Moments in Comedy We Absolutely Didn’t Need This Year
Comedy took it on the chin in 2022 — in the case of Chris Rock, literally. We’re discussing comedians dodging beer cans elsewhere, but even if you ignore those Game of Hecklers hysterics, there were plenty of comedy moments that we just plain didn’t need this year. Here, then, in no particular order are comic-centric chaotics we could do without in 2023.
Quinta Brunson Getting Kimmeled
Hey, what’s the big deal? Emmy voters give awards for outstanding writing to Black women all the time, so who cares if Jimmy Kimmel made Brunson’s acceptance speech all about him? As the Abbott Elementary star tried to give her well-deserved acceptance speech, Kimmel reclined on the floor at her feet. Will Arnett joked that Kimmel had likely downed too many skinny margaritas. Hilarious.
Kimmel called it “a dumb comedy bit,” and we’ll say this — he committed to it, sprawled on the stage for the entirety of Brunson’s camera time. Brunson might have delivered one of those emotional acceptance speeches for the ages, but we’ll never know since the class goof-off was throwing spitballs at teacher the entire time.
Brunson was a great sport, and Kimmel was appropriately apologetic, inviting her on his show to offer his mea culpas. But c’mon, Jimmy — haven’t you had enough awards show madness for one lifetime?
Elon Musk Making Twitter Comedy ‘Legal’ Again… As Long As He Wasn’t the Punchline
One-time Saturday Night Live host Musk fancies himself quite the comedian. And Twitter, the company he recently bought on a whim? Clearly, its previous powers-that-be couldn’t take a joke, censoring surefire material that it deemed inappropriate or even harmful. But once Musk took the reins, the laughs were free to flow.
Well, most of the jokes anyway. It’s a knee-slapper when somebody calls President Biden “Brandon,” for instance. But accounts goofing on Musk himself? A series of new rules were hastily put in place to require the word PARODY to be in full view, with several accounts receiving permanent(-ish) bans for their Musk-roasting. In the process, Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” proved that he had absolutely no sense of humor when it came to himself.
Kathy Griffin Tweeting From Her Dead Mother’s Account
Twitter warriors took advantage of relaxed blue-check rules to create fake Musk accounts to express their vex. But Griffin, whose own verified account was “permanently” suspended when she changed her name to “Elon Musk,” took things to a morbid extreme when she used her dead mother’s Twitter account to complain about unfair treatment.
Pick a side if you want. We can find no winners here.
Trevor Noah Leaving The Daily Show
Well, we got seven years. While never approaching the cosmic cultural reach of the Jon Stewart years, Noah did a more than credible job of making the Daily Show his own. His stepping away says as much about the current state of late-night comedy as it does about Noah and Comedy Central. None of those gigs have the cachet that they used to, a victim of changing viewer habits as streaming moves us further and further away from appointment television.
For his part, Noah realized that the millions he makes on tour free him from the daily grind of The Daily Show. Someone will take his place behind the desk, but the show will never be the same.
Dave Chappelle, John Cleese and Cancelation
2022 wasn’t the year that comedians began complaining about being canceled, but they sure didn’t pipe down either:
- Chappelle was wounded when high school students called him out for transphobic jokes. “When I heard those talking points coming out of these children’s faces, that really, sincerely, hurt me,” he said, before doubling down. “The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it.” (Good news for Chappelle — he’s still getting paid plenty to say it in stadiums and on SNL.)
- “I think it’s particularly worrying at the moment because you can only create in an atmosphere of freedom, where you’re not checking everything you say critically before you move on,” lamented Monty Python’s John Cleese. “My audience is much older, and they’re simply not interested in most of the woke attitudes.”
- Bill Maher continues to fight his perceived “war on jokes.” “We have got to get past this endless, unforgiving, zero-tolerance mindset bent on punishing and disappearing anyone caught saying the wrong thing. The right response to speech you don’t like is more speech, not the lazy, cowardly response of canceling people.”
So thank god for another Monty Python alum, Eric Idle, for bringing some sanity to the conversation. “I didn’t like it when Bill Maher complains about the audience for not laughing,” he says. “They’re telling you they don’t find it funny. There’s nothing wrong with the audience. If they don’t laugh at your jokes, there’s something wrong with your joke.”
Larry David Selling Crypto
What was worse — David getting paid bank to shill for crypto, or people trying to sue him for a commercial where he says investing in crypto is a lousy idea? Pretty, pretty depressing all around.
