Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (8/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Gayle in the promo video for “Indieedgycool” (2022)

Gayle posted a video for her acerbic new single “Indieedgycool”, to herald the release of her forthcoming E.P., A Study of the Human Experience: Volume Two (due October 7th). She was also nominated for “Best New Artist” at the MTV Video Music Awards, but lost out to Dove Cameron (who’s technically been releasing commercially-available music since 2013, so I’d hardly call her a “new” artist, myself).

Bish posted an intense (epileptic?) music-video for their new single “Sayonara Saraba”, followed shortly thereafter by a very enjoyable dance-video for the same song (top marks to Aina The End for her creepy “ghost-face” near the end!). Meanwhile, Hulu Japan shared the first part of “Bish Is Over”, a documentary following the idol group on tour, in the lead up to their official disbandment in 2023. Of course, the whole thing’s in Japanese, and I didn’t understand a word of it, but there’s still plenty of live performance clips, and physical comedy to enjoy… though I do wish I knew what they were saying during the interview segments (especially when they’re discussing their initial auditions).

Aina also (briefly) posted a recording of her Kisou Honnou solo show at the Osaka-jo Hall (from March) on her YT channel, to help promote the DVD/Blu-ray release… and considering the price of purchasing/importing Japanese discs to the UK, I’m very glad she did! There are still a couple individual song clips left on there, if you’re curious…

Amber Midthunder as ‘Naru’ in “Prey” (2022)

– Hulu released their Predator prequel Prey (2022), a period-sci-fi-action-flick (!) set in 1719, starring Amber Midthunder as a young Comanche woman attempting to prove her worth as a warrior, while her tribe (and pretty much every living creature in the area) is picked-off by an alien trophy-hunter. I’ve seen the first three Predator movies, and the first AvP flick, and enjoyed them well enough… I don’t think this entry adds anything new to the cat-and-mouse formula, but as a Legion fan I’m glad to see Midthunder getting more screen-time here, and the opportunity to impress a wider audience with her kick-ass heroics. The movie seems to be scoring highly on the review aggregate sites (93% at Rotten Tomatoes, 71% at Metacritic), and according to Wiki-P it was “the most-watched premiere across all films and television series on Hulu in the United States”. Hurrah!

Aubrey Plaza appeared on Conan O’Brien’s “Needs a Friend” vodcast, to talk about her surprisingly quiet childhood (link), how she first became involved with Parks and Recreation (link), her aversion to male therapists (link), her time as a (lying) NBC page (link), her falling out with the Pistol Shrimps b-ball squad (link), and her “criminal” past (link), before delivering a very ASMR-y goodbye (link). She also chatted to Jimmy Kimmel Live guest-host Nicole Byer about the many months she’s spent living in Italy while filming her new movie Spin Me Round and season two of The White Lotus.

‘Judy Hopps’ (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) in “Zootopia” (aka “Zootropolis”) (2016)

– I finally watched Disney’s Zootopia (aka “Zootropolis”)* (2016), a super-cute computer-animated buddy-cop action-comedy, set in a city where anthropomorphic mammals coexist. The story centres around a side-lined bunny police-officer (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) who teams up with a cunning con-artist fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) to investigate a criminal conspiracy that could (literally) tear their society apart! Eep! Aside from the impressive world-building, great jokes, intriguing mystery, and sweet/sad emotive moments, the movie also has a strong anti-bigotry message that I found very admirable.

Patti Harrison starred in (and co-directed) the promo video for Hudson Mohawke’s new track “Bicstan”, which starts off kinda silly before descending into gross/nightmarish surrealism. Yay! Oh, and Sandy Honig co-stars as Patti’s “Mom” (!), getting doused in liquid-poop, as Moms so often are…

– I stumbled onto a fascinating cache of clips from The Off Camera Show, in which Danai Gurira discussed her dual careers as an actor and playwright, and how she came to realise the importance of Art as an “avenue for social change”.

The Linda Lindas posted a mini “tour diary” from their trip to London (England), complete with the obligatory Abbey-Road-crossing shot! They then headed back to the States for a shopping-spree around Amoeba Music (Hollywood), and excitedly showcased all their swag for “What’s In My Bag?”.

Laura Grey as 'Victoria', Greta Lee as 'Paige', and Amy Sedaris as 'JD' in "Seriously Distracted" (2014)

– I binged an old web-series called Seriously Distracted (2014), which was written by Celeste Ballard, and starred Laura Grey and Greta Lee as two young women working at a trend-hopping PR firm, with occasional cameos by Amy Sedaris as their boss. I thought the short skits were very funny, and nicely shot… the credits suggest they were “sponsored” by a (now defunct) soft-drink brand, so that might explain the high production value!

