Monday, March 12, 2007

A tribute to comedian Richard Jeni

It appears that Rich took his own life this past weekend. I, like many others who had occasion to see him in person or on television, to meet him, to spend some time talking with him, am deeply saddened by this news.

Rich was a superb comic... and a superb human being. He was admired by other comics not only for the brilliance of his material and his prolific writing of new material, but for his generosity of spirit. He was a good guy. He had a good soul.

Back in the day when I was kicking around and doing a little stand-up, going to see Rich was a pilgrimage of sorts for up-and-coming comics. He was the best. A master. In total control with brilliant stuff, incredible timing and body language, totally at ease on the stage.

And after the show, he'd hang out and talk with us like we were his peers (and none of us were). He was funny, self-deprecating, encouraging.

I'll miss him, as will many, many others. He was never as big as many thought he deserved to be, but I think he was one of the two greatest comics I have seen in my lifetime, the other being Richard Pryor.

Goodbye, Rich. On a nice note, your death has made me go back and look at some of your brilliant work, the kind of stuff that made me laugh so hard, my sides were sore for days after seeing you.

Here's one of my many favorite bits:

Rich Jeni describing staying up after a show to watch the insanely bad film, "Jaws IV: The Revenge."


Monday, March 05, 2007

Bush to appoint bipartisan commission to look at appointing of bipartisan commissions

President Bush's announcement today that he will appoint a bipartisan commission to look into the failures at Walter Reed Medical Center was quickly followed by a second announcement detailing his plan to appoint a bipartisan commission to look into the appointing of bipartisan commissions.

Bush to appoint commission to study why so many commissions have been appointed

WASHINGTON (Rooters) - President George W. Bush announced today that he would be appointing "a bipartisan commission of respected officials" to study "just why the heck I've needed to appoint so many bipartisan commissions" during his tenure as President.

Bush, in his weekly radio address, said that between the 9-11 Commission, the Iraq Study Group and a new bipartisan commission that will look into failures at Walter Reed Medical Center, he "senses a pattern in my administration of having to appoint bipartisan commissions to look into things we may have screwed up."

The President's blunt assessment of the various commissions' roles in investigating administration failures comes as a new poll puts his job approval rating at its lowest point ever, 29%.

One administration source who asked not to be identified suggested that a more contrite Bush is "part of a larger strategy to make Americans feel empathy for someone who is just not that bright but is doing the best he can."

"We're calling this our 'Special Olympics strategy,'" the source said.

Bush noted in his radio address, "This new bipartisan commission will be charged with studying previous bipartisan commissions with the purpose of identifying patterns of behavior that led to the appointment of past bipartisan commissions."

Administration spokesman Tony Snowjob said that the final recommendations of the bipartisan commission studying the appointments of previous bipartisan commissions will be ignored, as have the recommendations of every previous bipartisan commission.

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Brooks predicts `08 Dem win; contemplates suicide

So I guess the only question is, who should replace him at The Times?

Actually, he leaves himself an out, suggesting that he could live with Bill Richardson as the Dem nominee for president.

But one had to love his opening line:

So there I was, sitting in my office, quietly contemplating suicide. I was watching a cattle call of Democratic presidential candidates on C-Span.

Essentially, Brooks is looking forward to the inevitability of a Democratic president and deciding that he couldn't live in an America that would elect a Hillary or an Obama.

Should it come to pass, David, I'll dutifully take up the task of penning your obit.

I have no `08 preference at this point (though I would be inclined to support a candidate who says, unequivocally, "Out of Iraq, period"). But if supporting Obama, Edwards or, god forbid, even Hillary means creating an opening on The New York Times op-ed page, I'll back any of those candidates.

Sure, it's a trivial reason to support a presidential candidate, but with our Democratic Congress pussyfooting around on Iraq as more die and billions more dollars are flushed down the toilet, I'm looking for any little, emotionally-satisfying victory I can find.

Because what is really going on is just too damn depressing.