Some Dude Punching Chris Redd in the Face
There was Redd, standing outside New York’s Comedy Cellar minding his own business, when a guy dressed in a security uniform appeared out of nowhere and slugged him in the face.
The comic, who conceded the punch was pretty good promotion for his HBO special, believes it was no random attack. “He waited for me an hour before I got there,” he explained. “He was on the phone, he had a lookout dude and everything. All I’m saying is this, I’ve never done nothing random where it took me an hour to do it. That’s not what ‘random’ is.”
Not much funny here, except for the conspiracy theories on Reddit.
Mike Myers and The Pentaverate
This review says it all: “Mike Myers has returned to joke about poop, butts, farts and pee.”
Matthew Perry Shooting Himself in the Foot with His Own Book
Perry has had his share of bad luck since Friends ended, but he brought on a whole new pile of it with his new autobiography, Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing. Most impressively, he mourned the loss of fellow actors by spraying stray bullets in Keanu Reeves’ direction: “Why is it that the original thinkers like River Phoenix and Heath Ledger die, but Keanu Reeves still walks among us?”
You know who the internet does not like? People who talk crap about Keanu Reeves.
Bill Murray Doing Bad Things on Movie Sets
Murray, who has been sporadically caustic all the way back to his SNL days, was called out for bad behavior past and present. His current troubles came when he straddled a young woman on the set of Aziz Ansari’s Being Mortal and “pretended” to kiss her through his COVID mask. Somehow, the woman didn’t get the joke and formally complained. Not only did Murray get suspended, but it’s likely that he threw Ansari’s directorial debut under the bus as well.
A one-time indiscretion? Er, no. In the wake of the complaints, old co-stars piled on. Geena Davis, Seth Green and Rob Schneider all shared their Murray horror stories. If only there were some plot device that allowed Murray to relive those days and be a better man for it.
Spotify and Pandora Losing the Laughs
Used to be you could dial up just about any classic comedy album on Spotify and relive the good times. No more, though. No George Carlin. No Robin Williams. No Eddie Murphy (unless you want to listen to “Party All The Time,” admittedly funny in its own right).
That’s because current comics and the estates of other famous names are suing over rights issues. Rather than paying up, Spotify and Pandora yanked tracks from John Mulaney, Sarah Silverman and just about any other funny person you’d actually want to hear. Pay the comics, streamers!
Kevin Hart Without The Rock, Mark Wahlberg Sans Will Ferrell
With so few comedies hitting theaters, it’s hard to decide which 2022 movie was the worst. Oh wait, no, it isn’t.
That would be Me Time, the Kevin Hart/Mark Wahlberg disaster that managed to dominate the Netflix charts despite sitting at 6 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics were raving: “An absolute embarrassment all around,” “a dull disappointing watch” and “Me Time becomes a game of seeing what degrading thing Kevin Hart will do next.” As for Marky Mark? His performance had us longing for the days of Daddy’s Home, which is saying something.
Teen Mom Farrah Abraham Announcing She’s Going into Stand-Up
What comes after stints in reality TV, pornography and rehab? In the case of Abraham, the answer is stand-up comedy. This isn’t her first stab — a few years back, she posted a series of “comedy” routines on YouTube, billing herself as the Domestic Goddess since she's apparently oblivious to the fact that Roseanne Barr got famous using that nickname.
But will she actually do it? That’s what Howie Mandel wanted to know after her announcement: “Have you actually done stand-up comedy?” Sort of. She related an apocryphal story of doing five minutes in a club that had “women on their feet cheering her on,” leading her to believe that her future either lies in stand-up or Ted Talks. Whichever one she picks will likely find her back in this space at the end of 2023.
Molly Shannon Telling Her Grabby Gary Coleman Story
Shannon’s autobiography, Hello Molly, is full of sweet showbiz stories — and this shocker: As a young actress, she shared a manager with Diff’rent Strokes’ Gary Coleman. They met at a swanky hotel, where Coleman invited a naive Shannon to his room. Even when he invited her to sit on his bed, she had no idea what was to come next.
“He was relentless,” she told Howard Stern. “He was like trying to kiss me and get on top, and I was like, ‘No, Gary. Stop.’ So, I push him off. Then, I would get off the bed. Then, he would bounce on the bed. Jump, jump, jump. And wrap himself around me. Then, I would fling him off.”
There's actually nothing funny about Colemans' antics — except for the mental picture of Shannon flinging Coleman around the room. The guy got what he had coming to him.