Lana Condor shared her “Essentials For Wellness” with Self, including the sweet story of how she rediscovered a passion for old-timey photography.

– The Beeb finally posted some footage of Nova Twins performing on their “Introducing” stage at Glastonbury (2022), and it’s electrifying… I just wish there was more than one track (“Choose Your Fighter”) to rock out to!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* Fun-fact: For boring copyright reasons the movie had to be retitled “Zootropolis” in the UK (among other countries), so they “filmed” every scene in which the name of the city is mentioned twice, first with the characters saying “Zootopia” and then with them saying “Zootropolis” instead. Eeesh!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (7/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Josie Totah in “Celebrity Family Feud” (ep #8.2) (2022)

– The latest (eighth)* season of Celebrity Family Feud featured several teams of interest to me: Ep #8.2 saw a face-off between Salt-N-Pepa and the cast of The Proud Family (including Keke Palmer and Kyla Pratt), followed by the casts of Bel-Air (2022) and Saved by the Bell (2020) (including Josie Totah) going head-to-head… then ep #8.4 boasted Boyz II Men vs. Amber Ruffin (with sister/co-author Lacey Lamar) *and* Thomas Lennon vs. Joe Lo Truglio (with fellow-actor/real-life-wife Beth Dover)!

– Paramount dropped a trailer for Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, which is due to be released in March 2023. I was trying not to get too excited over the prospect of a big-budget D&D flick co-starring Michelle Rodriguez (mostly to avoid BloodRayne flashbacks), but it looks like they’ve gone for a quirky/quippy Guardians of the Galaxy-esque vibe, and I’m very much on board for that. Squeee?

Taylor Tomlinson appeared on Conan O’Brien’s “Needs a Friend” vodcast, to promote her new stand-up tour (link, link, link). Apparently the two of them gigged together back in the day, so there’s some fun personal anecdotes in there, along with more serious “shop talk”…

Nic Stone (circa 8/20)

– The Marvel YT channel posted an interview with Nic Stone, author of several prose novels about Shuri (from Black Panther), in which she talks about what motivated her to start writing in the first place, and why she identifies with her young heroine.

Nikki Glaser performed a new stand-up special (Good Clean Filth) for HBO… and even though she started off talking about Covid, she quickly segued into (hilarious) sex-talk from there on out. Phew!

– The Letterman YT channel posted a vintage Late Show clip of Janeane Garofalo (theoretically) promoting the movie Reality Bites (1994), though she seems to spend most of the interview mocking her family and arguing against the movie’s marketing campaign.

– The seventh/final season of Trolls: TrollsTopia will begin later this month, and I’ve now managed to catch up on all the previous eps… or rather, I watched the ones featuring hard rockin’ ‘Val’ (Lauren Mayhew), to groove on her super-sweet odd-couple friendship with ‘Poppy’ (Amanda Leighton), and skimmed the rest. I actually bought a little figure of Val for my b-day earlier this year, and wish there was more merch with her on to collect. I also hope they’ll release a soundtrack album of all the songs used in the series at some point, because they can often be quite catchy!

Bish (circa 7/22)

Bish posted several “dance videos” to their YT channel (link, link, link, link, link, link), and I’d highly recommend watching them through a couple of times, to better appreciate what each member is contributing to the routines… though I don’t think it’s too contentious to suggest that Aina is the MVP, movement-wise. In fact, I’m pretty sure she helps to choreograph most of their performances, so I guess that makes her a “coach” as well!

Karen Gillan shared her “Makeup Guide for Redheads” with Vogue, and reflected on the time she was a shaven-head… while Joey King gave an interview to Allure, in which she insisted: “I think every woman should [shave their hair off] at least once in their life.” M’kay. King also filmed an endearingly haphazard demonstration of her “Quick 10-Minute Beauty Routine”, complete with tatty palette pans and impulsive experimentation!

Michelle Cruz Gonzales posted a heartfelt defence of The Linda Lindas on her Punk Writer blog, demanding that we “Quit Calling [Them] Cute!”

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* Or ninth, depending on who you believe…!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (6/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Ego Nwodim as 'Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson' in "Saturday Night Live" (S47) (2022)

Vulture crunched the numbers, and calculated how much screen-time each SNL cast member received during the 47th season, as well as how many “Cut for Time” sketches they appeared in, and how often they got to yell the show’s famous opening catchphrase (“Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”). Fun fact: Ego Nwodim (at 5.39%) actually scored higher than Kate McKinnon (at 4.77%), though that’s obviously because McKinnon was off filming other projects for several weeks! Still, hopefully the (relative) newbies have proven their worth this year, and will be racking up higher percentages next time around.

