Wednesday, February 4, 2015


I gotta admit... I saw the punchline coming with this one... BUT I DID NOT SEE THE EXECUTION COMING! Not only was the production value of this video top notch and the comedy equal parts disturbing & hilarious, it actually made me queasy (especially the uncensored version which, literally, adds about five seconds). Watch it and see for yourself.

I think it is worth pointing out that between stuff like this and TOO MANY COOKS we have reached a new and dangerous (but exciting) era in our internet nostalgia-based comedy-- we have reached the 8th season of Simpsons here, kids. That's right. We are in Frank Grimes territory.

"Who's Frank Grimes?" you ask, gormlessly, oblivious to the watershed 23rd Episode of the 8th Season of the Simpsons. (Don't watch the next link if you don't like spoilers)

HOMER'S ENEMY(spoilers)

Frank Grimes was a character introduced into Springfield in the 8th season of the Simpsons and is clearly designed to be a new straight-laced foil to Homer's chicanery. It is a pretty classic sitcom set-up-- a character, in this case Homer, can't accept that another character disliked them and, in their attempts to win them over, just make things worse. Usually, the lesson to be had in such episodes is that you can't please some people. But that's not the case in Homer's Enemy.

Frank Grimes isn't just a guy who, for no reason, dislikes Homer. He is a meta joke created to be a cynical critic of the Simpsons, specifically the beloved buffoon Homer, from the perspective of a decent and hard-working human being that somehow exists in a universe where a dumb, violent and clumsy Homer is not only beloved by all but is rewarded for his actions by being put in a position of authority-- Homer is in charge of safety at the nuclear plant-- and, despite the show pretending Homer lives in an average or even below average middle class lifestyle, lives in a big house, with a family that loves him, can go on trips, eat lobster on a whim, etc, while Grimes, a much more realistic representation of a real person, is considered to be off-base for even pointing out the bizarre logic that Springfield's universe follows. The fact is that, if you had to deal with a person like Homer Simpson, despite the fact that he is well-meaning, loves his family, and is a goofy character, etc., you would most likely find his behavior and mistakes to be criminally negligent and he would, probably, be in jail or, even more likely, dead. Much like that last sentence, the episode takes a dark turn and, perhaps worst of all, Springfield is untouched by this character's addition.

Frank Grimes comes and goes, like any other subject of the week, and is completely forgotten by the next week. He does come up in later episode(s) but these are one-off jokes. Nods to the audience. Because, while Springfield wasn't affected by Frank Grimes, the audience was affected. They were split between people who saw this episode as mean-spirited and people (like myself) who appreciated the writers having the guts to take the show into a daring direction.

In fact, Homer's Enemy might just be my favorite episode. And some of the new videos being made for mass consumption are embracing the very things that make Homer's Enemy such an important episode for long time fans.

Moving on...

Tom Ska is all about the bizarre and off-putting humor as well and this joke, a rather simple joke, is taken to a logical conclusion in a way that is both satisfying and upsetting. Why is the latter fine in comedy? Comedy, in my opinion, is based on the defiance of expectations.

The reason that "Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!" is such an elementary joke is that is a very simple example of this concept. The expectation of the audience, who has somehow never heard this joke, is that there is a trick answer to the riddle. And there is! The trick answer is that there is no trick answer. The most obvious answer to the question is the answer. Arguably, this is anti-humor, but that's discussion for another day.

My point is that comedy is about the unexpected. Like me going on a Simpsons based rant up above and the other random musings, with hints of scholarly tone, I have been typing for the last thirty minutes or so...

The pacing and tone of TVMAXWELL takes things even further by integrating horror staples into their comedy that will make you uncomfortable. And being uncomfortable, once again, is a vital part of comedy. Laughter is a nervous  response given by primates when exposed to behavior they don't have other behavioral responses for. This is the reason why you laugh when you're tickled and the reason you laugh when something odd or disturbing happens that you don't know how to respond to otherwise. Or some bull*** like that.

I'm done being intellectual for the day. Time to binge on chicken wings and pop.

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