On Harry Shearer, and This Show I Heard on NPR

Posted: March 23, 2009 in Braak

Dear Harry Shearer:

What the hell is wrong with you?  I keep hearing your show, which I think is called “Le Show” on NPR, and because I’m too lazy to change the channel (and a little paranoid about futzing with the radio while I’m driving) I end up listening to most of it.  I guess it’s on Sundays?

This show is terrible.

And I don’t understand, because I know that you know about comedy.  You’re, like, half the characters on The Simpsons.  You were in Spinal Tap for fuck’s sake.  So what is this shit?

Why am I listening to you report…

the news.

With these huge pauses?  It’s like you’re about to say something really funny, and maybe I should wait for it…

…and then you just read what happened in Patagonia or where the fuck ever like you’re a regular news guy.  The other week, I actually heard you make a quip in which you said, “Heh…”

“… well, timing, as they say… is everything.”

Which, in addition to being just a poorly-timed joke in and of itself is a terribly hypocritical thing for you to be saying in light of all this.  I realized after I heard that though that sometimes you are making jokes, or quipping at least–but the jokes that you’re making are terrible.

I don’t even mean that they’re bad jokes, because at least bad jokes can have a certain grandeur about them.  We can be entertained by a terrible pun provided it’s really terrible.   But you just keep…

…after a really long time…

Letting rip with these weirdly dull one-liners.  Like yesterday, when you were reading a report about immoral activities that the Israeli army may have gotten up to in Palestine, and you said like this:

“…sources say that an Israeli sniper shot a mother and child when he was supposed to let them go…


Well, that was a bad idea.”

Yes, Harry.  It WAS a bad idea.  It’s not actually a joke to say that it’s a bad idea for a sniper to shoot two innocent people that he was supposed to let go.  In fact, it’s an idea SO bad, so horribly HEINOUSLY BAD, that you don’t even have to tell us that it was a bad idea.  90% of the population, and probably 99% of the people that listen to NPR, are pretty easily capable of figuring that out on their own.

After I went to the Dunkin Donuts and got some coffee–to ensure that I wasn’t lulled to sleep by…your……..VERY LONG……PAUSES, I came back to hear you doing some kind of weird skit about AIG changing their name to “Penguin Insurance.”

Remember on the Daily Show, about a week ago, when Jon Stewart said that AIG was going to change their name, probably to something that people were less disgusted by, like herpes?  That was a funny joke, because of the exaggeration. Like, how could your name be so bad that people thought “Herpes” was a better choice?

That was a JOKE.  AIG changing their name to “Penguin Insurance” probably isn’t all that bad an idea, because PENGUIN actually IS a much less offensive name than AIG.

I know you know about exaggeration, Harry.  You were in A Mighty Wind.  Remember that?  Remember A Mighty Wind?  Where the joke was that all those people were outlandish charicatures?  If you made a movie like that and just actually PUT Peter, Paul, and Mary in it, it wouldn’t be funny, it would just be a documentary about Peter, Paul, and Mary.

If you’re going to read the news and you can’t think of anything funny to say about it, maybe you should just READ THE NEWS.

Still, at least it’s not Garrison Keilor.

  1. Lisa says:

    I agree with 99.99% of your statement.

    You had me until “at least it’s not Garrison Keilor” ok maybe I’m not 85 years old, but I still really enjoy A Prairie Home Companion. And @thechicgeek does too.

    So there.

  2. braak says:

    I only ever hear “Guy Noir” on the radio. I’m not sure why, I guess that must be the segment that’s on while I’m driving.

    I’m not a huge fan of “Guy Noir.”

    I did once hear Garrison Keillor do a thing about chiggers that was really funny, but that was twelve years ago.

  3. Sam says:

    I have it on good account from someone who went to school with him that Garrison Keillor’s original name was just “Gary.”

    And yes, Le Show is godawful. Bafflingly so. It was almost as disappointing as when I heard that Dwight Schultz (Lt. Barclay! “Howling Mad” Murdock!) had a show on conservative talk radio.

  4. Josh says:

    @Lisa: Thank you. There’s nothing wrong with A Prairie Home Companion. Braak is simply too jaded to appreciate gentle, soul-nourishing Midwestern comedy (probably because he looks at so much pornography).

    Although all the fucking bluegrass music does drive me bonkers.

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    A few years back, the entire voice cast of ‘The Simpsons’ was on ‘Inside the Actors Studio’, and they did the back half of the interview in character voices. And I was blown away by how staggeringly unfunny these people (with the exception of Hank Azaria) were.

    Nancy Cartwright answering in “Don’t have a cow, man” catchphrases from 15 years earlier, Dan Castellanotgonnalookthatnameup saying nothing beyond variations on, “Mmm…donuts.” It was alarming to see that even after 20 years of performing, they couldn’t develop any off-the-cuff material in the absence of writers.

    And this was for James Freaking Lipton. Who is…not the most judgmental audience.

  6. braak says:

    @Josh: Yeah, the pornography probably as a lot to do with it.

  7. Zak (who is great) says:

    I usually find myself deeply enjoying Prairie Home Companion without really understanding why.

    The jokes aren’t really funny. The skits are pretty dull. The guest I’ve never heard of.

    But a few minutes in and I’ve got a smile on my face and a sense that everything is going to be ok.

  8. Lisa says:

    @Zak I think that’s why I like it too – makes me feel warm & comfy like all is right in the world.

  9. Hsiang says:

    @ Zak & Lisa: It’s that soul nourishment thing Josh mentioned. Something that cannot be appreciated by certain Cultural Elitists and their Big City ways. That and Keillor’s voice is made from kittens and fluffy sweaters.
    I have it on very good authority that Chris traded his soul for more porn.
    So sad.
    He’s still spot on about Shearer’s show. I kept thinking “is this some sort of meta-hyper-trans-post-irony thing I’m just not getting?”
    Nope, just not funny at all.
    Even sadder.

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