– Netflix marked (American) Pride Month by organising/airing a feature-length stand-up special, which was billed as “the largest-ever gathering of LGBTQ+ comics”, so snaps to them for that. Among my personal “Stand-Outs” were Billy Eichner, Margaret Cho, Joel Kim Booster, Scott Thompson (as ‘Buddy Cole’), Patti Harrison, and Tig Notaro (who received a geeky-“fangirl” intro from Sarah Paulson!). Booster was also treated to his first solo stand-up special, Psychosexual, which I greatly enjoyed despite his deeply offensive pro-cat agenda. I can only assume that disgruntled feline-phobes are responsible for the implausibly low rating this show currently has on IMDb…?* Or maybe he’s really on to something with his conspiracy theory, and the dogs are down-voting him to bury the “truth”!!!

– The Beeb re-upped an old Later with Jools Holland special from 2001, in which Radiohead gave an hour-long performance of material from their albums The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, and Amnesiac. Well worth watching, if only to see how cheery/chummy Thom Yorke is when he’s chatting to the audience between songs!

Kate Berlant circa 2015

– In the run-up to the release of Kate Berlant and John Early‘s special Would It Kill You to Laugh?, Buzzfeed posted a list of “The 10 Things That Influenced [Their] Comedy”, and I was intrigued to note that there were two separate Lisa Kudrow projects on there (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997) , and The Comeback (2005–14)), and two Jennifer Saunders projects too (French and Saunders (1987–2007), and Absolutely Fabulous (1992–2012)). As for the special itself… er… if I’m being completely honest, I kinda wish they’d stuck with the opening premise of two former-co-stars-turned-feuding-frenemies reuniting after a long and bitter separation, to reminisce and reconcile… with more clips from the fictional shows/movies they made together, and maybe some fake courtroom/news footage, along with testimonials from friends/family/lawyers, etc. There was so much potential there that went totally untapped, and after such a juicy set-up for the faux reunion-show, it was kind of jarring to keep switching to other unrelated characters and scenarios. That said, I did really enjoy the other sketches once I’d adjusted my expectations… especially the one with the “book club” bluffing, and the one where Berlant doms/harasses Early after a shoot.

– Meanwhile, I also got to see Berlant’s guest-appearance in I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (ep #1.6), playing the owner of a very distracting “party house”, who forcefully volunteers it as the venue for a co-worker’s intervention… and I won’t say anything more than that, except that it quickly spirals into hilarious pettiness and absurdity. Oh, and kudos to whoever dressed that set (and cleared the rights), because it’s a masterpiece!

Jenna Ortega as 'Wednesday Addams' in "Wednesday" (S1) (2022)

– Netflix teased their upcoming Wednesday Addams solo-series, starring Jenna Ortega as the O.G. Goth-girl… and so far she looks pretty much “on point”.

Taylor Tomlinson “tried 9 things she’s never done before” for Allure, including improvising a puppet show that takes a very dark/disturbing turn.

– The Beeb finally made good on their Ellie & Natasia pilot from 2019, and commissioned a short series of sketches from Ellie White and Natasia Demetriou. My personal faves included the one with the flirty dental assistant (co-starring David Morrissey) (#1.1), the one with the “wild swimmer”, the one with the “pixie cut”, the one with the “21st Century Sex Guide”, the one with the “choccy” cake, the one with the “candle making class”, and all of the “Internet Nails” ads!

– I binged my way through S2 of Three Busy Debras, and (for tragically obvious reasons) my fave ep was probably the one where they all started seducing each other over the course of three brunches (#2.4)… though the “whodunit” ep was also very good, and I loved Annette Toutonghi’s performance as ‘The Inspectress’ (#2.6). Shout-out to Sarah Sherman who appeared in ep #2.2 as a gibbering/buck-naked basement-dweller, and Patti Harrison who appeared in ep #2.5 as a big-time art-gallery-curator with the improbable name of ‘London England’!

St. Vincent at Glastonbury Festival 2022

Skunk Anansie, St. Vincent, and Róisín Murphy all performed at Glastonbury Festival, and caused me varying levels of anxiety with their ambulating antics: Murphy chose to begin and end her set with a sort of “wandering troubadour” jaunt between a curtained-off backstage area and the actual stage, occasionally changing outfits/accessories mid-song or nipping off for a new pair of trews while the band played on… St. Vincent chose to shimmy down to scale the security barrier in front of the stage, with roadies holding her steady as she sang out over the teeming crowd… and Skin of Skunk Anansie took it even further, climbing over the barrier and wandering through the parting mosh-pit, to scream directly into their grateful faces. Thankfully, no one came to any harm, or even flubbed a lyric, but those were some real arse-clenching moments for me personally!

Nova Twins had a pretty busy month… first they released the Scott-Pilgrim-inspired video for their new single “Choose Your Fighter”, then their second album Supernova came out (charting in the Top 30), and then they played a couple shows at the world-famous Glastonbury Festival too (though sadly I haven’t found any footage of those online as yet). Overall, they’re smashing it!

