarah Silverman – A great actress on top of being one of the funniest people on the planet. Sarah Silverman is brutal, funny and just about one of the most talented people on this short list. Watched her on Louie recently with Louis CK, playing poker with the guys and talking about masturbation – I almost peed my pants. If she is working on a project, it is on my playlist at some point.
The list above is not extensive or comprehensive or exhaustive by any means. The list above is just what I thought about when I first started writing about comedy. There will be a lot more pieces about comedy on this site. I love it and I like to promote those things I like and the artists that I enjoy listening to.