What Really Happens When You’re The Last Man On Earth

“The Last Man On Earth” betrayed its title in the very first episode.

If you haven’t watched the hilarious Fox show, now in its second season, that’s not really a spoiler. You can tell from any commercial that Will Forte’s character finds out fairly quickly into the series that he is not actually the last living human who survived some sort of massive viral outbreak.

I think “The Last Man On Earth” is the funniest and most creative show on television today. Every week the show surprises me as it adds depth to a seemingly simple premise and creatively increases the stakes for its oddball cast of survivors.

I also appreciate how the show has made the lead character Phil an unapologetic, unlikable jerk. Continue reading

Your Mistakes Give You Meaning

trump.thm_If you’re in the public eye and you want to find redemption for a public mistake, there’s really only one place to go: Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, a.k.a. the main stage of “Saturday Night Live”.

Actors who take themselves a little too seriously. Celebrities who say the wrong thing on social media. Politicians involved in some sort of scandal.

We’ve seen them all take the stage on SNL over the years.  Just this weekend presidential candidate Donald Trump – a phrase that will never not be hilarious and slightly disturbing at the same time – hosted the show. Over the course of the evening the show roasted his blusterous personality, his reputation as a racist and his tendency to trash his other political candidates.

That’s the catch with coming on Saturday Night Live – you have to be willing make fun of your mistakes. Continue reading

How To Fix A First Season Failure

Muppets-TV-Show-2What’s wrong with The Muppets?

This question has been the topic of discussion on all sorts of major entertainment blogs and sites after the first few episodes of the new ABC mockumentary show starring pop culture’s favorite felt creatures.

The ratings have been strong for the series that reveals the behind the scenes mishaps of The Muppets putting on a new late night talk show starring Miss Piggy. But the response online has been mixed, mainly due to the show’s slightly more racy sense of humor and storylines focusing on romantic and sexual relationships.

If you’ve already chosen to give up on “The Muppets” I respect your decision. Life is too short to watch TV shows we don’t enjoy.

As for me: I’ve seen the first few episodes. I’ve heard the criticism. And as for now I’m not giving up on The Muppets. Continue reading

What Jon Stewart Taught Me About Legacy

Watching Jon Stewart’s final episode of “The Daily Show”, I was struck by something truly wonderful.

It wasn’t the comedy of the episode, though it was as hilarious and irreverent as ever. It wasn’t the inspirational message from Stewart on seeing through the, ahem, bull”crap” of the world. It wasn’t even the powerful final “Moment of Zen” from Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

What got to me the most about Jon Stewart’s farewell was seeing the community Stewart built return to say thanks. 

 

The extended opening segment of the show saw nearly every “Daily Show” correspondent over the past 16 years return in a touching tribute. While “Saturday Night Live” is often hailed as the greatest breeding ground for comedians on televsion, the seemingly never-ending cavalcade of stars “The Daily Show” has certainly given it a run for its money over the past decade. Continue reading

The Real Lip Sync Battle

Who knew watching celebrities lip sync popular songs could be so entertaining?

There’s no denying watching Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon serenade an audience member on “The Tonight Show” with “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” is hilarious. Watching other famous folks dance and pretend to be pop stars is what’s made the spin-off series “Lip Sync Battle” the surprise TV hit of the year.

“Lip Sync Battle” works because it’s fake. We obviously know The Rock doesn’t sound like Taylor Swift. Seeing him pretend to is so ridiculously over-the-top fake – which is what makes it so funny and fun to watch.

Lip syncing is tremendous fun. But it’s also easy and ultimately fake entertainment.

Anyone can lip sync their way through a song. It’s entertaining enough at first. In the end though it doesn’t actually accomplish anything.

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Continue reading

Naked And Unafraid

Discovery ChannelMy parents love this show called “Naked And Afraid.” Ever seen it?

On every episode 2 strangers meet, completely naked, on an abandoned island and try to survive with no supplies and no clothes for 21 days.