Jillian Raye of "Giants in the Trees" (circa 2017)

– The “alternative-rock super-group” 3rd Secret released a charmingly low-tech performance of their track “Rhythm of the Ride”, from the self-titled debut album… prompting me to become mildly obsessed with their supremely charismatic lead-singer Jillian Raye, who previously fronted Giants in the Trees (both bands share a couple of the same musicians, most notably Krist Novoselic).

– Way back in April, Taskmaster returned for its thirteenth “season”, with Bridget Christie, Ardal O’Hanlon, Sophie Duker, Judi Love, and Chris Ramsey competing over the course of 10 episodes, building to last month’s finale, which [SPOILER] saw Duker take the trophy home, along with a battered-looking rice-cooker, and the teeth of Christie’s children (don’t ask). This was then followed by a second “Champion of Champions” special, with Ed Gamble, Kerry Godliman, Richard Herring, Lou Sanders, and Liza Tarbuck foolishly returning to the fray… though, sadly, none of my preferred competitors won the day. Boo!

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* 5.5/10 at time of writing. :(

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Rant: “The Kids in the Hall” + “Comedy Punks” (2022)

Dave Foley in "The Kids in the Hall" (S6) (2022)

Back in May, cult/classic/iconic Canadian sketch-show The Kids in the Hall returned for a new (sixth) season, after an absence of, uh, almost three decades now (not counting the 2010 mini-series, Death Comes to Town)! Thankfully the “Kids” themselves were the first to make jokes about (and scream in horror at) how much older they looked now, because it was kinda jarring… though, to be fair, I’ve been watching Mark McKinney in Superstore for the last couple years, and Dave Foley has popped up plenty times in various projects, including a cameo in the final season of his old pal’s sitcom.

Aesthetics aside, I did notice a slight, uh, sagging of the manic energy they displayed in their younger days, but the ideas/characters were as “out there” as ever, and they all seemed to be having a great time working together again, and were still willing to strip bare-ass-naked for the sake of a (lengthy) sketch, which certainly shows commitment! My personal faves include the one with Shakespeare’s bust, the one with the imaginary girlfriend, the one with the murderous cats, the one with the stuck gate, and the one with the “drop average”. I’d forgotten how much fun it is seeing Foley playing a “bad doctor”, so blithely proud of his own incompetence! And he’s still a real eye-catcher when he dresses up in drag, so who knows what that will awaken in newbie viewers…?

To accompany the series, Amazon also gifted us with Comedy Punks, a two-part biography of the group featuring plenty archival footage, as well as contributions from “The Kids” themselves, and several famous fans including Janeane Garofalo, Lauren Ash, and Julie Klausner. Possibly the most shocking part for me was realising how eloquent writer Paul Bellini is when he’s not on-camera mutely holding up a towel! Meanwhile, Slate magazine published a retrospective article by Tabitha Vidaurri, explaining “what The Kids in the Hall taught me about feminism”, which is well worth a read/mull…

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R.I.P. Julee Cruise (1956 – 2022)

Julee Cruise as ‘Roadhouse Singer’ in “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me” (1992)

I was already familiar with Julee Cruise’s indelible/invaluable contributions to the Twin Peaks franchise, where she not only lent her ethereal vocals to the soundtrack, but also appeared on-screen in both the TV series (1990-91 + 2017) and its big-screen spin-off, Fire Walk with Me (1992)… and I knew she’d released several solo albums over the years (Floating into the Night (1989), The Voice of Love (1993), The Art of Being a Girl (2002), and My Secret Life (2011))… but it wasn’t until I read her obituary this morning that I discovered she’d also toured with The B-52s, subbing for Cindy Wilson throughout the 1990s! According to her husband, Edward Grinnan: “She left this realm on her own terms. No regrets. She is at peace… I played her [the B-52s song] ‘Roam’ during her transition. Now she will roam forever.” Sounds like a damn fine way to go, if you ask me…

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (5/22)

Just a note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Chloe Fineman as 'Elizabeth Olsen' in "Saturday Night Live" (ep #47.19) (5/22)

Chloe Fineman flexed her mimicry skills in ep #47.19 of SNL, claiming to serve as a full-time understudy for the other female cast members! Besides her regular colleagues, the skit also featured cameos by host Benedict Cumberbatch and his MCU co-star Elizabeth Olsen!*

Natasha Lyonne hosted the season finale (#47.21), but was kinda side-lined so that departing cast members (including Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon) could get their goodbye-bows in… to the extent that she actually spent one sketch playing a lifeless corpse for 5mins! Meh. Still, when they did let her build up some momentum – as in the “’50s Baseball Broadcast” where she played an announcer who’d just been prescribed “a new medicine” that made her hyper-chatty/gossipy – she really knocked it out of the park (pun!). A couple cut-for-time sketches were eventually released, including one about a cigarette-themed talk-show filmed on a park-bench near (but not too near) the hospital where its smoke-spewing hosts (Lyonne and Fineman) worked as nurses!

