April 18, 2005:
"FIGHTING VAINLY THE OLD ENNUI"
Well, dear readers, another week is upon us. These weeks are upon us like clockwork, are they not? Frankly, I’m fighting vainly the old ennui, week-upon-us-wise. I guess fighting vainly the old ennui is better than fighting vainly the new ennui or even fighting vainly the Jean Anouilh. In any case, I’m fighting vainly the old ennui, and I shall do my best to win because why should ennui get the better of me? Yesterday, I was not fighting vainly the old ennui, I was relaxing and eating pasta for most of the livelong day and night. Prior to relaxing and eating pasta, I took quite a long walk, for it was a most beautiful day. I walked here, I walked there, and then, just because I could, I walked here again. I even did a spot of work, mostly organizational, on this new short story I’ve begun. Isn’t that exciting? Isn’t that just too too?
Yesterday, I watched two count them two motion pictures on DVD. The first motion picture on DVD was entitled With Six You Get Egg Roll. This film was Miss Doris Day’s swan song for the movies, made, I believe, in 1968. It’s a rather innocuous affair, and was clearly an inspiration for The Brady Bunch. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would – Miss Day and Mr. Brian Keith are utterly charming, and Barbara Hershey is quite beautiful as Mr. Keith’s daughter. The entire film was shot right here in the City of Studio. My favorite location was a drive-in (George Carlin is the waiter) – the location looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on it until they did a reverse set up looking across the street – what did I see? Du-Par’s. So, this drive-in was located right on the northeast corner of Ventura Place and Radford, right across from the old Republic Studios. The film was made by Cinema Center Films, which was, I believe owned by CBS, hence they shot the film at the CBS Radford Studio. The drive-in is now a big old ugly high rise. It’s so much fun to see what the street looked like – just west of Du-Par’s was Tiny Naylor’s. Just east were quaint little storefronts. Everything just east of Du-Par’s is now the strip mall that houses a McDonald’s, Trader Joe’s, Winchell’s, and a bunch of other shops. There is also a scene that takes place at Kiddieland, now the Beverly Center. I couldn’t quite put my finger on where the houses were located – but they had to be very close to my home environment because of the addresses one could clearly see. The transfer is incredible – sharp, colorful, and enhanced scope. Howard Morris, the director, isn’t so hot, and the film frequently feels like a long episode of a sitcom – well, like The Brady Bunch, in fact. I then watched L’Eclisse, a film of Antonioni. Antonioni is not your average filmmaker, and his films take a bit of getting used to. I don’t love a lot of them, but I do like L’Eclisse the most. It’s strikingly shot, well-directed, and it has the incandescently beautiful Miss Monica Vitti in the lead. Playing alongside her is Mr. Alain Delon. In the film, Miss Vitti fights vainly the old ennui, interestingly enough. It’s quite a long film (125 minutes), but it’s sort of mesmerizing in its slowness and never really feels that length. The DVD, from Criterion, is loaded with extras (it’s two discs), and the transfer is impeccable.
What am I, Ebert and Roeper all of a sudden? Why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button because frankly I’m fighting vainly the old ennui and I’d like to see if there’s any new ennui in the next section.
Nope, just the same old ennui sitting there like so much fish. Speaking of so much fish, last night I joined Miss Tammy Minoff, her boyfriend Eddie, Eddie’s sister, Amy Adams, and Amy’s boyfriend, at The Improv. We were there to see Tammy’s friend do her standup. The show started promptly at eight. What we didn’t know then was that Tammy’s friend was slated last, not an enviable position. As most around these here parts know, I am not a fan of comedy clubs or today’s sort of standup. The “host” of the evening was some joker who came on stage unshaven, carrying a beer bottle, and dressed in t-shirt and jeans. He was completely and irrevocably unfunny. At one point he happened to glance in my direction and said, “You look a little morose, sir.” I’m afraid he was correct because he didn’t make me crack a smile once with all his sub-cretinous jokes. And that was pretty much the theme of the evening – almost every male comic wore t-shirt and jeans and carried a beer – they must have seen it on TV or something, because it appears that that is what’s “in”. Lots of terribly unfunny bits and lines ensued. What is it that drives these people? Is it the thought that some hit it big in sitcom land? Certainly, if I got the sort of reaction that most of these folks got (silence, or forced laughter), I would question if I was cut out for that sort of thing. A couple of the comics got some genuine laughs, but those were few and far between. Tammy’s friend, who is a very nice gal, who I’ve dined with several times, doesn’t have the material to do what she’s doing. It’s not enough to get up with some half-baked ideas and think you’re doing standup. There has to be a point, a point-of-view, and genuinely funny observations. That’s what makes a good comic – their material and their delivery and their persona. She has a good personality – dry and acerbic, and now she just needs to figure out why she’s doing this and what she wants to say – and then she has to figure out a funny way to say it.
Today I have a few things to do, although I currently cannot remember what they are. This week will be exciting in terms of the Guy Haines tracks getting their finishing touches. We have to decide this week what the vocal session dates are for the week after, too. And I must prepare for this weekend’s Ray Courts show. I must get all my stuff together – books, photos, and DVDs. And the cash box. Most importantly, the cash box.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must do a spot of work, I must fight vainly the old ennui, I must eat reasonable and tasty foodstuffs, and I must do some errands and hopefully pick up some packages. Today’s topic of discussion: Excluding the Golden Age of Comedy comedians, who are your favorite standup comics of the last thirty years – well, let’s say since 1970 to now. Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, as we all continue fighting vainly the old ennui.