My stay here at The Badger Herald, and at the university, is nearing an end. As a way to get the most out of my final columns, today I have decided to write three columns in one. All three are about people who have been in the news recently, and all three people I admire a great deal for their comedy.
Alec Baldwin — I planned on writing an entire column about Baldwin's rising comedy career at several points during this school year. He has become one of the main attractions of the NBC sitcom "30 Rock" and even won a Golden Globe for his performance. However, the opportunity to write in length about him never really arose. Recently, he has made news for something not so funny.
TMZ.com released an answering machine tape of Baldwin harshly scolding his daughter, Ireland, using some cruel words and, now famously, calling her a "rude, thoughtless little pig." Though I admit this is an interesting choice of words to say to an 11-year-old, I am actually starting to feel bad for Baldwin. We all have our breakdowns. His just so happened to be recorded on an answering machine, and to make matters worse, was leaked to the press. Plus, this situation is nobody's business but the people involved. In fact, I'm going to stop talking about it right now.
Wait, one more thing. According to MSNBC, Baldwin has said he wants to leave "30 Rock," so the show won't "be hurt by the situation." Alec. May I call you Alec? The only way the show is going to be hurt by the situation is if you leave. Television cannot lose a future classic character like Jack Donaghy so early in his life.
Steven Wright — Wright is a brilliant stand-up comedian famous for his monotone delivery of witty one-liners. Think Demetri Martin, but slower and even wittier. Wright's stand-up special "When the Leaves Blow Away," which aired on Comedy Central in 2006, was finally released on DVD this past Tuesday. As far as I know, this is the first commercial release of Wright's stand-up since his classic 1985 album I Have a Pony. In other words, pretty exciting stuff.
I have yet to receive my copy in the mail, so I unfortunately cannot review the DVD and all of its bonus materials. I can, however, tell you that the special is phenomenal. To give you an idea of his style, here is one of my favorite lines: "When I was a little kid, I wish the first word I ever said was the word 'quote,' so right before I died, I could say, 'Unquote.'" Apparently, I'm not alone in my excitement. At the time this article was written, the DVD ranked 56th on Amazon.com. That is definitely impressive for a stand-up comedian not named Dane Cook.
Roger Ebert — All right, he's not exactly a comedian, but if you read enough of his reviews, you'll see he has a pretty good sense of humor. His most recent article proved this.
On Wednesday, Ebert wrote an article for The Chicago Sun-Times about his "Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival." That same night he attended the festival, despite still recovering from some complicated lower jaw surgery to remove cancer. Unafraid to show his disfigurement, he happily posed for photos to accompany his article, writing, "I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what?" What a cool guy. I commend him.
On a side note, I met him once on a Thursday night as he strolled down University Avenue here in Madison in front of the now demolished University Square. I had a few beers in me at the time, but I was by no means drunk. I assume he smelled the alcohol on my breath, though, because he seemed almost frightened when I approached him, shook his hand and told him how much I admired him. As he walked away, the man with him said something in my direction to the effect of, "These are the kind of people you get to meet in Madison." To this day, I am still unsure if he was talking to me about Ebert or to Ebert about me. Nonetheless, even if I was the target of ridicule, I was honored to shake his hand, a hand that almost certainly had given a trademarked "thumbs up."
There you have it. Three columns for the price of one. All sales are final.
Mike Peters is a senior focusing on communication arts, film and business. Honestly, how many times have you listened to Alec Baldwin bitch out his 11-year-old daughter? Let Mike know at firstname.lastname@example.org.