– Hulu released a teaser trailer for the forthcoming Predator prequel Prey (love that alliteration!), which is set “in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago”, and boasts a “cast comprised almost entirely of Native and First Nation’s talent”, including Amber Midthunder… though it seems the dialogue will be in English? Either way, the movie starts streaming on August 5th, so get hyped for that!

Josie Totah as ‘Titi B.’ in "Mr. Mayor" (eps #2.8-10) (2022)

Josie Totah guest-starred in a couple eps of Mr. Mayor (#2.8-10) as ‘Titi B.’, a criminally self-involved and money-hungry mega-influencer, who carelessly crashes her car into the eponymous Mayor of Los Angeles’s (Ted Danson) vehicle, then mobilises her devoted fan-base to bully him into apologising to her. Sadly, just a couple days after her first ep aired, Peacock announced it was cancelling her Saved by the Bell reboot, after two critically-acclaimed, award-winning seasons. Boo! Then, just a couple days after her second ep aired, NBC announced that it was cancelling Mr. Mayor as well… which just seems vindictive, frankly.

– The Letterman YT channel posted a vintage Late Show interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus (from May 7th 2000), which segues into a surprise musical number! Apparently she was there to promote Geppetto, a live-action TV-movie produced for The Wonderful World of Disney series, in which she played the ‘Blue Fairy’ who brings ‘Pinocchio’ to life!? Ana Gasteyer also had a small role as a school-teacher (‘Signora Giovanni’), so I’m kinda tempted to watch it… someday… but for now, here’s a clip of Louis-Dreyfus duetting with Drew Carey (‘Geppetto’) on a song called “Just Because It’s Magic” (which could really be the theme-song for any Disney movie, or fairy-tale in general)!

– The official Star Wars YT channel posted a heart-warming clip of Kelly Marie Tran and Billie Lourd being interviewed (together) on-stage at the “Star Wars Celebration” convention, in which Tran neatly sums up why ‘Rose’ is one of my fave characters (i.e., she’s a working-class rebel/hero, not another princess or space-wizard).

Aina the End as 'Janis Joplin' in "A Night with Janis Joplin" (2022)

Bish released a colourful, mildly-vandalous video for their new track “Lie Lie Lie”, which has become a total ear-worm for me. Meanwhile, Aina the End is apparently going to be starring in a Japanese production of the Broadway musical A Night with Janis Joplin, in the title role! I was already having a hard enough time wrapping my mind around that casting when I discovered that iconic African-American singers such as Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, and Etta James would also be appearing in the show played by Asian performers, which… uh… seems kinda iffy, dunnit? Of course, I’d still love to see Aina belting out some classic Joplin tracks, so hopefully it will be popular enough for someone to post a couple clips online…

Stranger Things cast-members have been doing the rounds recently, to promote the show’s new (fourth) season: Joe Keery, Natalia Dyer, Maya Hawke, and Joseph Quinn reacted to “fan theories” for Vanity FairSadie Sink, Noah Schnapp, and Gaten Matarazzo braved the “Wired Autocomplete Interview”… and then Sink went solo to model “every outfit [she] wears in a week” for Vogue!

Jessica Reynolds as 'Wee Deirdre' in "Derry Girls" (ep #3.5) (2022)

– PunkWatch: Ep #3.5 of Derry Girls (“The Reunion”) featured an extended flashback to the “mammies” at their school leavers’ party back in 1977, when the teenage version of Michelle’s mother was a potty-mouthed punker (aka “Wee Deirdre”) played by Jessica Reynolds… who kindly posted this photo (and other behind-the-scenes snaps) on her Insta. Apparently Reynolds had a recurring role in the latest (sixth) season of Outlander, and also starred in the historical horror flick The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw (2020), as a young woman suspected of dabbling with witchcraft and unleashing a plague! Oh-noes! [Disclaimer: I’m aware that a mini-series about the Sex Pistols (directed by Danny Boyle) just started airing, and I know that features plenty old-school punks (including Talulah Riley as fashion-designer Vivienne Westwood, and Maisie Williams as the recently-deceased model/actress “Jordan” (aka Pamela Rooke) (R.I.P.)), but I hate biopics as a rule, and the reviews for this one have been pretty “mixed”, so I doubt it’s going to lure me in…]

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (link)!


