Carl Reiner: The Bare Facts

Carl Reiner, that classic comedy writer, creator of the Dick Van Dyke television show—and movie director, playwright, performer, impeccable straight man—died last week at age 98.

Here’s one of our favorite scenes from the Dick Van Dyke Show that featured Reiner and Mary Tyler Moore. The set up is that Laura, played by MTM, has blabbed on a television talk show to millions of viewers that Reiner’s vain character—who happens to be her husband’s boss—is bald, so MTM goes to apologize to him, with hilarious results.

RIP. As the man said, Comedy is hard.

Thanks to YouTuber GetKempt

Monk In Quarantine

This one is strictly for the Monk nerds. If you’re not a fan, I’m afraid it won’t mean much. But if you are familiar with the show–then I think you’ll be delighted and may LOL a few times as I did. My favorite part: the dishwasher.

There aren’t many television shows that I watch, but come Thursdays, you’re likely to find me sitting, watching hour after hour of Monk re-runs that are thoughtfully played from 11am-8pm, non-stop, each Thursday on one of my local TV stations.

The premise of the show, that of a detective with severe OCD doesn’t necessarily sound very appealing, but the writing for the show is really strong, and the way the cast, especially Tony Shalhoub, wrings comedy, mystery and pathos out of each episode is always enjoyable for me to watch.

Thanks to YouTuber Peacock

 

Sympathy For The Devil

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Merri: “The Good die young, But evil is forever.” –John Donne. Hello this is Stale Air, and I’m Merri Boast. Today I’m interviewing our special guest, in this time of coronavirus, an expert in all things diseased and evil, The Devil. Welcome to Stale Air.

Devil: Hi, thank you Merri. Love listening to your show. Big fan of the station. Learned the name of so many different kinds of cheeses from it. And I just never get tired of those Car Talk reruns.

M: Thank you, but before we begin, how are you doing? Is the shelter in place affecting you?

D: Oh, thanks for asking, Merri. It’s tough being confined to the nether realms, 24/7, but I think we’re making do. Can’t complain. Keeping warm. Super busy. I’m very proud of this coronavirus project we’ve been working on. If you don’t mind me tooting my own horn, I think it’s one of the best things we’ve come up with in a long time. People understand now that the world is no longer in a state of limbo, but actually it’s Permanent Hell. And down here we’re pleased as punch to parade our brand–so to speak–parade our brand in front of the population as much as we can. And Oh and speaking of Hell—I want to thank Jeff Bezos , a real buddy, at Amazon for continuing to crack the whip.

M: Good to hear that you are doing well. I’m—I’m not quite sure how to address you. Is Prince of Darkness or Mephistopheles all right?

D: Well, we don’t like to use those names anymore, Merri. They’re kind of stuffy and old-school, and frankly just a wee bit pejorative. Prince of Darkness, really? To tell you the truth, Merri, I prefer Beel-ze-bub. Or for short, just plain Bill is fine. That’s a good Christian name…if you’ll pardon the expression.

M: Bill it is, then. Bill , we all recognize that this has been an unprecedented time—

D: –Thank you–

M: and most of us are wondering if the rest of us are going to make it through this coronavirus epidemic. Do you have any insight into this?

D: Well that’s a great question, Merri. It’s not as simple as it might first appear. Now some may say, what’s the problem, just spread the virus and kill as many people as you can. Clear win for our side. But actually I feel that’s short-sighted. It’s totally forgetting one of the tenets of our side, which is to maximize the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth for the greatest length of time. I’ve brought along a little graph here, cooked up by our art department—thank you Jared and Ivanka—and you’d see on the graph, if my ZOOM connection were better, how the line spikes upwardly very quickly over just a few days. Seems like a clear touchdown, but really, just about anyone can do that. I mean, any of your minor demons could probably have accomplished that. It’s not rocket science. We felt though, that we wanted to go the extra mile to extend the weeping and wailing and particularly the gnashing of teeth as much as possible. And that’s where really we needed to call in our staff, our entire team.

M: So you don’t work alone?

D: Oh, good Lord, no. There’s just too much to be done. I’m basically a hands on guy, and while I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, I can’t do it all alone. I can’t be everywhere at once. I’m not a miracle worker. It takes a village.

M: I’m wondering, where do you find your staff? Aren’t people horrified when you call on them?

D: Oh no, not at all. We offer a very nice benefits package, 12 vacation days a year, 401K. Cafeteria with a hot foods buffet. Healthcare plan if you choose to buy into it. So we’re very competitive with most non-European enterprises. It’s true, though, that there have been some periods in history, I’ll admit, where it was hard to find people willing to come over to the Dark Side. It was touch and go there for a while during the Garden of Eden thing—and I want to give a shout out to The Snake: Thank you Snake, never gets old. Big Hugs. Now the 60s were tough, finding assistants to insert ourselves into the whole peace, love and anti-war movement was challenging, but we managed, and of course the whole post 9/11 era. Actually, I have to give you guys credit. We borrowed the embedded propaganda approach from you. So well done. And the mass illegal warrantless wiretaps?—really a stroke of genius on the part of your government. We couldn’t have come up with that one ourselves. It’s great to see stuff like that crowd-sourced.

M: This is Merri Boast for Stale Air and I’m talking with Beel-Zee-Bub, Master of Chaos. We’re discussing his plans to cause the maximum of pain and suffering for the greatest length of time. Bill, I was wondering if there was anything in your childhood that might have influenced your present life’s work? Were you an odd child?

D: Ha. Well Merri, that’s funny you should ask that. I was talking with some friends about that the other day, and they were making fun of me because as a child, believe it or not, I didn’t lie. I mean I just could not lie. Every time I thought about lying, I would just get this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and I would just clam up.

