Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rich Little's Unfunny Joke, Redux

A reader who attended Rich Little's stand-up performance at The Cannery in North Las Vegas on Saturday night reports that the impressionist did his little Barney Frank joke again in a slightly different configuration than the one that cracked up the Nevada Republican Party convention on Friday. An excerpt of the account:

"He introduced a woman in the audience who he said was the best female impersonator besides for Barney Frank. I almost yelled that this was the Cannery, not Green Valley Ranch where he entertained last night."

The reader also noted that Little's best impression was of Andy Rooney but that the jokes themselves were lifted verbatim from Steven Wright, whom the reader said he has seen twice at the Orleans in recent years. The act was laden with anti-Obama, Carter and Reid gags, which is fine if they had been funny. Evidently, not so much.

Rich Little is an interesting figure because he was called upon in 2007 to perform at the White House Correspondents Dinner the year after Steven Colbert's scorcher embarrassed President Bush. The reviews were brutal but he didn't do much current-event political humor then.

I'm not one to write off someone just because they're old or they've been out of the public eye for a while. In fact, some of the most interesting interviews come from talking to such people. But it seems like Little wants to make himself relevant again by stealing material, resorting to incredibly simplistic homophobic humor and polarizing audiences who aren't expecting to be polarized. If you go to Dennis Miller or Bill Maher, you know what you're getting. Go to Rich Little and you're probably looking for a little nostalgia.

Little evidently was aware his act wasn't doing well last night, quipping, "If you bomb at the Cannery, does that mean you've been canned?" Ba-dum-dum.

My reader said that Little again noted that he's become a U.S. citizen so he could vote Republican. CityLife Steve Sebelius' clever Twitter zinger on that topic could teach Little a thing or two about political humor: "Recently naturalized Little says he can vote GOP. He's got prejudice down."


Anonymous said...

Rich Little shows up regularly to events led by Sean Hannity. There is a very paranoid conservatism coming from the entire group that goes on these Freedom Concert Tours (Micheal W. Smith, Charlie Daniels, etc). I have worked backstage at a few of these events. The serious tone of these individuals, including Little, is a bit alarming. They are truly building a case among their followers that anyone who speaks out against conservatism, bible believing christianity, and corporatism are truly the enemy of freedom. A far stretch from what founding fathers and drafters of the Constitution. The rhetoric just keeps getting more crass as they continue to become more paranoid.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff in OKC said...

Amazing; my son went back to Afganistan this morning to finish the last 90 days of his tour, my body shop is the busiest ever, and my house is a shambles (both of which are due to the recent, Biblical, hail storm and floods). But the biggest issue on my mind is Rich Little. I am commenting on the last 2 blog posts, so I hope I don't get too confusing.
Regarding the "Queen" joke, I fear that middle-age, white guys like me are caught in the "I am, so I can- you aren't, so you can't" zone. In "Gay Vegas", you say "there is nothing queer about the Four Queens, except its name". This makes me see "Queen" as not being insulting, yet your post about the Barney Frank joke makes me think it may be an insult. So, now I am wondering when it is OK to use "Queen" and when it is an insult? I am especially afraid that it is never OK to use "Queen" if the user is not gay.
So far as the taken verbatim from Steven Wright claim, I suspect this is politically tinted. Little may be an old Republican, but I saw him last year at the Italian Earthquake Benefit Show at the Orleans and just found him to be an old man doing old material for an old audience. My point being who's to say Steven Wright didn't lift it from Rich Little, who was big before Wright was in grade school?
Maybe it is because I am one of Steve Friess' biggest fans, but I see this as being beneath you, sir.


JEff -- the use of terms/slurs by people who are part of the community or friendly to it is different. In this case, there was no context for it. It was just simplistic, unfunny crap. And the point is to put it in context -- would that be seen as OK if it were another minority?

Good luck to your son over there. I'm working on a piece tomorrow about Air Force layoffs, aka rollbacks.

RogerB said...

It's probably an obvious point, but all comedians know that certain subjects require very deft handling and in the wrong place/time/context they can end up causing offence. This was certainly the case and it's evidence as to the very fine line that truly great comedians have to walk.

Jeff in OKC said...

Air Force layoffs? Hell, I thought the DOD never went backward. Just more and more money every year. I'll be interested in your story.

Anonymous said...

If you ever watch comedy central you'll see plenty of what many would consider offensive remarks. I guess it's like the montra that blacks can call each other n****ers all day long, but don't do it if you're white.

If that's ok with you, you are a hypocrite by Definition:

Noun 1.hypocrite - a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he or she does not hold in order to conceal his or her real feelings or motives.

In this case of Mr. Friess. the Motive to say anything to bash conservatives who don't support his agenda.

...... Get a sense of humor people. Have you ever seen Vinnie Favorito? Don't go since you're so hypersensitive, he ranks on every race and gender orientation known to man. ....But he is hilarious also....