* Fun fact: ‘Wanda Maximoff’ (aka “Scarlet Witch”) is traditionally considered to be half-Jewish, so some might argue that Fineman is a better fit for the character/costume than Olsen anyway…

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Rant: Kate Berlant

Kate Berlant in "The Characters" (ep #1.4) (2016)

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to “notice” Kate Berlant, considering how many great shows she’s already been in (e.g. Another Period, The Good Place, and Loki), but suddenly I’m a big fan, and have watched my way through 35+ YT skits… a couple of which also co-star her frequent collaborator/bestie John Early. My faves so far have been: “How To Sit In A Chair” (link), “Beach Painting Club” (link), “How To Make A Reservation” (link), “Paris” (link), “How Have You Been?” (link), “Exploring The Now” (link), “How To Tell Time” (link), “Zoom Call” (link), “The Rock Collection” (link), and a (deliberately) self-sabotaging appearance on The Tonight Show (link). I also found a promo video for a California-based boutique called “The Dog Show”, in which Berlant lip-synchs (sexy-style) to Alicia Keys’s “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart”, and a few (far too brief) snippets of her stand-up act (link and link).

Back in 2016, Netflix “presented” a series called The Characters, giving eight “up-and-coming comedians” (including Lauren Lapkus, Paul W. Downs, and Tim Robinson) a 30min episode each in which to showcase their sketch-writing/acting skills. Berlant and Early both had their own eps (#1.4 and #1.2, respectively), but also swapped supporting roles in the other’s. Of all the characters Berlant plays here, I think my fave has to be the self-consciously “adorkable” YouTuber… on one level it’s a very funny parody, but the sad truth is that if she existed irl I would un-ironically watch those vids every week, and maybe even donate to her Patreon… tch!

Kate Berlant as 'Rachel' in "Rachel" (2019)

Then in 2017, Vimeo commissioned B&E to write/star in an “exclusive” 5x ep “short-form” anthology series titled 555, directed by Andrew DeYoung… who has now posted it for (free) viewing on his own page. Each ep focusses on a different duo, though there is a little bit of overlap between them, as they all ostensibly live in or around Los Angeles, and most of them are (unsurprisingly, given the setting) aspiring performers. Ep #1.3 even features a cameo by Kristen Johnston as “herself”, leading a very intense acting class in which the mains are enrolled! Around the time of 555’s release, the “BUILD Series” hosted a very enjoyable interview with B&E, where they talked/joked about their inspirations for the show, and the origins of their long-standing partnership/friendship. Bless ‘em. Fun fact: At one point Berlant “brags” that she made her (fleeting) on-screen debut in an ep of Lizzie McGuire (specifically #2.12, aka “Best Dressed for Much Less” (2002)), which some kind soul has clipped for YT. Caution: Don’t blink, or you’ll miss her! Oh, and DeYoung has also cast B&E in several unrelated shorts, including the true-life-horror story Rachel (2019), which reminded me of a similar incident from my days living in “student dorms” at university. Shudder.

Kate Berlant circa 2015

More recently, Berlant had a leading (romantic?) role in the old-timey show-within-a-show segments of David Harbour’s 2019 special Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (co-starring Heather Lawless), which were very enjoyable as a Darkplace-esque spoof of stagey horror movies/shows, though I didn’t enjoy the (Berlant-free) modern-day stuff as much. Looking ahead, B&E have another special (Would It Kill You to Laugh?) scheduled for June 24th on Peacock, and Berlant has a recurring role in the upcoming A League of Their Own TV series (co-starring Abbi Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, and Nick Offerman)! Just to taunt me, she’s also appearing at the Soho Theatre in London from July 11th – 16th, but I’m too poor/cowardly to go. Boo!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (4/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Josie Totah for "People" magazine (circa 4/22)

Chloe Fineman (link) and Josie Totah (link) both chatted with People magazine (separately), to supplement their photoshoots for “The Beautiful Issue”, on newsstands (and the interweb) now!

Melissa Bonny reacted to (label-mates) Sumo Cyco’s “Vertigo” video, in honour of the Napalm Records YT channel passing 2-million subscribers! And honestly, every music promo would be vastly improved by in-picture footage of her grooving along to it, imho.

Aubrey Plaza “broke down” some of her most memorable roles for a vid on the Cosmopolitan channel, and also gave a lengthy interview for their magazine/website, which features numerous (glamorous) moving pictures, and another embedded vid where she takes the “Cosmo Quiz” (in audio form, over footage of her rocking various outfits/looks from the photoshoot).

– The third/final series of Derry Girls kicked off with a cameo by Northern Irish A-lister Liam Neeson… who not only played a proper character across several scenes (rather than just being a bait-and-switch “featured extra”), but clearly filmed with the regular cast, and even stuck around afterwards to pose for piccies! Class. Meanwhile, I’d like to state “for the tape” how much I love the faces Saoirse Monica-Jackson pulls as ‘Erin’… and fully support the city of Derry’s decision to immortalise her and the rest of the “girls” in mural form!

