Humorist Garrison Keillor seems absolutely driven these days.
He's traveling around the country with his
weekly radio show.
He's writing a weekly column, appearing online and in various
movie version of 'Prairie Home Companion' will
be out this summer, and of course it will have to be promoted with
lots of media interviews and personal appearances.
And then there are the summer cruises
on Holland America Cruise Line where you could vacation with Garrison
in July if you had the bucks. This year the venue is Alaska. Except at this date,
it's all sold out.
All this activity is enough to make a creative man like Keillor exhausted,
and that's what his
latest column is about. He longs
to be committed to a hospital, "one of those really nice ones with a sunny terrace where you sit in
your bathrobe a
The eulogies and remembrances of Richard Pryor are pouring in. Raised in a Peoria, Ill., brothel that was run by his grandmother, he "would grow up to be not only the highest paid black entertainer in the country in the 1980s but one of the most troubled as well," The Washington Post reports. "I was a drug-addicted, paranoid, lonely, sad and frustrated comedian who had gotten too big for his britches," Pryor said in the liner notes to the 2000 album, "And It's Deep Too!"
Pryor as a TV preacher: "People are always asking me, 'Reverend; if you need money so bad, why don't you sell one of your houses, or cars or get rid of some of that jewelry?' And I always reply, 'Are you crazy!'
[looks at the phone bank]
"How much money have we raised so far? None! OK, this is a message for all you white people out there. Part of the money we raise tonight will go to the Back to Africa movement and..." [every phone rings]
In a joke about black men in prison, Pryor said: "You go down there looking for justice; that's what you find: just us."
"It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused."
"You all know how black humor started?" he asked on his "Bicentennial" album. "It started in slave ships. Cat was always over there rowing. Dude say, 'What you laughin' about?' Said, 'Yesterday I was a king.'"
"I went to Zimbabwe...I know how white people feel in America now, relaxed! Cause when I heard the police car I knew they weren't coming after me!"
"I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that."
If it wasn't for comedy, "I could be in Peoria parking cars."
"It's so much easier for me to talk about my life in front of two thousand people than it is one-to-one. I'm a real defensive person, because if you were sensitive in my neighborhood you were something to eat."
"Everyone carries around his own monsters."
"Freebase? What's free about it?"
""You know something I found out?" he said of his self-immolation. "When you're on fire and running down the street, people get out of your way."
And then, a few serious comments. He admitted that setting himself on fire was a suicide attempt. He had a sense of God in his life -- God had given him back his life, and that God gave him multiple sclerosis. "Have you ever noticed how quiet you get when you go in the woods?" he said. "It's almost like you know that God's there."
Upon receiving the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Award, Pryor said: "I am proud that, like Mark Twain, I have been able to use humor to lessen people's hatred."
Steve Martin, newly anointed by the Kennedy Center as winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, tellsThe Washington Post that he was a philosophy major in college.
"Philosophy taught me two things. First, the reality of the absurd. Absurd was funny. You didn't need a punch line, a structure; you just needed an ironic juxtaposition. Second, there's a logical progression to things, but when you disrupt it, that's very funny. I got that from Lewis Carroll."
Example, from an old monologue: "I'd never divorce you, because I love you, I cherish you, I honor you and I don't want to lose half my stuff."
A low-budget film about a culture clash between a Chicago sophisticate and her rural North Carolina inlaws has turned the heads of international movie critics. "Junebug" has been receiving rave reviews around the country. At a time when Hollywood increasingly takes a low-risk approach, churning out more sequels and movies that are spin-offs of television shows, audiences are apparently finding first-time filmmaker Phil Morrison's "Junebug" refreshing. Perhaps because it tries to go beyond stereotypes, and portray each character with sympathy rather than in red-state-blue-state stereotypes.
Gary Belkin, a comedy writer for Sid Caesar, Carol Burnett, and “Sesame Street,” died last week at his home in Los Angeles. He was 78. He has no immediate survivors, except for his humor. He wrote “The Beverly Hills Philosophy”: Excerpts: “Practice random profligacy and senseless acts of spending.” "Less is moronic.” “If you give a man a fish…also give him a lemon wedge and basil.”
Comedian Robert Klein, at 63, is still going strong. He’s still touring, doing several gigs a week. He’s got a new memoir out, The Amorous Boyhood of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks Back, which he plugs in his comedy engagements. At Washington DC’s Improv, he won a rave review from The Washington Post. Critic Leonard Hughes called him “devastatingly funny…Improv audiences aren’t always the easiest to impress, but Klein received a standing ovation.
"As long as humiliation comedy makes people laugh, Vince Vaughn will have no problem finding a job," writes Nancy Mills of The New York Daily News. Vaughn stars in "Wedding Crashers." He stars as a nearing 40 adolescent who shows up at weddings to which he isn't invited, in order to meet women and seduce them.
Still single at 35, Vaughn admits there may be some typecasting in these roles of men who aren't quite ready for marriage. He confessed to the London Free Press that he's a confirmed bachelor, for now at least. "I like down time by myself. That's asking a lot of a woman. I had a girlfriend who liked to include me in every decision. She'd ask me questions about color schemes and furniture. I don't like being asked questions. Instead of explaining that, I'd do mental shut-offs -- and that's real mean."
He's mainly focused on his career, looking for character-driven comedy, not just movies that are essentially funny scene after funny scene stitched together. And he's wary of typecasting, and over-exposure. Vince "knows that overexposure will kill the golden goose," film critic Leonard Maltin told Mills.
Comedian Will Ferrell (link to video clips) is all over the silver screen. Bewitched, a romantic comedy spun off the 1960s television show, with Nicole Kidman as his love interest (if you can imagine it), opens to considerable promise.
It's just one of five movies featuring Ferrell this year. There's Melinda and Melinda, directed by Woody Allen; Kicking; The Producers: The Movie Musical; and Wedding Crashers. In addition, he's now in Chicago filming Stranger Than Fiction. Jim Carrey was originally considered for the role of Darren in the Bewitched movie, but Ferrell got the final nod.
Ferrell told The Philadelphia Inquirer he's in awe of his good fortune. "It's insane. It's kind of all I ever hoped it could be if I ever had stopped to think about it," he said. "It's just kind of this great book, where you're getting to turn the pages and be surprised by the next chapter."
He does not worry about over-exposure. "Yes, I'm the rare actor to have a pro-nudity clause in my contract," he quips, though as Karen Heller of The Inquirer observed, his body "appears unnaturally pasty and out-of-shape." It's part of his clownish routine. Ferrell, notes Heller, is "a buffoon for the ages, fearless in being silly on screen."
"I love playing people who have unearned confidence," Ferrell said. "I love playing the buffoon who takes himself way too seriously."
Ferrell entered the national consciousness in seven seasons on Saturday Night Live, portraying George W. Bush, Janet Reno, and an obnoxious cheerleader. He left three years ago to pursue movies. But given the strand of self-destruction in SNL stars who went on to make hit movies (John Belushi being the most dramatic example), Ferrell and his handlers might weigh whether over-exposure or self-restraint would help the star's longevity.