When Jack Meets Ass

It was around 10 years ago that the world was first introduced to the world of Jackass and it’s founder Johnny Knoxville. I think I was in college when it first aired on MTV. Jackass took off from where America’s Funniest Home Videos began, giving society it’s fix of nut shot and stunts-gone-wrong humor. The difference was that the Jackass crew took these stunts to a whole new level. They did things like ‘Human Bar-B-Que’ which was a guy in a flame retardant suit strapped with meat hanging over a pig roast. It was pretty cool and young boys in California thought they could try it themselves, and did, and got (surprise) burnt real bad. Lesson learned. They also did stunts like ‘Poo Dive’ which was, well, a dive into poo. Not for the faint of heart, or anyone really.

So fast foward 10 years and the Jackass boys are now kings of the box office, raking in $50 million on the first weekend for this latest installment, in 3D no less. I was on the train a few weeks ago and I overheard a woman say ‘I’m not paying 15 bucks to see Steve-O puke in 3D.’ Well lady, your loss. The film ups the ante, to say the least. I’m not sure what they weren’t allowed to show, because they really do show anything and everything. There is urine, excrement, sweat, and lots of it. Why are people drawn to this? I’m not really sure. Personally, I enjoy the sight of Steve-O getting hit in the nuts repeatedly. It never fails to amuse me. The gags with outhouses are funny, although there are scenes when you just have to look away for fear of getting sick. Actually, there are a few portions of the film where the crew stops to document one another vomiting because of something Steve-O has done. Ha!

It is a funny and surprising film. There are a lot of hidden gags, like the guy whose painted butt is placed inside a mini-town scene to look like a hill, only to see the hill start bubbling. Oh yeah, it gets worse from there. There is the pee gag, where a camera is trained very tightly against a man’s penis, so you can see the tip, but you’re not really sure what you’re looking at.  It sort of looks like a pumpkin. Then he starts peeing on people and laughter ensues, honestly. The last and most important stunt places Steve-O in a filled port-a-potty, which is attached to two cranes and is catapulted air. So what happens is, Steve goes up, shit goes flying – everywhere, and then well.. that’s the deal. It is both laughter and vomit inducing, much like The Jersey Shore.

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The Man, The Myth, The Guy with a cellphone

So the other day, we’ll call it yesterday, I was walking home from the gym. The Mr. 29th St. at 23rd Avenue competition is only weeks away, and I really can’t afford to miss a good day of lunges. So I’m walking through Steinway also known as Little Morocco because it is populated by little Moroccans, moreso because there is a mosque and 18 hookha bars along the street. I cross the street and a man on his cellphone approaches me. Now in New York, much like Las Vegas, it is a part of life that people will be handing you things in the street, if not wanting things from you like money or directions across the street. In Vegas it tends to be a line of immigrants who snap these little cards that have pictures of naked women on them with phone numbers. This is how men and women used to meet before Facebook. You walk down the line and they hand you the card and you gain entrance into the Ancient and Honorable Order of Men who Like Pornography.

In this case, it wasn’t Vegas, it was the highway overpass in Astoria, and a man on a cellphone approached me. We sort of walk past each other as people who don’t know one another tend to do on the sidewalk. But he stops, and motions to hand his cell phone to me.  So the first thing I think is ‘wonderful, a free cell phone, what a nice guy. Oh it’s T-Mobile, F you pal!’ and then I tossed it oncoming traffic, which swerved because no one likes T-Mobile.  The second thought I have is the census has already been taken, so he can’t work for them. Is this some sort of weird and wacky hidden camera show, where he hands me the phone and I say ‘hello?’ and then a van filled with Ritz crackers comes roaring down the street to give me a prize? I dunno. So I take the phone, awkwardly, and I say ‘whazzzzzzza?’  I didn’t, I said hi, and the woman on the other end says ‘hi, we’re located at so and so address on Steinway. We are a travel Agency.’ So, this man is headed to a travel agency and he doesn’t speak english so he can’t understand where he is supposed to go, let alone where his flight is going. I repeat what she tells me, and then the man hands me a piece of paper with a map and asks me to write down the address. How old school is this, first of all, a man is asking for directions. There is not a smartphone to be found with google maps and an app that tells you where the place is. This poor guy is trying to find a location using a map and directions. I probably shoud have kidnapped him and brought him to the Smithsonian.

So I write down the address, and then point to where the Dunkin’ Donuts is, and motion that he heads that way. I tell mystery lady on the phone that mystery man is headed in her direction, I hope. I then hand the phone back to the guy, we’ll call him Osama, and he gives me a ‘thank you, my friend.’ Then I was going to go for the ‘we should really get together sometime if you ever need more directions,’ but he wasn’t that cute. Just another day in New York.

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Greg Giraldo

The first thing I heard about Greg Giraldo this week was that he had been found unconscious in his hotel in New Jersey after overdosing on prescription drugs. It said he was in serious condition, and that he was doing a four-night stint at a local comedy club.  It added that he was scheduled to headline a show for recovering addicts at The New York Recovery Rally at Randall’s Island on Saturday. My immediate thought was that I hope he pulls through, and then I thought about Artie Lange returning to the stage this weekend, nine months after doing a self-inflicted 50 Cent impersonation with a knife. If you had told me, or anybody that Artie Lange would be around and Greg Giraldo wouldn’t, you’d get weird look. Two days later, Greg had passed away at the age of 44, leaving behind 3 sons, and a wealth of comedy.

Greg Giraldo was introduced to me via Comedy Central. I don’t remember the first time I saw him, but it was probably on ‘Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn’ which aired around 2003-4. He was regular and he was a really funny guy. He was an informed, smart comedian. A lot of people didn’t know that he had a Harvard Law degree but had left that life behind to pursue stand-up. They also didn’t know that he was a recovering addict, but you never heard about him in the papers getting arrested – as you might an Artie Lange or Andy Dick – or just Andy Dick. His best segment on the show, by far, is where he owns Denis Leary on a political discussion, and goes as far to say that maybe if Denis had writers on his show it wouldnt’ have been cancelled. I love Denis Leary, but it was a great back and forth that showed you just how smart Greg was.

Greg was also a roast master to the Nth degree.  He rarely hosted them, that duty was left to Jeffrey Ross, but when he got up there, he would always kill. Quite honestly, Comedy Central roasts aren’t all that funny. They aren’t like the old school Dean Martin roasts that you see televised late at night, with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Don Rickles going after people.  They usually have one or two real comedians who can actually zing people, and then 5 other half-celebs who need the work so bad that they’re willing to sit there and be made fun of. Hulk Hogan and Pamela Anderson had to be the two most uncomfortable nitwits on stage at the Roast of David Hasselhoff – but hey, when you need money. So back to Greg Giraldo, he would just dominate at each roast – if you missed the first hour and tuned in for his 5 minute bit, you’d be fine.

I was happy that they picked Greg as a host for Last Comic Standing, because if there’s anyone who can give a comic on the rise some tips about how to improve, it would be him. He understood the humor and could give a meaningful critique of each set, rather than be an ‘I don’t get it’ judge – I’m looking at you anonymous comedian.

I was fortunate enough to see Greg at Comix over the summer. I was really excited since I had seen his Comedy Central Presents show and I knew what to look forward to. He was really funny, and he even delved into his past as a recovering addict and that struggle that that entails. After the show when the comedians sit by the door and greet people, I was going to go say hi, but there was a line and he was chatting, and I don’t like waiting, so I figured I’d just catch him at the next show. Lesson Learned.

For more information on the Recovery Rally visit www.phoenixhouse.org

RIP Greg.

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