Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Nick diPaolo: Jerk or Idiot?

Tonight Turner Classic Movies is celebrating Jean Arthur, one of my all-time favorites. (And like Cary Grant, she never won an Oscar—damn the Academy!) The line-up includes Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Only Angels Have Wings, The Devil and Miss Jones, and A Foreign Affair—that last one a Billy Wilder movie that many Billy Wilder fans haven’t even heard of, because it’s incredibly hard to track down. (The latter two films aren’t even available on DVD yet.) Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be going out tonight.

But I did think I should mention that, while I was rather harsh about Sam Kinison in my last post on comedy, I walked in to work the next morning to listen to more comedy, and I am now willing to forgive Sam Kinison roughly half of his act, because even though it was loud, irritating, sexist, and homophobic, it was, in its way, structurally original. To hit the true dregs of modern comedy, you need only do what I did, which is to listen to Sam Kinison back to back with Nick diPaolo. Nick diPaolo! Boo! Hiss! I’ve loathed the man for years—ever since he routinely did lazily racist hack material as a regular on Colin Quinn’s execrable “Tough Crowd.” But now that I’ve heard him do an entire hour-long set, I am content to report that there’s absolutely nothing redeeming about his act no matter how much time you give him. His pattern is to say “I hate stupid people”—a sure sign that someone’s about to set up a series of insultingly idiotic straw men—and then to give an example of someone doing something either unrealistically stupid, or reasonable and not worth getting angry about. And his next rant is always some outdated pop-culture reference (“I was sweating like Richard Simmons at an ‘N Sync concert”). I’m sorry—I’m so full of contempt for this asshole that I’m not even doing a decent job of describing his shitty work.

Wait—yes I can. One time on “Tough Crowd,” he was on, along with John Stewart. The topic Colin broached was “Mayor Bloomberg has announced that he’s thinking of selling space on New York landmarks to advertisers as a way of raising money for the city. What do you all think of this?” John Stewart’s response was pure satire: “Boy, I just hate to think of them commercializing something as historic as the Seagram’s Building.” What did Nick diPaolo say? “I was thinking that, instead of putting advertiser’s names on things, they could put celebrity’s names on them. So, you know, like the Holland Tunnel could be renamed The Madonna Tunnel.” And, in the best moment “Tough Crowd” ever vouchsafed me, John Stewart smacked him down: “Wait a minute,” he interrupted. “Are—are you still doing Madonna-is-a-whore jokes? She’s like forty now. She’s got a kid...” What he didn’t bother to point out is that Mr. DiPaolo had to actually violate the original premise—businesses advertising, remember?—in order to shoehorn in...a Madonna joke! Jesus Christ. That’s Nick DiPaolo. I won’t even go into his lazy stereotyping (his Arabs ululate unendingly) or his fag jokes. Just avoid the hell out of him. Maybe starvation will teach him not to turn comedy into a form of weak-minded bullying.

On a happier note, as part of Comedy Central’s Blue Collar Weekend, they showed a half-hour of Southern comic Kathleen Madigan. I caught the last fifteen minutes of the performance, and on that basis alone, I’m prepared to say that she is now my new favorite comic. Unfortunately, I can’t quote any of her jokes—I just remember that she was routinely interesting and humane, ticking off her idiosyncrasies, making them understandable, and never once veering into “men are different from women” material. If I find her stuff available anywhere, I’m totally buying it.


Anonymous Trip said...

It's been a while since I watched much standup on Comedy Central (do they even show anything in the vein of Short Attention Span Theater or Stand-Up Stand Up anymore, which is where I first saw many of these people?). But I'll second your loathing of DiPaolo and your praise of Madigan -- I don't know if I'd call her my absolute favorite, but she's quite good.

I'm still annoyed that Richard Jeni has been down in this area several times since I moved here and I've never had the time to see him perform. "Platypus Man" notwithstanding, he's one of the best stand-ups I've ever seen.

6/04/2006 10:15 AM  

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