M: Well you certainly seemed to have gotten over that.

D: Thanks, Merri. I say immodestly perhaps, we feel we’ve come a long way. Interning for Mark Zuckerberg did wonders for us. And I want to acknowledge, too, the great work you folks at your station have been doing. We’re just so darn proud of the lies your station has spread. The whole lead up to the Iraq war, the consistent demonizing of the Venezuelan socialists, and the ongoing excuses for the worst depredations of capitalism, all coated with a veneer of hip humanity, really brings joy to my heart. It makes me feel appreciated, and like our work has not been in vain. So kudos to you.

M: Thank you. I’d like, if you don’t mind, to get back to this coronavirus situation. You spoke about maximizing the pain and suffering. Could you tell us a little more about that?

D: Sure. Our team felt that we didn’t want it over in a day or two. So we tossed around the fireball a bit to brainstorm how we could draw this thing out. And I don’t remember who it was, but one of the team members—might have been Mnuchin or Miller, I forget right now—suggested that we have an out. In other words, don’t let people die right away, but hold out the possibility of some hope to extend the timeline.

M: And that’s where you got the idea of social distancing.

D: Exactly, Merri. It is a genius plan, but you see there’s the danger you can go too much the other way, too.

M: Meaning what exactly?

D: Well, meaning our plan to offer up hope might work out too well. What if social distancing actually worked and the virus was completely wiped out?

M: That wouldn’t fit into your plans would it?

D: It certainly wouldn’t, Merri. So we had to figure out a way to provide mitigating circumstances and yet make sure they were not too mitigating.

M: And that’s where the President came in.

D: Yes thank God for him. He really did such yeoman work in sending out mixed messages as to whether social distancing really worked. He made sure that some of the population would quarantine and some wouldn’t. Really perfect to extend things. Oh, and the masks! I don’t mind telling you I LOL’d when I heard him say that he personally would not be wearing a mask. Genius. Keep the people in a state of total confusion as to what works and what doesn’t, and this thing can extend out to the Second Coming.

M: The Second Coming?

D: Slouching towards Bethlehem, Baby, Slouching towards Bethlehem.

M: Thank you, Bill.

D: Thank you, Merri. I’ll be seeing you real soon, okay?

M: I’ve been speaking with Beel-ze-bub, co creator of the coronavirus, The Macarena, and The Ellen Show. Next week we’ll be talking with Vice President Joe Biden about his no-malarkey recipes for grilled cheese. This is Merry Boast …for Stale Air.

(And in a bit, I’ll have the Arts Express audio production posted.)

The Math Lesson: Abbott & Costello

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With Joe Kirk as Mr. Bacciagalupe. Here’s are some fun facts: According to ever-reliable Wikipedia, Kirk’s original name was Ignazio “Nat” Curcuruto,  his family was from Sicily, and… he was married to Lou Costello’s sister Marie.

Thanks to YouTuber Kovacs Corner

That Musical About The Two Rival NYC Gangs…

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A delicious parody of West Side Story with Will Ferrell and his SNL compatriots.

Thanks to YouTuber

“…Followed By The Pound Sign…”

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Mary Murphy

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Mary Murphy keeps you hanging on the line in her performance of my short comic sketch “At The Sound Of The Tone,”

Click on the triangle above to hear the sketch as broadcast today for Arts Express radio on WBAI 99.5 FM NYC.

 

“At The Sound Of The Tone”

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

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[Telephone rings five times]

Hello. Welcome to Freedom and Democracy, Incorporated. All of our representatives are busy at the present time. Please hold on while we downsize our workforce further.

Your estimated wait time is centuries of struggle.

Your call is important to us. Please hold on while we systematically violate your rights.

Please note, this call and your household may be monitored for quality assurance.

If you make more than $1,000,000, at the sound of the tone, please press 1.

If you are a straight white man, at the sound of the tone, please press 2.

If you are none of these, please hang up.

If you wish to continue in English, at the sound of the tone, please press 1; If you wish to continue in Spanish, please hang up.

At the sound of the tone, please state your political affiliation. If you are a Republican press 1; if you are a Democrat press 2; if none of the above, please hang up.

At the sound of the tone, please state the four digit pin number of your savings account, or you may use the keypad to enter it, followed by the pound sign.

So that we may serve you better, at the sound of the tone, please offer up your first born. You may use the keypad to consent by typing Yes, followed by the pound sign.

In order to process your order more efficiently, please remain on the line while a representative is sent to your home to assault you.

Thank you for calling. Have a blessed day.

 

 

Psychic Spoon Bending With Fry And Laurie

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The mysterious Hugh Laurie demonstrates his awesome psychic spoon bending abilities to the somewhat skeptical Stephen Fry. Any resemblance to psychics living or dead is purely intentional.

Thanks to YouTuber Meghan Lee

The Great Debate

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This parody debate of Trump vs. Sanders was done on the @midnight television show in 2016, but it looks like we may be experiencing Groundhog Day soon. James Adomian does a nice job of capturing Bernie, but Anthony Atamanuik’s Trump is uncanny. It’s way beyond Alec Baldwin’s very good impersonation; it captures something more sinister.

Thanks to YouTuber Comedy Central

The Mighty Arts Express Players Present…Gun Shy

 

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Here’s our radio version of the little sketch, Gun Shy, as broadcast yesterday on WBAI, during the Arts Express radio program. Many thanks to The Mighty Arts Express Players, composed of Pearl Shifer and Mary Murphy, and thanks again to Prairie Miller for all the encouragement.

Click on the triangle to listen.

The Argument Clinic: Monty Python

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Not every Python sketch stands the test of time—they were too seat of the pants and careless for that—but even with its non-ending, this sketch featuring John Cleese is still one of my very favorites.