To me this show is the height of insanity. I spend the entire time petrified thinking about the extreme discomfort these contestants must be in. I certainly can’t imagine ever “competing” on the show.

Yet “Naked And Afraid” has been going on for 4 seasons. It’s even spawned an entire naked television genre, with “Dating Naked” and other bare-skinned shows populating the cable airwaves.

I used to think “Naked And Afraid” was the craziest show on tv. But I’m starting to wonder if maybe the contestants on this show are onto something.  Continue reading

What’s The Meaning Of Mad Men?

mad-men-season-7-posterA lot of critics have been questioning this final season of Mad Men, as is their job. Seems like there’s been a rising tide of criticism that these last 6 episodes have not been up to the quality of the rest of the series.

One common complaint is that it seems like there’s no urgency to the story. Most people are wondering just what it is this final season and this show in general is all about.

For me this season it’s become fairly clear what Mad Men has been all about this whole time:

Mad Men is about the way Don Draper, and our culture as a whole, seeks meaning in meaningless things. Continue reading

The Unwavering Faith Of Frank Underwood

“You’re thinking about where we are rather than where we’re headed.” – Frank Underwood

Frank Underwood is all about the long game.

From the first moment he confidently addresses the audience in season one of “House Of Cards”, oozing with the southern charm of a slithering snake oil salesman, it’s clear that Frank has a way of getting what he wants.

What I like about “House Of Cards” is how the show makes him, as well as the audience, wait to get there.

hoc_key_013_h.jpgIt’s obvious that Frank is not content with just having a seat in Congress. He has bigger plans and higher offices on his mind.

Rather than dilly-dally with the whole election process, Frank Underwood would rather come up with a plan to manipulate his way to the top. It’s more fun that way, after all.

There’s a master plan going on in the background of “House Of Cards”. Every conversation Frank Underwood has is layered with a deeper meaning. Every relationship he has exists for a greater purpose.

A lesser show might have Frank win time and time again. It might lay out exactly how he plans to get to the top of the Washington food chain. It might have him stumble his way backwards into power.

The fun part of “House Of Cards” though is that it’s not always clear how all the puzzle pieces will fall into place for Frank to get what he wants. You know in the end that he will – he has a plan after all – but you can’t always see exactly how he’ll get it done.

Now don’t get me wrong. Frank Underwood is harsh. He is under-handed. You could argue that he’s downright evil.

But Frank Underwood has a plan. And he sticks to it, despite what life and the government throws in his way. Continue reading

The Indefatigable Hope Of Parks And Recreation

IMG_0010There are a lot of wonderful things Parks And Recreation championed over its 7 season run. Breakfast food. Miniature horses. Pretty much every item on Ron Swanson’s Pyramid Of Greatness.

But the greatest thing of all Parks And Recreation championed was hope.

Leslie Knope is arguably the most hopeful character in the history of television.

Of course she never had it easy. Nearly every open forum the Parks Department held to talk about their hopeful ideas devolved into hilarious madness, corrupted by the cynical and selfish desires of the townspeople: Continue reading

How SNL Made Me A Better Youth Minister

As SNL celebrates its 40th Anniversary this weekend, I just wanted to take a few minutes to say thanks.

You see, I’m not a funny person.

I’ve said funny things before, and I’ve gotten a few laughs in my lifetime. But the truth is most of those funny things were stolen. And most of them were stolen from Saturday Night Live.

635583156024811072-ConeheadsI think it’s perfect that as part of the new SNL app there’s a whole keyboard of SNL-inspired emojis. After all, for my friends and I SNL is its own sort of language of catchphrases and inside jokes.

I’ve never been good at quoting classic movies, but I can recite for you Matt Foley’s entire speech about living in a van down by the river and tell you why there needs to be more cowbell and shout out all of the Spartan Cheerleaders’ routines. Continue reading