Watch to Heal

It’s been a tough week so far. I like to care for myself by giving my brain comfort food: favorite movies, music, etc. But it’s hard to do that when you realize that loneliness and despair touches everyone, especially those you turn to for laughter.

I wanted to share one of my favorite things to watch when I’m really sad. Maybe you can relate to the healing power of a grilled cheese sandwich, and a TV character that feels like an old friend.

There’s an inner world we all have where there’s only the joyful, and familiar. Whatever is hurting your heart, remember that your happy place is indestructible.

Labor Day Watchlist! Forgotten Comedies for Lazy Days

I just found out that not only can you not wear white after Labor Day…you also cannot wear seersucker. SEERSUCKER. I mean, what kind of country is this?? Who are you to tell me I can’t let the September leaves fall upon a perfectly tailored, pastel suit that’s delightfully textured to the touch?

Labor Day can be a tough weekend because it supposedly symbolizes the end of sweet summer. Some people have “plans,” but most of us just want to lounge around for an extra day and watch movies. I’m here to help you make the most of the last lazy weekend. Time to take on the fun project of expanding your comedy horizons.

Here’s a list of my favorite funny films you may not have seen or heard of. Take a gamble!

On the record, I do not advocate illegal downloading. Off the record…I dunno. It’s yo thang, do what ya wanna do.

Scotland, P.A.

Nutshell: Macbeth, set in a 1970s diner, with a darkly comedic tone and a scorching-cool Bad Company soundtrack.
Why it’s a treat: The three fates are played by stoners who hang out on a Ferris wheel (including Andy Dick!). James LeGros (who would later play a chunky creepy dad on Girls) is a sensitive and tasty Macbeth. King Duncan is murdered by hot french fry oil (SPOILER!) Also, Christopher Walken.


Empire Records

Nutshell: A bunch of high school seniors sort out their emotions, love lives, and indie-rock persuasions over one summer day in their place of work, a hip but failing record store.
Why it’s a treat: It’s an alternative spin on teenage movie fun at its finest. Liv Taylor is simply SMOKIN’ as a Harvard-bound girl next door, and Renee Zellweger is a punky slut who sings a riot-grrl musical number titled “Sugar High.” It’s so endearingly 90s. There are also pot brownies and a hilarious subplot involving a British pop star.


Girls Will Be Girls

Nutshell: A searingly inappropriate spoof of All About Eve, with every female part (including the extras) played by drag queens. Need I say more.
Why it’s a treat: First, re-read the above. If you can handle abortion humor and general line-crossing, take the plunge. The script is a work of dry, bitchy genius. “My mother always said, ‘Feelings are like treasures, so bury them.'”


It Happened One Night

Nutshell: Prissy heiress runs away from home and is abetted by a dashing reporter. He starts out just looking for a scoop, but they end up falling in love. D’AWWWWW.
Why it’s a treat: You’d never know this film was made in the ’30s. It’s a clever and fast-paced script, and the chemistry between Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable is both adorable and comedically electric. An absolute classic. If you love a good rom-com, watch this movie; it defined the genre.



Nutshell: After he loses his job, girlfriend, and apartment, a depressed city schlub convinces his best friend to join the army with him. Their penchant for sarcasm and hijinks get them both way in over their heads in matters of national security.
Why it’s a treat: I firmly defend this movie as the funniest thing Bill Murray has ever made. He is NOTE-PERFECT here, all skeptical eyes and deadpan mumbles. Also, Harold Ramis is a national treasure, one of the most gifted comedic writers and directors you’ve never heard of, and this film proves that he is a flawless foil. The basic training dance routine is timeless gold. Watch for John Candy and Judge Reinhold, too!


Bullets Over Broadway

Nutshell: An arrogant young playwright, forced to cast a mobster’s girlfriend in his new play, discovers to his chagrin that the mobster has better ideas than his own. He struggles with theater politics while trying to pass off the plagiarized work.
Why it’s a treat: One of Woody Allen’s forgotten gems. It’s such a unique and rich concept, mined to perfection by a stellar cast: John Cusack! Dianne Wiest! Chazz Palmintieri! Jennifer Tilly! The list goes on. It’s lightning-fast, a heady mix of highbrow and lowbrow jokes, with some of the most committed physical comedy I’ve ever seen. A period film that never, ever gets old, with so many innuendos it’s almost impossible to watch once.


Let me know if you explore any of these obscure delights! And if you have some of your own, let me know. Always willing to take some chances. Especially when it’s mimosa-o-clock for 3 days straight. Happy long weekend, everyone!

SNL’s Dark Times

Lately I’ve been watching some random old Saturday Night Live episodes. I wanted to vary my comedy palate and was very curious about the mid-1980s, when whole seasons went down as disasters/failures/freak experiments. There were sudden and strong urges to brush up on my useless TV history. A few wine-soaked hours on Wikipedia will do that to you.

I was reared on seasons 1 through 5; my familiarity with all things SNL between 1975-1980 is deep and everlasting. But I only had a passing exposure to the 80s and 90s, mostly through my “Best Of” VHS tapes: Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler. Apparently a lot of shit went down after Lorne Michaels went on his little walkabout in 1985. There are whole stretches of the show that never get recognized in nostalgic montages, because all the writers were idiotic sellswords and the show was being run like a carnival sideshow.

I have this really bizarre fascination with Season 11. That’s 1985-1986. No one watched it and no one remembers it, because it wasn’t funny at all. But can you please take a look at the cast?



You seeing what I’m seeing? Robert Downey Jr. Joan Cusack. Anthony Michael Hall? Randy Quaid? Who is this group of misfits and how on earth did they force chemistry, night after night?

It’s weird because some of these actors are obviously gifted, and would go on to have interesting and important careers. But none of them had any improvisational comedy talent. Not even RDJ — he’s a wonderful ad-libber, but his eyes are too wounded to bring the light laughs. I’ve been watching episodes of this season here and there, and it’s so fucking painful. It’s like some horrible alternative reality, or a bad dream I had after too much weed and Chipotle. These actors don’t know how to play off one another and work with an audience.

In truth, it was probably Lovitz and Nora Dunn who saved the show and carried it through this very dark time. God bless Jon Lovitz. Seriously. He’s a sidekick who can flawlessly glue together an effective joke whenever necessary. Nora Dunn, too — she was the Jane Curtin of her era, a straight man who played the hard edge of femininity with no apologies.

I also find it really interesting that this season featured both Terry Sweeney and Danitra Vance. Terry was the only openly gay cast member in the show’s history until Kate McKinnon boarded the ship in 2012. This was 1985! Terry got a lot of shit from both the cast and the writers and found it to be a toxic working environment. Poor dude.

And Danitra was also gay, but not out. She kept her sexuality a secret until almost the end of her life. She was the first black female repertory player, and her skills were sorely underutitilized. She constantly played maids and whores and was never given full rein to exercise her jubilant improvisational style. Along with most of this cast, she left at the end of the season.

So this has been a completely useless post. I just find this particular moment in the show’s history so fascinating. Until my next pop culture revelation, I guess? T-minus three hours.