Clémentine Delauney in "Melancholy Angel " by Visions Of Atlantis

–  “Symphonic metal” band Visions Of Atlantis released a fantastically goth-y video for their latest single “Melancholy Angel”, taken from the imminent new album Pirates (due May 13th).

– I hadn’t heard of comedy wunderkind Taylor Tomlinson until clips* of her new Netflix stand-up special (Look at You) started appearing in my YouTube recommendations… but after what she modestly describes as an hour of “dick and depression” jokes, I’m fully on-board the bandwagon. According to Wikipedia, Tomlinson began performing comedy when she was 16, in church basements, school venues, and coffee shops… and she’s clearly got it down to an art by this point, with incredible timing, delivery, and “room reading”. In fact, she’s become so adept at “hiding the pill”, that this show somehow left me feeling uplifted and energised, despite the long sequence about her mother dying of Cancer, which (sad to say) is normally the sort of thing that has me reaching for the “off” button. But she kept me watching, and laughing, and rooting for her the whole way through… and now I’m just mad that there’s only one other special (2020’s Quarter-Life Crisis) for me to check out, to keep the high going. I need more “floaties”, dammit!

Regina Spektor shared a lyric video for her hypnotic new song “Up the Mountain”, taken from the forthcoming album, Home – Before And After (due June 24th).

Natasha Lyonne (circa 4/22)

– In anticipation of the new (second) season of Russian Doll, Natasha Lyonne gamely reviewed impressions of herself for Vanity Fair (including one by SNL’s Chloe Fineman), got treated to a “Lady Godiva” hair-style courtesy of Vogue, and revisited some of her most memorable roles with Entertainment Weekly.

– NPR Music hosted another library-based “concert” from The Linda Lindas, as part of their “Tiny Desk” series.

– Comedian Jerrod Carmichael hosted ep #47.16 of SNL, delivering a very topical (but subtle) monologue regarding “The Oscars Slap”, and also appeared in a sketch about a post-lockdown game-show (“Is My Brain Okay?”) presented by Kate McKinnon, with Sarah Sherman and Bowen Yang as his fellow contestants. Then in ep #47.17, host Jake Gyllenhaal starred in a sketch about two cousins with a property makeover show, in which he and Mikey Day slowly reveal how their clients’ dream home has been hijacked by an interfering elderly relative (co-starring Heidi Gardner and James Austin Johnson as the beleaguered couple, and McKinnon as the crazy-old-lady).

Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari, and Alyssa Stonoha were interviewed for Paste magazine, to promote the new (second) season of Three Busy Debras, and rather shockingly revealed that Honig had never heard of “index cards” before working on the series!? Thankfully no one held it against her, and they still let her direct an episode (as well as the trailer, I believe…?).

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link) (which also have their own channel now?), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (co-written by Meyers) (link)!


* The peanut-butter line makes a lot more sense in context, I swear!

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Rant: Monthly Dee-Lights (3/22)

Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):

Chloe Fineman as a “boss ass bitch” in "Saturday Night Live" (#47.14) (2022)

Chloe Fineman took inspiration from Netflix’s Inventing Anna (based on the true-life story of convicted Russian-German “con-artist” Anna Sorokin) to remodel herself as a “boss ass bitch”, and assert her wonkily-accented dominance over the rest of the SNL cast and crew (#47.14). Meanwhile, a beautifully perverse sketch about inflatable toilets (co-starring host Oscar Isaac) was cut for time, but lives on in the YouTubes! Then Zoë Kravitz hosted ep #47.15, which included some great sketches, such as the one with wary shoppers trying to wrap their heads around the concept of “grab-and-go shopping” (link), the one with a hole-obsessed quiz-show contestant (link), the one with a highly disturbing “Maid of Honor” speech (link), and the (cut-for-time) one with some raggedy gas-station “Romeos” (link).

– The 25th season of South Park was kinda short, at only 6x eps (not counting the Covid specials), but still surprisingly funny and thought-provoking after all these years. Having cruelly ignored the show for so long, I wasn’t 100% up-to-speed on all the characters and settings, and some of the voices sounded a little “off” in the opening ep, but that old Park magic shone through all the same, with jokes that swung joyously between the topical and the surreal, the silly and the satirical, the cute and the contentious. Happy Anniversary, you guys!

Patti Harrison on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" (#9.73) (2022)

Patti Harrison appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to talk about her new movie The Lost City (co-starring Sandra Bullock), and to bravely speak out against reading as a pastime.

Lupita Nyong’o got a little more coverage from the Oscars than she may have been anticipating, as an unwitting front-row witness to the now-infamous altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock, co-starring in the clips which have been playing on a non-stop news-loop ever since. Meanwhile, Amber Ruffin lost her mind while recapping the events for Seth Meyers.

Karen Gillan braved the “Wired Autocomplete Interview”… presumably to help promote her new movie The Bubble, although she doesn’t really mention it at all. Oops!

– Watching that David Byrne interview last month inspired me to search out NPR’s recording of his 2012 concert with Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent), in support of their collaborative Love This Giant album. The staging starts out a little basic, but pretty soon they’re dancing in-step with their eight-piece brass section, casting a spell with their strange, juddery choreography… and their singing’s damn fine, too!

Róisín Murphy performed a live acoustic version of (Moloko’s) “The Time Is Now” on The Late Late Show with Jamie McCredie, in aid of the Irish Red Cross’s fundraising appeal for Ukraine, which raised over €2 Million.

Alyssa Stonoha as 'Debra', Mitra Jouhari as 'Debra', and Sandy Honig as 'Debra' in "Three Busy Debras" (S2) (2022)

– Adult Swim posted a trailer and a little clip from the forthcoming (second) season of Three Busy Debras (written by and starring Sandy Honig, Mitra Jouhari, and Alyssa Stonoha), dropping April 24th. Squeee!

– I belatedly binged the first season of Dicktown (2020), in preparation for the new season that aired on FXX throughout March. This “short form” animated sitcom is written by John Hodgman and David Rees, who also voice the main characters (‘John’ and ‘David’), a pair of high-school-enemies-turned-best-friends/private-detectives, solving small-scale mysteries in their eponymous hometown. The character design recalls classic Scooby-Doo cartoons, though this series is aimed squarely at adults, with plenty of cussing/drinking/sexual-references, and ongoing friction between the “middle-aged” heroes and their “millennial” client-base. The humour is a low-key combo of witty, satirical, silly, and crude, with occasional moments of genuine sweetness and pathos. I dig it. Recurring guest-stars included Heather Lawless as ‘Jen the Waitress’ (eps #1.6-7/9-10), Obehi Janice as John’s longtime crush (and actual cop) ‘Heather Culbreth’ (#1.7/9), and Anna Akana as “vintage” video/vinyl-store clerk ‘Meg’ (#1.2/5). One-time voice-artists included Zach Galifianakis (#1.1), Kristen Schaal (#1.8) (as a witch!), and Janet Varney (#1.8).

– I “discovered” a new singer/songwriter going by the unassuming name of “Gayle”, via an inferior cover of her hit single “ABCDEFU”… which is a laidback-but-sweary kiss-off to an unworthy ex, taking the time to scorch their “art” while sparing their blameless dog. Bless.

Caitlin Doughty in a “Spirit Photograph” (circa 03/22)

Caitlin Doughty exposed (pun!) the Victorian “grift” of so-called “Spirit Photography”, and even modelled for a couple shots herself, using authentic old-timey equipment (courtesy of NYC-based artist & forensic photographer Jolene Lupo).

The Linda Lindas released a super-fun black-and-white video for their latest single, “Talking To Myself”, which sees the band being stalked by lookalike dolls intent on taking over their lives. Oh noes! They’ve also sat for several interviews, and appeared on the cover of Kerrang! magazine, to promote their hotly-anticipated debut album Growing Up, which will finally be unleashed on April 8th. On the down side, I was disappointed to discover they’d collaborated on a “limited-edition clothing capsule” (!?) with the fashion brand/store Opening Ceremony, which sells T-shirts costing $180! That’s not a typo!! ONE-HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTY DOLLARS!!! FOR A T-SHIRT!!! WTF!!!???

– Perennial faves include Meg Tilly‘s Cozy Tea Times (link), Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings (link) (which also have their own channel now?), Star Wars Explained (link), Bailey Meyers‘s gaming streams (link), Jon Bailey‘s Honest Trailers (link), and Honest Game Trailers (co-written by Meyers) (link)!

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P.S.A.: “Come Together” For Ukraine

“Come Together” by Lifeline International (3/22)

Lisa Kekaula (of The Bellrays) has contributed her distinctive vocals to a collaborative cover of “Come Together”, in aid of the people of Ukraine and Eastern Europe (via UNICEF). The international ensemble also includes Julia Sanina (of Ukrainian rock band The Hardkiss), Richard Kruspe (of Rammstein), and Chris Connelly (of Ministry/Revolting Cocks). Aside from the fact that 100% of the artists’ proceeds go directly to a great cause, it’s also a banger in its own right, and should really be topping the charts for weeks on end. Meanwhile, and I really can’t stress this enough: NO TO WAR!!!

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